I read a few days ago that Henry Rollins got on one of his rants about suicide and attacked Robin Williams for doing it. I was extremely disappointed and considered writing him, but I figured I already said it in my “Depression and Suicide” post and a lot of people had written him already and nothing I could say would add to what had already been said.
Yesterday, he apologized. And not in some weasely “non-apology apology” like “I’m sorry *if* I offended people” and/or rationalizing the B.S. way. He flat out said he was wrong and apologized.
Now that is honorable.
I have long been big fan of Rollin’s spoken word stuff. I got to see him test out some material in a small (and I mean miniscule) club beneath a music store in L.A.. It was one of those last minute things. The announcement went out on the ‘net and I was like “Fuck it, heading straight there after work. Thanks the Gods for Mapquest.” The guy was performing on a stage the size of a postage stamp in a room that could barely fit 100 people all standing up. I could tell he was toning it down for the size of the room, but his energy was still explosive. We were spellbound, completely forgot we were standing the whole time in a cramped, dingy room for well over an hour. I watched the video put out from that tour, and I was sad to see some of the material did not make it because one of the stories he told in the club was incredibly moving about one of his childhood friends and the close friendship he had with his friend’s mom.
Rollins is one of the most sincere performers I have ever had the pleasure to see. He acknowledges both his strengths and his faults with equal honesty, enthusiasm and humor. In a way he reminds me of Oscar Wilde. One does not think of Oscar Wilde as being anything but witty and light, dealing with deeper ideals and feeling with slightly cynical quips. But The Ballad of Reading Gaol is surprising in how, no pun intended, earnest it is. Rollins moves from humor to earnestness with equal ease. Just with more passion/rage.
“Somewhere someone is thinking of you. Someone is calling you an angel. This person is using celestial colors to paint your image. Someone is making you into a vision so beautiful that it can only live in the mind. Someone is thinking of the way your breath escapes your lips when you are touched. How your eyes close and your jaw tightens with concentration as you give pleasure a home. These thoughts are saving a life somewhere right now. In some airless apartment on a dark, urine stained, whore lined street, someone is calling out to you silently and you are answering without even being there. So crystalline. So pure. Such life saving power when you smile. You will never know how you have cauterized my wounds. So sad that we will never touch. How it hurts me to know that I will never be able to give you everything I have.”