Archive | January, 2016

The Man In The Box-Won’t You Save Me?

28 Jan

David Bowie. Glen Frey. Lemmy. Scott Weiland. The sudden deaths of some of the most beloved musicians hit pretty hard and I wonder if these artists knew how much they’d impacted our lives.

For me, this last month has been a bittersweet reminder of a brilliant musician who received virtually zero mention at the time of his death.

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Most people have no idea that Alice In Chains’ front man, Layne Staley, died around the same time Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes did. The press covered her passing extensively. Every channel, paper and radio station mentioned Lopes, while running TLC video clips and songs 24/7.  Of course, Lisa died from a sudden auto accident while Layne died the typical rock star death at age 34 from a mixture of heroin and cocaine.

I’m not sure how many are aware that Layne Staley was dead for two weeks before anyone realized it.

Two weeks.

When I learned of this, my heart broke. How is it possible that someone who touched so many could have gone unnoticed for so long?

 

I wish I could just hug you all, but I’m not gonna.” –Layne Staley

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Alice In Chains has been a profound and unique grunge rock band, instantly recognizable largely due to Staley’s voice more than their overall sound. When you hear a song by Tool, it’s obvious it’s Tool by their uniquely defined musical style. With AIC, it was more about Staley’s lilting vocals. 

ebd7d75c4c1a975caa0123700cd73151Alice In Chains (and Layne himself) was the true leader of the Seattle Sound grunge movement. They were Sleze in 1984, which morphed into AIC and later became the super-group Mad Season. They influenced and opened doors for Nirvana, Soundgarden, Screaming Trees and Pearl Jam.

Unlike much of what came out of Seattle, AIC was inclined towards rock in addition to alternative in genre. Their heavier sound, array of styles and soulful lyrics struck a chord within me, and I’ve never wavered in my love for them.

 

“Man In The Box”

I’m the man in the box
Buried in my shit
Won’t you come and save me, save me

Feed my eyes, can you sew them shut?
Jesus Christ, deny your maker
He who tries, will be wasted
Feed my eyes now you’ve sewn them shut

I’m the dog who gets beat
Shove my nose in shit
Won’t you come and save me, save me…

 

What I know about Layne’s death is two things: Layne had two families; his blood ties and his band members. He was also a drug user and recluse with a mental disorder.

Anyone who has had to deal with a person struggling with any or all of these issues knows the tendency for that person to alienate everyone who loves them, which is often a harsh reality. We are hard to love.

I am speaking from experience, as an entertainer and someone who has experience in living with mental disorders. My father had one. I’ve inherited it. I’ve seen both sides of this kind of damage.

f4bda0790eaf737aa29ede9017b743cbThe fact that not one single person from his life noticed he was gone for two weeks shatters me.

Even if he’d told everyone to fuck off, just die, leave him alone – did no one love him enough to swing by and check on him? Bring him a meal? Pick up some groceries?

Nothing? Nothing at all?

 

“We started this band as kids, and as time has gone on, we’ve grown and are learning to accommodate each others’ differences.” – Layne Staley

 

There are lessons to be gleaned from losing Layne Staley. Instead of sitting back and judging the situation; blaming drugs, calling him a fuck-up, writing it off to “just another classic rock star death” or practicing Schadenfreude, we should view it as an opportunity to save someone else.

 

“When everyone goes home, you’re stuck with yourself. People have a right to ask questions and dig deep when you’re hurting them and things around you.” – Layne Staley

 

288050e9f560257bcdc70d7ae5ad397fDying alone and forgotten are valid human fears. Alice In Chains sold over eleven MILLION albums. Layne Staley touched an innumerable mass of people from all over the world. If this can happen to someone as known and beloved as Layne, it could happen to anyone.

 

“There are lasting consequences for using drugs. I’ll still be paying for my prior use.” – Layne Staley

 

Layne was introduced to what would ultimately be his cause of death by his own father at the age of twenty.  His father was an opiate addict and used with his son. This is a harsh lesson to wrap one’s head around.

But my main reason for writing this is to make people aware.

Bandmate and best friend Mike Starr bore the brunt of the guilt regarding Layne’s death before he passed in 2011 from a prescription drug overdose. He was the last person to see Staley alive and the two had argued, with Starr storming out and Layne calling after him, “Not like this. Don’t leave like this.”

Reportedly, they argued over Starr insisting on calling 911for help and Layne threatening to sever their friendship if he did. 

 

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When someone we love pushes us away, perhaps there’s more to it and we’re unable to see what’s really going on. Maybe we shouldn’t LET them have their space.

