Unless you are a 14-year-old with a cape and a notebook of dark and exceedingly bad poetry, or a music writer with an assignment to write about the 50 Worst Instances Of Something, you have probably never heard of the Insane Clown Posse, made up of two Detroit rappers so named because they dress like clowns, act insanely and are frequently summoned by Old West sheriffs to help enforce the law.
Ha! I am kidding, of course: the Insane Clown Posse’s lyrics suggest they are not so much invested in adhering to the law as they are, say, telling tales of a party held underneath a cemetery starring mostly corpses, and, unless I’m dramatically misreading the lyrics here, a dancing and headless Kurt Cobain. Many, many terrible things appear in Insane Clown Posse songs, including a delightful fiesta of horror-flick murders, an evil eye that controls its owner, stabbings, mutilations, Faygo grape pop, Snoop Dogg and a man who befouls soup in a manner in which I’ve never thought about before.
But Jeff, you’re thinking, you clearly think of yourself as ironically detached, why would you, a doting father, be able to make that list of ICP subject matter from memory? Well, I was introduced to the Insane Clown Posse several years ago by my friend Tony, who in 1997 dubbed me a cassette of their album “The Great Milenko,” which was OK, because it’s not like there were any girls around to be horrified by it. The record achieved brief notoriety for being banned by its record label – which was, hilariously, owned by Disney – on the same day it was released, meaning the album came out in stores, and then, a few hours later, was pulled from stores, which seems to be an awful lot of wasted effort and possibly the only instance in recorded history wherein the two super-violent clown MCs could have been argued to be the most logical people in the room.
I should take a moment here to note that I have been unsettled and terrified of clowns since the age of 4. All clowns are nefarious and evil, with the following exceptions: Krusty and when Bozo did the Grand Prize Game. Personally, given the choice between encountering in a pitch-black alley the Insane Clown Posse or a friendly gaggle of laughing circus clowns, I’d take the former without blinking an eye. I imagine they’d at least offer me a Faygo.
Anyway, I bring this all up because the Insane Clown Posse hosts as annual retreat/seminar/networking event/speed-dating party called the Gathering of the Juggalos, “Juggalo” being the accepted term for “fan of the Insane Clown Posse” and the hardest word to rhyme in the English language.
This year’s Gathering, the ninth, is slated to take place Aug. 9-12 at Cave-In Rock, Ill., a southern town on the Ohio River, and that, needless to say, excites the locals of Cave-In Rock to a degree they’re finding hard to verbalize. “(The group’s fans) get out and terrorize the community,” said Shawnee Ministerial Alliance Vice President Greg Degrave, also the pastor of Levee Pond Church, one of a number of churches nationwide opposed to the general message of the Insane Clown Posse, and by “number of” I mean “all of them” – except, of course, Our Lady of the Honking Nose and St. Seltzer’s.
This is noteworthy for a number of reasons, the first of which, of course, is that in over 50 years of rock ‘n’ roll no one has figured out that the way to make purportedly offensive go away is to NOT PUT THEM IN THE NEWSPAPER BY WHINING ABOUT THEM CONSTANTLY, so their name becomes synonymous with endearing, delicious danger.
The second is that the Juggalos, in my brief experience with them (basically Tony, and a crowd outside the Chicago House of Blues one time, which was dressed all in black and painted like clowns so pervasively one could legitimately wonder when Michael Jackson was coming by) are a friendly, peaceful people. The Gathering, I would surmise, can’t be that much more ridiculous and potentially drinky as, say, two Jimmy Buffett concerts at Wrigley Field, where grown men drive minivans with fins on them to a crowded neighborhood so they can get hammered outside while wearing grass skirts. Don’t fear the Juggalos, good people of Cave-In Rock. But, also, for the love of God, don’t eat the soup.