Fandom Lenses

Life as viewed through silliness, Fandom as seen through Reality

“Weren’t they good? They made me happy!” (Part 1) The Monkees Present the Mike and Micky Show, Family Arena, St. Charles, MO, March 16, 2019

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all photos and videos Sherri Hansen unless otherwise noted.

After 33 years of data gathering and analysis, all the way from the 1986 revival to their (probably?) final US show last Saturday, I finally feel ready to propose a Grand Unified Theory of the Monkees. The Monkees, singularly and collectively, on screen and on stage, through their music and in their individual lives and work, can be understood as exploring a (the?) central question of humanity: How can one make a difference in the world while remaining true to one’s friends, one’s art, and most importantly, to oneself? I suspect we all grapple with that balance between gaining the world and losing one’s soul. The Monkees’ journey suggests that this dilemma can be resolved by striving for an ideal that is rooted in our values and sense of self, but that is directed toward making a better world for others.

More on that later, though. We’ve got a show to review.

To be clear, it had been more of a passing “wouldn’t that be something?” idle fancy. Probably not even a possibility, and definitely not a certainty. I didn’t even really allow myself to think about the not-even-a-possibility, especially in the context of Nez’s post earlier in the day. I didn’t want to get excited, then get let down and end up pouting about the poor air conditioning in my own metaphorical Lear Jet that is the occasional random perk from The Monkees™ that comes with this podcasting hobby of ours. But in the spirit of owning my own fallibility, I confess (with no small amount of embarrassment) that when Christine sidled up to me in the pre-show bustle and confirmed that we had indeed been given backstage passes for the aftershow, I and/or my inner ten-year-old burst into some brief and embarrassing tears. Not the last time of the evening, either.

The rest of the pre-show passed in the very extraordinary scene that has somehow become routine over the last few years—I distributed buttons, hung out with Ken, refilled my button bag, Said hi to John Billings, Christian and Circe, and a few other folks who came down to say hi, and finally gave away the last of my buttons, one of which went to a charming little girl who will feature later in this story. 😉

And now I’m delaying. I’m delaying writing what happened next as the lights went down, and Zilch Nation tried semi-successfully to whip the crowd into one last chant of “We want the Monkees!” I’m delaying writing about this show, because I don’t want to finish writing this review. But all good things must…be good things, so here we go. Here’s what happened at Family Arena when the Monkees played these songs—as well as selected movies of my mind from when I’ve heard these songs in times past. Partially because this music has inadvertently served as the soundtrack of some key moments in my life, but also because if I add in these little vignettes, it will take me longer to finish this review.

I don’t want to finish this review.

Good Clean Fun

That was Then (June 2001): Long distance relationships suck. I was in Tulsa, Kevin was in DC, as our first jobs out of college had taken us to two different time zones. A year into his gig, we were ready to take the next step in our relationship. But I was struggling to find a telecom gig in DC in the early days of what would become the dot com crash, and Kevin was DONE with working for a Huge Defense Contractor. I was sitting on the plane to BWI to help him pack up his apartment and drive back to Oklahoma. Good Clean Fun was on my headphones as we taxied to the gate. This was a few months before 9/11, so he was standing there at the end of the jetway as I ran to him and embraced. The gap that once was time was forever closed behind. Two days later we were engaged.

This is Now: There was no way in hell this could top what happened at the Keswick, and I didn’t expect it to. But it was a great performance of the tune, and I enjoyed just hearing the band knock it out of the park without being swamped by a class 12 attack of the Feels.

Last Train to Clarksville

That was Then (September 2012): The Frodis Femmes and Anissa’s mom Margie were sitting in the second row at the State Theatre in Bay City Michigan, keeping it together by the skin of our teeth at the show we were all attending in Anissa’s memory. What few wits I’d still been clinging onto before that day had evaporated at breakfast, when I looked up from my hotel buffet omelet by chance, just in time to see a bedheaded, slightly drowsy looking Peter Tork making a beeline for the coffee. In the months after Anissa’s death, I’d dug through Peter’s old solo and Shoe Suede Blues stuff. I also acquainted myself with newer albums like Cambria Hotel that he had released during my “I have more important things to do with my thinking” hiatus from the fandom. But I was still just barely enough with it to realize he was introing his Bluesy take on Clarksville. I leaned over to Kevin, and murmured, “You’re gonna love this!” And so he did, or at least pretended to. 😉

This is Now: The standard song, done in the standard manner. 😊 I do love the vocal arrangements on this though.

Sunny Girlfriend

That was Then (November 2014): The Zilch Staff was recording side 2 of the Headquarters Roundtable. We were now 5 minutes into a battle royale on the relative merits of Sunny Girlfriend. Ken, when challenged by Jeff Hulit (Sunny Girlfriend Basher) to name a Nez song with worse lyrics, replied, “Tapioca Tundra” (in Ken’s slight defense this was two years pre-Pantages). Aghast, I butted in, firmly proclaiming “Your Argument is Invalid!”, with none of the hesitance or second guessing that had always seemed to overcome me when sitting at the microphone in the last 6 months or so since I’d gotten sucked into this podcasting thing. And before I knew it we were all debating back and forth, mixing it up, and having a hell of a great time. For the first time I really, truly grokked that I belonged at that table with 4 of the finest podcasters I have ever (or likely will ever) record with.

This is Now: If we’re talking in terms of technical excellence, I suppose I need to give a nod to Tulsa’s Brady Theater in 2013 as the best performance of Sunny Girlfriend I’ve heard, but Nez delivered this one with such verve that I couldn’t help but grin like an idiot and dance in my chair.
(So There, Jeff Hulit. 😉 )

Mary Mary

That was Then (Fall 1989 or thereabouts):Drumming along to the intro on my new practice pad I’d picked up for 7th grade band class.  Now, being a mature almost teenager I of course had outgrown those lame, geeky Monkees for good, but some of those songs were good for practice! (yeah, that was it!)

This is Now: Air Drumming along with Rich Dart, I finally admitted I would never outgrow this band. 😉

You Told Me

That was Then (fall 1986): I was almost 10 years old, and we were coming home from a trip to the record store. Showing our upbringing by two hippie parents (or at least two parents who had gotten as close to hippiedom as possible while being raised by career Air Force fathers 😉 ), Daniel (who emerged from the womb with a more discriminating sense of musical taste than I will ever have) bought Pet Sounds. I got my first non-greatest hits Monkees album, Headquarters. I’d love to say I knew the backstory at the time, but I’d only been a fan for a couple of months and simply bought the album that had the most songs I knew from the dozen or so episodes of the TV show I’d seen thus far on Nickelodeon. Plus, well, the cover was pretty cool. Neither of us had a TV in our room (mom and dad were firm on that point to our everlasting aggravation), but indicating their childrearing priorities we both had our own record players.

I heard “Wouldn’t it be Nice?” faintly through the walls from the other side of the hallway in our little suburban ranch house, and carefully, reverently, slipped Headquarters out of the sleeve and onto the turntable. Before the end of that banjo solo, what had been a tween crush on the 4 cute boys who made silly jokes on tv had become a musical obsession. I needed to own everything they had ever done.

(But that bit at the end, where Mike sang “all the games they are playing-Guh?” Why did that make my tummy feel so weird when he did that?)

This is Now: 3 decades past puberty I was now pretty clear on why Nez singing that line made my *ahem* tummy feel weird. What NOW perplexed me was how a 76 year old man could pull off that same effect. Must have been muscle memory or something.

Oh, and Probyn Gregory knocked the Banjo solo out of the park. Hope to get a chance to see him with Brian Wilson sometime. 😉

For Pete’s Sake

That was Then (September-ish 1986): I’d finally bowed to my mom’s nudging and tried out an episode of the Monkees. She said she’d been a little old for them when they were first on the air, but that they might be just my thing. I wonder if she would have said that if she knew the first episode I’d try would turn out to be Fairy Tale? I sat in front of the tube, jaw agape, utterly perplexed but having laughed harder than I had in, well, years. And in those years in the mid-80s between Dad’s post-surgery brain infection and the doctors FINALLY figuring out what was causing his seizures, laughs were hard to come by. The end credits rolled, and while the video for Daily Nightly had been both captivating and a little over my head, I was loving the end credits music. I clicked off the TV and headed to my room to make a start on my math homework before mom got home from her afternoon class down the road at OU and Dad got home from work, softly singing, “We must be what we’re going to be, and what we have to be is free…”

This is Now: Micky’s Peter comments were pretty similar to what he said at the Keswick the previous week, but no less touching. The song was done well, and we all sang along. We must be what we’re going to be, and what we have to be is free…

