Fandom Lenses

Life as viewed through silliness, Fandom as seen through Reality


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What is a Fan? Part 1: Nez (Monkees Convention Q&As)

Nez Q and AWell, I was going to write about both Q & As at the Monkees Convention, but then I spat out about 3000 words just on Nez’s conversation with Rachel Rosenfelt and Rob Horning of The New Inquiry. I trimmed where I could, but given its once-in-a-lifetime nature I didn’t want to give the analysis short shrift. Nez’s Q&A was pretty short–about 34 minutes after subtracting out introductions and Rachel’s anecdote about totaling her sister’s Engine on the way to Videoranch (which, Rachel, I totally would have done in your shoes and I KNOW the difference between gasoline and diesel). However, the brevity was made up for by the sheer density of a discussion that ranged from feminist avant-garde film theory (yes, really) to Christian Science (YES. REALLY.). There’s a lot to unpack, as my dissertation advisor might say, so we’re gonna just jump right in. Continue reading

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Monkees Convention 2014: A Quick Guide to the Complete Coverage

2014-03-15 20.21.40Hey! Since my convention essays got rather long (AND I’m going to be writing one more than I expected), I thought I’d provide a Helpful Index to my Convention Coverage, reviews, and Analysis. Here’s the whole thing in one handy list: Continue reading


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Monkees Convention 2014, Day 3: “Telling More Than Before…”

2014-03-16 11.27.41I caught Nez at a good moment on Sunday morning. I was second in his autograph line. After seeing Aeryn, Jen, and Jaime (in her FULL PRINCESS GWEN REGALIA) scamper into the room at the end of his photo line, I was pretty sure that his picture session had just ended on a very high note. In any case, Nez looked up from adding his third and final signature to my battered and beloved Listen to the Band Box set (picked up in late 1996 or early 1997 in that same Scottish record store about 2 months after Justus), with a bit of a rueful–or maybe wistful–look in his eye.

“Almost got there, didn’t you?”

I returned the look with a slight shrug and half-smile of regret. “That I did.”

He replied, “I guess that’s how it goes sometimes…”

And I could only respond, “Too true.”

We exchanged “nice to meet you”s (he obviously either didn’t crack open the book or at least didn’t connect me with it, but that was to be expected with a bajillion people in his line), and I left the room to meet up with my friends, who were likely still in post-EPIC WIN mode after arranging the Nez Photo to end all Nez Photos. Anyway, as I strolled, I went to touch my owl necklace, and found nothing. In my stumbling around after four hours of sleep I’d forgotten to put it on that morning.

I guess that’s how it goes sometimes…

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Monkees Convention 2014, Day 2: I Feel I Can’t Make it Alone*

The mood of what turned out to be the longest and most eventful day spent in this or any fandom was set early. After a quick wal-mart run, I returned to the hotel around 8:30 am to find that the entrance was blocked. By the Guys unloading the Monkeemobile.

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I deliberately went into the day with no solid plans, so i simply surfed and skimmed the events in the vendor rooms and the ballroom as fate, interest, and friends led me. For that reason, it’s hard to depict the “smaller” events of Saturday in any kind of linear narrative. Instead, I organized it by the thing that seemed the most important today–the people I encountered, most of whom were NOT the guests of Honor.

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Monkees Convention 2014, Day 1: “Weren’t they good, they made me…um…*scratches head*”

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First off, the Nez Q&A is getting its OWN post, and not till after I let it steep in my head a few days. (Though for you Slash People, he DID rather amusingly ship-tease Jonesmith when he said he “can’t take his eyes off Davy” when watching HEAD…)

instead, i’d like to focus on the other stuff that happened. In retrospect I maybe shouldn’t have made for Micky’s autograph line right after I walked in the door and dropped off my bags (I wouldn’t have forgotten to buy a photo for one), but it all worked out, even though I wasn’t at my most gregarious. After a rather long line, Micky was friendly, a little tired, and I knew he had a horrific line so I kept things pretty transactional and short. That said, he complimented my tee shirt, as did Donna. 🙂 I got the second signature on the slightly battered Listen To The Band box set I scored in Dundee in 1996 and the first of 2 on Cin’s Present Box.

