Fandom Lenses

Life as viewed through silliness, Fandom as seen through Reality


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The Poster: The Monkees in Nashville, Tennessee, July 31, 2015

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All Nashville photos courtesy Sherri Hansen unless otherwise noted.

Prologue:

It was June of 1997, long before meeting the Frodis Femmes and even longer before Gazpacho became one of my favorite soups. Fresh home from my study abroad year in Scotland that coincided with one of the most eventful periods of the Monkees to date, I tried to make up for one of my dumbest life choices (not seeing a Justus show in the UK) by driving down to Dallas to catch Peter in a Two Man Band Show with James Lee Stanley. After the Justus Reunion imploded I knew that there would almost certainly never be another Monkees reunion or tour again (especially since all four of them were in their *gasp* 50s), but at least I’d get a chance to see one Monkee, one time, and say thanks to one of the people who had saved me in the 1980s, and introduced me to new friends in the 1990s, courtesy of the internet.

2mbIt was a memorable night. From meeting other Monkees fans in the flesh for the first time in my life, to nearly weeping when Peter opened his solo set with Take a Giant Step, to awkwardly stammering my way through my first meet and greet with any celebrity, I knew I would treasure that evening forever. When I went home, I rummaged through my old foot locker filled with childhood relics. I was specifically looking for my old orange poster, with the vague notion of putting it up in my dorm room when I moved back to college in the fall. It was at the bottom of the truck, dogeared and and creased beyond any hope of looking good on my wall. I pulled out my childhood diary and a few LPs from the trunk, and then closed the lid with a gentle sense of regret. Around the time I left elementary school, I listened to the band, and took a giant step back into the world. The risk turned out to be worth the price, but the price was leaving behind the childhood obsession that saved my sanity but which had eventually become a gilded cage separating me from reality. I didn’t imagine that one day I would find the strength to return to Monkees fandom, if only at what I was certain was the very end of the band’s story.

18 years and 7 concerts later… 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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“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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“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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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


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“But what you have seen you must believe…”(The Monkees, November 17, 2012)

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Fair warning, this baby’s about 3000 words. If you want something more succinct and less subjective, I heartily recommend Dave Swanson’s review for Ultimate Classic Rock, which utterly nails the vibe of the evening. If you’re up for a longer, stranger trip, click onward. That said, I think I need to back up a bit first for my bias disclaimer. Not much though, just 15 years. 😉

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