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Happy 60th Birthday Henry Rollins!


We Love You 3000

Holy crap 3000 posts. I just had to get in here and say quick, what year is it? We started this blog in October, 2006. You know the story already. But 3000 posts that’s a lot. I mean logically it had to happen eventually because math, and so here we are.

Thank you all for Reading over the years, and for putting up with my recent (almost) disappearance, and for being excellent friends and a stand-up community and excellent writers all.

And because the universe is random, here is Henry Rollins with Cyndi Lauper from November 2019, covering Black Flag’s mighty Rise Above. Because we love you 3000.




Concerned about current events? Remember:

Henry Rollins Presents… Rise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs To Benefit The West Memphis Three 5 Track Promo/Interview Disc

After a break, and a few posts in between (thanks for waiting and for Reading!), here we finally have my last score from the Toasty Taranna trip, and it’s a doozy! 

Next up after this will be my finds from my trip to Taranna after my trip with Mike, but I don’t think I’m gonna keep track and number everything, as I’m sure the only one keeping track is me and it surely doesn’t matter or affect anything anyway. I’ll just say ‘hey I got this in Taranna’ and we can all get on with our lives. Cool? Cool.

Toasty Taranna #28: Sonic Boom #12: Henry Rollins Presents… Rise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs To Benefit The West Memphis Three 5 Track Promo/Interview Disc

ROLLINS! Yes, if I ever see anything Rollins that I do not already own, I snap it up. Still a big fan, after all these years.

Now, I own the official Rise Above disc, and have already covered it at some point in these pages. But this promo disc is interesting. The track titles oughta give you an idea of what’s here:

I already own the album tracks, but the talking sections are great because Rollins talking is always interesting and energizing, and it’s cool to hear the man himself talk about how this whole project came about.

Hit It Or Quit It? ROLLINS!

Rollins Interview Kit

This is another cool disc I picked up on our recent anniversary trip. I own a lot of Rollins, so it’s both rare and very exciting for me to find something I don’t already have.

This is a promo disc from Imago, containing three different sections.

Part 1 is Rollins’ answers to 17 interview questions (the questions are helpfully listed in the liner notes). It’s an interesting listen, recorded around the time of the release of Rollins Band’s monster album Weight. He covers stories of the recording, the new (at the time) bassist, the filming of Johnny Mnemonic, and whether Rollins considers himself a feminist.

Part 2 is six tracks of Rollins reading from his tour journals, selections between April 22 and June 12, 1994. You may not, but I find this sort of thing fascinating.

Part 3 is Rollins reading excerpts from the (then) soon-to-be-released (and completely amazing) Get in The Van. I have said many times that I absolutely love that book – punk music (and music in general) is really, really lucky to have that document. I have the book and the CD, and I highly recommend to it to anyone even remotely interested in that period of time in American punk music.

I’m thrilled to add this to my Rollins collection. Right on.

Henry Rollins – Corona Theater, Montreal 2012-06-15

Talk about making Aaron happy. We were in Montreal for a holiday, and my lovely wife scored us tickets, as a Father’s Day gift from the kids, to see Rollins! All of my favourite things! Even better, it’d been since 2005 (in Toronto) since we’d seen Henry do his spoken word gig, so we were long overdue.

AND he’d been in Kitchener on the Monday night, which isn’t too far from here, but for some reason I’d had it in my head that I had to work that day and it’s far enough that I would have missed the show. If I’d been thinking, I’d have realized I was on holidays that day and could easily have gone down there, met my buddy Mike, and gone to the show. Sigh. So, getting this chance to see him a few days later was even more awesome!

We took the metro down to Lionel-Groulx, and realized we were very early. So, we walked through the Atwater Market and back up through the apartment complexes beside it. We hit Rue Notre-Dame and headed for the theater, still very early but with not much else to do. Doors were for 7pm, show at 8pm. General admission seating. We got to the venue around 6:40 and there was already a line to get in! So of course we got in line. They opened the doors well before 7pm and in we went. We scored front row seats! I counted, we were 6 seats off-center, to Henry’s left. So cool. Now we just had over an hour to wait. And I do GREAT with sitting still that long with not much to do! You can only imagine, right? Right!

As the place filled up behind us, we checked out the Corona Theater. It’s very pretty, all old and classy-looking. Looks like what you’d imagine an old vaudeville theater would be. With those two minutes killed, we talked about a range of stuff, I checked out Henry’s stage set-up (very minimal), and the guy next to us updated his Facebook status on his cell phone to say he, too, was front row at the show. It was kind of hard, in the darkened room, to not have your eyes drawn to his bright screen. There was music playing through the sound system, which got gradually louder as the hour drew nigh so as to acclimatize our ears to show volume levels. The songs seemed to have been chosen by Henry. Old blues, sludge metal, jazz, the Buzzcocks… wide-ranging and eclectic, all of it. Cool beans.

