Saturday, July 29, 2006

September, 2003....oh, what a night!

Oh, what a night, late September back in 2003. What a very special time for me, I remember what a night........

As the Tour ended, it was with mixed emotions that I said good-bye to AI Clay. I loved AI Clay. LOVED! That’s where I met him, that’s where I got to know him, and that’s where I fell in love with him and that glorious voice, which had the ability to move me to places I’ve never been before. It was like a work of art that one would look at in awe of the talent that produced it. I would miss Clay being in my living room every week, and, during the tour, every night.

So I looked to the future and wondered where Clay’s talent would take him. I wondered, would the world see what I saw, what his fans saw? Would the world see the amazing talent, the down-home decency, the humor, the intelligence? I also wondered how the cut-throat music business would treat Clay. Would it eat him alive, would he adapt to the current practices, or would he define his own terms of success?

The day after the AI Tour ended, Clay appeared on
The Jerry Lewis Telethon. Jerry Lewis has been airing his telethon on TV for more than 40 years. I used to watch it with my mother because she liked seeing all her favorites like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Buddy Hackett, Robert Goulet, etc. As I grew up, I watched it less because I had real life obligations, but I still try to catch a bit of it every year. So when Clay was to appear, I was glued in front of my TV set.

Clay was the last guest that of the Telethon. He must have been exhausted after the Tour, but he went on the show. I watched in anticipation with the rest of ClayNation. Jerry’s introduction was amazing, simply amazing.

"We have someone here today, from the smash hit show American Idol, we're thrilled to have him joining us today, because when it was made known that he would appear on this Telethon, the emails and the fan clubs that this young man has have sent us $30,000.00 just at the fact that he was here (applause). And I can honestly say I have never, in all of my life, seen a theatrical groundswell that this kid has motivated, that it makes us all come right back to the bobby sox and Frank. And isn't it nice to live through that magnificence again? Here is Clay Aiken" (rousing applause)!

Clay walked out, no band, just a backing track and sang ‘Bridge over Troubled Water’. It’s an understatement to say ‘he done good’. He looked and sounded amazing. Oh, by the way, the word ‘amazing’ is one that keeps popping up very often when talking about Clay. Forewarned is to be forearmed *g*.

After the song was finished, Clay took a small bow and left the stage to thunderous applause. Then something happened that pretty much astounded me. Jerry called Clay back to the stage. I don’t know where Clay was at that moment, it took him a bit of time to come back out, but he did, he walked up to Jerry and hugged him. Then Jerry started talking about Clay

"Clay Aiken! Take a bow Clay, he's gone. Clay! Take a bow young man! (Clay then comes back out onto stage, walks right over to Jerry Lewis) Jerry then says, "Hi Clay (they hug) and Clay says, "Thank you very much". Then Jerry says, "And (grabbing Clay's arm so he wont walk away) if I may just take a footnote here, you were regaled and thrilled by the loser! (Clay laughs) Cuz this for me was the winner from day one! This man!" (The two hug again) Jerry says, "Thanks Clay." And as Clay walks off stage Jerry says, "What a kid!"

**This verbiage was taken from a Beavers on Idol article by Jackie Ross. Thank you, Jackie, for saving me some time and effort *g*

Let’s take a trip back in time and re-watch this appearance:

Clay also appeared on The Miss America Show in 2003, singing ‘This is the Night’, which, in my opinion, was very apropos for the event. There was a lot of discussion on the message boards over his appearance on that show. It still boggles my mind that these supposedly smart women would parade across the stage dressed in bathing suits and bikini’s, showing, let’s be honest, tits and ass. The Miss America pageant is supposedly a ‘scholarship’ contest, then why are these women asked to parade around as if they were cows in a meat market? Or horseflesh to be looked over? I digress………..

