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
Hey everyone! Welcome back to Nico Talks About Stuff! Today's topic is... wait, it doesn't say "Stuff", it says "Gaming Myths". What's going on here?!
Well, like I said a few days ago in the "It's been awhile" post, there will be some new stuff in this blog as well. And so I thought, "Well I can post NTAS every Sunday, but how about I do something else every Wednesday?"
And because I freaking love video game myths, why not talk about them weekly too?
I decided to do it like this: Every week, I will tell you five gaming myths. Nothing too spectacular. However, I won't tell you if they're true or false. You have to decide for yourself! So, you can post a reply that can look something like this: "I think the first two are fake, but the last one is DEFINITELY real.". And on Sunday, in the next episode of NTAS, I will reveal which ones are real and which are fake! Sounds good? Alrighty then, let's go!
1. The Hidden Room in "The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past"
In 1991/1992, "The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past" came out, which was one of the most popular games for the SNES. Well, there's a myth that says there's a hidden room in the game dedicated to a fan of the game named Chris Houlihan.
But why would the game developers just create a room for a guy they don't know? The answer is quite simple: In 1990, Nintendo held a special contest in their "Nintendo Power" magazine. Readers should send a picture of a Warmech robot from Final Fantasy to the editorial staff. The winner's prize was to be called out by name in a future Nintendo game. And that happened to be "A Link to the Past".
The room is said to be filled with blue rupees. On one of the walls, there's a sign that says: "My name is Chris Houlihan. This is my top secret room. Keep it between us, OK?"
2. 200 Dead Children Thanks to Pokémon?
Legend has it that after the release of Pocket Monsters Aka & Midori (the Japanese Red & Green Versions), around 200 children committed suicide. Yes, you read that right. The reason for that is the so-called Lavender Town Syndrome, caused by the background music of Lavender Town, which is already a pretty creepy town in itself.
The track is said to have some very high pitched notes that only children between the ages of seven and twelve are able to hear. Of course, it's scientifically proven that kids can hear higher-pitched sounds than adults can. Well, apparently 200 children committed suicide after hearing these notes by hanging or jumping off high buildings. A greater amount of children started to behave irrationally after hearing that specific soundtrack.
In 2010, a video appeared on the internet showing said soundtrack in a spectrogram. For those of you that don't know, a spectrogram is a visual representation of the spectrum of frequencies of sound or other signal as they vary with time. Thanks, Wikipedia.
Near the end of the song, it shows several Unown. Unown is a Pokémon that has 28 different forms, one for each letter of the alphabet, an exclamation mark and a question mark. They form the words "LEAVE NOW". Now, here's the thing: Unown first appeared in Pokémon Gold/Silver/Crystal in 1999/2000/2001. However, in the first editions, a discarded file with data of this Pokémon exists.
3. Ghost of a Dead Person in Minecraft
This myth says that there's an NPC (non-player character) in Minecraft named Herobrine. Some say he's controlled by the ghost of a dead miner. Other sources say it's the dead brother of Minecraft's founder Notch. He looks just like the regular character, but Herobrine has white eyes.
There are several theories about Herobrine's role in the game. They are all very different, though. It's unknown if he's peaceful or if he wants to kill the player.
Herobrine's first sighting was documented by a player with a picture and the story. He published both in the Minecraft Forums, however not many people paid any attention to it.
But then, when Herobrine appeared in two live streams, players were alerted about this mysterious creature. One of these live streams was stopped abruptly after the player found Herobrine. The viewers were redirected to a page, where there was a Herobrine face and a cryptic text.
The text was interpreted like this: The players live in their own world that they have to wake up from, because Herobrine didn't actually appear in the stream. The door and painting textures were modified to make it look like Herobrine appeared. But still, it's unknown if he is actually real.
So, this was all for today. So, now it's your turn! Post a comment down below about which ones you think are real and which are not. Pretty much just like I said at the beginning. With that said, I'll see ya either on Sunday for NTAS or next Wednesday for gaming myths!
Hey guys! I'm Nico, and welcome back to Nico Talks About Stuff. I know, it's been a minute. But, I'm back!
This time, I'm talking about the topic of consoles, specifically the Console Wars! You know what I mean by that:
- Okay, well, how about Nintendo?
- Nintendo? Hahahaha!
Come on, why do so few people actually take Nintendo seriously? I mean, just look at Zelda: Twilight Princess! You're a wolf and you have to fight evil dark creatures in the ass! Little kids can't just play that! ...right?
Okay, Nintendo might not have the best graphics, but the fun is there! And back in the day, it looked a lot different than today. So, how about we travel to the past...
In 1972, the first official video game console came out. It was called the "Odyssey". Fuck, now I think of Super Mario Odyssey again. I'll be back in a few hours. Sorry, I meant days.
Back then, people didn't really take video games seriously. But all that changed when the first Nintendo console came out, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES for short).
Nintendo only had one big competitor, and that was Sega. So now, Sonic from Sega and Mario from Nintendo battled to their deaths... and they were on drugs as well...?
Come on, man! Mario eats red and green mushrooms until he explodes and Sonic is on speed all day long... okay, I talked about this before in NTAS #5.
A few years later, when the Nintendo 64 was already around, Sony released the PlayStation. And Microsoft desperately wanted to make a console too, and a few years later, the Xbox came out. Also, there was the Philips CD-i, but I'm not even gonna talk about that thing.
And today, when you bring up Sega, the typical response is:
Sega? What's that?
Sega was sorta forgotten, and so there were only three competitors left: Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft.
What you shouldn't forget though is--
Don't forget us, you little apple pie!
Okay, so may I ask, what the fuck are you just lying on my floor like that?
Me? Ha! I'm the forgotten PC!
Oh... yeah. There are PC games too. Especially for today's shooter games, not even the publishers give a damn about the PC version. And who's to blame? THOSE DAMN HACKERS AND CHEATERS.
So, this is the end of today's NTAS. If you want to, post a reply about your favorite video game console and/or what you think about console wars! So... I'll see you guys next Sunday!
Btw... my favorite console is the Nintendo 64, followed by the SNES and the Switch. I'm a big Nintendo fan. Fight me.)
So... it's been roughly 6 months since I posted anything on GDC. (Okay why is this starting up like a statement video on YouTube?) You wanna know the reason? Well... I CAN'T STOP PLAYING SUPER MARIO ODYSSEY. It's like an addiction, man.
Well, okay, that's not the actual reason. The real reason is that I just haven't been on GDC that much. It's not that I don't like it anymore, it's just that I haven't been on GDC that mu-- okay, I gotta stop repeating myself here. Okay, I gotta stop repeati-- GODDAMNIT
Wow, the jokes are even dumber than before. That's the way I like it.
Aaaanyways, things are gonna start back up here tomorrow! Just the regularly scheduled program (well, schedule isn't a word I can use for this considering the long break), maybe with some new stuff here and there.
By the way, I lied about starting tomorrow. We'll start TODAY... in 6 months. See ya!
Just kidding, of course. Tomorrow at 3pm MESZ (= 9am EDT or 6am PDT) a brand new NTAS post will be published on GDC! (kinda dumb to say that even though I haven't thought of anything to talk about...)
With that said, I'll see you guys tomorrow!
For those keeping up with the never ending saga that is my dad's health and my current family situation here is the latest...
He had finished treatments for throat cancer back in October. Yesterday, we went to have some scans done on my dad's lungs for a spot that noticed back in January. The nurse practitioner came in and went over the scans with us and told us probably 10-15 times that everything looked good and that she wasn't seeing anything worth worrying about. We were elated and relieved.
10 minutes later, she comes back in the room and tells us that she was completely wrong and that there is in fact something developing on my dad's left lung. I never wanted to yell and attack someone more than that fucking nurse. Who the fuck does that? That shit only happens in terrible movies.
So, now we have to schedule another PET scan and have a biopsy done on his lung to see if it's cancer.
Yesterday was awful. Hearing my dad say, "I'm going to die. I just want to see my grand kids grow up," was probably the worst moment of my life. His attitude and outlook did improve once we met with the actual radiation doctor and he's ready to fight cancer again for the 3rd time.
Fuck. Positive thoughts, vibes and prayers are welcomed.
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Hello folks, I'd like to introduce you to your new moderator: @Todd.
You may recognize him most from the GD downloads section but in the background he has been active in our team discussions. Due to his consistent activities we decided we should give him full moderator powers. He has been a media mod since May of 2015.
Congrats to being more orange buddy!
If you've paid attention to me recently, you'll know I went to Oakland in February. I wrote a thing about it here: https://wander.media/from-scotland-to-oakland-with-rage-and-love
Please go read! (or at least click on the link and leave it open for a while)
I really enjoyed my time there, and I'm so grateful to have had this opportunity, although there's still so many places I'd love to visit. I missed out on a Cover Ups show by about a week, which is frustrating, but at least I got to see Mt. Eddy. I might write something else about the trip here when I have time.
Would love if you guys would take some time to check out my soon to be released to the public EP Good Luck with That and help me choose the song to lead off on promoting the album this Monday. Please help, I'm more indecisive than you could ever know.
*The title of the sermon today is inspired by the song by the aptly titled Chumbawumba.
Chapter/Verse/Hymn 3 - Head above the water.
Hello there. If you haven't read the last two entries in my randomly updated blog thing I suggest you do for context~.
As always, disclaimer that if I offer any opinions that they are my opinions and if I ramble I ramble.
I think I'm winning, y'know?
I'm being battered a lot by my brain but I'm very rarely staying down for 10 at the minute. Sure, I have lapses of fuck the world, and fuck myself but doesn't everyone? If anything it's good old procrastination that's holding me back a little.
I'll start with the positives, most I've kept to myself to now. I've always been private really, always a help people out but never reveal my troubles if prompted.
I was 20 stone 1lb at the start of the year, and am now nearly 18 stone. Through dieting and (kinda when not procrastinating) exercising I can see the physical progress I have made, as shown by the lack of double chin and I can kinda see my hips.
I have not relapsed back into gambling at all this year, as someone who did this daily this is a massive step up for me. It does help that I blocked everything from myself to stop including through my bank and PayPal, using programs that are password locked that block the sites. I kinda realize that, whilst not working currently I'm sure I will get this when I do start a full time job again, I'm not running out of money as much, so I can afford to go to London and see fellow members.
I have amazing support thanks to fellow members on here, and hey if you're reading this and we don't talk, drop a message. I'm always up for talking to new people. I'm always happy to offer help and advice for problems.
So yeah, let's keep fighting. Together if we can.
Okay, this is for my best friend, my absolutely genius partner in crime, and literally the best human ever. YOU TOLD ME YOU'D MAKE A GDC ACCOUNT BUT YOU HAVEN'T YET! well, when you do I'll edit and tag you in this. I was too impatient to wait. I'm emailing this as incentive, though! Well, 'Ralph', this is for you. Miss you!
@Russian monarch is finally here!!!!!
I’d flown over New York City once. My knowledge extended little further than a night shot from Top of the Rock I’d seen – a view I dreamed one day I would see with my own eyes, or better yet, photograph myself.
On February 22nd, 2011, on a plane stuck in a gate at Heathrow Airport, I wasn’t sure I’d ever get there. After a failed take off, rows of anxious people waited several hours to learn the fate of our flight. The de-icing system was probably alright, the crew said, and we’d try taking off again. We were in the air after two more attempts. When I saw steam coming out of the wing, I was pretty sure we were going to die, or at least miss the evening performance of Green Day’s American Idiot.
Despite my self-reassurance that I’d at least go down for Green Day, we got to New York alive. Signs directed us to the restroom, elevator, told us not to use our cell phones. Welcome to the United States, a recorded voice announced over and over. The queue stretched all around the room; my excitement died down a bit as it moved increasingly slowly, nudging forward every five minutes or so.
Homeland Security were, as always, convinced my mum was a criminal and dragged us into a side room. Today’s excuse was ‘the system isn’t working.’ All we could think of was the show that would begin in a few hours. When they let us go, we ran out of baggage control, into the American air and in a panic, threw our luggage into a yellow cab. It rolled away from the airport, along highways, past dark, sprawling neighbourhoods. As the twilit skyline came into view, for some reason, this foreign place felt like home.
Our panic was unfounded: we made it to the St. James Theatre with half an hour or so to spare. I looked up at the sign that read, in neon lights, St. James: American Idiot. With this trip being very challenging to fund, then all our travel troubles… finally being here was surreal. I was no photographer back then – I just had a crappy (borrowed) phone camera – but I was certainly eager to document it as best as I could.
We wandered across the street, taking it in, and a black car pulled up beside us. Billie Joe Armstrong, arriving to play the character of St. Jimmy, climbed out. We could have tapped him on the shoulder, certainly approached him, but he looked exhausted. It was enough to be reminded that this was real, that we weren’t just going to see our favourite band’s musical, but starring him. We left him alone.
As doors drew closer, the street outside the theatre became a meeting place, packed with excited fans and theatregoers from around the world. People who’d never met, but knew each other from the fan community online, were united for the first time with hugs. The energy there was an experience in itself.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect of the musical. Part of me expected to hate it, to be disappointed by how it didn’t live up to its iconic inspiration. What were the chances someone could get such a huge venture right?
I knew, as soon as the first song began, that I was wrong.
Tré Cool once described it as closest he’d ever get to seeing Green Day live, and I think that’s pretty accurate. It took the emotion of American Idiot, the live energy of Green Day that no other (living) band can match, and channelled it through a talented and passionate cast. I was seeing, hearing the album that introduced me to Green Day in a way I’d never seen or heard it before. These people sang and danced this every night, twice a day sometimes, but you’d never know it wasn’t their first or final performance. I knew, by Holiday when I was on a visceral journey to a city of dreams with Johnny and Tunny, why people were seeing it countless times.
Watching Boulevard of Broken Dreams and Are We the Waiting, the lights and effects that looked so like New York City itself; these words resonated with me in a way they never had before. A disillusioned teenager, I felt just like Johnny – running from a dirty town burning down in my dreams, to find salvation in these starry nights, city lights of a lost and found city bound in my dreams. I was an English kid with no experience of American culture, but in Favorite Son, watching the dancers in the colours of the stars and stripes, tempting Tunny to join the army – I was as immersed as anyone else.
I couldn’t have imagined this stage any more alive, until the thudding drums that preceded St. Jimmy, when the whole theatre waited with wide eyes; for the roar of ‘one-two-three-FOOOOOUUUUUR!’ that was Billie Joe’s entrance. I couldn’t judge the chorus of screaming fans. His stage presence was overwhelming. I had never imagined St. Jimmy as a small man staggering around, wiping his nose and tossing glitter with a ‘RAWR!’ – but this was him from now on. He was sweet, in a bizarre way that was enticing like the addiction he embodied, but for the same reason, extremely menacing. When he looked out at the crowd, he caught my eye and grinned. It would be hard to forget my stupid hairdo after it showed up in Costa Rica.
I wasn’t sure what to expect of the 21st Century Breakdown songs that were mixed in, either, but Last of the American Girls complimented She’s a Rebel in a way that was more invigorating than the original tracks. Especially when St. Jimmy reappeared, questioning Johnny about whether he’d choose Whatsername or drugs; before climbing the steps to serenade him over a scene of the pair shooting up in Last Night on Earth. The gut-wrenching ballad was followed by the cheery intro of Too Much Too Soon, that showed Heather finally leaving Will – who’d remained in Jingletown getting high, living ‘every waking moment as a means to an end’ – with their newborn child. In Before the Lobotomy, we learned of Tunny’s demise: he laid now in a hospital bed, lamenting days of laughter. Extraordinary Girl was a moving, visceral portrayal of his morphine-induced hallucinations, flying freely with the pretty nurse who treated him.
The lights faded and Johnny was illuminated by a lone spotlight. In a rare moment of lucidity, he picked up his guitar and sang an emotional When It’s Time to a sleeping Whatsername. However, St. Jimmy was never far: Billie Joe’s green eyes seemed luminous as, unblinkingly, they watched the quiet serenade, before he leapt up to yell ‘do you know the enemy?’ at the top of his lungs. Johnny was terrified as Billie Joe ‘rallied up the demons of [his] soul,’ trying to talk him back to drugs; while Will, alone on a couch in Jingletown, asked himself the same question, before insisting ‘there is nothing wrong with me.’ As the song closed, St. Jimmy was in control, separating Johnny and a frightened Whatsername. She was left emotionally beginning 21 Guns, as he laid unconscious on the bed they shared.
In the meantime, a now lucid Tunny was finally aware he lost a leg and his dreams, of fighting for his country, amounted to nothing; while Will lamented now that ‘the hangover doesn’t pass’ and he, too, was left with nothing at all. Johnny sat up, refusing to face Whatsername’s chorus of ‘did you try to live on your own? When you burnt down house and home? Did you stand to close to the fire, like a liar looking for forgiveness from a stone?’ At St. Jimmy’s command, he pinned a letter, telling her he never liked her anyway, on the bathroom door.
As he stumbled away, a now-glamorous Heather reappeared, singing the iconic intro to Letterbomb. This song, now a girl power anthem, belonged to Whatsername. Screaming at Johnny that ‘the St. Jimmy is a figment of your father’s rage and your mother’s love, made me the idiot America,’ her words destroyed them: Billie Joe, wearing a ‘happy birthday’ tiara, was knocked away from Johnny onto a sofa. After Whatsername left him with a cry of ‘I’m leaving you tonight!’ Johnny, Will and Tunny were left with reflection in Wake Me Up When September Ends. As the song closed, screens showed the face of St. Jimmy fading back to Johnny.
By Homecoming, St. Jimmy was left alone, asking ‘please call me only if you are coming home.’ Though it was entirely unrelated to the story, I watched him singing ‘you taught me how to live’ and thought wow, you really, really did. He remained a looming temptation to Johnny; but eventually ‘blew his brains out into the bay,’ with a gun that said ‘bang.’ He flopped from atop the steps into the arms of the mourning swing. Of course, because it was Billie Joe, he looked back and waved as they carried him away. Truly free, Johnny took a dull day job to get home.
Will waited alone on a couch, lamenting that ‘everyone left you, nobody likes you’ until Heather appeared with her new ‘rock ’n roll boyfriend.’ Michael Epser (Will) interrupted ‘and another ex-wife’ with ‘somebody get me a knife’ which isn’t on the cast album, but it should be.
Johnny headed home, reunited with Will and eventually, Tunny, who introduced them to his new girlfriend: his nurse, Extraordinary Girl. Will – having made peace with Heather – introduced them to his newborn. The entire cast, all reunited, finally gathered to sing a roaring chorus of ‘nobody likes you, everyone left you, they’re all out without you, having fun!’
Years later, Johnny had moved on, but still could not forget Whatsername. He could recall nothing but his regrets as she peered out from a window above; only to disappear as he turned around. The shadow of St. Jimmy appeared, too, to disappear before Johnny caught his eye. As the curtain fell, we were left with him wishing desperately to turn back time.
The show ended with a full cast rendition of Good Riddance (Time of Your Life). Looking up at the colourful stage, I was moved beyond anything I could have imagined. I was level with Billie Joe, and he grinned at me and winked. I smiled back, thinking yes, I truly did have the time of my life.
