Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Update on Burlap to Cashmere's Johnny Philippidis

my interview with Johnny's sister, Nicole Philippidis

I blogged yesterday about former Burlap to Cashmere guitarist/vocalist Johnny Philippidis being in a medically-induced coma after being beaten and left for dead following a car accident in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Reportedly it happened on November 17th, and I've had a tough time finding an update on the Internet.

I contacted Neil Gorman, public relations director of Lutheran General Hospital in Brooklyn, and he put me in touch with Johnny's sister, 32-year-old Nicole Philippidis. She is Johnny's only sibling and is understandably upset, but she was very gracious and agreed to a short phone interview. Following is a transcript of the interview.

CINDY: First of all, Nicole, can you just give us an update on how Johnny is doing right now?

NICOLE: Sure. At this moment, he's in stable condition. He had an operation...the first day he was here, to remove a clot from his head. Luckily, thank God that clot was removed, and we believe that his brain is OK. But right now, all his bones are broken in his face, and he cannot breathe because too many things are in the way of his breathing.
So they have him in an induced coma, and they have him on a respirator so that he doesn't have any problem with blood and stuff getting in the way of his breathing.

His face is split in half...he has developed a bit of pneumonia yesterday; he was supposed to go in for the reconstructive surgery yesterday, but because of the pneumonia they had to postpone it. They are looking to do the surgery tomorrow (Wednesday) because the pneumonia, because they believe, and hopefully with prayer and the power of prayer the pneumonia will clear, and he will, God willing go in for a successful surgery tomorrow at noon. It's a a four-hour procedure.

CINDY: By saying that his face is split in half, what exactly do you mean by that?

NICOLE: Well, uh, the bones. The bones are just kinda, if you can imagine that, that's how they described it to us. The eye sockets are broken, the nose, the jaw...that's how they explained it to us.

CINDY: I called you, as I mentioned earlier, because I couldn't find any further information about it on the Internet and there are people, as I said, all across the country that are praying for him...people that love Burlap to Cashmere's music and remember Johnny from those days.

Can you explain how you found out about this, and what the reaction was?

NICOLE: Well, they called my dad up, because on Johnny's cell phone Dad was the first on his list of calls. And they called up my dad and told him, "Your son was in an accident, and he's OK, just come to the hospital." 'Cause they didn't want to tell my dad that they didn't think Johnny was gonna make it. You know, obviously the parent has to drive here; they don't want to kill the parent too, you know, from making themselves sick.

So my father, he didn't call anyone else, because he just thought that he was going to come here, and OK, Johnny's gonna have a couple bandages, or whatever. And when he got here they took him over to the side and they explained to him that, "You know, listen, this is really bad, and we don't know if he's gonna make it, but we are gonna give him that emergency operation, and just pray..." And my father said, "I've gotta go see him first," and they said, "Please don't," and my father ran in, of course, and yeah...it was bad. Actually, the police thought he was shot in the face.


NICOLE: They said, there's no way this is somebody beating him up, and if they did beat him It had to be with with an object, you know...

CINDY: Is it true that a baseball bat was used?

NICOLE: Well, the doctors do not believe that human hands could have done this much damage, so we believe there was an object, but the police have not found one.

CINDY: The newspaper said that a passerby found him and is the one who is responsible for...

NICOLE: A detective found him. A detective was just passing by.

CINDY: Oh, wow...That's a blessing from God that he was found by this man...

NICOLE: Oh, you don't even know...I can't even tell you how many blessings from God there were that night. First, the detective found him right on time, because, any longer, who knows? Second, EMS was already around the corner...they were already there, they didn't have to travel far.

The third thing that was another blessing was that when he got here, it was coincidental that both the head of trauma and the head of neurology of the hospital were here together. That's very unusual for the heads of trauma and neurology to be here at the same time, so he got the best of the best that this hospital--and this is supposed to be a very good hospital--could offer.

CINDY: Also the newspaper mentioned that he had been coming from a studio where he was recording? Can you tell me anything about that?

NICOLE: Sure, sure. I don't know if you know this, but my cousin Steven Delopolous and Johnny came back together again, and got signed again to do another Burlap album. So, luckily they had just finished the demo. The demo has, I believe, three or five, I'm not sure, new Burlap songs. And we were happy that he got to finish that, because...well, you know why...

CINDY: Right, right.

NICOLE: Because when he does wake up--and I know he will, because God is with him--at least he won't have to worry about the demo. He can say, "Well, OK, I had just completed that," y'know.

CINDY: Well, Nicole, everyone in the Christian community that loves Burlap to Cashmere is praying for Johnny. And please pass that along to your parents.

NICOLE: I will, yeah. And that's why he's getting better.

CINDY: Is there anything else that you'd like to add?

Just keep praying, and if everyone keeps praying, I truly believe that he will recover, stronger than ever.

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