Rock Star of the Week: Chris Motionless

Last night I began thinking that it would be fun to start a blog series about my favorite rock stars.  I’ve been working on a post on this topic for ages now, but I’ve realized that such a post would be more like a novel.  So what better way to break it up a bit than creating a series of posts about all my favorites?  These will be appearing in no particular order.

*Warning: I do not censor my favorite rock stars, so yes, there will be swearing (duh).chris motionless

This week I’m going to initiate the series with Chris Cerulli, otherwise known by his stage name Chris Motionless, the lead singer of Motionless in White (MIW) out of Scranton, Pennsylvania.  If you’re not familiar with MIW, their music could be described in various ways from heavy to gothic to horror metal & probably a lot more.  They’re exactly the kind of band that ten years ago I could never have imagined myself enjoying.  But they’re also a band whose music I fell in love with immediately upon discovering it.  You can read all about that here.

MIW reincarnate

Chris (seated) with his bandmates from Motionless in White

I’ve actually written a bit about Chris on this blog before because he is just such a unique individual in so many ways.  When I first discovered him & his band, I immediately felt a powerful connection because of my love for people who break stereotypes.  Chris is a man who is covered in tattoos & piercings & is never seen wearing anything other than black.  (There might be other colors involved, but the greater part of any outfit of his will always be black.)  He is also famous for his extreme use of makeup including his lust-worthy eyebrows.  Not going to lie, I never thought I’d say a man looked good in makeup, but Chris Motionless taught me otherwise.  See the picture below if you don’t believe me. chris motionless 2Basically, in appearance Chris is much like a younger, more modern version of Marilyn Manson.  And just like Manson, there is so much more to Chris than what many would initially assume based on appearance alone.  A lot of folks would assume someone who looks like Chris would be a devil-worshipper or at least a drug user or alcoholic.  As it turns out, Chris is none of those things.  In fact he’s very well known in the rock/metal community for his “straight edge” ways.  In other words, he does not drink, smoke, or participate in promiscuous sex.  If you find any of that hard to believe check out this interview.


Is this jacket epic or what?!

What I love best about Chris’s choice to live this way is that he doesn’t push it on other people (some of his own bandmates do smoke & drink), & he hasn’t chosen this lifestyle because of any religious affiliation.  He has chosen it simply because he thinks it’s the best way for him to live: “I think alcohol, and getting high, and all that shit, is retarded . . . I’ve never really had any interest. Like… You know how some people are even curious to see? You know – “I don’t drink, but I wanna know what it’s like to be drunk” or “I wanna see what it’s like to be high even once.” It just doesn’t have any interest to me at all. It just doesn’t make me feel like I wanna know. I think that shit’s disgusting . . .  if I’m with somebody, then it’s a monogamous relationship . . . I’m not a playboy, for lack of a better word. I have a little self-respect.”  See the link in the previous paragraph for the full interview from which these quotes are taken.  chris cerulli

Despite writing & performing what many would describe as very dark music, Chris is also well known as an extremely polite individual with a propensity for kindness & having a great smile.  “. . . the MIW frontman has a fearsome onstage persona that’s somewhat at odds with his friendly and well-spoken offstage self. “I don’t want to be an aggressive and intimidating person to people in real life,” he explains. “That’s why my stage character has a different name than me [Chris Cerulli]—it’s a good way to let that part of my personality shine. It’s a big reason why I love to play live, having that outlet . . . There’s a lot of anger inside of me, and I certainly don’t have to convince myself to be pissed off.”  (See this interview for more, which includes Chris talking about how his parents have always supported him despite not being too fond of his general appearance.)  Despite the fact that I don’t have any tattoos or piercings (outside of earrings), nor do I dress in all black or wear heavy makeup, I can strongly relate to Chris on this subject because while I am known as a very kind, polite person, there is a lot more to me than might initially meet the eye.  Which is probably why people are often so shocked to discover that I like such “hard, dark” music.  I’m not saying I’m a deeply angry or bitter person on the inside.  Not at all.  But I’m not some “happy-go-lucky I love everyone all the time” angel either.Chris-Motionless

