Henry Rollins: The Column! The Time I Drank The Sweat From My Socks Onstage
[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.]
Florida is a crazy place and I have played some of the wildest shows of my life here. I just got off an airplane that took me from Los Angeles to Miami. It is late and I have to be back at the airport in a few hours to head out to Cuba.
I am sitting in a restaurant, where I suspect that I'm drawing suspicion by having a laptop in front of me. At my hotel, I asked the man at the desk if they had any food. He said no and pointed to the restaurant where I am sitting now. So, here I am, waiting for the food disaster to arrive.
We Americans are hard on almost everything. We are hard on our vehicles, our marriages and our heroes. Mostly, however, we are hard on ourselves. Beyond the tobacco, alcohol and drugs, it is the food that will bring this mighty nation to its overburdened knees. I'm talking about the stuff that is about to hit the deck in front of me -- a blood-thickening, artery-clogging mountain of rapidly congealing liberty. As I watch huge trays of food carried past me to fellow gastric gladiators, I realize I am witnessing freedom on the march. The sound system plays "It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere."
This is my fifth trip to Florida this year. At one point, as National Geographic cameras rolled, I found myself on the back of an alligator, holding its jaws closed. "Don't worry," said one of the men in attendance. "He's more of a runner than a fighter."
I have been coming to Florida for more than 40 years. I remember getting on an airplane with my mother going from Washington, D.C., down to Key Biscayne. There was a man sitting in the front of the plane with a huge head. "Henry," my mother said, "that was Richard Nixon."
In the summer of 1982, Black Flag did a string of shows in the state -- I believe legendary Florida band Roach Motel were the opener. One night we played a small place with particularly bad sound, which turned out to be a great experience in spontaneity and improvisation. It was the short-lived, two-guitar lineup of the band, and the noise onstage was at times hard to manage. It was hard to tell what song the band was playing, and after a few songs I stopped looking at the set list and went where the caterwaul took me. I have no idea what came out of me that evening, but people seemed to dig it.