Steven Okazaki’s Black Tar Heroin: The Dark End of the Street was a gripping 1999 HBO documentary that peered into the lives of young heroin addicts on the streets of San Francisco’s Tenderloin district in the years 1995-98. Every story followed was heartbreaking and arresting, but Tracey Helton definitely stood out brutally candid honesty.

Billie Holiday takes a swig of her drink as she sings into your eyes, and then absentmindedly leaves her glass on your table before she saunters over to seduce the next table. When she vanished the scent of her liquor lingered, rising up from ice cubes in a stinging mint vapor. While she was there, she made you feel like the only person in the crowded room.

The 1976 film The Man Who Fell to Earth is based on a 1963 novel of the same name, but it seems like it was written specifically for and about its alien-like star David Bowie. When Bowie agreed to make the movie, he was in the middle of a whirlwind of pop success. After several years of trying to break onto the scene, his career had shot off like a rocket. The dizzying rise was getting to him, though, he… Read more »

Shannon Whisnant has always had a thirst for the spotlight, and the spotlight loves him right back. He’s a natural for reality shows; charismatic and hungry. When he bought a grill at a storage locker auction that happened to have somebody’s misplaced amputated calf and foot inside it, he thought he’d finally found his ticket to fame. He was right, and his obsession took him and the foot’s original owner on a stressful, dizzying, and somewhat redemptive ride. Independent documentary Finders Keepers, which is out in select theaters and available to be rented or bought on Amazon (which is what I did,) tells this strange, funny, and emotional tale with dignity and candor. Usually a leg is just a leg, but for these two men, it’s so much more.

Amy Winehouse drank herself to death with vodka while watching videos of herself on Youtube. That fact, a fairly simple and sad demise labeled as a “misadventure” by the British coroner, came out two years after her death. Before the official report was released there was a lot of speculation about what transpired on Amy’s last night on Earth, and which drug, or drugs, was the one that took her away from us. Most of us, her parents included, didn’t want to believe that it was alcohol, the legal, highly marketed toxin most adults imbibe fairly regularly. We wanted it to be a “harder” drug, something more complicated and difficult to procure. Her parents seemed to want to deflect, to deny that it was anything at all, to say Amy had been doing well. Despite their will to believe otherwise, her public appearances shortly before her death seem to point to the fact that Amy was doing worse than ever. Her only drug at the time may have been alcohol via episodic binges, but that’s more than enough. If her parents couldn’t truly see her, how could she expect anyone to?

Aside from a brief hiatus last year, Intervention has been with us for nearly 10 years now. LMN thankfully resurrected the compelling show after it got cut from A & E, and not only are they making new episodes, they are airing mini-marathons of the old ones. Critics of the show complain that it is voyeuristic, and it is, but it seems to be actually helping people on both sides of the screen.

On October 12, 1978 20-year-old Nancy died of a knife wound to the stomach. Just a few months later her 21-year-old boyfriend Sid died of an intentional heroin overdose while awaiting a trial for her murder. Already notorious for their bad behavior, they became a myth of a couple, a punk rock Romeo and Juliet. Sid was a rock star who couldn’t really play music, but Nancy was more than a rock-n-roll groupie. She was a force unto herself.