Saturday, November 17, 2018

"Beautiful Boy" Is A Story About "Everything"

"Close your eyes
Have no fear
The monster's gone
He's on the run and your daddy's here

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy"

"Double Fantasy" John Lennon, 1980

By Patty Smith
Bowling Green, Ky.
A book and movie review

About three years ago I read David Sheff's book, "Beautiful Boy" about his son, Nic, and his addiction to drugs and alcohol.   The book was so intense and amazing, I read it three more times.

On Facebook one day, I met David and we chatted.  His Facebook page is awesome, too, with stories about many, many parents who have been through similar episodes of alcohol and drugs with their children, though not always ending as happily as Nic's story.  (Nic is now "clean and sober" for ten years.) 

As we chatted one day, I asked David if he would please autograph my book if I sent it to him.  Instead, he sent me a signed copy of "Clean," his latest book that deals with ways and means for children and adults alike to overcome addiction.

As soon as I heard about the movie coming out, I anxiously awaited it to come to Bowling Green, Ky., my hometown.  It hit our theaters last weekend and my husband and I viewed the movie at The Great Escape 12 on Saturday afternoon.

The movie followed along much as the book, and the characters that were chosen to play David and Nic (Steve Carrell and  Timothee Chalamel ) really fit right into the bill.

Although I don't have any addicts in my immediate family, I do have some friends who are.  However, in 1989 after a very messy divorce from my first husband, three years earlier,  I turned to alcohol when the pain of losing my two daughters was too hard to bear.  Alcohol did the ease the pain WHILE I was drinking, but harsh reality finally would set in, along with guilt and shame and other negative emotions alcohol does cause afterward.

Nic Sheff was also from a divorced family, and hated when he had to travel to and from his home outside Los Angeles. (Inverness) to New York, to see his mother,  to fulfill conditions of the shared custody arrangement.  When he was growing up he and his father really had quite the bond.  When no more words would come when David would be trying to express how deep his love was, he resorted to one word "everything." So when the father and son would often say "everything" they both knew that their love was so deep and so beyond words that "everything" would let each know that depth.

Many people found this movie very hard to watch as Nic's disease progressed from marijuana to alcohol to other more serious drugs like heroin and meth.  It is hard to see him and his girlfriend in her living room with spoon filled with crystal meth and shooting it into each other veins after it was "cooked" in the spoon.  The most terrifying intense scene was when his girlfriend overdosed and he was desperately trying to bring her back to life, as he did, just as the emergency ambulance arrived.  She recovered and was taken to the a hospital for treatment.

David had remarried and his family consisted also of his wife Karen, and his son and Jasper and Daisy his daughter.  The brotherly love these children had for their older brother was evident from the start, even before his addiction began.  Wife Karen supported David throughout their marriage when David lay awake many nights wondering where Nic was and if he was alive or dead, calling hospitals to see if he had been admitted.  David often drove around looking for Nic and would sometimes find him hanging out with other addicts.  Many many attempts at rehabilitation had failed and Nic would again attempt to get clean and sober.

Finally alone in a bathroom in New York visiting his mom, in his aloneness and despair, Nic shot up one more time.  He is seen kicking out what could have been his final life on that cold bathroom floor.  But he was found in time and David was called to come to New York.  The doctor said he didn't know how Nic had survived with the amount of drugs in his body, but thankfully he did. in the final scene father and son, arms around each other, holding each other up, leave the hospital temporarily to sit outside in the sunshine and just "be together".

I had pondered over this movie and book many times. Was "Beautiful Boy" about David struggle to help his son or was it more about the addict Nic who struggled so long to get clean?  The movie is also about always having hope, never giving up on your child or your addict or alcoholic. It's about hanging in there.

In conclusion, I quote David from his latest book, "Clean," when he says,  "... most drug use is not really about the's about LIFE."  So when my husband said after watching the movie that the movie was really not about the drugs but about the non-dying, non-failing love between a father and son.  Through this unfailing love, David didn't give up and saw his son through his final recovery.  So what is "Beautiful Boy" really about?  The love beyond compare that no one can's just "Everything."

Patty Smith and her "Beautiful Boy" and son, "Tony"
Patty Smith is retired and is a former correspondent for Western Kentucky Catholic.  She is also an avid reader, movie fan, crossword puzzle champion and Jeopardy fan.  She lives in Bowling Green with her husband, Galen, and their Australian Shepherd named "Jude."  Patty and Galen's son, "Tony" is a graphic artist, a musician, a songwriter, producer and studio sound reccording engineer who lives in Nashville.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

"Bohemian Rhapsody" Rekindles A Fire In The Hearts And Souls Of Queen Fans In Theaters Across America

    I was never a major, big, superfan of the rock band, "Queen," while growing up down in the American South in the 70's and 80's.