Anyway! For the most part, Clay’s fans loved him on the show. They loved his performance and he looked really good and he sounded amazing. I understand that the contestants also liked Clay. Hee! I remember looking on the MAP site and pondering whether or not to buy a ticket for $40.00 (good seats, too), just to hear one song. In the end, I decided not to, which was fortuitous because of the hurricane that was coming up the coast. I didn’t relish driving three hours in bad weather for one song.

Let’s enjoy that performance again.

Also in September, Clay was on MTV’s TRL, and he was the cover story on Entertainment Weekly as a guilty pleasure. Clay’s been my guilty pleasure for three years and I don’t think it will ever stop. If I recall correctly, this was Clay’s second mainstream magazine cover.

I even got my ‘letter to the editor’ printed. Well, kind of. After looking at this picture I wrote:

"I have never wanted to be a dog, but looking at your pictures of Clay [kissing that puppy]'s a dog's life for me”. Heh. They printed my name and city. I didn’t like that very much, but what can you do? I remember some other fans had their letters published and we were pretty excited by the reaction.

Clay is did a lot of radio interviews that month. He was also nominated for his first award by the American Music Association. On September 23rd, ‘Invisible’ went for radio adds.

September was an exciting time on the boards for the fans. Not only was Clay breaking away from American Idol and coming into his own, but his first CD, Measure of a Man (or MOAM as the fans dubbed it) was going to be released on October 14th and we were gearing up for the CD Release parties to be held all over the nation.

I was having the time of my life through all this. Who would have ever thought that at my age, let’s just say that I’ll never see 40 again, that I would be having so much freaking fun??? September was the month that I met my very first local Clay fan. We had met on the boards and discovered that we lived about 10-15 minutes away from each other. We decided to meet for lunch and ended up talking over pasta for more than three hours, with another hour of talk in the parking lot! To this day, she is one of my very best friends. Check out her blog,
idle-wanderings. Something else that astounds me. The people that I’ve been meeting on the message boards are people that, in real life, I probably never would have met otherwise. Two of my Clay friends live about five minutes away, but we would never have met because we traveled in different circles, knew different people, and I cherish their friendships so much. Clay has always said that he wanted to make a difference. I bet he never thought that one of the ways he’s making a difference is by this fostering of friendships all over the world. Thanks, Clay.

Stay tuned……………..

I want to plug a very good website called
Finding Clay Aiken. That site keeps a chronicle, or timeline, of everything Clay has done, his tours, his music, his appearances, his media, plus just links to about every Clay website on the ‘net. Check it out if you get a chance.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Wow, I lost my internet access for five days due to storms in the northeast. I went crazy not being on-line.

However, after five days and thirteen phone calls to my ISP, I'm finally back up!

I'll try to upate this week-end.

*smoochies* to all ofyou!

Oh, by the way, Clay's fans have raised over $47,000.00 in 24 hours for UNICEF. Way to go, ClayNation! If anyone wants to donate, please copy and paste this URL into your internet browser and it will take you to the ClayNation page (it does not specifically say ClayNation):

Thursday, July 20, 2006

My Summer of Clay was coming to a close...

During the very last concert of the AI2 tour, I was sitting in front of my computer, reading about the concert from cellcert reports and feeling very sad. At that point, no one really knew what Clay would be doing, except we knew about the Jerry Lewis telethon and I think we knew about the Miss America Pageant. We also knew that the CD would be released, but what about the 6 weeks between the end of the concert and the CD drop date?

I was so used to 'seeing' Clay almost every day, or at least I knew what he was up to, that the next 6 weeks loomed heavy on my mind. Also, I had never been in a fandom before. I never knew that there was anything like it. Here was a kid quite a bit younger than me and I was obsessing over him. Well, that's a strong word, but it was a very strange feeling.

One of the things I learned in this fandom and by being on the message boards was this:


There were actually others who felt about Clay the same way that I did. Man, that took a load off my mind, I thought I was going crazy, or reverting to my childhood or something. But finding others who were like-minded was so much fun!

