"Like being licked by a cat for four hours" is how Henry Rollins describes his own show which, depending on whether you're a cat person or not, can be a fantastic or torturous way to spend an evening.
At Friday's Largo show, the first of three nights in LA, he held true to his promise of several hours of cat lickery. And at the end, relaxing the tense, war-like panther stance he had assumed for much of the show, Rollins apologized for the "endless barrage of words" he had just expelled.
We checked our iPhone clocks--dayum, yes it had indeed been three hours of non-stop verbiage, during which Rollins, possessed by the combined oratorial spirit of Hamlet, Billy Graham and Al Sharpton--on Adderal--took us on a guided tour of his super-charged mind.
"Since October of last year I have been off the road 17 days," he told us. That said, he hasn't played in LA "for years". He doesn't like to play in LA, in fact he finds the entire state of California "mildly terrifying".
"There are some really heavy people here," he says--like the lady who very recently reported him to the cops for sexually assaulting her at Iguana's Bar in Pico Rivera. The fact that he was in Canada at the time of the supposed incident, facing off with Ann Coulter on their respective speaking tours, was a reliable enough alibi to have the LAPD dismiss the charges. But he was rattled, nonetheless. LA cops, he admits, have "truckloads of my fear."
Rollins informs us what it feels like to be a 49-year-old punk rocker in Hollywood who is, as he kept reminding us, "hurtling towards middle age". What are you supposed to say to your doctor just after he pulls his finger out of your ass, he laments, reflecting on a recent prostate exam at Cedars-Sinai. What does it mean if you masturbate in front of the mirror after being heavily turned on by a trannie while judging RuPaul's Drag Race? And why do I drive a Suburu? Henry Rollins' mid-life crisis is about as magnificent as they come.
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Rollins' dense oral barrage ventured beyond his journey into middle age, though. He expounded upon issues more global in nature, recounting moments from a breakneck three-month trip that took place just before he started this most recent speaking tour. The liveliest advocate for world travel since Phileas Fogg, Rollins specifically took it upon himself to visit places that Americans aren't supposed to go to. Like Tehran. Jakarta. Laos.
Henry Rollins, we learned, is a highly-engaging geography teacher. We find out there are three different types of whip for self-flagellation during the festival of Zanjeer Zan, as celebrated in parts of Iran. We learn about the beautiful preamble of the South African constitution (Rollins knows it word for word.) We learn about the winding roads toward the Plain of Jars in Laos. We imagine what it feels like to smell like a camel in Mali.
At the end of the show Rollins encourages us all to pack our bags and see what the world has to hold. In his eyes, open-minded travel and exploration are as vital to the evolution of American society as punk rock once was. And after three hours we do, indeed, feel ready to take on the world--surely a spot of independent travel can't be half as intense as a Rollins show.