Some Thoughts on Chester Bennington

When I was 14, I had a Yahoo Geocities website. It was terrible. It was everything you expected from a 14-year-old’s personal webpage—autoplaying music, self-congratulatory inside jokes, and a whole lot of pop-culture (Invader Zim!) references. One of the sections of the site was a “shrines” page, which contained collages of whatever male celebrities I was crushing on at the time. One of these men was Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington.

No more were the posters of *NSync and Aaron Carter. What used to be 100.3 Z-100 hit music radio was now 92.3 K-rock. And crooning love songs were now replaced with angsty ballads of bitterness and betrayal.

I bought blue flame shoelaces from Hot Topic to mirror Chester’s blue flame wrist tattoos. I claimed to have a “thing” for men with lip rings. I made my middle school agenda book cover a meta-collage from my “shrines” page, Chester Bennington taking a prominent position near the top.

14 Years Later – 7/20/17

I was getting ready to go to therapy with my psychologist when I refreshed my Facebook page and found out Chester was dead.

The news broke via TMZ less than 30 minutes before my Facebook friends got to it.

I was supposed to see Linkin Park live for the first time in my life the next week Friday, July 28th – at Citi Field in Flushing, NY.

I didn’t have much time to process before I headed out the door to therapy. The shock was still fresh. “How did this happen?” “I was just listening to Linkin Park.” “What is going to happen to my tickets?”

The last time a suicide of a celebrity affected me was in 2008 when David Foster Wallace hung himself.

DFW understood depression:

The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.

While DFW’s literary musings on depression and suicide gave some insight into his mind in the final days, Chester Bennington leaves only a few interviews, regarding childhood abuse and the dissolution of his first marriage, and the lyrics to his songs.

“Breaking the Habit” seems oddly prescient.

The fact that it was Chris Cornell’s birthday was probably not a coincidence.

Drugs and alcohol probably didn’t help.

But we’ll probably never know what Chester was thinking as he was preparing to hang himself in the early morning hours less than a week before his tour with Machine Gun Kelly was about to start.

Suicide is an awfully complicated subject to wrap when your head around. When it hits this hard and this close, the emotional fallout is hard to predict.

“I don’t think this will affect me too hard,” I told my therapist. “There’s just so many celebrity suicides these days; I think I’m kinda numb to them.”

That was just the shock talking.

I felt it later that night.

David Foster Wallace once said that the purpose of good literature was to make readers feel less alone. I think I can say the same about good music.

Thank you, Chester Bennington, for helping me and many others feel less alone.


Disappointing Things of 2011: Movies, rock music, and the GOP primary candidates

Ahoy 2011.  The second week of the 6th month of the year is already over.  Unless more interesting things start happening in the next half of the year, jibjab’s yearend video is going to be 30 seconds long and consist entirely of a certain liberal disappointment’s weiner.

1. Movies

Continuing the X-men movie franchise pattern of excellent casting and okay everything else, X-men: First Class has so far been the only decent action movie of the summer.  Correctness to comic canon and history aside, all I wanted to see was Magneto fuck some Soviets up, and it almost but didn’t quite deliver.

You already know what I think about Thor.  I didn’t see Jack Sparrow, exclusive edition, because I don’t like rum catch phrases enough to justify $12 and 2 hours of Johnny Depp.  I also didn’t see Rango, but believe that any motion picture with that that amount of short-sleeve, Hawaiian shirt requires more PCP.

2. Rock Music

Rock artists I found significant in high school that released crappy albums this year:  Foo Fighters, Incubus (anticipated), and Death Cab for Cutie.

Looking at the Billboard current rock 100 I’m depressed that I’m most impressed by Rise Against. Also, Korn apparently decided that its krumper fan base was not large enough and incorporated dubstep demon Skillrex, known for synthesizing the sick beats of a giraffe fucking a tugboat.

Linkin Park, I remember you fondly in my bad poetry-laden teenage years as the angry but catchy musical backdrops to badass mechabot warfare–a deep, complex music video metaphor for neglectful parents and broken post-pubescent hearts.  But when last year’s “Waiting for the End” was released, I could only think, how apt a song title for your career.  Really, your most recent music is the soundtrack to the most boring mid-life crisis ever.

3. Republican Presidential Contenders

We have:

Mama bear of Minnesota, Michelle Bachman.  She eats insanity and shits crazy.  Like Joan of Arc she’s a tragic figure in that she’s blatantly out of her mind, but someone gave her power anyway.  In Bachmanland, chlorofluorocarbons cure cancer, progressive taxation makes all of her 23 foster children cry, and Obama wants to stick his icky black power fingers in the assholes of Muslim dictators and then marry them.

T-Paw.  The only thing I know about him is the mononym T-Paw.

Then there’s the guy “who looks like every guy who ever fired your dad.”   Oh Mitt Romney.  You are the awkward moment when you say goodbye to someone and end up walking in the same direction.  You have the charisma of a school bus fire.  If you lose the actual Presidency in 2012, I’m quite certain you have the hairline to play the Presidency in every action film that will ever be made.

And then there are some other people who don’t matter and one who will remain unnamed that likes to pretend she still does.

Runner-ups to the largest disappointments of 2011 thus far include the unemployment rate and mid-season finale of South Park.