I put a fake Alice In Chains angry chair on Craigslist, and all hell broke loose
A few weeks ago I wrote a fake Craigslist post trying to sell the Angry Chair from the eponymous music video by Alice In Chains.
I filed the listing under the “antiques” category in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. I included a photo from the music video, and another of a beat up, piece of shit chair I found via Google image search that looks nothing like the chair in the video.
I wrote the post from the perspective of a former set PA and grunge fan who has since mellowed out. It read (all sic):
“For sale, the original ANGRY CHAIR from the famous ALICE IN CHAINS music video for their hit song ‘angry chair.’ that’s right, this is the same angry chair sat in by none other than layne staley! own a piece of rock n roll history!
some background: i was a PA on the video way back when, and after the shoot wrapped, took the chair home. since then, it’s just been sitting in my garage collecting dust. i hate to sell it, but i need to downsize. plus i’m clean now and have two kids, and i’m just not as angry as i used to be.
the chair is perfect for sitting in and just raging out. a few dents, but in otherwise great condition.
$1,500 OBO — if interested, email with your favorite AIC album and why you think you’re angry enough for the chair. money isnt important to me, just want to give the angry chair a good home.
god bless and rock on “
I tweeted a link to the joke listing, sent it to a few friends, and then went and got a burrito. It was a good afternoon.
But it turns out, in an almost inexplicable coincidence, I posted the listing on what happened to be deceased AIC lead singer Layne Staley’s birthday, making it a solid peg for a blog post.
Two hours later, Diffuser ran a piece on it.
Then Spin picked it up.
As well as a few Spanish language music sites, including Portalternativo. All of them featured a large image of the shitty chair.
It started getting tweeted about by music journalists, classic rock radio stations, a Dutch Alice In Chains fan Twitter account, and random fans of the band.
Hey, who wants to buy Layne Staley’s ANGRY CHAIR? http://t.co/TLYvEgfw8n
— Matthew Perpetua (@perpetua) August 25, 2014
Grunge Fans Can Buy Alleged Chair From Alice in Chains’ ‘Angry Chair’ Music Video: Are you angry enough to own… http://t.co/QXtbSmdMIb
— Banana 101.5 (@banana1015radio) August 24, 2014
Alice in Chains’ Angry Chair is for sale, alongside Cobain’s Teen Spirit anti-persperant & Corgan’s smashed pumpkin http://t.co/V8S1XrHe4f
— Jordan Wieleba (@jordancomedy) August 29, 2014
@DannyM__MCFC It’s legit as well. Love that the guy’s making people say why they deserve the chair rather than giving it to highest bidder
— Dánny (@DannyM__MCFC) August 28, 2014
@DannyM__MCFC here, when ma music career takes off in a few years am buying us that chair, aw you have tae provide is a pair ae his ray and?
— Ally Crawford (@Crawford1872) August 28, 2014
I don’t feel bad about tricking the writers. All they had to do to confirm the legitimacy of the post was (a) respond to the listing asking for more details and/or (b) reverse image search that shitty chair image, and find its original source. Option (b) would have taken 15 seconds, at most, which I suppose is too slow for the fast-paced world of internet journalism.
I do feel awful about tricking the Alice In Chains fans. As soon as the chair started getting coverage, I received emails from people who wanted to purchase it.
At first they were odd.
I could imagine a yuppie, middle-aged suburban man, showing his friends around his freshly-painted man cave, ending the tour by flicking up a dimmer switch, revealing the shitty chair predominantly positioned in the room. “You guys recognize that chair?” he’d smugly ask. They’d shake their heads, no. “It’s THE Angry Chair. You know, from Alice In Chains. It’s the only one.”
One woman from the Lebanon sent me a photo of herself and her AIC merch. A teenager sent a video review he made of Anthony Kiedis’s autobiography. (“I rate it an 8 out of 10, which is a pretty high rating.”) This guy allegedly played Layne Staley “in a film.”
This guy was skeptical about the provenance of the chair, but I managed to convince him otherwise.
But the majority of the emails were deeply personal and sad.
In retrospect, this isn’t too surprising. If listening to rock ‘n’ roll is a symbol of youth and rebellion, then purchasing rock ‘n’ roll merchandise—like all forms of consumerism—means chasing that fleeting idea by purchasing junk.
But no matter how many used guitar picks you purchase off eBay, you will never be young again. We all know this, yet regularly buy in. Manipulating this desperate, common feeling is how places like the Hard Rock Cafe and nostalgia-circuit bands like the Rolling Stones cynically make their money. We all hope that maybe, if we can posses an old setlist or signed poster or an Angry Chair, we can briefly feel like a teenager again, playing air guitar in our bedrooms.