Good morning from cloudy Southern California. I’ve been taking some time this morning to catch up, and as I did I kept thinking that I smelled a campfire. At first I thought I was imagining it – maybe I was daydreaming a little too carefully about our upcoming trip! When I got up to put a dish in the sink I could really smell smoke outside. This is the time of year when typically if I smell smoke that means there’s a fire in the canyon near my house. (Our neighborhood does back up to the canyon, but the fire would have to climb up the ravine and ravage an entire neighborhood including the elementary school and cross a street before it got to my house. Even so, no one wants anything like that.) We haven’t had a fire down there in the canyon for a few years, so I’m really hoping it’s nothing serious, and of course sense it’s cloudy here (The July version of June Gloom!), I can’t see smoke. It’s been a fairly dry year, and that is never a good thing. I haven’t heard/seen anything on the internet yet, but I will keep checking. Never a dull moment, right? (The update is that the fire is actually in Camp Pendleton, which is a Marine base about 15 miles south of me.)
The band is apparently in Rome today (a special thanks to John Taylor for tweeting that – once again, I have lost track. I would be completely useless to the band if I were supposed to be the one telling them where they’re going. When Amanda and I travel – I depend on her to tell me!) So far I have heard that their Verona show was very good – in fact they put Mediterranea back on the set list and I really hope it stays there for the US. I love that song, and more distinctly, I love Dom’s guitar on that song. I’ve also heard that the fans are pretty intense in Italy.
Intense is a curious word for me. Truthfully, I can’t imagine what that really means. I’ve only seen shows here in the US (Crazy, loud…and as Roger has said…we can be raucous. It’s true and it’s something I’m not especially proud of, but sometimes you have to step away to really see yourself the way others see you.), and the UK. (Far more respectable and comfortable with the band and vice-versa) I don’t think I ever really saw anything that came close to intense. So when I read yesterday that fans had literally swarmed the hotel that the band was staying at, and that they really couldn’t move about freely, I was surprised. This is 2012, not 1984. I suppose part of the problem is that the band hasn’t been to Italy for a while, and they are far overdue for those shows they missed last year, but I really don’t know. I would imagine that for the band, it’s a double edged sword. They probably enjoy being loved that much on one hand, but on the other – I would guess it’s difficult to get used to once again. I’m not a celebrity (In fact it’s even a little odd when someone recognizes me just from a message board!) and so I don’t know what it’s really like to never be able to leave my house without being followed, photographed or “loved” by fans. I guess it’s part of the job, but even so, I don’t think I’d enjoy it much. Truth be told, I’ve stayed at the same hotel as the band before, but even when it has happened – I haven’t attempted to go wandering up to them as though we’re buddies. They don’t know me, and I really don’t know them, either. I know them from the stage. Period. Not that I wouldn’t welcome them if they wanted to talk, but the fact is – they’re people. They aren’t just the objects from our fantasies or our little piece of utopia when we tour. They deserve a little space, and you know – if they want to go downstairs for coffee or exercise in the morning I’m not going to bug them.
I know I’m definitely not the only fan who has stayed at the same hotel as the band – whether by chance or otherwise planned. The funny thing is, once we’re at that hotel we are immediately branded as “FANS”. I don’t know if it’s somehow stamped on our forehead, or if it’s the way our eyes dart around the crowd as though we’re constantly on the lookout for something, or if it’s the way we tend to move around as though we’re bees getting close to the beehive, but it is apparently obvious. This drives me crazy. I mean, there’s not much more condescending than to have a band member or even a member of their entourage look at you with that painful look of disdain as though they’re saying “Oh, of course you’re staying here.” I am truly surprised they don’t roll their eyes when they see us. On one hand, I’m almost immediately sorry I booked at that hotel, and on the other – I’m completely offended that must think they’re the only people on the planet that want or can stay in such places, AND that they’d assume that because I appear to be a fan (that damn branding mark on my forehead again, apparently…) I would even think to go running up to them begging for attention. Of course, I am but one person of thousands, and as I’ve seen, although I will control myself, others will not. Sure, I get excited seeing John or Roger, but I’m not going to have a freak-out as they walk by. I would definitely smile to myself if I saw Dom (I have not ever seen him.), but I will not be the one running up to them or causing a scene. That’s embarrassing for all of us. I cringe for the fan, for the band, and for myself, because I know that once that happens (and it always does), the band is going to be chalking us all up to be exactly the same way. It’s one thing to smile and nod or say “good morning” like I would to anybody else, it’s another to throw myself upon them as though they are just as happy to see us as we are them. Maybe that’s just me?
My husband reminds me of something when he talks about going to trade shows that I try to keep in my mind as I’m traveling – and that’s when I’ve been with him after a long day and we make our way back to the hotel lobby, and we’re stopped by yet another customer as we’re headed upstairs. It’s annoying. He’s exhausted and the last thing he wants to do is talk more business, and I’m thinking in my head as I’m smiling and nodding “You know, you’ve had him all day. My turn now.” That has got to be the way it really is for them, and I get it.
I’ve been writing a lot for my chapter on conventions this week, and I’ve been doing some research at the same time. One of the topics I use in the chapter is the idea of a “weekend only” utopian world. For those who don’t really understand what a utopia is – it’s basically paradise, our own personal Garden of Eden, so to speak. For most fans, our fandom is our escape, and in our case specifically – the band is our fantasy. We use our fandom as a way to sort of recharge, and when we go away, whether it’s to conventions, a meetup or even gigs or shows, we are submerging ourselves, even if only briefly, into that utopian world. Part of that fantasy is staying in great hotels, and living that pretentious lifestyle, if only for a weekend. Sure, part of the allure for many is the possibility of running into the band, but I also believe it has as much to do with being able to stay at the nicest hotels and truly escaping from our normally mundane and regular lives. I think that part of our problem with the band, especially when we run into them at a hotel or offstage, is that our brains expect for them to carry through the fantasy we’ve sorted them. Moreover, our brains do not recognize the fantasy for being the Arcadian place we go in our heads. Instead we see fandom as offering not an escape, but rather an alternative reality. (and one that I try to get to as often as possible!)
So, is fandom our Second Life?? What???
I’ll let you all sort that one out while I return to my regular life and do some gardening.