Electronic music has been around since the mid to late 70’s in it’s most popular form. But something about the EDM scene in the 1990’s and early 2000’s is something special. I was a wee youngling so I wouldn’t have experienced the full rave scene that went down in clubs and warehouses (minus the drugs, because I consider myself straight-edge 90 percent of the time)
The EDM scene had some breakthrough genres which I personally adore. This isn’t a review per-se but more of a reminiscence of the genre and sub-genre.
Happy Hardcore- defined as more of an upbeat version of hardcore, also has trance-like vocals.
Prominent Artists: Dune, Scooter, Blumchen (Jasmin Wagner)
Dream Trance- an early – mid 90s’ subgenre of trance, in which the theme to the X Files popularized the subgenre.
Prominent Artists: Robert Miles, Faithless, DJ Dado
Progressive House- a subgenre of house where artists experiment with sound.
Prominent Artists: deadmau5, Avicii, David Guetta
Euro-Dance- was a general subgenre of EDM where the artists had a “rapper” and a singer duo, or with a mainstream vibe.
Prominent Artists: Culture Beat, DJ Bobo, Ice Mc
Vocal Trance- is trance with focuses on vocals and melodies.
Prominent Artists: Cosmic Gate, Tiësto, ATB, 4 Strings
Techno- is the foundation of most electronic music
Prominent Artists: Aphex Twin, Moby, Felix da Housecat
French House- house music that has been produced by predominately French artists.
Prominent Artists: Daft Punk, Bob Sinclar, Stardust
I’ve been looking back on how raves were back in the day. Maybe someone should suggest to Electric Daisy Carnival or Euro festivals to once in a while do a throwback where they play ATB, Dune, Lasgo, Wamdue Project, Tiesto,
For some reason, it’s hard for me to get into the new EDM though I have soft spots for Skrillex, Deadmau5, Kaskade, Tiesto. But for me personally the nostalgic songs of the millennial generation seem to have a hold on me. I guess that’s what nostalgia goggles are for music.
Sounds that have been running through my mind: (Soundtrack to this scribble)
Zombie Nation- Kernkraft 400
Nightcrawlers – Push The Feeling On (The Dub of Doom)
ATC- Around the World
Wamdue Project- King of My Castle
DUNE- Who Wants to Live Forever (South Bound Remix)
DUNE- Hardcore Vibes
Daft Punk- One More Time
Bob Sinclar/Fireball- What I Want
More lyrics. Enjoy. I envisioned it sampling "The World We Knew (Over And Over)" by Frank Sinatra.
Over and over, I keep going over
the expanse of blue
the cordial few
moments in the grave
Uncoordinated influx now pours
in the grandeur of you
Electric and true
Every single sign sent away
Each time the potion is shared
and vision is impaired
How far must we travel
before the world will unravel
the diamond is cut
The painkillers stuck
in our argumentative views
Letters change their sound
for everyone to hold
Bleakness in the unwavering weakness
if I could be so bold
The insistent prerequisites
unparalleled to you
How long can we string it?
Missile convergence explodes your review
Over and over, I keep going over the world we knew
Once when you walked beside me
That inconceivable, that unbelievable world we knew
When we two were in love
Now over and over I keep going over the world we knew
Days when you used to love me
Over and over, I keep going over the world we knew
When we all knew love
I keep going over the world we knew
The lotus falls from the seed that grew
The associations may be
too much for you to hold
And they melt you down
when you stray from their gold
Through tears, you fall to the unmistakable call
of the world we knew
Allegiance of view
when the world seemed to be yours
It's not so simple, the world is so critical
of the things you spew
and rightfully, too
When the isolation comes from your closed doors
Over and over I keep going over the world we knew
Days when you used to love me
The days when we knew love
When we knew love
*DISCLAIMER: this is just my opinion. no paid writing here.
6 oz of brewed coffee (any, especially cold brew or Pike Place Roast)
1/2 cup chocolate almond milk
2 tbsp. chia seeds (I used flaxseed since I was in a rush and couldn't find chia seeds; that or I was blind.)
1 tsp. honey
1 tbsp. peanut butter
USE Ice if you want the smoothie thicker.
On the first try, it came out pretty good. I personally would either go for chia seeds instead of flaxseeds; and/or blend the smoothie longer so that way the flaxseeds aren't too much. Also I added too much ice, when it initially calls for a cup. I put around two cups. For what the ingredients call for, it makes two medium glass cup size servings; so you and a friend could share.
Calories : 310 Carbs: 42 Fat: 6 Protein: 22 Sugar: 38 Sodium: 395 from what the database from my fitness pal says it is for home made.
Also if on a strict low carb diet, once in a while is ok to splurge on "cheat" days. I personally wouldn't do this every day or constantly, as the sugar and carbs are pretty high because of the Almond milk and brewed coffee. Might not be good for Celiac's or people with digestive issues. KNOW YOUR BODY before consuming anything.
I'd personally give this recipe a 4.5/5 star rating. Just switch up a few things according to your diet and you'd be ok.
More lyrics. Enjoy. I envisioned it sampling "Some Velvet Morning" by Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra.
Some Melancholy Mourning
Some melancholy mourning
you eclipse my soul
I shudder at the toss
of every roll
Understanding the rituals
that we do
Failure is our name
Some melancholy mourning
we preach and destroy
We weep at the cost
of a broken toy
Resting at the thought
of what we do
When the flash is blue
Failure is our name
Some melancholy mourning
we tear down the walls
Universal trials pull up
when another falls
I just want to tell you
through the woes
and the throes
Soteria is my name
Some melancholy mourning...
You eclipse my soul
of every roll
We preach and destroy
of a broken toy
We tear down the walls
when another falls
Some melancholy morning
When I got into Green Day, I was a typical new fan: watching interviews, old performances, vacuuming up every bit of history I could get my hands on. I wanted to understand my new favourite band. Plus, it was fascinating. The East Bay was another world… and it may as well have been tucked away on Mars. My chances of ever visiting seemed that remote.
Green Day brought that culture, that background I’d immersed myself in, to their live show. It was as beautiful and welcoming as my research promised. Through Green Day I met my now-fiancée, Annabelle, who grew up in that very culture and would be my tour guide when I eventually made it. Even as I grew up and forgot all I’d learned, the fascination remained.
My mum – a huge Green Day fan – and I briefly visited Oakland for the first time last year. We saw a few of the Green Day sights: the Fox Theatre, the Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café there, Broken Guitars, 1-2-3-4 GO! Records and the Bay Bridge. It barely scratched the surface, really, but I still didn’t want to leave. I knew this dirty city I’d never visited so well. Being there felt like the homecoming I expected. Pun unintended but let’s go with it.
So when The Longshot – Billie Joe’s new band – rescheduled their California shows, it was finally time. You know how my mum is always detained by Homeland Security? Even though she’s a disabled 60 year-old with no criminal record? San Francisco Airport just let her in. See, we were meant to be there.
Annabelle met us in Arrivals. We drove through San Francisco and across the Bay Bridge to Oakland.
I took this photo of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge last year, but it’s a Green Day reference. Billie Joe Armstrong’s nickname for his wife, 80 (and in turn the song title 80) came from this, since Interstate 80 runs over it. He’s also talked about how the band and his father, a truck driver, knew they were home after long journeys when they saw it.
While my mum and Annabelle were in line at Starbucks the next day, a lady complimented my leggings and backpack. I thanked her. She asked if I had a cell phone. When I said yes, she promptly had me post on Facebook that it was a beautiful morning in Oakland, then installed her ‘brain’ so I could take it back to England.
‘Welcome to Oakland.’ Annabelle said as we left.
Walking up the street to the ‘Longview house’
We sat on a wall, recovering from the brain installation, singing Love is for Losers (I don’t remember why, but it was great) and working out what we were doing. Then we drove up Adeline Street – the street Billie Joe’s now-closed record label and clothing line were named after – to Berkeley. Annabelle pointed us towards a quiet, unassuming street. Hills rose up to the blue sky in the distance. It was completely, utterly normal. We glanced around, wondering which of these houses was the one, until Annabelle announced ‘here we are.’
So this is the ‘Longview house’: where Green Day’s Longview music video was recorded in the basement. The sofa was rolled in just to be destroyed, but everything else was real. Green Day were living (squatting) there at the time, sharing their space with another band called the East Bay Weed Company. Much of Dookie was composed here. It served as their base while they dealt with record companies in the build-up to Dookie. In the apartment upstairs was Billie Joe’s ex-girlfriend Amanda, who inspired She, Sassafras Roots, Stuart & the Ave., Good Riddance, Whatsername and, of course, Amanda to name a few. Many of the street’s residents were UC Berkeley students, who weren’t fans of the band’s rehearsels disturbing their studies.
‘The record company guys would come to see us rehearse in the basement and their wives would go shopping on Telegraph Avenue. And when we went on tour we would come back to discover these crusty punks had squatted our place, and every single thing we owned was gone. And my love letters ended up on the Internet…’
- Tré Cool, Green Day: American Idiots and the New Punk Explosion, p.82
Someone actually left the house while we were taking photos, right as I announced ‘I’m so glad there’s no one here, or this would be really awkward.’
Looking at the unsuspecting house – the window that’s actually visible in the Longview video – was beyond surreal. Perhaps the most striking thing, though, was just how normal this street was. The house is so loaded with meaning for any Green Day fan, yet there’s nothing to say it’s more than a regular home. We walked back to the car feeling stunned.
924 Gilman Street, Berkeley: the careers of Green Day and many other East Bay punk bands began here
I could almost have walked past 924 Gilman Street. Then I looked up. Once I realised what this squat building was, it was like a punch to the gut. The number above the door; the caning shop sign; the graffiti on the windows and the door – unlike the ordinariness of the house, just that frontage embodied everything 924 Gilman was. I could feel what Billie Joe, Mike and countless other kids must have felt, walking through that doorway for the first time and thinking this was ‘salvation’; because that was me, 6,000 miles away at 12, discovering the culture Green Day brought from here to the world.
‘Armstrong and Dirnt began living for their weekends at the Gilman Street Project. Run out of the back of a caning-and-wicker-shop, the club would go unnoticed by anyone passing by. For those familiar with the side entrance, however, the shop opens into a world that Armstrong refers to as “salvation”: dilapidated wood floorboards; graffiti splashed across every inch of wall space; band after band with the look and sound of early British punk like the Sex Pistols and the Buzzcocks.’
– Rolling Stone Magazine, 1995
Much of the fan graffiti in the doorway was Green Day-related. It went from thanking them to referencing drama between fans. Some might call that ironic considering Green Day’s eventual negative reception at the club, but I suppose that’s what punk’s all about: doing whatever you want regardless. So of course, we went and added our own with our crappy biro pens we picked up in airports and hotel rooms.
How much do you bet some guy will find this and get up my ass about stupid fangirls marking a ReAl PuNx™ site?
My mum had to be encouraged by me and Annabelle
‘Growing up and going to shows around Gilman Street was the best education I got. Walking through that door the first thing I saw was a sign saying “No Sexism, No Racism, No Homophobia,” and I think that’s had an impact on me for the rest of my life. Now when people come to our shows the main thing is I want them to feel like they’re in a safe space. If you’re gay, straight, white, black, brown, transgender, if there’s one place you feel you can go to, it’s a Green Day gig.’
