Little Boy Blue

Ask Justin Furstenfeld if he's really mentally ill and be prepared to ride the whirlwind.

If I could stick my pen in my heart And spill it all over the stage Would it satisfy ya, would it slide on by ya Would you think the boy is strange? Ain't he strange?

Mick Jagger, "It's Only Rock and Roll (But I Like It)"

Despite the all-day rains on a recent May Saturday, a sold-out crowd of more than 8,000 people welcomed modern rockers Blue October back home to Houston. To judge from both the quantity of fans and the quality of their adoration, it would seem as if the drop-off in the band's popularity from 2006, when the band's album Foiled sold more than one million copies, to today (Approaching Normal, their most recent album, sold only around 10 percent as many copies) had never happened. They were raucous and hanging on lead singer Justin Furstenfeld's every word.

Justin Furstenfeld went off on a two-minute tirade about our reporter in front of 8,000 fans.
GROOVEHOUSE
Justin Furstenfeld went off on a two-minute tirade about our reporter in front of 8,000 fans.
Old schoolmates remember Furstenfeld as athletic and popular at Hamilton Middle School — hardly the poster boy for teen angst he embodies onstage now. Here he stands top center with the swim team...
Old schoolmates remember Furstenfeld as athletic and popular at Hamilton Middle School — hardly the poster boy for teen angst he embodies onstage now. Here he stands top center with the swim team...
...and basks in the glory of his selection as "Class Favorite."
...and basks in the glory of his selection as "Class Favorite."
Blue October's official band photos — such as these from the 2007 album Foiled...
Photos, Universal Music Group
Blue October's official band photos — such as these from the 2007 album Foiled...
...almost invariably portray Furstenfeld as unhinged.
Photos, Universal Music Group
...almost invariably portray Furstenfeld as unhinged.

And he had a lot on his mind. During the encore to the show, just before performing a suicide lament from early in his career called "Black Orchid," he launched into a two-minute tirade about, well, me.

The diatribe was captured on YouTube. Furstenfeld, who has long proclaimed his own mentally ill status to his fans, is alone at center stage, the stage lights bright and zeroed in tightly on his Mohawked head.   

"There's a writer named John Lomax," Furstenfeld begins.

"I know that guy," a man yells in the audience.

"He writes for the Houston Press," Furstenfeld continues.

A woman — maybe several — screams drunken salutes to the paper, unaware where Furstenfeld was taking this.

"I was supposed to do an interview with him today, because we've been doing this tour..."

"But he's a prick!" a man shouts in the audience. Scattered jeers come from the Blue Meanies, as Blue October fans call themselves.

"Hold on real quick, hold on," Furstenfeld gently continues, shielding his eyes from the hot lights, a platinum-selling rock star with utter mastery over his flock — the largest ever to come to see him. "We've been doing this tour on suicide prevention. We went up to Capitol Hill to talk to them about how every year 30,000 Americans die of suicide and we need to try to figure out a way to talk about it. We need to figure out a way to help."

Cheers go up from the Blue Meanies.

"So I have this interview set up with this guy named John Lomax."

"John Lo-Max," he repeats very slowly, letting his contempt drip from every syllable.

"And the first thing he says is, 'I don't believe you're mentally ill. You need to bring a prescription bottle to the interview to prove it to me.'"

Eight thousand Blue Meanies erupt in boos, jeers and catcalls.

"He's a prick!" another guy can be heard to holler over the din. Furstenfeld is back on the mike. "I'm like, 'First of all —'" A woman cackles. "Hold up...I'm like, 'First of all, fuck you!'"

Harsh laughter and a lusty cheer.

"'And second of all, the reason we have 30,000 folks dying of suicide every year is because of ignorant fucks like you!'"

Another huge cheer greets the announcement that I have caused 30,000 deaths.

"'If I have to explain and prove myself to you, dumbass, why the fuck would I be here?'" Furstenfeld snarls.

The crowd goes nuts, but what does that even mean?

"I'm pissed off," Furstenfeld continues. "Because seriously there's a lot of people that I've lost" — he's waving his arm around over his head, pointing and gesticulating — "there's a lot of people that you've lost, and this fuck had a chance to help a lot of people, and he didn't. And I just needed to say something about it, so thank you for letting me talk."

Huge cheers.

"And fuck you, John Lomax."
_____________________

How did it come to this? I asked a question and wham? How dare I?

Well, as Furstenfeld said, it really did start with a simple request to see proof of his mental illness. And while a request like that might not be polite dinner-party repartee, it is pretty much standard operating procedure for a reporter, especially when the subject makes as much of his allegedly shaky mental health as Furstenfeld does.

And boy does he ever make hay out of that. He performs his rare solo gigs as "5591," which he says was his patient number when he was a mental patient in the 1990s, and his dramatic lyrics are peppered with references to suicide and prescription meds. While he often acknowledges his music's messianic powers, he also says his songs are tragically insufficient to offer their author much relief from his agonies. "If I have saved others, I don't know what to say," he once uttered. "But if I can do that for them, why the fuck can't I do that for myself?"

He claims that the first song he wrote back in high school was about teen suicide, and, tellingly, adds that he "knew that stuck with people once I saw their faces." His albums have sported titles such as Consent to Treatment and Approaching Normal, and rare is the band bio or interview that does not focus centrally on his teetering mental balance.

Indeed, on the very day I wrote to his camp to warn them of my misgivings, I read a brand-new Houston Chronicle profile in which Furstenfeld claimed to have suffered from depression his whole life and just happened to "drop" a bottle of prescription meds in front of interviewer Andrew Dansby.

All I wanted was to see what was in that bottle, or on that bottle's label. Is that so crazy? Is it the "douche move" so many of Furstenfeld's fans said it was? Would I do the same to, say, a cancer patient?

In a word, yes. If somebody is claiming to be ill, and it is not obvious that he is sick — if he is not missing a limb or suffering from open sores — you just never know. Only a few months ago, a Waco woman shaved her head to make it look like she had breast cancer, when all she really wanted was money to buy implants so she could be sexier for her soon-to-be ex-husband. You have to see proof.

But to really explain the origins of Furstenfeld's tirade, we need to rewind back to 2007. Back then, in my old position as Press music editor, I trashed Blue October's breakout single "Hate Me." I hated the creepy lyrics, such as "I have to block out thoughts of you so I don't lose my head / They crawl in like a cockroach leaving babies in my bed." I hated that it was supposed to be about his mom, and that she even appeared in the video, and that the video led ­viewers to believe that she had died before he could make amends to her. (In fact, Furstenfeld's mom is alive and well, four years after the video.) My extended review of the song was perhaps the most vicious piece I ever wrote.

Predictably, the piece struck a firestorm among the Blue Meanies, one of whom even sent me a death threat. Less predictably, others — old friends, schoolmates and associates of Furstenfeld's — said I didn't know the half of how obnoxious and fake Furstenfeld could be.

"I got a hell of a laugh out of your article about Blue October," wrote a High School for the Performing and Visual Arts classmate of Furstenfeld's named Jennifer Alexander. "There's more truth in there than the band would ever like to admit. Especially Justin. You see, the thing that no one realizes about him is that while he did go to HSPVA, he was never in the music department. Justin was a drama major — hence the overacting and the extreme melodrama. He's an actor, not a musician. He's always used the 'I'm crazy but deep and emotional' shtick to attract people. In high school he was hellaciously popular, though I could never see why. There's nothing about the man that's real."

