Chicago, Illinois - United Center

Oct 08, 2001

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  1. Kevin
    SET LIST..Here it is…..
    Thu Oct 11 00:44:45 2001

    America
    Mission of Love
    Solitary Man
    Cherry, Cherry
    Red, Red Wine
    I’m A Believer
    Soolaimon
    If You Know What I Mean
    Beautiful Noise
    Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon
    I Haven’t Played This Song in Years
    You Are the Best Part of Me
    At the Movies
    I Believe in Happy Endings
    Forever in Blue Jeans
    Star Flight
    Captain Sunshine
    Holly Holy
    Sweet Caroline
    You Don’t Bring Me Flowers
    Yes I Will
    Lady Magdalene
    Shilo
    Love on the Rocks
    He Ain’t Heavy… He’s My Brother
    I Am… I Said
    (walkoff)
    Cracklin’ Rosie
    Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show

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  2. Jo
    Chicago Opening Nite
    Mon Oct 8 23:49:00 2001

    Just got bac and wish I could think of one word to describe tonight’s show, but that that’s impossible. All I can say is WOW, STUPENDOUS, ETC., ETC., ETC.

    Loved the additon of the strings and brass, never saw Neil play at the piano before – can anyone tell me if that is on the new CD Three Chord Opera – I’m not sure.

    To all those critics who say yes, he is getting old (aren’t we all), and yes he doesn’t move as much as he used to, tough! The man can still wiggle his butt and belt out a tune like no one.

    Wish I could get tickets again for tomorrow nite. To all of you who still haven’t seen the show but will, you are in for such a treat.

    Jo

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  3. Jan
    About Chicago
    Thu Oct 11 16:51:10 2001

    originally posted on Thu Oct 11 04:26:16 2001

    While reading and enjoying each of the wonderful concert reviews, I found myself wishing for more details. So, if you like details (rambling & venting), this one’s for you.

    I just returned from Chicago. I saw both Monday and Tuesday night concerts. The weather in Chicago was absolutely beautiful on both days, which made it very pleasant to be there as opposed to the last concert tour when Neil chose the dreaded dead of winter for a trip to the windy city.

    I always like to get to the venue early. I have a little concert ritual that I like to follow. We took a taxi to the United Center from downtown. It was really nice not to have to battle traffic or to worry about finding the car after the concert.

    There were security people at all the doors entering the venue. I went in with a long coat over my arm, and I was very politely asked to hold it up and shake it out. I had a small handbag, but I didn’t see any handbags being checked and people were entering the building very quickly. I really regretted then, that I had left my camera behind. I wasn’t sure if I would be allowed to take it into the venue, and I didn’t have a car to take it back to. Such torture. This was the night I had the best seats. I think I could have gotten an excellent picture of Neil. Oh, well, such is life.

    The merchandise stands were doing an unbelievably brisk business. It took about fifteen minutes of waiting in line to finally make a purchase. There were so many people hanging over the counters, you really couldn’t browse. I’m sure there were a number of things that I couldn’t see, like the small pins that couldn’t be displayed on the wall. I hate trying to keep track of a bag during the concert, but I was afraid everything would be sold out after the concert. Stuff was flying out of there.

    We went in search of our seats. An enormous American flag hanging low over the stage immediately grabbed our attention. I really enjoyed people watching and checking out the stage with binoculars. The stage is unbelievable. Not a penny saved on that project. It is a work of art! It had multiple levels with ramps and floor in the center that raised and lowered. Hanging from somewhere up above on each corner of the stage was kind of a rope ladder. It was quite interesting to see lighting technicians (I think) climb high above the stage and crawl around on their hands and knees to the end of some pretty fragile looking scaffold type configurations hanging from some pretty thin looking wires. They did eventually get to some little chairs for them to sit in very high above the crowd, but I didn’t believe what they had to go through to get to the chairs. The men had safety harnesses on, but all I kept thinking (and I hate to admit it) was how nothing could make me even think of going up there…not even unmentionable “incentives” from NEIL DIAMOND!