Chris is also a big promoter of self-respect & personal responsibility & has openly decried fans who try to credit him with saving their lives: “NO. I did not save your life. NO.. band X, Y or Z did not save your life. IF in fact you were on the brink of any self harming action… it was YOU who pulled yourself from the ledge. You saved your life, You are the hero. Why are people not willing to take credit for their own actions? . . . MIW’s main message has always been about not giving a fuck what people thought and encouraging you to do the same.”  (You can read Chris’s full blog post on that matter here.)  chris motionless quote

Furthermore, MIW’s latest song from their forthcoming fourth album is all about how the band has achieved the success they have today through sheer hard work & determination.  Check out the music video here.  With lyrics like these, you’d be hard-pressed not to find this song inspirational:  “I’ve been to hell & back, with no promise of return/So I made friends with fire to keep from getting burned/No money, no sleep, dedication/10 years on the road, this is sacred/And when I’m facing a wall, I do not quit/Cause if you mean it, you will make it/Pulled apart in a world so demanding/I’m still here, still standing/I’ve sweat blood from Stockholm to Scranton/Still here, still standing . . . If you mean it, you will make it!”  (If you’re curious about the song’s title 570, it’s the area code of the band’s hometown Scranton, PA; hence the lyric about Scranton in the song.)chris miw

I hope that reading all of this will inspire you to check out Chris’s band if you aren’t already familiar with them.  To start you off, here are some links to a few of my favorite MIW songs:

  • Reincarnate: the first song I ever heard from MIW & the one that made me immediately fall in love with the band
  • America: a scathing discourse on the hypocrisy of this country
  • Break the Cycle: an empowering song about how we can all be our own worst enemy & overcoming self-doubt

28 Quotes That Prove Russell Brand Isn’t Such an Idiot After All

I don’t remember when I first became aware of Russell Brand’s existence, but I do remember when Katy Perry married him a few years ago & thinking to myself “Doesn’t she know what he’s like?  How could she possibly think marrying him was a good idea?”  This is not to say that I’ve ever been a big Katy Perry fan.  I’ve nothing against her; I’m just not really into pop music very much, although I will say she does have a great voice & she is definitely gorgeous.  RB and KP In any case, until about a month ago I regarded Russell Brand as one of those silly comedians who would say or do anything for a laugh, had no respect for women, & was just a general idiot.  I honestly can’t remember now what triggered me to start researching him a bit more, but what I quickly found is that he isn’t quite the idiot I always thought.  Quite the opposite in fact.  There’s a lot more to him than meets the eye for sure.  Besides anyone who can beat a heroin addiction definitely deserves a second glance.  And if he happens to be gorgeous, wickedly funny, & have a delicious British accent . . . Well, I’m not going to lie, that helps a bit too. Russell Brand arrives at the MTV Movie Awards in Universal City, Calif., on Sunday, June 6, 2010. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello) As I’ve mentioned on here before, people who break stereotypes or somehow prove that they’re a lot more than I initially considered them to be are fascinating to me.  So once I started watching some of Brand’s stand-up comedy & YouTube videos (both interviews of him as well as his Trews clips), I quickly decided that I should go straight to the source, so to speak, & read his own books.  I just finished the first part of his autobiography My Booky Wook, & it reminded me a lot of Marilyn Manson’s autobiography, which I also recently read, in the sense that it was wickedly humorous but also difficult to read at times due to the blunt descriptions of sex & drug abuse.  And yet, as with Manson’s book, I couldn’t stop reading it.  It was ridiculously addicting, as I’m sure Booky Wook 2 will also be.  (That one is next on my to-read list.  I’m just finishing up an Agatha Christie at present, as she is my all-time favorite author.)  There is something about such raw honesty that is incredibly compelling to me, perhaps because it is, above all else, REAL.booky wook So today I thought I would share some of my favorite quotes from My Booky Wook that demonstrate to me how devilishly clever & perceptive Brand actually is, despite his reputation as a junkie Lothario.  I’m not going to edit them (other than to bold my favorite parts) so, yes, there will be cursing.  But it’s more fun that way anyway. 😉rusell brand 2

