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September 04, 2012 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2012-09-04

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I

8A - Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

MUSIC COLUMN
An overture toafresh
take on music writing

We're idling in the
front of the crowd
for Matisyahu, the
formerly Hasidic Jewish reggae
singer, to take the stage, when
my friend
leaves the
cramped,
sweaty club,
for a dose of
fresh air. He
looks flushed
and out of -
breath. ELLIOT
"I just need ALPERN
a minute,"
he says. Five
minutes pass before I've been
alerted that he has passed out on
an off-duty EMT, who assumes
he's on some cocktail of drugs.
The ensuing few minutes are one
of those intangible concert expe-
riences, where music, drama and
the buzz of a Friday-night show
converge into one bonfire narra-
tive for the ages.
But wait, hold on. I can't really
start my newly inherited column
with a story like that, right? I
mean, sure, it's loosely tied to the
matter at hand, but beginning
with that kind of anecdote does
little to display my credentials
as a music authority. For that
matter, I don't want to come off
as a reggae enthusiast who par-
ties with lightweights. So let's
cry "Mulligant" and start with a
fresh story.-
We're waiting at an outdoor
stage set on the bank of Pitts-
burgh's rivers, when Colbie Cail-
lat takes the stage - the opening
act for Gavin DeGraw. By some
divine combination of heavy
humidity, thick heat and the short
mayfly matingseason, Colbie is
getting dive-bombed by thou-
sands of the fluttery creatures.
She even has to stop mid-song to
collect her sanity, and eventually
asks the crowd: "Can I go?" Her.

set takes on a panicked pace as name."
she takes breaks from strumming Okay, so how did that go? In
to backhand away the odd insect. hindsight, not spectacular - bor-
The moment is unforgettable. derline hostile, even - but at least
I'll admit, I'm not that fond of I'm startingto hone in on the
using this tale either. We're get- function of this column. So what .
ting closer - I managed to work final point am I sloppily attempt-
in Pittsburgh, my hometown, and ingto drive home?
also one of the only times I've This (hopefully) won't be your
cried from laughing-- but we're conventional music column. I'm
not there yet. Colbie Caillat isn't not going to be the one to don
the kind of hip, obscure name thick-framed glasses and discuss
I need to drop to establish my the fringes of the hipster-sphere
music cred; too bad it wasn't The over a local mocchiato. I'm not
xx or Wilco touring with Gavin the one tocome to when Lady
instead. Gaga drops her newest release
(please do see our talented music
staff, though).
H e just wants I'm tired of the usual argu-
ments and opinions, the
to talk. re-hashed debates and over-
analyzed pop stars. I don't want
to have to tread water against the
thick sea of musical arrogance.
Maybe I'm looking at this Instead, I'll try to represent a
wrong. Following in my prede- fresh, untarnished view of the
cessor's footsteps isn't an easy music world at large. Sometimes
task; I had hoped that strong I like to weave stories, hoping
storytelling could somehow keep that some thread will link my
me afloat. MaybeI need to try tales to a grander idea. Maybe
my hands at a different approach. I'll getsucked into a rant every
Music writers are always ranting now and again, falling into the
about something, right? Let's roll same better-than-thou complex
the dice on a well-placed temper that befalls a great many music
tantrum. writers.
What ever happened to main- In the end, I'm here for the
stream rock? Where are the fun. (Not the band - but more on
days of yore, when the Eagles, that at a later date). I want to talk
the Rolling Stones and Led Zep- about the unattainable perfect
pelin would graffiti their names playlist for a romantic date, pre-
all over the Billboard charts? dicting music trends from festival
I'm not talking about any of that lineups and hunting for ba-gains
Maroon 5crap for squares, I at a used record store. I don't
mean the soul-thumping beats want to ask why hip hop is bigger
and brain-itching riffs that put than rock, but why their respec-
generations on bended knee. The tive diversities are so blatantly
Black Keys and the like are cling- contrasting. And sometimes I'd
ing to the last vestiges of rock 'n' rather reference Ben & Jerry's
roll, bless 'em, but when did the than Art Nouveau.
genre become "alternative"? I
think we need a little less of lyrics Alpern is sitting alone telling
such as "Call me, maybe" and a stories to himself. To express
little more "Won't you guess my. concern, e-mail ealpern@umich.edu.

