From The Edge – Jump 2: Robin And I by Michael Davis


Michael Davis writes,

It's the same voice thought that … you're standing at a precipice and you look down, there's a voice, and it's a little quiet voice that goes, 'Jump…"
Robin Williams

This is a much extended version of an article that ran on Comicmix earlier this week.

Last week on Bleeding Cool someone posted a one-word comment meant as a commentary on my depression.


I couple of years back I almost did.

I put a loaded gun to my head and pulled the trigger. There was no shell in the chamber as life, not luck; life would have it before I cocked the slide I answered a phone call. A dear friend could tell the pain I was in made me promise to 'stay here.'

That stopped me.

On my twenty-fifth birthday, I had a gun put to my forehead. When my would-be murderer pulled the trigger, the gun jammed.

That saved me.

Big difference between being saved and being stopped.

I didn't then nor do I now want to die. I just wanted the pain to go away.

I talk about my depression for the same reason Wayne Brady and Robin Williams and so many others talk about their depression because it may help someone else deal and help us cope.

Both Wayne and I are still fighting the good fight victories and setbacks along the way are part of the conflict we both know that. Robin lost his battle on Aug. 11, 2014.

He spoke about his depression yet was likewise stricken by Dementia with Lewy bodies a type of Dementia that gets much worse over time. I can't imagine living with that kind of hell.

It pains me to think Robin endured it for as long as he did.

I met Robin at a club called Xenon in 1981. Xenon was a New York nightclub (disco) one of the few clubs that could compete with the legendary Studio 54 during the pinnacle of the disco movement.

I was underage and getting into both 54 and Xenon. I was tall and didn't drink, so it was easy making people think I was older. Both clubs were almost impossible to get in. Nonetheless, I figured out a way to do so, but that's a story for another time.

There were a lot of celebrities at 54 and Xenon I learned not to gawk the hard way when I mistakenly ran up to Rick James and said; "HEY BOOTSY!" Bootsy Collins was a well-known Funk artist, he and Rick James looked a lot alike at least they did to me. That would have gotten me tossed out if Bootsy wasn't so cool about it.

Robin asked me if I was an Elvis fan after watching me dance. I was a bit taken aback that he said anything to me, but I answered 'yep, ' and we talked a bit afterward. I'd see him from time to time at Xenon or 54 he would always have a welcoming smile if I were lucky he'd spend a few minutes with me. One night me and my boy Lee were meeting at Xenon. I'd gotten there beforehand, so I waited off to the side until he showed up.

Robin was walking up the block, and we made eye contact. This time there was no smile he walked passed my outstretched hand made his way through the crowd stopped for a moment at the velvet rope until recognized and went into the club.

I was a young kid from the hood, and that was a major dis as in disrespect. I didn't give a fuck who he was I was going to make it a point to tell Mork to kiss my ass. Maybe a minute later Robin came back out stood on the inside of the velvet rope looked right at me and said; "I thought that was you. You coming in?"

Wow. Just fucking wow.

I explained I was waiting for a friend he smiled and said he'd see me inside. Now everyone waiting outside thought I was hot shit and for a few minutes, I was.

Like I said wow.

I think about that night often and reminded Robin when we met again some 15 years later in a Beverly Hills elevator. He remembered who I was and it shocked the shit out of me. He was with someone who kept telling me; "Mr. Williams is in a big hurry." "He's an old friend I'll make time." He said to whom I first assumed was his assistant but the 'die motherfucker die' look in her eyes said 'agent.'

He said he'd make time and he did. When we finished talking, we exchanged numbers and promised to keep in touch.

As John Lennon said, 'life is what happens while making, other plans' ain't that the truth?

I never saw Robin again.

On Aug 11, 2014, I was hanging with Dr. Phil at Target (the name for media shy friend of mine) when Steve Geppi CEO Diamond texted me. Years, before I told Steve the Xenon story never in a million years, did I think with all he deals with he would remember.

He did. Robin Williams killed himself, I'm sorry. The text said.

I was still weak from my mother's passing just two months earlier, and this floored me. When I heard, he'd been battling severe depression that scared the shit out of me. Less than a week had passed since diagnosed with the same.

Yes, this is a pop culture website, and there's an argument to be made my sort of personal reflection does not belong here. On the other hand, I write editorials and opinion columns, and It's because of my opinion, so many of you have found an easy target to voice YOURS.

Unless someone totally mispresents my point or is rude just for the sake of being rude, I take time responding to even the harshest of my critics, and I do so with respect.

In return I mostly get people trying to school me on my swagger. Fair enough.

Telling a depressed person 'jump' isn't something you screw around with those who do play with fire. If all you want when you visit sites like Bleeding Cool, Comicmix or any pop culture website is to discuss comics movies or whatever there is nothing at all wrong with that.

I get that. Moreover, I'm not interested in a 'very special' episode of the Muppets. I have zero interest in seeing Kermit facing his battle with depression grabbing a gun hightailing it up to the roof of 30 Rock intending to blow his brains out. So yes, I get that.

But if I did end up watching, doubtful I'm posting on the Muppet website how I wanted to see Kermit shoot himself.

However making such a comment while pretending you're just scoring points in the hate Michael Davis game is cruel heartless uncalled for and can be dangerous.

I could care less about me my focus has always been on young people.

Mental illness is still a big taboo in the African American community.

What happens if some Black 15-year-old girl suffering from severe depression posted a reply in support of my struggle and got a 'jump?' As is often the case what happens is she was subject to the troll pile on mob attack? Most likely nothing happens.

However, this did happen. The mother of such a young lady sent her daughters post to me directly. Having read some BC comments, she was smart enough to think better of having her daughter post at Bleeding Cool. Say what you will about anything I write but my depression if you're sick of hearing about it I can't promise you I'll stop but I do understand it may be a bit much I get that; I get all of that.

But for god's sake have some regard for those who may read such as an act of cruelty directed toward them and on a bad day that's all it takes. If you don't like what I write, I get it. Tell me in as many ways as you can why you think I suck. You have every right to do so. I may believe you're wrong or an idiot but I invite you to do your worse, and I will defend your right to do so.

The reality is my critics are not always wrong, and when that happens, I own up to it. But this 'jump' shit is way beyond wrong, and those who agree can take that stuff elsewhere.

If what I write is so offensive then don't read it. Shit, I can't stand Fruit Cake so why the hell would I ask for a slice, hate it but ask for seconds? If you're of such character that you feel ok posting that type of darkness over a silly story about Lois Lane, I'd rather you take your readership elsewhere. If this community continues to support this sort of stuff, I'll go elsewhere. It's not worth it.

I didn't 'out' that person and have no idea if the comment is still up. More than likely it was meant to be funny and not hurtful. If there I ask no hurtful comments or hateful rhetoric be leveled at him or her. I reacted last week without thinking. The writer may be young, despondent or both and like I said it's not worth it. I like the Bleeding Cool audience, and that includes my critics.

My hope is all those doubters can see my point here like I've seen theirs on a few occasions. Trust me I have plenty more for them to hate.

Thanks, Sandy, I loved the note, enjoy the books.

About Rich Johnston

Head writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world. Living in London, father of two. Political cartoonist.

twitter   facebook square   instagram   globe