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It Just Got Real

April 24th, 2016

Write a Check, and Someone Will Talk

When you’re old, you have seen a lot of things. You have seen a lot of things that resemble other things. You see repetitive patterns in earthly events.

Sooner or later, you start to know what’s happening earlier than other people. Then if you’re not careful, you start to think you don’t have to reason any more; you have so much confidence in your generalizations, you may feel like you can rely on them to the point where analysis is a waste of time.

That’s something for me to keep in mind. Nonetheless, it looks like I was right about what killed Prince.

It’s not like it was rocket science. A musician has a drug overdose, and he dies several days later with no signs of trauma. The most likely explanation was obvious. But Prince was someone people idolized, so they were blind to his faults. I never idolized him or liked his music. It’s not hard for me to be critical of him.

The Daily Mail, which is a real newspaper not to be confused with The Onion, just published a long interview with a man who calls himself “Doctor D.” He says he sold Prince painkillers for years, to the tune of two $40000 every six months.

Is it a lie? Could be. Maybe The Daily Mail has decided to completely give up on being taken seriously, and they published the story without any effort at vetting it.

Probably not, though.

Now I’m wondering if someone will be arrested for making a straw man drug buy at a pharmacy. If Prince had to send another person into a pharmacy the day before he overdosed, he had a reason, and it wasn’t to buy Q-Tips.

It is said that his sister, who also has drug problems, is going to inherit his estate. There is no will. It just falls into her lap, with no supervision or restraint.

Maybe she’ll be like Priscilla Presley, and she’ll build it into something even bigger. On the other hand, maybe his entire song catalog will belong to someone else within five years, and she’ll end up broke.

It’s obvious that I’m not a Prince fan. If you’re wondering why, maybe it will help if I show you how I was introduced to Prince.

In the early 1980’s, I was in the dorm room of a college girl who admired Prince. Here is the poster I saw on her wall. I had no idea who it was.

prince in shower with cross

Apologies to those who are offended. I’m a man, so I don’t see it as provocative, but maybe others will disagree. I just see it as gross and sad; a mistake.

I remember asking her what she could possibly see in a person like that. She thought he was tremendous. I could not understand why a woman would want a feminine man.

I still don’t get it. I don’t care much for disco music, which was what he played. I don’t care much for androgynous performers. I can’t relate to a person who wants to seem effeminate. Also, the in-your-face phoniness of Prince is unappealing to me. I guess I should learn to accept the fact that virtually all of show business is phony. I have not.

He promoted himself a little too hard for my tastes. He claimed he played 27 instruments on an album, and on the street, people turned that into, “Prince can play 40 instruments.” It turns out he was a drummer, guitarist, keyboard player, and bassist (the bass is 2/3 of a guitar). You can turn that into 27 instruments by dividing guitar into electric and acoustic and performing similar divisions for keyboards and percussions. You can divide the keyboards into the piano, the organ, the synthesizer, the electric piano, and so on. I don’t think anyone seriously believes he was a complete master of 27 completely distinct instruments.

I could say I play eight instruments if you include “Oh, Susanna” on the harmonica. It would be pretty misleading, but you could say it.

Try to find him playing instruments on the Internet. It’s not easy. You can find the guitar and the keyboards right away. The other 25 instruments are much more elusive.

Yes, he was an excellent musician, but that’s about it. He couldn’t fly. He wasn’t the smartest person on earth. The weird outfits seemed too pretentious to me. Eric Clapton can play in jeans and reading glasses.

Maybe younger fans don’t know about this poster. Yesterday a young friend of mine praised Prince for his masculinity, as contrasted with Michael Jackson, who was a homosexual who liked young boys. I don’t see masculinity in this poster. Do you? Call me crazy, but the little purple suits, high heels, and lace shirts don’t seem masculine to me either.

Prince was not a good person. He encouraged sexual sin with missionary enthusiasm. He promoted smaller entertainers and brought them into his mess. He tried to convince Denise Matthews (the former Vanity) to call herself “Vagina.” He wrote songs that were filthy and crass, not sexy. He celebrated pride and fornication. He was very corrosive to American sexual morals, and it was deliberate. If he had written music I liked, maybe I would be inclined to make excuses for him, but to me, disco is disco.

The dealer in the news story claims Prince had crippling stage fright, and that the drugs allowed him to ignore it. That comes as a surprise. You would think a man with his talent, success, and musical competence would have no regard for the negative perceptions of audiences, and you would expect forty years of performing to get him past his phobias. Very strange.

I’m not glad he’s dead, but I realize he was a horrible corrupting influence. I think his contribution to music, especially songwriting, is greatly exaggerated, and that gives him the illusion of godhood, which makes the corrupting influence stronger.

Some people are claiming he avoided drugs and alcohol. Maybe it’s an error in judgment, but I trust a drug dealer much more than an entourage member. Those people are selected for their pliability. Entourage members are the reason Eddie Murphy thought it was a good idea to make a music video. He put that in his act, lampooning their praise: “Eddie…you a GENIUS.”

What will happen to the entourage now? If he didn’t have a will, they’re going to have to get jobs, like right now. What a faceful of cold water that must be. I wonder if they ever tried to get him to make some kind of provision for them.

I have never had an entourage. I don’t know what it entails. It’s an interesting situation. One day you’re supporting a bunch of people–codependents, maybe–who have no job titles, skills, duties, or contracts, and the next day you’re dead, and you left no one to write checks. It’s like going away for a month and forgetting to fill the cat feeder. It’s like what happened to Chauncey Gardner in Being There.

If I were Prince’s sister, I’d have a security team in that compound, preventing people from stealing silverware. I’ll bet the unused portion of the last prescription disappeared already, and the cops, not being entirely stupid, will have questions about that.

Maybe there’s an entourage exchange out there somewhere. Michael Jackson dies, and Prince and Floyd Mayweather hire the cream of the newly disenfranchised. Don Imus and Howard Stern will eventually contribute some inventory.

If you’re a hot entertainer who can’t function without an array of at-will gofers and personal assistants, you put people in a precarious position. Bundini Brown would have been in a bad way if Ali had died in the ring.

The smart hangers-on marry their hosts. That gives them lasting power.

Weird. It’s all weird. The life, the death, and the warped perceptions. I never found him interesting until this week.

3 Responses to “It Just Got Real”

  1. Heather Says:

    Be glad you stepped away from Facebook, the deification of Prince has been just insane.
    You would not believe the ugly things that have been said to me because I pointed out that the man was a Jehovah Witness, thus destroying their fantasy that Prince did not immediately ascend to the throne at the right hand of God.

  2. Steve H. Says:

    I flat-out deleted Facebook and my other social media accounts. Looks like I was just in time.

  3. Steve H. Says:

    I’m so sorry I put that photo up.