    We were sitting on the side of the stage, looking straight down the third row on the floor. Directly across the floor right next to the stage on the opposite side from where I was sitting, I could see Rachel. I think she was wearing a dark skirt and a camel color jacket. She was standing close to the stage right before the show, but I never did see where she sat. I’m pretty sure she was not sitting in the front row for the concert, it looked like all of the front row seats were occupied, but it was hard to see the far end of the row. I saw her standing in the same place the second night, but it was somewhat difficult to see her because I was on the same side looking over a lot of people. It looked to me like she was holding a glass of beer, but I couldn’t see what she was wearing.

    What always amazes me is how people scramble for their seats right before the concert begins. The ones with the tickets for the seats in the middle of the row never fail to be the last to arrive, and they are always clutching several beers, popcorn, hot dogs and whatever else you can find at the concessions. Why they do this I will never know. If you are at a Neil Diamond concert, you better believe that it is interactive. From the first note, it should be an aerobic workout. You need your hands, your mouth and your body free!!!

    Once the music started and the flag rose, Neil sort of appeared from under the stage. Neil looked stunning in a white beaded shirt. “America” was the perfect opening for the concert. Everyone loved it and the crowd was super enthusiastic. I have not one negative thing to say about Neil. He was wonderful and perfect. His voice was fabulous, and he looked very fit and at least ten years younger than his real age.

    About the time he began singing the new songs from his album, something happened to the sound. The mike or a speaker made his voice sound a bit muffled. Then out of nowhere, came an echo that was somewhat annoying. The muffled sound did go away, but the echo remained for the rest of the concert. At times Neil’s voice was also drowned out by the music. That should never happen. I was hoping that these technical difficulties would be gone after the first few shows. I didn’t notice any of these things on the second night so maybe they did work it out, unless it just happened to be my seat location.

    I can’t say enough about the part of the show when Neil played the piano and sang “Yes I Will” & “Lady Magdeline”. What a thrill for the diehard fans. I had the feeling that it was not truly appreciated by everyone. It may have been a rather gutsy move on Neil’s part to perform these songs that aren’t well known, but it was such a generous gesture to the fans that have been touched by these songs for so many years. I hope he knows how much we truly love hearing him play and sing his masterpieces. For the two concerts, I had seats on opposite sides of the venue. Both views were fantastic. The piano is my favorite musical instrument. What a thrill it was to hear & see Neil play. Gosh, I sure would love a video of that concert.

    I know that Neil has been blasted for making show tunes out of “Sweet Caroline”, “Cracklin’ Rosie”, etc., but I just have to say how thoroughly enjoyable they were for me. I love it when the crowd goes wild and that is just what it appears Neil loves too!!! I love all the energy that zips back and forth between Neil and the fans. For me, it is an awesome part of the concert experience; I wouldn’t want to give it up for anything.

    The band did a superb rendition of Star Flight. Linda looked lovely. She had on an off the shoulder lightweight fabric flower print dress slit up the side with an asymmetrical hemline. She was quite energetic throughout the whole concert, and she and Neil make a stunning couple for their duet. I guess this is where I should apologize for loving YDBMF…nah!

    There are many more details; lots of them were covered in the other reviews. The whole concert experience was better for me the second night. Neil seemed different…better. I can’t really say what it was. Maybe he sensed it was a more appreciative audience. My husband noticed it before I had even mentioned it. Neil did kiss a lucky gal in the front row on the second night after he sang GYBAWS to her. It was very sweet and the crowd loved it…as I’m sure she sure did! It looked like the security guard was as close to her on one side as Neil was on her other side.

    I couldn’t really see the front row from where I was sitting the second night, but I could see the front row really well on the first night. Yikes! What a bunch of duds. Three fourths of the row rarely even stood up. I don’t know what their problem was, but they sure didn’t seem to appreciate being up front. They didn’t have a clue how lucky they were. Maybe Neil was wondering about them too. I’d love to know how they got those tickets. They looked like they showed up simply because they had nothing else planned. I think I missed my big chance. Probably any one of them would have sold their seat for ten bucks!