  1. So anyway, I didn’t want to go to that sexual treatment center, but all the do-gooders . . . insisted, & I sort of, kind of agreed.  Just to shut everyone up, really, & for the same reason that I finally gave up drink & drugs- because my ambition is the most powerful force within me, so once people convinced me that my sexual behavior might become damaging to my career, I found it easier to think of it as a flaw that needed to be remedied.
  2. I particularly dislike preordained happy occasions.  I don’t mind Christmas so much, because everyone’s involved, as long as they’re Christians or lazy atheists, or Muslim but into tinsel.  But I’ve never had a good New Year’s Eve, & I don’t like birthdays, or any other time when you’re meant to be happy . . . For me happiness occurs arbitrarily: a moment of eye contact on a bus, when all at once you fall in love; or a frozen second in a park when it’s enough that there are trees in the world.  I don’t like New Year’s Eve.  I don’t think bliss could ever be preceded by a countdown & the chiming of a pompous clock, unless that’s what death’s like.  [I was reminded of this quote yesterday while my husband & I were biking around our neighborhood & the gloriously sweet scent of honeysuckle was carried on the breeze, & I thought to myself “How wonderful it is to be alive & experience this very moment!”]honeysuckle
  3. In later life, I have come to realize that any expression of love which ends in a yelp probably requires modification.
  4. [In regard to his father]: He taught me that you can get what you want if you refuse to let circumstances defeat you, & perhaps there is no more valuable lesson.  I only wish I’d felt he liked me more.
  5. I was a connoisseur of the Penguin [a type of candy], which came in yellow, green, blue, & red wrappers.  I was a particular devotee of the blue variety, even though all Penguins are the same below the surface, which I think is as perfect an analogy as we’re likely to get for the futility of racism.racism
  6. The need to find out what will happen if I don’t relent or moderate my actions has been a constant source of difficulty & discomfort in my life.
  7. My dad’s philosophy was (& I think still is) that life is a malevolent force, which seeks to destroy you, & you have to struggle with it.  Only those who are hard enough will succeed.  Most people get crushed, but if you fight, in the end life will go, “Fucking hell.  This one’s serious.  Let him through.
  8. For me, it was more important that people knew I had sex than having sex.  That’s daft, if you live for other people’s perception you can never be happy, but this was no time to ponder that existential blather . . . perception quote
  9. In Grays [his hometown] I didn’t possess anything people wanted.  I was trying to spend a fantasy currency from an irrelevant island.
  10. What I wanted was to be in love, to have a companion to look after me- someone to replace my mother.  But before I could persuade anyone to fulfill that function, I found drugs.
  11. Many years later, when I eventually got clean, I was astonished to learn that I actually don’t enjoy my own company.  I always thought I loved being on my own, but actually I don’t.  It was being on drugs that I liked.
  12. Gravity’s hard to dispute, & breathing, but a lot of things we instinctively obey are a lot of old tosh [nonsense].question everything
  13. What I’ve learned- to my cost- on several occasions in my life, is that people will put up with all manner of bad behavior so long as you’re giving them what they want.  They’ll laugh & get into it & enjoy the anecdotes & the craziness & the mayhem as long as you’re doing your job well, but the minute you’re not, you’re fucked.  They’ll wipe their hands of you without a second glance.
