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am 26. Oktober 2006
"Enjoy or die" stellt uns John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) am Anfang seiner Autobiografie zur Wahl. Wer sich entschließt es zu wagen, der wird sicher auch seinen Spaß an dem Buch finden. Ich jedenfalls habe das Buch gerne gelesen. Was ich gehört habe, plant John ein weiteres Buch, um die PiL Jahre ebenfalls abzudecken. Schon jetzt bin ich darauf gespannt.

Doch zurück zu diesem Buch hier. Es beschreibt interessant das Leben in der Arbeiterklasse in England zur Punk-Zeit. Und nicht nur John kommt hier zu Wort mit seiner ehrlichen, manchmal witzig-ironischen Art und manchmal bissig. Er lässt auch andere Leute aus der Zeit sprechen, Freunde, Bekannte und seinen Vater. Mancheiner mag bedauern, dass recht wenig über Sid (und Nancy) zu lesen ist, allerdings ist dieses Buch auch nicht über die beiden, sondern von und über John. Interessant außerdem Auszüge von Aussagen verschiedenster Leute von der Gerichtsverhandlung gegen den Manager Malcolm McLaren. Danach mehr denn je verstand ich, warum John einen derartigen Hass auf ihn hat. Die Verhandlung scheint mir ein einziger (schlechter) Witz. Wo McLaren selbst sich als fähig und guter Manager beschreibt, sagen andere wiederum über die Zeit der Amerika Tour aus, dass McLaren nicht zu finden, nicht anwesend zu kritischen Zeiten war und Vermutungen, er hätte regelrechte Angst vor den Pistols gehabt, scheinen mir durchaus glaubwürdig.

Mir hat gefallen, dass John eine einfache Sprache benutzt, wodurch auch Deutsche mit guten Englischkenntnissen durchaus in der Lage sind das Original zu lesen (wie ich es tat). Wer mehr über die Arbeiterklasse der Punk-Zeit in Britain, die Entwicklung von Punk und der Musikszene in der Zeit und insbesondere über die Pistols erfahren will, der sollte dieses Buch hier lesen. Denn wer sonst, außer John könnte es besser erzählen? Punk und Arbeiterklasse heißt schon lange nicht mehr dumm, faul und nichts wissend.
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am 4. Mai 2000
At long last, John Lydon (aka, Johnny Rotten) has opened up, nearly twenty years later. The Sex Pistols remain one of my favorite bands, and Johnny Rotten one of the more interesting media figures in the pop culture, so I devoured this book. It combines first-person accounts of all sorts of punk notables and wannabes, and the observations of Lydon himself, co-written by Keith and Kent Zimmerman. I'll admit a bias up front - so much of the history of punk has been obfuscated, I value anything that comes along. I was eight at the time the Sex Pistols did their thing, and I remember being scared when I heard the names "Johnny Rotten" and "Sid Vicious" - I didn't know who they were, but they seemed scary names (and remember, this was before MTV), and the radios weren't playing them - they were phantoms and boogeymen, and all the adults seemed scared of them. I remember when I was a teenager, finally buying their album, and thinking, "What's the big deal? This music rocks!"
I'm glad to see some light shed on this period by one of the people at the center of the media storm. Lydon fills the book with tart observations - he retains his spite and anger and seems as volatile as ever. At the same time, I feel like he's pulling one over on the rest of us. Some of his recollections seem contradictory - perhaps very real to him, but everybody knows that one's perception of things changes over time. There's a subjective quality to this account that makes me long for corroboration. Some of the first-person commentary does back up Rotten's assertions, but I get the feeling there's impression management occurring (check out Goffman's "Impression Management" and you'll know what I'm talking about). Sort of retroactive damage control on Lydon's part.
My only complaints about the book are minor - I wanted more pictures, and I'd hoped for more commentary. I was really wondering what he was thinking in some of those shots, and the cryptic comments make them all the more enigmatic. Again, probably the way he likes it. My other gripe is the book seems to raise more questions than it answers - I wanted more!
