Jesse Malin Talks About Rare Spinal Stroke That Left Him Paralyzed – Rolling Stone

On the last Saturday in March at New York’s Webster Hall, Jesse Malin would do what he’d done a thousand times before: jump off the stage and wade through a huge crowd toward the back bar, which he climbed above to lead a sing-along on his song. “She doesn’t love me now.”

Parting Malin-Red-Sea-with his microphone-he asks for two ropes 50 inches long per width; “Extra language,” as he calls it—is a signature of his concerts, and that’s how he wants his fans to imagine him now: walking, strutting, and dancing to and from the stage.

A few weeks after his triumphant Webster Hall gig, celebrating the twentieth anniversary of his solo debut The fine art of self-destructionMalin suffered an extremely rare spinal cord infarction—a stroke in his back—while eating dinner in the East Village. Gathering with friends to celebrate the one year anniversary of the death of Howie Pyro, Malin’s former D Generation bandmate and best friend, felt a burning pain in his lumbar region that slowly migrated down his hips, through his thighs, and into his heels. He collapsed on the restaurant floor, unable to walk.

Everyone was standing over me as in Rosemary’s baby“I say all these different things and I didn’t know what was going on with my body,” Malin says during a phone call from his room in a NYU rehab facility.

Malin was carried by Murphy Lou singer Jimmy J from the Italian restaurant to the lobby of a nearby apartment, where an ambulance was called to take him to Mount Sinai Hospital. It was May 4th, and he was such a high-energy, physical performer – his first public stage dive was at 14 on national television during Saturday Night Live Performing Fear – He’s been paralyzed from the waist down ever since.

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“This is the hardest six weeks I’ve ever been through,” he says. “I’m told they don’t really understand it, and they’re not sure of the chances. The reports from the doctors have been difficult and there are moments in the day when you want to cry and where you feel fear. But I keep telling myself I can make it happen. I can get my body back.”

Such unchecked optimism has been Malin’s calling card. He refers to it as “PMA,” or Positive Mental Attitude, from the Bad Brains song “Attitude,” and has been preaching it on stage and in interviews for decades. But he admits that it has been difficult to call the monetary authority since his medical emergency.

It’s almost like a joke. Like, ‘You’re talking all this PMA? Well, see how you deal with it.'” this’” he says. “They took me outside for the first time the other day in a wheelchair and I went across the hallway and saw the sun shining through the glass and just started screaming. I felt like I was watching myself in this movie. I didn’t know this person. By the time I got to the corner, I pulled myself together in a garden, breathing in the air. “

After two weeks at Mount Sinai, where he underwent various spinal procedures, Malin was transferred to his current rehabilitation center at New York University on May 18. His days consist of three rounds of physical therapy and rehabilitation, with the short-term goal of teaching him how to move his body without using his legs and do everyday tasks. When he is laid off later this month, he will be in a wheelchair and will have to move from his current apartment to a new, ADA-compliant apartment with an elevator. It won’t be cheap.

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Malin—like many working musicians who have experienced catastrophic events—does not have the financial resources to support his long-term care and outpatient rehabilitation, despite years of touring, album release, and health insurance. On Wednesday, Malin’s manager David Bason and a group of friends launched a new campaign via the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund to raise money for the singer. Fully tax-deductible donations, which can be made herewill go directly to Malin’s care.

Malin has mixed feelings about the whole thing. During his career, he has been a staunch supporter of New York and the worldwide rock and roll community, as well Rolling Stone“Putting his money where his heart is, investing in the rock and roll of his neighborhood,” David Fricke wrote in 2015, with popular pubs like Niagara and the Bowery Electric. He has produced annual benefits for the Joe Strummer, Music & Memory Foundation, performs at regular concerts for the Light of Day Foundation, donates proceeds from a pandemic live broadcast to food banks, Save Our Stages, bar staff out of work, and curates benefits for friends in need (he has thrown a series of shows every stars when Pyro was battling liver disease). But he is reluctant, if not embarrassed, to ask for help himself.

“I always felt like we had a voice with these microphones and with these guitars and with these places to help each other. But it’s very hard for me to go back and be that person,” he says. “I don’t want to be a burden, but I’m learning. Just lying here and not being able to walk, it’s so humbling.”

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Mallen also loses money from a planned summer tour that he has to cancel after suffering a stroke. At the time, he told fans on social media that he had suffered a serious back injury but declined to say more.

“I didn’t want to get into extremes. Now it’s time to let people know. Although I really think it’s a temporary state, I’m not going to walk out of here tomorrow with a leather jacket and a cane and go hang out at the bar. It’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of Sitting in a wheelchair.” “There’s something really liberating about it, and that’s happening to me right now.”


Ironically, Malin also had some of his most iconic creative successes of the moment – with a song that sums up the intended outcome of his situation. The song “New York Comeback,” which he co-wrote with Lucinda Williams, who suffered a stroke in 2020, hit No. 1 on Americana radio last week.

“Although this has been the hardest time of my life, there are some gifts,” Malin says. “I knew I had some amazing friends and amazing fans and people in this world, and I see a lot of that — although I would really rather have a birthday party than find out that way.”

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