Eerie, Lost-Looking, Middle-Aged

A bit of a brouhaha has erupted over a brief passage in Aaron Cometbus’ brilliant tour diary In China With Green Day.  What might be the most incisive and insightful thing ever written about a popular band now has certain outraged readers calling for Aaron’s head on a stick.

What they’re exercised about is this:

As excitable as the Japanese fans were, they were still preferable to the comparatively sedate Green Day stalkers back in the States. Those were an eerie bunch, mostly lost-looking middle-aged women and glassy-eyed teens, plus the occasional Green Day groupie family that contained both. Where the dads were, I don’t know—though that may have been the point.

Armed with seemingly inexhaustible expense accounts and trust funds, they crisscrossed the country attending every single Green Day-related event. That kind of frivolousness I could understand in a once-in-a-lifetime or one-last-wish scenario, but not every single week! The decadence of it made me sick. I was grateful, and a bit shocked, that none of them had followed us halfway around the world. The Japanese fans were starstruck, but not crazy enough—or rich enough—to devote their whole lives to the band.

I don’t know if Aaron had any particular individuals in mind, but there definitely are superfans  – I personally know a few of them – who do seem to attend “every single Green Day-related event.”  And I mean every, from band members’ side projects to anything tangentially involving American Idiot cast members to photo exhibits, literary events or simple social get-togethers that could in any tenuous way be connected to Green Day or the East Bay/Gilman Street scene the band emerged from.

Not, in the immortal words of Jerry Seinfeld, that there’s anything wrong with that.  Even if there is, I’m no position to judge, having myself traveled thousands of miles and spent similar amounts of money to watch not only bands, but also 0-0 draws between indifferent and uninspiring English football teams.  But some of the superfans felt as though they had been personally singled out for attack by Aaron, and they attacked right back.

“He’s got anxiety about aging, & women being involved in the scene threatens him, so he projects his negativity on the two,” suggested Katelyn Zimmerman via Twitter.  “He is in denial of growing up himself cuz he’s in his early 40s,” said Abbey Fox, and “In Aaron Cometbus’ world, it’s only for dudes.”  She even tried to contact Bluestockings Books about “a publication you carry that has a sexist and ageist attitude.”

Granted, these opinions are in a minority – reaction as a whole to the new Cometbus has been overwhelmingly positive – but it’s a highly vocal minority of (mostly) women who seem to feel as though they’ve been personally attacked.  As someone who’s known Aaron for considerably more than half his life, it’s bizarre to hear him being accused of things like ageism and sexism.  If anything, I’ve always thought of him as someone who leans more toward the Berkeley PC end of the spectrum.  He’s often spoken out on the importance of female visibility and participation in the scene, as well as the necessity of questioning and challenging habitual ways of seeing things.  Just the other day, in fact, he called me out for something I’d written more than 20 years ago, a review of an all-female band that focused on their looks more than would have been the case if it had been an all-male band.  Having just re-read the article, I realize he was completely right.

And ageist?  I don’t know what your definition of middle-aged is, but Aaron himself probably fits into the demographic.  Many if not most of the people he’s closest too are middle-aged as well, or in some cases, just plain old.  As long as I’ve known him, even when he was still a teenager, he’s been  interested in the wisdom and experience of previous generations, to an extent one rarely sees in the young.  So, sexist or ageist?  It’s more of a stretch that I can make.

But what about uncharitable?  Did he really need to say what he did about certain Green Day fans?  Was it essential to the narrative?  “Slagging off someone else’s fans is wrong. Particularly when he knows they will read it,” claims Tanya Elder, and Michael Fisher responds, “Aaron has trouble relating to or dealing with his own fans. Solution: push ’em away.”

Personally, I think anyone who has a problem with Aaron forthrightly expressing his opinions on anyone and everything must not be that familiar with his work.  Love him or hate him, agree with him or not, a punch-puller is one thing he can’t be accused of being.  In the course of In China With Green Day he describes past incidents where speaking his mind has got him in trouble, and as he and I were going over the manuscript in advance of it being sent to the printer, I pointed out several comments that might have a similar effect.  In a couple cases, he softened or removed items; with others, he decided, “Yeah, maybe, but I think I’m going to say it anyway.”

We talked about his description of the superfans – we’d talked about them before as well, not in the context of editing his manuscript, but simply as a point of interest – and while I might have suggested that his words could be seen as a bit harsh, I didn’t recommend deleting them.  I anticipated that feelings might be hurt, but thought it was more important that Aaron write as true and faithful an account of his experience on tour as he could.  Telling the truth – as, of course, he sees it – is what makes him a great writer.

What really flummoxed me when the uproar arose was simply: why was any particular fan or superfan so certain that it was he or she being talked about?  Many, many middle-aged people attend Green Day shows, some on their own, some escorting their young children, and I’d venture that most of them don’t think of themselves as “eerie” or “lost-looking.”  And while I’m getting a bit long in the tooth to qualify even as middle-aged, if you’d seen me stumbling around the labyrinth of entrances and exits in search of the will call window at Wembley Stadium last summer, only to discover that my name had been inadvertently left off the guest list, you could have been forgiven for thinking I was a little lost-looking, if not outright eerie.

Yet I never felt there was anything unusual or unacceptable about me being at a Green Day show, and if I’d overheard someone complaining about “old weirdos,” I would have looked around and tried to figure out who they could be talking about.  I’m reminded of a time in the 80s or early 90s when in my scene report-cum-gossip column for Lookout magazine, I made an offhand Page 6-style remark about a girl who’d been working her way through the singers of several local bands and, as it happened, infected them all with the same STD.

I didn’t name or describe her; nobody but she and her infected paramours could possibly have known who I was talking about, but the following week she chased me around in front of an audience of 15 or 20 people outside the Maximum Rocknroll radio show, shouting, “How dare you ruin my reputation?”  It didn’t matter how many times I pointed out that she was the only one ruining her reputation, that nobody would have known I was talking about her if she hadn’t announced it; she was determined to be insulted and outraged, and her determination was not to be denied.

So I guess I can’t help wondering if the offended superfans have a legitimate reason to assume they’re the ones Aaron was referring to, or if it’s simply a matter of being, like Carly Simon’s protagonist, so vain that they can’t help thinking the song is about them.  I should mention that I have met a number of the superfans (a title I’ve hung on them, not one they’ve claimed for themselves, and which only means that they’re more devoted and attend more events than I do) and like nearly all of them.  They tend to be bright, friendly, happy people who just happen to have what borders on an obsession with a band that I also happen to like quite a lot.

The ones I’ve met range in age from 16 to, well, a certain age that’s in the same ball park as my own, and none of them struck me as eerie or lost or frightening.  If I did see anybody like that at Green Day shows, well, they would have been the ones I didn’t know, and I suspect that may be the case with Aaron as well: he’s observed people acting in ways that seem bizarre or unsettling to him, and based primarily on appearances, made the assessment he did.  Would he feel differently if he actually met and conversed with some of the superfans?  Very possibly, but then again, maybe not.

Absolutely Zippo excoriates the Trout Dancers, circa 1989. Graphic by Lucky Dog.

Those who feel wronged might be interested to know that this is hardly a new issue: complaints by one set of Green fans about other Green Day fans date back nearly as far as the band itself.  From the time Sweet Children began playing regularly at Gilman, there were complaints about “Concord chicks” or “West Delta poseurs” who would line up in front of the stage to do the “trout dance,” which was viewed with considerable indignation by the usual young male crowd working out their testosterone issues in the pit.

The same thing had happened with Operation Ivy, inspiring similar disquiet; while I, as a budding young record label exec, took note of the fact that whenever crowds of girls started accumulating around the stage, it was a reliable sign that a band was about to break out of the punk ghetto, the old school Gilman crowd moaned that the scene was going to hell in a handbasket.

Simply put, no set of Green Day fans – and I suspect this applies to any wildly popular band – has ever, nor probably will ever measure up to the expectations and standards of the fans who were there first, who know in their hearts that Green Day are “their” band, not that of the relative newbies who didn’t discover them until 2004 or 1999 or until Dookie came out or when they were still playing Eggplant’s back yard.  Hell, I was at the band’s third or fourth show ever, and I feel a little deficient to those who were smart or lucky enough to be at the Rod’s Hickory Pit show.

Does any of this explain why Aaron said what he did?  I have no idea.  I suspect it’s more a case of a casual observation than a calculated attack on people who, in his view, might love Green Day just a little too much.  By the same token, maybe those who feel so aggrieved might want to wonder just why they were so quick not just to take offense, but to wear the “eerie, lost-looking” mantle like a shroud of victimhood.

We become, as the great Screeching Weasel song had it, what we hate, but we’re also shaped, and in some cases, misshapen, by what and who we choose to love or obsess over.  Do I claim to know who loves a band (or a football team, or a way of life or a person) in the “right” way and amount and who goes dangerously overboard?  Not even, and I don’t think Aaron does either.  I will say that it’s worth thinking about from time to time, and frankly, I believe that’s all Aaron was doing: thinking about it, and inviting us to do the same.

54 thoughts on “Eerie, Lost-Looking, Middle-Aged

  • I’m not sure why you think it’s your place to defend his remarks, can’t he do that himself? Unless he knows he’s off base and that’s why he’s wisely keeping his mouth shut.

    Having a history of speaking one’s mind doesn’t give anyone a free pass to be an asshole. If someone’s going stereotype and demean an entire group of people, then they’re going to have to deal with the backlash. Such is life.

    Oh, and just to show that I personally am harboring no ill feelings (heck, by next week, I’ll probably have forgotten that this guy even exists), I’m going to make a serious effort to be much more obnoxious in my “stalking” of the band in the future, since I’m apparently too sedate.

  • Aaron is entitled to his opinion and he’s entitled to publish it in his own zine that he has created himself. He’s not going on CNN or indeed trawling the Internet shouting his opinions, he simply wrote them down in a publication entirely of his own creation. His thoughts have only surfaced online and been stirred up into a “Big Deal” by the people getting upset.

    Reading the passage, his main objection seems to be the decadence of spending the sort of money needed to follow the band as avidly as some do. How someone spends their money is entirely up to them, but surely it’s a fair observation to make and he’s entitled to do so.

    Punk is all about opinions and expression of those opinions. Green Day had to accept being shunned by their scene for “selling out”, John Lydon slags them off whenever he needs attention. It’s part of life, not everyone likes everything you do and some people will make their feelings known.

    Maybe the “superfans” just need slightly thicker skins…

  • I flew across the country to see my first Green Day show this year. (Well, and to see my first-rate friend who moved to Oakland and left me here in the Sunshine State). I’ve been a fan of the band since I was 11 or so, but a string of shit (bad breaks, bad boyfriends, bad illnesses) has always kept me from seeing the band when they came to my town. (Though, one time, I did hear them. I was in the parking lot with my then-current boyfriend explaining to me he was, “so, so, SO sorry,” he sold our tickets and didn’t tell me until just then. Fucking bastard.)
    I don’t have a trust fund, and I wouldn’t have the time or money to go to every event. (Hell, I didn’t really have the money to go to the event I did attend.) So, I’m obviously not the target of the comments. I’m pretty sure you can smell the poverty on me . . . maybe it’s all the ramen noodles I’ve ingested over a lifetime.
    However, if someone saw me at a show, I think they might characterize me as eerie or lost-looking. Since I gave up smoking a few years ago, I don’t know what to do with my hands, and I’m naturally prone to awkwardness. At 30, I characterize myself as middle-aged (though, I think most people think middle-aged means older than me . . . but I think most people are fucking unrealistic about human longevity). I regularly get comments when I go to shows from people about not belonging. About being a fake, not being genuine, etc. I remember getting the same shit you describe about the trout dance shit when I was a little trout myself. Fuck – from the entire scene wrapped around a certain genre of music that I like so much, I get a ton of shit because Green Day is my absolute favorite band. The comments I’ve received have been far more direct and biting than this, but I’ve grown used to them and I don’t give a shit. I’m not so sure that’s a good thing, though, to being numb to that kind of shit. Maybe it is, maybe I’d be better off getting all enraged (though I doubt it) every time an asshole had some judgment to pass down on me.
    The comments in the article don’t bother me, though. I can see where someone might be hurt by them, if they felt they were aimed at them in some way. No one really wants to be told something that gives them – clearly – a lot of joy is the think that makes them ridiculous or demented in some way. It’s clearly painting a picture of someone who is an outcast to something in which obviously they want to feel included. Women, in particular, might be defensive about this, because I think women are used to being told they are selfish or childish for still following the people or things that they love . . . especially once they have children. (I don’t have any kids, but I see this happen a lot.)
    So, I think this is mainly a case of fairly innocuous comments with just a little bit of bite being applied to particularly raw areas of female superfan psyches. I don’t think they are comments that should be unsaid – I’m not being on censorship, and I don’t see the point of writing without honesty. However, I also don’t think that the superfans in question should be any more criticized for their honest reactions. Though, personally, I just wonder if all their fury is really doing them any good.
    One more thing, though. I get being offended by “eerie” and “lost-looking,” to some degree, but middle-aged? You point out the age of Aaron Cometbus. What about the age of the fucking band in question? Late thirties? Middle-aged. Personally, I have really liked all the years of my life – grateful for each one. Making it to middle-age is something people should be happy about . . . especially if they’ve had some fun along the way.
    (And isn’t it wonderful that in this modern age two paragraphs can be discussed in multi-paragraph form over and over as if they were fucking Shakespeare or something? I need to get better drugs for my insomnia.)

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  • I think there is truth in Aaron’s description of a certain type of fan, and I think they have been waiting, almost, for this kind of thing to happen. Because what Aaron says, ultimately (though mean spirited in his choice of words), is true. There are a number of fans who travel the globe, almost, for this band. I’ve wondered myself on more than one occasion how they can manage to afford to ditch their families and jobs in order to follow a band to almost every single event. I might not use such terms as Aaron does but does that make me just as bad as him, to feel slightly ill at ease and almost dumbfounded at the thought of it?

    “That kind of frivolousness I could understand in a once-in-a-lifetime or one-last-wish scenario, but not every single week! The decadence of it made me sick.”

    Might not be my choice of words, but I’ve thought it. And I agree with it. As a person on a low income, I will never understand how people can squander money going to every single show a band plays, knowing it might not differ much from the last. I think he’s also hitting at the fact that for a lot of fans, it’s more about being there and saying you’ve been there than the event itself.

