Fandom Lenses

Life as viewed through silliness, Fandom as seen through Reality


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The years have passed, and so have I…

Owl coffee mug

Owls were something of Anissa’s spirit animal. They have since become mine.

Dear Anissa,

You died two years ago today.

Wow.

Time flies, even when our shared fandom isn’t breaking my brain on what seemed like a weekly basis for a while there in 2012. I won’t lie, that first year was hard, especially with all those Improbable events coming true reminding me over and over of you not being there to share them. The good news is that it’s all gotten way easier, as I know you would hope. I still get a stab of nostalgia when one or two tunes come up on my playlist (Dancing Queen, Sometime in the Morning), but those are a lot less regular. Every so often I’ll feel your presence—the last time was when you and Davy were standing just over Nez’s shoulder when I picked up that third and last signature on Listen to the Band. I’d bet $5 he sensed at least one of you too. Those moments are starting to hit less regularly now. I know that’s as it should be, and in a way I‘m glad of it. I’m living life in the now, which is what you reminded me to do. Continue reading

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Monkees Convention 2014 Epilogue: Final thoughts to the Girl I Used to Be

Dear 11 Year old Me,

Well, what did you think? Over the past few days I’ve been sitting here trying to make a final sense of everything that just happened and translate it to you back in 1988, as well as my readers here in 2014. I hope I gave you some sense of the joy that’s waiting for you, even if I can’t exactly send you the photos or videos from the future that my friends here were able to see. However, there’s something I’ve dodged and danced around all weekend. I can almost hear you yelling it from 1988.

“Where Was Davy?”

Davy at Gazpacho Continue reading


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Monkees Convention 2014 Day 0: To the Girl I Used To Be…

Orange Poster

No, mine is not autographed. I found this on Google Images. Mine got thrown into the bottom of my foot locker in 1990 in a fit of 13-year-old mortification and it kinda got smooshed. I think I may still have it though.

Sunday, March 13, 1988

The 11 year old fangirl who will be calling herself “Camille” in another decade or so has done her typical slapdash job on math homework while spinning More of the Monkees with a Tiffany chaser. She followed that up by devouring the latest Lurlene McDaniel  feel good novel about childhood terminal illness with the speed and reflective nuance of your average wood chipper.  Another week of 5th grade nerdiness and social isolation awaits her. Before turning out the lights, the girl stands on her bed to reach the massive orange poster that looms over the room, surrounded by other pinups and photos. Under her lips as she kisses four times, the poster feels both slippery from the coating and a little sticky from the dozens of good night kisses before that one. She turns out the light and as she drifts off, she once again wonders why, exactly, life is worth living. She mopes for a few minutes, and then she remembers. Whether on TV, in the songs they sang, or in what little she knows of their real lives, the guys on her wall never gave up, even when they screwed up or the whole world was against them. And somehow things had gotten much better for each of them. If they didn’t quit, then she couldn’t quit either. Holding on to that truth (or at least what she believes is the truth), she drifts off to sleep.

