Final PCR, Passing The Torch, and Column Graveyard 2011
POSTED BY NOLAN B. CANOVA, December 23, 2011 Share
So, now it ends. Nolan's Pop Culture Review, traditionally the flagship publication of CrazedFanboy.com, draws to a close with this issue. It's been a great ride, but it's time to move on. The Crazed Fanboy mission will continue, however, as I am passing the torch to the one person who, creatively and personally, has never let me down over the past ten years, and whose commitment to the mission occasionally surpasses even my own, Terence Nuzum.
So, why am I leaving? For those who missed it, back in August, I wrote up my various reasons for leaving the website (read it here to catch up). In addition to the parts of the site closed since that announcement, Top Ten Box Office and Monthly Birthdays have also been removed from the Homepage.
With that much acknowledged, I've thought long and hard about what to say in these closing paragraphs. It will be difficult not to repeat myself or be too dark.
What makes me proudest is The Archives, built up since 2000 with some of the most incredible information ever stored in one place regarding popular culture by some of the best writers on the planet. I've said that before, but it bears repeating. Thankfully, it looks like it will always be there, at least as of this writing.
It's obvious I've spent eleven joyous years here, but along with my growing discontent regarding the direction of current American pop culture, there has also been a concurrent negativity in and around the Crazed Fanboy compound, easy to ignore at first, but building with each passing year.
What makes me the saddest is learning that after so many years of working together, so many people were not what they seemed to be. Over the past two or three years, contempt was growing behind the scenes like a cancer and I didn't recognize it, or blew it off as trivial at the time. After all, there was a bigger picture to focus on, right? We banded together against adversarial situations and gathered frequently on regular social occasions. I took great strength from this unity and, I thought, we were all friends. But individual agendas started forming and I learned WAY too late some ugly truths. I apologize to the reader if this all seems too vague and murky, but I cannot be more specific without antagonizing an already regrettable situation. Suffice it to say that many of my former colleagues went their way (where the grass is purportedly greener), and I'm going mine. I've seriously considered writing a book about it someday, it's a story that deserves to be told. Until then, gentle reader, always remember no matter what you hear, I have my side of the story.
Please do NOT take from this that this is the reason for my departure. The previously-published article from August is still official. However, it does make slightly less painful the prospect of closing the door on the last eleven years of my life.
Despite the downer tone of these thoughts, my favorite memories of CrazedFanboy.com will still be the people I've met and the writers I grew to know. The "sense of cameraderie", as writer ED Tucker once put it, is what drew so many to the site to begin with. That was, literally, by design, I designed the site to feature writers' photos prominently and with their real names so readers would feel like they're getting to know friends. My happiest times were shared with these people. Despite what's happened since, I remain deeply grateful for the contributions they made to make this website as great as it is.
But people change, lives and priorities change, and sadly, nothing is forever. Not surprisingly, many former writers who left created their own websites or joined others and I wish them the best. To those who chose to remain with CrazedFanboy.com through this transition, I am deeply grateful.
I wish I had the wherewithall to compose a "Best of" and "Worst of" list, favorite issues, and most influential writers. But most of those are in past year-end issues anyway and are easy to look up. They were written in better times.
However, I must summon the strength to at least acknowledge the joy of seeing a new writer (or any writer) take off with inspiration, a new section or feature soar with popularity, the many times we were mentioned in the newspaper, documenting my early public access shows and first attempts at filmmaking, the five years we covered the Tampa Film Review (2004--2009), the videos posted on YouTube, seeing quotes from PCR on video box covers or other websites, having total strangers recognize me solely from my column pic, long-lost friends or relatives finding me here, and ever so occasionally, a rare communication from a relative to a celebrity (or similar) we wrote up who found our coverage compelling. These are memories I will always cherish.
Below is the final Graveyard of Fallen Columns, a traditional year-end section that will be discontinued after this year. I'll be back at the end with my final comments.
|THE FINAL GRAVEYARD OF FALLEN PCR COLUMNS
As usual, these deserve much more space than is practical here, but I've attempted to encapsulate the major points as best as I can. If and when I write my memoirs, more will come out...
