Brutal Honesty…Gray Charles…and…the Internets

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do-i-look-fat.jpgNot so long ago I discovered the intriguing, beguiling, and, yes, brutally biting world of…the blog.

It didn’t take me long to become ensconced by its appeal. And it took me even less time after that to latch on to the medium and decide to try a little experiment…total honesty.

I spoke my mind freely at sites here and there…and soon found a home at Gray Charles.com. Before long I was learning the lingo and loosening my tongue to allow for foul language and caustic remarks.

It seemed harmless. After all…no one knew me and it seemed safe to make fun of Katharine McPhee’s tatas or Kelly Pickler’s bumbles. Who could lil’ ol’ me possibly be hurting?

But one night, a discussion started at Gray’s that made me stop and think…”Why should I be allowed to make fun of these people who put themselves in the limelight to entertain others?” I quickly realized that I don’t have the right to be hurtful and callous just because I think the subject of my jabs will never read my words. It’s not okay to condemn or belittle…no matter if zero or a thousand people hear it.

From then on my wheels started turning…slowly…but steadily.

About nine months ago, I started this little blog. My goal was to be as honest as I possibly could…about myself and others. I shared all about myself…pictures, audio, embarrassing trips to the dentist, doctor, and beauty salon. I bared my soul as best as I could…all in an effort to see what I could learn by it…to see how such honesty would help me as a writer…help me as a person.

I tried to be honest with how I felt…but I also tried to make that honesty as constructive or fruitful as possible. (Okay…maybe my brutal honesty in recapping “America’s Got Talent” was strictly for laughs…but bear with me, folks.)

I soon learned that total honesty ain’t all it’s cracked up to be…actually, it serves little purpose in this venue. Not only did I learn that I was hurting my family with my foul mouth…I was hurting myself professionally and socially.

And, on top of all the self-reflection, I’ve seen how my behavior feeds on and feeds into others’. One seemingly benign comment grows exponentially in this medium. It’s copied and quoted here, there, and everywhere…with just a few clicks of a mouse. And heaven forbid you are misinterpreted…talk about a nightmare of a different caliber.

I’ve also seen how the liberation of being “anonymous” online allows for people to bite and tear into criticism and “honesty” with a fervor that is downright scary.

Too often folks type out a quip as they would throw a dagger…quick…with dead aim…and without thought that we, each of us…bleed…and cry…and hurt…and scar.

This revelation doesn’t mean I think we should stop being honest…just that that honesty should have a purpose…a goal…a constructive point. If it doesn’t, it’s not honesty. It’s cowardice and mean-spiritedness dressed up as arrogance.

A lot has been said online and off in recent months about the state of Gray Charles.com.

I have been a very guilty party…and for that I’m sorry. I’m not sorry for having an opinion…I’m sorry for not sharing it as constructively as I should have.

So, here it is…my official break down of Gray Charles.com. If I had a chance to talk candidly, face to face with Gray Charles about his site..here is what I would say.

At one point in this journey, I honestly felt I wouldn’t be able to exist without setting up camp at Gray Charles every single day. I was there from 6:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. most weekdays and even more on weekends. I lived and breathed it.

As American Idol ended and the Taylor Hicks dust began to settle, I found that I was purposely distancing myself from the site. I wanted to reclaim my life. Though I was sad (and a good deal panicky) when Gray closed down, it was good for me. I was able to catch my breath and live again.

When he came back online…I noticed right off that things had and were continuing to change. More people were there. There was a different feel to the comments. And a renewal of that frenzied mania was resurfacing. I think the combination of my clearer head mixing with the rebirth of the online Soul Patrol did more to put me off than did Gray’s efforts to run his site with all the changes.

But that didn’t stop me from placing the blame solely on Gray’s shoulders.

Yes, I thought he should do more to stop the take-over of his site.

Yes, I wanted more meaty posts.

Yes, I thought he was letting folks get away with virtual murder. (This particularly bugged me as he had never hesitated to “slap my wrist”…a phrase which now ranks up there with “th*d” and “w** dust” in my book.)

I mean, how could Gray do this to us…to me? Hadn’t we…I…proved our loyalty? Hadn’t we worked almost as hard as he did to make the blog soar? (‘Fess up…a lot of you are nodding now aren’t you? You want to shout…”Testify, sister!”…don’t you?)

I had fully felt betrayed by Gray for letting “interlopers” on the site…and letting them talk about “on*ons” and “squ**” and “th*d” and all that icky stuff.

I e-mailed Gray more than once about “laying down the law”…and “reclaiming what was his”…but what I was really saying was…”make it better for me.”

In retrospect…that was a crappy thing for me to do. Had it been the other way ’round…and someone was telling me what to do on MY blog…a blog that I put hours a day into…I would have set the remote to “mute” then huffed and stomped and fumed.

But Gray didn’t. He heard me out…just as he heard out the glitters.

And he put up with some pretty harsh comments…from all parties.

Even to this day…when he has tried and tried to adjust the blog to accommodate a variety of people…to maintain its musical integrity…to satiate contracts with the big wigs…and to still have his own voice…we ask for more. And when we don’t get it, we bitch about it…me included.

I can’t imagine how he must feel.

He’s criticized for posting other places…for being a micro-manager…for not managing enough…for being quiet…for being vocal.

Really…why do we care?

Well, let me see if I can figure this out…at least why I care.

In my earliest days at GC.com, I was compelled to share and comment because I sought the status of being a part of what I perceived to be a highly intellectual and elite group of people. As I grew more and more bold with my posting, my ego grew more and more bold. People recognized me…read me…got me…laughed with me. These were people I respected and sought validation from. It was a great time.

But…as my infatuation with Taylor grew and as Gray’s connections to Taylor grew stronger…my view of GC.com changed.

Okay…I’m going with brutal honesty here…after a while GC.com became a way for me to possibly meet or associate with Taylor Hicks.

There…I said it.

That was just as (or more) thrilling than the feeling of inclusion I experienced when I was a newbie at Gray’s.

Yes…I was a glitter-lite. I’ll admit it. Heck, I have to admit it because anyone can go back and read my old comments. I think it’s pretty apparent. I spread glitter with my tongue in my cheek…but that didn’t mean I wasn’t loving it.

Do I still feel that way? Hmmm….not really. Though, since I’m being honest, I gotta see it through…I was disappointed that Gray didn’t offer to set me up with a Meet & Greet in New Orleans. I mean, I would have never asked him for it…but I thought he’d offer. I know it’s irrational and ridiculous…but that’s how I felt.

But those feelings of exhilaration in thinking that Gray was a direct link to Taylor began to take a backseat several months before he closed down. We all enjoyed Gray’s snarkiness in the comments and on chat. And his mystique was intriguing enough to create his own aura of fame. Plus, every so often, Gray and I would chat via e-mail, discussing the site and other shared topics of interest. And all of this led to me caring about Gray for Gray’s sake. He was a real person to me…a person with a family and a job and goals…and feelings.

Well, then the whole ballgame changed. I was still irritated at the changes at his site…but because I had a better handle on Gray as a friend, I felt he should listen to me even MORE. (This comes from being an older sister of three younger brothers…I can’t help it…I always think I’m right…even when I know I’m not.)

Okay…now let’s move on up to recent months…now that things have gotten even more oogey at Gray’s. Folks are divided. Glitters are bitter. Old-Timers are bitter.

People are fussing more and more.

Why?

Well…I think it simply boils down to this…the public posting forums on the Internet…are the equivalent of playgrounds.

If you let kids loose on a playground, even under supervision…they are going to go ape-shit nuts. Some will run around until they collapse. Some will head for the jungle gym and climb until they fall. Some will head for the swings and fight for turns. Ultimately, a playground is only truly fun for those who use it constructively and learn to share and learn to play together…otherwise, it’s a miserable and dirty and chaotic place.

As for me, personally, I think I’ve found my spot on the playground. It’s somewhere off in a grassy corner of the yard, seated under a tree, and watching the madness at the swingsets and jungle gyms from a safe distance.

I’ve finally moved on and am done complaining about the site. The thrill is gone…to quote one of my favorite Mississippians…but my interest lives on.

I will still visit GC.com a couple of times a day to see what’s new. And if there is something that interests me but that won’t take me eons to reflect on and research before commenting…I’ll share my thoughts. I refuse to participate in the open “Runaround” threads. I think they have their place…but MY place is away from them. I’m happy to hear from Taylor…but I can live without all the updates and discussions and dissections. He’s simply a favored entertainer for me now. Yeah, I’d still like to meet him and get a picture and sing a song with him (who wouldn’t)…but I can sleep and exist and be peacefully content knowing that that will never happen.

