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Posts Tagged ‘WHITNEY HOUSTON’

CELEBRITIES AND TRAGEDY–GENUINE AND SELF-INFLICTED

In Entertainment, History, Medical, Social commentary on May 10, 2018 at 12:18 am

Whtney Houston drowned in her bathtub at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 11, 2012. 

The cause of death: Coronary artery disease—and cocaine use.  She was 48.

Ever since, reporters and commentators have repeatedly used the word “tragedy” to describe her fate. 

But there are tragedies that are brought on by events beyond human control—and tragedies that are self-inflicted.

Consider:

Julie Andrews: Whose four-octave soprano voice has delighted audiences for decades on Broadway (Camelot, My Fair Lady) and movies (Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music). 

In 1964, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress (for Mary Poppins).

Her performance in The Sound of Music made it the highest-grossing film of 1965—and won her a second Golden Globe Award for Best Actress.

Julie Andrews, in her best-loved role as “Mary Poppins”

In 1997, she underwent surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center to remove non-cancerous nodules in her throat. The nodules were removed—but so was her ability to sing.

Her husband, Blake Edwards, was widely quoted as saying that Andrews’ voice hds been all but ruined: ”If you heard it, you’d weep.”

Whitney Houston: Blessed with beauty, charm and a golden, intense singing voice that can turn even the almost-unsingable “Star Spangled Banner” into a rousing anthem.

As a beloved, internationally-recognized vocalist, she enjoyed even greater fame and wealth as a movie star (The Bodyguard, Waiting to Exhale).

Whitney Houston Welcome Home Heroes 1 cropped.jpg

Whitney Houston

Meanwhile, she took on increasingly deadly habits. She chain-smoked cigarettes. And marijuana—“a lot.” She dove into alcohol, pills, cocaine.

During a 2002 interview with Diane Sawyer, she denied using crack. Not because it’s lethal, or because it would destroy The Voice that she believed was God’s gift to her.

No, it was because “I make too much money to ever smoke crack. Let’s get that straight. OK? We don’t do crack. We don’t do that. Crack is whack.”

Image result for Images of crack cocaine crystals

Crack cocaine

In 2006, the National Enquirer ran an interview with her sister-in-law, Tina, who charged that Houston spent her days locked in her bedroom “smoking crack, using sex toys to satisfy herself and ignoring personal hygiene.”

Then, in 2009, appearing on Oprah Winfrey’s season premiere, Houston finally admitted that she used drugs with her ex-husband, Bobby Brown, who “laced marijuana with rock cocaine.” 

In other words, crack. 

So, apparently, crack wasn’t whack.

Over time, the once-magnificent instrument that was your voice started to change noticeably. She could no longer hit high notes, or hold one the way she did in her immortal hit, “I Will Always Love You.”

Her voice now sounded hoarse, raspy.

In 2010, she embarked on a “Nothing But Love World Tour.” It was a disaster. In Brisbane, she paused during singing to take a drink of water.

A critic said her performance in London was marked by a strained voice filled with coughs and wheezes.

Fans felt cheated—especially after paying $165 for a ticket—and reacted with jeers and boos.  Some walked out in mid-concert.

On the night before her death, Houston become belligerent and almost duked it out with singer Stacy Francis at the Tru Hollywood nightclub. Her boyfriend, Ray J, had to step in to prevent a fistfight.

Houston was seen leaving the club drunk, with scratches and blood-stains on her legs.

* * * * *

Whose tragedy was genuine—and which was self-inflicted?

The ugly truth is that Whitney Houston’s singing career ended long before her life did.

When people remember her monumental hits like “I Will Always Love You,” they’re recalling a time more than 20 years ago.

Another ugly truth is that each of us is responsible for our own actions.

Attorney and talk-show host Nancy Grace blamed Houston’s doctors for her death. She argued that they had kept writing prescriptions for “America’s songbird” when they knew she was an addict.

But Houston was the one who requested that they write those prescriptions. And she was the one who administered them.

The same chain of events occurred in the Michael Jackson case.

Jackson wanted his drug-of-choice: propofol, a hypnotic sedative used for general anesthesia.  And he got it.

He paid his private doctor, Conrad Murray, $150,000—a-month. For a salary that large, Jackson clearly expected to get more than the standard: “Take two aspirins and call me in the morning.”

So he got what he wanted—and it killed him.

Houston, for all her charm, was also used to getting her own way.  Once. on an airplane, she tried to light up in the bathroom.  When the pilot warned that she could be fined $2,000, she offered to write out a check that moment if she could have her smoke. The pilot refused.

