Every day in April I will be participating in the A to Z Blog Challenge. Each day I will write a post dealing with an issue that is near and dear to me that starts with the letter of the Alphabet the corresponds with the day of the month. Neat right? Today is April 10th so the letter of the day is J.
J is for Juggalo Beatdown. The story of how I got my ass beat at the Gathering of the Juggalos.
For those who have been following my Insane Clown Adventures, or even just reading this blog, you’ll know that I went all in, balls deep down into the rabbit hole of Juggalo culture the day I got my first taste. I didn’t go online and buy a t-shirt. I marched right down to Tasha at Inborn Ink and got hatchetman tattoo and dropped $13,000 to charter a bus for 6 days to shuttle a bunch of literal maniacs to Cave in Rock, Illinois for the Gathering of the Juggalos. And yes, I absolutely count myself as one of those maniacs. You wanna get an idea of where on earth Cave-In-Rock Illinois is? Get out a map of “NOWHERE” – unfold that motherfucker, and stick a pin deep in the heart of the middle of it and you’ll have an idea. That trip was somewhat chronicled in a previous post “G is For Gathering of the Juggalos” Something I forgot to mention in that post though is that the trip ended up losing me about $5,000 because I grossly miscalculated how many Juggalos would pay for that service. Most “promoters” I know woulda cut bait and cancelled the trip. Not me, I went and had a great fucking time, and after it was all said and done, and realising that it might just be a flawed business model, for the 2012 Gathering I rented an RV to take me and a just a select group of maniacs this time around. As much fun as I had camping for 5 nights the last time, I wasn’t about to do that again. I’ve never understood sleeping in a tent. I’ve worked way too fucking hard to be able to afford a halfway decent shithole in New York City to then go out to the woods and pretend to be homeless.
I set about trying to recruit some assholes to help split the cost of this thing with me, and of course I had less luck than a parolee violating a restraining order… Sure everybody SAID they were down. Sean Dunne, my homie who shot and directed and the phenomenal American Juggalo at the 2011 Gathering said he was in and bought a plane ticket to Nashville where we were gonna get the RV. About 2 weeks before we were set to go he got a paying film gig too sweet to pass up and had to bail. That left us with me and Sugar Shane who couldn’t back out because he works for me so I told him the trip was compulsory. Didn’t even count it as vacation time so technically this dude had an all expense paid trip to the madness. Not that he minded of course, as at the 2011 Gathering he set the record for “quickest profit turned on the drug bridge”! Things were looking rosy for Sugar Shane. Drew Rabbitclub aka 2DRU was my rock though. No way he would let me down. A few weeks before the Gathering I went to meet Drew and our buddy Lucas for a margarita at Niagra. That whole episode is gonna be written up on another day. Probably on S is for Shitfaced. But that night Lucas agreed to come with us so we bought him a ticket. A couple days later he called asking how to cancel. Something about his girlfriend persuading him to come to his senses. But at least Drew was still in. Til he wasn’t.
The day before we were set to leave Drew called me and said that he had come down with a nasty tooth infection and wasn’t going to be able to make it to the Gathering. Said his face was mad swollen. I knew he wasn’t lying cuz he had already found a sucker to take care of his hyperactive team of pit bulls. The morning we were going to leave I went out to pick up some last minute supplies. I knew I needed a sweet outfit to wear all weekend, and inspired by a recent pic I had seen of Lemmy, I went to the Levi store and bought a pair of jeans and a matching denim jacket.
This is what Lemmy looked like:
The King of Cool
And here’s what I looked like:
The Author At Home With his Lemmy Pants
With that mission accomplished I went by Drew’s house to pick up a T-Shirt he had custom made… He said since he couldn’t wear it at least I should take it and rep it at the gathering. When I got there he showed me his shirt. It was black print on a white shirt. It said “WOOP WOOP” If you know anything about Juggalos it’s that we have a sort of rallying cry / mating call. And it’s “WHOOP WHOOP” with the 2nd WHOOP being a little more drawn out and rising in pitch as it’s spoken / said / slurred / shouted / screamed. Sorta like the new siren of the NYPD cars – coincidence? I don’t think so… #WHOOPWHOOP! I laughed my as off and told Drew what a fucken idiot he was for misspelling Whoop Whoop. He wasn’t amused at me pointing out what a shithead he was so I decided not to push it. I told him I would take his shirt with me and rep it in honor of him. I just couldn’t bring myself to really fuck with him, cuz he was in serous pain. I mentioned his tooth infection but didn’t it justice. The entire left side of his face was SWOLLEN AS FUCK. Once he explained that he needed to be on antibiotics because of said infection and that would preclude him from drinking at the Gathering, I of course let him off the hook. No booze = no Gathering as far as I was concerned. Hell even the pharmecuticals you can buy on the drug bridge don’t achieve the required affect without a little alcohol mixed in.
