A Dull Roar reviewed by Steve Miller

Book Reviews
A Dull Roar reviewed by Steve Miller
Aug 5, 2008, 05:27


A DULL ROAR  by Henry Rollins; 2.13.61, 2008

Some talking points:

  • The “power structure” doesn't want to make public schools any better because if it did, “you will have less crime in this country and more people competing for better jobs”;
  • “conservatives” like the idea of privatizing education, “then they could exclude even more people from the opportunity of a better life”;
  • On anyone who thinks President Bush is doing a good job: “If you're reading this and you think that way, you're a fuckin' idiot. Fuck you.”
  • “I love it when I get hate mail from people who watch Fox and think Bush is a great president. I always write them back and tell them the truth—that they're fuckin' morons.”

The above are: a—the rantings of a 7th grader who just finished his first middle school social studies class; b—culled from Al Gore's secret diaries; c—the unbelievably callow and intellectually inept thoughts seeping from the mind of Henry Rollins.

The answer, “c,” is a disappointing look at the boy who began as the singer of a great band, Black Flag, and ended up as the self-important, self-aggrandizing fool who embarrasses himself—and some of his fans—every time he decides that entertainers should enter into the field of politics.

His  “I'm right because I'm smart and you're wrong because you are stupid” misconception marches in lockstep with the Hollywood left, who, for reasons unknown, feel that it is somehow qualified to opine on matters it apparently knows little about all the while counting its money made.

And yet, he stays one step ahead of that crew without even knowing it. Rollins is sure that government is not his friend (it's not) and doesn't trust the courts, the law or the police (always a good policy). He likes money and doesn't bank on social security (smart move). These are stations out of the libertarian handbook and his dislike of government sits in opposition to his apparent embrace of liberal doctrine, in which big government is best.

A Rollins book has generally been an enjoyable excursion into the rock world and he has always been able to convey his sense of wide-eyed wonder at some of the things he has earned—sitting in the practice room with Sabbath, interviewing Jerry Lee Lewis, traveling to some pretty cool foreign lands. His tastes in music, books and film are admirable and someone can pick up some pretty good tips via his works.

But A Dull Roar suffers from an anemic grasp of the workings of public policy and the merits of dispute and debate. While it is true that action is always the best policy, dismissing an opposing view is how we get dictatorships.

Then there is the incessant half-witted sentiment that keeps popping up.

Rollins:  “…I never try to say the word conservative without saying ‘douche bag' immediately afterwards.” Tortured syntax aside, how does it feel to be stuck in 7th grade? I used to get a kick out of scribbling the word ‘fuck' on my desk in middle school. Same thing.

If you disagree with Henry, he vows to kick your ass. I recall interviewing some Iraqi dissidents in Detroit several years ago, and one of them told me, in colloquial terms, that was exactly what happened when his brother disagreed with Saddam. And have you heard what happens in Cuba when you don't concur with the Castro regime?

 “I want to be wrong, of course,” he says at one point, perhaps after one of his many assertions that anyone who isn't for gay marriage is a homophobe and that Christians are evil (God, haven't heard that one enough, have you?).

His wish is facetious. Don't worry, Henry, in your narrow-minded world where there is no room for argument, you will never be wrong. Just ask any of your fellow Hollywood entertainers.



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