No matter how famous, talented, beautiful and/or wealthy you might be, in the end, you remain a mere mortal. Even if you are allowed to flout the laws of man, you will be held accountable by your own body for bouts of deadly excess.

That, in the end, is the real legacy of Whitney Houston. And Michael Jackson. And Elvis Presley.  And Marilyn Monroe. And a great many other now-dead celebrities.

Sadly, it is a truth that both celebrities and their worshipers must re-learn—over and over.

MIXING SEX WITH SECURITY

In Business, Law Enforcement, Social commentary on September 6, 2012 at 12:00 am

It appears that supermodel Heidi Klum should have paid more attention to the 1992 film, “The Bodyguard.”

And so should have her bodyguard, Martin Kristen.

Her soon-to-be ex-husband, Seal–an English singer best known for his hit song “Kissed by a Rose”–has accused the two of having more than a professional relationship.

In “The Bodyguard,” Kevin Costner plays Frank Farmer, an ex-Secret Service agent hired to protect Rachel Marron, a famous singer played by Whitney Houston (in her acting debut).

Marron has received threatening letters and clearly needs protection.  But she’s willful, spoiled, and difficult to safeguard.  Farmer gets off to a rocky start with her, but, over time, the relationship steadily improves.

Then, one night, Farmer commits the sin that no professional bodyguard must ever commit: He tumbles into bed with Marron.

The next day, he realizes the magnitude of his mistake and tells Marron: “That can’t happen again.  I can’t be your lover and your bodyguard.”

Marron is enraged.  She can’t understand Farmer’s apparent coldness toward her.  So she becomes even more defiant, refusing to follow even basic security precautions.

That is, until she gets a threatening call from the man she is now certain intends to kill her.  From then on, she readily accepts all of Farmer’s orders.

The climax of the movie occurs in a wildly improbable attack on Marron at–of all places–the Academy Awards.  The would-be killer targets her with a gun hidden inside a video camera.

As the red-dot laser sight closes in on Marron, a wounded Farmer blasts a shot through the camera lens, taking out the hitman.

The movie ends with Marron and Farmer going their separate ways.  But not before Marron yells “Stop!” to the pilot of her private jet as it’s taking off.  She then rushes out and throws her grateful arms around Farmer.

The last sight of them together comes with a voice-over of Houston singing, “I’ll Always Love You.”

Now, fast-forward to a real-life version of the movie.

After seven years of marriage, Klum separated from Seal in January and filed for divorce in April.  And the musician had no doubts as to where the blame lay.

Seal

Speaking with TMZ, he said: “Whilst I didn’t expect anything better from [the bodyguard] I would have thought that Heidi would have shown a little more class and at least waited until we separated first before deciding to fornicate with the  help.

“But I guess you all now have the answer you  have been looking for for the last seven months.”

Klum, 39, has denied having an extramarital affair with Kristen, who has guarded her for the last four years.

Through a PR rep, Klum told the tabloid TV series, Access Hollywood: “It is sad that Seal has to resort to false accusations.”

And Seal himself has since “clarified” his accusation through his own PR rep: “He was not implying that his wife was cheating while they were together, but he was merely pointing out that their separation and divorce were not final and they are still legally married.”

Tabloid TV and magazines have zeroed in on photos of Klum and Kristen “getting close” during a family vacation in Italy.

Martin Kristen and Heidi Klum

And rumors of a romance gained more credibility when an anonymous “friend” of Klum’s told PEOPLE that her relationship with Kristen was “complicated” and “hard to define.”

Seal himself has said he doesn’t expect his ex-wife to “suddenly become a nun.”  She is an adult, as is Kristen, and the United States isn’t–fortunately–a theocratic dictatorship such as Saudi Arabia.

But both are juggling with live grenades, and it is Kristen who holds the major responsibility for putting an end to the circus.

If Klum truly needs protection, then she needs it from someone focused solely on providing it.  That means firing Kristen as her bodyguard and hiring a competent professional to provide that service.

As a professional bodyguard, Kristen should know that romance and security don’t mix.  A bodyguard assesses a situation with one set of eyes.  A lover does so with another set entirely.

Mixing romance with security means crossing a line that must never be crossed between a protector and protectee.  It is as sacred a line as that existing between a doctor and patient, lawyer and client.

A bodyguard must remain utterly focused on one goal–ensuring the protection of his client.  He must feel absolutely free to offer his best advice and react to a potentially violent situation as he feels necessary.

And he must do so without worrying that he might upset his client or that the client might fire him for it.

There’s a well-known saying among security professionals: “Dead clients don’t pay.”