We walked out to a glittering New York night. It was then that I experienced, for the first time, how New York City does not need the stars: it has its own, each one with a story as complex, beautiful and ugly as any up in the sky. Unsure where we were going, just buzzing from the show, we wandered up West 44th Street into Times Square, where the towering buildings dazzled in vibrant colours. I’d never seen so many ads in one place. Shops, hotels and restaurants blared their names out in neon signs, fighting for attention. The air buzzed with countless languages and accents. Scalpers bellowed from corners, still selling tickets for sold-out Broadway shows. Tourists took photos, spilled out from the sidewalks onto the road; cars honked at them to move.
We realised we needed to eat and crashed into the McDonald’s there, where we avidly discussed how good the show was. My favourite part was in Last of the American Girls/She’s a Rebel, when St. Jimmy screamed at Johnny to talk him out of Whatsername. My mum’s was the glitter ‘RAWR!’
The next day, we got very lost searching for the Pokémon Center (now sadly just Nintendo World), which we eventually found with the help of some very kind locals. I wasn’t coming all the way to New York to miss out on catching ’em all, after all.
We acquired Lugia, Flareon and Raikou plushies, who joined us at Top of the Rock. Standing atop this city, looking out over the sea of skyscrapers, was that moment in Are We the Waiting: when that dirty town was burning down in my dreams, searching for the lost and found city bound in my dreams. It wasn’t the glowing nighttime vista I once saw a photo of and dreamed of seeing myself; but I knew, already, that I was in love with New York City, and the show we could not resist returning to later that day. Despite the money we spent on tickets being reserved for food, but who needs to eat when you have Green Day, right?
At the theatre’s box office, the vendor asked if we’d really come from England just for this musical. When we told him yes, he laughed and wished us a great night.
Outside the theatre we met, for the first time, our longtime friend Micheal from Georgia. My mum got to know him when she bought a green 39/Smooth vinyl from him on eBay, and now by pure coincidence, here we were. We also made a new friend, Dao from Venezuela who was studying photography in New York.
A fan since the Insomniac era and Green Day collector, Micheal brought his #001 numbered copy of Dookie on vinyl for Billie Joe to sign. The streets were becoming increasingly packed as he arrived, though, and we couldn’t catch him as he went in.
Employee doors inside the St. James Theatre, painted for American Idiot
Even with a partial view from the mezzanine, the show blew me away. It was as fresh and exciting as the previous night. Before Good Riddance, Billie Joe sang a snippet of Basket Case and dedicated it to ‘a kid that was waiting outside of a record shop in 1994.’ That kid was Lady Gaga, who watched the show from the front row and strutted out in heels that would probably break both of my legs. I texted one of my friends in England, a huge Gaga fan, and she was freaking out too. There was sadly no chance for Micheal’s Dookie now; fans were now leaving well in advance of the show’s close to secure their photos and autographs.
My crappy phone pic of Times Square
The three of us walked back to Times Square, then to the Hard Rock Café where Micheal kindly bought us dinner. We kept ending up back at the Church of Scientology. A sign? I hope not.
West Side Highway: a Pinhead Gunpowder reference
The next day, we were booked on a cruise we got talked into by some guy in Times Square. It’s a good thing the staff were nice, because we got lost and missed our boat. While we waited for the next one, we ate cream cheese bagels in P.D. O’Hurley’s. Maybe it was because we were frozen and it was warm in there, but those things were good. The pale imitations in Tesco do not compare.
While the boat’s captain told stories of a plane that landed in the Hudson River, my mum fell asleep. I woke her up so she could charge out to photograph the Statue of Liberty. One of us had to man our nice window seats, because this thing was as rabid as a Green Day show, except full of tourists with cameras they were confused by.
Later, of course, we went back to the theatre. We only meant to see this bloody thing once. Now we were destined for a diet of soda pop and Walgreen’s crisps (get it?). All that was left were balcony tickets, which were certainly easier on our wallets, though the view wasn’t that good. It was still exciting to see the show from another different angle, and the bad view didn’t change the energy. It didn’t change the raw talent. I found myself relating to the character of St. Jimmy in a way I never had before. Not its literal meaning, but what he represented could be interpreted in a hundred different ways. For me, it was perhaps the ‘demons of your soul’ that he sent to torment Johnny in Know Your Enemy. When I prepared myself for hating this show, I never thought I’d want to see it again and again; let alone that I would leave each night with a different, more personal and emotional interpretation of the album that introduced me to Green Day.
After the show, I accidentally met Rebecca Naomi Jones (Whatsername) and got a brief chance to tell her how incredible she was; which she acknowledged with a smile and gracious thanks. She signed my playbill and so did Michael Esper (Will), who was perhaps my favourite non-Billie cast member, though only by a small fraction. I just loved his voice and his portrayal of Will. My mum’s was Stark Sands, who played Tunny.
February 25th and this was a routine now: wander, theatre, repeat. That evening, I met Michael Esper properly. I was able to tell him he was my favourite, he replied ‘really? Thank you so much!’ and he was kind enough to take a photo with me.
Before every show, the theatre held a ‘lottery’ for $25 front row tickets. We put our names in every time, of course, thinking we’d probably never win anyway; until the lady pulled out the first slip of paper and announced ‘Maria Gloria Harvey?’
I couldn’t help but scream. There was a lady with her daughter who was so happy for us, saying we were huge fans and deserved it. I was shaking and I couldn’t stop laughing. Inside the box office, our friend on the desk served me with a grin. This trip was not getting tired. It was getting better.
I remember in American Idiot, looking up at the stage, just inches away and my face stretched by an ear-to-ear grin; and one of the cast members seeing it as he slammed his fist onto the floor, and smiling back. This was an entirely different experience, where every pivotal moment truly shook me. When Billie Joe stood in front of us in St. Jimmy, he slobbered all down my face. Thanks for that, mate.
It’s hard to describe exactly what this meant to me. To be sitting there in New York, so close to this energy and talent I had fallen totally, unconditionally in love with. Before the curtain fell for the last time, Stark Sands approached my mum and firmly placed his pick in her hand, saying ‘for you.’ Everyone involved treated us with such kindness that I will never forget.
The next day, February 26th, offered both a matinee and evening performance. Our friend in the box office got us decent seats, in a box on the right, but the evening was sold out. That was OK. We would just enjoy the matinee even more.
Looking down from above, I was struck again by Boulevard of Broken Dreams: the imagery of Johnny, alone with his guitar, before the vast city until he finds Whatsername. It was the first Green Day song I ever heard, and I’d overplayed it to the point I never listened to it anymore; yet it was one of my favourite moments of the musical. Van Hughes, who would later play Johnny, played Will this time. I was watching the heartbreaking renditions of 21 Guns and Whatsername with tears in my eyes now. I’m pretty sure I’d sob, a lot, if I ever saw this cast again.
Outside, people were selling tickets for the evening performance, but we were almost out of money. Our haggling was unsuccessful. We were walking away when one of the guys approached us again. My mum asked if we could just buy one. When he heard that, he took pity and reduced them both. We were in.
This was Christina Sajous (Extraordinary Girl)’s last performance, before she went across the street to Baby It’s You. Extraordinary Girl that night was the best so far, and though unrelated, so was Last of the American Girls/She’s a Rebel. That moment I loved so much, when the song is taken over by St. Jimmy – Billie Joe put more gusto into that than he ever had before.
We were planning to go to the party organised by Green Day Community in a nearby bar, but I was sick at this point (the diet of soda pop and Walgreen’s crisps was not a sin I got away with), so we just went to rest. They’d invited Billie Joe and several cast members, though, and they actually showed up! Apparently Billie wanted to be ‘closer to the fans.’
The view from our room: we could see the American Idiot sign
February 27th was not only our last day, but John Gallagher Jr., Michael Esper and Billie Joe’s last, too. After begging the hotel for our deposit back, my mum and I got separate tickets. I was in the side orchestra; she was, according to the usher, in the ‘best seat on Broadway,’ which the guy who sold it to her for $50 clearly didn’t realise. The family next to me asked where I was from and of course, if I’d really come from Nottingham, England just for this. Then when my mum came running down to ask if I wanted to swap tickets, they were like ‘there are TWO of you?!’ We weren’t the only ones, though – people had come from all over the world ‘just for this.’ I stayed with my new friends, who kept asking to hear my accent, anyway.
Last Night on Earth became more emotional every night, as Billie Joe screamed the words louder, from deeper within his heart. With just his raw voice, no glitter, no wiping his nose, St. Jimmy seemed frighteningly human. I not only saw American Idiot in a different light; but also 21st Century Breakdown, my favourite album of all time, that I never imagined could become more than it was.
After the curtain fell, the family asked me if the show was worth it. I said yes, of course, and they agreed.
We were high up in the mezzanine for the final performance. After St. Jimmy, Billie Joe accidentally let out a ‘HEEEY-OOOOOH!’ and despite this having no place on Broadway, the crowd obediently responded ‘HEEEEEEEEY-OOOOOOOOH!’
The applause after St. Jimmy went on and on, until Billie Joe and John gave in and laughed. I’m not sure what the theatregoers who weren’t Green Day fans thought, but oh well. In Homecoming, when Billie drew the St. Jimmy heart on his chest, he stopped halfway and smudged it. It was the little things that made the shows individually special. The whole performance was packed with emotion; both John and Michael cried at points, knowing they were leaving for good. I was desperately trying to take it all in because I knew this was the last time I’d ever see this cast, and possibly any of Green Day for a very long time.
After a tearful Good Riddance, Billie Joe asked Michael if they could play Walking Out On Love, which he’d played for Theo Stockman’s departure the previous month. Michael said yes, so Billie proceeded to sing it into their faces, then kneel down to serenade John. Then they waved goodbye, the curtain fell, and it was all over.