Thanks to the Internet, letters like that one — which the Press printed in June of 2007 — continued to trickle in, and last fall I got two more from people who knew him quite well, but who didn't know each other. Each of them told similar things about Furstenfeld; each jibed in slightly different ways with what Alexander wrote in her letter. And neither wanted to be named in this article.

"Rachel" knew Furstenfeld through junior high and high school. Now living out of state, she was spurred to write when last fall, Furstenfeld canceled a mental health-themed headlining tour after he claimed to have had an "extreme mental anxiety attack" in the Minneapolis airport.

Rachel lives in another state, and heard the news from her mom. The tour was supposed to have been in support of people — especially teens and twentysomethings — who wrestled with depression, mental illness and suicidal thoughts, and Furstenfeld dramatically collapsed mere days before its launch.

Like Rachel herself, Rachel's mother remembered a vastly different Justin Furstenfeld. Back in the '80s and early '90s at Hamilton Junior High School (now Hamilton Middle) in the Heights and at HSPVA, they both remembered Furstenfeld as a rambunctious, very popular, happy-go-lucky, somewhat athletic ladies' man — hardly the poster boy for teen angst he portrays himself to be now that he is in his mid-thirties.

Rachel's mom simply did not buy the idea that there was anything seriously wrong with him. "She said, 'Oh my God, Justin didn't show up, because he had a nervous breakdown.' And my mom was laughing, and I was like, 'That's not funny, Mom.' And she was like, 'Yeah, it's kinda funny. You do a tour for depression and you can't do it 'cause you flip out.'"

And the more Rachel thought about it, the more she started to wonder herself. The image of Justin Furstenfeld she read about online was so vastly different from the teen she had known — she even remembers him as something of a schoolyard bully and cold-as-ice high-school heartbreaker — that she started questioning all that she thought she knew about other celebrities. And then she pondered Elliott Smith, the suicidal songsmith Furstenfeld has called a hero and claimed as a kindred spirit.

"[Smith] actually killed himself. He's actually gone," she says. "I feel like [Furstenfeld] kinda trivializes people who have really gone through this shit." She grants that perhaps Furstenfeld has changed radically since she knew him, but she can't help but think that his breakdown of last October had been faked.

After the platinum success of 2007's 1.4 million copy-selling Foiled, the ­follow-up album, Approaching Normal, sold only 140,000 copies. There had been no hit single to match Foiled's "Hate Me." Rachel thinks that perhaps the sanity inherent in the title of Approaching Normal wasn't working for Furstenfeld, so perhaps the breakdown was a cynical publicity move.

"What if it's like 'Nobody cares about my band anymore? Maybe they will care if I flip out! Britney became more relevant when she flipped out.'"

It wouldn't be the first time Furstenfeld pulled a move like that, according to another old close associate we'll call "George." He remembered the band playing a hot outdoor show about ten years ago here in Houston. There had been a good crowd. Backstage, immediately after the show, a sweat-drenched Furstenfeld was sitting and winding down with a cigarette. He took a drag, tilted his head back and sent a cloud of nicotine towards the ceiling.

Furstenfeld's girlfriend at the time came over just then and asked him if he was okay. "Instead of deciding to sit up and say, 'Yeah, I'm fine,' he just stayed there," remembers George. "So she asks if he's okay again and you can tell she's starting to panic, so he starts to roll his eyeballs back in his head a little bit. He was totally fine, but she goes, "'Oh my God, Justin, are you okay? Somebody get over here!' And you see him slouch down and I'm like, 'Dude, sit up,' and he looks over at me and smirks. And then all of a sudden we've got first responders who were there for the show, they come running over, and then he goes limp and acts like he's in a catatonic state and they carry him out and the crowd's like, 'Oh my God! It's Justin!' He just milked the fuck out of it. It was brilliant, but I was just sitting there going, 'You drama queen!' But the crowd loved it. They were eating it up."
_____________________

"Everything that I write about is the truth," Furstenfeld told the Houston Press's Hobart Rowland way back in 1998. "I can't write about anything that hasn't happened to me."

It's a lofty claim. To stake that high ground, you dare to attempt to elevate yourself out of the territory of a rock star — who purveys fantasies most would agree are unattainable — and toward that of a literary artist. And by saying that your every word is lived, you are not claiming to be a poet but a musical memoirist. As such, you'd better not leave much room for doubt in your wake, or you will end up like James Frey, the disgraced author of the damaged soul narrative A Million Little Pieces.

The trouble is, Furstenfeld's public statements of fact have wavered over the years, even on the most basic of subjects. Take the origin of his band's very name.

Until a few years ago, most versions had it that he and his bandmates were just kind of down on life one October and partying too hard. [He has told some reporters he was doing cocaine; others were told that he was abusing psychedelics.] He would often explain the name by saying things like he "just kind of wanted to make something good out of the negativity. It was this certain month, the low of all lows, it was October, and I said man, I've got to do something with my life rather than sit on the couch and do this stuff all day long."

In another telling — this one to the Texas Tech student newspaper — he credits someone else with coming up with the name: "Someone suggested Blue October and it just seemed to fit." In the Fall 2000 issue of Texas Music, Furstenfeld claimed to have named the band himself. "I made a decision that October that I needed to grow up, so I called the band Blue October."

More recently, however, the story has taken a turn for the melodramatic, and that is where it has stayed since. "A long time ago when I first got out of high school, it was in October that I had to go stay at a hospital because I wasn't doing too well mentally and so I had to go have a little stay in a little institution there for a little bit when I was a younger kid, like some kids have to do, and it was October," he told a radio interviewer. A version of that story was repeated in the official band bio.

Oddly, that tale of extreme mental stress didn't come up in many of the band's interviews until comparatively recently, and then did so inconsistently. For one thing, he says that he stayed in a mental hospital when he first got out of high school. Other versions say his stay came several years later — in a 2000 Chronicle interview with Michael D. Clark, it was reported as having occurred in 1998, even while he had a day job working as an orderly at San Marcos Treatment Center. "One day I worked in a mental hospital, and the next day I'm a patient," he told Clark.

That quote would seem to indicate that he was admitted to the same hospital he worked in, but unless the hospital's admissions policy has changed since the '90s, that would have been impossible, as today that treatment center admits only adolescents.

Citing HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) laws, the hospital would not verify to the Press if he had stayed there. However, a representative of the hospital's HR department told the Press that while their records didn't extend back to the 1990s, she had heard that Furstenfeld had once been an employee there.

Some of his interviews lead one to wonder if he was ever a mental patient at all. There is an interview he gave to a St. Louis reporter in 2002 in which he speaks at length about his job in the treatment center at some point between 1997 and 2000. He said that he wanted to "understand that part of the human mind most [people] simply dismiss as crazy," and told her that while working there he learned to appreciate the little things in life like "being able to go home and lie next to the girl that I loved, and kiss her good morning, make breakfast and say, 'I love you.'"

In the same interview, he waxed eloquent about sufferers of schizophrenia. He said that they were "some of the most magnificent artists, and some of the most mad people in the world. Confused, lost." He went on to describe how he tried to understand them and wanted to get on their wavelength. "Just their style of living and the way they see the world is an art form to me, because it can't be explained," he said. "And people just call them crazy and blow it off because they don't even want to understand. I think that's why I try to do what I do. I don't really understand [them] — I'll never understand because I'm not in their head — but I will speak about it. I'll speak about it until the day that I die because I think they're misunderstood, and I think they're mistreated."

Oddly, he never mentioned having been a mental patient in that entire interview.

And now he is claiming to be in their heads — literally. Just as a rapper with a tame rap sheet will attempt to embellish his street cred by inflating his criminal career, over time, Furstenfeld's claims concerning the state of his mental health have grown as dramatic as those of the origins of his band's name.

