NEW ORLEANS—Late last week rumors alluding to formation of a secret society of dad bloggers were confirmed at the Mom 2.0 Summit which took place in New Orleans, Louisiana. During the mom blog convention’s closing remarks, Doug French (aka Laid Off Dad) and John Pacini announced the creation of Dad 2.0 Summit, a shadowy male-oriented organization in the same vein as the Masons and the Stonecutters. Aside from sharing that Dad 2.0 (@Dad2Summit / Facebook ) will convene for its first annual meeting in March 2012, French and Mays provided minimal details, fueling the bounty of speculation that had already existed among conspiracy theorists, cryptozoologists, and FOX news commentator, Glenn Beck.
|Chevy Texas kindly lent me a GMC Terrain for the trip|
From the moment I set foot inside the Ritz Carlton Hotel and strolled along its marble floors and paneled walls, it was clear Kirtsy founders Carrie Pacini and Laura Mayes had put together a top-notch event of the highest caliber, which immediately piqued my journalistic curiosity. Certainly a site with a sole function of aggregating information supplied by mom bloggers couldn’t have orchestrated such a gathering without the outside support of some silent backer or backers. Running through the possibilities, I jotted down several of the most credible theories, which included the Chinese Triad, National Public Radio, and Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker, either working separately or together.
|(R-L) Whit Honea, JCO, Me, Beta Dad, Clay Nichols|
Before I could prove the existence of these connections, though, I had to keep up my cover by attending conference’s opening reception and later, the speaker’s dinner. If I squealed out loud upon seeing some of the biggest and most respected names in the mom blog community, it’s only because I was trying to maintain my ruse as a bumbling, unmemorable representative of the Y chromosome with kids and a URL, a feat I managed to pull off by awkwardly engaging the likes of Eden Kennedy (Fussy), Alice Bradley (Finslippy), Aimee Giese (Greeblemonkey), Laurie Smithwick (LeapDesign, Kirtsy), Anissa Mayhew (Free Anissa), and a litany of others. Not since Donny Brasco penetrated the inner workings of the Mob, has someone ever fooled so many so completely for so long.
Thankfully dad bloggers such as Beta Dad, Father Muskrat, Bobble Head Dad, Clay Nichols, Whit Honea, and John Cave Osborne were in attendance, allowing me to further fade into the backdrop as we stood together in a loose gaggle during many of the social events much like seventh-grade boys hanging out in the corner of the gymnasium during school dances. Later in the evening, however, we made a rapid advancement through puberty, acting closer to college fraternity brothers as we worked our way down Bourbon Street. (New Orleans must have a magical Benjamin Buttons-in-reverse effect on the aging process because all of us relived our teens, our twenties, and upon waking up the next morning, our sixties in under 24 hours.)
|A Confederacy of Dunces or Dad Bloggers?|
In session one Jim Griffioen of Sweet Juniper and Jon Armstrong, who, as the executive director of the dooce empire, many consider to be the parent blogging equivalent to media mogul Rupert Murdock, joined French in a conversation dealing with building your brand through content and extending your reach beyond the niche community. The underlying message to me was clear: find and enlist more converts for the secret society.
This panel was then followed by a moderated discussion lead by the famously intelligent Catherine Conners of Her Bad Mother in which author John Cave Osborne, Dad-Centric contributor Whit Honea, and the mysterious blogger known only as BetaDad shared what they felt the roles of fatherhood were within the context of their blogging experience. Tensions flaired momentarily when Honea, threw down his microphone and kicked over a chair as he talked about his family. Later it was learned that the move was meant as a joke to distract the audience from noticing the tears forming as he got a little choked up about the topic. Even so, Honea’s beard and ties to the Pacific Northwest, in my mind, had al-Qaeda sleeper cell written all over it.
|Higley, Chase, Ross, & poser|
|What 6AM looks like with beer|
Despite my efforts however, I saw nothing of the sort, only groups of people sincerely enjoying themselves. My suspicions were briefly aroused coming across the likes of French around 3AM at the Ritz’s courtyard as he concocted unheard of cocktails such as “The Louisiana Purchase” (Jamison whiskey mixed with the cleaner CLP) for a group that included IzzyMom, Chicky Chicky Baby, and several of the dads. But if I thought by joining this group I’d be privy to a planning session for a secret society, I was wrong as this band of merry pranksters turned out to closer to a bunch of Beatnik bloggers than anything else. By 6 AM, after joining Honea, BetaDad, and Father Muskrat for one more beer, I figured this to be a dead end, and I retreated to my room.