Oh, Let's talk about fun for a minute. I never would have guessed that at my age, I would be having so much freaking FUN!!! I was meeting people, not only across America, but across the world. I was talking on the internet to people with whom I never would have connected with in real life. We were laughing together, swooning together, crying together, celebrating together. We were starting to meet in real life over lunches and coffee and concerts. We were traveling to cities we've never visited before to see the skinny singer from North Carolina. And we were bonding. It was great.

So, there I was, in front of my computer, listening to the cellcert by reading the message boards and I started to get a bit maudlin. I wrote this that night:

Why am I sitting here, crying?

Why am I sitting here crying? Is it just because it's the last concert? Is it because I am going to miss all the reports from all the fans?

With Clay, I feel as if I have made a really good friend, the kind you make in summer camp and you think you will always be the best of friends, but distance makes the memories fade and you end up seeing them maybe once or twice a year after summer camp is over.

That's how I am feeling right now. We have known where Clay was EVERY day this summer. We know what city he was in, we knew what he was doing most of the time, either sleeping, or interviews, or singing, or meet n greets, or traveling on the bus. We were with him every step of the way.

After tonight, summer camp will be over and I find that I don't want to say goodbye to my friend, Clay. I don't want to lose that daily contact that good friends share, you know, those little things that endear a person to you? Things like:

**we always knew what he would do when he got panties thrown at him; pick them up and make a joke.

**We always knew that he did the mic jerk off the mic stand during TITN

**we always knew he would do the tugs, clutches and yanks during Invisible.

**we always knew, during GBTUSA, he put the mike down and soaked up the audience love

**We always knew that he had a special place in his heart for special needs kids and would make sure that they got attention backstage

**We always knew that Clay loves his fans and he went out of his way to be nice to us and wave to us and give autographs and take pics

On an intellectual level, I am very glad that Clay will finally get to have his own place to live, take a break from some of the crazier moments he's experienced during this summer, and even though he will kick into high gear to promote his CD, at least he will be able to have some down time and take care of himself. And I am truly happy for him, I really am.

I guess it's me I'm sad for. I am trying to be positive and realize that Clay is going forward with his life and career and so must we. But I will miss my "Summer of Clay" (thanks, Suziebird)

It's kind of like summer camp, on the last day, where you and your friends sing 'Kum By Ya', and 'I'll Never Walk Alone' and you sit and cry over fading memories and lost friendships, and you know you'll keep in touch through the occasional letter and phone call, but it will never be the same.

I will really, really miss my good friend, Clay.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The continuing saga.......

I apologize that I haven't posted the next chapter. Real life has kicked me in the face. I will try to get a new chapter on-line by the week-end. In the meantime, let's all enjoy some pretty pictures, shall we? All these are from 2003:

I was so proud of Clay when he graduated from college in December of 2003. He didn't have to continue his studies, but he chose to finish what he started, which tells me a lot about his character.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, 2003. That is one fine man.

This is one of my favorite pictures of Clay. The joy on his face tells the story of how much he loves performing.

December 21, 2003, Raleigh. Clay and The Bubel-Aiken Foundation held a skate with Clay day for children with and without disabilities.

Crabtree Mall in Raleigh at an appearance, I think, before the AI concert.

Clay did a series of Jingle Ball concerts in December appearing with about 10 other large acts. Every city he hit in northeast America experienced a blackout. Ahhh, the power of The Aiken.

All credit goes to the wonderful Clackgatherers without whom this fandom would be all the poorer.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006 the tour ends

As the Tour wound down and the cast made their way towards California and the last concert, I didn’t know when I would see Clay again. I was used to seeing him every single day through the eyes of the fandom and when he had a day off, we still knew basically where he was. Most of his days off, he spent going to children’s camps, visiting schools, and he even went to Washington, D.C to give a speech and meet with some politicians.

Here is what I wrote at the end of the Tour:

As the Tour ends.....