Most of the rest of the day was devoted to roaming the Con floor, bumping into lots of friends in the vendor room, and chilling for a couple hours with Amy Gravino, Jen Corley, ephemeral-quiet, et al in the appropriately mellow Videoranch Demo room. It’s been a lovely experience meeting old friends, making new ones,  and generally having a great time. I had braced myself for a lot of “crazies”, but pretty much everyone has been friendly and generally awesome, from luminaries like Micky, Henry Diltz (who wrote down my URL!) Fred Velez and Iain Lee on down to a Davy fan who ran up to me in the hall after one of the sessions because she read my posts on the Steve Hoffman forum.

it was the first time I’ve been recognized by a “stranger” (to the extent any monkees fan could be a stranger to me), and it was enjoyable and slightly weird. We wound up talking for the better part of a half-hour about Davy, Nez’s Q and A, and even the role of gender in how people approach this fandom. It left me with a Lot to think about, much of which I’m still pondering. After Christian and Circe Link’s awesome concert, I basically came back to the room and fell over. I’m having a great time, but am having a lot of trouble putting it all into words. One of those Patented Fandom Lenses Profundities is shaping up in my head, but it hasn’t quite hatched yet. When it does, you’ll be the first to know. 🙂

Oh and Eric Lefcowitz has a booth here. I’m still working up the nerve to drop by.

~~~

Think you might have missed a post? Go to Monkees Convention 2014: A Quick Guide to the Complete Coverage


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Fandom is a Strange Loop (Part 2): Michael Nesmith, Chicago, November 23, 2013

Nez Tour ArtCity Winery: About 15 Minutes After The Events In My Last Post

As the crowd thinned out, Dan the tour manager came to collect the Chosen for the meet and greet. Kevin took my coat and purse and went to kill some time in the fireplace lounge area outside the concert hall. Believe it or not we’re both actually pretty damn cheap frugal in most areas–He likes Nez’s music a great deal (and probably quotes his funnier lines more often than I do), but he’s not quite at the “$100 for 2-3 minutes of small talk” level of fandom either. So I and my three items were now on our own as I climbed the stairs with the rest of the crowd.

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Fandom is a strange loop (Part 1): Michael Nesmith, Chicago, November 23, 2013

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Oklahoma State University-Tulsa, January 19, 2011

I sat in the middle row of the classroom on our second night of class, in my first full semester as a Doctoral student. Most of the people in that room were about to become some of my best friends ever (I may have accidentally broken down in tears with one a year later during a phone call in O’Hare airport while coming home from Anissa’s funeral). However, it was still that awkward stage where we were feeling each other out, and I didn’t want to come off as a Weird Socially Awkward Nerd any sooner than I had to. We were in Research Methods, and the topic of the night was epistemology. In plain English, epistemology is the study of how we make meaning from the world around us, or in my prof’s words that night, “how we know what we know”. We had three guest speakers–advanced PhD students who were to share how they saw the world through each of the main epistemological schools. Some readers will likely not believe this particular coincidence, so I have taken the liberty of providing an audio snippet complete with snapshot of my notes below. Yes, the quiet gasp when our first speaker announced the name of the poem was from me, though I rapidly roped my inner ten-year old in and struggled to shove her back in the black box where (at the time) I knew she damn well belonged–far away from my adult professional self.

Our speaker for subjectivism shared the old poem of the Elephant and its Parts as a handy metaphor for how, according to subjectivists, people’s meanings often vary based on their perspectives and limitations. I fought to hold a straight face. I was an ADULT Damn It, a serious-minded academic librarian who had long set aside such childish things, and a new PhD student, no less. Rather than attentively listening to a handy refresher on philosophical issues that I hadn’t considered deeply since my sophomore year abroad, I was trying not to let my face show that biggest meaning I was making at that moment involved freaking Neighborhood Nuclear Superiority!

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As we walked out of class, I allowed myself a quiet smile. While I definitely appreciated the seemingly good omen and it brought back fond memories of old adventures and old friends, I figured it was probably the last time I would think of Nez for the rest of my PhD coursework. I mean, it was 2011. The man was never exactly a road warrior, hadn’t put out anything in a good 5 years, and was pushing 70 to boot. He barely even posted to Facebook anymore. What in heaven’s name could possibly draw Michael Nesmith out of retirement at this late date?

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“Fading through the door into Summer…”: The Monkees in Tulsa

689A Midsummer’s Night with the Monkees, Tulsa, OK, August 3, 2013

Here let me set down a tale of what I am almost certain will be my last Monkees concert ever.  It’s long, but I think in part that’s because, while I’m ready to move on from the intense interest I’ve had in the guys over the past year, part of me still doesn’t want this dreamlike season of my life to end.

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

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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