Henry Rollins is a man of many words, but they’re carefully chosen. Between his radio show on KCRW, his LA Times column, his many books, tremendous spoken-word performances and acting gigs all over the medium scale, he also finds the time to engage readers in the occasional interview – but only when the topic is ripe for discussion.
One such back & forth transpired last week, in which the former Black Flag and Rollins Band frontman sat down with the Phoenix New Times and discussed the state of America today and the philosophy and future of the Occupy Wall Street movement, as well as his new book Occupants.
The medicine of reality goes down a little smoother when fed from the lips of those whom we hold in high regard. Below, Hank drops a good bit of knowledge on not only the catalyst for the Occupy movement and what separates it and the Tea Party experience, but also his thoughts on the amplified future of the movement.
From the article:
On Occupy Wall Street:
“I’ve been to Occupy DC, Occupy Wall Street, and Occupy Chicago. I’m reading the signs, and I’m talking with people, and their beef, and I’m not trying to distance myself from them by saying “their thing,” but, finally, real issues are being addressed: campaign finance reform, the destruction of Glass-Steagall, bank deregulation, loopholes, the wacky high jinks of credit-default swaps, and all of that -where America got taken to the cleaners, [as did] other good people of the world. A lot of people – say, 99 percent or so – who say, “Screw this.” Finally.
[President Barack Obama] should have been calling out – by name – some of these bank people. He gives a lot of bad people a pass, in my opinion. That’s the frustration a lot of people have with Barack Obama. They like the guy, but he doesn’t bring his foot down. You’re like, “Really? Not even on this one?” He won’t get in there and throw his shoulder against any door. You know, you arrest 700 kids on the Brooklyn Bridge, but no bankers have gone to jail for defrauding millions of people? That’s a little odd.
So the good part is, people are addressing real issues. The [bad] part – and I want to be wrong about this, but it makes me dismayed – is that, thanks to Fox News and the press and lots of outlets, this protest has been ghettoized and marginalized and turned into a “lefty, left-wing, hippie, patchouli, liberal, progressive thang,” when in my opinion, this is a non-partisan concern. It’s about as partisan as baseball and beer, you know what I mean?
On the difference between the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement:
I was talking to some people at Occupy Wall Street, [and] I said, “If we’re really getting down to technicalities, [with] what’s being brought up, shouldn’t there be a bunch of Tea Party people here?” ‘Cause, they’re not there, [but] their apparent grievances are kind of the same. Like, you know, “You ripped me off,” [to] these banks. What’s up with that? But Fox News says, “No, no, these are dirty hippies. The Tea Partiers – they were great, and now some real grassroots movement; George Soros is financing Occupy Wall Street. And… no. There’s no one I saw, at any of the Occupy protests I’ve been at, where I saw swastikas, people carrying guns – aside from cops – or signs with pictures of Barack Obama with a bone through his nose. That’s a Tea Party event. Not an Occupy event.
On the future of Occupy:
Someone asked me, “What do you think?” But, to make this thing really rock, it should be shoulder to shoulder, no room to move, to Midtown. It should be 4 million people, to where Bloomberg can not leave his building. Not for fear of bodily harm, but just because of the humanity on the street. Literally, he can’t get the door open. To where no cars can drive in lower Manhattan. Where’s there’s not enough cops to arrest them, there’s not enough flex ties to cart these people off.
The cops, in my opinion, they’ve been breaking the rules. They’ve been violating the First Amendment. People do have the right to peaceably assemble… The cops’ job is to protect and maintain the general welfare of the people, not arrest them… But they are taking orders; they are just kind of the infantry. I’m hoping in 2012, when the snow melts, this thing goes 10 times.
American law enforcement is not going to fire on protesters, and protesters aren’t going to be firing Kalashnikovs at law enforcement. It’s not going to come to that. I think you’re going to see some serious tear gas next summer, but someone is going to lose some temper, and something is going to boil over. I think this is really going to rock next year. The snow is going to melt, and everyone is going to bring a friend.
