Monday, March 4, 2013

A Day Of Monkee Madness

I'm not sure when I became a Monkees fan. I know it was when I was a kid. At school, a buddy of mine used to go to the music room during lunch and listen to records (ask your parents what they were, kids). We would always play Fabien's "Sunshine Superman", The Beatles "Hey Jude", The Kinks "Lola" and The Monkees "I'm A Believer", so I'm guessing it was then because I couldn't get enough of "I'm A Believer". I thought it was the greatest song ever. Then, channel 5 used to run 3 shows back to back to back that would become 3 of my all time favorite TV shows. The 1967 Spider-Man cartoon at 3:30, The 1966 Batman series at 4 and The Monkees at 4:30. That was probably the greatest block of programming because I was in front of the TV every afternoon. Homework? That could wait. I wanted to see what mess the Monkees got themselves into this time. 

I continued to listen to their music as I became a teenager. I even got into the New Monkees back in 1987. But the originals were still awesome and I got caught up Monkee-mania when the shows started airing again on MTV. when a neighbor went to see them at what was Brendan Byrne Arena in NJ (It's now the Izod Center), he bought me back a T-shirt, which I wore to school. The kids rolled their eyes, but I didn't care. I was a fan dammit!

When my buddy George and I started hanging out, I didn't initially tell him I was a Monkee fan.He was a metal head and I wasn't sure if that was going to fly. One day, he and I were in Kmart, just looking around, I found Arista's Monkees Greatest Hits CD, That was Then, This Is Now. I wanted it and was going to buy it. I just didn't want George seeing what I was buying and save myself the ridicule that would follow. I started to slowly walk to the register, trying to hide the CD. George actually came up behind me out of nowhere and asked what I had. Busted! I sheepishly showed him the CD. He asked if it was a Monkees CD. I confirmed it. George looked at it for a few seconds and then admitted he loved the Monkees. Relief! I bought the CD and the Monkees became something we bonded over. 

For the next 23 years, he and I would listen to the music together, see them in concert, buy their merchandise, and mourn the death of Davy Jones together. The Monkees are something I can't see myself enjoying without George to this day. 

Last year, We found out about the Monkees Convention and made plans to go. But life got in the way and we both initially said we would pass. Then, last week, George called me and surprised me with a ticket to the convention, so George, his wife Marge, and I went to the convention today at the Sheraton Meadowlands in East Rutherford, NJ. As soon as we got there, we were greeted in front of the hotel

I'm pretty sure it's a reproduction of the famous Monkee mobile, but it was a damn good repo.

We went inside and signed in at the registration desk and got our wristbands for the day. After sitting around downstairs and talked among ourselves we decided to go upstairs and wait in line to get into the dealer room. The line was pretty long by the time we got upstairs.

As soon as we got to the dealer room, I jumped on the line to get Mickey Dolenz's autograph. I have been working on a Monkees 8x10 picture for a few years now, having gotten Peter Tork and Davy Jones to sign it. I needed Dolenz to sign it and today was the day I would get that autograph. I looked across the room and noticed George and Marge on a line across from me. Apparently, they had to wait on another line just to get into the dealer room. The room was crowded with VIP's who paid to get into the dealer room an hour before the general public. 

After waiting a few minutes, I was allowed into the dealer room and lined up by a table where Mickey was appearing. I managed to get off a few shots of him from a distance, as you really weren't allowed to take a pic of him unless you paid for the photo op.

And when I got a bit closer

A few minutes later, I got up to the front of the line and got to meet Mickey. It was truly an honor to meet one of my all time favorite personalities and he was such a nice man. I got to shake his hand and thank him for all the years of music and laughter.

I met up with George and Marge and we wandered around the dealer room, looking at the tables. To be honest, there was not a whole lot. Either the VIP's cleaned up or the dealers didn't really bring much. I did pass by Peter's table and snapped a quick pic of him signing an autograph.

I had met him countless time before, so I didn't meet him today. I saw he was walking around with the use of a cane. I just hope it's nothing too serious. 

I managed to pick up 3 posters for 20 bucks. A Vote For Batman, A Back To The Future and a Green Hornet poster. I'll show those off at another time. They will be used for autographs. I also picked up Season 2 of The Monkees. 

After we headed to the ball room to rest up and was told there would be an opportunity to take a picture with David Cassidy of The Partridge Family if you paid a donation. I was told the woman who made the announcement had a laundry list of rules before taking the picture like, no messing about, leave your stuff behind, get in and out, blah , blah, blah. Cassidy arrived soon after and announced he had a plane to catch soon. He sat down and talked about Davy Jones and how close he got to him the final 5 years of Davy's life.

As you can see, we were pretty far back, so the picture is not the greatest. The yellow blur is Cassidy. 

Cassidy kinda bored me. He went on and on about how depressing it was to be type cast and not being able to find serious work after the Partridge Family and how he understood Davy's frustrations at the same as he was a talented actor and could comfort Jones. Pretty egotistical if you ask me. Then he bought up Jones's daughters and it seemed to me like he was drooling over them, saying how beautiful they were, more than once.. Kind of creeped me out. Then we realized that Cassidy was talking on and on because he had no intention on taking the photographs with the fans. Mickey was taking the stage for a Q & A at 4 pm and it was 3:45 pm at that point, so we decided to grab a bite and end the day.

Here's the small haul

Mickey adding his autograph to my 8x10. He was selling a Monkees drum head for $60.00 signed, which I was considering, but since Davy is gone, I can't get him to sign it. I passed on it for that reason. Just need Mike Nesmith to sign this piece and he is the hardest one to get. I might try to get him to sign when he does his solo show in New York coming soon. If that fails, I do have his autograph on a book he wrote when George and I went to his book signing in the 90's. I could just matte that with the pic and frame them.

Season 2 of the series  which would also be the last. I cannot wait to watch it. Three of my favorite episodes are in Season 2: Fairy Tale, Monstrous Monkee Mash and The Frodius Caper. I highly recommend Fairy Tale. Mike Nesmith in drag as a crabby princess is pretty funny.

Overall, I had a nice time at the convention. I just wish that the dealers had better stuff to sell. I was looking to see if they had the 1:18 Die cast Monkee mobile  the Monkee finger puppets from the 70's, The Monkees hand puppet from the 60's Those are tops on my Monkees wish list and I might have bought them if I found them there. But, meeting a favorite of mine was good enough for me as well as spending time with 2 of the best people in the world. I can't think of any better way to spend a Sunday afternoon.