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It was February 2nd when the body of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, 46, was discovered in the bathroom of his New York City apartment, a syringe still stuck in his left arm. His tragic death was ruled an accident, but Friday the New York medical examiner’s office released their official cause of death: acute mixed drug intoxication.
Although this news may come as no surprise given the circumstances of Phil’s death—like the syringe—the combination of drugs he used during his final night on Earth just might: cocaine, heroin, amphetamines and benzodiazepines. And this after being clean for 23 years, falling off the wagon, completing a stint in rehab and then staying clean for almost another year now. What a shame.
When I first heard this “laundry list” of drugs—and please don’t take this the wrong way—I thought Phil had to be a complete idiot to let this happen. Here I was believing him to be an intelligent and stable guy—albeit with some bad habits and addictions, which we all suffer from in our own way—only to discover he was a brainless junkie with no self-control and no instincts toward self-preservation.
The truth, however, is that Phil was a sick man who took so many drugs—some legal and some not—that he built up a tolerance to them. The next time he used them, it took more to get him high, and more the time after that. In the medical field, this is referred to as stacking… and eventually, it will catch up with you.
Of course, I’m still struggling to understand why Phil chose this particular combination of substances. I get the heroin addiction and understand its effects to be mellow sedation, for lack of a better term. The benzodiazepines are nothing more than muscle relaxers used to treat anxiety, so they fall right in line with Lady H. And yes, I can see how this combination alone would be enough to do Phil in—and while he was shooting up “in the can,” no less.
What confused me weren’t the depressants found in Phil’s system; it was the stimulants. The medical examiner found both amphetamines and cocaine in the mix, which I’m having trouble explaining. It’s possible he used these to stay awake and enjoy his heroin buzz longer—staving off the sleep that likely comes quickly after combining heroin with Xanax. Aside from that, I have no idea.
All I know is that the world lost an incredible talent and another good person to drug addiction. I feel like Phil could have prevented this—since any intelligent person should know a combination of this many drugs could be deadly—but individuals deal with their addictions in very unique and personal ways. It is never “one size fits all,” but its effects are always the same: pain, suffering and death.
From one combination to another, I guess…
Yesterday morning, the world lost a truly amazing talent, a comic genius and an all-around great person—actor, writer and director Harold Ramis—who passed away from complications resulting from autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, a condition he battled for years. He was 69 years old.
Many remember Ramis as the quirky and nerdy Dr. Egon Spengler from two of his best known films, Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II. Others remember him as the foil to Bill Murray in Stripes, another Ramis classic. But the man who appeared on-screen was only a small part of who Ramis really was— it was his off-screen success that truly changed the face of comedy.
Ramis’ journey to comic greatness began in the late 1960s and early 1970s. After working a variety of jobs—as a substitute school teacher, freelance writer for the Chicago Daily News and joke editor for Playboy magazine—he began studying and performing with Chicago’s Second City improvisational comedy troupe. Ramis left the troupe briefly and was replaced by another famous comedy performer—the great John Belushi—but returned in 1972 with friend and collaborator Bill Murray.
Together with Belushi, Murray and others—among them Christopher Guest and Gilda Radner—Ramis starred in The National Lampoon Show and eventually became a performer and head writer for SCTV, a direct competitor of another well-known comedy show, Saturday Night Live. And though acting would always have a place in his life, it was writing and directing that truly showcased Ramis’ talents.
Among the films Ramis is best known for—aside from those already mentioned—are some of my favorite comedies of all time: National Lampoon’s Animal House, Groundhog Day, Meatballs, Back to School, Caddyshack, National Lampoon’s Vacation and Club Paradise, to name a few. And with a resume like that, how could he not be great?
Ramis’ long-time friend and colleague—Dan Aykroyd—reacted to the news of his death on Facebook: “Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of my brilliant, gifted, funny friend, co-writer/performer and teacher Harold Ramis. May he now get the answers he was always seeking.” Steve Carell worked with Ramis on The Office and described him as “funny, gracious [and] kind-hearted,” all words that only scratch the surface of this great man and the joy he brought to so many.
Yes, Monday was a sad day for entertainment, but I feel an even deeper sense of loss since I grew up with Harold Ramis and his films. And I’m sure there are plenty of others who feel the same. It’s always sad to lose a great talent—especially one who brought laughter into the lives of so many—but it’s worse to lose a great human being… and that’s precisely what Harold Ramis was.
