Punk Pioneer Henry Rollins Rolls Into Town

Say what you will: That sun tattoo is solid.

Punk icon Henry Rollins will promote his first book of photographs, Occupants, with an event at Oak Park Public Library on Tuesday, October 18, 2011.

Q101.com likes this dude.  This book may stink for all we know, but Henry’s body of work is solid and he seems like the real deal as a human being.  Q101.com co-owner Mike Noonan reflects on seeing Rollins do a spoken-word performance in 1992 in Milwaukee:

“We expected a sort of vein-popping, ranting, salty poetry performance laced with copious amounts of profanity and flying chunks of spittle, but it turned out to be more of a stand-up routine.  The dude had pretty spot-on comedic timing and he was so well-practiced as an orator, especially doing an act that John Leguizamo himself could appreciate, I was stunned to learn that this type of show was not at all ‘Rollins-esque.’  He seemed like he had done this show for years and years.

Rollins had just lost a longtime friend/roadie/confident to murder months earlier, and it apparently affected him to the core.  The result was a candid, very funny, sober, refreshing, and at times searingly-introspective 90-minute monologue.  The two moments that still linger so freshly in my mind about that night were his recounting of his friend’s assassination which was heart-wrenching to say the least, and his hysterical re-telling of hanging out with Matthew and Gunnar Nelson.  Both stories seemed to be imparting the very same morel: ‘Life is short, fleeting, even capricious.  Soak it up.  Stop pre-judging people, places, and things and start experiencing them before deciding if they’re authentic or worthwhile.’

Rollins has become a mainstream character (even a laughingstock to some so-called ‘punk die-hards’ I’m quite sure), but in 1992 he was still very much a punk icon after appearing on the first-ever Lollapalloza Tour to promote his incredible Rollins Band record, ‘The End of Silence’, and certainly fronting the California-based punk band ‘Black Flag’.  It was laughable to others, and especially him he admitted, when the Nelson twins (oh they of their flowing long blonde locks and cheese-ball made-for-MTV anthems and, literally, their ‘Ozzie and Harriot’ childhood) invited him to their place to ‘hang out.’

Rollins intimated he resisted the urge to tell them to fuck off, and showed up expecting to hate Nelson almost as much as the rest of America did by then.  Instead, he said he learned a ton that night, about others, about himself, and about life.  ‘They were cool,’ he acknowledged to the horror of the crowd in attendance on the campus of Marquette University that fall evening.  Rollins and the Nelsons became close friends, and he remarked how he almost missed his chance to get to know them, simply because he almost let his own delusions of grandeur and preconceived notions hold him back.

The speech he delivered took some balls at several junctures as Rollins was clearly exorcising some demons that night, and presumably, on that tour.   It’s no surprise to me that he went on to do many ‘Non-Punk-Approved’ endeavors.  Clearly, he was done seeking the approval of others after seeing his friend murdered in cold blood.  Gotta dig someone who lives like that. Hopefully, we all don’t need a wake up call like he got to start seizing the day.  Carpe diem, and stay thirsty my friends.”

Here’s what Henry’s public relations flaks say about his new book:  In Occupants, HENRY harnesses his powerful vision through a stunning collection of photographs and writings that provide an eye-opening introduction to the volatile places he’s visited, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Mali, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria and Vietnam. Occupants pairs HENRY’S searing, full-color photos with his signature politically charged, outspoken yet since style, which effectively heightens the impact of the images. For more info on HENRY, visit http://www.henryrollins.com.


What: Book signing and discussion
When: Tuesday, October 18 at 7:00 PM

Where: Oak Park Public Library (834 Lake St., Oak Park, IL 60301)

Cost: Free and open to the public

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