We were down Drew, so now it was 2 and 2. We had picked up Jessica Cross, former longtime Rocks Off employee who happened to be in Nashville for some meetings that ended the morning we needed to pick up the RV, and a somewhat random Jersey Juggalette named Patricia who I had met at an ICP show at Hammerstein and didn’t know anything about really other than she replied to my Facebook post asking who wanted to ride in our RV and split the cost with us. I knew from facebook that she worked as a stenographer for court proceedings so figured she wasn’t a fellon and that was good enough for me. What could possibly go wrong??
We went and picked up the RV and got a little bit of a crash course in how to operate this thing. Im pretty sure none of us really paid attention to the instructions delivered to us by the guy from Deliverance. But no matter, I was full of that blind faith you have that nothing can go wrong when you simply fail to grasp the scope of exactly what can go wrong. We set off for the Gathering and after a 5 hour drive from Nashville and a nice long wait for the ferry to get us over the Fuckee River from Kentucky to Illinois we arrived at Hatchet Landings aka Cave-In-Rock, IL.
We quickly parked the RV and found our way to drug bridge. We weren’t gonna waste any time getting back into the swing of things. But we also weren’t looking to get loaded. Just wanted to feel back at home amongst our people. With a buncha provisons procured, we reconvened at the RV to start testing the waters, so to speak… Once our buzzes were buzzin we headed over to the main stage to see the Geto Boyz.. One thing people don’t realize is that the Gathering actually brings together a lot real hip hop groups. In fact the Geto Boys were making their first appearance together in over 10 years. We were getting down to Scarface, Wilie D and Bushwick Motherfucking Bill, when a guy came by and offered to sell us some mushrooms that he just swore were amazing. Jesscia did some negotiating and before we knew it we were all lip-deep in the caps of some funky ass fungus. The mushrooms hit the three of us all at once, and as soon as they did we realized we needed to get back to the RV, like, uh, IMMEDIATELY!!!! We got back there as quickly as we could and proceeded to TRIP THE FUCK OUT for a few hours. And when I say trip, I mean fucking TRIP. We were all pretty sure that we were seeing aliens and UFOs out in the night sky, and we weren’t at all worried, au contraire, we were EXCITED! We spent a few hours just laying in the grass and rolling around and talking about how comfortable it was. It wasn’t until we went back into the RV and turned the lights on that what we learned avery important lesson about the power of those mushrooms. WE WERE ALL COMPLETELY COVERED IN DIRT!!!! I went back outide with a flashlight and found that that luxurious grass that we had been rolling around in simply did not exist. Yup, the mushrooms were just THAT GOOD!
We had the perfect buzz to go check out some wrassling! We put on our special outfits for the matches, or at least I did. Lemmy Pants (aka Daisy Dukes) and Drew’s WOOP WOOPP shirt. And a buncha silver stripper glitter. What could go wrong?
Me and Sugar Shane and Jessica headed to the wrassling tent and posted up near the guard rail to take it all in. People were flipping and twisting and punching and selling. It was wrassling at it’s best. Until it wasn’t. Last thing I remember Sugar Shane and Jess were standing in front of me and we were Whoop Whooping it up! And then the next thing I knew I was staring straight up at the sky with the Cave-In-Rock dirt seemingly the only thing that had my back. As I tired to wrap my now swollen head around what the fuck had just happened, I was peering into the faces of some strange yet friendly Juggalos informing me that I had just gotten knocked the fuck out. I had no idea what the fuck they were talking about, And then it hit me. I HAD just gotten knocked the fuck out!! But from where? And by who?? According to the group of ‘Los some fucking scumbag had run up on me from behind and smashed me in the side of the face and then run right away. My clock had been cleaned. Because Sugar Shane and Jess had been standing in front of me they hadn’t seen what happened and only turned around when they hear my body lose it’s fight with gravity and attack the Illinois soil. By then it was too late for anyone to do anything as the cowardly perpetrator was already sprinting away to the safety of darkness. Without hesitation, the friendly Juggalos picked me up and shepherded me away to the relative safety of a patch of actual grass about 100 yards from the wrassling tent. One of my guarding angels brought me a bottle of water while the others propped me up on a fluffy patchy of earth to let me regain what little of my senses I had left. I was stunned. Stunned at how something like this could happen at an event so ruled by FAMILY! But no matter – I was regaining my composure and happy to be resting on the grass and still able to be enjoying the wrassling event from afar. I may have been an unknowing participant in Bloodymania, but at least I was able to still be spectating.
