|Posted by Jake on April 28, 2013 at 8:05 PM|
Once upon a time, at thebeginning of the new millennium, during a moment of chance internet surfing, I stumbled upon a messageboard devoted to my favorite musical, both stage and film, West Side Story. Some of the morecolorful devotees who populated this space also belonged to a yahoo group knownas the Westsidestorians and immediately took me into the fold. Like the Jets who were never disconnected and home with their own, I now had brothers (and a few sisters around) and my new relatives included Floridajake(founder of the Westsidestorians), JerseyJohn, Mike, Miki, Mitch, Richard, JohnClynes, Kristin, Charity, Gwen, Ann, Tom, Kevin, Brian, and a few others who floated in and out of cyber space. But our interactions were not limited to the web; there were phone calls, snail mail, gift exchanges, actual person to person meetings, and even a creative collaboration between myself and Mitch resulting in the short film Eli’s Run, inspired by Mitch’s music.
At some point, the origina lBaby John and film’s A-Rab, David Winters, joined the tribe and provided hours of entertainment and backstage gossip. Floridajake then proposed to me the idea of creating a tribute site to David as a way of saying thank you. Soon afterwards David managed to get his good buddy, Tony Mordente (A-Rab onBroadway and Action in film) on the forum, and when Tony initially declined tohave a tribute site in his honor, FloridaJake waged an aggressive campaign to convince Tony to change his mind. Whether Tony finally agreed because he was flattered or just wanted to getus all off his back, we shall never know, but that was the genesis of the website era, which produced a few others including, my own Jetsandsharks101 andJerseyJohn’s site devoted to stage productions.
The middle of the firs tdecade saw growth in the community and the emergence of trolls and malcontents who like the Emeralds and Hawks tried to take over our turf. While we were willing to share our turf with any genuine fan, many of us were feeling discouraged and under constant attack, so while we continued to visit the established boards, we also created an undisclosed invite-only turf where we could communicate without distraction or cyberbullying. This new turf, which we christened Seinfeld served as our main playground for the next few years, which now can be viewed as our goldenyears.
The second decade of this millennium saw many changes regarding online activity and communities. Myspace and then Facebook became the means of connecting, and pretty much replacing established messageboards; some core members found less and less time in their busy lives to drop in and chat, and sadly, three beloved and essential members left us to join Riff, Bernardo andTony snapping their fingers in the playground in the sky: FloridaJake, JerseyJohn, and Tom. Womb to tomb; we so miss you, dearbrothers.
The initial thrill o fcommunicating with fellow fans and even those who were part of the main productions is gone. The daily ritual of logging onto the forum, the yahoo group and Seinfeld to see what was going on is over. The dragging myself out of bed on a Saturday morning to chat for a few hours (yeah I actually did that) and then climbing back into bed to nap till a more reasonable hour is a thing of the past; but the memories of that era are still vivid and cherished and I truly believe I would not be the owner of multiple sites,the friends of fellow fans and actual cast members and the recipient of so many cool experiences if I had not happen upon those sites and became part of that family.
Our beloved brothers,Floridajake, Jersey John, and Tom all embraced and utilized modern technology to share the love of WSS and I think they would all be pleased to see the continued interest in this masterpiece, and the continued friendship among the core Westsidestorians. And I think they would happy to see, that while we no longer call ourselves Westsidestorians,our family is still going strong and accepting new members.
To Floridajake, JerseyJohn,and Tom, from all of us: You done good,buddy boys.