Family of musician Chris Cornell disputes he killed himself

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In this Feb. 13, 2013 file photo, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden performs during the band's concert at the Wiltern in Los Angeles. Cornell, 52, who gained fame as the lead singer of the bands Soundgarden and Audioslave, died at a hotel in Detroit and police said Thursday, May 18, 2017, that his death is being investigated as a possible suicide. (AP)
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Mourners attend a memorial for Chris Cornell on Thursday, May 18, 2017, in Seattle. Cornell, one of the most lauded and respected contemporary lead singers in rock music with his bands Soundgarden and Audioslave, hanged himself Wednesday in a Detroit hotel room, according to the city's medical examiner. He was 52. (AP)
Updated 19 May 2017
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Family of musician Chris Cornell disputes he killed himself

DETROIT: Rock musician Chris Cornell’s wife on Friday disputed “inferences” that the rocker killed himself in a Detroit hotel room, saying he may have taken more of an anti-anxiety drug than he was prescribed.
The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office said Cornell — the lead singer in Soundgarden and Audioslave — hanged himself after performing at a concert Wednesday night. But Cornell’s family said that without toxicology test results completed they don’t know what caused his death.
Vicky Cornell, Cornell’s wife, said that when she spoke to her husband after the Detroit show, he told her he may have taken “an extra Ativan or two.” According to lawyer Kirk Pasich, the 52-year-old musician had a prescription for the anti-anxiety drug. Ativan, a sedative, has side effects that can include drowsiness and dizziness, according to the National Institutes of Health.
“Without the results of toxicology tests, we do not know what was going on with Chris — or if any substances contributed to his demise,” Pasich said in a statement released to The Associated Press. “Chris, a recovering addict, had a prescription for Ativan and may have taken more Ativan than recommended dosages.
“The family believes that if Chris took his life, he did not know what he was doing, and that drugs or other substances may have affected his actions.”
Cornell has battled addiction problems in the past. He told Rolling Stone in a 1994 interview that he started using drugs at age 13, and was kicked out of school at 15.
“I went from being a daily drug user at 13 to having bad drug experiences and quitting drugs by the time I was 14, and then not having any friends until the time I was 16,” he said. “There was about two years where I was more or less agoraphobic and didn’t deal with anybody, didn’t talk to anybody, didn’t have any friends at all.
“All the friends that I had were still (messed) up with drugs and were people that I didn’t really have anything in common with.”
Vicky Cornell said her husband slurred his words when she spoke with him after the Detroit show. She said “he was different,” and she contacted security to check on him.
“What happened is inexplicable, and I am hopeful that further medical reports will provide additional details,” she said. “I know that he loved our children and he would not hurt them by intentionally taking his own life.”
The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office said Thursday it completed the preliminary autopsy on Cornell, but that “a full autopsy report has not yet been completed.”
Cornell was a leader of the grunge movement with Seattle-based Soundgarden — with whom he gained critical and commercial acclaim. He also found success outside the band with other projects, including Audioslave, Temple of the Dog, and solo albums. Soundgarden’s current tour kicked off in late April and was planned to run through May 27.
Grief-stricken fans left flowers at memorials across Seattle on Thursday for the musician whose forceful, somber songs helped cement the city’s place in rock history.
One of the locations where people gathered was the Sound Garden art sculpture at a Seattle park, for which Soundgarden was named.
“It’s really sad that he could never find peace in his life,” said Chad White, who came to the art display with his young son, Ignatius, to honor Cornell.
The city’s Space Needle went dark at 9 p.m. for an hour in tribute to Cornell.
Cornell was born and raised in the city and was part of a close-knit group of artists who formed the foundation of what would become the grunge scene that exploded in the early 1990s, by combining the bombast of early 1970s heavy metal with the aggression and attitude of punk rock.


