Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mayflower Photos

I love to read behind the scenes information about the way people come up with creative ideas. One of my favorite Manilow CDs is Here at the Mayflower so this article is especially interesting. The photos on the Mayflower CD help advance the storyline of the songs and this background story tells how the photographer developed the concept for the pictures on the CD.

Here At The Mayflower, Barry Manilow

It’s one of my favorite situations when personal work became published and paid work. I was asked to scout a building and photograph it to give the record company (Concord Records) an idea what the real Mayflower (the building in Brooklyn Manilow grew up in which inspired the songs) looked like, so they could come up with something similar to shoot the artist in LA.

They loved my photos so much they ended up using them on the CD cover and package and superimposed the photos of the artist (Barry Manilow) over my photos. Then they asked me to go BACK and shoot some more and ended up using them all over the notes! Cool. I love that they took my vision and loved it and used it!

Blog address:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Welcome, Barry!

Where are my manners? I have been meaning to write and officially welcome Barry to the fan Internet world. My welcome is a little late; real life has kind of gotten in the way. My oldest son just got engaged and will be getting married in February. Also, I am no longer an unemployed blogger – I got a job! Anyway, enough about all that, back to my welcome.

A debate had been going on for quite some time among Manilow fans. The issue contemplated was if Barry read Internet fan sites. That question was settled once and for all by a letter Barry wrote that appeared on Sunday, October 4th. The letter was in the form of a hotline to UK fans as well as being on the main page of for a brief time before vanishing into that great void of cyberspace that swallows any postings that don’t go along with the elusive party lines of TPTB. Funny, I thought Barry was one of TPTB. Shows how much I know about such things.

How cool is that? Barry joined the ranks of all the people who have had postings pulled off official Manilow sites. Even he doesn’t know what’s allowed and what’s not. I was glad to see the letter. For a brief moment there was dialogue between Barry and his fans. If it had or does continue, this could lead to fans becoming the friends that Barry referred to in his letter.

In the letter it seems that real life is dealing with Barry too. Not the happy events going on in my life, but in the form of more surgery. I was sorry to read that. I hope it all goes well and Barry gets relief from his problem. Prayers and positive thoughts are sent his way for a speedy recovery. Take care of yourself, Barry!

So welcome, Barry. Now that you have gotten your feet wet, so to speak, come back any time. We know you can speak if you choose to when ever you want. Your friends on the Internet are very interested in what you have to say. Don’t be such a stranger. We look forward to hearing from you more. You sure got all the boards and sites buzzing. Keep these dialogues going and you may discover that fans can be articulate and intelligent, if given the chance. Give us the chance.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Manilow TV and Consumerism 101

Manilow TV is starting up next week. This announcement started a controversy many different places in the Manilow fan world. Once again, the cult members went on the defensive about any opinion or comment that did not go along with the thinking that Manilow TV is the greatest thing ever. I don’t see what all the fuss is about. A service is being offered and the choice to buy that service is up to each individual. Happens every day; it is basic consumerism 101.

People are faced with making decisions every day about how to spend their money. The choices made are usually based on need, budget, or a number of other factors that play into what is going on in a person’s life at that time. In most cases these decisions are not shared with other folks on the Internet. For some reason Manilow fans find it necessary to share such Manilow related choices on the Internet with mass numbers of their close friends. That’s fine. Just be prepared if all of these people don’t agree with you because they will express how they feel – in no uncertain terms.

There’s really no problem with expressing an opinion. I’m doing that very thing right now. The problem comes when an opinion isn’t allowed. Free exchange of ideas is a great thing but when no exchange is allowed then it falls back into that old cult mentality. Everyone does not consider Manilow TV to be something they are prepared to buy into for various reasons. That should be allowed to be expressed and respected as much as the idea that Manilow TV is wonderful should be expressed and respected. We don’t all purchase the same items or services during the course of our day but that doesn’t make us bad people. It makes us different. Different is not bad.

For everyone signed up for Manilow TV, I hope you enjoy it. People who are not getting it, I am sure you made the right the decision for whatever reason you chose not to get it. I will be in the latter group for right now. I’m sure if the service works very well, word of mouth may convince some consumers who are sitting on the fence which way to go. My hope is that the information will be fair and balanced. It will be if you know where to go to read it. Do you think Consumer Reports will review Manilow TV? I guess not, so fan reviews will have to do. Keep an open mind. I plan on doing just that.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Manilow Lemonade

Barry Manilow is playing the Hollywood Bowl on October 24th. Fans have known that for quite a few months but a few days ago an announcement added a charity component to the event. Barry’s Hollywood Bowl concert will now raise money to put musical instruments into the hands of public school students in the LA school district. Music programs all over the US have suffered, like all arts programs, or for that matter education in general, in the recession. California has been very hard hit. Sounds like a very good idea. Yet some fans found fault with this turn of events.

Earlier a hotline had been sent out to some west coast fans and an alert posted on Facebook with the information that seats for the Hollywood Bowl priced at $9.99 were available. This was seen as a sign that the ticket sales were doing poorly. This was all speculation. Announcing the fundraiser fueled this speculation. Just for sake of argument, and I am meaning that in the terms of a point, not fighting with anyone, the speculation is true. Barry and his management came up with the idea of trying to increase ticket sales by making this a charity project. It’s not clear how this helps out tickets sales. Donating to the music project is only done by buying packages. Maybe the thinking is a lot of people will be convinced to buy tickets because Barry is giving something to the schools, or to save face in LA for Barry’s supposed poor ticket sales? Not sure about that thinking. Would it still be a bad thing, only to rip-off fans, as the fault finders say?

One of the key sticking points about how fans are being taken advantage is the packages being offered. The charge is that fans are being asked to pay a huge amount to meet Barry. Only one person on one board pointed out that maybe these packages were aimed at corporate sponsors. This makes perfect sense when reading what is included in the packages. Fans wouldn’t care to have their name put in ads or merchandise. The packages were designed to get corporate money. Probably these sponsors have already signed up. Meeting Barry is put in only as something for the guests who attend the concert in behalf of the company who buys the packages. It was never intended for fans. The cheapest package maybe aimed at fans but that’s all. Some people are so obsessed with the idea that meeting Barry is only done for a price that they lose all common sense.

How can this not be a good thing? It will put musical instruments into the hands of students who could have missed the opportunity to learn music because of budget restrains. Personally, I like this charity above all the others. In the case of Palms Springs, the donors saw the instruments get into the hands of the students. How many charities are able to show concrete proof that what they raised money for actually reached the people it helped? This is one of the few.

The Hollywood Bowl fundraiser looks like a win-win situation to me. This could be a case of having lemons and making lemonade out of them—Manilow Lemonade. Barry gets to help put musical instruments into student’s hands. Corporate sponsors or whoever buys the packages get to help Barry put the musical instruments into students’ hands and see a concert. Most importantly, students in LA will get the chance to learn to play musical instruments because of Barry’s Hollywood Bowl concert. Anything that aids kids is a good thing in my book. Maybe the next Barry Manilow will learn to play his music on one of the donated instruments. That would be awesome.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hints, Moles and Videotapes

Things have really been busy in Manilowland for the past few days. For years a fan in Europe has been supplying fans with music, photos, and videos of Barry Manilow. Not only did she post this material on her own site, she posted it on Internet sharing sites. Last week she got caught; an email from an attorney representing Stiletto arrived in her in box. Of course she had to share the pain of receiving such an email with all of her many online friends, one of whom she suspects turned her into TPTB. Fans have been up in arms about the treatment this fan received. Closer examination shows that she and her friend left TPTB very little alternative.

Many times fan has commented what a caring person this lady is to have taken the time to edit and post so many videos. Trouble is her concern didn’t go far enough to obey the laws that protect an artist’s material. Her sharing has another name – copyright infringement. The only way copyrighted material can be used legally by anyone other than the copyright owner is to obtain permission from the copyright holder, which this person clearly did not do. Claims have been made that this person didn’t think she was doing anything wrong but only helping by promoting Barry.

She did know and her own words prove it. On August 2, 2009, she posted a reply on the forum board about her videos being removed from the Daily Motion site. In the reply she says not once, but twice that, “I was expecting this to come one day…” and “As I said, I was expecting this one day or the other but I was hoping this day not to come that soon.” (Now before I get angry emails that I used quotes off a private forum, I want to pass on this bite of information. The discussion boards on the Manilow Network are not private. I was able to look this up and pull it off without even signing on to the network. Anyone can see what is posted there. The only reason to sign on would be to reply to a discussion. All goes back to nothing is private on the Internet.) So she knew what she was doing was wrong.

Copyright seems to be brushed aside by fans as not being relevant when money does not change hands. That is not true. What she knew or didn’t know became a non-issue when TPTB pulled all her videos off the public site. Big clue there that this fan was doing something that wasn’t supposed to be done. Not only that, but that she was being watched.

