Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Return to Shangri-La, 13th annual GOTJ, Day 4

Tuesday, August 7th through Monday, August 13th, 2012
The 13th Annual Gathering of the Juggalos
Cave-in-Rock, IL
$175

Friday, August 10th, 2012

By 8:30am on Friday, I was waking up to another beautiful morning in Shangri-La. The night was considerably cooler than the previous nights had been, so not only did I not need the fan I'd brought, I made good use of the large fleece blanket I had. At that moment, I was very glad that I'd put forth a little extra effort to plan for all possible weather situations. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, as Prozak says. Speaking of, I was particularly eager to jump out of bed and get my day going on Friday since not only was the ICP seminar that day, but KMK was performing, Twiztid was performing, and I was super dooper excited to see Prozak perform again! The lineup for the day was fantastic, and considering how great of a day I'd had the day before, I was up and energized, despite not having had all that much sleep.

Like other days, I hung around in my jammies for a while then made my way up the very steep hill to the shower building. After a cold yet refreshing shower, I made my way back down the hill and checked my mailbox for the first time of the day. Inside I found a promo postcard, something unmentionable, and a little spinny light thing that lights up! Very cool! While I was hanging around and doting over my new little treasures, a guy passed by and mentioned how much he liked the mailbox, then left us a can of beer inside!

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Our new homie, who we met because of the mailbox!

After chatting for a minute, he moved on, and I retrieved the beer and threw it into Pamela and Nick's cooler.

One of the main events of the day was going to be the ICP seminar, which to me is like the keynote speech of the Gathering...the one and only DO NOT MISS event. Moonshine wanted to go as well, but no one else seemed to be interested in going at all. So the two of us headed out, and just like yesterday, I said that I wanted to grab some lunch before we made our way to the tent. I stopped at the same food stall near second stage, and I thought breakfast sounded good. So I ended up with an egg, cheese and potato quesadilla. I'd also packed up my L&M cigarettes to sell, and of course right as I had one hand full of quesadilla and the other hand full of my purse and cigarette sign, I had people stopping me left and right to buy them haha I didn't mind of course, but I was glad that Moonshine was there to assist with holding stuff while I conducted my sales!

Once I got to the seminar tent, we were pretty lucky to find three seats in a row, so we sat across all three since Moonshine was saving a spot for a friend that was going to be arriving later. And on the way in, everyone was being barked at by a girl who was sitting near the entrance...random hahaha I finished my quesadilla, then set out on the quest of selling more cigarettes. I ended up selling 5 or 6 packs before the seminar started simply by holding up the sign. Nice!

For the first (and thankfully only) time of the Gathering, there were a lot of people throwing things around as we waited for ICP to arrive. But at least people contained the throwing to short, intense bursts, always starting by someone screaming "Fuck the front!" or "Fuck the back!" I managed to avoid getting hit, though I did get a decent splash of Rock and Rye as an almost full bottle flew directly over me!

ICP ended up arriving around 2:20...once again, refreshingly close to an on time arrival! Everyone was obviously very excited to see them, and gave them a standing ovation. Much like last year, Violent J made a big deal about how he considers the Juggalos at the ICP seminar the core of the Juggalo world...the heartbeat of the Juggalo universe. To me, just knowing that he feels that way is enough to make me want to never miss this seminar!

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Violent J, dishing some important info

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Once they started to delve into the news they had, most of it wasn't too much of a surprise. They addressed the Boondox situation and his departure from Psychopathic, as well as some themed shows they'll be doing later in the year. But the main thing that took up just about the last half of their seminar was the fact that they're suing the FBI for labeling Juggalos as a gang! There was about a 10 minute build up to this announcement where Violent J was relaying stories about Juggalos who have had problems because of hatchetman tattoos or clothing, and the problems that the gang label causes for their touring. But when they finally made the announcement that they were suing, the entire crowd burst into screams and jumped to their feet to applaud them! It was really a moment that I'll never forget, and I got goosebumps all over my arms from the reaction!

After the initial announcement was made, they went on to introduce the lawyer who is handling the case, who is a Juggalo himself. They also told about how they wanted anyone who felt they had been treated unfairly due to their status as a Juggalo to either go to a nearby tent or go to juggalosfightback.com and tell their story so they could join the lawsuit. It's really the craziest feeling to me to know that Violent J and Shaggy are willing to take on such a huge, potentially career ending project all for the love of their followers. I'm just not sure how many other artists would be willing to do that and risk their own careers and livelihoods just to make sure that their fans aren't stripped of their rights of expression. It's a huge deal to the subculture, and I'm honestly very humbled that they would stick their necks out the way that they have to protect me and my rights.

