Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Vince Neil last month: "When you stop, you stop."

A great many of you have emailed and Tweeted to me about the hypocritical nature of Motley Crue frontman Vince Neil's DUI arrest this week. I'll get back to that in a moment, but folks who didn't listen to the May 17 episode of "The Strip" didn't catch this exchange:

Friess: Since you said you don’t drink, when did you actually, finally stop?

Three years ago.

So you’ve been dry for three years?


In your videos and pictures online, you’re always in the picture with the glass.

Alcohol doesn’t bother me, being around it. I just choose not to drink. That’s really kind of it. When you stop, you stop. You don’t ask why. You’re just done with it.

What made you make that decision?

Because I was drinking too much of it. And I finally came to a point where I was done. I called my wife and said, I gotta go somewhere, I can’t this anymore. And that was it. It was a little over three years ago.

And you’d tried that before, right?

Yeah, I’d been in rehab, yeah.

: So what was different?

When people put you in rehab, that’s one thing. When you want to go to rehab, that’s another thing. Usually you go to rehab b/c the family puts you there, your job, whatever…

Legal trouble…

Yeah, whatever, and then they hope that some of it sticks. But when in your mind you’re done, you’re done. This is the first time I actually wanted to go to rehab.

When you watch in the celebrity culture people like Lindsay Lohan and Amy Winehouse, those sorts of people, do you understand what those other people go through? People who aren’t in the spotlight just watch people like Britney Spears and baffle over it. Do you get it? Do you have an empathy for those folks?

Yeah, like Lindsay Lohan came out of rehab and went right back to drinking because she didn’t want to be in rehab, she was put in rehab. She’s not going to stop drinking and doing drugs until she wants to. You can put these people away for a month or two months or three months, but they didn’t do it what he wanted to.

It became a more memorable exchange after Sunday's arrest in Las Vegas, obviously, because the rocker and entrepreneur -- with a line of tequila and a collection of bars, no less -- had pledged full sobriety. Unless the cops have this one quite wrong, that was a lie.

But it's not that he continues to drink that ought to upset anybody. Alcoholism is a terrible disease and, like other addictions, it makes liars out of the best of us. And as we've learned from Steve Wynn and Daniel Lamarre and a few others I do not have the power to force interview subjects to tell the truth under oath.

What's shocking here, however, is that he would drink and drive again, given that in 1984 he was drunk when he crashed a vehicle that left a passenger dead and two people in vegetative states. For that, he got a $2.5 million fine and 20 days in jail. You've got to be a pretty hard-core alcoholic to not keep such a horror front and center in your life.

But while listeners have reminded me of Neil's declarations in that interview, nobody has taken note of this part from later in the interview when we were discussing the tequila line:

Friess: Since you don't drink, how do you test new products?

Neil: I taste it. I have a sip of something to taste it. That's a different thing.

Friess: Typically people who are alcoholics say they can never again have a drop of alcohol, not even in food.

Yeah, those are people who are just Bible-thumpers. Both of my homes have full-stocked bars for people. I have no problem with it being around. I have no problem with my wife having a glass of wine at dinner and I don't or if I go to party. I was at an autism fundraiser the other nigth at the Sterling Club and you know, they hand you champagne, they hand you wine. It doesn't matter. I don't think about it. It doesn't matter to me.

Did you get that? His version of "stopping" meant becoming a casual, if minimal, drinker. But it's not moralistic propaganda that makes alcoholics incapable of having even a modest amount, it's brain chemistry. He also avoids the question at the end there, reverting to whether it bothers him if others drink. That's not the point. I know many alcoholics who don't have any trouble being around alcohol.

Neil has rehabilitated himself as a smart and successful businessman, and that's great. But if he wants to enjoy that success -- and not kill any more people -- he's going to have to have a radical attitude adjustment.


Michael said...

Definitely complicated and you bring up some excellent points. While there is no excusing Neil for the DUI, that doesn't necessarily mean he's completely off the wagon (although it doesn't mean he's not either). There is no doubt it's a horrible decision on his part given his previous incident and his financial situation which you certainly would believe would allow him to not drive if he chose to, with minimal impact.

Three years is a long time though and while the typical thinking is alchoholics can not drink at all going forward, there is a growing consensus that it might not be the case. Addictive personality type is a disorder that many alchoholics are actually suffering from, in which case it's very possible for them to drink. The difference though is they are able to not allow it to be constant destructive behavior in their lives.

Obviously we don't know the case here and we know that he's still prone to bad judgement (put mildly). But as far as classifying disorders, there's still a lot of grey area from a psychology side on alchololism, for some it's very likely to be brain chemistry for others it may very well be a disorder that appears to be alchoholism. The 12 step program is one of the processes that work best against alchoholism, but it's never been qualified as a full fledged cure, partially because they don't know how to seperate disorders that utilize alchohol as a self medication and don't really understand the brain chemistry aspect fully.

AccessVegas.com said...

In a press story about the DUI, they quoted Neil from a while back noting that he doesn't "abuse" alcohol anymore. Granted, that doesn't agree with what he told you (in light of his present actions) but you are talking about a guy who could put down 1/2 bottle (or more) of whiskey a night. Plus whatever else he was doing. So I'll cut him some slack. IE, if he's not drinking daily or drinking in the quantities he used to, that is a huge improvement for him.

However, the choice to drive (especially for someone with his track record) is poor judgment, no question. I personally consider the .08 number a bulls--t number concocted by the Mad Mothers (MADD). A group who has had one of their original founders leave because MADD has become about prohibition, not drunk driving. You practically hit .08 by walking into a bar.

Having said that, Neil was tested at .17 which is above the original, traditional .12 number that was widely considered drunk driving for decades. So no excuse for that at all. I feel for people who are pulled over after a couple glasses of wine at dinner and blow a .09 but not for people above .12 level.

At the end of the day, the driving was inexcusable for him on so many levels. He does business at the Hilton and I'm sure his car was valeted so it's not like leaving it there would be an inconvenience. And I'm sure a Hilton limo would have taken him home pro bono. Not like he was going to be out $60 in cab fare to get home and back to get the car.

I do what Norm Clarke does: Spend the money and rack up the taxi receipts. (You [Steve], Norm, and myself can even write them all off. So for guys like us (and Neil who can also pretty much write any local transportation expense off to business), REALLY no excuse.

At least this is one story that Robin Leach wasn't yelling EXCLUSIVE all over. He kept it out of his blog best I could tell (and he blogs about literally everything -- stuff I consider far too inconsequential to mention). Of course, Neil is a friend of his so that makes sense. But for once we didn't have to hear EXCLUSIVE. I swear, the guy would cover the opening of a 7-11 and call it EXCLUSIVE.

Michael said...

When I first read your post, for some reason I thought Vince's comments were 2-3 years ago being referenced, which in my opinion at least would have meant something entirely different then one week.