A Fathers Day look at the Man in Black and a fellowship in the red

Every summer, AA population,according to Alcoholics Anonymous’ own membership survey, is posted. Membership, year over year is down 2,293 members worldwide (2012 vs. 2011) at 2,131,549. Compared to AA’s all time high a decade ago, of 2,215,293 (2002) we see a trending that we can call flat of declining.

As a percentage of the overall population membership is on a sharper decline. USA alone, where ½ of AA resides, the overall population is up 23.7% over the two decades from 1990 to 2010. AA members from the USA have seen a modest increase in membership; it’s the rest of the world that is showing a growing indifference to AA; for every newcomer, another member permanently frees up a seat. Still, as a percentage of USA population, AA domestically is smaller now than last year and smaller as a percentage of USA population compared to twenty years ago.

Voices and Faces of Recover report 23 million people in the USA self-identify as in recovery from addiction. Not all of those are alcoholics and less than 5% of the USA recovery population call themselves members of Alcoholics Anonymous. AA is not the only way to live sober in the 21st century.

To deny that General Service Office isn’t anxious about the possible causes of membership stagnation would be naïve. How does one steward an organization that falls prey to the everyday human nature of resisting change. All book-based societies have a tendency to grow rigid and fearfulness about meaningful change.

In Toronto North by North East (NXNE) is in its 19th year, exposing emerging art and media of many kinds. Last year I saw a movie debut, My Father and the Man in Black, a story told by the son, Johathan Holliff of Johnny Cash manager Saul Holiff. It is a beautifully told “adult child of a workaholic” tale told after the suicide death of Saul Holiff and the discovery of audio memoirs by his son.

The angst, awkwardness and wondering why he grew up feeling unloved and unimportant to his dad are foist upon the audience in a touching tale. One would think the glory days of Johnny Cash would steal the show but it is really a story about addiction and how far reaching the emotional fallout and scaring spreads from one man’s internal demons. The movie debuted in Toronto at NXNE last year and it makes its TV debut here Fathers Day (Sunday June 16 on CityTV).

This year there was, “The Life of Riley” a documentary about B.B. King, still playing at 85 years of age. It was awe inspiring to see all the great artists, in their own right, paying tribute to the man who has such an influence. And so many of these legends, you will know from the rooms—a good news story of addiction.

As I post this, it is back to NXNE for me. Thanks for reading. Mother’s day and Father’s days aren’t always peaceful, warm experiences for those of us who come from dysfunctional homes. Regardless of our experiences with Father’s day past, good or bad, let’s treat it as one day with an open mind.

Joe C

Box 4-5-9 News and Notes from GSO
Faces and Voices of Recovery survey

See Joe C's NXNE coverage on IndieCan Radio

See a trailer for My Father and the Man in Black

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