Mary Forsberg Weiland - Fall to Pieces
2009 William Morrow/Harper Collins
Ray Van Horn, Jr.
Anytime a crash and burn narrative related to Hollywood and rock 'n roll comes across my desk, I automatically start humming Motley Crue's "Danger" in the back of my mind. Within the past couple years, three of the most alarming biographies related to megastar drug addiction have surfaced: Red Hot Chili Peppers' frontman Anthony Keidis and his harrowing Scar Tissue, Crue bassist and poster bad boy Nikki Sixx 's Heroin Diaries (which you can read a review of here) and now, the ex-wife of Stone Temple Pilots/Velvet Revolver vocalist Scott Weiland and her one-step-deeper account, Fall to Pieces.
It's difficult for the general public to empathize with our brothers and sisters who struggle with drug addiction. Never mind society unanimously has its own individual addictions they're secretly battling or even upfront about. Let's face the facts; we're all hooked on something, be it drugs, weed, booze, sex, tobacco, sleep, food, sports, gambling, style, free-spending. It's an inherent trait within us all to develop vices; that's Psych 101 stuff. I personally am trying desperately to wean myself off of the caffeine I binge on in order to keep up with my journalism production. I also combat the inner urge to spend disposable income on albums and music despite all the perks and freebies I enjoy in my position. I'm freakin' addicted to music, shame to say.
Relating to another human being cursed with needle tracks in his or her arms and whose eyesockets bear ghoulish tints of yellow, scarlet and black you're wont to confuse smack addiction for cancer just isn't within most people's capacity. In some ways, we all bear tiny hints of wonton jealousy when you get down to the nitty gritty. Who the hell has so much money they can piss the equation of the average Joe's annual salary down the flush on a month's consumption of drugs? The first thought coming to most folks' minds is, "Imagine the bills I could sweep off my plate with that kind of money, crikey!"
Mary Forsberg Weiland had the income to live frivolously from her globetrotting as a high profile fashion model and future wife of a grounded rock god; unfortunately, she was riding the bullet on a daily basis with this greater addiction, Scott Weiland.
In her pull-no-punches biography Fall to Pieces, the former supermodel takes her readers on a rock 'n roll hell trip, guided from an alternate perspective. In some ways Mary Forsberg Weiland is the outsider looking in, yet she's every much the participant in her vein-tapped odyssey. Her access to the Hollywood jet set stems from her modeling days and her marriage into a rock scene still on the tail end of a Big Business sweepstakes glutted out of the eighties. Her host of famous friends and associates has included Dave Navarro, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Cage, Ivana Milicevic, Cameron Crowe and course, the entire Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver posse amongst others.
Fall to Pieces lets us know Weiland is well-connected to the entertainment society and given the numerous headlines shouldered by her talented-yet-self-scourged husband, she takes this opportunity to settle a few scores with herself and amend a couple of yellow journalist news tags. In the early goings of this book's release, the support for Mary has been tremendous, first and foremost by her ex. Considering how revelatory Fall to Pieces is, not only for Mary but also Scott Weiland, perhaps this is the cathartic moment both lives may draw upon for future healing.
What Weiland brings to the table with Fall to Pieces (a book that could easily be scored by Patsy Cline, much less Velvet Revolver's smash hit from a few years back) is a sense of innocuousness germinated by an underlying personality disorder which helps derail her into the cumbersome drug mires she fought through seven rehab centers to finally lick.
We meet an alienated young girl with a dysfunctional family who's on the move a lot in the outerlying rims of Los Angeles. Her strained familial environment is filled with divorce-remarriage-divorce, "borrowed" cable t.v. from the neighbors and a mercilessly-played Joan Jett 45 on one of those old-time table phonograph players you have to be of the right age to fully appreciate. She and her family are constantly on the move with a perceived insecurity trickling straight down to knockoff clothing which brings Mary expected torment from her well-to-do peers. Ironic a girl with mission store attire would soon gain access to global designer chic with which to proverbially rub it in the face of said peers.
The girl immediately evolves into woman upon her entry into the fashion world. Mary Forsberg is one of the few celebrities who filed for legal emancipation as an adult strictly in a career maneuver. Interestingly, Mary recounts meeting Drew Barrymore in the same timeframe Barrymore was emancipating herself from her parasitic family. Thus the universe crosses paths intentionally.
As Forsberg elevates to worldly supermodel stature, Fall to Pieces becomes very much a twisted love story as Mary meets her eventual husband Scott Weiland. Scott was her driver back in the early days of her modeling career and her immediate attraction becomes Forsberg Weiland's pinpointed stigma. Though diagnosed later as suffering from a bipolar disease, Mary's unyielding love for Scott Weiland (who similarly bears the bonding glue of family issues) exacerbates her affliction.