And the best way to become an out-of-work bodyguard is to lose your client by paying too much attention to her figure and not enough to potential danger.

TWO LOSSES

In Social commentary, Uncategorized on February 16, 2012 at 12:30 am

Ever since Whtney Houston died on February 11 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, reporters and commentators have repeatedly used the word “tragedy” to describe her fate.

But there are tragedies that are brought on by events beyond human control–and tragedies that are self-inflicted.

Consider:

You’re Julie Andrews, whose four-octave soprano voice has delighted audiences for decades on Broadway (Camelot, My Fair Lady) and movies (Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music).

In 1997, you undergo surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center to remove non-cancerous nodules in your throat. The nodules are removed–but so is your ability to sing.

Your husband, Blake Edwards, is widely quoted as saying that your voice has been all but ruined: ”If you heard it, you’d weep.”

You’re Whitney Houston, blessed with beauty, charm and a golden, intense singing voice that can turn even the almost-unsingable “Star Spangled Banner” into a rousing anthem.

You become a beloved, internationally-recognized vocalist. This brings  you even greater fame and wealth as a movie star (The Bodyguard, Waiting to Exhale).

Meanwhile, you take on increasingly deadly habits. You chain-smoke cigarettes. You smoke marijuana–“a lot.” You dive into alcohol, pills, cocaine. You admit as much during a 2002 interview with Diane Sawyer.

You deny using crack–not because it’s lethal, or because it will destroy The Voice that you believe is God’s gift to you. No, the reason you give pulses with ego:

“Crack is cheap. I make too much money to ever smoke crack. Let’s get that straight. OK? We don’t do crack. We don’t do that. Crack is whack.”

Nevertheless, reports continue to emerge that you’re a hard-core crackhead.

In 2006, the National Enquirer runs an interview with your sister-in-law, Tina, who charges that you spend your days locked in your bedroom “smoking crack, using sex toys to satisfy herself and ignoring personal hygiene.”

Then, in 2009, appearing on Oprah Winfrey’s season premiere, you finally admit that you used drugs with your ex-husband, Bobby Brown, who “laced marijuana with rock cocaine.”  In other words, crack.

Over time, the once-magnificent instrument that is your voice starts to change noticeably. You can no longer hit those high notes, or hold one the way you did in your immortal hit, “I Will Always Love You.”

Your voice now sounds hoarse, raspy.

In 2010, you embark on a “Nothing But Love World Tour.” It’s a disaster. In Brisbane, you pause during singing to take a drink of water.

A critic says your performance in London was marked by a strained voice filled with coughs and wheezes.

Fans feel cheated–especially after paying $165 for a ticket–and react with jeers and boos.  Some walk out in mid-concert.

On the night before your death, you become belligerent and almost duke it out with singer Stacy Francis at the Tru Hollywood nightclub. Your boyfriend, Ray J, has to step in to prevent a fistfight.

You’re seen leaving the club drunk, with scratches and blood-stains on your legs.

* * * * *

Whose tragedy was the predictable–and preventable–one?

The ugly truth is that Houston’s singing career ended long before her life did.

When people remember her monumental hits like “I Will Always Love You,” they’re recalling a time more than 20 years ago.

Another ugly truth is that each of us is responsible for our own actions.

Attorney and talk-show host Nancy Grace recently blamed Houston’s doctors for her death.  She argued that they had kept writing prescriptions for “America’s songbird” when they knew she was an addict.

But Houston was the one who requested that they write those prescriptions.  And she was the one who administered them.

The same chain of events occurred in the Michael Jackson case.

Jackson wanted his drug-of-choice: propofol, a hypnotic sedative used for general anesthesia.  And he got it.

He paid his private doctor, Conrad Murray, $150,000-a-month.  For a salary that large, Jackson clearly expected to get more than the standard: “Take two aspirins and call me in the morning.”

So he got what he wanted–and it killed him.

Houston, for all her charm, was also used to getting her own way.  Once. on an airplane, she tried to light up in the bathroom.  When the pilot warned that she could be fined $2,000, she offered to write out a check that moment if she could have her smoke.  The pilot refused.

No matter how famous, talented, beautiful and/or wealthy you might be, in the end, you remain a mere mortal.  Even if you are allowed to flout the laws of man, you will be held accountable by your own body for bouts of deadly excess.

That, in the end, is the real legacy of Whitney Houston.  And Michael Jackson.  And Elvis Presley.  And Marilyn Monroe.  And a great many other now-dead celebrities.

Sadly, it is a truth that both celebrities and their worshippers must re-learn–over and over.

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