As for my feelings about Gray Charles, the man…I still care.

I just miss my friend…but I take comfort in the idea that he might be trying to move into his own grassy corner and find some peace. If that’s the case, I wish him luck…especially since so many folks are still at recess.

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78 Responses to “Brutal Honesty…Gray Charles…and…the Internets”

  1. Gray Charles Says:

    So about a week ago I decided that all of my attempts to make GC what I were misguided and the root cause of my recent severe stress. Why? because it isn’t my site anymore that’s why. GC now belongs to the fans of Taylor Hicks – it no longer belongs to me. Of course I’m speaking metaphorically here but really, what right do I have to tell a Taylor Hicks fan what kind of fan they can be?

    The problem that I was trying to solve was this – no matter what topic I posted, cerebral or musical or totally off the wall someone (and often more than someone) would derail the thread by posting something that they felt they “needed” to post about Taylor. In essence every thread was being “ruined” by all these people who come to the website – or at least that’s what I thought. I only recently realized the folly of that thinking. I can exert control over the site and it’s posters only when it’s truly MINE which, we all know, it now isn’t.

    Talk about your Pay The Devil eh kids? What I did for love I know do (at least somewhat) for dollars. Business changes everything – my responsibilities now are to the fans as a whole, to Taylor and to the record label. Much of what I do goes on behind the scenes as “Taylor Customer Service”. No one sees the hours I put in answering fan mail about tickets and radio and M&G’s and yadda yadda yadaa.

    Within all that though I’m still a real person. I know that it would be good for me to divorce myself from caring about criticism but I still take it way too personally because I created this thing.

    I think Shelley makes an interesting and honest point about expectations that “Gray might get me a M&G”. Multiply that one request by the number of people I interact with at GC and think about where it goes. Clearly, I can’t be the supplier of M&G’s nor would I want to be. Consider the number of requests I previously received to please get this poem/picture/song/thought/request to Taylor and you can understand why it’s good policy simply to say no to everything. That said, I have made one or two small exceptions but I think they really qualify as exceptional circumstances.

    For the record, I still frown on the Onion/Thud posts and edit them at will – tradition and all. For those of you who judge GC I want to point two things out.

    1) The GC of now is not the GC of then so comparisons of the two aren’t a perfect analogy. It’s like comparing smoky unpopular dive bar Taylor to slick performance Taylor. You might have a preference, which is fine, but at the root they are two entirely different things.

    2) You’re still judging me, the person. I’ve been given an enormous amount of trust by Taylor, Taylor’s team and the record label. Editorially and structurally all the decisions are still mine. Months ago Taylor and I had a nice long conversation in which he said he wanted me to be in charge and he trusted me to do what I thought was right. In the last few days I’ve been listening to Sufjan Stevens doing the song “Chicago” (Lyrics here). Wow, what a song.

    I Made A Lot Of Mistakes
    I Made A Lot Of Mistakes
    I Made A Lot Of Mistakes
    I Made A Lot Of Mistakes

    Still, I did some things correctly and some things very well. Thanks for celebrating those with me. Rather than lament the death of a good friend who’s still alive perhaps it’s time to simply examine your relationship with that friend as Shelley has done here.

    Yes, it’s 4:30AM – my computer has software that reads RSS feeds from this site and play s a 120 decibel alarm when Shelley refers to me directly in a post (doesn’t yours)?

    As per usual this comment generated without thinking and without the use of the backspace key.

  2. ivoryhut Says:

    Gray writing at 4:30am is precisely why I sometimes wonder if he’s 100% human. I mean, do you ever sleep? A few days of sleep deprivation and my brain turns to mush. Except it doesn’t recognize that it’s mush, and so I think I’m still sharp when all I’m doing is oozing all over the place.

    My sentiments are not as deep and complex as Shelley’s because I never had that kind of “personal” relationship with Gray, especially not in this new incarnation of the site. But I’ve always admired him, more for his writing and wit than anything else. (A lot of the pop culture stuff just whizzes past me because I know less than zilch about American pop culture.)

    I do miss the old days of multiple gems in one thread from Omphalos, FLJerseyBoy, Shelley, DD, Mind Doc, etc. That was what got me hooked in the first place. As that changed, my reaction was simply to gloss over what I perceived as “fluff,” but still taking time for the “meatier” ones. After all, what may be “fluff” to me could have something more to it that just escapes me because of my aforementioned ignorance of pop culture.

    GC.com is still one of the tabs in my Firefox home page, but I usually skip reading the comments when I see that there are more than 10 pages of them to sift through. I always check the Extras, and will comment when I have something to say (which others may, in turn, read as fluff).

    When Gray does lay down the law, or at least tries to steer things in a more non-self-imploding direction, it never fails to impress me how incredibly simple his solution is to what seems to many to be a very complex, even unsolvable dilemma. After all, what’s the sense of beating your head against the wall when usually, all you need to do is stand somewhere else away from the wall? Or wear a helmet? This topic is another example of it.

    I think, too, that precisely because there is so much going on in the background that we are not privy to (emails, personal requests, actual meetings with real people as opposed to online personas), that’s all the more reason to trust Gray to handle all of this in the best big-picture kind of way.

    I’ve always treated GC.com as something that belonged to Gray. It never occurred to me to make any suggestions as to how the site should operate. I guess for me, it would be an incredulous an idea as, say, sending feedback to Steve Jobs telling him how to run Apple.

    And, to follow Shelley’s example of brutal honesty, I will say that as tempting the prospect of a M&G with Taylor was, for me, a M&G with Gray was right up there with it. Or maybe even higher. How’s that for brutal?

  3. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Ivory! I’m so with you on your last paragraph. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it now…and I’ll probably say it again in the future: I would rather meet/talk to the man behind Gray Charles than Taylor. Anyday.

    I’ll go for honesty too:

    I’ve been feeling guilty for months because I stopped commenting at Gray’s. The only things that would draw me out were negative comments about Gray or GC.com. I got into a couple of catfights. I haven’t really added anything of value to the comments since this time last year…or maybe I never did…but I used to try.

    I don’t know where I got the idea that Gray was sitting around wondering why bamaborntxbred wasn’t commenting anymore. I don’t know why I felt the guilt. I guess b/c I really cared about him (as the person behind the persona) and I wanted him to feel that his work was still making an impact. I worried that he was being overworked, overstressed, underpaid. That he was losing time with his family, losing free time, losing sleep. (Apparently he was to an extent.) And that it was all to feed the unsatiable masses.

    I wanted to be able to read the “extras” and the more serious posts and have brilliant comments…not for me, but so he would know that “we” still cared for and valued him/his site. Unfortunately, I’m the opposite of Ivory. I’m well-versed in pop-culture…but not so much in ACTUAL culture…or great music analysis, etc.

    Gray- I don’t see the merit in complaining endlessly about things (except my fat ass). If I don’t like something, I just avoid it (can’t avoid my ass though). So, I avoided commenting at your site. I can’t say that I really thought it was your fault, I thought it was THEIR fault…the scary people…and I felt they had taken over. I figured you wanted to include every Taylor fan, and that’s why you weren’t bitch-slapping them all over the place. And they took advantage of the situation.

    I really don’t know what else to say. Just know that there are MANY people that do care about the man behind the curtain. I’m one of them. I know I don’t KNOW you…but I know enough.

    Why not throw it all away and start over with a teensy little blog about “the music”? You can have your wonderful creative outlet and we can eat our cake!

    Just kidding.

    Sort of.

  4. leejolem Says:

    “Okay…I’m going with brutal honesty here…after a while GC.com became a way for me to possibly meet or associate with Taylor Hicks.” Shelley, I commend you–that took guts. I’m sure there are many people who feel that way, but will never even admit it to themselves. Most of us have a little bit of that in us. I’m sorry, but I think some (note, some, not all or even the majority) of the chronic posters at GC use the “it’s all about the music” mantra to cover their desire to get close to Taylor via GC. Maybe that’s just me being jaded.

    You’re going to laugh at this Shelley, but when I first started reading your blog I assumed you had met Taylor–silly, huh? I don’t know why, but I guess I thought there was no way that Taylor couldn’t be aware of the Monkbot creator. I’ve discovered that participating in “all that is Taylor” is sort of like those film clips that start out with a close-up of a person and the camera angle gets wider and wider and the scope larger and larger until you are eventually looking at a picture of the earth revolving in the middle of the great big ol’ galaxy. What I envisioned as a small room with Taylor, me, HC4S and a few other buddies gathered around enjoying each other’s company has turned into me in the middle of the teeming masses cheering for Taylor up on a stage by himself.

