Monday, December 29, 2014

Ku Klux Klowns: A New Theory Of “Phantom Clown” Scares

A chapter in a newly released anthology of historical curiosities by Robert Damon Schneck has reopened one of the most perplexing facets of modern coulrophobia culture and dissected it in a novel and innovative light, contributing significantly to the study of some of the most bizarre and intriguing territory in modern “urban legend.”

Having corresponded here and there over the past several years with Schneck about our shared interest in the subject of reoccurring Phantom Clown scares (using here the term coined by fortean anthropologist Loren Coleman, whose 1980s research is principally responsible for bringing this phenomenon to popular attention), I was particularly excited to dig in to this portion of his new book, Mrs. Wakeman Vs. The Antichrist, And Other Strange But True Tales From American History.

 I was not disappointed.

Since Coleman, the legendary legacy of Phantom Clowns has been examined by a number of folklorists and other researchers, including Jan Brunvand, Joseph Citro, Robert Bartholomew, Peter Muise, Greg Jenkins, myself, and most recently filmmaker Josh Zeman (in his new documentary Killer Legends), and yet it has remained curiously obscure, given its relatively long tenure and widespread geographical reoccurrence (by my count, more than 30 regions on at least four continents have coped with these panics from the late 1960s to 2014 -that we know of.) While there has been some level of variation on its structure, Schneck does a good job of first recapping its basic chronology and surprisingly consistent elements, which I will summarize much more briefly and cursorily here, for sake of space:

Sudden, sensational rumors which spread rapidly across a community of a clown (or clowns), typically traveling in a van or similar vehicle, attacking, attempting to abduct, or otherwise harassing children. Generally, local police are quickly inundated with such reports, passed on by terrified parents from accounts that almost always originate with children under the age of 10. While first taken very seriously, investigations persistently fail to locate any such individuals, and eventually it is dismissed as pernicious rumor or mass hysteria.

Speaking generally, Schneck assesses the broader context of sociological factors associated with these types of rumor-panics, particularly prevalent in the 1980s through mid '90s:

Beyond fears of child abduction, the clowns-in-vans should be considered in relationship to the pedophilia, serial killing, and satanism panic that beset Americans at the end of the twentieth century.”

Having treated the already much-vetted aspects of the phenomenon with admirable conciseness, he then turns to the true meat of his exploration- a historical and psychological connecting-the-dots that ranges from mid 19th century origins of Klansmen and “Night Doctor” legends to the modern media intersection of John Wayne Gacy and the Atlanta Child Murders, ultimately arguing for a major racial component to its origins when viewed against the backdrop of a national culture deeply scarred by a history of wholesale abduction by white faces.

The history of clowns-in-vans,” Schneck contends boldly, “begins with the demand for labor created by colonizing the New World.”

Beginning this story in the antebellum south, he recounts several means by which southern whites attempted control African abductees and their descendants, both before and after the Civil War, tactics which do seem to bear a certain uncanny resemblance to attributes of the “Killer Clowns” that have occupied the headlines of numerous American cities in recent decades.

From pre-War “Patterollers,” who worked to keep slaves from wandering or gathering at night often impersonating ghosts in white sheets and masks, through the continued evolution of this tradition by the KKK, Schneck follows these kind of savage traditions to the obscure but relevant figure of the “Night Doctors,” - legendary figures based on real horrors of racist abduction and body-theft by the early medical community, who in stories took on mythic and even supernatural qualities over time.

From there, Schneck follows the trail forward to the time frame immediately preceding the appearance of clowns-in-vans, examining both the clown-tinged media sensation of the Gacy killings, and more intriguingly the Atlanta child murders. In these killings, we see a kind of convergence of the rising fear of serial killers, child abduction (“Stranger Danger”, etc) with reasonably deep seated underlying fears of kidnapping and murder of African Americans by racially motivated Caucasian villains- as at the time, the culprit for the growing number of slain black youths was widely believed to be one or more rogue racists of the Klan or similar varieties.

Additionally, it was publicly suggested that the motivation behind the killings could be one of illegal medical experimentation, in a manner that clearly hearkened back to recollections of night doctors.

If rumors about Atlanta involving Klansmen/night doctors and children were circulating through the black community nationwide,” speculates Schneck, “they could have provided the basis for the clowns.”

