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Henry Rollins: Why I'm Not Playing Music Anymore

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Thu, May 16, 2013 at 3:45 AM

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[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: Harmony at Dischord

Immediately, I would like to apologize for writing to you from my current degree of exhaustion. Though I am seemingly too tired at day's end to even lift my fork, I have to say that things are going well.

I have been living in the Arlington, Va., area for about two weeks now, working on a history-based television series that probably will roll out later this year. That is a lot of good talk, but we have to get the thing done first. Our excellent producer has set the bar very high, and we are all leaping up to it as best we can.

The days often start early with a crew meeting in our first cameraman's room. Walkies are redistributed, now charged, gear is checked, and our producer breaks down the day's locations, considerations and potential challenges. Permits. Lots of permits. We are briefed about our guests; their time limits, range of expertise, etc. Personnel are divided into groups and directed to different vehicles and away we go, into the snarl of morning Pentagon- and city-bound traffic.

Besides merciful moments of B-roll acquisition, I am pretty much in every shot. I interview scholars, experts and experienced veterans of their respective fields. All of them require a full run to keep up with. As they speak, names, dates and assorted bit of information swirl in my head like a ticker-tape parade. My job is to keep it all moving along and somehow encourage our subjects not to throw their hands up in frustration and bolt!

I am hanging in there as best I can.

At the end of the day, we drag ourselves back into our rooms for a few hours. Not long after I have gone semi-comatose/paralytic in a chair, there is the now-familiar sound of rustling paper under my door. It is the often 40-plus pages of information I need to be conversant in for the next day of work. I read as much as I can until I am unable, set the alarm and get the lights out.

Soon enough, I am back up again. I finish the reading, shower up, coffee, protein shake and off to the crew meet.

This is work I am lucky to get and I am grateful for it, but damn, it takes a lot out of me to get it over the wall. It is in this environment of performance, adaptability and endurance that I thrive and feel right. That being said, it makes that which lives outside of this world often difficult for me to handle.

From the window of the room I am living in, I can see the National Cathedral. That's near my old neighborhood in Washington, D.C. From this building, I am only a few miles away from Dischord House. I am here, yet at the same time I am not. This existential duality is as frustrating as it is emotionally confusing.

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