Happy 14th Anniversary, Dom!

Happy Monday everyone!

Today is already proving to be a good day, I think. I was up early, baking pumpkin bread and getting ready to show my house again. I might actually have news to share in that department soon, I hope. My husband is home for the week, my youngest is off from school, and my two older kids will be arriving in the next couple of days to celebrate what I think is going to be our last Thanksgiving in this house. This year, it will be taking on a bit of a “carpet picnic” theme. Our massive dining table is in storage, as are most of my platters, china, and serving dishes, but we’ll make it work!

I didn’t immediately have something come to mind as a blogging topic, so I checked the Duran calendar we keep updated. Today is a HUGE day in Duran history. On this date in 2004, Dom Brown first performed with Duran Duran.

Each year, this date arrives and I’m a little nervous to tweet about it because the Duran Duran timeline says he started working with the band in October and didn’t play his first real large gig until December. However, if you look at the little note he wrote on his 10th anniversary with the band in 2014 – you’ll see that he recalls the date as November 19. Chances are, it was a private gig or something other than one of the massive arena dates they were playing in support of the Astronaut album. He took the stage due to Andy being ill. Little did he know that he’d still be playing with them fourteen years later!

I have to chuckle at his memories from that first performance. He hadn’t even had a chance to rehearse with Simon or Nick until soundcheck! Nick had to sing him some of the guitar intros that night (apparently he wasn’t quite the Duran Duran fan that many of us are). I can only imagine how that all must have went, but I’m still thankful he was brave enough to step in. As I’ve said to him many times, he had awfully big shoes to fill, and he’s done so with grace and humility.

Readers may have an inkling that perhaps I have a soft spot for Dom.  He has earned a lot of respect from me over the years. Not only is he a talented musician, he’s an incredibly kind person. I love watching the way he connects with the rest of the band onstage, as though he’s always been there.  I also thoroughly enjoy seeing and hearing fans react to him at shows. He’s not the brooding guitarist, and he’s not overly egotistical, either. I love that even after 14 years, he still manages to seem utterly shocked that fans scream for him.

I’m looking forward to doing more of that in February! Happy Anniversary Dom. Glad you’re still with the band, and that we haven’t driven you away just yet!

You’re family now, like it or not!

-R

Notorious Memories

If I remember correctly (and if my home-created Duran calendar is correct), the anniversary for the release of Notorious (the album) must be near.  Again, if my math is correct, this means that the band’s fourth studio album is turning 32.  Ouch.  I have colleagues younger than that (who like to remind me of that fact a lot!).  It is an album that marked some significant changes within the band’s history.  As we know, it was first album of the three (John, Nick and Simon) after Andy and Roger left.  It is also the first album recorded in which the band was managing themselves.  For many of us fans, it ushered in a new phase of our fandom.  No more was Duran Duran the “biggest band” in the world but one fighting to maintain its popularity despite these changes.  In thinking about this album, I have some memories that capture a lot about my life and my fandom.

Buying the Album:

In late 1985, my family moved from the south side of Chicago to a small town in Illinois.  My old place had Top 40 radio and MTV along with a best friend who loved Duran Duran as much as I did.  The new place didn’t have any of those.  I remember meeting a neighbor girl the first week I was there.  I asked her about what she thought of the song, A View to a Kill.  She had no clue about what I was talking about which signaled to me that I was in trouble.  By the time 1986 rolled around, I desperately wanted any sign of home.  The new Duran album was just the thing!  I remember going with my mom to the town’s mini-mall which had a Disc Jockey record store to buy the album.  As Mom drove home, I quickly opened up the vinyl, anxious to just hold the album in my hands.  I loved the cover but was sad to see that there were no lyrics included.  Still, I couldn’t wait to go home and listen!

A little while after the album came out, I called my best friend.  At this point, not only had I moved away from the south side but so had she.  We vowed to keep in touch and I was determined to do just that.  So, I called her, hoping not only to reconnect but to hear what she thought about the album.  My hopeful mood was quickly swashed when she told me that she hated it and decided to take down all of her posters because they just weren’t that “in” anymore.  While she insisted that it wasn’t just the album that caused her to make this drastic decision, I couldn’t help but think that she had lost faith.  I felt even more isolated and fears about losing her grew.  Where she chose to move on to the next thing, I opted instead to hold on for dear life.

Buying the Single:

Of course, before the album even came out, I wanted to purchase the single for Notorious.  One day, I saw it with its completely dark cover except for the title sitting on the shelf in the town’s newly opened Wal-Mart.  I believe that it cost a dollar and some change.  As soon as I saw it, I begged my grandma who was the one with me to buy it for me.  She refused.  Completely crushed.  How could my grandma not understand?  How could she be so cheap?  Why couldn’t my mom be with me?  All of these questions flashed in my mind and more.  Eventually, I was able to get the single.  Funny story. I shared this little story at my grandma’s funeral.  I’m not even sure why.  I guess the simple answer is that it is a very strong memory of mine.  I’m sure that says more about me than her!

