The InsiderOne Daily Report

  Wednesday, April 18, 2001

How's Bob's Drinking, Part 2

InsiderOne's Michael Goldberg writes: So not all the Guided By Voices fans who read my recent column, "GBV Wants To Reinvent You," completely disagreed with my comments about Bob Pollard's alcohol problem. In the course of that column I wrote: "The demons on Robert Pollard's trail must really be something. He appears to be medicating himself to such a degree that it's hard not to wonder just how long he's got 'til his liver or other organs simply give out. He's running from something, trying to black out the insecurity and stage fright and god knows what else. It's like he thinks it's the brew that turns him into a superhero rock star. ... But drinking yourself into the ground isn't the answer. I can't help but wonder how much greater, even, the work of Robert Pollard and GBV could be if he were straight and focused." One reader, Stephen Berg, wrote: "Yes, Pollard's a drunk. He seems to say so on the new disc. Did you not read the credits/acknowledgements list? Right there, underneath Business Management, it reads 'Alcohol Management: Jack Shit.' As in 'I ain't doin' Jack Shit about my drinking problem.' Oh, and here's a quote: 'Nothing good came of it. I never wrote so much as a line that was worth a nickel when I was under the influence of alcohol.' — Raymond Carver, after he got sober." Interesting that a writer creative as Carver would be so clear about the impact of alcohol on his work. If you've seen the film "Pollock," which I did recently, you'll note that it was only during periods when he wasn't drinking that Jackson Pollock got anything done, and that once alcohol completely took over his life, it was all over for Pollock as an innovative artist. Jake, who runs, wrote: "Hello Michael. I had to jump on this one. In your InsiderOne report you ask us for our ideas about drugs/alcohol and rock. My man Phil (Derek Phillips) has written a great thing about how it's fine for rock stars to stop using drugs, but they just shouldn't record any more music after that. Here's the link to the whole article. It's funny, but it's smart. I understand what you're saying in your article though. It's sad and scary to watch people we care about fuck up their lives and endanger their health. Rock and drugs are pretty inseparable though, aren't they? Would Kurt Cobain have written such great songs if he weren't so messed up? It's sad to say, but other people's messed up lives provide great entertainment and escapism for the 'normal' people. It's a vicarious kick. That might sound shallow, but you know I think that music is a lot more than just entertainment...." And then there was artist/designer Emme Stone (who designed the site, by the way) who wrote: "I guess I'm of the opinion that most true artists are such because they have to be, not because they want to be. If Van Gogh were to have a choice between a happy stable life as a carpenter and creating 'Starry Night' (and removing an ear!) I am almost certain he would have chosen the former. Mister Pollard's 'genius' is more likely attributable to the reason he is self-medicating, not the self-medicating itself. Therefore it stands to reason that his work might be quite interesting once you took that crutch away. Obviously though, he feels he needs it."

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Michael Goldberg is the president of He founded Addicted To Noise in 1994.

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