    That said, that doesn’t mean I dislike the fans who do this sort of thing. It just means I have my own opinion on the things they do regarding the band, like Aaron does. I don’t see an issue with age or sex here either. I see a particular type of fan who knows, deep down, that doing this sort of thing for a band isn’t the smartest idea, and have known all along that eventually someone was going to put that fact in writing. So they become defensive. Whether it’s about them or not, it’s close enough.

  • junkpiled

    I don’t read Cometbus and haven’t for many years, I don’t care about the super fans and their hurt feelings, but one thing is for sure, Aaron has always positioned himself as defining “what is” and “what isn’t”, while at the same time trying to look very detached, and that is what rubs people the wrong way, since he spends time cultivating this walk of the line. His observations come off as prescriptions from above not the opinions of an equal. The charmed life of his friends, which he himself has benefitted from as well, depends in part on super fans, hysteria, some trust funds, and all those other excesses. There is a simple solution, remove yourself, but then he would have to start over, no trumps cards to play, no adoring fans, and he might find that most people couldn’t care less if he was the drummer of Crimpshrine or did a fanzine, and he’d see that his social skills are in fact lacking. And I don’t even really mind assholes, I just require my assholes to be more humble. And yes, I unfortunately have intimate knowledge of what I describe.

  • Wow! I’m honored that you felt the need to write this post. No, really… it just kinda proves the point that you completely missed what I said on Facebook… and what Aaron wrote. He claims that most of these people… women… are STALKERS… without ever acknowledging what a real stalker is. Not everyone who goes to a lot of shows are stalkers in the sense of what that word means. Maybe they are just people who go to a lot of shows, and share a common community among friends, which is actually 1/2 the fun of going to multiple events, but he doesn’t make a distinction in that at all.

    You want to know what a real stalker is… ask my movie actress friend who was stalked by a woman for six months until that said stalker called the police saying that my friend was being beaten up… the police came to her house and everything was fine… and then the stalker showed up at my friend’s home with a sex toy. Needless to say, that stalker… the true definition of a stalker… spent two months in jail because she refused to post bail for trespassing and harassment until her court date. Court ordered psychiatric care and a restraining order are now permanently in that woman’s life… now THAT is a stalker.

    I think also you missed where I said that In China With Green Day is the best thing that I’ve ever read about Green Day… yea, you missed that by far… but you take the part that was talked about the most, from people that happen to go to a lot of shows because it gives them joy and community, and heap it on even more. It was a conversation… but you were on a Superfan tear anyway, from your previous post, so it seems you were just raring to take a specific go.

    Anyway, I stand by what I say. It’s not cool to slag off someone else’s fans by taking a entire group of them who go to a lot of shows and call them stalkers, when he and you can’t make a clear distinction on what that one particular word means and what it connotes… and it does make me wonder if Green Day feels the same way, too.

    Anyway, more power to you. I look forward to all of the comments from people who will defend what was written and heap it on more on serial attendees… saying that they should have “thicker skins” and call ’em Superfans. Yea, that should be.. fun.

  • I guess I read his statement as more of an outrage of the amount of money and time being spent to follow the band…kind of a “get a life of your own” statement.

    It’s the same way I feel when I see some one driving an $80,000 SUV – why couldn’t you just drive a $30,000 SUV and donate the rest to save some starving children or something?

    I have to admit, I did feel “fuck him if he thinks because I’m 42 and female I shouldn’t go to a Green Day concert” when I read that excerpt…I did go to the one in Chicago in 2009 with my husband and we had a blast…But that’s the good thing about being in the 40+ club – you no longer care what other people think you should or shouldn’t do!

  • I honestly wonder why anyone cares what either you or Aaron thinks. I like to follow the band and go to shows because it makes me happy. End of. Don’t give two shits what you, Aaron, Green Day, or anyone else thinks. My husband and family and job don’t have a problem with it and it isn’t bankrupting me, so I don’t think anyone else’s opinion matters. You wouldn’t think twice if I got together with my friends and went for a spa weekend, or a cruise or a shopping trip, I guess because that is what eerie, creepy middle aged stalkers SHOULD do. I don’t do that with my friends, we go on trips to see Green Day. Those trips don’t include hanging around stage doors or tour buses or anything, I wouldn’t waste my time doing that.

  • Just to be clear. I didn’t defend what he wrote or heap on serial attendees. I defended his right to say it and to express his opinion in his own publication.

    I used the phrase “superfans” in quotes to show it was not a phrase I would use myself.

    I just suggested that those offended maybe not worry so much. Everyone in punk has an opinion on everyone else and thinks that what they’re doing is wrong or not punx or whatever. No big deal. Water of a duck’s back. Everyone bitches about everyone else. By having a thicker skin I just mean forget about it…bigger things to worry about.

    I wonder if some of the anger is fear that Aaron’s opinion is mirrored by the members of Green Day. But this has never been suggested and is unlikely to be true. Aaron and Green Day set out on different roads many years ago.

  • Crazy how much hype there is about this! Wonder if Aaron was anticipating it, or maybe even planning on it (only he knows though.) Aaron does have the right to publish whatever he wants AND to believe whatever he wants. He went overboard to use the term ‘stalker’ and other names – Can’t people follow their favourite band and see their shows without getting called names? But eh, such is life. I’m a younger fan, but I honestly feel (just because it’s my own personality) that I wouldn’t get offended at all if I happened to be middle-aged/older. Don’t really care what he personally thinks of Green Day fans, or what his personal motives were in publishing the zine. Very interesting post; I enjoyed reading it. Hope GD fans who were offended though don’t let Cometbus 54 get to them. It’s only his outlook!

  • Finkess

    Larry why do you feel the need to justify/explain what Aaron has written?

  • Your favorite Martian

    It’s shockingly hilarious that anyone would be upset by such a harmless observation. Ageist? Sexist? It’s none of those things – anyone who is offended might simply be embarrassed to admit that they fit the bill, which is a far more an alarming observation of character. In the fine words of “Frankie Goes to Hollywood” (this one’s for you, middle aged new wave ladies) RELAX!

  • Abbey

    With all due respect there is NOT much of a brouhaha over this, nor has anyone called for Aaron’s head on a stick. COMETBUS #54 is a beautiful, touching, shockingly autobiographical piece by Aaron. Nobody was more shocked and thrilled than me to learn he was publishing a COMETBUS about his travels with Green Day. It is the most humanizing and insider of inside views of Green Day that I have ever and probably will ever read. Thank you for sharing your editing insights into #54. But to be clear, you must understand this is not a big deal in the big scheme of things.

    By way of full disclosure, I am a fan of the punk and non-mainstream (for lack of a better term) narrative. Mr. Elliott and Green Day fall into this catagory (for me), as do Cindy Crabb, Tesco Vee, and many many many others. I consume this genre of writing voraciously (including yours Mr. Livermore). I was an Aaron Cometbus superfan. Nobodys words have made me laugh more, cry more, think more and feel more. I have sent Aaron letters. I have sent Aaron jokes. I have sent Aaron gifts (coffee, duh). I have probably creeped Aaron the fuck out. I am a hairy scary Aaron Cometbus fan.

    To clear up some facts you quoted from my twitter: I did not TRY and contact Bluestocks, I DID contact Bluestockings. Also, I wrote on my twitter: “he says he is ‘approaching middle age’. Which means he is in denial of growing up himself cuz he’s in his early 40s.” I took that quote from COMETBUS #54 to highlight how Aaron distanced himself from being middle-aged as he only considers himself “approaching middle-age”. I believe Aaron Cometbus to be at least 43 which, newsflash, IS middle age.

    I do not find it a stretch to read those two paragraphs above and interpret them to mean the middle-aged women I know that crisscross the country (and world) to attend Green Day events. Aaron writes “none of them had followed US halfway around the world.” Why does Aaron lump HIMSELF in as a member of Green Day? Does he think decadent, sickening, starstruck American Green Day fans would travel to see Aaron Cometbus? Typo or ego, I dont know.

    I assure you I am not so vain as to think I have any reason to be in Aaron Cometbus’ writing. Green Day attracts millions upon millions to their shows, but there is only a relatively smallish group of middle-aged women-freaks that make up the traveling circus of serial attendees. I, rightly or wrongly, connected the middle-aged women I know, to be the ones Aaron is referring to. Well, you know what they say about assuming…

    However, you write (having had read the manuscript) “I anticipated feelings might be hurt” and they were, just as you expected. So I am curious whose feelings did you anticipate would be hurt if not anyone that would feel they fit that general description?

    I do see sexist and ageist attitudes in COMETBUS #54 (aside from those two paragraphs). I have not addressed them publicly on the interwebs. Will I write a letter to Mr. Elliott about them? Of course I will. I’m sure he waits with eager anticipation (snort).

    So while most of the middle-aged folks, glassy-eyed teens and fatherless families will shake off with indifference Aaron Cometbus’ opinion of the decadent, sickening Green Day superfan (they luckily do not care what he thinks). I can not because I was (am?) an Aaron Cometbus superfan. His words mean something to me. His words mean a great deal to me. I will try to shake off his disdain as I (incorrectly?) lumped myself in with the eerie lost-looking middle aged frivolous, decadent women he describes. I have re-read those two paragraphs again and again and again and still think his disdain points in my general direction. And for that I have been hurt. And for that all his beautiful words mean a bit less to me, which is what hurts the most of all.

  • Becki James.

    I’m from England and i’ve travelled to Ireland, Paris and flew to see the last 5 shows of the american tour. I do not concider myself a super fan because I dont go to try and meet them, or to try and get special treatment, I go because I like their music, and me and my friends have a blast. You could call it a hobby. And don’t go thinking that I grow my money on a tree, because I work damn hard to scrape enough cash together to go on tour. But it’s always worth it. I personally wouldnt concider myself ‘middle-aged’ either, i’m only 21. I think everyone is entitled to their opinion, but to make a point of it only being ‘middle aged women’ is a bit ridic. I totally understand that he is just writing about what he sees and how it makes him feel. But, if he was to look around he’d realise that there are a lot more ‘superfans’ that range from 14+, and many of which follow the band around religiously, for example, a bunch of aussies i met that did 45 SHOWS last year!!! I mean, I can understand what he’s saying, but just to point out that its only a certain age group bugs me. And dont get me wrong, I know a lot of fans that do boarder ‘stalker’. I do think the whole situation has been blown outta proportion, at the end of the day, it’s each to their own.

  • well done

    As an avid Green Day fan since the Dookie era, I detest these types of “fans.” And I say fans in quotes because I don’t even consider them fans. Most are the same people that are more interested in taking pictures with the band to post on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc than actually having a meaningful conversation with the band. In other words, it’s more of a competition between these people than actually having an itch where they need to see the same performance a million times to satisfy musical needs. I don’t recall ever dealing with these fans before the “American Idiot” era, but clearly the band has felt the need to hire more security since this album came out due to these types of fans.

    I’ve witnessed numerous RIDICULOUS actions by the same people I’m so tired of seeing at every single show/event I go to. It’s to the point where I dread going sometimes because I have to see these same “fans” that annoy the living crap out of the band begging for their 54th picture with them. But it’s not like I can go to a different state to see them and escape these weirdos, because they’ll be there too. I’d have to say one of the most appalling moments was the time when I saw fans follow Green Day down the street to a nice restaurant, just waiting for them to finish their meal while snapping pictures/videos of them through the window. The restaurant was so disturbed by this that they had to actually put up a barricade outside. Disgusting.

    I also find it quite humorous that while no names are mentioned, people automatically assume it’s about them. Well, clearly, in the back of their minds they know their actions are eerie and they’re self-conscious about it. One of the reasons these people come off eerie is because they make it a full time job to follow a band who don’t even know their names, putting them before everything/everyone else in their lives. The older they are, the more eerie it is, considering the majority of these weirdos are teenagers/early 20s.

    In conclusion, I agree 100% with Aaron.

  • asfo_del

    Having known several of the most hardcore Green Day lady-superfans personally, and assuming that Aaron himself has not, I am struck by how insightful his characterization is. What he senses as decadent and eerie is a very real personality cult and obsessiveness that a small number of fans bring to their love for the band — and particularly for Billie Joe himself.

    I was once friendly with some of these women (I am a middle aged woman myself) but I was bullied out of that circle by an angry mob led by a woman who refers to Billie Joe as “fucktacular” and who could not abide my refusing to conform to her ideal of how a fan should view her idol. I also had no idea that being a fan is considered by some to be an intensely competitive sport. I had committed the cardinal sin, before all this world traveling came about, to have met Billie Joe very briefly for a handshake in 1994.

    The traveling and getting together may seem to be in fun, but there is constant jostling for the most impressive bragging rights. To be honest, this fan behavior has greatly soured my enjoyment of Green Day events.

    Aaron is simply casting light on a real phenomenon. Judging by the heated reaction, he hit the nail very much on the head. Methinks the ladies doth protest too much.

  • @welldone

    I think (not know.. but think) I know the group you are referring to. And yeah, some of them are very, VERY ethusiastic about meeting the band & taking pictures & seeing many many shows.. but how can you assume that they’re not your ‘equal’ in terms of being a fan (as if they are so much below you or something?)

    The fans that actually chase them down and go to their restaurants and cause a disturbance.. well, that’s being plain rude. But the fans that happen to go to many events and enjoy meeting Billie and taking pictures with him, I don’t see how that’s something to detest so strongly and look down. Billie actually seems quite happy talking to many of them, even if it’s multple times (so long as people remember to be respectful of him and his time aka keeping the convo short so he can be on his merry way.)

    It’s fine that you find them overwhelming/creepy/whatnot, but you can’t assume they’re not ‘real’ fans, like you, who also happen to love their music just as deeply & passionately. Some of these fans may obsessively know everything about Green Day and spend most of their time and energy (and funds) on the band, but (from talking to some of them) they are very passionate about the music especially – which is what it’s all about after all. Just sayin’.

  • luanne

    i just wrote a nice long diatribe in response, but posted it on facebook instead of here, because it’s seriously a LONG diatribe.

  • luanne

    Changed my mind, this needs to be posted here.
    Interesting read. Having ‘followed’ Green day for 13 shows, 2 trips to NYC to see American Idiot (once for opening night, once for St. Billie week, a trip to Gilman for the 2010 Pinhead gunpowder show and a stint in England I’m on the fence with this issue. At times I often wondered if I was going overboard, then decided indeed I was, but am ok with that. I took my 8 year old daughter with me to all but opening night and Gilman, which Aaron would probably say was obnoxious, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

    When we ‘stalked’’ the band, we met so many amazing people. We all came from different walks of life and many different countries. Some people were married, some were gay, some were stunningly beautiful, some have multicolored hair and gobs of piercing, and still are stunningly beautiful, some were parents of adult children, some weren‘t able to drive, some were medical professionals, some teachers, some lost in teenage years. Instead of judging people by their appearance, or stature in life, my daughter laughed, danced and drew chalk pictures on the sidewalk with all of them. She learned the difference between good and shitty people.

    We explored England, and the War Museums and the Palace and the countryside. There was a week out East where we dipped our toes in the Atlantic Ocean, ate Lobster rolls in Boston, BBQ in Kansas City, had lunch in a pub frequented by the Sons of the Revolution. She’s been there and seen it, and smelled it and tasted it. She’s seen the automobile museums in Detroit, the childhood home of Thomas Edison, the Arch in St. Louis, walked in the deserts of Arizona, and touched the Great Redwoods of Northern California.

    She’s traveled by car across the US and watched how the lifestyle changes from Suburban to Urban to Rural. Flown both shitty late night flights, and experienced first rate International ones. She’s taken a train across England, and looked out the window of a double-deck bus in London. Ridden the subway in NYC, the BART, the TUBE, taken cab rides, and walked blocks across Manhattan to see a Broadway show. She walked the most crooked street in the world, learned to read Airport monitors, pack lightly, fly stand-by and remember: “No Vitamin water is allowed through security, but you can pick one up directly on the other side“.

    None of these things are Green Day related, but were possible because we ‘stalked’ our favorite band.

    Were we ‘eerie, lost-looking and middle aged’? I’m going to say Probably, we were. Late nights figuring how to get back to the hotel when all public transportation was all but shut down, combined with very early mornings getting to the venues, so we could be on the rail (or she would have certainly been squished) along with hot days in the sun, and rain and crappy fast food within walking distance of the venues probably didn’t make for the prettiest bunch of us. BUT, when we got there and saw familiar faces from Europe again, and Australia and California and Texas and ST. Louis and Arizona, and Wisconsin, and Canada, and Seattle and NYC (among a few) it felt like our own little Homecoming. These people camped out with us. These people gave us sunscreen when we forgot ours. We held each other’s places, sang the entire Green day catalogue to pass the time, helped some fight off homesickness, and fed those that didn‘t plan properly or had simply run out of money. When we saw a familiar face, we knew they had experienced hardships, and had indeed saved up their money to have a little feeling of independence, non-judgment and pressure they felt in everyday life. We did the same.

    That’s really what following Green Day is about for many of us who did it this past 2 years. Life is tough and oftentimes sucks. For people who were once bullied and can finally throw off the shackles of inadequacy and just be themselves, touring can be a welcome respite where we get a taste of what it might have felt like to be a teenager without all the hangups. For the glassy-eyed teenagers, one smile from Billie Joe in the middle of a song is equated to “I see you, and I don’t care what people say about you at home I’m happy you’re here having fun.”

    If you really want the touring-acceptance-orgasm that drives us to see more shows, just get pulled up on stage. THAT’s the big time hard on! Not only are the boys glad you’re having fun, but Hell, come be a part of them on stage. The members of Green Day know what makes their fans tick, and Billie is the Master at making each and every one feel he cares. But that feeling doesn’t stop when the show ends. Bend down and grab a handful of confetti, were you lucky enough to get a pick from Mike, Jason or Jeff? How about Tre coming to the front of the stage and handing you a set of his drum sticks. Take home a physical memory of acceptance, now that your voice is shot from screaming out the angry teenage angst ridden lyrics from ‘old’school’ or the pissed off at Bush lyrics from AI or the perversion from Dominated Love Slave, or the power rock from 21 CBD.

    Going home at that point could be enough, but on a rare occasion that waiting near the busses could put you face to face with any of the boys and give you an opportunity to say “Thank you”, “Thank you for following your hearts, creating lyrics that say I’m not alone in this belief, and thanks for one hell of a good time, well if that’s creepy, I’ll take it,.

    While all our Eerie, Creepy, wide-eyed behavior might have put Aaron off , had he taken time to mingle with some of us, I think he would have written about the sacrifices some people make to follow the band, rather than disregard us with a sneer and a few mean words. He doesn’t know that our travels were inspired by watching Cancer take my father’s life in 6 weeks. Or that my daughter has lived with her twin sister in a wheelchair, breathing out of a tube in her neck her entire life. He doesn’t know I was saving money for years, instead of buying myself new clothes or going out for dinner. He doesn’t know what ghosts haunt my closet or how I’m able to release the demons while belting out Do You Know Your Enemy. He knows NOTHING about me, yet I do know something about him:

    I’ve personally witnessed Aaron kicking females in the head and shoulders trying to get them away from the Gilman stage in order to make room for ‘real’ Pinhead fans. He was also overheard bitching about all the Green Day groupies at the show, when I think he would have been grateful we were there with open pocketbooks trying to help his friend Anandi. Did he know that VERY DAY one of our children was hospitalized with a seizure that doctors couldn‘t stop for over 5 hours, and another had their son diagnosed with Cancer? Did he know that some of us were Cancer survivors, or that some of us had just recently lost family to Cancer? Did he, as a musician, with a paying audience, performing a benefit show for a sick girl, bother to be grateful for one second that any of us were there? Did he stop to think, that if Billie Joe and Jason and Bill were not in the band he’d be performing for a fraction of the people, and his friend would never have raised the money she really needed, which was the point of the whole event!

    What is serious though, is that if Aaron looked past the ‘regulars’ he would have seen some people that were worthy of calling for security. Remember the guy at Gilman with the knife….yeah, not one of us. How about the crazy girl that was visiting Billie’s house, nope we didn’t shelter her in our group. Or the girl in NYC that appeared all over the place and snuck past the hoards of security at the ‘sponsored’ after=party? Or the psychos that started stalking the Armstrong kids on Facebook…..dig a little deeper, or try asking any of us if there’s something ‘wrong’ afoot and I bet you’ll find out some interesting information of what a ‘Stalker’ really is.

    In the end, I don’t care what Aaron thinks about Green Day fans, or if he was thinking of me, but I think he might want to. Who does he think reads his zine? Unfortunately for Aaron the ‘Green Day Groupies’ that he detests so much are a pretty close knit ‘family’ and I don’t think they’ll be buying many more copies of his stuff. Ah well, what does it really matter anyway? Consider the source. He rides along on tours, just like the rest of us…only we pay our own way.

  • *..feels like she is posting here too much..*

    I just wanted to say that was a very touching post, Luanne. It’s corny, but some of the best moments I’ve had were at GD-related events. Especially (of course!) the concerts. To be surrounded in a sweaty, hot-as-fuck moshpit with a bunch of awesome strangers who love Green Day’s music as much as I do… it’s amazing! I’ve gone out of the way (not as much as many, but a little out of the way) to follow the band, but I haven’t regretted it one bit, nor will I ever. No fan should, because as long as you’re having fun and being respectful.. well, who cares how creepy you come off as to others! All I know is that it’s great being a Green Day fan.

  • Becki James.

    @ well done.
    I definately agree that the band has had to up their security due to the over enthusiastic ‘fans’ and yeah it does really grind me all these kids that think they are in love with BJA. But i’m just saying they’re not all like that, but there is a minority that are.

    I do also agree that there are a number of ‘fans’ that do take the piss and constantly want pics/autographs etc. It’s ashame that the people that are like this, ruin it for the rest of us. I’d choose a converation with the band over a pic/autograph any day.

    And i’d just like to be clear, that just because I have spent my hard earned cash following the band around for a few weeks, that I did not once follow them around personally or ‘stalk’. Thats just plain creepy. I just enjoy their music.
    I agree with Luanne, yes the touring and seeing the band are part of the experience, but more than anything, I just love hanging out with my friends and getting drunk at some random bars. I love going and exploring, it’s not ALL about the band. Its about gaining some life experiences and going places, that lets face it, I wouldn’t have got if I hadnt of been following the band. It annoys me, when people say “oh you followed greeen daaaay” like i’m some sad fucker, well yeah i do, but there is so much more to it than that.

  • Larry – thanks for posting and for making the effort to understand the divergent viewpoints that Aaron’s writing stirred up. You often strive to do so, and to make sense of what you’ve learned by writing about it here. It’s one of the things I most enjoy about following your blog, and is also a key distinction I think between your approach and Aaron’s.

    I want to point out a few things that have been alluded to concerning the motivation of the “superfans”, and why they’re so willing to spend so much time and money following Green Day from stop to stop. Alluded to, yes, but not really clearly stated here. The word I want to focus on is “escape”, particularly as it applies to the 30-and-40-something generation that I’m a proud member of.

    I’m sure that escape probably exists to one degree or another among any band’s hard-core fans, but I’ve found it to be overwhelmingly evident and hit-you-upside-the-head present with Green Day in a way that just doesn’t exist — or at least certainly nowhere near to the same extent — with other live acts. Green Day — the core members and their touring musicians together — have a command of the crowd, an interaction with that crowd, exceptional musical talent, a synergistic relationship with each other, and maybe most importantly a comfort in their own skin and sheer delight in what they’re doing, that infects the entire arena as it varyingly oozes and explodes from them as the show progresses. You see it in their faces, you hear it in their voices, you feel it in their actions. The escape, the energy, you feel during their concerts (or wherever you happen to run into any of them), and what I can only describe as the afterglow that you carry home with you when it’s over, is quite literally unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced at any live act by anyone else. You experience it once, and it becomes like a drug…you want to enjoy it again and again whenever an opportunity comes along to do so, and you’ll willingly undertake some financial sacrifices if that’s what it takes to get you back there again.

    I feel this is *especially* true if you’re one of the same generation as the bandmates, precisely because it’s such an incredible break from your daily grind…your work, your home responsibilities, the kids, and all that. Billie Joe, Mike, and Tre are all in relationships of one form or another, they all have families, and in that sense we’re as much “like them” as anyone could be, and they’re writing about so much of what we’re “all in the same boat” and dealing with in life. This is something I that I feel Aaron missed in questioning the motivations of people who follow the band around the way the “superfans” he observed (or even the less-rabid but still faithful fans like myself) do. I can only speculate as to why he missed that, but I fear he was focusing too much on his own reaction to the fans and less concerned with the story of why someone would ever want to sacrifice so much just to follow some band around the country.

    Anyway, I suppose the sacrifices are easier to make if you happen to have a trust fund backing you up, but simple saving and planning carefully (in other words, behaving like any responsible adult) will mean that you don’t *need* to have one in order to get your Green Day (or whatever) fix in. To those fortunate enough to be able to follow the band around on a tour, or see the Broadway show a few times, and still manage to balance the rest of their life responsibliities with it, I say: kudos and congratulations, and I hope I’ll be able to join in the fun with you at more events next time. Standing on the sidelines like Aaron sometimes seems to be, thumbing his nose and grouching at the superfans, is like the proverbial fox staring at the sour grapes while grumbling “you all just suck.” At its core, it strikes me as having been built on a foundation of jealousy. It detracts from the real message (which might be: appropriate fan behavior at *any* concert, or maybe even how it feels “on the inside” to be a musician dealing with overly-enthusiastic fans, not just any Green Day fans in particular), and so accomplishes little other than to hurt a few feelings.

    Beyond that, I think that at Green Day shows, Broadway shows, concerts generally, your local highway, and life in general, your in-your-face jackwagons are going to be your in-your-face jackwagons. Some of them will have trust funds, some of them will not. Some of them (maybe many of them) might have had a little too much to drink, or just aren’t self-aware enough to realize how their actions are affecting others’ enjoyment. Some of them just plain don’t care. But to generalize this sort of unpleasant behavior as being the exclusive providence of eerie, middle-aged female superfans and fatherless star-struck teens at Green Day concerts both misses some real, substantive issues entirely and also takes a huge and unnecessary dig at some subset of the band’s most faithful and longest-lasting fan base. I am still enjoying Aaron’s ‘zine overall, but with a sense of some disappointing regret as well as as understanding of how and why some unnecessarily hurt feelings are flowing from it.

  • Anonymous

    I think that we’re all just speculating. I can understand hurt feelings. I think that those who are hurt should speak with Aaron, and let him know how they feel. I don’t know if that’s possible, but I don’t think that anyone should have hurt feelings. We all love Green Day, and we all have different ways of showing it.

  • Anonymous

    I mean, this should be resolved in a way that leaves everyone happy.

  • luanne

    Michael, you hit the nail on the head! I say this sitting on the couch in my generic house in a generic city, not in the 1st class section of an aircraft on my way to Thailand. cough cough.

  • Honestly, I would say us “hardcore” fans are freaks. I would even consider myself one, and I’ve only been to 3 shows on each half of their recent tour, and seen the musical 3 times. Come on, think about it. My parents tell me all the time that I have some kind of disease or something. and I totally agree with them. but as long as I’m not standing outside of Billie’s house waiting for him to come out (which some people do, and that terrifies me), I would say that my obsession is healthy. I know some people who went to dozens of shows in the past two years, and even went to other countries.

    Yes, from an outsider’s perspective, I could see why that’s crazy. But how is it any different from someone who goes to shows every weekend? They love music, and they love a lot of bands. A lot of Green Day fans I know only have a few favorite bands that are still touring. I know that the only band I’d be willing to pay more than $50 to see is Green Day, and that’s because they’re the only band where I can tolerate all of their songs (even my least favorite songs aren’t too bad, but other bands have a lot of songs I HATE).

    Don’t forget, Green Day likes to take their sweet time while making records. A lot of bands are constantly touring, with only 6 months to a year break. Green Day took 5 years to to come out with the new album, so we’re taking all we can get. I remember I was too young to see them on the American Idiot tour, which is why I went to all the shows I possibly could on this tour.

    and yes, if I get an opportunity to meet one of the band members, I’ll do it. If I see them, I’ll try and say hi. but I’m never going to (neither are any of my other obsessive Green Day fans) go up to them and attack them, or keep insisting on talking to them when they’re clearly not in the mood. We’re aware they’re people, too. We just like them a lot. But hey, I’ve liked non-famous people before, and I take every opportunity I get to talk to them.

  • Anonymous

    The fact that this got 27 comments — and many of them several paragraphs long — only proves the decadence and lack of a life on the part of these “superfans”. These folks are on par with Trekkies. This has less to do with gender and more to do with a punk disregard and disgust with conspicuous consumption. Unfortunately, there is a tendency for certain Green Day fans to be very cliqueish and obsessed with having the most merch, gone to the most shows, etc. Most bands with mainstream popularity probably have that in their fan base, but it really chafes when the band is supposed to be punk and the most cliqueish fans are very whitebread, whitewashed types. It bothered me in high school, when I would have been attracted to punk’s message if it hadn’t been for the snobby honor students and future frat boys who represented “punk” in the 1990s. It bothers me now, as someone who has a friend who was bullied by these superfan jackasses.

