Amanda’s Five Joyful Moments of Fandom

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about an idea I had. This idea was a simple one–that I was going to take time to think about moments when I experienced real joy, related to my fandom. These moments might happen when the band is around and they might occur when they are not around. The idea was to acknowledge those times when I stopped for a second or two, looked around and realized that, in that moment, I was truly happy. Those moments might not be big or small and they might not have been perfect but something was happening that made my heart feel full. I have taken some time in the last two weeks to think of these moments. Some of them I knew right away and others took longer to pop into my head. Here are five of those moments, in no particular order. I’m certain that there were more but I’m going with these. Then, next week, I’ll share five more.

1. Singing Hungry Like the Wolf at Howl at the Moon on Bourbon Street in New Orleans in September 2004.
This moment happened on the second night of the Friends of Mine Convention.  At the time of the convention, I had just returned to the Duran fandom and felt like I had taken a huge risk in going to this convention. After all, I had never traveled for fandom before and didn’t really know anyone except for the person who went with me. I knew that this would be a moment that would either cause my fandom to grow or to fade. Luckily for me, I had an absolute blast and met so many amazing people, including Rhonda. It was a turning point, indeed. While I didn’t know that at the time, I knew that I was having an absolutely amazing time when we were at the piano bar, Howl at the Moon. We had finally convinced them to play some Duran and there we were, late at night, singing loudly and proudly to Hungry Like the Wolf. I felt like I had found my people.

2. Secret Oktober in Brighton in November 2011.
As many of you know, Rhonda and I flew to the UK in the spring of 2011 to see Duran play in their home country, only to have the shows canceled on us due to Simon’s lost vocal range. At the time of that trip, both of us felt fairly certain that the band was done and Simon would never sing again. Of course, we didn’t dare utter that thought from fear that it would be true. Thus, when the band was able to perform again, we didn’t hesitate to go back, to try it again. Brighton was our first show of that tour, which will always make it magical but when we heard the first notes to Secret Oktober, it transcended even that. Rhonda and I looked at each other in shock and awe before hugging like goofs and turning our attention back to the stage. Magical, indeed.

3. Agua Caliente show in March 2017.
This has been a tough year for me and it was especially tough in those first couple of months. One reason was that Rhonda and I weren’t communicating as we normally do. We felt distant from each other and I desperately fretted that our friendship was slowly dying. When the shows at Agua Caliente were announced, I knew that I had to go. I figured it might either be my last tour or it would turn things around. Both shows were amazing but the second night, up front, felt like everything was right again. At the end of the show, I posted the following on my personal Facebook, “The truth is that I love this band more than I can say. I can’t imagine never seeing them again. They bring me joy…” Indeed.

4. Laughing hysterically at Tempo Cafe in Chicago in March 2005.
While the convention in 2004 brought me my people, the spring Astronaut tour made Rhonda and I touring partners for life. We saw two shows that weekend in Chicago and Milwaukee. After the second show, we ended up needing food and caffeine at like five in the morning. Tempo Cafe was the only place in downtown Chicago that we knew was open twenty-four hours a day. After waiting for forever to get a seat, once we got our food, Rhonda and I could not stop laughing. I have no idea what the heck was so funny but we laughed and laughed and laughed until tears were flowing. I knew then that when we get together, laughter will always follow.

5. Hail storm in Brompton Cemetery in London in May 2011.
When Rhonda and I went to the UK for shows that did not happen, we promised ourselves that we would not just sit around and feel sorry for ourselves. We were going to make lemonade out of lemons. Thankfully, friends took sympathy on us and gave us some info on where some Duran landmarks are located, including Brompton Cemetery, the one featured in the All You Need Is Now video. We spent one day following this mini-tour, including stopping by the very cool cemetery. The funny part is that every time we got near a Duran specific place, it would thunder and rain like you would not believe. We wondered if the gods were trying to tell us something. By the time we hit the cemetery, we were ready for whatever. Whatever is what we got. No sooner had we entered through the gate when it started to storm. This storm included some significant hail. We ran until we found shelter, laughing all the way, as we were certain that we looked like drowned rats.

