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20 June 2007

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Ah, those commanding hands. How could anyone not follow a man with hands like that? Especially when those hands are being so persistent and insistent. Mm.

It's very nice on this cold and grey capelin-weather day to have two new things to read, his journal entry and your blog post. Thanks for the pictures.

Alan looks intense in the pictures like he knows what he has to do and how to do it and kind of pissed off too maybe. I don't think I'd want to face Alan when he was totally pissed off. There must have been some total assholes in the crowd that show.

The worst GBS show you ever saw did the other people there think it was a good show or a bad show?

Good writeup of Asheville, though I was sure that it wasn't a solo show! I wonder what happened with those photos....

My better half and I had a good time, all things considered. It was fascinating to see Bob dancing at the back of the stage given the chaos -- there were flashes when all of them seemed to be enjoying themselves, though rarely at the same time.

"Community" will continue to be a challenge for GBS. Their music is a celebration of their community and in some respects the whole concept of community, and appeals to a lot of people who are searching for inclusion. But few bands lend themselves to building true communities. There's too much artifice and in-group/out-group stuff in the GBS world to meet the expectation.

So it's like I told you when we bumped into you at the restaurant that morning -- its best for people like me who need that sense of authentic connection to a community not to seek it in a music hall. I serve my local community through my job, but I'm trying to redirect much of the energy I spent on band culture through actually connecting with my local community. (And you know, these days that's harder than it seems.)

That said, I actually found myself responding to Alan's last FTR. Still felt something like a sucker as I did it. The illusion's a powerful one.

(Chip, I am going to save responding to you for last since it's going to be the longest. Fair warning.)

Christina, I'm glad you noticed the focus in many of the photos. Alan's always very "hand-expressive" when he performs, but I've noticed that when the challenge is greater at a particular show, his hands rise to that challenge and those are the times I tend to think of him as playing the crowd itself as if they were a larger (and far more complicated) instrument with those expressive hands, that and the image of a symphony conductor too.

So I just missed the capelin weather, did I? Too bad, maybe it would have been foggy enough to ground my flight for a day or two and we could have made it back over to the Duke to make up for that missed lunch. September, for sure, or even August, before we fly out. Doesn't my flight from Boston get in early that day?

Laura, how could you possibly say Alan looks pissed off or intimidating? We all know he's just a big happy idiot puppy all the time! Perpetually cheerful and good-natured, 24/7! Isn't he?!

Hah. The very first time I ever talked to Alan he was some pissed, going on and on at length about how the venue from the night before had screwed them over. Of course, I found all that storm and fury and huffing and puffing quite appealihg, still do and always will, a fundamental part of him and of his charm. But, yes, he can be a rough ride on a tempestuous sea when pissed off, most definitely "intense"; again, quite appealingly so, along with all the sweetness that's equally real when he's in a happier frame of mind and smiles his genuine smile. The cardboard-character fan image of him really does do a complicated and fascinating man a serious disservice, though that could probably be said about most fan images about anyone, including other fans. Reality does seem to be superfluous, at times most unwelcome, to much of fandom.

Although there were most definitely assholes in that Asheville crowd, I don't think Alan was pissed so much as he was determined, though likely some of both combined. I like Alan when he's pissed, to be honest, especially at the times when the situation warrants his being pissed, which I think this one did. Those assholes should be glad they weren't behaving that way at Russell Crowe's show, because he would have simply told them to fuck off. I like Russell when he's pissed too. Russell does do "pissed" better than Alan does, but Alan does "determined" better than Russell does, at least on stage. At the end of the day, it's "determined" that gets the best show possible played.

Out of the many GBS shows I've seen, there have honestly been only a few that were truly shitty, shows that there's really nothing good to say about, you just endure till they are over and then get the hell out and away. I can think of maybe a half dozen or so of that kind of show, with one clearly standing out above (below) the others. Everything sucked about this shall-remain-unnamed show, on stage and off stage...

And on the way out after this awful show, I heard people all around me saying with all sincerity what a great show it had been.

Eye and ear of the beholder. Different strokes. Perception filtered through expectation. Wish fulfillment. Stunned and/or inattentive. Blind and deaf drunk. Take your pick. At the end of the day - and the show - the majority of their crowd was happy, which says something rather significant about them and their crowd that night, though even that significant thing is subject to its own interpretation. So in its own way once again, even that genuinely shitty show had its own fascination, in retrospect at least.

