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Yup. I am one of the zillions of people playing Pokemon Go and I love it! I am an 80s kid, so I kinda missed Pokemon when it first hit North America in the 90s. I mean, even though I was busy being a 20something, I couldn’t really avoid it either, so before this week I could have still named a half dozen or so Pokemon. That said, I wasn’t into the handheld games or the card game, so this is the first time I have felt like part of the Pokemon phenomenon.
I’ve also never been big into gaming in general, aside from casual games. I never got into the big online things like WoW or Minecraft, or any of the console biggies (thanks, motion sickness; no first person shooters for me!).
Outside the typical casual games, I have one longtime gaming love: Packrat which started on Facebook and now lives on its own servers. It is a card collecting game with a dedicated following and I’ve not only been playing that for as long as it has existed (since January 2008!) but I have made some great friends through playing it. More recently, Neko Atsume took over my casual collecting game time as I collected cats.
So, Pokemon Go made sense to me immediately. Adding the incentive of walking, I was surprised that initially I was getting about 5 k per day! That’s a huge increase in activity for me. And I get to battle! I suck at it, but I still try. I’m talking to more people and enjoying being knee-deep in the phenomenon. How long will I stay on the bandwagon? Hard to say.
In the meantime I am fascinated by reactions (positive and negative), the marketing wins and fails, and the breadth and depth of the reach this game is having. Plus, it just makes me smile!
A lot of my friends have been boggled by my recent obsession over Insane Clown Posse. I’ve weathered everything from raised eyebrows to concerned brow furrows to derisive laughter. Friends have expressed shock that I not only bought tickets, but went to the show — let alone that I ended up squarely in the splash zone/mosh pit, soaked to the bone with Faygo soda.
Frankly it was one of the best nights of my life. I’m still riding a cocktail of serotonin, endorphin, and adrenaline.So how did I get here?
This is a long post so you might want to get a cup of tea.
Insane Clown Posse (ICP) are a hiphop act out of Detroit. They’ve been around for decades, and for many years I only knew them as a joke act with degenerate followers — because that is what the media wanted me to see. I should have known better.
Earlier this year, a friend posted the video for Homies. I watched it then replayed it. Again. And again. And again. Pretty much for two days. Then I started reading about ICP, and seeking out more of their music. And I liked almost all of the music I found. It helped once I figured out each album was thematic and started listening to full albums.
I read about the FBI labeling them and their followers a gang (spurious, at best; life-altering at worst) and I read about the Gathering of the Juggalos, an annual festival somewhere between Burning Man, Lollapalooza, and a family reunion. They consider Juggalos to be family; a collection of outcasts who come together. These are the people who have stuck by them, and these are the people who have helped them become self made millionaires. In return, ICP has helped many people feel like there is a place for them in the world, and has helped some of them get clean or get back on track.
In between Gatherings, they tour. These shows allow the family to come together and celebrate and cut loose. There is dancing, cursing, arm waving, whooping, and so… much… Faygo. Because of the FBI label, they haven’t been able to tour Canada for the past 16 years so these shows sold out; I bought two tickets on day one.
I thought it would be easy enough to find someone to go with me but it wasn’t. I ended up selling the second ticket and sucking it up to line up alone — I knew other people who would be there with VIP tickets. As it turns out, the fans are exactly what ICP tells you they are: friendly, warm, welcoming, and just happy to be there.
Yes, there were plenty of drunk folks, but when someone got bumped, there was always someone to check if they were OK. At one point, after a buckets of Faygo were emptied over the audience, a couple of people made their way off the floor past me, one of whom was wiping soda from her face. I grinned at her and she asked, “Do you want a hug?” we hugged and I said to her, “I’m almost as wet as you.” By that time, I was regularly wringing out my tank top, I’d been blasted by super soakers and soaked by buckets and sprayed by bottles held by both Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope. As the bottles were flying out into the audience, I decided to keep one (I earned it).
Let me back up a bit. I knew about the Faygo. I knew I was going to get soaked. I wore appropriate clothing and footwear. I downed two small bottles of beer (I am so used to the big craft beer bottles!) as soon as I got into the bar and made my way to the dance floor. I danced through the opening act, through the music in between, and stayed firmly planted during the main event. Being built like a brick shithouse (or at least not a lightweight) and being sober enough to be aware of my surroundings made it pretty easy to avoid any collisions and to not slip in the sodapocalypse despite jumping and bouncing around.
Overall, that was the happiest room of people I’ve been in in a long time. My throat is raw from yelling — there is something so wonderfully cathartic about yelling, with a room full of others, at the top of your lungs, “if you don’t like me you can FUCK OFF!” repeatedly.