I won't go into full detail of the intricacies of his argument, because you really should buy the book, of which this chapter is but one of twelve fascinating subjects from the fringes of U.S. History. However, it presents a fairly convincing theory for how the convergence of events at this juncture of late 70s and early 80s could have synthesized a set of seemingly disparate subjects and lore into something that combined both age old archetypal fears and the news of the day into a new kind of terror, one that might have had particularly striking impact in black communities.

In doing so, Schneck provides a compelling possible answer to one component of the Phantom Clown mythos that has always puzzled me- namely, why it is that in so many American cities, these rumor-panics when traced back to their first emergence in said cities, seem to first crop up in predominantly African American neighborhoods.

It does not, however, address instances of virtually identical rumor-panics prior to Atlanta, which date back at least to 1969, or some of those which occurred later in isolated rural areas of other countries unlikely to have been exposed to these instances in American media. However, his emphasis on the possible underlying fear of medical experimentation as motive for the Phantom Clowns' attempted abductions is especially provocative, in light of the fact that when these scares occurred later in Latin American countries in the mid-1990s, pre-existing cultural fears of organ theft were very explicitly associated with alleged abductions by clowns-in-vans.

So while Schneck's examination does not address or explain every aspect of the Phantom Clown phenomenon -nor, I believe, does it intend to – it does present a very solid and well crafted case for the role of these earlier American boogeymen in influencing this modern folkloric re-occurrence.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Who was that masked man? Clown robbers abound...

A bandit is on a rampage in the San Diego area, where a man has robbed three convenience stores this month.  The mask, shown in surveillance footage released by local police, is a typical type of rubber "evil clown" mask popular in costume stores.

Coincidentally, these three strikes by the San Diego area clown robber have occurred even as in Sacramento, another individual was being tried for a trio of break ins in January 2012 in which a similar evil clown mask was used.

Meanwhile in Sheridan, Indiana, a group of home invaders burglarized a house around 3AM . One wore a clown mask, the other wore a devil mask, but the ultimate headline focused on the former "Robber wore clown mask in home invasion"

Police are still seeking another clown masked armed robber in Columbus,  and Merseyside, UK authorities have no new leads on a suspect who robbed a currency exchange in full clown attire.  In Winnipeg, Canada, however, the clown-masked, hostage-taking robber mentioned in our previous blog post, has turned himself in.

Use of a clown mask to shield one's identity during a robbery`is nothing new, with instances as far back as at least 1898, though there has been a very definite uptick again with the emergence of the Northampton Clown, and really since the release of The Dark Knight. Joker, of course, the ingeniously psychotic early evil clown brain child of Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson, excelled at the art of the heist. His garish greasepaint and painted gleeful grin has always seemed to strike some disabling combination of fear and dangerous underestimation into his victims.

In other news...

Elsewhere in the world of dubious fringe clowning, said Northampton Clown, that brief but significant viral sensation on which this blog has offered much analysis, has been hacked, and his Facebook has been in a downward spiral of lost fans since it began posting porn links a couple of weeks ago...

...and in Florida, where such a large percentage of clown controversy and nefarity is generated like a regional export, the city council in Fort Meyers had some heated debate over whether to allow Insane Clown Posse to perform at an upcoming horrorfest of some kind this October...

Sunday, August 03, 2014

There's Something "Funny" About A Clown In the Spotlight: National Clown Week, 2014

"There's nothing funny about a clown in the moonlight." - Lon Chaney Sr

It's National Clown Week, also known as International Clown Week.  Celebrated the first week of August, National Clown Week was first proclaimed by President Richard Nixon in 1971 (you cannot make this stuff up).

A worthwhile time to stop and take a look at the state of clowns and coulrophobia as their awkward interrelationship continues to fascinate the western world, as it's been a particularly busy period in the news.

In Guatemala, where in 1994 clowns gathered to burn their uniforms in protest of widespread "phantom clown" rumor-panics which had begun to crop up in South and Central America (after decades of rumbling about in spontaneous unexplained waves in the U.S.), 200 clowns from a dozen countries gathered this past week at the 6th Congress of Latin American Clowns.  More AP photos available via Business Insider and NY Daily News (worth it).

As seen in the annual World Clown Association convention in Chicago a few months ago, filtering into the schedules amidst juggling workshops and panels on crowd pleasing magic tricks is the increasing emphasis on, well, "How Not To Be Scary."  The Chicago convention even offered a seminar on Posing for Pictures and Working with the Media,” that journalist Leigh Cowart described as "a simmering rally for strategy and solidarity in the face of the current clown PR crisis."

