The Ones That Get Away

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Well, folks, as I’m sure only a tiny percentage of y’all are aware, on Friday and Saturday Juggalo Weekend will be celebrated in Las Vegas with a blow-out two-day extravaganza involving music and comedy and wrestling and freak shows and the usual sideshow shenanigans and Faygo-soaked spectacle. 

When I found out that the next Juggalo Weekend would be held in Las Vegas, I got excited about all the potential freshness in store. But I also realized that finding an outlet willing to pay me money to cover something like that would be exceedingly difficult, even after writing two books and countless articles about Insane Clown Posse. It somehow never gets easier. If anything, it gets harder. For all their infamy, ICP remains forever a tough sell. 

Juggalo Weekend in Vegas is something that I would love to attend, and love to cover, but it’s also not something that I feel like I need to attend. 

When you’re a freelancer living paycheck to paycheck, you have to pick your battles. The Juggalo in me would love to go to every ICP event, but the responsible husband and father and taxpayer diligently paying off his credit card debt has some very sensible ideas about what’s worth covering and what’s not. 

For example, I would have regretted it forever if I had not done the Gathering/Republican National Convention trip that led to 7 Days in Ohio and me making enough money to move my family out of my in-laws’ basement. I similarly could not have missed the Juggalo March on Washington, particularly since I was a speaker. 

That said, with the benefit of hindsight, there are definitely some Juggalo events I could have missed. It was fucking amazing seeing Ice-T and 2 Live Crew and Onyx open for ICP in a strip mall in Calgary for the first and possibly final Canadian Juggalo Day, but seeing as how I made only enough from the experience to cover my considerable expenses, I probably could have skipped that one. 

And despite the amazing experiences I had, I probably also could have skipped the 2017 largely drug-and-nudity-free Oklahoma City Gathering, particularly since this time around attending the Gathering ended up costing me about four hundred dollars more than I got paid to write about it. 

My ferocious ambition makes me want to tackle everything that interests me. But my inner pragmatist is forever conducting methodical cost/benefit analyses to determine what’s worth my exceedingly limited time, money and energy and what’s worth not even pursuing. 

The “Weird Al” Yankovic 2018 tour, for example, is something that I feel like I could not pass up. The timing is just too perfect, as is the nature and uniqueness of the tour, which will find Al more or less skipping the hits entirely to focus on the originals, the pastiches, the fan favorites and album cuts. 

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Of course no one ever needs to do something like follow American pop parodist “Weird Al” Yankovic on a Spring tour. That said, I need to go on this tour and have this experience as the climax of the Weird Al: The Book/The Weird Accordion to Al saga, so a little while ago I set in motion the fairly involved, intense process of making something like that happen and I am overjoyed to say that the plan is coming together and the magic is happening. I’m feeling a surge of excitement just thinking about everything that lies in store. 

As a Phish phan I try to make every Phish-related event that I can, but I’m limited by money and time and geography. It’s been two years since I saw Phish live but I’m pleased to report that I just bought tickets for the first and third night of Phish’s upcoming three night run in Alpharetta, Georgia. 

In 2013, when I was promoting You Don’t Know Me But You Don’t Like Me, my book on Phish and Insane Clown Posse, I was invited to attend Phish’s Hollywood Bowl concert with the Analyze Phish/Fish crew, including Harris Wittels, Scott Aukerman and Paul F. Tompkins.

 Harris, the dude from Islands, some podcast nerd, Scott Aukerman 

Harris, the dude from Islands, some podcast nerd, Scott Aukerman 

To say I was overjoyed and overwhelmed would be an understatement. The opportunity to see one of my all-time favorite bands with three of my all-time favorite podcasters was just too good to be true and too incredible to miss. 

But as the date neared two things became apparent: I would not have the 800 dollars or so it would cost to fly out to do the show and also I was scared shitless of hanging out with people as brilliant and hilarious and intimidating (if only by virtue of being so brilliant and hilarious) as Tompkins, Wittels and Aukerman and disappointing them terribly with my personality and the incomprehensible garbage things that come out of my mouth. 

This sense of regret was only strengthened by Wittels’ death. I vowed that if I was ever in an analogous position again I would aggressively pursue it regardless of the costs, financial and otherwise. So it was jarring to finally listen to the episode of Analyze Phish that resulted from the Hollywood Bowl show I would have attended and discover that that night was, for the most part, a very, very bad, dark scene further complicated by Wittels’ spiraling addiction issues. 

My idiot brain never even contemplated the possibility that the Hollywood Bowl show might have been a huge mess for everyone involved. With the benefit of hindsight, that show, which I so desperately wanted to attend, and so regretted not going to, probably would have been a fairly miserable experience. My awkwardness and anxiety and outsider energy would probably just have made everything weirder and more tense. 

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But I could not have known that at the time. Nor could I have known where Harris was in his life at that moment. For years I saw the Phish Hollywood Bowl show as the ultimate one that got away, but now I’m thinking my shyness and pragmatism and fear probably kept me out of an experience that would have been unforgettable largely for the wrong reasons. 

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