I think, around July or August – out of the heat or sheer proximity – the cops are going to act out somewhere, and there will be a massive macing. Or, they might bring out some of that new technology. There’s a new article in Harper’s – five or seven months ago – about the new technology for crowd dispersal. You know, microwaving people… It doesn’t kill you, but like all the sudden you feel like you are cooking alive, and you will go home. These piercing tones – you lose your balance you fall on the ground, you piss your pants. All this is available right now. Made in America.
Lies of the common:
A lot of it just comes from a lack of complete information. People like Fox News and Rush Limbaugh – they operate on some of the facts and through cherry-picked information and they edit and take things out of context. It’s incredible what some of these agencies do. You just can’t believe adults would do that. Like, “No way? Really?”
Open up your eyes, sweetheart. It’s how these guys play. It took me years to fully believe that. I saw it for myself, when you listen to some of these shows, and you read their statistics. It’s like, “Wow, you’re okay with lying…” It blew my mind. Now? I don’t even flinch.
On real patriotism, and giving the extreme individualist movement what they want:
[It’s like] let’s do this your way. Let’s go the Ron and Rand Paul and Ayn Rand route. Let’s do it. I’m going to watch your family die. And I’m going to enjoy it. Because the 101 will finally be unjammed. Arkansas will finally be a state of dead, fat bodies. You think you’re a “rugged individualist” and you’ve been eating the Walmart diet your whole life?
Okay, fine. No helmets on motorcycles. Let’s do it! Let’s go! And when you don’t have the money to pay, we keep you in the parking lot of the ER. Because we don’t want to waste the money to mop up your brain matter. Go die in the parking lot, and you have an hour for some relative to come get you. That’s what you want?
Fine. Because a lot of the people who say that’s what they want that, they’re not gonna make it another 10 years. Teeth will fall out, and the heart will give out… These people say they love the Constitution. I read from it almost every day. I have a copy with me. The Idiot’s Guide To The Constitution. I recommend it; it’s very good. I try and understand it and learn about it all the time. They always talk about the Constitution, but basically, it’s this sheer genius attempt to keep all of these states from becoming countries, and living together. It’s the craziest experiment. Only a bunch of visionary fools would undertake a concept as crazy as the United States.
It’s so… wanting to fail. The moment you put greed into the equation, the whole damn thing is now fragile and combustible and turbulent and unstable – that’s the best word. The pact, the Bill of Rights and the Amendments that come after it, is basically like, “We’ll help each other.”
And Ron Paul and Rand Paul say this hilarious bullshit like, “If my house burns down in Texas or gets swept away, it’s not up to the people from New York to help me. I don’t want to take their money. They worked hard for their money; they should keep it for their own state. No Ron, it’s the United States, so when a twister comes through your state and Texas is out of money – as crazy as you are – me, the Californian’s money is coming to help you. Because you’re my countryman. That’s team America. And that’s real patriotism – where he is my neighbor. Yeah, he lives 1,200 miles from me, but he’s my neighbor, and I want to take care of him. Not nanny-state him or put a diaper on him, but I can’t have a fellow American’s house getting swept away.
If you want to go this rugged individualist way, you’d better start packing your rice and learning how to cook beans. America might be taking a few downgrades before it hits rock bottom, but the rest of the world has already been living that way – for decades, if not centuries.
In Southern India last summer, I was eating rats with rural tribesman. They catch rats out in the rice fields; they break their little necks and throw them on the fire, let ‘em cool, and you eat the liver and meat. I did that. It’s not bad. Very mild tasting.
They’ve been eating rats, [so] I asked them, “Why do you eat rats?” They said, “It’s available food. It’s food, we get hungry, and they are right there.” If they don’t eat them, they eat all the rice. Americans would see that as a downgrade, so where Americans may have to fall to, there are other people who already dwell and prosper in those environments. America is going to get chopped off at the knees. There will be billions of people all over the world who will say, “C’mon in, the water’s fine. We saved a place at the table for you. We’ve been expecting you.”
Read the rest of the remarkable interview at the Phoenix New Times.