Clay, your AI Tour is coming to an end on Sunday night. It will probably be the last time you will ever perform with all the finalists, sans Josh, of American Idol 2, all at the same time. It will be a bittersweet moment for you. I ask that you do these two things for yourself.

Take a long, hard look back at how it all began:

Last September, you were just starting your Senior year at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. You probably had NO idea that you would ever audition for AI, much less get picked. You were taking classes and working with the Bubel's, going and getting along with your life.

Then Diane Bubel started to nag you, and nag you, and nag you (God Bless you, Diane Bubel). To shut her up, you agreed to audition and you didn't get picked, so you drove to Atlanta and auditioned, and lo and behold, you got picked! Nigel said he was looking for a personality, you thought you didn't have one yet. What you did have was that magnificent voice. Even Simon couldn't deny that and they decided to send you to Hollywood.

Once there, you practiced and rehearsed, Remember when your group was chosen to go through to the Top 32? Remember the look of utter delight on your face? I do. And it was magical. Then came the results of the infamous Group 2. The top three were you, Ruben, and Kim. Ruben and Kim were chosen, you ended up going home. You

thought your AI experience was over. But you were called back for the Wildcard show. What a performance you gave. The perfect song for the perfect guy. And when Ryan read the results of the popular vote, you sat there, wearing your yammy face for the 10 or so seconds it took Ryan to spit out your name, then you leaned over, and your yammy face became even yammier, if that's a word. And we loved you for it.

Now the competition started in earnest. Each week you came out and you sang your face off. Each week you got more and more votes, each week you got more and more fan mail and STILL, you wore your yammy face every Wednesday night, both for you staying in the competition and for your friends that got voted off. And we loved you for it. I'm not going to run through every song, just a highlight or two.

Neil Sedaka night. The night, you absolutely showed the world that you were no longer a contestant, but a star. That night, YOU became the star of AI, not Simon Cowell. That night, you transcended American Idol.

BeeGees night, you rocked, and even if the judges didn't like 'Grease', your fans LOVED it! We got it. We appreciated it (more to come on that).

Clay's vocals on 'Grease' were spot-on, and even though the judges didn't care for the hip shake, his fans sure did. I'm dying to know what Clay was going to say to Simon after his critique, but Ryan interrupted and we'll never know.

'To Love Somebody' is a well-loved favorite of the Clay Nation.

The Vincident, how you missed your cue and forgot a few words, how well you covered it up, the look on your face for a nano-second before jumping right back into the song, then coming back with the ultimate lounge lizard song and nailing it to perfection. Sheer nirvana.

Clay talks about the missed cue in the song 'Vincent'

Clay kills the audience with 'Mack the Knife'. He out-Bobby Darined, Bobby Darin.

Then came the Finale night. How could you top yourself? You walked out on that stage with so much self confidence, even though you may have been a tad bit nervous inside, you walked past the gospel choir, strolled up to the mike as if it were just another day at the office, and you blew us away! You. Blew. Us. Away.

The next evening is an evening I will never forget. The grace, dignity, and class that you showed on that cheesy TV show is imprinted in my heart forever. Although you may have been crying inside, you showed the world how to act in the face of adversity. You showed us the true measure of a man. And we loved you for it.

Then you did the rounds of TV, radio, and print interviews, and you revealed more about yourself than we learned on AI. We started to like you more and more, we appreciated your sense of humor, your intelligence, your wit, your gabbiness. You never shut up, do you? And your compassion for others? Did I mention how that just slays me? It gets me right in the heart every time. And we love you for it.

We followed you around on the internet, I think we knew where you were before you did. We followed every interview, every utterance, every expression. Because we love you. June 10th rolled around and we bought up as many CD's as we could afford and we watched you go gold, then platinum.