As I was laying back in the grass and finally starting to wrap my rapidly swelling head around what had just happened, I heard a bit of commotion… As my eyes trained on the blur coming toward me I snapped to attention just as a body launched through the air at my prone figured and a fist came smashing down upon my face. With what little coherence I had left I was able to ascertain that said fist was attached to the body of a man with murderous intent. Like it was in slow motion I could see his whole body flying through the air like a FUCK YOU projectile and kept it in focus until, with one resounding CRASH, there was no focus left. FUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCKKKKKK. I was under attack. Again. This time the fucker had brought reinforcements, and as soon as the first guy hit me, I was the recipient of a barrage of blows from a battalion of bastards that were in the midst of a full strength attack on my very being. I only recall bits and peices of what happened next, as it was mostly me covering up and struggling for survival, but I can still see a few frames clear as day. I can see Sugar Shane perched up on a guy’s back trying to put him in a sleeper hold. I can see Jess punching a guy from behind with little effectiveness… and I can clearly remember the distinct sound of cheap K-Mart cotton ripping against my flesh and the fibers peeling away form each other as this piece of shit was screaming “TAKE THAT FUCKING SHIRT OFF!” Before I even had a grasp of what was happening, the fucking cowards were off again for the sprint to the spot in hell reserved for cheap shot artists. Unfortunately it’s a place that Sugar Shane and Jess couldn’t follow them to… As all this was happening my guardian angels from earlier had noticed the commotion and come back to help run these bastards off. When the dust settled, Jess went to a security guard and said “Aren’t you gonna DO anything??” to which he replied “Man, it gets worse here every year”, shrugged, and sulked away. Security my ass. My badly beaten ass.
When relative calm was restored, I was once again surrounded by the friendly Juggalos, and they picked me up and formed a circle around me and told me “You are not OK. That was fucked up, and we are going to take you to the medical tent. We are going to form a circle around you so that if those assholes try and come back to get you again we WILL NOT let them get to you.” As badly beaten down as I was at that point, both mentally and physically, I remember a sense of relief washing over me that YES, I was surrounded by FAMILY, and that now I was finally going to be OKAY. Or so I hoped. When we arrived at the medical tent… I realized that we weren’t at NY Presbyterian, or even Bellevue. We were at an overwhelmed, understaffed and undersupplied festival medical tent in some ass backwards back woods county just on the outskirts of GoFuckYourselfVille.
When I was finally seen by a medical “professional” his exam consisted of him opening the conversation by asking “Man what did you do to get beaten up like this??” and then he shined a flashlight in each eye and asked if I knew where I was. OF COURSE I knew where I was. I had travelled more than 24 hours to be here. I might have been a fucking retard for being here in Cave-In-Rock but I wasn’t STUPID I told him. Just after our conversation I looked over and they were wheeling in a guy who was having a seizure. Then a moment later a helicopter landed by the medical tent and when I asked what was happening the dude told me “This Ninja is going into cardiac arrest so we need to airlift him to the medical center.” It suddenly dawned on me that I was the least of their problems so I grabbed a bag of Ice and me and Sugar Shane and Jess made our way back to the RV. I spent the rest of the night chugging beers and holding an ice pack to my head while Shane and Jessica went off to watch the Miss Juggalette contest. I passed out long before they got back, but when I finally woke up they told me they had at least checked to make sure I was still breathing before they went to sleep. Probably more than I would have remembered to do if the roles were reversed.
That morning, which was Saturday, we discussed leaving, but I was adamant that we stay. I hadn’t driven all that fucking way to NOT see Insane Clown Posse who were headlining that night. I also wasn’t about to let those fuckers run me out of town. They might have ruined my face for the weekend but they weren’t going to ruin my whole trip!
I went to work and created some fun t shirts… my favorite was the one that said “DON’T FUCK WITH ME” on the front And “I ALREADY GOT BEAT UP TWICE LAST NIGHT” on the back and we went out and made the rounds of the Gathering.
Clear as day, the author thought!
