Henry Rollins, former punk singer and enduring Renaissance man, is on stage at Warsaw in Brooklyn telling stories about his pandemic lockdown. Under the lights, he clutches the mic in a kind of wrestling pose. His hair has grayed and his trademark biceps diminished, but he’s still a “ricocheting bullet of curiosity and anger,” as he puts it. The audience settles in as Rollins screeches and howls through the centerpiece of his set, an hour-long anecdote about a mentally distressed Finnish fan who broke into his “concrete fortress,” a $3.9 million mansion in the Hollywood Hills, several times during 2020.
“My heart rate elevates, my breathing elevates, my body flushes cold,” Rollins says, with staccato intensity, “because someone came over a wall or a gate and is in my perimeter, kicking my garage door.”
The climax arrives when Rollins catches the fan, interrogates him, and finally punches him in the face before calling the Los Angeles Police Department. In his youth, Rollins had something of a sadistic streak, but he has grown more gentle with age. “Mental illness is a real thing,” he says. It’s not right to “take someone who is in need of a doctor and a pill and treatment, and punish them.” In the end, he doesn’t press charges, and the L.A. County courts release the man to his mother and ultimately back to Finland.
Still, Rollins can’t resist offering a solution to the problem of society’s ill and uncared for, in keeping with the rugged individualism he has always espoused: “Stop having five children,” he advises, to peals of audience laughter. “Control yourselves.”