    I can’t imagine how overwhelming all of this is for Taylor and for Gray. Gray, did you ever imagine a little over a year ago where you or your blog would be today? Would you do it all over again? You don’t have to answer, those are really rhetorical questions.

    Ok, on a lighter note–don’t you think that Taylor’s comment about his band liking monkeys has something to do w/our beloved TM? We have subliminally (well maybe not so subliminally) planted the image of a monkey in Taylor’s brain.

  5. ivoryhut Says:

    A song for Shelley (and Gray)

    You Don’t Have To Cry

    In the mornin’ when you rise
    Do you think of me, and how you left me cryin’?
    Are you thinkin’ of telephones, and managers,
    And where you got to be at noon?
    You are living a reality I left years ago
    It quite nearly killed me.
    In the long run it will make you cry.
    Make you crazy and old before your time.
    And the difference between me and you.
    I won’t argue right or wrong,
    But I have time to cry.

  6. double d Says:

    I’ll admit that I liked “knowing” Gray and that he was “this close” to Taylor. I even asked him if he could arrange a M&G for me in Mobile. He was SO gracious and tried, but could not. I appreciated his effort (sincerely), and I didn’t mention anything about New Orleans as I felt I had “used up” my “chips”. But I had also realized at that point that I really didn’t want an impersonal brush with an inanimate object that 50 other people in the room got. I like originality. I like kun-NECK-shun and that, ain’t it. That’s why you didn’t see me clamor on the rail for his autograph or picture in New Orleans. I don’t criticize those of you who do/did, just not necessary for me now. If I can’t have that hour around a table with a beer, then I’ll do without. Also, I second what Ivory Hut said regarding a Meet & Greet with Gray — maybe I’m kidding myself but I think he’d actually be intrigued and interested in us, as well. (Who knows, maybe he’d just sit there behind the table with a silver Sharpie while his friend, Shelley, snaps pictures…..jus’ sayin’.)

    Now, to Gray. As I told a few of you, I’m not commenting anymore there. I still read but don’t feel that my comments are needed nor matter one iota. Call me selfish, but I want to matter. I am saddened for Gray. We all sensed the “dance with the devil” change that came with the “official” title. Tried to work around it, but there’s no denying it. You just can’t say everything you might like to when your “sponsor” is the subject. Kind of like Fox dissing Idol….biting the hand that feeds you.

    I am most saddened by the losses of interesting and meaningful conversation. I fought, somewhat valiantly, for a few months in trying to steer the postings and direct people to the archives, etc., so they’d “get it”. Some did, most didn’t.

    While Shelley is repentent, I’m pissed. Not at Gray, but at the posters who ruined MY place. Right or wrong, it is what it is. However, I also realize that after I stopped commenting, the place seemed to run more smoothly without the typical bicker and arguing. Premier no has a great little following and all is right in “Taylorland”. So, maybe it was me. If that’s so, then I am wholeheartedly apologetic as I would NEVER want to cause Gray stress through my need to “keep it real”. While I feel a loss, for others it’s a gain, so ok. I learned a long time ago that life is not dependent on any ONE person…the world keeps spinning no matter who goes “missing”.

    Gray, you have been an inspiration and a friend. I am proud to have been a part of the ride. I miss your intellect, snarkiness and obtuseness. Hopefully, you’ll pop up a la Plain Layne somewhere else along the road. We would all like that.

    So, I close with Buckley’s Hallejuah….it’s all I got.

  7. leejolem Says:

    DD, your steering did not go unnoticed by me. You certainly did make a vailiant attempt. You can’t help it that most turned a deaf eye to it. Sometimes you have to admit defeat to the expired horse beaters. (gray w/a silver sharpie and Shelley w/a camera–ROFLMAO)

  8. shrewspeaks Says:

    Shelley…wow gal…I have always been in awe of your brutal honesty. And what makes me respect your approach is that you hold yourself up to the inpection light first! Bravo chica, bravo! It think you hit on some very tangible points. First, I am sure in some small way there was a twitter of…”oooh he may KNOW Taylor for me with Gray Charles”…but then the NEED to be there and go back again and again was based on the fact that GC.com was a forum for the most part to congregate and have great discussions; like the “Sell Out” discussion. Did we all agree? Heck, no! Were some minds changed? Heck, yeah! Even better did I discover some new music YOU BETCHA (Gnarls Barkley was a big one in my book)…It was that “communing” that I grew to love about GC.com. Now, I don’t know many posters, but some names I recognize. I still visit and read…and occasionally…a piece hits a chord…like Ira Glass.

    Gray –
    I understand what you are saying about how the site is not yours any more; that it belongs to the fans. I get that, and I understand how difficult it must be to release control of what you built. Gee, success is a bitch ain’t it. We always say when a client picks a concept we love “Now, watch them change it so that we can’t even recognize it.” I sense some of this has taken place.

    What I believe has irked me the most is that I am a Taylor fan too…and I feel forgotten.

    Not by you Gray, you have taken time to include the extras and seek us out in many ways. As a matter of fact, let me make this clear…THIS IS NOT A SLAM AGAINST YOU GRAY. …but I feel forgoten in general. By the marketing. By the term “Modern Womp” which is really Huey Lewis circa 1989 sound. By those fans who don’t have a tolerance for me wanting to talk about other things besides Taylor and the cd. Or to even have my own opinion. I think our “seats” at the HoB were a perfect symbol of how marginalized I feel as a fan. During the pre-cd phase (or before the fall of the AI boards) I felt much more part of the whole shebang.

    It is an unfair feeling and yet it is there. I cannot deny it.

  9. baby duck Says:

    I’m feeling a little hysterical right now, and not in the good, DrBob relating initiation rites kinda way. In the weeping profusely all torn up on the inside kinda way. “Why? because it isn’t my site anymore that’s why.” Now there’s brutal honesty. But life is dynamic and why should gc be any different? Microcosm of Life. How’s that for a subheading?

  10. Hatson Says:

    Wow, heavy drama at the start of the day. I appreciate all the soul searching thoughts. I too discovered GC early and had a wonderful time “bonding” with everyone there. It was a fun, thoughtful entertaining site. Shelley was my favorite poster who made me think, laugh and ponder many things especially all things Taylor! She was a lifeline to me on the west coast on results night. GC was a site by in large a site for fans with a lot in common and coversely nothing in common but our appreciation of music and Taylor(not necessarily in that order). Gray ran a tight ship and as someone who had never posted anywhere before that was appreciated. I can remember once chastising a few for using bad language which to me is offensive, but overall at that time it was about music and yes in an odd way friendship. I was so sad when Gray closed the site and so surprised and happy when he returned. Gradually I realized I did not want to be a part of. As I said recently, if you lower your standards for a few you lower your standards for everyone. I will always appreciate what I learned at GC and all the work he does at a great personal sacrifice,but I don’t want to lower my personal standards either. Maybe my standards are old fashioned, but that’s O. K. they have served me well. Shelley, I feel comfortable here. Humor and sarcasm is rarely mean-spirited and people genuinely care about each other. Thanks

  11. Squeebee Says:

    Shelley, much of what you said could have come out of my mouth. I was never one to compose brilliant comments to the topics at GC, but I enjoyed reading them, and marveled at the thought and research that went into them.

    I cheered to myself when Gray got “The Interview”, and pondered what “officialdom” would mean to Gray Charles the blog, Gray Charles the person, and us.

    And yes, I marveled at the fact that I was two degrees of separation from Taylor himself. I think all of us have had that thought.

    I watched the chat landscape change the DAY graycharles.com became official from (mostly) intelligent discussion, to fawning over Taylor. This soon manifested itself in the comments section.

    I think part of the difference has to do with entitlement. Pre-offical days, most new readers would feel out the lay of the land before commenting, to get the tone of the blog. Gray ran a pretty tight ship as far as what was allowed in comments, and I think people generally thought (maybe over-thought?) before they commented. Now, this is the fans’ site, as Gray alluded to. People comment off the cuff, because, goshdarnit, this is Taylor’s blog, and I am his fan.

    Another factor is sheer traffic. Correct me if I’m wrong, Gray, but I am betting that the traffic amped up considerably when the announcement was made that graycharles.com would be the official blog. Originally, a cartain group of personality types were drawn to the blog. Now, we had Taylor fans of every stripe living in harmony (ha!) in one space. There are BOUND to be disagreements and differences of opinion.

