Go Ask Alice

Let’s have a show of hands from those of you who checked this book out of your junior high school library, passed it around with your friends, and never let your parents see you read it. I thought so!

“Go Ask Alice” was first published in 1971. It told a cautionary tale of the horrors of drug addiction, as seen through the eyes of an unnamed 15-year-old girl. The book is written as a diary, and the author of the book is listed as “Anonymous.” But in 1979 it was revealed that the book was written by a woman named Beatrice Sparks, a psychologist who worked at a mental hospital in Utah. Sparks claimed that the book was based on diary entries of a girl who was a patient in the hospital in which she had worked, but admitted fictionalizing a great deal of the story. Sparks later went on to write several more “diaries” of “former patients,” the authenticity of which have also been doubted.

When I read “Go Ask Alice” in seventh grade it had not yet been revealed to be largely a work of fiction. I thought it was real, and it scared me straight!

The title of the book is taken from a line in the Jefferson Airplane song “White Rabbit,” which uses the Alice in Wonderland story as an extended metaphor for a drug trip.


R.I.P. Robin Gibb

The world has lost a second disco icon in almost as many days with the passing of Robin Gibb. He died yesterday at the age of 62 after a hard-fought battle with liver cancer and intestinal problems. His passing comes a mere three days after the death of Donna Summer.

Robin Gibb made up one third of the Bee Gees along with his brothers Barry and Maurice. They first achieved fame in the 1960s as part of the British Invasion. Their Beat sounds of the Sixties gave way to the popular disco sound in 1975 with “Nights on Broadway.” But it was in 1977 that the Bee Gees reached the pinnacle of their career when they provided the soundtrack for the disco movie “Saturday Night Fever.” The brothers Gibb lent their falsetto harmonies to a string of hits, including “Stayin’ Alive,” “More Than a Woman,” and “Night Fever.” Almost every one of the songs on that soundtrack went on to be a hit single, and the album went platinum 15 times over.

Robin was predeceased by two of his brothers. His youngest brother Andy, who also enjoyed fame in the disco era as a solo artist, died in 1988 at the age of 30. His twin brother and fellow Bee Gee Maurice died in 2003 of a twisted intestine. It was this same ailment that contributed to Robin’s ill health during the last several months of his life.

R.I.P. Donna Summer

Donna Summer passed away yesterday of lung cancer at the age of 63. She will best be remembered for her string of disco hits in the Seventies, including “Last Dance,” “MacArthur Park,” and “Bad Girls.” I was always bummed when “MacArthur Park” came on the radio because that song seemed to go on FOREVER! I remember singing “TOOT TOOT, heeeeeeey, BEEP BEEP!” with my friends in the junior high locker room. We thought it scandalous that “Bad Girls” was about ladies of the evening. But “Last Dance” in particular reminds me of being a child of the Seventies, listening to the AM stations on my parents’ old 60s radio that I had sitting atop my radiator cover in my childhood bedroom. I loved how it started out slow and then built up to a frenzied disco beat. It’s my favorite song of hers. Rest in Peace, Donna.