Saturday, Feb. 28, 2009

Sid and Nancy

New York City

Sid and Nancy, the punk rock version of Romeo and Juliet, ended badly, to put it mildly, but it recalls an edgier, more visceral version of New York City than the sanitized tourist-friendly town it's become. If you look hard enough, even today, you can still see remnants of the city's dirty days past.

Stay at the W Hotel Union Square and you'll wake up just a few feet from where the infamous nightclub Max's Kansas City once stood, at 213 Park Avenue South. Sid Vicious played his last show at Max's and if you hover by the steam tables (today it's the Green Café deli), you might be able to channel the Sex Pistols bassist's mangled version of Sinatra's "My Way."

Stop by the historic Hotel Chelsea where Nancy Spungen, Sid's girlfriend, was murdered (presumably by Sid, though he died before he could be tried). Ed Hamilton, author of Legends of the Chelsea Hotel says, "Rumor has it that when the elevator stops unbidden on the first floor, opening to an empty hallway, that's Sid's ghost — or Nancy's — getting on."

To complete your punk-rock weekend, visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's recently opened SoHo annex, where a Clash exhibit will run through April. For the $24.50 entry fee, you can also see artifacts from the legendary punk club CBGB, Joe Strummer's typewriter and assorted Ramones memorabilia. You can even buy a guitar signed by all the Sex Pistols. Once you're feeling suitably nostalgic, walk over to the shiny new John Varvatos store at 315 Bowery, the space formerly occupied by CBGB, and dump a 40 on the grave of the late great club.

W Union Square: 201 Park Avenue South; 212-253-9119
Hotel Chelsea: 222 West 23rd Street; 212-243-3700
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex: 76 Mercer Street; 646-786-6680

See 10 things to do in New York City.