Rest in peace, my friend. I miss you already.
Is it just me, or does it seem as if pop star Justin Bieber is becoming more of an ass with each passing day?
Last week in Toronto, the Canadian singer—who lives in the United States under a work visa—was arrested on accusations that he assaulted his limousine driver in December. Bieber also faces past charges that include drunk driving, driving with an expired license and resisting arrest—charges that were dropped on him last month in Miami, Florida.
Of course, the spoiled little shit may also be charged with felony vandalism after egging his neighbor’s house in January and causing nearly $20,000 in damages, too.
Well, today brought yet another Bieber-related issue to light. Apparently, he and his father were traveling from Canada to New Jersey last Friday and “blazing weed” the whole time. From what I understand, pot smoke filled the cabin and when pilots asked for Bieber to stop, he and his dad became “verbally abusive.” Things got so bad that the flight crew eventually put on oxygen masks so they wouldn’t test positive for marijuana during their next drug screening!
Fortunately for Bieber, a search of the chartered plane didn’t reveal any drugs, so he and his entourage were granted re-entry into the U.S. after he was detained for questioning for several hours. And no charges will likely result from this incident, even though it does illustrate my point of Bieber being a jackass… as if it needed further illustration.
On a related note was a recent story about Bieber’s ex-girlfriend, the lovely and talented Selena Gomez. Apparently, Gomez did a two-week stint in rehab last month for a combination of problems, including alcohol, marijuana and addiction to the prescription sleep aid Ambien. According to numerous sources, Gomez blamed her need for rehab on “that crazy boy”—namely Justin Bieber—after being exposed to the excesses enjoyed by him and his buddies… likely the same buddies who were arrested for drug possession a few weeks ago at Bieber’s home.
In other words, Bieber isn’t just being an ass and causing problems for himself; he’s dragging others down with him. And since his pattern of bad behavior seems to be growing, I can’t imagine things getting better for him anytime soon. However, I do have a recommendation that would likely solve everyone’s problems: ship his spoiled little ass back to Canada!
Just be sure to alert Canadian law enforcement before this happens so they can prepare for what’s coming. We all know that it won’t be pretty!
No matter where she was or what she was doing in 2013, it seemed as if every picture taken of 21-year-old pop star Miley Cyrus caught her sticking out her tongue. In fact, it seems to have become one of her signature moves. Why is that?
This question was actually posed to Cyrus by Barbara Walters in preparation for her upcoming television special, Barbara Walters Presents: The 20 Most Fascinating People of 2013. And the response may not be what you were expecting.
“I get embarrassed to take pictures. That’s actually the truth,” Cyrus explained. “I’m so embarrassed because people are taking pictures of me, and I just don’t know how to—I don’t know how to smile and just be awkward, so I stick my tongue out because I don’t know what else to do.”
I suppose this makes sense, but it also raises another question: How does Cyrus explain her ass and tits hanging out in nearly every picture? It certainly isn’t what you would expect from someone claiming to be camera-shy, is it?
Not that I’m complaining, mind you…
If you missed last night’s Super Bowl, then you missed what had to be one of the most outstanding defensive showings in championship football history. And this is coming from a Steelers fan, no less.
In an unexpected turn of events, the Seattle Seahawks and their top-rated defense destroyed the highest scoring offense in the NFL—namely the Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos—by a score of 43-8. The Broncos turned the ball over four times—twice in the form of Manning interceptions and twice by fumbling the ball—and started the game with an errant snap on offense resulting in a Seattle safety.
For Broncos fans—and Peyton Manning fans—it could not have been worse. And the one touchdown and two-point conversion they eventually scored did little to assuage the anguish over watching the number one offense in the league collapse so completely. It truly was a rout in every sense of the word.
So congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks on winning their first Super Bowl—and with an untested, second-year quarterback, too. I expect good things from this squad in the future. And who knows? They could be on their way to becoming the next dynasty in the NFL, especially if they keep playing like this!
On a sadder note, I would also like to honor one of my favorite actors and, sadly, another talent gone far too soon: 46-year-old Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
On Sunday, police discovered Hoffman’s body on the bathroom floor of his Manhattan apartment, the victim of an apparent drug overdose. According to the latest reports, he even had a syringe sticking out of his arm—and it doesn’t get much more apparent than that.
