There are few bands that I love that I once hated. You can count them on one hand and if you asked me in a moment off guard I could probably only think of one.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers
I know there are some that don’t like the band and many who just adore them and still an entire other group who say they love them but can only point to the song Under the Bridge as the reason. Those who love them always want to know how I could have possibly ever hated them. Actually some of my reasoning would not surprise you at all as I have stated multiple times that I don’t really care for bands that rap to their songs in a rock format and that includes bands like Rage Against the Machine and Linkin Park and a host of others. None of those bands mean anything to me at all and both of those bands I really do not like. I just don’t like that style. Honestly a lot of my disdain came from the whole socks on their cocks thing they did. If you don’t know the Chili Peppers early in their career would come on stage wearing only socks on their nether regions and that’s how they would play. I am certainly not a prude but to me it was a big turnoff. How big a turnoff? Well big enough that I just didn’t listen to them at all. There was another reason though that hardened my heart just when the band got big.
I used to work at a free standing psychiatric hospital on the adolescent inpatient unit. Now this particular hospital had a Residential Treatment Center as well that sat away from the main hospital. It wasn’t always the safest place to work but mostly that came later. The RTC kids and the inpatient kids rarely mixed because the RTC kids had a lot more freedom and naturally snuck things in, contraband things that we didn’t need around the inpatient unit. Along comes my very favorite patient of all time. She came in late to be admitted around midnight. We had reports of her that she was disruptive and had been kicked out of her last hospital for sleeping with a staff member. The same night she was admitted she walked out of her room naked. We had to watch her. If you want to know about her I blogged about her long ago and its titled Gianna, pronounced Jenna. To me she was sick and needed both care and protection. It always falls to me. When something went wrong on the unit they asked me what happened and I was the default leader of the evening staff. I made things go. That’s not me blowing my own horn that’s just the way it is everywhere I have ever worked. Leaders lead and leaders solve problems.
RTC had a staff member that was a self-stylized rocker and Anthony Kiedis was his idol and role model down to the recovering heroin addict. When RTC came to dinner he would walk into the inpatient unit with his guitar and disrupt everything and he was there for one thing; Gianna. To her he was a rock star and to him she was a groupie that would sit there at his knees and sway to his guitar playing singing along. She was a free spirit, elfin cute and certainly not afraid to be sexual. She was also a Schizophrenic and not a stable one. I saw him for what he was a predator and it took me going to the RTC Coordinator who would one day become my wife and telling her what was going on for it to be nipped in the bud.
The cynic would say I was just jealous. I took my job serious and Schizophrenics would always be my favorite population to work with. Medication worked with Gianna and eventually we got a lot done and when she was discharged I stayed with her until late just talking crying about all her fears and all her potential. There is a reason why she will always be my favorite and much of it has to do with that last conversation dealing with a horrible diagnosis and an iffy future.
I hated the Chili Peppers and all for the wrong reasons. That guy moved on, as did Gianna and I still would not listen to any of their music. Then a friend who used to run around with me a little but smoked a little too much weed asked if I had heard the Chili Peppers song from the Coneheads soundtrack Soul II Squeeze. He insisted I listened to it and sat their singing it at the top of his lungs but he was right it was a great song. How great? It is my favorite Chili Pepper song. So I gave them a chance and listened to Blood Sugar Sex Magik the album and I guess the song and I did like it. I did love Under the Bridge and I really fell in love with the story of Hillel Slovak the band’s first guitarist and Kiedis’ best friend and drug buddy who died of a heroin overdose and certainly impacted the writing of those lyrics in Under the Bridge. I admire Kiedis’ silence on his addiction. He will talk about it and he has slipped before maybe even a couple of times but he has the soul of a poet and why wouldn’t I love that. I love their music and I have it all. Overnight they went from a band I hated, despised and I am talking Zappaesque hate to a band I just cherish and love. I titled this Breaking the Girl named after a Chili Pepper song on Blood Sugar Sex Magik and when I hear that song I think about Gianna. I actually think about her a lot. She impacted me in many ways. I don’t know whether anything I did mattered or made a difference because that’s not ever the reason why I did the work I did. I hope I did but I can’t get trapped in the did I or didn’t I questions. I did the best I could. I tried to protect her because her parents gave us their trust and because she had been let down before. She mattered to me then and she matters to me now and that’s why I was a social worker.
So here we go playing the music of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and I hope you enjoy and I hope you read the blog and maybe think about a free spirit because I sure hope she is still out there. I hope she is not broken.