WELL I GUESS THIS IS GO WING UP
GQ India|December 2021
Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus got cancer—and then accidentally shared his diagnosis with the public over social media. Turns out getting sick renewed his faith, healed his old friendships, and reminded him what makes life worth living.
CHRIS GAYOMALI

It was another perfect spa-blue morning in Beverly Hills when Mark Hoppus, a pop-punk legend, accidentally told the world that he had cancer. This was back in late June, and Hoppus had just taken a photo of himself strapped into a chemotherapy chair, an image he wanted to share. But being woozy from the Benadryl and cocktail of cell-destroying drugs, his clumsy fingers made haptic contact with the wrong cluster of pixels on his phone. Thus the photo—the caption read, “Yes hello. One cancer treatment, please”—was transmitted not to his green circle of “close friends” on Instagram, but to his entire following of more than 1 million. A tragicomic oopsie.

And then, a mess: First in the form of a concerned text from his manager, asking if he meant to do that. Then the radio stations started calling. And then a fire hose of frantic text messages from friends Hoppus hadn’t yet told. He quickly took down the post, but the genie was out of the bottle.

“Throughout the day as I’m getting chemotherapy and more bags of chemicals are being dripped into my body, other people are reaching out and they’re like, ‘Dude, what’s going on?’ ” Hoppus remembered. But he could pay only intermittent attention to what he’d unleashed. “Chemo is like being on the worst international, overnight flight where you can’t sleep or get comfortable,” he told me. Later, as his wife, Skye, drove him home, Hoppus tapped out a brief statement: “For the past three months I’ve been undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. I have cancer. It sucks and I’m scared, and at the same time I’m blessed with incredible doctors and family and friends to get me through this.”

He had been diagnosed a couple of months earlier with stage 4 diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, an aggressive form of blood cancer, the same kind his mom had.

For those who glimpsed it, the image of Mark Hoppus there in the chair that morning was shattering, largely because of how Mark Hoppus is etched into our collective memories: young, defiant, indefatigable—a forever avatar of cheery SoCal dickishness.

The band that made Hoppus famous, Blink-182, jumped into the public eye in the late ’90s, flanked on one side by soft, radio-friendly boy bands like the Backstreet Boys and on the other by over-caffeinated nu-metal outfits like Limp Bizkit. A skate-punk trio from San Diego, Blink possessed a paradoxical knack for writing pop songs—a fact that helped explain why they were abhorred by many of the bands that inspired them. (In a track called “Fun Things to Fuck (If You’re a Winner)”, Fat Mike of NOFX completes an otherwise unprintable tercet with “Fuck fans of Blink-182.”) Yet instead of shunning fame, Blink’s members embraced it—a middle finger to the punk orthodoxy’s own middle finger flashed at everything else. They gave their albums delinquent titles like Take Off Your Pants and Jacket (say it phonetically) and pranked anyone who dared enter their juvenile orbit. “When I first got in the band and we would be in airports or any public restroom, Mark would go in and pull his pants all the way down to his ankles. We’d just be looking at this grown man with his bare butt out, peeing into a stall,” Travis Barker, Blink’s longtime drummer, told me.

“Mark and I were ridiculous,” said Tom DeLonge, the band’s co-founder and former guitarist. “There were so many things that were just so inappropriate. I can’t even bring them up. People were not safe interviewing us ever in a room, because I would turn off the lights and then I would turn the lights back on and it would be illegal, what was happening.”

If you were born in the 1980s or early ’90s, even if you were never a fan or a wilful listener of a Blink song, the lyrics to their biggest hits—“All the Small Things”, “I Miss You”—are somehow already encoded into your subconscious, sitting there, just a few blood-alcohol-content percentages away from being karaoke’d without a teleprompter. In the years since those early hits were recorded, the group has cast a surprisingly large and enduring shadow in the culture. Their various achievements and exploits included (but were hardly limited to) presciently preaching about the existence of UFOs; starring on an MTV reality show; surviving a deadly plane crash; selling more than 50 million records worldwide; collaborating with Lil Wayne on a short-lived tour that spawned the most questionable rap mash-up ever; dating a Kardashian; and, of course, inspiring a whole generation of emo bands and SoundCloud rappers. None of it was simple or uncomplicated: They have broken up at least twice before reassembling into a line-up that today features only two of the primary three (Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba, a longtime friend of the group, has since been slotted in for DeLonge, whose ambitions have often coloured him as the principal trio’s iconoclast).

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