Henry Rollins: Tragedy, and How to Carry On
[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.]
A few nights ago, I'm sitting in a coffee place when a small group of tough-looking men comes in. They have the classic California-lifer hardness about them. Weathered faces, hats that look like they had been worn for years, biker clothes, old tattoos. I take my eyes off them and stare down at my notebook and its blank page. I look up again to see one of the men walking toward me. He comes up to my table and stands over me. Before I can say anything, the man's entire face contorts into a deeply pained grimace and he starts crying. This is easily one of the oddest things that has ever happened to me. I don't know what to do, so I just sit there and wait to see what happens next.
The man, his voice rising as he attempts to speak through his tears, tells me that a film I was in around 1998 meant a lot to him and his wife and that they watch it every year. He says they were married for 38 years with no kids, and that she has passed away. When he sees the film now, it reminds him of her and that makes him cry harder.
His equally intense-looking friend walks over and watches the two of us. Up to this moment, I have not said a word. He mentions a moment from the film and I remember it and nod while I suppress the urge to tell him that interestingly, that particular scene was shot on the Warners lot, only a few traffic lights from where we are right now. The technical details of how an on-set snow machine created a winter's night outside in the middle of the summer, I don't think would have been the kind of trivia he would have found interesting at that particular moment. After telling me all this, he wipes the tears off his face, apologizes for bothering me, shakes my hand and then he and his friend get their coffee and leave.
I sit for several minutes, making notes about what has just taken place. I have never seen the film. It was one of the many where, because I am off the road and would rather be employed than not, I take the work I can get and feel lucky when it goes my way.