[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.]
I have lived in Los Angeles for many years and, for the last couple of decades, in Hollywood. For me, it's just where I live. Seemingly it is for some a state of mind, a “way of being.” I occasionally get letters informing me that something has happened to me, that I was somehow “different before” living here.
I don't know these people and I bet they don't know what they are talking about, but I play along. I tell them that I just spent the morning hatching liberal/communist plots to plant a tree or donate to an orphanage and will be spending the afternoon with Hanoi Jane Fonda bemoaning the state of things. This usually inspires a foaming, page-long screed mentioning George Soros, Nancy Pelosi and other socialist enemies of the republic. Often, the sender signs off with a nebulous threat. ” … anytime, pussy …”
You might as well enjoy the day – you never know when and how painfully it could all end.
I don't know if you have ever seen the Woody Allen film Annie Hall, but it is in a way to Los Angeles and “Hollywood” what This Is Spinal Tap is to many musicians. L.A. types are parodied mercilessly, and it's pretty damn funny. What makes it stick is that, if you live here long enough, you can actually have a few of those Annie Hall moments. What makes it ironic is that you don't always have them in the places or with the people you think you will.
It has been said, “You gotta serve somebody.” I don't know if I gotta but I know that I do. Do I ever. I am whipped so often that I have to check myself for marks. I serve a woman named Heidi who has been storming into my office for more than 16 years, telling me how it's going to be. For at least a decade, I put up a pretty damn good fight and can claim victory in a few battles. That was a long time ago. Rollinsgrad finally fell and now it's Heidi's way or some highway. When she issues a directive, I reflexively resist, in an effort to “keep it real,” but eventually I cave.
When she informed me that I was going to drink several bottles of juice every two hours and eat nothing until the next day, I thought to myself, “Ohfucknonotmethisisrightoutof?AnnieHall.”
I imagined myself wearing formless white clothes handcrafted by vegan lepers, as well as a necklace of large chunks of wood made by a Druid sect whose members flagellate themselves with it before sending it to Amazon.com's fulfillment center. My sandaled feet filthy, the nails huge, thick and yellow, my guru texting me cool things to say to other people, like, “We are all roses, waiting to be smelled.” There I would be, juice bottle to my lips, ridding my body of the inherent toxic evils of that which I ingest.
Heidi's voice has the effect of a thumbscrew on my brain. I will do almost anything to make it stop. Soon enough, I have submitted and we head to West Hollywood to stock up for my baptism by juice.
Walking into the place, I can almost hear Annie Hall's Alvy Singer nervously walking in circles, berating me for purchasing 50 bucks' worth of juice that will be gone in a matter of hours. I expect all of the people who tell me I am “Hollywood” to appear and explode in laughter and epithets.
This is a familiar place for Heidi. She knows the lay of the land and orders for both of us. Friendly staffers number the bottles for us. Upon cashing out, I forget to breathe when I realize how much money I have just parted with.
The next morning, Heidi's piecing war cry rattles the shutters of the office. “Juice tiiiiiiiiime!” I have covered the labels of my bottles with cynical marker scrawls: “Juicing won't help!” “What is this, a bottle of someone's front lawn?!” etc.
Still, the juice tastes very good. It had better, there sure is a lot of it.
Shhhh, we're cleansing.
Finally, by around 2100 hrs. it's over. I feel the same as usual but hungry. No eating until tomorrow morning! Hey, fuck that. Hummus, pita chips. Good night.
The next morning, all juicey-cleansey, I'm asked if I would like to see the new Jim Jarmusch film, Only Lovers Left Alive, and, a few days later, interview cast member Tilda Swinton after the film rolls at LACMA. As a fan of both, I say sure.
Heidi and I, along with some journalists, watched the film in a small screening room. Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton portray two centuries-old vampires named Adam and Eve. We liked it. I think one needs to be in the right frame of mind for one of Jarmusch's works. He allows scenes to breathe and characters to evolve at a pace that might try the patience of those who need something to explode every few minutes.
So, on the following Monday evening, I was picked up in a car and taken to LACMA. This was an occasion where things should have gotten real Annie Hall. Art-house film, Oscar-winning actress, a sold-out theater. Thankfully, nothing remotely Annie Hall – esque happened. Tilda Swinton arrived, we met, spoke for a while, did some press photos and, after the film was done, took to the stage. Tilda was completely cool, friendly, funny and obviously very bright. I told the audience the reason Jim Jarmusch wasn't there was because he owed me 40 bucks. Everyone laughed.
The next morning, it was juice tiiiiiiiiime. Yes, I caved for a second week. I can't say if it's making me feel different, but I have been pretty energetic during the day. Not eating at night has been very enlightening. Your brain starts tripping out.
Hey, I may be out a c-note so far, but I'm getting cleaner by the minute!