  • @ the “anonymous” writer:

    “The fact that this got 27 comments — and many of them several paragraphs long — only proves the decadence and lack of a life on the part of these “superfans”.”

    Have you ever been passionate about anything in your life? Typing a couple of paragraphs to stand up for something you believe in (or something you don’t believe in – because some of these long responses are from GD fan haters) is not going that much out of the way. Being pretty busy myself (full-time college, two jobs, my community service group, while somehow managing a decent social life), I don’t find it that difficult or time-consuming to reply to a blog or to the comments written in reply to this blog.

    “but it really chafes when the band is supposed to be punk and the most cliqueish fans are very whitebread, whitewashed types. It bothered me in high school, when I would have been attracted to punk’s message if it hadn’t been for the snobby honor students and future frat boys who represented “punk” in the 1990s.

    Ugh. See, that’s the problem with labels. Since you brought up the “P” word: Do we all have to have blue mohawks to listen to certain music? So what if honor roll students and frat boys listen to Green Day’s music too. They’re a great band with a lot of talent and charisma- it’s only natural that they would gather fans from all walks of life. Whether it’s the 16 year old anarchist punk, or the college prep studying law, or the soccer mom and her pre-teen kids, or the middle aged fella sitting in a cubicle typing up boring documents.

    I agree some people turn the whole ‘being a fan’ thing into a contest. And if that’s what floats their boat, then whatever. Hope they have fun with it. I don’t know about other bands, but most of the Green Day fans I know or have met are great fans who care a lot about these guys’ music and what they stand for. They’re legit fans, and the vast majority of them have my respect on a mutual level (no matter what they look like or who they are.)

  • First Anonymous (not the controversial one)

    I agree that anyone should be able to listen to GD, and that the whole punk thing is a silly word to throw around as evidenced by Tre:

    But I do have to say, in semi agreement with the other anon, if you really think about all that passion going into this whole “superfan” thing, what would the world be like if that passion was directed towards fighting hunger in third world countries or global warming?

  • @ non-controversial “anonymous” (haha):

    So very true. It’s good to be passionate about your favourite band, but it’s more beneficial to be passionate about the bigger issues like human rights, social justice, political awareness, environmental protection, etc. Couldn’t agree more with ya!

    One thing I must say though is that I’m glad GD tries to get involved with certain charities or non-profit organizations, because it gets many fans involved too. Even if people are doing it only because they love the band, it helps out the bigger cause. So even a passion for a band can turn into a helpful thing. 🙂

  • The award for most humorous post goes to “well done,” who deplores all those fans that show up at the shows he/she(?) attends. I honestly thought at first that the comment was tongue in cheek. Still giggling over that one.

    I dunno, Larry, sounds like Aaron must be a bit of a curmudgeon in the making, given he is still so much younger than you, and my husband(who went to one concert with me, and one Broadway performance –what a sweetie!). Younger than me, too, but I’m not a curmudgeon. Yet.

    This old lady had the time of her life touring this country, following Green Day. And boy, did I get lost and eerie looking in Germany, ending up driving on a walking plaza in Munich, sure I would soon hear that eerie German police siren any moment. Did it again this year, even inviting old-fart friends in the cities I toured to see their first Green Day concert — and they all had a blast! I can’t wait to do it again! Maybe I will even meet Aaron! Hot dog!

    I creeped myself out, so can’t blame the two of you for getting creeped out, too. As you know, we may be old farts, but the young music loving radical still hides inside, so I decided it(I) was okay, even if I still gave you guys the shivers.

    Yeah, there are weird over-the-top fans, but Aaron did single out the women, and no matter how much of a feminist he is, it was a little sexist. C’est la vie.

    So, doggone it, when are you going to put up the next installment about your mountain-man days? Those stories are really great. Checked today hoping… but found this instead. I know most of the people who commented and found themselves in Aaron’s snide description are really nice, normal people. Not me, but hey, why pretend?

    Hey, Delphina, sorry to hear that happened to you, and I really miss your blog.

  • I’m just imagining Aaron’s response to if it wasn’t Green Day he was writing about, it was Justin Bieber. I am cracking up.

  • Haven’t read #54 yet but Aaron’s entitled to his own opinion. I think its an interesting concept: the DIY guy goes on tour with the multi-million selling band.

  • Becki James.

    Michael pretty much hit it on the head for me.

    Assuming that everyone who should listen to GDs music should wear studded leather jackets and have pink mohawks fucks me off. Seriously, in this century are will still labelling people by what they wear instead of what their personalitys are like?!
    @first anon
    Oh yes, the dreaded ‘p’ word. I’m pretty sure that Green Day don’t concider themselves punk. I mean for a start their first songs were about love, I mean thats about the least punk you can get. Punk has been divided into so many sub genres now its hard to tell whos ‘punk’ and whos not, unless you go way back!
    And yeah it does bother me all this competitivness between fans, thats not my scene.
    And dude, I don’t quite know who you’re classing as ‘superfans’ (fans that go to more than one show? fans that go to another country to see some shows? fans that travel to see the musical?)But how you can define these ‘superfans’ as having a ‘lack of life’ I don’t quite know. You don’t know these people or anything about their lives. All you know them for are for going to Green Day gigs. How do you know what experiences they’ve had in their lives, or what hardships they’ve fought?! You don’t so, in honestly, you can’t say a word about what their lives are like. And i’m sorry about your friend but just because you’ve had one bad experience it doesnt mean to say that the rest of them are bad. I have the pleasure of being friends with some of them and they are some of the nicest, down to earth people I have ever met.
    Its a shame, it’s people like you I feel sorry for. For not having the open mindness to experience the awesomeness of following a band or being on tour or whatever (obviously the non freaky, non stalkerish, out-to-have-a-good-friggin-time sorta based tour fun) because if you did do it, you’d soon realise that these ‘superfans’ you’re refering too are a minority and that the rest of us shouldnt be classed the same. We’re just ‘normal’ people that like to have a good time.

  • Parmit

    Popcorn anyone? *munches*

  • TheWheelsOfFury

    The way I see it, he was talking about groupies, WHO ARE PREDOMINATELY FEMALE. They only want to say that they “Fucked the rock-god” with no real care or even knowledge of them as people (In the words of Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder “You don’t love me, you love who you think I am”) as for the superfans, it’s your time and/or money, do with it what you will, and who cares who says what,though I will say, to Sandra, your time and money would DEFINITELY be better spent looking after your children/family/whoever the hell you were talking in that sob story that supports Aaron’s views and contradicts your own, some of you need to work on priorities a little, but this isn’t to say I wouldn’t be right there with you if given the opportunity as well as a free schedule.

    and ENOUGH WITH PUNK ETHIC ELITIST SUB-CULTURE BULLSHIT, stop defining yourself with stupid labels and close minded crap, it’s people like this who are more likely to be brain-washed by Doomsday cults, get out in the real world and develop a better sense of self

  • TheWheelsOfFury

    sorry may not have been Sandra who wrote it, but my criticism still stands

  • Becki James.