    I was really disappointed Tuesday night right before the concert when we started to get into a nice chat with the lovely couple sitting next to us. The woman had just dropped a line about how proud she was of her son who was the trumpet player! About a million questions instantly popped into my head, but before I could get a single one out, the nasty usher came over and kicked them out…they were in the wrong seats! What kind of luck is that?

    Neil came on stage at 8:20 and left at 10:30. Every minute in between seemed to go too fast.

    We did have a little adventure getting back downtown after the concert. We didn’t see a single cab anywhere around the venue between 10:30 and 11:00. That made us rather nervous since the traffic and crowds were beginning to thin out. I guess we didn’t even think about getting a cab after the show, we just expected them to be everywhere as usual. We made some fast inquiries regarding the city buses that went by frequently. I guess we learned enough to get back to the hotel, but we did end up walking about a mile from where the bus route ended. It could have been worse, at least I wore comfortable shoes!

    And oh, yes…I did get to see Neil sweat.

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  4. Deb
    CHICAGO BETTER THAN DETROIT
    Thu Oct 11 20:35:55 2001

    originally posted on Tue Oct 9 01:31:41 2001

    Just got home about 20 minutes ago from Chicago. WOW. Saw Neil in Detroit Saturday and it was a great time. Flawless concert, but tonight in Chicago definitely out did Detroit. That MAN is HOT and he had it going tonight in Chicago. Almost everyone was on their feet, (a few dead beats here and there–too bad for the couple behind us). Just when you think you have seen the best concert, he out does himself again. I am just exhausted, I can only imagine how he must be feeling. If you haven’t seen this guy in concert, it’s time to get to the stadium. He’s wonderful!!!! 5-Stars.
    Love you Neil. Thanks for the memories.

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  5. Daily Herold Review
    Tue Oct 9 10:46:50 2001

    Diamond show a gemstone of pop-craft

    Posted on October 09, 2001

    Mark Welsh/DailyHerald

    “Operation Enduring Freedom” may be the name the Bush administration chose to chase down the Taliban with, but apparently it’s also an apt descrip-tion of any show by pop statesman Neil Diamond.

    Unfurling not one, but four arena-sized U.S. flags before an audience at the United Center Monday, Diamond rose from the floor and barked, “Stand up, America! Stand up America!” as his 17-member band swelled into, yes, “America,” his 1980 song praising the land of milk and honey to immigrant innocents abroad. Take that, Taliban!

    In fact, it’s safe to argue that, in the pop music world, Diamond is as durable as Old Glory itself. His trademark sequined shirts and bent-knee poses have won him Vegas immortality for the countless imper-sonators co-opting his act for their bread and butter.

    But as his songs go, they’ve proved otherworldly. What else can explain the motley pool of artists and bands (Deep Purple, Elvis Presley, Urge Overkill, the Monkees, Johnny Cash, UB40) throughout history that have squeezed hits out of his dia-monds?

    The grandfatherly singer, who hipsters hate themselves for loving, sold those hits hard Monday, the first of two nights. The flagging optimism was made to order, especially after Sept. 11. But Diamond didn’t dodge current events. “If music has the power to heal, then let the healing begin,” was one of the many solemn beatitudes sent to the rafters.

    The power of his live show is his bankcard of late ’60s and early ’70s hits. Coming from the Brill Building school of songwriting, the man knows his popcraft, evidenced by the hard-to-resist classics he kept pulling out of his bag — from the supple pop of “Solitary Man” to the chunky riffing of “Cherry, Cherry” to “Daydream Believer,” that Diamond fueled with more grit than the Monkees’ Davey Jones.

    The 60-year-old Diamond was a stone serious entertainer who ditched schtick for a serious amount of chutzpah (it’s a thin line), blowing kisses, wagging his fin-ger, swiveling his hips and mopping his brow in pain. In the midst of the hits, Diamond debuted four new songs from “Three Chord Opera” (Columbia), his first collection of entirely original songs since 1974.

    They too held up with his catalog, managing to surpass schmaltz for genuine emotion. One song in particular (“I Believe In Happy End-ings”) could have summed up his career: “Sad songs bring me right down with the blues/glad songs take me wherever I choose,” he sang.

    It was a nice world to be in for once.

