When you interview people for a book or documentary, you can't help but get close to them. In my time of writing and researching my book, I've become close to a number of people I've interviewed. This is not so I can take advantage of them and exploit their "dirt"; this is because I relate to who they are and what they are about. Plus, I'm a big fan of what they've done (be it playing music, releasing albums or writing about music). So it was pretty heartbreaking to get the news about J. Robbins's son, Callum.
10-month-old Callum was born with Type 1 Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). SMA affects the brain's ability to communicate with the voluntary muscles that are used for activities such as crawling, walking, breathing, and swallowing. The prognosis is very grim: even if he lives past his second birthday (which a large percentage of children with this don't make it to), he'll never be able to walk.
The cost of treatment is very expensive and it is not known how much of J.'s insurance will cover this. So, former Jawbox members Kim Coletta and Bill Barbot set up a PayPal account for donations. Within hours of the news, MySpace bulletins about it appeared, along with news releases on Punknews.org, the AV Club and Pitchfork. A benefit concert is even being discussed. For me, I had to step back and be blown away.
Seeing people come out of the woodwork to help this cause has been pretty overwhelming. Former bandmates of J.'s, former members of bands J. has recorded and others have passed the word along. This is not some guy who plays tunes that some people like. There's a lot more to him than the notes he plays and the bands he records.
In my case, J.'s always been supportive and encouraging for the book. So I was pretty devastated when I heard the news. I know life isn't fair, but it hurts when something so unfair happens to gracious and kind people. It's been very difficult to get my head around this. I hope this spreading of the word will do a lot of good. I get the feeling that it already has.