Hoffman was an incredible and versatile actor who earned the respect and admiration of everyone with whom he worked. Upon hearing of his untimely death, actress Robin Wright described him as a “true artist,” while his co-star from the film Charlie Wilson’s War—the amazing Tom Hanks—called him “a giant talent.” Hoffman was an Oscar-winning actor—he took home Best Actor in 2005 for his performance in Capote—and starred in some truly great films: Scent of a Woman, Boogie Nights, The Big Lebowski, Magnolia, Almost Famous, 25th Hour and Cold Mountain, to name a few.
Yes, we have lost yet another great talent. And let’s hope this is the last one for a long, long time.
Farewell, Phillip. And thanks for the memories…
UPDATE: It seems that Hoffman’s death has been ruled as a heroin overdose. Police found nearly 50 packets of “Lady H” in his apartment, along with a host of prescription medications for everything from ADD to anxiety and high blood pressure. Hoffman entered rehab last year after a 23-year hiatus from drug and alcohol abuse. And sadly, it took only one slip to end his life. What a shame…
In March, one of pop singer Justin Bieber’s neighbors accused him of spitting in his face during a heated argument about the loud parties often held at the young man’s home.
Last week, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department issued a felony search warrant for Bieber’s estate on vandalism charges. His neighbor alleges that Bieber assaulted him with eggs—which he tossed over a fence onto the house next door—and caused more than $20,000 to his home. The investigation is ongoing.
This week, another police department in the Miami area began to follow up on reports that some of its officers escorted Bieber and his entourage between several different strip clubs. This is obviously a no-no, especially without prior approval and authorization.
Now it seems that the spoiled, 19-year-old teenybopper is in even more trouble, this time for drunken driving, resisting arrest, driving without a valid license and maybe even illegal street racing!
Bieber was arrested early Thursday morning after police saw him driving a yellow Lamborghini and apparently racing a red Ferrari through a Miami neighborhood. When he was pulled over and confronted by officers, Bieber “was a little belligerent” and used some “choice words questioning why he was being stopped and why the officer was even questioning him.” The officers smelled alcohol and when they subjected Bieber to a field sobriety test, he failed miserably and was immediately taken to jail.
Is there no end to what this arrogant little prick will do? Better yet, does Lindsay Lohan know that Justin Bieber is trying to steal the celebrity basket case title from her?
He certainly seems to be gaining ground on her!
Last night on CBS News, it was reported that famed British soprano Sarah Brightman would be the first celebrity-turned-space-tourist, having purchased a ticket aboard a Russian Soyez rocket through the company Space Adventures. The estimated cost of her ticket was $50 million and Brightman has already passed medical and endurance tests at the cosmonaut training facility outside of Moscow. Her estimated departure date is 2015 and she is slated to spend a full ten days aboard the Mir International Space Station.
Pretty cool, huh?
During the same news report, there was an update about pop star Justin Bieber, who is currently being investigated for more bad behavior. This time, he allegedly attacked his neighbor with eggs and caused more than $20,000 damage, effectively making this a felony investigation. The good news for Bieber is that even if he is convicted, the most he’ll likely have to do is apologize and pay for the damages. There was talk of him potentially being deported back to Canada—which certainly wouldn’t upset me at all—but celebrities like him are rarely punished to the full letter of the law. I imagine all he’ll get is a slap on the wrist, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
At first glance, these two stories may seem unrelated, but they both got me thinking and gave me a great idea: Why not see if Justin Bieber is interested in traveling to space?
I’m sure the troublemaking pop star can afford the ticket. And we could all use a ten-day vacation from his law-breaking, punk-ass shenanigans. Of course, my idea goes a little further than simply jettisoning this jackass into space. Once there, I think he should be allowed to take a spacewalk.
Astronauts could suit him up, attach a tether and let him float peacefully around the station, giving him the experience of his young lifetime. And just as he’s enjoying being the first civilian cosmonaut to step out the station door—and the first without pubic hair, as well—step two should be disconnecting the tether and allowing the cocky dickhead to drift off into the Great Beyond.
Better yet, if everyone who’s annoyed with Justin Bieber kicked in a few bucks, we may be able to buy the ticket for him! I’m game!
Earlier this month, Stanley Roberts of news station KRON-4 completed a segment about illegal dumping in an Oakland, California neighborhood. It aired on December 9th as part of his People Behaving Badly series and included an interview with a homeless man named Marcus Malone.
