28 April 2012

Henry Rollins on U2

During lunch Bono and Paul McGuinness ask me about the poetry slams in New York. An increasingly popular entertainment in the East Village is for poets to get up and recite their verse while audience volunteers judge them on a scale of one to ten, a sort of Olympic Pentameter.

"You hear some good stuff and a lot of bad stuff," I say. "The obnoxious thing is that a lot of them are desperate to prove that just 'cause they're poets doesn't mean they're sissies. They try to act punk, they try to dress tough. It's like those classical violinists who think dyeing their hair green will make them connect to the kids. It's hard to listen to spoken word by people who are so horny to convince you they're macho."

"Like Henry Rollins," Paul says.

"Ah, no," I say. "Henry Rollins is good." And I immediately wonder if I've put my foot in my mouth. Rollins has a monologue on one of his spoken word albums in which he mocks U2's fans, rags on the band, and rants, "They could never fool me! We always had to see over and over again on any television channel that shithead climbing up and down the P.A. at Redrocks! That guy with the bubble butt waving a white flag! A white flag says, Aim your crosshair sights over here! Kill ME! The one with the flag. Pop that guy. And Edge doing that fucking fake-ass pilgrim gig like, I'm so pious and low-key with my millions. I'll just play this one Enoesque chord. They've been milking that same bassline and the same guitar change for like five albums and the world kisses their ass and it is the biggest pile of shite I have ever heard!"

The air hangs heavy over the lunch table for a moment and then Bono says casually, "Henry Rollins--is that the vegetarian?"

Bill Flanagan, U2 at the End of the World, pp.333-334