This post is about the tragic emotions of pity and fear. The protagonist is JaMarcus Russell, the former quarterback of the Oakland Raiders. The news about his drug arrest the other day made headline football news, and I don’t think the reason is the excruciatingly slow off-season. JaMarcus is a tragic figure – a gifted athlete, constrained by circumstances. Is he immature in letting circumstances determine his life? Hell, yes! Have I been immature, letting circumstances determine my life? Hell yes! Have I also made stupid mistakes? Hell, yes, and I don’t mind it, because hardship takes you up a notch. And that, mind you, is what Aristotelian pity is all about – understanding where the culprit comes from, not excusing him. Condemning him while you pity him, while fear makes you tremble – because the same can happen to you too, again and again, no matter how smart you think you’ve become.
The substance of JaMarcus choice was purple drank, a combination of cough syrup with codeine, Sprite and jelly beans. The potion slows you down, so you look like zombie, aka five-pat sandlot quarterback.
I’ve never tried purple drank, but I know I hate codeine because it causes constipation. There is nothing worse than constipation, so I never opt for codeine when in pain. Better take 4 or 5 Advils. When I was in the hospital for my stuck kidney stone, they gave me first morphine, and then codeine, to relieve my pain. This was my first ever experience with real drugs, so I paid attention. The relief from morphine was very interesting – first, my hands got itchy. Then my head got fuzzy. Then I stopped feeling my body, and a host of furious thoughts rushed in. Afterwards, a headache set in. It was not an inspiring headache, like migraine – just a draining, dull, horrendous headache – a headache that draws attention to your kidney pain. Not worth it. And codeine was worse, because of the constipation. Advil Liquid Gels is the best, but I am extremely cautious with it too, because one time I took it, I slept all the way from Berkeley to Walnut Creek.
So, I am thinking, poor JaMarcus. Who knows what stupidity got him into purple drank. Peer pressure? Mama intolerance? His mama is a dominant woman, that I am sure of. Did she keep talking of the real property and jets, and diamonds he bla-blas about in the video below? Is this why he chose to sip the Purple?
This video of Jamarcus – I mocked him cruelly for it online. Oh the materialistic obsessions! Oh the lack of drive! But watch carefully, and you see a boy in daze:
Now, this is a boy who glides through cover-up clichés. Everything is fine, everything under control. Life is good. Mama is off my back, for now. I am fine, and no one here, in Mobile, knows I am a bust. These sonnabitches fans, they keep booing me, but life is good. Just sip Purple, Baby… I’m gonna be fine.
JaMa, we fans warned you many times, just as Tiresius and Creon warned Oedipus. And just like Oedipus, you chose to ignore us. So now it’s yours to suffer the consequences. And mine to pity and fear your fate. Because no matter how I wise I believe I am, I am – a little – like you.