The Ten O’Clock News: Celebrating D Day (and by D Day I don’t mean the one where they stormed a beach)

If I’m being totally honest, I’m at a point in my life where the first thing I think of when someone mentions World War II – specifically D Day – is this gem of a music video. Then I think of Saving Private Ryan and then I think of my grandmother, who remembers seeing troops come back. Yeah okay let’s not discuss my priorities… the thing is, I know my priorities are a lot better than the Internet’s. Tumblr is celebrating National Donut Day and apart from on actual news websites, I’ve seen relatively little coverage  (of D Day in 1944, not Donut Day in mildly obese 2014).

Given that only a few countries were involved directly in D Day, it’s understandable that social media isn’t making a huge flap – especially since it’s commemorative of a time when loads of people were getting bombed or shot, and when most of Europe was a totally shit place to live. But – and this could be Politics revision stress showing itself – I kind of feel like it’s being ignored a bit by the public as a whole. If you think about it, every anniversary of 9/11 gets splashed across every news outlet available. When Osama bin Laden was killed, logging onto Twitter was like seeing the American flag dance. I’m not begrudging the American people their right to celebrate or commemorate events as they see fit (although celebrating with fireworks the death of one dude who was one part of an organisation which almost definitely isn’t as big as the US government made out does seem from a reasonably neutral standpoint to be slightly disproportionate given by that time the impact of the War on Terror on middle eastern states). I’m actually pretty jealous of Veteran’s Day, which let’s face it all countries should have, and hey, Doggles.

From kyousaya.tumblr.com
If all armies don’t actually use these then GET ON IT PEOPLE. From kyousaya.tumblr.com

But how often do we hear about the German casualties of the Blitz? Or the non-Western families torn apart by the War on Terror? Fun revision fact: between 80 and 90% of terrorism victims in 2012 were from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. As part of learning about humanitarian intervention in Politics we looked how 1971 Pakistan was called West Pakistan and East Pakistan – all the way across India but the same state – wanted independence to be Bangladesh. The East Pakistani government sponsored a genocide which killed between one and three million people in West Pakistan over a little less than a year. This is why a lot of Bangladeshi people moved to the UK around then. As someone with amazingly racist family members, it’s quite useful to know that those people weren’t benefit scrounging immigrants. But the thing is, would so many people be racist if they knew about the genocide? Quite a few probably would and we must console ourselves by hoping that they one day owe their lives to non-British-born doctors, or failing that fall in a puddle of mud somewhere public… I digress from D Day.

My point is, the bittersweet fuzzy feeling I get when I read stories about this guy should occur way more often because I should be seeing way more stories about people who fought for their freedom, and the freedom of others, to celebrate National fucking Donut Day, as started by – I presume, since every other nation knows biscuits are better – the good people of the USA.

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A Word on Today and Some Other Days

The ‘start’ of My Chemical Romance has always been 11th September 2001. Unless you think it though, anyway, and then it’s more “sometime between 9/11 and 23rd July 2002 when their first album came out” (9/11 was the catalyst but I kind of think that it took five people making noise to properly get it going, and I’m seriously uncomfortable with people mistaking terrorism for a cause for celebration). This year is the first that we’ve had an ‘end’ of MCR. Actually, this is debatable too, since the announcement was March 2013 but Gerard’s end was May 2012…

Let’s let the historians argue over that.

I’m not fussed about dates, to be honest. Putting a date to something means you have a designated day to feel the emotion(s) you think you ought to feel. Unfortunately, since it’s 9/11/my birthday week, my brain has done what it usually does and started thinking about things – MCR, life, the usual big questions… what’s stood out the most is the fact that this is my first 911/birthday week without MCR in seven years. The first that I’ve known about MCR and its history, anyway (technically it’s my first since I was five, but that makes me feel old). It’s strange. I try very hard not to be superstitious, but part of me has always liked the fact that, probably, on my birthday Gerard was having an existential crisis (on the off-chance Gerard’s reading this: sorry). It was the only upside of my birthday, really, because 12th September has kind of become one of those days that the world woke up and was palpably different.

