Henry Rollins is one of my most favoritest people ever.
Sure, he doesnâ€™t sing as much as he impersonates my old gym teacher trying to get us to run faster. And heâ€™s not gonna win an Oscar anytime soon. But I have always been a fan of the way he just lays it out there â€“ his spoken word stuff is funnier than it has any right to be, and his tour diary books are a blast to read, like SMILE, YOUâ€™RE TRAVELING or BROKEN SUMMERS (although the absolute champ of Rollins tour diaries is GET IN THE VAN, which sums up his years in Black Flag â€“ Iâ€™m a little jealous if you havenâ€™t read it yet, because youâ€™re in for a treat.)
Rollins just goes for it. He puts it on the line and gives whatever heâ€™s doing 110 percent. So what if heâ€™s not really up for the challenge and isnâ€™t really what most people consider â€˜talentedâ€™? 99 percent of the people doing anything arenâ€™t particularly talented. I would say there are at most five geniuses at any given time in any medium â€“ people who are clearly touched by the hand of God or whomever and their art just pours out of them. The rest of us have to work at it.
And Hank is the ultimate example of that â€“ he will outwork you, even if he canâ€™t out-sing or out-act or out-write you. Rollins is so unrelentingly intense at all times in his tour diaries that you end up feeling like a slacker because youâ€™re sitting there reading instead of doing something more substantial. How can you not love a guy who writes â€œMy thoughts and dreams plague me and keep me from sleeping. I feel at ease with alienation. I have allies â€“ DISCIPLINE and INSANITY. With these by my side, everything is everythingâ€? He is the original Mister Intensity, and I love it! Plus, I give him a world of credit for putting his money where his mouth is with 2.13.61, his record and book label.
So thatâ€™s why THE HENRY ROLLINS SHOW is so strange. I look forward to it every week, but itâ€™s not the Rollins I want to see. After his monologue (in which he takes on some pretty big targets â€“ apparently heâ€™s anti-Bush!), he does an interview with some celebrity, before cutting away to a musical performance by a guest band (Rollins is never there for the band portion of the show, leading me to believe that he films the show in less time than I spend watching it). The musical acts are generally semi-credible and seem to have the Rollins Seal Of Approval, so whatever â€“ Iâ€™m not a Mars Volta fan, but seeing them play for fifteen minutes straight on television counts for something.
But the interview portion is what troubles me. Watching Rollins lob softballs at guys like Ben Stiller or Luke Wilson? Seriously? Youâ€™re actually sitting across from the man who brought the world MY SUPER EX GIRLFRIEND (which I saw in a theater! Shame on me!) and not making him pay? These are the guys that the old Henry wouldâ€™ve been staring down, making them quiver in their shoes. But now he just asks Ben Stiller about what itâ€™s like blah blah blah who cares. Come on, Henry! Get intense on these guys! Do your thing! They are weak, and you must crush them! Itâ€™s you or them! Search or destroy!