Rachel points out a possible resemblance to the 2008 case of Margaret B. Jones, the author of the initially critically acclaimed, though quickly discredited, memoir Love and Consequences. In that book, Jones claimed to have been a half-white, half-Native American foster child who was also a drug runner for the Bloods in Los Angeles. It later emerged that she was fully white and from an intact middle-class family. While she did know about gangs, it was from working in gang outreach, not as a gangbanger herself. The cause was close to her heart, Jones later explained, and she thought she could best shine a light on it by writing a memoir. And of course make herself rich and famous while she was at it.

It is hard to deny that the cause of mental health and people with genuine mental illness are close to Furstenfeld's heart. He does speak out for them every chance he gets, and his recent Pick Up The Phone Tour did raise awareness for mental health issues. (Though awareness might be all it raised — when we asked Blue October's management if any of the proceeds of the tour were earmarked for mental health charities, they refused to answer.)

Furstenfeld's old associate George believes that the singer does believe in his cause, even as he uses it to advance his career. "I think he started off doing both," he says. "I think in the beginning he had altruistic reasons, but there was always that seed of 'I've got this talent and it's gonna get me adulation and validation.' And I think those holes in his soul became bigger than his genuine need to communicate with people. He followed the fame, the narcissistic side of his personality. Everybody's capable of that if you give them the opportunity."
_____________________

None of this is to say that Justin Furstenfeld is an untroubled soul. It is fairly well corroborated that his parents sent him to a therapist when he was 14, and that he has long had a prescription for Paxil, which is often prescribed for people with depression and anxiety, if not bipolar disorder.

However, over time, in Furstenfeld's own telling, that sort of garden-variety malaise has morphed into far more serious ailments like bipolar disorder, and earlier this year, he made the claim on Capitol Hill that he had full-blown schizophrenia, though he later told me out of the blue that he was not schizophrenic. (He has claimed on numerous occasions — once to me — that he suffers from hallucinations, though he rarely describes them in detail publicly. Hallucinations can be a symptom of severe bipolar disorder.)

Furstenfeld's apparent gradual ailment inflation calls to mind the case of Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut politician who slowly embellished a perfectly honorable if unspectacular military record as a "chairborne Ranger" in the Stateside Marine Reserves into a more daring record as a Vietnam combat vet.

It's much harder to document the state of someone's mental health than it is his military service, but some of Furstenfeld's claims can be checked out, most notably his alleged breakdown last October. Back then, his band was supposed to have headlined a mental health-themed national tour called Pick Up The Phone, which was co-sponsored by national suicide prevention hotline 1-800-SUICIDE. (The Houston show last month was the culmination of a rescheduled and rerouted version of a tour with the same cause. About half the dates were in new cities, so you couldn't say that the tour had simply been rescheduled.)

En route from visiting his daughter in Nebraska (he and the three-year-old's mother Lisa are estranged) to Washington, D.C., and a pre-tour mental health lobbying stop, Fursten­feld claims that he blacked out — stone cold sober save for his prescribed Paxil — in the Minneapolis airport. He has said that because of this "extreme mental anxiety attack" — a medical event that does not exist anywhere on the Internet save for in relation to Furstenfeld — he did not come back to his senses until he was in a taxi on the way to a mental hospital. That's one version. Another says he came to in the mental hospital itself. A third version has it that he came to his senses in the back of a cop car on the runway at the airport.

Furstenfeld did eventually make it to Capitol Hill in April of this year, when the revamped Pick Up The Phone tour finally launched. There, he related his airport meltdown tale thusly: "They said they found me in the middle of the airport waving my arms saying, 'I'm gonna hurt myself, I'm gonna hurt myself, I'm gonna hurt somebody else, please somebody, help me.' Police just didn't know how to respond to it; they didn't know what was going on, whether to take me to jail or take me away.'"

Patrick Hogan, spokesman for the Metropolitan Airports Commission of Minneapolis-St. Paul, described a much less dramatic incident. In an e-mail, he said that Furstenfeld called the MSP International Airport emergency dispatch center at 1:08 p.m. on October 20, 2009. "He indicated he did not want to be near people and wanted to harm himself," Hogan says. "Airport Police and Allina Medical staff responded. Allina transported Mr. Furstenfeld to the crisis center at Hennepin County Medical Center."

At the very least, somebody seems to have misremembered some details and possibly inflated them for dramatic purposes. Furstenfeld himself calling the dispatch center and an arm-waving freakout in the terminal are two vastly different events.

Muffy Walker, the president of the San ­Diego-based International Bipolar Foundation, says that these competing versions of the truth could be simple calculated lies or symptoms of his bipolar disorder. "Sometimes in their mania they will lie and not know it's a lie — it's more a function of their grandiosity," she says. "They may have beliefs that they are extra-special or extra-famous or extra-extra-whatever — all the hypers that go in with the mania."

After the alleged breakdown and a short stay in Hennepin County Medical Center, Furstenfeld has said that he eventually wound up in Laurel Ridge, the same San Antonio-area mental hospital where he says he was admitted as a patient in the 1990s, and where the Blue October band name allegedly came to be. (Citing HIPAA laws, Laurel Ridge would not confirm either of Furstenfeld's claims.)

In the interviews that followed, he appeared to be using his stay there in an effort to enhance the credibility of his lyrics. He claims that he bonded with and inspired shell-shocked veterans from the war in Iraq. And while he used to say that he was fascinated by mental patients, now he seemed to think they were fascinated with him — they had finally found someone who could relate to their pain. "They were talking about hearing voices, and I felt like I'd finally found someone who understood what I was going through," he told a reporter from the Austin American-­Statesman. "I think our music connects with some people like that. They identify with the lyrics. It's like, 'Finally someone understands.' "

During the same spate of interviews, he also told a reporter from the Daily Texan that his recent alleged meltdown showed how legit he was as an artist. "I'm not writing songs about breaking up with a girlfriend or a lot of the other stuff you'll hear," he sniffed of his competition on the rock dial. "I write about things like depression, which obviously I'm still going through if I black out in an airport when I'm 34 and have a child."
_____________________

To be able to relate with combat veterans on such a personal level, you'd think Furstenfeld had some post-traumatic stress disorder issues himself. Maybe he had a tough childhood; maybe he grew up in a bad neighborhood, or was picked on at school, or had drunk or drug-­addicted parents, or watched them tear each other to pieces (literally or figuratively) in a contested divorce or custody battle.

You'd be wrong. Several people who knew him when he was a student at Hamilton Junior High School in the Heights and at HSPVA described his parents as all-­Americans, a dream couple. Furstenfeld's dad is a retired HPD undercover cop who later became the band's business manager before stepping aside when the group went national early this decade. Furstenfeld's mom is described as a beautiful and perky cheerleader type, and the two elder Furstenfelds have been married for almost 40 years now. The rocker was raised along with his brother Jeremy — Blue October's drummer — in Timbergrove Manor, the Heights's ranch house-dotted, more modern, Brady Bunch-looking neighbor.

Greg Hammond was Furstenfeld's best friend in junior high. He says that Furstenfeld seemed happy to him as a junior high kid, though he did recall that Furstenfeld would battle with his dad from time to time. Dan, the elder Furstenfeld, is a hunting, fishing, George Strait-loving Texas good ol' boy, and several of Furstenfeld's friends recall him telling them that his dad once tore his son's Smiths posters off his bedroom walls. Furstenfeld told them that his dad believed that Morrissey promoted homosexuality, suicide and abortion.

