Henry Rollins: The Column! Henry Reminisces About The Ice Cream Shop Where He Used To Work
[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 have many traditions and rituals. None of them is based in reality, but none of them is based in superstition. Many of them are based in music. All I can say is Fanatic is as Fanatic does. There are certain records that I put away after a certain time of the year and don't take out again until the right season is upon us. There are records that I play only after the sun has gone down, and records that cannot be played until the weekend.
Unfortunately for the sane people reading this, I have the same fixation with literature. Here is an example: Every October, for well over a decade now, I read out loud from Thomas Wolfe's Of Time and the River, specifically "Book 3: Telemachus." Wolfe's protagonist, Eugene Gant, returns home in October to Asheville, N.C., after receiving the news that his father is dying. It is very beautiful and powerful stuff. The book is based in truth, with Gant being Wolfe. I have stood a few times in the room where Wolfe's father passed away. Seek this writing out if you can.
One of my favorite rituals is to spend at least 24 hours in Washington, D.C., in October. It's my hometown and favorite month of the year, after all. This week, I have a presentation at the National Geographic Theater. I will be narrating a slide show of photographs I have taken from all over the world. As I prep for that, I have a few days here in Washington.
The weather has been great so far -- cool, dry, crisp. The nights were made for walking. I tracked about three hours last night. Most of my destinations were music-related.
I walked by the apartment where I lived as a very young boy. That's where, thanks to my mother, I first heard Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Doors, the Rolling Stones, Isaac Hayes and many others.
It was in this apartment that I first became a music nut, spending hours alone in my small room at the back, listening to records over and over again. This was the late 1960s and things were racially tense in the city and it was hard to escape bad experiences. I had more than a few, which in retrospect were good for me. They politicized me at an early age and made me hypersensitive to racism. The room and the music were good escapes.