OPEN LETTER TO HENRY ROLLINS

 “The way to create art is to burn and destroy ordinary concepts and to substitute them with new truths that run down from the top of the head and out of the heart”

― Charles Bukowski

I read your article with interest.

One thing that is shamefully clear from reading your article was that you hadn’t watched the event at all, that’s a shame. It would have been great if you had actually taken the trouble to research and inform yourself slightly for your article rather than simply reading an another ill-informed article by some oaf as lazy as you over someone’s shoulder in the diner whilst you chewed your grapefruit segments, [you can ask Steve Jones to explain that one].

Had you bothered to do so, you would have known that far from putting out the fire the fire brigade couldn’t even reach the flames with the hoses of the 5 engines they sent, they didn’t even bother trying because we were on a boat in the middle of the Thames.

Had you bothered to do so you would have known why Joe and Vivienne did this, because Joe and Vivienne made it crystal clear in their speeches. How do you inform and research your articles? actually, I guess you don’t.

It would seem that you are very wrapped in nostalgia and seem very concerned about the material objects that people may or may not have held onto. It sounds like you feel its ok if people threw it out or sold it to the highest bidder, just don’t burn it.

To quote you “There is some hypocrisy in there somewhere and you don’t have to look too hard to find it”.

You state that the value of something is whatever someone is prepared to pay. Punk isn’t just dead, it was murdered.

So what is value? What is the value of a life, simply the amount of money that can be made out of it or is there something else something that is of greater value? There are other currencies, you just have to look beyond the obvious.

Do you know where the idea for the 40th anniversary of Punk London came from? A tourist board meeting, the idea was offered up at a brainstorming session in the board room at the Department of Cultural Tourism of the Greater London Authority and the office of the Mayor of London [Boris Johnson}.

We spoke to the decision maker, Mike Clewley, head of said department, and he told us that as there was no royal wedding this year there was a problem. Someone grabbed an almanac, noticed it was 40 years since the Pistols released “Anarchy in the UK” and Hey Presto!

Punk wasn’t about music it was a reaction and an equaliser, a zeitgeist.  It sprang from disenchantment and disgust, a violent revolt against a society that sought to control and ignore. It viewed the establishment with contempt. It shook the scheme of things. It manifested itself primarily through the arts, but the spirit and ethos was what drove it forward.

Punk was about rejection of the status quo. It sought radical change but it changed FUCK ALL.

And now it’s a quaint little tourist attraction, you can wear the uniform, walk round on guided tours of punk blue plaques and gaze wistfully at the glistening new skyscraper that now stands over the ground of what was once some seedy punk venue. Buy the punk car insurance, get the 19% punk credit card, eat a punk hamburger from those cunts at McShit, $10000 bondage trousers from Louis Vuitton…  Buy Buy Buy!!!

Unlike you I did dye my hair and wear the clothes and we bore the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune rather than peeking out from behind the curtains clutching fliers wishing I had the guts and the bollocks to put my money where my mouth was. It would seem that you talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. Talk is cheap, actions speak louder than words.

You have to remember that these objects burnt weren’t simply punk rock relics with fiscal importance as they are to you. To Joe these were his childhood, his memories of growing up, He grew up sitting at his mother’s feet while she sat at the sewing machine. He and his brother Ben and Vivienne together, made the Sid Vicious dolls, Vivienne at the sewing machine making the clothes, Joe and Ben flattening the tits of a Cindy doll with hot knives and painting the faces and glueing on the black fake fur hair, the Sex Pistols used to go and pick him up from school. His mum cutting steps and dying a rainbow of colours into his 9 year old hair resulting in him getting sent home from school. Wearing these clothes at 9, out of choice and with pride, despite getting spat at and beaten by men ten times his age and size. Bricks flung by fascists flying through the windows of his home.  These items are his history, his childhood memories, his family heirlooms, items he gathered and kept, precious items that he treasured. Joe did walk the walk and he still does.

I am a collaborator in this act, this funeral, this laying to rest. And if he hadn’t lit the fire I fucking would have. RIP Punk Rock, you fought hard against overwhelming odds but sadly died with a fart and a whimper, the roar had been sold on an auction site.

