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Went to one university for a semester. Didn't like it. Knew I couldn't afford four years of student loans.
July 11, 2012 7:48 PM   Subscribe


 
I am shocked, just shocked, to find out it was chucking his ice cream job in and joining Black Flag.
posted by Mezentian at 7:58 PM on July 11, 2012 [12 favorites]


I actually thought it might be taking up weight lifting in high school, which he's described as a major source of confidence as his body developed.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:01 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I said yes to everything and all it got me was this house full of cats and a million magazine subscriptions.
posted by The World Famous at 8:03 PM on July 11, 2012 [27 favorites]


Which tattoo was it?
posted by jonmc at 8:06 PM on July 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


"I wonder whether aspiring to nothing at age 20 is a significant predictor of mild, glassy-eyed contentment in later life . . ."

I sure fucking hope so.
posted by dgaicun at 8:07 PM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I owe a debt to Mr. Rollins for what his spoken word track I know you helped me through, but when i was watching this I could only think "WHAT IS GOING ON WITH HIS NECK".
posted by Drumhellz at 8:07 PM on July 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


The day he got his first full-length mirror?
posted by basicchannel at 8:07 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just looked up the video for TV Party this morning. He's so young! It's weird to see him looking older, like the Son, I am Disappoint dad. He's awesome, love how direct he's always been.
posted by Nelson at 8:09 PM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Man. I don't think I've listened to I Know You in almost 20 years.
It's held up really well, and works with the NIN track.

(Or that spoken world Jello did around the same time the name of which escapes me and I can't find).
posted by Mezentian at 8:11 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Was it hating gays and women?
posted by Cosine at 8:12 PM on July 11, 2012


Muscular guys sure do threaten some people just by existing, don't they?
posted by entropicamericana at 8:16 PM on July 11, 2012 [17 favorites]


Rollins has one of those success stories that is on a literal level applicable to just about no one's life, but in a wider way inspirational without being terribly instructive -- if the goal is to become some artist rock dude. If the goal is just basically to lead a worthwhile life, probably exercising and staying focused on things you care about and not wasting a lot of time on drugs are all solid pieces of advice. It all sounds pretty self-evident, but it's kinda not.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:16 PM on July 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Insert Rollins joke here.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:16 PM on July 11, 2012


The important thing is, he gets it: "I won the lottery." It doesn't matter if you're talented and hardworking, you also have to be lucky. I don't say that to take anything away from Rollins, who I admire. In Hollywood you meet a lot of wildly successful people, and at the core there's only two kinds of wildly successful people. The ones who think "finally my awesome gifts are being recognized" and the ones who think "I won the lottery." The first type are ... not nice, usually.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:33 PM on July 11, 2012 [21 favorites]


I used to think he ruined Black Flag, but really, that was Dez.
posted by malocchio at 8:43 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, that put a downer on things.

Not that I can't see that happening (they gel with the impression I first formed about Rollins and that era of punk, before I saw him to his "I'm A Positive Zen Punk Rock Granddad" spoken word stuff.

I suppose I should go and buy Our Band Could Be Your Life now.
posted by Mezentian at 8:44 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the link.
posted by dobbs at 8:58 PM on July 11, 2012


There is a segment in his book Pissing in the Gene Pool where he describes a random violent encounter with some guy on the street. It was violent enough to really trouble me at the time (he says he beat the guy so severely that the guy's cheek caved in and Rollins' thumb was dislocated). I always wondered if that segment was just posturing, or whether there really was some dude out there who may not have made it out of that night alive.
posted by O Blitiri at 9:10 PM on July 11, 2012


Cosine: "Was it hating gays and women?"

Cite, please?

(if you're not joking.)
posted by dunkadunc at 9:14 PM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Choice had less to do with 'changing his life forever' than blind happenstance.
posted by dazed_one at 9:15 PM on July 11, 2012


"The America" is not a place you live in, it's a video game that you ... that you survive... I survive America, in spite of what it wants to do to people like me.

I'm sorry, but this is great stuff. Tough crowd tonight, I guess.
posted by swift at 9:26 PM on July 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


rollins has definitely said some questionable things about women but i'm not aware of anything even remotely homophobic (at least in the last quarter century or so)
posted by rap and country at 9:33 PM on July 11, 2012


Yeah I don't have a link but I remember part of one of his spoken word albums talking about how awesome it would be to be bisexual at a party. Google-fu failure on my part.
posted by Drumhellz at 10:12 PM on July 11, 2012