China dog meat fest opens as South Korea goes the other way

Updated 22 June 2018
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China dog meat fest opens as South Korea goes the other way

  • The annual Yulin dog meat celebration opened without a hitch on Thursday
  • Eating dog to mark the summer solstice is a tradition in China’s Guangxi region

YULIN, China: As South Korea moves closer to banning dog meat, diners tuck into bowls of stewed canine in southern China, where activists are rethinking their tactics to counter a notorious festival that butchers thousands of dogs.
The annual Yulin dog meat celebration opened without a hitch on Thursday, a day after a South Korean court announced it had ruled that the slaughtering of dogs for meat was illegal.
Activists say the ruling could pave the way for the outlawing of dog meat consumption in South Korea, but there is less progress in China where advocates fear their tactics have been counterproductive.
Eating dog to mark the summer solstice is a tradition in China’s Guangxi region, where the festival has been held since 2009 to mark the occasion in the town of Yulin.
Despite rumors last year that Yulin authorities would ban dog meat sales altogether, many restaurants advertised the controversial offering this week with the veiled moniker of “fragrant meat.”
Carcasses were on display for purchase in the city’s open-air markets — though there were fewer of them than in previous years, locals said.
The Dongkou wet market downtown bustled with shoppers meandering past piles of dogs laid out atop butcher stalls for them to inspect. Others hung from hooks, their faces locked in a rigid grimace.
Market workers pulled in cartfuls of dead dogs while sweaty men blow-torched the fresher carcasses to remove any remaining fur. On the street, a man transported two live mutts in a cage on the back of his scooter.
As police patrolled outside the market premises, one woman bought a full dog for 662 yuan ($102), saying she would eat it with her family to celebrate the summer solstice.
“It’s very tasty,” another local surnamed Chen said, insisting “they’re all strays — strays and pets are different.”
Chen did not consider it cruel to consume the meat during what the Chinese zodiac system deems the Year of the Dog, quipping: “don’t you eat chicken in the year of the rooster, and pork in the year of the pig?”
But vendors were more discreet than usual.
They cooked in narrow alleys or inside their restaurants instead of preparing dog dishes in front of patrons, ushering diners inside and not serving outdoors.
Thousands of dogs are butchered during the event, the animal protection organization Humane Society International estimates — a fraction of the more than 10 million consumed each year in China.
Animal rights activists have typically attended the festival to purchase ill-fated dogs and save them from slaughter, said Qiao Wei, an activist from the Si Chuna Qiming Animal Protection Center.
But now they feel that working to establish a general ban on the dog meat trade would be much more effective.
“We have no hope that we can bring change just by going to Yulin,” he said. Simply buying dogs “doesn’t help.”
International animal rights groups concur, saying that focusing so intensively on dog meat consumption in just one city at an annual event risks becoming counterproductive.
“It would be far better to have a holistic campaign that works collaboratively across the country, engaging the government and public to acknowledge animals as our friends, not food,” said Jill Robinson, founder of the Hong Kong-based Animals Asia Foundation.
Chinese leader Mao Zedong had banned dog ownership for being bourgeois, but the ranks of China’s rising middle-class are now full of proud and loving dog owners.
This year, the foundation set up an online portal where Chinese citizens can report restaurants that operate illegally.
Tipsters have already flagged some 1,300 restaurants in 153 cities, with over 200 of them shut down, forced to stop selling the meat, or issued warnings, said Robinson.
Before the festival, animal protection groups from around the world submitted a letter with 235,000 signatures to Beijing, calling for the event’s abolishment.
The tide appears to be turning against dog meat consumption elsewhere in Asia, and Chinese animal lovers like Zhang Huahua, a 62-year-old retired lecturer-turned-activist, sense change is in the air.
Zhang came to Yulin all the way from her home in the southern province of Guangdong to submit a letter with recommendations to the local government.
Her hope is to save dog lives by changing the system itself.
In South Korea, where one million dogs are believed to be eaten annually, a court ruled that meat consumption was not legitimate grounds for killing canines, after an animal rights group accused a dog farm operator of slaughtering dogs “without proper reasons” and violating building and hygiene regulations.
Last April, Taiwan banned the consumption, purchase and possession of both dog and cat meat, with offenders facing a fine of up to Tw$250,000 ($8,170).
But many in Yulin viewed the news with a shrug.
“They can do what they want,” said a resident surnamed Huang, who nonetheless wasn’t fond of the taste of dog himself.