At some point my lovely wife went off to the loo, and upon her return said there were shirts and stuff for sale back at the bar. My turn to go check things out! The t-shirts were cool, but not $25 cool. Just a grey shirt with his sun tattoo logo on the back with SEARCH AND DESTROY CANADA on it. Woo. But I did snag a copy of the DVD, which isn’t available on his website yet, so far it’s tour-only. It’s called 50, and is a recording of his shows on or around his 50th birthday. Ought to be fun to watch.

So finally Henry came onstage to a pretty full house (no idea if it sold out), as usual with zero pretense. Just picked up the mic, said Hi and started talking. He called us ‘sexy Canadians’ alot. Talked about his travels through our country, the current student protests in Montreal. He kept apologizing for America in general, the choices made by those in power. Ha! Like our government’s any better. Anyway.

He covered much ground, a lot of travel stories, including to North Korea, Cuba, Tibet, Sudan, all over the place. He talked about why he’s not doing music anymore and how, in general, rock music doesn’t age well. Also, his recent work with National Geographic. Women’s reproductive rights, bath salts making someone eat someone else’s face… and many other things. I assume there’ll be a CD set of this tour, so I won’t recount it all here. Suffice it to say, the man talked for two and a half hours without stopping. He didn’t even have a bottle of water on stage. He just talked and talked. It was fun. I have to admit,  the seating in the venue was just those cheap-but-sort-of-padded chairs, all wedged together as close as possible. After that long on those things, everyone’s butt was numb. But who cares? It’s ROLLINS! He could have talked all night, I would have stayed.

At the other talking show of his that we saw (2005), and in the CDs and DVDs that have been released over the years, it’s been proven time and again that Henry is a riveting, humourous speaker who obviously puts a lot of thought into what he’s saying long before he ever opens his mouth. Yet he still is able to come across like he’s just winging it, up there. Very cool. Something else I noticed, and it’s hardly a criticism, is that he used to start a story, go off on ten different tangents, then bring it all crashing back, somehow, to his original point. On this occasion in Montreal, he started a story about celebrating his 50th birthday alone in New York City, sitting in a diner with a tuna sandwich and a coffee after a gig. And it seemed like he was going to talk more about what he was feeling in those moments and then he went off on his tangents and I waited the rest of the show for him to come back to his sitting in that diner but he never did. I don’t know, maybe he didn’t have anything to add, but I’m more inclined to think he  let go of that thread. Anyway.

I was asked a couple of times whether we hung around after the show to meet him. It’s well-known that Henry is very accessible, will hang around after a gig and talk to anyone who wants to talk. But we’ve seen him live three times now (1 band show, 2 talking gigs) and have never stuck around. I don’t need to meet him. What am I going to say that he hasn’t heard a million times already? I already have his autograph, too, in several books purchased from his website, and autographs aren’t that big a deal. No, I’m just happy knowing he’s out there, doing everything he does. That’s enough for me. Now, the two guys in the seats beside us, who arrived separately, were definitely going to stick around and meet him, though. They were both overheard to be talking about how Henry and his work literally saved their lives (shitty pasts, suicide attempts, all that lovely stuff). They bonded over it. It was amazing, I’m glad they found each other.

Which led my wife and I to talk, as we walked back to the metro after the gig, about how Henry, whether he seeks that role or not, really is a sort of father-figure/role-model for a lot of people. He’s talked before about some of the tough letters he gets, people in all sorts of shitty situations. And through his work, his song lyrics, his spoken word shows, going to meet soldiers in nasty places, visiting them in military hospitals when they come home all banged up, even just talking about his own messed up and violent past… people relate to him. He’s got a powerful message and a lot of people respond very strongly to it. I think he’s unique and we should all be grateful for him. I know I’m glad to know he’s out there.

In sum? It was a GREAT night! I am very, very appreciative of the opportunity to go see Henry perform again. I wish him much power and I hope he keeps going for another 50 years, no matter how much he joked about how shows at that age would go (memory losses, nodding off, etc). Whatever, man. Well done. Can’t wait for next time.

Henry Rollins – Spoken Word Guy 2

I’ve had this one sitting here for quite a while, but never got around to writing about it. I suppose that’s because I love Henry Rollins’ output, whatever it is, so it’s a shoe-in for me to write something about how you all need to hear/read/see this. Also, Rollins’ talking show sets are all pretty much the same – he rants about his travels, experiences and politics, makes people laugh, talks about himself self-deprecatingly, and ends with a message about something like doing something with your life and getting along with people.

