The age of the rebellious hedonist is over. The dullards have taken over.
John Bonham was the drummer of Led Zeppelin and died at the age of 32 – according to the coroner’s report, he had the equivalent of forty vodka shots in his system. On one occasion he rode a motorcycle through the lobby of a Hollywood hotel; he enjoyed it so much, he performed the stunt twice more on the same tour.
Keith Moon was the drummer of The Who and died at the age of 32 of an overdose of Heminvevrin, prescribed to combat alcoholism. His wild and eccentric behaviour was legendary, as was his liking for pranks: once he and a friend tested the durability of a pair of trousers in Marks & Spencer and pulled them apart, so each was left holding one leg. Then another associate entered the shop and said, “Are those one-legged trousers? They’re just what I’ve been looking for!”
Jimi Hendrix was one of the world’s most celebrated guitarists and died at the age of 27 by choking on his own vomit while intoxicated with barbiturates. He was a serial womaniser: the late Lemmy from Motorhead, who worked as a roadie for Hendrix, remembered: “Chicks were just drooling all over him. It’s because of the way he moved – like a cat crossed with a spider.”
Zac Foley was the bass player in EMF who died aged 31 from a cocktail of drink and drugs while celebrating the New Year in 2002. “I was pumping myself full of anything,” Foley had previously uttered around the time of the band’s second album, and he is said to have had the unusual talent of being able to put a grapefruit (in some reports a lime) under his foreskin.
These men lived. They didn’t just exist. Which is the exact opposite of what we do nowadays. Those guys had more hedonistic fun in any single one of the months of their adult lives than you will have in the entirety of yours. You’re not Keith Moon, that is true. But surely it is vastly better, on a spectrum, to be a little closer to that sort of existence than stretching life out like a rotten elastic band, as far as you can pull it. Aim for Roger Daltrey?
Okay, we can’t all live like rock stars but, jeez, some of you could try a bit harder to – especially those of you who are rock stars but are too caught up in fretting about your toxic masculinity to ever have any fun. In the immenseness of eternity, what is the difference between a lifespan of 86 years and 37 years? Almost literally nothing. In the mammothness of the time span of the universe, what is the point in eking out a few more months or years of existence for existence’s sake? Live life to the full and be present in the moment.
The 21st century is a censors’ heaven, where restrictions on liberty are not just adhered to but enthusiastically embraced. This is an age where a good way to be successful is to be bland, to not think too much, to not gnaw at the edges of acceptability for fear of being accused of heresy and being cast out of a culture that persecutes risk and hugs conformity. Timorousness has become our watchword. Our self-proclaimed (always self-proclaimed) rebels now are the people who carry signs that demand agreement with whatever the loudest and most privileged voices are already saying. The USA’s puritanical streak – from the Salem witch trials to McCarthyism to political correctness – has infected us all. And your every wrong step could be caught by a phone camera or the snoops who, make no mistake, will dob you in if you diverge from the correct path.
Regarding how best to live your life, I remember a conversation at the dinner table in what must have been the early 1980s, my mother saying not to smoke and drink, with my brother countering what was the point of simply living without fun, until you were one day sat, decayed and enfeebled, in a nursing home in your eighties. Surely best to have enjoyed yourself and not got there at all.
Having visited nursing homes in subsequent years, I agree. I’ve seen old age up close: it’s awful. The body’s functions slacken in every ghastly way you can imagine; the mind softens; dullness becomes the default setting. You take pleasure in pitiful little things; you numb yourself with tots of pharmaceuticals and daytime television while radiators blaze stifling heat. You wet yourself, you never make love, travel is nearly impossible, your best friend at school has dropped dead, you don’t like to look at yourself in the mirror.
In the 21st century, we have gone for quantity over quality. And how.
The doctor who told you you shouldn’t be drinking as much as you are? The type of person currently making the rules.
The bloke who told you off for kicking a football at his wall? The type of person currently making the rules.
The teacher who scolded you for scribbling pictures on your exercise book covers at school? The type of person currently making the rules.
The rules of your life on what you can do today – or, indeed, this Christmas – are dictated by the people you’ve disliked most in your life, the prissy, puritanical, boring, unimaginative eegits who always wanted to stop you doing things. They are taking their revenge for all the sex they didn’t get, for all the nights out they couldn’t enjoy, for all the drugs they wish they’d had the courage to take but didn’t.
Enjoy your timid new 21st century, dolts. If you tolerate our new prissiness, then you deserve it. Me, I sort of wish I’d gone out in a blaze of heroin-fuelled, brandy-laced, rock’n’roll soundtracked, sex-soaked glory at the stroke of midnight, December 31, 1999. Better that than this garbage.
Help support The Reprobate: