Get Out of that Van.

Get in the Van: On the Road With Black Flag - Henry Rollins

I think this has been one of the hardest books that I have read in a long time.  It isn't the writing that makes it hard, however, I will say that it is all taken from Henry's journal entries so the flow is rough.  No, the reason why it is such a hard read is that Henry's depression, self loathing and general hatred to the world is SO palpable that you can feel it wafting off the pages.  He literally gave everything he had to his music and performances that there was nothing left for himself or anything around him. You also have to keep in mind that this was the punk scene throughout the 80s.  Black Flag is on the cover of magazines, Henry is considered a rockstar, and yet he lives in a shed when he is in LA. Their shows are a mass of hatred and abuse (literally--they are attacked, urine thrown at them, etc) hurtled at them, they go hungry, they sleep in their bus or squat with fans.  It's insane and insanely hard to read how shitty the conditions were for a band that you absolutely love. It's even harder to read that even despite that, being in the van and on the  road and miserable is the only time that Henry ever really feels whole.  

 

Too add insult to injury, it's also hard to read the inner thoughts of a musician that you love who is so addled with loathing, depression, and violence.  They aren't pretty thoughts..killing the pigs, killing the fans, killing the pigs' families, mutilation of himself and others.  And as you go further in the years, it only gets worse.  Henry could have made an outstanding horror novelist.  Or serial killer.   Whichever.  

 

Overall, this is an incredibly painful and real portrait of Henry's life at the time.  His thoughts are blunt and pretty flipping horrid at times.  There is no sugar coating of anything.  More like rusted barbwire coated.  Don't read this expecting to see a feel good story of a man's rise to fame.  It's not there.  You are actually really grateful that he got out of that van by the end of it.  It was an interesting ride while you were there though.