October 2016 Katy Kafe with Simon!

I sat down to listen to the October 2016 Katy Kafe with Simon this morning. Four days later than I’d liked, but at least I listened!  As always, I took notes and will provide the highlights. My disclaimer is that, once again, these are ONLY the highlights, and while I try to do the Kafe justice, if you really want the best experience, you are better off paying your membership fee ($35.00 a year) and hearing it for yourself.


It seems to me that every time Simon is in the Kafe, the discussion begins on the topic of coffee. This time was no exception as Simon mentions that he is drinking an Americano black coffee with no sugar. He explains that on his current two pots of coffee per day habit (hey, it was once four-pots, so he’s improving!) he is able to keep the weight down.

makes note to up coffee intake


They spoke briefly about the MTV EMA voting (if you haven’t voted or need to vote today, and you do…check out our blog here for a link).  Simon explained that the environment had everything to do with how special the show in the Piazza Duomo was, and Katy also reminded him that Mark Ronson also joined them on stage that night.

End of US Tour in Colorado

They played a festival to end their tour in the US, and they talked about meeting Stevie Wonder. I hadn’t heard this, but apparently Stevie had called out for the band to join him onstage that final night, and because the band was tired – no one was there to join him (but they did meet).

Is it just me or does it seem like the tour ended months and months ago??? It feels like forever ago that I was packing and unpacking, and then continuing to write about other shows along the way.

Simon also commented that, on orders from his family not to come back (home) until he was no longer an egotistical rock star (and I had to laugh at that…I suppose this is similar to military debriefing!), he decided to do some sailing after the tour. He joined two regattas, one being the Panerai Regatta and another in St. Tropez.  Those apparently did the trick as he is now back at home, settling in, and getting ready to do some work next week with Mr. (Ben) Hudson.  WHAT?

I was curious that Katy didn’t ask for any details on that – Simon mentioned this work twice, and I’m curious about what he’s working on. Perhaps we’ll know at a later date…

More shows?

As we now know, Duran Duran has sent out the official announcement that they will be doing two shows just outside of Washington DC for New Years Eve and New Years Day.  This of course, follows up the show they’re already doing in Cancun.  Simon says he’s very excited about the show in Cancun because he’s never been there, but at the time they taped this Kafe, they hadn’t announced the National Harbor shows yet. So, two more shows for the US this year…and hopefully, something will be announced for other parts of the world soon, although Simon nor Katy made mention of anything during the Kafe.

You say it’s your birthday

Simon turns 58 on October 27th. I’m still wrapping my head around that one. Age is but a number, but that one just doesn’t sound right. Simon says he’s not doing much for his birthday except working with Mr. Hudson, and Yasmin’s birthday is just a couple of days later.

Overall, it was a lighthearted Kafe. Simon sounded lively, properly caffeinated…and ready to tease Katy at a moment’s notice. I’ll note that he didn’t sound at all tired as I might have expected after a tour, but I suppose he’s had a few weeks to readjust!




My Big Thing Story

Yesterday I blogged about Duran’s Big Thing album as it has recently had an anniversary.  I wanted to take note of when it was made, what singles and videos it had and more.  Today, though, I want to take it personal.  What was my relationship with this album and where is it today?

Before I dive into Big Thing, I wanted to provide a little context, a little backstory.  I had moved with my family in late 1985 from the Chicago suburbs to a small town in Illinois.  A lot of aspects of my life felt wrong then, including my Duran Duran fandom.  I missed my best friend and a fellow Duran fan.  In my new town, no one knew who Duran Duran was and they certainly didn’t care.  I tried desperately to hang onto my fandom but it was tough.  Heck, I even attempted to persuade new acquaintances that they should love Duran like I did.  Thus, I loyally purchased Notorious as soon as it came out, but a lot changed in the two years that followed.

In between the Notorious and Big Thing releases, MTV arrived in my new home town.  My new friends and I were glued to the channel.  We couldn’t get enough, despite our growing annoyance with Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance with Somebody that played on continuous loop.  One day, I happened to catch a world premiere video.  Of course, the big event was the brand new video for I Don’t Want Your Love.  My reaction?  It felt instantly like Duran.  While the video wasn’t as cool or as exciting as some of their previous ones in exotic locations with story lines, I still liked it.  I even recorded the premiere on my VCR.  Yet, it didn’t catch my attention for long.

