Henry Rollins Column: Uganda, Sudan And A Drop In The Bucket
[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 installment see Henry travel to Africa for field work with Drop In The Bucket, plus good times with a Sudanese child soldier and the dramatic conclusion to the voiceover adventure. Plus the awesomely annotated playlist for his KCRW BROADCAST #90 for tomorrow, Saturday 11-20-10. For more details please visit KCRW.com and HenryRollins.com]
I am still climbing out the daze of jet lag. I did three flights back to back. I went from LAX to Dubai--that was over fifteen hours--then I jammed to the next flight, got the gate just in time to get on and go another five hours to Nairobi, Kenya, and upon getting off the plane, a man holding a card with my name gave me a boarding pass, took a brief glance at my passport and told me to go down a walkway and get on the plane as they were waiting on me so they could take off. As I was power-walking to the plane, a cheerful and very in-charge woman told me that my backpack wouldn't be making it on the flight and that I would have to deal with that on the other end. She informed me that her name was Christina, gave me a number to call, and told me to tell them that she sent me. Whoa. At that moment, a man came running from behind the other plane with my backpack in his hand. He asked me if that was it and I said yes, and Christina said they would put it on the flight and for me to get up the stairs. I got into the plane and got that look that you get when you are the reason the plane is still on the ground. I sat down for the third and final flight and landed an hour later in Entebbe, Uganda. I am now down the road a piece in Uganda's capital city, Kampala.
I will be in Uganda and Sudan for the next couple of weeks. I am here with Drop In The Bucket. They drill for water and build sanitation systems in remote parts of Uganda and Sudan. I have participated in two of their fundraisers and have tried to get the word out about the great work they are doing out here as best I can. They are in this part of Africa quite often, working on projects. Months ago, I asked if I could go with them on their next trip and they said yes. So, here I am. I will be going along with them, checking out villages and learning what I can. If you want to learn more about what they're up to: www.dropinthebucket.org is the place to go.
Today was amazing. We went from Kampala due south to Masaka to inspect a well that is over one hundred feet deep. The DITB team went to assess the safety level and potential success of the well and to bring supplies. Before we went to the well, we went into Masaka city center and bought bags of cement for the well, loaded it into the truck, and went on down the road with the truck's suspension not enjoying the almost half ton of cement in the back at all. The well is located next to a school with about seven hundred children. I think I met almost all of them. They saw my camera and ran towards me. Good thing I had a wide lens on because everyone wanted to be in the picture. We were there for quite awhile as the DITB people and the workers were discussing things. While they were doing their thing, I walked around and took in how beautiful this part of Uganda is.
We went from there to another school that's drilling another well. More kids, another well. More discussions. This is all being done because DITB is trying to make things better. There's no profit incentive here. It's only about getting people to water and keeping them alive and healthy. It's great to be around these people and watch them work. It's great to see something like this happen. As you can imagine, it's a lot of effort and very complex. Who gets a well? Who doesn't? You want to lose sleep over that one? We were out there almost ten hours today. I am baked but grateful I had the chance to go into the field with them.
Tomorrow, the rest of the team arrives and we hit the road for Gulu, Uganda, and from there, into Southern Sudan. One of the drivers--a man named Will--was a soldier in Southern Sudan when he was thirteen. His stories are incredible. He has seen so much yet his sense of humor is broad and we have had some good laughs so far.
This will be my third trip to Africa this year. There's something about the people I meet here--what I see and what I learn that is beyond me to try to express in words. Just trying to get my head around the enormity of Will's stories is an overload.
As to last week's drama over who was to get the employment opportunity after the spittle had settled post voice-down where I went larynx-to-larynx with some other male, the victor was declared. It's nice to win one every once in awhile.
I finished my stint on the television show with no regrets. Everyone on the set from cast to crew were the epitome of friendly, funny and professional. I kept up with them as best as I could.
When in Los Angeles, serving the great machine is always a fairly surreal experience. I would much rather be out here in the world. The older I get, the more urgently this feeling pulls at me. So for now, I am where I am supposed to be. What is coming in the next couple of weeks, I'll have to find out as it comes. For me, this is what it's all about.
While I do not take myself all that seriously, I take the delivery of music from 1800 hrs. to 2000 hrs. every Saturday night on 89.9 KCRW with a great deal of seriousness. With what pitiful life force I can muster, I hurl tuneage and invective over the wall and onto the air like every show was the last one and the only opportunity to apply for another opportunity to do it again. Never discount the value of desperation. So again, Engineer X and I have worked late to put together a wonderful show that even though it is pre-taped, it carries the full weight of our unbridled enthusiasm and intent. Details are below.
From the territory, hold ye well until next week.
