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I apologize...


To all those who attempted to sign on for the Family of Choice webcast and were denied — some for an hour, some for the entire show — I apologize from my heart.

There is a straightforward explanation — which I will share with you — but an explanation is not an excuse. The webcast was my idea. My publisher supported it. You supported it. An entire horde of volunteers supported it ... otherwise, it never could have happened. Ten Angry Pitbulls did an incredible job of marketing it. Many viewers participated, from all over the world. But many more were denied that chance ... and that's on me. Where I come from, you don't step on the scale if you can't take the weight. That's my weight. There is no one else to blame.

Briefly, here's what happened: I wanted to close the Burke show by replicating one of my typical "book events." No "reading," no posturing ... and no ducking anything or anyone, taking on all questions (or "comments"). I cannot count the letters and e-mails and phone calls complaining that I never come to [name your own city] when touring for a book. Those are righteous complaints, as tour stops are a matter of economics, not justice. So, this time, it was going to be different. Maybe I couldn't physically be in every city in every state, but the next best thing would be a live webcast. One that anyone could participate in, regardless of location, from coast to coast, including Canada and Mexico. And no "webcam" or "chat" nonsense; this was a studio production: multiple cameras, boom mics, proper lighting, etc. Not seven minutes of a YouTube rant, three straight hours (to cover all the time zones) of what I — and, I believe, you — value most: dialogue between us.

The show opened on the East Coast. And so many people had signed on early — probably to make sure to get their questions in — that the server immediately crashed. Subsequent "step-ups" finally provided sufficient bandwidth to handle the traffic, but by then it was already deep into the program. Some were able to get on after about 45 minutes, others after 90 minutes ... and some never got on at all. I suspect most folks just gave up in disgust — I would have done the same.

Why didn't we make sure we had enough bandwidth? We did make sure, putting down a significant amount of cash specifically to guarantee access to "unlimited viewers" written right into the contract. The fact that the entire event is now available, tweaked to the max (many have tested it and the general comment is that it looks more like a TV show than a webcast), and will play no matter what system you are using, is just part of the restitution we are seeking.

And so what, right? What you are seeing isn't "live," so that sense of participation is gone for all those who were prevented from logging on a week ago. My heart hurts every time I hear about how people took off early from work, or gathered a whole bunch of friends for a "webcast party," or just plain counted on me to keep my word. Like I said: I've got all kinds of (honest, truthful) explanations ... but no excuses.

Some folks have never missed one of my events. Like Shirley & James in NYC to Cross-Country Rosemary (Minneapolis to Milwaukee) to Vaughn in San Francisco ... too many to list. People have traveled great distances, crossed a lot of borders, given up a lot of their time. And some folks never had the chance at all — I've never had an event in Vegas, or Tallahassee, or Sacramento, or Baton Rouge ... but that never interfered with the loyalty of people in such cities. There was only one way to reciprocate. But an event we expected to be all-inclusive turned out to be one from which most were excluded.

For all those who feel their question was not answered, please know that it would have been impossible to answer all the questions submitted within the three hours. Many of the same questions were asked — in one form or another — by so many different people that we "bundled" those in an attempt to get to as many as possible. That was like my bookstore events: at some point, the proprietor says, "No more questions, please!" ... because, after all, they want to sell books, not watch a raucous debate.

And for all those who blamed yourselves ... don't. It wasn't your OS, it wasn't your computer, it wasn't your firewall ... it was a server overload. Plain, simple ... and unforgivable.

I say "unforgivable" because it was never explained. People kept on trying and trying. They should have been told what was happening right on the spot, instead of being frustrated and (justifiably) angry at their inability to get into a party to which they had been personally invited.

I am sorry in all meanings of those words. I apologize and I regret. I gambled and I lost. I fully understand that I was not the only loser (thus, my apology), but I did lose a lifetime-built reputation for always keeping my word (thus, my regret). I can't give you a "live" broadcast back. But you can give me another chance, and I most humbly request that you decide to do just that.

Alex
 




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