Tuesday, April 08, 2014

TWENTY YEARS AGO TODAY

I remember being at work when The Associated Press sent an urgent message: a body found in the home of Kurt Cobain. It had only been a month since Cobain was found unconscious from an overdose of champagne and Rohypnol. There was not a doubt where this story was going. Wingo and I tore down and updated the front page of the features section we ran and went to my house, sat on the big purple leather couch and started watching MTV, where Kurt Loder was anchoring what would become days of coverage.

I've thought a lot about that day as we drew closer to April 8, the 20th anniversary of the day Cobain's body was found, a lethal dose of heroin in his bloodstream, a shotgun wound to his head. He would be 47 now, a man in middle age. Maybe still a musician, definitely still an addict. It never goes away.

The cops found his stash box next to his body. It's got that same, shitty look of every stash box I've ever seen. No matter how compelling the habit and the fetish, it's still a nasty thing — little wads of used cotton, flecks of char from the spoon, the obligatory 1 cc, 28-gauge short-tip syringes. The drug has its dusky allure but there is nothing romantic about being a heroin addict. It's lonely. Fucking lonely. The spike doesn't like company; it demands all of your attention, and once you become friends with it there is no room for fellow travelers. They're cutting in and dancing with your girl. She may be an all-consuming whore but she belongs to you, and you to her.

In the 20 years since Cobain ate his gun I've thought about his exit and the wisdom of the check-out. I've run from the J-word, only to realize and embrace what it is, what I am. It's been months since I flirted with that sweet, nasty girl but every day I miss her, every day I muse about what it would be like to hold out my hand and take one more turn on the dance floor. And then I realize I already know the answer.

We will dance again, she and I, but it will be the last thing I do. I hope that day is far in the future, when I am old. The dance will be slow and sweet, and I can sigh eternally. Until then: no dancing. I might trip.

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