  14. I presume that feeling ostracized & alienated from them [his father & step-father], even within my own home growing up, encoded within me a deep sense of alienation.  That’s why in any group dynamic my identity will always be defined as an outsider rather than from within.  This is also the reason why stand-up comedy is the perfect career for me.  Not just because I’m constantly scribbling notes inside my own mind to deal with the embarrassment I perpetually feel, but also because I’m always observing, always outside . . . The fact that I’ve managed to make it funny is bloody convenient, because I can’t think how else I would make them listen.russell brand with dog
  15. Once I finally got a bit of success, it became clear that my internal deficit of sadness & longing would not really be sated by the things I’d always thought would save me.  This realization made me turn to hard drugs- specifically heroin- in an even more concerted way I than I ever had before.
  16. Heroin is a greedy drug, robbing you by increments first of your clothing, then of your skin; finally when it comes for your life it must be a relief.  They’re not present those people: if you talk to them, they just look beyond you, they’re not really there.  That’s why the invisibility of the homeless scoring drugs on Oxford Street is almost by mutual consent: they don’t want to be seen, & no one else wants to see them.homeless
  17. Of all the consumer products, chewing gum is perhaps the most ridiculous: it literally has no nourishment- you just chew it to give yourself something to do with your stupid idiot Western mouth.  Half the world is starving, & the other’s going, “I don’t actually need any nutrition, but it would be good to masticate, just to keep my mind off things.”
  18. . . . international violence being a two-way street & it being impossible to oppress people endlessly without consequence.
  19. The main problem was I had too much status & not enough discipline . . . I’d be all full of acrimony & revolutionary bile- furious at society, but ultimately furious at myself.LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 02: Russell Brand moderates the Q&A at the
  20. They were quite happy to demonstrate social solidarity through Kit-Kats but if you actually bring homeless people into their lives, it makes them uncomfortable . . . Perhaps the reason it [homelessness] continues is that we somehow think of the homeless as dirty & unpleasant . . .
  21. Would anyone sleep with prostitutes if they weren’t able to dehumanize them?  If they understood that prostitutes were women with lives & families & problems & hopes & dreams, would they still be able to empty themselves soullessly & leave fifty quid [money] on the table?
  22. I find the potential for mayhem exhilarating- society’s only held together by a few ideas.  I know those ideas are quite entrenched, & the reason we have a police force & an army is to maintain that status quo, but at moments like this, that whole apparatus can suddenly look quite vulnerable, & I find that thrilling.russell brand riot
  23. People do this a lot.  They don’t seem to realize that the future is just like now, but in a little while, so they say they’re going to do things in anticipation of some kind of seismic shift in their worldview that never actually materializes . . . Tomorrow is not some mythical kingdom where you’ll grow butterfly wings & be able to talk to the animals- you’ll basically feel pretty much the same way you do at the moment.  [So true!  I keep reminding myself of this every time I want to skip the gym or otherwise screw up my attempt at a healthier lifestyle & subsequently losing a few pounds.]
  24. When you live in the psychological space that I did, life is not about confronting reality, it’s about ignoring it.
  25. Perhaps heroin had, similarly, held me in times of trouble.  The prospect of relinquishing it was terrifying.  The only reason I did so was because I was more afraid of what was going to happen to me if I didn’t.

