Tag Archives: American Idiot

Green Day Conquers the White House

What a difference five years make: in September 2004, Green Day sprang forth and screamed, “I don’t want to be an American Idiot,” and now, on July 28, 2009, they find themselves in the actual White House. I’m sure they were never invited during the Bush Administration. Pretty damned sure of that! Bwahaha.

Green Day at the White House - Photo by Chris Dugan from Greenday.com

Green Day at the White House - Photo by Chris Dugan from Greenday.com

greenday.com* posted some photographs of our fearless leaders, Billie Joe, Mike and Tré… at the friggin’ White House. The band, libertarian-leaning supporters of President Barack Obama, visited the White House during  their tour trip through DC last week. I had wondered if they would be stopping by and saying hello. There are no pictures of them with President Obama that I could find, but if they did have a punk summit with him, I hope they talked about a Lushotologist platform.

Seriously, though, seeing the photographs at greenday.com (it’s a bit complicated to view them over there: go here and scroll to “White House 7/29/09; though it seems that they have now been moved to the members-only Idiot Club; these photos move faster than Tré… they are back at greenday.com) I felt two emotional waves. The first consisted of laugh-out-loud laughter and the second, complete astonishment at the difference a day makes. I almost cried. Not necessarily because the boys were in the White House, but mostly because it just feels as if the United States has tilted a bit to what I consider the right direction. It was an overwhelming emotion. Frankly, I feel more safe and more proud of being an American with the guys in the White House than willingly barred from it.

Tré in Trouble - What did he do this time?

Tré in Trouble - What did he do this time?

What a difference five years makes - Photo by Chris Dugan, greenday.com

You know, this is a good spot for the Office of Punk - Photo by Chris Dugan, greenday.com

Just remember: Intelligent and rational dissent is patriotic, in good times and in bad times equally. Live free or die!

Patriots - Green Day -- Rolling Stone

Patriots - Green Day -- Rolling Stone

*news found by way of Green Day Authority

Green Day Takes New York, Pt. 1: Albany

Memories… like the corners of my mind… misty water–colored memories…

Ah, what can I say about the three days I just spent with Green Day? This one is going to be tough in a 1,000 words or less (yeah right), so let’s just get started. And sorry it’s taken me a while to write this up, but you know, I was busy. I really do have a life. No. Really.

Albany, Times Union Center, July 25, 2009

I have never, in all of my days, deliberately gone out of town to see a band. Sure, I’ve traveled as far as say, Nassau Coliseum or the Meadowlands from the epicenter of Manhattan, but never 360 miles. Maybe I should have done it more when I was younger, but hell, shit happens. It felt good.

Three things stand out for me at this show: the epic pranks (watch out, it’s The SNOO!!) exchanged between opening band The Bravery and Green Day, the thrashing exuberance of Welcome to Paradise, and my green lei that I had picked out from my costume chest and brought to Albany in hopes of presenting to Billie for a song. He wore it for St. Jimmy, but I’m not sure if it necessarily worked for the song. I was thinking more for King for a Day, but Billie asked a fellow nearer the catwalk (whose picture I’ve seen at greenday.com) if he had something for him, but their handoff timing didn’t work out quite right. It’s always good to have a theatrical backup in case of costume malfunction. It didn’t really matter, of course, because Green Day blew St. Jimmy out of the water in Albany. I have never seen a rock performance like this St. Jimmy in my life (the MSG shows included). I keep looking at the video (and not just the lei) and thinking: my God, did I live through that performance or was it just a dream?

Who is this mysterious masked man?

Who is this mysterious masked man?

Massive traffic from NYC to Albany almost drove me crazy, but I had an iPhone jack in the car, so I was cool with my shuffled Green Day albums, and I arrived in Albany around 3:30, much later than I planned, and found a parking spot about two blocks from the stadium, which happened to be across the street from the band’s hotel. They were getting into busses about this time, so I just stayed across the street and smoked a cigarette and watched. I had to take a breather from driving so far, too. I was kinda wound up from the drive up, anyway.

I didn’t wait for the busses to leave, feeling kinda stupid just hovering across the street, under some shade. I turned away and walked the two blocks to the stadium and while the line was longish, I was lucky to meet some cool people, like Elana and her friend David, and other folks whose names slip my old mind at the moment. I hope Elana doesn’t mind my saying, but at one point I realized that she had hearing aids on. I asked her if she knew that there were loud booms in the stadium, and she gave a thumbs up and said, “Yes!” We were headed directly to the barrier, and I wondered what would happen when Mr. Cool blew the flashpot during the Bravery’s show, a ‘tradition’ on his part that had started ’round ’bout the Seattle show. Being from the GDC, she had already heard about them and was ready to be blown away.

Since I was visiting the armpit of New York State, Albany, by myself, the Verizon picture guy, Chris, took a photo with me. He says he takes photos with everyone who’s alone at the hundreds of Green Day concerts he’s been to. Aww… thanks. The pictures are supposed to be up 72 hours later, but the two I took with him, at Albany and the 2nd MSG, still aren’t up while the second one that I took with my friend Liz (see Pt. II) is up. It’s been five days already. Maybe he doesn’t want to seen with a hot 45-year-old woman. Well, that’s his bad! Bwahaha. No, seriously, Chris is a very cool guy though don’t tell him I told you that. A little hyper-active, but… I might just shock him when I show up in San Antonio at the end of the week, if he remembers me! Double bwhahaha.

There was also a lady selling buttons and wristbands down the line to pay for her Albany ticket and to make some money to head to the MSG shows. I saw her later at MSG2. The vibe of the people were for the most part cool. I also saw the guy with the dyed blond orange hair who eventually would sing a verse in “Longview,” I can’t remember his name, but whatever you do, don’t call him Lars.

