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Jewish Journal

L.A. punk rock poet Rollins tours Israel—on TV

by Karla S. Blume

April 12, 2007 | 8:00 pm

Henry Rollins (at extreme right)  rides a camel in  'Henry Rollins: Uncut From Israel.' Photo by Ziv Koren

Henry Rollins (at extreme right) rides a camel in 'Henry Rollins: Uncut From Israel.' Photo by Ziv Koren

Before Henry Rollins returns to the Independent Film Channel on April 13 with his alternative brand of celebrity interviews, the late-night host will precede the second season premier of "The Henry Rollins Show" with a half-hour special on the Jewish state. "Henry Rollins: Uncut From Israel" mixes tidbits of Rollins' tour of the Holy Land with moments of his politically charged spoken-word show recorded in Tel Aviv earlier this year.

Rollins first gained notoriety in 1981 as the singer of Black Flag, the popular hardcore punk band from Manhattan Beach. The group's songs inspired not only sweaty and sometimes dangerous mosh pits of alienated teenagers, but the group also gave fans an amplified voice, one that screamed of political and social issues infrequently sung about in mainstream music.

In his post-punk years, Washington, D.C.-born Rollins became known for his liberal outlook and his politically and socially inspired spoken-word shows. He is also a prolific writer of poetry and prose and has published independent writers through 2.13.61, Rollins' publishing house named for his birth date.

Today, Rollins hosts a talk show with unique flair. The format works mostly because of Rollins' easy-going and entertaining interviewing skills. "The Henry Rollins Show" is shown "uncut," a term Rollins uses to indicate that swear words and heated opinions are OK and that artists can play songs in their entirety without fear of trimming a performance to make way for commercials.

His guests are frequently rebels by some standard, such as Marilyn Manson and John Waters, but each has achieved commercial success despite their controversial nature. The series also includes musical performances by boundary-pushers like Peaches, Mars Volta and The Stooges.

Rollins has visited Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran in the last few years as part of the USO. In his view, the more he learns about other cultures, the easier it will be to pass on the knowledge to others.

Led by Israeli photojournalist Ziv Koren, Rollins tours politically charged locations in Jerusalem as well as the West Bank security fence during "Uncut From Israel." Rollins first visited Israel in 1998, but said he didn't get a feel for it at that time because of the short length of his stay.

"This time I really felt a sense of the intensity of what it means to be Israeli, because in their reality, anytime, anywhere it could be the worst day of your life," Rollins said. "Americans can't really identify with that feeling easily."

"Henry Rollins: Uncut From Israel" airs April 13, 9:30 p.m. on IFC.

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