DON'T MISS SATURDAY NIGHTS ON THA K, KCRW FM 89.9
6-8 PM - HENRY ROLLINS (FINC), ENGINEER X, WILL 'THE DOUBLE B' BENTLEY
8-10 PM - LADY LIZA RICHARDSON
10-MIDNIGHT - MARIO 'AT ONE WITH HIMSELF' COTTO
GO TO KCRW.COM FOMOINFO
Fanatics! This a good place to be, together again on the radio. A top-shelf set of jams we have prepared for you tonight. Check it out! Live Zeppelin right into live Thin Lizzy to start us off. I think you probably know that The End Of The Century album by the Ramones was produced by Phil Spector. Phil, as you know screwed up two lives, his own and the woman he shot and killed in his house years ago, Lana Clarkson. He is currently being kept in a government facility in gorgeous Cochran, CA. I saw the Ramones on this tour. Summer of 1980, I think it was. I still have my ticket stub.
I hope that I have not been beating you over the head with the MC5 too much. You will see that another track of the great Michigan band appears tonight. I hope you don't mind. If you look down the list, you will see a track by Tommy Dahill. I don't know the man but he sent me his CDR and I checked out a song he directed me to in his letter. It's not the topic matter that I find as interesting as his vocal phrasing that is perfect for our show. Thanks for checking in, Tommy.
More Japandroids tonight, great band. Deerhoof going into Discharge, that's working for me. If you get a chance, listen closely to the lyrics of the Tralala track, brilliant heaviness wrapped in a pop disguise. I don't know what happened to them. Perhaps they called it a day. I have not seen a new record of theirs in a long time. Again, another track from the Lux & Ivy's Favorites download series. Tonight, it's the Lancers. It's not the stupidity of the lyric that is interesting to me, it's the sounds on the song that really get to me. When you hear the song, you realize that there was the opportunity go way out there, as it were, and rarely was it pounced upon and exploited nearly as much as it should have been.
Next month, we will have an chance to check out tracks from the newly re-mixed Kill City album by Iggy Pop and James Williamson. I can't wait to hear what was done to those tracks. I always liked the songs on that record but the production, not so much. I was not aware of this re-release until Marcus of L.A. heavyweight rock band Mother Superior brought it to my attention when he was over at my hovel the other day. I will hear it when I get back to the LA.
I am sitting here in my small room in Kampala, battling the internet, which is intermittent at best, dealing with the fact that there hasn't been much water coming out of the faucet for awhile and listening to this batch of songs all strung together and Fanatic, I think we have a good show. Next week's broadcast is one of the best ones we have ever put together and I can't wait for you to hear it.
Not that you hang on these words at all but there is a chance that I will not be able to deliver the show notes to you next week as I will be off the beaten path, so to speak. I might just send in something in a few hours to have on hand in case of me being "off the grid" as they say. Nonetheless, like this week's show, next week's is a great one and I hope you get a chance to listen as we let the music do the talking.
Keep your decisions pointed and STAY FANATIC!!! --Henry
E-Mail address for Henry: Henryontheradio@gmail.com
KCRW BROADCAST #90
01. Led Zeppelin - Immigrant Song / BBC Sessions
02. Thin Lizzy - Are You Ready / Are You Ready For The Boys
03. The Ramones - The Return Of Jackie And Judy / End Of The Century
04. MC5 - Gotta Keep Movin' / High Time
05. The Misfits - I Turned Into A Martian / 12 Hits From Hell
06. Generation X - Valley Of The Dolls / Valley Of The Dolls
07. Empire - Electric Guitar / Expensive Sound
08. Mi Ami - The Man In Your House - Watersports
09. Staff Benda Bilili - Sala Keba / Très Très Fort
10. Marnie Stern - Risky Biz / Marnie Stern
11. Tommy Dahill - Clear Channel / California Browngrass Music
12. Aids Wolf - Letter To Al Johnson / Clash of the Life-Force Warriors
13. Älgarnas Trädgård - Viriditas / Garden Of The Elks
14. Cabaret Voltaire - Split Second Feeling / Red Mecca
15. Japandroids - To Hell With Good Intentions / No Singles
16. Excepter - Shoot Me First / Self Destruction 3:37
17. Deerhoof - Whither The Invisible Birds? / Friend Opportunity 2:11
18. Discharge - It's No T.V. Sketch / single
19. The Tralala - Everybody's Doin' Fine / Tralala
20. The Saints - Private Affair / Eternally Yours
21. Art Ensemble Of Chicago - Theme Amour Universal / Les Stances à Sophie
22. T.S.O.L. - Abolish Government/Silent Majority / T.S.O.L.
23. Roky Erickson - I Walked With A Zombie / Casting The Runes
24. Foot Village - Napaj / Fuck The Future 2
25. Daniel Johnston - Man At War / Songs Of Pain 1980-81
26. Charlie Parker - Thrivin' From A Riff Tk. 3 - Complete Savoy & Dial Recordings
27. The Lancers - Take Me To Your Leader / Lux and Ivy's Favorites Vol. 14
28. Heratius - M'Perkutor (M'.....Perkutard) / Gwendolyne
29. Le Shok - TV In My Eye / We Are Electrocution
30. Bark Bark Bark - You Could Swim / Haunts
31. David Bowie - She Shook Me Cold / The Man Who Sold The World
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