Is this set any different than his other sets? No! In fact, he maybe repeated some stuff from another set (didn’t he tell the alligator story on another occasion?), but whatever. Is it awesome? Yes! Should you hear it? Of course you should! So get going, already.

Rollins, Dropkicks, Pollard, Zippers and the Canadian Dream

James Parker – Turned On: A Biography Of Henry Rollins

That title should read ‘unauthorized’ biography – apparently Hank wanted nothing to do with this 1998 book. I suppose it’s because he spends his entire spoken word thing (and many of his diary-style books) giving out snippets of biography anyway. Or it could be because this book purports that he used a lot of acid in the Black Flag days, which undermines Rollins’ straight-edge stance. Frankly, if it’s true I really don’t care. What puzzles me is why he’d hide it when he claims to be so up front about everything else. Admit it, move on. Whatever. Anyway, the book is otherwise a well-written re-hashing of the early DC punk and Black Flag days, as well as beyond, most of which has been documented in other places.

Dropkick Murphys – Do Or Die

I’ve had this CD for years (since I got it as a Valentine’s gift – I know, my wife rules!), and have played it to death. Rocked it again while working out yesterday and loved it all over again. They’ve never matched this album in its entirety again, though there have been great individual songs since. A fave for sure, essential listening.

Robert Pollard – The Devil Went Home And Puked

An all-dancing, all-singing, all-drinking highly creative video collage of Robert Pollard and his band of merrily drunk mofos, recorded throughout Pollard’s incredibly prolific and happily lengthy career. Sure, this 67 minutes of weirdness is probably for fans only, but that’s me, baby! Wahoo!

Squirrel Nut Zippers – Perennial Favourites

Yeah, this CD’s been out forever but it’s awesome. My wife put it on today so our son could have some lively music to jump along with in the Jolly Jumper. It worked like a charm. You know, I loved that swing revival in the 90’s, when bands blew the dust of their grandparent’s music collections and let ‘er rip. It should happen again. Actually, it should never go away. To me, swing and big band is a constant. Just saying.

Andrew Vincent – Canadian Dream

You should look this guy up. His song, Canadian Dream, is really rather excellent. It says a lot about our generation, for better or worse (depending on your opinion in the matter). My sister says we’re all doomed to be Prince Charles for the rest of our lives, that the Boomers will never get out of the way. Talk about priorities. Anyway, I’m rambling. Great song. Go hear it on his Myspace. Thanks to CBC radio for introducing me to this man’s work.

Henry Rollins – Provoked / Live And Ripped In London

I’ve told these pages many times about how much I appreciate the work of Henry Rollins. His energy, determination and discipline are consistently evident and awesome. If it seems like he’s everywhere, it’s because he is. His reliably efficient and profuse output makes me completely happy in knowing that this guy is out there in the world, never sitting still.

So, here we have a new set which includes a talking CD called Provoked (because the man generally is, about many topics), recorded in San Francisco and Amsterdam, and a DVD of a talking show called Live And Ripped In London. It’s a two-fer! And you can get the whole set from his web site for $10. How could you not?

His rants are, if anything, improving. Sure, he stumbles over his words now and then, or mixes them up, but it’s because he talks so fast. Kudos to him for leaving those errors in there, too. In this digital day and age, it would be easy to have those fixed but he doesn’t. All you get is Hank, warts and all. But his eloquence is increasing, and while his meandering still takes him far afield from his topic on a regular basis, on these sets he’s better able to bring himself back. Eventually, that is.

On the CD, he gives it to abstinence-only sex ed, messing with the minds of children every chance he gets, attending a work party at a gay bar, and Larry Craig getting busted for soliciting sex in a men’s room. Next up it’s the imitation of people as it’s linked to the decline of our culture, men marrying horses (oh yes), seeing the newly re-formed Van Halen in Chicago, and (of course) Bush’s inability with English.

And oh, he’s not done. He then discusses a topic close to my own heart, the power of nature and (as Stephen King has noted in the past), just how cool it is that there are still creatures on this Earth that can eat us. He then talks about Adrian Apgar (oh, you’ve GOTTA look up that guy’s story on the internets!), and finally he offers up an hilarious self-description that only Henry could imagine.

For the DVD, first off, I have a complaint. Whomever (even if it was Henry) decided that those black and white inter-cuts in the middle of his talking were a good idea needs a swift kick in the nuts. They’re completely distracting. They suck. The ones between subjects are OK, I suppose, not unlike TV things returning from commercials. But the ones in the middle of the talking were total ass.