Hey Chip, you must have been reading my mind. I've been thinking it would be better to finish up with the Asheville photos before moving on to the DC show, partly out of a sense of fairness and partly out of the pragmatics of not leaving a show half-done and being able to move that folder off my hard drive once the pictures are edited and up. Though I don't have a lot of pictures of Sean and even fewer of Bob, who I had a hard time seeing around Sean and his mic. Everyone shows up best in the videos, especially the Clearest Indication video, and I think I'll put those links back up again too.

No, not at all a solo show, though my focus might make it appear that way at times. As I said in the entry, their version of Clearest was probably the strongest moment of the show and Sean's John Barbour succeeded beyond my wildest hopes. So did Walk On The Moon, for that matter, and how the noisy crowd - many of whom can be heard on my video screeching right behind me at the song's outset - is more or less hushed and drawn in by the end of that one is impressive too. I'll put up that video and the Hold On For Your Life and Straight To Hell videos too with the rest of the photos.

I'm glad you two had a good time - your being there made my time better too - and I wish I'd had a better view of Bob's back-of-the-stage dancing that kept happening right behind where Alan was standing at the front of the stage from my point of view. Alan makes for a lovely door but he's not the best of windows.

What I did see of it made me think that Bob was kind of celebrating how much better behaved his side of the crowd was that night than was the other side where we were. He gave those better-behaved ones quite a show, and good for him for doing so. Sean's expression much of the evening - and I caught this in a few photos - was most often one of ironic amusement, maybe personally detached but not at all a detached performance. I for sure want to put up the photo of Murray's Sean-provoked Sam The Eagle face, even if it's a bit blurred because I was laughing when I took it.

But Alan was the one who took on the idiots around us and worked the hardest to reach out to all those people sitting in the chairs farther back with the somewhat skeptical looks on their faces, and that's what caught the lion's share of my attention.

What you are saying about community, how GBS's music celebrates the concept of community and draws those yearning for inclusion, also applies to Newfoundland overall. Because there is such a well-defined "inside" there, such a pervasive and abiding sense of rootedness and home, those who long to come in from the "outside" try to come into the community, but the irony/tragedy of it is that the very thing that draws them is the same thing that makes it so bloody unlikely that they will ever truly be accepted into that well-established inside. Yes, it is home and it is a community, but it is someone else's home and someone else's community.

And what you're saying about redirecting your efforts toward making authentic connections in your own community seems to me to be the most appropriate reaction to what so many people find the most moving and affecting about GBS's music. If that music and the concert experience give people a feeling of how good it is to be an integral part of something that is larger than themselves, then seeking that feeling on a less-ephemeral basis in their own backyards seems to me to be a very sensible response. Then there can be a wholehearted celebration of conceptual "community" that does not have to mean a common community shared among those celebrants; the celebration can truly be one of the shared concept of the benefits of all the different communities of which those individual celebrants have become integral parts.

I suspect that this is what the GBS band members started out thinking they were going to be doing with their music, back before they had travelled enough to realise just how rare and infrequent such communities have become in many places, or how hungry some people are for a sense of inclusion and belonging that most Newfoundlanders think of as a natural part of their own birthright.

You're right about a travelling band not being the best of places for anyone outside of the tour bus to be finding any genuine sense of community. Given the prevalance of users and abusers, the neurotic and the psychotic, the desperate souls and self-absorbed twits, the bimbos and the hangers-on who are inexorably drawn to most all performers on the road, it's not all that realistic for anyone to be looking for community in such circumstances, and very understandable why some bands, such as GBS, often choose to back away into the security of what and who constitutes their genuine community while on the road.

We've talked about how other bands seem so much more able to connect, albeit casually, with their fans before and after shows. And some of those bands tend to draw more people who are content with those casual connections, as opposed to the ones who seek out Alan or Sean or Bob to tell them how GBS's music has "changed their life" and how GBS "is all that can make them happy when things are bad" and who are endlessly needy for something that goes far beyond a casual connection, the ones who want a home, and someone else's home at that.

I'm not saying this is how all of GBS's fans are, not even the majority. You know there are fans I've met - the both of you included - who I think are wonderful people. And I've met fans of Carbon Leaf or 7N or other "fan friendly" bands who I think are completely nutters. But it's GBS who consistently draws the neediest ones, the hungriest, the most demanding, and some of the craziest and meanest too.