The full-time, professional clowns have been hyper-aware of their changing social dynamic for years, but it seems only recently has it become acceptable to openly acknowledge it in greasepainted circles, and even enter into discussion of how to mitigate the problem, which they can no longer continue to chalk up to Rodney Blackwell and his "I Hate Clowns" merchandising.

Still, while the media may have helped sow panic earlier this year with "revelations" of a shortage of actual card-carrying newcomers to the ranks of traditional clown unions, just take a look at any theatre programs this season from virtually anywhere in the country, and you will find clowns haunting the stages in all manner of artful contexts.

"Any rumors of the demise of clowning are as exaggerated as our big shoes," says Norm Barnhart, of the WCA (Clown of the Year 2007).

Nonetheless, the clown rank and file know they are on the defensive side of a publicity battle that is raging constantly even if rarely noticed, in disparate headlines stretched around the western world. Just in the last ten days, police blotters are colored with reports of clown-costumed robberies in Georgetown, Winnipeg, and Liverpool, along with a knife-wielding clown that evaded responding officers in Issaquah, Washington. Tensions against clowns are high elsewhere as well, judging from recent incidents- Natrona County Sheriffs had to ban a man from the fair grounds after he would not stop chasing a rodeo clown, and vandals struck twice in one week at the American Clown Museum and School in Lake Placid.

[The Media is not without its occasional positive clown story, such as the clowns who rushed to the aid of a fellow clown after a car accident in New Jersey a few days ago.]

Meanwhile, any shortage there may be in circus tents and birthday parties is also appropriately inverse to their prevalence in horror films, which shows no sign of slacking a quarter century after such classics as Clownhouse and Killer Klowns From Outer Space.  Not only is New Line continuing work on a biggish-budget two-picture remake of Stephen King's IT, but word came out this week that a major crowdfunding scheme is being launched for a "gritty, disgusting and violent" new film involving "murderous clowns" by Rob Zombie (shocking, yes, I know). Included in the donor rewards for supporting "31," is a clown painting by Zombie, for $2500.

 "I've never had a fear of clowns," Zombie opened up on the subject to Rolling Stone.   "I find clowns fascinating. On one level, they're very entertaining and on another, they're incredibly repulsive.

Speaking of repulsive...and seemingly at the apex of everything that has gone wrong for clowns at this point in the 21st century, there are the Juggalos... and it has also been an interesting couple of weeks for the Dark Carnival anti-heroes of Insane Clown Posse and their estimated 1 million devoted fans.

Just over week ago, a junta of Massachusetts law enforcement officials declared that despite their "gang" designation at the federal level, Juggalos as a group are not considered a criminal organization regionally.

This good press was just in time for the annual Gathering of the Juggalos, which was held for the first time in Thornville, Ohio this year after being ousted from its former site in Illinois.  While local law enforcement called the event "better than expected," with few significant arrests from the crowd of over 4,500, it was nonetheless the scene of tragedy this year.  Kristal Tsosie, 27, was found unresponsive in her tent and died a short time thereafter at Licking Memorial Hospital.  No cause of death has yet been established.

The Gathering was not without its upbeat moments, I suppose, and the grueling details of a juggalo/juggalette wedding during the festival are recounted by reporter Drew Ailes in the RiverFront Times, the sickly sweet tale of nuptial rituals sure to make any parent want to commit suicide immediately, if it were their daughter in question.

However off-putting, and generally laughable, one might instinctively find this micro-culture, it cannot be ignored that it contains many of the core attributes of behavioral inversion of The Fool... the deification of profanity, the studied marginality  and rigorously self-enforced ostracism, and even scatalogical elements, that have all been a part of clowning traditions since the Zuni first gathered for skits on the Pueblo.  [See also: Coulrophobia & The Trickster]

... for Clowns are the contorted mirrors of the normative state of societal madness, a boisterous parade of canaries to its inherent sickness in every age.  We should not expect the ornery, alcoholic hobo clowns that once signaled the fears of a Depression-era generation; our Great Depression is a cultural one, its symbolic Devils the perversions that breed of the gutters of apathy and extremism.  Today's Evil Clowns are a garish, blood-spattered troupe touring the garish, blood-spattered landscape of our plugged-in Burned Over District....

Don't forget to like Dark Clowns on Facebook to keep up to date on the weird world of clowns & coulrophobia...