–From Kissing your posters goodnight: Robotic Seals, Paula Deen, and other Constructed Role Models

~~~~~

A minute or two after the girl drifts to sleep, An unearthly sound fills the room, followed by the appearance of a blue police box that looks totally out of place in a suburban 1980s Oklahoma bedroom (as it does in most places it travels to, honestly). A man steps out, only to be confronted with a LARGE orange poster of 4 young men that hangs over the girl’s white wrought iron day bed. He nearly giggles, but restricts himself to a dignified wink at the poster. He slips the diary he is holding underneath next to the girl’s arm, then prods her lightly with his sonic screwdriver. Just before she opens her eyes, the police box disappears.

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Deeper shades of grey: An open letter to Eric Lefcowitz

Dear Eric,

Before anything else, I’m sorry. You’ll find no pussyfooting about Kevin Spacey here before I cut to the chase *ahem*. I apologize for possibly crossing the line in my review of your book. Alongside my critiques of the lightly-sourced factual claims that can be found throughout your books (which I stand by and we will probably just need to agree to disagree on), I made personal comments about you as an author in my essay that I now regret with the benefit of hindsight. Those comments were based on first impressions or secondhand stories. They were also filtered through a haze of shock and an urgent desire to make sense of revelations that had left many of my friends reeling. At the end of the day though,  two comments in my review of Monkee Business bordered on personal attacks, and were lazy writing born of lazy thinking. Some would say (even have said) that you’ve probably heard a lot worse from others in the fandom over the years. Others might argue that I did nothing to apologize for, or that if the tables were turned, you would not apologize for making ad hominem attacks on someone you were writing or speaking about. True or not, those arguments are irrelevant. I expect better of myself. Continue reading


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Endings are Always Hard (but not in the way you might think)

retractionI need to start this post, really the last one before Nez in Chicago, with a brief retraction (or at least a mea culpa). Back in August, in my review of the Tulsa show, I may have left the slight impression that I was 110% sure there was no-way-no-how those septuagenarians were EVER gonna tour again entertaining the outside possibility that this past summer may have been the end of the road for The Monkees as a touring entity, and wound up upsetting half of Tumblr a few friends in the process. All signs (including this interview from Micky) seemed to bear out my interpretation till the other day, when out of a clear blue sky …

Yes, we will tour again, I am sure…M & P are good guys, talented and fun to work with.

Michael Nesmith

You can see my full response on Tumblr (complete with Blanche Devereaux spit-take gif and a lot of stunned gibbering in the tags), but in a nutshell, I hereby pledge to stop trying to predict celebrities’ future career moves until the next time I do it.

Interestingly enough, until said Nez interview whacked me upside the head (as they are wont to do), this post was outlined as an early goodbye to posting essay here. I assumed that I wouldn’t have anything to say that was worthy of hearing after the Chicago show, and I feel my muse tugging my lead toward that novel thingy I was talking about the other day (though I still haven’t figured out how to approach the subject matter without it reading like a ham-handed imitation of Jodi Picoult to those for whom an echocardiogram wasn’t a midsummer tradition). But then I asked myself—Why am I, little miss Carpe Diem, antsy to close the book on everything that’s taken place here? The Monkees’ story may not quite be over yet (individually OR collectively). Even if they all retire tomorrow morning, I have a dozen outlined essays sitting in my dropbox folder (pretty much all NOT Monkees related, thank the gods). It’s not hard to work the occasional palate cleansing blog post in with the novel and the dissertation proposal, compulsive scribbler that I am. Then I realized that one of those queued outlines, about a recent tragedy in my own town, might hold a clue to my reticence.

Continue reading


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I am not That (One Thing): Celebrity, Creativity, and Shaun White

(Author’s note: I want to particularly thank the inimitable Amy Gravino for her feedback on and reassurance about this essay. Her example as both a superfan and an advocate for Asperger’s Syndrome gave me the nerve to share this facet of my unique fandom lens, and reassured me that I wasn’t just (over)sharing for the sake of sharing. She is a talented writer, a hilarious lady, a sensitive mentor, and one of the most awesome people I have met since returning yet one more time to the Monkees fandom. I’m honored to call her a friend.)

~~~~

Nez Tour ArtSo, I’m on a study break from my qualifying exam the other day, puttering around a few corners if the net I’ve neglected the past few weeks while preparing for the Take-home test of DOOM. In one conversation related to the current solo tour, someone made a passing comment about Michael “Nez” Nesmith’s decision to only sign one Monkee-related item per guest at his post-show Conversation Receptions—specifically:

Ya think maybe he’s still not at peace with the whole Monkee thing? Or at least extremely frustrated at the huge shadow it continues to cast over everything else he’s ever done. I guess I would be too.