This rather large hint did not get through to this person. She came up with another plan to keep sharing copyrighted material. Once again she shared this information around the Internet on email strings. See where this is going? Where it always goes. Once again back to that nothing is private on the Internet (doesn’t that get boring that I have to keep saying that? But some people never get it.) It is supposed that someone, trying to score whatever it is moles get, turned her into TPTB. Tons of finger pointing and names named as to who this was has been going on all over the fan sites. It can be narrowed down to one place; My Manilow Network.

Some well meaning person posted on the MMN discussion boards that this lady was going to keep posting her videos but she couldn’t tell how the fan planned to do this because then TPTB would know. Think maybe this person, who all but dared TPTB to stop this fan had anything to do with tipping then off that something was afoot? (I went back to find the post but in true cult fashion, it has been removed. Good covering of tracks.) It is not hard to imagine that after reading this post, on their own official site, that TPTB knew that hints and being nice wasn’t going to work. It was time to get serious and they did.

I’m a black and white person. Rules and laws are to be obeyed in my book. I’m not naive to think that most everyone hasn’t shared a video or something with a friend. That is not the case with this lady. She had great amounts of material. Her material wasn’t limited to videos; she claimed to have unreleased music. Someone here in the United States supplied her with material. Trying to put a spin on it that she was “helping Barry” and other fans does not change the fact that what she did was not only morally wrong but against the law. She got away with it for years but her run is over, or I hope it is. Surely she got the message this time. Maybe this fan can use the skills she acquired in editing and posting Barry’s material into a new hobby—one that is legal.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Seeing Barry through Different Eyes

Last weekend quite a few fans got to see Barry perform in two different venues. Reviews and pictures appeared of both concerts. What I really found really interesting was how various people saw Barry’s performances through very different eyes. By sharing their accounts of what was experienced, I was able to see the many ways fans relate to a concert. In a way it was like the life cycle of a fan.

New fans saw the concert with child-like eyes. It was all new and exciting. Just being in the same place as Barry was nearly enough. Every aspect was enjoyed and savored with the awe of a wonderful Christmas morning when Santa fulfilled all the wishes. Oh, to have that joy again.

Older fans, (and I don’t mean in years as age, but more in years as a fan) tend to not only appreciate Barry’s performance but also the event itself. Friends and being together was a vital part of their experience. As people grow older they tend to be grateful for friends and the opportunity to do things mutually enjoyed. Maybe the show wasn’t exactly what it used be but that doesn’t matter. Knowing that there are still shows to attend makes them happy.

Last are the die hard older fans; the senior of the fans who have been there for the whole time. Long memories of days past sometimes hinder their ability to enjoy the concert. Seeing the changes reminds them that not only has Barry grown older, but so have they. That can be hard to accept. The concert is viewed with a more critical eyes of what it should have been based on what Barry once did. The past can’t be relived. Some will understand and accept that; others will not.

My thanks to all the people who shared their concert going experience from last weekend. I hope people continue to do that. Seeing Barry’s concerts through different eyes gives insight to how people think and feel. That always interests me.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Manilow TV: Update

Looks like Manilow TV is about to come online. For a short while on Sunday, the website was up. It got taken down when fans started accessing the website and sharing information. Or was it put up to test the waters? What a great way to gage fan’s reactions. After reading what fans said, then pricing and terms could be tweaked. Great marketing!

So what did the marketing testing show? Manilow TV has generated a lot of buzz in the fans world. Over on MMN, the official site, everyone is expressing what they would like to see. There is no mention of thoughts on the price of $20.00 a month. Lucky people over there do not seem to be feeling any affects from the recession. I am happy for them. Oh, wait a minute. Maybe they are being careful not to say anything negative so they won’t get banned. I’ll be positive and go with the Manilow Network is a recession proof zone.

That is not the case with the newsgroup and other places. The monthly fee seems too high for most of these folks who have been hit by the recession. One great idea was a pay for view tier of service. Fans pay for just what they want to watch, say for maybe a twenty-four hour period. (Thanks to a newsgroup poster for this idea.) That might make the service accessible to more viewers.

I can’t say I was surprised by the no downloading or allowing the material to be put on any other site, as stated in the Terms of Service. That is how it should be. The service is not giving away videos; you pay for the privilege of watching them. I’m just not sure how the videos can be monitored. A little thing like TOS never seemed to affect the illegal videos on the Manilow Network. Maybe Manilow TV will have something in place to make the downloading complicated.

