Walk On The Wild Side

R.I.P. Loui Reed


My Life With Drugs Rock n Roll and Addiction



By Gary Stromberg, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Gary Stromberg, who runs the PR firm The Blackbird Group, co-founded Gibson and Stromberg, a music public relations firm that operated in the 1960s and 1970s and represented The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Muhammad Ali, Barbra Streisand, Boyz II Men, Neil Diamond, Ray Charles, The Doors, Earth, Wind & Fire, Elton John, Three Dog Night and Crosby, Stills & Nash. He’s co-written several books that deal with addiction, including “The Harder They Fall.” His fourth book, “She’s Come Undone,” is due out this spring. He is active in service work to help people recover from addiction.

(CNN) — The Whitney Houston headlines last week sent a familiar shiver through me.

In the 1970s, I ran one of the leading entertainment business public relations firms. Celebrity clients were wildly indulging themselves, accountable to no one. It was money, power and prestige, with no one to say, “That’s enough.”

Drugs and alcohol were endemic. Today, the conversation revolves around prescription drugs, but back then we were into more basic mind-altering substances: pot, psychedelics, cocaine and heroin.

To be truthful, I had an amazing run before it all turned to garbage.

Gary Stromberg

Gary Stromberg

My office, on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, was set up like a huge living room with couches, overstuffed pillows on the floor, rock star posters lining the walls and a coffee table, the centerpiece of which was a large crystal bowl, filled at all times with a generous supply of cocaine.

The house rules were “help yourself if you’re here on business — but no take-outs!” We were regularly visited by our clients, including The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Doors and Steppenwolf. As you could imagine, my office was a very popular place.

But 29 years ago, I stood at the precipice with a decision to make. With a career of impressive accomplishments in the rear-view mirror, I had what looked like only despair and death ahead of me. Alcoholism and drug addiction had rendered me into what the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous refers to as “pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization.” The choice seemed simple. Choose life or death.

Do I acknowledge I have a problem, or do I continue to live in denial?

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Do I listen to my friends and family, or do I seek my own counsel?

Do I continue to deteriorate mentally and physically, or do I say, “I’ve had enough?”

Do I choose to live, or do I want to die?

If I once had a dream, I thought, it was long ago shattered. If I once had a dream, it’s floating face down in a bottle of Jack Daniels. If I once had a dream … ahh, screw it, I ain’t no Martin Luther King Jr.

Throwing in the towel and surrendering to admitting I had a serious problem should have been the obvious thing to do, given the state I was in. But at the time, change seemed impossible, unimaginable, incomprehensible and downright insane. Insane was the right word, all right, but it described my state of mind.

Alcohol and drugs are subtle foes; cunning, baffling and powerful. I seemed to be the last one to know I was in big trouble. When my high-profile career started to fall apart, it was other people’s fault. When my substantial income dried up, my business manager was to blame. When the beautiful house I so dearly loved was finally foreclosed, it was the bank that was screwing me. When she finally couldn’t take it anymore and left, I knew she was the type to do this to me. When my friends began to disappear, they were scum and didn’t deserve me. And when, at last, my only friends, my drugs and alcohol turned on me, I knew it was over.

And so a journey of unimaginable proportions began.

Not to any outward destination. No rehab, no trip to a far-off spa. I didn’t move to another city, as if a geographic change would fix it. No, I didn’t have to travel anywhere, except into the mirror, and by peeling the onion of my soul. The journey was within, to at long last discover where the real problem resided.

It was, of course, in me.

What a surprise — with the loving help and support of a 12-step program, I found the real culprit. We in recovery refer to alcoholism as a spiritual sickness. And if you look that up in the dictionary, you’ll find a photo of me. “Mr. Spiritual Sickness of 1982.”

If you ask me nicely, I might show you a picture of that lost soul that I still carry around in my wallet. Yes, I had long hair and a beard, the smug look of false confidence on my face and even the obligatory turquoise jewelry of that era. But look more closely, and you’ll see in my eyes shallow pools of emptiness, pupils like pinholes from the daily consumption of narcotics. As a friend remarked when he saw the photo, “The lights are on, but nobody’s home.”

After you shake your head in disbelief,and look up at me again wondering how this was possible and how I became such a different person, I will offer you an explanation.

I’m a recovering drug addict and alcoholic who was spared from a life of misery, incarceration and death. I’ve been spared from the life of self-centeredness that led me to care very little about others and only about myself. I’ve been spared from the countless fears of inadequacy, failure, success, intimacy and anything else that threatened my well-guarded defenses. I’ve been spared a life of darkness and shown a path into the light.

