Occupants

January 01, 1970

(Chicago
Review Press)

 

www.chicagoreviewpress.com

 

BY SAM BALTES

 

If there’s one word that epitomizes Henry Rollins, it’s indefatigable. Since his self-imposed
musical retirement, he’s still managed to average over 100 spoken-word shows a
year, host a TV show, DJ on KCRW, present numerous documentaries, and spend
what little of his time that’s left over either writing, acting, or traversing
the globe. In Occupants, Rollins
compiles more than seven years’ worth of striking photos with personal
observations, political commentary, and biographical anecdotes.

 

The pictures in Occupants frequently display the effects of America’s wanton capitalism on
impoverished countries. A particularly memorable image captures a dejected Thai
woman sweeping the floor of a McDonalds, with Rollins’ caption exemplifying how
humiliating and denuding America’s
insatiable desire for profit is on other cultures. Further compounding this is
a photo of an Indian merchant selling Black Flag shirts-the vendor not only
ignorant of the band’s history, but also Rollins’ identity.

 

The sections dealing with Iraq
and Afghanistan
are both poignant reminders of the waste and agony that have been caused by the
Bush administration. Some of the accompanying captions present mindsets that
are diametrically opposed to Rollins’, and while painful to read, they’re
necessary in order to gain a perspective on how the countries’ inhabitants view
their situation. Rollins’ intent in writing Occupants was not just to showcase despair. There is an underlying theme of summoning
courage and resilience in the face of abysmal circumstances and he’s just as
focused on the selflessness and kindness he encounters as the ignorance and
cruelty.

 

 

 

 

 

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