So. This is a great set, despite those cuts. He talks about the Damned, England, his nude scene in a movie, and visiting Thailand (and going to a sex show). This leads into the different experiences of sex for each gender and, somehow, that becomes the difference in violence between the sexes. I know. Cool. He then does a little bit he’s done before, about crying. I guess even ol’ Angry Ass has to repeat himself sometimes, whether it worked in context of not. Talk all year and see if it doesn’t happen to you, right? Closing up, he moves on to high school dances (including drinking and smoking with a girl in the parking lot, Stairway To Heaven, and tongue kissing). Whew.

It must be said, the man can talk. He’s engaging and funny, and a little twisted. Just like all his other talking shows, as one would expect by this point. Both of these sets are perfectly at home in the burgeoning discography, and if you’re at all curious about any of what I listed above, it’s not even a debatable topic – you should totally cough up ten of your hard earned dollars for this feast of Hank. Do it.

CD Track Listing:
01 Sex Ed
02 Kids
03 Indie 103 Party
04 Wide Stance Sitter
05 Horses
06 Van Halen
07 Invasion Force
08 Mandelaism
09 Nature’s Wild
10 Adrian
11 What I Am

DVD Track Listing:
01 The Opening Band
02 Fans
03 Learning A Lesson
04 Thailand
05 Men And Women
06 Tricks
07 The School Dance

SLCR #129: Henry Rollins (March 17, 2008)

I consider myself a pacifist. By this, I mean that I like to threaten violence all the time (mostly involving stabs to the face or punches to hilarious body parts), and I like to watch televised violence whether fake wrestling or real MMA, but I don’t really like to actually be involved in violence. The closest I’ve come to any sort of physical altercation in the past ten years was last fall, when I kicked some dude right in his car when he tried to drive on me.

Point being, I don’t like getting beaten up. And so I really had no choice but to go see Henry Rollins, because I feared what Aaron would do to me if I skipped out. Aaron, who lives 2,652 kilometers away. Aaron, who has probably kicked even fewer guys in the car than I have. He likes Henry Rollins a LOT.

I liked what I knew of Henry Rollins, which wasn’t much. I read one of his books years ago, and found it to be really interesting. I’ve heard a few of his songs and found that they’re great driving or workout music. I’m on his mailing list, so I’ve kept up with some of his crazy adventures. I read the attempted interview with the local free paper and greatly enjoyed it (Henry told off the reporter for sending an email that asked whether the respondent was, in fact, the real Henry Rollins. That was the end of the interview, and it was fantastic). And the off-road tattoo from Jackass: The Movie? Awesome.

My fear of the wrath of Aaron may have motivated me to rush into things. I bought two tickets for the Saskatoon show, one for me and one for Mika, who I think was interested but not dying to see the show. Had I waited a bit, I would have learned that Rollins was coming to Regina too, and I wouldn’t have had to shift my work schedule around to accommodate the show. Furthermore, after I got the tickets, Mika started her accounting class, which runs on Monday nights, which meant that she couldn’t go to the show anyway. Oh well, I enjoy time off work and spending extra time in Saskatoon, and Dave made use of the extra ticket – and even bought us pre-show subs – so everything worked out well in the end.

“What’s he going to talk about?” asked Dave.

I had no idea. Rollins has recorded about two million spoken word albums, but I haven’t heard them. I did hear one story Henry told about getting a call from Ben Folds, which resulted in recording a song with William Shatner and Adrian Belew, ultimately culminating in a Monday Night Football party at Shatner’s house with Ben Stiller and his wife. This story was fantastic, but given the characters involved, it would be almost impossible for the story to not be fantastic. I hoped that on this night, Rollins would live up to the one example I knew.

We arrived a bit after 7:00 and it looked like they were just opening the place up. The line stretched down the street, but everything went as smoothly as one can ask for. Inside, they were selling books and CDs and DVDs and shirts, the usual stuff. I didn’t get anything.

We headed upstairs to claim some seats with a nice view of the whole place. The crowd filtered in, and I looked for people I knew (one guy from high school, plus I recognized one girl who works at some record store – and they seemed to be friends) and hilarious bald spots (sadly, nothing on the level of the local weatherdork’s bald spot from Junofest).

Rollins took the stage at about 8:15, and we were off. No introduction, he just wandered out with a mic. No opening act either, but what would you have for an opener at a spoken word show? Someone you don’t know will talk for 30 minutes to prepare you for the hardcore listening you’ll be doing later on?

For the most part, the spoken word routine was like an expanded – very, very expanded – version of his email newsletter. For nearly three hours, Rollins shared stories of his recent trips around the world. The guy likes going wherever people tell him not to, so he’s recently been to Syria, Beirut, and Pakistan, as well as riding the Trans-Siberian Express from Moscow to Vladivostok. He met a lot of good, decent people along the way, which is lucky (and maybe a bit surprising) considering the volatile situations he found himself in. Among other notable incidents, he was in Islamabad, Pakistan when Benazir Bhutto was assassinated.

It must be hard to perpetually tour with a spoken word presentation, because it would always have to change. A band can do an entire concert of their previous hits, but once a crowd has heard a story, that’s it. If they come back next time, they’re going to want something new. To that end, we didn’t get a rehash of the Ben Folds/William Shatner/Monday Night Football adventure, but there was one that was just as good starring Ted Nugent, David Lee Roth, and Van Halen, and a poignant recounting of his chance to play frontman for The Ruts for a day.

I got a surprising amount of feedback after I wrote my review of the White Stripes concert last year. I had a great time at the show (and was thrilled just to be there) and I was told that excitement seemed to come through in the review. Having heard how Henry Rollins spoke about The Ruts, I now have a better idea of what people were getting at. I’d never heard their music – or even heard of them – but his passion and near-reverence said more than the actual words did. I can’t be the only person who left there that night with a mental note to check them out.

So yeah, Henry Rollins really likes to talk. Good thing he’s good at it. Passionate and energetic, but surprisingly self-deprecating and as Dave put it, “nerdier than I expected him to be.” Being able to talk in front of a group is a skill, but I’d always thought of it in terms of mental preparation. I’d never really thought about the physical skill required. It was about two and a half hours before Rollins stopped long enough to crack open his water bottle. My throat hurt just thinking about it.

The show ran until 11:00 and I could have done with a little earlier start time. I’m old, we’ve established that. But for pure value for your show-going dollar, Rollins overdelivers. I’d go see him again the next time around, even without the non-existant threat of violence.

Henry Rollins – San Francisco 1990

I recently did a little Christmas shopping for myself. You see, whenever Rollins releases new stuff, he usually autographs it but you’ve got to order early to be sure that you get a signed copy, and so I don’t like to wait around. I did check with my lovely wife and she confirmed it wasn’t my gift, so I ordered right away. New Rollins! Yay! 

OK, so it’s actually a DVD of old Rollins, from 17 years ago (!) in 1990, a talking gig on DVD, and not what came autographed. It was the second volume of his Fanatic! book series that was signed (review forthcoming… eventually). But I digress.

According to the little blurb he wrote for the packaging of this show, this was a concept he and his buddy Joe Cole had come up with, that Joe would tape Rollins in full-on blathering action and then they’d release the shows on tape over time. Sadly, Joe Cole was killed in 1991 and that idea came to a halt. They did get some shows recorded, though, and this was one of them. Rollins is calling it the Cheap Seat Series. And hey, for $10, it can’t be beat.

So it comes in a cheap little cardboard package, and the quality is suspect, largely because it was recorded with a hand held video camera so it’s shaky and has some bad cuts (where, I assume, the tape ran out). But as a document of Rollins at that time, it’s priceless. Think about it. The original line-up of the Rollins band was still together. Black Flag was not a distant memory. He’d only been doing talking shows for a couple of years so his timing wasn’t quite on yet, it was more raw. Just keeping that stuff in mind is neat, in itself, as this show progresses.

It was a little creepy, though, knowing that his best friend was the eyes behind the taping, and there’s an odd feeling knowing you’re watching through a dead man’s eyes. Strange. It had to have been so hard for Henry to watch this back before releasing it, but I’m sure he sees reminders of his friend in everything he does.

Anyway, it seems this was a tour with the amazing Hubert Selby, Jr. and Don Bajema (I think). He covers a lot of ground here, talking about depression, getting laughed at by Ziggy Marley, his debates with Jack Thompson (the guy behind the censorship of 2 Live Crew) and more. It was interesting to hear him say he didn’t ‘get’ Jane’s Addiction, at the time, ‘cos he sure is a fan now. He owns up to it on the back of the packet, too. Good on ya, Hank.

He covers the concept of right and wrong, reads a poem he wrote for a film by the guy who was in Harold & Maude, and discusses the merits and dangers of helping people out, including stories of Drunk Guy and Stage Diver Guy. He then riffs on negligence and the death of Heroin Girl, talks about Sky King, the bum in the park from when he was a kid, and reads a poem called Fuck You Allan. He then offers a reading from the (then embryonic) book Black Coffee Blues, and talks about fan stories, including the Immortal Parts 1 + 2. He again hits on depression and suicide, and the need to stay strong.

At one point he also mentions that he “doesn’t have a political bone in his body,” that he “doesn’t have a brain for that stuff.” And actually, I found that refreshing. It was better when he stayed out of that stuff. His recent talking shows are chock full of his running down the current president and his toadies, so it seems Rollins grew a new, political, bone in his body somewhere. Interesting. The times, they are a-changin’ indeed.

