Saturday, May 4, 2013

"Whatever Happened to Day 30?"

I already explained what happened to Day 27 of my 30 Days of Blogging project for the month of April, but yesterday Jeannie pointed out to me that Day 30 was also strangely absent. I did actually have an entry for Day 30 mentally sketched out in my head, but on the evening of Day 30 I came home to write it and Comcast no longer felt like providing internet service. This has been happening fairly often lately, with Comcast's only explanation being, "Oh... unplug your modem for ten seconds so that it resets, and that should solve the problem." When I have to do that four times in an hour, because the modem comes back on and then immediately goes back out again, I just give up and do something else.

Anyway, the topic for Day 30 of 30 Days of Blogging was:

"American Idiot": The Musical

Green Day released the album American Idiot in 2004, and I consider it to be one of the best pieces of musical art to come out of the "W" Bush presidency. Whether or not you agree with it, the album is still emotionally resonant almost ten years later, with the anger, disillusionment, powerlessness, and outrage of liberal Americans still palpable when you listen to it. It certainly holds up better than Toby Keith's Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue, which seems to sum up the worst parts of American ignorance, bullying, and jingoistic enthnocentrism, or the open, shamelessly grasping artificial sentimentality that drips from every word of Alan Jackson's Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning). The feelings in "American Idiot" have at least been validated over the intervening almost-decade: the American people were lied to, repeatedly, and railroaded into a senseless war over imaginary weapons of mass destruction to bring democracy to a people that don't want the kind we have to offer, and they have a right to be angry about it.

These are the themes of the musical, too, which uses the music of the album and the weaker (but still good) followup album, 21st Century Breakdown to tell the story of three friends in post-9/11 America and the roads that life takes them down. My parents bought me a ticket for Christmas to see the touring version of the show downtown at the Tennessee Theatre:


and it was fantastic.

At the end, when the main character sings "Whatsername" about the woman he loved and lost through drug addiction and domestic abuse, I cried a little bit. I've always liked that song, but it touched me in a whole new way when I had a story to go with it, and it's not just some mythic story or a Hollywood movie: it's the story of us. Sure, I never moved to the big city and got hooked on drugs, but we all have friends that we drifted away from, and some of us are the friend who was left behind in the hometown while everyone else went out into the world. I have friends who joined the army and went away to the war, and friends who came back damaged and lost because of it. I enjoyed the show so much that I wished I had a ticket for the second night, too, just to see what I missed after being overwhelmed by it the first time.

On top of how good that part of the night was, I also took a short stroll down the alley on the back of Market Square between Wall Avenue and Union Avenue, and was delighted to see that almost all of the graffiti has been painted over since the last time I was there, and that artists have added new things:

halloween themed

wine bottle


(that one was a little unexpected, as I rarely see graffiti depicting non-Christian religions around Knoxville besides the ones for the Church of the Sub Genious:

bob, in fire or motion

but, you know, hey there Baphomet, I guess someone likes you)



about tv

drug baby


drug zombies

not mc escher


chief of tapes

It was like my own little quiet art gallery tour, if the gallery smelled vaguely like sewage. I especially liked this painting:

mirror ball

or is it a metapainting, since it's a graffiti painting of a wall with graffiti on it?

Either way, walking through the alley on my way to the show made the evening that much better.

Until I got home and the internet was dead.


Lauren said...

I am so glad you liked it! I absolutely loved it too-and cried a little as well.

That last painting is amazing. Overall, it is a great collection though...makes me want to visit Knoxville!

Justin Bower said...

I'm looking forward to seeing the Green Day show. Putting aside that they were the music of my seminal late high school, early college years, American Idiot is one of my favorite albums of the 2000's. It's epic in scale without being too pretentious, it has some breakout hits, and it generally captures the zeitgeist. Jesus of Suburbia is one of the finest punkish rock songs ever written. I wasn't a huge fan of the follow-up album, but it certainly wasn't bad.