Thursday, May 27, 2010

In Which I Just Have To Look

Yesterday ranks up there with one of the worst May days I can remember, weather-wise.    The thermometer on my car climbed to 100 degress, and the pollen was so thick the backyard looked foggy.   My dark blue car turned neon yellow.   

Finn insisted on trying to go to the playground for a picnic.   It lasted four minutes, what with the sneezing and the burning of hands on the roasting metal playground structure.   

We gave up, and spent the day hunkered down indoors.   I was feeling edgy, cooped up and headachy.   A perfect time to catch up on current events troll for gossip on the internet.

My favorite gossip center is TMZ.   I settled in to enjoy some dish, but was immediately struck by all the stories about addiction.   There were five - count 'em - FIVE stories yesterday alone that had to do with celebrities struggling with alcoholism or drug abuse.    And, tragically, two stories about premature deaths due to the use and abuse of drugs.    Click back two or three pages and that number climbs to four.   

Of course, there were several stories about everyone's favorite train wreck, Lindsay Lohan.   I feel for that girl, I really do, because between her crazy childhood and constant scrutiny by the media, her struggles with addiction have been reduced to fodder for the gossip rags.    She has evolved into something of a joke, and I fear one day I'll click to TMZ and read that she has overdosed.   Remember Anna Nicole Smith?   We all loved to watch her, agape at her antics.   She's dead.  

These two pictures alone demonstrate what drugs and alcohol have done to this 23 year old (photos courtesy of

A judge recently issued her a SCRAM bracelet (which randomly tests for alcohol or drugs in someone's system, and cannot be removed, something she had before, back in 2007).   My heart sank, though, when I read about a caveat in the judge's order; she can take two drugs that are prescribed to her by a doctor:   Adderall and Ambien.   Adderall is a stimulant prescribed for ADHD, and Ambien is a sleep aid.   In other words:  speed and a downer.    Abuse of prescription drugs is rampant amongst young people, and her chances of getting sober are greatly diminished if she is taking these two drugs.    

Mindy McCready, a recent graduate of Celebrity Rehab 3 for treatment of alcoholism, made the news because her mother called 911, fearing a drug overdose.   Mindy admitted to taking 25 pills of Darvocet, a painkiller, as well as another muscle relaxant.   She remains hospitalized due to fears of a suicide attempt.    Mindy has released statements that her mother "overreacted", and it is impossible to know the whole truth, but yet again prescription medication rears its ugly head.

Rip Torn appeared in court to face charges stemming from an incident in February, where he entered a bank, intoxicated and waving a gun around, confused and thinking he was in his own home.   The pain in his eyes in his mug shot makes my heart ache.  According to news reports, he completed an alcohol education course and is considering rehab, so it is likely both the attempted robbery charge and two DUI charges will be dropped.   

Jason Wahler, from the television show Laguna Beach, is potentially signing on to Celebrity Rehab 4, after a string of arrests due to alcohol related incidents and DUIs over the past few years.   Alcohol has aged Jason considerably in the past three years.   He is 23 years old.:

Tila Tequila has signed on to Celebrity Rehab 4 as well, for an addiction to prescription painkillers.

All this in just yesterday's news.   Add to this the death of Brittany Murphy's husband, Simon Monjack, at the age of 39.  Monjack was awaiting heart bypass surgery, but sources say prescription drug abuse played a key role in the deterioration of his health.  Brittany Murphy (the actress from Girl, Interrupted, Clueless and several other films) died in December of 2009 at age 32.   The cause of death was a combination of pneumonia, an iron deficiency and multiple drug intoxication, a coroner said. The drugs involved were legal and used to treat a respiratory infection, according to an autopsy.   Nobody owns the truth, but I see this double tragedy as two lives cut short as a direct result of drug abuse.

If the gossip rags aren't talking about peoples' troubles with drugs and alcohol, of course the next favorite topic is who's fat and who's not.    TMZ posted this picture of Ashlee and Jessica Simpson:

Comments about Ashlee's post-baby body (what's left of it) versus Jessica's curves were rampant.    Adding to the post-baby body frenzy was this picture of Bethenny Frankel, of Real Housewives of New York, who gave birth sixteen days ago:

We dont' have all day, so I won't go on a tirade about the unrealistic demands this places on women to bounce right back from childbirth.   All I will say is someone, please, give that woman a sandwich.

I'll end on a positive note.   I blogged about Michael Ventrella's struggles on the Biggest Loser.    Michael was the heaviest contestent ever on the show, beginning at 526 lbs.     He won the competition, losing a staggering 264 pounds:

I find his story very inspiring.   On the days I just don't feel like working out, or I feel like I can't stand my new healthy diet for one more second, I think about how much courage he had, how he didn't give up.   If he can do it, I can do it too.

Don't get me wrong, I wallow in the gossip rags and websites as much as the next person.    I think the whole point is that it's almost impossible to look away.     But while we're staring, I hope some good can be done, some recognition that drug abuse is killing off young people, that alcoholism is more than a splashy story on the front page.    These are very real diseases that are immune to socio-economic, cultural, ethnic and celebrity status.   

Even though I look, I wish that people would put the cameras down and reach out a hand instead.


  1. My boss and I were talking about Lindsey the other day. Mainly about how horrible she looks and how much she's aged! Poor thing looks a good ten years older than what she is. I wasn't aware of her being allowed adderal and ambien. You're right; that is a disaster waiting to happen if she continues taking them.
    So Sad! Especially when you watch her movies from when she was young. She was so cute and talented.

  2. I know that celebs are pushed into the spot light and all because of their status, but still, when they're dealing with things so intimate, they should be given some privacy. LL just makes me sad. She really does.

  3. WOW! Amazing blog Ellie! You nailed everything right on the head.

  4. I had to stop reading the celeb gossip stuff, it was so depressing. But it's so hard not to look. It's fascinating to see peoples lives on the page (hence... reading blogs... lol) but especially to see what people do when in the spot light. Interesting, and heart breaking all at once.

  5. This rings so true for me. I love Huff Post for their news but find myself more and more reading their entertainment column which is really raw and catty with the celeb news. What are we coming to? Thanks for posting this. Are we all reading this stuff now?

  6. Oh no, I heart Rip Torn - what a talented dude. Praying for the celebs and non-celebs alike.

  7. It's very, very sad. I know from the stories in the Big Book that people have their own rock bottoms. I don't know what Lindsay's is (or Amy Winehouse's, for another example), but it's scary to watch. Can you force a person into rehab and hope they'll hear something that changes their mind and heart forever?

  8. wow. it is so sad, remember Lindsey in the Parent Trap remake? just a kid :(

  9. Love this blog post. Thanks for the dose of reality. Yes.. I'm a looker too. But I'm also a sufferer. I've seen what food and drugs/alcohol abuse can do to someone.