Gary's Van (Facebook Group)

Gary's Van is the fan group for listeners of Roderick on the Line and Road Work that was modelled after the Omnibus Futurelings because some Futurelings felt that there should be a similar group covering John's other shows. It eventually reached around 1000 members. The name of the group is a reference to John's neighbor Gary living in a van, see Gary and Skeeter.

In this group people get together and share their experience, strength, and hope of listening to these programs (RL370). There is not much of a Roderick on the Line fan universe on Reddit. The suggestion is that by listening to the show you would want to take the conversation to a third location with somebody and sit over coffee. Gary’s Van is a place where people get together after the show to have a cup of coffee and talk about the ideas. (RL400)

The Facebook group was spawned from a conversation Dan and John had about the fact that there wasn't any place on Facebook that talked about Road Work or the overarching themes of it. It operates under the name Gary's Van, which is a reference to Ye Olden Times (see Gary and Skeeter). People who really know all the in-jokes are there, but for the most part it is a serious place and not a place just to sit and throw catch phrases back and forth at each other. (RW141)

There are a lot of people on Gary's Van now that have come from other shows because it has grown somewhat organically there, and Gary’s Van isn't even a reference to Road Work, but John had mentioned the idea of it here for the first time. (RW205)

John recommending people to join the group (RW137)

There is a community of people operating under the name Gary’s Van, a new Facebook group where fans of Road Work and Roderick on the Line can meet and discuss the more intimate topics that they don’t want to share with the world. It has been said that people who listen to this show don’t necessarily want to form a community with other people who listen to this show, because they are all living in a special little loner community of themselves and their significant other, but there are some people who do want to strike up conversations with other people with some of the things they talked about.

Dan feels like it should be on reddit, not on Facebook. There kind of is a reddit for Road Work (/r/Roadwork) that at the time of this recording only had three posts on it and only one line referring to the podcast: ”Did anyone come here looking for the sub reddit for the podcast with john roderick and dan Benjamin?” [sic] Dan remarks on the capitalization.

John tries not to go to Gary’s Van because of the Dave Eggers adage (see RW2) that things like that are not meant for him and he must stay away because it will only hurt him. However, it does feel like a place where he might need to be. They cover a lot of topics here on this show and it does seem like people want to talk about them with one another.

Dan couldn’t find the group by searching because he never uses Facebook. He only found Gary Vaynerchuck who started as the wine guy and who acquired a business that Dan and a buddy had started. He is a evangelizing entrepreneurial inspirational motivational speaker these days. John finds Gary van Warmerdam who has a Practical Guide for Changing Thoughts and Believes and Emotional Reactions, so he is a self-helper, too.

In January of 2019 John recommends his listeners to look for Gary’s Van and see if there is a community there that they like. It was the first time the group was mentioned on the podcasts.

John starting to engage in the group (RW157)

The Facebook group Gary's Van is a special place and hopefully it will always remain a private place that is not full of news media where John can share his written feelings.

Dan does have a Facebook account, but logging in there and looking around is a yearly event for him. Afterwards he will delete all the cookies and throw away the computer. However, he still suggests people who are interested in such things to go into Gary's Van and read about John.

Dan has previously expressed some doubt about Gary's Van (see RW137) because it didn't feel like a Road Work property and seemed like coming out of another show, but the people on there are very Road Work oriented. By the time Road Work started Gary was still around (he got evicted in March of 2017, see RL237, and Road Work was already on episode RW57). He had lived in his van in Jamaica's front yard for years (see Gary and Skeeter).

Dan doesn’t want to muscle in on territory that belongs to another show and he doesn’t want to be an also-ran who is concerned that Road Work is some kind of adjunct to Roderick on the Line. Their content is not supplemental to that show in any way, he doesn't want Road Work to be perceived as some opening band that people grudgingly have to listen to, but Gary's Van is for fans of all of John's work and Dan is all for it.

Gary's Van was started by fans in response to John wishing for a place like that. Listeners have tried to get something going on the Internet multiple times, put together a web page where they were trying to consolidate all the different topics and thoughts, but there has never been some central location where everybody agreed that this was what was going to happen. Somebody over here was doing some transcriptions, someone over here was doing a catalog, and someone over here wanted to do yet another thing. People are trying to take the overall nature of the conversation and expand upon it.

The listeners to John's shows don't necessarily want a community in the sense that a lot of them don’t want to ever meet each other or get together with Dan and John for a barbecue because there is a general understanding that it would not be fun! Maybe it would be fun once a year? Every time somebody threw a frisbee five people would be analyzing it. Still, there is a desire to have a place where you can prolong the conversation or ask a follow-up question or something.