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  6. Daily Southtown review
    Thu Oct 11 11:46:45 2001

    Diamond delivers some fine-crafted gems

    Wednesday, October 10, 2001

    By George Haas
    Features editor

    ——————————————————————————–
    Critics love to take potshots at Neil Diamond. He writes turgid love songs. He’s an egotist with an overwrought singing style. He’s got closets full of sequined and glittery shirts that were out of style when he first wore them 30 years ago.
    Mostly, the 60-year-old Brooklyn native gets hammered for what he isn’t. He isn’t Mick Jagger. He isn’t Bob Dylan. But if the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter comes up short in the list of baby boomer rock icons, he can take comfort in the fact that his brand of polyester pop still has legions of loyal fans.

    They turned out in droves Monday night for the first of two sold-out shows at the United Center, and they didn’t go home disappointed. Backed by a four-piece horn section, four-piece string section, a couple of vocalists and assorted keyboardists, drummers and guitarists, Diamond polished off a slick two-hour set of 25 songs in energetic fashion.

    While he may lack the cutting-edge bite of some of his musical contemporaries, Diamond remains the consummate professional — and a whole lot hipper than Wayne Newton and Tom Jones. He has an original style and grace and retains an unmatched enthusiasm for his craft.

    He also isn’t afraid to wear his heart on his glittered sleeve, evident in the crowd-stirring opener of “Coming to America” that was as majestic as the 50-foot American flag that was slowly raised from the front of the stage to the rafters.

    Diamond urged the audience, a slightly aging mix of both men and women, up on its feet with the altered chorus of “Stand up for America; stand up for America.” They didn’t need coaxing and provided a thunderous applause at the song’s closing.

    Touring in support of his new album, “Three Chord Opera,” his best-received recording in years, Diamond sprinkled a few tracks from the CD in among his 35 years worth of AM radio hits.

    There were plenty of highlights.

    He followed up a brief expression of sympathy for the victims of the terrorist attacks with a moving “Solitary Man,” and then moved quickly through “Cherry, Cherry” and “Red, Red Wine,” the latter song starting out low, low, low and then moving to its more familiar uptempo reggae beat supported by the horn section.

    He brought the string section to the fore on “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” and new songs “You’re the Best Part of Me” and “At the Movies.”

    His voice is clearly showing signs of age, and yet he soldiered on in song after song, his smarts for musical arrangement and use of backup singers helping out on “If You Know What I Mean,” “Holly Holy” and “I Am, I Said.”

    He drew another standing ovation for “Sweet Caroline,” with the audience coaxing him to do a couple of encore choruses, and he drew similar raves for “Soolaiman” and the duet “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” with vocalist Linda Press.

    Less successful were “I’m a Believer,” with Diamond shimmying like some misplaced senior on “American Bandstand,” and the still kitschy “Forever in Blue Jeans.”

    But that’s quibbling. For the most part, Diamond delivered some beautiful noise again and again.

    George Haas may be reached at ghaas@dailysouthtown.com or (708) 633-5933.

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  7. Sun-Times review
    Thu Oct 11 11:39:29 2001

    Neil Diamond at the United Center

    October 10, 2001

    America is on high alert–Neil Diamond is on the road.

    Ah, I’m just kidding. I love that man. It’s a cheap shot to say that Diamond is putting on a full frontal assault on pop patriotism. He opened Monday’s sold-out show at the United Center with “America,” his tribute to immigrants from the “Jazz Singer” (1980) soundtrack. The stage curtain was an American flag and four more flags hung above the stage. Out in the lobby, Diamond vendors were peddling black T-shirts and baseball caps emblazoned with the American flag–and a silhouette of Neil. How come Francis Scott Key never thought of this?

    But Diamond is a uniquely American story.

    He is all about possibilities.

    He grew up in working-class Brooklyn, went to New York University on a fencing scholarship and cut his chops with the first wave of the Brill Building writers in New York City. By woodshedding with Carole King, Bobby Darin, Neil Sedaka, Cynthia Weil and others, Diamond wrote some of the best pop-rock songs of the late 1960s.