Malone was digging through the trash at the illegal dumpsite, looking for anything that could be of use to someone living on the streets. In his interview with Roberts, Malone described one visit to the dump when he discovered a pair of blue jeans with more than $800 in its pocket—money he used to purchase equipment since he sometimes worked as a landscaper. He also told Roberts that he had been a music composer and even played with the “original Santana blues band.”
Carlos Santana is—of course—the famed Mexican-American guitarist whose band Santana was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. I could list all sorts of memorable hits by the talented musician—like “Black Magic Woman” and “Soul Sacrifice”—but I’m sure you’re already familiar with his work.
Initially, Roberts assumed that Malone was simply bragging about something that was either false or impossible to confirm or deny. He decided to dig a little deeper, though, and soon realized that what the homeless man told him was actually true!
Marcus Malone—known back then as “Marcus the Magnificent”—was a founding percussionist for the Santana Blues Band, played with them from 1967-1969 and helped establish the sound that would later make them famous. Unfortunately, Malone would not share this fame because instead of going into the studio to record the band’s debut album in 1969—and joining them at the Woodstock music festival a few months later—he went to San Quentin Prison. I’m still not sure why, though.
After prison—and while Santana’s success soared—Malone struggled to find work, lived on the streets and basically disappeared. For four decades, he dug through trash while his friend Santana sold millions of records and gained international fame and fortune… at least until December 9th, that is.
As it turned out, Carlos Santana saw Roberts’ People Behaving Badly segment, recognized Malone and immediately drove to Oakland to find him. When his trail ran cold, however, Santana asked his manager to contact Roberts and to arrange a reunion, which he did.
Last Friday, the electrifying guitarist and his fiery former percussionist met for the first time in more than 40 years. And to say it was an emotional reunion would be an understatement. I hate to admit it, but I could even feel some tears welling up… and I don’t even know these guys!
“It is an honor to be in your presence,” Santana told his friend. “I always cherish you, man.”
Whether or not Santana plans to help his old friend remains to be seen, but he did mention “hooking up” with Malone again soon. And knowing Santana—a man also famous for his charity work with groups like The Milagro Foundation, Save the Children and Amnesty International—there can be little doubt that these friends will never lose touch again.
On Saturday, the world lost one of its premier actors and one of my personal favorites, Irish-born Peter Seamus O’Toole. He died peacefully at the ripe old age of 81.
O’Toole was a classically trained Shakespearean actor whose career began on the stage before shifting to television in 1954. He first appeared on film in 1959 when he accepted a small role in The Day They Robbed the Bank of England. This would mark the beginning of a long and illustrious acting career spanning more than 50 years. And let me tell you that it was quite a trip.
On screen, O’Toole played some of the most notable characters in film history, including the lead role in one of my favorite movies of all time, the David Lean epic Lawrence of Arabia in 1962. And his filmography includes titles recognizable to nearly any fan of the genre: Becket, The Lion in Winter, Casino Royale—the original, not the recent remake with Daniel Craig—Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Man of La Mancha, Man Friday, Caligula, The Stunt Man, My Favorite Year, The Last Emperor and Venus, to name a few.
He also had a minor role in another favorite film of mine, albeit kind of a cult classic: Club Paradise. Sadly, I’m still trying to forget about O’Toole’s role as King Priam in Troy, which to me seemed grossly over-acted. He was pretty old at the time, though, so I certainly don’t hold it against him.
Oddly enough—and despite all his accomplishments and accolades—O’Toole was nominated for an Oscar eight times but never won, making him the most nominated actor to never win the award. He was presented with an honorary Oscar in 2003 for his entire body of work—which was a nice “nod” from the Academy—but never received one for a single performance… and he had quite a few that were worthy.
Fortunately, O’Toole did collect awards from all sorts of sources throughout his long and productive career, including Golden Globes, David di Donatello Awards, Sant Jordi Awards, National Board of Review awards, National Society of Film Critics’ Awards and more. He even won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in 1999’s Joan of Arc.
In other words, Peter O’Toole had a long, successful and unforgettable career entertaining millions of people across many generations. I count myself among his many fans and, like them, appreciate the joy he brought to my life. He will be sorely missed, but at least he will live on as one of the world’s greatest performers. And I cannot wait to introduce my son to his body of work, starting of course with Lawrence of Arabia.
Rest well, my friend. And thanks for the memories.