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.