Now that hypothesis is nothing we Monkeemaniacs and Nezheads haven’t thought or read or even said a million times. But my gut’s told me the “not at peace” line is a simplistic hypothesis that’s easy to toss off in a blog post (I’m guilty of it, in my defense we’d just had a Very Big Day), but that hides a deeper truth. So I began writing a long-winded reply. And then I started getting really passionate. And then I stopped, and asked myself why I was so certain of the inner motivations of a fairly complicated guy whom I’ve never met (Well, I’m meeting him in 13 days. Oh, shit. *takes cleansing breaths*).

Seriously, why do I keep ranting over and over about the evils of entitled fans, in all fandoms? Yeah, it all started with a momentary screaming fit in my car over a tour that came 3 months late to fulfill a lifelong dream of one of my best friends, but I started wondering if there was more than that to the story. And then “the Flying Tomato” did a “Double McTwist 1260” in my mind’s eye, and I facepalmed. It was time to write the post I’ve been dreading ever since Gazpacho, Grief, & Gratitude went Monkees!Viral and I knew that I was not going to be able to extract my positionality and personality from the story I’ve told here of using pop culture to make sense of my life, and vice versa.

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Kissing your posters goodnight: Robotic Seals, Paula Deen, and other Constructed Role Models.

FL Kissing Posters Goodnight CoverOk Folks, let’s set the wayback machine to a typical bedtime in suburban “Pleasant Valley”, Oklahoma circa early 1988.

The 11 year old fangirl who will be calling herself “Camille” in another decade or so has done her typical slapdash job on math homework while spinning More of the Monkees with a Tiffany chaser. She followed that up by devouring the latest Lurlene McDaniel  feel good novel about childhood terminal illness with the speed and reflective nuance of your average wood chipper.  Another day of 5th grade nerdiness and social isolation awaits her, and her Dad’s overdue for a seizure to boot. Before turning out the lights, the girl stands on her bed to reach the 36×24 orange poster that looms over the room, surrounded by other pinups and photos. Under her lips as she kisses four times, the poster feels both slippery from the coating and a little sticky from the dozens of good night kisses before that one. She turns out the light and as she drifts off, she once again wonders why, exactly, life is worth living. She mopes for a few minutes, and then she remembers. Whether on TV, in the songs they sang, or in what little she knows of their real lives, the guys on her wall never gave up, even when they screwed up or the whole world was against them. And somehow things had gotten much better for each of them. If they didn’t quit, then she couldn’t quit either. Holding on to that truth (or at least what she believes is the truth), she drifts off to sleep.

In that way, 24 hours at a time until the moment a year or so later when I abruptly outgrew both that dark space and (for almost 10 years) those 4 guys, I always decided not to quit. And somehow things got much better for me too. But here’s you’re a question to bake your noodle (if I didn’t still ponder it at times, would I be writing a pop culture blog?)—was it, as I believed at the time, really the Monkees (or any of my other early celebrity loves) who saved me from my depression, or was I motivated by four half-real (if even that) symbolic constructions that lived rent-free in my head? If the latter, didn’t I really just save myself?

…It depends.

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“It was easy then to know what was fair…”: Reviewing Monkee Business by Eric Lefcowitz

(February 2014: Read my Open Letter to Eric Lefcowitz here)

Ok, Ok, my initial gobsmacked reaction on Tumblr, where I compared Davy Jones to Fredo Corleone, was a trifle overblown. But not much.

Monkee Biz Cover

The new closing chapters of Eric Lefcowitz’s Monkee Business present a series of events that clarifies all the seeming contradictions and confusion in the demise of the final Threekees 1.0 tour in 2011, as well as the birth of Threekees 2.0 and the 2012 Gazpacho tour. There are two big bits of news here. I’ve been something of a cynic about Davy Jones for a good long time (read: 15-ish years), but the first of Lefcowitz’s claims damn near broke my heart.  The second bombshell, while it may be startling, is completely of a piece with Davy’s behavior in the 80s, 90s, and beyond. Neither of these bits of news is terribly pretty, and I am left with something of a bad taste in my mouth. However, I decided long ago that I would accept and embrace the real story of my once and future favorite band, even the parts that make me queasy. Monkee fans, and especially Davy fans, you might want to grab your TUMS. This will be a long ride.

