Clutching, crushing, killing. Sales conquer humanity.
Clutching, crushing, killing. Sales conquer humanity.
It was twenty years ago today.
On November 22, 1997, Australian rock star Michael Hutchence was found dead in a Ritz-Carlton hotel room in Sydney. His death was ruled a suicide, although family and friends have continued to dispute this.
The question remains: What would cause a young man, at the top of his game, a wealthy international superstar, a new father, much loved by family, friends and the public, to take his own life?
But maybe there is more to this story. The human mind is a complexity, full of perceived tragedies and horrific imaginings. There are dark nights of the soul when problems explode and life simply gives no mercy.
Hutchence was apparently in the middle of one.
Michael Hutchence was born in Sydney, Australia on January 22, 1960, to working class parents. The family lived in Hong Kong for much of Michael’s childhood, but returned to Australia in 1972. Michael joined a rock band with his friends the Farriss brothers when he was just 17 years old. That band was eventually named INXS. They rose to fame and fortune in the 1980’s and 90’s. Some critics consider INXS to be one of Australia’s finest bands.
They had a fresh, funky sound, exemplified in their best selling album ‘Kick’. Writing team Andrew Farriss and Michael Hutchence came up with catchy pop songs as well as deep and soulful ballads. The six talented musicians included horn, keyboard and saxophone players. None, however, could match the illustrious Hutch on stage.
As the band’s lead singer, he had a seductive voice, plenty of feral cat moves, and a Mick-Jagger-like star quality that is rarely duplicated. Anyone who saw Hutch in concert was hooked. And I mean anyone! Men, women, young, old, straight, gay, no matter. All went gaga for Hutch.
In 1994, Hutchence began having an affair with celebrity Paula Yates, who was then married to another famous rock star, Bob Geldoff. Eventually Paula divorced Bob, but what followed was a nasty custody battle that apparently made everyone miserable. In the meantime, Hutch and Paula also had a child of their own, a daughter named Tiger Lily. Legal issues forced Paula to remain in England, continually separated from Hutchence.
Hutch had also experienced a terrible head injury which reportedly left him with a bunch of physical ailments, including loss of his sense of smell. These difficulties were exacerbated by the fact that the band was, by then, losing its star status, no longer filling stadiums and playing to smaller crowds. According to some, Hutchence had entered the dreaded realm of (gasp!) “aging rock star”. (At the ripe old age of 37.)
I know! Who makes these dumb rules?
Michael Hutchence’s corpse was found at 11:50 AM on the morning of November 22, 1997 in the Sydney Ritz Carlton. He died alone. Friends and visitors had been partying with him in the hotel room as late (or early!) as 5AM the same morning. Allegedly the activities included lots of alcohol and unnamed drugs. Strangely, no coroner’s report was filed as to which substances Hutch actually had in his body when he died. The official cause of his death was strangulation by hanging.
But there is another side to the story. By many accounts, Hutch was a bit kinky. He may never have intended to actually kill himself, but was merely involved in a few rounds of autoerotic asphyxiation.
This story gets even sadder. Three years later, Paula Yates died of a drug overdose, leaving Tiger Lily an orphan. Bob Geldoff became her legal guardian. She recently began a modeling career, no doubt owing a lot to her father’s gorgeous looks.
Michael Hutchence remains one of the great, gone too soon artists. On this day we honor him. Here, INXS perform a patchwork of their song ‘Mystify’. Hope you like it!
Hutch Rock In Peace!
Today we celebrate the life of Georgia O’Keeffe! She was an American artist, most famous for her abstract paintings of flowers, bones, and natural landscapes. She herself was a force of nature as well, leaving an imprint and legacy not easily forgotten.
Once you experience her artwork — well — flowers will never look the same again!
Born on November 15, 1887, in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, Georgia was the second of seven children. Her parents were dairy farmers who valued education and encouraged their children to explore various interests. The wide Wisconsin landscape, with its vibrant hollyhocks, lilies, irises and greenery, no doubt influenced the young Georgia. Artistic talent seemed to run in the family, as two of her grandmothers had been amateur painters.
