What is the nature of celebrity in society? Is it to enlighten? Darken? Distract? Dim? Is any morality owed to the sycophants who adore celebrity? How do we explain and frame Keith Richards’ recent admission he snorted his father’s ashes mixed with cocaine and then his quick recantation of that confession?

How are we — as a cogent and caring society — expected to react to such crass and disconcerting news?

Keith Richards says he once snorted his father’s ashes mixed with cocaine. Speaking to the British music magazine “NME,” the 63-year-old Rolling Stones guitarist acknowledges ingesting his father’s cremated remains. “My dad wouldn’t have cared,” he said, “it went down pretty well, and I’m still alive.” Richards’ father, Bert, died at age 84 in 2002.

Hours later the following was posted on the Rolling Stones website:

“The complete story is lost in the usual slanting! The truth of the matter is that I planted a sturdy English Oak . I took the lid off the box of ashes and he is now growing oak trees and would love me for it!!! I was trying to say how tight Bert and I were. That tight!!! I wouldn’t take cocaine at this point in my life unless I wished to commit suicide.”

What does it say about our mainstream media lives that this Richards truth or lie was flung far and wide against us with the same anticipatory venom and giddy dripping of more salacious Britney shaved crotch shots?

Can we expect another incomprehensible missive from Lindsay Lohan proclaiming in “text speak” what a difference Keith Richards made in her life despite the human ashes percolating in his sinuses?

Have we fallen so far as a society that we give merit and attention to these claims against the dead or have we always been this debased and misbegotten and it takes a Keith Richards to rub our noses in his father’s ashes to curry home that truth? Is it possible to pull ourselves out of this rotting societal hole where we are forced — by false values and the culture of degradation — to pay attention to the duplicity of dimwits and miscreants instead of honoring duty and morality?

25 Comments

  1. I think all of those rock star guys who use cocaine are usually willing to put anything up their nose for a thrill and usually don’t mind telling others about their adventures. I assume it is a strange way to get an ego stroke from the listener’s reaction.
    I remember hearing about Ozzy snorting ants for the fun of it.
    I’m sure there’s a list somewhere of crazy rock stars sniffing various items just for the fun of it.

  2. He is probably getting nostalgic now that sees his mortality at the end of the road and does what any “great figure” does at such a moment; recall stories of his former greatness ..
    It is a story of how he led a violent, turbulent, and “hard-living” life, and despite it all overcame those great odds .. a story of victory and glory in the face of imminent destruction as he recalls “I was number one on the ‘who’s likely to die’ list for 10 years”
    Only as all great figures do, the legend can only remain a legend when it stays in the minds of the people; and it is very hard to be so when the human flesh outlives the legend. For we can not remember the legend if we remember the person.
    And so as he approaches his imminent mortality he wishes “I mean, I was really disappointed when I fell off the list.”, because he realizes, by outliving the legend, he effectively devalued it and will die as just another human being.
    And so he has to remind us how hardXcore he really was in a futile attempt to revive the legend before he, the human, dies; because only somebody who is hXc would snort his dad’s remains with cocaine.

  3. alexcruz —
    That’s an interesting take. Impending morality leads to confessions of the soul.
    I think his dad died in 2002, right? I think Keith was supposed to be “straight and sober” at that time so he may have been caught in a series of lies as well.

  4. Chris!
    I think you’re right the PR people are panicking. This sort of thing can lead to bad PR in a way that doesn’t enhance the Stones’ ‘bad boys” reputation. Snorting fatherly ashes is just gross.
    I think you’re right that Keith really doesn’t care.

  5. Who cares, actually?
    Keith Richard definitely doesn’t, his father…well, I am not sure though – there is no way to find it out keeping him alive –
    The poor “we”? Completely shell-shocked by the obnoxious announcement? Does it matter to Keith?

  6. I care, Katha, or I would not have spent a post wondering about what this episode indicates about the decline of popular culture.
    We live in a semiotic world, and when our few, precious, meaningful moments of imagery throughout the day are wasted on the craven and the indifferent, it says much more about us as a whole than it does about the individual person. I mourn those loss of class in the contempt.

  7. I know you care, I care too – that “who cares” was an expression of extreme frustration.
    It seems the whole world is suffering from this “who cares” symptom, ultimately leading to somewhere where no one would really care for anything.

  8. That’s an interesting take. Impending morality leads to confessions of the soul.
    Heh, actually I just watched the movie 300 and got caught up in all its messages of glory and legend and wanted to see if i could correlate lol

  9. Hi Chris!
    Hey! Your Avatar is new! What does it indicate?
    We are going to talk more about the corruption of the young around us with craven semiotics that are imitated and intended to infiltrate and infest mainstream popular culture to influence behavior, values and the common decency of human morality.

  10. Brilliant point David!
    If I don’t ‘fit in’ or even try to ‘fit in’ into the ‘mainstream popular culture’ then there is a chance that I might be considered as an outcast…
    How many of us can handle that?

  11. Hi David,
    My avatar is based on the signs that identify roadways that are part of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways.
    I marked my sign with “Illiana Expressway” where the state designation is sometimes displayed on those Interstate signs. I marked the route number as a question mark because it is uncertain if the Illiana will ever be built.
    If the Illiana Expressway is built and is eventually connected with I-355 in Illinois, it would be the third Chicago ring road envisioned by Daniel Burnham in his visionary master plan for the city.
    Of course, this project (and the proposed I-69 highway segment in southern Indiana that would connect roads from Ontario, Canada to Nuevo Leon, Mexico) are meeting stiff opposition from the Left and the Right.
    The left opposes highways because of environmental reasons and wanting to funnel road money into mass transit. Also, they don’t like plans to have public-private partnerships to pay for and operate the toll road like is done with the Chicago Skyway and the Indiana Toll Road.
    The right is afraid of losing their rural way of life to interlopers who might be tempted to commute from the big city. The leader of local opposition has said that he’ll move future away from Chicago if more roads are built. And, pols in the rural areas won’t improve their county roads out of fear wider roads could create pressure to develop subdivisions filled with newcomers.
    Others fear the creation of the “North American Union” because better highways (“NAFTA highways”) are seen as the first step toward creating our own EU-style entity that will “destroy” U.S. sovereignty. The Illiana would just be another cog in the internationalists’ plan because it would have been a bypass around heavy traffic in the southern portions of the Chicago metro area. This also is an undercurrent in the I-69 opposition which is allied with the Illiana opponents.
    Of course, I-80/I-94 is already an international trade route and I always see trucks with Ontario license plates driving on it. (I’ve even seen Canadian police cars driving on our local expressways — could they be taking over?) :mrgreen:
    I think the larger fear is of easy access that is promised for Mexican trucks and trade. I don’t think people fear the Mexican people — they’re already doing a lot of farm jobs in the rural areas, but worry about the U.S. government being taken over by an “one world government.”

  12. Minor correction: LIne 18. The leader said he’d move away from his rural location to get further away from Chicago and the suburbs if the road is built and development starts to encroach into his area.

  13. Chris!
    I love the semiotic mission of your avatar! Yay!
    I am a big supporter of connections: Roads, pathways, streets, bridges, overpasses, radials, cloverleafs, sidewalks and anything else that makes getting from here to there easier, open and more democratic.