– Billie Joe Armstrong, 2016
We pulled up on another quiet, unsuspecting Berkeley street. Opposite was a building that looked quite a lot like my primary school, identified only by the word ‘Fantasy.’ On the corner was a stop sign, illuminated neon red by the bright sunlight. This was Fantasy Studios, where Billie Joe recorded his first single Look for Love and Green Day later recorded Dookie. It must have been quite the fantasy for those kids squatting in warehouses and basements, coming home to find their space invaded by crusty punks.
Green Day recording Dookie here in 1993
Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, CA
‘[Fantasy Studios] definitely had that Seventies coke-y vibe, mahogany and strange dead wood around the place. We would go into the vaults and see all of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s master tapes. But I felt we belonged there. Our first album cost $700 to make. Kerplunk! was like $1200. “Let’s record these as fast as we can – because we don’t have a choice.” This time, I learned how to dial in good sounds, get the best guitar tones. I was able to take a little time doing vocals. I loved that experience.’
– Billie Joe Armstrong, 2014
San Francisco from Berkeley Marina
Annabelle had been wanting to show me Berkeley Marina for a long time. Of course, it’s also referenced in The Ballad of Wilhelm Fink, from Fat Wreck Chords’ Short Songs for Short People compilation. The clear day offered views of Oakland, San Francisco and both bridges. Students learning to kayak crowded the paths, though the crowds thinned out before the closed-off pier. We walked as far as the sundial and decided we’d come back another day with a picnic.
Before we flew, my mum saw Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café advertising a performance of the American Idiot Musical. So that was our next stop: the Flight Deck on Broadway. It would be performed by Bay Area Zeta Players, a theatre company run entirely by local high school students. I was impressed with the set design as soon as we walked in. They’d fit the vibe of a huge production into a tiny room.
Theatregoers and people in Green Day shirts filled the remaining seats. The show’s director thanked us for coming and encouraged us to laugh, cry or clap whenever we wanted. A raffle was held for an American Idiot CD signed by Mike Dirnt; one of the guys in Green Day shirts won.
Jesus of Suburbia: introducing Johnny, Will, Tunny and the residents of Jingletown
Every performance of American Idiot is different. I know every line, but I’m never sure what to expect – or when I think I am, I’m surprised again. As relevant now as it ever was, it was made for these angry young voices.
Holiday: the ‘bus’ from Jingletown to the city
Favorite Son: tempting Tunny to join the army
Their performance had the perfect balance of rage, love and apathy so performative it mocked apathy. This take on Tunny by Anneke Angstadt was my favourite so far. She brought a fuller, angrier personality to the role; the perfect depiction of a loser easily enticed by military propaganda.
St. Jimmy: Johnny, having been deserted by Tunny, getting his first fix while Whatsername watches
Give Me Novacaine: Johnny falls in love with Whatsername while Tunny is soon hurt on the battlefield
Last Night on Earth: Johnny and Whatsername shoot up while St. Jimmy serenades him, willing him to choose drugs over Whatsername
Extraordinary Girl: in a morphine-induced hallucination, Tunny’s nurse appears as a glittering angel
Letterbomb: Whatsername, sick of Johnny’s drug habits, leaves him
Homecoming: St. Jimmy’s last moments before Johnny overcomes his addiction
Homecoming: Will, lonely and depressed in Jingletown
Homecoming: nobody likes you, everyone left you, they’re all out without you, having fun!
In the traditional Good Riddance, the cast encouraged everyone to sing if they knew the words. A shy chorus filled the little room. Afterwards, the producers thanked us again and explained more about the company.
Seeing American Idiot performed in Oakland – having been to the band’s squat in Berkeley, 924 Gilman and knowing I’d go to the warehouse Billie Joe lived in the next day – gave me a whole new understanding of where this album came from and, as a European, a real insight into the country it’s based on. Boulevard of Broken Dreams was the first Green Day song I ever heard. I loved and related to it so much when I discovered it at 12 that I overplayed it to oblivion. Every time I’ve seen the American Idiot musical it’s still managed to give me goosebumps, but this was something else. I relived every moment of how Green Day changed my life while watching this show. Can’t wait to see these guys in something else. If you get the chance, you totally should.
Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café
Our next stop was the original Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café in Emeryville. Owned by Mike Dirnt, it opened in 2002 with the Oakland location following in 2011. The tables outside were packed. We ate at the Oakland one last year, so we took photos and left. Sadly, since we got home, the Oakland location announced its closure. Wish we’d gone there again now.
The now closed Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café at the Fox Theatre in Oakland (taken last year)
After a trip to Sephora, we got back out of the car at West Oakland BART Station – where ‘a gunshot rings out at the station’ in Welcome to Paradise.
West Oakland BART Station
Annabelle walked us down 7th Street, ‘the cracked streets and the broken homes’ and we stopped outside a patched-up old warehouse. This was the squat Billie Joe had just moved into when he wrote Welcome to Paradise.
Pay attention to the cracked streets and the broken homes
‘Billie Joe left home at 17, and he lived on couches and in a scary live-work band space. He once lived in an old brothel and hotel, located on a desolate block in West Oakland under the BART trains.’
– Spin Magazine, 1994
The BART track is right outside, hence the line about the station. When Billie Joe lived here the bathroom was infested with rats, so he chose to use a cat litter instead. It’s also referred to in Sweet 16 – ‘throwing down a bottle of Old English back in the warehouse.’
‘I was living in West Oakland at the time. It was my first time ever being out on my own, out of my parents’ house and I just tried to capture that feeling – sort of frightening but at the same time you come to the conclusion that it’s freeing and you can end up growing as an individual.’
– Billie Joe Armstrong, 2005
Seeing this was a sobering reminder of where Green Day came from and how hard they worked to be where they are now – but also a powerful reminder that it’s entirely possible and, as Billie Joe said, that it can even empower you. With these photos I’d like to include Annabelle’s story from the We Are Revolution Radio book. They grew up in a similar setting, and their story makes great points about how Green Day inspire fans beyond the music.
Annabelle’s story from the We Are Revolution Radio book
Our next drive was to Jingletown, a real neighbourhood near Fruitvale. In a dead-end by the highway is Studio 880, also known as ‘Jingletown Studios.’ This is where Warning, the Foxboro Hot Tubs’ Stop Drop and Roll!!!, the ¡Uno! ¡Dos! ¡Tré! trilogy and parts of American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown were recorded. It got the name ‘Jingletown’ when the Foxboro Hot Tubs used it to cover up their identity.
21st Century Breakdown is my favourite album of all time and the only record I’ll ever claim changed my life. So seeing the studio where recording began, and also where the album art – a massive inspiration to me at 14, which probably still shows today – was painted; it was emotional and left me a bit shaken in the best way. I also bonded with an old guy across the street when he waved to me.
You might recognise the parking lot if you’re a Green Day fan. It appeared in the ¡Cuatro! documentary and several of the ¡Uno! ¡Dos! ¡Tré! promo videos. Much of the 21st Century Breakdown album art was painted on the walls, but sadly now it’s been sold and from what I could see, it’s gone.
27th Avenue sign near Studio 880
The studio is on 27th Avenue, which likely gave the Foxboro Hot Tubs song 27th Avenue Shuffle its name. Jingletown itself is also, of course, the name of Jesus of Suburbia’s hometown in American Idiot.
This store was an unintentional Green Day reference. I took a photo because it said Jingletown, but it also has a brief cameo in the ¡Cuatro! scene That Just Happened (around the 0:22 mark).
Despite Annabelle saying ‘we need to get your photos then get the hell out of here,’ we spent the evening eating 29¢ cakes in the Food Maxx parking lot. It felt a whole lot like we were Johnny, Will and Tunny. We even escaped alive. Peak Jingletown.
Sunset in Jingletown
The next day, we headed to San Francisco for the Longshot show. Our last stop before postponing our tour was Powell St. BART Station: so we could go do what we liked, making sure we did it wise. This is the phone (or the only usable one on the same wall) Billie pulled off during that line in the When I Come Around video.
I’ll write about the two Longshot shows in a separate post, so if you’re not interested, you don’t have to scroll through it. If you are, a recap is on its way and you can read my DC and Baltimore one in the meantime. My make-up stayed intact for three days, tho.
On arriving back in Oakland from Orange County, I found two guys I recognise in a Visit Oakland magazine.
We went for dinner at Homeroom, one of Annabelle’s favourites they’d been nagging me to try for two years. My vegan GFF did not disappoint. Afterwards, we passed Broken Guitars and went to 1-2-3-4 GO! Records which is, of course, a Green Day reference. Here they played an early show – the ‘Bay Area Music Fan Appreciation Event’ – for ¡Uno! ¡Dos! ¡Tré!, The Longshot played their first show and Billie built the stage with his son Joey. They’re currently selling Turn It Around: The Story Of East Bay Punk.
1-2-3-4 GO! Records (taken last year)
Inside 1-2-3-4 GO! Records, Oakland, CA
The guy working was kind enough to show us the back room, where the stage is. It looked so much smaller than it did on photos. Its official capacity is 49.
Phone pic of me in the back room at 1-2-3-4 GO! Records. Don’t judge me guys, I’d just wiped the three-day-surviving make-up off
They also have a Live at Maxwell’s doormat in there, which confirms its status as the best record store in Oakland. We spent the remainder of our evening talking on various benches, moving regularly to avoid drug dealers and men with mini America flags non-ironically attached to them.
Sunset in Oakland
Next, we finally ventured out of Oakland to Pinole. Knowing the area inspired Jesus of Suburbia, I expected it to be a shithole. Like a mini Oakland, because that’s what the suburbs no-one wants to live in are like in England. Instead, the city dissolved into an endless vista of rolling hills, scorched by the sun. Sleepy streets led into the town. Annabelle drove on to park in an equally sleepy shopping centre.
To us, it was just pretty, but I could see why it felt like the end of the world in a completely different way to Kirkby-in-Ashfield. Instead of chavs grumbling outside the Job Centre, there was no-one. Just silence amongst the rows of parked pickup trucks. Now I understood exactly why the song was called Jesus of ‘Suburbia,’ and how a loser like its namesake pitted himself as Jesus; sitting in ‘my living room, for my private womb, while the moms and Brads are away.’ At the same time, though, those lyrics can still apply to anywhere. Because, for so long to me, they applied to my home so far-removed in England.
Fiat Music, Pinole: where Billie Joe Armstrong learned to sing
We stood for a while outside Fiat Music: a little section of the shopping centre, between Trader Joe’s and a martial arts academy. This was where five year-old Billie Joe was taught to play piano and sing, by Marie Louise Fiatarone and her husband.
‘Billie Joe’s mother brought him in because she was signing him up for piano lessons. Jim took one look at him and said, “He looks like he really belongs in show business. Why don’t you take him in the studio and see if he can sing?”’
– Marie Louise Fiatarone, 2006
With reassurance from Annabelle that we weren’t being creepy, we went inside. The building looked surprisingly modern outside, but once we opened the door, its age was clear. We were greeted by one of the kindest and most well-spoken people I’ve ever met: Mrs Fiatarone herself. Feeling embarrassed, my mum explained we were Green Day fans and knew Billie learned to sing here. Mrs Fiatarone smiled and said yes, he was one of her very successful students. She showed us the back studio, where Look For Love was composed. Propped up on the shelves was Green Day fanart by new students, inspired by Fiat Music’s past. When we said we were from England, she showed us a photo in a folder: a group of Green Day fans holding up the t-shirt from the Look For Love cover, in which we spotted one of our friends, Tony. You might know him from Bullet in a Bible – he’s the guy who comes in too soon when playing American Idiot. Even though we and Mrs Fiatarone were aware of Green Day’s ability to connect people around the world, it still seemed crazy these random English girls recognised someone in the Fiat Music guestbook.
