Our Man in Pyongyang: Our Intrepid Reporter Henry Rollins Ventures Into North Korea
[The one and only Henry Rollins will be contributing a weekly column and far-reaching reportage to the music section of the LA Weekly. Look for your weekly Henry Rollins fix right here on West Coast Sound every Friday and make sure to tune in to Henry's KCRW radio show every Saturday evening, or online, or as a podcast, or however else you decided to listen to the most eclectic DJ on LA's airwaves.
Maura Lanahan Our eminent columnist, Mr. Henry Rollins!
This installment includes Henry's letter from Beijing on his way to North Korea (yep, North Korea) and the awesomely annontated playlist for his KCRW BROADCAST #80 for tomorrow, Saturday 9-11-10. For more details please visit KCRW.com and HenryRollins.com]
[September 5, 2010]
Here's an obscure reference. It's been about a day since I have slept so it's par for the course, here I go.
Several months ago, I read a book that I learned a lot from called In the Jaws of the Dragon: America's Fate in the Coming Era of Chinese Hegemony by Eamonn Fingleton. Fingleton's has a brilliant mind and the book taught me a lot about America's relationship with China as to trade and finance. Ok, a lot of it went over my head and most of the time, I just sat at the pool and held it out of my face to impress the chicks, but I read the back cover and think I am all the better for it.
It's not for me to suggest a book, but I thought it was excellent. One of the things that Fingleton writes quite a bit about in the book is the person from the West who lives in China and in order to keep his job, has become a China apologist. To my knowledge, I had never met one before. I believe I met one a few hours ago.
I shared a ride to the hotel I am staying at here in Beijing, China. This man, a European, spent the entire ride through the incredibly hazy air, telling me that the facts and figures of the Tiananmen Square Riot in 1989 are all wrong and that not many people were killed. After he was done with that feat of historical revision, he went onto the topic of Tibet and how the Chinese are getting the raw deal there, etc. I just listened and thought about Mr. Fingleton's book. Ok, now it's you who probably feels like you have not slept in a day, just having trudged through the above.
I flew here today from San Francisco. Almost twelve hours in the air to get here. We were all happy sardines in the back of the plane and got along just fine. I got tired of singing "One Hundred Bottles Of Beer On The Wall" for the third time but I gave it all I had.
I am overnighting it here in Beijing because in the morning, I fly to Pyongyang, North Korea and will be out of internet range for several days. I don't want to miss my deadline for our weekly get together, so I am sending this in early, where it will pace the floor of its cell until it is posted at the end of the week.
This journey into North Korea was literally years in the making. My original concept was to go to all three "Axis Of Evil" countries while George Bush was still president. I got to two of them, Iraq and Iran but North Korea was the one I couldn't get to in time. Better late than never, I reckon. It wasn't an easy visa to get. I will have two minders with me at all times and I am not allowed to go anywhere on my own. I will be back at the end of the week and will tell you all about what happened. It should be an interesting trip to say the least.
The next few weeks will have me bouncing all over and there should be a lot to write about. Internet access might be a little sketchy in this time but I will do the best to file on time. I must say, I really like the way that sounds. Henry Rollins ... man on a deadline ... free to kill gophers at will ... Ok. Someone is jet lagging.
If I wasn't so glazed over from lack of sleep and didn't have to get up early to head out to the DPRK, I would write more. Please forgive this jumbled and unruly word-herd. I'll write gooder next week.
Don't look now but below are the radio notes for this weekend's show. I am on from 6 to 8 pm every Saturday night. Liza Richardson comes on right after me from 8 to 10 and then until midnight it's that main ingredient, Mario Cotto. KCRW.com has more information.