Sid Vicious died thirty years ago today. I barely paid attention to news of his death because my appreciation for both punk rock and nihilistic stupidity was still in an embryonic state. It wasn’t until a couple of years later when I was in college that I started to idolize the sorry bastard.
Looking back, he was a pretty unworthy object of admiration. Sid was and incoherent junkie who was musically talentless and had appalling taste in women. Perhaps it was because he had brand-name appeal and I was too young and stupid to realize that a crucial element to rebellion is the ability to think for oneself.
What impressed me most was his level of self destruction. Sid may not have been able to define the word “dissipation” but he lived the concept with every fiber of his being. He managed to cross over to the great beyond before reaching his 22nd birthday and in the process of doing so, held the door open for Nancy Spungen and said, “After you.”
I had heard or read the phrase “Sid died for your sins” somewhere and took it to heart, though not in the way I should have. I took drugs. I cut myself. I bought a bass guitar that I never bothered to learn how to play. I was missing the point entirely.
You don’t become a Christian by hopping up on the cross yourself. There’s no need. Someone already took one for the team. In this sense, Sid was very much like Jesus.
I eventually got wise to this notion though more by default than anything else. As a frat boy a San Diego State, heroin was not readily available. Cocaine in lethal quantity was far beyond my budget. Forced to get by on beer, pot, and low-grade speed, I had no exit strategy.
So unlike Sid Vicious, I have survived long enough to know better. Drugs have lost their charm and I have finally figured out that even life seems unbearable, it will improve if you are willing to stick around for another day.
There is one thing I still have in common with Sid though. I never did learn how to play that damn bass.