Still, Hammond thought Furstenfeld's fights with Dan were completely normal adolescent rebellion. In junior high, Hammond says, Fursten­feld seemed perfectly fine. After going to PVA, he changed, but Hammond, who attended Bellaire, wasn't alarmed. "He got with that acting crowd, and they all had this tortured-artist thing going on," he remembers. "To be honest, the whole thing seemed pretty fake."

As teenagers, along with Amy Immel, Katie Hartzog, Leital Molad, Michelle Trautwein and Brady Hammond, they formed a band called The Last Wish. For a high school band, The Last Wish was very successful — they played everywhere from Zelda's to the Abyss to the Mucky Duck and made two CDs. Plans for a third and a national tour ended when the band broke up acrimoniously and at Furstenfeld's insistence.

In an interview earlier this year, Fursten­feld boasted that after his Last Wish bandmates accused him of being overly dramatic, he fired all of them. A persistent legend has it that the fired members of The Last Wish jointly sent him a kiss-off postcard wishing him well on his life as a "rock star," and to this day, Furstenfeld literally snarls if you call him that, as I found out firsthand.

And soon enough, Blue October was born. In contrast to The Last Wish, in which Fursten­feld was one of several singers, he would be the undisputed leader of the band.

That was when Furstenfeld started wearing guyliner. "When I saw him with all that makeup and that whole Goth thing, I just thought it was weird," Hammond says. "He had never been like that in any of his other bands."

His old associate George remembers the early days of Blue October well. He says watching Furstenfeld develop as a front man and a bandleader was like watching a monster take over. "When you were talking about Justin's acting ability, the cult of personality around all of it...There was a lot of just fakeness going on."

George says that Furstenfeld has at times turned his mental illness off and on. "There were a lot of moments where he would see that if things weren't working, he would go back to being paranoid schizophrenic," he says. "There was just a lot of acting going on. It was very disingenuous, but everybody believed it."

Throughout, George says, Furstenfeld was intensely goal-oriented, and very much the kid who remembered the reaction he got for singing songs about teenage suicide. "He looked around and saw that he was getting all these fans with all these issues and he saw what they were responding to, so he decided to gear what he wrote, the way he acted and the persona he put forward based on the response he was getting," George says. "He's shrewd. Give him credit for that. But the genuineness, the idea that he is actually that screwed up? No way."

Some would say it just doesn't matter whether he is or he isn't. A therapist who spoke to the Press anonymously said it was certainly possible that even if Furstenfeld had been diagnosed as bipolar or depressed or even schizophrenic, that didn't render him incapable of exploiting his own illness.
_____________________

In setting up my interview with Furstenfeld, I was warned by his manager not to "ambush" him. I told his publicist that I would be asking to see his prescriptions or a medical diagnosis. His publicist didn't reply; his manager Paul Nugent did. Nugent told me that in his 30 years in the business, he had never been so insulted and that the interview was off and that he doubted he would even tell Furstenfeld about my request. And that was where it could have ended. But then, an hour later, Furstenfeld called me himself.

Furstenfeld didn't mention during his onstage tirade against me that our conversation went far beyond his telling me off. In fact, our conversation lasted close to 30 minutes, during which he first wrapped himself in self-righteousness — kind of like he said onstage, to question his mental state was to belittle the genuinely mentally ill people he was trying to help. "I've been on the road for two fucking months trying to keep kids from killing themselves, and you're treating me like a fucking joke!"

He also wheedled. He attempted to bond by saying we were fellow Houstonians either going through or having just completed divorces. He repeatedly asked what I wanted from him, and I told him I would just like to see a prescription bottle — perhaps the one he had dropped in front of the Chronicle reporter in the story that ran in that morning's paper. That was when he started getting angry: "How 'bout I ask to see your divorce papers?" he snarled.

He agreed to tell me what drugs he took: the antidepressant Paxil, the antipsychotic Geodon, the antianxiety drug clonazepam and the sleep aid Ambien. In contrast to what he said on Capitol Hill the month prior to our conversation, he denied being schizophrenic without my even asking him.

Walker, the expert on bipolar illness, said she believed that particular cocktail of drugs would not be used to treat a schizophrenic, as Geodon is not a sufficiently strong antipsychotic. While she said a bipolar patient could well be prescribed that combination, she questioned the wisdom of prescribing Paxil — the drug that comes up in most of his early interviews — to someone who was bipolar. "Typically, people who are bipolar don't get antidepressants prescribed to them. They can — there are a lot of psychiatrists out there that don't really, really know what they are doing — but typically they are put on mood stabilizers."

I told Furstenfeld that it was important that he prove his mental illness because he was staking so much of his credibility and such a big part of his career on it. "And a big part of your career is a bunch of fuckin' bullshit," was his reply to that.

I later asked Walker if his abusive manner and refusal to show me his meds could be a part of his illness. I would have thought that someone so eager to de­stigmatize mental illness would be eager to show proof. She said it was certainly possible he would act the way he did.

"People who are bipolar can talk out of both sides of their mouth. If in fact he is truly bipolar and you happened to ask him when he was in an irritable manic phase, then yes, blowing up at you would be a very common aspect of the manic phase. They are kind of like drunks. You have your happy drunks and your mean drunks. It's the same with the mania — there are happy manics that are out there spending and shopping and the life of the party, and then there are the mean ones who are out there arguing and getting in fights. And he could have a narcissistic personality disorder or some other comorbidity going along with it."

If he is indeed bipolar, Furstenfeld was certainly in an irritable manic phase with me. He defied me to sit down in front of him, and bet me $100 that I wouldn't show. (In the end, I was told by his manager that the interview was off, so I didn't show up. Who won that bet?)

He mocked the fact that I didn't have a car and would have to get a ride out there. He reminded me of the time he gave me a ride home from an interview we did in 2002; he seemed to think that obligated me to him forever, and that I had betrayed him ever since.

I told him that somebody had told me that he had been an orderly at a mental hospital and not a patient. He heaved a long theatrical sigh. "That shows how much you know me, dude," he said, but quickly changed the subject.

He also tried veiled threats: "If you want to talk about mental illness and saving people's lives, then I don't have a problem with you, but I swear to God, if you fuck with me I'll fuck you right back." And later he told me to "watch your back, dawg, 'cause we're doing something good for the community." I asked if he was threatening me, and he said it was my karma I needed to look out for.

The bulk of the conversation revolved around Furstenfeld trying unsuccessfully to get me to surrender my sources. He desperately wanted to know who had leaked. "If somebody was going around town telling people that you sucked cock on weekends, you'd want to know who it was," he told me. I told him I wouldn't much care, because I knew it wasn't true.

A couple of days after our phone interview, Furstenfeld trashed me on the stage. (It's on YouTube for all the world to see; an inspired Blue Meanie also went on to build a We Hate John Lomax Facebook page.) In the week that followed, I wrote several e-mails to Blue October's management, reiterating my request to see proof of his ailments and requesting clarification on Furstenfeld's exact relationship with mental institutions. Since I had read in a published report in a credible source — the Austin American-Statesman — that Furstenfeld had been diagnosed as suffering from bipolar disorder, I asked when and where that diagnosis had been made.

"Based on principle alone, this isn't happening," wrote Blue October manager Paul Nugent. "Justin Furstenfeld and Blue October's passionate support of mental health organizations around the world as well as Justin's own personal battles with this issue has been well documented in mainstream media over the last decade to include the recent Houston Chronicle interview by Andrew Dansby. I have no desire to hear further from you on this matter."

