The true scam is believing that there ever will be a perfect way to live
May 14, 2014 12:00 PM   Subscribe

Every Wednesday, rocker Andrew WK (previously) answers reader questions in his Village Voice advice column. He can be deep ("Ideally, life shouldn't be an ongoing struggle to see the glass half-full, but rather an appreciation that there's a glass at all") and inspirational and practical. Today, a reader asks him whether he should start using heroin.
posted by jbickers (40 comments total) 86 users marked this as a favorite

Honestly, he's one of the best advice columnists going. His story last week about learning to love NYC reminded me of taking my mom anywhere.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 12:02 PM on May 14 [6 favorites]

Wow. That was absolutely excellent.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:14 PM on May 14

Awesome and well done. I was a little uncomfortable with his advice until the dream-story, which was an excellent way of saying "hell no" without actually sounding like he was attacking heroin users.
posted by demonic winged headgear at 12:21 PM on May 14 [6 favorites]

If I could pick any famous person in the world to be buddies with, I might pick Andrew WK. He seems like a really great dude along many different axes.

And he probably has many different axes, so there's that.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:26 PM on May 14 [7 favorites]

Plus he is always down to party.
posted by dismas at 12:32 PM on May 14 [12 favorites]

I like everything Andrew WK's done, except for hosting a live-action kids' game show on Cartoon Network.
posted by Small Dollar at 12:40 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]

...the main reason I keep my hair long is because Andrew W.K. has long hair, just like Santa has a beard and Pee-Wee has a bow tie.

-Andrew W.K.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:42 PM on May 14 [6 favorites]

It was well written and engaging... but I felt like he was trying to answer without actually answering the question at hand. Let me try:

No. No, you should not start using heroin. Not for a little while, not to take a short vacation from yourself.

Why do I say that? Because I'm guessing that you are already an addict. You're addicted to oxycontin, and heroin is not going to make anything better. Go to an NA meeting right now. Compare what you are feeling with what the others are saying. Then see if you really want to start using heroin.
posted by dfm500 at 12:46 PM on May 14 [6 favorites]

Did anyone finally figure out if Andrew WK is, like Dr Who, a series of different people/incarnations of the same public persona or no?
posted by Riton at 12:47 PM on May 14 [10 favorites]

IIRC the answer was yes his "persona" such as it is was partly developed by a PR team, but no there are not multiple dudes in disguise, and he had enough control over crafting the persona and it fits who he is enough that you can't really say it's totally a performance at this point.
posted by vogon_poet at 12:49 PM on May 14

That story is what happened to the real Andrew WK. This advice column is written by Don Draper.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:49 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]

Unfortunately, pretty much every addict I know is really great at hearing something like, "No, you should not start using heroin," as, "Other people shouldn't start using heroin, but for you, it's great! Go for it!"
posted by klangklangston at 12:58 PM on May 14 [12 favorites]

It was well written and engaging... but I felt like he was trying to answer without actually answering the question at hand.

But that's why it was so good. The kid is going to do whatever he's going to do anyway (probably heroin). And there's plenty of DARE shit around telling him not to do it. The kid obviously knows it's a bad idea by societal standards or he wouldn't be asking. Andrew WK really kind of awesomely laid out the existential issues this kid was probably unconsciously wrestling with in his pursuit of feeling no pain.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:04 PM on May 14 [32 favorites]

Andrew WK's facebook page and, in particular, his party tips are excellent. A+. I've also enjoyed his advice column quite a bit.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 1:20 PM on May 14

His AV Club interview from 2002 has stuck with me ever since it was first published, particularly the ending:
And that's what this is, and that's what I am, and that's what we're doing. We will always be there. I will never let people down. I promise I will always do what I can. Have the faith to believe in this, and I will, too. In a world of confusion and pessimism, we can maintain some sort of clarity and truth.
posted by Ian A.T. at 1:27 PM on May 14 [9 favorites]

I thought it was a rather interesting take on the question, and I liked the approach overall, but a couple of things bothered me.