There’s a pre-9/11 world and a post-9/11 world in the same way that there was 5th August 1945 and 7th August 1945 and during that middle day, everything changed. Not visibly – most people probably had no idea of the long-term effects of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – but the world was different. Historians had a date with which they could split their textbooks, and 9/11 is another of those dates.

One of today’s many Twitter trends has been #NeverForget. As a Government and Politics student, it’s getting to the point where any mention of the American government makes me want to throw my massive textbook at a poster of George W. Bush, because Afghanistan was a complete waste of time, money, human life, etcetera, and what kind of fuckin’ idiot talks about crusading against Islam anyway?! But that’s not the point, at least for today. The point is that one Tuesday lot of people died horribly, and then lots more died horribly because of the first instance of horrible deaths. Twelve years later and every time I switch on the news I think that today might be another ‘defining date’. Syria, Egypt, the Eurozone crisis, the motherfucking EDL and soldiers who’re decapitated while going for a walk wearing a Help for Heroes t-shirt, because someone’s fighting on behalf of a version of god that arguably doesn’t exist anyway.

I think the real reason I don’t want to go to university to study Politics and RS is that the frequent rises in blood pressure would probably kill me before the first Christmas break. But here’s the deal:

Quite a large part of me is splitting the world into pre-22nd March 2013 and post-22nd March 2013. Most days I’m somewhere between okay and completely fine about the end of MCR. The band is still alive and happy and MCR-the-legacy is doing pretty well for itself; the MCRmy’s not going anywhere and neither is the music. So it’s fine, you know, most days.

Some days are harder. I nearly cried in Starbucks the other day, for example, when I read the interview Frank did with Kerrang! Magazine. I went to Wembley Stadium in April and I didn’t realise why I was so down until I realised that we were walking past the Arena, which is where my second-and-last show was in 2011. Watching Live At the Apollo feels odd because the Hammersmith Apollo is the other venue I saw the band live.

That’s coming up for three years ago, and I’m getting worried that I’m going to forget in the same way America seems terrified of forgetting. Forget what it’s like to be in a room with a group of people whom I’ve never previously met and possibly wouldn’t like but love at that very moment because we’re all in the room together. It’s the closest feeling I’ve experienced to Charlie’s infinite moment, and I miss it. There are no cool tunnels where I live either, so that’s out (well there is a tunnel and a bridge, but they scream “CONGESTION CHARGE!!!!”).

There’s a picture somewhere on MCRmy.com of MCR with the caption “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened”. And let’s face it, compared to what the families of 9/11 victims went though during its aftermath, 23rd March 2013 was a party. Compared to what Syrians are facing right now, it was My Super Sweet Sixteen with extra tantrum-obtained sparkles. At its worst, it was like a funeral for someone who lived a long and happy life then died peacefully with no trace of dementia or terminal illness.

Except comparing bad events and weighing them against one another is what’s got the world running in circles over the last few decades. 3000 people die on American soil and the middle east gets turned upside down. A Fusilier’s killed in the street and minor racist pressure groups suddenly have the right idea when it comes to non-British/white/Christian people’s treatment. 800,000 people are systematically murdered over one hundred days in Rwanda and it’s like, “they aren’t geopolitically important so we can ignore it until the general public notices that it’s not cool to see dead Africans on the six o’clock news.”

We’re all from Africa, people. Get your fucking act together and don’t forget any of it.

10 Years, 10 Days: Old People Are Allowed to Get a Little Off Topic and Reminiscent.

It’s my birthday today, so I thought I’d take a moment and talk about myself. Well, more specifically, how I came to know My Chem. Since you all, obviously, really want to know.

I was eleven, and studying for entrance exams for the school I’m at now. I’m not quite sure how it happened, but I got into the habit of listening to a radio show called Music Control on Essex FM while I studied. Most of the stuff they played was pure pop, but because it was broadcast from seven until ten, and the target audience was students and twenty-somethings, they often played new releases weeks or months before the rest of the radio. So usually they’d play a track in July and by September when the rest of the word was rocking out and overplaying it, I thought it was the worst fucking thing anyone had ever written.