The fact that he went to bat in court for the band (which is detailed at the end of the book), and didn't cut Jones and Cook out of it, even when they repeatedly sided with McClaren, is a character-revealing moment. They'd consistently shafted him, and Rotten could have easily blown them off and pursued the case for his exclusive benefit. But he kept them in, eventually winning them over once they realized where their interest was. Contrasted with McClaren's machinations, this righteous persistence on Rotten's part is inspiring. On page 283, he says:
"'Nice' is the worst insult you could ever pay anybody. It means you are utterly without threat, without values. Nice is a cup of tea."
That's part of what I love about John Rotten - he's a nutcase, wit, cynic, revolutionary, and clown, and you're never sure whom you're dealing with; he's a chimera, and he's certainly not "nice". All you can be certain of is that he's laughing at all of us. In this age of immaculately-packaged music superstars, Rotten's aura remains refreshing and subversive - downright threatening. It is simply hard to safety pin him down, and I think that's the way he likes it.
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am 16. Oktober 1998
Unfortunately, with all of the hype concerning the infamous Sex Pistols, their rapid rise and just as rapid decline and break-up, people have a tendency to forgot about the people involved in the band. Although Johnny Rotten is probably the most well-known member of the Pistols (I say probably because Sid Vicious is, quite possibly, more well-known), he is often seen as little more than a "punk rock" icon. In this book, he sets it straight, as he sees it. It is an incredibly good read, and Lydon (his real last name) is brutally honest about his home life, his childhood, his inclusion into the Pistols and the breakup and demise of the Pistols. The book is, at times, depressing, touching and upsetting, but it is always entertaining and, surprisingly, incredibly funny. Lydon is a very witty guy, and he holds nothing back in this autobio. Definately recommend for anyone interested in the man, the Pistols or punk in general.
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am 30. April 1998
I read this book cover-to-cover without reading anything else during that brief time, and this was during a final exam period in law school. I was 12 years old and living in London when I first saw the Pistols on Top of the Pops, and the image made deep and profound impression on me and my brother. The book cleared up a lot of misconceptions I had about the band and particularly about Lydon and McLaren. It made Lydon more 3-dimensional character in my mind and made me realize what an interesting study he is, not just as a rock icon, but as a person. It also made me realize that "The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle" movie was little more than an exercise in low-budget self-aggrandizement by Malcolm McLaren. Apparently, Lydon is in possession of no less than 250 hours of film footage of the Pistols to which he won legal rights. I desperately hope he puts his talents to work in producing something from this archive in the not too distant future. The book left me with the desire to meet the man some day and have a talk over a pint (I'll buy, and I won't feel cheated). The book feels brutally honest, and is consequently painful to read at times, but I would urge anyone who feels permanently affected by the Pistols era to read it. It makes you realize how, had the creativity and imagination of the sheep-like public not been so limited, a movement sparked by a piece of rare art and originality might not have been snuffed out before it had a chance to catch fire.
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am 5. April 1999
This memoir is much better than I would have expected from the former Sex Pistol. I had been reading his interviews and listening to his music since the late seventies, and he was never one for accurate introspection.
I loved the music and the interviews, and I enjoyed this story immensely. Most of it really is a story, though, and while I'm ready to accept that Lydon honestly believes he is remembering things accurately, long-time fans will notice otherwise. For instance, his supposed inspiration for the 'Johnny Rotten' character--a blend of Richard III and Pinky from "Brighton Rock"--seems taken straight from the (very literary) pop weeklies of the time.
There are other distortions and evasions. The most galling flaw, however, is his constant tendency to conradict himself. Make up your mind, Johnny; is rudeness a refreshingly spiky assault on British blandness (when practiced by you) or an unforgiveable outrage (when practiced by others)? Were you disconsolate at Punk's failure to unite all social classes, or do you truly feel your oft-expressed contempt for every class but your own? The inconsistencies go on and on....