Mrs Fiatarone then told us her own crazy story. When Billie Joe began looking into his Italian ancestry, he posted his grandfather’s birth certificate on his Instagram, asking if anyone could translate. Mrs Fiatarone’s son offered to help, since he spoke Italian. He soon found Billie Joe’s grandparents were from Viggiano, the same little town of 3,000 people, as his own. What are the chances of that?
‘I learned show tunes as a kid. My dad was a jazz drummer, and I used to go to veterans’ hospitals and sing. I wanted to play guitar, but they said my hands were too small.’
– Billie Joe Armstrong, 2005
We looked at the Look For Love cover and she smiled, saying ‘he’s still that same sweet little kid.’ Then she held it up so we could take a photo.
Me and Marie Louise Fiatarone, who taught Billie Joe to sing
We thanked Mrs Fiatarone, feeling like we couldn’t thank her enough, and said goodbye with a promise we’d send her the photo. Maybe one day someone else will recognise us in the guestbook.
This was by far one of my most unexpected, but surreal and incredible, Green Day experiences. We didn’t expect anything more than having a peek inside – let alone meeting Mrs Fiatarone herself and being treated with such kindness. We were just in time, too. It was about fifteen minutes before she started teaching and the next day, they were holding a concert for the 10th anniversary of Trader Joe’s. Meeting her was an absolute privilege and it’s a story I’m honoured to share.
Pinole Valley High School
We walked down an overgrown, cracked pathway to Pinole Valley High School – the latter high school Billie Joe and Mike Dirnt attended. Green Day also played an early show here. It’s currently being renovated, but we could make out the spot Green Day played and get a feel of the area.
The area around Pinole Valley High School
Across the street was ‘the’ library from At the Library. Green Day played that the first time we saw them. It always seemed fitting considering that’s where I met Annabelle. Everything was coming full circle. Sadly, the library is permanently closed now.
At the library
A minute’s walk away was perhaps the most mundane, but most exciting site for me (not counting unexpectedly meeting Mrs Fiatarone).
The center of the earth in the parking lot of the 7-Eleven where I was taught.
It said home is where your heart is but what a shame, ’cause everyone’s heart doesn’t beat the same
Like Pinole, the ‘end of the world’ wasn’t what I expected. I’ve been to some very dodgy 7-Elevens, and I expected this one to be the same; not set against the quiet backdrop of a hill. It was an entirely new take on Jesus of Suburbia.
Billie Joe worked here for a while in his teens, which is likely how it ended up in the song. We went inside, because we had to and bought a rainbow dragon, now named Pinole.
‘It’s that lost feeling. Hanging out at the 7-Eleven. Disenfranchised. Alienated. You just get that feeling of “I’ve got to get out of here. There’s more to life than this town.”’
– Billie Joe Armstrong, 2006
In the 7-Eleven at the center of the earth
Before we got back in the car, we looked for a bathroom stall. There was no way of knowing which was ‘the’ one, or if it even existed. So we just went for the only place that didn’t require a 500-digit code and pickaxe to get in: Trader Joe’s. It was a bathroom stall in the shopping mall.
A bathroom stall in the shopping mall from Jesus of Suburbia, also known as peak California tourism
Unfortunately there was no graffiti to confirm the center of the earth is the end of the world. Hopefully the random English people, accompanied by a local trying not to laugh, who piled in and bought one banana were enough confirmation to any bystanders.
‘[American Idiot] sort of follows the path of this guy, Jesus of Suburbia. He’s, like, 19 to 21 years old, he’s stuck in a small town, and he’s sick of everything there – the people, the 7-Eleven he grew up with, his friends, the institutions that he’s been in the whole time. He finally finds the courage and the anger to leave his hometown, and he moves to the city and tries to find people who are kindred spirits.’
– Billie Joe Armstrong, 2004
People love to claim Green Day betrayed their roots when they wrote American Idiot. The truth is, it’s no further from those roots than Dookie. You only need to stand on this street in Pinole to know that.
Rodeo, CA: Billie Joe Armstrong’s hometown
We weren’t sure if it’d be creepy to go to Rodeo. ‘But it’s just a town, and it’s not like you’re going to find his mom,’ Annabelle said, so we went. If we thought Pinole was a sleepy hamlet, this was even more so. We parked first opposite a gas station and wandered around; just taking in the atmosphere of the little town of 8,500 people.
‘I grew up in a town called Rodeo. It’s right off the 80. It’s off the 80 at Willow. And it was the inspiration for this next song. This is Jesus of Suburbia.’
– Billie Joe Armstrong on stage at The Warfield, San Francisco, 2005
‘Rodeo is on the water, you know,’ Annabelle said, ‘And there’s something you’ve forgotten there.’
Still unsure if it was weird to be here, I hesitated. They drove us up there anyway. We came to a view of a reference I’d completely forgotten: the oil refinery referred to in 21st Century Breakdown.
The last one born and the first one to run.
My town is blind from refinery sun.
OK, I may now be an adult with a cold, dark heart who won’t talk about how 21st Century Breakdown changed (what I really mean is saved) my life. Because at some point since I felt that way, the phrase became overused and I shied away from ever saying it again. But as Billie Joe will say East Bay punk saved his life, I can say the same about that record. As a teenager, I lived by Gloria’s ideals: striving to claw my way out of a stagnant existence and find a home in all my scars and ammunition. She was my idol. Feeling that way inspired me to carry on when I felt there was no hope left. Now, walking around what might have been one of the most desolate streets in Rodeo; I was living in the songs that inspired me so. Like loving a movie all your life and finally visiting the set.
‘Aren’t you glad we came up here?’ Annabelle asked, and I was. I didn’t feel creepy anymore.
I’ve been to the edge and I’ve thrown the bouquet of flowers left over the grave
‘We came from such a highly polluted area in Rodeo, California. It’s a refinery town and we ended up getting sent home from school because kids were having headaches and nobody could understand why, when of course, 200 yards away from the elementary school I went to was the biggest refinery in America.’
– Billie Joe Armstrong, 2005
The San Pablo Bay from Rodeo
As we walked up the beaten road to Lone Tree Point, I had Outlaws playing in my head, too. Because if there’s one Green Day song, not from 21st Century Breakdown, that personifies what growing up here must have been like, to me, it’s Outlaws.
I found a knife by the railroad tracks.
You took a train and you can’t go back.
Forever now you’ll roam.
We sat for a while on a picnic bench at Lone Tree Point, talking and watching the sun go down. Two men threaded their way over the train tracks to a caravan by a dilapidated pier.
Christie Road was still on our to-see-today list, so we marked this as another spot we’d have to return to with a picnic (who has a picnic near a refinery? Us). We took a slow walk, taking it all in and detouring onto a bridge to take photos, back to the car.
A yard in Rodeo (I like cacti)
On our way in, we saw a Rodeo sign Billie Joe took a selfie with. Assuming Annabelle remembered we wanted to stop there, and even if they didn’t we’d leave the same way, we didn’t mention it again. We were back out on the 80 when my mum and I looked at each other.
‘I think we’ve come a different way.’
Annabelle glanced at me. ‘Ohhhh, the sign. Uh, we’re long past that…’
We turned in Hercules. Annabelle was doubting their knowledge of the area.
‘Which side was it again?’
It wasn’t exactly something we could Google. We continued, hoping for the best, until my mum grabbed my arm.
‘THERE! That’s it!’
‘Where do I park? Where the hell did he park?!’
My mum pointed. ‘There’s a bus stop, look. Park there. We’ll only be a few minutes…’
‘That’s illegal, Joy,’ Annabelle replied, but parked there anyway.
References galore (see THAT sign in the background)
We were wading through the grass when a horn screeched behind us.
‘It’s a fucking bus!’
I turned, watching Annabelle dive back into the car, and saw an entire park and ride.
‘Oh, that’s where Billie parked.’
The bus driver stepped out, laughing, and asked what we were doing. We said we were Green Day fans doing our history tour. He replied that he loved Green Day and knew Billie Joe’s brothers, who lived locally. We had a short conversation about Donald Trump and England, then he went on his merry way. Annabelle, now parked legally, was judging when was a good time to charge back over the highway.
By the time my mum and Annabelle had been to Starbucks to recover, the sun had set. Christie Road would have to wait. Thanks, Rodeo sign.
Sunset over the 80
We’d also forgotten John Swett High School – the first one Billie Joe and Mike attended – Tight Wad Hill and Foxboro. It seemed a shame to have little things outstanding up there, so we went the next day.
For some reason I didn’t take a single photo of this on my camera, so you’re stuck with this phone pic ft. me
Foxboro is a housing development five minutes down the 80 from Rodeo. Billie Joe and Mike used to sneak into the hot tubs dotted around the village, a spot to drink and make out late at night. So, perhaps obviously, it gave the Foxboro Hot Tubs their name. We didn’t wander in to see if we could find any hot tubs. However, we did go and say hi to our favourite sign, since it was a two minute walk away.
‘The Foxboro Hot Tubs were a place we used to sneak booze and chicks into late at night. But most of the time it was just “dude soup.”’
– Billie Joe Armstrong, 2008
Crockett is the other side of Rodeo, after the 80 threads through hills and the refinery. We stepped out of the car at John Swett. The first thing we saw was the board that announced Green Day’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.
A board at John Swett High School, where Green Day’s 2015 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was announced
‘The fear was always there, even when we were doing American Idiot. I’d get this voice in my head: “Who do you think you are? Why did you write a song like Holiday, you high school dropout?” I think the working-class part of me comes out. Sometimes the people who have the loudest mouths are upper-class, upper-middle-class. The quietest are often working-class people, people who are broke. There is a fear of losing whatever it is that you have. I come from that background.’
– Billie Joe Armstrong, 2013
John Swett High School, Crockett: Billie Joe and Mike’s first high school
Across the street from John Swett, peeking through trees is Carquinez Middle School – where Billie Joe and Mike met. It’s an orange-and-pink-painted building in a dip, before the ground rises back up as a green hill.
‘Our school district went bankrupt, so they closed down the junior high and combined two elementary schools. So [Mike] went to one elementary and I went to the other. We used to have to take the bus out there. First day of elementary school, I think in fifth grade, I was like the class clown – but Mike was like the class clown, so it was kind of like these dueling banjos that were going to go back and forth. What you get is Deliverance. Mike is my musical soulmate.’
– Billie Joe Armstrong in his Rock & Roll Hall of Fame acceptance speech, 2015
Carquinez Middle School, where Billie Joe and Mike Dirnt met
This was something else totally alien to us: suburban American schools. Everything, even this, was on a scale so much larger than England it was fascinating. At first glance, the warm brick buildings surrounded by trees were just pretty. All we’d seen of quiet, hilly Crockett, overlooked by the Carquinez Bridge, was pretty. It was difficult to imagine it feeling like the end of the world, but the more we walked around, the clearer it was that the silence and empty sidewalks could feel suffocating.