Anyway, they started playing this song around September or October, and I thought it was pretty cool because the structure meant that the entire song had to be broadcast, they couldn’t miss out a repeated chorus at the end if they were running short on time. There was this piano part that caught my attention at the beginning, it was really dramatic and dark, and then there was this huge noise of guitars and yelling (I think the lyrics “Defiant to the end” struck a chord) and eventually the song petered out with some nice drumming. Around the same time, autumn 2006, I was getting into the world of music television. We had two channels back then, I think. I kept catching the end of a video where it looked like the world had exploded. Oh look, it’s got that drum ending. Very tuneful.

Slowly, over the next few months, I kept catching glimpses of this strange band. Never an entire video or a name – that’d be way too easy – always snippets as I flicked. Oh look, now everything’s on fire. Hey, his hair’s turned black. Why are they falling out of clouds?

Music Control used to do an ‘[insert artist here] night’ every so often. They’d interview the band, play a few songs, maybe do an acoustic set. One evening, they had an interview with a guy from a band whose name I didn’t know because it was always said too fast for me to catch it. It was ‘Mychemicalromance’ or something, I don’t know. This guy from this unnameable band had the weirdest voice I had ever heard. I’d heard Americans in films and stuff, but never this accent (I guess there aren’t many New Jersey actors in children’s films). It was also the way he spoke; really quickly but confidently. Like he knew stuff the rest of us dreamt of learning. The interviewer goes “Where do you get your inspiration from, real life?” He said something along the lines of “Nah, I people watch and take it from there.” I’d been packing my books up or something, but I distinctly remember thinking “Thank God it’s not just me that does that!” I used to have a thing for making up strangers’ lives.

Then they played the piano song.

Around that time, my uncle was in the process of doing me a mixtape – okay, CD – of ‘rock music’. I’d mentioned liking The Killers so got their albums for Christmas, in the spring he did me a compilation. In amongst American Idiot, You Give Love a Bad Name, Last Train Home and Dance, Dance, there was a song called Welcome to the Black Parade by My Chemical Romance. Holy shit! It’s the piano song! Google Search time. Or was it YouTube?

I saw Helena and was like, that’s not My Chemical Romance. They’ve had a lineup change. Wait… No… he has the same tattoo on his neck as the other guy. Oh, hang on, same hair. The bassist’s different for sure. Can’t tell about the drummer. Woa, that’s the frontman in the Parade video! Same face. Definitely him. I think.

My memory’s a bit hazy now – I’m getting on a bit – but I think in that first YouTube session I heard Vampires, Not Okay and Ghost as well. Over the course of about a year, My Chem kept cropping up. My friend’s brother had a Revenge t-shirt. It was awesome. Gerard Way was in Sugar magazine’s Ladmag. He’d formed the band after seeing 9/11. Hey, I remember that! It’s the day before my birthday that makes me feel really guilty for celebrating being alive. He used to have a drug problem. Oh, he’s better now, that’s nice. They’re a happy looking band, aren’t they?

I used my twelfth birthday money to buy Parade, and it was the most depressing thing I’d ever heard. Over the next year, my CDs went into a box because we were decorating, and My Chem more or less went on the back burner. My friends at the time were into Disney shit, the Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato and whatnot – so I was too. Around year eight it emerged some of my friends’ friends were into MCR, and I started to remember them. They’d gone into hibernation, apparently, but their new album would be out soon (would it, my arse). In June of year eight, in 2009, I was sitting on a coach on the way back from a school trip to Germany where we’d gone a bit mental and dressed as the Black Parade – I was Gerard, if I remember correctly, and my LynZ (Ruby) divorced me because I wouldn’t go to the tourist information bureau with her. I thought “You know what, admit it. This is your favourite band.” Some time along the way I’d picked up Revenge, and the band I’d coveted since the age of eight, McFly, weren’t doing much for me anymore.

