Alan is an agoraphobic and a germaphobe. One day, a Mormon doorknocker named Lily knocks on Alan’s door. He quickly rushed her inside. She unenthusiastically gave him her lines about why he should join the Mormon religion, but about halfway through she accidentally spits on Alan while talking. Alan then freaks out, trips on Lily’s foot as she gets up to calm him down, hits his head on the floor, and goes unconscious.
Several hours later, Alan wakes up in a hospital, freaks out, and then blacks out immediately. He wakes up again a few minutes later this time and Lily is there at his bedside. She explained what happened and that he was now in a hospital. He asks, “Why are you still here? Don’t you have to go back to work?” She explains that she hates her job and doesn’t really believe in Mormonism, but she needs the money. She also mentions that her dream is to move back to California (she’s originally from there). She realizes she’s revealed more about herself than she intended and quickly asks him what his deal is to switch the topic. He explains his condition. She teases him a little about it.
Eventually she takes him home, which is a trial in itself. When they get there, she simply says goodbye and that she liked enjoyed her time with him. “Maybe I’ll see you around” she said. The next day, she’s back at work, knocking on Alan’s neighbor’s doors, since she missed them the day before. When she knocks on a man named Roy’s door, Roy comes out and hits on her. Alan sees this through his window and it makes him a little jealous. After she’s done their, she knocks on Alan’s door to see how he’s doing after the day previous’ events.
He rushes her inside, and begins dousing her in disinfecting spray. She coughs and teases him more about his condition. They talk a bit and she decides she’s going to help Alan overcome his fears. She comes over every day to help him; she gets to skip out on work too. Over the course of several weeks, she forces him to go outside, stop sanitizing everything, etc.
One of Lily’s co-workers notices her skipping work all the time and confronts her about it. After a loud argument, Lily quits her job and goes over to Alan’s. She’s furious and crying. In her emotional state, she asks Alan if they can move to California. Alan agrees and they decide to leave in a week. Lily continues to come over everyday to help Alan. However, Alan’s anxiety is mounting with each day that gets closer to their departure. He hides this from Lily.
A few days before they move to California, Alan gets cold feet. He starts yelling at Lily for trying to change him. She tries to calm him down, but he storms out of her apartment. After leaving, he becomes aware that he is outside and has a panic attack. He relapses and shuts himself in his house. Lily calls him day and night, but he refuses to pick up. Finally, a few hours before their plane was supposed to leave, Lily goes to Alan’s house one final time to say that she is moving back to California. Because he won’t come outside, Lily just yells what she has to say and hopes he hears. After no response, she leaves. Alan has been listening at his window this entire time. He watches the taxi pull away. Alan suddenly realizes the magnitude of this situation.
He’s about to lose the love of his life. He runs outside, but he’s too late. He then begins sprinting in the direction the car went, but soon gives up. His dirty slob of a neighbor, Roy, watches this whole situation happen and rushes to Alan’s aid. He gives Alan a ride to the airport, racing down every road. Every now and again, they catch glimpses of Lily’s cab, but traffic prevents them from getting close. They eventually get right up next to her, but despite his best attempts to get her attention, she’s too zoned out to notice Alan.
Alan and Roy get stuck at a red light right before the airport, while Lily continues to her destination. Just as Lily is about to walk in the doors of the airport, Alan and Roy pull up; Alan jumps out of the car and screams her name frantically. He is fumbling over his words in an attempt to explain himself, but she can’t understand what he’s trying to say. He then professes his love for her. They embrace.
Alan and Lily moved to California and although some of his old agoraphobe/germaphobe tendencies come back now and again, they are minor and controlled. Lily has a great new job. They live happily ever after.
We were spectacular. Every show I knew this, every show I felt it with or without external confirmation. There were some clunkers, sometimes our secondhand gear broke, sometimes I had no voice- we were still great. It is this belief that made us who we were, but also many other things, all of them vital- And all of the things that made us great were the very things that were going to end us-
That last one is very important. My Chemical Romance had, built within its core, a fail-safe. A doomsday device, should certain events occur or cease occurring, would detonate. I shared knowledge of this “flaw” within weeks of its inception. Personally, I embraced it because, again, it made us perfect. A perfect machine, beautiful, yet self aware of it’s system. Under directive to terminate before it becomes compromised. To protect the idea- at all costs. This probably sounds like something ripped from the pages of a four-color comic book, and that’s the point. No compromise. No surrender. No fucking shit.
To me that’s rock and roll. And I believe in rock and roll.
I wasn’t shy about who I said this to, not the press, or a fan, or a relative. It’s in the lyrics, it’s in the banter. I often watched the journalists snicker at mention of it, assuming I was being sensational or melodramatic (in their defense I was most likely dressed as an apocalyptic marching-band leader with a tear-away hospital gown and a face covered in expressionist paint, so fair enough). I’m still not sure if the mechanism worked correctly, because it wasn’t a bang but a much slower process. But still the same result, and still for the same reason-
When it’s time, we stop.
It is important to understand that for us, the opinion on whether or not it is in fact time does not transmit from the audience. Again, this is to protect the idea for the benefit of the audience. Many a band have waited for external confirmation that it is time to hang it up, via ticket sales, chart positioning, boos and bottles of urine- input that holds no sway for us, and often too late when it comes anyway.
