Henry Rollins played two shows at Philadelphia’s Trocadero Theatre. The first night was sold out. My brother and I were there. We ate dinner across the street at a little hole in the wall. We ate there before. The food is served fast and fresh and is delicious and cheap. Dave is familiar with the waitress, “You should have seen her ten years ago, she was hot. I know she doesn’t look like it now.” Our waitress barely squeaked a word and wore a dark green combat jacket and a scarf inside the cold place. Somehow my brother could still find her beauty underneath the layers.
Rollins. Let me tell you, I was surprised. This show was not the spoken word performance I have been to. I wrote about a few shows in this blog. The last Rollins show was meant to be my last for The Henry, but time heals all wounds as they say. Maybe my soon to be ex is reading this? I can see her shaking her head. I digress.
This show was different, he said and he did as he said: I will stand on stage right, which is to your left and I will stand here through the night so you can see the pictures I have taken. Something like that.
Rollins, the world traveler, the repeater of certain jokes like his impersonation of George W and the man’s struggles to speak.
The story of riding a train through the winter in Siberia. Who would want to travel to Siberia in the winter, only Rollins since it's a good story. Eating on said train and vomiting in shared public restroom. I have to add, his description of the intense cold – stabbing you in the bones, the way his breath hung in the frost air for seconds before collapsing was classic Rollins - hysterical.
Vivid pictures appeared on a screen to the center. His appreciation for the diverse people he met and who he took pictures of was like peering into Rollins’ mind for a couple of hours. He has traveled over the world, 130 countries, 7 continents, including a rehashed piece about his penguin adventure in Antarctica. There were some rehashing, but not too many.
This was not a night of celebrity worship. It was a night when we can see many sides of the shared planet. To listen to Henry tell us about a boy in an orphanage who was lost in mind and spirit, I share his picture. Nothing could break the child's spell or inner pain. The desperate mother digging through a mountain of garbage with her children, her left hand outstretched as if she was poking into some hideous. Her daughter smiles to the camera. The Buddhist monks, his description of why he liked the picture, the orange robes in contrast to the white bowls.
The last picture I am sharing is when he auditioned for Black Flag. It's in inspiring story of a young Rollins taking a risk to follow his passion.
Rollins was not there to objectify. He wants to share their stories in front of audiences who can pay for a night out, and may never want to see parts of the world which is ravaged by war, poverty and starvation. Yet, it was in these places he dared to go that he discovered humanity – true generosity was abundant, sharing whatever little they had. He felt safe. He can tell us that there is nothing to fear. Iranians are good people, so are Syrians and North Koreans. We are all one for a brief dot in time. I hope you can catch this show.
Thank you for reading this