By 1988, I was on an island surrounded by people who were not into Duran Duran in any way, shape or form.  My classmates played a lot of hair metal bands.  While I never got into that, my love for Duran had waned.  I couldn’t share it with anyone.  My video watching became a lonely, solitary activity, which was no fun.  I soon realized that it almost made me sad to watch this new Duran video as it reminded me of better, more fun times.  I hoped that MTV would feature Duran like they once did, in order to convince my peers that Duran was the band to love.  Unfortunately, while the video was played a lot, it wasn’t enough.  My new friends weren’t open to the band.

My fandom began to sink as I didn’t even buy the album for a long time.  By the time All She Wants Is was released, the band was out of sight, out of mind, for the most part.  When I heard about the band touring, I didn’t even look at the dates or try to go.  After all, we now lived about an hour and a half from the closest concert venue and I knew that I would have no one to go with.  Emotionally, it became easier to dismiss the tour as something I wasn’t interested in rather than really think about how cool it would be.

Of course, at some point, I did buy the album.  In fact, I bought it used as one of those used cd/book/dvd stores.  Now, of course, I know each and every song, but I wouldn’t say that I ever really bonded with it, not like I have with other albums.  This has nothing to do with the music.  It has more to do with the context of when the album came out and where I was in my life at the time.

That said, there are clearly some quality music on it.  For example, The Edge of America is one of my favorite Duran tracks of all time.  The song captures a lot of what I see and feel from some of my students, a helplessness and anger directed at a country who has done harm too often in its history.  Speaking of history, I’m not sure that this album was a highlight in Duran’s catalog, not because of the music, but because like in my own life, this time period represented more of  Duran’s slide away from being the biggest band in the world (commercially and fame wise).  The tour, for example, was a massive one but had some moments that many fans look at now and question like the decision to feature dancing during All She Wants Is.

In many ways, Big Thing represents a period of real change and adjustment, I think, for both the band’s career and for me personally.  It may not represent the biggest commercial or critical success for the band, but it represents many qualities that I love about Duran.  They were not afraid to try a new direction or be influenced by the musical world at the time.  Their persistence remained despite all who wanted to shut the door on them.  The album was necessary for them to make the albums of the future.  Similarly, I continued to battle and had to push through to find a new me in my new town.

Perhaps, by placing Big Thing in Duran’s history as well as mine own, my appreciation for it will only grow.


Question of the Day: Sunday, October 23, 2016

Yesterday’s winner:  Lonely in Your Nightmare

Which song would you rather have ADDED to the setlist:  New Religion or The Seventh Stranger?

Big Thing Facts and Stats

Duran Duran tend to release their albums in the fall.  It isn’t always the case but happens a lot of the time.  The month of October, in fact, has seen three album releases over Duran’s career.  The first album they released in October was Big Thing in 1988, followed up by Medazzaland in 1997 and Astronaut in 2004.  In celebration of these birthdays/anniversaries, I thought it might be fun to take a look at each of them starting with Big Thing.

Big Thing Facts:
Released on October 18, 1988
Produced by Jonathan Elias, Daniel AbrahamDuran Duran
Had 12 tracks included

5 different songs were released as singles:

  1. I Don’t Want Your Love (everywhere)
  2. All She Wants Is (everywhere)
  3. Do You Believe in Shame (everywhere)
  4. Big Thing (UK and Mexico)
  5. Too Late Marlene (Brazil)

Peak chart position:

  • I Don’t Want Your Love–#14 in the UK and #4 in the US
  • All She Wants Is–#9 in the UK and #22 in the US
  • Do You Believe in Shame–#30 in the UK and #72 in the US

The band at that time was made up of John, Nick and Simon.
Warren played guitar on tracks 1, 4, 6, 9, 11 and 12 (half of the album)
Chester Kamen played guitar on tracks 2 and 3
Steve Ferrone played drums on tracks 1, 2, 4, 6 and 9
Sterling Campbell also played drums on the album


Three videos were made from this album:

I Don’t Want Your Love

All She Wants Is

Do You Believe in Shame?


Here is a long interview with the band, Warren, and the back-up singers from 1988.

The Tour:

The band began touring this album began with the Nine City Caravan Club Tour, in which they toured small venues starting in October 1988.  It was followed by the Big Live Thing Tour in November 1988.  Then, they added the Big Electric Theatre Tour starting in March of 1989 before ending with some festivals in August 1989.

Beyond all of the facts, Duranies have memories of this album.  I would love to hear your Big Thing story.  When did you buy the album?  What did you think of it?  What do you think of the single choices?  The videos?  Did you see the band play tour?  If so, how many shows did you see?  Tomorrow, I will share my Big Thing story.