Before I knew it, I owned all three albums, Parade is Dead! and Murder Scene, unicorns made me think of Mikey Way being called Frank wasn’t an insult. Incidently, Ruby first called me that because in Germany I bought a Trilby. She looked down at me, said “You look like a man again. You look like Frank. I’ll call you Frank now.” and turned away. The name stuck. I started Indifferent Ignorance in late 2009 and quickly realised how easy it was to write about My Chem – the music they made was often what I was trying to say. The rest, as they say, is history.

Over the last year or so, I’ve come to appreciate what My Chem’s done for me. I was never about to slip into a pill-induced coma when Venom came on my iPod… The band didn’t save my life. But in a strange way, it did kickstart it. I get along best with people who are MCR fans. There’s never a lack of conversation, let’s face it. Via searching the band and finding to other stuff by association, I’ve come to find and appreciate almost everything I hold dear; my friends, most of my writing, a large chunk of possessions and, most of all, the feeling that someone’s got my back. The MCRmy is a group of people who will never judge me for who I am, even though they’ve never met me – more than I can say for a lot of people I actually know. Since listening I’ve become even more defiant and determined (something I didn’t think was possible).

What My Chem says and does makes sense. Simple as. I never heard Famous Last Words and thought “Oh, he’s right.” I thought “Well, yeah, he’s right.” Of course he is. Why don’t more people say what needs to be said? This idea also explains why I’m a Mindless fan and have a blog.

Yesterday the band played a reworked version of their first song, Skylines and Turnstiles. I’m almost never moved by music, but I was touched… I think my vision might have got a bit blurry. I talked about 9/11 making me feel bad for celebrating… When I was about nine, it the enormity of the event occurred to me. How can this day be happy for me when for so many others it was the beginning of the rest of their lives? I made a habit of writing about MCR this time of year and always listened to Turnstiles. At some point it hit me that people die very day. Yes, it’s sad, but brilliant things can emerge from terrible ones (see yesterday’s post). The 12th September sixteen years ago was the beginning of the rest of my life – and I nearly didn’t make it at all, thanks to shit timing, pre-eclampsia and a collapsed lung. When I was eight or so I decided to stop thanking God and start thanking the doctors that paid attention in medical school. Life is fragile and could break at any time. 9/11 clouded that judgement for a while – but My Chem has reminded me of that, and will continue to remind me, as long as there’s life in my stereo.

 

So I’d like to thank them for that. I’d also like to thank everyone who’s put up with me over the last sixteen years, and who got me presents. I yell a lot, but I like you really. See? I’m smiling.

NB: I realised the guy on the radio was Gerard about three years after I heard him talk.

10 Years, 10 Days: Well Let’s Go Back to the Middle of the Day that Starts It All

Everyone knows the story of how My Chem formed. We can’t not, with every article alluding to ‘the Jersey rockers’ East Coast beginnings, when vocalist Gerard Way formed the band after witnessing the Twin Towers fall at 9/11′. So most people call today the unofficial birthday of the band, although they say everything really started to come together around October.

In the last couple of weeks, my forays onto the BBC website to avoid doing homework have become increasingly 9/11 centric. There have been stories of survivors, of those who were living in New York at the time, articles on how the word’s changed since. Now I know I’m biased – and there’s not a single person who was directly affected by the attacks that I don’t have huge respect for – but I can’t help but feel that the BBC’s missed out on a huge opportunity. My Chem are the most direct, most positive reaction to 9/11 out there. Hands down.

Today is in no way a celebration, no matter how brilliant MCR has turned out to be, and anyone treating it as such should turn on the news. However, it does mean we can respect the band so much more because of the history. It was born out of a day that spawned conflict, unnecessary racism, misguided hatred and countless avoidable deaths. The band itself has created nothing but positive energy (the odd suicide cult accusation and cursed drummer position aside). Saying that, I do like to think that My Chem is one of those things that, regardless of the state of the rest of the world, had to happen – so if 9/11 hadn’t, Gerard still would have had an epiphany moment and called his friends about forming a band and doing something worthwhile. Sadly, we don’t have access to a TARDIS so will never know what could have been; all can do is pay our respects to the victims and thank MCR for existing.

