Was having a conversation about Michael Alig the other day. Michael Alig was convicted of manslaughter for the death of Angel Melendez. If anyone has seen Party Monster with MacCauley Culkin and Seth Green then you think you know the story of his case and probably don’t like him very much. The book states that it is “Based on a True Story”, meaning it’s mostly true. If you read the book or see the movie you think that Michael was angry with Angel and over drugs, that his friend “Freeze” took the metal edge of a hammer and beat Angel in the head, and that the two of them injected his body with drano, chopped him up, hid him under the coffee table and then waited to throw his body in the river. What happened (read the case transcripts) is that Angel attacked Michael over an argument they had earlier at the Limelight (under investigation at the time) and shoved him into a glass china cabinet (police reports confirmed evidence of the only crime scene blood being Michael’s), that Angel was hit with the wooden end of the hammer. and that he actually died from asphyxiation (they believe he accidentally–hence “manslaughter” crushed his windpipe), not head injury or drano.
Basically, they got into a fight while on drugs and one overpowered the other. Everyone in the apartment at the time believed that Angel was knocked out and not dead which is why they all went on doing what they were doing.
Now, is this a horrible case–yes. Absolutely. He spent 17 years in jail on a manslaughter charge for it.
He’s out now and trying to do something with his life.
James St. James the person who wrote the book is still friends with him and admits to some fabrication to sell more books, but the damage to his reputation is already done. He killed someone and that is the end of that, as they say.
The problem is that he man is out and what happens now?
Our judicial system is such that you cannot be imprisoned forever unless you’ve committed murder in the 1st or 2nd or operated Silk Road apparently.
Right now he has to make money so he’s not living off of public assistance, but how? How does he do that? Who will hire a famous murderer? Answer: Not even McDonalds.
So he has to freelance or self-promote.
How do you do that when to do so makes you look like you are without remorse?
That’s the trick.
Michael Alig is in a terrible position. He has been judged a sociopath because of the movie so his options on what to say or do are very limited.
If he cries and says how horrible he feels about what he’s done, he’ll be accused of trying to inspire sympathy and take the attention off of the crime.
If he doesn’t talk about it, people will think he doesn’t care.
It’s the Kobiashi Maru, the unwinnable program.
His choices are now to kill himself or forget public opinion and move on, do quiet charity work, and live his life.
Why his case moves me is not that I’ve been “won over” by him, but because I “get it”. We’ve all done things that we can’t take back. Some of us have done pretty bad things, and to cry over them makes it seem like we’re being dramatic and taking away attention from the people we’ve hurt (even if we truly feel bad), and to move on makes people think that we don’t feel appropriately guilty enough.
Most of us don’t have to live with having killed someone. We don’t have the unforgivable to live with.
What Michael Alig does now and in his future could very well be the key to how people who have cheated, hit someone, hurt someone, fallen into addiction, abandoned their families find a path to redemption. If he is able to overcome, move on, and do good with his life, then there is hope for others.
You’ve got to route for that.