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April 24, 2014, 9:47 pm
Greg Bishop Contact Greg Bishop


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Morning-drive news anchor and reporter, Greg Bishop also hosts Bishop On Air, Weekdays from 10 to noon, CST.


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Punk Rock and Abraham Lincoln

Henry Rollins holding Abraham Lincoln's Top Hat
Henry Rollins holding Abraham Lincoln's Top Hat

Springfield was graced with a punk rock legend Thursday as Black Flag founder Henry Rollins made a stop in Illinois’ capital city during his Capitalism Tour. Rollins was really an amazing person to talk to for Saturday Session (you can hear our conversation from a few weeks ago here).

After he expressed his passion for Abraham Lincoln, I worked to set up an exclusive tour of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum here in town. That was amazing!

Rollins looking at the Gettysburg Address written by Lincoln's hand
Rollins looking at the Gettysburg Address written by Lincoln's hand

Video of Henry looking at Lincoln’s Top Hat and also the Gettysburg Address will be forthcoming from his camp. There’s also footage from my camera being prepared to air on Public Access Channel 4 in Springfield.

But the 51-year-old’s spoken word at the Hoogland Center for the Arts showed me more into his politics than I had seen before, even after following him around during a 3-hour tour at the museum.

He knew his stuff about Lincoln! Early Thursday afternoon, down in the vault of the ALPLM, he was not only shown some rare items kissed by the sands of time, Rollins also went through quite a list of books he’s read and he shared his own personal studies about Lincoln. The guy really knew what he was talking about. He could write his own book about Lincoln. And who knows, there may even be a Henry Rollins documentary about Abraham Lincoln soon.

Before the show Thursday night, I could easily tout Rollins as an intense artists who was always trying to point out to people that they’re being gamed by the system. I thought he was somewhat middle-of-the-road--and anti-establishment.

Anti establishment?

He said during his show to ask questions and keep asking question--that’s how you can discover the system is gaming you. If that establishment is the two party system, the fraud of the Republicans and Democrats--Rollins seems to play that game and is in fact so intense towards his audience it’s intimidating.

To his credit he did say “there may be a bunch of people in this room who don’t like either democrats or republicans, and I understand that.” The crowd applauds. “But we’re not gonna change it this time this time around ... so you’re either voting for this guy or that guy.” Without saying President Barack Obama’s name, every context he provided indicates he will vote for Obama.

I don’t buy that game and I’m not gonna get played by it. I’m either voting third party or I’m not going to vote in the Presidential race. Why? And this is why I think my politics are more extreme than Rollins’--There are choices in this race. Simple, isn’t it? There are more than just the Republican and the Democrat.

I’m not sure why Rollins didn’t elaborate on that, or why, in general, the American people are not educated enough to understand that the entire electoral process, from the media buzz in the preseason, to the primary coverage, debates and even candidate smears, to the convention modus operandi, the corporate sponsored debates and easily manipulated electronic voting machines. I’m not going to fall for it! I’m not going to legitimize this rape of our republic by the big banks that fund both Republican Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama. Sorry, Hank. Not gonna do it!

Upholding questionable institutions

He also had some fondness for other institutions, like Planned Parenthood, or even the dreaded TSA. He spoke highly of the constitution, but didn’t blast the genital-grabbing excesses of the Transportation Security Administration. He didn’t go into how the government has spy networks around the country in the form of fusion centers. Does he not know about these issues?

Hypocrisy

There were some hypocrisies throughout his spoken word. He had a funny riff about old-man Clint Eastwood talking at the Republican National Convention and how the famous actor and, in Henry’s words, visionary director behaved towards the empty chair. Rollins was very upset at the disrespect for the office of President. He even blasted Bono for not dressing up when the U2 front man visited George W. Bush in the Oval Office years ago.

But he was quick to make fun of, and showing no respect for, President Bush (I’m not saying Bush deserves any, the guy’s a war criminal in my opinion). Rollins used the old line of Bush being of low intelligence and not able to use words with more than one syllable.

It was entertaining

Either Way, that was only the first twenty minutes of his spoken word. He then went on to talk about his early life growing up in DC and his time as a traveling band living on food scraps and sleeping on urine soaked carpets. He also talked about his straight-edge lifestyle and how he never would try “that stuff” but then went on for a solid 10 minutes to tell a story about drinking two shots of cow urine in India, something a camera guy put him up to.

Rollins was punk rock in the day. Is he still? He’s got a huge passion for Abraham Lincoln and for modern politics. We know he’s pulling for the incumbent this time, but will he soon wake up to realize the establishment is gaming him into promoting a two party system? Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Henry Rollins is still on his Capitalism Tour, hitting up every capital city in America, leading up to an appearance in Washington D.C. on election eve.

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