I mean, come on, you and I both know that someone somewhere will figure out to download the videos. Nothing on the Internet is ever safe. The best you can do is make downloading hard. That will cut out a majority of down loaders. Only the hard core, download-or-die fans will be left and TPTB probably know who they are. If the videos end up on a site, some one will blab. They always do. Gotta score those Brownie points.

Manilow TV –here it comes. Stay tuned to see how it goes. You won’t be getting any first hand information from me. I’m one of those recession people. I wish the venture all the best. All the people who do sign up for the service, I hope you enjoy it. Tell us about it now and then. We’ll live vicariously through you.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Barry Manilow: On and Off

A couple of weeks ago Barry went to a listening party for Whitney Houston’s new CD in LA. Photos were snapped which got fans talking. Then last week, an article appeared in the Yamaha 360 magazine about Barry. Some very nice pictures accompanied this article but these pictures didn’t generate nearly as much conversation. Why was that?

The pictures taken at the listening party showed a more causal Barry. He didn’t look as put together as he did for the photo shoot done for the magazine article. Photo shoots are planned, like a show. Hair, make-up, clothes, the whole nine yards. Barry appeared in those pictures just as he would if you attended a show in Vegas. Probably a lot of pictures were taken during the photo shoot with only the best being used in the article. Not so with the listening party photos.

Caught on his way in or out, you can’t really tell, Barry looks like a mature man going out after work. No make-up, fancy hair, or show clothes. His appeared tired and pale. This is what caused the talk. Some fans like the natural look and some worried Barry was ill. These feelings were expressed in comments that appeared on the TMZ page with Barry’s picture. (I don’t put much stock in the cancer comment posted under the name of a former family member of Barry’s manager/employee. This same person sued and settled with his former father-in-law. I’m sure there was some kind of confidentially agreement involved in all that.) Most old time fans were very familiar with how Barry looked; they had seen it for years when he was on the road. Tired always shows on Barry’s face.

The two sets of photos illustrate the difference between Barry’s private and public life. Like the photos, the Barry seen onstage is not the same person his family and friends know in his private life. It’s nice when fans get a glimpse at the causal Barry and without invading his private time. I know some fans have a problem with the tabloid press, like TMZ, where the picture of Barry appeared. Attending an event like this listening party, Barry, or any other celebrity, knew that their presence was wanted to attract media attention. I would have a problem if I saw photos taken by someone of Barry in his backyard or photos taken with a telephoto lens of him; say out shopping, without his knowledge. Barry went to this listening party knowing the paparazzi would be there. He chose how to look. I applaud his choice. It shows a comfort with yourself to appear so causally. Thank you, Barry.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Nature and the Manilow World: The Queen Bee

In this Manilow world that we slip into now and then, there is a certain creature that appears over and over. It is what is known as the Queen Bee. With such a short life span, this Queen Bee must do her work quickly before she is replaced by a stronger version of herself. Her life goes something like this:

The successful Queen Bee proclaims to know all things Manilow. What she doesn’t know, she makes up. Some Queens believe they know all things. This Queen Bee is the Manilow protector. Anything she perceives as negative regarding Mr. Manilow must be attacked at all cost. Manilow far surpasses a mere human, and mere humans must not dare to say anything less than glowing regarding this man of perfection. Humor is not a strong point of a Queen Bee, that is, unless it is her humor. All Queen Bees must have a kingdom to rule over. This is the scary part. She manages to gather workers under her.

These workers are the faithful. Accepting the Queen as their leader, they believe and uphold anything the Queen Bee decrees. An independent thinker is not welcomed in a Queen Bee’s hive; no matter how much the Queen proclaims that all are welcome and equal in her kingdom. The welcome only applies to the ones who become her workers keeping to her laws and commands. Everyone else need not apply. That’s where the problems start. Some workers begin to see past the Queen Bee facade to what she really is – a power hungry woman looking for control. As the rebellion grows, the Queen loses her all important control. Amazingly, Queen Bees are very resilient.

Some of the Queen Bees manage to stay in control for a very long time, or the hive breaks up. In either case, the Queen Bee must keep doing one important task-- recruiting new workers. Sad to say, there are always followers to be had for the asking. This time, the Queen Bee becomes picky about who she lets in her hive, having learned from experience. She wants no more rebellion among her workers. It’s useless. Wanting more and more power, the Queen Bee will again make the same mistakes. Her hive will under go many reconfigurations, only to re-emerge in an altered state. One thing will remain a constant; the Queen will be the ruler, until she finally loses her kingdom to another stronger Queen. That is the life cycle of a Queen Bee. How many Queen Bees do you know in the Manilow world?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Last Manilow Outpost:

In the early 1990s a personal computer came into my life. It was amazing at that time to go online. Even more remarkable was finding Manilow message boards. Prodigy and AOL were among the first fans boards I knew about. No official fan sites or email strings existed but there was one more place -, better known as “the newsgroup.” All those old boards are gone. Several official fan sites and tons of email strings are available for Manilow fans to join. The newsgroup is still alive and kicking, as much as some people would wish its demise.

