After two flights, I’m in Hamburg, Germany. I have three shows at the Wacken Festival later this week.
As soon as I left the airport and made contact with the air outside, I started sweating. It’s summer. There’s heat and humidity. It feels different than Los Angeles weather, which doesn’t register as all that seasonal to me. Not trying to complain, but I find the static heat of Southern California makes it difficult to distinguish one day from the next. Time rolls by like tumbleweeds, a generic item bought in bulk. It radiates a Joan Didionesque feeling of slow asphyxiation. This is why, when I’m in Los Angeles during summer, I listen to a lot of music, so the days simmer and inspire more than bake and sedate.
I don’t know why, but I get invited to Wacken often. I’ve only declined once, as I was working elsewhere on location at the time. This will be my fourth multishow stand at this metal fest that sells out every year in advance, at over 70,000 people. I’m looking forward to getting onstage.
Rarely do I feel in my element unless I’m on my own. On the opposite side, the other time I’m convinced I’m in the right place is when I’m performing at a festival. The bands set to play are the attraction, but what makes a festival truly great is the level of care taken for the audience. Any detail unconsidered or cost-cutting measure could turn into a nightmare.
Thousands of people living in what looks like a groovy refugee camp is a challenging environment to endure even for a few days. But when the event organizers prioritize safety, mobility, access and just plain enjoyment, as they do at Wacken, celebrants can rock from beginning to end, perhaps looking ever so slightly forward to the sanctity of their own homes but rich with experiences that made it all worthwhile.
The festival, a temporary village, exists outside of the politics of the country in which it happens. It’s not sustainable, but it shows you how people can get along, how potentially amazing we can be when good intent meets smart planning. One doesn’t have to go to a music festival to learn the tenets of community, but it can be a great place to learn ways of conduct and interaction that are quite positive going forward.
I mention this because when I checked the news earlier today, I found out that Anthony Scaramucci hung up his spikes and was escorted off the White House grounds. Since it’s all fake news anyway, allow me to mangle and augment a recent quote from the 10 days of da Mooch:
“I've seen this guy throw a dead spiral through a tire, I've seen him at Madison Square Garden with a topcoat on, standing in the key and hitting foul shots and swishing them — he sinks 3-foot putts and throws grown men under the bus. When those wheels are running over your ribcage and you think you’re puking your guts? It feels like a kiss. I love this president.”
The only advice Trump seems to take is that which puts his presidency in ever greater peril.
Reportedly, Scaramucci’s resignation was at the request of the new chief of staff, John Kelly, who moved from his position as United States Secretary of Homeland Security. Maybe Mr. Kelly’s appointment is the start of an effort to make this young administration less reality show and more about working on the behalf of all Americans. If that’s the case, great, but it’s all for nothing if comrade Trump won’t listen.
Trump and Kelly have something in common with the now-departed Scaramucci: Neither of them really know what their jobs entail. That Kelly has the wherewithal to tell the president a lot of things he doesn’t want to hear isn’t the question. The only advice Trump seems to take is that which puts his presidency in ever greater peril.
As an employer, this administration routinely and rapidly dims the futures of adults who have put everything on the line. You might not like Sean Spicer. Sean might not like himself right now. But he’s a longtime Republican operative whose reputation has been shredded and permanently shit-dipped by Trump. Spicer should have, to a great degree, seen it coming; a president who would send him out to the podium every day, having to defend the indefensible to a room full of smart reporters who saw through what he was saying as soon as he said it. Spicer torched his reputation almost immediately the morning he trotted out the falsities about the inauguration attendance numbers. You could hear it in his voice: He knew what he was trying to sell was garbage and that he wouldn’t be able to do it. I just wonder if Spicer and Priebus knew how bad things were going to get.
The last several months have proven that Trump is immune to council. I wonder how long Kelly will last.
It’s below Trump’s idea of himself to even listen, much less act upon, what he’s told. Adults don’t change. Trump is the man a little less than half the electorate chose, and whom the entire world must now endure.
There seems to be two types in the Trump administration. Assholes like Conway and Scaramucci, who knew what they were getting into and dig it, and those like Spicer and Priebus, who showed up for work, thinking it was going to be long days, full of doing very hard, complicated and important work. It’s now obvious that neither variety can describe their position as secure. Meanwhile, the one person in the building who thought his job wouldn’t take much time and would be so easy is their boss.
Over three shows, I will attempt some damage control as I assure the audience that Americans are good and our relationship with Germany, in spite of recent events, remains solid — even though their chancellor might not agree.
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