I might be projecting based on my own experience of starting out being trusting and open and accessible to all GBS fans and finally coming to a point these days of being very wary and distant and reluctant to do that any more based on some rather unpleasant associations, but stories I've been told from way back at GBS's beginnings make me think otherwise: I think that they started out pretty open and accessible and trusting too, as much as any Newfoundlander is open and accessible and trusting of Mainlanders, and I think they got the shit kicked out of them, used and abused beyond what they'd thought possible, and lasting damage done as well. Not that the same doesn't happen to nearly all travelling musicians, but their situation is somewhat unique based on their own insular attitudes (inside and outside) and the nature of some of the fans they draw.

And their backgrounds as well. When I think about Alan's growing up in Petty Harbour - where every face was a familiar one, an inside of insides - as a preparation for his becoming The Great Big Sea Guy, it's not hard to understand why he does some of the things he does. It's not hard to understand him.

I think what you're responding to in that FTR is genuine, Chip, not an illusion. My own opinion is that Alan wants to connect with people way more than his circumstances make possible out on the road, maybe even at home sometimes too. Yes, he wants to do it only when he feels like it and he only wants to connect with the people of his own choosing...which is to say, he's just like the rest of us.

But it's so much easier for the rest of us to control those kinds of things and make only the connections we want to make than it is for him, with people grabbing at him and interrupting any conversation he tries to have, refusing to see him as a real person who exists outside of their expectations and illusions, and having the worst of the lot working the hardest to gain access and find some way to use him. So, to some extent, perhaps he gives up on making many genuine connections when away, settling for the shallow and easy and dispensable on the road - or retreating to the safety of the familiar - instead of taking chances and running a risk of winding up disappointed by something that's genuine and real.

But there's still the desire to connect, the desire to know and be known, and I think that does come out in Alan's writing, a place where it's a lot safer and simpler for him to permit it to come out. I think that's what you're responding to, Chip. It's not an illusion that's so powerful, it's the power of truth.

In my own (admittedly fallible and ever-subjective) opinion, of course.

I'll get to work on those photos. I hope I get to see you two (maybe even you three) somewhere next spring or summer.

I've been around longer than a lot of people. Alan has changed some being now kind of brusk when people push him but it's Sean who's most different with fans now. He used to have fun with us but now I think he'd rather have his fingernails pulled out rather than have to be around fans. I can't blame him and at least he looks happy now. For a couple of years there he looked like his dog just died.

Bob always gave me the impression he thinks fans are a bother you can't get away from and beneath him. Darrell was sweet. Is sweet still I bet. Nobody put up with fans better than darrell did.

Man, sometimes I think you enjoy poking the harpies with a sharp stick. How many did you get foaming at the mouth this time?

You know what I thought of the first GBS show I saw though a shared show isn't like your own. The people who didn't think much of a show don't usually say that walking out.

Can you please say something intelligent about GBS real quick so I don't feel embarrassed to be part of the stupidity of what passes for GBS fandom online? When they put up a poll about how often people go to their board they should ask WHY some of us almost never go there now. They'd look better if they shut that thing down and so would their fans.

Carole

Hello, Ali. Good point about Darrell, but I have another good point about him too: Darrell walked away from being the one who was the best at dealing with fans, didn't he?

I've heard the same stories about how Sean "used to be" from longtime fans too. When I first found out about GBS, Sean was already in what I came to call his Morose Period; the look in his eyes all the way back at that first Bumbershoot show I saw was part and parcel of what intrigued me so much about GBS, the looks in all of their eyes, actually, including Darrell. There was certainly something complicated going on, of that much I was sure. If only I'd known then how complicated.

Sean's been consistently standoffish with most fans as long as I've known about GBS - although he was absolutely charming to my husband the first time we met any of them, way back at a pub in Rochester in early 2002, and I still recall how courtly he was sharing his French fries somewhere in Florida during the Uprooted shows - and there's good reason to believe there might have been a breaking point of some sort that happened around that time.

My own timing being ever-impeccable, it looks as if that breaking point maybe happened right around the early part of 2002 when we were going to our first shows. It was definitely a time of transition, with the music and among the fans and I think with the band members too (well, clearly so, since Darrell would be leaving by the end of that year and Kris had just signed on as GBS's first drummer). They had just started up a new version of their message board, which may sound like a small thing but it rattled some of the old-timers something fierce, and then they came out with a CD (SoNC) that was a departure from what had gone before (though not as much of a departure as some chose to believe). That rattled the old-timers even more.

