Local woman wins trip to MTV awards

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Jennifer Bunch will never forget the day she met Green Day.

&uot;I was pregnant with my son,&uot; recalls the owner of Weight Loss Forever on Holland Road. &uot;I had just moved out of my old house, and I had MTV for the first time. Five days before my son was born, I was watching ‘Longview.’ I’ve been a devoted fan ever since.&uot;

That song, which arguably put the three-man punk revivalist band on the music map a decade ago, was a spawn of the album &uot;Dookie,&uot; one of 29 albums Day has put out since its 1988 inception. Their 2004 release &uot;American Idiot,&uot; which contains the song &uot;Boulevard of Broken Dreams,&uot; spent weeks at the top of the Billboard Albums sales list.

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Over the past few years, some of the group’s songs have reached beyond the music world. Their tune, &uot;Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)&uot; was played on the Seinfeld finale, as well as after Mark McGwire broke the major league baseball home run record in 1998. Their recent single &uot;Wake Me Up When September Ends&uot; has become a common sound on shows depicting the war in Iraq and the damages of Hurricane Katrina.

&uot;They’ll say anything,&uot; she said. &uot;They don’t care what people think of them.&uot;

Those 10 long years ago, Bunch hoped that one day she’d get to see Billie Joe Armstrong, Tre’ Cool and Mike Dirnt live in person. But she never thought she’d get as close as she did.

Since mid-summer, Bunch had been attempting to win trips to Green Day concerts off local radio stations.

&uot;In July, I was in a contest on 96.1,&uot; she says, &uot;but I didn’t win. Three weeks later, I called in to 94.9 for a contest, but I didn’t win that either.&uot;

On Aug. 12, Bunch was on her way to her Edenton, N.C., home from work when she heard a new contest announcement on 93.3. Winners had to be the 25th caller, and name a song from a countdown the station had just performed.

Bunch fumbled for her cell phone, and dialed the number. Sitting in the drive through of a McDonald’s, she found that she’d won a Black Eyed Peas CD – and a chance to fly down to the MTV Video Music Awards in Miami Aug. 28.

&uot;I started screaming at the person giving me food!&uot; Bunch laughs.

One week later, Bunch was talking to a friend on the phone when a beep came through on her call waiting. It was a disc jockey from 93.3.

&uot;He asked if I’d gotten the CD,&uot; she says. &uot;Then he asked if I’d like to see Green Day live. I just freaked.&uot;

She’d won the contest, and a trip to Florida to check out the music world’s top names.

But first, there was a quick act of preparation; Aug. 24, Bunch drove down to Raleigh to watch the band in action for the first time.

&uot;No one screamed any louder that I did,&uot; she says. &uot;I don’t care if they were 12, 18, however old they were. There was a man behind me saying he didn’t want to be there, that he’d just brought his kids. Halfway through, he was standing on a chair, holding a lighter, cheering. I couldn’t talk at work the next day. It was the time of my life.&uot;

At 1 a.m. Aug. 27, Bunch left home and picked up her friend, April Arnold. The two went to the airport in Raleigh, and flew south. MTV picked them up in a van and drove them to a hotel, where they’d stay one floor below Mariah Carey.

&uot;Of the 72 hours I was there,&uot; she says, &uot;I think I slept for about seven.&uot;

The next afternoon, Bunch and Arnold headed to the American Airlines Arena for the show, and took their seats. Looking over at one of the stadium’s five stages, Bunch saw some familiar objects.

&uot;I recognized the guitar and drum,&uot; she says. That’s because they belonged to her favorite band, which opened the show with ‘Boulevard.’&uot;

&uot;I stood up and screamed,&uot; Bunch says. &uot;I lost my voice. Everyone was looking at me, but I didn’t care. This was never going to happen again.&uot;

After the band performed, host P. Diddy came out, and other acts like Shakira, Ludacris and 50 Cent hit the stage. Glancing around the building, Bunch noticed NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal, actor Orlando Bloom, long-ago rap star Hammer, and other celebrities.

But nothing like the three that came from behind the stage and sat a few rows in front of her – it was Bunch’s band. But they wouldn’t be sitting still for long – as the night progressed, the &uot;Boulevard&uot; video won awards for Best Cinematography, Editing, Directing, Rock Video and Group Video, and &uot;Idiot&uot; was named the Viewer’s Choice Top Album.

As the event wound down, Jamie Foxx and the band Destiny’s Child (in what’s being called their final appearance together) came out to hand out the final award. The three girls called out the winner for the year’s top video – and it was &uot;Boulevard.&uot; Bunch was there to see her guys win the award for the first time.

&uot;I would have gone for the experience,&uot; she says, &uot;but I just went crazy when they won. That just made it all the more special. They’re better live than on a CD.&uot;

But after the event, her trip wasn’t over. The two went back to the hotel and watched Jessica and Ashlee Simpson perform. The next day, they went shopping and ate at the Hard Rock Caf\u00E9.

And now that Bunch is back in town, her Day days continue; the music continually blasts out of speakers at the back of her facility, and her laptop is jammed with photos of the band. And though the group doesn’t have any more tour dates scheduled for anywhere nearby soon, Bunch and her family are already looking forward to seeing them.

&uot;My kids wear their T-shirts, and they’re going to dress like them for Halloween,&uot; she says. &uot;They sing the songs, but they don’t say the bad words. I don’t care where they come next time; my kids are going to be down front with me.&uot;