The full autopsy report will be released next week. Meanwhile Breitbart.com tells us the coroner has said the cause of death was what was suspected . . . a heart attack : Chief Coroner Investigator Craig Harvey told Breitbart News that the final autopsy report would be released next week. A press release issued by the Department of Coroner (below) notes: “No prescription or illicit drugs were detected. The blood alcohol was .04%,” a negligible amount. Those who suggested that he was on some kind of illicit drugs should apologize, but of course they won’t. UPDATE: Commenter Dana links the piece I had been thinking about. It is on AlterNet and is by Maer Roshan and Hunter R. Slayton, and is titled What Really Killed Andrew Breitbart? The Likely Cause of Death The Mainstream Media Ignored . Nonetheless, soon after his death was announced, blogosphere back channels—and numerous emails to The Fix—began buzzing with speculation that drugs or alcohol had played a role in his passing. But despite their private discussions of the topic, not a single mainstream media outlet or website dared to publicly raise the question of substances. None but these Courageous Journalists, who raised it, and then doubled down. “Andrew Breitbart is dead at 43 from ‘natural causes,’” read a tweet that echoed hundreds of others posted after his death. “Yes I suppose wine is pretty natural.” A commenter on an addiction site noted that Breitbart’s enraged appearances reminded him of his own behavior after an extended cocaine binge. “You can’t summon up that kind of insane rage naturally,” he said. “No one can be so angry all the time.” There is no more reliable source for solid facts than random hateful Internet commenters. But there has been some public speculation that Breitbart’s drug use didn’t end in college. A source close to the blogger told The Fix on condition of anonymity that he’d done cocaine with Breitbart as recently as last October. On the day after his death, Anthony Cumia, of the radio show “Opie and Anthony,” said of Breitbart, “I went out drinking with him, and boy, can he party.” “He liked to stay awake,” added Anthony. “That’s all I’ll say.” A source close to Maer Roshan and Hunter R. Slayton told Patterico.com on condition of anonymity that they made up the above quote. Well, not really — but that assertion has the same credibility (especially now that I have admitted it’s not true). Given his erratic behavior, it’s curious that the mainstream media Breitbart so derided has been more willing to report on charges that he was killed by the White House than that he may have had a problem with alcohol or drugs. Consider the reaction to the death of Whitney Houston, whose body was not even in the ambulance before blogs and news outlets—including Breitbart’s own BigHollywood—began speculating that her death was alcohol- or drug-related. Given the endless coverage of celebrity addictions, we’ve almost come to expect pop stars to be battling something or other. But politicians, businessmen and reporters generally get a pass. “Drugs,” one editor noted, “didn’t really go with the Breitbart brand.” What explains this apparent double standard? Fear certainly has something to do with it—in this instance, fear on the part of an embattled mainstream media of conforming to right-wing allegations of liberal bias. Maybe what explains it is that there was a basis to suspect it with Houston — and it turned out to be true. There was no basis to suspect it with Andrew — and it turned out to be false. But these jerks won’t apologize. Go ahead, ask them. Then repeatedly bang your head against a brick wall. The latter will ultimately be more satisfying.
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Coroner: Andrew Breitbart Died of a Heart Attack
Today is a very special day, friends. It is the day when two historical themes of this blog finally intersect. Theme 1: This blog has diligently chronicled the intrepid quest of Greg Packer to become America’s Man on the Street. He is the man of whom Mickey Kaus once said : “Greg Packer will not be not quoted.” Packer’s indomitable spirit — and his knack for coming up with exactly what the lazy reporter wants to hear, even if it’s not always precisely, well, true — are an inspiration to all of us here at Patterico.com. Theme 2: This blog has also made something of a career out of being a watchdog over the Los Angeles Times . Today, for the very first time, my friends . . . these two worlds collide . The setting, although it really doesn’t matter, is Newark, N.J., the scene of Whitney Houston’s funeral. I will turn it over to Tina Susman of the L.A. Times : But fans, like Greg Packer — who woke up before dawn and drove about an hour from his home in Huntington, N.Y., to Newark — were kept far away from the church. Packer, who arrived at the public-spectator area at 7:30 a.m., was among the first there. “It’s important to be out here with the fans, amongst the fans,” said Packer, who was dismayed that no public service had been arranged. At least, he said, the city could have offered a big screen somewhere for people to watch the proceedings. “They should have allowed everyone to see it.” You tell ‘em, Greg! Greg also scored with AFP , although that encounter does not hold the same attraction for me: Saturday’s private service is meant to be a homecoming and celebration of Houston’s astonishing career, though some fans had hoped for a large public memorial event at a nearby stadium and were angry at being held back. “It’s a disgrace,” said Greg Packer. “All the streets have been blocked, it is very difficult to come here. The family should have done a public memorial, something.” Always the right quote; always at the right time — and always, always at the right place. Greg Packer, you are indeed the man . On the street. High five! UPDATE: Our own Bradley J. Fikes speaks up for the reporter in this comment .
