The other night, I watched a film called “Bob and the Monster.”
On the face of the title alone, you’d likely expect some sort of story about a monster that lives under Bob’s bed. Bob could be a child, and the monster could come out to introduce himself. Perhaps they become friends – or maybe the monster comes out to scare the shit out of Bob.
“Bob and the Monster” is a 2011 documentary by filmmaker Keirda Bahruth – a look at rocker and recovery advocate Bob Forrest, longtime frontman for punk outfit Thelonious Monster but perhaps best known to the general public as the shoot-from-the-hip counselor on VH1’s Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.
The film is the story of Forrest’s transformation from dangerously addicted indie rock star to the respected beacon of recovery he is today.
I decided to put this film into my queue after talking to my friend Casey King, a physics professor at Horry-Georgetown Technical College here in the Grand Strand area. King is also the organizer and founder of the college’s long-running Addiction and Recovery Lecture Series – which for 12 years has featured an impressive roster of celebrity speakers, most of whom have overcome the burden of addiction.
We’re talking about folks like Louis Gossett, Jr., Mackenzie Phillips, Danny Trejo, Everclear frontman Art Alexakis and many more. This year, Forrest spoke on March 5, followed by Dr. Drew Pinsky on March 12.
For the past few years, I have had the opportunity to write about the series in The Sun News, a McClatchy paper here in Myrtle Beach. This year was no exception. CLICK HERE for the February 19 story. I was able to speak with Pinsky via telephone, and Forrest got back to me with some awesome email content – thanks to King.
King has said many times that he wants to change the face of recovery – and that change is happening as more and more professional people come forward in their recoveries and make their stories known.
“It no longer has quite the stigma that it had 15 years ago as I began my journey,” he said.
He has always been gracious enough to make sure I got seats for the recovery events I covered, but this year my gig schedule conflicted with the Thursday events – and I wasn’t able to see either man’s presentation at the college. Because I am moving toward six years of sobriety, these events are important to me – and King knows this.
I was happy when he told me about a talk Forrest was to give at the C3 Coffee Bar in Conway (right up the road from Myrtle Beach), presented by Lighthouse Behavioral Health Hospital. I’d be there with bells on.
When I arrived, I found King, and there was Forrest – unassuming and real. From what I gathered, the crowd was made up mostly by mental health professionals – and Forrest delivered a compelling talk, not only about his struggles with addiction, but also about the problem of how to reach today’s young people who are struggling with substance abuse, a decidedly entitled demographic.
What struck me was how ardently Forrest pursued the sex-drugs-rock ‘n’ roll thing. There was a good deal of cache attached to it, especially if you were a young rock musician in Hollywood. I daresay many of us went into that lifestyle with our eyes open. Forrest himself said in “Bob and the Monster” that it was his goal to eventually shoot heroin.
Today’s dynamic is not so straightforward but every bit as deadly.
My “inspiration” was a biography of Jim Morrison called No One Here Gets Out Alive by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugarman. I was a happy kid. I wonder what my life would have been now if I hadn’t decided to drink and do drugs.
After Forrest’s presentation at the coffee bar, he and many of us convened for lunch at a local Mexican restaurant called El Patio in Conway. It’s good to know that there are folks who give a damn about recovery in our neck of the woods. Methodologies and approaches may vary, but hope remains that folks can and do recover.
Forrest’s advice to those in the throes of addiction is this:
“First and foremost, don’t die. Especially nowadays, with fentanyl in almost everything and tens of thousands of people dying of overdoses every year, being safe and not dying is the absolute most important thing.”
He said he had overdosed and been revived a few times and was starting to think things were not going to end well for him.
“But of course that wasn’t true at all. What I figured out is that as long as you don’t die, amazing things can happen. It takes time, but life becomes this amazing adventure. I was able to be there for my son, and I have two more small kids now. They’re my life, and they remind me what’s important. It comes down to love – and to just being here with each other. Life can be brutal and harsh, but it can also be such a beautiful, poetic experience. And it doesn’t last long. So we need to forget about all those BS trappings of ‘this car is going to make me happy’ or ‘this toy is going to make me happy.’ I think a lot of us who’ve come through recovery know that better than ‘normal’ people do. It’s relationships. It’s music. It’s nature. It’s experiences. It’s love.”
Forrest now has his own recovery center, Alo House. It is his hope that anybody who needs help knows that they are there and that they really care. Reach out by clicking the link above.