Henry Rollins: Paid by the Word?

I’m not convinced that Henry Rollins breathes. Any oxygen he receives must be filtered in through beads of sweat; his version of an exhale involves his microphone, arm, or the first row of the audience drenched in a spray of passionate spit. The man can certainly talk. And talk and talk and talk. On Thursday night at Sacred Heart Music Center, he didn’t even stop talking long enough to acknowledge the applause that followed his thoughts on Michele Bachman or the end of the Bush era.

In fact, I’ve run a half-marathon in less time than Thursday night’s leg of Henry Rollins’ talking tour. And I’m no Kara Goucher.

Luckily, Henry Rollins is engaging and a good storyteller exploding with fodder: Politics, his world travels, what it’s like to be an American, the effects of listening to Slayer while on an elliptical machine, the way his passport inspires some seriously intimate security pat-downs when he’s at the airport. He took on the role of motivational speaker, encouraging the audience members to get out and vote, get a passport, cure world hunger.

Rollins spoke for 2 hours, 45 minutes without the aid of note cards, water, or even ellipses. He starts a story, segues into a description of his father, returns to the exact spot he left off on the original story – even if that was a half hour earlier. At the 1 hour, 50 minute mark he swore he was wrapping things up — then kept it up for almost another hour.

While Rollins was entertaining, at one point I did consider how thankful I was that I will never have a first date with him.

Henry Rollins, who is staring down 50, is just as verbally energetic — dare I say spazzy? — as he was during MTV’s short-lived Henry Rollins show. He seems the perfect spokesperson for Ritalin.

At times he granted a half-hearted apology about offending anyone in the audience’s beliefs … but I’m guessing that most people willing to pay $27 for a ticket probably weren’t the type to say: “Now wait a tick, Mr. Rollins. I was with you right up until the point where you started talking about how war kills and mangles young people …”

No, most people cheered and laughed — a guy to my left actually slapped his knee repeatedly, proving that “knee slapper” is more than just a turn of phrase.

At the end, Rollins simply stopped talking and jogged out of Sacred Heart via a door positioned at stage left. I’m guessing he did a few laps around Central Hillside, then hopped into a tour bus equipped with an elliptical machine – like one of those Restless Legs Syndrome sufferers who keeps a stationery bike in the RV.


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