Tuesday, February 28, 2006

MUSIC: The Ebb and Flow of Doherty's Death Cycle

I LOVE THIS AP PHOTO of English rocker Pete Doherty leaving a magistrate's court in London, taken in January after he escaped serious jail time after a string of arrests for Class A drugs and other shenanigans. Doherty is smiling to his fans, enjoying one recent bright moment in the the sea of depression, drama and depravity he seems to need to sustain life ... and create brilliant music. And that's what his fans like about him. I find Doherty's battle with himself all quite fascinating.

BUT OF COURSE, HE GOT HIMSELF ARRESTED AGAIN, this time for apparently stealing a car and possessing hard drugs. The details aren't really important, but it's the absurdity of his life that's what everyone wants to know about because that's what Pete Doherty, the media-cycle tempest, is all about these days. As Coolfer wrote back in November:
How many words are written about Pete Doherty's music? His musical ability may still be recognized and admired, but Doherty is close to entering Courtney Love territory, that dangerous low point in one's career in which the media enables and gleefully covers your slide into the abyss.
It certainly builds up and sustains his image, regardless if it tears him apart. Whether he'll be able to perform in public in the coming years seems increasingly doubtful.

I would have loved to have been with freelance foreign correspondent/longtime friend David Enders (author of "Baghdad Bulletin") back in 2004 when he took his Iraqi translator to a Libertines after-party in New York. From New York magazine:
The culture clashes only continued. At a post-rock-show party on the Upper East Side, Hiba ignored the rock star in attendance, a member of the Libertines, who was sitting next to us on the couch, fixating instead on the short-skirted groupies who made eye contact with the men they were speaking with, a faux pas in many Islamic societies. It offended her so much we had to leave.
I don't think I can come up with two more differing worlds that could clash: War-torn Baghdad and Western libertinism as demonstrated by Doherty. But then again, Doherty has always been engaged in an open war with himself, the world at large or both simultaneously. But it's been a battle nobody has been better suited to wage. And it's had moments of brilliance and pure tragic beauty, all weaved together in poetry and song.

"IF YOU LOST YOUR FAITH in love and music, the end won't be long." That line from the Libertine's "Good Old Days" is sort of cliché now. That not withstanding, perhaps the end isn't too far off for the ultimate Libertine. Let's hope his beloved Queen Boadicea will be nice to him if he permanently checks out of reality. (He has certainly visited his mythical Albion on a temporary basis on more than one occasion.) Let's hope it doesn't come to that.


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