Ah, memories . . .
You would never guess it to see me now -- nor, for that matter, to have seen me then -- but on January 14, 1978, I attended what proved to be the Final Performance of the Sex Pistols at Bill Graham's Winterland Arena in San Francisco. I can attest from personal observation that Sid Vicious indeed could not play bass, that guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook actually displayed more than a modicum of skill, and that nothing can quite compare with the unholy charisma of Johnny Rotten.
It is generally agreed that the performance that night was not very good, but that was hardly the point at the time. It was a rainy night and the audience at the front of the stage took to tossing umbrellas and other objects at the band. It is hard to say whether this was a reaction to the performance itself, or simply a sign that we Americans hadn't quite figured out this "punk" thing yet. Rotten goaded the audience between songs with the instruction to "Throw more presents!" The audience obliged.
At the end of the show -- while he gathered up umbrellas to take with him -- Rotten famously sneered, "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" The band left the stage and broke up on the flight to New York the next day. Sid Vicious, tossed from the band, spiraled downward to his death, taking girlfriend Nancy Spungen with him. And so on.
This reminiscence inspired by links found at BRIAN's Culture Blog to Alice Bachini's A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside blog. (Alice seems to be engaged in homeschooling, too, to her credit.) The relevant punk posts are here and again here. Alice and her thoughts on all this are indeed clever.