Hollywood producer Harvey Frand died on Thursday, July 23, 2009 in Los Angeles. He was said to be “the man behind the curtain” for the Battlestar Galactica revival, which had ended just four months earlier. The following night at House of Blues San Diego, what was meant “merely” as the second of three performances of the BSG Orchestra led by series composer Bear McCreary became instead an impromptu, and semi-public, wake. Edward James Olmos himself, as the evening’s host, delivered the news of Frand’s death, and his importance to the show, to the audience—eventually leading the house in a rousing, celebratory chorus of, “So say we all!”—and the show was transformed into more than just another performance. If you’ve ever had the opportunity, as a Galactica fan, to see the BSG Orchestra live, you know how powerful an experience it can be in and of itself. But being invited, even welcomed, to join McCreary, the musicians, Olmos, and the other cast and crew present for the show in a celebration not just of the show and its music but of one of the forces who’d made it all happen, this was something altogether else. It was, for me, my favorite pop culture fandom memory, and not only because an already-amazing show carried this new, deeper, undercurrent. The indelible image for me will always be that while the rest of the cast mostly remained upstairs in the VIP section, Olmos was down on the floor with the rest of us, hanging out in the cordoned-off sound booth, often with his head down, letting the music hit him, wash over him, from across the room. Sometimes—and here is the truly indelible image—playing air guitar. But it wasn’t just that, the image isn’t just about that. People left him alone. He wasn’t swarmed or swamped by fans. He wasn’t under the constant assault of being pestered or chatted-up. He was there for the music, there for the show, and there, as it happened, for Frand. And everyone let that be. This show on the night of Friday, July 24, 2009, is my favorite fandom moment because it combined all of the things that fandom can get right: its passion, its meaning, its care, and its respect. I doubt anyone present left unaware, or was left unawares, of the privilege of being in that room, albeit in a transitory and circumstantial sense, as one, united crew. Fandom, maybe, could be like this a little more often without needing tragedy to prompt it.
So say we all.