Georgia attended college at the prestigious Art Institute of Chicago, quickly climbing to top of her class. Later she studied at New York City’s Art Student’s League. It was in New York that she was first introduced to modern art movements of the early twentieth century. She visited galleries, in particular Gallery 291, founded by photographers Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen.
Located at 291 5th Avenue, 291 frequently introduced new work of modern European and American artists.
It was Alfred Stieglitz who first displayed O’Keeffe’s work — a series of charcoal drawings — at a gallery exhibition in 1916. The unusual drawings were an overnight success. Within two years, Georgia, who had earned her living through teaching, moved to New York City and became part of a group of avant-garde artists.
For a woman, recognition in the male dominated art world was dubious and rare. Nonetheless, Georgia held her own, winning recognition among critics and patrons. She became the highest paid female artist in the US. O’Keeffe, however, never considered herself a ‘feminist’. She wanted to be thought of as simply ‘an artist’ rather than ‘a female artist’.
Although Alfred Stieglitz was a married man, and twenty three years older than O’Keeffe, the two became lovers. In 1924 Alfred left his wife to marry Georgia.
Like all aspects of his life, Alfred made his new bride into a work of art.
Georgia continued to develop her craft. She began to experiment with perspective, painting close-ups of flowers. The first of these was Petunia No. 2, which was exhibited in 1925, followed by works such as Black Iris (1926) and Oriental Poppies (1928).
“If I could paint the flower exactly as I see it no one would see what I see because… the flower is small. So I said to myself – I’ll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it – I will make even busy New Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers.” — Georgia O’Keeffe
I should mention that these are no quaint little blooms, but more like Alice Through the Looking Glass, grow-so-incredibly-high jungle blossoms, painted on canvasses big enough for you to walk into.
For almost a century, art critics have been insisting that O’Keeffe’s flower paintings were meant to resemble female genitalia. Georgia herself vehemently denied this. What do you think?
“I feel there is something unexplored about women that only a woman can explore.” — Georgia O’Keeffe
In the 1930’s, Georgia found new inspiration in the American west and Navajo culture when she began to visit New Mexico. She found simple yet sublime beauty in the desert, frequently painting landscapes and animal skulls. Cool, huh?
Meanwhile, back in New York, Stieglitz had begun to mentor a young photographer named Dorothy Norman. The two developed a close relationship and – you guessed it! The married Stieglitz began an affair with Dorothy. Georgia became jealous and suffered bouts of depression. In 1933 she was hospitalized for a nervous breakdown and did not paint for a whole year. The nervous breakdown was reportedly due to ‘a broken heart’. (Oh Alfred, you philanderer!)
Her recovery lead her back to New Mexico where she eventually bought property at Ghost Ranch and lived there permanently. However, she never divorced Stieglitz who remained her one true love.
In his later years, Stieglitz’s health deteriorated. He died of a stroke in 1946 at the age of 82. Georgia was with him when he died and was the executor of his estate.
In 1949, Georgia was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters. In the 1950s and 1960s, she continued to paint and travel the world, finding inspiration in places she visited. In 1970, a retrospective of her work was shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.
“Nothing is less real than realism. Details are confusing. It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis — that we get at the real meaning of things.” — Georgia O’Keeffe
Unfortunately, as Georgia became older she suffered from macular degeneration and began to lose her eyesight. She painted her last unassisted oil painting in 1972. However, she never los her love of art and her desire to create. She still continued to create art in the form of sculpture and writing. Her bestselling autobiography Georgia O’Keeffe was published in 1976.
Georgia died on March 6, 1986 at the age of 98. Her body was cremated and her ashes were scattered, as she wished, on the land around Ghost Ranch (perhaps becoming its final ghost?) The spirit of Ms. O’Keeffe will remain influential forever!
“I have lived on a razor’s edge. So what if you fall off? I’d rather be doing something I wanted to do. I’d walk it again.” — Georgia O’Keeffe
Happy Birthday Georgia!
Stealthily discovering her own unique magick.