    My priority is to have a good fucking time while i’m young enough too. And I do. I have my priorities in order.

  • Crookthings

    You’re all obsessed. Not that theirs anything wrong with. But come to terms with it and realize it.

  • Hey folks, it’s Michael again from earlier in the thread. After having taken Aaron to task on the way in which he expressed his fan-related angst in #54, I’ve had some time to step away from the controversy and hurt feelings, and to give the ‘zine a good read from a “big picture” perspective. In fairness to Aaron I now feel that I must tell you what I think is great about this publication — and the truth is, most of it is exactly that: great.

    It’s the first Cometbus I’ve read, and “superfan” controversy aside, it’s one of the best pieces of writing I’ve seen in a long time and the most insightful, introspective, and observant work about Green Day I’ve ever had the opportunity to read. You thought Mark Spitz’s book (“Nobody Likes You”) was good? Well, Aaron’s will blow your mind. Not only is it very frank, brutally honest, and very well though out and well-written in general, but there is a difference in perspective from the Spitz book that you’ll notice right away. You see, Mark had to do his investigation and observing of Green Day mostly from the “outside” — from friends, family, colleagues, acquaintences, and industry insiders who lived and worked around the band, and he had minimal direct access to Billie Joe, Mike, and Tre themselves. Not so with Aaron. He spent two full weeks alongside them, traveling with them at their invitation and expense, and so he had an unparalleled opportunity to directly observe their relationships and interactions with each other and with people and fans outside the band. His putting his observations in writing and sharing them thus puts that unparalleled access directly into the hands of the reader.

    The fact that it’s self-published and even looks and feels a bit “do it yourself” gritty and hand-done is just icing on the cake. It’s a phenomenal piece of very well-executed writing that could have easily been picked up by a major publisher. Instead, Aaron basically ran them off on a photocopier at a small-scale print shop and he’s distributing them himself for a lousy $4 a copy. If that’s enough to cover just the duplication and distribution costs I’d be amazed, let alone that it would leave enough cash in his pocket afterwards so he can at least buy himself a burger and a beer or something. Taken as a whole, #54 is a labor of love for his old friends (who, he writes in the first few pages, insisted that he journal and share his experiences) — and thus so it is even for the fans that he growled at. Kudos.

    If you haven’t been able to locate a source where you can buy yourself a copy, keep your eyes on — my understanding is that the site operators are working on getting a hold of some copies for resale and that this could be a big help for non-U.S. residents who are having trouble obtaining a copy locally. Hang in there and be sure to get your hands on one either through GDA or wherever else you can find it. It is a must-read.

  • Abbey

    @michael: oh dear you are a n00b.

  • a fan but not a mad stalker

    the middle aged women are sad stalkers who have to be greenday queens full of it. and mega popular in the gda community.. All full of money spending and gloating. And the other fans are frowned on coz theyre not attending. Aarons words are true..and they wouldnt be commenting this thread like guilty hypocrits. Get a life. Youare stalkers hoveing greendays every move.. Heck id be scared oof you who wouldnt.

  • Cometbus fan.

    If that is what he thinks and he has the guts to do it, then why not say it.?
    it is his zine at the end of the day.
    And it is true.
    end of story.

  • Lisa Booth

    I havent read the “zine” but id like to,
    I think Aaron has every right to say what he likes in his own Zine her has his opinion and he aired it, whether people like it or not – in fact for a person to say exactly what he thinks without giving a shit about the reaction he may cause, in my eyes means he’s a bloody good writer.
    His name will sure be remembered for this, and he has guts to not give a shit, and to me that is a good writer,
    Anyone got a copy?!

  • Abbey

    So, I believe this is my last stop on the “Abbey Fox Mea Culpa Tour of Oh How She Misunderstood Cometbus 54.” Cause, if Im gonna attack, its my responsibilty to admit Im wrong.

    I still self-identify with the “brouhaha paragraphs” 100% but I think I see what Aaron is getting at. Well, I had to be beat over the head with it, but lets just say I went the extra mile to ask for the beating.

    Aaron is making a comparison of Japanese superfans, which have a frenziness to them in chasing the band around in maybe a Beatles-like way, to American superfans which what he probably thinks are bloated zombie-like spendthrifts with an attitude of consumption towards the band. Yes, he is making a value judgement on the money we spend on traveling to shows and believing it is in bad taste. Perhaps it IS American consumerism at its worst. A smart friend of mine said everyone is making the argument “well, we worked hard for our money and who the fuck is he to care what we spend it on” but therein lies the rub. Is it reasonable to spend ridiculous amounts of money, time and energy to get my fat middle-aged ass up to the barrier at EVERY Green Day show? Fuck no it aint. But Americans live and die by the attitude of “fuck you its my money Ill spend it how I want.” If I want to buy a 10,000 square foot house, fuck you, its my money. If I want to buy 8 gas-guzzling SUVs, fuck you, its my money. It is one of the many things that make this country so horrifying.

    So yes, guilty as charged, I have spent an offensive amount of money on attending Green Day events. Honestly I have spent offensive amounts of money on other things that would make Aaron Cometbus throw up in his coffee. Its not something Im proud of but only a few years ago I finally woke up to the insanity of our consumerist zombie culture that I had been blind to. So yes Aaron is saying think about the choices we make w.r.t. treating a band like a commodity and the blind consumption of it. Thank you Aaron Cometbus for finally allowing me to see your point. Sorry for being an asshole and all. And so sorry to learn about your father’s passing. You are a brilliant and gifted writer and I desperately hope that comments from bloated, occasionally narrow-minded middled aged assholes like me never deter you from bringing your point of view out into the world. We sorely need it.


  • Tanya

    I think you can make those same points without the name calling because then your point is diluted and people stop listening. What do the terms he used to describe these people have to do with the money that they spend on shows? And what is an offensive amount of money? $200? $2000? And did these people go to shows every week? And if so, how does Aaron know this? Was he at a show every week? What if those same people give to charity in other ways, does that make it alright? Or bought a rare book for what someone else believes to be an offensive amount of money? I completely understand Aaron’s point about spending money on things he finds objectionable. That is a given. And yes, “its their money,” can be seen in the voraciousness of consumerist society. But the descriptors used don’t tell me anything about the people he’s talking about as consumers, but are judgement terms about the people themselves. But like he says, “Everyone has their own perspective, and each thought that theirs was the clearest one.”

  • Pingback: Nothing Wrong With Me » Cometbus #54: In China With Green Day

  • I agree about Green Day fans… I am one. I am a 100% super fan. And the only reason that I diddn’t know about them earlier than I did is because I was born in ’97.

  • I have to say that, although I get what Aaron is trying to say, you also can’t just say that people are real or not-real fans. I’m a twenty year-old girl from the suburbs, who no one would even have guessed would get into Green Day, but it happened. I love all their music, and whenever they come to NY, go see them. I would never stalk them – either at their home or when they just want to have dinner or something – cuz that’s just creepy. But I’d definitely love to meet them someday. I might not be the picture of a “punk” person, but Green Day is my all-time favorite band, and nothing’s going to change that. I also hate all of this competitive-ness. I listen to them cuz I love the music and the guys. There shouldn’t be any need for the competitions.

  • Pingback: COMETBUS #54: In China With Green Day or… Fans, Superfans, and Stalkers « Green Day Mind

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