Not much good has ever been said about the newsgroup. It is a place that fans warn other fans to venture into at great risk. Discussions take place on the newsgroup that involves subjects about Barry considered taboo. These discussions, in the past, produced flame wars to end all flame wars. What causes the newsgroup to have such a bad reputation that persists until this very day? The answer is simple; the newsgroup is not moderated.

Some people have a hard time understanding what it means when the newsgroup is described as not being moderated. No one owns the newsgroup or runs it. It is just out there on the Internet. No TPTB to turn anyone into to be banned or rules to follow. No topic is off-limit. The ability to discuss anything causes problems among some Manilow fans, especially if they don’t care for the subject being discussed. Usually these topics include anything considered by certain groups to invade Barry’s privacy or they don’t agree with. On the newsgroup there is not a darn thing anyone can do to stop any discussion. Take my word for it, people have tried.

Reformers fail when they attempt to change the newsgroup. The always positive, I love Barry Manilow, the sex god doesn’t fly on the newsgroup. People who post regularly on the group tend to be more mature and articulate than other places in the Manilow web circuit. Not only do they tackle subjects not welcomed on fan and official sites but members of the newsgroup believe that TPTB of the Manilow camp want to get rid of because they can’t control it. Personal experiences are cited to back this opinion. While this theory can’t be definitely proven, it is strange how often issues on the newsgroup seem to show up and be addressed by the Manilow camp.

People find the newsgroup. Usually they find it after something takes place to change their view of the Manilow world. No one is ever thrown off the newsgroup, but not everyone makes it as a regular poster. I lurk there and I feel like I am in the company of a great many fellow lurkers.

Like the old Wild West, the newsgroup is the last frontier of Manilowland. Members can be compared to outlaws; they fiercely guard the newsgroup as the last outpost of free expression for Manilow fans. It is not a place for the faint of heart, so if you visit, be careful. Foolishness is not tolerant. As for me, I say, long may the newsgroup thrive to provide intelligent discussion. It’s a place very much needed in the Manilow world.

To check out the newsgroup for yourself, go to:

Friday, July 17, 2009

Some Times I Think About…

Some times I ponder why people insist on doing things they know they shouldn't’t. The last few weeks I have been noticing all the videos being downloaded onto the My Manilow Network. Now I know there are much worse things going on in the world but this is one of those things that make me wonder why fans continue to do this downloading. In this digital age we live in it is so easy for any picture, video, or sound clip to be saved to a personal computer. Once it’s saved, ownership is taken of the file. On some level everyone knows saving a file is, in many cases, not morally or ethically the right thing to do. Well meaning people aren’t out to break copyright laws; they just want to share something they enjoy with their friends.

Over on MMN lots of people want to share. In all honestly, I should stay away from over there, but I am rooting for the good people, who are trying to make the network a friendlier place, to win. They fight a losing battle but I support them all the way. I admire how hard they try. Posting videos on MMN is an example of how the fans who claim to love and respect Barry Manilow so much have no regard for him at all when it comes to stealing his music and performances.

Yes, stealing. Another name for it is bootlegging. The PBS A Capital Fourth is a prime example of what I am talking about. Some very poorly informed member of the MMN spent a ton of time downloading video from the show onto the network to share with everybody. She justified her actions by saying “someone” told her that since the National Forestry Service sponsored the event, the show was in the public domain. PBS would like to know this. They were so misinformed that the closing credits of their broadcast carried the words, “©2009 Capital Concerts, Inc. All rights reserved.” Do the research. Don’t depend on what “someone” tells you. As bad as it is to steal a show like that, this issue is more than the legalities.

Once in awhile the administrators of MMN will clean videos off the site. Some of the members express surprise when this happens. It always happens so why are they so surprised? Do people on MMN not know how Barry feels about the bootlegging of his material? (Before I go any further, yes, I know Barry is guilty of bootlegging too. I read Sweet Life and I saw him on Larry King Live. Sometimes Barry doesn’t follow his own rules. He’s human.) He has certainly expressed his feelings enough times over the years. Here’s a hint of how Barry feels on this matter—one of the words he has used to describe how bootlegging of his material makes him feel is rape. Pretty strong word to use, isn’t it?