ICPs lyrics sound pretty antagonistic to an outsider, but to a fan, there is a whole lot of vigilante fantasy that becomes very empowering. Whether they are rapping about killing pedophiles or having an island just for Juggalos where the family can be themselves, or asking, “where’s God when shit goes down?” the lyrics offer some release to the frustration felt by being bullied, feeling helpless, or with the weaknesses of the justice system, or even the frustrations of being a parent. ICP offers that outlet while simultaneously assuring fans that if you do good, you’ll be OK in the end. No one gets out of this alive, right?
In fact that is a message that they repeat often, and it gets more obvious where they are going with it as their albums progress. On Mighty Death Pop, the title song includes the refrain, “when the Mighty Death Pop/you either rise or drop” — if that isn’t reason enough to live well, they carry it through in Forever, “How much positivity are you blind to?/You only live once, I’ll remind you.”
One last thing about the albums. Way back in the beginning, they announced that each album would be a Joker’s Card and once they got to the 6th one, all would be revealed. I have so much respect for that kind of foresight for any author/composer and they pulled it off too. The songs are great but you cannot understand ICP without listening to albums start to finish.So why am I obsessed with ICP?
- they embrace body positivity
- they stick up for the underdog
- they reject rapists, pedophiles, and abusers
- they promote living a good and positive life (there’s a pretty overt Christian overtone to their music, but they have stated that the “god” they speak of is more of a universal creator)
- they acknowledge that they fucked up in the past and how easy it is to do but encourage others to get back up and try again
- they understand how stressful having a crap job or no money can be, and that sometimes cutting loose is the only way to relieve that stress
- they know how to have fun (I never imagined being sprayed with soda would be fun, but damn, it is.)
- they are fantastic storytellers and savvy businessmen, two things I deeply respect
Oh, and their music is infectious!
What’s not to love? Does that make me a Juggalo? Yeah, it does, and if you don’t like it you can fuck off! WHOOP WHOOP!
Forty seven is an odd number. It doesn’t yet roll off my tongue, but I’m so very grateful to be here. I have everything I need and virtually everything I want. I’m healthy, housed, and loved. I finally feel close to whole again now that I’ve stopped trying to compartmentalize or hide aspects of myself. Whether you call it openness or honesty or transparency, whatever it is, it’s working for me, for the most part. I haven’t quite figured out how to make it all backwards-compatible yet… but I am working on it.
At 47 I can finally say I am “out” — openly bisexual (or more technically pansexual but the difference between the two is subtle and I’m content if people get it “close enough”), openly polyamorous (this label is still new to me and like 47 doesn’t roll off the tongue, but once I found the word, I realized it described a side of me that was always there), and openly a labour activist (a badge I’ve not always worn well). You may not put that last one on par with the other two but I probably get more flack for that than anything else in my life.
Being out means being patient with people; it means I spend time explaining what those labels mean and why they mean something to me. It’s not difficult for me to do when people ask but it gets tricky when I am in a room where people are not as friendly to one or more of those aspects. That’s when I have to put on my advocate hat and stand up for not only myself but also for others who share those labels — and that is difficult — but at my age, it is my responsibility to try and use my less vulnerable position to make life easier for those who have not felt ready to step into the spotlight. I take that responsibility seriously so if you have questions about this stuff, just ask.
I swear it was just May last week and yet my birthday is around the corner. Yesterday some asshat posted a “six months to Christmas!” cartoon. A year ago I was in San Francisco and filled with joy about that adventure. This year, I’ve yet to make any plans as it’s been Busy As Usual. (I swear, 2016 will be remembered as the year I had no choice but to schedule everything!)
Of course it doesn’t mean that I haven’t had my down time — oddly, the schedule has meant I’ve been able to manage more time for myself — for reading, for writing, for just doing whatever the heck I feel like — in between stuff that Needs Doing like meetings, and work, and parenting, and so on.
I kicked off the month learning to lawn bowl (at last!) then I had a bit of time off mid-month and got to help a friend build a 3D printer (that was a lot of fun!). In the spirit of the Year of Yes, I went to Bloomsday, a celebration of James Joyce’s Ulysses, and got up and read (cold!) a passage from the book. I went on dates. I had some lovely meals. I sent my manuscript for Undead out to a half dozen early readers. I registered for the first class in the PR Diploma program.
Tonight, I tackled sushi for me and Kiddo (the first time I’ve done so on my own for a very, very long time) and I think I knocked it out of the park:
Earlier today we went to the GVPL Friends of the Library booksale and =SURPRISE= got more books. Hahaha! I ended up with about 30 books (including a half dozen audio books) and a few CDs, but this time I focused on non-fiction, reference, and graphic novels. Just a small stack of fiction came home
I’ll be ending the month with a bit of time off, too (as usual for my birthday) and through into next week to cover off the house closing and all the running around that goes with that. Meanwhile I am planning for a couple of days in Seattle with Kiddo later in July and we will see what else comes along for the summer.