Thursday, June 19, 2008


In early May I traveled to New York to visit my friend Matt, see some Broadway shows, and meet and spend time with an incredible group of people - the Rbloggers.

The Rbloggers are an online cult I have belonged to for nearly a year. We aren't really a cult but I have friends call us one.

Its a group of people who were brought together through Rosie O'Donnell's 2007 summer photos post.

The weekend was a smashing success and when I returned to my real life in Phoenix a very generous member of the group offered to make a photograpy book to celebrate and honor the weekend, and much to my surprise, he asked me to write the forward.

I was, and still am, overwhelmingly honored and grateful for the opportunity to put my words against the photographs taken by this wonderful group of people I now call friends.

What follows is the forward I wrote and the link to the book which can be viewed and purchased online.

Words, especially mine, are hardly necessary for a collection such as this. The photographs capture the true essence of what was a once in a lifetime event. They clearly speak for themselves - showing the genuine affection and friendship the Rbloggers have mined for one another along with the admiration, respect, and love for the one who brought us together

In the period of less than a year the term Rblogger has evolved, just as the relationships in the group have evolved and grown. In the beginning each member was a stranger-friend, but over the course of time, and culminating with the No No Nanette weekend, Rblogger has become synonymous with friend.

Each relationship is individual and attempting to speak for so many is impossible, so I will have to speak for myself.

I cherish, love, and depend upon so many of the Rbloggers. In my own way I cheer through the triumphs and empathize through the hardships, and in the end, individually and together, we continue to persevere – through many incarnations of the Rblogger name.

Last fall when it was announced that Rosie O’Donnell would briefly return to the New York stage in the City Centers Encores! No No Nanette, several of the Rbloggers decided it was a fitting time to unite in one place and celebrate our newfound friendship, as well as the woman who brought us together.

On May 9, 2008 it all became reality. The curtain lifted and anonymity and shielded personas gave way as the Rbloggers met face-to-face.

Under a predominately gray and gloomy New York City sky, in the shadows of towering steel and stone, long-time stranger-friends confirmed their affections, and life long memories were made and burgeoning friendships validated.

Looking through these photographs reminds me of what a magical weekend it was. People who have held me captive for nearly a year with their photographs, words and exposed truths, instantly became life-long friends. Time stood still as we celebrated our first en mass convergence, while sadly reminded of those unable to attend.

I arrived in New York without expectation but left with a newfound admiration and love for so many. What could have been awkward and uncomfortable instantaneously felt natural and organic.

Friday night after filing out of the theater, onto a crowded and wet New York sidewalk, I was greeted with shouts and smiles from across the street - the welcoming sounds of that half soaked assemblage still ring in my ears – and with the help of these photographs, time stands still and I am carried down the street towards a new found familiarity and closeness.

Rosie O’Donnell may have been the initial motivation for us to travel from our homes to New York, but the reason was clearly Rblogger-centered, however, I would be remiss if I did not give a special thank you to the inimitable Rosie, whose infectiously generous spirit and heartfelt sincerity unknowingly brought together a unique collection of people, from far away and all walks of life, to share in a remarkable experience that will forever live in our hearts and be replayed in the movie in our minds.

Thank you Rosie!

Chris Willi

Click Here to View the R Connections Book


palestar said...

chris - the photos and the book are lovely and well intentioned - gary is and has always been an artist without peer.

you my friend always write in beauty - your words this time are a very nice addition - the icing on the cake so to speak. good choice gary...

take care all and be safe. many blessings...palestar

Patty B said...

Only you could've written such a lovely piece.....

Only you Chris...:)

MamaD said...

Great job on the book Gary.

Chris, I really hope to meet you and some other rbloggers some day...

Kim said...


We'll make more next time. :o)

Gpawilli said...

Thank you Palestar and Patty, and I can wait to meet more of this group.

Kim, we will MOST DEFINITELY do it again and we will make more memories - bigger and better.

There may currently be a cloud over this book, but it doesn't diminish the real connnections of that weekend. The weekend was as much about Rosie as the book - very little.

R Connections is not a fan book. It is a tribute to, and for, the people who came together to share a wonderful weekend - and it pisses me off that people have tried to silence us and the book.

So many tried to do so much good, and then they are treated poorly.

I don't understand a lot, but I do understand the obvious and I am sorely disappointed.