I remember the first time I heard the name Sid vicious I thought it had to be the coolest name in the world. I remember being 9 or 10 and there being a buzz on t.v. about this thing called “punk rock”. It wasn’t a discussion about fashion or music really, it was about a threat coming to the United States. I remember there had been talk about them walking through the airport throwing up on people. It was crazy, but exciting. It was dangerous. I didn’t know the at the time, and I certainly hadn’t heard them. But I kind of filed that in my kid mind as something that was wild and dangerous. I also remember when Sid died. I remember because that name stuck in my head…
A few years later I was probably being about 15, and I had been exiled to live with my sister in Hoffman Estates because I had gotten arrested and was on probation. The geographic solution, didn’t really solve my behavior issues, just kept me from doing time in kiddie jail though. Anyways, there I was pretty shell-shocked, living in a really strange world were kids had a smoking area in highschool. Where the stoners were these freaks who wore bell bottoms jeans and jean vests and black leather jackets. These kids were the stoner kids but I had to laugh at their style, like what the fuck it was the eighties not the 70s in east Germany. Anyways I didn’t fit in any where, kind of with the tough city kid crew, but I didn’t fit in with them really, I wasn’t into their style or music. So I was a loner for sure, I talked to some people, but I mostly kept to myself. At that point I was also really scared to get kicked out of school or get busted for some shit.
So my sister gave me a pin, it was a black and white pin with a white Sid head on it with his birthday and death on it and said Sid did it his way. I thought that was cool at the time I was 65% sure it was for Sid vicious. I wore it as a badge. Nobody of the kids I knew at school had a clue who Sid was. I at that point didn’t really have a clue who he was. I don’t even think I heard the Sex Pistols at that point. It gave me a little bit of identity when I didn’t feel I had any. I stayed at that school long enough to pick a fight with an All State Wrestler who gave me the what for and to than got me kicked out of school. I was sent back to city.
I remember reading later in the reader that they had performed a production of Sid and Nancy as a play. When I saw that those old curiosity juices started flowing the same dangerous feelings returned. I remember reading the review and it was in part about the controversy around Nancy’s killing. I remember the image in the Reader was a white guy with black spiky hair standing over some blond chick in a bed. I definitely remember thinking if I could see any play, not that at 15 did I ever want to see a play, but if could see that play that would be great.
Than in 86 Alex Cox released his classic “Sid And Nancy.” When that came out I was blown away. At that point I owned a copy of “Never Mind the Bollocks”, I can’t remember if it was tape or an Album. But between the movie and the record I was hooked. I at that point was still a loner. But I want to say I was in highschool, at that point I had been forced to attend Gordon Tech which was at that time one of those Catholic Testosterone temples of an all boys high schools that did its best to repress whatever feeling you had, good bad or indifferent. I knew that rah-rah enviroment was for the birds, I knew that even though I was a loner that school was crap. I remember walking around in black trench coat and combat boots. I remember that they outlawed the wearing of combat boots at my school because of me. I was quite the parody, me all in black with my Sid pin on my trench coat. I guess I would have been sort of emo. haa haaa thank god they didn’t have that in the 80’s. I remember when D.O.A. the movie played at the Music Box. That was an event for me. I got good and stoned and went to watch it. That movie is a great record of the short career of the Sex Pistols but the really cool effect was that it had sub-titles because without them they thought nobody would be able to understand the lyrics. Which is funny, considering the progression of Punk to Hard Core. But the cool thing about the subtitles is that they were in bright colors. Almost like chalk as I remember. It also was quite a document of the real Sex Pistols, my first real exposure to the real people and the circus of a tour they had.
I moped a lot in those days. I spent a lot of time alone. The Sex-Pistols when they sang No Future, I heard it. I definitely felt I had no future. But the album Never Mind The Bullocks , was musically a really strong rock album. It was melodic at times and abrasive. Its message was political in an anarchist sense. As a teenage boy who was pretty confused and angry it was like Mozart. It was an album that even though it was made in the U.K. I felt it was for it was about my life. At that time I was pretty depressed most of the time, some of the time suicidal. It gave me a little power. A little strength. Even though it was more than a decade old, I felt it was fresh as hell.
Later as I joined the local Punk Rock scene, I became exposed to more complex and better Punk. I was able to identify Punk that approached the music with more advanced thoughts, that didn’t surrender intelligence in its message. For the years I was active in the Punk Scene it was always a struggle between the Nihilist Punk and the more intellectual punk. A biggest example of that for me at time prior to joining the “scene” was the struggle between The Sex Pistols and The Clash. For me it was a pitched battle, that the Pistols eventually was pummeled to the floor in. The Clash won on many fronts. And the Clash was replaced by other bands and my musical taste evolved.
I now with time can look back and reflect on the real life of Sid and Nancy. I can see them for the people who were suffering from mental illness and substance abuse that they were. I see them in people I work with everyday as a social worker, minus the musical talent. Sid was a junkie, who couldn’t get clean as was Nancy. Sid was a scrawny kid, whose name “Sid Viscous” became a source of almost self parody for him towards the end of his life. But the Idea he was just a punk. Who never had a chance to get clean and see life in a different way, to see it as something that can be beautiful, is sad. He like many people I grew up and who saw their lives flushed down the toilet of nihilist self-destruction. Its sad. But even in the fact they didn’t make it and in my case I did is a source of strength for me. Like the line from that old Social D song “It coulda been me.”