In one of his earlier spoken word recordings, Rollins refers to Bono as a "butt boy." He's grown up some since then (and has also done some more reflective material, including stuff that's very much pro-equality). But no one wants to let go of certain stories, I guess.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:15 PM on July 11, 2012


dunkadunc - for the "hating women" accusation, a cursory glance through a quarter of the stories in "the Portable Henry Rollins" will suffice. Heck, just GIS the book title and you'll see images highlighting notable passages.
posted by radiosilents at 10:22 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have a hard time interpreting Drive by Shooting (by "Henrietta Collins and The Wifebeating Childhaters") because it's clearly satire but that doesn't necessarily make it okay. On the other hand, I think that the particular track Can You Speak This? is genius and it, at least, isn't offensive.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:21 PM on July 11, 2012


How do you fail the audition for a punk band? Sing in tune?
posted by falcon at 12:14 AM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


sing john denver songs? - "grandma's feather bed" would be very effective
posted by pyramid termite at 12:29 AM on July 12, 2012


How do you fail the audition for a punk band? Sing in tune?

"Who's your favourite band?"
"Pink Floyd"
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:04 AM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm happy for him and all but most of us don't get to choose between Haagen Daaz and Black Flag, we get to choose between Wendys and Burger King.
posted by tommasz at 5:02 AM on July 12, 2012


The most amazing thing about that for me was that in 1981, a near minimum wage job allowed you to afford a car, and an apartment with one roommate in Georgetown.
posted by COD at 5:25 AM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm happy for him and all but most of us don't get to choose between Haagen Daaz and Black Flag, we get to choose between Wendys and Burger King.

No, between the metaphorical Haagen Daaz and Black Flag we, usually, opt to select the safe path of Haagen Daaz, because we're not ready to risk throwing in everything to chase our dreams.

And sure, he got super lucky with Black Flag. For every Black Flag there are a hundred (Insert Z-grade bland I will call Bliss, who sound like Nirvana), so there a hell of a lot of miserable people out here who are not Henry.

But the opposite of success is not failure, it's not to try at all.

He tried, he won. He now numbs my butt for three hours plus every few years and gives me a sense of wonder.
posted by Mezentian at 5:29 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I can't help it, even when he's clearly trying to be humble, he comes across to me as a self-satisfied, pretentious dick.
posted by oddman at 6:47 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Rollins has one of those success stories that is on a literal level applicable to just about no one's life, but in a wider way inspirational without being terribly instructive

I think it's very instructive... it's just the instructions are just simple enough to be easily ignored. A human being's life is very little more than the sum total of a series of choices and their ensuing consequences. Everybody does not have the same chances in life... some get more breaks than others, but everybody gets at least one. It could be someone wandering into a store and offering you an audition, which if you turn it down, could mean your life goes nowhere. It could be someone offering you a needle full of heroin, which, if you take it, means your life will likely go nowhere.

And no choice lives in a vacuum. It's all cumulative. Rollins probably went to a show and complimented the band on their set, which led one of them to say, "That guy's kinda cool," which led to Rollins coming back and seeing them again, which led to being friendly, then friends, then to a nice gesture of "Hey c'mon up and do vocals," (I hesitate to call what Rollins did 'singing'), to "Hey, come on the road with us." That's how a good choice can snowball. Unfortunately, bad choices can do the same thing.

It all sounds pretty self-evident, but it's kinda not.
It kinda is.

Rollins' mantra:
1. take care of yourself.
2. capitalize on your good choices.
3. work your ass off.

Simple as that. Nowhere does he promise success/fame/etc. It's just your life will be better if you do those things than if you don't.
posted by prepmonkey at 7:24 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Plus one on Rollins being a pompous pretentious dick. He's a frat boy with anger problems who decided not to give a fuck, and not to give a fuck with passion and intensity, man.

That's one less asshole riding a jet ski with a Corona in hand, waiting to take over daddy's business, but still I've never heard any thing come out of his mouth that didn't seem obvious or particularly insightful and I think I would be bored as hell talking to him at a party. He's the anti-Biafra.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:39 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh yes, the one adjective that springs to mind about Rollins is apathetic.
posted by entropicamericana at 7:53 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am shocked, just shocked, to find out it was chucking his ice cream job in and joining Black Flag.

Well in all fairness, being in a punk rock band in 1981, especially one which didn't sound as radio friendly as Black Flag wasn't the best career move for anyone looking to make a living in music. It was completely ignored by mainstream media and many people had a violent reaction towards it. His whole schtick might sound obvious to many people but you also have to remember that his target audience isn't your everyday joe shmoe, or at least it wasn't always. It was the dead end kids with no future who grew up in a culture of hopelessness and nihilism.
posted by cazoo at 8:15 AM on July 12, 2012


That's one less asshole riding a jet ski with a Corona in hand, waiting to take over daddy's business

No, that's one less space warlord riding a cosmic flame-hydra with laser blaster in hand, waiting to take over the forbidden sector of the Kromulak nebula.

(I figure if we're going to make up wildly off-base slurs, it should at least be fun.)
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 9:22 AM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


> But the opposite of success is not failure, it's not to try at all.