The worst part about wandering around that day was that I had no idea what those douche canoes looked like, so every time somebody was walking directly towards me I wondered if I was about to get attacked again. That got old quick so we returned to the RV and spent most of the day just hanging out with each other and trying to make a dent into the gallons and gallons of booze we had brought. I’m no doctor but in retrospect, I bet it’s not a good idea to drink alcohol after a concussion. But boy it sure did make me feel better.
As the midnight hour drew near and we were getting ready to head to the main stage to see ICP I came up with a good disguise. I put on a hoodie and and tied a bandana over my face all bandito style which let me move throughout the grounds with anonymity and greatly reduced my fears of a third beatdown.
That day I had sent a pic of my face to my friend Kodi who worked for ICP and her response was “What the fuck did you do!!!?” Of course she thought I instigated it. She knew me well. Maybe I did. Maybe Jugaglos were allergic to glitter. And tight daisy dukes on men. OR maybe they were just a couple of bad kernels in an otherwise wonderful family-filled field of corn. I prefer the latter. But I did manage to elicit enough sympathy from Kodi for her to let me onstage at the end of the ICP set to take part in Faygo Armageddon. If you’ve ever seen ICP you know exactly what that is. If not, well then you gotta go see it for yourself. During the last song they bring out multiple pallates full of diet root beer Faygo. Diet because it doesn’t have sugar so won’t leave you all sticky. And root beer cuz it’s got the best smell. And they let 40 or 50 fans onstage to crack em all open and spray them all over the crowd. It’s sublime. And it made the whole trip, beatdown included, worth it to take part in that. It was as joyous an occasion as I’ve ever felt. And it happened while they played one of my favorite ICP songs – BANG! POW! BOOM!
The maniacal author onstage during Faygo Armageddon – photo Courtesy RollingStone.com
After the show, elated but soaked to the bones in midwestern budget pop, we were freezing so we made a bee line back to the RV. I decided to leave well enough alone and let that cap of my Gathering of the Juggalos experience. The next morning as soon as I woke up I started driving us back to Nashville, one massive headache-accentuated mile after the the other.
I’m not sure Ill be going back to the Gathering of the Juggalos this year, or ever again for that matter. But it’s not because my love of ICP has waned. And it’s not because I no longer consider myself a Juggalo. I do. I am. But I’m a lot of things. And one of the things I most certainly am not is repetitive in my travels. There’s still a lot of places I want to see and things I want to do in this world. If I’m going to rent an RV for a week and travel through the heartland, I’m probably going to focus it around a NASCAR Race, and try and find a demolition derby nearby. Or go to Branson and see Tony Orlando perform in the Tony Orlando theater. That’s a lifelong dream. Or I’ll gonna go spend a couple weeks in Thailand. Or go to Peru and hike to Machu Pichu. Maybe see what living in Botswana without any electricity or running water is like. Or maybe try something really fun like attempting to get my picture taken with a cannibal tribe in Papa New Guinea. If there’s one thing I do NOT like to do on vacation, it’s go to music festivals. I just don’t like seeing music in the sunlight. But I still love me some ICP. Im going to travel to Hartford to see them on their next tour. A few months after all this shit went down I traveled to Detroit for Hallowicked – the annual ICP hometown Halloween concert. And I got to take part in Faygo Armageddon yet again, thanks to my main mahfukka Kevin Gill moving literal mountains of security guards to get me up there. I also tracked down the address of the lawyer who is suing the FBI on behalf of ICP because of the FBI’s official categorization of Juagglos as a street gang. I lietrally showed up unannounced at his fancy law office Bloomfield Hills, MI in a denim jacket with a huge hatchet man on the back and asked the front desk lady if I could just shake his hand and say thank you. And you know what? It worked. Dude came down from his office to meet me and talked to me. People have no reason to be scared of Juggalos. But people DO have reason to be scared of closed-minded assholes. They are everywhere. There’s a few in every church and more than a few at every sporting event. I’ve seen so many more fights at Yankees and Giants games or on a single night out at the bars than I’ve seen at two whole Gatherings of the Juggalos. Just because I was an unwitting participant in one of them doesn’t scare me away from going and hanging out with a buncha fucking wackos who love being around one another. I just hope that the next time someone wants to punch me in the face they have the balls to let me know first. Then I’m certain there will be a completely different fucking ending. As long as my friend Drew is there. Cuz he’s really really really good at fighting.
#WhoopWhoops The 4 Stages of Grief