Thursday, October 25, 2012


I wasn’t sure I’d be able to write this today, I feel so strongly and am so lost, sad and very bitter about this. The best way for me to do this is to tell the story quickly, chronologically, surgically and get the hell off the stage and let others tell it.

Back in 2007, when I was playing Runescape pretty obsessively and was a very mediocre player, I met a very, very fine player and a fine man, when I joined the Clan SpiritZ. A player named ‘Sal.’ SalSomething, he probably remembers what the rest of his player name was; I don’t. Anyway, I knew who he was, through the RS grapevine. He was pretty much like Zezima, a legend. Actually, as I later found out, he’s better than Zezima, in my humble opinion. My respect for Sal has only grown as I’ve gotten to know him over the years. Sal rocks, as a player, a computer whiz and an all-around great person. Shit, let the waterworks begin.

Time goes along, he and I are on SpiritZ Council together. It’s like I have diarrhea of the mouth, he says 3 words, where I say 8 pages of nothing, to say when one of the other players comes up with stupid ideas. He gets it done; he says, "no", I say "blah," repeat 8k times. We’re perfect that way together. We both keep in touch through my losing it, taking abuse from a domestic partner, and being hospitalized, homeless, getting an apartment and on SSDI. The whole thing, Sal’s right there, saying his 3 words, but being encouraging to me, as I blabber all of this to him. He listens to me and says 3 words at the right time. 

I have my famous melt-down (well, to me) when I stay up all of February and forget and am hospitalized most of March. I meet Andi-Roo and read her “Depressionis a Lying Bitch, Wouldn't' You Say?” and I understood clearly for the first time why I went through all of that shit, and for the very first time in my 56 years, my life was drilled down to that crystal-sharp diamond point. It matters. Cruelty and uncaring-ness, attitude. It ALL matters. How we treat one another, how we treat ourselves. This is life. We should care about it passionately. But not to the point that we bruise, bully, maim and injure others.

My psychiatrist understood immediately that I wasn’t depressed-depressed from all of the ‘homeless’ stigma people threw at me. It was deeper than that. We started medication for bipolar. We’d have to change meds, later to Topamax. I went on Runescape and ran into Sal. I had been in a “manic” phase, but I was like that most of the time anyway. I said, “Hey, Sal Hi, blabber blabber blabber blabber blabber blabber blabber blabber blabber blabber. I’m bipolar.”

Sal said, “So am I.” I said, “I didn’t know.”

He said, “I may have mentioned it. I ” I know now he did. Because the week before last, the day after I read and watched the video that George Takei urged everyone on FB to watch the special message he recorded for the Presidential election, which I did, although I’ve already voted for President Obama, and you can see here Sal popped up and responded to a comment I’d made to Zeitgest2012, in a most “unSal-like” way. We talked back and forth for a few moments. I just knew something was not right with my friend. What we talked about is precious to me, it’s ours, but what I learned is a very, very close friend of his died by his own hand.

A very dear and talented man that he met in the asylum, named Rasmus Rasmussen killed himself. Sal and Rasmus Rasmussen met in the asylum during their respective stays there for depression. That is what they are called in Europe, “asylums.” We don’t call them asylums here. We call them hospitals, or state hospitals. I’ve gotten to stay there. I’ve had other friends go to asylums and state hospitals and hospitals. I just am so, so very glad that Sal came to talk to me. This is why I always reach out. A fine, and beautiful person is dead because he was bullied and because he felt alone and because he was silent. Frankly, I think we should call them asylums, here, too. Because, my dears, that shit is rough, asylum-rough. We're sick, but it's a sickness that you have to be tough to weather and we just simply cannot do it alone.

This is just beyond the pale. Rasmus Rasmussen produced music and wrote music. His music soared with birds. He wrote of eagles, crows. His spirit was expansive. His was so vast, the earth couldn’t contain him. His was so generous, he gave kindly and expansively and helped others to share their music. He worked with different genres, lots of black/doom metal, but I’ve heard tons of life-affirming music that he has written and produced. My muse and protector, Beethoven; were he alive, he'd be into all of this, metal, rock and roll, all of it. I listened to Pink Floyd's "The Delicate Sound of Thunder." Younger friends don't believe me when I tell them that I like Rammstein. 

I can’t really do justice with words when a tragedy of this magnitude occurs, and make no mistake it is a magnificent tragedy, in the most ironic sense of the term. That a man, from Iceland, is bullied to the point of extreme mental illness in a European country that should be a guiding light for civilized behavior is ironic. I would expect that of the United States. That the same man; ferociously gifted and loved by many, should feel so bereft and loathed and alone and in agony that killing himself is the only way to end that terror and pain is so pointedly, catastrophically wrong, that it’s really a crime against nature, and that’s ironic, isn’t it?

The only thing of any good, any worth and I think it’s damn fine, is that someone reached out. Someone went to someone. Sal. He came to me, to tell me about his friend. You see, none of us with mental illness are weak, or need to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. We’re stronger than the hottest cauldrons of Hell. We burn hotter than the Sun. But eventually? We’ll break, if we don’t have a lifeline, or just a voice out there in the wilderness. So, for Rasmus Rasmussen, his spirit out there now, up there flying with the eagles, swifts and crows he so very obviously loved, you haven’t died in vain. You’re remembered. I may not have know you then, but I do now, Rasmus Rasmussen. Thank you.

There is a beautiful tribute from some fellow collaborators and musicians at the wonderful blog, "Let Me Introduce You" This post is written in English, but it seems the "home" language, if there is such a thing anymore is Italian.

So, Sal, this is for you, especially, and all of our friends, for everyone, really. "Nessun Dorme" by Giaccamo Puccini, from the opera, "Turandot."  This was the last opera Puccini wrote and it was unfinished when he died. I've played this opera several times and when the tenor sings this aria, I always cried. I'm a real professional. Musicians don't go into music to make money. So, let me get off the stage, and let me let love take over. This is love for everyone. We're all the same.

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