This story could have gone a lot of ways. I could be writing about the mentally ill lead singer of a rock band who despite all his problems still manages to carve out a national career and carry a message.

To do that, though, I needed proof — the kind that comes from more than just a comfortable hour-long interview.

Saying you're sick and dropping a pill bottle in front of an interviewer is not documentation.

I asked a question. I think that's what I'm supposed to do — although thousands of other people apparently disagree. Justin Furstenfeld may have a stack of medical diagnoses an inch thick that support his public persona. But I haven't seen any of that, and as far as I know, no one else in the media has either. So what I have left are patterns and past comments and the few public records that exist.

Oh and yes, still a lot of questions.

john.lomax@houstonpress.com

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240 comments
mramsay02
mramsay02

wow!! What exactly are you trying to prove!?!?! If you knew a damn thing about mental illness you would retract this eight page nonsense you write....You dont have any idea what the pressure he has to deal with on a day to day basis, only he knows that!! an attack isnt always preventable and usually brought on by stress (such as being a performer) these women write on what he "was" like way back when and ten to one was an act to hide from the world... again anybody should know this...and in my opinion are women scorned... prob rejected or some dumb thing....they are equally ignorant as you are yourself.. regardless of your rant Justin and the rest of Blue October have helped many MANY....people deal with their mental health through his music... its real, its deep and its sympathetic... and yes you are a douche for asking to see his meds as "proof" and he had every right to rant about you.... the only thing you have done with this article is prove how ignorant you are.... so you deserve every nasty comment you receive.... as im sure you will receieve many!!! Justin and Blue October are heads and tales abovr and better then you.... you are nothing more then an ignorant arragont asshole trying to discredit a much loved artist..m go fuck your hat!!

rlerch120
rlerch120

Personal biases aside, u don't strike me as a very smart person. U just spent 8 pages trying to peg the author and lead singer of a band that has given, and is still giving hope, peace and sympathy to thousands of people around the world. I'm not sure exactly what you thought the outcome of this rant would be, but u certainly shouldn't have expected much more than hate mail from Blue October fans and people suffering from mental illness. The only true motive I can pull out of my butt for this article is to attempt to discredit a band that put out at least one song we know u hate, and in my experience most undeveloped people who hate, do so because not only do they not understand, but b/c they don't want to understand. History will tend to repeat itself, especially among human beings, and if we simply repeat, especially the mistakes in our history, we are doing nothing to better anything in life. Since u are offering nothing here to indicate u are interested in making ANYTHING better for anyone involved, I just don't see how u can expect anyone to see any kind of value in u as a journalist. Since u offer nothing here to indicate u are interested in bettering anything for anyone I know better than to waste time reading anything u have written or will write

rlerch120
rlerch120

Personal biases aside, u don't strike me as a very smart person. U just spent 8 pages trying to peg the author and lead singer of a band that has given, and is still giving hope, peace and sympathy to thousands of people around the world. I'm not sure exactly what you thought the outcome of this rant would be, but u certainly shouldn't have expected much more than hate mail from Blue October fans and people suffering from mental illness. The only true motive I can pull out of my butt for this article is to attempt to discredit a band that put out at least one song we know u hate, and in my experience most undeveloped people who hate, do so because not only do they not understand, but b/c they don't want to understand. History will tend to repeat itself, especially among human beings, and if we simply repeat, especially the mistakes in our history, we are doing nothing to better anything in life. Since u are offering nothing here to indicate u are interested in making ANYTHING better for anyone involved, I just don't see how u can expect anyone to see any kind of value in u as a journalist. Speaking as someone who has never heard of u b4 I can tell u I know better than to waste my time on anything else u have done or will do.

palong2010
palong2010

I would like to say personally I will never be able to understand people such as yourself as well oas others who say they went to school with Justin. First of all, does it really matter if his parents had good jobs, a beautiful home as well as a marriage that lasted 40 years??? Even if an individual grew up in a good home and had the " American Dream " lifestyle it does not mean they are not born with a chemical imbalance or even later in life end up having a mental breakdown. And really, who gives a shit how popular he was in high school, that has nothing to do with what the man went through for years and years in his life. As for a psychiatrist saying that someone with such disorders is usually put on a mood stabilizer, Geodon is a mood stabilizer as well as an anti-pyschotic, I would like to know where she got her degree. You people who do not suffer from any addictions or mental disorders should be thanking the good Lord above instead of asking someone to prove their mental illness to you. What a disgrace. When Justin mentioned karma, I couldn't agree with him more, and not in a threat by him or anyone physically harming you, pray that you don't ever end up with a mental disorder, sadly, most people cannot handle it and commit suicide. This article should never even have been written, you ought to be ashamed.

texasangel
texasangel

You must be one of the fortunate few to not have ever suffered from any type of mental illness. Kudos, Mr. Lomax. You've managed to continue the alienation of those of us who have/do through your obviously ignorant article. You are not worth my time and energy to defend myself or reveal my story, so I will leave it at that. Perhaps YOU need to spend some time among the mentally ill to truly understand.

ErinHutson
ErinHutson

Oh, honey. You are an arrogant, ignorant person for asking him that, and you've only dug a deeper grave with this article. Now go to your room and think about what you've done.

Natureboy
Natureboy

Well you douche nozzle nobody faggot reporter, here is your 15 minutes of fame that you would never have had if it werent for your arrogant article on a subject you know nothing about.  

Jray
Jray

I have ADHD and Insomnia to this day I have also suffered in the past from major depression and suicidal tendencies my father who took his own life was severely bipolar. I love this band I claim them as my favorite band. I have met many people who have coined Bipolar, ADD, ADHD, Insomnia, etc my list really goes on. I have also met many people who legitimately have these illnesses as well as schizophrenia. I can tell when people are being legitimate most of the time but there has been people who have fooled me quite well I dont think your request was unreasonable but I can also see how Justin was offended. I have also looked into psychology as an interest I am a very good judge of people, from what I have gathered from this article is that Justin does indeed have mental disorders and that could very easily cause him to project that they are worse than they actually are but even if what he does are charades for publicity they can all be traced back to the fact that he has mental issues. They cause him to act that way. Im not saying he does or does not have them as severe as he claims but that he does indeed have them, if not all or just some of them. 


I have also concluded that you are passive aggressive but that is mostly unrelated.

mmrw9
mmrw9

Thank you, Mr. Lomax. I see a lot of hateful comments on this article, and I just wanted to say that I appreciate the fact that someone isn't afraid to give their viewpoint even in the face of opposition. Personally, I adore Blue October's music. Their beautiful lyrics have had a profound impact on me. Even so, I thank you for writing this article in such a professional manner. It seems to me that Mr. Furstenfeld DOES have issues based upon his violent responses to your questions. Whether his behavior is caused by a mental disorder, I cannot say for sure. He's certainly struggling with SOMETHING though. I attribute it to the inner demons that I believe every human being struggles with, some more than others obviously. Was your request to see his medication out of line? In a way, yes. Nevertheless, it's an understandable request.

I thank you once again for your viewpoint in the matter. This nation is built upon creative individuals who aren't afraid to give voice to their thoughts or opinions. The minute we start condemning people who are different or who hold different values or opinions than us is the minute this nation becomes nothing more than a land full of blind, cookie cutter sheep.

