OPEN LETTER TO HENRY ROLLINS

“The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.”

Every act of creation is first an act of destruction”.

Pablo Picasso

“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.

Lets start at the very beginning.

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.  You just know cos  your Henry Fucking Rollins, with your all seeing eye.

iggy-swift

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.

You question the commitment of others to “the cause”, due to their apparent normal’ -ness and lack of clothing that you feel is inappropriate. For some reason you seem to consider yourself a punk, but have never looked anything but normalissimo, dull and mundane in every way. So what does that mean about your “commitment to the cause”?

So you were kind of Punk Lite or Diet Punk, same tasty punk flavour but without them nasty calories, a saccharine sweet punk, that’s so cute. You lacked the bollocks, the courage and commitment to put your neck on the line, a “closet” punk wanking over fliers and writing love letters to your favourite bands. I understand why it would be so much ‘fun’ for you to those relics, because you never saw them the first time around. As they said in Vietnam, you are one of those “in the Rear with the Gear” guys, no danger of any risk taking or front line heroics for you, no sir. How uninspiring, how bland, how disappointing…

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

“Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

Oscar Wilde

You state that the value of something is whatever someone is prepared to pay. Solely a financial value, everything boils down to dollars and cents otherwise its worthless, other currencies do not exist. Punk isn’t just dead, it was murdered, smothered at birth, and slung in a ditch, disarmed of its strength, relevance and vitality by being absorbed and embraced by the establishment who skinned it and sold the meat off cheap, consumed in a wave of rampant commercialism and ultimately nauseating nostalgia.

So what is value? What is the value of a home Henry? Where is the value in a home, simply the price that home can achieve if sold or what was paid for it? Or is the real value in a home, that which makes it important and significant, the shelter and safety, the nurture, warmth and protection that a home provides. 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, Public Anus and ex Etonian and member of the Bullingdon Club, a club for the filthy filthy filthy rich whose initiation includes burning £50 notes in front of the homeless and whose sole arrogant purpose is to go to restaurants and literally smash them to shit then charge all the damage to Papa].

We investigated, and finally spoke to the decision maker, Mike Clewley, head of said department told us that as there was no royal wedding this year there was a problem, what could be used as a tourist feature, what could be flogged to tourists this year. Hmmmmmmm! Someone grabbed an almanac, noticed it was 40 years since the Pistols released “Anarchy in the UK” and Hey Presto! I guess it was a toss up between either Punk or the Icelandic Cod Wars, a choice between 2 species on the brink of extinction, but tangled trawling nets pull in fewer punters. GOD SAVE MICHAEL CLEWLEY!  

Punk wasn’t about music, or fashion, or even your precious fliers, it was a reaction and an equaliser, a zeitgeist.  It sprang from disorientation, disenchantment and disgust, a violent and expressive revolt against a society that sought to control and ignore. It viewed the establishment with contempt. Contempt for the path mapped out by the arrogant and voracious military industrial complex and the deceit, lies and fake morals of the powers that supported and lead it. It was a reclaiming of dignity and identity. It sought to change and recalibrate. It gave a voice to the disenfranchised, the alienated, the hopeless. 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 change and a rejection of the status quo. It sought radical change but it changed FUCK ALL.  Bones were thrown and the dogs scrambled laid down and chewed, content just to beg at the masters table for the rinds. Initially it was dangerous and a threat but that was all rendered impotent by acceptance. And we all know ”Blind acceptance is a sign of stupid fools who stand in line”.

macpunk

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!!!

You sound like the establishment, You look like the establishment, You are the establishment, to the core, 100% “establishment”, you woofed and grabbed the bone, tail a-waggin. Now “Are you gonna bark all day little doggie? Or are you gonna bite?”. Then stop barking little doggie.

c-card

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.

To paraphrase Malcolm X, Joe didnt land on Punk Rock, Punk Rock landed on Joe.

You have to remember that these objects burnt weren’t simply punk rock relics with fiscal importance as they are to you. 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.

johnny-butter

Joe’s reaction to the gushing wave of “I was there” nostalgia and the “whats it worth” mind-set was one of sadness, loss and exasperation. The old punks line up for their bowl of gruel and brimstone after a hard day of self-congratulation and posing with the tourists. Punk failed miserably, it didn’t end up changing a fucking thing. In fact its now a million times worse than it was in 1976. Have you seen whats going on Henry, have you seen whats going down. And you grizzle on about fliers and T-shirts, get a fucking grip.

Who are the buyers? 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 who can fawn over them, golem like as their investment appreciates financially. Someone who in all likelihood had nothing to do with it but wants a trophy, a war souvenir prised from the clay cold hands of a dead punk warrior. He didn’t want that to happen to them.

But much more than that, it was the realization that the whole thing was now nothing more than a financial equation. Everything it sought to change remained unchanged. Its power had been consumed by the establishment who now finally own it, like they own you.

Joe burnt these relics as a sacrifice – a cleansing by fire to start afresh. An act of purification. The world needs the essence of revulsion from which Punk was spawned in order to survive. Joe wants his act to be a catalyst to incite people to activism, for people to become the change they want to see, for a new beginning. 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 left all that stuff a long time ago, she doesn’t consider it important, other people do. 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. Listen to her speech instead of pretending you have. So I guess you’re wrong about that too.  We are not doing very well so far are we Henry?

QUESTION EVERYTHING Henry, there’s a lot of fake news about you know, Did you watch your shambolic presidential election. There are a lot of people with agendas, news corporations that don’t tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. They invent the truth through selective reporting and manipulation, misinformation and downright lying? Don’t believe everything you hear on Fox Hen. QUESTION EVERYTHING

We sought to try and offer solutions that everyone can participate in to make the changes that are essential, essential for the survival of the planet as we know it and ultimately the survival of the human race.  Every dollar you spend is a choice, a vote. If we all changed power suppliers to those that provide power only from renewable sources, then the big players will be forced to diverge from fossil fuels if they want to stay relevant.  Lets start there and move forward step by step.  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. Did you hear about Standing Rock?

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

— Freidrich Nietzsche

Love

Paleface


7 thoughts on “OPEN LETTER TO HENRY ROLLINS

  1. Oma Reply

    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. Karen Pollins Reply

    Great retort full of passion. I don’t think anybody could question the act now!

  3. Bella Basura Reply

    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.

  4. Simon Catmur Reply

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

  5. BigShip_Iron Reply

    That’s how you say it !! No lies ! Cx

  6. Mari Reply

    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.

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