We don’t yet know why Whitney died, but we know she struggled with addiction. It’s a pity that now, Whitney will not have the option I had.

Hot Punk Summer

Houston weather separates the men from the boys and the women from the grrls and as we all know our punk venues are not the most ventilated or air-conditioned.

So, who’s in for mosh pits and sweaty people falling on your head?

Raising a paw, she smiles…

We were brought up in this heat and crazy and I don’t know if we are just homeys or if  it is some kind of religious calling.

We just get it and it’s FUN! and if one is fussy about their looks, I wouldn’t recommend coming out to shows. You can sweat off your Chanel, your hair gel and your lipstick in two seconds!! Heeee

You homeys got my back, right. Sober punks do exist…..


So, if you’re a little adventurous and daring why not come pee in a rickity bath room and drink out of plastic cups and listen to some great music and feel the energy?

Who knows you might even sweat a little?


Happy Independence Day!!  Break free Mutha f*ckas…

Anarchitex 2011

Ca Ca Convention

Black Congress

Slums of Heaven

The Struggle of True Love

My mom once said to me, “Love is a series of Tiny Surrenders.”

I totally get that now. Letting go of one’s child allowing them to grow up and make mistakes and fall and look stupid and be uncomfortable…Wow!!

Hat’s off to you parents for this really hard job.

And for those of us who love our pets so much, we put clothes on them, humanize them and worry about them to the point of, “Huh?

Allowing our animals to be the beautiful animals they were meant to be can be a struggle, finding true love beyond trying to make them human can be a lot of work for some of us.

Our families, a special kind of love. No, we didn’t get to choose them, but if we are lucky we will like each other and get to have a bond that is incredibly special. Hopefully, we respect and truly love each other and can rely on our family always being there. Sometimes this can be a struggle. Sometimes a true miracle will occur.

Friendships, we get to chose, and friends come and go, but the ones that stay no matter any disagreement and personality issues, whom we can trust with our secrets and tell all our problems to. This love is beyond words, how friends have pulled us from the depths of despair. Much like the bond of our AA friendships and family. This is such a special love, truly being present for each other, because we choose to be.

And romantic love? Who really gets this any way? Is it mostly a chemical thing when two people click on all levels of mind, body, heart and spirit…way more complex than any other relationship?  Sometimes it’s just not meant to be and we try to force this and make a relationship happen or make some one love us, or miss someone that our hearts hurt beyond human forbearance. But what is truth?

Addiction keeps us from truth, much less love. We are only interested in what we want when we want it. We use control and guilt and shame and sneaky ways to get it, like a drink for an alcoholic. People left in our wake may not be able to handle our behavior.

True love hides from force. True love can leap from tall buildings in a single bound and needs to be free.

That old saying, “If you love something let it go (in AA, we say no half measures) and if it comes back to you, it was yours all along”

Really says it all.

If you, or someone you know, is battling to shed their cocoon, keep in mind, true love may require that you allow them to struggle for a season, to gain strength to become that beautiful butterfly.

Iron Butterfly

Ina Gadda Da Vida 1968

Alley Cat

Crazy Luck to have been born with a musician for a father. My father’s birthday was this month. He would have been 85.

I grew up with music filling my life. I was playing drums as a two-year old on stage with my dad.

I began piano at age 5 and learned to play really fun songs like Alley cat, written by Bent Fabric. My piano teacher taught me classics, but my Dad’s best friend taught me all the cool songs like Alley cat. He owned a supper club/piano bar. As a child, I spent a lot of time doing dinner and music with them.

My dad’s best friend and my dad were periodically getting checked into the VA hospital for treatment of alcoholism and once my dad’s best friend hit a hole in one on the golf course there. He never told any one about his grand accomplishment, except close friends and family, because he was ashamed that he was there for recovery from alcoholism.

Now, times have changed and recovery from addiction is a welcomed supported path, but back then alcoholics were only thought of as people in the gutter, not people who may have lived in affluent households. Shame keeps people sick.

My dad’s best friend died very young from complications of alcoholism, as did my father.

