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Henry Rollins: Harmony at Dischord

[Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here on West Coast Sound every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the awesomely annotated playlist for his Sunday KCRW broadcast.]

See also: Henry Rollins: Thinking For Myself

I am writing to you from one of my favorite spots anywhere. I am at Dischord House in Virginia, home of the mighty Dischord Records, one of the ground-floor record labels in America.

Dischord is owned and operated by Ian Mac­Kaye of Minor Threat and Fugazi fame. His current band, the Evens, just wrapped up several SoCal shows. I have been visiting this place since Ian and some other Dischordions moved in here almost 32 years ago.

Ian is a few feet away from me, in his small office wallpapered with album covers, photos, letters -- some of these have been tacked up since the early '80s.

In the doorway that joins the dining room to the kitchen, there is an adjustable chin-up bar. This was mine from when I still lived in D.C. It is bent from the time the members of Rites of Spring collectively hung from it in 1984.

There is a great sense of permanence about Dischord House that I very much enjoy. My life is, for the most part, a sleep-deprived, omni-directional, grab-ass blur. Dischord House is a rock, a true referential reset.

Over the decades, Dischord has released hundreds of records and bravely sailed the seas of consequence through musical trends and the ebb/flow of economic convulsions. Perhaps one of the reasons Dischord remains thriving while many other labels, hard-working and honest, have sadly closed up shop is that Dischord keeps things spare and simple.

Dischord initially started as a vehicle to release the EP Minor Disturbance from Ian's band, The Teen Idles. Dischord quickly turned into a small label, dedicated to releasing the music of bands from the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area. In fact, my band's EP was Dischord No. 2, Minor Threat's first release was No. 3. Prices are kept low and the mail-order service is prompt. Dischord distributes other local labels, expanding the access of people all over the world to amazing music. It is a sturdy and vigorous machine, Dischord.

Meanwhile, the production company I've been working with has been kind enough to give me the use of a rental car, which allows me to have a life in the scant hours we're not working, and to check out some of my old neighborhood streets.

I'm not staying near where I used to live. I'm stationed in a part of Virginia where almost every street seems all too quickly to turn into a highway, sending unfamiliar me off to an airport, a Civil War battlefield or Pittsburgh. A short drive turns into an almost hourlong, multihighway bushwhack back to where I started.

It is interesting to be in the area where I spent the first 20 years of my life but not have the time to do much. Other than, that is, shoot on location for 12 or more hours, go to the gym, eat while reviewing materials for the next day's work and then trying to get a few hours of sleep before it all starts again bright and early. We are working a six-day week. The moments away from work are rare.

Across from where I am living is a small sandwich shop that stays open late. I was in there a few nights ago, after a 13-hour day. The manager recognized me and we got to talking. He hates his daily commute of 34 miles each way, which often requires an hour in each direction. He takes out his aggression on his automobile. "I am trying to kill my car," he tells me. "It's an old Toyota four-speed that refuses to die. I can get it to 104 going downhill if I'm in a hurry." He concludes with a statement I've never heard anyone say: "I drive it like a raped gorilla." Not the greatest image to entertain right before dinner.

Since the Boston Marathon bombing and the ricin-letter scar, our schedule here has gone a bit awry. Access we were promised is suddenly revoked and we're forced to scramble, as the speculation and spin picks up a freakish momentum.

Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, the mother of the implicated bombers, insists her sons, Tamerlan (dead) and Dzhokar (in custody) are innocent. I can understand a grieving mother's pain, but she's a real piece of work. She is, however, in interesting company with the Alex Jones crowd, which has, unsurprisingly, a fairly surreal take on what happened in Boston.

On Jones' Infowars.com, you can purchase a T-shirt with the Second Amendment of the Constitution written in the shape of an assault weapon, complete with high-capacity magazine, where "the right of the people" is crammed in. Sport one of these and get ready to hear "Hey, sexy!" all summer. You can also read some of the best comment postings anywhere.

Underneath an article about the bomb-mom: "Has anyone put a pressure cooker loaded with weights in a backpack and photographed it to compare and contrast to the ones on the patsi.... Sorry suspects?"

Pause for sanity:

"You guys are too funny. What next? Superstorm Sandy was staged?"

Then right back to it:

"Maybe? Ever heard of *HARRP?" (*High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program)

What a time we're having. I'm still into that idea I had weeks ago of Alex Jones in a Peter Pan outfit swinging on cables at the Pantages for 20 sold-out nights. He and his fans with rifles, on the other hand, doesn't excite me nearly as much.

Between the awful events in Boston and Jodi Arias, the pundits won't have to do any heavy lifting for weeks.

Thankfully, you and I have an endless supply of music to see us through times of turbulence. May I suggest the newly released John Coltrane Sun Ship: Complete Sessions two-CD set or the three-LP version (limited 3,500 pressed) on Mosaic. Now we're making sense.

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