    He wear eye-liner better than I do!  Oh wait, he has his own stylist.

    He wears eye-liner better than I do! Oh wait, he has his own stylist.

  26. I couldn’t go on living like this.  I had to become successful.  “I want to change the world, & to do something valuable, & beautiful.  I want people to remember me before I’m dead, & then more afterward.”  And at this juncture I was finally willing to do whatever it was going to take to bring that about- up to & including giving up drugs.  From that moment on, I really did take things, in the textbook rehab fashion, one day at a time.
  27. I’ve always had the analogy that people who are depressed are often funny in the same way that England is a seafaring nation because we’re an island; because you adapt to your circumstances, & if you’re miserable you’ve got to become funny to fucking keep afloat.
  28. I’ve noticed the Americans are inherently consumers.  They always want to pop pills for mental or physical ailments.

    Like Manson, Brand loves cats . . . Maybe these guys need to meet (if they haven't already).

    Like Manson, Brand loves cats . . . Maybe these guys need to meet (if they haven’t already).

Russell Brand has gotten a bad name lately because of his influence over the recent British elections (encouraging people not to vote), & I’ll be the first to admit that I think such encouragements were ill-advised.  However, his assertion that the current political climates in both Britain & the US offer no good options at present is certainly spot-on . . . As I’ve said before, I love people who question the status quo, who make me think, who challenge all of society’s ideas about what is normal & natural, & who prove that people really CAN turn their lives around in a positive manner.  That is a perfect description of Mr. Brand, & that is why I’ve chosen to honor him in this post today.breaking stereotypes

Breaking Stereotypes

Last night I was fooling around on YouTube as I often do, & in the process I discovered what to me is a new band: Motionless in White.  If you’re not familiar with them, they are a metal band based out of Scranton, PA & are fronted by a guy named Chris “Motionless” Cerulli who draws inevitable comparisons to Marilyn Manson.  As I always do when discovering a new band, I starting Googling the band & its lead singer, looking for interviews & such to familiarize myself with the band & to better connect with their music.  I soon discovered that despite the rather gothic appearance of the band, the lead singer is actually “straight edge” & is well-renowned for the fact that he has never smoked, drank, or used drugs & has no interest in such things.  In case you’re thinking this must be one of those Christian or pseudo-Christian metal bands, let me assure you Motionless in White is anything but that.  (On the other hand they are not Satanists either despite what some might naturally assume based on their appearance & the sound of their music).

I bought this album today, & it is EPIC.

I bought this album today, & it is EPIC.

chris motionless

From what I’ve read, Chris Motionless isn’t gay or transgender, despite having long hair & wearing a lot of make-up. How’s that for breaking stereotypes?

What struck me the most about this band is not only their unique sound but the lead singer’s ability to break stereotypes.  This led me to ponder my never-ending fascination with people who break stereotypes, whatever they may be.  As the Nigerian novelist, poet, & professor Chinua Achebe said, “The whole idea of a stereotype is to simplify. Instead of going through the problem of all this great diversity – that it’s this or maybe that – you have just one large statement; it is this.”  Indeed the world is very complicated & it’s not so shocking that society has created stereotypes to try to make sense of such a complex world.  And yet, the result of such stereotyping is that we often miss out on the joy that can be found in embracing the complexity of this world & the people around us.

chinua achebe quote

As some of you may know from reading previous blog posts, I grew up in a very small town in Virginia.  One of the saddest things about small towns is that stereotypes are so ingrained into the fabric of society that one can quite easily feel stifled in such places.  Over the past eight years since I graduated from high school I’ve often pondered the irony of how I graduated with some 140 odd students, the vast majority of us having been together in school since kindergarten or at least 3rd or 4th grade.  The result of this is that we all assumed we knew each other & often assigned each other to stereotypical roles & groups without much of a second thought.  The reality is that most of us knew next to nothing about each other, only what we THOUGHT we knew because we’d “known each other forever.”  I suppose this phenomenon occurs everywhere to a certain extent, but I daresay it’s worse in small towns where stereotypes can often be magnified due to the naturally insular nature of such places.stereotypes

In any case when I went to college I was immediately gratified by how so many people I met broke a lot of the traditional stereotypes I grew up around.  One of my best friends in college was a girl who had been an athlete in high school, yet she loved classical music, opera, & classic literature.  What also gratified me was finding that everyone I met didn’t naturally assume I was a boring nerd who couldn’t possibly be interesting, funny, or attractive.  Instead of being regarded as weird or dull because I’m naturally intelligent, people often seemed to find this intriguing. How gratifying!

As I’ve matured as an adult I continually find myself attracted to those who break stereotypes in one way or another.  Whether it’s a football player like Arian Foster who writes poetry & studies philosophy or a rock star like Chris Motionless who eschews drinking & drugs or some of my elderly patients who have iPads & are very adept with technology, I’m naturally drawn to those who somehow “break the rules” of what they’re “supposed” to be like because of their age, race, gender, or profession.

Many people probably wouldn't guess that Arian Foster writes poetry & studies philosophy . . . but he does.

Many people probably wouldn’t guess that Arian Foster writes poetry & studies philosophy . . . but he does.

