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2.13.61 on 10.19.18

November 11, 2018 Leave a comment Go to comments

A few months back, a text comes in from Lish, asking if I’m interested in going to see Henry Rollins. She gives me the details and it’s all good: any excuse to get to hang around with her, the date is far enough away that I can get off from work that night, the price is good (I want to say it was $38 but it’s fuzzy in my memory atm), and the notion of seeing Henry do his thing is definitely appealing. I actually wound up putting the request in at work twice, just in case. Got the night off and everything was set.

Back story, before details about the show itself: my Rollins gateway was the Weight album and I feel like he popped up on MTV pretty often around the time that released. I knew of Black Flag but none of the members, and can remember a promo/bumper thing he did on MTV about guns, but “Liar” being featured on a commercial hyping hot videos was my “whoa what is this video with the fire and the red guy” moment. I wish I had a cooler introduction, like getting a copied tape off a kid while we skated in empty pools of vacant houses in the 80s or something, but I was a little kid in the 80s. I was listening to LL Cool J then. Anyway, I bought the Weight album on May 22, 1994 and remember that the little sticker on the outer wrapping actually covered the parental advisory thing on the cover, so buying it was without hassle.

Around this time, my mom was on a religious kick, which would happen from time to time. The video for “Liar” came on and she watched, then sort of scoffed and said that those people are on drugs and must worship the devil. Fast-forward a few months, and I’m watching Talking From the Box, and she happened to sit down to watch some of it with me. When it ended, she asked who this guy was, and I replied that it was the red guy who she’d said was on drugs awhile ago. She was taken aback a little by that, but from then on, it would always be, “hey boy, Henry is going to be on [insert show], I’m gonna tape it for you” and whatnot. Kind of wish she’d been less judgmental of folks based purely on appearance from a far earlier point in her life, but it’s old history now. Another point in old history: the end bit in TFtB about life being awesome and not killing yourself, really pulled me out of some deep points back then. So another +1 for Henry.

Over the years, various books and albums have been purchased and enjoyed, but in recent years I’d fallen out of the loop. However, seeing the man himself in action? Definitely expecting a cool time. That evening, I catch up with Lish and her coworker Paul at her place, and we take the bus up across the bridge. [note: I’m still geographically illiterate around here, so I say things like, “we done crossed the water, we did” and that’s supposed to mean something to anyone who isn’t me] It’s still an adventure to go places here, especially on a bus where it’s easy to lose your sense of direction. We went to a place called Shawarma King and had shawarma sandwiches with lamb. To my very simple brain, it was like a fancy burrito that was pretty tasty. Killed a little time in the Pink Gorilla up the street, and that place is packed full of cool gaming stuff. If I hadn’t worked in a similar place and didn’t *hate it* when people would go, “oh, I’m just here to look” as they took up space in there for hours at a time, I’d love to spend a good chunk of time just looking too. Maybe one day I’ll throw caution to the wind and do it.

Showtime was approaching, so we got in line. There it is on the marquee: Neptune, Henry Rollins. Get inside, and Lish goes to a fair amount of shows, so when she said the seats were good, I didn’t doubt that. But then we get to our seats, and man:hank1(above: super close, incredible)

When I saw Tom Waits, he was but a blip on the horizon, and here Henry is going to be close enough to probably hear even without a microphone. People filed in and eventually the show started. This was a speaking show, and he had photos from his world travels to kind of guide his discussion. The amount of places he’s been is astounding, and I always enjoy people documenting their travels because the stories of how life is different in places that aren’t here, are interesting. For someone like me, who’s always lived in the US and has only been to four states, realizing I was in a room with two people who’d touched all seven continents (Lish and Henry) made me feel like I should really try and get out more, but also admire the fact that they do just that.

hank2(above: you could almost touch him, even)

His stories featured all of these different places and people he’d met in these places, with a focus on asking questions without the usual American arrogance and truly trying to learn more about the how and why of the lives these people lead. It was an interesting trip through his journeys and is how I’d want to conduct myself if I ever do travel. Respectful at least, even if I don’t truly understand the day-to-day as a short-term visitor. At the end of the show, he talked about taking photos all this time and referenced the time he’d auditioned for Black Flag, wishing that he had a photo of that day. A friend of his contacted him and actually had a photo from that day, and that was his final shot of the evening. One of the things I like about Henry is that he never comes across like it was a given that he would be a star and feature in all these projects and tour the world; he recognizes that while there was much hard work along the way on his part, that one lucky break is what started it all, and this has allowed him to become privy to opportunities that other people might not get. It’s kind of an “aw shucks” modesty that maybe he didn’t have in his earlier and more aggressive years, but it’s cool to see and hear in his tone. I went in knowing it would be a good time, and was not disappointed. Witty and quick, interesting topics, and I love hearing stories. It was a great show and if some video version of it came out, I’d pick it up for sure.

Only drawback on the day as a whole wasn’t even to do with the show: I’m not sure if it was “I’m going to a show” nerves or what, but I worked the night before the show and then was unable to get any proper rest beforehand. So by the time the show was starting, I’d been up for somewhere in the neighborhood of 24 hours, and was fighting off the grogginess. Not sure if that made me the best company to have around, as I feel like I was pretty quiet the whole time to and from. I didn’t nod off at any point, so at least that’s a small victory. Anyway, good show and a good night. Many times if I’m asked to go to things, I’ll pass because… I don’t know why, really. But this one is one I’m glad I didn’t pass on. Definitely want to go again, should he return in the future.

Categories: Misc.
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