People often push away as a test – to see if you’ll push back, to see if you care. It’s common for many to feel unworthy of love. It’s especially common for those with a mental disorder, since we tend to hurt those around us the most. We simply don’t feel deserving. We need you to push back.

Talk is cheap.  Anyone can say, “I love you, you mean the world to me.” But can you show it? Will you do what needs to be done?

6558bdd586384b723d48edb309a40391In Layne’s case, no one pushed back. He is dead now because of this fact.

It’s pretty fucking simple. If someone had physically removed drugs and needles from his living area, watched over him, fed him – he would be alive. He clearly wasn’t able to take care of himself. It was no surprise how sick he was to those around him. Mike Starr tried. But in these situations, effort doesn’t mean shit. Only results count. If he’d had cancer, there would have been help. But he had a mental illness where he turned to “self-medicating”, which is why Layne was cast away.  

Kurt Cobain, who admitted he was manic-depressive (which is now called bipolar disorder), died in a not dissimilar way. His suicide note stated that his baby daughter would be better off without him in her life. “For her life will be so much happier without me.”

“God Am”
Dear God, how have you been then?
I’m not fine, fuck pretending
All of this death your sending
Best throw some free heart mending
Invite you in my heart, then
When done, my sins forgiven?
This God of mine relaxes
World dies I still pay taxes.

A lot of things aren’t understood about mental illness and suicide, but I can tell you one thing for certain; No one wants to die. They simply don’t want to live in the state they are in any longer. There is a vast difference between wanting to die and not wanting to live. When someone is suffering from something that goes with them no matter where they are and affects everyone around them badly, sometimes they hold on to a belief that the only way out is death.

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Layne’s death is extremely sad on so many levels. Wasted talent, wasted youth, but mostly it’s a constant reminder that our society doesn’t seem to care about the mentally ill. It’s felt we are disposable, to be shamed and anything that happens to us, it’s likely deserved. I’ve seen this attitude in everything from drug overdoses to police beatings.

No matter what we give to the world, it really doesn’t matter.

Or does it?

Push back. Prove me wrong.

 

“Every article I see (about myself) is dope this, junkie that, whiskey this – that ain’t my title. I don’t do much else but stay in my hotel room. Music is the doorway that has led me to drawing, photography, and writing. Music is the career I’m lucky enough to get paid for, but I have other desires and passions.” –Layne Staley

 

 

My hope for whoever is reading this is to have you recognize signs. When someone we care for is ‘acting out’ or being reclusive, maybe we shouldn’t take it so personally, get so angry or give up so quickly.  Think of the bigger picture; that you love this person. Despite what they’re doing, saying or how they’re acting, they need you.

Staley’s last interview: http://www.mtv.com/news/1470138/late-alice-in-chains-singer-layne-staleys-last-interview-revealed-in-new-book/

 

Thank you to Hubert O’Hearn, Brett Schwan & Joe Mays for taking the time to edit. Time is valuable.

 

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Layne Staley: August 22, 1967 – April 5, 2002. NOT FORGOTTEN. 

 

 

                                                    

 

The REAL Gym Rules

16 Jan


rerackWhen most people join a gym, they’re told a towel is mandatory and then sent on their merry, clueless way to screw things up for the rest of us.

I think I can safely speak for everyone when I tell you that there’s nothing worse for gym regulars than sharing with newbie’s in January. Not because you’re new; aside from fighting for a parking spot, most of us are happy to have more like-minded individuals around who share our passion for fitness. (If you have a good recipe for chicken and rice we can use, we’ll probably love you even more.)

Where you make our gyms a living hell is your utter lack of etiquette. Hopefully, many of you get educated and decide to stick around.  Personally, I quite enjoy seeing people achieve success.

But you won’t make any friends without knowing the REAL rules. Do you really want to be the person known as, “Oh, God…here 61913248comes that asshat again” ?

Gym etiquette is NOT just wiping shit down. That’s way down on the list. Here are the top 10 cardinal rules your fitness center probably won’t tell you.

Gym etiquette #1:  If you use the free weights, PUT THEM BACK. Your mom doesn’t work here.

Gym etiquette #2:  ASK to work in. Do not just jump on equipment, especially if a there’s a water bottle, bag, phone, towel, keys or person anywhere near the item you wish to use.  Someone could be super-setting. It’s RUDE to do so without asking first.

funny-annoying-gymGym etiquette #3: Do not SIT on equipment between sets. Do not sit on equipment while on your phone. Get the fuck outta here with that crap. It’s not your personal office chair.

