Many moons ago, when I was young and naive, I got the idea to get involved with the type of activities typical of a fan club for another artist.
I had a friend who was a former employee of this artist and he drilled me a little bit.
"Why do you want to do this?" he asks sternly.
"Because it looks like fun!" was my totally open and honest reply, heart firmly stitched to my sleeve.
"Good. That's the only answer I would accept from you," he says, in his stern yet paternal tone. "Because believe me when I tell you this, you are going to get hurt."
I heeded his advice, or so I thought. With my friend's guidance I would stay out of trouble. Others may have slipped up, did or said something wrong, and faced the music for it. (Pun intended.) But I was too well prepared. I was above such conflict. That could never happen to me.
Didn't last long. Take a look at the first month I posted in this blog to find out how wrong I was. So wrong - and so hurt, per my friend's prediction - I actually gave up music altogether.
That was almost 15 years ago. (15 years.....yeesh!) And yet the memory is so fresh and the lessons learned so powerful that when I fell in love with music again (via Barry) I took even more precautions. Enjoy the music, enjoy the shows, don't get involved with the fan club. (Although the shows at the last convention were almost enough to convince me to finagle another trip.) NEVER try to buddy up to TPTB. Don't get involved in the business end. Just enjoy the illusion for what it is and be satisfied with that.
Most of all, don't assume you have a personal relationship when it's only business. The younger you are when you get involved, the harder that is.
It's working. Usually. At least it has been for me. I haven't lost God-only-knows how many hundreds or thousands of dollars in airfare, hotel, other planning costs for shows being cancelled over and over. I sympathize, I really do. But it's a fight I don't want to get involved in. It took about 20 minutes for me to figure out not to criticize TPTB and how they make decisions or run their operations. Every once in a while, if you're in the right place at the right time, you hear a cautious whisper about how a fan of many years got slammed with the verbal equivalent of a Howitzer for what they thought was an innocent remark - just an opinion. But it was taken as a declaration of war. That's way too familiar for me. Been there once. Not going back if I have anything to say about it.
[Edited 8/4/2009 because I WAS COMPLETELY WRONG. It was the Hilton's call after all.]
Worst of all, the fans turn on each other at every one of these announcements. Don't believe me? Go read the blog and discussion posts at My Manilow Network and see for yourself.
No matter how much you try to focus on just the music, or detach yourself from the goings on that you KNOW are there, too many last-minute announcements wear down the morale of the most long-time and ardent fan. Then, no matter how great the music or performances, it doesn't have the impact anymore. The listener's heart is just too closed off to appreciate it. That's what you do to protect yourself.
So here's my solution: take a break.
Everybody - and I mean EVERYBODY - take advantage of Barry's time off from the Hilton (newly extended) and just do something else for a while. If fans are picking at each other like chickens in an overcrowded coop (like now) that's your cue. Before the picking turns into more vicious attacks, and more people are "invited to leave" the Ning network, just breathe. Just let it get out of your head, before it overshadows the music. It may not restore your bank account or rearrange your travel plans, but it will prevent that injury from getting worse.
These next few weeks, before my passenger disembarks, I'm sleeping alot. I'm getting my work squared away. Planning time with friends. Pacing myself and alotting my energy so I can take The Littlest Fanilow to the pool every day. But that's just me. There's other options. If you're really disturbed by the latest happenings in Barry World vent them in a safe place. Talk with a trusted friend who has an objective POV on the subject. There's no shame in talking to a professional counselor either.
Then, maybe, in the fall, everyone will be able to return to the music with a clear head. With their troubles resolved. And, hopefully, with a fresh love of the music.