    Early in Monday’s show (which was repeated Tuesday), he strapped on an acoustic guitar and played timeless hits such as “Cherry, Cherry,” “Red Red Wine” (which began with keyboardist Tom Hensley’s ethereal Procol Harum-like passages before moving into the reggae shuffle that UB40 made popular) and “I’m a Believer,” once a hit for the Monkees and now a hit for Smash Mouth.

    Diamond, 60, fronted a 15-piece band and two background vocalists who helped cushion his vocals. He had trouble hitting kinetic notes in his hipper material. His voice cracked at the outset of the concert, when he told the audience, ”If music has the power to heal, then let the healing begin.”

    His seasoned pipes were more comfortable with his mainstream songs: “Beautiful Noise”; the new pop ballad “At the Movies,” and “Forever in Blue Jeans,” which inexplicably will forever be a throwaway crowd-pleaser, even though it was written by hard-driving Steve Earle guitarist-producer Richard Bennett.

    Drummer Ron Tutt remains one of the most valuable players in Diamond’s band. Tutt pushes Diamond, applying the charging jungle beat behind the 1970 hit “Soolaimon,” laying out for “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” and framing “Holly Holy” with cresting majesty. Tutt learned his lessons well. He was Elvis Presley’s drummer throughout the ’70s. I believe this is why Diamond boldly carries on with the Elvis Vegas swivel-hip tradition.

    The finale of Monday’s two-hour “mission of love”(that’s what Diamond called it) was something to behold. It was ignited with the three or four (I lost count) reprises of “Sweet Caroline,” before Diamond revisited the theme of possibilities in America.

    He concluded the 1974 ballad “Yes, I Can,” with a measured and sincere delivery: “Yes, I will/If I might/If I can.” Minutes later, the stage was drenched in blue and red lighting with white light illuminating the flag as Diamond marched through the Hollies’ “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.” The final song of the set was Diamond’s 1971 hit “I Am, I Said.”

    Even when he wrote the strangely introspective anthem about the frog who dreamed of being a king and then became one, little did he know how the lyrics would twist in a changing wind: “…New York’s home, but it ain’t mine anymore.” Like the dreams of Neil Diamond, it now belongs to everyone.

    Dave Hoekstra

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  8. Metromix Review
    Tue Oct 9 10:48:37 2001

    Songs sung a little blue
    Diamond pays tribute to hometown heroes in emotional evening

    By Greg Kot

    Some of the swagger and showmanship were missing from Neil Diamond’s stride Monday in the first of two sold-out concerts at the United Center.
    The singer, “New York City born and raised,” as he proclaimed in “I Am … I Said,” looked as though he couldn’t quite shake the troubles that have befallen his hometown the last month, and his usual bravura enthusiasm was tempered between the rousing opener and the gung-ho finale. No matter what one thinks of Diamond’s music, few performers throw themselves into their songs with greater zest, blow sloppy wet kisses to the audience with more unabashed glee, or draw more joy from the spontaneous combustion that occurs when a hit, any hit, is shouted back at him by thousands of Neil-aholics.

    In contrast to earlier tours, this was a more somber, if still ingratiating performer. At 60, Diamond may be slowing up a touch, but his baritone voice still packs a lion’s growl, and despite a tendency to drop into a sing-speak delivery for theatrical effect, he can still carry a tune. Diamond is embraced by various generations of rockers and hipsters in much the same way that actor Charlton Heston is; both are dramatic archetypes and melodramatic cartoons who invite adulation and parody in equal measure. He’s cool precisely because he doesn’t act like he knows it; instead, he gives every indication of living to serve his audience.

    Diamond even played the rebel, by performing two songs that made a recent list of potentially objectionable songs circulated by program directors at radio conglomerate Clear Channel. He kicked open his two-hour performance with a flag-waving “America,” which was less about jingoism than brotherhood, and later in the show he dedicated the Hollies’ “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist strikes.