THIS DIRTY CITY IS MY SUGAR TOWN (yes, I went there, I non-ironically enjoy Nightlife)
‘I’m not royalty. I’m the king of nothing. I’m in the same high school rock ’n roll band I’ve been in since I was 16.’
– Billie Joe Armstrong, 2016
Down a hill dotted with porta potties is an urban scramble of metal and chimneys. It looks like part of the oil refinery, but it’s actually a huge sugar factory. This is where the phrase ‘sugar city urchin’ in Tight Wad Hill comes from – and, of course, ‘my sugar town’ in Nightlife. The latter likely references Crockett since Sugar City Tattoo, where Lady Cobra worked, is here.
C&H Sugar Factory in Crockett, referred to in Tight Wad Hill: ‘sugar city urchin wasting time’
Tight Wad Hill itself – a spot junkies and cheapskates hung around to watch school games for free – overlooks the John Swett field. The area has changed since the song was written, including the field itself; so it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where qualifies as ‘Tight Wad Hill.’ We climbed over a barrier and peered through trees at (what we at least thought was) the view.
The field and yard at John Swett High School from a spot near Tight Wad Hill
That was all our Rodeo-Crockett references ticked off. We thought we’d better see the bridge and a bit more of the town before we took off – part of the magic was just experiencing these places, after all. We wandered up the hill and through quaint streets.
The local bus Billie Joe and Mike would have taken to school – it stops outside Carquinez and John Swett
Toot’s Tavern, a street-corner pub adorned with an American flag and advertising live music, wasn’t on our list. I’ll admit I didn’t even realise its relevance until Annabelle pointed it out – it’s where the Foxboro Hot Tubs played their second show. We passed it, so why not?
Toot’s Tavern, Crockett, where the Foxboro Hot Tubs played their second show
On our way to the bridge, I found an unintentional reference. Not that this sign is directly referred to in any songs, but it’s Westbound Sign summed up.
Finally, we walked a bit of the way across the bridge as the sun set… and now it was too late to go to Christie Road again.
Sunset from the Al Zampa Memorial Bridge in Crockett, CA
Sunset over the refinery
These trips to the ‘end of the world’ might have been the dullest part of our trip to anyone else. For us, though, coming from an overcrowded little island where even the most isolated places can’t compare to American suburbia; this was our favourite part. I feel I’ve learned so much about Green Day and their inspiration by experiencing it myself. Next time I sing along to songs like Jesus of Suburbia at a live show, where Billie Joe’s lyrics are their most poignant, I’m not even sure how I’m going to feel. I just know I’ll lose my voice.
Block Party, Oakland
We spent our last day at the annual Block Party. The line-up included Dead Sound, Destroy Boys, Same Girls, Prima Donna, Anastazi and Arrica Rose. Stalls representing local businesses, from Homeroom to Atomic Garden, filled the street. We unexpectedly met our new friend Evangelina, who we’d met a few days ago at the San Francisco Longshot show.
Prima Donna live at Block Party
Finally, we attempted the photobooth in 1-2-3-4 GO! Records. We ended up with some photos of my mum’s cheek, the top of Evangelina’s head and my left boob. SAD. Fear not though, because Evangelina recognised the bathroom wall from a Longshot selfie (the one used to announce their show there, no less), so we got another to add to the Rodeo sign.
The 1-2-3-4 GO! Records bathroom wall featured in a Longshot selfie
I’d say eating mac & cheese and watching local bands (well, Prima Donna, aren’t quite so local) was a pretty good way to end our trip. I even have a new jam, Feral Children.
So, the next morning, it was time to pack our bags and head back out over 80 to the airport. I’d never wanted to stay so much. My head was spinning from everything I’d taken in over the last week and a half. Still, we were missing some crucial bits and pieces… so we’d just have to come back.
For your comparison: arriving back in England
I knew this trip would be special. I could never have imagined quite how deeply it would immerse me in music I thought I already understood so well. In finding the roots of the three people and art that inspired me, gave me hope when there was none – I’ve found another part of myself. People ask me why I love Green Day. That’s why. Because they embody a culture, one that could have been forgotten in one tiny club in Berkeley, so much it reached this lonely kid looking for a purpose in England… and I know I was one of many.
Now, I’ll return to my own center of the earth; but unlike the graffiti in the bathroom stall, these memories will confirm it’s not quite the end of the world. I don’t know about you, but I’d disagree that Billie Joe never made it as a working-class hero.
Note this tour is missing (alphabetical order): Art of Ears Studio (Kerplunk), Christie Road, Hyde Street Studios (Insomniac), Passalacqua Funeral Home, Rod’s Hickory Pit (now a gas station), Ruby Room and Stuart/Telegraph (Stuart & the Ave.). If all goes to plan, you’ll get a second instalment later this year!
More lyrics. Enjoy. I envisioned it sampling the theme of "Welcome To The Machine" from the Genesis version of Ecco The Dolphin.
Stilts On Water
The peripheral vision
cuts through the mist
We fear when our homes
are sunk under the abyss
A beautiful mirror vista
with the dead submerged
A pristine new life hangs
over the remnants of the purged
Through the flood
Your iron lung rusts
Decayed and forgotton
Your body erupts
No one cares
when you've fucked us all up
It's not simple enough
to stand up to the accused
when the ice completely melts
the mother realizes she was used
The clock only knows
that the only thing you can't breathe
is a layer of your
own selfish greed
I feel for us all
a virus trying to survive
But the temples give too soon
and no one is left alive
The coast of the neo
is paved with the cataracts
of what used to be
alone and afraid
70 meters above
the mother we used to love
Welcome to the contrivance, my friend
Get in line, do your time, stay alive
Welcome to the automaton, my friend
Stimulate the mind, stimulate the grind
Welcome to the machine, my friend
Weep into the world estuary
Sink into the burden we carry
Okay so it's been a while since I updated this!
Basically we ran into a bit of trouble during the painting process. First off, the weather is shit for a few weeks so the guy painting it couldn't really do it without it turning to shit. When he finally was able to paint it, he started relicing it and went a bit overboard so he had to restrip the guitar and start again.
After getting it painted the second time, it was getting close to Christmas so he was shutting down for a few weeks. I had the option of him doing a rush job, or waiting till after Christmas when he was actually moving to my city and we could work on it together. It's currently in the processed of being reliced and looking fucking amazing.
I figured it had been a while since I updated here so I wanted to give a little tease of the paint job. So here it is!
Some more lyrics. Enjoy.
How many corkscrews must we put ourselves through?
The whim of Death is an attraction for a few
Messages broadcasted in newscasting sounds
when the delusion to kill is in dormant grounds
Ratings are in demand
Blessings dropping from both hands
Morning arises to no avail
God's inner workings are destined to fail
Hold my catacomb while the metal collides
My hope for the future fades as the present divides
Live and let live
until you live no more
Live and let live
Let's have one more
Give them screen time;
we always want more
R.E.M is one of my favorite bands as of late.
Driver 8 stands out to me personally. It's off of the album Fables of the Reconstruction (1985) I feel like a personal overall favorite. It's about the Southern Crescent/Amtrak Crescent. But it seems like it has another meaning; meaning that with how many people are working constantly. We need to calm down as a collective. Overworking ourselves is killing us slowly.
"Way to shield the hated heat.
Way to put myself to sleep.
Way to shield the hated heat.
Way to put myself, my children to sleep."
I believe with this world, I do not believe people will slow down or stop and take a good look at their lives and step back. Relax. Feel good about their accomplishments. You do not have to be a perfectionist to feel good. Overworking causes exhaustion and possibly premature death. As an artist, I feel it's my obligation to be perfect. But looking at everyone else, puts me in a depressive state, and will overwork myself trying to have my craft look like every other professional studio artist.
it was a mess, so I deleted everything + in a fit of rage at the time.
https://driver93.wordpress.com/blog/ . but this is where i write mostly. that and some shit on blogger. https://sammoose666rantandreviews.blogspot.com/ . please give comments or views i'd appreciate it.
also with my wordpress blog, i do schedule (or try to schedule something) for every saturday evening (around 7:30 pm my time EST)
More lyrics. Enjoy.
among the wind
Cacophony in elegance
Sealing the vitals in my
And now I hold you
a fateful reminder
The sand is falling
And now I throw you
into the atlas
connected to your calling
Dark clouds forming
in some violent mourning
comes the warning
Windmills on the fields
Closing the departments
that enter the never
Hope you won't be double-crossed
in some enlightened morning
In some enlightened morning
So I've decided to write a blog, just because sometimes when you're angry or sad or hating life or whatever, it helps to just write stuff down. People might read this, or they might not, and that's okay - I don't care who sees this, I just want to vent.
So today was another shitty day. I spent most of it laying on the floor and staring at the ceiling, willing it to cave in on my head and crush me to death. It didn't happen (obviously). I wish it had.
Today was also the day that I finally told my mam that I want to die. I didn't tell her that I was suicidal, but I told her I want to die. She just brushed it off. I don't think she understands. She'll never understand. Nobody understands. I also told her that I wish my dad would just leave and never come back. I don't necessarily want him dead or anything, I just want him gone. I know that makes me sound like an ungrateful child and a terrible daughter (and to an extent, I am both), but it's true. I want him gone, but in reality, I know that my situation would be even worse without him, so that's just totally impractical anyway.
Furthermore, I've finally come to the realisation that I can't live in a world where there are other human beings. I find myself wishing we were extinct, every single day. That's how I know I'm fucked up - you don't get more insane than wanting your entire species dead lol. Aside from a few people who I absolutely adore, and a few others who I admire for different reasons, I hate human beings. I hate how they're selfish, ignorant, hypocritical liars who are perfectly okay with being slaves to money. I hate how they try and force their opinions onto me, regardless of whether it's a petty opinion or an important one. I hate how they make assumptions. I hate how they think that I actually want to be around them. I hate how they're so self-absorbed that they don't even try to understand others. I hate that they don't even recognise their mistakes, let alone take responsibility for them. I hate how they're unnecessarily bitchy. I hate how they love the sound of their own voices too much and never know when to shut the fuck up. I hate that they talk down to me. I hate that they're totally unapologetic (and sometimes even totally oblivious) to all of this. But most of all, I hate that these qualities appear to actually be valued by other people too.
On the other hand, I hate it when people do understand. I hate it when they're nice to me and when they try to help. I hate it when they know/remember stuff about me and pay attention rather than being ignorant. I hate it when people say they actually like me or when they speak highly of me. I hate that they can't see what a shitty person I am.
I hate seeing people happy, but I hate seeing them sad too. I hate everything they do. I hate them all, and it's all on me. Because I'm a literal walking contradiction, and I think that's what got me into this mess.
I have a request!
I'm going through all my photos and trying to make sense of the insane amount of pictures I have, with the goal of making some photo albums. I realized I lost all of the pictures I had of me + the gang (aka the circle-jerk crew) from the time we all met up in Cleveland a few years back. I think I might have deleted what I had in a fit of rage or something, idk. Anyway, if anyone has any of those pics, would you mind sending them to me? My Green Day phase was such a fun time in my life and I'd really like to have the pictures for my photo project!
I can't remember anyone's username on here anymore so if someone who's savvier than me could tag Alissa, Steve, Hannah, Eva, Carling, and WHOEVER ELSE WAS THERE and might have pics, I'd appreciate it! Thanks so much guys xoxoxo
This year has been a rocky one for me, hence my absence here on GDC. I still miss you all and lurk when I can. I figured I'd give you all an update if you're interested.