Since I was going to see the band twice in the pit, I decided to attend Albany on the stage right side of the barrier, near Jason White, because in Madison Square Garden, I wanted to hear Tré’s drums from the foot of the MSG stage. I actually pondered this question a few times in thinking about the shows. I wanted to experience the music very close, but I also wanted to see the technical aspects of the staging from both sides, the full range of the stage. Plus, Elana and David had staked out spots directly at the stage right barrier already (the younger folk move quicker), and after becoming line friends and vowing to protect each other, I hung with them. I still had MSG to go at the time, but I will be getting to stage right when I hit San Antonio. I get to be right under the bass section again. I swear, the drums…can’t even be described. Ah, bliss.

Anyhoo, I was directly in front of the barrier and the security station onstage, behind the graffiti wall with spray-painted lyrics. Halfway through the Bravery’s set, which I thought was pretty good, I actually liked their Bauhaus/Goth/Pop/Morissey sound, several TREMENDOUS BOOMS began.

At the Barrier - Green Day - 21st Century Breakdown Tour - Albany, July 25, 2009

At the Barrier - Green Day - 21st Century Breakdown Tour - Albany, July 25, 2009

I had heard that Tré regularly set off giant flashpots in earlier shows during the Bravery’s set. I’m pretty sure that Tré likes explosions. The first time it happened in either Seattle or Vancouver, I can’t remember which, everyone in the theater thought something crazed had happened, and they would be right! It was a Tré-like character but not Tré at all! Both Tré and the Tré-like character like explosions. I think I’ve read that it’s been one a performance. Well, on this night, they kept going off. And going off, and going off. I think there were like five booms before the first furry farm animal (actually wild animals – the shock of the concert hadn’t warn off yet when I posted a picture earlier staying farm) appeared onstage and it just soared from there. Really, one can’t write about the experience or actually convey it in any way that would be understandable. It just wouldn’t make sense. Watch the video. And marvel how your memory is not loaded with that one-on-one spectacle. Out of the fucking blue. Brilliant. This experience brought home for me a lot regarding what Billie says at the beginning of each show: put your fucking cameras away and enjoy the moment, here and now, it can never be relived again. If others chose not to come tonight for whatever reason and miss this time together, then fuck ’em, it’s our time. At the same time, it’s fucking great to go back and look at the snippets of video that are out there. It’s a strange balance. But forget the philosophy, it was a great fucking show. Blew my heart away.

All hail the prankery of The SNOO!

I will say, though, that when I think about the green lei, I get so deeply doubtful. It’s really weird. Here I was, involved in this great sea of play, and so worried that I had played the wrong lei/scarf/hat/underwear/thong/boa/sunglasses. Doubts. All the fucking time. Sigh. He’s just lucky he had costume backup! Bwahaha.

It was a great show. Mike was on our side a lot, man, he’s got long legs! Billie, on fire (metaphorically, of course), went into the audience from our side of the stage. I loved being able to see the backstage workings of the gig. In this show, the stagehands set up two storage trunks, one horizontal, the other vertical that reached the stage stairs, and then went with him to the stadium seating every step of the way. It was quite an exciting moment from a theatrical point of view. Smash that damned fourth wall.

I really hope they stick with playing “Welcome to Paradise.” It’s a message that people should be hearing right now. And so wonderfully danceable. While the show itself fades from my memory but the experience doesn’t, the last thing I’ll point out is the Bravery getting back at the evil Green Day pranksters, all of ’em! EVEELLL, I tells ya. Yes, Billie Joe, we saw you sneak some TP-gun time from backstage. Can’t fool us! Bwahaha. It’s funny, but some people around me were speculating about which wild animal suit Billie was in. I thought to myself… hmmm, he ain’t in one of those things. He could have hurt himself! I also wonder how many die-hard fans were in attendance in Albany who knew who The SNOO was… or more importantly, why The SNOO is…

Anyway, the Bravery – two of whom were in cute frilly girlie outfits from having performed with the band in “King for a Day” – brought out a huge “Woodstock 94” banner during “American Idiot” and threw clumps of dirt around in honor of Green Day being so old as to actually have a legacy stretching back to 1994. Oh, and in homage to the craziness of that moment in time when Woodstock became Mudstock, never to be relived again, even by the people who were there. Only memories now. The Bravery were so clever as to bring clumps of dirt with them and throw it around. One reviewer thought that the clumps were wigs. Uh… ok. I guess he’s never heard of Mudstock before. It was also funny that the Bravery ran off like girls when Billie Joe turned around and claimed how mad he was… and then started to laugh. I think they even squealed as they left.

Billie, Mike and Tré sure do have a lot of memories crammed into their heads. Good times.

Ultimately, for me, Albany did something I’ve rarely seen in theater, let alone a stadium concert: smash the theatrical fourth wall. Audience and performers can become one if you let it happen. It’s hard to do. Here’s a performance example of how to make it happen:

St. Jimmy – Green Day – Albany, July 25, 2009

Updated: Setlist

Song of the Century
21st Century Breakdown
Know Your Enemy
East Jesus Nowhere
The Static Age
Before the Lobotomy
Are We the Waiting
St. Jimmy
Boulevard Of Broken Dreams
Hitchin’ A Ride
Welcome To Paradise
Disappearing Boy [I Don’t Know, Sweet Home Alabama, Crazy Train, Iron Man, and Free Bird included]
Brain Stew
Basket Case
King For A Day
Shout [Swanee, I’ll Be There, and Earth Angel included]
21 Guns
American Eulogy

American Idiot
Jesus Of Suburbia
Last Night on Earth
Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)

Back in the Day

Green Day on the Cover

Green Day on the Cover

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:

Graduate School.

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.