Quoted for truth.
posted by Gelatin at 9:25 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


He's skipping a big part of the story. Those of us who were in DC in the late 70s remember him as Henry Garfield, when he sang for other punk bands (most notably State of Alert) before Black Flag came along. He had a reputation in the scene already; it wasn't like he just went and joined Black Flag out of nowhere.

Anyway, Damaged is one of the greatest albums in the history of music, so kudos to him for that.
posted by mikeand1 at 10:10 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


But the opposite of success is not failure, it's not to try at all.

Quoted for truth.


But it isn't true. 'Success' and 'failure' share an "inherently incompatible binary relationship", while neither succeeding and failing are semantically incompatible with lack of effort.

Now if you would have said "Quoted for pithy, Rollins-esque inspiration" ...
posted by dgaicun at 10:47 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


He's the anti-Biafra.

Gahhh. Talk about not knowing when to shut up... I've listened to a million Rollins spoken word pieces and never gotten bored, but Jello Biafra live is just INTERMINABLE!

I think it is fair to say that I have a butt that would meet Sir Mix-A-Lot specs in terms of approval, and by the end of that Biafra show, I thought it was going to fall off from being trapped in a chair so long. He's fine in small doses but when you're veering into that fourth hour o' Jello, it's just too, too much.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:49 AM on July 12, 2012


For every one that makes it and trumpets the GO FOR IT attitude from the mountaintops, there are 99,999 middle-aged dudes still living their parents' basements that you ne-ver will hear from because they have no voice.
posted by LordSludge at 10:50 AM on July 12, 2012


Rollins' Rules:
1. Try to separate real from unreal
2. See the you that he sees when you see you seeing him
3. Question why things are going so well
4. Start to doubt yourself and the real world will eat you alive
posted by Eideteker at 11:07 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


I admire Rollins for his self-made accomplishments, the Horatio Alger schtick and all of that. He is too violent and cruel for me to empathize with, but that is an essential element of the punk rock scene he was in where a bunch of the people who went into those shows were drunks who wanted to get into a fight. That is just too weird. Who in the hell wants to get into a fight? Not anybody I have ever wanted to be friends with. The last time I was in a fight was when I was twelve years old or something.
posted by bukvich at 12:41 PM on July 12, 2012


haters
posted by Eideteker at 1:25 PM on July 12, 2012


I'm much more of a Biafra fan than a Rollins fan in terms of the content of what they produce. But in terms of personality, yeah, I'm going to have to say Rollins is a helluva lot more personable, humble and easy-going. He has a solidly working class ethic behind his work, saying in the video itself "I'm not talented; I'm tenacious". No, his revelations are not exactly new or mind-blowing, but his drive is pretty inspiring.

Biafra, however, is incredibly brilliant and talented. His politics shaped my entire political worldview. He was a pioneer in the sense that pretty much every political hard rock band since DK has pointed back to him as an inspiration. And he is also one of the most paranoid, defensive, insufferable people to try and talk to - as a lot of brilliant people are (and in fairness, his paranoia might be due in part to never really getting over the way the PMRC went after him).

On the whole I like to separate the work from the artist, which is why I don't own any Black Flag or Rollins spoken word stuff, yet have DK's back catalogue (save of Frankenchrist and Bedtime for Democracy, because yeeesh, did those albums tank). But a personal level, I'd rather be stuck in a corner at a party with Rollins than Biafra any time. Sorry, Jello.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:32 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


bukvich: "He is too violent and cruel for me to empathize with, but that is an essential element of the punk rock scene he was in where a bunch of the people who went into those shows were drunks who wanted to get into a fight."

I think Rollins was there at one point, but he's grown up a lot.

Ian Mackaye, though? That guy is like, the ultimate "nice guy at a show who just wants to have fun".
posted by dunkadunc at 4:34 PM on July 12, 2012


dunkadunc - for the "hating women" accusation, a cursory glance through a quarter of the stories in "the Portable Henry Rollins" will suffice. Heck, just GIS the book title and you'll see images highlighting notable passages.

Really? You didn't see the gross immaturity of the writing and his own self-hatred? He was (probably is) scared of women, of relationships, of being close and vulnerable?

Gee, wonder why that is? Could it have been his shitty dad? Being picked on as a kid? Going to a military prep school, being misdiagnosed for his mental problems?

You most certainly can't say he's homophobic - just flip through his record collection. Ask him who some of his idols are. His product is his own personality and it's not hard to find these answers out. About 20-30 years ago, was he angry and did he express that anger outwardly? Yes he did. Well, golly, he's also changed quite a bit. At least he's trying.
posted by alex_skazat at 7:49 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Liar.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:19 PM on July 13, 2012


Cosine: "nd women?"

Henry Rollins on Gay Marriage
posted by boo_radley at 7:00 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


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