Ricki passed away on April 14th, and I've cried every single day since then. For those of you who don't know, Ricki was my cat who was almost twenty-two years old. He was my best friend and got me through so much in my life. To live through his legacy, I've created a non-profit to raise funds for senior pets in need of medications or medical procedures in my area. It'd mean a lot to me if you could like his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Ricki.and.Friends/
I finally graduated University. A photo is in the Photo Thread.
I am currently working four jobs. I'm very tired.
I have recently signed up for pole fitness to build my confidence and get my old body back. I hope it goes well.
My stomach disease has really taken over my life. I was not approved for surgery, so I am taking tons of medications for that, as well as my other medical issues. My medications have made me bloat bigger than I have ever been in five years. My self confidence has been shot down, and I have resulted in self-harm as of recently. It isn't something I am proud of, but I am seeking help for this.
I applied for my Master's degree in New York to be closer to Tom.
I am also completing my licensing exam to be a social worker in New York to be closer to Tom. <3 I miss him very much every day.
Uhhh other that that I'm not sure what else to say!
It was my last day of training in my new job when tickets went on sale. Our trainer set us up to go for different shows: some for Washington, some for Baltimore. The biggest venue The Longshot was playing had a capacity of 750. Even with a committed team of not-so-professionals, this wasn’t going to be easy.
People must have wondered what the hell we were doing in the training room, because I was screaming and it was infectious. I had Washington. Two of us had Washington. Baltimore was gone before I could even switch tabs.
‘Sam has Baltimore!’
Sam did indeed have Baltimore. I ran to and fro with my card. I’d forgotten my Ticketfly password and had to make a new account. My heart was still pounding when it was all over. I expected something to go wrong. There’d be some reason I couldn’t keep the tickets.
I ran into the canteen to text my mum and my partner. They’d both panicked and bought Washington tickets too. It turned out it didn’t even sell out for an hour and a half. Still, there was a two ticket limit per person for every show, and the only reason ours weren’t cancelled out was that I accidentally entered the address I no longer lived at in Cornwall.
It was a week until we left when I began to feel so ill I could barely even look at my screen. When it got worse, I took the afternoon off and went to my GP. I never get sick. I once went to work photographing kids with swine flu. This was bad. The doctor debated sending me to hospital because I was so dehydrated, but eventually sent me home with a bag of medication. As I spent the evening throwing up, all I could think of was the shows. It wasn’t about the money I’d lose. It was about the opportunity I’d never have again. I absolutely adore Love is for Losers – as much as anything Green Day have released – and the thought of not making it left me feeling very angry with whoever gave me the bug.
I got a suitcase in my hand, don't even know just where I am 🎶
I made it to East Midlands Airport. I’ve done some stupid things, but getting on a plane this unwell is somewhere at the top. Still, there was no way I was giving this trip up. Landed successfully in Dublin. So far, so good.
OK, I think it’s funny now, but I’ll admit that night in Dublin was bad. I was scared I wouldn’t get out of the bathroom for long enough to check in. With my mum’s encouragement I did. Somehow we were through security. I was feeling slightly better. The next hurdle was US preclearance. We had under an hour to clear, and we knew my mum would be detained, because she always is for no apparent reason. I rushed through separately so I could speak to the gate staff.
‘What’s the purpose of your trip?’
‘I said, what’s the purpose of your trip?’
‘Oh. I’m going to see a Green Day side band, mate.’
I had never received such a glare of hatred from a Homeland Security officer until then. He stamped my passport and let me through without a word. No sign of my mum. It would probably be OK, the gate staff said. Probably.
They were late boarding. She reappeared with time to spare. We were on the plane. It was too late for them to throw me off if I suddenly got worse, but it seemed like the Dublin episode was the last of it. That was some high quality relief.
Newburgh Stewart Airport looked less like a barn miles from civilization in the sun. I watched suburbs pass where ‘VOTE’ signs sprouted from the grass, crammed into every corner until they dissolved into the open highway. In the middle of nowhere, a huge, glass-fronted hotel rose from a clearing. That’s America.
I’d never been to New York City in summer. It was reminiscent of trying to run for a bus on Falmouth High Street after 9am, when all the tourists have woken up. We walked to Nintendo World and bought caught a Blastoise. It took longer than we expected and we realised we couldn’t make it to the Megabus stop in time if we walked. We unsuccessfully flagged down yellow cabs until a minibus stopped. He got us there just in time. Of course, the Megabus was an hour late and the minibus adventure was unnecessary.
You haven’t experienced America until you’ve stood on roaches, sweating 10 litres, in line for an overbooked Megabus that’s an hour late
I fell asleep at some point on an anonymous highway (on the bus, not off it). When I woke up, the sun had gone down and the bus was creeping through dimmed city lights. Clean streets were washed pink by the night-time glow. We pulled in to a strange bus station, like a parking lot, under Union Station. While my mum went for a cigarette, we made friends with a lady called Elizabeth who asked if we knew Meghan Markle or Princess Diana. Wherever we go in America, the Diana question is national.
We walked through streets of columned buildings to my mum’s first Walmart. While I stared aimlessly at cheese, probably having forgotten my own name, a guy asked where I was from and learned about The Longshot. I grabbed two packs of honey buns, some strawberry M&Ms for Sam – the hero behind our Baltimore tickets – and red velvet Oreos to take home. Finding a stupid supermarket: success.
The receptionist at our hotel thought we were a couple, and wanted to change our room so we weren’t in a double bed. Eventually he decided we looked alike and gave us the key. Mate, I’m not from Sutton-in-Ashfield.
It was a hot, sticky day when we went out to wander. We scoped out the 750-capacity Black Cat, the dodgiest building on a fancy street. There was definitely no-one camping out 36 hours in advance, so we walked on to the White House.
The White House was well fenced off, with police patrolling the street outside. Photographing and marvelling at it was a strange bunch: indifferent tourists, students and news crews filming, and sunburnt, middle-aged men in completely non-ironic Make America Great Again hats. It was hot and crowded (and the MAGA hats looked contagious), so we didn’t hang around.
DC was more like a British city than anywhere else we’d visited in America. Like a cleaner, American London. There was something quite emotional for me about visiting the capital city of my favourite country. The first time I went to America we actually landed in DC. I was 16 and Homeland Security made me cry. They held us up so long we missed our connecting flight to Phoenix and met Cone McCaslin from Sum 41. It was quite nice to make it out of the airport, having seen the last of Homeland Security in Dublin.
It especially got me at the World War II Monument, looking up at the pillars that marked the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and the names of all the states. I know it has its (huge) faults, and I’m not a stupid European who naively believes in the American dream. I will probably die getting shot in America. But from Wisconsin to New Mexico, wherever I go (except LA), it’s my favourite place in the world. One day I will make it all the way out to Hawaii. OK, I’ll go back to laughing at America now.
The last stop on our tourist expedition was the United States Capitol. Everything had long shut by the time we arrived. The sun was setting, tinting it all gold.
We returned to The Walmart™ before we headed back, re-emerging with a camping chair, battery-powered fan and sun umbrella. We were ready.
It was nearly 11pm and there was still no line at the Black Cat. The street was packed with clubbers now. I’d probably have got stabbed with a stiletto if I’d rolled out my sleeping bag. We hesitated before going back to sleep and returning at 6am. I was eighth in line, behind Meri from Finland who we’d seen all over the world on the Revolution Radio Tour.
The first few hours passed quickly. We made friends with a fellow Maria, who’d brought her twelve year-old son Daniel. He bonded with eight year-old Chase from North Carolina. Both of them had been on stage with Green Day and couldn’t wait to see Billie Joe again. There were fans from Canada, the Netherlands, Italy, England, Germany and Australia behind us. Most were hardcore fans, as you might expect at a side project show, but there were lots of casual fans too.
Once the sun reached its peak in the sky and shade receded, the hours began to drag. I spent a lot of time shoving my face in free ice water from Peet’s Coffee. Chase gave us all fabulous Longshot tattoos with a sharpie – and Maria gave Daniel some incredible, detailed Green Day ones – though in the afternoon they all began to melt off. I was very glad for the fan and sun umbrella. Best $20 I’ve ever spent. I was glad, too, that the stomach bug seemed to have finally disappeared completely. Only just in time, but I made it. It felt like coming home. The fact we’d be seeing The Longshot, these songs Billie randomly decided to bless us with, in such a small venue that night, was still surreal. We were incredibly lucky, and I was struggling to believe it wasn’t all just a big joke. Maybe we were actually seeing Green Date.
Future rockers of America waiting for The Longshot
Half an hour before doors, staff checked ID and stamped our hands. The stamps were our tickets. I was frightened mine might melt off like Chase’s tattoo. Outside of our little groups, the atmosphere was hostile now. Thankfully, they let us into the air conditioning early, lining us up in a corridor before the stairs. I was shocked how calmly everyone filed in. It was even more of a shock, then, when they called us up early. Now it was, as usual, every man for himself. I was sitting on the floor and before I even registered what was going on, feet were thundering past me. My mum had gone to sit down and was nowhere in sight. I leapt up, joining the stampede up the stairs. Staff screamed at us not to run but no one listened. We crashed into the front row in the exact order of the line. I was up in front of Kevin Preston’s mic. My mum was still nowhere to be seen. Carling and Lindsay from Canada helped wave to her and we ushered her in. Panic over. Now, resting our arms on the stage with no barrier, only the amps between us and the band – it seemed at least real enough to know it wasn’t some huge joke.
It seemed an agonisingly long wait for The Trashbags. Then they were gone, their kit was dragged off and replaced with a shiny Ludwig kit that read ‘The Longshot.’ In the meantime, Billie opened the door behind the stage, stared at us and shut it again.
This was real.
It wasn’t like Green Day, where Billie Joe is the final, dramatic entrance. The four of them strolled on stage together, smiling and waving to the crowd mere inches from them. I was staring in disbelief at Billie, at Kevin and his setlist taped to the amp in front of me, at David behind the Longshot kit that looked so new – like it was. They tore straight into Kill Your Friends. We were slammed into the stage in a surge I’d only ever experienced in England. All the tourist attractions we’d seen yesterday were long gone. The four walls that packed us in could have been anywhere. It might as well have been England, or maybe it was Washington DC. I’d felt like I was watching Green Day through a thick screen before, many times. Somehow, so close I could see the smallest features on their faces, this seemed more dreamlike than ever. Devil’s Kind was a song I’d listened to on YouTube. Not screaming the words back at Billie in a sweaty club. By Taxi Driver, I was jumping on people’s feet and they were jumping on mine. I couldn’t breathe and I didn’t care. I don’t think anyone cared. It certainly didn’t silence the collective voice screaming the words: ‘taxi driver, I’m rolling, taxi driver!’
Next up was Happiness. I remember looking round at my mum and her face was just alight with, quite literally, happiness. Billie yelled ‘oh my God, I fucked up the lyrics!’ but that might as well have been the actual line, it mattered so little. The crowd sung along as a raucous chorus to Rockaway Beach.
Then it was straight into Soul Surrender. There was emotion in Billie Joe’s eyes and voice I’d never known before. These songs resonated deeply with me, too and I felt connected to the band in a way I’d also never experienced, at any show, before. I keep saying it was surreal, but it was.
