Stories

After the Flood

When my big brother Jon took this photo of me in front of the stadium, I couldn’t help thinking that I was at this concert in my son Joe’s stead. Joe died November 5, 2016, and naturally, I was a bit sad at that moment.

Thanks to the VIP pass the Green Day road team gave us, my spirits lifted as we found ourselves seated right behind the (mosh) pit. But forty-five minutes later when Tre Cool (Green Day drummer) started pounding his kit, someone Pulp-fictioned a shot of adrenaline straight into my heart muscle. Jon and I reflexively stood up like a couple meerkats on espresso.

Standing wasn’t a choice, but that doesn’t mean was easy. Try it with an ileostomy bag attached to where your navel used to be. Try it with a tube coming outa your dick. Try it with a huge hole in your heart where your son once lived. Once I stood…no heart hole, no catheter, no sadness, no death.

Joe’s a hero, not a zero.

We ALL stood and did not sit down for 2.5 hours because this crazy little guy Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day’s diminutive front man) would not allow it. He was at us non-stop. “Get those hands up in the air! Let me hear you scream, you fuckers! Jump, jump, jump, jump!”

Billie Joe Armstrong is not a normal person. He’s everyone there. He’s a man. He’s a woman. He’s a little boy. He’s a teenage girl. He’s an addict. He’s a wounded vet. He’s a dad. He’s also the punkiest of punks.

And he isn’t acting like a normal person. He’s dry-humping the stage. He’s lying on his back singing Satisfaction and Hey Jude. He was raised without a father. His mother was barely keeping it together. And he’d kiss, hug, or drape an arm around anyone within a few feet – age, gender, whatever be damned. He’d put his arm around your neck telling you and everyone: this is my best friend for ever.

Billie Joe insisted we were all alive, even our departed loved ones. Especially the least among us. And he would not let up until we not only agreed, but helped those around us feel the same and celebrate! Celebrate! Jump, jump, jump, jump!

Billie likes to pull people on stage. He had a little kid sing some super raunchy lyrics with him and then stage-jump into the pit. We all went nuts, but Billie more than anyone. A young man played a custom-built Les Paul guitar on Knowledge (by Operation Ivy) and was given the guitar. A wave of crazy, over-the-top happiness ripples through all of us like we all got that guitar!

When someone gets yanked onto that stage, it’s YOU up there.

Green Day doesn’t do concerts. They are not a ‘punk band’. They do engagements. They stage gatherings for those of us who don’t fit in because of our losses, our cancer, our gender, our sexuality, our politics, our color, our religion, our IQ, our love, our death—and then they engage.

Mike Dirnt (bass player) was an orphan who Billie’s single mom took in when Mike’s foster parents split up. Billie freely kisses Mike on stage. On the lips. No pretense or hesitation from either. Brothers-in-dontgiveafuck, beyond best buds.

Thirty years ago Billie didn’t give up on Mike, and that night at Wrigley he never lets up on us. Tre and Mike are right next to him doing the same but Billie is driving it. For TWO AND A HALF HOURS. Non-stop.

Is Billie Joe Armstrong really this mythical creature I describe? I not only don’t care…I don’t care you don’t care (a refrain from Jesus of Suburbia).