[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 Saturday KCRW broadcast.]
I spent a large part of the afternoon attempting to elevate my mood in preparation to write to you. I only want to bring you my best, such as it is. I tried to get myself out of the ditch but was, for the most part, unable.
I was momentarily pulled from the deeper and darker depths by listening to Scott Walker's absolutely incredible Bish Bosch album, released by 4AD late last year. Here's the thing: I cannot recommend it to you. Now, if I can't with any confidence implore you to petition your local music vendor for a copy of this 73-minute collection of cathartic, confrontational, hilarious and often troubling songs, then what good could it be possibly doing me? Fair question.
I guess one of the things I like most about the album is what I admire about Mr. Walker. He is 70 years old and has been making records since the 1960s. He has been steadily and quietly amazing all this time. A lot of people have dipped into his well and, in my opinion, Scott Walker has given way better than he got. He has saved his most innovative and challenging work for the later part of his life. His albums Tilt, The Drift and Bish Bosch are nothing like what he did with John Maus in The Walker Brothers decades before.
Few artists reinvent themselves to the degree that Scott Walker has for reasons other than trying to stay relevant; the results usually are less than great. Another artist who left many fans scratching their heads was the master musician John Fahey, whose late albums The Mill Pond, Womblife, Hitomi and the posthumously released Red Cross are nothing like his early Blind Joe Death recordings from decades before. (Fahey died in 2001.) They are, however, really cool.
So, even as Mr. Walker was nervously crooning insults at me in his trembling, high-pitched voice, like a balladeering Louis-Ferdinand Céline — Does your face hurt?… Cuz it's killing me… — I still found myself distracted and somewhat depressed. Rather than be disingenuous, I thought I might as well drag you along this dark road with me for a while.
Confession: I love America. Nothing moves me more than the history of the United States. Not music, not even pizza. People like Jefferson, Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony and MLK are larger than life to me. I find myself staring at photographs of Lincoln almost in disbelief that he was a man who walked the earth and not merely some fiction writer's creation.
I am no expert or scholar but, like millions of other Americans, I am a huge fan of the United States. That said, I am not unaware of America's less than enviable (to downright deplorable) acts and policies, both domestic and abroad. These matters, as I see them, elicit my vociferous protest, as Thomas Jefferson no doubt would have encouraged.
One of the things I like most about America — and believe to be one of the materials for our future security and defense, to coin a phrase of President Lincoln from 1838 — is our empathy. After the shootings in Newtown, you could almost feel the waves of grief cause a coast-to-coast shudder, and we all became Connecticutians. Of course, the Westboro Baptist Churchers were ecstatic and Professor James Tracy of Florida Atlantic University doubted the massacre even happened, but the rest of us had our hearts broken.
It is what came afterward that has been aggravation on top of Mount Misery. We have already discussed NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre's mo' guns mo' better concepts, but now there is a new lone gunman in the headlines. James Yeager of Tactical Response got a lot of notice when he posted a video of himself saying that if gun legislation were any more restrictive, he would start killing people. He appeared in another video almost immediately after that, sitting next to his lawyer to perhaps walk back his previous hyperbolic ejaculations.
I disagree with pretty much everything Mr. Yeager said, but not the spirit in which he spouted his dead-end drek. I believe he loves America as much as anyone. However, I do not agree with what he considers to be his enemy.
Here is the truth as I see it: James Yeager really doesn't have any enemies, not in America anyway. I am certainly not his enemy, and no matter what mean names he may call me, he is not mine. I can see him now with his fellow patriots, weapons loaded, lunches packed, as they go out on patrol, looking to neutralize governmental tyranny. I can also see a bunch of people asking to take photos with them, saying they loved them in The Expendables 2. I don't think the U.S. government is going to be laying any tyranny on us in the foreseeable future.
I think Mr. Yeager is surrounded by some of the finest and most dependable allies a self-styled mercenary could ever hope for — that is to say, you and me. I think his patriotism is intact but his premise is off. Please, man, no more talk about shooting Americans. I've had enough.
But even more exasperating was the poor use of Alex Jones. The man is a superstar, and the mainstream let him go without tapping even a small fraction of his potential.
His seething baby-man explosion on Piers Morgan's show and subsequent jiggling on Huffington Post Television with female pundits' deadpan responses to his spit-flying delivery should have been only the start. If it were up to me, Mr. Jones would be in the next installment of The Hangover, he would replace Sandy Duncan in Peter Pan, he would be made an honorary Kardashian sister and, when the Spice Girls re-form, he could join them as Conspira Spice. He could fire Donald Trump and carry the Olympic torch. He is that damn good.
Super-duper suicide poison pills! Chem-trail black helicopter monkeys! YoureindangerYoureindanger!!! That's just it — we're not. But we can do better than this.
Please man, no more talk about shooting Americans. I've had enough.