Who would buy this stuff if it was on sale? Someone who has “startling amounts of money” to quote you directly. Some banker billionaire, another arsehole looking for a bit of credibility living in luxury in an ivory tower above the stench of the rotting poor Someone who in all likelihood had nothing to do with it but wants a trophy.

Joe burnt these relics as a sacrifice – a cleansing by fire to start afresh. Joe wants his act to be a catalyst to incite people to activism. The objective was to use this as a platform, to attract attention, so we can point at the bigger things that so desperately need to be addressed. Things like catastrophic climate change, toxic oceans, raped rain forests, corporate greed and deception, the rotten and corrupt financial system…

Incidentally the artists that you say Joe showed disrespect to were his mother and Jamie Reid. Vivienne was part of it, and so was Jamie, he even donated works to burn. Vivienne now is interested in one thing basically, climate change and activism, trying to stop the rotten financial system and climate change, and she is a lot more passionate than you sunshine.

In 1976 we were the NO FUTURE generation. This generation now need to claim their future, YOUR FUTURE or face EXTINCTION. There is plenty to deal with, the generation of today face catastrophic Climate Change, massive student debts, social cleansing, air too toxic to breath, water to toxic to swim in let alone drink, corporations and politicians fucking you up the arse, HARD and stealing your wallet and home and family and life. We can make things change, we just all need to get together and sing from the same song sheet, the noise will deafen and the walls will crumble.

Finally, you seem to appear offended that Joe made money from his business ventures and gambled his possessions to raise the money he needed to start up Agent Provocateur. Is that not punk?  And there’s you accepting any grubby dollar you can glean from anyone who will pay you to front some low rent TV show. “Full Mental Challenge” wasn’t much of a full mental challenge was it? Are we going to get to enjoy a second series by any chance, or was it so trite that no one wanted to touch it for fear of contamination?

Its not about dollars and cents Henry, its about dollars and SENSE.  Every purchase is a vote

Pssssst!!  Wanna buy some ashes?…

People don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed

 

7 thoughts on “OPEN LETTER TO HENRY ROLLINS

  1. Oma says:

    You are absolutely correct about everything you said to this Henry Rollins person. Good for you!!!! I am so worried about clean water, I can’t think straight!!!

  2. Bella Basura says:

    I couldn’t find ANY evidence of the Henry Rollins article online, so I can’t comment on what he wrote (question everything, even if it’s a purported Henry Rollins article, maybe the article is fake news, maybe Henry Rollins is – I can’t be sure) – But this response is a beautiful, cogent and honest appraisal of the commodification of punk rock, and the impotence of nostalgia in the face of the global threats we all now face. Thank you, Paleface. We needs stand together – shoulder to shoulder – is these bleak and evil times.

  3. Simon Catmur says:

    A well written response that clearly sets out the agenda. Vitriolic & incisive – a stilleto to Henry’s dollar living heart.

  4. Mari says:

    Thank You so much for writing this. I have Hated Henry for a long time. When I was a teen I loved screaming Black Flag and the Sex Pistols. But when I saw Rollins do spoken word in the 90s I realized he was a bully, misogynist, prick that would never have the intelligence to understand the origins of Punk or the Situationist Movement. I went to London specifically to watch the burning, and sadly showed up too late and stood there with whatever was left of the Press and watched the boat floating in the darkness, and then I voted with my American Dollars at the Jago store. Not all Americans are ignorant of the intersection of Politics and Art but Henry typifies the thinking of most Americans that think they are Punk, they are all in middle age and the first to scream at the kids to get off their lawn.

  5. Scott Ward says:

    Good grief, Rollins is such a cretin. I dearly wish I hadn’t succumbed to the urge to read his moronic, ill – informed drivel. Now I can’t rid myself of the image of him running home from his local record shop, carefully taking his Boston album off the gramophone, slipping his new Boomtown Rats album from the sleeve and furiously practicing the moves to the new ‘pongo’ craze he’d read about in the latest edition of Rolling Stone. I dunno, maybe he thinks Joe should have hired Wembley Stadium for the day, invited Charles and Camilla along and auctioned off his gear between sets from Status Quo, Duran Duran etc.

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