    Gray, I really hope the new format works for you. I will continue to read your posts, stay away from most of the comments, and comment when the mood strikes. We were talking here in MB chat the other night about how it would be great id you started up a little underground music blog that had nothing to do with Taylor Hicks. We would all be there! You have enough hours in the day, right?

  12. double d Says:

    Shrew — I get ya. I think that’s a good explanation of how I feel, as well. I’m really tired of trying not to “alienate new fans”. What about the folks who’ve been around and “carrying the flag” since the beginning? Does no-one care about “alienating” them?

    And sorry, but I lose all patience with those who think that Shucking the Corn is a new Ray LaMontagne song. That’s why I’ve chosen not to comment.

    Baby Duck — I know. Gut-wrenching mourning. Based on Kubler-Ross’ 5 stages of grief, I say I’m passed Denial, in the latter part of the Anger phase, and moving quickly into Bargaining and Depression…..but still a long way from Acceptance.

  13. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Shrew- that’s an interesting point of view.

    I went through a moment when I felt like I was a part of something big. But, I had sort of an epiphany one day…quite a while ago. I was at a concert where I was totally BLOWN AWAY by the performance. I was sooo into it….and very into the band. I was looking around at some of the other attendees. This band has a devoted following, and those “followers” wear certain clothes, have certain tatoos, etc. that denote their devotion. Kind of like when Taylor fans wear their “Soul Patrol” gear. I was watching them….and they were struggling to get closer to the stage (standing room only), and they were looking at each other…judgingly…I overheard some in the restroom bitching about the venue. I just started chuckling to myself, and shook my head in amazement. WE ARE ALL THE SAME. Whether you are a 50 something year old woman that wants to be a “part” of the Taylor Hicks experience…or you are a 20 something that wants to be part of an “alternative” group. WE ARE ALL THE SAME.

    The funny thing is: I thoroughly enjoyed that concert. Those folks were so distracted and/or so critical of something they thought they knew better about, that they failed to experience the event. Sad.

    Before Taylor, I NEVER thought to blame anyone for whether or not I enjoyed a particular album (Zooropa anybody?) except me. I’ve been in so many crappy venues/seats in my lifetime that I’m only ever suprised if I get good ones. Have you ever before felt like an artist, or their marketing team owed you something…or that you were known enough TO BE forgotten? I haven’t….not before Taylor. And then I had my Ah-ha! moment and realized that I’m nothing more to Taylor, than I am to any artist I appreciate. What a moment of relief.

  14. double d Says:

    Bama — True dat about the sameness of fans. However, my comments were more about the fans acknowledgement than Taylor’s regarding “being forgotten”. It’s natural to feel that way as alot of time and effort was invested.

    Here’s another honest moment….Before I realized that I didn’t care about the whole impersonal Meet & Greet thing, I found myself somewhat resentful that people who had not “been around” as long as me were meeting Taylor 3 and 4 times, yet us “old timers” didn’t have that chance. While I know that’s irrational thinking, it did make my brain convulse.

    As you said, it’s just another artist to listen to and like, or not.

  15. shrewspeaks Says:

    Interesting points Bama and DD!
    Music for me has always been a private (I don’t care if you don’t like it, or make fun of me) thing. This is the first time I felt PART of a group…and I guess I am hurt to feel so quickly discarded or told…”No YOU REALLY don’t fit.” It’s like I finally found the square wheel Island got settled in…then found that the island was over run and told to get off of it BECAUSE I had square wheels. I know it is irrational but how often are feelings ever rational?

  16. jenfera Says:

    Shelley, I don’t want to get you all burned out on Thank You like Gray did, but I’d like to join in with Hatson in saying thanks for creating this place.

    Gray’s is like a big, shiny Disney theme park where you can get lost in the crowd, and this place is more of a wildlife refuge, where monkbots can frolic and play in a natural environment.

  17. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Oops! I meant to address that to Squee…but really it applies to us all!!

  18. shrewspeaks Says:

    Well..it spoke to me perfectly. 😉

  19. ivoryhut Says:

    Random thought: is there such a thing as blog snobbery? Is it called blobbery?

    Don’t mind me, I’m just rambling.

  20. texan Says:

    I read this post early this morning. I have typed and typed my response and worn out my backspace key. I have nothing to add. You all sum up exactly what I feel.

    But I would ask you all to please take a look at an article I read a few weeks ago in Discover magazine. Seems we will not be able to patent these woes to our own GC experience!

    http://discovermagazine.com/2007/mar/jarons-world-internet-and-the-war-on-drugs/?searchterm=internet%20behavior

  21. texan Says:

    i worn out…any doubt that i am a real texan now? I wore out by backspace key.

  22. ivoryhut Says:

    Interesting article, Texan.

    We need our own version of Godwin’s Law. Maybe the GC principle. As the online discussion grows, the probability of {a th*d or on*on comment, riot outbreak, English language massacre – take your pick} approaches one.

  23. leejolem Says:

    Baby duck, It’s funny you should mention the word “microcosm”. I commented on gc the other day about how it is really a weird little microcosm of life. Great minds think alike.

    This conversation is a little odd for me because although I was a fan of Taylor’s from the beginning, I didn’t discover GC.com until around August. To be quite honest I feel a little bit like the new kid on the playground (to borrow Shelley’s reference) that kids are reluctant to play with when you guys talk about the good ol’ days at GC. I realize that the site has changed, but those of us that came on board later can still make contributions. In DD’s terms am I categorized as a “new fan” or an “old timer” and does it really matter? Hopefully you guys won’t perceive this post as self-indulgent or too sensitive but just see it as a different perspective.

  24. Shelley Says:

    Texan…that article was fantastic…thanks for sharing.

    And Ivory…”blobbery”…hilarious.

    Everyone’s doing a great job sharing…and being so honest.

    I’ve really had some insights from reading y’all’s perspectives…I hope Gray has, too.

    To know there are actually feelings of being “forgotten” or just being “pissed” or feeling “guilty” is a relief.

    I’m also glad I’m not alone in feeling due something. I really thought I was alone in that.

    Keep it up…I’m swamped today…but I’m reading everything y’all write.

    Oh…and Lee…I laughed outloud when I read that you thought I had met Taylor.

    The funny thing is…I still remember in the early days when everyone thought Gray WAS Taylor. Ha!

    Perceptions are funny things.

  25. Shelley Says:

    am I categorized as a “new fan” or an “old timer” and does it really matter?

    that’s a VERY valid question, lee…and I think a perfect illustration of how pigeon-holing folks into groups doesn’t work.

  26. leejolem Says:

    Shelley, I actually almost had you married off to him. Since I can’t date or marry him I thought he could at least be with someone I respected, and I thought was funny, creative and intelligent.

  27. Holeigh Says:

    Oh, my…that was a lot of reading for me, folks! 😉 I’ve been taking a brief hiatus from most all blogs lately, but I figured this was a good time to come back, seeing as my experience with blogs began over at the great GC.

    I think I have felt a little of every emotion written down by Shelley and most of the rest of you at some point in the past year. GC was like home there for awhile and it is sad to think about the conversations and friendships I made there disintegrating. Thank goodness for this blog, though, as most of my closest posters made the move. (Speaking of: Has anyone seen FLJerseyBoy in the last millenia? Loved his posts.) Now, I only have to miss Gray himself and all of his carefully planned posts.

    I could be bitter or feel forgotten, and I suppose I did at one point, but I can’t allow myself to do that now. I’ve had enough experience with message boards in general that I know something of the strain on Gray’s time, even if I’ve never personally been in his position. He is very correct in saying that the blog doesn’t “belong” to him anymore; he has to change to fit the majority, even if that nagging minority is never satisfied. Having read some of the posts from the latter, I don’t want to be another of one them.

    Before I write a thesis up in here (ahah), I’ll end this with: Shelley, you are not alone, everything you’ve said is completely relatable and how I do love your reflection posts such as these. Gray, even though I don’t frequent GC as I used to, I still applaud every one of your efforts to provide such a noble service. You will always feel like a friend, even if you’ve forgotten my name by now. 😉

    To the rest of you fine people: You add such a great layer of interest to my day, thanks so much for posting as eloquently and frequently as you do.

  28. Claire Says:

    Shelley, I completely admire your brutal honesty. I always have. Be it chin waxing, weight issues, relationship issues, or just your daily life, I trust you to tell me the truth. That’s why I completely believe your post now. And why I laughed to myself when I read that you thought you might somehow get to meet Taylor/get a M&G. I literally said to myself “That’s our gal!”