|Up to this year, one thing I credit myself for is trying to locate and inspire burgeoning young talent when I see it. I met Andy Callahan when he and some of his friends from Robinson High School came to visit my 7-Eleven, mostly during summer vacations. Long-time readers may remember that I discovered quite a few young hotheads from RHS over the years, and if I was very lucky, I could persuade them to contribute to Nolan's Pop Culture Review, aka, the PCR, either a little or a lot. Whatever the case, I always enjoyed their contributions. Andy has long taken an interest in retro architecture (much like La Floridiana's Will Moriaty has) and I was able to talk him into what was to be a regular column called Uniquely Tampa, featuring the Bay area's forgotten landscapes. Andy managed a solid debut with "The Rialto" about an abandoned theater, last February before he had to resume his studies at FSU. Despite the best of intentions, he never got back to PCR. We keep in loose touch, though, and I sincerely wish this gifted young writer the best of luck in the future.
|I've never made a secret of the respect and admiration I have for what I call Tampa's "fandom royalty". Some of these fine folks and Ye Olde Editor go back as far as the '70s when I first sought out and got into what could be called "organized fandom". Art Brown is one such member of that elite corp. The old gang, including Art, had kept in loose touch over the years but our relationship was revitalized about twelve years ago when I discovered we knew someone in common: PCR's own Terence Nuzum, who I'd met through his aunt, Patty G. Henderson, another of the fandom elite. This year, Terence and I managed to persuade Art to try his hand at a regular PCR column, which was eventually titled "A New Enigma", a commentary on various fan topics of interest. I was delighted to see him re-inspired creatively. After only a few columns, however, a death in the family dimmed Art's inspiration and he had to bow out, understandably. We still see each other on the odd occasion and I hope one day Art can rediscover his creative muse, because the fandom world would be better for it.
|One of the longest-lived columns on this website is William Moriaty's amazing La Floridiana begun in the summer of 2001 with few interruptions until this year. William and I graduated Robinson High School together (class of 1973) after sharing art and writing classes, but didn't hook up again until many years later. We rekindled our fan interests, eventually going to Cons and putting out fanzines. Fast-forward to 2001 and me looking for a Florida-centric column for the site. Interestingly, La Floridiana originally started as another column by another columnist entirely! "Greg's Florida Highways" (or something like that) by mutual friend Greg Van Stavern was originally conceived to cover much of the same ground. When Van Stavern's personal life overwhelmed his schedule, I conscripted William to write a similarly-themed column. In one of those historical twists that seems too good to be true, it's the best thing that could've happened. William's extremely literate and journalistic style took us along on journeys all over Florida, covering anything and everything from classic architecture to classic aircraft to the paranormal! His personal approach to writing let us see glimpses into some exotic vacations and even his legal crusades. Eventually, most of these would be collected into a book, "William Moriaty's Florida". Will's columns always drew huge email responses. Unfortunately, some personal turmoil over the past two or three years (all documented in La Floridiana) ate away at Will's time and energy, forcing him to give up the column altogether this year after only one installment.
|As is widely known, Mike Smith has had a presence on this website in one form or another since day one, issue one. I have always been grateful for Mike's "never missed an issue" attitude and reliability. "Mike's Rant" started with issue one in the Lettercol and was only retired last year when Mike and I started experiencing conflicts over self-promotion. Interestingly, despite Mike's life-long devotion to movies, he was not our first regular movie critic; that honor went to one Brandon Herring in 2001, a young employee at the theater they both worked at. Brandon was good and I enjoyed his reviews, but looking back, I can't remember why Mike didn't jump on that first (might've been not wanting to commit to two weekly columns, can't blame him). No matter. After Brandon left the site to, I think, attend college later that year, Mike DID take over the Movie Review and has been with it ever since, never missing a weekly issue. I always appreciated Mike's professionalism and quality of writing, even as he got flack for occasional leniency on turkey flicks. This year, after it was announced I was leaving, Mike announced he was leaving as well. Besides the desire to devote more time and energy to his other ventures, Mike was aware of a change in priorities for 2012 regarding the contents of This Week's Movie Review on Crazed Fanboy. When Mike made his intentions known, it was decided This Week's Movie Review would be discontinued altogether after this year in favor of occasional, more genre-related movie reviews by participating columnists.
|Ed Tucker and I first met, so to speak, via an email exchange around ten years ago regarding, as I recall, information Ed was seeking on the current whereabouts of Dr. Paul Bearer's hearse. Now, I should place "first met" in quotes because I would learn much later that Ed and I actually encountered each other only feet apart at the 1991 Necronomicon where Dick Bennick, aka, TV horror host Dr. Paul Bearer, was making a personal appearance. Although ED and I were on opposite sides of Mr. Bennick (me very briefly), we didn't bother with introductions. This would be discovered later on a VHS tape of the encounter I wasn't even aware was being made! Long story short, Bennick passed away in 1995 and his trademark hearse went to Busch Gardens. But that's another story for another day. Ed and I kept up our email exchange, finally meeting face-to-face at MegaCon 2004. Later that year, fellow columnist Will Moriaty and I were guests at casa de Tucker for the July 4th weekend and had a splendid time. All this time, Ed had contributed many fine articles to PCR, but it wouldn't be until August of 2007 that Ed felt strongly enough about Crazed Fanboy that he would commit to a weekly column, the now legendary "Retrorama", an incredible and well-researched archive of cult film history, record album and poster collecting, event reviews, and more. Ed never missed a week since his debut. When I announced earlier in the year I was leaving the site, Ed wrote me that he was leaving, too. I sincerely wish Ed the best, his kind of writing will always be in demand.
