Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Stars Shining Bright Above You

Oh, dear friends near and far who want to make absolutely sure that I saw Corey Feldman's performance on TODAY. I love you guys, Just no. Can't.

Look, I get why everyone is gleefully clicking and sharing and tagging me. Did you see? You gotta see. I get it. In my circle I'm known to be a flag-waving, card-carrying, true-blue Generation X pop culture maven, my latchkey kid, TV-addled brain way overloaded with massive volumes of useless trivia in such subjects as Schoolhouse Rock, Spandex, when to use gel versus mousse, Madonna, Ronald Reagan's policies, the right way to make a mix tape, Oliver North, new wave, Tiger Beat Star and more details about The Brady Bunch than any normal person ever needs to know. It's not good, nor is it useful in any practical way in life, it's just how I do all this shit.

No, I don't gotta see. Setting aside the fact that I've seen him sing and dance on Youtube easily 8 or so years ago, this isn't news to me. But more importantly, it's not funny to me. You know what I see when Corey Feldman is on the screen? A person who is not well. I've been down that deep, dark hole of batshit crazy, and everything about his behavior is looking pretty serious to me.

Imagine living in Corey Feldman's head. He's thoughtful and intelligent, emotional, he's always been eccentric. Imagine already being a differently-wired kind of kid, navigating the substance-fueled gauntlet of fame that took so many lives. Imagine growing to your teens, 20s, 30s and 40s and regularly getting phone calls with news that another contemporary is dead. River Phoenix is dead. Dana Plato is dead. Corey Haim is dead. Heath Ledger is dead. Brittany Murphy is dead. Michael Jackson is dead. Cobain. Whitney. Farley.

It's a relief that we still have Drew Barrymore, Johnny Depp, Robert Downy Jr. Some made it out, but were never quite right after the the tumult of that punishingly harsh workover on the body and brain. Too many drugs, too much booze, plus a warped lifestyle and a mercurial psyche. All that stuff rewires your brain. Danny Bonaduce talks about it all the time. So many of these kids missed the gold ring on the merry-go-round of "normal."  It sounds hard, and it sounds lonely and crowded at the same time.

Given all that he's been through, if even half of the stories are true, it's a miracle that Corey Feldman wasn't one of the headlines. Well, wasn't one of the dead headlines. 

The shiny "Just Say No" pamphlets were a fucking joke, Robin Williams probably used them to snort cocaine. Today there is more tangible, actual help available. More rehab, less recklessness. More yoga and veganism, less hookers and blow. The realities of mental illness are surfacing, the general public is learning the connection between depression and heroin, anxiety and booze. Back then it seemed like there was some sheen of badassery about just not giving a fuck how you get through your day, as long as the show goes on. Wasn't the mere mention of a celebrity's name in the same sentence as "Betty Ford" an instant punchline? 

It's weird when your brain stops working. When I had my breakdown in February 2014, I thought I had figured out the answer to world peace. I thought it was whispered to me in the night by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, whose death had been announced that day. I was positive that he picked me to tell the world what he found out in the afterlife. I posted some weird stuff on Facebook. My friends must have all known that I was losing my mind, but to me, it was just a thing that was happening as clearly as cooking dinner or doing the laundry. You don't realize while it's happening that synapses are misfiring and you're losing touch with reality.

I had people. My people rallied around me like an army of heroes and I got the help, and I got better. I didn't have the celebrity to go national on a world stage with a back-up band dressed as angels. See, I don't think Corey knows that he isn't a dancer. He doesn't get that this is all weird. I think he thinks he's doing great. He might be up there thinking that he is channeling the spirit of his lost idol and friend Michael Jackson. Doesn't Corey Feldman have people?

Whatever is going on, I feel bad for Corey Feldman. Yes, I can see how you think I'm your Gen-X girl for the news cycle, but no, I'm not joining in the "let's all make fun of Corey Feldman" festivities. We practically grew up together. I've liked Corey ever since he was Reggie in The Bad News Bears. We were 9 years old.

Hey, I might be totally wrong. Maybe Corey Feldman, having gotten clean and sober years ago, is now perfectly rational and clear-headed and this is all just a wild shot taken by an eccentric celebrity to test boundaries, like what Miley Cyrus did with the weird protruding tongue and all that twerking.

Could be, but do you really think? Does that sound right to you?