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Clowning Isn't Dying Off, It's Just Changing Shape

There's been some considerable commotion in clown and coulrophobe circles, following a story yesterday in the NY Daily News on a so-called "clown shortage" that has had many casual observers proclaiming that the fix is in and the End of Days for clowning is near at hand.

Quite the contrary, I propose that the presence of clowns and clown motifs is actually on the rise throughout the arts and media, albeit rewriting itself through a transition into the next chapter of a centuries-old evolutionary history.   Clowning isn't dying off, but like so much of western culture, it's in the process of re-envisioning into in a more layered, faux-intellectualized, winkingly ironic version of itself.

 In its report, the Daily News cites concerns from various U.S. based trade unions like the World Clown Association and Clowns of American International on the fierce membership spiral they have experienced over the past decade.  WCA, for instance, has shrunk about 1000 members since 2004, bringing their number to around 2,500.  These associations attribute much of this to the retirement and "dying off" of their older membership, and a scarce base of new recruits under forty or so.

A good number of mainstream papers picked up on the clown drought story, mostly sticking to tired puns while trying to keep a straight face, though some like The Independent expand on the subject enough to note the possible influence  of modern evil clown depictions in the generational decline reported.

Popular online media went further into gratuity, of course, mostly a lot of smirking Hmm-I'm-Shocked reiterations extolling the vague creepiness of clowns and concluding with a sort of smug relief.  After all, not all people afraid of clowns become hipsters, and not all hipsters adopt a fear of clowns, but there's certainly quite a bit of overlap there.

"And so the art of clowning rides its sad, wobbly novelty jalopy into the sunset, sad honking growing gradually fainter as it recedes in the distance,"  proclaims Kelly Faircloth, with all the sledgehammer subtlety of pop culture insight one expects from a Jezebel blogger.

"America's clowns are dying," agreed the ever-nuanced Gawker.

 While traditional clowning trade associations like these are understandably concerned about their hemorraging membership, though, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the recession of these old guard clown unions may no longer be an accurate gauge of clown populations in the western world.

Organizations like the WCA and CAI asking themselves "where are all the younger clowns?" need only look to the growth of newer operations like Clowns Without Borders.  There's your 20-30 something clowns, they're in the Phillipines right now, entertaining in post-typhoon refuges.  CIRCA, the politically satirical Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army, has also grown significantly, by all accounts.  And while outside of Patch Adams & friends, medical clowning never really took off in America, it's bloomed tremendously in some other developed nations, such as Israel.

Aside from the booming niche of the socially or politically active clown, there is an ever burgeoning market for the more adult-oriented clown entertainer, a model that either partly or explicitly acknowledges and incorporates the fog of unsavory associations that has crept in all around the Clown in the post 1980s popular culture.

I go to a healthy number of festivals, arts and social events of various kinds, and I still see a lot of clowns out there.  I'm prone to notice them, I guess, and I tend to stop and watch whatever they're doing.  Mostly, these days, they're not juggling or making balloon animals- what I've seen is clowns reciting William Burroughs, clowns break dancing, clowns faking tourettes syndrome.  

Clown burlesque in fact is already quite passé... but the scene is ripe for ripoffs of the fabulous Puddles and his Pity Party act:

Full on Evil-Clowning is an increasingly viable commercial prospect as well, from eccentric party services like Evil Clowns For Hire, Dominic Deville's Evil Clown stalking-for-hire, and  a profusion of others, to TV show jobs and book deals, to a seemingly endless profusion of awful bands to be found all over the interwebs, bastard godchildren not only of ICP but of their earlier horrible-evil-clown-band ancestors, K.I.S.S....

For these kind of performers, the traditional circus camp to clown school trajectory just doesn't have that much relevance to their career path, and expensive memberships in old fashioned clown unions is not only not advantageous, it's probably not even an option.

Clowns-as-entertainment are maybe not even primarily for "the kids" anymore, and this should come as no surprise in a wider economic view.  The decade that the birthday clown unions shriveled is the same one that saw Halloween spending for adults first exceed and then begin to vastly outstrip that for children - just one concrete example of an accelerated engagement of grown up demographics in entertainment areas that once catered more solely to youth bases.  Really, when was the last time anyone made a cartoon or a children's movie that wasn't also trying to appeal to older customers?