I realise that people deal with trauma in different ways, and I’m not going to start knocking the people who haven’t been able to walk into tall buildings or onto planes in a decade. But when I think of how much good has come from Gerard thinking “Fuck art” that day, I can’t help but wonder what the world would be like if everyone had had his reaction. If they had, we wouldn’t need to be fighting a ‘war on terror’, because it would have already been won. Around 3,000 people died that day, right? Well, at least 3,000 people have had their lives touched by My Chem (it’s probably more like three billion people in total when you look at record sales). At least 3,000 people have come out of a show feeling happier, or made friends through the MCRmy, or used the music to find strength within themselves that has led them to do awesome things.

That sounds like a pretty big “Fuck you, Bin Laden,” to me.

This Is Probably the Only Blog Post You’ll Ever Read Linking My Chemical Romance and the 1947 Polish Elections

  It’s become something of tradition, I think, to blog around this week every year. Not because I lost someone on 9/11. I was only five years and three hundred and sixty-four days old when it happened, after all… Most people my age probably can’t even remember it. I know a girl at my school who thinks Osama Bin Laden is a member of the Beatles.

Osama bin Laden cartoon

Not because it’s Mikey Way’s thirtieth birthday today either.

  Or that it’s nearly nine years since a depressed twenty-something artist on his way to work saw the aforementioned disaster and formed a brilliant rock band with his aforementioned brother.

  But because, despite all the odds, I have survived another year. Amazing, innit? I haven’t been run over by a bus, set myself on fire during a Chemistry IAA, contracted cancer, crashed a car, slit one vein too many, been assassinated or fallen over attempting a roundhouse kick, cracking my head open on the dojo floor.

  I’m prepared to bet a few of you have considered killing me, setting me on fire or chucking me on the dojo floor. Thank you for refraining. You know that theory Charles Darwin came up with, the survival of the fittest? That if you’re unable to hunt or climb trees or run really fast from whatever’s trying to eat you, you’ll get cast out of the pack and eaten.

  I kind of cheated with the ‘survival’ part of the saying. It’s not my fault, okay? I didn’t ask to get born eleven weeks early. It just happened. I didn’t ask for Rochford and Southend hospitals to stick pipes in my side and kick-start my respiratory system either, but I’m grateful to whoever signed the pipe-insertion contract.

  Every year I reflect on the shithole that is September 11th and the excellence of My Chem, and wonder how something so good could be born out of something so bad. If 9/11 hadn’t happened, would MCR be doing what they do? I like to think that terrorist attacks notwithstanding, yeah.

  Let’s face it, Gerard wouldn’t have done art for the Cartoon Network forever, Ray was going to pick up the guitar again at some point, Mikey had to get over his stage fright one way or another and Frank… Well, Frank is one of those insane blokes who sort of manages to kill demon sharks wherever the van takes him.

       

  Same with Darwin’s theory of evolution. If I’d been born circa 1950, I’d be in a shoebox sized grave right now next to my mum, and Maxim would be an unexistent annoying little brother. But I was born in the nineties, dude, and there’s no point having a pretty comfortable privileged life and not doing anything but surfing Twitter. So regardless of my serious hatred of birthday celebrations and all the grief that accompanies it, I’m rather looking forward to Sunday.

  It ain’t over till the fat lady sings, according to the proverb. Well, it ain’t over till I say it’s over, so anyone still going on about medical science not being a good idea can go the same way as the homophobes and Qur’an burners. Down the fucking drain.

  When the USSR rigged the Polish vote in 1947 to ensure it became communist, Stalin wasn’t worried about cheating. He was worried that Germany might kill more Russians if there was another war, and he wanted Poland to protect them. I don’t like Labour, but Moustache Dictator Guy Two had the right idea.