How I Feel About the Album Now:

I cannot help but see Notorious as a marker for transition.  It was for the band and it was for me.  It is funny to think about how my life sort of paralleled the band’s.

Throughout its 32 year history, my thoughts and feelings about it have gone up and down.  Sometimes, I loved it like when it first came out.  Then, I grew frustrated with it, probably partly because of what it represented.  Now, I think I can see it with a more objective lens.  There are songs that I love and some that I tend to skip over, much like how I view a lot of their albums.  That said, I’m very thankful that they created it.  Why?  It helped them get over the hump of significant changes.  If they didn’t make the album, I wonder if they would have been able to really continue.  I think it also helped me get over my personal hump of moving to a new place and finding a new normal.

-A

I Know I’m Going Nowhere

Am I the only one who laughed at Rhonda’s blog on Wednesday in which she discussed becoming a “top fan” of Duran Duran on Facebook?  I laughed hard while I read.  I cannot disagree with the sentiment that becoming a top fan does not really change anything or signal success.  Even though I know all that, I couldn’t help but to think, “That will never be me.”  Nope.  I’ll never get top fan status.  It used to be that this would bother me but I think I have accepted more of who I am and how I express my fandom.

So, I don’t really respond to Duran Duran on Facebook or Twitter.  I’m not totally sure why.  I could give a few possible reasons.  First, I have a job that does not really allow me to be on social media when I want to.  I cannot exactly tell my students to teach themselves while I check the latest.  Even when I have planning time (or time to prepare for class without students present), I don’t feel like I can just respond to social media much.  Take yesterday.  Rhonda and I exchanged tweets during my lunch.  This meant that I didn’t get an assignment graded like I had hoped.  I’m cool with responding to friends or family but to tweet  to or in response to my favorite band seems indulgent.  Besides, it isn’t like the work goes away if I don’t get it done during work hours.

Of course, that doesn’t totally explain it.  I could give the argument that I work a lot.  I do.  That is not a lie.  During campaign season, I work 70-80 hours a week.  Not kidding.  So I can certainly use that as a reason or excuse or whatever.  That isn’t the whole deal either, though.  A part of it goes beyond the lack of time or the strictness of my job.  No, it has everything to do with me.  I don’t respond to the band’s social media because it is easier for me that way.  What do I mean by that?  Simple.  I cannot get rejected and that matters more than the alternative.

Here’s a true story.  I have always been an outsider even with my Duranie status.  Some of you might be confused by that.  Even in 1984 when Duran was at the peak of their popularity in the US, it wasn’t cool to be a Duranie where I lived.  At that time, I lived on the south side of Chicago.  In 1984, Michael Jackson was king.  No one could compete against him in my neighborhood and in my school.  Yet, I dared to stick out that way.  Then, a couple of years later, I found myself in a different place and different neighborhood.  Did that help?  Nope.  People in my new hometown did not accept Duran either.  For my old town, it was that they weren’t as cool as Michael.  For my new one, they weren’t manly enough to be embraced.  Did I switch to become a fan of someone else?  Absolutely not.

Soon enough, though, I stopped trying to voice my opinion about music and bands.  I learned that all it would get me is dismissal at best and ridicule at worst.  Fast forward a couple of decades.  I assumed that life might be different.  I posted on message boards and started writing here.  Soon enough, I saw that I could not compete.  I wouldn’t respond in a way that was witty enough or smart enough or worse…I might come across as arrogant or a know-it-all.  None of this would get me accepted by other fans.  Even here, I have always known that I’m not as cool as Rhonda.  People have a harder time to relate to me.  I’m not married.  I don’t have kids.  My priorities are very different.  Outside of fandom, I’m a teacher and an activist and that feels right to me.

I could respond to the band’s social media but I figure that it would just leave me open to criticism or mockery.  I don’t need that in my life.  It would get in the way and make me feel crummy about myself like I couldn’t measure up.  Nope, it is easier and better to simply not play.  This allows me to save my self-esteem and to get my work done, work that matters a LOT.

In the past, I would feel badly about that.  Am I a big enough fan?  I would worry.  Should I be doing something else to prove it?  How will the band and their team know about me?  (How ridiculous that I even thought that.)  Now, I’m giving myself a break.  Yes, I know why I don’t respond.  I accept it but I also have to be okay with not being a well-known fan.  I know how much I love the band.  I don’t need to be out there on the band’s social media to prove it.  I accept my secondary fan status and that I won’t get some badge on social media.  I understand that there are not a lot of other fans who want to friend me or follow me since I don’t talk about the band much.  I am not cool and am okay with that.

-A

Twenty-Nine Years later – Decade!

Today is the 29th anniversary of Decade. TWENTY-NINE YEARS.  As my friend Durandy aptly wrote this morning, “I’m trying to let that sink in.  What a legacy.”

Indeed. You’d think by now, I’d be over this band. You might think I’d have heard “Rio”, “Girls on Film” or “Planet Earth” one too many times. Yet I’m not. I’m willing and ready to do it all again. I’m betting that many of you are just as ready.