The wider re-calibration of all "children's" entertainment to appease an older, more jaded audience has helped mold the changing iconography of the clown, augmented by a constellation of other social and media influences, and admittedly awkward publicity in the past few decades.

Perhaps the only thing that is actually surprising about any of this, given the historical scope of changes occurring in the evolution of the archetype of the clown over the past few centuries*, is that many commentators are so quick to predict the approaching "end of the clown."

Quite the opposite, it seems to me the figure of the clown is alive, thriving, and perhaps more self aware than ever.

*See previous blog on how the coming of the Northampton Clown helped herald in the next phase in the era-specific development of a trickster-based archetype.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

One Friday the 13th A Clown Appeared on the Streets of England. What Has Followed Will Seem Like a Long Cough Syrup Induced Nightmare

Everything You Need To Know About the Evil Clown Apocalypse
By Joe Durwin

You see, as kids get angrier, the clowns they produce will become more wicked.. Yes, eventually all clowns will be evil zombie clowns. The disintegration of society will eventually bring clown terror to the entire world...”
-The Northampton Clown, in 21 Insights to the Psychotic Happy Life of the Northampton Clown

And thus our celebrity antagonist predicts the coming “Zombie Clown Apocalypse,” in his new book out last month, an impending era of “evil zombie clowns lurking on every street corner in the world.”

And sitting at my desk on a cold Saturday morning, browser tabs open to the kind of increasingly bizarre types of news stories coming in the last four months here at the Coulrophobia Desk of the Institute of Weirdness, the psychotic happy analysis of TNC, the new self-proclaimed future “king of the evil zombie clowns” starts to sound like the sanest analysis I've heard...not only of the broiling postmodern pop culture phenomenon in front of me, but just maybe something much bigger, and more germane to this psychotic/happy era we now occupy circa 2014 A.D.

Yesterday, Santa Fe, New Mexico elementary school was locked down when reports came in to the principal  of a 23 year old man's plans to invade the school dressed as a clown to take pictures of the kids' scared reactions. 

Now, there was a time when rumors going around elementary schools about clowns bothering children were more playground legend than real danger (see: Phantom Clown Scares), but clown harassers have stepped out of the sewers of folklore ostenstion and taken to the streets of real madmen and tricksters.

News also broke yesterday of a newly released document from London police that shows 117 reports that relate to clowns in one form or another in the last year, most in the wake of TNC's appearance in September, including about a dozen burglaries and assaults in which someone dressed as a clown was either a perpetrator or victim.  Less populous areas have seen more police reports of specific copycat clown terror...29 in Derbyshire, where in Ripley a clown chased two teenage girls ; In Cambridgshire several sightings of a TNC copycat had some residents calling police every time they saw anyone wearing or possessing a clown suit.

BLUEBOTTLE, himself (sometimes also known as Tony Eldridge, secretary of Clowns International, which represents costumed entertainers throughout the UK), has recently spoken out against the madness there, denouncing these TNC copycat antics as doing real harm to society.

Already long come and gone are the spin offs of Fall 2013, Boris the ClownCatcher, theMansfieldClown
the DoncasterClown, the Fenton Clown or 'Silent Man' , the Carrickfergus Clown and the Carrick ClownCatchers.

But In the U.S. and elsewhere, strange new threads in the history of the Clown are also being written.  In addition to the incident in New Mexico yesterday, recent clown-masked robberies in Montana and New Jersey  and a bomb threat from a travelling circus clown at an Australian bank  have all helped to fuel the coulrophobic crime coverage that has been surging since October.

Elkhart Killer in Juggalo attire
Insane Clown Posse announced this month that it will sue the FBI for its controversial designation of Juggalos as gang members just a week before widely reported “revelations” from Facebook that Elkhart, Indiana spree shooter Shawn Walter Blair was a Juggalo ICP enthusiast.  Elsewhere, Tuffy the Clown, the longtime rodeo clown who sparked nationwide controversy with an Obama-mask wearing routine, was first condemned, then lauded, and eventually nominated “Person of the Year”... in Sedalia, Missouri, anyway. 

Even in Florida, a longtime club hub of circus, carnivalesque and clownish characters, a clown convention in Largo is being quietly edged out bylocal government. 