Overall I liked this book, I think the prose truly captured Lydon's character, and the anecdotes he tells are illuminating. But some real insight into his own motivations, and a little more candor and less repackaging would have made it a classic.
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am 6. August 1998
"There was an article not long ago in the paper where they wrote about Johnny - that he was one in a million who changed the world. By God, I think he did. My Johnny changed the world." So says John Lydon's father. And so he did. Finally, we get to know the real truth about a most fascinating era in our recent history. We get this straight from the man who single-handedly invented the punk culture and single-handedly ended it. His chronicle is extremely comprehensive and at times heartrending. For example, it is impossible not to be moved when you hear how he stayed next to his mother's deathbed for ten weeks never leaving the hospital. The anecdotes are very intriguing, and, as always, Mr. Lydon tells things how they really are no matter whom it might offend. To me, he is the greatest philosopher of our era and perhaps the most positive influential figure of our generation.
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am 24. April 2000
I found this to be highly entertaining and well worth checking out. It's less an autobiography than just Lydon writing about his take on things throughout his life. Lydon himself is very funny and I found myself enthralled by his writing, which is more of a stream-of-conscience technique. All of the stuff on the whole Sid and Nancy fiasco is especially fascinating. I see some reviewers complaining about his errors or how this isn't very well done for an autobiography. This isn't the be-all, end-all of books on the punk scene, nor is it meant to be. And as an autobiography, it's kind of a hodge-podge. But, one shouldn't take it as a straight story and just read it. The only real complaint I have of this book is that he devotes too many chapters for other people's scribblings. If he would have just kept it down to his writing only, it would have been much more captivating.
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am 10. April 2000
Having just finished it, I have no idea what happened when. One minute Sid's dead, then he's alive, then he's dead, then he's alive etc... it all gets rather confusing. Biographies / auto biographies should have some kind of order. This book was assembled in a rather hap-hazardous way. Quotes from different people just stuck in anywhere for the sake of it. There's also a lot of childish pettiness. And why so much pommy-bashing? Being British working class is what helped make the Pistols so cool. This new film that's just been released about the Pistols sounds like a better 'document' on the band. Ok i'll admit I didn't quite make it to the end, but it's not a bad read...
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am 14. April 1999
John Lydon's book read like the confessions of an overbearing child. I thought the book would give some insight into early English punk, but all Lydon did was babble on about his obviously diluted version of "the way things were". He never made mention of the massive underground punk movement that was developing at the same time his band achieved commercial success. There are no mentions of bands like Discharge or Crass or any of the cultural/political/radical movements that sprang up with them. The goal of the book was not necessarily to critique the punk movement of the 70's, or give an accurate account of it, but that's what John lydon seemingly attempted to do, throughout the whole book. I was a teenager in London in the late 1970's and I was "involved" in the punk scene for several years. I never saw the Sex Pistols and it always seemed that they made more of an impression with students and middle class kids and the mainstream media during that era. Back then, London's punks were listening to Oi! music, going to Sham 69 concerts and trying to avoid Skinheads from London's East end. If you're REALLY that interested in Johnny Lydon and what he has to say, this book is for you. If you're looking for a well-rounded account of the Sex Pistols and the embryonic days of punk, look elsewhere.
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am 1. März 2000
This was more interesting than I thought it would be. There is a bit of cruelty on Johnny's part that was hard to stomach, but what can you expect from a punk rocker (heck, he probably didn't do any worse than John Lennon ever did), but he generally comes across as a reasonable and very intelligent bloke. It flushed out some of the info about the Sex Pisols for me. Perhaps I'm the audience it's best for. I don't know much about the Pistols (though I love their music), and from this I learned about them. The negative reviews below seem largely by those who know a lot about the Pistols already, up to every obsessive detail, and wanted to know stuff besides them. But I wanted to know about them, and about Johnny, and I got what I wanted.
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