Tears of an Insane Clown
By Jason Webber
Somewhere between the first burning splash of Faygo hitting my eyes and realizing that the median age in the room was 25 or younger, it suddenly hit me — I was not having any fun and I wanted to go home. My 14-year stint as a fan of Insane Clown Posse (ICP) had run its course. What once was a kick to a 22-year-old college student living in Detroit was no longer a thrill to a 35-year-old man living in Dayton with debt and bills to pay.
Ah, maturity. It sneaks up on you in ways you never see coming.
It’s never been cool to admit to being a fan of ICP, but then again I’ve never been cool and I never will be. Hell, I still listen to Poison, used to drink Crystal Pepsi and have never owned a single Radiohead or Weezer album. But the reason I now concede to my long-suffering friends who used to tease me about being a Juggalo (a hardcore ICP fan) isn’t because I just suddenly realized how whack and lame the material is — I’ve known all along that it’s impossible to defend a band that writes songs titled “Bugz on my Nugz” and “I Stab People.” Rather, something else happened: I grew up.
I don’t know what it is about 35, but it’s turning out to be a bigger milestone year for me than 18 or 21. Being able to suddenly buy lottery tickets, tobacco and alcohol seems quaint compared to the self-discoveries I’ve made over these past seven months. I’ve been hit with various age-related epiphanies. For example, I can no longer use Axe shower gel without feeling downright lame; Sinatra would never have approved of a man in his mid-30s smelling like a college douchebag. Being a certified pop culture dweeb, I’ve always loved Hot Topic, but I discovered last year I can’t shop there anymore without feeling awkward. When you and a 15-year-old are looking at the same shirt, it’s a rather sobering feeling.
Remember that scene in Juno when Jennifer Garner looks ruefully at her aging hipster, mid-30s, Pearl Jam shirt-wearing husband and tells him, “That shirt looks stupid?” Yeah, that’s how I’ve started feeling lately and that feeling hit critical mass when I attended ICP’s recent concert. Dressed in face paint and a vintage ICP bicycle jersey, I felt downright silly. And old.
God knows being a Juggalo was a fun trip — for a while. I was in my early 20s, living in Detroit, the city that hath wrought the automobile, the Boston Cooler, Motown, the Red Wings, and (arguably) American punk rock in the form of Iggy Pop and the MC5. Oh yeah, and um, ICP. I actually went to the first two Gathering of the Juggalos, the ICP version of Woodstock, long before they started booking acts like Tila Tequila, Gallagher and Charlie Sheen.
I hope the guys in ICP — Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope — understand that while I will always listen to their unabashedly silly, funny-if-you’re-in-the-fifth-grade ditties of misogyny and bloodletting, I’ll likely never attend another Clown show and I can no longer bellow the Juggalo cry of “Whoop! Whoop!” with any real enthusiasm. The ICP chapter of my life was a kick, but dude, Dayton is a long way from Detroit. And 35 is a long way from 22. Or is it?
A few years back, you heard a lot of parents fretting over whether their grade school-aged children were dressing “age-appropriately” (a question that every generation of parents seems to ask). But the age-appropriate question applies to grownups too. There have been a lot of articles written about how more and more 30-somethings are delaying life-changing decisions like marriage and kids in favor of living lives of permanent leisure — screw getting to the daycare center to pick up the kids, I gotta get to Game Stop to pick up my reserved copy of Call Of Duty.
I guess I’m part of this questionable demographic — still unmarried after two failed engagements, no kids (that I know of), no mortgage payment, not dating anyone steadily. It’s just me, myself and I. But I am growing up and aging kinda-sorta gracefully — I’m just doing it on my terms. I may have outgrown ICP, traded in the Axe for Old Spice, and occasionally get the “What’s that old dude doing here?” look at concerts where the headliner’s core audience is aged 15-25, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
In my early 30s, I fretted constantly about getting older. Now? I’m starting to almost enjoy it. It’s kind of fun having my 20-something friends ask me for advice, and to be able to tell the young’ins about being there when Nirvana first came out (I get extra points because I actually lived in Washington state during the grunge fad).
So I’ve retired the ICP jersey to the bottom drawer and likely worn the greasepaint for the last time, but I’ve gained so much. I’ve got a journal full of dubious, Faygo-stained memories and an as-yet unmapped future to look forward to as I careen towards 40.
Can I get a “Whoop! Whoop!”?
Reach DCP freelance writer Jason Webber at JasonWebber@DaytonCityPaper.com.