The more Mary desires to be with Scott (who was ultimately betrothed and wedded elsewhere upon sparking a romance with Mary), the more she withdraws into her cocoon. Trailing through a veritable catalog's worth of anti-depressants and vogue psych pills, one might presume Mary to be a ripe sacrificial lamb on "The Chaos Tour" she soon embarks with Scott once he split from his first wife, Julianna.
Most other Hollywood drug-addiction accounts are brutally honest, particularly when delivered from a male perspective. Sometimes a man can go too far in conveying the debauchery he lived with, straight down to who-slept-with-who-and-in-what-position. Mary isn't so much kiss but don't tell, as much as she is kiss and hint just a smidge of the pleasantries. Of course, the pleasantries are doused by cocaine baths with more hands-on detail than what's been issued in the past.
No rods are spared from the you-are-there effects Mary illustrates in Fall to Pieces. Seriously, sniffing dust from the rim of a public toilet is more wrong than half of what Gwar does onstage, yet Mary courageously makes this public knowledge in the interest of perhaps saving a soul or two in the process. If you have shared her journey towards Hell's gate, this book goes beyond serving as a confessional. If you come to Fall to Pieces with little-to-no-experience in paraphrenalia abuse, then you're in for a horrific story.
Deep down to the arm tracks and scab pickings, Mary Forsberg Weiland plunges herself, Scott and the reader into a sordid underground where even paparazzi are afraid to follow. Mary impactfully describes hers and Scott's futile attempts to get clean and projects how badly an addiction can wear a user's psyche down to a lack of will.
Carrying emotional baggage before that fateful first score explains why Mary, a perceptibly svelte and assumedly sweet woman rampages at times. She discusses her inferno-like behavior towards Scott; she admits to once cross-hooking him when he wouldn't give her an extra bump. Likewise, she agonizes over their mutual wagon falls where neither could buffer the other for too long without undesirable repurcussions. She also relays the tabloid-famous clothes burning incident which a provoked and wigged-out Mary (no longer on junk at this point) retaliated after pleading to Scott for a hypothetical mental caress, to which he vanished on a plane to record a solo album.
Mary does defend Scott in the book, citing he never hit or cheated on her, regardless of the many headlines indicating otherwise. One thing's for sure; the media has historically painted a picture of Scott Weiland as glamour boy white trash, never mind the standing ovation he and Stone Temple Pilots received while covering The Beatles' "Revolution" at Radio City Music Hall in a post 9/11 tribute to John Lennon. He has historically been pegged as weak by journalists, and certainly Mary's testimonials lend certain credence (I was personally jaw-slackened the man was getting a massage in the delivery suite while Mary was pushing out their first child Noah), yet the point being made in Fall to Pieces is that severe addiction reduces people to, well...pieces.
In the midst of separation and divorce with two children's futures to consider, it's evident Mary loves Scott to the bitter end, even if their chemical personalities unintentionally inflict instead of nurture. Not to paint an air of melodrama, but there is a sad tragedy in Mary and Scott's laced-out romance in which the princess waited a long time for her shining knight, even if his armor wasn't strong enough to thwart the infiltration of poisoning substance. All for naught. As the Stone Temple Pilots song would befit this story, Mary and Scott were flies in the vaseline, stuck there all the time and unequivocally dealing with constant mind blows.
On the upbeat side, Mary Forsberg Weiland does have a witty candor about her. Co-written with former Esquire magazine editor and contributor to addiction research texts, Larkin Warren, Fall to Pieces does know when to press its thumb on the trigger long enough to interject some humor. Mary tells funny stories about herself and her Hollywood compatriots, including a gut-busting tale involving Scott and Dave Navarro.
These days Mary Forsberg Weiland is studying to become a drug and alcohol counselor with her main focus honing in on users with concurrent personality disorders. Assuming she meets that goal, Fall to Pieces will be mandatory reading for potentially plunging angels full of the same despair Mary had as a teenager calling a suicide hotline and gaining impractical and insensitive advice of setting her alarm clock to beat overtiredness.
On a side note, kudos to Mary's keen knowledge of rock, punk, metal and other genres of music. Naturally she was surrounded by it on the road with Stone Temple Pilots so her access to it all was greater than most. You have to appreciate a former runway model who goes to a Social Distortion gig and geeks out in front of Joan Jett in fanboy (or girl, if you will) manner. Gucci with a little bit 'o street...well, actually, the gal's seen more street than a lot of us ever will.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Mary Forsberg Weiland - Fall to Pieces