Now that I have five of my fandom moments that have brought me joy, I ask that all of you do the same.  I want to read everyone’s very cool moments related to their fandom.  I guarantee that my week will be better off because of them.  Then, next week, I will share five more to round out my ten joyful fandom moments.

-A

 

October Katy Kafe with Simon

This week, DuranDuranMusic released the latest Katy Kafe.  Of course, because it is October, it featured one Mr. Simon Le Bon as he celebrates a birthday this month.  As always, we listened to the Kafe and then decided to share our thoughts here.  Unlike normal, we listened to the Kafe together and decided to record our conversation about it for a little video blog.  As you might imagine, we can talk for a long time about Duran Duran and this Kafe gave us plenty of topics to discuss.  Some of them include the anniversaries of both Big Thing and Medazzaland, the end of the Paper Gods tour including tracks from the album live, b-sides, studio plans and more.  While we cover quite a bit of material in the video, we certainly do not talk about every little thing in the Kafe.  If you want to hear all of it and we know that you do, we recommend running over to DDM and getting yourself a membership!

After listening to the Kafe yourselves and our reaction to it, what did you think?

-A

Big News!

I normally post a blog on Friday morning and move along.  After all, by Friday afternoon, I’m usually spent.  Exhausted.  Tired.  Fatigued.  Use whatever synonym you like best.  This week is not really an exception but we have news.  Big news.  In fact, this news is such that we don’t want to sit on it for another minute, hour or day.  What is it, you might ask?  Well, in order to find out, you gotta the watch the video.

Assuming that you all suffered through that 13 minutes plus of that glorious video, what do you think?  As you can tell, we are pretty dang excited.  Of course, we also want to acknowledge some people who have helped with this process so far.  First, as much as it pains me, I have to get a little shout-out to that old brother of mine who gave us the idea to go for this and some writing assistance as well.  Second, we would like to thank a couple of friends of ours, Lori and Patty, who were our sounding board and provided some necessary guidance when we really needed it.  Of course, I suppose we should thank that band who inspired us (or as Rhonda says–tricked us) into starting this journey to begin with.  In all seriousness, without them, we wouldn’t have done any of this.

On that note, we are off to do a little work and listen to a Katy Kafe with…that’s right…Simon, our favorite singer in the entire world.  (Ha!)  Perhaps, there will be a video blog about that…

-A

I Light My Torch and Wave It

It is lyric Friday!  As usual, I shuffled my iPod until I came across my first Duran related song.  Today, the first song was New Moon on Monday, which made me smile.  I knew immediately which lyric I would use for the blog post.  My favorite lyric in this song is definitely, “I light my torch and wave it…”  I have said it before and I’ll say it again.  It absolutely reminds me of fandom.  Once you become a fan, a significant fan of someone or something, you light that torch, so to speak.

Call me sappy, but that is how I view fandom.  When you fall in love or become a fan, it does feel like something has been awoken or lit inside.  It makes you feel warm inside.  It makes you feel good to watch or hear or read something you are a fan of.  In those situations, you cannot help but to smile.  Of course, that leads people  to read, watch, listen, etc. again and again.  It is like the light from good feeling continues.  It burns on.  At least, that is how I feel about my fandom.  Yes, there have been times that I have been disappointed or frustrated with something related or connected to my fandom, but overall, it still begins me joy and happiness that I rarely get otherwise.  Therefore, I cannot imagine my torch ever being extinguished.  The flame will always burn.

As for the second half of the lyrics, to “wave” that torch seems to me to be about being out and proud of one’s fan status.  There are many in fan studies who talk about fan coming out stories and how it is common for fans to share one’s fan story when first meeting other fans.  I feel lucky in that I often get to share my fan story here on this blog, in person at various meet ups and other events and more.  I love to hear other people’s fan stories, including when, why, how they became fans.  I also like to hear about how fans “wave” their fandom.  How do they show it?  How do they share it with other fans and non-fans?