Question of the Day: Saturday, October 22, 2016

Yesterday’s winner:  The Chauffeur

Which song would you rather have ADDED to the setlist:  Last Chance of the Stairway or Lonely in Your Nightmare?

I Made a Break: Fun Memories

Things are pretty serious in my life right now.  My time is generally spent on teaching related tasks or on campaigning for this year’s presidential election (and my state’s senate election).  Right now, my students, at work, are finishing up a tough unit on Reconstruction, or the time after the Civil War.  We discuss some tough issues, including lynching, segregation, and sharecropping.  On top of that, we connect the past to the present with issues surrounding the criminal justice system.  The unit is heavy with its seriousness and emotionality.  When my teaching day is done, I turn to politics, filled with issues surrounding democracy, sexual assault, etc.

I generally embrace intensity.  As many have pointed out to me, I’m a pretty serious person.  Sometimes, I’m so serious that people can’t ever imagine me having fun or being silly.  Yet, as I point out to my students, there are times for both.  Now is the time to be focused on big issues.  That said, this doesn’t mean that I’m not looking forward to fun times ahead.  I always do.  This week, though, reminds me of fun times in the past.  I need those reminders.  They boost my energy, my will to see things through.

What fun memories popped up this week?  The first one surrounds a little convention that was held in Chicago three years ago now.  I can’t believe that Durandemonium was three years ago.  It certainly doesn’t feel that long ago.  Where the heck is time going?  Is it on fast forward???  For those not in the know, Durandemonium was a convention that Rhonda and I planned with some friends.  The event went from Friday to Sunday and featured various activities, including watching A Diamond in the Mind at a movie theater, a banquet/dance, Duran games, dancing at an 80s club, author panel and more.  Want to know more?  You can find out about it on our convention page here!

Maybe the convention memories make me smile because the event marked something that we spent a lot of time planning and organizing that went off without any major problems.  It was a success, in our eyes.  I appreciate those moments when you plan and plan and plan for something and then it works out.  It is one of the things that I treasure about political campaigns.  All the work comes down to one day and one result.  When it goes well and your side wins, there is no greater feeling.  The goal is obvious with campaigning and the result is clear.  This is the opposite of what teaching is like.  There I have no real end goal besides all of the little steps of progress, which happen at different times for different kids. Teaching requires a lot of work over ten months instead of just a few with most campaigns.

Plus, there is the obvious.  Durandemonium like other Duran conventions was filled with Duranies and non-stop focusing on Duran Duran.  Being at a convention means that my laser focus becomes about the band.  I don’t have to multi-task.  I can push aside the rest of the world.  The same is true with Duran shows and tours.  Five years ago today, Rhonda and I saw the band play in Chicago.  The weekend went by way too quickly and the show was a little strange for us because we weren’t sitting together but it provided us that escape from our regular day-to-day existence.  If you want to read our review of that show, you can go here.

In thinking about my current life along with Duran tours and conventions, I realize that I do truly live with intensity.  I like having events that suck up all of my thoughts, time and effort.  Perhaps, this gives some insight to why touring really works for me.  Yes, I do need significant breaks from my real life in order to continue to do my job and fight in the political arena and touring does provide those breaks.  In reality, though, it gives me something else just as intense, something all consuming.  When I’m on tour, I don’t pay as much attention to education issues or to politics or even to other popular culture I like.  It becomes all day, everyday Duran.

My conclusion is pretty simple then.  I have a few more weeks of serious, real life, big issues.  After that, I could use some intensity of the other sort.  You know something surrounding Duran Duran and fun…


Question of the Day: Friday, October 21, 2016

Yesterday’s winner:  The Seventh Stranger

Which song would you rather have ADDED to the setlist:  Anyone Out There or The Chauffeur?

It is Time to Mobilise: DD for Best World Stage

I promised myself that I would get my act together with this blog and my new schedule. I wouldn’t miss blogging days, and it would all be fine.

Then Tuesday happened. I had no blogging ideas, I had no inspiration, and no time. It is a never-ending battle. There are moments when I long for what it was like in previous years. I could sit down to write at nearly any time. These days, I work out of the house on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and as it turns out I get asked to work remotely (from home) sometimes on other days as well.  It leaves little time for writing, and unlike Amanda, who has discovered the knack for gathering ideas ahead of time—I haven’t.

All I can do is take a deep breath, smile, and say that I am doing my best. I appreciate your patience, but I could also really use some writing ideas and/or topics. My hope is to get to a point where I can blog on Mondays for both Monday and Tuesday, and then on Wednesdays for Wednesday and Thursday. This means that yes, I’ll miss out on “breaking news” some of the time, but it’s the best I can do for now.