Gym etiquette #4: Do not lift dumbbells AT THE RACK, thus blocking everyone else. Common fucking sense. Step back. Way back.  #Hog

Gym etiquette #5: Try to avoid working out directly in front of someone who is already using the mirror.  It’s called checking form. Form mirinis more important than weight when working out. (It’s not what you lift/do, it’s HOW you lift/do it.)

Gym etiquette #6: Did I mention re-racking your weights? Oh, I did. Well, fucking DO IT. This means YOU, Leg Press Guy Who Leaves Plates Fully Loaded And Then Just Walks Away. #Cunt

Gym etiquette #7: Too much cologne, perfume…cigarettes…just don’t fucking STINK. Being on a packed treadmill section near you is absolutely nauseating. It can also be quite dangerous for those who have breathing issues and trigger asthma attacks.

82280560483206283c0c77cd363e116aecae974d4443bda39d59d31b68cbbb71Gym etiquette #8: Wipe down equipment consciously. WOMEN DO NOT WANT TO SIT ON WET FUCKING SEATS FULL OF CHEMICALS! #YeastInfections!

Stick to wiping handles and sweaty backs. I’ve been working out a long, long time…back when no one wiped anything down in gyms. In those days, we never heard of anyone catching anything – and I’m an admitted germ-phobic (with several auto immune diseases) who eschews shaking hands in lieu of a fist bump in a business where that is a no-no. No one is catching the flu from sitting on the ass-end of a gym seat cushion unless they’re licking it right after someone else has already licked it. Don’t wipe it and leave it wet for the next person to sit on. Fucking ick. #fungus #CrotchRot #AthletesCrotch #JockItch

Gym etiquette #9: Do not judge others’ workouts. They could be working around an injury, disability or simply doing the best they can. #SomeDaysItTakeALotOfCaffeine #LikeAWHOLELOT

1966924_10153898133460297_1605383182_nGym etiquette #10: Do not judge fit people as vain – or heavy people as lazy. We are all in there for the same reason. Everyone wants to get healthier, better ourselves and have a nice, hard stomach and ass. Probably not in that order. #AbsAndBootyForDays

I’m not going to touch upon socializing during workouts, hitting on others, grunting/yelling, dropping weights or wearing almost nothing in gyms. This kind of stuff has been going on forever and always will. It’s a gym. If you want silence, conservative clothing and no sexual undercurrent, go to church or find a place to jog alone. Otherwise, you’ll need to accept, adapt and wear a “fuck off, leave me alone” face with music blasting in your ears. Complaining about these issues is akin to bitching about the amount fur and dander at the local pet store where you pick up your feed. Animals are allowed in pet stores. Tiny shorts, weight clanging and grunting are allowed in gyms. Just because you are now there doesn’t mean you get f4d9b9a8d3e0b36ba1fba10950803261to change the rules.

If you don’t understand any of the above-mentioned terms (super-setting, form, RE-RACK YOUR FUCKING WEIGHTS, etc), Google it. The more you learn, the better.

Despite what your facility may tell you in order to keep profiting each month, gym etiquette is not just about wiping down equipment.  It’s about paying attention to what/who is around you (even with ear-buds in), being considerate and cleaning up after yourself.

These rules are fairly ‘common sense’, but common sense is so rare lately, it’s now classed as a super power. Don’t take offense. This is for your own good. These 10 Gym Commandments are meant to help you on your quest to be successful. After all, people are keen to complain about anything and everything these days and you’re not above having your membership revoked without refund if someone decides they don’t care for how you conduct yourself.

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If this offends you, then you’re probably the exact person who doesn’t belong in the gym, doesn’t play well with others and you weren’t raised…you just grew up.

Let’s not be ignorant douche bags. We all have to share space. 

Thank you,

Everyone.

Ps. Think about that chicken and rice meal. Seriously. We could use some new options over here.

 

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April Hunter is a national level NPC Fitness & Figure competitor, professional wrestler, former Met-RX & Extreme Nutrition spokes-model, Playboy & comic book model, full-time student, coffee snob, road rage enthusiast and world renowned potty mouth. She uses the C-word as liberally as you use butter on your biscuits.***

***…Which you shouldn’t be eating, since biscuits are useless, crappy (deliciously evil) carbs. But the butter is just fine.

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See more of April on Instagram @realAprilHunter, www.AprilHunter.com and Twitter @AprilHunter. She’s also on Facebook.com/AprilHunterOfficial and AprilsScentSations Soy Candles. 

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