    From reading down through this thread, I think we all travelled the same road. We were there when Gray opened his doors the first time, we were there for “Finito” and we were there when he re-opened last year. We all know the blog has changed. Officialdom will do that to ya. I completely accept that Gray now has to do a certain amount of cha-cha-cha with El Diablo. While the blog is his, the subject is Taylor, and as Taylor’s official blog, Gray now HAS to post certain things (I assume), not alienate sections of the fanbase, cope with the increasing number of trolls…er, I mean contentious posters, deal with the humungous amount of e-mails and queries he receives on a daily basis, plus manage his real-life job, spend time with his family, and maybe occassionally have some time off.

    Gray mentioned recent severe stress. I for one, am amazed that he is still standing!! I can only imagine how hard it has been for him to cope with a full-time job and try to keep one eye on the blog at all times, especially lately. The recent smackdown and subsequent changes WERE needed. Even while lurking, I could sense the tensions, I could sense Gray’s increasing frustration through his responses, and I could sense implosion if something didn’t change. Who’s fault is that? Not Grays.

    I think his own post on this thread said it very eloquently, and from the heart. The site is for the FANS, and not all of the fans are going to want the same thing from a blog. Some fans, like most of us here, will lament the loss of the “old” GC.com and most of who sailed in her. And as a lot have already said, I am now ensconsed in Camp Daily Lurker, and only comment when I feel the need. I don’t “need” to comment on every topic, I don’t “need” to stick my oar into every argument, but I visit every day and will continue to do so. I sometimes e-mail Gray with a few of my ramblings. (And sometimes he even replies, LOL!)

    My personal feeling is that a lot of us here miss Gray Charles the man. We feel for him under this increasing stress, for something that started out as a fun experiment. It has morphed into something much more. As already stated, many of us would like to meet him, not to get a M&G with Taylor, not to talk about Taylor, not to ask him to “please give my gift to Taylor”, but just to shake his hand, buy him a beer, talk about life, and music, and just say “thanks man, for the music, the wonderful people we all met, (some virtual, some real-life) for the fun, for a place to hang out, and thanks for keeping it going when you probably wanted to throw your computer out the window, tear out your hair, and run screaming down a mountain.”

    ‘S my opinions, anyhoo..nothing original or earth-shattering, but from the heart.

    Shelley, great thread. MonkBots all – great, great comments.

  29. double d Says:

    Didn’t try to “pidgeon-hole”….sorry. Lee, I don’t have a problem with “new” Taylor or GC fans when they are like you. You have always been respectful of the place you’re in, tried to learn and get a feel for the “vibe” of the place before you just threw something out there. That isn’t the case of some “new” fans.

    Maybe it’s not right to feel that way, but after putting alot of time, thought and effort into helping to perpetuate a certain kind of atmosphere, it’s dissapointing to be “dismissed”. I think that’s what Shrew was getting at and what I was trying to say, as well. Besides, you’re a Monkbot — different breed.

  30. leejolem Says:

    DD, no problem. I totally get your point. Somedays when I’d be lurking at gc I would notice your attempts of reigning in the comments and redirecting back to the subject of the thread, and it was like watching a 5′ tall woman herding a 2-ton elephant. Sometimes the inmates run the asylum over there. And, oh yes, thank you, I am Monkbot hear me roar!!

  31. shrewspeaks Says:

    Lee great point…and I believe Texan’s article has captured what I was feeling. At a certain point in time there was a shift from what Gray eloquently put “bar” to “slick” and I felt left out somehow.

    We also had the clashing of two cultures – AI boards and what was the original GC. Really when written out like that it seems like this

    Futile, infantile and silly.

    I feel very silly indeed.

    Especially, since I like Nutella.

  32. JCTayfan Says:

    After Taylor’s win on AI, I went to the internet to get my fix. I was looking for information, photos, videos, or anything that could lessen the withdrawl pain I was experiencing after the show ended. Not knowing what was available, I started with the AI board, then, I gradually worked my way to several of Taylor’s fan sites. I was basically a lurker looking for information about Taylor. These sites were interesting and fun to visit. Somehow, during my surfing, I ran across graycharles.com. Wow, I was impressed with GC. His site immediately became the gold standard I compared every other site to. I was getting tired of the rude and vulgar posters on the other sites. I must admit, I had only visited Monkbot a time or two and do not include this site in my list of disappointments.

    I started visiting GC almost exclusively. I enjoyed the articles, the music, and the comments as food for thought. GC ran a tight ship and encouraged substantive comments, not fluff and fangirly comments. Over time, I saw a change. The posters were becoming more personal and hostile towards other fans, like those on the other boards that I quit visiting. I guess the tone of the site changed when everyone started complaining about the release of Taylor’s CD without a single preceding it. Tempers and fighting among the fans escaladed over discussions about the album and the single. It really got ugly after Taylor released the video of JTFTW a couple of weeks ago. Lurking at GC’s was becoming painful, depressing, and exhausting.

    To my good fortune, I met Shelley and the other Monkbots in NOLA about the same time GC was trying to calm the masses and regain control. I find the Monkbot site informative, insightful, and entertaining. I come here to relax and find out what is going on. Everyone is respectful to each other, like it used to be at GC’s. I’ll probably continue to lurk more than comment, but either way, this site is my new gold standard.

    I can imagine it takes a lot of time and energy to run and maintain a website. I have nothing but respect for all of you who have made it possible for me and others to have a place to visit, to engage in conversation, and to stay informed. Without you, I would have nothing. Thank you for all you do.

  33. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Wow JCTayfan! That was a great post….and so nice too! I’m sure Shelley will be very pleased to know how you feel about Monkbot.

    The number one thing that I love about this site, is our sense of respect for one another. If we disagree…and we often do…we never attack each other.

    It’s a good, good thing to not be afraid to speak your mind!

  34. Shelley Says:

    It’s a good, good thing to not be afraid to speak your mind!

    amen, sister.

    and…JCTayfan…wonderful comment.

    thanks…and we’re glad you’re here.

  35. nolagirl Says:

    Like texan said, all of you have covered the bases as to my feeling/emotions/thoughts in some form or fashion. The head nodding was aplenty throughout this post.

    And you know, this type of candid, intelligent, respectful, ADULT conversation kinda reminds me of another place and time (yep, the “good ol’ days at GC”).

  36. leejolem Says:

    Shrew, don’t feel silly !!! You are not alone in how you feel. But the important question is, do you eat your toast nutella side down or up? (Dr.Seuss rawks). Let’s all get the Monkbot’s head tattooed on our bellies and grow long, sticky-up yellow hair. “I am the Lorax, I speak for the T” (ok , if you get that reference you get a star on your belly for the day).

  37. double d Says:

    Dr. Suess freaks me out.

  38. texan Says:

    Lee … ::ahem::

    Now, the Star-Belly Sneetches
    Had bellies with stars.
    The Plain-Belly Sneetches
    Had none upon thars.

    Just sayin’

  39. KD Says:

    I find myself wanting to comment, but not knowing what to say. I guess I’ll just let my thoughts take over and I’ll decide later if they are worth submitting…..

    I can relate to everything being said here today….I had never followed any website, let alone commented on one, until GC came along. It was great fun once I discovered it, and I’m grateful that my intro to the blogging world was at Gray’s. However, I too became a *bit* too emotionally invested in the madness. I must admit, I was crushed, but deeply grateful when Gray posted Finito. I knew I was spending way too much time and energy on this intangible place, but seemed unable to totally break away on my own. Once Gray closed, I felt like I went through detox, and was grateful to get back to “normal” life…where the computer could stay off for a day now and then, and I could get through making dinner without chatting at the same time…My priorities got back in order, and they have remained that way.

    Fast forward to the present. My time reading and commenting here and at Gray’s, is pure “entertainment/escape for a minute of relaxation” time for me now…exactly what it should be. Have I been disappointed that the tone at Gray’s is different now? Sure. But I think my frustration has been more empathic. (Is that a word???) I have been frustrated on behalf of Gray, shaking my head and saying, “How does he do this without losing his mind?” I felt I “knew” Gray enough to know which threads and comments would have him wanting to throw in the towel. BUT…..emotionally invested, I can’t be. “Poor Gray!” yes….but “Poor me!” no. When our emotional outlets become emotional drainers, it’s time to find new forms of entertainment.