I think about how I “wave” my fandom.  Clearly, one of the biggest, most obvious way is through this blog.  The fact that I am one half of the Daily Duranie, a blog that posts daily about being Duran fans I think shows how much and how often I’m cool with waving my Duran fandom.  Other fans certainly see my fandom beyond this blog.  For example, any fellow fan that comes to my house would see my office, which is nothing but Duran.  That fan might also see or hear my collection of CDs or of DVDs.  Heck, they might even get a chance to play Into the Arena or the trivia game I wrote.  But, is that really waving my torch, so to speak?  Maybe with other fans but I don’t think that qualifies with non-fans.  How I am doing with them?

I don’t think I hide my Duranieness but I acknowledge that it isn’t something I discuss when first meeting people.  I recognize that fandom is very much misunderstood and that there is a lot of stigma connected to being a fan, especially as a forty-something year-old woman.  Thus, I tend to wait a little while before sharing.  Once I do, though, I tend to be pretty open.  It isn’t uncommon for me to be seen with Duran a related mug or one of  my 850 (kidding!) Paper Gods canvass bags or a t-shirt.  I think once I get out the fact that I’m a big Duranie, then I am constantly waving that torch.  What about the rest of you?  Do you wave your fandom torch?  If so, how?  When?

-A

Brothers and Sisters Let Me Hear It: Big Thing at 29

I was busy waxing nostalgic over past fan conventions yesterday, so I didn’t get to write about Big Thing. The album was released 29 years ago yesterday, which is impossible.

I’m pretty sure Big Thing was the first Duran Duran album I bought on cassette. I slightly cringe as I remember buying and storing it in the creaky, fabric-covered, plastic case I kept on the floor of the front seat in my Suzuki Samurai. I can still remember the sandy feeling the fabric of the suitcase had because I would drive with the top to the Samurai removed for most of the year. The nearly threadbare carpet on the floor of the car caught sand and whatever other grit was blowing through the air as I’d speed along the freeways of southern California. The case and tape, which I still have somewhere in this house, is pretty scratched up. I haven’t tried to play the tape in years, probably not since I traded in the Samurai.  For quite a while, I didn’t have Big Thing on any other playable media in the house, and it wasn’t until I bought the MP3 that I had the chance to listen to the album in its entirety. Not that long ago, I added the vinyl of the album to my collection, along with the remastered CD, so I can fully appreciate its place in history.

When I first listened to Big Thing back in 1988, the album sounded like it had multiple personality disorder. I loved the song “Big Thing” even though I wasn’t sure I wanted to know what it was about. I liked the difference of the heavy beat to begin the album, but also appreciated the stacked harmonies that made it sound like a Duran Duran song.  “I Don’t Want Your Love” was the song I would sing at the top of my lungs while driving back and forth from Cal State Fullerton during my freshman year. Let’s just say it healed many a wound during that time. It was a tumultuous time for me as I adjusted to college and dorm living.  I wanted and needed recognizable Duran Duran – something that I never felt like I got from Notorious – and at least the first two songs off of Big Thing felt like they were in the right direction.  But from there, the album changed direction, with the club-beat heavy “All She Wants Is”. At the time, the song felt out-of-place, even though it was (and remains) a hit in the ears of many Duranies. But then again, the album completely changes pace completely, with beautifully simple ballads like “Too Late Marlene”, “Do You Believe in Shame”, “Land” and “Palomino”. These are what a friend once characterized as Duran’s watershed moments. Never to be dull, a song like “Drug” was thrown in the mix to throw listeners completely off-kilter, the sudden change always unnerved me. Ending with “Edge of America”, flowing into “Lakeshore Driving”, Duran’s answer to jam-session recording carries out the uncomfortable pacing of the album as the tape abruptly ran out as I would begin to settle into a daydream.

