[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.]
We are in beautiful Olympia, Wash. My shows in Hawaii and Alaska are behind me, and a few hours from now I will be onstage at the Capitol Theater for show No. 3 of the Capitalism Tour, which will take in all 50 state capitals, ending on the eve of the election in Washington, D.C.
I had never been to Juneau, Alaska, before. It was incredibly beautiful and the audience was great, even the drunks who engaged in a conversation at my 11 o'clock for a good part of the night. If you ever get a chance to go up there, I recommend you head straight for Tracy's King Crab Shack, where you will find some of the best-tasting Paralithodes camtschaticus you have ever had.
I have been reflecting quite a bit on the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, which are still causing quite a bit of conversation over America and the world all these days later.
I thought the unbearably saccharine Ann Romney talking to the help and the altogether odd Clint Eastwood serenading a chair routines were going to be the takeaway from the conventions. I mean, how could you hope to top those two? I wasn't inspired at all, but sure was tripped out just how weird they were.
What I wasn't prepared for was how moving and inspiring many of the speakers at the DNC were.
The two parties now have clearly defined and differentiated themselves. One willingly, openly, charismatically; the other cautiously, obtusely and seemingly on a need-to-know basis. I think this will allow voters to make a choice between the two “sides,” which are, at this point, almost the inverse of the other.
Both Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney face great challenges. A lot of people have a strong dislike of Mr. Obama, and they will comprise a major portion of Mr. Romney's base, which is not the best thing. The number of people who are actual supporters of Mr. Romney could very well be less than the Donner Party, whose members they sadly resemble in many ways.
He is an amazingly hard man to like or understand, the Mitt. I was really hoping Herman Cain was going to be the Republican rainmaker. He was the funniest.
I, for one, am happy to again be able to vote for one rather than against the other. The former is far more gratifying and statistically advantageous.
The more I learn about Mr. Romney, the less there is to admire. Matt Taibbi wrote a very interesting piece on the man in Rolling Stone recently called “Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital.” The piece lays it out in classic Taibbi fashion: solidly fact-based and smart-assed. I am an extra big fan.
The problem is that the people who should read it won't, and those who do are already pretty switched on anyway. Popular priorities can be understood by looking at these fast stats. At the time of this writing, Taibbi has about 96,000 Twitter followers. Kim Kardashian has more than 16 million.
Thankfully, there are a lot of things more fun than politics. One of them, of course, is music. One of the upsides of doing a show in Olympia, besides the friendly people and great outdoors, is Rainy Day Records, located across the street from the venue I will be in tonight. It's a small store that makes every square inch count.
When music lovers own and operate a record store, you don't need a lot of space. Remember that Virgin Megastore on Sunset? Big store with not much in it but major-label catalog drek. I would walk to it about once a week in hopes of finding something but rarely did. I was amazed at its vast blandness. Branson should have brought me in as a consultant.
Of course, you take a huge space and fill it with employees who love music and know what's out there, and you get Amoeba.
One thing I try to do is get at least one record every day. I always want some incoming tunage to keep me leaning into the wind, so to speak.
One of the best things about being on tour is the chance to go into record stores and buy records locally. I do this whenever possible, all over the world. Sometimes I am limited to ordering something online, but even then, I make an effort to purchase from a small store or vendor who does mail order. It's important to support the bands and musicians, of course, but you have to support the record stores as well.
I scored big-time at Rainy Day: Peaking Lights, Koudede, Ty Segall and Slug Guts.
One of the best things I know to do is to walk into a record store and take in the stock in one side-to-side panning shot and move toward the section that speaks to me first. One of the not-so-great parts of this is getting about six LPs into the first bin when someone recognizes me and insists on talking to me. It happened today. They mean no harm and I am polite but hopeful that the pleading look in my eyes and my increasing respiration rate makes them understand that I really want to look at these records. If it were me, I would never ever disturb anyone while they are in a record store. One time I stood in line behind Eazy-E at Tower to cash out. I kept trying to see what records he had. The glare I got!
As autumn pushes summer to the back of the memory, I am putting some records away and pulling others out. Until almost the end of the year, most of my listening environments will be small, backstage areas.
I try to listen every day to at least one record I have never heard. On days off, I try for four or five. Once listening to the new is accomplished — that would be the protein part — I go for the familiar. That's the carbohydrate part.
Carb-wise, for the last several days it's been a lot of Buzzcocks, Bowie, U.K. Subs, John Fahey, Hendrix, Zeppelin. I have listened to the Scary Monsters and Houses of the Holy albums so many times in my life, you would think my head would have exploded by now. Back into the Kraftwerk and Neu!, early Fall and Can's Tago Mago as well.
Something to Look Forward to Dept.: Ian MacKaye and Amy Farina are the two members of a band called The Evens. Their third album is done and I have heard it several times. It is my favorite of them all. It will be released on Ian's label, Dischord, in the next few months.
We survived another summer. Now it's time to enjoy the cooler temperatures and get those speakers moving back and forth.