Then the AI Tour started. Yes, again, we followed you around the country, every show, every city, every performance, every word you uttered on stage, we knew about. We brought in signs, cameras, video cameras, homemade tee shirts, red panties, gifts, donations, some of us got coveted backstage passes. Most didn't. Everything we saw and heard pointed out that the AI Tour fast became The Clay Tour. And you delivered, you delivered 110%. From rising up through the floor for This is The Night, to the group numbers (yes, you CAN dance!), to your solos, culminating with the indescribable Invisible, where you gave us clutches, tugs, yanks and hips (thank you, Grease)! Yes, you finally learned how to do the Grease hip shake without being self-conscious. And we loved you for it! We have every performance of Invisible downloaded from every city in every state that you performed in. It eats up our hard drive memory, but we don't care, we love you for it.

Now that the tour is winding down, I will ask you to look ahead, though this will be a lot shorter because no one can predict the future:

For the next six weeks, you are going to be extremely busy with Jerry Lewis, to TRL, to promotional appearances, to the late night talk shows, to Miss America, to, dare we say it, a video of anything?, all culminating on October 14, 2003, the release date of your first full-length CD. Hopefully, your face will be plastered all over the place. You've expressed some doubts as to the sales of your CD. Clay, let me tell you this, just as we watched your single go gold, then platinum, we will also watch your CD go gold, then platinum, then multi-platinum. We have doubted RCA more than once, but we don't doubt you. We don't doubt that you will give us the very best of yourself and we will love you for it. Clay, we've got your back.

Oh, did I forget to mention one minor thing? It's just a little thing. Did I forget to mention The Bubel-Aiken Foundation? Did I forget to mention that you kept your word from all those many months ago, that you wanted to make a difference, and it's not necessarily how you made the difference but you wanted to be sure that you did? THAT little thing? Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention what I consider THE most important thing you've done so far. Sorry! It must have been those hip shakes during Invisible... If no one else has said this to you, Clay, I will. Good job, Clay.

You are going to have a stellar career, Clay. You are going to fly high beyond your wildest dreams. We sincerely hope that you can finally get some rest. We sincerely hope that you find a way to meld your professional life with your private life, that you find love and happiness, that you have a wonderful wife and beautiful little babies. And we will love you, always and forever.

2006: As I look back over my Clay Adventures, I have to marvel at the career he's had, so far. It seems he found a way to meld his professional life with his personal life with his move out of LA and back home to Raleigh. It seems he has found a good balance between the public Clay and the private Clay and although he hasn't yet found love or had his babies, I think his future is so bright he'll be able to achieve anything he wants.

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

2003....Our Summer of Clay

That first summer of Clay. What an amazing time that was. Not only were we discovering a new Clay, but Clay was discovering and exploring his new-found fame. I think, I hope that was a summer of wonderment for Clay, a summer of discovery, a summer of realizing that maybe the love that poured over him from all of his fans was something he could start to believe in. I remember seeing his face during the ‘God Bless the USA’ medley in the early concerts. He often took out his earpieces, lowered his mic, stopped singing, and just looked out over the audience. With his yammy face. As if he would never see a crowd reaction again. As if he didn’t believe it. As if absorbing it, in case it ended. He was so young during that summer, young in experience, maybe a bit na├»ve, and most of his fans just wanted to let him to know how much we loved him. How much we were there for him, how much we would support him.

I wrote this in the summer of 2003, towards the end of the American Idol concert tour. It encapsulates what the fandom went through that summer. Not only was it a summer of wonderment for Clay, it was a summer of wonderment for us, too.

What we did on our Summer Vacation

School was let out on May 21, 2003. That's when we all grew up, just a little. That's what disappointment can do to you, make you a little older, a little wiser. Sometimes it's hard growing up but everyone has to do it.

If you're lucky, growing up can also be a turning point in your life. Look at us. We came to these boards to commiserate with each other and what did we find? We found friends, friends that thought the same way we did, felt the same way we did and we talked, we reveled in our Clay love. We talked to each other about so many things, first and foremost, Clay Aiken, but also about personal things. Some of us became friends off the boards, friends who probably would have never met if not for Clay Aiken. Turning point, indeed.

