Bringing world issues to the attention of Kent

Nicole Hennessy

Henry Rollins will speak at the Kent Stage on April 1

“The Declaration of Independence is really punk rock,” said Henry Rollins.

Spoken Word, a tour in which Rollins opinionates and shares his observations, is coming to The Kent Stage on April 1.

His touring the world to share his mind with Black Flag nostalgists and random pursuers of perspective alike began as the result of a journal entry.

“I started writing just from being on the road. I saw some really insane stuff go down — just heartbreaking, good, bad, every possible thing,” he said. “So I decided to start chronicling these things and that led to me buying a notebook in a drug store.”

Three decades after the publication of “Get In The Van,” which is a compilation of backstage, binge-drunken, fistfight journal entries during Rollins’ time with Black Flag, he continues observing the world around him.

But now he writes from places like China, Senegal, Mali and Afghanistan.

“What I try and provide is a perspective that was gotten by going the hard way,” he said. “If I talk about Pakistan, I talk about the time I was there; when I talk about Iraq, I’ll talk about the mortar attack that I was in in Baghdad.”

Rollins said he believes there is a deficiency of war coverage and that it is a consequence of Americans’ exhaustion and the media shying away from hard news.

“To see burning bodies or to go into a hospital in Iraq, where there’s no anesthesia and everyone’s screaming because they’re bleeding out, it doesn’t sell the product very well,” he said.

“The war’s a product — you’re selling a product. The product can’t look like it’s bleeding; the product can’t scream in pain. The product is made to make more people buy the product. War’s for money. It’s not hearts and minds; it’s dollars and cents,” he said.

While Rollins admitted that some people may not like the things he talks about, he’s OK with that.

“That’s great, that’s fine; that’s what it’s all about,” he said.

He said most of the world lives very differently from America, and he tries to bring those differences to the attention of audiences and, really, anyone who will listen.

“I’m not trying to say we (Americans) suck, we’re very lucky to have what we have,” he said. “Convenience kind of becomes the only thing that you know, it doesn’t occur to you that it’s convenient — it’s just kind of how it is.”

While he appreciates everything he has in this country, he is also aware of the problems facing other countries.

“(In America) there’s the all-you-can-eat salad bowl and eat all the burritos you want from noon till whenever,” he said. “There’s nothing like that going on in Bangladesh. I saw kids eating garbage with flies all over it. I saw elderly people picking through greasy plastic bags of dripping, rotting food and eating it, but I didn’t see the endless salad bowl.”

While these subjects, along with other social and political rants, are a big part of Rollins’ show, he also addresses the topic of mullets.

Contact features reporter Nicole Hennessy at [email protected].