    So these days I come, I read, I leave. I love that I can do that without anger, or stress that is not mine to own. My comments at Gray’s recently are of the, “I’m still here…you are not abandoned” type. For some reason it has been important to me that he knows he has an old “chatty chatter’s” support. (Can’t you hear James Taylor’s You’ve Got a Friend playing in the background?)

    I am so thankful that the community of people I so appreciated, can almost all be found over here at Monkbot…I would have been most sad to lose touch with all of you—For me, it’s much less about the music, or Taylor, than it is about the connection between the members of this community. I remain a fan, but not a fanatic.

    Even this ruminating today is a bit too much…it is what it is. It has it’s place in our lives, but it shouldn’t be our lives. To everything there is a season…

    Thanks to both Shelley and Gray for providing us all with a place where we can connect…submitting and hoping my rambles are worthy of the page space. 🙂

  40. baby duck Says:

    First, I gotta say I love the graphic, Shelley!

    I discovered graycharles a little over a year ago. In Your Time and the Live Sets found there became the catalyst for my appreciation of Taylor and his music. I read the posts and learned and laughed alot. I commented a few times, but was ignored by others. OK, maybe I didn’t have anything to contribute. Or say anything that deserved a response. The pre-Finito were heady days, what with the excitement of discovering Taylor’s music, the rollercoaster of the AI5 contest, the commitment to voting, the entertainment of Tuesdays, and the nail-biting of Wednesdays. And gc smack-dab in the middle of it all. Then the win! Big collective Wooo! We did it! (I’m only saying ‘we’ in terms of it took votes, not to transfer credit/anything owed to Soul Patrol. To hear Taylor saying “C’mon America! I’m living the American dream” in the finale was reward enough.) I will treasure those days as some of the most fun I’ve had in a long time.

    When gray sprung back to life I was so happeeee! And when word came that his blog was chosen to be the official one out of all the different sites, I admit, I felt a little smug that the one I liked was the one Taylor liked. But my uneasiness started to set in with differences of opinions soon surfacing about who owned the site (fans or gc) and how fangirly it should be. Gray handled it with diplomacy when I would have used a smack-down approach.

    Gray, I realize that it’s hard if not impossible to separate any disgruntlement your blog and judgement of you, the person. I’m sorry for comments I may have made if they have hurt you or caused you stress. I recognized a long time ago that you’ve got a tiger by the tail. Texan’s link says it well. I’ll still check in over there, see how things are going. Whatever graycharles becomes, I hope in it’s future form it will still be the kind of site that Taylor saw it as when he chose it (and you) to represent him.

  41. nolagirl Says:

    I think your comments are more than worthy KD! They were enjoyable at that!

    “So these days I come, I read, I leave. I love that I can do that without anger, or stress that is not mine to own.”

    That really stands out to me, as I feel the same way. I have enough things going on in my “real” life, that I can’t be that invested in, like you said, something that is not close to “mine.” When I was living in the FEMA trailer lat year (oy) I didn’t want to think about “real” life, for obvious reasons, so easily got in pretty deep. But now, no way, no how. Even if GC was like the “good ol’ days” again, I couldn’t give it that kind of devotion/commitment.

  42. double d Says:

    Ah, KD….the voice of “Mommy” reason. Love ya, gal. I was looking for a song….

    Turn, Turn, Turn

    You give me pause to think….now, I’m off to mini-DD’s soccer game. Cross yer fingers that he scores today.

  43. leejolem Says:

    Yay for Texan!!! Dr Seuss doesn’t freak me out (although Horton Hears a Hoo was a bit disturbing), but I must say I always worried about Charlie Brown and his group of friends and why their parents didn’t go out and buy them a regular Christmas tree? Why weren’t they celebrating w/their families??? Why doesn’t Pigpen’s mom give him a bath? Why does CB always wear the same shirt? Why aren’t Charlie Brown CD’s selling better? Why does Charlie Brown still smoke? Are all the Charlie Brown concerts sold out? Will I ever meet him? Does he love me better than all the other fans? Am I the prettiest girl in the world?

    Ok, moment of insanity ovah! I can tell it’s Friday, and I’m going stir crazy at work.

  44. double d Says:

    So, NolaGirl — are you saying, “Get a life!”….LOL. Maybe that IS the answer.

    Nah.

  45. Gray Charles Says:

    Thanks everyone for their honest and heartfelt comments. I’ll ruminate on these for awhile and hopefully post something in the future.

    It still amazes me how “new” many people were to blogging or even the internet before they came to GC.

    A few points to ponder – traffic was MUCH higher during the American Idol run – at least in terms of unique daily visitors. People stick around longer now and load more pages but there are fewer visitors all together.

    Charlie Brown’s CD’s don’t sell better because he believes in old school – just look at his direction of the Christmas Pageant as an example. Charlie continues to smoke, yes, but he talks to Lucy about it in therapy weekly.

    I think much of the bickering and bitching started at GC (as many of you have rightly noticed) when fans did not have a clear way of being invested in “the business”. During AI you could votevotevotevotevote – there’s your investment right there.

    Fast forward, show is over – what’s a fan to do to show their investment? Critique, Complain, Coerce, Caution – sadly not much Create. Second guessing took the place of voting.

    More later . . .

    Are you the prettiest girl in the world? No, Sally is because she has naturally curly hair.

  46. bamaborntxbred Says:

    KD- I loved your post. It completely sums up my thoughts/feelings on the matter.

  47. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Oh yeah-

    Go Mini-DD!! Score a goal for the Monkbots!

  48. HicksChick4Soul Says:

    lol….blobbery

  49. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Interesting points Gray-dawggy-dawg.

    So, has GC.com reached a plateau?

    I also think besides not having a way to invest currently in “the biz”, maybe folks also feel they are not getting the return they expected from their initial investment.

    Maybe that’s why I never got too crazy over the whole thing. I would use my one little cell phone and vote as much as I could until bedtime…I never went overboard buying extra phones, etc. I feel I’ve been sufficiently “rewarded” for my efforts. I love the album. I’ve been to a couple of great shows…and I’ve made new friends b/c of Taylor. What more could I ask for?

  50. nolagirl Says:

    “What more could I ask for?” Bama says. How about one of those street musicians? I kid, I kid. (sorta)

    Do I win a prize for having naturally curly hair?? Oh Gray, say it’s so!!

    Bama – The “return on investment” is an interesting concept. It sure would make sense since the “gimme gimme gimme (NOW!)” syndrome has been prevalent at GC.

  51. ivoryhut Says:

    From my friend’s blog (the “Coming Full Circle” entry on March 18), which always always gives me much to think about:

    It makes me realize that what we strive for is usually overrated. And I suspect it is not so much because the world over-promises but because we over-expect. We imbue upon material, transient objects and longings the unquantifiable quality of eternal bliss, which these things just can’t give us.

    Not making any overt analogies or comparisons here. Just wanted to share a bit of his writing.

    KD, your “rambling” is more coherent and relevant than most of what I can put together even after hours of deliberation.

    Go Mini-DD!

    Oh, and Dr. Seuss is another one of those things I don’t understand. Maybe I should read something of his first?

    And who is Sally?

  52. shrewspeaks Says:

    Gray..investment or an unatural “interactive state” with the artist?

  53. double d Says:

    Shrew, I think you’re on to something. You give some folks an inch and they take the proverbial mile. Taylor provided glimpses and access that isn’t typical and instead of being grateful and satisfied with that, folks want more.

    Gray — While I think that SOME analysis came out of lack of ROI, I don’t think the current state of affairs at GC is the case. Initially, the questioning and analysis was done with the undercurrent that Taylor was still “da man” and once an initial thought was “analyzed”, it went away for at least a little while. All was mostly done with humor and respect.

    Right now, you have a particular excrement-mixer that is TRYING to implode the sight. I’ve watched it for a month now and it’s deliberate. Not trying to don the tin foil, but the carping of said individual is just not natural. Sadly, that poster has successfully accomplished what they constantly preach about “not alienating ANY of Taylor’s fans”. Keep an eye on said individual.

    As for us, you are still “da man”. I think my thoughts can be summarized by my favorite Schultz character, Peppermint Patty:

    “You’ve never understood have you, Marcie, that when a person complains, he doesn’t want a solution, he wants sympathy!!”

    Sir, you DO understand.

  54. Squeebee Says:

    All of the comments today have been great! I was interested to find that traffic is down at GC from the AI days. Kinda makes sense in a way….there was a group of people working towards a common goal. Now only the crazies are left (I am including myself in that category!), those who are maybe over-invested in the whole Taylor Hicks ride. The common goal now seems to be to drive Gray to an early grave.