Rebekah
Rebekah

Argh, I can see the issue from both sides. As a human being, your demand
is very easily seen as out of line. As a reporter, on the other hand,
perhaps it was necessary.

scribbles412
scribbles412

we are told it's all in our heads. As I lay dying at 17 years old, my mother is yelling at me "just think happy thoughts." I'm a constant battle. I have been wrongly diagnosed for years.  What would make a person fear constantly? Something is wrong with me.  Doctor's don't have a label to put on me. So what happens is I start doubting myself. Am I crazy? Am I selfish? But, see this Mr. Lomax, I am a firefighter. I am a Paramedic. I have witnessed everything that most people would not look in the face. People run out, while I'm running in. Because, I have come to the conclusion, I cannot save myself. If left alone with my mind, I will surely destroy it by any means possible. I put my uniform on so I can mourning for the last person who has no family. Hold the hand of a dying Cancer patient as their last breath escapes.  I cry so hard for the murder and rape victims that " were in the wrong place."  If you knew me in high school, everyone liked me. I was "likeable." Every day I would go home and drink myself until I couldn't feel anymore. Then I started Cutting. See, Mr. Lomax. Psychotic break happen as you become an "adult." The ages of 16-19 are when most psychotic breaks happen. So Justin could have had a "normal" School life. I fight like hell everyday to hide it all. Ignorant statements like the ones you display here are the reason I don't always seek help. I'm already at war in my own mind, why the would I give it anymore ammunition?

kookyspooky23
kookyspooky23

wow, what an article. I would assume you know nothing of the mentality a mental state of mind can do to an individual. You claim to be a writer, yet I know from all the negative feed back you get feeds into your creditability somehow. In any case, I would prefer not to be a writer if my main criteria was to bash someone for a state of health they are in. Asking for documentations on such a matter is like asking someone to hang themselves for no apparent reason at all. Being able to construed such an attempt should be punishable, but I am assuming in your case, you have all you want.  You are getting a whole new type of feed back to publish, not just from angry fans, but from people who relate to the same types of illnesses Justin portrays in his music. How do you think this makes them feel? How do you propose to explain to someone's family that you do not believe anything is wrong with them, so proof of the mental anguish is necessary. Obviously you have never traveled down the road of any type of health problems. I would be upset if someone asked me for my health records, and that is not including my mental health records. In any case, I hope all this feed back helps with your publishing status. Maybe you should write on how crud people can be, such as yourself. You are, by the way, one in a million.

Lisapoutre
Lisapoutre

The stigma of mental illness is perpetuated by people who do not have it, understand it, and can not even fathom what it is like to have one. I have schizo-effective disorder and I to in manic phases presented very well and normal. Unless you have personally gone through it you will never know what hell your mind can bring you through. To ask for proof that someone has an illness is ridiculous, it is so hard to get to recovery and that itself fluctuates, what Justin is doing by bringing up mental illness is throwing out a life line to so many people who think they are alone as well as breaking through the stigma that surrounds the illnesses. What you have done in asking for proof is just another sign of ignorance about this. So many people for so long hide and try to present a so called normal front to everyone because of people like you who can and will never grasp the torture it is. Who do you think you are to ask someone you don't even know to present some of the most personal, traumatic information, so you can parade it or twist it to your own ends. Thank God Justin is reaching out to so many people and sharing his experiences because he is saving people through his own experiences, something you will never ever grasp, People like you won't be satisfied until people like me and Justin who have an illness is stamped with our numbers across our heads and paraded before you with an official notice of our complete lack of saneness, and that shows you how little you know about mental illnesses because some of the most brilliant people have had a mental illness and have lived full productive lives in spite of it. You are promoting the stigma that people who have an illness are all this or that and that we need to prove the hell we have and continue to go through. Justin did the right thing by not wasting his time with you.

Tmeyer09
Tmeyer09

You are not his doctor. You are not family. You are not a friend. You are someone who is expected to keep a professional demeanor and be respectful since you are expecting an interview from him. You have no business writing about something so personal, something you have no ownership of (if he wants to write about it, that's fine, it's his business...but it's not yours). He doesn't have to prove himself to you, just as you wouldn't feel obligated to prove yourself to him. In short, you're an inconsiderate, insensitive, presumptuous ass.

Krwilliams1978
Krwilliams1978

My Father suffers form Bi-Polar disorder. I have been dealing with it for over 30 years. A person who suffers from Bi-Polar usually has the ability to "look" happy-go-lucky to an untrained eye. All of the things that have been discribed about him as a teenager are signs of a manic episode. Also the fact that the stories vary is a sign of the illness. My Father can tell three different versions of the same story in the same day. While I do not know if Justin Furstenfeld is Bi-Polar or not, the way that you are questioning it makes me sick. The point is mental illness is something that should be talked about, more people should try to educate themselves. He is doing a great thing in bringing awareness to the subject.

Skynex
Skynex

The first time I heard the song Weight of the World I cried. I don't usually listen to lyrics but those jumped out at me. I truely felt that way. I was diagnose bi polar 16 years ago. A lot of the lyrics speak to me. Nobody truly understands what it's like to be bi polar unless they are bi polar too. You don't know what it's like to see yourself act certain ways that aren't really in your nature. He definitly has an understanding for depressed or bi polar emotions. If I was irritable and you asked for my rx I would blow up on you too. Even if it seems like something small it can trigger a huge reaction with someone that is bi polar. When you said that in his junior high school years he seemed happy go lucky, did those people see him when he was alone? That happy go lucky persona can come out but the depressed emotions can be lurking just below the surface. A lot of times I do that at work. When you said that doctors don't prescribe anti depressants for bi polar, just a mood stabilizers. I am prescribed both. Lamictal and cymbalta. And if you try to argue that I'm on a mood stabilizer already, my doctor tried to take me off it but that didn't work for me. Everyone is different. It took 18 months to get the right meds and dosages to level me out. It's not an easy or straight forward process. My friend Aaron appeared to be very happy, he was always laughing and hanging out with tons of friends. He was athletic good looking and had lots of pretty girls after him. All that going for him couldn't beat the demons he battled when he was alone. He hung himself last year. After reading your article I can't say I side with you. I can see him having bi polar. I'm not a doctor by any means but Ive battled bi polar for 16 years and I have a way better understanding then you do. People with bi polar are hard to understand, it makes life very hard. I'm not upset with you, just giving my opinion.

Dee Just Dee
Dee Just Dee

Sounds to me Mr.Lomax that you are just throwing jabs at Justin pissed off because you didnt get your interview. Do you know him personaly? You have no right to judge people based on other peoples opinions. I would like to see your written documentation that proves there is nothing wrong with Justin. You should be checking to see if your own hands are clean before laying judgement on someone else. Karma is a big angry bitch and she loves people such as yourself. I too am obviously a Big Blue Meanie..You sir are with my utmost respect..A Douchebag!! A Used up useless douchebag at that!! Signed;Another Blue Meanie

Dee Just Dee
Dee Just Dee

Sounds to me Mr.Lomax that you are just throwing jabs at Justin pissed off because you didnt get your interview. Do you know him personaly? You have no right to judge people based on other peoples opinions. I would like to see your written documentation that proves there is nothing wrong with Justin. You should be checking to see if your own hands are clean before laying judgement on someone else. Karma is a big angry bitch and she loves people such as yourself. I too am obviously a Big Blue Meanie..You sir are with my utmost respect..A Douchebag!! A Used up useless douchebag at that!! Signed;Another Blue Meanie

Tina
Tina

I have struggled with mental illness for as long as I can remember. When I first heard Hate Me I actually cried because I have never had a song touch me the way that song did. I also agree with other people that posted " you can't understand what someone with mental illness is going through unless you've been there and had to deal with all the shit that comes with it. I like Blue October's music and JF has a great voice. That being said I have wondered myself if JF does suffer from mental illness. His lyrics seem to be very sincere and honest but I have read some of the articles where he tells different stories about his mental illness. I also thought him telling this reporter " If someone said you suck cock on the weekend wouldn't you want to know who it was" Was a mean and insensitive thing to say since a lot of LGBT teens suffer from mental issues due to the harrasment and everything else they have to deal with. This wouldn't even be an issue if he wasen't famous. I guess it boils down to this. If your in the public eye you are going to be picked apart more then a normal person. In my opinion JF should just show this dude his RX bottle if he truley suffers from mental illness. It does appear sometimes he is using mental illness to create a image for himself to appeal to a certain crowd. I personally don't know if he is or not. I'm just stating my opinion on different sources I have read from. The guy is a talented musician and I feel he could still be an activist for mental ilness even if he doesen't suffer from it.