The Door into Summer

That was Then (Summer 2011): It was a year before Davy and Anissa’s deaths, about three years before Ken launched Zilch, and I was EXHAUSTED. I had gotten the bright idea to work full time, start a PhD, and serve as an officer in a local library organization at the same time. After a school year’s worth of this madness, I hit the inevitable wall of exhaustion and short temper and tears. I was chilling in my home office some random evening, musing about why I kept doing this to myself over and over in the name of accomplishment. And then, out of the blue, a Monkees lyric of all things ran through my head:

“And he pays for it with years he cannot buy back with his tears, as he finds out there’s been no one keeping score…”

And for the next 15 minutes or so I went down a google rabbit hole about the song, learning that Nez did not in fact write that tune (for all that it sounded like one of his), and I found one or two nice cover versions of the song. It was a pity that I’d almost certainly never hear the song live, though. I knew Davy, Micky, and Peter had reunited for some dates that summer, but they hadn’t come anywhere convenient to Oklahoma, and I couldn’t spare enough time from the PhD to fly out to the Midwest to see them with Cin and Anissa and Mich. But in any case it was a Nez song, and he appeared to be long since done touring, aside from a random little gig here and there. But even though I would never hear it live, it was a good reminder from my inner child. I need to remember there’s no one keeping score.

This is Now: It was 7 years after Davy and Anissa’s Deaths, not quite a month after Peter’s death, a couple months shy of 5 years since I’d joined Zilch, a little over a year since I’d moved halfway across the country to take a new job, and I was EXHAUSTED—well, more accurately recovering from being exhausted. This was the fourth time I heard Nez perform The Door Into Summer live, and it was amazing—ok, he came back in a little late from the first chorus, but like every other number he gave a great, enthusiastic performance and really put it all out there—and frankly we were all so wrapped up in the joy of the moment we didn’t give a shit about whether everyone hit their cues every single damn time. I don’t know if I could rank this performance higher or lower than Keswick the previous week (those shows were two different but equal nights of magic), so let’s just call it a tie. And who knows? In a world where I saw Nez perform live more times than I saw Davy perform live, where I had just gotten a backstage pass to the last US Monkees concert (for now), maybe in that world I could FINALLY figure out how to remember there’s no one keeping score. As somebody once said, stranger things have happened. 😉

You Just May Be the One

That was Then (November 2012): I still couldn’t get over the fact that Cin, Mich and I had an empty seat next to us in the second row of an otherwise packed house, in the first and extremely unexpected Monkees concert I’d gone to since we lost Anissa. It was an eerie bit of synchronicity. But frankly, I was having a harder time wrapping my brain around the fact that not 100 feet away from me, Nez was Singing You Just may be the One. And Peter and Micky were up there too, harmonizing just like they had a hundred times in my bedroom and my headphones and my car. And how the heck did they get booked into a frigging HIGH SCHOOL AUDITORIUM?!

 This is now: I briefly flashed back to that first time I’d heard Nez sing You just may be the one, and a thought occurred. I wonder if that high school had been John Hughes’ alma mater or something? He was from that part of Cleveland if I remembered right, and that would explain a LOT. But then I was swept away from memories by Alex Jules’ keyboards and Coco and Circe on background vocals and came back to the moment.

A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You

 That was then (June 2001): Barely a week after getting engaged, I’d flown out to Ohio to finally meet my three sisters, Cin, Anissa, and Mich, and go see our first (and it turned out only) Monkees concert as a foursome. I had a question for them too, but I wanted to save it for after the show. It had been a great weekend—Anissa met me at the airport and we drove up from Dayton to Toledo. The four of us hung out in Cin’s basement, watching rare concert videos and doing our best MST3K commentary on Head. And now we were at the Sterling Heights Amphitheater, watching Davy bounce across the stage singing Little Bit Me, Little Bit you. I wish I could remember more of that song and that night, other than Davy’s energy and twinkling smile and horrible jokes that he somehow made endearing through sheer force of charisma. But it was my first Monkees concert after 15 years of missed chances, and I was mostly just stunned I’d gotten a chance to see them live. And next to three of my best friends in the world? Wow.

This is Now: Micky does this song superbly, and we always get a kick out of the old school audience participation of holding up 2 fingers that started God knows when. A lovely transition to the next track:

The Girl I knew Somewhere

That was Then (November 2012): Those second row seats we’d gotten in the high school gym? they were smack in front of Peter. We were almost as close as we’d been two months ago in Bay City. When the harpsichord solo came, the three of us cheered as one as Peter’s fingers flew across the keys in a way only my brother Daniel could hope to match.