Of course, I could be reading too much or too little into what's being said, but much like the later Matrix movies, I thought there was too much emphasis on "choice." For too many the choice to be an addict or other fringe-type person is illusory.

"Becoming a drug addict can be a perfectly reasonable reaction to the incredibly exhausting project called "being alive. The easy way out is often the hardest way, and there is something strangely heroic about the person who chooses to venture into the no-man's-land beyond the trappings of "day-to-day life." Who are these people who fling themselves into the abyss, and then try to exist there?"

Becoming a heroin user is not the same as becoming a drug addict. This is why that although I don't partake of any substances myself anymore, I am fine with wide range legalization of most substances man has come up with (other than Bath Salts, that shit is fucked up on a molecular level). The vast majority of people who use whatever, wouldn't end up the raging, demoralized, suicidal fuck ups many an addict has become.

Whatever the actual case is for of the column asker, addict or not, is not able to be determined. I wouldn't wish the ravages of addiction on anyone, friends and family or no friends and family. I guess I can see how it may be perceived by some as such, but living in addiction isn't heroic in the least... it's insanity.

Once the destination of addiction is reached, it certainly isn't as simple as a choice to remain there or go elsewhere. Part of the definition of addiction is no longer having the power of choice in getting fucked up or not.
posted by Debaser626 at 1:33 PM on May 14

Wow, his columns are like what Cary Tennis' would be if they didn't suck. I feel enlightened - now I know what Tennis THOUGHT he was writing at Salon. They make more sense now.

A shame the substantive dream description is completely killed by the crappy "NEXT PAGE SO WE CAN HAVE SOME MORE CLICKS" break.
posted by phearlez at 1:45 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]

Plus he is always down to party.

posted by Hoopo at 1:49 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]

His twitter feed has some occasional gems, too (mixed in with the fantastic and regular exhortations to party).
posted by inigo2 at 2:01 PM on May 14

That was great. Andrew WK has wisdom. The person writing in may or may not be able to be talked down right now, but this is a column for the ages, and not just with regard to heroin.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:23 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]

ANDREW WK PARTY TIP: walk like a machine gun
posted by Sebmojo at 2:28 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]

I was pretty shocked - I think of Andrew WK as "Mr. Party" and this was super thoughtful and compassionate. My hat is off to him.

> Becoming a heroin user is not the same as becoming a drug addict.

Absolutely it is. Indeed, as someone wisely commented above, this kid is already a drug addict, an oxy addict to be specific, and he's simply asking whether he should move to another, slightly different drug.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:00 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]

Andrew WK trolls the Juggalos.

He's actually a fascinating dude, I'm really enjoying going down the rabbithole of his interviews and concerts and things.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:13 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]

I love everything about AWK except his boring, boring music.
posted by lumpenprole at 5:17 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]

Andrew WK is one of those celebrities who, on the surface, seems kind of mockable, or at least dismissible, and then it turns out he's really a mensch. I don't think I'm his target audience exactly, but I like the guy, and this was well done.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 5:21 PM on May 14

I love everything about AWK except his boring, boring music.

I want to like it so bad too
posted by Hoopo at 5:23 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]

If you can't get into I Get Wet then I don't ever want to crush beers with you in a skatepark.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:46 PM on May 14 [9 favorites]

Maybe you'd prefer his work with Current 93.

seriously, that album is really good.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:21 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]

I really don't know who the heck this guy is (a musician? a "professional partier?" what the heck is that?), but I'm enjoying his writing here. The heroin answer was really interesting because he goes right to the point: this guy wants the fuck out of the world. And what do you do if you're a guy like that? Why shouldn't he just throw it away if there's nothing worth living for?

Yeah, that "alternate universe where I did heroin" dream thing was actually a good move. Because "why shouldn't he just throw it away" is answered by "it could get worse, bro."
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:29 PM on May 14

I guess the last thing an addict needs to be told is that karma is a bitch but I thought he missed an opportunity with this: If your goal is to avoid pain by whatever means necessary, then becoming a full-blown drug addict might be the right path, at least for a while. Master of understatement. Otherwise I thought this was excellent.
posted by simra at 10:10 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]

One of my best friends who did heroin said he realized "humans aren't meant to feel that good."

