To whoever cares:
I left the Manilow Network tonight. I posted quite a few things and they're gone now so if you've noticed some holes, that's why.
I was going to post a goodbye message to everyone on my friends list but it would have been deleted before you read it. So I'm posting it here.
First, thank you for reminding me that it's ok to take a chance and make friends online. I think that's one of the life lessons I was supposed to learn over the past few months and I am much better for it.
Second, try to practice what you preach, especially if the homily is about fun and peace and unity and whatever other virtue you promote in Barry's name. Some of you need some work on that.
If you're serious about unity and peace, "cyber hug" graphics aren't going to do it. Try to find that one person who feels the most disenfranchised of all; the one who thinks no one is listening to them. The one you're tired of and can't agree with on anything. Reach out to that person, and then you'll be serious about peace. If you only "cyber hug" the people you agree with, then you're a high-school clique, nothing more.
If you criticize someone's opinion or the way they express it, make sure you're not the root of the problem. When you point your finger at someone, there are thee pointing back at you. You may be the source of that sense of alienation.
Finally, try to pay attention to the quieter members of the network, even if they're not on your friends list. You may find some of the most outstanding human beings you ever met but you won't be blessed by them if you don't seek them out. They're not the most frequent posters, they're always the quiet ones.
To the Powers That Be at Stiletto:
The Ning Network and the way its managed is the best online fan organization I've seen in almost 15 years. The reason this stood out for me is because most "official" fan groups demand that all members/participants agree with everything that the artist thinks and love everything the artist produces. Which creates Stepford Fans and I don't think that's what you're looking for. It's a tough job and no one ever says "Thank You" enough. I hope my thanks make a difference.
I was (very, VERY pleasantly) suprised at the light hand that you moderate it with. I wasn't expecting such tolerance of the types of posts, especially the political ones. I was seriously expecting all non-Democrats to be censured or banned, based on my past experiences. I've never been so happy to be wrong. You're on the right track - let the fans handle their conflicts themselves and stay out of it. Barry's name may be invoked at times but it's not about him - it's about the audience and "official" interference will divide fans even more than they already do themselves.
The shows I saw in October in Vegas were the best I've ever seen, bar none, and I grew up going to various kinds of performances. Thank you for making that possible. That trip restored my spirit in ways and places that I thought were hopeless. I know it's just another day at the office for all of you but please don't underestimate the impact of those performances and the music.
(Keep an eye on Travy Drake aka Qwerty Jones - it's your first alter-ego that responds to his own posts. Both names resolve to IP address 220.127.116.11 in Mechanicsville, VA. This may be a more serious problem than some of the other conflicts out there and may be an exception to the aforementioned "non-interference" rule. Just an FYI in good faith.)
Everybody - I'm not going anywhere and neither is this blog. I'm a fan for good and if the opportunity arises to see Barry again, I am SO there. I got more than I imagined a year ago when I rediscovered his music at a major life low-point. Anything is possible. (Like, maybe, coming back to Atlanta during one of those many breaks in his Hilton schedule in 2009?) And you won't be able to shut me up when the new albums come out.
My friends know how to reach me - right here.
See you all Somewhere Down the Road.