Woop what?

“Woop woop,” the crowd cheered. A trio of hip hop performers in custom jerseys sporting a logo with a hatchet man took the stage. They sang lyrics about horror, society, sex and murder. They spit fast and hard to a downtuned guitar and the crowd pulsed with a sort of underground club energy. Slam dancing quickly turned to moshing, and at one point someone even threw up. Here I was in the midst of it all, a curious musical tourist witnessing her first (and only) Juggalo show. So allow me to share my unbiased opinion of this concert.

There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what this fandom is. One thing it most certainly isn’t is a gang. What I learned from standing in this crowd was that here was a group of people who started following this weird genre (dubbed horror core) because they themselves felt weird according to societies standards. Here is a group of people who embrace the principle of ‘no judgment.’ It is a group who cover themselves in face paint and oversized clothing stylized in custom fonts and horror images.

Why do they do this? Why does this group present themselves like this? To embrace the fact that they are strange and maybe even scary to some. They embrace being outsiders and outcasts, a joyful band of misfits. Simply, this fandom is an outlet for many to take their anger and frustrations with the world out. It is evident in the horror themes of their lyrics which often glorify violence or subject brutality and societal issues. But the violence is spoken word, not action. It is an outlet. It’s not so different from Eminem writing similar rants fueled by his own anger and feelings about being neglected and rejected by society. Much like the urban area of Detroit Enimem hailed from, ICP also began in Michigan.

So in essence, this group of people who label themselves Juggalos are quite often people who at one point felt marginalized by mainstream society and sought to band together with others like them. If a sociologist were to study them- I’d imagine many come from working class backgrounds, many had personal difficulties, many struggled from depression and many others from substance abuse or just general feelings of being misunderstood. This is not a one size fits all generalization but it seems many who follow the acts under the Juggalo banner have their own inner demons and the music and the community help them to overcome.

So while an outsider to this world, I left the show with a greater understanding of the fandom. While I don’t particularly care for the music nor would I probably attend another show- I respect that this community has found an outlet for themselves. It is a community which also seems to be very supportive of other members going through hard times. They go above and beyond, and it is why many refer to the fandom community as “family.” Perhaps that’s also because this group feels a lot more like family than their own families.

So no it’s not my cup of tea, but who am I to judge others for what they like? It’s not fair to simply label a group a gang because they gather in large numbers, have code slang and unite under certain logos and colors. It’s simply a bizarre but benign fandom. That’s what I learned by going beyond the talk in the media following the group’s protest March in DC. I went to see for myself and established my own opinion- even if part of that opinion is that the music is sort of secondary to the act itself and of low quality. But hey, let people like what they like- whether that be the much maligned pumpkin spice latte or a group calling themselves by a weird name.

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Patience

I was walking by the Tower Records earlier and thinking of the Guns N’ Roses song PATIENCE. The store no longer exists but West Hollywood agreed to put the storefront sign back up to preserve the history of the world famous Sunset Strip. Long before it was the instrument showroom it is today, it was just another Tower Records selling CDs, used instruments and concert tickets. Some of those who used to frequent this mainstay would become successful artists in their own right, including Guns N’ Roses. Long before they made it big, they were just another act patiently plugging away at their craft along Sunset Boulevard. Thirty years after their moment of mega success, I find myself in much the same position: patience.

SWEET CHILD OF MINE is probably Guns N’ Roses biggest hit. It hit number one on the charts two months after I was born in September of 1988. When we look at the final product, this masterpiece of stadium rock, we often lose sight of all it took to get there. Beyond all the wild parties, the drugs, the women– there was a group of men who just dared to make it happen. By the late 80s/early 90s they closed out an era of rock with a bang (and a little of Kurt Cobain’s spit on their keyboard). But it’s not glamorous to sing a song about patience is it?

Yet, they did. Along with all of these crazy drug fueled solos and songs about women and wildness, there is this song about “we need a little patience.”

Nobody wants to be patient any more. Certainly not in your 20s. I am 29, and just moved into my first place without a roommate. It is not far from the clubs where GNR, The Doors, and numerous other LA acts began their journey. While not a musician apart from hobby I am in absolute awe to call this neighborhood my home. When I show the photos of my newly renovated home and tell them where it is people look at me with skepticism. Their eyes read “how do you afford this as an assistant?” The answer: patience.

I got my Hollywood start late because I saved for four, nearly five years before moving. I have no student loans, very little personal debt and ample savings. So I can afford to work for little (and still do extra work on the side) and call this place home. I had patience, because I knew that once I finally decided to make the move that I wanted to be comfortable and secure, live where I most wanted to be.

Yet, many who’ve only recently met me don’t know of the struggle I endured to get here. One which included two failed moves, one which saw me temporarily homeless. No- that’s because most people only look at the final result. They know SWEET CHILD OF MINE, but not the night spent living out of a van.

Patience. If only I could have told my younger self it’d take all of my twenties to get to this point. I guess it wouldn’t matter because I didn’t want to hear it from my mentor (‘Paris’) then either. Along with patience comes learning about it only through experience. As I walk around my apartment, I can finally appreciate all the hard work it took to get me here. It’s surreal sometimes. I’ve failed so much, and now at 29 everything is falling into place.

Yet, it’ll probably be another ten to fifteen years before I start to make any decent money from this business. I know that the lessons I’ve learned from patience will only continue to come into play. But now I am relaxed and can appreciate one day at a time for I am patient. I am patient in learning. I am patient in paying my dues. I am patient with ‘Paris.’ I am patient in working on my craft. I am patient because it took all of my twenties to learn that. It will require utmost patience to continue to grow, and I look forward to it.

 

 

A New Chapter

Going forward I will be forced to be a lot more selective about what I write. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s good to have strong opinions as a writer, but it’s also important to balance that with diplomacy.

Sometimes I lack a filter, being on the spectrum. I say things that make ordinary folks face palm. I also tend to overshare at times in an effort to be understood. I am becoming a lot more self aware of when I do this, and that’s an essentially important development.

I am so grateful to be where I am now not solely for professional reasons but also for personal development reasons. Working on a studio show has forced me to become a lot more self aware. I cannot simply speak without consequence any more as a writer or as an employee. I am apart of something much larger than just myself and words always have consequence but especially so in this industry.

Beyond my social media presence this self awareness also extends to social interaction at work. I must be careful about how I come across in emails and respect the power balance emphasized in those emails and interpersonal communications. Hollywood is hierarchical not because they want to be Marie Antoinette about things but because this hierarchy is what enables the business to work and have order. It’s important because without it there is no way we’d function as an industry given the time constraints we work under.

So I am very excited about how much I have grown this past month and how much I will continue to grow. Being apart of a really great crew also makes this Hollywood adjustment easier as well. While I’ve worked within the industry, never have I had such access to executives and above line professionals before. Such responsibility is most appreciated because it is molding me into not only a more capable professional but also a more self aware and mature person.

So while I may be on the spectrum, I will never use that as an excuse for my behavior. It is a challenge, yes- but if people from Dan Ackroyd to Tim Burton could do it then so can I. We all have our challenges in life, so long as we always look to personal improvement we will not be impeded by our own difficulties.