That sounds about right. disclaimer: never ridden the white horse myself
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:32 AM on May 15

Back in 2002ish I saw AWK perform. It was a marvelous show full of energy and unbridled enthusiasm for life. For those that don't like his music, it's really meant to be experienced live in a sweaty venue somewhere in Ohio with 200 of your newest best friends.

Afterward a line formed to meet him and have him sign autographs. We jumped in it and waited, and waited, and waited. AWK was treating everyone in line like they were an actual human being that he dearly wanted to get to know. He'd talk to them for far longer than he needed to and he'd sign AND write an encouraging note to you on anything you had available. I'm talking short essays on keeping your chin up and how valuable you were as a human being. In some ways what he's doing with this advice column is exactly what he'd been doing for, presumably, years on the road.

By the time we got to the front of the line it must have been 2 or 3 in the morning. My friend got a nice note written in sharpie on the inside pocket of his coat. All I had on me was my school ID, which he gladly squeezed in something along the lines of "Your friend, Andrew W.K."

All that to say, AWK impressed me back then. He was sincere to a fault and I found it so incredibly refreshing.
posted by beep-bop-robot at 7:15 AM on May 15 [4 favorites]

My friend got a nice note written in sharpie on the inside pocket of his coat. All I had on me was my school ID"

Does no one else get their actual concert ticket signed? I find it's perfect for after-show autographs.

If you can't get into I Get Wet then I don't ever want to crush beers with you in a skatepark.

I can honestly say I've never heard Andrew WK blasted in a skate park, but yeah, I Get Wet felt like one long song to me and I just kinda felt like the end product didn't work that well with everything turned up to 27. It almost takes away from the energy that obviously went into it IMO.

I gather he's diversified a lot since then and even did a piano album, but I haven't really been checking.
posted by Hoopo at 10:24 AM on May 15

I know it's all supposed to be good fun and all, and I respect the idea of a band that just wants to spread a good time, I really do. (And as I said, I think I'd really like AWK as a person and respect the hell out of his writing).

But that music. It's crappy pop-punk from the post Green Day school with truly execrable Guitar Center wank riffs thrown in. It's like the music in the scene in the teen rom-com where the bad boy (played by a 30 year old) takes the good girl to his hangout. It's like a faded sign that used to say rock and roll, but has been bleached to unreadability by the stark unblinking sun of commerce.
posted by lumpenprole at 11:48 AM on May 15

For folks wondering if his sound ever gets diverse, it certainly does. But it always has that "guitar song that was written on a piano" feel, much like the music of Jim Steinman. Examples of him branching out from the party-party-party thing: I like Cadillac and I Came For You. (The latter of which, IMO, shows him to be a much stronger vocalist than I think most people think he is.)

Also, Gundam Rock, which is a thing of beauty.
posted by jbickers at 12:26 PM on May 15

My understanding is that he does write pretty much everything on piano first. But if you don't love the maximalist glee of this stuff I don't know what to tell you.
posted by klangklangston at 12:59 PM on May 15

It's crappy pop-punk from the post Green Day school with truly execrable Guitar Center wank riffs thrown in.

I fired up I Get Wet on Spotify based on the praise above. After reading your comment, yeah, this feels very much to me like someone thought they'd do well to take the horns out of Less Than Jake and apply the wall of sound & hard rock filter to it. So it's not objectionable but it's not exciting me. At least with LtJ I get some brass.

My biggest objection is this bloody nose photo staring at me from my computer. Never thought I'd miss CDs and LPs but at least I could put those face-down.
posted by phearlez at 2:04 PM on May 15

I Get Wet, Rob Ford edition
posted by pxe2000 at 2:11 PM on May 15

Related thread: Heroin’s New Hometown
posted by homunculus at 1:00 PM on May 16

This week, someone asks him whether or not he should commit suicide.
posted by jbickers at 11:36 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]

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