RIP my dear kindred spirits and thank you for the music…

Alley Cat

Bent Fabric

He goes on the prowl each night Like an alley cat Looking for some new delight Like an alley cat She can’t trust him out of sight There’s no doubt of that He just don’t know wrong from right Like an alley cat He meets them And loves them And leaves them Like that Catsanova does That’s no way to treat a pal She should tell him Scat! Aren’t you sorry for that gal And her alley cat? He meets them And loves them And leaves them Like that Catsanova does He don’t know what faithful means There’s no doubt of that He’s too busy makin’ scenes Like an alley cat And that’s the sad, sad tale of a lonesome quail And her alley cat.


Let’s take a moment to give thanks to one of ours who has passed today.

Elizabeth T.

Long live you Liz in our hearts.


Gratitude is a word we hear a lot at Thanksgiving, but grateful is a word AA uses constantly to remind us where we came from.

When the world is a crazy mess,
we can stop for a moment and “Smell the roses”
(My mom used to say that.)
The roses in my life are perfectly imperfect.
It’s nuzzling a crazy, uneven, puppy’s fur and cherishing the small moments.
Today, imperfect life is “perfect” all the way around.


Just sayin’…

Trampled Rose

Robert Plant and Alison Krause

(Written by Tom Waits. Just a terrific song)

Long way going to
Get my medicine
Sky’s the autumn grey of a lonely wren

Piano from a window played
Gone tomorrow, gone yesterday

I found it in the street
At first I did not see
Lying at my feet
A trampled rose

Passing the hat in church
It never stops going around

You never pay just once
To get the job done

What I done to me,

I done to you
What happened to the trampled rose?

In the muddy street
With the fireworks and leaves

A blind man with a cup I asked
Would he sing ‘Kisses Sweeter Than Wine’

I know that rose,
Like I know my name
The one I gave my love,
It was the same
Now I find it in the street,
A trampled rose

Full Moon

I love the moon!!    
The full moon in Virgo is a good time to rid ourselves of anything useless in our lives. Cleaning house comes to mind.

Mebbe you got some serious stupid you need to let go of…

The moon is closer to the earth than it has been in 18 years. Very Cool!

Tomorrow morning 9:10 am in Texas is the full moon.

This year’s Virgo Full Moon is on March 19th, 2011. It’s exact at 11:10 am Pacific, 2:20 pm Eastern and 6:10 pm London/GMT. For Aussies in Sydney, it’s Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 5:10:00 AM.

Things, situations, relationships that don’t work, character defects, any thing that is just not working, let it go! and get ready for a new start with the new moon on New Moon on April 3.

No longer sweeping our emotions under the rug, this is a time to shed and resolve any troubling issues.

Let Go and Let your Higher Power take the reins!

Brian Eno 2010

Slow Ice Old Moon

On March 19th, a full Moon of rare size and beauty will rise in the east at sunset.
It’s a super “perigee moon”–the biggest in almost 20 years.
Famous people with Moon in Virgo:
Clive Owen, Madonna, Ingrid Bergman, Bill Cosby, Mel Gibson, Shirley Maclaine

The Moon in Virgo is uniquely aware of the physical side of life. This is reflected in their grasp of the details, and a desire to continually tweak the daily routine for maximum benefit. For them, the routine is the thing, and many are admired for their consistent discipline from day to day.

Those with Moon in Virgo are happiest when at home in their own skin, which so often comes from having a healthy regimen. But this goes beyond exercising to include things like solitary walks to clear the mind, and time spent writing in a journal.

When the Moon is full in Virgo, the Sun is in the opposite sign of Pisces.

Virgo is a mutable sign, known for flexibility, physical sensitivity and the ability to adapt. Virgo is an earth sign that is realistic, process-oriented, analytical and health-conscious.

Full Moon in Virgo: finding the order in chaos; refinement of the daily routine; purification; health & wellness; sincere effort; the desire to live with purpose; a devotion to duty and service; bringing healing to the dis-eased; purifying what’s toxic.

This Full Moon illuminates: ailments of the mind-body-spirit that need attention; the steps to technically mastering a skill; the search for the craft in an artform; detoxification of the body.

It’s a Good Time to:

  • Map out the steps toward a goal, with daily routine in mind.
  • Spend time alone, like taking a walk or reading.
  • Resolve to be a born again virgin, and make sex sacred again.
  • Take steps to improve your diet, cutting out toxins.
  • Spend time caring for a child, the elderly or an animal in need.
  • Set aside time each day to practice toward a goal.
  • Organize your desk, garage, closet, bookshelf.
  • Write letters or postcards.
  • Take care of business that involves fine print.
  • Research or edit
  • Attend a literary event.