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Greg Packer’s Biggest Win Ever
Explaining to the uninitiated in the future how incredible a voice Whitney Houston had may merely require noting that she never had to dress up as a French whore to get the watchers of her videos to listen to her songs. Donning a meat garment to grab an audience’s attention wasn’t her style. Fame arrived without resorting to primping as a pig-tailed Catholic schoolgirl. All Whitney Houston had to do was sing, which is strangely no longer a prerequisite for becoming a singer. Whitney Houston died on Saturday at 48. She was apparently found in the bathtub of her hotel room alongside a trove of pharmaceuticals, among them Lorazepam, Valium, and Xanax. Unlike their peers in sports, musicians prefer performance inhibiting drugs to performance enhancing ones. Houston’s long decline of bizarre behavior and haggard appearance followed by death is a replay of the dying days of Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, and so many other megastars. They all violated the show business rule of leaving the audience wanting more rather than less. Nobody preferred fat, sweaty, slurry Elvis, and nobody liked seeing the glassy-eyed, disheveled Whitney. We want our kings kingly and our divas divine. Her death may have been a music-industry cliché. Her career was anything but. Houston recorded eleven number one singles. Foremost among these was the monster hit “I Will Always Love You,” which spent a record fourteen weeks atop the charts. She set a record by placing seven consecutive songs atop Billboard ‘s chart. Her eponymous first album was then the bestselling debut by a female artist. Her musical alchemy transformed the songs of others into her cultural property. Great covers, such as The Beatles’ “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” or Van Halen’s “(Oh) Pretty Woman,” add something to but rarely eclipse the original. Does anybody today even identify “I Will Always Love You” as a Dolly Parton number or remember that “The Greatest Love of All” originally predated Houston in a film made about Muhammad Ali’s life? Even “The Star Spangled Banner” became a Whitney song, with her rendition at the 1991 Super Bowl becoming the benchmark performance by which to judge all others. That she could turn the national anthem, an obligatory number set to a recycled tune, into a top-40 hit attests to the power of her voice. Houston’s death on the eve of the Grammys, where she picked up six awards over her career, was seen as symbolism of some sort. “It’s her favorite night of the year,” Clive Davis said of his annual pre-show industry party on Saturday night, so “who knows by the end of the evening” if she would perform. But she would be dead before the evening had started. But the real symbolism wasn’t dying on the eve of the Grammys but doing so at the close of a week that began with the buzz over Madonna’s Super Bowl halftime show. Rosie O’Donnell tweeted, “Madonna=perfection.” Ryan Seacrest fawned that “she nailed it.” But the most perceptive reaction came from (Who else?) Paris Hilton, who declared: “That was one of the best halftime shows I’ve ever seen.” When you see music, it’s not really music. Complete with a tight-rope walker, Roman/Egyptian/Viking costumes, and gymnast dancers who rivaled the athleticism of the players on the field, the Super Bowl performance certainly was a spectacle. But spectacles are for the eyes, which tricked our ears. The lip-synched extravaganza was a metaphor for the music industry, particularly as it pertains to female songstresses. The visual makes the aural insignificant. Piped-in music and Autotune make the gauge of a performance how well the performer distracts the audience from the fact that they’re not listening to live music. That nobody seems to have noticed that Madonna faked her vocals makes her an amazing performer of some sort. The music industry follows the Madonna rather than the Whitney model in manufacturing pop princesses. Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Nikki Minaj do image over audio. Adele and Kelly Clarkson, like Houston, experience success without sluttishness. But they are the exceptions that prove the rule. Whitney Houston recalled a time when singers sang. Whatever the reality of her private hell, her stage persona projected grace, class, and a strength that emanated from her soul rather than from her cleavage. This wasn’t because she lacked physical beauty. She just knew that sex gimmicks would have diverted attention away from her voice, which is precisely why Madonna, Paula Abdul, and so many of Houston’s contemporaries used them. The “singer” is dead. So, unfortunately, is this singer.
The Singer Is Dead
Here are some thoughts on the 54th Grammys. As one could imagine Whitney Houston was on the minds of everyone involved in the proceedings. Host LL Cool J read a prayer for her and later in the show Jennifer Hudson sang a stirring rendition of “I Will Always Love You.” Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt also paid tribute to the recently departed Etta James with their rendition of “A Sunday Kind of Love.” Taylor Swift gave a well received performance for her song “Mean” but I would have preferred to hear more of The Civil Wars, the country-folk duo who introduced young Ms. Swift. Tonight was a triumph for the British singer Adele who won six Grammys and made her first public performance since having surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital here in Boston to remove a benign pollop on her vocal cords. She sang her monster hit “Rolling in the Deep”