The Contextual Clown

The madman is not always regarded as an object of commiseration.  On the contrary, there is a widespread notion which is not quite extinct that the lunatic is an awe-inspiring figure whose reason has ceased to function normally because he has become the mouthpiece of a spirit, or powers external to himself, and so he has access to hidden knowledge.”  - Enid Welsford, The Fool:His Social and Literary History (1935)

The clown is the public face of the Trickster in western civilization, and it's persona has changed with the arc of our culture's history. From shamans of the pre-Christian era to medieval jester to renaissance revolutionary to artist-rebel against the post-Enlightenment rationalization of the world,  glittering performers of the fin de siecle through the catastrophic roaring 20s, only to be replaced by the ragged Weary Willie bums of the Great Depression. After that, society kept adding water to the Fool until they'd been all but relegated to the goofy confines of children's parties and corporate family picnics.

However, long before they began to be brought into the fold, to be controlled, before they became the playthings of Kings and were given the first day of April on which to celebrate their topsy-turvy world of inverted polarities... before that time these figures were known to be dangerous, to be uncontrolled, licentious, blashphemous and terrifying to all the we hold to be norms. All of that was just pushed down, hiding, waiting out the TV Land, Cold War white-washing of western culture, and in the gritty beginnings of the next age the darker beastial side of the archetype began to loose itself once more.... and Spielberg noticed, and King noticed and Simpsons ran with the ball, and back before any of them Gacy sensed it and so did hundreds of parents clogging the police lines in Boston, Providence, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and a few other cities in the Spring of 1981. (See again: Phantom Clowns)

And maybe Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson figured it out before any of us, and nearly 7 decades later the psychopathic clown they unleashed on Gotham, who was originally never supposed to survive his first issue, reached its peak incarnation thus far with the posthumous debut of Heath Ledger's 2008 performance. 

And when an angry, deranged student walked into an Aurora Colordado theatre a year and a half ago and slaughtered 12 people, claiming that character as his inspiration, even the mainstream media began to nervously take stock of the misshapen memetic beast that was emerging...  and are now struggling to wryly chronicle individual instances without stepping too far back to talk about the growing patterns, to launch an inquiry devoid of questions and somehow find a way to cover this thing without revealing their own obvious, bloody thumbprint smeared across the whole crime scene in thirty years of lurid headlines.
Associated Press, June 11, 1981

Enter The Northampton Clown... in the form of film student/viral trickster figure Alex Powell, on Sep. 13, 2013.

For make no mistake, Powell is The Northampton Clown: speculated, exposed, confirmed- and at times I find it reassuring to remind myself of this, that this is merely a horror-book ripoff, fictional character impersonation, and not some semi-occult schizoid thought projection of cultural archetype intruding into the halls of psyche on the verge of bodily possession... not like whatever weirdness consumed three generations of the Kelly family in the guise of America's favorite clown... this was clear and obvious parody.

It is, isn't it?

Or, as The Northampton Clown explains in his book, clowns are born from children blowing bubbles, while just in the right magical state of mind. Cheerful, lighthearted wishes become fun, playful clowns.  The nihilistic thoughts of angry, disturbed children bring to life Evil Zombie Clowns 

And while the Phantom Clowns that a generation ago were still amorphous, hysterical manifestations of urban legend that could not be pinned down, these symbolic Evil Zombie Clowns are now are popping up on street corners like some kind of twisted, year round Santa Clauses... and the question for many has been, when will it end?

Ten years after I published my first paper on coulrophobia & evil clowns in the Journal of Trickster Studies, I now believe the reality is that it never will, that you can only have so many confluences of legend, pop culture and performance before an icon reaches some critical mass, and like of vampires, and werewolves and zombies before them, the clown-as-monster is now here to stay.

On many levels this prophesied arrival of the Evil Zombie Clown Apocalypse should come as no surprise, for we are already knee deep in the age of Loki and Coyote, the era of the Trickster. 2013 was truly the Year of the Clown, the year Kanye was dubbed our most interesting person, the “year we broke the internet” (according to Esquire ) from the collective weight of our bullshit. This was the year we took in more fake news than we did “real” news, the year scientists announced that we are more likely to believe false information presented first even when immediate corrected with neutral factual information. 

We cannot now feign too much shock as scary painted hobos crop up increasingly along the piled up breakdown lanes of the Misinformation Superhighway.

Every day has become April Fool's Day As this culture enters into its most overloaded, post-post-postmodern cycle, the lines of the ironic and moronic so hopelessly blurred that we can scarcely delineate. Perhaps history had no other answer to this riddle than to Send in the Clowns.