So, ok. I’ve been completely bat chain puller crazy over a lot of bands, artists and authors over the years. It’s just some kind of genetic fanboy predisposition with me or some shit. For serious. I mean, some motherfuckers you know they have their most cherished memories being their first kiss or blowjob or college graduation or some shit…mine are like the time I ran into Pig Champion out back of a venue drinking beer in Tacoma back in ’87, or when I met Jerry Only in Scranton, or the time Peter Wolf came into Gallucci’s music looking for vintage guitars and told me to “Break a leg” with my then new punk band. Actually, even being friends with old Angelo Gallucci back then was cause enough to make me feel bitchen. Dude had written a goddam song for Frank Sinatra back in the day, and even though Sinatra wasn’t really my thing…I mean, Angelo was just the raddest dude and an exceptional musician who ran a recording studio in Scranton for years and years. He was so fucking cool. I got my Sunn Beta Lead half stack 4×10 combo off him for like $150 and it was the best fucking amp I ever owned or even played through.
And then there was the time I was in Philly and wound up shooting the shit with Henry Rollins about Black Sabbath. He was like the nicest guy, and one of the very few people who I ever have met who was as much an unabashed fan as I was.
So, a little while back I was like “Well, gee whiz, why don’t you write Rollins?” Cause suddenly, well about for the past few months I’ve kind of been entertained with the idea of sending fan mail. I always thought about it before, you know, through the years-but it just didn’t strike me as “The Punk Rock Thing To Do” I mean, I always played in bands and though I secretly wanted to tell my favorite musicians and authors and everything how bitchen I thought their work was…I was even more secretly wishing that someone, fucking anyone would like one of the shitty bands I played bass or guitar for. So, you know, with that overinflated sense of self importance that comes with wielding an amplified musical instrument…I always felt like, “Oh, you know, they’re my peers and it would be lame to send them fan mail”
But thankfully, for many reasons, least of which not auditory reasons, I don’t play in bands anymore. My last gig was as bassist for the Greensburg State Correctional Institution prisoner band. For me, being a convict and playing bass while doing vocal duty on Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades” in front of an audience of my fellow incarcerates…well, that’s all the fucking cred I need and I’ve retired happily to playing open tuning droney riffage on my acoustic guitar in my apartment from time to time.
So, as a result I came to the point where I’m like, it’s ok to write fan mail. I even did a fan blog post when Corrosion of Conformity released their latest ep. I came up with a kick ass recipe dedicated to the album. Posted it. Sent the link to the C.O.C. guys on Facebook. They wrote back, saying it looked really tasty. I was stoked. One of my all time favorite hardcore bands, and they took the time to write back and say my shrimp, scallops and chicken alfredo recipe looked appetizing. Fuck yeah.
So back to Rollins. Thing is, well as anyone who’s read this blog regularly knows, I wrote a couple of books and I used to do ‘zines. I’ve always liked to write, however I was all into doing the music thing for a long time. Of course, I knew about and was bat chain puller crazy over Black Flag, and to an extent, the Rollins Band but I never really read anything by Henry Rollins until a girlfriend gave me a copy of Get in The Van back in ’95. It’s an awesome read. Not just because of it being Rollins’ tour diarys from Black Flag, but also because the way he fucking writes. And more importantly because of the fact that he basically just encourages the reader to go out and do it as well. That stuck with me, and I ran with it. I started filling up composition books with writing about my bands, and then my heroin habit, and then all sorts of the fucked up shit that culminated in my imprisonment in 1998 for robbery and assault. And while I was locked up, that was my thing-I played bass in the band and wrote. I self published a ‘zine while I was in there. Not my first, but my first that was more than just fucked up and photocopied cut and paste graphical miasma one off done by a bored teenager. And while I was in the joint, I read The First Five by Rollins. A book, who’s intensity can certainly be appreciated while reading it in a 6X9 cell. For serious. You want to really fucking dig a good book? Read it while you’re doing time. The close of Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath had tears streaming down my face while I was reading it in solitary confinement. I read God and The State by Mikhail Bakunin and wanted to overthrow fucking everything.
So yeah, at any rate. Rollins was always a big inspiration for me. He’s not all that much older than me, but enough to be able to look up to. Well as much as punk rock types are “allowed” to look up to anybody older, or anyone at all. So even when I met him in ’94 and we talked about Bill Ward of Sab being the Greatest Drummer Fucking Ever, I was fairly delighted. Then, you know, I read some of his stuff and I went to prison and I read some more of his stuff…and I got out and became familiar with his spoken word work and IFC show. So then, you know I was even more of a fan. Given, I was never, even as a teenage punk back in the 80′s the type to be like “Oh, I’m so cool I only like Black Flag before Henry Rollins started singing for them.” I mean, fucking seriously-SST 007 Damaged. I rest my fucking case.
Yeah, well so to try and make a long story somewhat shorter I emailed him. I wasn’t figuring on hearing back really. I mean, you know I heard all kinds of stories through the years about how he’s amazing about actually writing people back…but I figured that was all long ago and my email was probably too stupid and wordy gushy to even warrant a response anyway.
But I’ll be goddamed. That was like a month back, and I get off of work tonight and check my email as I do every night…and I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if there isn’t an email from Henry Rollins. He told me he was glad I made it out of prison in one piece, talked about writing and wished me luck on my books. I dunno, I’m pretty fucking stoked.
So I sent him a copy of my latest book. Hope he likes it.