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ROCKADOOZY DIY/ïïm Vanish (For Greg "Groundhog" Burns andJoe Strammer) IHAD A SAGEBRUSH 'FRO and Led Zeppelin Ui my eight-track when the Sex Pistols came to town. The KUigfish, Baton Rouge, 1978. A friend had dragged me out, despite my scoffing. PunL·, which Td never seen, and English punks at that. Before the show we stopped at the bar next to the club, where one such punk was cutting up. "That's Johnny Rotten," my friend said, nodding toward a puny, red-haired dude in leopard-print pants. "Kinda scrawny," I said. Rotten cackled and tossed a sandwich at one of his tablemates. Their waitress showed up Ui a flash. "I don't care what kind of pistol you are," she said. "Nobody throws food Ui my restaurant." Rotten laughed madly, then went to preen himself in a Jim Beam mirror. I snorted. We settled up and left to get a good spot for the show. The KUigfish dance pit swam with creatures like nothing Td seen: heavy unisex mascara, safety-pinned faces, studded leather. Onstage several battered amps and a tiny drum kit squatted beneath meager lights. I shook my head and sneered. I'd seen the buffalo, rattlesnakes and ten-gallon hats of ZZ Top's World Wide Texas Tour fill the Sugar Bowl, seen a police riot when Lynrd Skynrd didn't show, seen Aerosmith tear up City Park Stadium twice Ui New Orleans. Seen Zep and their lasers, the Stones and their inflatable penis. What was this lame shit supposed to be? The Pistols ambled onstage like a . . . well, like a bunch of punks, except for Sid Vicious, who staggered on shirtless, I NEED A FIX scrawled Ui black on his bony chest. The crowd greeted them with spit and verbal abuse, idiot homage reaUy, but Rotten leered back with a defiance that no rock 'n' roll crowd could penetrate. The Pistols took a moment to plug in and toss some abuse back, then launched Into their first song. Steve Jones's guitar ripped like a dull meat saw. Paul Cookbattered his kit. Rotten keened unintelligible lyrics, a sound I'd never have called singing. Sid's arms hung at his sides. It almost took my legs from under me—the most awful, beautiful anguish of broken machinery meeting human flesh. An orgasm at the center of a warehouse collapse, a miracle, every bit as powerful as the Southern Baptist preachers who'd been telling me I was going to hell since I was seven. A grin as big as sex spread across myface. I tossed my frizzy hair, banged my palms on my thighs, stared amazed at the meltdown spilling across the stage. The Missouri Review · 23 Rotten leaned out at us, spewing anger and disdain, straightened and stared withjaded disapproval, then turned his back and hunkered down as spit flew. Every rock-star pose, every fast-fingered guitarist's neck diddle, every tight-pants strut Td ever witnessed wasbeingbludgeoned obsolete right before my eyes. The Pistols were ugly and fun and not virtuosic at all—just honest, raw, dangerous and sick with attitude . 7 am an antichrist. I threw my arms skyward. I was saved. But I wasn't sold. Two years earlier, Td made the short geographical journey from industrial north Baton Rouge to college-town south Baton Rouge. The psychological journey was proving much harder. Every step I took away from my blue-collar neighborhood toward the frat-boy-ruled world of LSU seemed a betrayal of my roots. I hung Ui a middle distance between working-class resentment and aUenation from that very same working class, from my high school cohorts who used nigger like punctuation, the macho boys who'd kick your ass for acting too smart. "Fucking Einstein" a dude had called me once, just before he connected with my jaw. Back in the tough industrial world of Red Stick, the Pistols were Uke a memory of an alien visitation. I couldn't fuUy accept a music nobody I knew listened to, couldn't see that the Pistols were the exact expression of working-class cynicism and anger that I felt. I mean, if my bighaired , air-guitar...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 23-34
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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