Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs - John Lydon, John Lyndon, Keith Zimmerman, Kent Zimmerman

“Any kind of history you read is basically the winning side telling you the others were bad.”

 

If that doesn't perfectly describe this book, I don't know what does. 

 

I am of two frames of mind thinking about this book.  One is that I found John Lydon's stance on the entire punk scene to be outstanding, and one that I agree with also, so I'm biased.  When the punk scene started it was something completely different than what it evolved into and a lot of punks now don't seem to realize that.  The fact that it is a scene now is the greatest indicator of that.  Punk's origin wasn't about looking and thinking the same to fit in with a group. I respect Lydon for recognizing that and harping on it so much throughout the book. 

 

What wasn't interesting was how repetitive and bitter he still was about the Pistols.  I won't fault Lydon for his bitterness, I'd be bitter as hell too, but 200 pages of incessant whining about it is more than my patience can take.  The book starts to lose it's emphasis on the contribution of the Pistols and turns into a giant manifesto on why Malcolm McLaren is the worst person on the planet.  But hey, he doesn't harbor any feelings of hatred toward him. Ha.  I guess you should expect no less from Johnny Rotten though. 

 

Despite the overabundance of bitterness, I still enjoyed this read.  It's written like John Lydon talks: brash, nihilistic, narcisstic and incredibly entertaining.  It talks about the British punk scene like no other artist would be able to do in the same way.  I may not agree with a lot of Lydon's "truths", but you can't deny that he was a major player in the punk world.  This book is worth a read just for that aspect alone.