|Like so many historic PCR encounters, Chris Woods and I first "met" through an email exchange. Our topics, however, were mainly about independent filmmaking and we knew a lot of the same people. We would finally meet face-to-face at the Saints & Sinners Film Festival, May of 2003, where I also met his then filmmaking partner Simon Lynx. Extremely likable, I interviewed the boys for a "World of Nolan" video about their filmmaking aspirations. Chris was always a huge supporter of Crazed Fanboy and the PCR and I appreciated his input on various topics over the years. Chris decided to become a monthly columnist with Growing Up Fanboy in September of 2008 and has never missed a column up to late this year. Along with that, he became a regular contributor to Schlockarama, eventually making that a weekly installment (in fact, in 2011, he was the only contributor!), as well as making "Roundtable" videos with Terence and me. Plans were underway to shift Schlock to a regular Chris Woods column along with Fanboy in 2012. All this time, Chris had also been working on independent films of his own and helping others with theirs, so he was a busy guy, but he still kept up the columns which were all excellent, well-researched and exhaustive histories. In an unfortunate turn of events late this year, some drama unfolded that involved some misperceptions and misunderstandings that soured Chris on continuing on with Crazed Fanboy. He left the website in early November. He was a valued member and will be missed.
|Now to write my own tombstone, wow, so unnatural. Where to begin?
I've stated the whole history of Crazed Fanboy so many times, I hate to bore the regular reader with it again. But...for those new to it or for those who don't remember, here's a brief refresher course.
By late 1999, I knew I wanted a fan-oriented website, but had no idea how to create one. Fumbling around, I managed to secure the domain name of crazedfanboy.com that December. A few friends tried to help with building content, but what I wanted was, evidently, too specialized, customized, and proprietary. I started learning how to write source-code which was tedious, discouraging, and time-consuming, but I felt it would be well worth the effort. It was. But while learning, I decided to start something more immediate, creating The World of Nolan Friends and Family Homepage in February of 2000 via AOL's Easy Designer and webhosting service called "Hometown" (since closed by AOL, and with it, TWONFAFH). Satisfied I had mastered the site-builder tool, and emboldened with loftier ambitions, I created Nolan's Newsstand in March of 2000 as an online e-zine. Mike Smith joined immediately as a regular contributor with Matt Drinnenberg not far behind. After 16 weekly issues, the name was changed to Nolan's Pop Culture Review as the magazine format I was attempting grew to include more writers and separate columns. "PCR" as I called it, and Crazed Fanboy, originally two separate entities (CFB was originally conceived primarily for video), finally joined permanently by 2002 -- 2003 when I was writing all the source-code. Dozens of writers, hundreds of columns, several newspaper mentions, and about eleven re-designs later, here we are. That's it in a nutshell.
Of course, it all hasn't been a cheery ride. There were numerous ups and downs over the years, but until this year, the writers and I stuck together. As popular culture evolved, it evolved in a direction I could no longer fully support. Social networking websites provided what was apparently a more attractive destination for our readers. Saddest of all, some corrosive drama closer to home eroded the PCR writers' sense of family and confidence in our future. My first article of 2011 was "Starting Over" which basically described a new look and a revamped code-base. 2012, of course, will still have similar changes, but will be more like starting from scratch than ever before.
As I stated in my final article, this website has been a source of great pride and joy to me in this still young 21st century. I think of it as my legacy. Very few of my earlier works in music, art, film, and video have survived the ravages of time, but the PCR, like those earlier surviving works, I think...I hope...will outlive me.
I sincerely wish everyone a Happy Holiday season and prosperous New Year! I hope we meet again someday.
For all intents and purposes, this essay concludes my stewardship of CrazedFanboy.com. Former co-editor Terence Nuzum is now Publisher and Editor-in-Chief.
"Nolan's Pop Culture Review" is ©2011 by Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2011 by Nolan B. Canova.
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