Portrait Of An American Family Turns 20

By ajcolores

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Self-indulgent storytime: The first and only time I ever did acid, I was in ninth grade, and I stayed up all night at a friend’s house even though I had a basketball game the next day. Everything was going pretty well until we threw on Marilyn Manson’s debut album Portrait Of An American Family, which had come out earlier that year and which turns 20 tomorrow. This was not a good idea. But listening to Portrait is just what we did that year. It’s what just about all my friends did. We yelled its choruses at each other across lunch tables. We yelled its samples, the ones we didn’t yet recognize as being from John Waters movies or the Twin Peaks pilot. There was a period of months where I listened to Portrait at least once, every single day. But back to the acid trip: There’s a moment, near the end of final track “Misery Machine,” where the music stops and these plinking noises come in and you hear all these deep voices rumble, “His horn went beep, beep, beep.” I don’t know why, but those voices immediately made me think of Killer Klowns From Outer Space, and that was it for me. I was done. It wasn’t like I thought the clowns were in the room with me; I just couldn’t stop thinking about them: “Dude, it’s like greasy killer clowns, sitting around a fire, staring at me. Your light fixture kind of looks like one.” My friend still makes fun of me for it. I fouled out of the next day’s game, possibly in the first half, possibly without scoring.

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