‘This is another cover song, this song was done by a band I saw play when I was 15 years old, in San Francisco…’
I screamed because I knew this was Bastards of Young. Annabelle introduced me to The Replacements when we got together, and I’ve loved them ever since. I’d never, ever dreamed I’d see any member of Green Day playing a Replacements song. And it was perfect. Paul Westerberg would be proud of his #1 fan.
Billie Joe sang As Tears Go By with his eyes closed. It was clear it meant a lot to him, and the emotional way he played it meant everyone in the room felt whatever he felt too. Cult Hero was a proper banger. Even the Longshot songs that weren’t my favourites were more incredible live than I could ever have imagined. Now I had memories I’d recall every time I heard them.
I knew they were going to play Fell For You. I could see it on the setlist in front of me. But this is one of my favourite songs of all time. It was released at a poignant time for me, when I was in my first relationship with someone who really shouldn’t have fallen for me. I’d dreamed of seeing it live since the first time I heard it. I thought that was far less likely than any Replacements song – they were probably more likely to cover Destiny’s Child. Nothing could have prepared me for it. I was losing my voice, in tears at this point. Billie caught my eye and gave me the cutest smile. I know he doesn’t have a clue how any of us feel – but I’ll say again, it’s a connection I’ve never experienced with any other musician.
Out of the corner of my eye I could see Bill Schneider filming. We didn’t know, but our phones were buzzing in my mum’s bag with our friends telling us they could see us on the live stream. Sadly, I don’t think it’s saved anywhere so I never got to see it.
Whilst few people knew Walking Out On Love, it fit so well with the theme of Love is for Losers. Billie was really into it when he was in the American Idiot musical (in fact, I think they played it several times in a row at the closing night’s after party). We’d seen Green Day play it once then and I still knew the lyrics, which seemed to amuse Billie.
Body Bag was beautiful in a way a studio version just can’t capture. At the first chords of Love is for Losers, the whole crowd erupted into a screaming, dancing mess. We could have been 65,000 people in Emirates Stadium. Maybe it was after the lull of Body Bag – or maybe it was that we’ve all been there, searching the winter for the bride of Frankenstein with our delusions of lost love. In that line Billie Joe widened his eyes and spread his hands, playing the Frankenstein part. What a loser.
Turn Me Loose is, just slightly ahead of Chasing a Ghost, my favourite Longshot song. Seeing it live was everything I expected it to be, from the thumping drums to the emotion in ‘so turn me loose, but don’t call me a loser with dumb tattoos.’ Billie Joe stage dived and at some point I was pushing him off my head. What a time. Have you listened to Turn Me Loose? You should.
I was still innocent then. Before the Ultimate Trauma 2k18. A stray fan landed on the stage as they began Stay the Night. Then another. Then another. Billie beckoned more. My hair was soon being grabbed. My mum was being kicked and punched. People were trying to push her down. Kids with no idea how to crowd surf were flailing and hurting people. Once they got up, they whipped their phones out for selfies. The crowd that seemed so unified earlier, that one collective voice, no longer cared who they hurt. They just had to get to Billie Joe. It continued through I Fought the Law to Chasing a Ghost. The stream of bodies was incessant. There was no room left on the stage. Kevin and Jeff Matika were out of sight. Billie was on the floor, three strings broken, asking ‘what the fuck?’ – but like true professionals, the music continued uninterrupted. Some guy had his hands around my mum’s neck. When I wrenched another guy’s fingers off her, he yelled ‘relax, slut!’
The kicking and punching continued until she was slumped, unconscious, over the amp. They still didn’t stop. Eventually, Carling managed to alert a staff member. To get her out, he had to shine his torch in their eyes and fight through them. In the meantime, fans on the front row were helping Billie up. When Chasing a Ghost finished and the band disappeared, we watched, completely stunned, as staff ushered fans back into the crowd. My mum and I have a pact that if something happens to one of us, the other has to stay on the front row. I hadn’t even processed what had happened yet, except that her smile so bright it lit up the room was gone.
I don’t want to vilify everyone who was up there. Nor do I want to lie or exaggerate to prove my point. It’s a wonderful idea, and a concept I have no doubt Billie loves. I know some went up just to dance or stage dive and caused no harm. But I’ve seen the ones who did touting it as everything from ‘punk’ to ‘love,’ and as someone who’s been to many loving, but still violent, punk shows – this was 95% a rush to get to Billie Joe. No one was hurt in the name of punk. They were hurt by rabid fans.
The band returned for the encore unfazed. Billie announced ‘fuck it, Love is for Losers one more time!’ and they played it again. It seemed a bizarre moment frozen in time that embodied the confusion of what just happened. I think I just stared blankly at the band in Ziggy Stardust. This night was surreal enough without 50 asses in my face.
The show ended with Kiss Me Deadly. This was originally going to be me and Annabelle’s first dance song. I remember watching videos of Billie playing just the intro at Soundwave in Australia, and thinking just hearing grainy audio of him playing that was enough. But I was standing there, in Washington DC, just a few metres from him and hearing it in full.
What a night.
Me and Meri found my mum outside. While the staff guy helped her, apparently some girl from the stage took photos of her because she thought it was funny. Fans of various nationalities approached her, broken because their show was ruined and they knew she’d understand. Now I’m home it’s only a damper on my memories, but at the time it was awful to see.
We said goodbye to Meri, thanked Taylor from Ohio for storing our camping chair in her car, and headed to Union Station. As upset as my mum was, she’s 59 and she’d just got knocked out, and she was just chilling off to Baltimore. I know there are a lot of kids bitching that she shouldn’t be at punk shows right now, but I think she’s more punk than all of us.
People from Baltimore told us not to line up before the sun rose. An employee was apparently murdered outside the Ottobar. Everyone else said they’d get some sleep. I’d read the stuff about how Baltimore is the most dangerous city in America. I still thought they were having us on. You know what Green Day fans are like.
We stepped off the train into a grubby station. A cop asked us if we were alright. As our Uber approached the Ottobar, we could see the street was completely deserted. They were not having us on. Our driver unloaded our luggage, unfazed by these morons about to set up for the night with a camping chair. Then he left. We were alone with some roaches and all our luggage. It was clear from the dirty street of squat buildings that this was not DC. A police car screeched past, sirens blaring. We were finally going to die. But what if we went to our Airbnb and 10 people arrived? We tried to hide ourselves behind a tree and I shoved our luggage into the shadows with the roaches. A bench I’d seen on Google Maps that said ‘BALTIMORE’ on it was opposite us, which improved the whole scene.
The moment I knew I was going to die for a stupid band, at 4am on a street in Baltimore, Maryland
A potential murderer ambled aimlessly past us. Another stumbled down the street. Murderer? No, he was with a woman and they were trying to hitchhike. A few expensive cars (meaning they could afford to shoot us?) passed. Then there was total silence. I kept hoping other fans would come. None did. Eventually, more headlights glowed in the distance. They approached slowly. It was a big vehicle. Oh God. This was it. It wasn’t just one murderer, it was a bus full of them.
‘Why is it driving so slowly? Are they going to get out and kill us?’
My mum squinted at it. ‘It looks like a tourbus.’
‘Why has it slowed down again? We’re going to die.’
We sat with bated breath awaiting our doom. Even the roaches, startled by the lights, stopped scurrying.
‘It’s stopping right here! It’s actually murderers!’
‘I’m sure that’s the Longshot bus.’
The murder mobile slowed to a halt. Then it turned into the Ottobar. Singing floated around the corner. This was officially one of my most stupid moments: being alone on this street in Baltimore, Maryland with just The Longshot, whose tourbus I thought was a murder wagon.
As 6am got closer, commuters began to cycle past. A man cheerily said ‘morning!’ as if it was standard to find English people there with a sleeping bag and camping chair. We replied ‘morning!’ as if it was our daily routine.
The first fans arrived shortly afterwards. I recognised one guy from Green Day’s Rose Bowl show. Rescue at last. I’m kind of glad we had the murder wagon experience tho. It made a good story.
Soon venue staff told us we were queuing at the wrong door. They directed us to another door in front of the bus. It was still running and pumping heat at us. Rude.
The above three photos were stolen from @thisisjoyjoyjoy xo
I spent much of the day laying on my sleeping bag, under the sun umbrella with the Walmart fan in my face. Kevin and David got off the bus, waving as they passed. At some point I must have fallen asleep. I woke up abruptly to feet in front of me. There was a guy with a Blue replica. I sat up. The bus door opened. Billie stepped out.
Me, summed up: sitting on my sleeping bag, three-day-old eyeliner on, just staring groggily at the musician I’d come to see. He let the Blue guy have a photo, then Bill Schneider announced they had to meet someone. No one swarmed him or tried to follow as they left. That was a refreshing change. They passed by again later, waving before they went in for soundcheck.
When venue staff accidentally left the door ajar, we were greeted by the first chords of Love is for Losers. It was surreal all over again; hard to believe it was really The Longshot in there, not just the album we’d been listening to on repeat. Bill passed, my mum joked ‘no, don’t close it!’ and he was kind enough to actually leave it open for us. Fans pressed their ears to the wall to identify the next song. It took me a while, because I didn’t expect it. It was Fever Blister. My favourite of the b-sides Billie released on Soundcloud, I never expected to hear that, either. Too much for my cold, dark heart, guys. Too much. Then a venue man came by and undid Bill’s hospitality. We could still make out Taxi Driver.
Staff checked my passport and stamped our hands. A man stepped aside and said ‘nearly there.’ The room was completely empty. It was the first time I’d ever walked onto an empty floor with no rapidly approaching stampede behind me. I’d never been quite front centre either. Folding my arms over the amp in front of Billie’s mic was an emotional time. My mum was on one side and Taylor on the other, followed by her friend Alex, Meri and little Chase and his mum. Raiishelle from Australia snapped a photo of us from the balcony. It was such a good feeling to be at a tiny show with so many of my old and new friends.
Photo stolen from @_greendaytrash
During The Trashbags’ set, Billie peeked through the backstage curtain, pulled a face at my mum, waved and disappeared again. Murderer.
The thrill of the drum intro to Kill Your Friends hadn’t worn off. It wound up the crowd like a clockwork toy. One verse in and we were this meme personified. But no one flinched. Billie demanded we clapped to Devil’s Kind. The crowd obeyed in force. I had no room to breathe, let alone jump, but I still was. It was impossible not to. This was what these shows were all about: nothing but the band, the crowd and passion. My voice was already hoarse. As we all screamed along to Taxi Driver, I looked at the faces around me and up on the stage; and not one was filled with anything but joy.
‘She’s my soul defender, don’t be so uptight! I… oh shit!’ Billie laughed, turned away and before he spun back round, saying ‘I got it! I got it, I swear!’ the crowd was already filling in for him: ‘just me and my imagination! I swear I think I saw a ghost!’
Soul Surrender is, to me, an incredibly intimate song. A lot of The Longshot’s tracks are. Yet there was nothing uncomfortable for me, the band, anyone about sharing them with the other 350-or-so people in that room. Whatever our backgrounds, whatever we got from that show, we were experiencing it all together. It’s weird – I’ll never see most of those people again, yet in those sweaty crowds, we subconsciously learn so much about each other people in our ‘real lives’ will never see. ‘Send me a message through the window…’
I could process Bastards of Young better this time. I think I knew, now, I wasn’t dreaming. I’d seen The Replacements play it in London, now I was seeing The Longshot play it in a shitty bar in Baltimore, Maryland. After the song I yelled ‘Wild One!’ as a request. Billie just replied ‘I could say the same thing about you’ before slapping his nose and adding ‘next time bring me a [something I have no hope of ever deciphering].’ Whatever, murderer.