Fucking lemonade, how does this work?
Gang status unfair

for Juggalos
FRTIo illck to~bp. there is a common thread,. They

1' 1
judg
By.
Ima
the yea
Bieber
togeth
elitists
fans
hang o
and f
Some,l
tattoos
Occ-
cute n
selves-
act of
other
therea
betwee
span th
ly a ful

quietly classify Beliebers as a
se Insane Clown "loosely organized hybrid gang,"
a term so vague it could probably
Posse fans be applied to the NRA. However,
this groups Beliebers with gangs
ANDREW ECKHOUS like the Crips and MS-13.
DailyArts Writer Following this decision, law-
abiding Beliebers, like you, are
gine, for a moment, it's subjected to harsh treatment
r 2020 and you're a Justin nationwide. Beliebers guilty of
fan, all grown up. Drawn having visible Bieber tattoos are
er by the scorn of music branded "gang members" and
worldwide, most Bieber consistently hassled by police at
choose to clandestinely routine traffic stops. A speeding
ut at underground clubs ticket turns into an interroga-
orm close-knit groups. tion, and soon you find yourself
like you, sport JB-flavored outside of the car being photo-
or emulate his haircut. graphed for no apparent reason.
asionally, a Belieber - the You are no longer a Bieber fan,
ame you've given your- but a member of the dangerous
- will commit an isolated Belieber crime syndicate.
larceny, assault or some This may sound absurd and
mid-level crime. Though unconstitutional, but it's hap-
re no known connections pening to one group of music
en the crimes - which fans. The Juggalos - fans of
he entire country and near- Michigan-based horrorcore rap-
I decade - the FBIbelieves pers Insane Clown Posse - are

being targeted by the FBI, and
have actually been placed in
company with Crips and Bloods.
But the Juggalos are fight-
ing back. At the annual "Gath-
ering of the Juggalos" event in
Illinois - a music festival cel-
ebrating all things ICP - band
members Violent J and Shaggy
2 Dope announced their plans
to sue the FBI. They've created
a website where Juggalos can
tell their stories and promised
to have their legal team review
each case pro bono.
. While only four states have
officially classified the group
as a gang, the lawsuit brings up
questions about equality before
the law. Part of the mystique of
the ICP, at least for the'Juggalos,
is that they welcome people who
might be considered outcasts.
Many call themselves "scrubs"
- they're the kids who were
beaten up in high school or came
from broken families. Violent J,
real name Joe Bruce, came from
poverty himself, but decided to
embrace the stigma rather than
fight it. He began calling himself
a"floob" and was proud of it. ICP
grew mostly due to their will-
ingness to embrace "floobs" and
"scrubs," and while it makes for
an unusual crowd, it has given
many a sense of belonging.
Where equality becomes an
issue is the broad net that the
FBI is using. The FBI's 2011
National Gang Threat Assess-
ment of the Juggalos is painfully
vague including conclusions
like "Most crimes committed by
Juggalos are sporadic, disorga-
nized, individualistic, and often
involve simple assault, personal
drug use and possession, petty
theft, and vandalism." Do no
other groups of music fans use
drugs, get in fights or vandalize?
The report also states that
"Juggalos' disorganization and
lack of structure within their
groups, coupled with their tran-
sient nature, makes it difficult
to classify them and identify
their members and migration
patterns." So what the FBI is
saying is that they don't have
enough information to know
who they are or their "migration
patterns," but they still know
they're a gang? This is a blatant
violation of the American justice
system, and their righteous fight
should be supported.
With such a large number
of fans - 20,000 attended the
2009 Gathering - it's inevitable
that some of those people will be
committing "sporadic, disorga-
nized, individualistic" crimes.
And statistically speaking, based
on where they were raised, the
average Juggalo is more likely
to have a criminal record. But
that's no excuse for deserting
police work and naming every
fan a gang member. If ICP fans
can be classified as a gang, why
not classify dubstep fans as the
same? Go to a Bassnectar show
and try to tell me you can't find
drugs, vandalism or the occa-
sional assault.
To many, this issue isn't seri-
ous or worthy of attention. The
Juggalos aren't the most glam-
orous group, and are often the
butt of the joke in a lot of plac-
es. But while you're laughing
about the FBI taking down the
most scorned group of fans in
America, maybe take a second
to inspect your own iTunes. You

never know which group will be
next.

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