After tearing through St. Vitus on Tuesday, John Lydon settled into one of the Strand’s big leather chairs to rap about his new memoir, Anger Is an Energy, with Buzzfeed Books editor Isaac Fitzgerald. First things first, he announced that Public Image Ltd. is putting out a new album titled What the World Needs Now… and will tour in October and November. Then he explained the chef’s outfit he was wearing: “We were on our way to an interview and I seen the store that said ‘Uniforms Going Cheap’ — not kidding: $30.”
Lydon knows his way around New York. He lived here in the early 80s, though he said he “got fucking bored” because the punk scene was “really quite pretentious. And to realize just how old all the musicians were here compared to me, it felt like a geriatrics ball.” Then he took a swipe at the pet poet of Patti Smith and Richard Hell: “And I’ve got no agist thing in me, the problem was that they were all espousing Rimbaud poetry and being awfully smartass about it. And that really pissed me off because there’s a hell of a lot better in poetry than that. You know. I mean, I’d come from Shakespeare to that dodgy fuck. It was unacceptable, so I loaded up the truck and I moved to Beverly…”
That’s right — Lydon was on the “moving to LA” tip way before everyone’s favorite trend piece. But that shouldn’t surprise anyone: “Anything I get involved with, one way or another, ends up being copied,” he not-so-humblebragged.
Not that he was sold on California at first — “until I thought, well, that’s most ridiculous place for me to be,” he said. “I love California, it’s open-minded, there’s not much hate for me there. There’s a few people I hate there — in the nicest possible way, as Bette Midler would say.” As for what keeps him there, it ain’t the Zambian coffee: “the beach, the beach, the beach, the ocean, the ocean, the ocean — that is the absolutely soul-cleansing part of it.”
And so, despite nipping from a whiskey bottle throughout Thursday’s appearance, Lydon lives a fairly domesticated life, complete with a boat, a Volvo (“but a souped-up Volvo,” he specified) and a happy marriage: “Is there anything wrong with living with the same person 35 years?” he asked the aww-ing audience. “Yes: it’s not 75 years.” The only thing that could make life easier, he said, is “a bed/couch ensemble with a toilet in the middle so I never have to move ever again,” or perhaps a pair of “incontinent pants” — “if [there’s] anyway I could get the message out to Issey Miyake, please make Johnny a pair of incontientn pants. And you know I’ll make them fashionable. Wouldn’t you like to see that — adults walking around the Lower East Side in nappies?”
He really does know what the world needs now.