Before our flight, we walked with our bags to the St. James Theatre to see it one last time. Of course, to say goodbye to our friend in the box office, too, who was the only reason we got into most of those shows. Other fans were there, heads bowed, as if paying tribute. It brought tears to my eyes because I knew it meant something different to all of us; but that we were the same in how much it meant to us.
On our flight home, the pilot announced that his name was Captain Heritage. He was very proud of this, and kept repeating it. He also claimed we’d land in London an hour early, before the British Airways flight that just left. To do this, he strayed from the usual route into bad turbulence. The flight staff were thrown around until they had to sit down, quite frightened and yelling at us to keep our seatbelts on at all costs. Anyway, we landed in London late. British Airways had long been at the gate. I’m not quite sure what Captain Heritage was trying to achieve, but he probably shouldn’t try again.
When I opened my bag, I found a note telling me that Homeland Security ‘deeply regretted’ this, but had to break in. Clearly, they thought I was a Pokémon smuggler.
I’d heard rumours that Billie Joe would return to Broadway in April. A woman in the lift at our hotel insisted on it, and so did Annabelle. A few weeks later, it was confirmed. I still haven’t learned to listen to Annabelle. Anyway, this was perhaps the first time in my life I burst into tears of pure joy. We bought tickets for the closing night as soon as we could. Not only would we see Billie Joe as St. Jimmy again, but we would see this incredible show close. As we pieced the money together, we bought tickets for the matinee and the two shows the day before.
Flights were not cheap, though and despite our best efforts, we could not get the remaining money together. After a lot of tears, we sold our tickets. Then, with about 24 hours to spare, we were able to borrow the money. We booked it, threw all we needed in a suitcase, I took a bath, the heating exploded, my mum went to my aunt’s house to dye her hair, we made a run for the bus to the airport… and that is how we went to New York with 24 hours notice.
We arrived just in time for the evening performance, on April 23rd, 2011. As we approached the theatre, someone told us Green Day were rehearsing. Fans had their ears to the wall and soon it was identified as Jesus of Suburbia. None of us knew each other, but we sang along together, before we parted ways to find our seats. On one side of us was Tanya who runs Green Day Mind and on the other, a lady with some flowers for Billie Joe. I hadn’t slept for well over 48 hours at this point. I only realised I’d fallen asleep when I was jolted awake by Billie Joe’s ‘ONE-TWO-THREE-FOOOOOOUR!’
Don’t judge me, I was jetlagged. When the lights illuminated the crowd, Billie spotted us, grinned and yelled ‘oh my GOD!’ which remains one of my favourite ‘what the fuck are you doing here?’ moments. Hi, just got on a plane from England less than 24 hours after booking it, glad u like.
All three leads had now been replaced: Van Hughes now played Johnny, Justin Guarini played Will and David Larsen, on a break from Billy Elliot, played Tunny. I was, yet again, unsure what to expect and, yet again, blown away. Van’s portrayal of Johnny was completely different, yet equally funny and moving for that very reason. Rebecca Naomi Jones still played Whatsername, yet to miss a single performance, but her passion never wavered. I left, as always, with another different take on two of my favourite albums of all time; but perhaps more importantly, knowing that coming to New York for 36 hours, on a flight I booked not that long before, was the right choice.
From left to right: Tony, Ross and Kate from England, Hege from Norway and me
The next day – April 24th, the final two shows – the street outside the theatre was packed from early morning. We met people we’d met in San Francisco, in Paris, in Costa Rica and people we knew, or who recognised me from the online community (at least the hairdo served a purpose). An older man, with tickets to see the show for the first time, kindly offered to take a photo of us when someone said ‘hi.’ We turned to see it was Billie Joe’s wife Adrienne. Other fans screamed as she passed. I suppose our blurry photo has an interesting story behind it.
Thanks to our friend in the box office, we got seats about six rows back. He insisted he could get us better tickets for the evening, too, but we didn’t want to be greedy when the guy we sold them to let us have them back. By pure coincidence, we sat to find the man who took our photo beside us. He was excited now and watched with wide eyes as the stage came alive. This cast wasn’t just a replacement, it was a whole new experience. I loved Van as much as John. Billie Joe was clearly tired, but on fire regardless. Last Night on Earth continued to become ever more emotional. This was the closest I’d ever get to seeing songs like Homecoming live, and it lived up to any expectations I would’ve had if this was Green Day.
Before Good Riddance, Billie Joe knelt down and unfolded a piece of paper. Other cast members peered over his shoulder. No one but Van knew what he was doing. Then together, they began to sing The Beatles’ Two of Us, reading the lyrics from the crumpled page. By the time it sunk in, they were done, standing back up and playing Good Riddance. The man beside us asked if they always do that, and he was pleased when we told him no that his show was special.
Cast members doing the ticket lottery
We hurried off to discuss the show, inevitably ending up in the Times Square McDonald’s. Back at the theatre, cast members Libby Winters (Extraordinary Girl) and Alysha Umphress (swing) did the final ticket lottery. Rumours were flying that Green Day would perform after the show. I would have been content with this – to be there to see this show close.
Rebecca, especially, put her all into her performance like never before. Letterbomb was something else that night. After Good Riddance, cast members and others involved gave speeches on how it all began, what it meant to them, and how it ended up. There was certainly a sadness in the air, since after a year on Broadway, it was finally over.
Then, the stage was cleared. Instruments were set up. Green Day were on stage. Jason Freese sat at a piano, only to be sent back off when Billie Joe changed course. They opened with Only of You. This was surreal. It would not sink in. The lady beside us, obviously an innocent theatregoer, was very confused and slightly concerned as everyone around her leapt to their feet.
Their second song was Murder City, then Holiday. The cast were on the stage. John was crowd surfing. Billie later told him to ‘go back to Jerusalem’ (the musical he left American Idiot for). He then made a speech which later appeared, slightly modified, in the deluxe version of ¡Uno!: ‘Keep your fucking heart young, goddammit. Keep it fucking all comfy all the time. Don’t fucking stop, there’s a reason why that hand is holding the heart. It just keeps squeezing that motherfucker ’til it still bleeds, every goddamn day.’
After a random cover of the Spiderman theme, Billie Joe announced ‘we’re gonna play a cover song. Very significant right now. Every time someone’s left alone, we play this song.’ Because of course, they couldn’t end the show without Walking Out On Love (which they played several times in a row at a party later).
They closed with Jesus of Suburbia. It was perhaps appropriate that this show ended how Johnny’s journey begins: you’re leaving, you’re leaving home. I’m not sure many Broadway shows can claim they sent an entire theatre into singing, dancing, crowd surfing hysteria.
The St. James Theatre being redecorated, the day after American Idiot closed
And that was that. Or so it seemed. Is this the end or the beginning? All I know is, she was right. I am an idiot. It’s even on my birth certificate, in so many words.
This is my rage.
This is my love.
This is my town.
This is my city.
This is my life.
So, what the title says. I have been through some tough stuff these past few months and this is my (hopefully) positive response.
Anyway, one thing I connected with my older sister on as kid was comics. She recently had a brush with death, and although we have a not great relationship, I want to revisit the thing we connected over. It's supposed to be cathartic.
So, I'm drawing up some comics. They feature characters somewhat based off of real people I know. Every name has been changed.
If you like, please comment. If you hate, please comment. Just please comment!
Oh, and I know the drawings are simple- you're looking at limited skill here, hopefully after a while these'll be more visually appealing. For now, I hope the slightly Green Day related storylines will carry it.
If you want to read some amazing, professional comics, please read Hyperbole and a half by Allie Brosh, and/or Pearls Before Swine, by Stephan Pastis. These are amazing. So amazing. Totally, completely amazing. This is amazingly redundant.
Anyway, here is the first strip of the webcomic 'Sons and Daughters of Rage and Love'. Enjoy.
I hope you can read the text!!!
Hello! My sister has started an online fundraiser to purchase supplies for her band students because her school doesn't have the money to pay for them.
I wanted to share it with you all in case you'd like to donate to support the cause — anything helps! If you use the promo code "liftoff" during checkout today, your donation wll be matched by the fundraising website.
I don't think many people realize how many teachers in the U.S. use their own money to purchase supplies, especially for elective classes like music and art that are seen as "non-essential" compared to the others. On average, they spend about $600/year on their own supplies, and it's worse in schools with lower-income students like the one where she teaches, according to the most recent survey from nonprofit adoptaclassroom.org.
We've merged the 'Movies, TV, & Books' subforum with General Chat. Looking at how active both subforums were, we agreed it made sense to merge the two into 'General' since the topics fit together and one wasn't getting way more traffic than the other.
We also reorganized the subforums a tiny bit: Renamed "Interests" category to 'General', and placed General Chat, Clubs, and Other Artists under that, and placed Welcome to Paradise, Advice and Brink of your Vision under 'Community'.
We originally started splitting up subforums years ago when content was quickly lost because there was so much going on. Now that sites are slower, I'll be regularly seeing what kinds of changes make sense so that the community isn't too splintered.
I got on stage, appeared on TV in Iowa, nearly got arrested in Vegas and finally made it to Oakland. This is the story of a dream I've had since I was 12 years old.
My Rage, My Love, My Life #4: Champaign to Vegas
Flight DY7015 touched down in New York on March 25, 2017.
It had been six years, but the airport still looked exactly the same. There were still only three people manning passport control. My mum, Joy, still got dragged off into a side room for no apparent reason.
We waited an hour in the cold for a shuttle bus that never came; ended up getting in someone else’s bus and paying the driver to take a detour. Police were arresting someone in the motel reception as we arrived, and the air was thick with the smell of weed. This was a quick stop before we headed to Champaign, because it was cheaper that way, but I’ll take any excuse to see my favourite city again.