That CD also brought in a bunch of new fans, with more rattling ensuing. The first road-trip shows we went to in the spring of 2002 (Buffalo, Rochester, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Detroit) were very turbulent in terms of clashes within the fan group, new people bumping up against old-timers, some fans acting as if they owned the band members (an ownership that included being allowed to mock those band members to their faces) and talk of attempts to pressure unwanted fans to go away, as well as such tactics as bringing people farther back in GA lines up to the front ahead of those regulars who were in the front of the line, along with stories of disagreements among band members about refusing to fulfill their "job responsibilities" of interactiing with fans, regardless of choice or preference. There was talk of entitlement and grumbling about not getting due attention, all kinds of rumours and tales too. Whatever the truth of it all might have been, it was indeed "interesting times," in the ancient-Chinese-curse sense of that expression.

We came back from that road trip thinking that the "world" of Great Big Sea was pretty much nuts. Fascinating, but nuts.

The Uprooted shows convinced me even more of that. That was where I first realised how tangled things were between them and their fans and began to get a good look into why that was. But things still seemed reasonably sane during the SoNC tour, though I can't compare to anything before late 2001 the way you can, Ali.

I think things changed permanently when Darrell left. For all of the truth about that "burst of optimism" that took place in early 2003 - and it was very evident that this was real, impressively real - it didn't last very long out on the road in the shitty venues of the spring tour with Carbon Leaf and the pure shit of the Cowboy Mouth tour. What got started in the latter parts of 2003 carried through into 2004, which led to the "year of the long break" in 2005. There were a lot of changes then, and I think some of those changes are still in the process of working themselves out.

Through all of it, Alan's been consistent with making time to interact with fans, though some of those times it's been clear enough that he does so in the hopes of giving them enough to get them to go away, especially the ones who won't let up on the post-show tour bus vigils. I've seen him do it in pubs too. He'll be with someone, trying to have a conversation, and people keep coming up to him and interrupting. So he gets up and goes out into the pub and makes a point of giving everyone a bit of attention, posing for photos, etc. And then he comes back to the people he was trying to talk to in the first place, clearly hoping he will have given enough to make for a bit of time for himself. It's a good plan, but it hasn't seemed to be all that effective the times I've seen it; there always seem to be more people who keep coming up.

Murray and Kris have always been supportive of Alan's "fan interaction time"; before them, it was usually Alan and Darrell out in the midst, from what I saw. I think Murray is a lot like Darrell in that way; he sees all the unpleasantness quite clearly but keeps himself separate from and out of the reach of it. Bob seems to deal with fans when he must - and I think that "beneath him" impression is one that Bob unfortunately tends to give to more than only fans, to be honest, though I don't think it's intentional - and has been seen apparently enjoying some genuine conversations that go beyond the usual fan drivel (think about it - how many times have they heard people say the exact same things?).

Sean has always seemed the least amenable to being forced into unchosen contact with people, but, as I said, it sounds as if that may have been something that was reaching its limit even before I had a chance to see him being any other way. He did look miserable for a long time, so much so it used to hurt to look at him in some shows, and he also looked less than healthy for a time too, so much so that it was a real worry. There was a time when I was more than half-convinced Sean wouldn't be around to see 50.

The difference in how he is now is amazing and so good to see. He does seem like a happy man these days, and he wears it very well; he's also been a real delight during shows. But I still wouldn't expect such a change in Sean's state of mind to lead to much of a subsequent change when it comes his attitudes or actions toward fans, and that's not at all a criticism; I've thought for some time now that if I had to go through something like what it seems GBS has experienced over the past 15 years with their fans, I would probably be more like how Sean is now than how Alan is now when it comes to those fans. And then again, perhaps not; Alan is pretty darn stubborn, but so am I.

Alan has changed, or at least I think he has, and for the better. He does the "fan part" his job with admirable dedication - can any sane person really believe he comes out of that tour bus night after night no matter how tired he is just to be swarmed again and to hear the same things said over and over and to put his arm around God-knows-who-or-what to pose for the umpteenth picture with that ever-charming smile and then be hugged by God-knows-who-or-what because it's really what he wants the most to do at that moment? How many of us honestly would want to do that night after night after night? - but I don't think he suffers the fools quite as gladly as he once did. If he's brusque, it's with those who merit such a response, I'd guess, and good for him for doing so.