    Sooooo….should I be keeping my eyes peeled for a Chris Sligh-esque underground blog, Gray?? Hmmmmmmm?

  55. jenfera Says:

    Gray, I feel that I need to point out that it was actually Frieda who had the naturally curly hair. Sally is more known for crushing out on Linus (and ocassionally shouting from the tops of coffee tables, but that’s a different story all together.)

  56. ridearoundsally Says:

    jenfera…Gray got it right first time..Sally is pretty!!

  57. jenfera Says:

    Gray, you are Sally’s sweet baboo!

  58. kimmykins Says:

    I can identify with a lot of the comments I’ve read so far. Feeling guilty about not posting, wondering if my posts were hurting or helping the situation, the relief from the emotional investment I felt when I cut myself off from commenting or even reading the big comment sections anymore.

    I think I’m in a good place now.

    I still visit the main page at GC to see what’s new, I come see what’s up with Shelley, I lurk and occasionally comment on my local touristas page. Between Monkbot and Touristas I feel like I’m getting the connection with other Taylor fans that I…dare I say it, need. And that’s enough for me. No more drama, no more getting huffy about stuff that is said. It’s all sunshine and rainbows from where I’m sitting and I like it.

  59. Quossum Says:

    Great insights, Shelley, and inspiring honesty. I guess I should throw in my two bits…

    I was already internet-savvy before the whole Taylor thing, but I tend to run hot and cold, becoming briefly obsessed with something for intense periods of time, then moving on. I’ve definitely been immersed in the message board culture before, gotten my knocks but good, too. Grew thicker skin because of it.

    I found graycharles from a post at Vote For the Worst and quickly jumped in with both feet. I got *too* into it, especially because graycharles is one of the few Idol / Taylor sites that I can access at my work. I found myself spending *’way* too much time there, and ‘way too many hours at home there, even skipping Agility class so that I wouldn’t miss the Tuesday night show.

    When Gray shut down, I was upset, but there was a tiny thread of relief there, too. Maybe life could return to normal now!

    When he got the interview with Taylor, I was happy for Gray and devoured it.

    When he reopened the site…I wasn’t so sure it was a good thing. It seemed to ruin the mystique. Gray was no longer “one of us,” a fan who loved Taylor, but “one of them”–an insider to be envied, whose favor was to be curried.

    Yes, the feeling there was different, too–it was like people didn’t “know” each other as well, or weren’t as close-knit of a community, which was one of the things I’d liked about “the old place.” I felt guilty for not posting more, but my gradual withdrawing had begun.

    (I realize that my post now sounds like KD’s. You go, girl!)

    I’m reaching a pretty good spot myself. I’ve made some wonderful friends through the fandom, and there are still places I visit regularly. However, I’m not spending my entire conference period reading GC, and I can even leave the computer at home totally *off* for days at a time! I haven’t skipped Agility class for months.

    I still love Taylor and plan to keep on being a fan, but I’m not as crushed on him as I was earlier. I hope Gray keeps doing what he wants to do and taking care of himself and his family along the way.

    In the playground analogy, I’m the kid sitting under a tree with her nose in a book who ocassionally looks up, dashes over and plays wildly with the other kids, then wanders off disinterestedly.

    *pats grass beside Shelley* Can I sit here?

    –Q

  60. Theresa K. Says:

    Is it possible that GrayCharles.com exists in different ways to different people? What lots of us experienced together one year ago cannot be recreated; it remains an incredible special memory for us all.

    Time has marched on and GC has evolved into something different, with familiar and unfamiliar things. It can’t be that old place, but there’s still plenty of good features. Despite the commercial aspect of promoting Taylor, there’s still lots of focus on new/unfamiliar music. GC.com is still a valuable part of the internet for me.

    I know for me when I visit GC.com I notice and read things (new or old) that pique my interest. I ignore the rest. That’s my approach in daily life, too. (Maybe that’s just my age showing.) Sure I notice the fan-gurls, but I ignore them. I also tend to notice when GC makes comments. My informal rule is that if GC has weighed in on some comments either, A. It is an interesting thread or B. He’s policing a thread. Like a good writer in Rollling Stone or the local paper, I have determined that GC is a good person to keep track of for music news.

    Shelley’s site is another favored and bookmarked site, for life and media threads. And… in another year, there will most likely be yet another favorite site born of the GC.com phenomenon. Life moves on like a stream, changing the landscape as it moves.

    P.S. I am NOT ashamed to be very happy that I won a M&G for this Sunday night.

  61. Libby Says:

    Shelley,

    You have added another great post. Your forthright- approach is what makes me look forward to visiting the MB site. I am probably not considered an old timer. I started to “lurk” at GC in late April / early May 2006 ( do not even recall the date — pre-TH win ).

    I was intimidated that I did not have anything meaningful to add like Shrew and Shelley, for example. By golly, I was eager to read the postings.

    When the time came, I was so happy to be welcomed into Shelley’s MB site. Everyone here is supportive and accepting of a right to express.

    GC and MB are really my first significant step into posting to a blog. And I love it. I comment here at MB much more frequently here than at GC.

    I do appreciate the work Gray Charles has done — and the work they continue to perform. I still enjoy reading and learning about new music GC. I make no apologies for being less than a music intellectual. I contribute a comment very rarely — and my thoughts probably are not read or garnered as serious. That is ok. It is what it is.. Just my opinion.

    GC may be all about the music to a diferent degree now. But MB has been and still is all about the people and understanding special friendships / mutual respect.

    And I love the friendship and acceptance I have received here at MB.

    Libby

  62. baby duck Says:

    OT, but Libby, I recently read your account of the Tabernacle concert and the mention of the shared name with your Mom. That gives me additional incentive to be thoughtful and temperate in what I say here. Can’t be the one to bring disrespect to the baby duck name. I try, anyhow. Tell her ‘quack, quack’ for me!

  63. SoulReporter Says:

    I’ve been connected to the internet since Al Gore invented it 🙂 , but before seeing Taylor on AI my internet experiences were almost entirely work-related. I had never posted on a blog or visited a chat room. After seeing Taylor I just had to find out everything I could about this guy. My first discovery was the AI message boards and as a newbie to message boards, I really was excited to be there. I couldn’t believe that there were so many people that loved that gray-haired guy as I did. I was hooked after that and I was loving every minute of it. Voting each week and following DialIdol; it was so much fun. Gray Charles’ site I learned about through those boards. I saw a thread talking about Gray having Taylor’s pre-Idol music available. I never posted in the blog, but I read everything and downloaded everything that Gray had available. Early on I saw the difference in the posts at Gray’s and I loved his place. One day late in the game, I ventured into the chat room, and what I saw in there had me laughing so hard that I could barely contain myself. I saw names in there that I had recognized from the posts in Gray’s blog and also many other anonymous gabber names. What was taking place at the time I ventured in was the “newbies” making tons of fangirly comments and the “old-timers” making comments such as “Just shoot me now.” I’m telling you, I had never laughed so hard in my life. I could feel their pain and they were injecting great humor to cover it up. I sent Gray 50 bucks that same night through paypal to thank him for the fun and told him to have a drink on me! Why I continue to stick around is that I have “met” some great people through his site — good-hearted, intelligent people. I don’t understand all the drama that has taken place and I don’t like it either, but I am determined to not let that drama keep me from enjoying Gray’s site and now your site, Shelley. I can weed through the crap that is written and I can also weed through the crappy people; for me, the good outweighs the bad. There is sanity amidst all the craziness and I know where to find it. Thank you, Shelley, and thank you, Gray.

  64. double d Says:

    SoulReporter — you are wise, Grasshopper.

  65. wompuss Says:

    I use the Internet enTIREly too much for work……dadgummit…I used to enjoy just playing on the Internet…….chatting……posting…..bein totally adorably silly. Now everytime I look at a computer, I see drudgery…ack.
    I did want to say, Shells…I SO wanted you to get to meet Taylor…and I could SO imagine him calling you up on that stage to do a duet! Right up until the very end, I half expected him to do it, too! At least we can be content with the knowledge that he has been exposed to the wonderfulness that is monkbot. As we all have.
    DD…your mixed CD is awesome, girl! Thank you so murch foa it!
    I sure miss you guys’ faces. Lurve everyone of ya!

  66. Libby Says:

    OT

    Baby Duck

    My Mom says Quack Quack — too !! You are sweet just like my Mom.\\

    Thanks for the return comment !!