So the next day we took the subway into Manhattan, where someone had done two huge turds that sent everyone running out and into the next carriage. We followed, only to end up opposite the culprit. My rage, my love, some faeces.
Google Maps had sent us miles out of the way. We didn’t want to pay for the subway again, so we decided to walk and saw the 9/11 memorials, then accidentally found Brooklyn Bridge before walking back and on to Times Square.
As I looked out over the skyline that evening, my feet already aching, I had a feeling these were going to be the best three weeks ever.
The foggy skyline
I wanted to take this photo since I was a kid with a cheap camera, looking at pretty night shots and wondering if I’d ever see that view with my own eyes
The St. James Theatre, six years after Green Day’s American Idiot closed on Broadway there
My imagination runs away, on this 8th Avenue Serenade 🎶
New York streets
A bus dropped us on a curb in Champaign, Illinois. Dim streetlights were reflected on the damp pavements as it began to rain. The transport Google Maps brought up in the warmth of my home was absent now. Apparently it was a two mile walk. We walked five times that in New York, so we began dragging my mum’s suitcase through blocks of telegraph poles, neon fast food signs, gas stations and not much else.
Rainy streets in Champaign, Illinois
When we arrived at our hotel I unpacked my camping gear, ready to head to the State Farm Center. Before I could even use the toilet it flooded the room. I frantically grabbed my belongings, shoving them back in, then escaped with my underwear on a luggage trolley. By the time I unpacked it in the new room, it was clear I had food poisoning and wouldn’t be camping any time soon. Reluctantly I went to bed, hoping to sleep it off and setting my alarm for 5am.
Not feeling much better when I woke up, I skipped breakfast and hurried to the venue, where I was #34 in line.
Champaign line, late morning: the first tent had apparently been there since noon the previous day
I met old friends I’d made on the 2013 tour and new friends too. Caitlin from Indiana offered heart grenade cookies she baked for the show. I’m still sad I couldn’t try one, because the two of us ended that night being connected in a way neither of us could ever have imagined.
From left to right: Traci, Caitlin and Jen from Indiana, Nikki from Chicago, me, Nikki’s sister Jena (behind the pillar) and Fran from England. Lisa from Missouri is wrapped in the duvet.
Caitlin, who I first met at a show in Rosemont, IL in 2013, with the cookies she painstakingly bakes for every show she attends
My mum joined me later in the day. It was her birthday and I’d done something I swore I wouldn’t do: I’d bought the VIP package for her. Believe it or not, she’d seen Green Day, in Illinois, on her birthday once before and it went horribly wrong. Since then she’d become disabled and this may well have been her last tour in the pit. So I swallowed my hatred of the VIP concept and shelled out purely for the early entry, barely eating for a month afterwards as my bank balance recovered. She was led inside an hour or so before us. I texted her to ask if she’d got her spot, but I didn’t hear anything back.
When doors opened for us, the line turned to chaos. People who’d just arrived rushed the doors. There were elbows in my back and arms. As soon as security let me go I sprinted off into the stampede that led down the steps and onto the floor. I spotted my mum’s leopard print scarf in her favourite spot and crashed into her with such relief I could have cried. $400 well spent; even more so when the VIP next to her told me with a smile that she was going to find her son and offered me her spot. Others led me to expect the VIPs to be rude, entitled and unreasonably rich, but none were. I’m forever grateful to that lady and I wish I’d got her name so I could thank her properly.
We made friends with Scott, the security guy manning our area of the barrier, who was both confused and amused by these English girls who’d come to Champaign, Illinois to see a band.
It was another dream of mine to see one of my ‘second favourite’ bands open for Green Day, but I’d always figured it’d never happen. Now I was there, in America, watching Against Me! open for them. I’d partially lost my voice before Green Day even took the stage.
When the Drunk Bunny stumbles offstage and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is playing, and I know I am about to see Green Day again, it’s like the butterflies of first love. I feel sick and giddy and my heart is pounding all at once. Billie Joe ran onstage first, running to and fro, then Tré pirouetting by his kit, then Mike Dirnt. Billie stood atop the amps, drawing roars from the crowd with flicks of his wrists. Then he was yelling ‘Champaign, Illinois!’ and Tré began playing Know Your Enemy.
‘I need some help! Who knows the lyrics to the song? Who knows the lyrics? Who knows it?’
I don’t know what made me raise my hand. I’d never wanted to go up and lose my spot in the first song, and Billie wouldn’t pick me anyway – he’d tried several times in the past and I’d chickened out and changed my mind. He glanced at me, pointed and walked off again. When he came back, he pointed at Lindsey, a lady my mum queued with, then me.
‘She knows it?’
Maybe I was overtired, or maybe it was just time.
‘Alright, get your ass up here! C’mon!’
Video by David Hardy
I heard my mum shouting ‘oh my God!’ and Billie was grinning as Scott and Arturo, one of Green Day’s crew, hauled me over the barrier. Arturo lifted me onto the catwalk. I thought Billie was on the main stage. I stepped up and my legs immediately gave way. Only I could get on stage and fall over. I’d figured by then that Billie was actually on the catwalk. When I was back on my feet he beckoned. His face lit up with a grin as I ran and he held out his arms to hug me. It was one of the warmest hugs anyone has given me. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that.
Videos by David Hardy / lindsaybunny
Then I was standing in front of 16,000 people in Champaign, Illinois, barely noticing the pyros exploding as I screamed ‘gimme gimme REVOLUTION!’ in an incredibly English accent; wearing a shirt from a Manchester show in 2009 with my coat still tied around my waist.
I walked back up the catwalk, knowing I had to stage dive. Billie was gesturing to the crowd to make sure they caught me. I could see Eddie and Arturo holding out their arms in case I didn’t jump far enough. Fear paralysed me and it crossed my mind to tell Billie I couldn’t do it… but I ran. I jumped.
Photo by Kelly Griglione
Illinois caught me. It wasn’t scary. Crowd surfing was fun. I told my mum afterwards ‘I could sleep well in that position.’People high-fived and congratulated me as my feet hit the floor. It was packed and I didn’t want to be push after I’d been on stage, so I went to the side. Someone took a selfie with me and another guy bought me a beer.
I must have relived it a hundred times over in my head as I sang along and Billie yelled ‘Thank God for Champaign, Illinois!’ over and over and I thought, yes, thank God for Champaign, Illinois. Then in Knowledge, he pulled Caitlin up to play guitar! I was screaming so loud for her! Some guy was telling me ‘that sure beats what you did!’ and I was just shouting ‘that’s my friend Caitlin!’ She was amazing and now we’re forever stage sisters.
Once the show was over I rushed to find my mum and my friends again. As we walked out, several people grabbed me to ask what Billie smelled like. Then my mum realised she’d forgotten to pick up the crap that came with her VIP ticket and ran off in a panic to find it. In the meantime I bumped into Scott and he hugged and congratulated me. Outside, we said goodbye to Fran before going our separate ways to sleep before our journey to Green Bay tomorrow.
Putting my hand up to sing with Green Day that night was, without a doubt, one of the best decisions I have ever made. Over the last seven years Billie has made me feel so welcome as he’s smiled with me, laughed with (or at) me and always remembered me, and I have no doubt that he knew what it meant to me. For that, for everything, I cannot thank him, Mike and Tré enough.
I once was scared to death to live. Now I am afraid of nothing.
Being candid in Champaign-Urbana Bus Station, though the guy behind us wins the candid award
On the Greyhound to Chicago
Chicago from the Greyhound
If you want an authentic Greyhound experience, Chicago Greyhound Station is the place to go. All Greyhound stations are a bit weird, but none of them are quite like Chicago. When we got off the bus, a lady was struggling to carry a large stereo and wasn’t sure if she could even take it on the next bus. I ended up helping her carry it into a back room. The staff said she’d have to pay $40 to have it on the next bus, so she told them they could just keep it and they eventually let her off. We really bonded over the experience. She met my mum and we agreed we’d go to Haiti together one day.
Searching for Mexican food during our next layover in Milwaukee, WI
‘Let’s take a photo with the skyline to remember that time we went looking for Mexican food in Wisconsin’
Our next transfer was in Milwaukee, where we had a while to wait for our last bus to Green Bay. None of us had eaten, so Fran and I went in search of cheap Mexican food. Google Maps directed us to Conejito’s. We hoped it would be a cheap takeaway, but it was a proper restaurant. What a let down Conejito was. We wandered down increasingly dodgy streets until we came to Food Mart. A sign on the door told us only three students were allowed inside at one time. There were only two of us, so we went in. Fran bought their last loaf of bread and I stocked up on their three for 50¢ honey buns. Mission complete.
Celebrating the acquisition of Pan o Gold bread in Milwaukee Bus Station
We arrived to another damp night in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The venue was down the road from Lambeau Field. Green Bay Packers signs were everywhere. Our Uber driver told us that earlier he’d given rides to the ladies who prepared Green Day’s hotel rooms. My mum asked him if Green Bay has a city centre or anything else to see and he said no, there’s just the Green Bay Packers. I was really getting into the Packers. Partly to annoy my fiancée, since they’re a huge Oakland Las Vegas Raiders fan and hate the Pack. Also partly because when I was looking for cheap accommodation in Green Bay, all I got were photos of people in cheese hats. Now I was also in Green Bay to see Green Day, so why not? It was contagious. Fran was getting into them too. Go Pack Go.
First in line was Josh from Chicago, who’d also been to Champaign. He was 100% prepared with a huge tent and camping gear, but he didn’t want to set it all up just for himself, so our arrival was perfect. He definitely saved us from freezing to death, because it continued to rain and eventually snowed. Instead of dying we just chilled out in The Tent.
