Former punk rocker on election barnstorm

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by Marites Woodbury

What could an angry punk rock veteran have to say about America, and even the city of Lansing? A lot.

Henry Rollins is a spoken-word artist, journalist, actor, activist, former frontman of hardcore punk band Black Flag and Rollins Band, among many, many other things. But most of all, Rollins is passionate about his quest for truth.

Rollins has embarked upon a two-month tour where he visits the capital of every state in the United States and hosts his talk show about his politics, his life experiences and where America has been and where America is going in it all. The tour is scheduled to end in Washington D.C. on Nov. 5th, the day before the presidential election.

Rollins recently released his Lansing video from his YouTube series documenting his Capitalism 2012 Tour. In addition to performing at the Cooley Temple in Lansing earlier this month, Rollins interviewed Lansing Mayor Virg Benero and president of the United Auto Workers Mike Green about the automotive industry in Lansing and its importance in Michigan and the country as a whole.

Concert promoter Fusion Shows co-owner Nate Dorough said that he felt it was especially important to have Rollins speak in Lansing.

“They reached out to us because we play a large part in the acts and events that come to Lansing,” Dorough said. “Part of building up Lansing’s music scene is about bringing in legitimate, even legendary acts to come and speak and impact our community.”

Michigan State University humanities major Kiran Webster said she was intrigued by what a punk rock veteran in his 50’s had to say about politics, and the world in general.

“I was expecting to only hear his feelings on political debates, but I got much, much more out of it,” Webster said.

“Rollins talked about his position in America; where he stood. I was expecting him to completely complain and whine about issues but it was very bi-partisan which I was very appreciative of. Rollins conducted a completely appropriate method of stating facts looking at both sides of politics and then tying his life as a musician into it all. I got to see a guy with a lot of opinions speak, but not foolishly.”

Webster said that Rollins spoke as if he had a good grasp of the world and used his real-life experiences in and out of the music industry to exemplify this.

“The only true connection I had with Black Flag was that my father listened to it in the 80’s,” Webster said.

“I was glad to claim this as my own discovery. Rollins represents a man who has lived through such a changing society. He talked about his love and devotion to his records, his respect towards other races, cultures and education (some American values) Seeing that as a college student really means a lot to me. I will never forget going to this show, because it solidifies what it means to be an American and what potential music has for each person’s life.”

Michigan State University engineering major John Galubensky said that he thought Rollins did a great job of making political statements without actually talking about politics.

“I went expecting a lot more being said about the upcoming election and a lot more about our current government,” Galubensky said.

“To hear him talk about not only the genre of punk music but the punk community was really inspiring. Hearing someone who has a similar mindset to mine going and experiencing the things he has is really really uplifting. It was more relatable and therefore more effective at proving his point than if he just would have screamed political buzzwords at us the entire time. I kind of wish he was running for President. He’d be really good at it.”

All in all, people felt like it was a positive experience and were just happy to have been a part of it.

“People were really shocked at how positive he was,” Dorough said. “He has this persona of being angry, and he enjoys having that persona, but deep down he is an incredibly positive human being. It’s refreshing.”

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