It’s been an interesting if not unsettling couple of weeks with the back-to-back Republican and Democratic national conventions.
The RNC is always more interesting. The speakers strike me as bizarre, brimming with bellicose, unhinged derangement. Clint Eastwood and the chair was the best one-man show I had ever seen, until Ted Cruz spoke at this year’s RNC. Cruz’s speech started with his usual banal sentiments and Joe McCarthy–esque smarm, so truly cringeworthy they almost stop time. Who knew that this patter was only the Trojan horse for his ninja ghost punch of not mentioning Donald Trump, thus invoking the roiling anger of the audience, already seething at the idea that Hillary “Lock Her Up” Clinton might be the next president?
Mr. Cruz smacked the scariest hornet’s nest in America. Don’t do it, maaaan! There’s a Toby Keith song about that. Perhaps it was all those times of being called “Lyin’ Ted” that inspired the Cruzer to take the trumpshot for the score. If Cruz thought that was the best way to insert his finger into the rectum of the 2020 election, it will be interesting to see what he comes up with next. There is no way you’ve seen the last of that guy.
When any political operative invokes God, I tune out immediately. There was so much God at the RNC, it was as if the omnipotent entity was running and not Trump. Through all the speeches, the main topics seemed to be God, exterminating the enemy (“for the last seven years, we’ve been too easy on them because the president is a pussy Muslim sticking up for his extremist buds”), the failures of Obama’s tyrannical administration, the Great Wall of Trump, and the despicable Hillary. Oh, and the lack of freedom. It’s as if they have been living with dry cleaning bags over their heads, struggling for breath in a Stalinesque nightmare of regulation and same-sex marriage.
I am genuinely afraid of these people. They seem think that a Trump victory will exact some kind of revenge upon those who wanted to keep America from being great again — which I guess means people like me. I get angry letters asking what I’m going to do if Trump gets elected, as if life as I know it will be over. I reply that I will enjoy the tax cuts and keep on groovin’.
Sometimes I get the feeling that there are a lot of Americans who get off on the deeply divided state of things.
The selling of Hillary Clinton will be one of the heaviest lifts in American politics since they tried to make Nixon palatable. The anger directed toward Ms. Clinton not only from Republicans but from Sanders supporters is off the charts. Many Sanders supporters must feel betrayed on a Shakespearean level. Then there are the citizens like me, who think she is a robotic political machine, powered down at night, rebooted in the morning and uploaded with the newest software upgrades.
No matter which team wins, there will be literally millions of truly mad Americans to share the roads with. I know that seems like the situation now, but until the votes are in, everyone thinks their candidate will be the one. This summer, as hot as it is, might be the last enjoyable one for quite some time.
I don’t know how it is in other countries, but sometimes I get the feeling that there are a lot of Americans who get off on the deeply divided state of things, as if it helps them to define themselves.
We humans are a fantastic pain in the ass because we’re right about everything. Just ask us. Knowing that it’s rare that someone changes their mind about much of anything, I try not to waste time or put myself in situations that could be detrimental to my good looks and abundant humility. In the midst of this ever more loathsome election cycle, I remind myself that all is not lost by keeping music on. Right now, I’m listening to James Brown’s Revolution of the Mind: Recorded Live at the Apollo Vol. III, four sides of sheer perfection.
One day, I was sitting next to Mr. Brown at a press conference. A journalist asked me to say something about him. I told the guy that James Brown made the best live album of all time with Revolution of the Mind. The Godfather of Soul hugged me and said, “This man knows what he’s talking about!”
I think the best experiences of my life are almost all music-related.
A few days ago, I was at Hollywood Forever, the cemetery and venue on Santa Monica Boulevard. I went to be part of the Johnny Ramone tribute that Linda Ramone, Johnny’s widow, puts on every year.
Several minutes after arriving, I had another one of those fantastic music-related experiences. What I witnessed was as great as being onstage talking about The Ramones to fellow Ramones fans later that evening.
I was in a trailer, waiting for the show to start. John Doe of X and Steve Jones of The Sex Pistols came in to rehearse a song they were going to play that night. I watched them work on The Ramones’ classic “Rock ’n’ Roll High School.” Jones on acoustic guitar, Doe on vocals. They sounded great!
It occurred to me that the first time the three of us were in the same room was at a Ramones show in November of 1984 at the Palladium, and there we were again, brought together by one of the greatest rock bands ever. That’s what I took to the stage for my brief time I was allowed — the idea that when humans are in the right setting, like a bunch of Ramones fans hanging out, we can get along quite well.
It’s enough to make you keep trying. I wish I could vote for that.
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:
Let's Invade Canada
Bend Over, America — Here Comes President Trump
I Am Basically a Vinyl Cat Lady
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