In The Tent with Josh from Chicago, who we’d just met (note the Packers sign in the top right corner)
In my bivvy bag in The Tent
Tents in Green Bay, WI
The snow was falling at full force in the morning. Our tent appeared on TV while we stayed inside as long as we could, before taking a brief trip to Taco Bell and Walmart. Neither me nor Fran had ever been to a Walmart before. What an experience.
Walmart in Green Bay: full of glorious Packers merchandise
I picked up my tickets when we got back. This was the first time I’d done will call and when I passed the lady my burgundy passport, her jaw dropped and with a grin she asked if I’d really come from the UK just for a band. I said yes and she grabbed at her colleagues, shouting ‘she’s come all the way from the UK just for this show!’ before she laughed and wished me a wonderful night.
The tent was stowed away, thermals were removed and we were lined up inside shortly before doors. It was a reasonably short run to the pit. GO! YOU PACKERS! GO! We made front row in the spots we wanted, in front of Mike. Seeing Against Me! open for Green Day was perhaps even more exciting and emotional than it was in Champaign. It was surreal – I was there, one of my favourite bands was opening for Green Day and at that moment, nothing could have made me any happier.
The novelty of Green Day in Green Bay wasn’t lost on the band. Billie repeatedly announced that this was Green Day’s first time in Green Bay. They registered with wide eyes, as surprised as us, that this was one of their loudest crowds yet. The roar of the 7,797 fans in attendance rivalled a stadium and it fed back to the band, who played even more passionately than usual.
‘Rise up, Wisconsin! Wisconsin! America! America!’ Billie yelled, clutching the American flag as the lights cut out. I should have been at uni in England. Instead I was in Green Bay, Wisconsin, watching Billie Joe hold up the stars and stripes, alight under the spotlight. I don’t know what that meant to American fans, but to me, it was the realisation of a dream I’d had since I was 12 years old.
The lack of cameras pleased him – a rare occurrence – as he exclaimed he couldn’t see any, and ‘we all need to rub up against each other and throw up in the taxi home.’ As we yelled approval for ‘she’s the cedar in the trees of WISCONSIN!’ we were all the same, from Wisconsin or England. I’d been smiling like a twat since Champaign, but Billie just smiled back with the same enthusiasm. In Still Breathing, he took a studded denim jacket from the crowd and wore it for the rest of the show.
From that crowd to the editing of the Green Day sign so it said Green Bay, this was one of my favourite shows ever. The only disappointment was that no-one threw a Cheesehead on stage.
Green Bay the next day
We couldn’t get tickets to the St. Paul show, so my mum and I had two days in Green Bay. Fran and Josh asked what the hell we were going to do. I wasn’t entirely sure. My mum knew there was a river somewhere and thought that would be a good destination, so we embarked upon a mission to find that and pasta, walking through endless streets that looked like the one above. Lots of Packers flags – beautiful. Of course, the snow had disappeared completely now we weren’t lining up for Green Day.
We accidentally found the National Railroad Museum, which made me think of my grandpa who was a train driver and passed away the previous year. I was too cheap to go in, of course, but I hoped he was nodding appreciatively at this museum in Wisconsin. Eventually we found the river by walking into someone’s backyard without realising, but it wasn’t much of a view…
Phone pic ft. distant river, because this was apparently the only one I took
Having truly experienced the height of tourism, we set a new course to Target, where we could find pasta. We’d walked past the same guy, enjoying beers in the sun for what was apparently his birthday, twice and the third time, he invited us to join him. Sadly, we were tired and hungry so we left our new friend behind. I hope he enjoyed his birthday.
A few miles, a hill and lots more Packers flags later, we located Target and acquired pasta. More importantly, though, I was sure there must be Packers merch somewhere in this store. After wandering for a while and getting lost in the kids’ section, we found a small selection. I weighed up the prices and how awful it was, planning to take the ugliest shirt imaginable back to England, but alas, I was swayed by the lower price of a glittery NFL Teens shirt. Who cares? I had a Packers shirt! From Green Bay!
Walking back via Lambeau Field
Green Day confetti outside Lambeau Field, two days after the show
Before we left the next day we went to Lambeau Field, where everyone thought we’d come from England just to see Lambeau Field. We had our photo taken with cheese, got certificates commemorating our first visit and overall, experienced true Packers bliss. No, seriously – I could not have been any happier than I was wandering the streets of Green Bay with my best friend and accidentally getting into an American football team, having slept in the snow and seen my favourite band.
This is my town, this is my city, this is my life?
Waiting at Green Bay Bus Station, where there was a huge argument in the office, for our Indian Trailways bus back to Milwaukee
It was about 15 hours to Des Moines, with transfers in Milwaukee and Chicago. The last bus, an overnight Burlington Trailways one, was going to Omaha. We had an interesting driver, who kept shouting ‘thaaaaank you for travelling with Buuuuurlington Traaaaaailways’ and gave out free water. On the way we passed the Iowa 80 Truck Stop, which is apparently the biggest in the world. People think I’m seeing the sights they’ve always dreamed of. I’m not quite sure they understand.
It was about 6am when we arrived at Des Moines Bus Station, which was basically a hut in a parking lot. Neither of us had slept and our Airbnb was miles away, so we called an Uber. The parking lot emptied as we waited. Eventually a pickup truck pulled up and I realised that was the Uber. Wow, now we were getting in a pickup truck. The driver asked where we were going to check we weren’t ‘going to Ames or anything, because people pull that all the time.’ I had no idea what he was talking about, and was thinking that I once took an Uber from Kraków to Prague… but I was pretty sure we weren’t going to Ames, so I went with it.
This was my first Airbnb. The street was still dark when we tried to go in the wrong door and then got in at the back. I felt like an inefficient burglar. Everything was silent inside. I wasn’t sure which room was ours, and after almost walking in on someone snoring, we decided to sit on the sofa and wait for our host to let us know.
One of my favourite tour photos: trying to sleep on a couch in Iowa
He woke up quite soon and honestly, I had no idea what to expect from an Airbnb, but Tony was the best. He made us feel so welcome. After getting 89¢ pasta in the store he recommended, I went for a nap because I wasn’t feeling great. I woke up with a dog on top of me at one point, which really improves the story, then my mum came to get me because Tony’s girlfriend was cooking and invited us to join them. I’m sad I still felt ill so I never got to try any of it, but at least my mum was having fun down there.
Later Tony drove us to the Pappajohn Sculpture Park, so we could see that and then walk to the Wells Fargo Arena. We passed Green Day’s buses on the way. Didn’t bother them, obviously, but maybe I should have poked my head in and said ‘hi guys, just about to go and sleep on the street for you.’
A Packers hat, Sonic leggings, the Des Moines skyline and the venue Green Day played in one photo. What more could you want?
The Wells Fargo Arena
Outside the arena
#3 in line, Des Moines, Iowa
We were 3 and 4 in line, behind Shannon from Iowa City and her son Levi. An hour or so later Fran arrived with Sara from Spain, who’d come on the Greyhound from Chicago with pizza. She offered me a slice so I took it. Of course, I’m lactose intolerant, so that really wasn’t a good idea. Me and Fran eventually decided to go in search of toilets. We were heading for the Holiday Inn we could see in the distance, but ended up at the Mercy Hospital instead. What would happen if we went into a hospital at midnight to use the toilet? We were about to try it when we saw a sign on the door saying only patients could enter after visiting hours. SAD. Next up was McDonald’s, which was closed. We considered another entrance to Mercy and then we saw it – a gas station called Quiktrip! Outside a policeman was clicking his gun and staring at us as we approached. Our experience became ever more American. The toilets were just open! I love Quiktrip. I recommend a visit if you’re ever in Des Moines.
We got lost on our way back, walking into a dead end that we realised afterwards said ‘NO ENTRY’ but we eventually made it. Rain was beginning to fall, so we arranged umbrellas donated by Tony to cover us. The pizza was still tormenting me, but I was so tired I pretty much passed out and I actually slept nice and cosy in my bivvy bag.
Despite the bivvy bag, though, I was still soaked when I woke up. Me and Fran made another Quiktrip to our favourite gas station to get food and use the best toilets, then went to get our tickets. In the line we met J’net from Oklahoma, who I first met in Costa Rica in 2010. We found out she was the original owner of my Brussels ticket and Fran’s Amsterdam ticket, and there we were meeting in Iowa.
When we got back to the line a TV crew was freaking out over my mum, trying to attach a mic to her coat so they could interview her. A 58 year-old English lady who’d come to Iowa to see Green Day! They took a photo and filmed us too, so now I can say I’ve been on TV in Costa Rica and Iowa. Life goals = achieved?
A rainy afternoon in Des Moines, ft. Tony’s umbrella, a bivvy bag, camping chair and English people
Before doors, Shannon kindly let us dry off, get changed and store Tony’s umbrella’s in her room at the Holiday Inn we couldn’t find before. When they opened the doors and held us at the turnstiles, the staff were – as usual – confused by why we were so nervous. The way to the pit was unclear and they’d opened multiple entrances. Once I was on the floor, though, I spotted Sara in front of Mike and crashed onto the barrier next to her. J’net was nice enough to let my mum in later and I swapped with Fran so I could be next to her. Sleeping in the rain = success.
I stole this photo from Sara
Des Moines was probably where Against Me! got the best reception. One of the VIPs was actually singing every word along with me. I was so thrilled they were playing Dead Friend every night and that I got to scream along to I Was A Teenage Anarchist before Green Day. I never got bored of hearing Laura Jane Grace tell her story about how Green Day had influenced her as a child. It was the most sincere and real speech I’d ever heard from a support band.
I ached a bit, had snuffles, was still calming down from the entry process and my socks were most likely wet again. The only thing that mattered, though, was singing my heart out, raising my arms up ‘to testify’ in Revolution Radio, beside my best friend with a passionate crowd behind me.