Once the seminar was officially over, Moonshine and his friend went in one direction, while I bid them farewell and walked off on my own. Since I still had most of my cigarettes to sell, I made a lap around the whole campground trying to get rid of them. I walked up through the drug bridge, then around through the autograph tent line, up past the food stalls, and into Spazmatic. I did my most brisk business inside Spazmatic, and even got offered to have my fortune read as a barter for a pack of cigs. I had to turn it down though since I'd actually paid cash for the cigs, and needed cash in return.

As I walked up toward main stage, I passed the medic tent, which houses the only real sink that I know of in the whole campground. So I made sure to wash my hands thoroughly while I was in the area :-) As I walked, a girl and guy off to the side called me over and asked me to settle a dispute for them. The girl was busting the guy's chops for his purple Rydas basketball jersey, while the guy was saying that he liked it. Initially I was like "Aww come on, it's a nice jersey!" until the guy turned around and the back was blank, then I said "Aww hell, it doesn't even have a hatchetman on it! You're just wearing a purple jersey!" haha Surprisingly, I don't think my feedback solved their dispute haha

From there I walked up past main stage, then all the way back to the cooling station, and cut back across in front of the merch booth. By the time I got back to camp, two cartons were completely gone, and I had sold one pack out of my third carton. Overall, I did very well with the cigs! I was making about $2 per pack, so I wasn't making a killing, but it definitely made it worth the effort! I made it back to the camp by about 3:45, and when I checked my mail...

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...I found the mailbox to be full of rocks! haha Not literally packed full, but I had probably two heaping handfuls of them, with a CD and some postcards below them. Too funny. After just a few minutes, some more people came by and messed with the mailbox, and ended up leaving me some business cards and $3 inside.

Almost everyone was hanging around camp at this point, so I took my time and chilled for a while, and we all caught up on what we'd all been doing. Since I'd heard that Prozak hung around his merch booth last year to greet people, after a while I decided to wander back up to the merch booth and see if he was there.

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The Prozak van is here!

When I arrived, I saw his booth set up, but he was nowhere to be found. After wandering a little more and taking some pics of the carnival rides, I went back and asked the guy at the booth if Prozak would be greeting at any point. He said that he would be out at midnight, which was great because it meant that I could catch all of the main stage acts, then head over there to say hey to him again.





With that question answered, I went back to camp so I could grab some dinner then head out for the night. When I got back, I found that the mailbox had been visited a bunch of times, and was full of stuff!

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I had some more postcards, a blunt wrapper package, some straws, an empty razor cartridge, some Herbal Essences conditioner, some Old Spice body wash, a bent tent stake, some beads and a life sized gray zombie hand! TOO FUN! I swear, every time I came back and found something inside the mailbox, I was so excited! It meant that people were taking a little slice of time out of their day to do something nice for someone else, while receiving nothing except a "thank you" in return. Of course a lot of the stuff was trash (like the razor cartridge) but it still meant that people took the time to think about interacting with their neighbors, and that's what I was hoping for. I never expected to get anything worthwhile inside the mailbox, so it was a nice treat to see some really awesome stuff showing up there!

While at camp, I decided to empty out some of my snack food that I brought, so I had some turkey sausage snacks, a beef and cheese stick pack and some tuna and crackers for dinner. I didn't end up finishing the tuna since I'd eaten the other stuff, but it was still a good, reasonably hearty meal.

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Meanwhile, the guys across the street were messing with people by laying a "poop dollar" in the road and watching people reach for it. At first I thought it was gross, but the longer I sat there and watched people reach for it, then heard them scream "Pooooop Dollaaaahhh!!" it became so funny to watch the reactions to it! No one got mad about it, but almost everyone either dropped it quickly, or made some kind of "Ahhh! Disgusting!" reaction! It was really funny to watch.

Around 7:30pm, I was starting to head up to main stage for the evening. I was obviously not in a hurry since I didn't care about Mack 10 or Master P since I'm not a fan of either of them. Along the way, I heard someone telling everyone that KMK was starting right then! What?? KMK wasn't scheduled for another hour! Then I heard someone else say that since Mack 10 had no-showed, BIG B HAD PLAYED IN HIS TIME SLOT! OMG I was pissed that I had no idea that I had missed Big B's entire set! I'd have definitely been there to show my support had I known that they were having him perform. GAH! So with that bit of info, I stepped up my pace and made my way over to main stage post haste.

When I arrived, KMK was already a little way into their set, but luckily I made it in time to catch the majority of it. Man I'd have been pissed if I'd missed their whole set again like I did last year (though at least this year I wouldn't have been missing it because of an asshole).

