“You’re sugar, you’re spice . . . .” — Bobby Burke

September 24, 2009



About 28 or 29 years ago, I went up to what was then Fair Oaks Hospital to visit Mackenzie Phillips when she and her father, John Phillips, and his wife, Genevieve Waite, had completed a chemical therapy program to wean them off of illegal drugs. She looked healthy; she was upbeat. She was frank about the fact that she had grown up in an environment riddled with narcotics, and she talked in some detail about the condition her dad was in before the two of them checked in at Fair Oaks. I asked her if she knew why someone like her, who knew intellectually and had seen in the the flesh the consequences of drug abuse would take a chance on addiction herself. She said she didn’t know, and I believe her; plenty of people who didn’t spend their time with John Phillips, and who knew where drugs could lead them, are unable to answer the same question.



About 20 years ago, we bumped into Mackenzie at the Fairmount Hotel in San Francisco. The intervening years had included relapse and recovery, and she was at the hotel appearing with “The Mamas and the Papas” which her dad had reconstituted with Mackenzie and Elaine “Spanky” McFarlane singing the parts originally assigned to Michelle Phillips and Mama Cass Elliot. Again, Mackenzie looked terrific and had a positive outlook that wasn’t dimmed any by the new baby she was doting over at the time. We went to see the act and thought it was sufficiently evocative of the original to have a future.

Since then, I have talked to Mackenzie on the telephone a couple of times. Always I seemed to find her with her star a-rising and always I have hoped, for her, that it would last.

I have made a point of hearing as little as possible about the news Mackenzie is making this week. I’m a sap. I choose to hope, and pray, that this episode is something she needs to kick the demons away for good.


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