At the end of the day, I consider myself fairly average.  When I say that I just mean that I’m not someone you’d look at twice in the grocery store, & yet I like to think I break a few stereotypes myself.  Today I thought it would be empowering to list a few of those & in doing so encourage my readers to think about the stereotypes they break in their own lives.  So here are a few ways in which I break the “rules of society.”

  • I love rock & roll & metal but I have no tattoos & no piercings, aside from standard earrings. I am not opposed to such things, but I just have no personal interest in them for myself.  When I go to rock shows, I’m often one of the only people without tattoos or piercings & who isn’t dressed in all or mostly black.  For some reason or other, I am often immediately assumed to be a “nice girl” & thus people are often shocked to find I like such heavy or “dark” music.  I resent the implication that people who value compassion & kindness can’t enjoy rock music, so I always enjoy the look on people’s faces when they find out some of my favorite bands are FFDP, Godsmack, & Halestorm.
  • On the other hand, when I go to country concerts, I’m always one of the only people not wearing cowboy (or should I say cowgirl?) boots. I’ve never owned a pair & don’t care to.  There’s nothing wrong with them; they’re just not my style.cowboy boots
  • Despite the fact that I grew up in a very rural area, I have only been fishing once & have no real interest in going again. I’ve also never been hunting or “mudding” & don’t particularly care to try either one.
  • Despite living in the South my entire life, I do not like sweet tea or gravy.
  • I’m an introvert who strongly prefers the city to the country.  When you really think about this, it’s actually quite logical because the anonymity of the city is far more suitable to an introvert like me who detests the idea of constantly having to make small talk.  In a small town everywhere you go, you see someone you know & thus feel compelled by some social construct to converse with them.introverts cats
  • I’m strongly considering becoming a mom in the next year or two (or three), but I love heavy metal & have no plans to stop listening to this music just because I have kids.
  • Sex, drugs, & rock & roll is a phrase that exists for a reason. But as much as I love this kind of music, I’m married to my first & only boyfriend, have never experimented with drugs or smoking, & drink alcohol only in moderation.  (Additionally there is a hell of a lot more to rock & roll than just sex & drugs, & if you don’t think so, you’re missing out on a lot in life.)
  • As much as I hate wars & violence, I am a strong supporter of gun ownership.  There are a whole host of logical reasons for this, but this isn’t the time or place to go into all that right now.gun-rights
  • I was a straight-A student in both high school & college, but I never once stayed up all night (or even half the night) studying for a test or final exam.
  • I’m a female who loves science & math, yet I also love literature, music, & history.
  • I’m a humanist & thus I don’t believe in moral absolutes, but despite what some people might think, I DO have moral & ethical standards for how I live my life, & I will teach them to my children someday.
  • I identify myself as a feminist because there are still plenty of places in the world where women do not have even basic human rights, but I do NOT hate men & I don’t think men automatically have an easier time in life.
  • I have no idea what happens after death (to be truly honest, NONE of us does because we haven’t been there), yet I volunteer with hospice & seem to have a special talent for caring for patients & their families at the end of life. Where most see only grief & suffering, I see a chance to make someone’s final days as painless as possible, to give that person a peaceful exit from this world, & to assist the family throughout this entire process.hospice

At the end of the day, I think we all break at least a few stereotypes in our lives, even if we’ve never given it a lot of thought.  Because stereotypes can be so damaging, I think we all could benefit from taking a few moments to think about what kind of stereotypes we break in our own lives as well as to examine the prejudices we might hold towards others due to common stereotypes in our society.

To end this post, I’ll leave you with a few quotes about stereotypes that I find very empowering & perhaps you will too.

Reducing a group to a slur or stereotype reduces us all.”   ~ DaShanne Stokes (author & human rights activist)

If you’re struggling to fit me into a box . . . Then build a bigger box!”   ~ Serina Hartwell (novelist)

P.S. If you want to check out Motionless in White, I’d strongly suggest starting with Reincarnate off of their latest album of the same name: