He makes a record and nobody hears … he makes a video and no one sees … he came to Portland and no one knew… except for the sold-out, standing-room-only crowd that was fortunate enough be at the Aladdin Theater last Sunday night. When I arrived I wasn’t sure what to expect, it was all so last minute, Yea I’d seen the marquee which read “Henry Rollins April 9” in bold red letters for a week or two, but I could barely allow myself to even fantasize about going. Man, a Sunday night and I have class at 8 a.m. Monday.
It was simply out of the question. I tried to put it out of my mind and forget about it all together. But, then as if by some twist of fate, some unseen force, a stroke of good Karma coming back at me, the phone rang, ” I have one ticket to Rollins and I can’t make it. Do you want to go? You mentioned that you wanted to go, are you still interested?”
Of course! So I got myself put together with only an hour to go before show time and got my ass down to the Aladdin Theater, luckily it is in my neighborhood so I didn’t have far to go.
They were just about to close up the box office but I got my ticket, (box office dude asked me to join him for a beer), got my bag searched, my hand stamped and went in to find a seat.
The place was packed. I found a seat scrunched between two women in the balcony, with a huge man’s head right in front of me, blocking my view. I had to crane my neck to see the imposing figure clad in all black step out from behind the red curtain.
Rollins took the mic in his hand and in bad-boy punk fashion proceeded to wrap the cord around has fist several times. As if someone would jump on stage and try to rip it out of the clutch of Rollins, the God of Black Flag, the angry front manof Rollins Band and the intellectual, impassioned speaker. Well, no one did and he kept that tight grip for the entire three-hour set.
Yes three hours of straight talk. Now I know what some of you may be thinking, God I can’t deal with my hour-long lecture classes why on earth would someone pay $20 to go watch some 40-year-old dude talk for three hours! What does he have to say that’s so interesting?
Well let me tell ya, Henry Rollins has seen a few things, been a few places and generally been conscious of the world in which he is a part. Rollins is a writer and a musician; we all know he can talk so why not share what he has observed, what he has thought and what he has experienced in spoken word.
Call me crazy, but I like this idea. Everyone sits down and listens and a lot of what he has to say makes people laugh, but all of what he has to say makes people think.
And, I am of the opinion that thinking people are a great thing to have more of. Rollins spoke about growing older, how he has been conscious of who’s trying to sell him what now that he’s in a new age bracket.
Like being marketed to buy Viagra and Internet porn. He expressed his concerns about clothing now that he’s 40. Does he need to start wearing tan slacks from Banana Republic and wearing loafers on his feet? All the other 40-year-olds are doing it. He talked about the United States not being a place where everyone is created equal but how we are a nation of privilege. He offered us his opinion about the China/Bush issue of late.
Rollins exclaimed that we should apologize and offer to help the Chinese find the missing pilot who went down. He made us all remember that somewhere that pilot’s mother is grieving over her lost child and how we as human beings have a responsibility to one another in hard situations.
Rollins went on to the subject of driving and suggested the audience do what he does in high stress driving situations, which is to purchase Slayer’s latest album and have that on hand to blast your way through the crazy lane changers, and people who don’t realize that green means go.
Next, Rollins led us through his first seven days of being President of the United States. Only seven because he assured us all that he would definitely be assassinated on the seventh.
First of all he would get one of those huge SUV limos to piss off all the environmental groups, which in turn would bring more attention to Ralph Nader, and his policies and ideals, which is what Rollins would want.
Next he would get James Brown’s back-up band to follow him around wherever he went and play a funky rhythm of horn, bass and drums to get the people psyched up on his intro and exit. Third he would have pyrotechnics wherever he went. “Here is your president … ba ba dat dat drum roll, pow, bang!” It would be quite a scene. He would begin by appointing a group of people to basically peer pressure the Ku Klux Klan out of existence.
Because resorting to violence would be no better than they are so he would do it forcefully but peacefully. Next he would get rid of all bad “music,” a.k.a. Brittany Spears and Kenny G. This whole seven-day soir퀌�e into righting many of America’s great wrongs was very entertaining and I wish that it was on his latest spoken word CD, but alas it is not.
The live show was exceedingly more powerful than the CD, due to different material as well as the energy that was in the room during the live show. However, the 10th track, entitled “Maturity,” and the 12th track entitled, “Future Parents,” were great. The album was recorded Live at Luna Park in Los Angeles in 1999. So it would make sense that he has new material now.
During the course of the evening Rollins took us all to happy, funny places that we all could relate to, as well as scary places many would not like to see, but all of it was amazing and entertaining and definitely worth being really tired at 8 a.m. the next morning in my History of Intolerance in America class. I wish I could have brought Henry to class with me; he would have a lot to say and would get the discussion going.
So ya know, maybe I have stumbled across something here. Maybe PSU needs Henry Rollins with his Ph.D. in Bullshit. I think he’d make a great Prof.
But, for the time being he remains the ninja of the rock world. To find out more about Henry Rollins visit his official Web site at www.21361.com or check television listings to see when his spoken word graces Comedy Central.