It’s November, the month of being thankful. Well, I count Duran Duran among my many blessings. I am so thankful I can still go see their concerts, even if it means traveling by plane to get there. They are still performing. They’re still writing, even when many of their peers are not. We are lucky fans.

Just last night I had a crazy dream about them, which in and of itself is bizarre because I almost never dream these days, and definitely not about the band!  In this dream, I found myself quitting my job at a what I believe was an antique furniture store with coworkers I used to work with last year, and Amanda was waiting for me. We laughed about how I was now unemployed and had no money, but as is typical – we also talked about all the touring we were going to do, and found ourselves wandering about San Francisco (no idea why).

We were looking for John Taylor (as one does), and for some reason I knew someone – a past coworker – who knew where he was, but I couldn’t find the guy. So, we ended up at a bar. I know that’s a HUGE surprise. It shocked me too. The bar had an outdoor patio, and by the time we got there, I was tired and wanted to sit down. Amanda led us to a couple of stools along the perimeter of the bar area and I immediately sat, not really paying attention. Next thing I know Amanda is nudging me rather insistently and I look up. She nods her head to the side and I let my eyes follow only to see that it is Dom sitting in the table directly across from us.

Only something is different about him. His usually short, straight hair has been replaced by slightly wavy, not quite shoulder length locks. Almost as though he’d been growing it out. In my dream, I kept looking at him (not even trying to sneak them!) and thinking “Why?!?”

Equally, I am lucky that the band can still be my muse, and that I’m able to write about being a fan each day. Even so, it is a little difficult to believe we’re in the fourth decade here. Twenty-nine years after the release of Decade. Yet so much of it feels like it only happened a short time earlier.

This single band has had an indelible influence across so many mediums. Music, video, fashion, graphics, style and an entire generation of people like me…to name a few.  What a legacy, indeed.

-R

Basking in the glory of top fan

Ever heard of that “Top Fan” badge that is available on Facebook? I noticed the tiny little moniker that somehow made its way onto the top of the posts from people I recognized. It only shows up when one is posting on a page like Duran Duran, and not everyone has one, apparently. From the little I know, it is something that the math geniuses at Facebook derived an algorithm to apply for those people who post a lot on a particular page.

From the onset, it seemed like the whole “top fan” thing was a bad idea. I can’t speak for other fan communities, but the competitive nature of our own certainly makes it seem like picking fans and elevating them to top fan status would generally be a nightmare. Oddly though, not many have talked about it – at least not publicly. I don’t know if it is because the badge is so tiny that it’s unnoticeable, or if it is because people like me explained that it wasn’t the band choosing to crown people as top fans, but merely Facebook.

Can you imagine the bloodshed if it were John, Roger, Simon and Nick picking out the top fans?  Even if it were found to be DDHQ behind the act, I am convinced all hell would break loose. I mean, my goodness – even when the band used to participate on social media, fans would clamor for attention and regularly try to shut one another down, and/or shame one another in the process. The whole thing seemed sketchy at best, and if the band were involved – it was only a matter of time before the entire fandom erupted, nuclear-bomb fashion.

I really don’t know how long it has been that top fan status has been a thing on Facebook. For the most part, I didn’t notice it unless someone responded directly to me that had one. I found myself wondering how many times one would need to post or react to something before the algorithm would play out in favor. I didn’t know the answer or what might trigger it.

A few weeks back, there was a notification for me saying that I’d been “awarded” a top fan badge for Richard Blade’s page. Out of all the things….but hey, I was curious, so I claimed my badge. Not much happened. No heralding trumpets. Not even any confetti or congratulatory balloons, and to be perfectly blunt,  I don’t even know if I still have one on his page. Hey, it was something!

Then last night, I went to check out Facebook before I put my phone down for the night. Lo and behold, I have somehow been awarded top fan for the Duran Duran page.  I didn’t even realize I’d reacted much to their postings lately – but I guess I did!

Immediately, I began making retirement plans. After all, this must be the success Oprah warmly and kindly taught her viewers we’d find. (I just KNEW I’d learn and be able to apply something to my life  from watching her talk show for all those years!!) “Do what you love, and you will find success.”

I am living the dream, Oprah!!

I looked at my bank account this morning. It still needs some work…. along with several more zeroes attached onto the end of another real number, but you know – it’s coming. I feel it. I’m a top fan now. I’m at the height of my achievements! This is it!!

I explained to my husband that I could sleep in this morning because I’m a top fan now.  He looked at me a little quizzically as he walked out of our bedroom at 5am this morning to commute up to Santa Barbara.  Shame. Apparently he hasn’t figured out to do what he loves just yet. Poor guy. I’m sure my success will rub off on him though, and he’ll learn from me. Isn’t that how that works?

I’m going to get back to planning that retirement, though, so I have to wrap this up. I just need to set this blog to post, work on school with the youngest, do the laundry, wash dishes, take somebody to piano lessons, clean the litter boxes, vacuum, dust, make dinner, and wash the dog. Then it is back to basking in my glory.  I am a top fan now, baby!

I made it, Mom!!

-R