  67. Jan Says:

    I had the time of my life hanging out on GC. I was upset when the site closed but relieved that the mania was over so my life could get back to normal. Gray’s posts were always so intelligent and interesting as were the comments. My posts were and are not of the same caliber as his or you guys, Shelley, DD, Holeigh, Quossum, Ash, Texan but I love reading what you all have to say. You always make me think and laugh.

    I am sorry that GC has changed for the worst and there is nothing that can really be done about it. Gray has tried to change things but there are too many people who came from other crappy sites and don’t understand that GC is(was) different. In any case, you can’t go home again.

    There are a couple of things that make me sad about the site now. Every conversation is about Taylor. People post directly to Taylor as if the site weren’t Gray’s. They marginalize Gray as a person by doing that. There is no meat in the comments though the posts are still great and I read them.

    After reading your posts I realized that I feel guilty for rarely posting on GC. I posted today but it was just meaningless fluff. Just to say I’m still with you.

    I think it’s interesting to note that people complain and pick apart everything Mr. Hicks does so that they can get that ROI. I am guilty for sure and that makes me feel like crawling away in shame.

  68. music maven Says:

    Here is Taylor Hicks’ LEVON

    …..we’re all healed, man.

  69. double d Says:

    ^^^^^^^^
    is me…my alter ego.

  70. Dr. Bob Says:

    Sorry to get to this so late. It is funny how time is different on the internets. A day is like a week. And maybe that is one of the problems — time moves so fast and everything is so immediate. There is a pressure to say what you are going to say right now because in three minutes, the moment will pass.

    I do see a change in GC, and it did make me sad. People seem to have stopped laughing at themselves. But I still see Gray in the topics. The nature of the internet is change and rapid change at that. I don’t know that he ever meant it to be more than a foray into unknown business territory, but it became something more, at least to some of us. I am one of the people who had never seen a blog, never posted, did not even know what one really was. I had a “blue name” for a while, just because I thought you were supposed to put the website that you were posting to in that little box. Imagine my surprise one day to find that other people had blogs out there. I was stunned! I think that James Hudnall’s site was the first non-GC site that I ever saw. I could not imagine that people had blogs.

    So I qualify as a complete neophyte. But, as I began reading and posting, I found a new way of seeing things, a new vocabulary, new friends. I found myself looking for certain posters — Rowan was probably one of the first, but most of you made it over here. It is sort of my alter-reality. Like and unlike real life.

    Graycharles spilled over into real life, which was so odd — like Harold’s Purple Crayon drawings becoming real. The site shut down and I was sad, but relieved in a way — keeping up with the sheer volume of posts was hard. I always read all of the posts, even when it was in triple digits, but there were people there that I cared about, and I wanted to see what they had to say. And I liked Gray. I had a little bit of a cyber-crush on him — I do love a smart, funny, sarcastic man! Wit is my weakness. Gray was a palpable presence, and when he talked back to me or someone I knew, it was nice to be noticed.

    Did I ever think that I would meet Taylor through GC? No. I joked about being his therapist, if he needed one, but more to amuse myself than anything. I have never been a fan before, and it felt funny. I probably would not have been as much a fan without Gray or GC. Do I still think that Taylor should read all of this and do a duet with Shelley? Absofreakinglutely.

    So the site has changed, and that is okay, if it is okay with Gray. I have worried about him and his family and prayed for them and hoped for all of the best for them. I go over to GC every so often, but I don’t enjoy reading many of the posts. I felt a part of something — spurious as that might have been. But I did. I got the in-jokes — heck, I made some of the in-jokes. Now, it is a little different.

    For me, it has never been all about the music. Sorry. I enjoy listening to Taylor Hicks, but I went to GC for other reasons, too. For me, it was more about the people. There were people that I really enjoyed getting to meet and see, day after day. It was a sense of community — an odd little corner of the world, where I read, and laughed, and considered, and wrote. There were people there who were happy to see me and who got my jokes. There was a vibe there — people who looked at the bigger picture and wondered about what American Idol meant, and what does success mean, and why do you love one artist and are bored by another, and what can make you cry, and what is the point?

    I liked how people thought. I liked that even when we were indulging in a little bit of fangirliness, you could tell that it was tongue-in-cheek, with an amused roll of the eyes at it all. I hung out at graycharles, because I felt like those were people that I would have liked hanging out with in real life. That is the change for me.

    I come here to Shelley’s corner of the playground, because I like her, and I like the people that are here. I would like seeing you in real life — I think that we would be the people at the big table in the corner of the restaurant, laughing so much that the other folks wished that they could come sit with us.

    It sounds pretty schmatzy, but I am very grateful for Graycharles — it was so much fun. It was a new area for me and I have made friends with people that I never would have met otherwise. I got to invent myself.

    I am going to still go over to GC, but I feel like a visitor. But I think that is okay. It has been an experience, all the way around.

  71. Shelley Says:

    Dr. Bob…beautifully put.

    So much of what you said is right on target with how I feel.

    I’m glad you shared.

  72. ivoryhut Says:

    Amen, Dr. Bob. (Also on the “little bit of a cyber-crush” thing. I was all cowardly lion about saying that. *rolls eyes at self*)

    Looking forward to that big table at the restaurant. Hope I get to join next time.

  73. Shelley Says:

    Yeah to the cyber crush thing. I thought about mentioning it in my post…but I didn’t think it explained my feelings about the site.

    However, let me jump on that bandwagon, too.

    Yes…I had/have a cyber crush on Gray.

    (Now I want to crawl in a hole and die of total embarrassment.)

  74. leejolem Says:

    Dr bob, “tongue in cheek fangirliness” is my middle name. That’s what I lerve about the MB’s–we don’t take our fangirliness too seriously.

    ***off to write fangirly fiction where Taylor sees me on the beach and is inspired by my lack of melanin to write “The White Place”

  75. Dr. Bob Says:

    I knew I wasn’t the only one — cyber crushes are fab … I love a man of mystery …

    …. but not Mystery Date (which I would hotlink to if I remembered how)

    Shelley, I think that there you are right to point out the distinction between GC the site and Gray, the blogmeister. For me, I went to the site looking for news about Taylor. I stayed there because of Gray and all of you — because there were people who posted and became part of my daily life. I do not know how to say that the people who post there now are just not as interesting to me (‘cos it sounds soooo snobby). I know that I have not given them a chance, maybe, to grow on me, but the posts seem a little one-dimensional. Scannable, but not thought-provoking.

    If I met these people, what would we all talk about, once we had discussed Taylor and maybe some favorite artists? For me, that would take all of three minutes and then I would be shifting about in my chair, wondering how soon I could make gracious excuses and skedaddle.

    So, thanks again for the nice little corner of the blogverse. I feel comfortable here and I like the people. The connections are dendritic, wonderful and wholly unexpected.

  76. leejolem Says:

    Dr Bob, “dendritic” is a great word. I’ve never heard it used, but I’m making it my word of the day (along with “thole” which is a Rowan word from another thread). You guys are better than a thesaurus.

  77. Dr. Bob Says:

    Very funny, Lee…

  78. Hickstyeria Says:

    I’ve not been to ‘Monkbot’ in a while though I have lurked in the past and am late to this particularly party, but I wanted to thank you Shelley for once again saying what needed to be said.

    I’m in agreement with many of the other comments here; I even emailed one of Monkbot’s regular posters a few weeks ago about my own feelings regarding the direction GC had gone in and about particular posters who I felt were deliberate shit-stirrers. I did so because she had commented on a GC thread one day in a way that made me realise, with some relief, that she was feeling the same way I was. I had noticed that many of the original GC posters were no longer posting or had tried to stay with the site, but clearly had reached their own breaking point and moved on. I too have been skimming threads and only reading those who I recognised or understood had something meaningful to contribute. In the beginning when I first joined GC ‘back in the day’, I posted a reasonable amount, but I would say I’ve posted just a handful of times since GC re-opened after last summer’s hiatus. I ended up deciding that reading was easier. But oh, I did miss the community that I’d known and found refuge at the Boogie Board from time to time.

    I know Gray has been sorely tried; it must feel a bit like giving birth and then having your baby adopted where someone else then decides what’s good for it and what isn’t. He’s done an amazing job though and I agree it’s important to differentiate between the blog and the blogmeister. Now that we know he’s moving on, I think I can accept it because it is what he wants and because I feel gc.com has sort of ‘outgrown’ me.

    Dr. Bob, I really could relate to your post. Next time I pass by the restaurant and look in, I hope someone will wave me in and let me have a seat at the table….

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