Clara Del Real
Clara Del Real

I´m bipolar and let me tell you "hate me" talks about something I have felt, its not about the dead of her mother, for me its about hating the pain you cause to someone when you are not well. I have no doubt he IS bipolar and thats because he has been the only singer who has put in word the feelings me and my group of terapy have talked about. Its because of people like you that its so hard at first to accept and get help for this kind of sickness, you should be really ashamed!!! I´ve been in treatment almost half of my life (thankfully) but just because my mom is a therapist. I cant imagine how horrible it must be to have a family that doesnt want to understand that this IT IS a sickness even if it doesnt show. And I do hate people that dont understand and want proof when its non of their bussiness. Can you imagine telling something that is so tabu (sadly) to everyone and have to show proof while you are falling deeply in depresion????? If you haven´t lived with this sickness you should just shut up and try to learn moron

Brittanyk4326
Brittanyk4326

He was writing music a long time ago and I highly doubt if you think you're going to come up with a sweet new band you're gonna be like hey I should pretend to be a whiny crazy asshole. I'm pretty sure you would go with the cool route.

Amanda_stoker
Amanda_stoker

There are people out there who have been through what he has. I guess that's why we understand and you don't.

TK
TK

He was probably known for being that way in his early school days because of the manic/hypomanic phase of the illness, dipshit. I've personally experienced mental health problems (psychotic depression with bipolar traits, if you fancy getting technical) during my teens, and have since recovered, having recieved therapy and medication (namely Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and a Sodium Valproate brand named "Depakote" if you require further evidence) , and I'm now training to be a mental health nurse. Now, you're a reporter. A journalist. A blogger, even. So, what the fuck qualifies you to question anyone's mental health and state of mind in such a way? Shouldn't you be off stalking Paris Hilton, or trying to sniff Katy Perry's knickers? Yeah, I will grant you, sometimes it isn't outwardly obvious, because you can't see mental illnesses, but you don't go around questioning it in such a blunt, blase' fashion. That is rude, ignorant, and to the individual suffering from the mental illness is going to find that monstrously offensive, funnily enough. And believe me, that is coming from personal experience. Imagine if your mother died, and you were opening up to a friend about it, and their response was "Really? Can I see the death certificate? Because I think you're making it up". Or if you were diagnosed with a terminal cancer, and none of your friends believed you when you told them. You'd go ape shit, wouldn't you. And of course his old classmates are going to be bitchy and cynical; they probably only knew him on the surface, so only saw the outward behavior of hypomania or being difficult to deal with, and are most likely bitter that he's done pretty well for himself in life, seeing as he's a successful musician and spokesman for anti-suicide groups and more, despite his various difficulties. For future reference, don't go around saying things like "I don't think you're mentally ill" and then post a bitchy (and somewhat poorly written) attempt at a dissertation because (unsurprisingly enough) that person and those involved with them got the arsehole with you, and because you didn't like a song that they wrote prior to this. It really is people like you that make people with mental health problems feel ashamed, repressed, and as if it is wrong to speak out in regards to their issues, and continue to make that topic taboo. Do us a favor and get some perspective and ditch the white, upper-middle class, sheltered "holier-than-thou" attitude that your uneventful upbringing instilled in you.

Imachillifilli
Imachillifilli

I have a mental illness, do you want my proof too? Why would you ask for proof anyways? It's a very touchy thing to talk about. The only person who really knows about mine is my husband, and he got me through a lot. Justin is my hero for being open enough to the world about it. And you saying "I don't believe you're mentally ill " is one of the worst things you can say to someone who is. Personally, I would have said a big ol' "Fuck you" too! You're a jerk.

Funny Stuff
Funny Stuff

The most awesome thing is that there are more people that 'Like' the 'We hate John Lomax' Facebook page than actually like John Lomax's own Facebook page.

Ciera
Ciera

Wow. You're really are a sick asshole and seem to enjoy putting people down. Just because people seem happy on the outside doesn't mean they don't have problems. Most people that end up with mental diseases are the ones you least expect. They're the ones who have everything set up for them but can't handle the pressure. He could have been a heartbreaker because he was too guarded to get involved. He might've bullied people to let out his own frustrations. He might be smiling and popular because he had things he felt he had to hide. The reason you write this shit about him is because you are an ASSHOLE. Also, it pays the bills. I bet you just love it when people write back to you and call you names. When you get a death threat you just revel in the fact that someone knows you're name. To put it simply, you're just jealous that you could never express emotions and problems the way Justin does. You may be a writer but you can't write, all you can do is bitch. You're a sorry fuck and a loser.

Joe Carroll
Joe Carroll

Just realized something... The reason this guy get's cover stories like this, is specifically BECAUSE he incites people. Think about it - with a "hater" article, he gets readers from BOTH sides of the coin, fans and people who dislike the band! Then, to add insult to injury, the story lives on, getting more attention (and more web hits and advertising dollars) as we all flock to the website to complain or support him.

Next time, just ignore this hack - or better yet, boycott the paper. I can tell you, I certainly won't be coming back (not even to see the replies to my posts) !

Joe Carroll
Joe Carroll

Ya know what ? There's more to Justin's lyrics and Blue October's music than just mental illness. Are you going to start questioning his history of drug abuse or his relationship trauma next ? Personally, even though I have people close to me who suffer from mental illness (and suspect I may even be bi-polar, despite a diagnosis), it was the OTHER things he writes about that drew me to his music. It's also quite possible that these other struggles he's had TRIGGERED his mental illness, or at the very least caused trauma to him that makes him identify with those suffering from mental illness. Did you ever think about that ?

arodthesaint
arodthesaint

you are a pretty lousy person to tell someone who is mentally ill they have to prove it to you. who are YOU to that gives you the right to makes statements like that and then blow it all up saying "oh my goodness he freaked out because i asked something rude, over the top, and not any of my business". honestly, what reaction did you expect?

Sw33ttart
Sw33ttart

Whoever wrote this is an ass and should be fired. This is unprofessional, uncalled for, and why would you ask him that question?! That is a personal thing that doesnt have to be discussed if they dont want it to be.

P.S. if you are going to call us names come up with something better then Blue Meanie.

a1staek
a1staek

You're easily the biggest jerk of a writer I've ever seen.

Michael
Michael

This is easily the most unprofessional and vindictive article I have ever read in my life. I am always amused at how some writers feel that people have to 'prove' something to them. Who are you to make such demands? You are nobody. Your article speaks more about your own ego than it does to Justin's. You got what you wanted, attention. So how does that make you any better or different than your accusations against Justin?

The thing that stand out to me the most is your comment that "This story could have gone a lot of ways". I will actually agree with you on that one, but I think you can look in the mirror for the blame. You assume that you are right about Justin making up his mental state, and that is why you chose to immediately attack him. Justin doesn't 'owe' you anything, and if you would have put your own arrogance aside and realize that, this interview might have gone a different direction.