You should know it in your being, if you listen to the truth inside you. And voice inside became louder than the music.
Now- There are many reasons My Chemical Romance ended. The triggerman is unimportant, as was always the messengers- but the message, again as always, is the important thing. But to reiterate, this is my account, my reasons and my feelings. And I can assure you there was no divorce, argument, failure, accident, villain, or knife in the back that caused this, again this was no one’s fault, and it had been quietly in the works, whether we knew it or not, long before any sensationalism, scandal, or rumor.
There wasn’t even a blaze of glory in a hail of bullets…
I am backstage in Asbury Park, New Jersey. It is Saturday, May 19th, 2012 and I am pacing behind a massive black curtain that leads to the stage. I feel the breeze from the ocean find its way around me and I look down at my arms, which are covered in fresh gauze due to a losing battle with a heat rash, which had been a mysterious problem in recent months. I am normally not nervous before a show but I am certainly filled with angry butterflies most of the time. This is different- a strange anxiety jetting through me that I can only imagine is the sixth sense one feels before their last moments alive. My pupils have zeroed-out and I have ceased blinking. My body temperature is icy. We get the cue to hit the stage.
The show is… good. Not great, not bad, just good. The first thing I notice take me by surprise is not the enormous amount of people in front of us but off to my left- the shore and the vastness of the ocean. Much more blue than I remembered as a boy. The sky is just as vibrant. I perform, semi-automatically, and something is wrong. I am acting. I never act on stage, even when it appears that I am, even when I’m hamming it up or delivering a soliloquy. Suddenly, I have become highly self-aware, almost as if waking from a dream. I began to move faster, more frantic, reckless- trying to shake it off- but all it began to create was silence. The amps, the cheers, all began to fade.
All that what left was the voice inside, and I could hear it clearly. It didn’t have to yell- it whispered, and said to me briefly, plainly, and kindly- what it had to say.
What it said is between me and the voice.
I ignored it, and the following months were full of suffering for me- I hollowed out, stopped listening to music, never picked up a pencil, started slipping into old habits. All of the vibrancy I used to see became de-saturated. Lost. I used to see art or magic in everything, especially the mundane- the ability was buried under wreckage.
Slowly, once I had done enough damage to myself, I began to climb out of the hole. Clean. When I made it out, the only thing left inside was the voice, and for the second time in my life, I no longer ignored it- because it was my own.
There are many roles for all of us to play in this ending. We can be well-wishers, ill-wishers, sympathizers, vilifiers, comedians, rain clouds, victims-
That last one, again, is important. I have never thought myself a victim, nor my comrades, nor the fans- especially not the fans. For us to adopt that role right now would legitimize everything the tabloids have tried to name us. More importantly, it completely misses the point of the band. And then what have we learned?
With honor, integrity, closure, and on no one’s terms but our own- the door closes.
And another opens-
This morning I awoke early. I quickly brushed my teeth, threw on some baggy jeans, and hopped in my car. I gently sped down the 405 through the morning fog to a random parking lot in Palo Verde, where I was to meet a nice gentleman named Norm. He was older, and a self-proclaimed “hippie” but he also had the energy of Sixteen year old in a garage-rock band. The purpose of the meeting was the delivery of an amplifier into my possession. I had recently purchased the amp from him and we both agreed that shipping would jostle the tubes- so he was kind enough to meet me in the middle. A Fender Princeton Amp from 1965, non reverb. A beautiful little device.
He showed me the finer points, the speaker, the non-grounded plug, the original label and the chalk mark of the man or woman who built it-
“This amp talks.” he said. I smiled. We got coffee, talked about gold-foil pickups and life. We sat in the car and played each other music we had made. We parted ways, promising to stay in touch, I drove home.
When I wanted to start My Chemical Romance, I began by sitting in my parent’s basement, picking up an instrument I had long abandoned for the brush- a guitar. It was a 90’s Fender Mexican Stratocaster, Lake Placid Blue, but in my youth I had decided it was too clean and pretty so I beat it up, exposing some of the red paint underneath the blue- the color it was meant to be. Adding a piece of duct tape on the pick guard, it felt acceptable. I plugged this into a baby Crate Amp with built in distortion and began the first chords of Skylines and Turnstiles.
I still have that guitar, and it’s sitting next to The Princeton. He has a voice, and I would like to hear what it has to say.
In closing, I want to thank every single fan. I have learned from you, maybe more than you think you’ve learned from me. My only regret is that I am awful with names and bad with goodbyes. But I never forget a face, or a feeling- and that is what I have left from all of you. I feel Love.
I feel love for you, for our crew, our team, and for every single human being I have shared the band and stage with-
Take a winter off and just snowboard. My good friend Paul and I are going to do this. It’s going to rule. It’s also 2 years away. Making it in hollywood as an editor/vfx artist after that.
In a related rant, currently hating school, just like I have been all semester. I have contemplated dropping out and trying to make it as a filmmaker, but there are too many negatives associated with that: likely unemployment, payback of student loans would start immediately, I would feel like I wasted a lot of money these past few years, a degree will help me in the working world, was all of this work wasted? I’m probably just going through typical upperclassmen stress and haven’t been managing it adequately. Hopefully things pick up next semester.