Idols

Happy New Year!  2012 has started off pretty well (extreme hot weather aside).  Peter and I have been catching up on movies we've wanted to see, and on the 2nd of January we caught our first gig of the year.    On the blisteringly hot evening, when it had been 40 degrees, we went out and saw the almost ironically named, Arctic Monkeys at the Palace.

I've had a soft spot for the band for quite some time.  I love Alex's song writing and his turn of phrase.  I took my camera along and got a few good snaps.  I've provided one below.  I love a memento, and I especially love to capture places I've been.  I find my memory is helped along by these pixelled reminders.  After the gig we walked to the tram stop and I was beaming.  They'd played a great set, mixing songs from all four albums, and it was nice to see them in a smaller venue.  Peter posted a photo he'd taken on his phone to Twitter and Instagram (a photo sharing social network).  The next morning we arose to find someone had commented on his image.  A girl said how the Monkeys henchmen had left her crying all night and ruined her evening.  We hadn't seen any trouble at the gig and were scratching our heads at her comment.  She elaborated, saying she'd waited 2 hours after the gig to try to meet them out the back.  She didn't get a glimpse.  She then went to the bar they were drinking at, and their 'henchmen' shielded them from unwanted visitors.  As a fan, she was crushed. 'Never meet your idols' she conceded.

To see it from another perspective, four young guys from Sheffield who after one single in 2005 suddenly had the world watching them, might just be wanting to have time to themselves and party with their friends.  I'm not being an apologist, but I think that famous people have a right to privacy.  Perhaps in this age on online social networks where you can follow the daily thoughts of people on facebook, twitter or blogs we feel closer to them.  I have loved music for as long as I can remember.  I used to grab the Abba posters out of TV Week to adorn my bedroom walls.  In my early teens my bedroom was completely covered, floor to ceiling, with posters from Smash Hits of my favourite band, Duran Duran.  By my late teens, my ear had changed and I'd discovered The Beatles and was listening to more alternative music like the Smiths, the Housemartins, the Hoodoo Gurus and the Cult.  I have always been one for collecting magazines and clippings of people who I admire.  Music was my social life, with every weekend spent stuck to carpets in Melbourne's grungy pubs and there was a song for every mood.

Through a weird series of events I have found myself close to idols a couple of times.  I was once at a warehouse party in North Melbourne, and Sonic Youth were there.  OMG.  Like the coolest people on the planet breathed the same air as me!  They didn't stay long, because no one apart from the hosts had the balls to talk to them.  Another even weirder series of events, found my friend Denise and I after a gig, in the hotel room of Evan Dando.  Don't be too impressed.  There was a number of people, and we sat awkwardly in the corner.  How had we gotten there, and now what would we do?  Shyness had rendered me mute and dumbstruck.  We managed, after a while to just excuse ourselves and leave.  In more recent years, I've gone to CD and book signings.  Through this, I have managed to get David Sedaris to sign my book, all be it, still rather awkwardly.  I did muster a comment to Catherine Deveny, saying 'I guess you hear this all the time...but, love your work'.  She smiled and responded 'I'm always happy to have smoke blown up my arse' and happily signed my book.  Hilarious.

Even though I love her writing (read this piece for an example of her best work), I have found following her on Twitter confronting at times.  I don't understand her views on marriage (against heterosexual, pro gay), as I think everyone should have a choice, regardless of gender or beliefs.  To me the word 'gay' in front of marriage would be like identifying 'gay driving' or 'gay voting'.  Sexual orientation shouldn't define the experience, and people should have equality and choices.  But enough about that...  There are times when she's dogmatic and belligerent...and my admiration is tarnished somewhat.  Never meet your idols?

I'm pleased to report that there are many 'celebs' I follow on twitter, who are a joy.  As funny and endearing as you imagine.  They can be silly at times, or talk about things that bore me senseless, but it's an interesting insight into the person away from the spotlight.  (For those of you who are curious: Stephen Fry, Simon Pegg, Nigella, Louis Theroux, Neil Finn, Chris O'dowd, Bill Bailey, Rob Brydon, Stuart Murdoch, Lee Ranaldo, Kate Nash, Patience Hodgson, Virginia Trioli, Benjamin Law, Sue Perkins, Giles Coren, Alain de Botton and many others)

I've been reading Marieke Hardy's book 'You'll be sorry when I'm dead', and in it she talks about meeting her literary idol - Bob Ellis. Cantankerous and lecherous, she forgives his foibles for the joy of his written word.  She recalls the times she did meet him, and the anxiety and awkwardness associated with meeting someone you would name your dog after.  Never meet your idols?  Perhaps.  She suggests it can be fraught, as the moment we make them idols they are placed on a pedestal.  Iconic.  Elevated from the human condition of having faults.  Social media has connected us with people, and perhaps we expect to be able to get closer in person too.  I have an element of not wanting to meet people I admire, except to ask them to sign something and politely tell them how they or something they have written or recorded has influenced me or brought me joy.  But mostly I will continue to 'love their work' and allow them the right to be human, and as flawed as I am.



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