Past a certain point - and some fans will always push past a certain point - being brusque in response to bad behaviour is a measure of your own self-respect. I would so much rather see him do this instead of the self-defeating tactic of encouraging a jerk to be even more of a jerk than they already are, which is based on the presumption that being treated well is so totally impossible that you might as well just deal with it by toying with the person treating you badly, provoking them into acting even more like someone who deserves to be held in contempt. "Brusque" in response to being treated badly says you deserve better treatment and expect better treatment. Which he does. I'm proud of him for getting to the point he's gotten to; it's a response I'd love to see become way more common among Newfoundlanders when people treat them badly.

Stephen, there's a difference between intentionally provoking a shrew response and not giving a shit whether such a response occurs. This blog has a perfectly lovely "Delete" function. Quick and efficient. There are times when I ask myself why it took me so long to start up my own blog; and then I remember how it all came about. That's when I start feeling the urge to say "Thank you" all over again to you-know-who-you-are.

Good point about who says what after shows. There is always the "If I say out loud that it was a great show enough times, not only will I convince myself, no one else will have the balls to disagree with me" factor too.

Carole, I don't know how intelligent you'll think this is, but I sure don't hope GBS shuts down their message board. Yes, I know there's a lot of foolishness there. Right now it looks more like a re-run of the same old silly stuff with the same old oh-dear-I-hope-they-aren't-lurking (translation: Oh, please be lurking and notice me!) goal that goes on all the time, probably on a lot of boards, but there's also some good information I get from that site about shows and travel and broadcasts.

And as long as it's not the hired admins making it look as if only silly people could possibly be interested in GBS, whatever else happens there really isn't of much importance, now is it? If the people who post there choose for themselves to be silly, then that doesn't have to reflect on GBS or on any other person who likes GBS. It only reflects on the people choosing to do it. And in and of itself, there's not much inherently wrong with being silly; silly can be a lot of fun (though it does help when the ostensibly funny has some actual wit to it). What's unfortunate is when there's a lack of much of anything thoughtful or perceptive to balance out the silliness.

Yes, I do wish there were some place for people who like GBS to go to have more substantive conversation than takes place on the message board, if for no other reason than to be evidence to newcomers of the fact that GBS's music also attracts people who are capable of and desirous of such conversation. But it's not going to happen on that board - and, to be fair to those posting there, it's GBS's own desire for a board that "won't drive any fan away" because of any challenge or conflict that's largely responsible for the lowest-common-denominator effect, though there are also those who wind up driven away for not being able to stomach that lowest-common-denominator, which goes back to your comment about the current poll there, Carole.

They wanted a McDonald's board and that's what they've got: a board with little flavour, next to no nutritive value, all salt and sugar and fat and preservatives. And no risk. Intelligent people still post there, but they know it's not a place where intelligent conversation is particularly welcome, since intelligent conversation can be risky.

If I were to hazard a guess, I'd say that overall GBS might prefer not to have a message board at all, given that their choices seem to be either a nasty, contentious board or an insipid, inane board. Neither alternative seems all that appealing as a public-relations tool, which is what an official-site message board is supposed to be. But message boards are an expected part of an official site, and even a flawed one serves some useful purpose, such as information sharing. And the people who do take part in it (the ones who chose "Every Day" or "Once A Week" in that usage poll) are enjoying themselves without doing any great harm to anyone else. Every now and then something genuinely wise or witty gets said, and there are certainly far more destructive (and embarrassing) courses for an official board to wind up taking.

I still wish someone would start up a message board for all of the conversations that can't be held on the OKP, one that could be smart without being smug and snarky and based on self-absorbed hostility and misplaced perceptions of inflated self-worth. But since that hasn't happened, I suppose that means the interest isn't there, more's the pity.

What's really a shame is that some people who might have done this have told me that they believe it would cause them to be disliked or disapproved of by the GBS band members, as if those band members are opposed to thoughtful interaction as a matter of principle, preferring that all of their fans be (or at least act like) empty-headed giddy dingbats instead. And no matter how many times I try to point those people toward the wit and insight of Alan's and Bob's journals, all I get in response is "They can be smart but they won't like us if we are too. That's why they changed the OKP!"

First it's fans thinking the band members are stupid, and now thinking they are supposed to be stupid, that "stupid" is somehow part and parcel of "happy". Jesus. The "world" of GBS is still a pretty weird place.

ETA for Chip: I'm still working on Asheville pictures when I have a bit of free time. Though I got almost no Dancing Bob pictures, I did do pretty good with Sean. A few nice Murrays and even one or two good Kris shots. And a whole lot more of Alan, as I am sure you expected. At least some of them should be up by Monday, sooner if our weather goes bad.


All I ask for is Sam the Eagle.

