It is a real lisp. I think the problem you're experiencing is that EmacsLisp has a long history. So some things that have been said were said a loooong time ago and are no longer relevant.
Take a look at the other articles I have on my blog... it's clear EmacsLisp is a modern, usable, language.
A previous Elnode announcement was what made me actually want to look into Elisp more seriously, but I went straight into the Emacs Elisp manual, and found it rather low-level when it came to list construction. So I asked around:
and gave up because I wasn't interested in Emacs-specific programs.
But I won't argue for or against that. Will give it another go starting from your site.
Don't listen to the haters. EmacsLisp is a real Lisp. You can use it to do solve real problems. It gets better all the time as people add stuff that has worked for years to the package archives (see elsewhere in this elnode thread where someone adds a redis client).
What I would say is you need to reach out more, come to #emacs and ask lisp questions. Play with Emacs (it's SO easy) and check out all the videos that people have been doing recently (http://emacsrocks.com/ and the one from me today http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TR7DPvEi7Jg).
Elnode is a good way to get into Lisp because it's easy and it's in Emacs which is just a great Lisp environment.