How Henry Rollins Escaped the Bleak Existence He Calls "The America"

Henry Rollins talks about how fear of winding up starting in The America drove his to his remarkable career.

Henry Rollins was a serious Black Flag fan before he got an offer to audition as their lead singer. When he got the call, he was leading a “tiny life” as the head manager at a Haagen Dazs shop in Washington, D.C. Rollins had never considered singing for a living—though he had recently jumped on stage for fun with Black Flag—but the ice cream scoop in his hand and his spattered apron looked a lot like the future, so he gave it a shot. Obviously a wise choice.

Rollins is now an accomplished singer, writer, publisher, actor, poet, and voiceover guy, but all he knew in his early 20s was that he had to escape what he called “The America.” Rollins had only one year of college and didn’t think he had any talents—“I don’t have talent. I have tenacity”—so saying yes to every job offer seemed like the only strategy open to him. He’d seen what was starting to happen to the middle class and decided, “You better get Plan B, C, D, E, F, and G, otherwise you’re going to starve to death in The America.”


Headline image by Jason Kempin

Big Think
Sponsored by Lumina Foundation

Upvote/downvote each of the videos below!

As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in.

Keep reading Show less
  • What distinguishes humans is social learning — and teaching.
  • Crucial to learning and teaching is the value of free expression.
  • And we need political leaders who support environments of social peace and cooperation.

A bionic lens undergoing clinical trials could soon give you superhuman abilities

We're talking Ghost in the Shell type of stuff. 


Maybe you watched Ghost in the Shell and maybe afterwards you and your friend had a conversation about whether or not you would opt in for some bionic upgrades if that was possible - like a liver that could let you drink unlimitedly or an eye that could give you superhuman vision. And maybe you had differing opinions but you concluded that it's irrelevant because the time to make such choices is far in the future. Well, it turns out, it's two years away.

Keep reading Show less

The philosophy of tragedy & the tragedy of philosophy - with Simon Critchley

Tragedy in art, from Ancient Greece to Breaking Bad, resists all our efforts to tie reality up in a neat bow, to draw some edifying lesson from it. Instead it confronts us with our own limitations, leaving us scrabbling in the rubble of certainty to figure out what's next.

Think Again Podcasts
  • Why democracy has been unpopular with philosophers
  • Tragedy's reminder that the past isn't finished with us
  • …and why we need art in the first place
Keep reading Show less