This is Now: As Alex Jules started into what I will always think of as Peter’s solo, Micky and Wayne walked over to cheer him on. Probyn Gregory soon followed suit, Nez wandered over too, and before we knew it half the damn band was hovering around Alex, watching him play as we all rocked out.

Birth of an Accidental Hipster

That was Then (November 2017): It was time. I’d cleaned out my desk, completed my exit interview, and handed off all my tasks to other librarians. I was leaving my job of almost 13 years, to take the next step in my career. I headed downstairs, got in the car, and turned the key. I slid in a promotional CD I’d gotten from Rhino Records a little over a year before, selected the track, and sang along to Hipster at the top of my lungs as I left the place where I found my calling, because I had been called to the next stop in my journey. But even after a year, even in the emotion of the moment, I still kind of wondered—what the heck does “feeling to your knees” mean?

This is Now: Everyone contributes so much to this song, but I think one of my favorite parts is watching Wayne and Christian go to town. As I listened to THE BEST LIVE HIPSTER I HAVE EVER HEARD play out, I found myself listening more to Micky’s part more than usual. My journey since I drove out of that parking lot in Claremore, Oklahoma has brought a lot more fear and uncertainty than I bargained for. I’m finding my footing again, but I can confess now that 2018 was the hardest year of my life since 2012. With more distance, I might even see it as harder than 2012.  But as Micky and Nez started singing:

Do you know (Old friends say, oh, he’s lost his way)
When we go? (But they can’t see what I can see)
Do you know (Oh, I’ll never come back)
Where we go? (I’m headed out in the sunshine, baby!)

Two things hit me as I sat in the second row of Family Arena, being assaulted by that wall of sound for what was almost certainly the last time:

2012 was a year from hell, yes, but it was a necessary hell that made me more comfortable in my own sweet self, and 2012 in turn made the next chapter of my life full of writing and podcasting and a doctorate and a transcontinental move and a new job possible. It’s early spring and the new buds are still a bit tender and vulnerable to a random late frost, but 2018 is already showing signs of having had a similar effect to 2012.

And I finally understood. Because the line isn’t just “feeling to your knees”, it’s “Feeling to your knees, nobody else but my own sweet self.” And as we jumped up and cheered, I could almost feel the tingle of growing self-actualization in my kneecaps, nobody else but my own sweet self. And I realized that my song selection for my final drive home from my previous university was even more apt than I knew.   

St. Matthew

That was Then (June 2018): Back in Cleveland, this time at the Cain Park Ampitheater, for our first Mike and Micky Show,  I glanced over at Mich’s best friend Mattie, short for St. Matthew, her favorite Nez Song. The only way I can describe her expression as she sang along with Nez was utter fucking bliss.

This is Now: Now I’ve always liked the song. For me it was a perfectly serviceable middle of the pack Nez tune, but I certainly didn’t pick it for my fanfic nom de plume like Mattie did back in the day. But sitting there in St. Charles I found myself resonating to it in a new way.

Part of it is loneliness and knowing how to steal.

But most of it is weariness from standing up, trying not to kneel.

Another growth indicator, I suppose. But thank goodness that duo of Feelsy songs was wrapping up, and I got to go down a more pleasant byway of nostalgia as the set list moved on to a couple of songs from Head.

As We Go Along

That was Then (December 2001/August 2013)

Wedding photo is mine, Cindy large took the one of Micky serenading me and Kevin in Tulsa.

This is Now: I think I’m grateful I didn’t know at the Keswick that I was seeing my last performance of Porpoise Song. That night was so emotional I don’t know if I could have borne that. As we know, Porpoise Song was swapped out a few nights prior to the St Charles show for As We go Along, and as always I thought of Kevin, and our love, and how lucky I am to have him. We both coax each other into the sunlight as need be, and my life is richer for having him in it. I even said a few words to that effect into my audio recording of the show. 😉

Circle Sky

That was Then: (Late 1988? Early 1989? Something like that.)

I was sleeping over at my friend Jan’s house. Her folks took us to the video store to get a few flicks to watch after they went to bed. We normally went to the other big video store in town, so I wasn’t as familiar with the selection here. I was scanning the shelves in the musical section, not really looking for anything in particular, when I saw it. The Holy grail. The impossible thing. The movie I looked for in the TV guide every week but that I had only seen printed there once, listed for 1:00 AM on a premium channel we didn’t even get.

