Get to know D.C. with our daily newsletter
We dive deep on the day’s biggest story and share links to everything you need to know.
Hey fuckface, I’m author Henry Rollins. You may remember me from such kickass classics as Pissing in the Gene Pool, Black Coffee Blues, Art to Choke Hearts, and Solipsist. I wrote and published these books myself, and you can find them at your favorite record stores. Tower has a whole shelf of my books next to books by my hero Charles Bukowski. He was ugly as shit and he didn’t take care of his body, but he was a brilliant fucking writer. His books are about him. My books are all about me and things I think and the things I like to do, like drinking black coffee that burns my throat and makes me shit a lot. And playing music with my punk-metal band so I don’t want to kill people all the time. And lifting weights. And lifting weights while I listen to CDs by the Stooges. But mostly, my books are about things I fucking hate. Like people with fake smiles and brightly dressed college kids. I get so pissed off about stuff that I tear at my dark clothes and write about my fucked-up feelings. How it hurts a lot in my head and how most people make me fucking sick.
Now a New York publishing company is collecting my writing in one volume—selected chunks of raw Rollins in one big book. The cool thing is that for once I don’t have to publish it myself. The company is doing all that stuff. All I had to do was write an introduction. But I still feel a bit like a beat-up whore for selling my writing to some company. The way I justify it is I’m fucking glad that now my writing is gonna be sitting like some crazy ticking time bomb in some shitty library in some shitty suburb. And then some kid will read it and start lifting weights and using his fucking head.
I wanted to show you a raw, quivering chunk of writing from the new book. It kicks ass. You can love it or you can hate it. I don’t give a shit. I bet that cops probably hate it. They drink coffee and lift weights like me, but they’re pigs, and I hate their fat Dunkin Donut guts and sick-fuck looks of superiority. Let them crucify me. I will burn in the fire of their hatred, and we will be blood brothers in our mutual contempt.
This paragraph relates a lot to some serious pain I was feeling. Like some fucking vampire bitch was chewing every letter of my “Search and Destroy” tattoo and spitting the inky flesh in my face and howling with laughter at me. Like a lot of my writing, it is sort of like a diary, like a record of the exact thoughts that I’m thinking, at the exact time that I’m thinking them. (OK, smartass, I always check my digital wristwatch that I got from some asshole who tried to mug me.) It’s like pieces of my brain splattering on the paper in the shape of words. A lot of writers make shit up, but I write real shit about things that happen to me. I don’t believe in messing with what I’ve written. That is for weaklings. Editing and all that wishy-wash shit. That is for weaklings with no discipline. They disgust me.
When I wrote this, I was on the road with my band. I was sitting somewhere after a show. I was feeling like a complete asshole because I didn’t motivate the crowd worth a shit. They just stood there and clapped politely. Like I was some clown performing for their entertainment. Then I realized I was almost naked up onstage and I felt like a beat-up whore. I was feeling pretty shitty, so I was trying to write about what happened and I couldn’t write what I wanted. I got pissed off at myself. I felt like beating myself up with my fists and knocking my head against a concrete wall with spikes. Instead I decided to get it all out and then later lift some weights and listen to a CD by the Stooges.
February 23, 1989, 2:56 a.m. Arlington, VA:. Have been unable to write for a long time. Hand has been fucked up. The story is long and boring. Haven’t written in weeks. Just thinking about it fucks me up. Fucks me up to the point where I don’t feel like writing any more right now.
After I wrote that I felt even worse. Like I was admitting defeat. Like I was a quitter. A cry-baby. I almost gave up writing for good. I took a gun that I got from some dickhead who tried to rob me once and shot my laptop. Then I took a crap on it and threw it out the window at some fucking prep who was acting like an asshole. But after about 10 minutes I fucking exploded, because I really needed to write. A physical need, like an addict needs his needle. Like the way I had to piss really bad at a Stooges concert once but the bathroom was full of assholes who had come to see Bowie who was headlining the show. So I cut myself in the arm with a pocket knife and wrote a few paragraphs with my blood. It hurt like shit, but it also felt fucking great to be writing again. The next day I went out and bought a new laptop and started writing again. I’m still writing almost all the time. My fucking wrists hurt like shit.