I never could find fault with any one song on the album, although I certainly have my preferences, but as a whole, I never cared for the constant change in direction or personality. Did the band want to go for a club sound? Why was the back half mainly ballad? I can remember not loving the ballads back in the late 80s, as I was more of a guitar-driven hard-rock kind of gal, but they’ve grown on me in years since, as has the entire album.

Big Thing is one of those Duran albums that, for the longest time, I didn’t really count among my favorites. It has grown to be one that I consistently play. I know why Duran Duran looks to “Ordinary World” as the ballad to play live, but I believe that gems like “Palomino” and “Land” have been completely overlooked in the process. There is really no other song I would rather crank up to “10” in my car than “Edge of America”, and I can zone out to “Lakeshore Driving” pretty much anywhere. “Big Thing” is a great song to wake me up, and when I’m feeling melancholy, I tune in to “Do You Believe in Shame”.  What once felt like a personality disorder now feels a lot more like the emotional roller coaster of any week in my life.

Big Thing has not only aged well, the rough transitions have mellowed out, and it plays fantastic at the ripe age of 29. Once again, Duran Duran proves they write to withstand the course of time.  Happy Birthday, Big Thing!

-R

The Music is Still Between Us: Durandemonium 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On this date in 2013, Duranies descended upon the fine city of Chicago for Durandemonium.

Held at a small, efficient-yet-boutiquey hotel (that no longer exists under the same name or brand) in downtown Chicago, fans from as far as Canada and the UK came together to celebrate Duran Duran over the course of a weekend. Activities ranged from a first night out at Howl at the Moon, where Duranies were invited onstage for their own rendition of none other than “Hungry Like the Wolf” (If the whole “writing about fandom” thing doesn’t work out – there’s absolutely no future in singing onstage for me), to an author panel and a private screening of Diamond in the Mind in a local Chicago theatre. The celebration culminated with a themed-banquet and after party at what has to be one of the best named alternative-music neighborhood clubs in the country – Late Bar.

It wasn’t just the activities that made the weekend special. It is the friendships that were created. Amanda and I love getting notes from people who went to the convention and still talk about how much fun it was. That’s how Amanda and I feel about the convention we attended in New Orleans in 2003. The activities were great, but the times we remember most were the talking and laughing in small groups. If I could bottle that part of what it takes to make a convention successful, I’d carry it with me forever.

Amanda and I have been approached countless times since that weekend about doing another. In the past we’ve even started the planning, only to be railroaded by one thing or another and forced to put the idea aside. Money is always an issue. Conventions are not cheap. Even our convention in Chicago required several thousands of dollars up front, and as one might imagine – blogging does not pay those kinds of bills. Time is another sticky problem. Planning a convention can take hundreds of man-hours, which are not always readily available. We’ve considered doing an event at a club one evening, and then suggesting a hotel to stay at to make a weekend out of it, so it’s more of a get together than actual convention, but because the two of us live a few states apart, the logistics are a problem. We’re in Duran downtime now though, so perhaps it is time to give it all more consideration.  Personally I think it would be a blast to pick a city, meet up at a hotel, and do a Duranie slumber party!  There’s still our dream of paying the band to come and perform a private gig, too (Who does not dream of that? Right after I win the lottery – I’m on it!)

I’ve had the chance to not only attend, but plan two enjoyable, cathartic events as a fan. Three if you count that one time I flew to Chicago on a whim for a weekend so that I could go to March MaDDness (a one night fan get together) with Amanda in the Foundation Room at the House of Blues. I’ve marveled over this fan community before, but going to a fan event like a convention changed my entire life. I want nothing more than to recreate the same safe space for other fans. So many of us are judged by the t-shirts we wear, music we play and concerts we attend. For me, it was a relief to finally be in a place where I could just be myself with others who understood. That’s what I mean by “safe space”. We’re never all going to agree on the minutia, and we’re not all going to be best friends, or even friendly in some cases. We’re all different. Our fan community is complex. We each have our own favorite memories, band members, songs, albums, or tours. When it all boils down, the music is still between us. The music is the common thread that connects us as fans. I feel like we should celebrate that as often as possible.

-R

 

 

 

An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!