Sid, Nancy, and Me

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.”

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3 thoughts on “Sid, Nancy, and Me

  1. Pingback: Sid, Nancy, and Me | eltiger11

  2. I have a similar tale miles accross the midwest. I grew up in port clinton ohio. My first memory of the sex pistols was when I was 7 watching a 1977 year in review you know the kind that comes out in the end of december. They had a segment on “punk rock” and a bit on the sex pistols. I remember thinking it was dirty because it had “sex” in it lol.
    My brother and sister were 9 and 10 years older than me so I grew up listening to a lot of clasic rock which I loved (and still do). But around 12 and 13 I wanted a little more. Fm 104 from toledo was just cool, adventuous, and near canada enough to play some new wave hits. Nothing underground but off the beaten path. I quickly taped those songs on to one tape and my individual music tastes were born.
    I like you received a lot of shit, my stoner/metalheads sounded like yours. Ill never forget walking down the hallway with my home made INXS shirt and being called faggot and what the hell is “inks” (INXS at that point had not had the commercial success they would achieve in later years).
    When I was around 15 a tape called “let them eat jellybeans” made the rounds with some guys in my Dungeons and dragons crew. It was a compilation put out by Jello Biafra of his favorite bands (bad brains, flipper, black flag) that was it for me I tried to be the “punk rock guy” at 17 ten years after its release I finally obtained a “never mind the bollocks” I loved it. Especially the song “bodies” with all the f bombs and abortion talk. Driving around blasting that made me feel like I was fu ing the establishment for sure. My love afair with them was brief however. I too watched sid and nancy and remember digging the great rock and roll swindle quite a bit.
    But my punk stage rather quickly turned to a more goth vibe and I all but abandoned punk. I even remember getting into an argument with a young british college professor because I thought the sex pistols were “crap” and really a scam every young rebal has to go through, then I found out my college girlfriend dated a sid vicious wannabee and I hated the sex pistols especially sid. Ah youth.
    But now as an adult and father, who has a huge nostalgia streak and loves to remenice, I really think fondly of them. They were a big part of my “summer of 87” which I consider to be quite pssibly the highlight of my youth and sometimes of my life. Without them I would probably be a little less smart assy and rebelious today…..
    And hey, I ended up being a bass player.

    Shawn Podgurski

    • Thats awsome, you are a musician, so you definately lived it. I hated the rock and roll swindle. I didnt get it. haaa haaa I thought that was to much about Malcom, and not really that good of a documentary. There was a place in Evanston called the Video Beat, and they had just music videos, They would let me rent videos if I left collateral like a boom box. It was really cool, I did get a chance to see some cool shit. Punk was probalbly 87 to 88 for me. But it was pretty crazy a shit ton of drinking, fighing, and fucking. I don’t miss the fighting. haa haa The sex pistols could have never lived up to the hype sorrounding them that for sure. The clash blew me away for thier talent, I still say the clash, the clash has to be one of the best debut albums of all time for me. I would listen to the song and wonder how the fuck they could of wrote such perfect songs….anyways cheers.

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