That rats and squirrels taste much the same, that air passengers in India are permitted to take “approximately two” books (but no hockey sticks) on to a flight and that, for someone who professes to nurse an almost perpetual simmering anger, Henry Rollins is a remarkably amiable fellow, keen to neither offend nor patronise.
This punk icon-turned-professional raconteur is now so practised at the spoken word he can speak in torrents, without pause or prompting, for hours on end. These days, his style is observational and witty (despite his overly self-deprecating protestations) rather than confrontational and didactic.
His current set comprised tour recollections from his Black Flag days (no sex or drugs, just rock’n’roll), a smattering of celebrity anecdotes (heckling Dennis Hopper at a Captain Beefheart exhibition opening, you know how it is) and the shaggy dog tale of a 90-minute trip to Costco, which practically unspooled in real time. Did Rollins fight the punk wars for this?
Far more interesting were his erudite field reports from the road less travelled – a jaunt to Mongolia here, some quality time in Bhutan there. His impressions from his trips to North Korea and Haiti were fascinating, if not entirely unexpected.
And what has Rollins learned on his travels? That gifts of soap, footballs and Ramones CDs are as good a recipe for international diplomacy as anything else we’ve tried.