That’s a lot to pack into 92 minutes, but the man can do it and he does it with style. He’s self-deprecating to a fault, and sometimes it’s believable and sometimes it isn’t. I’ve read comments about him where people are put off by his memorized act, that if you see more than one show in a tour you’ll hear the same schtick verbatim. Yeah, well, you try it, then, if you think that’s weak. Get up there every night and say only new things, see how long you last. Exactly.

And what did I think of it? It’s cool. I’m a Rollins Fanatic, and I’ll buy whatever he puts out because I’m curious and I tend to agree with his assessment of people and the world. I think it’s really neat that he has the balls to put this old stuff out there, without really trying to fix it up too much, and just letting it be what it is. I think he understands the Fan mind-set, because he is one himself. He knows that there are collectors out there (like me) who would gobble this up. It says on the back of the package that they’ll go through some more of the tapes and see if there’s anything else worth releasing, and I really hope there is. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

I did have one complaint, though, and it has nothing to do with the DVD itself, per se. You see, I had to do some serious digging on the web site to even discover that this existed. On the main page it shows Featured Items, but neither of the two new releases, this DVD and a book (which I also ordered, and will review here shortly) were front and center. They were buried in with the rest of his stuff, nothing sepcial about it at all. No flags marking the spot. I just want to know how they plan to sell this new stuff if they don’t put it front and center? How many people, other than obsessive-compulsives like me, will click on Next to scour every page of each format (as it’s the only way to do it, now) to see what’s new? In this way, the new design of the web site isn’t very good at all. It wouldn’t be the way I’d choose to present my stuff. It’s not easy to see what’s there, to begin with, but if they aren’t telling people about the new stuff, it won’t sell. Just my opinion, I could be whining and ungrateful.

So yeah, enough bitching. I liked this recording. Go to the web site and dig through everything else until you find this DVD, and then order it. At $10, you can’t go wrong. It’s a treat. Order a whole bunch and give them to friends and family for Christmas. The more, the merrier!

Thanks, Hank, for another great show.

The Henry Rollins Show, Season 1

Holy Galloping Awesomeness, Batman!

The snail mail recently delivered my copy of The Henry Rollins Show, Season 1 and it is a thing of beauty. It’s 3 DVDs (!) chock full of interviews with people who are making things happen, and musical performances by really cool bands that matter. At $16.50 (US) from his web site, this set is a total steal. Go order one right now!

We’ve watched all of Disc 1 already, and it’s fantastic. Rollins has a very unique interviewing style which is, as near as I can tell, something like this: “It’s totally cool that you’re here in this room and I have a million questions to ask you and I may ask them poorly because I’m more used to being asked questions than asking them and that’s OK and oh yeah, we gotta be quick.” The interviews are way too short, but even in these short bursts some really, really cool stuff comes up.

Just take a look at the guest list and you’ll know exactly why I say you should get your own copy. These are the movers and shakers, and they have been chosen with taste. Right on.

The musical guests are fabulous too, and represent a wide range of styles and agendas. They’re given a good space and good sound to work with, and left to do their thing as only they know how to do it. That, my friend, cannot be beat. Turn it up!

Another cool aspect of the show is that there’s no editing/censorship going on. If a guest says ‘fuck,’ then ‘fuck’ stays in the broadcast. Great things come from these people having the knowledge that they can speak their mind without reproach or censoring. It gets to the heart of the matter, and to what is truth for them, with nothing held back. I appreciate that so much. Way to go IFC and Rollins!

If you have cable (I don’t, another reason this set is very welcome) and have seen the show, you’ll be pleased to know that the entire 20 episodes are here, including the Letters, Teeing Off and Rollins Reconsiders, Soap Box and the End Credits, etc. Little bits of humour, insight and slamming of idiots, all in good fun and to the point. Right on.

So, I’m posting this after only having seen Disc 1, but with two more discs to go I know already that I’m gonna love ‘em and so I wanted to tell you now that you should get off your butt and bring this gem into your house. You won’t regret it.

Henry Rollins on Politically Incorrect, 1999-05-26

Further to this whole Rollins thing lately, I listen to his Indie 103 radio show because they introduce me to all kinds of new music I’d never have heard elsewhere. Also, his commentary can be funny.

Anyway, the April 24th show came (from the web) with a video of Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect from 1999, and the guests were Rollins, Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller), Cindy Margolis (the model) and one of my favourite writers, Harlan Ellison. The topic was The Internet, and how bad information is out there and can get into the wrong hands, as had happened in Littleton, CO not long before this show aired.

As happens on every show of this type, everyone was talking and no one was listening and very frequently things get off-topic to the point of being silly. Maher only had some semblence of control which, as a host, he should have known better. Penn Jillette had some insightful things to say, even though he let Ellison drag him down into what amounted to schoolyard taunting, when it was clear that Ellison was taking the piss with the whole thing. Where Ellsion was wrong was that he hoped that subtlety would be funnier and it completely got missed in this setting. Margolis had her own things to say but of course she’s gonna be in favour of things being online – selling pictures of her body is how she makes her grocery and plastic surgery money.

And Rollins? Perhaps a little out of his element, but he held his own for the most part. It was hard to get a word in edgewise, to be sure, so anybody would’ve hated having to fight to be heard. These kinds of shows never solve anything and, if nothing else, only open up even more questions than they started with and they resolve none of them. It’s just a bunch of talking heads, and promo spots for (sometimes marginally) famous people. It’s the TV equivalent of that question: If you could have 4 people to your house for dinner, who would you pick and why?”

Still, it was cool for me to see Rollins sitting next to the guy who wrote Repent Harlequin, Said The Ticktockman.

Henry Rollins – Live In The Conversation Pit

Ol’ angry ass is at it again, and once again it’s a really fun time. Recorded at the York Theatre in Sydney, Australia during his 2005 tour, Live In The Conversation Pit is yet another awesome, worthy addition to the growing Library of Hank.

Every time I see one of these DVDs, I’m invariably impressed with not only the man’s stamina, but his story-telling abilities as well, powers that have grown and morphed with the passage of time. I wouldn’t quite call him a Stand Up Comedian, although he is quite often funny, but these shows always show us that, no matter how much he yells and gives the finger to the world he is, after all, Human.

My wife and I were fortunate enough to get tickets, through a friend, to see this particular tour as it passed through Toronto in October of 2005. I was beside myself with excitement for weeks prior, and really had a good time at the show itself. I remember that all of us laughed and laughed, swept away with his crazy narratives, sharing the adventures vicariously as he relived more odd moments from his unique existence. He talks rapidly, and speaks largely tangentially which is amusing, and not even remotely distracting.

A lot of the stories he told on this DVD he also told the night we saw him. Some of you will think that repeating the same things at every gig on a tour is pretty lame, I say it’s no different than a band playing the same songs over and over. And besides, just how much would a guy have to do in one lifetime to make every night completely different? Anyway, I’m grateful to have, essentially, a copy of the show we saw. For posterity. Because I’m a geek that way. Ahem.

One thing that stuck out in my mind at the show, and which happened again with viewing this DVD: He tells a story about traveling across Siberia, from Moscow to Vladivostock on a train (in February), and how the frozen human waste had to be chipped off the drain pipe with a hatchet. He then goes on to tell a vomit story (boy, doesn’t this make you wanna run right out and get this disc?) and, both times, I thought it would be a great end to the piece if he had talked about seeing them chopping his sick off the pipe with the hatchet. Maybe he didn’t see that, but it would’ve been funny.

I probably think about this stuff too much.

Another interesting approach, this time around, was the inter-cutting of brief interview segments into the main feature. Initially I thought it would be annoying, but it turned out to be not too bad. I wouldn’t want him to do every disc this way from now on, but this once was interesting and creative enough.

Definitely worth seeing, so go order it, already!

Henry Rollins – Up For It

Back in the harness with Hank. Yet another talking show DVD, Up For It is exactly what you’d expect from ol’ cranky-pants. Recorded in May, 2001 at London’s Astoria Theatre, this show is funny, offensive, and it’s right on the money. It’s very hard to not respect this guy, because for as much as he’s self-deprecating, you know he’s giving it everything he’s got. You might totally disagree with him, or think he talks a lot of shit, but there is no question that he’s dragging himself across the finish line with the last ounce of strength in his body and with his very last breath so that you can hopefully have a good time watching him.

There’s something about watching this guy in action that makes one question their own, likely far more sedentary life. He makes it look easy, at this point, but really I think it boils down to the fact that he has an unwavering goal and he works his butt off to achieve it. He’s out there, trying, always moving, always trying new things. Sure, he has detractors, and copiers, and people who really hate his guts. But he’s still going, still putting himself out there and, for better or worse, doing it. It’s inspiring.

I say right on. Way to go, Henry. I hope you do this forever. I’ll be watching.

Henry Rollins – A Dull Roar

There’s an awesome story about how I got this book. Again, it was my lovely wife who procurred it, as a Christmas present. On the web site, only 1000 signed and numbered copies were being sold. As you may recall from my review of the Sloan DVD, I wasn’t allowed to buy anything for myself prior to Christmas. And so those 1000 copies sold out and I was without. Again, I kinda panicked. But, proving yet again that she is amazing, she’d already ordered me one, and so I proudly have #490 of 1000 here, signed and pristine, and it is excellent!

So, to book itself. Let’s let the man tell you about it:

“From the back cover: A Dull Roar is a five month chronicle of the spin, misinformation and sabre-rattling in the build up to the… oh, wait a minute. OK, A Dull Roar is a journal of my life from April to early September 2006 as I prepared for, went out on and completed a tour of North America with the Rollins Band from late July to early September. In the months before the tour, I completed the 2nd season of The Henry Rollins Show for the Independent Film Channel, worked on the film Wrong Turn 2 and slaved over my radio show Harmony in My Head. Some might advise that I get a life. I’ve got one. This is is it. — Henry Rollins

Need I say more regarding what it’s about?

I just finished reading this book yesterday. I would’ve been done sooner but I was trying to go slowly, to savour it. Anyway, I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Rollins has a way of writing that sounds pretty much like, I have to imagine, the way he speaks. It’s engaging to read, done up like a diary, and gives a glimpse of the day-to-day things he does prior to a tour, and then, of course, while on tour as well. This time, he even includes what workout he did that day, and what food he ate. Minutiae, you say? Sure. But there’s enough honest opinion and thought-provoking stuff in between these covers to keep anybody interested.

Yes, he repeats himself a lot, too. If I had a nickel for every time he says he’s happy that he never married, and that he prefers living in hotel rooms to living at home, that he’d rather be on the road than tied down somewhere, I’d have… a couple of bucks, at least. But still. And he makes up for these repetitions with hilarity, like deciding he’s unable to say or write the word “Conservative” without immediately tacking on the word “douchebag” to follow it. Haha. Right on.

He’s written many other books like this, and A Dull Roar is a worthy addition to the list. One day, when he’s no longer doing any of this stuff that keeps him so busy (which will probably be when he’s dead, and not a minute before then), it would be an interesting project to put all of this type of his books together, to make one big journal of his life. Sure, only geek fans like me would buy it and read it, but that’s because it would be an interesting study of an inimitable man. Just an idea. Tell Hank.

So. Why don’t you have your copy of A Dull Roar yet? Hmmmm? No weak excuses! Go order your (unsigned) copy today!

Henry Rollins – Live At Luna Park

I’m bingeing on Rollins, and I’m loving it. For my second DVD viewing in a row, I’ve chosen Live At Luna Park, which is pasted-together collection of shows he did in March and April of 1999. Of course, I’ve seen this before, many times, but such considerations matter little to me. Leave some time in between viewings and the next time through, a while later, will still be fresh and amusing and full of mayhem.

Lots of great stories on this one. Many here that have become ‘classics’ in the Rollins collection. Who can forget Boris’ amazing use of English? Or driving whilst playing Slayer in the car stereo? But perhaps the best portion is the bonus feature, wherein our man Hank tells about trying to get the best of Iggy Pop. Do you think he succeeded? Well, you’ll just have to go to the website and get your own copy of this disc to find out. Believe me, it’s worth it. In fact, while you’re there, order a bunch of other stuff too. And do your Christmas shopping for friends and family there, while you’re at it. You won’t regret any of it, and supporting the man will mean he’ll have the funds to go and do more stuff in future, which is for the benefit of us all. Really, it’s a win-win situation. So hop to it.

Henry Rollins – Shock & Awe

By now, you may have surmised that I am a big fan of Henry Rollins. I tend to mention him alot, sometimes completely apropos of nothing. But it’s because I like his work, be it with his various band projects, his talking shows, books he’s written, his television show, his radio show, or any of the movies he’s been in. Yes, he’s a busy guy.

Shock & Awe is a talking show DVD recorded live at the Moore Theatre in Seattle, WA, March 14, 2004. If you’ve ever been to see him do one of these shows (and I have been fortunate enough to do so), you’ll know that no matter what he talks about, no matter how rehearsed his schtick has become, no matter how many little offensive asides he can slip into his non-stop ranting, he’s at least giving the show 150% and having a great time. To say that he is animated during a performance is probably the understatement of the year. Frankly, I don’t know how he doesn’t pass out.

There’s an inimitable quality to the way he approaches the subjects of his talking shows. He’s a man who’s been in most of the countries of the world, touring and traveling relentlessly for over 25 years. Suffice it to say he has a unique take on things, and obscure reference points to go with it. He’s self-deprecating to a fault, bright, energetic and, despite his anger-filled history, almost always funny. Sure, he lags a bit sometimes, and his stories can come crashing to a close after a 20 minute build-up leaving you to find out that there really isn’t much of a punchline, but still it’s OK. You had so much fun getting to that point that those rare anti-climax moments hardly matter anyway.

Love him, hate him or remain indifferent to him, he’s likely to say something that’ll stick in your mind, and that’s the mark of a great entertainer.

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