Waving the black flag

Pub date September 16, 2008
SectionArts & CultureSectionTheater

PREVIEW First the bad news, straight from the wise-ass, too-literate, poetry-writing punk rocker who once muscled his way through Los Angeles hardcore byways and back: "I think McCain will win," Henry Rollins tells me over the phone in Los Angeles after humping a shipment of his new book, Fanatic! Vol. Three (21361), off the truck and into his offices.

"He’s just an awful person." Rollins pauses. "I’m one to talk, but I’m not as awful. I just think America will make the wrong choice again. After all, Democrats never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity — and Republicans cheat."

Ah, Rollins — a heady gust of hardcore wit ‘n’ wisdom, the punk progenitor driving the original, alternate-universe straight-talk express. On the eve of a so-called change election, leave it to the ex–Black Flag frontman and IFC regular to take a talking tour titled "Recountdown" to gauge the state of the nation. Rollins, no doubt, will hold forth on subjects ranging from Sarah Palin ("Who needs five kids? What are you, working in the fields? Are you selling them for meat?") to his recent documentary-making and travels in Thailand, South Africa, New Orleans, Pakistan, and Burma (of the latter he says, "it was five wacky white guys with expensive cameras trying to pass themselves off as tourists").

So in a world that seems to witness even the most obscure underground combo bellying up to the reunion trough, can we ever expect the still-influential Black Flag to reassemble? The good news: Rollins amiably notes that he wouldn’t have much say in the matter since "Black Flag basically belongs to Greg Ginn. But as a hypothetical, I’d pass."

HENRY ROLLINS Fri/19, 8 p.m., $25. Zellerbach Auditorium, UC Berkeley Campus, Bancroft and Telegraph, Berk. (415) 421-8497, www.livenation.com