   But, I liked Queen and I liked a lot of their songs that were played on the rock radio stations back in those days.  I think everybody from the American rock scene, concert goers, party scene people, rock fans, radio listeners and album buyers liked Queen back then. And I think just about everybody knew who Freddie Mercury was too.  He was the lead singer from Queen who had the funny looking teeth but had a voice that could beat any opera singer's range of sounds, tones or harmonies.  And the band was kick ass too with Brian May on lead guitar, Roger Taylor on drums and John Deacon of bass.


     The first time I ever heard of Queen was when I was about 13 years-old in 1975 while living in East Memphis.  I was spending the night at friend's house and we watched the official "Bohemian Rhapsody" video on The Midnight Special television show which showcased popular rock musical acts on late Saturday nights in the 1970's during its heyday.   We were blown away by the video and the band.  We were like, "Wow, who are these guys?  They are so unique and different!"  And of course, we continued to hear hit after hit on the rock radio stations during those years of our youth on up through the late 80's.  Someone also bought me their "News Of The World" rock album for my 16th Birthday in 1978 and I absolutely loved it!  I listened to it over and over. I loved the artwork on the album cover and some of the big hit songs like, "We Are The Champions" and "We Will Rock You." Then MTV, the mega, super music video cable channel appeared in our homes across America and the world in the early 80's and the rest is rock history.   

   When Queen played Live in 1985, the band became a rock legend with their music and albums, concert performances and music videos.  Also, I remember one time in 1978, when Queen came to Memphis to play the Mid-South coliseum, the show sold out immediately.  They had a solid base of fans in Memphis.  One of my friends who lived in North Mississippi, who was originally from Memphis like me, had a brother who was a gigantic Queen fan. He bought front row tickets and presented the band during the concert a bouquet of roses and a plaque honoring their visit to Memphis.  I was also friends with the guy who drove the limousine that took them from the Hyatt Regency Hotel in East Memphis to the Mid-South Coliseum before and after the show.  My friend said that the band was really nice and cordial too. That was about my total knowledge of Queen at the time.

      Later on, I think most people in the world had heard rumors that Mercury was gay and had aids. And of course, a lot of people put two and two together and probably assumed he died from the consequences of his lifestyle.  I really didn't think much about it or could care less.  I figured that was his business and I still enjoyed his music and the fact that he was great performer.  That's what I remembered Mercury for.  And for a lot of Americans, I think life just went on and we didn't think a whole lot about it anymore.  We put it in the back of our minds and we just lived life, working and paying the bills.  However, we still loved Queen and their music regardless.

     Then we start seeing this movie trailer for the new Queen biopic called "Bohemian Rhapsody" on social media and especially on Facebook during the last several months.  I know I posted the trailer several times on my Facebook.  I was excited to go see the movie and my wife and I watched it at The Great Escape 12 theater in here Bowling Green, Ky.  We loved it! I thought it was a wonderful movie and I think the producers and director did a great job with it.  The actors were wonderful too!  And the music was incredible!

    The movie starts out in 1970 when Queen was basically a college band in a London club.  Their lead singer and guitar player quits after the gig. Mercury had already been a fan of the band.  Later on he approaches Brian May and Roger Taylor and makes a proposal to join the band.  Eventually he joins and so does John Deacon on bass.  The movie shows a lot behind the scenes about the band that their fans will find interesting like how they created certain hits songs in the studio like "Bohemian Rhapsody," "We Will Rock You," and "Another Bites The Dust" Also, the movie revolves around Mercury's relationship with his girlfriend, Mary.  He had proposed to her but later on they drift apart when Mercury admits to her that he is bi-sexual. But they still remain close. We also find out that Mercury loves cats too which is adorable!

     The movie depicts times of turmoil in the life of the band but ends on a note of triumph with the scene where band plays Live Aid and it leaves you with a feeling exhilaration.  What I liked best about the movie that it has a strong element of forgiveness.  The band forgives Mercury after he had left the band to record two solo albums for four million dollars without telling them first. And also, there had always been tension between Mercury and his father because his father thought that Mercury had not turned out like he should have.  But you see a strong level of forgiveness when Mercury and his lover stop by his parents apartment in London and his father hugs him before he heads off to play the Live Aid concert. After I got home after watching the movie, I loaded up my Amazon Prime app on my iPhone with Queen hits songs, put my ear plugs in and went out into the backyard to listen to their music while I played with my dog.  The movie rekindled a fire in my heart and soul and it had even inspired me to create a playlist for Queen's hit songs. I will start listening to them on a regular basis again especially while driving down the road in my work truck.
    If you're are a big Queen fan still to this day, you should definitely go see this movie.  If you were somewhat of Queen fan like me, you should still should go see this movie like I did.  And you were never a Queen fan and if you decide to go see the movie, you will become a Queen fan after seeing this movie!