Lynda, don't you know it's all because of YOU that GBS stopped hanging with their otherwise wonderful and beloved fans? Even though they didn't know who you were when you saw your first shows they still knew you were there and they knew had to run and hide forever even if it meant tearing themselves away from all the good fans as much as they hated doing so.

Bob's omnisient, didn't you know? Bob knew from your mere presence at the first show how much trouble you'd be and that's what caused GBS to change! It's all your fault Sean won't come out of the bus and realize instantly it's me and not his wife who's the true love of his life you awful horrible person you!! You took my Seannie away from me you stalker!!!

They don't run away from us because we're gross and icky! They like us! It's all because of her! If we can get rid of her the by's will love us again! If she's not a witch, she won't float! Tie her up and throw her in the lake! If the floats we can haul her out and burn her. If she drowns then commend her to God.

Praise Bob and Amen. Can somebody give me a Hallelujah?

*speaking in my sane voice now* I'd hate to have to let anyone who wanted to grab me and push up against me for pictures. For every good one to be close to there's got to be way more of the *shudder* *cringe* types. That's a high price to pay for fame. I think I'd be more like Sean than Alan too.

Since you took my Seannie away from me you could at least show me a picture or two. Oh I forgot I'm supposed to be sane now. Sorry. :p

L.

Sam The Bastard Eagle is coming, Chip. I'm nearly done with the Asheville photos (our local "summer" outdoor Arts Festival got washed away in the rain today, so I had some extra time for photoediting) and I think the Eagle will land by tomorrow.

Laura, you are priceless. So much so that you'd better be careful. Anyone who's intelligent and clever and also friendly toward me runs the risk of being accused by the Unhinged Ones of not really existing, because of course no "real" intelligent, clever person could possibly be friendly to me. Ask Chip. A few years back, one of the chief Unhinged Ones was absolutely, positively sure Chip was a figment of my writer's imagination. Classic case of thinking that everyone else uses your own tactics.

I don't know if you could possibly know it, but what you wrote is pretty damn close to some of what I've gotten in the past from the totally cracked, albeit yours is considerably more civilised and restrained, and also quite a bit more sane, believe it or not. Way fewer exclamation points too and much better spelling and grammar. But you did a great job with the gist of the illogic and irrationality.

OK, you've tempted me into telling a GBS Nutjob Fan story, one of the many I've collected over the past few years. If I weren't constrained by such things as not wanting to be the one telling how crazy some of GBS's fans are - not exactly the kind of P.R. that's likely to do GBS much good - this would be the book I'd write, since it would be by far the easiest book to write. There's more material than I know what to do with when it comes to this topic.

But I am constrained, so it's a book that isn't ever going to be written. A stray story here and there can't hurt, though, and this one dovetails perfectly with what you just wrote, so here goes.

It's a convoluted story, I suppose because insanity is pretty convoluted in and of itself. This one starts at the Celebrate Toronto street festival back in the summer of 2005. A friend and I go to see GBS play an open-air show at Dundass Square in downtown Toronto. GBS plays their set, and then next up are Broken Social Scene. My friend and I decide we don't want to stick around because we're hungry so we head off to get something to eat, then we go back to the hotel to sleep. End of evening.

The next day, the festival's still going on and we're watching Liam Titcomb's show. This rather odd woman I've seen before at TO GBS shows winds up behind me, we say hello, and she starts going on about how rude GBS was to her the night before, especially Alan, which of course gets me curious to hear more of this story.

Turns out she was a part of the crowd that was waiting for GBS to come at the rear stage exit after they finished their set the night before. According to her, there was a limo waiting at the curb and GBS rushed out all of a sudden toward that limo and she somehow "got in the way" of their path and she says Alan roughly pushed her aside as they all rushed past and into the limo.

Now this sounds weird to me for several reasons. I've never even seen GBS in a limo, and I've only seen them run out of a venue one time before, to the tour bus after a show in Hollywood where a large crowd had gathered outside the venue. And I have never seen any GBS band member push somebody aside, even people who I thought richly deserved such treatment.

But I do know this woman is one of the pushy ones; she's a part of a group of people whose chief goal is to get themselves backstage at as many shows as they can, get pictures of themselves backstage with performers, and then post those pictures like trophies on a site that exists just for that purpose. And she did get herself backstage when GBS did a TO show at the KoolHaus the year before, with a trophy photo of her with Alan posted on that site as her proof. Creepy. So maybe Alan's pushing her out of their way isn't such a stretch to believe.

