Henry Rollins Column: Live from "The Obama Resort," Avoiding Malaria At All Costs
[The one and only Henry Rollins contributes a column and far-reaching reportage to the music section of the LA Weekly. Look for your weekly Henry Rollins fix right here on West Coast Sound every Friday and make sure to tune in to Henry's KCRW radio show every Saturday evening, or online, or as a podcast, or however else you decided to listen to the most eclectic DJ on L.A.'s airwaves.
This column comes to us direct from Africa--where Henry is with Drop In The Bucket--via Internet. No playlist for his KCRW BROADCAST #92 for tomorrow, Saturday 12-04-10 (see reasons below). For more details please visit KCRW.com and HenryRollins.com.]
I am sure that you get by very well without reading this humble submission every week. In fact, I am quite sure that weeks go by and you forget that this damn thing is even written. Life is a complex affair and one can't do everything all the time. I do appreciate your kind attentions.
This week, I am somewhat compromised in what I can deliver. I will have to ask for your understanding. Last night, I was in a remote part of Sudan staying at a place called The Obama Resort. The resort was series of small huts where the electricity, delivered by generator, cut off at midnight. It was in this small dwelling that I plugged my computer into the wall and fried the charger. I am now on a borrowed computer that is adequate but frustrating and I will be relying on a modem to somehow get this out to my bosses at the Weekly. I am writing this in the naïve hope that the modem will allow me to beam this forth.
So, this will be brief but I have a plan. I will be arriving back into Los Angeles around the time this will be posted. I will do my level best to write something a bit more comprehensive and send it in. Perhaps the powers that be at the Weekly will be able to post it.
The last few days have been very good, I have been all over Southern Sudan, met people from government officials to tribal leaders, went to key sites in the Sudanese War with a man who fought in these spots. This fellow took me to a place where thirty-seven of his fellow freedom fighters were killed by forces from the north. Even though it's been years, the ground was covered with bullet casings, whole bullets, ammunition cases, unused mine components, massive missile heads, even parts of uniforms.
Some locals took us to a cornfield and showed us a large mound with corn growing in great abundance all over it. They informed us that this is where many of the soldiers who died that day were buried and that bones are scattered all over.
At one point, Will, the ex-soldier took us to an old bunker that he had lived in during the nineties and showed us what was left of two T-55 tanks they had blown up. The parts were all over the place. He had not been back to any of these places since he was fighting there and it was easy to tell by the look on his face that it was very hard for him but he bravely walked us through it and explained things to us for quite a long time. Hopefully, he will be visiting America next year.
Earlier today, we took Will to where he lives, a place called Nimule, so he could register to vote. It was a great thing to watch, he was very happy.
Now, I am in the relatively more contemporary Gulu, Uganda. I was happy to be in a room that was in a building, not a hut. I saw an air conditioner on the wall and had a vision of moving air rushing past my sunburnt body but that was a short lived dream. There's no remote to turn it on. A piece of paper taped to the wall advises that if I need any questions answered, all I need to do is call the front desk. Where the phone should be is a hole in the wall with some wire sticking out. Something tells me that a trip to the front desk won't get me much. The windows and door are open, Sun Ra is playing on my small system and I'm good.
A hotel staffer saw my open door, became curios and asked if I needed any help. I showed her my ac malady. She looked at it and announced that there's no way to turn it on. I told her I would have called the desk but there's only a hole in the wall and pointed at the wire. This is when she informed me that there was no phone. I asked her if anything could be done about the air and she said that would require an electrician and it's way too late for that. Well, now we know.
No doubt, I will sleep well enough tonight. The mosquito netting around my bed looks new and there is a noticeable lack of mosquitoes flying around and most importantly, there is not a rooster outside my window, like this morning. That bird seemed to think that 0650 hrs. was my wake up call and kept sounding off until sleep was no longer possible.
Perhaps I will be able to include a picture of some Mundari tribesman when I get back to Los Angeles. Wait until you see these folks. Hanging out with them was surreal. Men and women, many over six feet tall, covered in gray ash, walking amidst smoke from fires designed to keep the flies at bay and hundreds of cows--all of this happening at dusk. I got a few photos that hint at how hallucinatory the whole experience was.
Like I said, I will do my best to add to this once I get back to town.
Now, as to Saturday's radio show. I have the whole thing done in my head but still need to put it all in order. I had to wait for some needed ingredients to show up and they did while I was on this trip. I will give you a key hint that should tell you all you need to know about the show: It is a concept show, based on a man, his prolific musical output and some of the brilliant things he said. His identity? First initial F, second initial Z. Oh yes, this show is going to be one of our best ones yet. We will commence all freak out fun at six pm, on the one and only 89.9 KCRW, aka Tha K.
Henry Rollins, avoiding malaria at all costs.
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