Iggy Pop at FYF FestEXPAND
Iggy Pop at FYF Fest
Mathew Tucciarone

Henry Rollins: Enough Trump — Let's Talk About How Great Iggy Pop Was at FYF

There’s a Monty Python sketch in which a man in a restaurant is frustrated because everything on the menu seems to have some rat in it. That’s how things are in the age of comrade Trump. It would be great if he would tweet, “I’m the reason you can’t have nice things. SAD! #inwayovermyhead.” No matter what good things happen, there’s probably a bit of Trump in it.

Beyond his faithful base, a lot of people watch the Trump Crime Organization the way they watched the O.J. Simpson trial. “Witch hunt” is the new “if the glove doesn’t fit.” The news is no longer news. It’s ultra-weird comedy cranked out by a room full of writers all named Franz Kafka. It has become an all-too-predictable-but-impossible-to-resist chain of events. Comrade Trump says or tweets something absolutely preposterous, unprovable or contradictory during the week, and the flacks have to front it, taking reality and credibility on such a gutter crawl that you’re almost impressed at the size and scope of the alternative reality they can create in less than seven minutes.

Trump attorney Jay Sekulow, for example, was absolutely amazing when he shimmied and shook with George Stephanopoulos last month.

Stephanopoulos: “Do you believe the president can pardon himself?”

Sekulow: “I don’t think that you can — that — first of all, it’s never been adjudicated, whether a president could pardon himself, because it’s not happened.

“But clearly, the Constitution does vest a plenary pardon power within the presidency. Whether it would apply to the president himself, well, I think, ultimately, would be a matter for a court to decide, if it were to ever come into an existence.

“As I said, that’s not something that we’re looking at. But from a constitutional and legal perspective — and you can’t dismiss it one way or the other. I think it’s a question that would ultimately, if put in place, would probably have to be adjudicated by the Supreme Court to determine constitutionality.

“The document itself — we’re talking about the document, the Constitution, Article Two — is very clear, the pardon has — the president has the power to pardon. But again, there’s academics that are arguing both sides of this. And as I said, we’re not researching it. I haven’t researched it because it’s not an issue we’re concerned with or dealing with.”

Wow, 183 words. Didn’t answer the question. It also sounds like he researched it quite a bit.

Casting agents search for the actor to tie the ensemble together. For an administration that looks as if it could have been cut from the cloth of The Godfather Part III, where the Mafia guys were kinda corny, Trump seemingly found his man in Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director — until he was fired after just two weeks. The decomposition rate of this administration is dizzying.

Thankfully, it’s not all completely awful. FYF just wrapped another great year and supplied me with two-thirds of one of the best triple bills I’ve ever seen.

The first band up was Fushitsusha, which features the truly amazing Keiji Haino on guitar. I’m willing to bet his playing isn’t for everyone, but it works for me. I’ve been following his prolific recording output for years but had never seen him live.

I got to Zebulon about 30 minutes before they were scheduled to start. I got in, went to the front and waited. Right around 2130 hrs., out comes Keiji Haino, bassist Yasumune Morishige and Ryosuke Kiyasu on drums. After the initial applause died down, the room became quiet. I think it was a mixture of respect, anticipation, expectation and everyone in the room just taking in the fact that the man is standing right there.

Keiji Haino doesn’t look like anyone you know. He put his guitar on, walked up to the mic and, to the best of my memory and ability to understand, said, “This is music. This is not music. This is jazz. This is not jazz.” And then the trio commenced perhaps the single most mindblowing set of music I have ever experienced. There is nothing I can compare it to, not even any Fushitsusha recordings. For two hours and 49 minutes, the band reinvented the wheel over and over. Days later, I’m still trying to get my head around it.

The next day, at FYF, I leapt out of a van containing Iggy Pop’s band and proceeded directly to the sound of Ty Segall and his insanely great band, who were starting the first song of their set. I couldn’t believe how lucky my timing was. They tore it to pieces. Ty’s records are excellent, but live, he absolutely wrecks it. The set was the perfect example of why you go to a show.

I was allowed an hour off to repair and prepare for the Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of Rock & Roll, set to go on at 1920 hrs. I know I am guilty of filling my humble column with too many laudatory words about Iggy Pop, but to me, he and his work, solo and with The Stooges, are so integral to the story of modern rock & roll that it warrants repeated mention.

One of my favorite parts of his set is watching young people watch Iggy. It’s so cool to see so many smiling faces. Iggy is 70. He is history, a work in progress and a living artistic statement. There is wild perfection to what he does up there that is so rare. Whenever he and the band play “Lust for Life” and Iggy says, “I’m worth a million in prizes,” I can’t get over how cool that line is.

Hours later, I am back at the house, the real world bearing down once again.

Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the playlist for his Sunday KCRW broadcast.


More from the mind of Henry Rollins:
Make America Filthy, Hungry, Broke and Stupid Again
Ask Yourself What Side of History You Want to Be on
Don't Let the Trump Show Distract You From What's Really Going On

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