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Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Writer's Life 7/24 - Juggalos

Here's another of pop culture's weird, fascinating developments, as detailed in an article in today's NY Post by Sean Murphy, pared and edited by yours truly: "There are a million people who identify as 'Juggalo' in the United States. They are ardent followers of the band Insane Clown Posse, two white rappers who perform in makeup, who have sold 6.5 million records since 2007. Juggalos take their name from The Juggla, which boasts lyrics such as: 'The doctor told me I’m a psycho/So I ate his face like I don’t know.' There is an annual Gathering of the Juggalos, a festival that attracts thousands and has been described as 'Woodstock meets Sodom and Gomorrah.' In the wake of the Columbine massacre, Insane Clown Posse was name-checked as a potential influence on the shooters. The FBI labeled Juggalos a gang in the same category as the Bloods, Crips and MS-13. Enter Steve Miller, whose book Juggalo: Insane Clown Posse and the World They Made, explains, rationalizes and celebrates the lifestyle. Members wear clown makeup, flash signs, speak in invented slang and sport ghoulish jewelry. Miller spends time with the  devotees, defends the loyalty that inspires 500-mile road trips, and shows how the community thrives in big cities and small towns. The Juggalos even boast police officers as members. Before they were labeled a gang, the National Gang Intelligence Center issued a classified report connecting Juggalos to everything from drive-by shootings to the Ku Klux Klan. Incidents like the pelting of singer Tila Tequila with rocks and beer bottles at the 2010 Gathering bolstered the Fed’s case. Insane Clown Posse filed suit and will have its day in court. Miller argues that in a world of sports fanatics, bikers and fraternities, not much that Juggalos say or do is any worse than what occurs at any large gathering. Miller also states that Insane Clown Posse embodies the American Dream in that without the backing of a major label the band mastered a DIY ethos with guerrilla marketing, attracting a certain type of fan — one that could be male or female, a teenager or a 40-something, mostly white but not exclusively so, and invariably an individual who feels ignored by mainstream society. Band member Violent J says: “We’re easy targets. We’re clowns. We didn’t use the corporate mainstream machines. They all look at us as outsiders, and they want to f–k with us because we didn’t use their power structure to get where we are . . . we’re not supposed to be here.”

Sad news for hardliners: the production of VCR's will cease in two weeks. Last year 750,000 were sold under the Sanyo label. It's another example of the creative destruction of capitalism. DVD's and streaming have won the battle for the marketplace. It wouldn't be surprising if the former becomes extinct in the future, although I'd hate to see that happen. If discs don't bring in acceptable profits, they will be phased out. As of now, I'm not sure I will ever convert to streaming, although I admire the business model and understand its popularity.

There is a new diva in the sports world -- White Sox ace Chris Sale. Scheduled to start yesterday, he threw a fit because the team was scheduled to wear throwback uniforms, which he finds uncomfortable. He cut up every single one laid out in the clubhouse. He has been fined and suspended five games, despite his stellar stats: 14-3, 3.18 ERA.

The floating book shop had tremendous luck today. The parking space under the tree in front of the Chase bank was immediately available, and a customer purchased three books as soon as I'd set up the display. Two of them involved POTUS: Louis L. Picone's The President Is Dead!, which explains the death of every one up to Gerald Ford; and Dennis V.N. McCarthy's Protecting the President: The Inside Story of a Secret Service Agent, which he co-wrote with Philip P. Smith. My thanks, sir, and to the Bible-toting Christian gentleman who surprised me by buying Aryeh Kaplan's If You Were God, in which the Rabbi asks readers to imagine themselves on an island where there are several violent tribes and assigns the task of how to improve life without revealing oneself. Damn, I wish I'd put it aside to read myself. Thanks also to Conspiracy Guy, who settled his tab. Special thanks to the Asian woman, who must have assumed selling items in such heat indicates desperation, and who gave me a bottled water, a ten-ounce bottle of grape juice, a muffin and a noodle dish she must have bought from a nearby vendor. I just had it for dinner. It was delicious.
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Vic's Short Story Collection:
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