Small World

As long as you love him...

One of these days, I promise, I'll get back to commenting on real Seattle arts issues. But I can't focus on such matters right now. Whenever this country's unmatched finesse with popular culture comes anywhere near our fine city, I find it imperative to let my people know.

In case you're an ignoramus who somehow confuses all of the Backstreet Boys with 'N Sync and 98 and O-Town and Boyzone, AJ McLean is the Boys' pierced, tattooed, and occasionally wild-haired ethnic contingent who is about as edgy as you can look without frightening a 12-year-old girl. According to the band's official site, he favors Joop cologne and "counts puppeteering, cartooning, writing, poetry, ventriloquism, and songwriting among his talents." (Songwriting, you'll note, is significantly lower on the list than puppeteering). He is also now treating residents of a rehab center to the scent of his cologne: The band has postponed a month of tour dates so that the 23-year-old McLean can enter a 30-day program to deal with his alcoholism and depression.

"He's been burning the candle at both ends and partying quite a bit to escape it," says bandmate Kevin Richardson—the hot, dark one who looks like a pimp—as quoted on the entertainment Web site Mr. Showbiz. "His alcoholism is—it's pretty bad. And we're worried about him."

God knows those boys are doing the right thing for him. How much more than 30 days does a depressed alcoholic need before returning to sing "As Long As You Love Me" in front of 20,000 ravenous preteens? And I know that I've always found the best way to overcome a melancholy episode was to have my friends weep about it on MTV's Total Request Live.

Folks, one of the first stops when the tour resumes will be the Tacoma Dome on August 9! We have exactly three weeks to send this poor young man some Joop and our best wishes for a speedy recovery; we don't want him freaking on stage in his superhero costume. Based on past interviews, he's already rapidly approaching the necessary self-revelation.

"When I get stressed out, I get really violent toward myself and just say, 'Screw the group! To hell with everything!'" McLean told Rolling Stone a little while ago. "There have been times when I woke up like that and think I don't want to do this anymore."

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