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A Little Rock Mag Has A Devil Of A Time

July 19, 1987|PATRICK GOLDSTEIN

GOSHEN, Ind. — On the surface, there's nothing unusual about this sleepy town 30 miles southeast of South Bend. The corn is almost a foot high in the fields. The teen hangout is a recreation center called the Club Soda. The local theater is playing "Lethal Weapon."

According to the "Area Churches" listings in the Goshen News, this town of about 20,000 has a generous assortment of 75 churches.

Beneath the surface is another matter. According to a recent Goshen News series on satanism, Goshen High principal Bob Duell said that "about half" of the 1,100 students there are "intrigued and might occasionally look at something (satanic)." The local paper also interviewed an area couple who claim to be ordained white witches and who say that as many as 3,000 to 4,000 people in the local area "dabble in the black arts," while maybe 200 to 300 are "very serious" followers.

But even worse, in the opinion of some area religious leaders, Goshen (official nickname: The Maple City) is also the home of a new heavy-metal magazine called the Rock Rag.

Its unlikely editor and publisher--Marianne Hatfield, 36, mother of three teen-agers. A year ago, Hatfield says, she was just another "full-time housewife" who spent most of her time making homemade bread and canning strawberries.

Today, Hatfield is at her trailer-park home, pasting together the sixth issue of the Rock Rag, a low-budget, small-circulation ("about 12,000 copies") magazine that features interviews, pictures and reviews of such head-banging favorites as Megadeth, Poison, Salem's Wych and Cinderella.

The Rock Rag probably won't win any major journalism awards--one issue didn't even make it to the stands, Hatfield admits, after being plagued by "typesetter goofs." Its layout is relatively crude, its writing (largely handled by local high schoolers and Indiana U. students) strictly fanzine prose. Hatfield is hardly a media tycoon. Her trailer-office lacks not only a computer but a telephone, forcing Hatfield to track down writers from a pay phone at a nearby shopping center.

Yet the Rock Rag has its loyal fans, including Hatfield's 14-year-old son, Jason, whose unsuccessful efforts to find a nearby W.A.S.P. concert inspired his mom to start a magazine that could help keep kids informed about the hard-rock scene.

But what landed Hatfield on the front page of the Goshen News earlier this year wasn't her uphill publishing struggle. She became a local celebrity after holding a press conference with two members of the Vinnie Vincent Invasion (a hard-rock band signed to PolyGram Records), in which Hatfield blasted local religious zealots, saying she had been harassed by members of Goshen's First Assembly of God Church.

Hatfield, who looks more like a real-estate broker than a rock-magazine magnate, told a recent visitor that she has received numerous threatening phone calls, that the brakes on the car of one of her writers were "tampered" with and that her daughter had been "pushed around" at school by classmates and had been told that her mother would "burn in hell."

Hatfield also said that during a recent visit to the local mall, she was accosted by a telephone repairman who banged a screwdriver on the glass exterior of the booth, shouting to her, "It's none of my business, but you're lost and you're wasting your life."

The Goshen police filed a harassment report from Hatfield earlier this year that seemed to sum up their cautious attitude toward the alleged feud. The report described Hatfield as "friendly and not demanding" and noted that after her complaint, her home was added to the department's "extra-patrol" list until further notice. However, the reporting officer noted that Hatfield could not "furnish me one name or any proof that (her problems) were related to the church (or any of its members). "

First Assembly of God pastor Paul McGechie, whose anti-rock stance, according to Hatfield, has indirectly led to much of the harassment, freely acknowledges being a rock foe. "The lyrics tell kids to commit suicide, be immoral, take dope and worship Satan," he said.

But he calls Hatfield's charges "a bunch of baloney," saying, "Our church members would never harass anyone."

Still, the incidents have obviously rattled Hatfield, who said the local townsfolk had "a lot more to fear from small minds than from satanism."

"If you want to do something stupid," she said the other night, cooking dinner in her trailer, "just start a rock magazine in Indiana."

"See that Mister Donut over there," the long-haired kid said, pointing out the car window. "That's where the cops hang out at night." Farther down the street, he spotted a Moose Lodge. "Ugh!" he groaned, his face twisted into a lopsided frown.

At the next intersection, he excitedly jabbed his elbow into his visitor's ribs. "That's Main Street, where everyone used to go cruising. It was a big deal here. But now they've closed off the street on weekends. I mean, they've even killed cruising here, so now there's really nothing to do."

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