By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
The opportunity to write for the L.A. Weekly has been one of the better breaks that has come my way in a long time.
This job, cool as it is, comes with challenges. I am loath to disappoint and do not want to deliver work that is below par or past deadline. It is that latter detail that keeps things brisk. I am often on the road, on location or in some other low-on-sleep/high-on-obligation environment. From backstage areas, various modes of transport and hotel rooms, I do my best to hand in my humble contribution not only on time but, whenever possible, early. Putting the punk in punctual, if you will.
Like anyone else, some days, I just don't have it. I have burned more hours than I would like to admit in slow agony, ransacking my brain for an idea to write about as the deadline, the Damoclean sword over my head, increasingly tests the strength of the single horsehair that suspends it. Once the idea miraculously arrives, the words come pretty quickly. The first draft is handwritten and then, often moments later, is rewritten into a computer for the second draft and worked on from there. When I am off the road, this is often my big Friday night out.
But what I most wished to talk about here is you.
The reason for putting myself through this weekly wringer is knowing that you might pick up a copy of L.A. Weekly and read this small contribution. More than that, I hope that you might even like it. I am not one of those "I don't care what you think about what I do" types. I would much rather you like what I do than not like it or not care. "I am desperate for your attention and approval!" is what I have been saying to audiences all over the world from the stage for many years. They laugh, but I am not joking.
I try to write this weekly piece as an ongoing conversation. Any editor worth his weight in salt might call this rambling! However, my attempt is to make a genuine connection with you and Los Angeles. This is why, whenever possible, I try to reference L.A. localities, venues, intersections, etc. As much of a stucco-coated sprawl as L.A. is, I am trying to pull it all in a little closer somehow. That which separates us is, for the most part, a scam. Isolation is not necessarily safety, and stagnation definitely isn't stability.
When I go to shows or to the grocery store, etc., and meet cool people I share this city with, I know that it is this interaction, this breakdown of barriers, that is precisely the ass-kicking that fear so sorely requires. When someone tells me they dug the thing I wrote, I absolutely beam. That I did something that you liked is so cool. This is the main motivation for the 1,000-word-a-week jam session I send in to the editor.
I have been living in Los Angeles for more than 30 years. I never really felt it was a place to call home, just a place to work, leave and return to without any emotional tie. I chalked that up to the place being an artificially hydrated, baked patch of earth, full of fly-by-nighters. But I realized I was one of the aforementioned, and the only way to improve my evaluation of the place was to contribute.
Writing for the L.A. Weekly has furthered that effort. I have the publication and you to thank for that.
See the rest of our special Rollins issue:
The ins and outs of hard work come in various shades. When you hear someone say that they had a hard day of work, you may receive that piece of information passively, because after all, we've all had hard days --work stress is common. But if we are to take pause, and use our power of empathy, we might understand that all inches of our time is felt and experienced. The early rise, the race against time, the feeling of productivity or inactivity, the feeling of making a difference, or the exhausted moments when concern is lacking. We indeed feel the hour on the clock, the mumbled "good mornings", the smiles, strong or weak, and the steps towards our desks, classrooms, therapy chairs, construction sites, cash registers, studios, and so on.
H. Rollins has shared a story that has given us a flicker of a glimpse of insight. The moments that give spurts of energy; the moments that acknowledge the nag of gravity. Added weight can inhibit any person's ideal or most efficacious method of modality.
appreciate his desire to speak of LA in a way that draws readers into
the goodness of the city that does indeed exist. I'm a gal from San
Pedro, who loves various aspects of LA that often consist of concert
venues, galleries, and seemingly calming coffee joints. It's nice to
read about someone who lives in the epicenter (somewhat).
It seems he is expressing the desire to practice humility -- to know that you can actually enjoy parts of a city that happens to rub elbows with some satellite geography that lacks substance. That's how I read it.
He speaks of being desperate for attention and approval. That sentiment is incredibly unsettling. It caused me to shift in my seat with discomfort in my chest. If this is more than another authentic stab at humility on his part; this saddens me. The desire for approval of others speaks of strain, and the pain of wanting. We've all been through it: the very humanistic feeling of wanting to be admired and accepted by friends, relatives, authoritative figures, potential romantic partners, et al. There's nothing new about it and we all succumb to it, but it's an ache that I hope we all try to get some healthy distance from when necessary.
From some of the pieces of I've read, H. Rollins appears to be a man who often sees things concretely -- in absolutes. Perhaps I don't know what I speak of. Regardless, I applaud efforts to push through it, or to vary it, or to experiment with nuance. Or how about balance? Balance? Rad. We could all use balance.
"Isolation is not necessarily safety, and stagnation definitely isn't stability."
Thanks Henry...love reading your column and did order your signed book a month ago. Keep up the great work!
Thanks Henry for all you contribute to this art.
I'm a fan who enjoys what you do. Keep doing it as best you can. We your fans will keep showing up.