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From the news today comes the report that the fans of the rock group Insane Clown Posse, collectively known as Juggalos, will be holding their annual Gathering at a campground near the Lake of the Ozarks. Prepare for the general wailing and gnashing of teeth, followed by promises of good behavior, followed by excitable media reports of wild behavior, devil worship, and who knows what else.

Fact is, the Ozarks have long been thought of as a convenient hideaway for anti-mainstream activity, from Jesse James on down to Schwagstock. As long as the miscreants don’t impinge too much on the lifetime locals, the usual tendency is to wring our hands, thunder from the pulpit a bit, sell the outsiders some supplies, and then wave goodbye. I wouldn’t expect much different this time. When I was a youngster, it was the Rainbow Family that supposedly collected somewhere in the national forest for a few summers, although I never actually saw any of the purported members. They were always in the next county over, or the next.

I don’t expect the Juggalos to have much trouble, or to be much trouble. I’ve met a couple, and they were harmless enough guys with painted faces. The campground they’ve chosen is conveniently across the Osage River from the main swing of things at the Lake, down a long county road. The address is Kaiser, but it’s really more like trans-Bagnell. Besides, the Lake has developed a history of toleration for drug-addled obnoxiousness, although the more common drug is alcohol. I’m sure all the Casey’s General Stores on Highway 54 will be stocking up on Faygo.

I hope this doesn’t sound too cynical, but it often feels like the prevailing attitude is “Come, leave your money, and go. We’ll smile at your face and talk when your back is turned. Have your fun, but remember, we always lie to strangers.”

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