The third day turned out to be just as unproductive in rooting out information for my research. That afternoon I tailed BetaDad and Lesbian Dad to the eastern side of New Orleans where volunteers were building a community playground as part of the Let’s Play initiative. Let’s Play is a partnership formed by Dr. Pepper Snapple and the good people of KaBoom as an advocacy program aimed at getting kids more physically active. Turns out, my ability to assemble wooden park benches resulted in me producing something close to Escher’s Never Ending Staircase. Fortunately, the kids didn’t seem to notice based on the joy in their faces after seeing the playground they had designed, come to life before their eyes. (sniff!)
The conference officially closed out with a keynote panel on the future of media as viewed by some of the most accomplished and intelligent women in the business—Vanessa Holden, Margaret Gould Stewart, Sarah Bryden-Brown and Andrea Wishom. It was right after this that the Dad 2.0 initiative was announced as well as news that filmmaker Doug Block’s documentary, The Kids Grow Up, which follows his daughter as she grew from a child to young adulthood, would be released nationally this Father’s Day on HBO.
Armed with confirmation that the Dad 2.0 secret society actually was in the works, I pushed my way deeper into the inner workings of the community landing an unexpected invite to do a reading at the conference’s final social event, a Red Cross fundraiser sponsored by Tide laundry’s Loads of Hope program. It was more than a little unnerving to be amongst a roster of writing talent that included such well-known names as Liz Gumbinner, Alice Bradley, Eden Kennedy, Maggie Mason, Megan Jordan, and, of course Heather Armstrong.
|Richard Marx is making a comeback|
From that point on the evening was a blur but according to the eyewitness accounts of my fellow Aiming Low compadres, Faiqa Khan and Britt Reints, who graciously cheered me on, I did okay despite loudly announcing that Richard Marx would be making a 12-city comeback tour this summer. I took their word for it seen as how the only thing I can recall is flashbacks eerily similar to that of Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuis and Sammy Davis Jr. dressed as belly dancers at a bordello in the movie Cannonball Run 2.
Final Thoughts: The Mom 2.0 Summit proved to be highly professional and well organized event. I thought it appropriately symbolic that a gathering of the parent blog community’s most elite and accomplished women took place in New Orleans, which also served as the backdrop for Kate Chopin’s novel, The Awakening, a literary classic with a core theme that centers on women defying archaic societal expectation.
However, it was disappointing that in a city commonly associated with voodoo, political corruption, and the assassination of JFK, I was unable to compile more details about the secretive Dad 2 Summit. Questions still exist as to conference’s whereabouts, but unconfirmed sources claim that Da Vinci Code-like symbols in blog posts will reveal the answer to “true believers,” and Fruit of the Loom, as one of the sponsors, will be supplying the hooded cloaks conference attendees will be required to wear during all ceremonies including the singing of the supposed members-only theme song (a blatant rip off of the video below).
Who knows where Big Foot’s found?
Who keeps NASA on the ground?
We do! We do!
Who controls MTV?
Who really owns AIG?
We do! We do!
Who knows where LOST’s survivors are?
Who makes Seth Rogan a star?
We do! We do!
Who keeps the Cubs from being champs?
Who makes Midol for your cramps?
We do! We do!
Will Dad 2.0 as a stand-alone conference be a success, erasing any previously created doubts? That depends on a number of factors, the biggest being dad bloggers’ willingness to take the same leap moms have in becoming successful. However, through the efforts of Doug French and John Pacini, the Dad Track sessions at the Mom 2 Summit proved to be an overall success, and with them at the helm for the Dad 2 Summit, I believe it has the best chance of establishing the professional footprint of dads as part of the parent blogging community.