This 1997 cover of Britain’s punk rock magazine Big Cheese cracks me the hell up. Shitty, snarky white punk boys with funny-assed faces completely on the edge of mayhem. If I had met these guys on the street back in the day, I would have crossed it. Scary looking dudes, if you ask me.
I didn’t pay much attention to the band back then. And I’ll tell you why:
I went to graduate school from 1991-1992 and then again between 1996-1998. Prior to 1991 I had left New York to go back home to Detroit and between graduate school stints, I moved to Philadelphia before ending up back in NYC for a second torturous round of grad school hell. If any of you have never been to graduate school, let me tell you, it sucks the living life out of you. I was broke and thinking about other things besides music or Green Day. I do remember watching them on MTV in their 1994 Jaded in Chicago tour stop, though, and being completely blown away. Who the hell were these crazy motherfuckers?
And then… life as I knew it became a music-less proposition as school and work converged into one tired girl by 1995. Sure, I listened to the radio here and there, but I hate radio, particularly New York radio and I tend not to listen to it… and thus I get my music few and far-between.
Please, don’t cry for me, as I know you’re not. It’s my own damn fault that I probably bought less than 20 albums between the years of 1994 and 2004, the year that I finally came up for air from life in general. Yes, I had heard GD songs in-between and I knew who they were and I always thought that they were great, but I was more into Nirvana and the Red Hot Chili Peppers and my 80’s die-hard leftovers of the Talking Heads, the Police, U2 and some others when I had the time to listen. I also tried to keep on top of my former life in an acting ‘career.’ I had studied Experimental Theater at NYU in the 1980s and I wrote and performed several one-woman shows and curated a program of storytelling called Oral Text. I was a busy girl, so sue me.
One other vital fact: I am not a punk, but I tend to have a punk attitude, whatever that means. If it means hating overbearing authority, despising organized religion for the most part, liking loud music (I tend to gravitate to music with a heavy beat) and trying to do things on one’s own terms, then in some sense I have a punk sensibility without being one. If it counts, I’ve seen Gwar live twice and the Butthole Surfers once… does that help?
By 2001, I was a bit more settled in life, though not by much. (I am always living on the edge in some ways which really has got to stop.) I had a strange job as a researcher on the television show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” and I traveled to Amsterdam, city of my dreams, in June 2000 and August 2001 and things were beginning to mellow out a bit. Then came the Bush II Horror Show Part One followed by 9/11… well, let’s not even talk about 9/11. I was angry and frustrated and felt as if I were ruled by a bunch of bumbling idiots, because, you know, in reality, I was ruled by a bunch of bumbling idiots from 2000-2008. Fear was everywhere, nervousness was in the air, and xenophobia was the impending meme. What a nasty, nasty time it was.
In order to alleviate a sense of helplessness that would turn into self-mutilation if I didn’t stop banging my head against the wall, I joined the satirical political group “Billionaires For Bush” to find some political relief, laughter, and outlet… and then… Green Day’s American Idiot album came out. After four years of living in an American society were dissent was publicly ridiculed and mocked, Green Day came out and said it loud and raucously: I will not be an American idiot. While we did turn out to be idiots anyway by voting Bush back into office… well, that’s a different story.
American Idiot dragged me through the years of 2005-2008, gave me some hope and helped me to focus my unending longing for a smarter, live-free-or-die and greater country than the one I was handed. I will always be grateful to Billie Joe Armstrong, Tré Cool, and Mike Dirnt for the support that they gave me and millions of others (American or not) during these years as well as during their long and wacky career. They are always quick to laugh, have one of the greatest live shows ever invented, and well, they seem like fun people to hang out with as long as no one is crapping on anything.
They have come out with a new album, 21st Century Breakdown, and I love it. It’s not the best of their records and its got its ups and downs, sounding more like the sequel of American Idiot than a standalone album. It’s not my favorite Green Day album, but really, after American Idiot, where could they go? AI was perfection and it would have been hard for anyone to top it. It took a good five listens to really fall deep, but it’s been in heavy rotation on my iPhone along with my other Green Day albums since it came out on May 15. I have also been to my first Green Day concert, at Good Morning America, of all places and no less! My goodness, I’m a geek.
That’s my backstory. I will add that I’m originally from Detroit, am adopted, racially mixed black and white, grew up in my father’s bar and my mother’s hardcore Pentecostal religion. I studied theater and I am now an archivist at an undisclosed location. I’m sane, but not by much.
I’m actually just a basket case.
Big Cheese Magazine picture found courtesy of the Idiot Club.