Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Before the Chop: LA Weekly Articles 2011 - 2012 by Henry Rollins

(pb; 2013: nonfiction)

From the back cover:

"The writer, now a but a shell of his former self, sits down at his desk.  He swipes the empty cough syrup bottles, subpoenas, rejection letters and other detritus to the floor to make space.  He frisks himself and finds a pen.  It is time to work.  There is a deadline.  An editor waiting.  One thousand words must be evicted from this ransacked mind and committed to the page.  One thousand words!  The weight of the Damoclean sword hanging over the writer's head tests the strength of the single horse hair that keeps the blade heeding the demands of gravity.  The writer picks up the pen. . . and puts it down again.  The blank page stares back silently screaming for content.  The writer picks up the pen one more time. . . it feels like it weighs ten pounds.  In his younger days the writer effortlessly grabbed all the low hanging fruit and filled composition notebooks with oceans of ink  As the years passed, the writer ascended to the higher branches until one day, all the fruit was gone.  The writer was now at the very top of the tree. . . with nothing.  It was around this time, the writer got a job at the L.A. Weekly.  One thousand words a week?  No problem!  Actually, a big problem.  Yet somehow, the forces of desperation, a fear of failure and a pathetic desire to somehow "stay in the game" drives him on!  The writer rips it from his guts and other places, week after week.  How does the writer do it?  Simple.  The writer has nothing else going on.  Read this book and you will discover just how obvious this is.  I am so glad to be done.

"- Name withheld by request"


The collected articles in Chop read like tightly edited versions of Rollins' spoken word shows: blunt, provocative, smart, self-effacing, humorous and enthusiastic about stuff he likes (music, especially listening to vinyl; touring as often as possible; etc.).  Mixed in with Rollins' recollections - musical, personal and sometimes political - is a sense of upbeat wisdom regarding and stemming from restraint and knowing one's place in the world, which we share with others who disagree with us (as individuals).

Excellent read, worth owning. Followed by Before the Chop II: LA Weekly Articles 2013 - 2014.

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