Fast forward nearly a year, around the spring of 2006: I've been posting for some months on a Russell Crowe message board because of Alan's collaboration with Russell. This has caused a few GBS Shrew Fans to come over to the Crowe fan group for the express purpose of telling the Crowe fans what a stalker I am and how much GBS hates me, especially Alan. There are some people in that fan group who are quite receptive to this, a few of them even being GBS fans themselves.

After a ridiculous series of fevered "Why can't you leave poor Alan alone?" posts by one of the craziest of the lot who's come over to the Crowe board for no other reason than to live up to her title, one of the Crowe/GBS fans comes out with the "fact" that she knows I'm the reason why GBS shuns fan contact; she knows Alan always runs away from me after shows because she saw it happen with her own eyes.

Cue my "WTF are you talking about?" After a hell of a lot of hemming and hawing, what comes out is this woman was at that Celebrate Toronto show in 2005 and what she saw was GBS running toward that limo. Now, of course, this means she was also lurking at the stage exit and waiting for them to come out, but of course there's nothing creepy or stalkerish about her doing that, not at all.

She never even said she saw the pushing aside of the other woman; all she said was that she saw GBS running to a limo. That was it. This was her "proof" that GBS, especially Alan (it is always "especially Alan" with these people), hates me and avoids their fans because of me. She saw Alan run, so of course Alan had to be running from me. No matter that she has never seen me to know what I look like, no matter that she had no way of knowing if I was even in the vicinity. No matter that I wasn't in the vicinity. Alan ran; it was her proof. As far as I know, it's still her proof. This is what passes as logic and rationality from someone presumably sane, a middle-aged schoolteacher yet.

And this goes right back to what you wrote, Laura. I think what really happened that night was that a woman with a longtime Alan Doyle yearning was lurking at that stage exit, full of sweaty-palmed hope that Alan Doyle was going to come out and finally notice her. Instead, Alan Doyle rushed out of that door and went right past her, probably with a look on his face that made it clear he wanted nothing to do with whoever was waiting there.

Things didn't happen the way she wanted them to happen. Things didn't happen the way they were supposed to happen. She was disappointed, and most of all she was pissed off.

The anger has to go somewhere. Does she blame herself for having self-absorbed, unrealistic expectations of Alan Doyle stopping long enough to become entranced by her dubious charms? Hell, no. Does she blame Alan Doyle for being capable of so easily passing by those dubious charms of hers? No, because if she does that she can't keep hoping he will notice those charms the next time she has a chance to get access to him.

So where does the anger go? Where to put the blame for the disappointment? Why, on the person who must have been the cause of Alan Doyle's rushing past her, since he couldn't possibly have really been so uninterested in her that he chose freely to ignore her. That can't be how things really were. No, it has to be someone else who was forcing poor Alan Doyle to rush past her against his will, some terrible other person who, as you put it, took Her Alan away from her.

And nearly a year later, there she was, spouting it all off on the Crowe board, as full of her anger as she was full of her "proof". Among other things that she was full of. Likely is still full of.

I'd better stop there before I move on to telling the "being told multiple times by Alan to fuck off," the "serious legal papers," and of course the "intentionally falling on my head on the street Alan lives on so my concussion would give me an excuse to stay in St. John's and hang outside the 'church' where Alan got married" stories. And that could lead to telling all the other stories after that. Tempting, but "constrained" is going to win out again, as it always has and will. Affection can be a bit of a pain in the arse at times, but no regrets from me on that count, none at all.

No way on God's earth I could ever have the imagination to create characters who think in such ways, though - it sure isn't anything I expected or was prepared for. It has truly been a learning experience, and even if I'm constrained by affection against writing at length about such people as nonfiction, there's sure ample material for quite the fictional work one of these days. The writer says, "Thank you all very, very much. I would never be able to do it without your assistance."

One last note: So Bob is omniscient, is he? Fair enough; we already knew Alan is omni-potent. That leaves omnipresent for Sean, if he wants it.

Pictures of Your Seannie coming along with Sam the Bastard Eagle, Laura, probably tomorrow. Thanks again for that comment - a good laugh is always deeply appreciated. And it's nice to be reminded that with fans like you and Chip (and others) still sticking around, the GBS fan "world" is far from being completely cracked. Even if you are both just figments of my imagination.