As Tears Go By hit me even harder that night. ‘My riches can’t buy everything. I want to hear the children sing…’ That line went over my head listening at home, but hearing it there – it almost brought tears to my eyes.
Screaming ‘I got my darkest secrets and whispers at the moon, where all the stars never align!’ back at the band, it seemed impossible I had a life outside these walls to go back to. Whoever it was, we were celebrating a literal Cult Hero, in a sweaty ritual only those 300-and-something people would ever know.
Billie repeatedly yelled ‘fuck DC!’ and ngl I cheered. This crowd was equally rough, if not more so, but far less rabid. Sure, I’m bruised all over, but it was from people just having fun.
I had no excuse for squealing at Fell For You this time. I still did tho. I think I terrified the people around me. Soz guys. Apparently there are two things in life I’ll cry about: Rose Bowl security, and seeing stupid bands play my favourite songs. But seriously, if the murder wagon ran me down then, at least I’d seen Fell For You.
Walking Out On Love tied all my memories together in this stupid theme of Love is for Losers that resonated with me so much. Able to take it all in so much more, I realised how perfect Body Bag’s place in the setlist is: a bittersweet lament after the bop that’s Walking Out On Love and before Love is for Losers, which is actually heartbreaking but so catchy and fun you’d never know.
People think American crowds can’t match the British. But this tiny crowd’s chorus of ‘heeeeey-eeeeey-ey-ey-ey!’ to the intro to Turn Me Loose could have been a stadium packed with the worst of us. Billie replaced ‘for the record and the afterlife’ with a roar of ‘for the record I ain’t gonna take no shit from anybody!’ that was smooth enough to be fun, but emotional enough to make that line more poignant. When Billie stage dived he landed right on my head. My face was just smashing into the amp over and over. Murderer.
Premium content: Billie Joe Armstrong giving me a concussion. 📷: @bjguitars
Stay the Night was a song I associated with stadiums and arenas; with Green Day’s huge performance and blinding lights. It was the exact same song, the same experience, yet completely different at the same time
Billie introduced Chasing a Ghost and announced ‘do what you want, come up here, I don’t give a shit.’ I will not lie, there was an audible groan from the left side of the crowd. But this was so much more in the spirit of ‘punk’ the DC fans preached about. Rabid people clawing their way up were in the minority. A lot more helped each other and went another way if someone got hurt. I was diagonal against the stage when Billie gestured to us for help before he fell off. Hey, we actually saw most of Chasing a Ghost this time.
They returned for the encore with Fever Blister. The rumble of the soundcheck came to life. It was the crowd’s last furious dance before Ziggy Stardust, when they preferred to respectfully nod their heads. Then Billie was playing the first chords of Kiss Me Deadly and I knew this dream was nearly over. These were two of the best nights of my life. I knew that too.
My life that seemed so distant was staring me in the face again. But it was OK. This would live in my heart forever.
We said goodbye to our friends, old and new, and hurried back to our Airbnb to sleep before the journey home. I didn’t feel like I hadn’t slept since 4am the previous day. I felt like I never needed to sleep again. Of course, I did sleep. I woke up with a concussion. I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t been concussed after a stage dive in 2013. Thanks mate, now I get to tell the story of Billie Joe the murderer giving me a concussion.
Our Greyhound stopped in Wilmington, Delaware so I got off just to say I’d been to Delaware (of course I did). Raiishelle was on the same bus and we got to discuss the shows again, standing in front of an escalator in Port Authority. I promised I’d see her again at a show in Australia. Hold me 2 it, kids. It is my big stupid dream and one day I will do it.
I needed one more thing to make this trip complete. I left my mum in Walgreen’s and crashed into the first tattoo studio I found. It crossed my mind that this would be the day I lost a limb, but no. My artist, Lee, made a great job of a design I drew on the Greyhound. When I told him it was a Green Day song, he said so many people had come to him to have Billie’s autograph tattooed while American Idiot was on Broadway he wished they’d go somewhere else.
We flew to Dublin, then flew to Birmingham, then got a National Express and a train home. A reasonably short journey by our standards. I went to work the next day, ringing up passengers with my concussion, and it all seemed so surreal. It’s a bit like New York City – the gateway to my most stupid, but best adventures. It holds you, in its embrace of neon lights and towering buildings; then they fade and crumble to warehouses and empty parking lots, and it lets you go. It’s almost as if it never happened. But the skyline glittering in the distance reminds you it did.
Like my bruises, my memories, the guitar pick I found on the floor. We all got our delusions.
I’m a loser with dumb tattoos. But for the record and the afterlife, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It's been a while; I have a lot of lyrics tucked away since last time. Figured I'd still post them here since I've gotten support/a few followers here. I'll try to post once a day until I'm out, if I have time. Enjoy.
Rituals begun in survival of the fittest
Trip in the ditch before the race is finished
Cut through the gut in the screen supreme
Down my venom; what the fuck you mean?
Duopoly under your data-filed contract
Microscope subversion in your foreign contact
Meddle in the ways of the laws of the wild
Suck on the coast of the same old style
Some people fall to the floor in the street
the blocks of where the nations meet
Stairway to the top, empire in hand
you're a stepping stone to your fellow man
Bottleneck hour, the time has come
the element is treated more than its sum
With a wrench to fix and dismantle at will
rock the boat until it's time to get ill
Crystal cave reflections, the monarch hides
from the cattle he knows are way inside
Fear the cornerstone, enter the frame
when you rig against who owns the game
Survival of the fittest
Origin of your finest
Paragon of your witness
Who climbs the highest?
The reach of your vibe combines the rules,
the equilateral nature vaporizes from your tools
Area of effect, the ambivalent steam
Monopolize the act of living and what life means
Blackmail the sockets then vanish in the sun
make the coin then vanish at the end of a gun
It's all for one, the rest have none
Every skydive into your dreams is a race that's begun
Survival of the fittest
Survival of the fittest
Okay so I was one of the lucky few to have gotten tickets to The Longshot. Twice.
The first ticket was actually bought by my partner and I gave him my information because I needed just one ticket for myself.
The second ticket happened Tuesday afternoon on the line as I was waiting to get in.
Let's recap with Tuesday 5/22:
Get up at 6:00 AM and I’m at the venue at 7:30 AM
There’s six people in front of me which was surprising but this is also the fact it was raining on and off today (and the fact it’s not technically Green Day despite Billie being the front man and Jeff being there too)
People behind me start showing up sporadically between 11 AM and onward. There wasn’t 20 people around until about 3 PM? Maybe even later?
Load in happens with the crew
Throughout load in, we get a notification that they released 30 tickets for that night and Wednesday shows. I get a Wednesday ticket.
Black car pulls up about a hour after. Billie is the first to come out. An unintelligible yell comes out my mouth but also everyone on line is screaming too.
Side note: Actually very good looking human being and the fluff is real.
Soundcheck happens and then Jeff comes out but walks down the block and away from us.
Billie comes out and a few people in front of me are calmly and quietly asking for photos (and people slowly begin to notice). So I made myself seen by Billie and I said something of the fact “I’ve been here since 7:30 AM may I please have a photo?” And we did make eye contact and mini acknowledge that I was to be next. Then this woman who was a few people away shoves me and goes underneath the sanction rope and then everyone starts swarming and pushing him more to his car. And then he says he’s sorry he can’t take any more photos because he has to get laundry.
Going to be bitter for a while about it.
Get inside and I’m front row and made myself go in between Billie and Jeff because center was out of the question and so was the far side.
Opener was The Trashbags and they were…decent. I couldn’t hear much because I became a certified adult and brought earplugs because I knew I would wind up next to a speaker. The lead singer kept weaving in and out of the crowd during every song. Which was cool because not a lot do that and he got the party going.
Longshot gets set up and my heart begins pounding because it hit me I am arms length away from Billie Joe fucking Armstrong.
They were incredible live. A lot of bouncing. My side of the stage wasn’t rowdy and we had a bit of elbow room in the front row too. There were a few people in the front who weren’t jumping around. And there was this older woman who had her arm out blocking a small area where someone could stand and also her other arm holding on to her kids and her feet were literally on the amp. I was like “…this is not the right show for you, lady.”
He skipped over Happiness and we called him out on it.
After a few songs, my arm was covering Billie’s set list and he bent down to look and I had to move my arm away and then he looks right into my eyes and sticks his tongue out at me. So I did it right back and then he laughed and then I freaked.
Got a pick at the end of the show when there was one on stage and this other kid behind me lunged for it too but my hand was quicker.
I did leave when it ended because exhausted and also because I was there for almost 17 hours with a mini nap now and then. Also it was a literal sauna in the room.
Recap of Wednesday 5/23:
Made it a point to not be there as early because tiredness and also that I had an interview at 1 PM and I didn’t want to leave stuff there and come back and then see it leave.
Get to the venue at around 2:30 and we have about 20 people in front of me. Tuesday it was pouring rain and a bit colder. And Wednesday it was bright and sunny and warm.
Met up with Anna from the Green Day group we had on here ages ago and on Twitter.
Made friends with a few people on line too
The band doesn’t do soundcheck which was…odd. Or didn’t show up to the venue at all until after we got in.
I get second row and get between Jeff and Billie again but people were taking up a lot more space so the amp was my friend.
Crowd was a lot more rowdy. A lot of pushing and shoving and jumping on all sides. Thought I was going to merge with the amp.
Caught Jeff’s attention a few times
WILD ONE LIVE akjdsfhkldsjhgljkhdsjkahgdjklas
I will say Dos was my least favorite album of the Trilogy with Tre being my favorite. But Wild One is one of the songs I genuinely loved on it.
The dork that is Billie had someone in the front hold the lyrics on a piece of paper.
We wait around and head outside and it takes about a hour and Jeff comes by. He does a few autographs and I managed a selfie with him. I thanked him for the show and hope he has a great remainder of the tour. He says it was great having you on his side of the stage because I was active and responsive.
About a half hour later, I see Adrienne Armstrong and oh my god.
There are people I do get starstruck for. I did not realize she would be one of them
Her hair was pulled up in a high pony tail. She had minimal makeup on with black eyeliner/mascara and a red lip and she looked fucking STUNNING. Just such a beautiful woman that made me go “…oh my god.” Not only that but she has this aura about her that is welcoming and also you know she’s someone and want to be around her.
I wish I could have told her she looked amazing and to thank her for putting up with the fans and that she deserves all good things
And then Billie comes out a moment after her
Now I will say a selfie with Billie is always goals and the dream. But the literal dream DREAM is for him to write down on a piece of paper “Better Thank Your Lucky Stars” from Waiting and it would be my next tattoo.
Sadly…either didn’t happen.
I didn’t want to scream and rush him but everyone did even though he said something among the lines of “selfies take too long and I will sign”
I asked about the lyric but he was getting rushed away by other fans and also his bodyguards saying he has to go. And I didn’t want to follow him down the block but fuck I wanted to do so because it’s a so close and yet so fucking far away.