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KMK really are some incredibly talented guys, and they maintain their energy and enthusiasm like basically no one else that I've seen live. The show was great, and I had an awesome time watching them again. I just wish I'd been able to get a little closer and gotten a better view. That's what I get for not being a mind reader and knowing that they were going on an hour early! :-)

Once KMK was done, the crowd shuffled around, and I made a dash up toward the front on the right side. When I got there, I found Pamela, Nick and Chris hanging out at the barricade, so I stood with them, and was one person away from the barricade myself. Unbelievable...it was crazy how few people were packing in toward the front. After a couple of more minutes, the people in front of me left their spot, and I was able to move up against the barricade directly next to Pamela. Awesome. Next up was Three Six Mafia, who I already knew were going to give an amazing performance. Since I was up front most nights, I was familiar with a few of the security guards who were up there. And when Three Six Mafia took the stage, all of the security guards in front of the barricade started dancing and getting so excited! It was too fun to watch!

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They were having just as much fun as anyone in the audience! Later I ended up asking one of the guys (who looked like the youngest of them, who was always having fun and smiling) if he was a Juggalo and he said no, but that he just might be by the time the festival was over. That's the power of the Gathering for you!

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So despite not being too familiar with their music, the Three Six Mafia set was great. The crowd, as well as the security guards, was really into it, and you could tell that they were feeding off the energy. When they were done, I was excited that it was time for Twiztid since 1). I love Twiztid, and 2). They would be finished in plenty of time for me to get back to Prozak's booth by midnight. But then right as we were expecting Twiztid, Rude Boy came out and announced that Master P had arrived and would be performing next. What?? Dude, you lost your spot when you arrived late and they had to throw Big B onstage to replace you. But they set up everything, and with a sigh of disgust from the crowd, we prepared for Master P to take the stage.

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Well, this set was a bomb straight from the get go. Before they had even walked out, they sent out some crew members to throw t-shirts into the crowd, and stall for an additional 20 minutes. People were booing and pelting them with bottles and cans, but the crew didn't even care. They just kept on trying to hype up a crowd that very clearly just wanted their set to be over. Once Master P came out, he was met with a lot of boos, but not enough to make him turn around and leave. The worst part was this hype man kind of guy he came with who kept yelling stuff like "Where my white boys at??" and "This is white trash paradise" which made lots of people boo and throw things at him. Lots of people got direct hits on the people on stage, but they motored right through it and finished out their set almost just to spite the crowd. It was WAY more entertaining to watch the people in the crowd react so negatively to them than to watch them perform, and watch as the bottles, cans and everything else rained down on them.

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At one point, the crowd even picked up a trash can and tried to throw it onstage!! But unfortunately the security guards caught it and it fell between the stage and the barricade. What a statement that would have made though, had it actually been tossed onstage!

When they were finally done, the stage was littered all over with all kinds of bottles and objects that had been thrown. They brought out a small army of people with big brooms to sweep everything off the stage before Twiztid came out. By about 11:30pm, it was Twiztid time! Without too much fanfare, they took the stage, and immediately everyone in the venue erupted into cheers. Twiztid really are an amazing couple of guys who never fail to completely entertain me with whatever they do. Last year, they had a lot more theatrical stuff going on during their set (with the Batman movie, the costumes, the screen and all) but this time it was just all them. No fluff. No comedy. No nothing to distract from the sheer awesomeness that is them. They started off with They Told Me, which is a great one to get the crowd hyped for the set. As I was enjoying the set, I was keeping an eye on the clock to make sure that I made it back over to meet Prozak just after midnight.

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At around 12:15, Twiztid was still in full swing with their set. so I decided to duck out early, despite having a fantastic barricade spot for their set. I walked over to Prozak's merch booth, but no one was there yet, so I ended up walking back out to the main stage field and watching through the end of Twiztid's set from farther back. By the time they started doing their little comedy sketch at the end of the show, I headed back over to the merch area. Apparently I should have stayed since everyone for the rest of the Gathering talked about how funny Twiztid was after their set! Dangit! And to kick me while I was down, Prozak still wasn't at the merch booth.

The guy who was at the merch booth was really nice, kept apologizing profusely for the fact that he was late, and even called Prozak's crew twice to see how much longer it would be before he arrived. I really didn't mind because, since Twiztid's set was over by then, the next "must do" on my list wasn't until Prozak's set at 3:00am, so I was fine with waiting around. After a while, Krissi and our friend Lyrical wandered by, so we hung out for a bit and chatted. While they were there, we spotted Taxman from KMK come by to help break down their merch booth, so the three of us went over and spoke to him for a while as well.

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Lyrical meets Taxman!

Around 1:00am, the Prozak van drove up, and his whole crew jumped out. Since I was near the end of the line (which wasn't very long...maybe like a dozen people), I started chatting with one of the guys in his crew. I asked if he'd been at the Nashville Hostile Takeover show, and when he said yes, I asked if he'd gotten one of the Faygo cupcakes I'd brought. His face lit up and he said "Were those YOURS??" and when I said yes, he gave me a huge bear hug and kept dramatically saying "Thank you! Thank you so much!!" hahaha Nice to know that I have another person in my supporter category! When it was my turn to say hey to Prozak again, I reminded him that I was the person who'd brought him the cupcakes in Nashville, and he said "...and the coffee" which meant that he did actually remember who I was. Very nice :-) I handed him the black and white photo of him that I'd taken at the Nashville show, which he graciously signed for me. Since I didn't want to hound dog him, I told him goodbye and started the walk back to my camp. Along the way I kind of kicked myself, wondering why I didn't ask if I could have another photo with him, so I'd have one as a Gathering memory as well. Rats!