Now what I don’t understand is why the people who claim to love and respect Barry so much show so little regard for his wishes and feelings. To post bootlegged video (and any copyrighted material that you do not have permission to use is bootlegged) on the site that is to honor Barry adds insult to injury. These people on MMN are supposed to be Barry’s biggest supporters. Forget about legalities, copyright, and Ning’s terms of service. The videos should be taken off the pages out of respect for Mr. Manilow.

If you really love and respect Barry like you claim, then take the videos off your pages. Pressure your peers to take the videos off their pages. Make Barry’s site a place that reflects respect for the man it honors. If you leave the videos up, then shame on you. How can you continue to steal from someone you say you love? You have no love or respect for Barry Manilow at all.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Barry Manilow- The Today Show, November, 1997

I visited New York City for the first time in 1997. Not only did I take my first trip to the Big Apple but I went again that same year. Both trips were related to appearances by Barry Manilow. I went in the spring to see shows at Radio City Music Hall. Then in November, I went back to watch Barry on The Today Show. That’s the trip I’m going to write about in this picture blog. This was a fun trip, as well as my family’s national television debut.

My kids had to miss a few days of school for this trip, but hey, it’s educational to go to New York and see Barry isn’t it? Anyway, we knew there was to be a sound check. We just didn’t know at what time. Someone we knew had the information about what time the sound check was but he said if he told us he’d have to kill us. As we’re all still here, he didn’t tell. To be sure not to miss the sound check we got to The Plaza where the outdoor concerts are staged around one in the morning the day of the show.

Mind you, this is November in New York. The Plaza is in between buildings in Rockefeller Center. Can you say freezing? I might not have been able to say it but I sure felt it. We were among the first fans to arrive but not the first. Picking a place to stand was hard. The stage wasn’t up yet. It was a matter of making a choice and hoping for the best. Turned out we made a good choice.

Sound check was at 6 am. For awhile the crowd was so small that we could walk around and visit. As the crowd got bigger we had to stay in one place to keep our spot. Our freezing was rewarded when Barry did sound check. This was around the time of the release of the Sinatra CD. Now I’m not a big fan of Sinatra music but Barry singing it live is great. It was also fun to be able to watch the show being mapped out. My sons found it especially interesting. So much so that it is now what they do for a living- production. (See, it was an educational trip.) I was very impressed by how respectful the crowd was of Barry. He came over to have a conversation with someone he knew in the crowd. Everyone stood quietly not interrupting or asking for anything until the conversation was finished.

Between the sound check and the show we got some heat! Big heaters were brought out. Of course they were for the guests appearing on The Today Show but until the show started, they were pointed at the audience. That small gesture was much appreciated. Barry’s performance was high energy and super. I even danced with him during “Copa”. When the show was over, we were tired, cold, hungry, and I had an urgent need to go to the bathroom.

Finally it was into the car and the drive back to the hotel. If I am remembering correctly, we stayed in Allentown, PA. Don’t ask me about the drive back to the hotel. I can’t even remember driving out of New York City. I conked out fast asleep between my two sleeping sons in the backseat of the car. Needless to say, we all went to bed when we got back to the hotel. That night when we woke up, we called home.

All everyone kept telling us was that we were all over TV. My husband said our friends said that because they knew us and were looking for us. By us, they meant my sons, our friend who went with us, and me. So where was my husband? No one saw him. Long time fans remember that 1997 was the year of the famous camera ban. The Today Show was exempted from the ban. All my husband was interested in was getting good pictures. He didn’t stay with us. We picked a spot at the side of the stage. He chose to stand in front of the stage. When the pictures were developed, his choice proved to be a good one. His pictures were beautiful.

On our return home, we found our friends had been right. We were all over the tape we left in our VCR. We had known that our friend Kathy, who was with us got some camera time. They kept shooting the “Ho, Ho, Ho, Manilow” sweatshirt she wore. The only disappointing thing was my dance with Barry got cut. The show went off before it got to it. Not to worry. Manilow fans are the best.

A fan in Australia emailed me when I mentioned something about not being able to see my dance on an email string we both were members of. Seems “Copa” was not cut when The Today Show was shown there. I didn’t even know The Today Show was shown in Australia. She was kind enough to send me a tape of the show, which I had converted. Thanks to her, I have that moment.

