I met Chris Cornell once. Spoke with him a few times. And admired his talent from the first time I heard his voice. There's nothing different here in my admiration, I won't claim he inspired me to "do" anything or that he was the reason for anything I've done. Since the birth of social media on the internet, spreading feelings like a virus making attention seeking all that more contagious, social media users have cliche'd the "so & so was the reason & inspiration that I did whatever I do" post. For some, it's true. For most it's attention. I was no die hard Soundgarden fan. Best I can do is compare my love for Soundgarden to wine, the older I got the more I appreciated the depth of what they did. Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, and the men behind the Rock Star imagery were humans with superhuman talent but most importantly hearts with compassion. To me, these were "The Good Guys". And Chris not only had a surreal voice, but Chris used that voice to stand for something.
After my wife informed me Chris Cornell had died, I felt it right away, like when my father killed himself. I felt it in my bones, suicide. And like the curiously morbid human who questions life, I went through his twitter feed. Sweet & sad, seeing his Mother's Day tweets & all the photos of him on tour but also socially conscious tweets. Reading tweets about the Armenian Genocide, Trump's Presidency, and his retweets (from people who are not celebs, people who made excellent points on Twitter about social issues). I guess you could say there is nothing special about this, and counter with "Well Jaden Smith tweets from Gala's wearing women's clothing, Jaden's revolutionary". Yeah but if his dad wasn't the Fresh Prince of Bel Air no one would give a sh*t. Chris Cornell is self made, his stage wasn't inherited. And through all of Jaden Smith's existential tweets about different dimensions then requesting help via twitter with his business ventures, it comes off a bit hollow & faux. I call it "Faux Real". It's clever, for real I know.
There's always been a big catch to getting political or having any kind of opinion when in the entertainment industry but with today's troll society it's even bigger. You notice it when pundits or fans rebuke a celebrity after the celeb says something about a politician. It's been debated - whether "Hollywood" should keep quiet about politics. That's stupid, if a reality show star can be president, anyone can comment. It's Ironic, living in America our democracy used to be for & by "We the People"... so anyone that debates "Hollywoods" ability to have an opinion, shut the fark up. We may not all agree but if we're all citizens we all have a voice. Trump has polarized our country more than I ever thought we could get as a people. But as much as it feels like every celebrity has taken a side making their political opinion known, your perception is wrong. And it's making headlines. Look at Steven Colbert's Late Show & The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. I would have never thought Fallon would rule late night (Because I cant' stand him) but he has dominated, until Trump became president. Fallon has steered away from the Trump stuff. Colbert has roots in political mockery & tackles it every night. It's making headlines that Fallon, who was dominant for so long, has not only lost reign but continues to get beat by Colbert (look it up, I got time). So, Fallon is clearly not getting political... And at a cost. Watching one of my favorite comics Bill Burr being interviewed during the election, he stayed right in the middle crapping on all candidates, shying away from any one side. And celebs say often, it can be the kiss of death to take a side, especially if you play to an audience that doesn't hold the same values you do. This is why Chris Cornell is one of the good guys. Good Guys are the people throughout history that refuse to stay quiet when they see injustice or wrongdoing. There are a lot, A LOT of people who choose silence as to not offend anyone and keep their potential crowds maxed out. Plus, once you put your opinions out in public, the backlash begins (for those fragile celebs who fear being criticized or mistreated or treated unfairly - sound like anyone? The ones who say that, hate to be hated - it ruins their brand). We won't even get into the companies that don't allow political opinion, but it exists.
Chris Cornell's voice could reach tyranny shattering decibels & he used it. Immediately when I found out he died, my heart dropped and selfishly thought we, on earth, lost a good man. A man who commanded respect for his talents but was given respect for his compassion and integrity.
Suicide. It feels like most of my life I've been living in the shadow of it. My father took his life when my brothers and I were young, old enough to know what happened but too young to try and understand. My life long friend, and new father, just took his life months ago. And now the medical examiner reports are saying Chris Cornell, husband and father and son along with being a Rock Icon, had taken his life. I guess this morning when I went through his twitter feed (before it was officially ruled suicide), I was searching for answers I've never got. Answers that as a young adult I searched for looking to reasons why my dad would want to leave three boys to fend for themselves. Hope is a big part of suicide, or the absence of it. When people loose hope and truly loose it, it is the most dangerous existence. And the loss of hope does not discriminate, it can affect anyone.
I feel for Chris Cornell's family. Suicide is dizzying. Like having a concussion. My heart grieves for them, knowing full well all those feelings when a loved one commits suicide.
If you pray or whatever you do, send good vibes, please send them to his family & friends.
Rest Easy now Chris.
And I say all of this genuinely, but there is something that irks me. Something that I feel a tremendous loss of respect for a man I admired for being one of the good guys. And I find my confirmation during discussions with my wife. I need to clarify that I am NOT in the camp of people who believe that people who commit suicide are cowards. I have mixed emotions about it. Like it's the bravest act a coward could commit. I'm torn, suicide has qualities of both bravery and cowardice. It's not either but it's both. It's a paradox.
Going with my statements that Chris had an outspoken voice and was one of the "good guys", if Chris Cornell had an ongoing struggle finally giving in to his battle with suicide, then he lost a lot of respect. A man who has access to every resource should exhaust them all before committing a permanent act. Suicide is not an option when you have young children (who are minors). Being a dad, and a dad who lost his dad to suicide, it's never an option or solution. The struggle is real, especially when your resources are limited but as a father you always continue to fight. It's how we teach our children to endure and push through tough times. And like my good friend & comic Craig Gass says "suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem". No matter what anyone says or thinks, when your dad kills himself, as their child you will always ask yourself why you weren't enough for your dad to stay. Whether it's real or not. We as kids of suicide ask it of ourselves and to gravestones. And that's an awful thing to ponder. My point in bringing up what irks me is that Chris could have been a leading heroic outspoken voice for people fighting the urge to commit suicide. He could have been the hope some needed. Now it's seems like his suicide validates anyone who considers it because his situation with every resource accessible makes people with real financial and societal hardships real. That's what I feel - despair. His suicide brings despair.
To see a man who has it all, on top of the world, literally a Rock Star, end it all, seems hopeless.
But its fleeting. And sad because he will not get to look into his children's eyes on this plane again. So let me say Hope is real. No matter what. Because Hope is not what we see as parents but what we see in our children's eyes... as our children look at us as superheroes super moms and super dads, they see Hope when they wake up and hug us. As simple as that is, it's the Hope of a parent loving them and experiencing life with them each day. And that's real Hope. That's where we find Hope, in our children.
RIP Chris Cornell, RIP Dad, RIP Ryan and all the dads who we lost to suicide.
More to come. As I talk with friends & people about this shocking news of Chris Cornell's suicide, I will have more to blog about. It has been surreal, a lot of people have reached out to talk about his suicide. Because when the mighty fall, it makes the ground shake for the everyone. My sad suspicion is there may be drugs involved. I pray not, but as I seen many times over and over in my own personal life dealing with suicide, drugs have played a role so I can not say my gut isn't still wondering.