But you’re going back on tour for your 50th birthday next year.
Yeah, but it’s not that big a tour. It’s a handful of shows here, a few there. My next big tour — like the one I just finished — will be in 2012. And that will be January through Thanksgiving. Like, all the way through Election Day.
Basically, one year I tour, the next year I kinda lay off the road — or lay off the stage — and gather. I travel, I take photos, I get stories, then I come back to your town sixteen months later with a whole new two and a half hours of stuff that I didn’t tell you last time because it hadn’t happened yet. And so 2011 will be the gathering year. I’ll travel, hopefully National Geographic will keep me busy, and I’ll get whatever else comes my way. I just finished this year by going to North Korea (which was intense), China, Mongolia, Vietnam, Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, and just a few days ago I returned from southern Sudan and Uganda.
I read that piece in Vanity Fair.
Yeah, Uganda and Sudan are pretty rough. Not like dangerous, but just rough roads, no food. It’s tough there; people’ve got it pretty hard. And so I learned a lot. It’s very hot there; you bake like bricks in the oven during the day.
We’ll get to your work with Nat Geo in a bit, but there was a well-circulated clip of you confronting some hipsters in an East Village establishment on a German TV show. Have you seen the clip? Is that how it happened?
I remember the incident, but I’ve never seen it played back.
I think it might have been edited down from how it actually happened. Can you tell me what happened?
I was with Shirin Neshat, and she is an Iranian human rights activist who now lives in New York. And you might not know her name, but you’ve seen some of her photos. Her photos are all over the place, and she makes amazing movies. And this German TV show, it’s a concept show that takes two people who’ve never met, introduce them, and you just walk around with that person for the rest of the evening and you get to know each other, and they film it.
“Into the Night with…”
The show’s called “Into the Night,” yes?
Exactly. [Ed. Note: I breathed a sigh of relief here. It's a little frightening to hear the words "Say what?" out of the mouth of Henry Rollins.] And they said, “Would you like to meet Shirin Neshat?” And I said, “Who is that?” And they said, “Go to this website,” and I go, “Ohhhhh, I know those photos. Yeah, I’d love to meet her.” And we’ve become friends; she’s great. I actually went Iran and met her family; I met her mother in Tehran.
But, at one point, the producer said, “We’re gonna go into this record store. And since you’re in the music world, maybe show her some of your records.” I said okay. So we go in — and the owner knew we were coming; he was a very nice guy — and there’s these Brooklyn hipster kids. And they started giving me some attitude. Not like some fight’s gonna break out, just some bullsh*t. And one girl said, “Hey get in the van!” [Get in the Van is the title of one of Rollins's books -Ed.], and I’m like, “Oh, okay.” And I confronted them in a completely verbal manner.
It was a delight to watch.
Well, you know, they’re soft children, and if you hit them their parents’ wants would die. But that’s just cool kids in Brooklyn feeling very [unintelligible], it’s nothing to lose your temper over. But, you know, “You can wipe that smirk off your face and take this woman, Shirin Neshat, who has had to leave her country for fear of being killed,” and that kind of shut them up. Shirin is just this incredibly nice person, and she doesn’t pick up on sarcasm all that well, so she didn’t know that these people are being wiseasses, as young people are wont to do.
I think that clip is on YouTube or something, because I’m getting about three letters a day about it.
It is. I posted it on Warming Glow, and it’s gotten more traffic than almost any other post over the last month.
Huh. Well, I have no idea how I come off in the thing — I could be an old blowhard. And, you know, it was their record store; it was their hangout. And some people get a bit clique-y about things, or… whatever. It was just one of those evenings.
I want more like this!
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