Shelter from Helter Stupid

From: Mark / Negativland <> Subject: Shelter from Helter Stupid....Negboy confronted by friends of
David Brom
Date: Sun, 18 Mar 2001 06:23:23 -0800

Feel free to post this to Snuggles or Rumori or anywhere else you want to -


Tonight I was rather aggresively confronted for 2 hours at a party in Olympia by a guy who went to school and was good friends with DAVID BROM and his brother ( who wasnt killed as he was at a friends house).

Remember our CD "Helter Stupid" and the hoax it was all about?? We blamed our cancelled tour on a real quadruple ax murder In Rochester Minnesota in a fabricated press release that claimed that our song "Christianity Is Styupid" somehow caused the murders. Teenager David Brom committed the actual murders, our hoax grew to epic proportions in the media, and we then made a record exposing the truth behind our prank.

Anyway, this guy at the party was telling me how horrible we were for exploiting the murders and how our hoax affected their town. Wild....very difficult conversation . What I found out was that our rumor made it back to that town as THE TRUTH in a big way we never knew about!

Here, after much questioning and endlessly trying to explain what we did and why to this guy, is what I was told -

Rochester MN is a very small, very cut-off, very religiuos town. A week prior to the killings there had been a local story about murder and music and the connections between the two, and it was being discussed quite a bit already amongst worried parents. But get this - Davids brother Joe actually sold indy punk records out of their basement (!!!) and the guy I met at the party claims he actually *was* selling our records!! No kidding.

David Brom was a straight arrow "GQ" kid, very very normal and nice, who , for some strange reason, happened to let a friend cut his hair into a mohawk the week before the killings. David did NOT like punk rock either. The Brom family was FANATICALLY religous, making David go to church literally almost every day.

So when our story came out, you can imagine how it all "fit" together!! Crazy punk rock kid from good Christian family listens to crazy music and kills family, just like the mass media has been telling us all along. . It slipped perfectly into this stream of things in a town that was looking for an explanation of why something like this could happen in such a nice place. Tthe official story in town *literally* became that it was OUR RECORD ( Escape From Noise) that was on his record player when the killings happened! So our hoax succed in ways we could never have guessed! And our prank fueled the town and the parents fears that MUSIC was making thier kids crazy and violent. This lead to weird kids being kicked out of school ( including the guy who was confronting me) , being persecuted, beat up, etc.

Incredible. Far weirder than anything we could ever make up!! I did mention to him that as much as we always realized that we WERE exploiting a real human tradegy, we were interested in dealing with how the media works and the medias *representation* of the events. Not " the truth". And that good art doesn't have to be "nice" to be good art. But apparently our rumor actually made things WORSE in the town for all the punk rock misfit kids.... it fed into all the fears already there.

I am still very proud of that record we made, but this whole discussion was unsettling, to say the least! Did we cross a line we now wished we hadn't? If not, did we come close? I kept trying to explain to him that it was all an EXPERIMENT in the media to see what would happen- and then when it blew up into something bigger than we imagined, we tried to do something creative and responsible with the unexpected direction the whole thing took. This guy thought we should have known *exaclty* what was going to happen and we were bad for going ahead and doing it.

And one more thing - David's brother Joe Brom was widely believed to have been the mastermind behind the killings as he was far more deranged than David ( and I have heard that he was quite crazy from other sources as well).

So...there are apparently 3 different folks living in Olympia now who all knew Brom and they sure dont like Negativland...


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Original file name: Shelter from Helter Stupid. - converted on Friday, 29 June 2001, 22:34

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