That’s my picture history from The Today Show in 1997. I’m glad I was able to give my sons the experience, as well as myself. It is amazing how they remember these trips we took on a shoestring. Nice hotels or fancy meals didn’t matter. They were centered on what they were interested in and got to see many facets of the industry they were thinking of going into. Plus we all love Barry and his music. Fun at the time and great memories we all share now.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Happiness in Manilowland

Time is very important to the posting of this blog since this event doesn’t occur often. It has been a very happy week in Manilowland. Beautiful pictures of a happy, smiling Barry Manilow arriving in Washington, DC for A Capital Fourth was just a hint of the wonderful performance he gave as a birthday gift for the USA. Barry had the crowd on their feet dancing, singing and responding to his high energy. Hope I have that much energy when I’m Barry’s age.

Entertainment Tonight had reported that Barry would escort Elizabeth Taylor to the Michael Jackson memorial service. Fans wondered if the concerts in Pittsburgh and Rochester, scheduled for the Monday and Tuesday after the Fourth, would be shortened or canceled for Barry to return to LA. The answer was no. A rep for Barry told Fox News Monday night that Barry’s schedule would not allow him to attend the memorial.

Reports from the two shows had been very positive. It was even reported that in Rochester Barry did “I Am Your Child” as tribute to Michael Jackson, after seeing a tearful Paris Jackson speak of her Daddy. So yes, everything is happy in Manilowland. I wish it would stay that way.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Acceptance and Time

Last week another vault song was released on along with a letter from Barry. The song was an old recording of Barry singing as a child which is adorable. Also amazing. It is clear that to learn and perform such a song to accompaniment required not only a talented child but very much adult help. The letter posted with the song gave some insight into a new CD release Barry is working on and the apprehension that comes with stepping into new territory. Way to go, Barry! Still taking chances; trying new things. Barry also gave his version of the Vegas cancellations and offered a round about apology for something he views as being out of his control.

The beginning of the letter spoke of Barry’s birthday and aging. This caused speculation on the part of some in the fan world that Barry reaching out to his fans was a result of the death of Michael Jackson. Maybe it was. I don’t know. The important thing, to me anyway, was the song and the letter appeared. A lot of the people doing the speculating are the same people who complain Barry doesn’t blog or interact with his fans on Facebook or Twitter. Think about it – how many people Barry’s age do you know on a social network? Yes, Barry is a celebrity but he’s a person too. Social networks are the playground of the younger generation. (See I got back to the birthday and aging at the beginning of this paragraph to tie it all together.)

It is understandable to me that new fans or younger people would wonder why Barry doesn’t communicate with his fan base using the new technology. Long time fans should know that Barry has never been a celebrity that keeps up regular communication with the fans. Over the years Barry has tried various ways to be in touch with his fans. For reasons unknown, it has not worked for him. Can’t that just be an accepted part of being a Manilow fan and move on? After over thirty years I can’t see why anyone would expect Barry to change.

Now of course Barry could be all over the Internet, or at least someone from his management team could be writing as Barry on
Facebook, Twitter, and even a blog. That has already happened with fake Barrys on Twitter, MySpace and who knows where else. People have even questioned if Barry was the author of the vault letter. I applaud Barry for not having a ghost-writer for blogs and social networks. At least he is being honest about what he wants to do. If blogs and social networking is not Barry’s thing then so be it. He has that right. Barry is sixty-six now. Be glad he is healthy enough to be performing and trying new projects, Michael Jackson’s death took me back to August, 1977 when I slept on the street in front of Graceland after Elvis’s passing. Talent can be lost so early. Remember those we have lost, because we have lost quite a few lately. Cherish the ones who are here still sharing their talent. No one knows when time will run out.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A House United

This past week Manilow fans found out that Barry’s Malibu beach house is for sale. (Sounds kind of like Barbie’s Malibu beach house, doesn’t it?) According to some online real estate sources the house has been on the market for four months. To peak interest, the selling price was dropped and the sale was made public. Pictures of the house, inside and out appeared several places online, all originating from the firm selling the house. Fans got a glimpse into Barry’s life that is not often available. Some enjoyed seeing the house while others thought the photos an invasion of Barry’s privacy. Then there was that celebrity real estate blog that brought the simmering battle among fans over Barry’s sexuality back up to a boil. That’s when I saw the common thread that joins the two warring groups. Both share a common belief – the belief that Barry Manilow is an unhappy, lonely, unfilled man. Let me explain.

Officially, fans are lead to believe that Barry Manilow’s private life is off limits to fans and the press. All anyone needs to know is that Barry’s life is music. The group who buys into this version of Barry’s life views him as a lonely man who never found his one true soul mate to complete his life. A small group of women fans think they are, in fact, that soul mate but that’s a whole different blog. The need to reach out and support this lonely man is an added draw to Barry.

