Ohmygod, I’m SO excited! I’m on Cloud 9 right now…
My best friend Lori and I met Henry Rollins last night!!!
This is a dream come true for us — one we’ve had for 15 years! That’s more than half of our time on this planet, and though we’ve known each other forever and shared many common interests, our passion for Hank outweighs pretty much everything else.
I guess I should start at the beginning and move forward…
Our dads met in Vietnam, and they kept in touch after returning home. They both lived in Ohio, at opposite ends of the state, and they had become friends with a few other guys who lived in neighboring states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. So these guys and their wives/girlfriends would take turns getting together at one another’s homes, and their friendship grew and survived the miles between them.
Through some kind of magical fate, our moms happened to get pregnant around the same time, and in September of 1978, Lori was born exactly one week before me. I guess you could say we became friends simply because our parents were friends, but our friendship has evolved so far beyond that. At first we would only see each other when our parents made plans to spend a weekend together, but as we got older, we were able to take turns spendng entire weeks at each other’s houses, during Spring Break or the Christmas holiday.
By the time we were 14, we had discovered “real music” — we said goodbye to bands like New Kids on the Block and Bell Biv DeVoe, and we started listening to Nirvana, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, The Pixies, and so on and so on. We started wearing flannel shirts and combat boots, and we thought we knew everything. Together we were invincible. We watched 120 Minutes on MTV religiously (I still have about 20 VHS tapes with recorded episodes), and we discovered more and more “alternative” music that wasn’t being played on the radio.
One of the bands we were introduced to on the show was the Rollins Band (before “Liar”). This Henry Rollins guy blew us away, and we had to find out more about him. Through our punk rock research, we found that he had been in a band called Black Flag. We immediately bought some of the band’s albums, and we were hooked — particularly on one album that included some spoken word tracks. Through further searching, we found that Henry had quite a few albums that were entirely spoken word. We found them all and devoured them.
The very first spoken word album we bought (and I don’t know how we bought it when it had the “Parental Advisory Explicit Lyrics” warning on it) was The Boxed Life. It was a 2-cassette combo, and we each had our own copy. We listened to it voraciously, constantly quoting lines to each other and feeling as if we’d discovered the meaning of life. We went on vacation with my parents that summer, and to keep them from hearing what we were listening to, we each put our copy of Tape 1 into our individual walkmen and listened simultaneously through separate headphones. Those original cassettes are what we took to the spoken word show last night for Henry to sign.
Something else that happened that summer is that we went to our first Lollapalooza (’93) — without our parents’ permission. They told us we were too young to go to an all-day concert like that, and of course we thought that was the lamest thing we’d ever heard. So we went anyway. We contrived some weak cover story and took off to Indianapolis (nearly 3 hours away, across the state line) with Lori’s older friend Becky and Becky’s much older (21) friend Erik Rose.
We sat quietly in the backseat and thought that Erik Rose had to be the coolest guy in the world (next to Henry Rollins, of course). He was an artist and a musician, and he had long, dark hair and wore a Cure t-shirt with the sleeves cut off (The Cure is one of our all-time favorite bands, but that’s a whole other story). Anyway, we went to the concert and had an amazing time, despite the blistering sunburn and sprained ankle I acquired…and despite the fact that we inevitably got caught in our lie.
Part of Lori’s punishment was that her dad took most, if not all, of her CDs and cassettes, including some Rollins spoken word albums, and threw them away! She told Henry about this last night, and he said, with an appalled look on his face, “Is he still alive?!” Ha! Believe me, we did want to kill our parents after that. Like, why couldn’t they just understand and leave us alone?!? Ah, teen angst.
To make a long story short (too late), Lori has since obtained new copies of Hank’s spoken word CDs, and we are just as enthralled with him now, at age 29, as we were at 14. We’ve seen him perform with the Rollins Band twice, and we’ve been to at least 3 of his spoken word shows together. Those have been some of the best nights of our lives, but last night definitely ranks at #1.
And now we come back to Erik Rose…
About a year ago, as I was planning the 2008 edition of AGDM, I came across him on the Internet. I was reading up on the case developments of the West Memphis Three (in which Henry has been very supportive and instrumental), and I discovered that Damien Echols had been interviewed by a magazine called Tastes Like Chicken. I went to the website to check out the article, and I was immediately drawn to the illustration of Damien that appeared with the interview — an illustration by Erik Rose!
My heart skipped a beat. Could it really be the Erik Rose from 14 years ago?!? I clicked on the link to his bio, and as soon as I read “originally hailing from a small town in Ohio that is filled with Etch-a-Sketches and Dum-Dum suckers,” I knew it was him. I explored the site further and discovered that he’s the art editor and a contributing writer for the magazine, and that he had interviewed none other than Henry Rollins for a previous issue (which included a kick-ass illustration of the man and his well-known tattoos).
I was so excited at this point, I didn’t know what to do with myself. So I did what fate must have intended: I sent an e-mail to Erik Rose asking if I could interview him for my first edition of AGDM. I could tell from his website that he had turned out to be an amazing artist, and it seemed like he’d had some success as a freelance illustrator and would make a great interview subject. Boy, was I right!
Erik gave such excellent answers to my questions, I couldn’t have hoped for a better interview. I think he’ll be a great inspiration to many of AGDM‘s readers, and I’m so excited to share his work with all of you. I plan to post an excerpt from his interview in a later blog entry, but you’ll have to get your own copy of the 2008 AGDM to read the whole thing, which I strongly encourage!
Isn’t it funny how life works? We’re all connected in so many small ways, and it seems those are the things that make it all worthwhile. Just think, if my dad or Lori’s dad had never fought in that crazy war, they wouldn’t know each other, and therefore Lori & I wouldn’t know each other, and maybe neither of us would care about Henry Rollins or even know who he is. I certainly wouldn’t know Erik Rose, and even if I had discovered him in searching for artists to feature in the book, he wouldn’t have the same significance.
So I’m thankful for who I am, and for the people who’ve come into my life…for whatever reason, because it’s the connections we make with people that give such value to life on this strange planet.
Now excuse me while I go back to floating on that cloud…