I remember having both arms in the air, singing ‘are we, we are, the waiting unknown / this dirty town is burning down in my dreams / the lost and found city bound in my dreams.’ The first time that line really resonated with me was when I saw American Idiot on Broadway – I felt like Johnny, Will and Tunny, a life I wanted to escape burning down in my dreams, searching for the city of my dreams. I could still recall that but it was different now. That city could have been Des Moines, it could have been Kraków, but I had found it: it existed for two and a half hours in a packed room, the phone screens and lighters that illuminated the arena were as bright and beautiful as any city lights. I opened my eyes and saw Billie and Mike laughing. It’s OK, guys, I knew I looked like the woman at that Jesse Malin show who pushed to the front just to dramatically sing two lines of Lucinda.
In King for a Day Billie announced ‘oh, I need a cigarette.’ Then in Still Breathing he reappeared in a personalised version of the jacket he took (and had to give back) in Green Bay. I am quite honoured to have witnessed the rise of the Forever Now Jacket.
I found this compilation video from Des Moines and it really hits me like a punch in the gut, seeing myself on the front row, singing all night with the 16,000 people behind me. It’s still hard to believe any of this actually happened, but I guess that lost and found city really isn’t just in my dreams, not anymore.
After the show, my phone had died so we couldn’t call an Uber, but we didn’t know the way back to Tony’s house. I tried waving at approaching cars and eventually one stopped. When the lady heard our accents, she launched into a rant about how there are too many Muslims in London. She had never been to London. I’m still quite surprised we got back to Tony’s alive. At 4am, Fran messaged me to let me know my mum was on TV in Des Moines Bus Station.
The ultimate in life goals achieved: Joy on TV in Des Moines Bus Station (iconic photo by Fran)
Me and Sara at Des Moines Airport
The next day, Tony kindly drove us to Des Moines Airport and we said goodbye. I felt like I had a home to return to in Iowa. If you’re ever in Des Moines, you need to stay with Tony.
Sara was also on our Frontier flight to Denver, which was a few hours delayed. Some people said it was bad weather, others said it’s always delayed. When we finally arrived in Denver, we got so lost looking for the airport bus that we considered an Uber. Eventually a guy from Idaho (I think?) saved us. Snow was falling, in piles all around us and the ground was icy when we got off the bus in Broomfield. We were planning to camp, but we didn’t know if there was room for us in the tents, and it was unlikely many people would show up until the morning. We decided to sit this one out and just went to our Airbnb.
At 7am we headed back out. The line was a little longer; I think we were 11, 12 and 13. We met a couple we’d met before, at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in 2010. Sara tried to sleep on her air mattress while I chatted to George from Colorado, about video games and what songs we’d like to see most. Soon the staff put up barriers and moved us into four lines.
Fan art on the pavement before the show in Broomfield, CO
The line in Colorado
The 1stBank Center, Broomfield, CO
I made it to the barrier on Jason’s side and managed to save spots for my mum and George (that was my best barrier spread of all time, actually). It wasn’t long until the whole room reeked of weed. We were getting the full Colorado experience.
2000 Light Years Away was one of my favourite songs to see on this tour. I’d been in a long distance relationship for six years (seven now) and not going to lie, every time I would sing ‘I hold her malachite so tight, I’ll never let go, ‘cause she’s 6000 light years away.’ Billie often caught my eye, smiled and sang with me. Of course he had no clue about my thoughts, nor me of his, but it was wonderful to share that regardless. He is not just talking crap in his speeches about how music brings people together. I remember singing along to Waiting and it occurring to me that I, and hundreds of others there I’m sure, had waited a long time for this moment to come; and Billie singing those lyrics back at me too. I had woken up and thanked my lucky stars and I was living my dream.
Being an English kid singing American Idiot in America is a strange feeling. Like I don’t really belong there, but also like I’m part of something completely alien to me at the same time. Green Day have that effect.
George loved the show too and was glad we went for the front row rather than the catwalk. We said goodbye and went back to our Airbnb, before our flight to Vegas for our final show.
The bus stop in Broomfield
Las Vegas from the plane
It was dark when we took off from Denver. The Las Vegas strip was a ribbon of light below as the plane descended. I had never wanted to go to Vegas, so of course I ended up there for Green Day. There was a long walk through a casino and food court to reach the MGM Grand Garden Arena. So far, Vegas was very strange. When we finally found it, we met Cheryl from Australia who we’d previously met in Costa Rica and New York, and we were back with Sara and Fran.
The casino we had to walk through to find the line
A security guy soon told us we had to leave. He insisted we had no idea what shows in Vegas were like and that people came from all around the world (apparently he didn’t notice that we had, but I’m not sure what the relevance was anyway), then eventually that we could gather in the food court and line up outside at 7:30am. First we wandered outside and I don’t remember this, but Sara says she went to speak to some prostitutes thinking they were homeless and might know where we could sleep, and I tried to stop her but it was Too Late. It looked like the food court was the only option. I considered sleeping in a toilet cubicle and Sara went for it, but I didn’t want to risk the guy finding me and throwing me out for good, so the rest of us went to the food court.
Me and Fran in the food court
I was exhausted and fell asleep without even realising. I woke to screaming in my ear that I was going to be arrested. A woman claiming to be a manager was yelling and waving her arms. Apparently we’d all be arrested if we didn’t move. Sara’s pillow was on the table and she was pointing at me and screaming ‘that girl even has a pillow!’ We tried to explain that the other guy told us it was the only place we could line up, and eventually she agreed we could stay as long as we were awake. If we fell asleep, the cops were coming. Sara eventually reappeared, having had a mediocre nap in the cubicle. Katy Perry’s Roar was playing over and over on the speakers. This was bad. The others remember a constant stream of Johnny B. Goode but all I remember is Roar. I have nothing against you, Katy, but please never roar within a 10 mile radius of me, ever again. In the end I must have fallen asleep for another 15 minutes and when I woke up, Yaz and Becky from England had arrived. A while later, Traci who we’d met in Champaign joined us, too. At 7am we decided to live on the edge and go outside 30 minutes early.
The line in Vegas, 8am
The road back to the venue when I went to find (reasonably priced) food
Green Day poster in the MGM Grand, where we first tried to line up and got kicked out
After going to find food that wasn’t $30 for a small portion, my mum and I were taking photos of the Green Day posters on our way back when we found lizziebix and her husband. We first met her at a show in Rosemont in 2013 after knowing her for a while on GDC, and were reunited in Vegas with big hugs.
Back at the line, the British crew was joined by GDC's Second Favourite Son. There were now six of us and a flag. I guess it’s not untrue that people come to Vegas from around the world for shows…
The British Crew from left to right: Becky, Yaz, Fran, Second Favourite Son, me and Joy (photo by Second Favourite Son’s dad)
The line in Vegas: getting longer
Joy and Fran in the line
Everyone, as known on GDC: Lauren, lizziebix, sara_gd, BeachBum, Dirty Rotten Bastard, Yaz., basketcase4933, solongfromthestars, Second Favourite Son and finally, Taylor and Becky who I don't believe are on GDC (photo also by Second Favourite Son’s dad)
Last photo of the line before I took my camera back
We were lined up beside the VIPs an hour before doors. VIP was sold out here, which meant 100 people in front of us. We weren’t sure how this would work out and watched them running in nervously. Our security friend from the previous night said hello, then a guy called Bill made a speech about how he understood how long we’d been there, and would be making sure we were let in fairly. Doors opened and I expected a stampede, but Bill really did stop it as best as he could. I was in and ran for my life. I ducked and dodged security and other fans and ran and ran until I was spread over the barrier in front of Mike. My fellow Europeans followed in a row. Maybe some of the VIPs didn’t show up, but who cares, we got amazing spots. Despite the food court experience, I was genuinely impressed with the staff at doors.
On the barrier
This was the last time I’d see Against Me! with Green Day – probably the last time I’d ever see one of my second favourite bands open for them. I was so tired I felt like I might melt into the metal of the barrier, but it didn’t stop me screaming I Was A Teenage Anarchist until I could barely breathe. Then they were gone, the Drunk Bunny was on, we were all singing Blitzkrieg Bop; The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was playing, Tré was on, then Mike – wearing the Otis jacket – then Billie. I felt like I was still asleep in the food court, dreaming when Billie yelled ‘Las Vegas, Nevada!’ and we all raised our arms in response. My voice was hoarse and my arms ached as I sang along to Revolution Radio. Billie began the Holiday bridge with ‘Nevada, Nevada, place your bets!’ After Youngblood, he reluctantly announced ‘I’m kind of getting used to this Las Vegas Raiders thing’ before adding ‘fuck you I’m from Oakland.’ A permanent smile was plastered on my face at this point, even when he attacked us all with his stupid water hose in 2000 Light Years Away.
I don’t know if it’s inappropriate to bring this up – or to say this at all – but seeing Still Breathing here was incredibly moving, because this was the very same arena where the iHeartRadio meltdown happened. I avoid saying I’m proud of Green Day because I’m not sure if it’s even a fan’s place to be, but I was. It was a metaphor to me even about myself, that I made it through against the odds to experience this wonderful tour and so did my band. We were all the same. If that’s what Billie wanted when he wrote the song – for it to be an anthem that brings us all, from every walk of life, together – he achieved it in my eyes more than I can even explain.
I screamed my heart out to Forever Now with all the love and happiness my heart could hold. It was a thing at this point that no matter where I stood, Billie would sing ‘I want a new conspiracy and the silence of a thousand cries’ at me, and I would scream it back.