Blue October's music has meaning and that itself makes it better than 75% of the songs that are written today. Where that 'meaning' comes from doesn't much matter, and Justin certainly doesn't have to justify it to you. That 'meaning' has probably helped many people get through a tough time in their life, and that alone has value. Maybe you can explain what positive was to come from this ridiculous diatribe?

Dorellyfashion
Dorellyfashion

I believe YOU made yourself look bad with this article....wow 8 pages....how do you sleep at night?

Dorellyfashion
Dorellyfashion

Your article a exhausting! You must really hate Justin! I wonder what he ever did to you? Its great what he's doing....what are you doing? I know, writing a hater article...that is making you look bad. That is one thing you must not know about mental illness, I've had it since forever...and no one knew. It was my secret. I was thought of the happy popular girl in High School....I didnt need to dress or act EMO to show my depression....its an internal thing. Most mentaly ill patients hide their illness...specially eating disorder patients as you must know....its great that he is speaking out. You need to do more research on mental illness and stop all this hater writing....plus he's from Houston...way to show support to a home guy! NoT

Chris Bowker
Chris Bowker

What an idiot you are! You don't understand mental illness or Justin Furstenfeld! Great journalism FUCKTARD!!!

Alisha Laferriere
Alisha Laferriere

first off i have mental illness and i was happy go lucky and highschool to. and you know what it didnt hit me hard until my early 20's and i was a mess and still am i suffer from major depression PTSD with pyscotic features and it really didnt hit me till then you know why? because your brain isnt fully developed till then. i beleave he did get hospitalized and you know the thing about his mom could have been mediforical i think also the fact he didnt wanna show you his meds is his right your not a doctor and to exsploit that makes you a horrible person. all he does is try to help those like him . he isnt proud of it and i think your doing all this just cause he called you out honestly on your BS and you just dont like the band get over it he is my hero and his music has gotten me through so much you cant see a physical ailments of mental illness but it is very hard to get through and people like you who do not suffer from it would have no idea what its like. he makes me feel like i am not alone and just so you know he did do those anti suicide concerts still.I would know i went to one.do more research before you start judging people please cause you make all of us with mental illness look like liers.

Bluefan
Bluefan

Mr Lomax,You have NO right to ask for a Rx from anybody....who the F do you think you are? That is private information, nobody should have to disclose....You have NO IDEA what you are talking about and fortunately nobody you know is afflicted with mental illness.....you wait, your tie will come when somebody close to you will be struck with depression, bipolar, anxiety, etc....and then I want you to read your article, you ignorant person. You know what, you are not worth my time....

Chimera
Chimera

Ok, Now this is actually in relation to a link, I deeply resent you implying "blue meanies" (your the only person I have heard use this term so maybe it is a local thing) are ignorant, stupid, or crazy. All this does is feed the view that you do indeed have a personal issue with Justin or the band and are using your position to grind that ax. You are welcome to question a public figures claims I believe, you are welcome to not understand a musical preference of another (someone explain to me the appeal of muse, or the black keys, or lady gaga) but you should not attack someone on a personal level because they like to listen to or find significance where you do not.

I like blue octobers music (although I am now deeply interested in having all the articles you cited as a way to show his inconsistencies, given enough time I will find them if they exist) but my relation to this particular bands lyrics does not in any way diminish my ability to think, be rational, or behave within societies acceptable perimeters.

"And this anonymous reader wanted the Post -- the home of Woodward and Bernstein -- to weigh in on my journalistic ethics. (Okay, I'm not sure why she's asking the humor columnist about this, but that's those crazy Blue Meanies for ya.)"

http://blogs.houstonpress.com/...

guestt
guestt

Ok, Now this is actually in relation to a link, I deeply resent you implying "blue meanies" (your the only person I have heard use this term so maybe it is a local thing) are ignorant, stupid, or crazy. All this does is feed the view that you do indeed have a personal issue with Justin or the band and are using your position to grind that ax.

"And this anonymous reader wanted the Post -- the home of Woodward and Bernstein -- to weigh in on my journalistic ethics. (Okay, I'm not sure why she's asking the humor columnist about this, but that's those crazy Blue Meanies for ya.)"

guestt
guestt

Ok, Now this is actually in relation to a link, I deeply resent you implying "blue meanies" (your the only person I have heard use this term so maybe it is a local thing) are ignorant, stupid, or crazy.

Afanofboth
Afanofboth

I agree with most of these comments that say you have a personal vendetta against Justin, it does kind of read like that, but that doesn't mean you aren't 100% right. I have always thought that Justin's personal struggles as reported in many articles were a little shady. I think he seems sort of selfish and phony and very contradictory. I think that there is something wrong with him, just not what he wants everyone to believe. When it comes down to it though I still love his music. I am a Blue October fan, I've bought the CD's, shirts, gone to the concerts, etc. I think that is what it should always come down to-the music. And that is a totally different subject, people will like it or they won't, to each their own. I think that this article should inspire more questions though and it would be nice if it inspired some truth. The comments make me sad, people can't see passed their own bias to even think about what you are saying. I hope I never become that blind. I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed this article.

BlueFan1973
BlueFan1973

@Lisapoutre Fantastic post! You said everything I wanted to say.

John Nova Lomax
John Nova Lomax

Ummm, no. 1700 people like me on Facebook, and about 30 of the people on my hate page are my friends and family who joined as a joke.

Joe Carroll
Joe Carroll

Hey now...don't go bashing on Muse ! If I had to choose a favorite band, it'd be a toss up between them AND Blue October. I've also met them, and they're great guys (as well as Blue October).

mbelishme
mbelishme

@Afanofboth I am curious to know how you can be a fan of both (which in and of itself does not have to be mutually exclusive) and actually enjoy THIS specific article. In my mind, that's like watching your friend bully a disabled person until he gets kicked in the balls and falls to the ground singing Ave Maria. While you laugh and clap and cheer them both on. I am a Blue October fan, and I had never heard of John Lomax until he wrote about this incident. That's not surprising since this is a local paper and I live in another state. It's a calculated move to expose your own ego, inadequacies, and jealousy by writing an article to rip someone down.

AmberDawn89
AmberDawn89

Ha! There ARE more people that hate him than like him. That's awesome: We hate John Lomax page: 164 like this John Nova Lomax page: 137 like this And, to John Lomax himself, you claim that 1700 like you, but I just saw with my own eyes that you're full of shit. Would you like to PROVE that you have 1700 likes on your page? Would you also like to PROVE that "about 30" of the people on your hate page are family and friends? How do you know they didn't tell you it was a joke, so you wouldn't question their motives? How do you really know that they don't hate you behind your back? You don't because, just like with Justin Furstenfeld, you can't see what's going on in people's heads and hearts. I really can't even believe you wrote this article, thinking that anyone would take your side. It amuses me because it shows your ignorance and discredits most of what you have to say. You're mad because you didn't get your interview. Boo hoo. Go write an actual story about an actual interview you got, and maybe you'll actually earn some credibility to have a legitimate career someday. Oh, and you're terrible with grammar. You missed several commas throughout your article. Get an editor, if you want to be taken seriously.

Johnkrecklow
Johnkrecklow

What is the point of writing or creating a piece of work that no one respects. I'm pretty sure I'm thirty comments in and no one has said a positive thing about your judgmental article. Man God is the true judge. I don't care what you believe, when you have to answer to him someday this is going to come up.

 
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