I’d never felt that feeling of immediate shock and NEED before—and I wouldn’t feel it again for another 7 years, when I would stumble across Justus, an album I didn’t even know existed, in a record store on the other side of the Atlantic.  I’d been trying to find a copy for years, and the whole time it had been in the video store on the other side of town! Fortunately, my friend and her parents took pity on me, and we added it to the stack of tapes they were checking out.

Jan was a mild Monkees fan, but about the time we hit Ditty Diego, she begged off watching the rest of the movie and went to bed. In retrospect I can’t say I blame her. As for me, I watched, transfixed, all the way through to the end. If it hadn’t been after midnight when it was done, I probably would have rewound the tape (ask your parents, kids) and watched it again. It was funny and poignant and devastating and confusing and somehow resonated with my own struggles to be my own dorky, unpopular self in the suburbs. And suddenly, it became my mission to understand that movie. Because it felt like if I could understand Head, I could understand something very confusing and elusive about myself and my own struggles to escape the black boxes that others tried to corral me into.

This is Now: Welp, it’s 30 years later and I’m the proud holder of a PhD, and I still don’t 100% understand HEAD. But I understand enough of it to know why my reaction was so deep and lasting, and I’m comforted that I might well understand it more than Micky says he does. 😉 But anyway, Circle Sky was amazing, not quite to Keswick Level but still damn awesome. And I could listen to Wayne and Christian play all day. Forgive me if this sounds weird, but wouldn’t it be something? ™ if some of the members of the Monkees touring band put together some sort of act of their own when/if the Monkees/Micky tours ever end? I’d go see that, even if they didn’t play a note of a single Monkees song.

Pleasant Valley Sunday

That was Then (a musing/movie of the mind from the mid 90s): As far back as I can remember, PVS was always in my workout mix tapes/cds/playlists, regardless of whether I was in a Monkees “phase” or not. Somewhere along the line, I formed the vague goal to one day be able to run for the whole song without stopping, which is actually quite a feat when your heart pumps backwards from most folks’. I did achieve that goal a little over 15 years later, and I rank that up with my PhD and holding a semi-intelligent conversation with Nez without making an ass of myself in the Major Life Achievements department. In any case, as a teenager I did a lot of (mostly) walking/ (brief winded bursts of) running laps around the neighborhood. On a good day I could run till Creature Comfort Goals, more or less. And as I huffed and puffed through the neighborhood, and later at the fitness center at OU, little music videos (or movies of the mind) would come to me during that song. My mom’s friend (who was actually named Mrs. Grey), puttering around in her yard. One of my brother’s early bands, making noise/music in the garage. My Dad, mowing the lawn in shorts, knee socks, and (God help my mortified teenager self) a Pith Helmet. I hated suburban Oklahoma City and couldn’t wait to get out. I studied abroad as soon as possible, and found myself jogging the streets of Dundee, trying (unsuccessfully) to build enough of a cardio base to be a decent fencer, with PVS urging me along. I, like most teenagers, didn’t know how good I had it. But I suppose I was right that there were bigger things in life than that little suburb that is mostly known for having both America’s largest Walmart and the world’s largest tornadoes.

This is now: As we danced along in Family Arena, I thought back to Nez’s facebook post announcing his likely retirement after the OZ/NZ tour. And I decided I was going to choose not to believe it, at least for today. Oh, I’d probably decide to believe it tomorrow, or in a week so, but not tonight, not that moment, as I was watching him and Micky tear it up on stage. Maybe they weren’t having as much fun during this final US show as it seemed. Maybe it was all an act and I was a gullible fool for believing that what was radiating off the stage was joy. But you know what? If the energy and elation of that act 1 closer was all an act, then forget the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, just give Nez and Micky fucking Oscars or Tonys or whatever. And maybe, in moderation, it’s not so bad a thing to be a gullible fool after all. At least on that night, in that moment.

And that was the end of Act 1. Except of course, for one last solo spot to send us into intermission.

Till Then

That Was Then:

(June 1997) looking up toward a balcony overlooking the dive bar where I was about to see a Monkee play for the first (last?) time. Seeing Peter at the same time a few others did. Being shocked at myself as a high pitched squeal escaped my mouth (and the mouths of a couple others) through no volition of my own. I can’t speak for the others in the crowd, but it was like a bizarre reflex, and both I and it seemed Peter were embarrassed by it. I knew I’d probably never see him or any Monkee again after that night, but I promised myself I would control myself better if something like that ever happened again.