Ordinary World resonated with me in a way it hadn’t before. People assume I have it all, because I’ve travelled, as they assume the lines ‘baby I don’t have much / but what we have is more than enough’ are insincere coming from Billie Joe, because he has money and fame. In reality, I have my mother, my fiancée, the adventures I’ve had through Green Day and very little else. None of it is even as perfect as it seems. I don’t know what the future holds, and there will be times I struggle to carry on again. But one thing I knew, then, is that those dreams of a better life – I didn’t need them anymore. Because what I have, these memories that will be with me forever, is more than enough.
As Billie played the first chords of Good Riddance, there were tears streaming down my face. When I stood atop of New York, thinking these would be the best three weeks ever; still that child looking off on the horizon, the son raised without a father aside the mother barely keeping it together, who dreamed an impossible dream of following Green Day across the United States… I had no idea that the realisation of that dream would be as absolutely wonderful and dare I say, life changing, as it was. I can never thank Green Day enough for what they have given me, from inspiration to adventure to happiness I never imagined possible. I love this band and all they have enabled me to do and feel with all my heart. I am not a sappy person and do not express my emotions lightly (believe it or not), and this is the raw truth.
I’m still alive
After the show. Photo stolen from Yaz. I don’t remember who took it (sorry)
Many of our friends were carrying on to the last show in San Diego while we stayed in Vegas. I would have loved to join them, but it just wasn’t financially possible. We said our goodbyes outside and headed back to America’s Best Value Inn for some well-earned rest.
Tour was over, but the adventure wasn’t. To get the cheapest flight home, we were staying in Vegas a few days and then flying to Oakland. Perhaps Vegas and its overpriced food courts were not my dream destination, but I learned to enjoy this place Green Day brought me to as we wandered the streets, into shops where we couldn’t afford anything; found the Vegas sign; discovered ABC Stores, the cheapest place on the strip and most importantly, I may have been too cheap to go inside the Shark Reef Aquarium, but I managed to draw out my bank balance twice (at a store called Super Liquor) in order to buy Vegas the Shark from the gift shop.
Palm trees ft. Super Liquor
Sunset in Vegas
In the Vegas lights, swimming with the SHARKS until we drown (soz that isn’t even Green Day)
On our last day, we escaped Vegas on a bus for $4 and set out on a search for Clark County Wetlands Park. We couldn’t afford any exciting day trips, but I was determined we would see something. It was quite a good idea, actually.
Clark County Wetlands Park
Walking back to the bus stop
We left Vegas early in the morning. Even the airport was Vegassy. What a bizarre place. Anyway, even though Annabelle, my fiancée, is from Oakland I had never been (we met at a Green Day show in Birmingham, apparently thanks to my hair, which was a luminous red frizzball at the time). After six years it was finally my turn to be looking around as I walked out of arrivals before running into their arms.
They took us first to Lake Merritt, while they gave us directions on what to do if someone pushed us in, before a tour of the best places to get shot. A city council guy pulled up on a tractor to ask my mum for a cigarette, we passed a man saying to himself ‘gonna round all the girls like in World War II, then kill ’em all, boom!’ and another passionately singing as he wandered around. Not so different to Nottingham, I guess.
You wouldn’t even know Oakland is a shithole!
Next up was Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café at the Fox Theater. This was completely surreal. I was in Oakland. Eating at Mike Dirnt’s café.
Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café
The Fox Theater is not just a historic building in Oakland, but a stop on my dream Green Day tour too: it’s where they played the iconic third show of the 21st Century Breakdown Tour, one of the only times they played the album in full. 21st Century Breakdown is my favourite album of all time, containing my favourite song of all time (¡Viva La Gloria!), and the only album I will ever claim changed my life. It was also where February 19th was declared ‘Official Green Day Day’ in Oakland, during a celebration of Dookie in 2016.
The Fox Theater
We walked on up Telegraph Avenue (the Avenue in Stuart & the Ave.) until we came to 40th Street. Broken Guitars, the guitar store Billie Joe co-owns with Bill Schneider is here, along with 1-2-3-4 GO! Records; where Billie Joe built the stage with his son Joey and Green Day played an early show for ¡Uno! ¡Dos! ¡Tré!. It was later where the pop-up shop for their Oakland Coliseum show was. They had Insomniac on cassette and I was tempted to buy it, but I eventually went for a 1-2-3-4 GO! Records shirt instead.
1-2-3-4 GO! Records
We briefly went to see Lake Merritt at night before getting back. Annabelle was pretty sure we were going to get killed. Very romantic. We planned to order pizza, but ended up eating Tostitos instead.
Nightfall in Oakland
Fuck you I’m from Oakland England. Photo stolen from Annabelle.
West Oakland Station, the station in Welcome to Paradise (‘a gunshot rings out at the station’), from the BART
On our final full day we took the BART to San Francisco. I wanted to see Golden Gate Bridge again and take my Tails action figure to Mission Street before we left. The Bay (80) Bridge is a Green Day sight too – it’s where Billie Joe’s nickname for his wife, 80, comes from and the band have talked about knowing they were home after grueling tours once they saw the bridge.
San Francisco Port Authority
The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge
San Francisco skyline
Golden Gate Bridge as night fell
Oakland lights from San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge at night, another photo I’ve wanted to take since I first picked up a camera
San Francisco at night
Annabelle insisted we had to see their bridge at night too, because it’s prettier than Golden Gate, so we did. I will admit they were right just this once.
The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge at night
We ended up at Lake Merritt one last time before our flight home. It was a beautiful day and we made it even better by stopping off at the dodgiest McDonald’s I’ve ever seen. Annabelle bought me an Oakland A’s shirt and my mum a mug at the airport, before we accidentally got into another baseball team.
Adding Oakland to our trip was pretty much an accident, when flights from Vegas disappeared, but I am so happy we did. Not only did we see a few of the Green Day sights, but there was a time I thought I would never walk those streets with Annabelle. Long story short, they were diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2013 and at one point told they had three weeks to live. I cried until I could no longer feel my hands or head the first time I heard Still Breathing; because hearing ‘my head’s above the rain and roses / making my way to you’ was when it finally sunk in that I was not going to lose my fiancée, that one day we would walk the streets of Oakland together. Without Green Day we would never even have met. Now that dream has come true.
Maybe Oakland is a shithole and I’ll eventually get shot, but it felt like my second home and I can’t wait to go back and see Christie Road, Gilman St. and the other Green Day sights.
Lake Merritt before our flight home
I arrived back in Falmouth from Gatwick Airport in the evening. Nothing had changed; the same broken train still made a stupid noise that kept me awake. The dock horn still went off at exactly 7:30am. The same runners passed me on the pavement. But something was different.
The next day, I sat on a bench on the seafront, overlooking the gentle waves. The sun was shining, and birds were skimming the water below. It was beautiful, tranquil and probably more than I deserved. Because I still found myself longing for those dingy Greyhounds, a tent in Wisconsin, the puddles in my bivvy bag in Des Moines, the streets of Oakland. I knew later I would struggle to sleep in my own bed and, for a few minutes, I genuinely pondered sleeping on the cold metal of that bench.
I didn’t, and I walked away. All my life I’d had this voice in the back of my mind, telling me I want to go home and it was then that I realised it was absent. Because I have found my home in those tightly packed rooms, on those cold streets, wandering Oakland with someone I met through this band, from England to Poland to Champaign to Vegas.
I know I’m irresponsible. I know I’m not normal. I know that the consequences I faced because really, I couldn’t afford this at all and shouldn’t have taken the time off, are my own choices.
But this is my city of shining light in my ordinary world. It is where that I’ll live until I die, and I’ll walk to the end of the earth and afar before I leave this buried treasure behind.
This is my rage.
This is my love.
This is my life.
I Wrote This Song for You
I wrote this for song you.
I hope you didn’t have me confused
with someone who throws moments like this away.
While I have your attention,
there’s oh-so-much I’d like to say.
What if I told you that when you smile,
I feel compelled to do the same?
Or, what if I told you, that when it snows I’m happy
because I’ve seen your face glow while the white-crystals fall
softly above you on the trees.
I don’t normally like the snow, but these days
you have me swearing that I do.
What if I told you that your almond eyes
have my heart jumping every time
they catch mine?
That your voice grooves
through my ears
like a snake charmer’s song.
Or, that your touch on my arm
turns the air electric.
What if I told you I love
the way clouds of smoke move
cursive from your lips?
Smooth as the rhythm of your hips
dancing in the moonlight.
What if I told you that I’m feeling
especially honest tonight?
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One of the most common new year's resolutions is to exercise more, a change that could be implemented at any time of the year. The beginning of a new year feels like the perfect excuse for a fresh start, and to change something about yourself you've been meaning to for some time. But of course the popularity of this gives rise to offers, which makes more people leave it until the start of a new year to go to the gym. And thus the circle of new year's resolutions continues ad nauseam.
One Hogmanay, standing in our garden watching the fireworks celebrating the start of 2012, I I had a magical moment.Thinking about the upcoming year, the end of high school, the beginning of university, my prediction of a new Green Day album in september (I didn't quite predict the other two albums they released that year though). Would I manage to make friends?
I started making lists of good things that happened in the year, and thinking what the coming year could bring.
Five years of Hogmanay parties later, and I'm back living with my parents. And back to the old Hogmanay traditions. A game of monopoly (this year Edinburgh edition), and outside watching from our vantage point the various locations that set off fireworks across the city. Hearing people from other gardens yelling "happy new year" and yelling back at the strangers. The live broadcast on tv.
This time. This time, I started the year by considerably thrashing my family at monopoly, although any other year it would be my sister that would win.
So my 2017? I finally saw Green Day live – twice, although it was meant to be three times. I graduated university with a masters in chemistry. I made friends.
And 2018? That's another story. My hopes are that I finally start HRT, I go to Oakland (if we ever decide where to stay!), I get a tattoo, and hopefully I get a job. I also aim to write more, but I'm unsure how that project will end up.