I think I had been to at least 5 or 6 GBS shows before the concept of autograph entered my mind. It was more the teenagers mind than mind actually but the two times we saw Alan and once Alan and Bob they were both very nice and signed things for Beth and were quite funny. she was impressed both times. For all that I know "Lynda is the reason GBS hates the fans", I have been confused since Lynda was standing next to the teen the first time she got an autograph and she photographed the whole thing odd isn't it? People really are odd aren't they? Maybe he didn't hate some lady maybe he was in a hurry.

Hey Lynda, the teenager graduated from high school on Friday.

Mary

Poke Poke Poke.

Those aren't fans, those are patients. People like that are going to put both of my kids through a top level university.

I still think you should tell the stories publicly. They make me feel sorry for GBS and more willing to cut them slack for how they act.

I'd like to think I was clever and a good writer but all I did was regurgitate some of what I've heard said about you, Lynda. That's why I hit the nail on the head. I was quoting the hammers. Some really do think that way, scary but true.

Except for the witch part though. That was me, and Monty Python too, I think. ;D

L.

I was sure that I posted my response here yesterday, but now it seems to have disappeared. So let's try this again...

Mary, my congratulations to Beth (and to you). Beth is all done with high school - my God, how time flies.

Alan was so sweet that night when he came over and made the kissy faces to Beth, adorable and endearing and utterly loveable. There are times when I wonder how it's possible that all the rest of the world doesn't think him as a wonderful man too. That's when I sometimes stop and think about the times when he acts like a twit...and then go back to wondering why it is the rest of the world doesn't think of him as a wonderful, loveable, endearing occasional-twit man. "You are Alan Doyle," as Russell Crowe so aptly put it.

As I recall, what I suggested to the woman who said Alan pushed her was that maybe they were in a hurry to catch a plane at Pearson. That might have also explained the limo, since it's not all that often you see GBS in a limo. But if it was a limo making a hurried run to the airport, that would make sense. One of the very few times I have ever been in a limo was going from a hotel in SanFran to the airport; the driver wasn't busy otherwise, so he took the two of us there for the same price as a taxi. Really fun for my travelling companion since it was her first time in a limo.

While I think the actual autograph matters to some people (sometimes because of resale value with the biggest celebs, such as Russell), maybe especially so to the kids, I think that often it's a reason/excuse to go up to and have personal interaction with somebody "famous". Pictures give a chance for close contact and touching.

All harmless enough, though I agree that there are lots of people who probably aren't all that enjoyable to have to touch, and I have never seen anyone who is more of a trooper with this than Alan is. Alan could put his arm around Jabba The Hutt, manage to smile charmingly for the camera, and walk away leaving Jabba believing without a doubt that Alan himself had also loved every moment of the encounter, truly a rare skill, one that says much about both relentless dedication and a good measure of innate kindness. I deeply admire his ability to do this, though I do not at all envy him his opportunities for demonstating that ability. From what I've witnessed, it seems that for every Princess he gets to snuggle up close to, there are an exponentially larger number of Frogs. And he does it all so well.

But the access/interaction seeking stops being harmless when the answer "Not tonight" isn't accepted (and, yes, I consider multi-hour vigils outside a tour bus to be a definite lack of acceptance). Also, when it comes to those who go to multiple shows and then paddle over post-show to hang by the bus (or follow them to the pub) each and every time, expecting some kind of personal interaction as their "reward" for being such faithful fans who come to so many shows. The "But they really do want to hang with ME!" syndrome.

I've often heard fans talk about personal attention being how GBS should "repay" them for all the money they have spent on show tickets and travel expenses. Talk about not being clear on the concept. I'm getting too close to telling another story here, and since I can't see how telling that story would do a bit of good for anyone I care about, it's time to take a deep breath and exercise some self-control.

Stephen, telling those stories would cause you to be sympathetic because you're a nice guy, you're sane, you already like GBS and their music, and you're my friend who knows how much I care and why. In short, buddy, you are not exactly objective. No offence intended, of course, even if maybe a friendly poke or two back at you.

But for a new fan who wanders in, a whole set of tales about how unpleasant and unhinged things can sometimes get in GBSLand doesn't seem to me to be the best way to keep that new fan around long enough to buy show tickets and CDs and merch. It's more likely to scare that new fan off, especially new male fans, I'd think, and there are way too few of them in the first place.

The OKP does an efficient enough job of scaring some new fans off. I'd really rather not be adding on to that any more than I can help.

Laura, I guess I should have figured that out for myself. Well, then, since you quoted so well, I will say what a good journalist you are. How's that? Thanks again for giving me such a good laugh.

Now I will cross my fingers and hope this response sticks around.

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