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Get in the Van: On the Road with Black Flag Paperback – 5 Dec 1996
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It's... well... quite a document. I suppose you have to give him credit for putting himself completely out there, warts and all -- and there are so very many warts. More than anything, the diary entries read like those of a prisoner or addict. The day to day life of being in the band is shown to be terrible and miserable for most of their existence. Yet at the same time, the only time he ever feels anything is when he's up on stage. But that also sounds utterly awful -- being spit on, punched, groped -- it's like a hardcore version of Fight Club.
When he's not on a tedious, extended Bukowski/Miller-inspired misanthropic rant -- he's mired in self-loathing and self-mutilation (figurative and literal). I kept having to remind myself how young he was at the time, but it's hard to get through. The photos are pretty cool, but I would have liked to see more of the entire band, and fewer solo shots of him -- those get very repetitive. I suppose the book is worth checking out if you've got an interest in Black Flag or Rollins, but be forewarned, it is a depressing couple of years.
If I were not an admirer, the young Rollins might come across as a self-righteous misanthrope, yet reading this book almost broke my heart. It is not about war or genocide or any of the really awful things that happen to people on a daily basis. It is just Henry Rollins's recollection of the degradation, depression, alienation, loneliness and unremitting grinding slog of being in Black Flag.
The relentless touring of cities and countries, playing in front of often hostile crowds is recounted in graphic and vemon filled detail. He yearned for Black Flag to be taken seriously, but hated the adulation that came with being the front man.
Having said all of the above, this is a compulsive and compelling read with some laugh out loud moments. Had the young Rollins's life been anything other than miserable, he might never have quit his McJob to Get in the Van. The Henry Rollins of today appears remarkably well adjusted in comparison with his young self.
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