History of the Big Pink Banner
The Big Pink Banner was created on a cold winter afternoon in my garage in Bloomfield, Connecticut. I had recently returned from an anti-war march in Washington, DC, and was soon headed to another march in New York City. All over the world, people were voicing their opposition to the invasion of Iraq, but there was still a strong pro-war faction in America. The media presented a fantasy of protesters as a fringe element, hippies and radicals, rather than presenting the reality of grandmothers, nurses, teachers, fire-fighters, office workers, veterans, and thousands of other ordinary Americans.
My intention in carrying a hot-pink ‘Goo Goo Dolls Fans For Peace’ banner was to place the name of a mainstream band in the context of a protest. I hoped to show that even ‘cool’ young people could be politically active, and that many people were using their passion for music to find the courage to speak out. Fans For Peace had about 80 members at the time, and I wrote everyone’s names around the edge of the banner to symbolize their connection to the protest. We had members going out to protests at ten different cities across the country, so it felt like quite a momentous event.
The banner was first carried by four people through the streets of New York City on February 15, 2003. We were among over half a million people in NYC, and over 11 million people worldwide, on all seven continents. The banner was mentioned by bloggers and news articles, and was even spotted on several TV news reports.
The banner made its second appearance at the International Women’s Day peace march in Washington, DC, on March 8, 2003. The theme was CodePink: Women’s Pre-Emptive Strike for Peace, so it fit right into a flowing river of pink. Unfortunately, the other fans who were supposed to meet me couldn’t make it, and I almost put the banner away. But one of the organizers figured out a way I could carry it by myself, and soon a fellow fan approached me and offered to help. The march went through the streets of DC and eventually ten thousand people surrounded the White House. When I checked my e-mail that night, I discovered that the Goo Goo Dolls were driving by the White House that day, and had seen our banner! It was the first mention of Fans For Peace in the Tour Diary, but by no means the last…. We were also mentioned in the Washington Post.
Two days later, the Goos were playing a show for the Democratic Leadership Council, and I brought the banner along to show the politicians that there was widespread opposition to invading Iraq. Much to my surprise, John reached down after the first song, grabbed the banner, and held it up with Robby for the politicians to see. After the show, John stopped on his way to the bus and asked if he could have the banner – we said no, because we wanted to bring it to more protests! So he autographed it instead.
Suddenly it seemed like a good idea to bring the banner to shows, in part to show support to the band for speaking out, and in part to raise awareness among fans. We launched a campaign for people to make their own Fans For Peace signs and banners, and they started popping up at shows all over the US and Canada, to the point where John commented ‘Fans For Peace – I see you guys everywhere!’
In late March, the banner made its first trip to the Goos’ hometown of Buffalo, NY. The day after a rockin’ GGD show, Rose had the idea of driving around Buffalo and taking photos of the banner at all the GGD sites – the Superstar Carwash, Robby and John’s high schools and colleges, Robby’s recording studio, John’s favorite restaurant, and Delaware Park, along with the Peace Bridge.
We brought the banner to a taping of the Today Show, where the Goos were lined up to play an early morning gig. About thirty Fans For Peace came out for this event, and based on our presence, Robby decided to change the setlist at the last minute to include the overtly political What a Scene. The banner was easy to spot on TV, along with many other FFP signs, and we were mentioned again in the Tour Diary. To give the folks who couldn’t make it a chance to get their faces on TV, we made a collage of their photos, which everyone in the line signed for us to give to the Goos at an autograph session.
August, 2003 — And beyond….
Since August 2003, the banner has been to many shows, from New York City to Las Vegas and beyond. In the tradition of the sightseeing tour of Buffalo, we took photos of the banner in all the locations it visited, and I hope this tradition continues.
In September 2003, the banner made an appearance at Robby’s Music Is Art Collection release party in Buffalo, and in June 2004 it was smuggled into the Music Is Art Festival itself. It was also was visible several times on the Live in Buffalo DVD, and John mentioned Fans For Peace in the commentary.
In October 2003, we took the banner to another peace march in Washington, DC, with costumes inspired by the Flat Top video – silver jumpsuits and TV heads. We were again spotted on TV news reports across the country, and mentioned in newspapers.
For New Year’s Eve 2005-06, the banner was given to Robby’s parents, who got it signed by Robby and Mike. Meanwhile, new fans’ names are being added around the edges at every new gig.
In May 2006, the banner went international for the first time, crossing the Atlantic for shows in Glasgow, Scotland and London, England. It will soon be heading back to the US for more shows on the Let Love In tour…. Maybe in your hometown?