This is an excerpt from my book “Vagabonds: Sometimes Getting Lost is the Point” . It’s available as an ebook for kindle or ebook readers. Over the next several months we will be exploring some of these amazing vagabond characters from the past (and present).
Henry Rollins is more than an actor, DJ, spoken word artist, and musician punk rocker. He’s also a vagabond activist and world traveler.
I’ve been a fan of Rollins since the mid-80’s when I was introduced to Black Flag.
Rollins is an outspoken human rights activist and speaks out on social justice, gay rights, and crusades against war and oppression all over the globe. On his spoken word tours he promotes equality including raising money in support of gay-marriage organizations.
During the 2003 Iraq War, he toured with the USO while remaining against the war, at a base in Kyrgyzstan he told the crowd “Your commander would never lie to you. That’s the vice president’s job.” Rollins has toured in Kuwait, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan (twice), Egypt, Turkey, Qatar, Honduras, Japan, Korea and the United Arab Emirates where he has performed on US bases. He has also traveled throughout the globe both for performances and to learn about the world.
Rollins joined Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) in 2008 to launch a groundbreaking national public service advertisement campaign, CommunityofVeterans.org, which helps veterans coming home from war reintegrate into their communities.
Rollins has summed-up his approach to activism, “This is where my anger takes me, to places like this, not into abuse but into proactive, clean movement”
His book Occupants goes into detail about that.
For the past twenty-five years, Henry Rollins has searched out the most desolate corners of the Earth—from Iraq to Afghanistan, Thailand to Mali, and beyond—articulating his observations through music and words, on radio and television, and in magazines and books. Though he’s known for the raw power of his expression, Rollins has shown that the greatest statements can be made with the simplest of acts: to just bear witness, to be present.
In Occupants, Rollins invites us to do the same. The book pairs Rollins’s visceral full-color photographs—taken in Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Northern Ireland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and elsewhere over the last few years—with writings that not only provide context and magnify the impact of the images but also lift them to the level of political commentary. Simply put, this book is a visual testimony of anger, suffering, and resilience. Occupants will help us realize what is so easy to miss when tragedy and terror become numbing, constant forces—the quieter, stronger forces of healing, solidarity, faith, and even joy.
Check out Occupants – or at the least enjoy some of his spoken word on youtube – Rollins is awesome.