MEMOIR (Draft)

Never Mind The Movie, Here's The Sex Pistols traces the author’s journey from a kid who was passionate about music but didn’t take it seriously, didn’t think it was the kind of thing you laid out for, to an adult who recognizes its central importance to who he is. It follows the intersecting paths of the author's life, becoming a father who, finally embracing that vital piece of himself, shares it with his son so his son can know him in a way he never knew his own father who died way too young. In short, Never Mind The Movie, Here's The Sex Pistols is a memoir through music—chronicling the struggle to overcome grief, the constraints we place on ourselves and the baggage handed down from fathers to sons. It’s both a tribute to, and an exploration of, fatherhood, rock ‘n roll, and the music that makes us who we are. Think Nick Hornby's "Songbook" meets Cheryl Strayed's "Wild" meets Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run."

Check out the Foreword below


It’s a cold and grey winter day. I’m twelve years old and looking through record bins at Crazy Eddie on Third Avenue in New York City. I’ve ducked into the store to keep warm before meeting some friends at a movie theater a few blocks away. I migrate to the back of the store to get away from the freezing wind that blows in every time the door opens and find myself in front of the S bin. I unzip my overstuffed Michelin Man parka and rifle through the records, most of which are by artists I’ve never heard of: Status Quo, Shalamar, Carly Simon. I make quick work of them, my fingers shuffling through the records with the lightening precision and repetitiveness of an assembly line worker. I pause briefly when I come to Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger; I’d recently seen Rocky III and the soundtrack is all over the radio so I know that one. But it doesn’t hold my interest long. Even at twelve, I can sense there’s something not so cool about Survivor.


I keep flipping through records until my index finger comes to rest on the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols. What does twelve-year-old me know about the Sex Pistols? Not much, other than they seem . . . well, menacing: they wear studded black leather jackets, have crazy hair dyed in odd colors and curse indiscriminately. As a rich, straight-laced kid from the Upper East Side of Manhattan, those are three things we don’t have in common. I’m vaguely aware the Sex Pistols play “punk” music, whatever that means. I am, though, flat-out curious about them in part because of their name. Does it really refer to male genitalia? If so, that is, well, pretty damn cool. Seems like that probably breaks some kind of rule and although I’m a strict rule follower, I like the idea of breaking rules, particularly if somebody else is doing it. And what kind of word is “bollocks”? Seems like it might belong to the profanity family which also would be pretty cool.


I take the album out of the bin and study its salmon-colored cover and block letter graphics. “Sex Pistols” is emblazoned across the bottom half of the cover in letters of all different sizes, a mix of capitals and lower-case. The text looks strangely familiar but I can’t quite place it. Wait, is it imitating a ransom note? Wow, cool.


As I inspect the album art, a store clerk comes up behind me and makes a statement that I’ll still hear softly buzzing in my ears, like tinnitus, for decades to come. “That album will change your life,” he says.  


My initial thought when I hear his pronouncement, made with the authority of Moses imparting the Ten Commandments, is, Huh? What’s that supposed to mean? Will the record seduce me into trading my overstuffed Michelin Man parka for a studded black leather jacket? Will it lure me into dyeing my hair orange? Will it incite me to tell my parents to fuck off when they ask how school is? If so, would any of that be a good thing?

But I’m also intrigued by this hipster dude’s pronouncement. Maybe he knows something about my life I don’t. Does he see some potential in me I don’t yet see in myself? A hint of coolness lurking furtively underneath that lame parka? What would be the harm in buying the record, you know, just to see if something revolutionary happens?


I dig around in my pockets to take a quick inventory of my assets. Shoot, not enough for both the movie and the album. Not wanting to stand up my friends, and figuring I can come back and buy the record some other time, I meekly explain to the clerk I’m on my way to a movie and don’t have enough for both.

“You’ll never remember the name of that movie,” he proclaims like some wayward oracle of old who through a disruption in the time-space continuum has taken up residence in the Crazy Eddie.

He turns away, leaving me to confront my newly-ordained status as a musical poser, a rich private school kid who just doesn’t get it.

Damn it if that hipster clerk hadn’t pegged me exactly right. Even then, I wasn’t willing to sacrifice for music—didn’t rate it as the kind of thing you laid out for. It was a diversion, a hobby. Not foundational, not bedrock. Of course, I was wrong about all that. Music is a life-force. It’s freedom. It’s magic. It changes lives.


But only if you allow it to.   


Unnerved by my run-in with the clerk, I put the album back in the bin, zip up my overstuffed parka, and leave the store to meet my friends at the movie, the name of which I can no longer remember.

© 2021 by Matt Fogelson

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