Gary's Van has been the most successful attempt at this because it is on Facebook, which everybody hates, but which is a central place. A larger than average percentage of Road Work listeners probably have canceled their Facebook page and there are surely a lot of people who don't have Facebook, but people attempted to get a thing going over there.

For a long time John just lurked and felt like it wasn't his business because he was raised in the era of Indie showbiz where you weren't supposed to look at what your fans were doing, you weren't supposed to listen to what they were saying because it was unseemly and none of your business. You are the artist, you are the creator, and you should remain in your temple!

John went on Gary's Van and said: ”Look, I have been watching, but I haven't been engaging because it always seemed unseemly, but I am doing the people who made the effort to come to this place a disservice by not trying to also be part of their conversation” The nature of the Internet is that it very quickly turns into a fan page just by virtue of people needing something to talk about.

It is hard to get a conversation going because people haven't been on that page with one another for five years and they don't know each other. Generally what happens is that the top five personalities step forward and this person becomes the grouchy guy, that person becomes the peacemaker and so on. That doesn't seem to be in the nature of their listeners.

One guy did throw a ninja smoke grenade and then disappeared. He said: ”I thought we were going to come over here and talk with each other and it seems like we are just doing fan stuff and I don't understand why!” - ”Well, if you have got something to say, go for it! Put out a question!”, but then he ninja-smoked. For the last 10 days in August of 2019 John has been paying a little bit more attention to what was happening on Gary's van, of all the crazy things.

To even want to be in that group you would have to find value in Road Work especially, and John hasn’t even mentioned Gary's Van on any other program but this one. He may have referred to it with Merlin a time or two, but it is primarily a place for the curious, which is all John wants in life! All he wants is curious people who aren't quick to jump and who aren't quick to recoil and that is what they do here on this show! John thinks that Dan is a very curious person and curiosity is the only thing John has going!

Meetup during the Western State Hurricanes release concerts (RL370, RW176)

On Saturday February 8th of 2020, the day between the two Western State Hurricanes concerts, there was a meetup arranged by Gary’s Van members who had asked John if it would be possible to meet. People were flying in from Sweden and Australia to see the show, and John arranged to have lunch with them (RL370).

There was a young man from Perth and a woman from Kansas City, two of the great cities of the world! Dan has a handful of emails for the Aftershow from people who have recently been in attendance (see email from Kye in the aftershow of RW176) (RW176).

Facebook groups for John’s different shows (RW183)

John doesn’t go on Facebook that much, but he does go there now because there are finally a couple of places to go. One of them is the Gary’s Van group and while he doesn’t want to meddle with them very much he wants to see what people are saying because the whole point of it was that there be interesting conversations there.

There is an Omnibus Facebook group (The Futurelings) that is very active that John keeps tabs on a little bit, but it feels voyeuristic, so he doesn’t go there religiously. There is also a Friendly Fire group (now archived) that is very active.

There are different Facebook groups for each of the different shows, however Roderick on the Line and Road Work are in one group because they have more in common than Friendly Fire and Omnibus have in common. A lot of the Gary’s Van people are Road Work listeners and there is an awful lot of crossover.

If Merlin had been more oriented toward publicity and promotion and allowing a fan group to exist, John is not sure whether a Roderick on the Line fan group would have thrived starting in 2011 because neither Facebook nor reddit were a place yet. By the time Gary's Van came along, a little bit of that moment had passed in terms of people really, really wanting to talk about episodes.

Road Work listeners and Roderick on the Line listeners are shyer to get together. Once they do get together they forge close bonds, but there are a lot of people listening to this show that would rather not be invited to a group event. These shows are personal!

Friendly Fire and Omnibus are both tailored for a wider audience. There are plenty of people that listen to Friendly Fire who don't even like John, they hate him even. They are fans of Ben and Adam’s Star Trek show (Greatest Generation) and they ended up over there and they like the premise, but they just wish John would stop talking and let Adam and Ben make dick and fart jokes, which is what they are there for.

Roderick on the Line and Road Work have a fan community that is uniquely what it is. The meet-up before the Western State Hurricanes show (see RW176) came from Gary's Van and that was a large and varied group of people. They don't seem like they are Facebook people. Maybe they are reluctantly on Facebook so that they can get access to the show, it is hard to say. Their Patreon supporters and bonus content consumers is a very intense, tight-knit group who like talking to each other and have a lot to talk about. That is why they are so excited about the potential dinner they were going to do.

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