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Further up and further in, or 525,600 geeksquees

For all that other artists have been the background music of this year, I think this somehow sums it up better.

When I started this website a little less than a year ago in a fit of grief/anger/gratitude/shame/all of the above, I hadn’t written anything non-scholarly in years (and I suspect the early posts reflect that). The imaginative part of myself had been neglected, on a back shelf of my psychic closet along with much of the silliness and pathos that I’ve explored in these pages over the last year. But now that I’ve re-opened myself to whimsy…my muse is awake, and gently urging me to do something more than critique concerts and write parody lyrics to classic songs. As much as I enjoy discussing others’ work, for the first time in a very long time I have the urge to create some art of my own to go along with my scholarship. And for the first time I’ve found a story that could help other people gain insights–in this case into a world that is very important to me. In a way it’s a story maybe only I could write in a way that would be read, and a route to fulfill my obligations to my literal and metaphorical forbears once and for all. It’s a story that I see in old work that I’ve tried to tell time and time again but always kept stopping myself from exploring. It’s a story that I think only this past year could have given me the strength and insight to tell without descending into safe cliches. I’m also getting excited about my work and scholarship again–not going through the motions, but really engaged now that I’m no longer pressuring myself to go after the alleged brass ring of the tenure track. While my creative work and scholarly/professional work are two very different animals, I understand now that I need them both in my life—they’re my two very different and yet very complimentary children, in a way. The best way for me to be in this world is to nurture them both in ways that help others grow.

Originally this post was going to consist of a bunch of videos and links revisiting my emotional journey of the past 12 months, and to serve as a memorial to Anissa. However, I realized that as an artist and Teacher, she’s better remembered with my dissertation and my embryonic novel than with a rehash of what you’ve all read or can easily find in the sidebar. On reflection, one of the reasons we got on so well in spite of her extroversion and my hermit tendencies was that like me (and I suspect for similar reasons), she was always moving forward, looking for the next new challenge, the next show to direct, the next big thing. As the strangest revolution my wheel has taken thus far draws to a close (and it has some competition on that front, ask my mother over a stiff drink some time), I find myself more well-grounded in my past and my friends than I have been since my life imploded in 2002, but joyously embracing my work and future in a way I haven’t had the energy to do since May 11, 2012. I hope to write and speak on the role of libraries in higher education. I hope to write and speak about the issues I will be touching on in my novel. However, the time and energy I will spend on those efforts must come from the time and energy I have been spending reconnecting with the joys and frustrations of Fans and Fandom.

I hesitate to shut down this blog, or even say I am going to stop posting, but don’t expect to hear as much from me. I’m sure I’ll be moved to post by the occasional bit of pop culture silliness, and I will continue to be on Tumblr in a limited way. However, for lack of a better word, my muse is calling me to put most of my energy into other things right now. And for many reasons, not least of which is the short girl standing to my left in the photo in my header, I need to listen to that urging.

I love you Sis, and I hope one day to live up to your example.


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On “Owning” Celebrities (or, May I never be as famous as Charlaine Harris)

3kees2point0

First, go off and read this piece in today’s Mary Sue. The comments are actually good too, as of about noon anyway. The TL;DR, some fen are threatening suicide because their favorite southern vampire series is ending and they’re concerned the imaginary heroine might not end up with the right imaginary vampire. (I assume vampire anyways—Anne Rice ruined me for all later vampire fiction, including most of her Post-Queen of the Damned work.*)

Now I know I’ve ranted on this point time and time again here and on Tumblr, because it’s a pet peeve, and it’s come up a LOT over the past year in my Once and Future Fandom. In fact, instead of my usual opening “celebrities don’t owe us diddly squat” rant, I’ll just paste in this 1,100-ish word picture from the Monkees Confessions tumblr that puts it all rather more clearly than I’ve managed to in the last 8-ish months of grumbling about this topic.

OK, is everyone clear on my opinion at this point? Good. Let’s move on to some new ground. Continue reading