I’m sorry that I am a little late posting about the awesome A Night with Henry Rollins spoken word show I had the pleasure of attending last Saturday evening in Cleveland at the Masonic Auditorium.
Part of the reason, I allowed my day job to consume me this past week; the other part was coming down from the euphoric feeling of meeting Henry once again!
I have been a fan of Mr. Rollins since his Black Flag days, as their lyrics and music hit a home-run with my young, blackened punk rock heart. I unfortunately never got to see Black Flag live – one of my regrets of youth.
When Henry started doing spoken word appearances, I was completely awestruck. His spoken word is just like his music – blunt and to the point, sparing no words. I played Big Ugly Mouth (1987) so many times I warped the cassette tape. Same with Human Butt (1992) and Boxed Life (1993).
I first met Henry on a tour stop with Rollins Band in Toledo in 1999; I had my Think Tank (1998) CD’s signed and shook his hand. Henry is so down to earth, unlike other celebrities.
Last week when I met Henry marked the tenth time seeing him live, and the sixth time I’ve met him. I brought two books for him to sign this time – I had three, but didn’t want to be greedy.
After I split from my ex-husband, the things we had the hardest time splitting up were the autographed items from Henry. I got to keep most of the cool stuff, like the now framed poster I had Henry sign at The Odeon in Cleveland in 2003. I had to re-purchase a few books and CD’s and start the autograph process all over again.
This personally sucked (for lack of a better word) for me, seeing that I was the one that always waited in the lines to get the books and CD’s signed.
This time around I did something personally epic, I attended the show alone. Not even a year ago I would have never even considered going to downtown Cleveland for a show alone. I’ve come a long way in that respect.
I’m not going to miss out on something I really want to do just because I cannot find someone to go with me. Come on, I went to Italy solo for two weeks, why can’t I go to a show for a few hours alone? I digress…
I arrived at 6:30 pm and waited until 7 to get in line for the doors to open at 7:30. Once I grabbed my seat, it was a long two-hour wait.
The moment Henry (finally) took the stage, he captivated the entire auditorium with his magnetic charm. He started to tell us all about how he came to be the lead singer in Black Flag, and of course there was a point to this great tale.
The deeper he got into the story, the more I felt as if he were speaking directly to me.
Henry took a chance and moved up and on in life. He has no college degree and if he had not jumped on the chance to audition to sing for Black Flag, he might still be working at Häagen-Dazs ice cream in D.C..
That really struck a chord inside me.
For the past few weeks I’ve struggled once again with feelings of inadequacy – this time it is because I never finished my college degree. I have all of my electives, English, literature, creative writing and art classes done, I just need to go and take history, science and math and I will have my Associate Degree in Liberal Arts.
Could I make more money if I had a degree? Possibly. However, I am moving toward not working for someone else and creating a freedom business so I can travel and see the world, or at least take up residence in Italy.
Henry doesn’t have a degree either. I know he has celebrity recognition, and that helps tremendously, however, to get where he is now, he didn’t need a degree. He has, just like I and many others out there, a degree from the School of Life and a Master’s from the School of Hard Knocks.
Henry reminded me that hard work and dedication to your dreams and goals are necessary to get not just anywhere, but where you want to be in life.
Back when I used to immerse myself in punk music and culture, I wanted to live fast and die young. Today being punk rock means something altogether different.
I want to live my life the way I want, without falling prey to the people telling me that’s not how I should do this or that, in essence trying to make me feel guilty for following my dreams.
I want to move on from the “same as it ever was” life I’ve come to know.
I want to be more and do more.
I want my words and actions to move and motivate people.
I want to give back to the world.
I want to be memorable and unforgettable, in every way possible.
I want to make my dreams come true and smash limiting beliefs, paving the way for others to do the same.
I leave you with a snippet from Henry’s latest posting on his L.A. Weekly column, further cementing the point he hit me with last Saturday night:
“I think there’s more to existence than this intellect-killing grind. An inspired imagination is all that’s required.
Any elevation, expansion or illumination you’re going to achieve, you will have to do it for yourself. You will have to carve out the time and make it happen. Often, you have to be sneaky (self-absorbed, they’ll say!) to escape the clutches of those who will, maybe without even knowing it, ensnare you in the sitcom of their lives.”
That is being punk rock. Thank you, Henry, for reminding me.