Henry Rollins: The Column! Our America
[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.]
Today: I am in Oklahoma City. Outside the tour bus, the wind is blowing nonstop, hair-dryer hot. Down the road is a large shopping mall. There was a shooting at the mall and a lot of the stores closed down. Victoria's Secret is still hanging in there.
Since we last got together, I have done shows in Boise; Helena, Mont.; Cheyenne, Wyo.; Denver; Santa Fe, N.M.; and, last night, Austin, Texas.
The shows have been going well and the audiences have been great. At one point, on our way to the Cheyenne show, our bus decided to die about 30 miles out of town. We were able to get a car to pick us up and get us to the venue, 17 minutes before showtime.
It was only after the show I noticed that some of the venue security guys were carrying sidearms. I asked the head guy, an ex-Marine, what was up with that and he said the venue requested their company because they were licensed to carry. I asked him if the people at the venue thought my safety was that much of a concern and he said yes.
As we were leaving to go to a hotel for the night (as our bus was now at a garage), the owner of a local record store said he would open the place up if we wanted to check it out. Moments later, we were there. Picked up great-condition copies of Weasels Ripped My Flesh and Apostrophe by Frank Zappa and a 1985 U.S. pressing of Kraftwerk's Autobahn, as well as a great-condition original pressing of Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica, complete with insert. A previous owner had affixed a sticker to the front with his name and Social Security number on it. Those were different times.
Sometimes you can benefit from a relatively remote location, as the stock isn't as picked over.
In Austin last night after the show, there was a sad and very American moment. I was talking to people out by the bus and a man gave me a black rubber bracelet with his brother's name and the date he was killed in Afghanistan, 07-23-12. As he was telling me about his brother, a girl overheard and said she had lost her brother in Afghanistan as well. She started to cry. They hugged each other as the rest of us stood silently. More than an hour later, when I was sitting on the bus as we were pulling out of town, I looked at the bracelet and thought about the hard, raw awfulness of what they are going through.