(June 2001) In Sterling Heights Amphitheater, Peter was playing Lucille. Mich was so overcome she literally fell to her knees on the concrete. Cin, Anissa, and I laughed, but I know at least my knees had gotten a little wobbly there too.

(May 2012). Sitting in the parking lot of a grocery story about a half mile from a venue where I would see Micky and Peter 4 years later. It was the store where I had learned Anissa had died the day before, while standing in the checkout line. My phone buzzed with a notification as I parked. It was a remembrance of Anissa from the PTFB team…how kind! But then I read it again, and I saw that it WASN’T from the PTFB team. IT WAS FROM PETER. Peter Tork knew–and cared–that our friend died. In that moment of shock I suddenly accrued a debt that I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to repay. But in the ensuing 7 years, the universe gave me a chance to (I hope) do just that.

(September 2012) In a charming/rickety old hotel dining room in Bay City Michigan. It was a ham and cheese omelet. Anissa’s mom (a retired math teacher) and Kevin (a former math tutor) were talking pedagogy. I looked up at just the right/wrong moment to see Peter Tork (or perhaps more accurately Peter Thorkelson) in jeans and a rumpled long-sleeved tee wander into the dining room. I flashed back to that weird autonomic response 15 years before in Dallas. Not again. I kept my poker face. I quickly stared back down at my omelet. Nobody even knew I’d seen him till he walked past our table, and Cin stared at me with an unmistakeable “Is that…???” expression. Not trusting myself to open my mouth, I nodded, eyes wide in shock.

(October 2016) Standing next to Melanie, holding my certificate of thanks and autographed photo from Peter in a restaurant adjacent to the venue in Hartford where Shoe Suede Blues was about to play. PTFB team member “BK” called Zilch the modern day answer to Maggie McManus. I tried not to cry, and (mostly) succeeded). Later that evening, after the show and the meet and greet, I saw Peter and Pam slipping out a side door of the venue. I barely more than glanced out the side of my eye as I kept chatting with a member of Zilch Nation. Peter looked exhausted and a bit like he might be coming down with something, but also incredibly happy. It had been a heck of a weekend following the band, and I was pretty wiped myself. I just hoped he hadn’t caught a cold…

(November 2016) As Ken, Christine, Rosanne and I were ushered into Tom O’Keefe’s office for a quick photo op with Micky and Peter, I was struck by how much better Peter looked than he had a month before as he was leaving the venue in Hartford. I was glad to see that the rigors of the tour weren’t wearing down on them too much. I’d always had mixed luck with meet and greet conversations with Peter, and there wasn’t much time, but I managed to coherently thank Peter for the thoughtful gift the previous month. He seemed thin when he put his arm around my back, but as soon as I saw him rocketing up and down the stage, and doing his Gene Simmons impression right in front of Ken I immediately chalked it up to all the calories he was obviously burning on stage. The man had the energy of a 23 year old.

(February 2019) I was at my desk when I got the notification, same as when the news broke about Nez’s open heart surgery. I stared at the Washington Post obituary for a moment, then immediately opened up our back channel to the PTFB team, and asked the team a question I hoped I’d never have to ask. 5, 10, 30 seconds elapsed after my request for confirmation, and Christine’s reaction of shock. When there was no immediate answer from the team, I knew it was real, even if we couldn’t officially confirm it to Zilch nation for another few minutes. I took a deep breath, kept myself together, because I had a meeting in a half hour, and it looked like I was going to be drafting a Fandom Lenses essay on my lunch break. And yet, I wasn’t surprised, and then surprised that I wasn’t surprised. I hadn’t known anything concrete that any other member of Zilch nation didn’t know, but all of a sudden various puzzle pieces over the past few months and even years slid into place, and I realized that a deep part of me had already known. I just didn’t want to admit I knew that Peter was ill until I absolutely had to–not even to myself.

This is now: Peter was finishing playing Till Then. Family Arena is a big barn of a venue, and part of its charm is the way the audience noise bounces around the walls and multiplies in energy. However, as Peter sang the last words of Till Then, it was so quiet you could have heard a fucking pin drop. Well, aside from the sniffles.

And then it was time for intermission.

And as I see I’m closing in on 6,000 words already, I think I’m going to take an intermission myself.  If nothing else, I’m still not ready to finish this story.

Part 2 coming soon. And yes, I will talk about going backstage. 😊

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