    The singer’s willingness to address the tragedy head-on—”if music has the power to heal, then let the healing begin”—was exactly what the audience wanted. But his ardor wasn’t sustained throughout the concert. He offered subdued versions of some of his strongest songs (“Solitary Man,” “Cherry Cherry,” “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon”) and failed to build a persuasive case for his latest album, “Three Chord Opera.” These new tunes, particularly “At the Movies,” lacked the melodic lift of Diamond’s best work and indulged in the banal lyricism that mars his worst. Diamond also dutifully performed “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” as a duet with backup singer Linda Press, but the drippy No. 1 hit from 1978 has not aged well.

    Diamond never resorted to gimmicks, however. He lived or died with the music, and he has enough solid songs to rescue any evening from potential death by bathos. He was backed by a 17-piece band that framed the leader’s voice with empathetic string and horn voicings, and deft percussion. The singer found his footing with “Holly Holy” and “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show,” the kind of pseudo-gospel rave-ups he does best, and indulged in multiple singalongs on “Sweet Caroline.” The audience would not let the chorus go, and Diamond shook off his blues to once again become the bushy-browed Uncle Feelgood of American popular song.

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  9. Kevin
    Set list..Here it is………….
    Thu Oct 11 00:45:36 2001

    America
    Mission of Love
    Solitary Man
    Cherry, Cherry
    Red, Red Wine
    I’m A Believer
    Soolaimon
    If You Know What I Mean
    Beautiful Noise
    Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon
    I Haven’t Played This Song in Years
    You Are the Best Part of Me
    At the Movies
    I Believe in Happy Endings
    Forever in Blue Jeans
    Star Flight
    Captain Sunshine
    Holly Holy
    Sweet Caroline
    You Don’t Bring Me Flowers
    Yes I Will
    Lady Magdalene
    Shilo
    Love on the Rocks
    He Ain’t Heavy… He’s My Brother
    I Am… I Said
    (walkoff)
    Cracklin’ Rosie
    Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show

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  10. Sandy
    Second Chicago concert…….
    Wed Oct 10 09:09:24 2001

    Chicago concert was great last night…I would say the audience was up more then half the time, and one very lucky lady was chosen from the front row….when he sang “you will be a woman soon”. It was great! First he kneeled down and he reached out for her hand, while he sang to her, then he slowly laid on his stomach singing face to face, and the audience kept SCREAMING and whistling louder and louder. I thought it was done very tactfully. Boy, I wish it were me!!!!!!!!!!!! I don’t think that lady will ever forget that moment…. Oh yeah, this was a blond (not red head) with short hair, probably in her forties and she was attractive but not what some may have thought to be “very sexy” …… For those going to the next shows, you will have a blast……..
    Sandy

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  11. Joan N
    2nd Night Chicago
    Wed Oct 10 01:43:09 2001

    Oh my god! Wowie! So good, so good, so good! Neil was right on again tonight in Chicago. (It was literally standing room only at the United Center. I know of several fans who came in without tickets and really had to sweat it out to find one. NOTHING showed up at the box office.)

    He wore a gorgeous cranberry red shirt with subtle sparkles and was an absolute vision. The crowd was with him from beginning to end. It was so fun to see what I figure was about 18,000 – 20,000 people (cuz of the end stage) totally rocking with Neil all night. I’m so pumped that I may never sleep again, not tonight for sure!

    The setlist was the same as last night, except he did not do ‘Love On The Rocks’ tonight. He also didn’t talk about “music will let the healing begin” tonight. He beckoned a very enthusiastic, and slighly ‘older’ woman, to the stage for “Girl”. I think he got a little more than he bargained for there. She was all over him! I also think that she wasn’t the one he was beckoning to, but got there first and being the gentleman and showman that he is, he played along. I couldn’t see much of it from where I was sitting but heard from others that the lady was really into it.

    The thing that impresses me the most about this show is the emotion that Neil expresses and gives the audience the opportunity to express. I can’t even begin to tell you how much better I feel about world politics and life in general. In spite of everything, the free world has it made. Neil’s tribute to America, the heroes, and Vince really is a healing experience for the pain I’ve felt over all of these events. He’s honest, open, loving, caring, playful, funny, handsome, and sexy (and not necessarily in that order!)

    I enjoy you guys who are going to NYC. Have a blast and blow him a kiss from me.

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