When I got back to my camp, I quickly locked up the signed photo in my car, and sat down to chill for about an hour. I had a couple of packs of mini donuts while I waited, and pretty much just enjoyed the night. The weather was a bit chilly, so I ended up grabbing my hoodie, which was another item that I was so glad that I'd packed. I wasn't paying attention to the performer onstage, so when I heard someone leave the stage right around 2:30am, I jumped up and scurried off to the stage so I could make sure to have a good spot for Prozak's set. As I passed the security guard at the barricade, I told her that I was going to need back past the barricade once his set was over because that's where my camp was, and asked her to try to remember my flowery bandana so she could let me in. Well, once I found my spot and they started to announce the next performer...it was Awesome Dre. D'oh! So I went back to the security guard and said that I didn't really care to see Awesome Dre, and wanted to chill at my camp until it was Prozak time. She was cool and let me back in luckily. Quite a few other times, we were either made to walk all the way around or were given a hassle as we tried to get past the barricade, especially when bigger name performers were in the area.

As I walked back, I saw the Prozak van pull in behind the barricade, so I stayed back and watched them get into place. It was a little surreal...since my camp was so close, and I was so used to walking up and down that path, having the van pull in there almost felt like they were pulling into my driveway at home haha Finally, a little before 3:30am, I heard Awesome Dre leave, so I got up and walked back to second stage. After just a few minutes, Prozak took the stage, and proceeded to tear it up like I knew he would. I was very happy to see that he had adjusted his set list to include a lot of his Paranormal songs, which included Wake Up You're Dead, Enemy and Million Miles Away, which is my favorite of his. The crowd showed him a huge amount of support...as well they should!

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At the end of his set, they announced that he'd be greeting people off to the side at the barricade and that he "wanted to meet each and every one of us" or something like that. Well quite a few dozen people crowded around him, and he was all smiles and was so friendly as everyone met him. Out of all five days of the Gathering, he was the only performer I saw who actively invited everyone to meet him. He didn't sneak off and hide in his van...he didn't act like he was better than everyone...he just stood out there like he was everyone's homie and stuck around until everyone who wanted one had an autograph or photo. I really respect the hell out of that. Not only is he one of the most purely talented artists in the game, but every time I've talked to him, he's been friendly, humble and gracious.

When it was my turn again, I said I wanted another photo of the two of us, and playfully asked him if he would smile in my picture (since he never smiles in any fan pics!). He said "Uh oh, that costs extra" but apparently I got a discount...

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...because I got a great pic of the two of us where BOTH of us are smiling! *happy* Afterward, I spotted the guy in his crew who I had taken to Starbucks in Nashville the day of the show, so I said hi to him too. Since there was still some commotion in and around the barricade, I just stepped back for a while and waited for the crowd to clear before I tried to get back to my camp.

By the time the crowd dissipated, they had announced that King Gordy and Bizarre had both no-showed, and that second stage acts were over for the night. I made my way back behind the barricade fairly easily and made the short walk back to camp. Along the way, it started to sink in about just what a wonderful time I was having. I had really, truly checked out of life for a few days and was in a place where I truly felt grateful to be there. As I walked, I reached the clearing just in front of our camp, and something made me look up...and I could see every star in the sky! It was such a magical moment!

When I got back to my camp, I sat in my chair and just let it all soak in for a minute. Moments like this just don't happen nearly often enough in life. The feeling can only be described as overwhelmingly profound happiness and contentment. I was in an amazing place, watching artist after artist that I really love, and was experiencing so much love from all the Juggalos I was meeting. I had watched ICP vow to fight for our rights of expression against one of the biggest powers in the government. I really felt like I didn't have a single care in the whole world, and that there was nowhere else in the world that I would have rather been right at that moment.

As I sat there, I grabbed my phone and jotted down a few lines about how exactly I felt at that moment, in an attempt to enjoy it while it lasted since those moments are so few and far between. I had to have sat for over half an hour just soaking it all in and enjoying how grateful I was to have the opportunity to have that experience. After a while, I decided to go be grateful for life while laying in my bed and trying to get some sleep, so I headed off for bed somewhere around 5:00am. As I laid down, I heard Rehab finish up on the Freakshow stage, and a while later I heard Zug Island start to perform. But I was so wiped out that I slept soundly through their whole performance.

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