Henry Rollins: How, and at What Cost, Do People Live in Yuma?

Categories: Henry Rollins

Nothing is out of reach of human exceptionalism. We can do anything we set our minds to, it seems, except - if we are to believe a few bought-and-paid-for scientists and some very angry pundits - affect the planet's climate. That's squishy, elitist, liberal crazy talk, but everything else, like forcing species into extinction (they weren't man enough to survive!) - just watch us kick that ass.

Humankind's ambition has cost the Earth plenty. Of course, the planet has much to lose, but it does have all the time in the world to wait us out (literally). I believe we will check that last box and eventually snuff out all human life. The last person standing - probably a lawyer, or Madonna - will have no choice but to laugh.

A few days ago, I stood on the shores of one of humankind's greatest wereallyImean​REALLY​fuckedthatup examples, the Salton Sea. Wow, the stench coming off this man-made puddle of fetid sadness was dizzying. Of course, there were houses. Hey, it's beachfront property - come for the pelicans, stay for the dead fish.

This was the warm-up, if you will, for the two days I spent in Yuma, Arizona. Every single person I met there, and I met quite a few, was friendly and sturdy. I don't think I have seen that much ruined human skin in my life. The place is a damn frying pan! In the afternoon, the streets were almost empty, and hardly anything seemed to move. It made me wonder how much of the Earth would be inhabitable by humans if they were not armed with air conditioning.

As punishing as it was, I was happy, coated in multiple layers of sunscreen, just to get a different perspective on my existence and its awesome fragility. I was reminded of the extreme heat of Iraq and Mali that I had experienced in the past. The seemingly endless amounts of water I consumed made it clear that, without well-considered shelter and supplies, this weather would kill me quick.

It occurred to me how utterly ridiculous we are. A lot of human life is such a torture fest. Many of us wreck our bodies and the environment with each passing day. Don't get me wrong, I am quite a fan of Homo sapiens and have the John Coltrane records to prove it, but damn, we are the crudest, most obnoxious critters in the food chain. Blotchy, stunted, melanoma magnets with the balls to redirect rivers and fracture the Earth, still believing there would not be a price to be paid.

If you took all the land that humans could live on as naturally as a wolf or a bear, it would hold a few hundred people and even then, existence would be tenuous at best. Of course, we're in freakin' Yuma!

By the second afternoon of outdoor location shooting, I noticed that I was having difficulty forming sentences. 116 Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit! What the fuck was I doing out here? The same thing I do anywhere else - existing at great expense.

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25 comments
bluetrashchik
bluetrashchik

Henry, you're being a little harsh on Yuma. Come on, you're a tough guy, you rode through Siberia, remember? I'm just going to believe that you're saying all of this because you have to exaggerate for the upcoming show to make it sound worse than it really is. Gotta get those views! It hasn't even made it to 116 degrees yet this year, ya big baby!! I'm from the southeast and handle it just fine. Better than living in a swampy mosquito-ridden place any day! Man, for the first time I'm disagreeing with you about something. Hate I missed you.

angeli8surrenders
angeli8surrenders

Dear Henry, Thank you for such an insightful and hilarious article. Born in Yuma, your view of the leather-as-skin adaptation of the inhabitants is correct. Living in Arizona is pretty much a technological affront to God saying, "Fuck you, we'll live here anyways. Amen. :)" Humor is funny only when it touches a truth & an emotion. You did both. Great job, sir. Looking forward to reading your thoughts next week.

Jimmy Green
Jimmy Green

For three. At the most. Months out if the year.

Kaayla Taylor
Kaayla Taylor

What a cry baby. There are few places on the planet that have perfect weather all the time. For most of the year, Yuma is pretty nice.

Lance Martin
Lance Martin

Can't believe I just wasted 5.5 minutes of my life reading Rollins' drivel. Go with yer gut next time, Henry--don't publish this BS. Make up your mind whether to be observational or self-reflective. Wanting to do both here results in the worst kind of cultural commentary. Read some Twain to remind yourself how to do it.

Paula Jean Neff
Paula Jean Neff

Yuma was a great place to grow up. Its so silly that this is someone from Phoenix (where I was born & also lived) that is talking smack about Yuma lol. They are not that different, weather wise. Hell is Hell. Didn't even bother reading the blog lol.

Christopher Young
Christopher Young

AZ in general, they all get leather skin after awhile. smart are snowbirds! In the migration theory this is where you didn't want to end up!

Joe Rollins
Joe Rollins

Amber Nicole Beau McGranahan question answered.

Susan Sharp
Susan Sharp

Hahah Nes Simeona here's another one for you

catmeyer
catmeyer

Oh, P.S. Hank, I have been here since '09, my skin in quite lovel. It's tan, freckled and there are a few laugh lines for a 43 year old. Sturdy, sure but we are proud transfers out here (most of us) and we stay because we sincerely love it. I went back to Ohio (sing it Ms. Crissie Hyde) and all I wanted to do was come home to my desert. It's home and it's perfection. Sunsets, sunrises....great food and amazing people. I can't live anywhere else.

catmeyer
catmeyer

My hero....my Neo Geuardo/El Camino was in MY town, probably at the gun range down off 95-NEAR MY DAMN HOUSE-and I didn't know it. I am reading my signed copy of "A Grim Detail" and kept thinking that he needs to come to Yuma, eat at Chili Pepper and go see the prison and learn about how amazing it is here. COME BACK HANK....COME BACK! Arrrrghhhhhhhh

Jukes
Jukes

I certainly hope that while Henry was enjoying the sights and smells of the Salton Sea he noted that the National Wildlife Refuge on the southern end is named after Sonny Bono.  It's a nice cultural touch, I think. 

Sondra Speakes
Sondra Speakes

Well at least he called us "friendly" & "sturdy" :-D

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