Friday, January 18, 2013

Bye Bye Lance

The Amy Winehouse House was not asked for an official comment on last night’s Oprah interview with Lance Armstrong. But our founder taught us to never wait to be asked. So here goes: We haven’t liked that dopey guy for years. He is arrogant, mean—(such mean little eyes, no?) and now the fool has taken on Oprah. Oh well. Our dear founder (RIP) was a musician and singer and had only great respect for her peers so we couldn’t help shouting at the TV, “Ask Cheryl Crowe!” and “This jerk broke Cheryl Crowe’s heart?” Watching this guy with Oprah can you just imagine what a prick he was in an intimate relationship? Cheryl, you are in a better place. And yes, our dear Amy is too.

For those of you who are new and have not heard about our specialized cancer support center here is a post from 2009 when I created The Amy Winehouse House:

(Love in the Time of Cancer 2009)    

A couple of weeks ago we visited a local support group for people with cancer to see what services or support might be available. The house is lovely and there are many activities, support groups etc. But about 30 minutes into the orientation I picked up the whiff of overriding condescension that accrues around cancer. Part of it is the pastel and pretty approach to surroundings but it’s also apparent in the tone of voice that is used by staff. It’s a cross between the voice you use when talking to a small child and the voice one uses talking to someone with Down’s syndrome or to someone in the midst of a psychotic break. The other hint at condescension is the two-handed handshake: the staff member takes both of your hands in theirs. This is accompanied by the long, deep gaze, which immediately feels like someone told the staff how important it is to make eye contact and that “people with cancer need to be seen.” Well, they are going to make dam sure you know you are seen.

But the greatest tip off to the fact that once you have cancer you’ll never be treated like a competent adult again is revealed in the list of activities offered. At the support center, the counselor told me--with that kindergarten teacher lilt in her voice, “We get together on Thursdays and make smoothies.” Smoothies.  As I told John on the way home, “I have never made a smoothie in my life so why would I make smoothies in someone else’s kitchen with a group of strangers just because you have cancer?”

That smoothie was the turning point for me and it set me to thinking about the kind of cancer support place I’d like to create. Hence the birth of The Amy Winehouse House.  So here are some of the things that are offered at the Amy Winehouse House:

The mission of The Amy Winehouse House is: Fuck Cancer

We believe that cancer and its treatment is fierce and so everything around it should meet that fierceness head on and not back down into pastel prettiness. We don’t coddle and we don’t play word games. We don’t parse “living with” versus “dying from” cancer.

At the Amy Winehouse House we are not nice and not pastel. We don’t believe that having cancer makes you nice or pastel either. If you were a jackass before you got cancer now you are a jackass with cancer. We don’t ask you to share, process, make crafts or drink smoothies. We offer no bookmarks or anything that has or requires a crocheted cover.

All activities at the Amy Winehouse House are optional and include:
Making martinis
Strip poker night
Learning how to hot wire a car
Our book group is currently reading, “Snuff” by Chuck Palahniuk
We have a smoking room ((if you have cancer and are going to die we want you to enjoy a cigarette on us.)
On Saturday nights we have strippers. Yes for girls too.

And we certainly do have drug education.  We think of this as self-chemo. Our role model, Amy Winehouse, was an expert on self-chemo. Our self-chemo classes explain how to smoke crack and how to play the cancer card to score some medical marijuana. Our movie nights include pornography.  (After all, cancer is pornographic so why get all puppyish and pastel about something that is violent and intrusive.)

In future entries I’ll explain the Board of Directors and our policy for volunteers. (We don’t have tee shirts but you do have to wear eyeliner.) We’ll also talk about why we hate Lance Armstrong (We call him “One Ball” around the House.) And, yes, we have bracelets too, but ours say, “Fuck Cancer.”

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