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

Twokees

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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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 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 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…

Continue reading


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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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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.

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