Then there is the other group of fans who that believe for his entire career Barry has been forced to keep his true lifestyle a secret. Barry is seen as an unfilled man who has lived a lie for too many years. Claiming to love the music, these fans also stay around to support Barry if he ever comes out of the closet they believe he is hiding in.

Is the common thread evident to you? Both groups feel that Barry has a need for them, which he does, just not in the way they would like to think he does. An unhappy man, Barry will one day need the support both offer him. Is this not pure PR genius? Keeping Barry’s off stage life off limits to the public leads both groups of fans to believe they know the “truth” about Barry. Each group stays around so they won’t miss being proven right at some point in time. Whoever came up with this strategy is brilliant. It is working. This adds a mystique to Barry that will keep interest high for a long time to come. Great job in this day and age of celebrity media counting everything as fair game in the life of a public figure. May we fans never find out anything about Barry’s private life, because we seem to be the only ones who care.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Cult of Barry Manilow

I cruised by My Manilow Network last weekend. Why I do that is beyond me but I do. The news had broken about Barry’s June shows being canceled. What I read in the posts about the shows reminded me of a remark my husband made a few nights earlier at dinner. I had been telling him about the banning of people off of MMN because they dared to express what is considered a “negative” opinion, or some other reason known to only to the great and powerful administrator. My husband made a very insightful observation. He remarked that MMN sounded like a cult – the cult of Barry Manilow.

That is scary. Even scarier was the fact that what I read on MMN supported the cult observation. Someone posted that they had called the Hilton box office and received confirmation that the June Manilow shows were canceled. Posters immediately admonish people not to jump to conclusions until “official word” was received from the fan club. As if that wasn’t enough to support the cult theory, it was added that if the “official” word did come, no conversations should take place that theorized why the shows were canceled. Is it just me, or does anyone else hear the Twilight Zone theme music? Why would the venue, in this case the Hilton, give out false information for a show in their theater? Why is it a crime to speculate why the shows were canceled, especially in light of the “official” word when it came later that day, did not jive with the story the Hilton had given out.

I haven’t been back to read what is being posted said now. I can just stand so much. Why shouldn’t people discuss, (i.e. theorized) these cancellations? Fans that had tickets for the June shows are directly impacted and have been treated very poorly. They aren’t the only people who have been affected. Other fans who planned on going to Vegas in the future may consider it too much of a risk to base a trip on only seeing Manilow shows. This is a topic that is very important among Manilow fans. It should be discussed.

To be clear, I am not saying that everyone on MMN is part of this group that makes up the Barry Manilow cult. In face, I’m sure in the next few days we’ll be hearing about some very nice people who are now banned from the My Manilow Network because they expressed an intelligent opinion. Most will not even be aware that their opinion didn’t follow party lines as dictated by TPTB and patrolled by cult members.

Cults work in much the same manner as MMN. Members don’t think for themselves but are told what to think. They have a fear of alienating their leaders and being separated from the group. Not only do they turn on people viewed as “outsiders” but on each other as well. This comes from the need to retain their standing in the cult and scoring points with the leadership is an ongoing concern. Here is the biggie – cult members have an unrealistic view of the figurehead of the cult. Sound familiar? Read the My Manilow Network.

TPTB are missing the use of a great tool on My Manilow Network. Open, honest, respectful discussion would allow people to ask questions, express feelings, and work through the issue. Then Barry’s management could put out a statement on the MMN saying, we hear you, thanks for your concerns, we’ll do what we can. Acknowledging feelings goes a long way with people. Fans are people too.

Personally, I have never seen anything posted on MMN that has been bad enough to kick someone off. I might have not agreed, or liked what has been posted and people felt the same about me, but nothing was as bad as to remove anyone. I blogged over there for a bit. Right off the bat someone threatened to turn me in to the BMIFC. I told them to go right ahead. Be sure to spell my name right so you give them the right person. Contrary to what a small group of people believe, (cult members?) there is life outside of My Manilow Network. A pretty good one.

Self-control is the key to MMN. Cults know how to find people’s vulnerable spots. When I read over there my fingers itch to reply. I have to step back and breathe. My time can be used in much better ways. I am trying to wean myself off MMN but it is like reality shows. Even though you know the shows aren’t real something compels you to keep watching. You have to see what happens next. Wish me luck as I try to cut out My Manilow Network. It can be a hard habit to break. People’s behavior fascinates me and that is a place to see many different types of behavior. I’ll stick with the reality shows. They don’t ban people.