Henry Rollins: If Only Our President Could Be as Classy as Ariana Grande
The recent attacks in England you wouldn't wish on any country. That being said, if there is any country that will not be brought down by horrific acts such as these, it's England. It's just a small island in the Atlantic, but it has endured and survived plague, wars and terror attacks. They get back up immediately and get on with it.
It's almost as if England's history has been coded into the DNA of its people. Most of them aren't old enough to remember the bombings in WWII, when the country was pounded relentlessly, but something from that carried forward into those who are around now — a resolve, a hardness that is still there, even if it's insulated by several layers of sensitivity and civility.
Obviously you can't broad-brush a country's citizens. But at this point, I have spent so much time in England that I think I have gotten a read on the people, and they're pretty damn amazing.
I think this firmness informs the thousands of great records that have come out of England. Bands such as Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones hit the blues so hard, they gave the whole genre new life. If you listen to the first four Black Sabbath albums and look around at what was happening musically in England at the time, you have to conclude that this band, whose critics accused them of stupidity and musical incompetence (which was wildly off the mark), were visionaries who stood their ground. With an estimated 70 million records sold worldwide, Sabbath wins.
Johnn Novello, Tom Scott, Chris Standring
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Chin Up Kid, Morning in May
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Orphaned Land, Pain, Voodoo Kung Fu
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Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
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Salute to John Coltrane
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Without a good drummer, it doesn't matter how talented the rest of the band is. Some of the finest drummers in any strain of rock you can think of are from England. There are the obvious names such as John Bonham, Keith Moon, Bill Ward, Ginger Baker and Ringo Starr, but if you spend a little more time on the topic, you're almost knocked over by a percussion horde: Mitch Mitchell, Cozy Powell, Jerry Shirley, Kenney Jones, Rat Scabies, and they're just a fraction of the old guard.
Did you see Iggy on any of the dates he did with Josh Homme last year? The drummer was Matt Helders, from Arctic Monkeys. He's incredible. England has great musicians falling out of trees.
The attacks in Paris in November 2015 were perfectly awful. If you want to bring a maximum amount of harm to as many people as possible, a sporting event or a rock show are two of the best possible places to do it. When I found out about what had happened at the Bataclan Theatre in Paris, I got that Sept. 11 feeling again, that something really great was never going to be the same again. The attack in Manchester was planned for similar effect.
Cities in England often are tricky to navigate. Streets change names as they wind and turn or abruptly end. If you're not local, you could be in for quite the pedestrian adventure. The sidewalks are narrow, and in good weather the touristy spots are packed. London is one of the most popular visitor destinations in the world. As soon as you're outside, you're one of the masses and a potential target. Unless you want to live inside, you just have to get on with your life.
When I was 10 or 11, I went to London with my mother. Our travel was limited by IRA activity. I forget how she explained it to me, but I remember being really scared by the fact that if something bad happened, you wouldn't see it coming.
In the world of people, these are your choices — you either cower or get on with living. After all that's been realized from so many centuries of human existence, that's what you're left with.
A lot of work goes into getting to the bad guys before they can strike. Most of us aren't in that business. On the civilian side, there are people with considerable traction who get things done, like the benefit concert put on by Ariana Grande and company, which was the right thing to do. There are others who have the biggest voice in the room and you would hope they use it carefully and wisely. After the attack, London mayor Sadiq Khan stated:
"Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days. There's no reason to be alarmed. One of the things the police and all of us need to do is ensure that we're as safe as we possibly can be. I'm reassured that we are one of the safest global cities in the world, if not the safest global city, but we always evolve and review to make sure we're as safe as we possibly can be."
A perfect example of what not to say was unsurprisingly perpetrated by the two-legged disaster known as comrade Trump. Trump, as the chief executive and spokesman for all Americans, could only barf onto his Twitter account: "At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is 'no reason to be alarmed!'?"
What's with this guy? He's the president of the United States and for the world to see, he got outclassed by a city mayor and pop stars a fraction of his age, who went right back into the pain and got to work. The worst part about it is that Trump thinks he's telling it like it is or some such bullshit, but really he's being played like the soft-handed dupe of privilege he truly is.
Hopefully, America's long-standing alliances with France, Germany and England will withstand this misguided slug.
More from the mind of Henry Rollins:
White America Couldn't Handle What Black America Deals With Every Day
Bowie's Blackstar Is on the Level of Low and Heroes
No Matter Who Wins, America Is Only Going to Get Angrier
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