Wednesday, December 15, 2004


Please pause with me for a moment of silence.


I just found some heart breaking news. Read it and then at the bottom you'll find my comments on why this death is so sad.

O.D.B., whose legal name was Russell Jones, died at a Manhattan recording studio Nov. 13.
He died "as a result of intoxication by the combined effects of cocaine and Tramadol, a prescription painkiller but not a narcotic," said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the New York City medical examiner's office.
"The manner of death is an accident," she added.
O.D.B. complained of chest pains before collapsing at the studio, and was dead by the time paramedics reached him. He was just days short of his 36th birthday.
O.D.B., also known as Ol' Dirty Bastard, was a founding member of the rap group the Wu-Tang Clan.
With his unorthodox delivery — alternately slurred, hyper and nonsensical — O.D.B. stood out even in the nine-man Clan, and as a solo artist he released hit singles such as "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" and "Got Your Money."
He had been working on his comeback album for more than a year and was almost finished.
O.D.B. was the latest in a string of rappers to meet an untimely death, among them Jam Master Jay of Run DMC, who was fatally shot in late 2002, and Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur, who were both shot to death in the late 1990s. Those killings remain unsolved.

Russell. His name was Russell. He is now dead. And to me that is sad.

What was life like for Russell? Can you imagine him at 4 years old? What kind of 2nd grader was he? When did he say his cuss word, drink his first beer, snort his first line of coke? Did he ever hear the good news? Was he involved in a church - or at least invited to a church? Did anyone spot him headed down the wrong path in junior high but was too busy, bias, or bigot-like to do anything about it? What were his dreams as a kid? Did he ever get tucked in, prayed for, snuggled with?

I don't know.

But I know this: At some point Russell traded in his birth name for another identity and wanted the world to know him as "Old Dirty Bastard". At some point he thought that cocaine and drugs would actually bring him peace and in doing both he "exchanged the truth for a lie." (Romans 1)

I know that those terms, all three of them, are not the stuff that any kindergartener aspires to be and yet somehow that is how Russell came to be known.

I don't know if it was marketing or misery that lead Russell to be known as O.D.B. but I do know that it is sad.

And I know that I don't want any other Russells, Randys, Robertas, or Rachels, etc to exchange the truth for a lie.

And I hope that my gut is wrong and that you really are in a place where there is true peace. Not the kind of peace that comes from a line of coke or prescription pain killers. The kind that passes understanding and is the oxygen of heaven.


Serena Voss said...

Amen to that.

SG said...

I love reading the news through Joel goggles! And your comments and in blog land always crack me up. WoW! I think I'm a Joel fan. :)

EBC said...

Awesome thoughts