Regarding Chris Cornell

I had the chance to see Audioslave live in concert right after their first album was released. They were incredible.

I can’t say I was ever the biggest Soundgarden fan but ‘Blackhole Sun,’ ‘Spoonman,’ ‘Ty Cobb,’ and ‘Rusty Cage’ are all songs I’ve LOVED at different points. The Johnny Cash cover of ‘Rusty Cage’ is perhaps one of the most underrated tracks of the American Recordings sessions with Rick Rubin. Looking through their catalogue today I was taken aback by really how much of it I knew and loved already.

I can’t say I ever knew all that much about Chris Cornell. I never really felt the need to make a point to. That said I always admired his talent and passion. His artistry, his craft, and his ability to capture emotion both lyrically and aurally.

I can’t help but think of my friend Matt Ryd at times like these. Matt was a good friend and a talented musician. Unfortunately we lost him to suicide a few years ago as well. I feel like he’d have a lot of say on this topic.

I’ve seen people on Twitter say “Chris somehow didn’t know how much people loved him.” And while I appreciate the sentiment, that irks me.

We don’t know Chris’ struggle, but I do know that depression is a cruel master. Yes, support and love and care can help, definitely, but it’s not that simple. Matt always used to say that he couldn’t kill himself because he couldn’t do that to the people who loved him. He knew he was loved and yet, here we are.  The whole world can love you and you can still hate yourself, or face crippling anxiety. Many “normal” people do.

This moment, while we mourn Chris, it isn’t just an opportunity to share the suicide hotline number (1-800-273-8255). That is good, that does help, but we should talk about mental illness in the open.

We need to stop stigmatizing it. We need to treat it as any other illness. As my friend Katherine put it:

Yeah, it’s like saying someone who died of cancer didn’t know how loved they were. It doesn’t have a direct correlation to the disease.

We can start de-stigmatizing by stopping using terms like “crazy” and “psycho” offhandedly to dismiss things we disagree with. And more importantly, those of us who can need to start talking about our own struggles. Not for attention or pity, but to normalize it, to remove the shame for others.

That said:

I suffer from anxiety and it’s fucked up my life pretty hard at times. I used to have full blown panic attacks and shut down. They are less common now, but it’s taken a lot of work for me to get here, and I still have a lot of work to do still.

One of the biggest things that has helped has been talking about it. In talking to friends about it, I’ve had more and more people tell me about their own struggles.

That’s the key:

You are not alone. There is no “normal.” Even the most “together” people in the world have stuff they suffer from. They just hide it because of fear or shame and the stigma associated.

We need to defeat that stigma.

This is literally a matter of life and death for someone you love.

Speak up.

Thanks.

To Memphis and Beyond

After leaving New Orleans we head back north again to Tennessee. This time to Memphis instead of Nashville. The drive was uneventful until our stop in Jackson Mississippi for lunch we took the suggestion of Mindy’s friend Osid Riley and checked out Keifer’s for a Greek lunch, a welcome change from all the BBQ we’ve been ingesting.

We could see the capital building from where we parked so we decided to walk over it. There we found a somber ceremony on the front lawn for Mississippi Department of Transportation workers who were struck and killed while working on the highways. I stood in the back taking it in for a while and a nice lady informed me of what was going on. It was truly moving. In a tribute that reminded my slightly of the ghost bikes to remember fallen cyclists they had set up road cones, each with a white worker’s helmet placed on top of it.

The capital itself was a beautiful building with the high steps and domed roof you’d expect from such thing but what really caught our eyes were the statues. They had a replica of the liberty bell in front as well as a monument to confederate women, complete with sculpted confederate flags. The embracement of the rebel flag is something jarring to me. I knew it was still a symbol that some clung to but it’s weird to see it as a celebrated piece of history in this area. Fascinating and disturbing to me at the same time.

From there we continued north and arrived in Memphis. Although our friends Kyle and Courtney were waiting for us at their home James insisted we check out Goner Records before they closed that evening. We looked up prices and times for Graceland as well and found it to be obscenely overpriced.

After getting set up at Kyle and Courtney’s we made our way out to get dinner. Of course Memphis is famous for it’s BBQ so it was the obvious choice again. I swear that when this trip is over I am lying off BBQ for AT LEAST a month. My arteries hate me right now but I cannot deny that it was the best we’d had on the trip so far. Over dinner Kyle told us about a beer place called Flying Saucer that has a beer club membership and over 200 beer choices and a website to log your beers. Seeing as how I’m attempting to try as many different beers as possible this suddenly became a ‘need to do’ item.

Sure enough I joined the beer club, drank a Ghost River Copperhead Irish Red, a Yazoo Sue, and a Sam Adams Black lager. All of which were excellent. The Sue was particularly interested as it was a smoked porter, the first of it’s kind that I’ve tried. I am not usually a fan of porters but I was pleasantly surprised. A few of Kyle’s coworkers from the local Apple store joined us for drinks and we spent the night swapping stories.

The next morning James, Courtney and I went over to get a traditional southern style breakfast at a deliciously greasy little place called Bryant’s, the first real breakfast we’ve had on the trip. From there James and I made our way to the legendary Sun Studios, the birthplace of Rock and Roll and original home to Elvis, Johnny Cash and more. Standing in the spots that these legends first recorded was an honor. They even have an original Shure 55 vocal mic that was used by these greats that, on the wishes of their founder, is available to hold and pose with.

Memphis was great, a worthwhile trip and we definitely didn’t give ourselves enough time there. Hopefully I’ll be back at some point.

Enjoy the photos!