We talked about what we were going to do this summer, for Clay, for ourselves. We pretty much agreed that we needed to watch every TV appearance and listen to every radio interview. After all, it's Clay! We agreed that when his first single was released, we would buy multiple copies and push him to #1. We did. Then Clay went to London and we missed him. We had no Clay for two weeks; it was like going through withdrawal. But we did have something to look forward to, the concerts.

July 08, 2003 was the REAL beginning of our summer vacation. St. Paul, MN, the public unveiling of Invisible, the first jersey, the first jersey tug, the first concert reports describing how he rose from the floor for This is the Night, the audience reaction, the solos of the other Idols, the group numbers, Clay's solo on To Love Somebody and Can You Feel The Love Tonight, and the indescribable Invisible. God Bless The USA, Clay holding the mic out, pulling out his ear piece to absorb the crowd as if it was his last time ever seeing this outpouring of love for him, the yammy face, the meet n greets, the backstage passes and the buses. Lord, that first concert was priceless.

So, this is my take on what we did on our summer vacation; The Year of our First Clay Concerts, sub-titled OMG, OMG, OMG, OMG, what WAS that move:

Did you go to the concert, what seat do you have, I have nosebleeds, I upgraded to floor, I got first row, you're sitting near me, let's meet up at a restaurant, what are you wearing, did you make a shirt, what should my sign say, I don't know if you can take signs, can you take cameras, I'm sneaking my camera in, should we wear red, I'm wearing red shoes, do you have glowsticks, I have extra glowsticks, should we toss panties, Clay asked us to toss panties, I don't think it's a good idea, I did it! I tossed them, where are the concert reviewers, they should have been back by now, I just got back! they were awesome, Charles was really good, Ricky rocked, Julia was better than I thought, Carmen lost
the wobble, Carmen got the wobble back, Caldwell was meh, Trenyce wowed the audience, Kimberley brought the house down, Ruben sounded good but not great, new song did not go over well, the screams for Clay were deafening, he rose from the floor, did you see the mic yank, he showed so much emotion, he bent his knees, he yanked, tugged and clutched! "Ruben, I got panties", Clay=Female Viagra, he winked at me, he looked right at me, he read my sign, he so knows.

I got into the meet n greet, Clay is so adorable, his freckles are wonderful, he's so cute in person, Natural!Clay!, I got his autograph, I got a picture taken with him, he hugged me, I got backstage passes, I sent Clay a gift, I sent a letter, I sent a check, he talked to everyone, who's that big guy, that's Jerome, boy did Jerome whisk Clay out of there so fast, we waved at the buses, Clay came up the hill to touch everyone's hand, I touched Clay.

Do you have pics, where are the pics, I took lots of pics, how do I get them on the computer, I uploaded my pics, all I see is a box with a red X, I wanna see the pics, OMG, those pics are great, a concert video? we have a video,, where is the video, Gonzo & VelcroBaby can host the video, it's at the secret site, it's sideways, I got a crick in my neck watching it, someone fixed it, it's a video of Clay singing Invisible, can someone e-mail me the video, it's going to take 4 hours to download the video, @#$% dial-up, Neurox never works for me, Dot!Clay! Clay unbuttoned his shirt? OMG, we BETTER have that video.

So that's what we did on our summer vacation, we attended every single Clay concert in every city he performed it in, whether we were there or not, we still got to 'see' Clay in concert. Some of us traveled hours, some, days, some, many, many miles. We held cell-certs and loved them, we watched Clay in Raleigh on the Webcam, refreshing our screens all night and seeing nothing but a tiny dot. But we were there, watching history in the making!

That's what we did on our Summer Vacation

Picture credit belongs to the fabulous Buzztechie.

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