"Death by misadventure"

Thistle - 110111

British coroner Suzanne Greenaway recorded  singer Amy Winehouse's untimely passing  as "death by misadventure".  What an amazing way to to phrase a cause of death.

Amy Winehouse died July 23rd, 2011 from consuming toxic levels of alcohol.  Her blood alcohol level was over five times the British legal drunk driving limit.  While that is a sad and early death, the coroner's reporting as "death by misadventure" is a rather ambiguous statement, and one I wouldn't mind as a label for my death.

We all have gone down the paths of misadventures and tried things  reckless and potentially fatal.  I've driven too fast for the conditions, taken dares I should have avoided, gotten into a fight or two that was more than I could handle, taken on relationships that were dangerous (and a few that were business misadventures) and bitten off more than I could chew (both literally and figuratively).   So far I've come out alive and wiser from those dalliances into the forbidden and dangerous areas.

Blog friend Carla recently wrote an article about the criticism she received for posting a photo of her smoking.  Carla does not smoke, but was willing to pose with an unlit cigarette for the photos.  Many felt she was promoting a dangerous habit by making it glamorous.  In this information age, I think anyone who has access to her image already has been told, read, and exposed to the message that smoking is dangerous.  Her photo is neither condoning or warning of the dangers of smoking.   It is just an element of the overall conceptual piece.

I've photographed three models smoking.  All three are current or former smokers.   They know the dangers they are/were  taking on and still did it.  They are willing to take that misadventure in life.  What they get/got from it is uniquely their own rewards and consequences.

That which does not kill us, makes us stronger - Fredrich Nietzsche
Maybe that is the rub with misadventure.  There are both rewards and consequences.  From misadventures we gain wisdom, knowledge, experience, thrills, scares, and great stories as some of the rewards.  The consequences can be high as well - disability, disease and death.  For each of us, we have to decide if the risk/benefit is worth it to us.  I guess many of us though feel the consequences wont hit us and we are immune and immortal so we keep living the misadventures until they bite us in the ass.

I like Winehouse's music.  She sang of personal soulfoul, painful stories.  Some of her songs were commentary on the shallow celebrity culture.  She also sang rebellious songs celebrating her misadventures while acknowledging they could lead to her demise.  I doubt her music would have been as good, or popular, if she hadn't taken advantage of her misadventures.  That willingness to go out into uncomfortable areas made her a success and also probably killed her.  Would she have been as happy to have lived a full, but dull life if she had not taken these risks?  

In the end, I think I will take the misadventures.  I need to look at them and make sure I can live (or die) with the consequences, but I don't want to be too scared to take risks.  Being that timid may lead to a long life, but how fulfilling would that life be?

PS - This is one of my favorite songs Amy Winehouse sang.  It captures the idea of "misadventure" better than any I can think of.  I hope she is kicking back in her afterlife, enjoying a glass of wine and listening to some good music.
I cheated myself
Like I knew I would
I told ya, I was trouble
You know that I'm no good

Her last recording, a duet with Tony Bennett - Body and Soul



  1. Absolutely beautiful rendition of "Body and Soul." Her voice always makes me think of fine wine and smoke.

    May we all die, not from MISadventures, but from Adventures! After all, that's what life is finally.

    Thanks, Karl.

  2. Carla - Thanks for your comment. Your words are always a welcomed gift. I added another video that I thought I posted originally, but lost. It is another great Winehouse song.


So,what are you thinking about?