On 13 October 2012, Lenny Bruce, had he not accidentally overdosed on narcotics (or committed suicide – the jury is still out on that one), would be eighty-seven years old. It is, of course, a thoroughly incredible notion – like an octogenarian Mozart, a super annuated Janis Joplin, or James Dean signing up for a senior citizen pension. Poètes maudits, doomed rock icons, and self-destructive superstars are supposed to die young. Their myth demands it, and we wouldn't have it any other way.
Bruce at forty-one, perched on a toilet bowl with a spike in his right arm and his last typed words (‘conspiracy to interfere with the Fourth Amendment const—’) in the barrel of his still humming electric typewriter, died characteristically. He was always associated with toilet humour and throughout the last decade of his life ex hausted himself trying to demonstrate that the United States Constitution protected the free speech for which one court after another mercilessly prosecuted him. (The Fourth Amendment, incidentally, protects citizens from ‘unreasonable searches and seizures’ and, along with the state's First Amendment violations, was as much responsible for his downfall as the cocaine and morphine.)