How many crackheads does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Better yet, how many crackheads does it take to construct a pipe for their cat out of a lightbulb? If you ask a fleeting fiend, the answer might be as incoherent as Babyshambles's debut album, Down in Albion. But if you ask a gossip hound how many black-finger-tipped libertines it takes to create a kitty crack pipe out of a small bottle, they'll tell you the answer is just one. And his name is Pete Doherty, erstwhile Libertine, current Babyshambles frontman, and enfant terrible of both music and gossip rags here and in Old Blighty.
The eloquent lyricist's romantic entanglements with supermodel Kate Moss, which sparked two years ago during Moss's 31st birthday bash and then fizzled (at last count) by July 2007, have made Doherty a figure of epic tabloid fodder. Which, combined with his affinity for freebasing and shooting up, has overshadowed his talent as a musician. Yet much like his cat, Dinger (British slang for "syringe"), whose allegedly crack-smoking image has been plastered all over the blogosphere thanks to London's Sun, Doherty seems to have been bestowed with nine lives of his own. No matter how many times he gets arrested, cheats, snorts, smokes, steals, or gets beaten with a bamboo cane in a Thai detox center, he always seems to land on his feet.
For instance, in the past month — besides being the catalyst for Dinger's new belief that she can fly — Doherty (supposedly) has been banned from the streets of London by a judge. He also was arrested for drug possession in East London after the V Festival, and on another occasion was involved in an altercation with photographer Cath Mead, from which Mead claims she walked away missing some of her hair. Not to mention recent rumors that Doherty witnessed Amy Winehouse's infamous drug overdose that almost took her life. Yet in the same month, he might have been offered a part as a rocker/poet zombie in Joss Whedon's new British spinoff of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, called Ripper. Also, he and his Babyshambles bandmates rescued a man from a smoking, overturned car they found while driving on the highway. And he's reportedly dating Irina Lazareanu, the face of Kate Moss's clothing line at TopShop (scandalous!). Plus he's dodged some well-earned jail time.
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Despite his antics, there's something refreshing about Doherty in this post-Jim Morrison/Sid Vicious/Kurt Cobain era, when we're all standing under Rihanna's umbrella while listening to hardcore tales of Carrie Underwood taking a Louisville Slugger to her ex's car. Check out Doherty's former band the Libertines' first album, Up the Bracket. It's gritty, raw, and infused with a lot of much-needed punk rock that reflects Doherty's anarchic life and earnestly follows his personal philosophy of living completely and utterly free. But he should still watch his step. Although his curiosity for life does create some great music (and gossip), as everyone knows, curiosity killed the cat.