I am not going to the Brooklyn show unless I do get a ticket and even then, I did say I would pick up a shift at work and money is needed to me because of other things. I know my friend Caitlyn will be going so I may ask her if she can somehow get the lyric for me.
Despite those so close moments, it was two of the best nights ever and two of the best shows I’ve been to.
Wailing winds carry forth the sound
Of Empires past burning down;
They’re buried deep beneath the ground,
Sharing tombs with skeletons dispersed
Throughout our history, but in this mall
Stories of buried
Empires before us fall
On deaf ears.
Silent, I wait in the park
On Inauguration Day.
Gray skies are falling;
Weeping for a fool’s parade.
The crowd bow their heads;
Red hats wear white anger,
Worshiping false-prophet’s rancor,
Controls relented to Wall Street bankers.
In the trees, I hear their whispers,
And in their seeds, a disparate mixture.
Hold for pity and for grace,
Hold for all in broken faith.
Wave to soldiers beyond the gates,
Ask them if they know that they’re dying.
Fanatics kneel as the whistle-blows,
Echoing the strangest prose.
See Spring rise from the streets below,
See the early sun, the yellow rose,
Toppling the golden towers,
Gather here at midnight hour
To usher in the turning flowers,
The wiser half will turn and run.
Why has no one told them that they’re dying?
Okay I should definitely stop saying I'll start posting regularly if I just can't make it happen. But hey, it's Wednesday, time for a new post... after two weeks. I wanted to post twice a week, not once every two weeks!
Oh wait, it's actually Friday, not Wednesday. God fucking damn it.
Well, moving on... welcome back to Nico Talks About Gaming Myths, where I tell you about three video game myths and you have to decide if they're true or false. Speaking of that, here are the results of episode 1:
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES): "Chris Houlihan Room" - REAL - For a long time, no one was able to find this room. But it actually exists, and there's five ways to get there. But they only work on the SNES version, not the GBA remake. Here is a video of YouTube user "thartwick" demonstrating one of the ways to get there:
Pokemon Red and Green (Game Boy): Lavender Town Syndrome - FAKE - So, the part of the song where the Unown are shown in the spectrogram are not there in the original game. Also, suicide rates didn't go up in 1996, they actually went down in Japan. However, Nintendo/Game Freak actually did change Lavender Town's theme for the American/European versions, but that wasn't a big changes. There were just a few little notes taken out.
Minecraft (PC): "Herobrine", the ghost of a dead miner - FAKE - Minecraft's creator Markus "Notch" Persson has spoken about this myth a lot, saying "Herobrine isn't real in any way, no. I never had a brother (well, there's a half brother I never meet..), and he's not in the game." on Twitter in January of 2011. But some people actually brought Herobrine into the game with the help of modifications.
So, with that out of the way, let's get to today's three myths!
1. Tiger Woods 99 (PlayStation): The Hidden "South Park" Episode
According to this myth, an EA Sports employee accidentally copied a South Park episode onto the golf game "Tiger Woods 99 PGA Tour Golf" for PlayStation.
The first South Park episode was called "Jesus vs. Frosty" and was made in 1992 by the founders Trey Parker and Matt Stone. It was first shown at the "Student Film Screening". In 1995, they got $2,000 from FOX to create a similar short film as a Christmas episode.
The episode got the name "Jesus vs. Santa" and it was about Jesus Christ and Santa Claus arguing about whether presents or the birth of Christ was more important on Christmas. This animation was sent around a lot. It was also sent to an EA Sports employee, who liked the short film a lot and accidentally copied it onto Tiger Woods 99. But can such a mishap actually slide through the final game check? Well, that's for you to decide!
2. Sonic CD (Sega CD): The Diabolical Message
This myth is about "Sonic CD". Apparently, you can find a hidden message from the Prince of Darkness in the game. How, you may ask?
In the title screen, you can reach the Sound Test menu by pressing down, down, down, left, right, A. There, you can hear songs from the game by putting in various settings. If you choose the settings "FM no.46, PCM no.12, DA no.25", you'll become a witness of a strange event...
You can see a background of many Sonics with bizarre faces. In front, there's some Japanese text, which means: "Fun is infinity - Sega Enterprise - signed: Majin". Majin means "devil". Also, there's some very outlandish music playing. But who would put such an absurd message in a game made for kids?!
3. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (Nintendo 64): The Cursed Cartridge (Ben Drowned)
This one's a big one, so get ready.
In September of 2010, a guy bought a Zelda: Majora's Mask cartridge. However, the things that happened in the game followed him into reality and drove him to the edge of insanity. He documented his adventure with a diary as well as videos.
The story begins with a young man named Alex, also known as "Jadusable" who just got an old Nintendo 64 from a friend. Because he doesn't have many games, he decides to look for cheap games at a house flea market. He meets an old man there who presents him with a Majora's Mask cartridge. In the end, they say goodbye to each other, the old man saying "Goodbye then". When Alex starts up the game and finds a single save file with the name "BEN", he realizes the man might've said "Goodbye Ben" as well.
Even though Jadusable creates a new save file called "Link", the NPCs still call him BEN. That didn't even change with deleting the "BEN" save. After a few hours of playing, the game suddenly starts to communicate with Alex. Strange glitches get him even more sceptical. He doesn't believe that the game is broken anymore. It seems more like cursed.
The strange things pile up. In the game, he often meets the Mask Salesman, the Horror Kid, and also BEN's embodiment in form of a statue...
If you don't know, normally you summon this statue to trigger switches with its weight. Well, this statue doesn't only follow him in the game, but also into his real dreams. Also, all NPCs just vanish after some time, and the background music is playing backwards. The most notable example for this is the so-called "Song of Unhealing", the reverse version of the Song of Healing.
At this point, Jadusable decides to document these events in video form and upload them to YouTube to not stand as a liar. His channel name is Jadusable, if you want to check the videos out.
To end the horror, he decides to look for the seller's house again. However, he finds that this house is empty now. Shortly afterwards, Alex meets a friendly neighbor who gives him some information. Apparently the old man has moved and was never married. He also asks him who this Ben guy is. The neighbor tells him that about eight years ago, a child with that same name had a horrific accident.
Jadusable starts the game up yet again. He's brought to a beach as a Zora. There, he finds that damn statue again in the water. It drowns Link, which should not be possible considering Link can breathe underwater as a Zora fish.
Now, underneath the "BEN" save game, there's another one with the name "DROWNED", which lets Alex think that Ben's cause of death was drowning. When he starts up "DROWNED", messages appear...
"You shouldn't have done that..."
"BEN is getting lonely..."
He gets a final chance to solve the riddle. So, both save files are reset.
Days later, Alex finds a text file on his desktop. It says "Hi... cleverbot.com". Cleverbot is a website chat where a bot answers you. Well, he opens the site and finds that Ben is talking to him, not Cleverbot. Apparently, Ben is controlling Alex's PC.
It's no wonder that he needs a little break from this game and from BEN specifically. His roommate uploads a video for him, where Alex solves the riddle. He realized he didn't get the song "Elegy of Emptiness" yet. You normally summon that statue by playing this song. So, he goes to Ikana Canyon and gets the melody from the King of Ikana. After playing this melody, the screen turns black, and another message appears.
"It'll be our little secret, okay?"
After a short playable scene, Link suddenly stands next to BEN and the Mask Salesman. Once again, the screen turns black with one final message...
"Please... help me..."
He gets thrown into the title screen and realizes the "BEN" save game was gone and replaced by a file called "MATT".
Wow, that one was way longer than the other two myths combined! Well, that does it for today's episode of Nico Talks About Gaming Myths. Once again, you have to decide, which are real, which are fake? Post a reply with your thoughts on it, if you'd like to. I'm not forcing you, but it would be nice.
Before I end this post, I just want to say R.I.P. Chris Cornell of Soundgarden/Audioslave. He committed suicide one year ago today. He was an amazing artist who was gone way too soon. Just wanted to let that out.
it's four am and i just realized that i have a blog where i could post literally fucking anything and not care so here it goes i guess; don't mind the ramble like nature of this i'm just kind of exhausted.
there's something that's been bothering me for a long while and i didn't have anyone i felt really comfortable talking about it to; because it's just, i don't know, weird? unnatural? too unspecified? i don't even know.
my sexuality was never something i really struggled with. the first person i liked was a girl, and throughout my childhood i was so separated from everything that i never really realized how homophobic the world was. even so, i was, interestingly enough, kind of homophobic for a while. not towards myself, but the type that's just kind of weirded out by it and says it's unnatural. i moved past it, all fine and dandy, whatever.
gender was something i never really thought about, because i didn't know anything on the topic, you know? no one ever spoke about it, no one ever made me think about it, not in terms of gender identity. somewhere from the internet i learned about the fact that there are people who trans, and i was like ok, and still didn't think about it. since then i've learned a great deal more but again, i never gave it much thought in regards to myself.
but recently i have. a lot. and here's the thing.
fuck it's even hard to write. i don't know what the thing is. just that there's something, i think. i'm just perpetually confused, because there's things i'm now realizing i've always thought and done that i've just assumed were normal but now i'm thinking maybe they're not. and i'm not trans, i don't feel like a male.
most of the time.
and some times i don't feel like a female or a male and i'm just a fucking lump of nothing and i don't understand anything and it's so fucking stupid. i have no problems with female pronouns, or male pronouns or anything, but that probably stems from the fact that my mother tongue is a language with non gendered pronouns so to me, it's kind of all the same. i have no issues with my body being female, but sometimes, some fucking times, i just want it to be a dick instead. or both.
and it's not really a big deal, because i guess all of this is one of two things. it's either me just being fluid on the gender spectrum or just me being weird. either way, not too big a deal. but what's been bothering the fuck out of me is that i have no one to talk to about it. because i want to, who knows, maybe it'll help me figure out what the fuck i'm feeling.
i have five people that i would feel comfortable talking to about something this personal in detail, and with this i can't for any of them.
christina has been a safe haven of no judgment and comfort for a lot of topics, and i would have gone to her with this too except that i know she doesn't really believe the whole gender being a spectrum thing, as a lot of people don't. and i'm scared of becoming another person that she will support but not truly believe.
ana would believe me, probably, but she would kind of cling on to it. she would bring it up more than i would want her to, she would make it bigger than it is. she would make me feel alien because she's trying so hard to make me feel normal. she's a fantastic sister, but i've come to learn that she can't give me what i need in terms of things that really bother me.
kaylyn i might've told if we saw each other more often. since i moved we haven't seen so much of each other and i don't want to unload this kind of shit on her when it's the first time i'm seeing her in months. if given the right time and opportunity i might, because i know she wouldn't make a big deal out of it, and she wouldn't not really take it seriously.
asma and shidi are kind of a similar case, but also not. they're my fucking soulmates and i love them both so goddamn much but i don't know how much they know about gender stuff, and there's also the fact that i haven't seen them in like three and a half years. we talk all the time, sure, but that's different. i'm going home for like 6 weeks during the summer so maybe then i'll talk to them but i just don't know.
i'm exhausted. i feel like i'm lying to people, or lying to myself. i feel like i can't tell people because they won't understand or try to or even care or believe and i don't blame them because i don't understand it, i sometimes feel like i'm making it all up. like it's something the internet put in my head, something i'm forcing on myself to be different. but i don't want it. i don't want to feel like i don't know what i am, like there's something wrong with me. i'm just