Until then, I see that we’re still voting for the MTV EMA’s Best World Stage, as Mr. Le Bon mentioned today on Twitter. As he says, “it is time to mobilize”. (My autocorrect immediately switches to the US spelling and I’m not fixing it…sorry!)

Unlike the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, this is totally about the fans. I’m voting. I’ve been voting.  Are you?  I would love nothing more than to see Duran Duran win Best World Stage , particularly because I really believe their live show is outstanding, and they’ve earned it. Yes, it’s vain. Yes, it’s a popularity contest.  Yes, I blogged earlier today about how I think the RRHOF is unimportant. This is different.

So here’s the link, go do your thing, Duranies.  And if you’ve already voted: DO IT AGAIN.  (In fact, do it over and over!)

2016 MTV EMA's


Question of the Day: Thursday, October 20, 2016

Yesterday’s winner:  New Religion

Which song would you rather have ADDED to the setlist:  The Seventh Stranger or The Universe Alone?

How Important is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Anyway?

How important is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame anyway?

As I read through this year’s list of nominees, this question swirled in my head. Sure, Chic is on the list. Again. For the 11th time, they appear on the list. Then there’s Depeche Mode, Yes, Janet Jackson, The Cars…..Tupac Shakur, Pearl Jam, Chaka Khan, ELO (Electric Light Orchestra), Journey, The Zombies, Bad Brains, J. Geils Band, Joan Baez, Kraftwerk, MC5, Joe Tex, and Steppenwolf.  I think I’ve gotten them all.

It seems like every single year I write something about the Hall of Fame. Quite frankly, I detest it. I dislike it to the point where it really isn’t worth my time—yet here I am, writing about it again.

It seems to me that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is the one accolade everyone loves to hate. The process, in my mind, is absurd. The nominating committee of the RRHOF Foundation gets together and comes up with a list of nominees. The list is publicized, and then some 600-historians and members of the music industry vote upon the all-powerful although in the past few years (since 2012) they’ve bestowed that same glorious right to vote upon the public, so our collective opinion is also taken into account. The top five vote- getters are then inducted.

First of all, the nominees, or at least a reasonable percentage of them—are questionable. I could sit and name names, but the reality is, those that I may find odd are the same bands and artists that someone else probably sees as shoe-ins. So, I’m just going to leave it that I find a lot of the nominees to be questionable, and the inductees typically make me roll my eyes.

Secondly, Chic has been nominated ELEVEN DAMN TIMES. Come on now. That alone tells me something is screwy about the process. Yes, Chic is disco. Yes, Americans (in particular) have forgotten just how much disco-elements we use in our music even today. Even so, eleven times?  Unbelievable.

Thirdly, I’d argue that outside of the US, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame means nothing.  Just yesterday, one of my friends commented that they never hear about the RRHOF, and they live in the UK.  I have no doubt that’s true. Many (including myself) say that the heart of the music industry is here in America, which is probably why the Hall of Fame works here – but the rest of the world doesn’t care. I can’t blame them, because really, is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that important anyway?

I doubt it. Each year when Nile, as the sole surviving member of Chic is nominated, he graciously tweets something about being happy to be on that list, but he also mentions how many times he’s been on it. In my head, it’s becoming a terrible joke. What makes him any less deserving than Green Day—a band that has been around for a fraction of the time—but was inducted in 2015, the very FIRST year they were even eligible?  Absolutely nothing but votes.

Who votes? Who decides? The RRHOF description of their voters is remarkably vague. “some 600 historians and members of the music industry, including those who have previously been inducted.” Then there’s the public, of course. Fans are going to vote for their favorites regardless of whether they’re the most deserving. In the same way I voted umpteen times for Duran Duran to win the MTV EMA this year or “Best World Stage” without watching the other nominees to see if their performance really was the best, fans are going to get out the vote for their favorite, and I can’t blame them. But, that does not equate (in my mind) to being deserving of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Ultimately what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame comes down to is a glorified popularity contest.  The only people I ever see commenting on its importance are those who make a living commenting on such things (the aforementioned music historians), those who have been inducted, or perhaps fans.  As many Duranies mention, in any interview where the band has been asked, they carefully word their answer about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  The band recognizes that the process is entirely political and not at all indicative of any success the band may have had, their continued relevance, or inspiration they may have given to other bands along the way.  It is difficult for me to argue the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in any other light, because I too, see the nominating process and the joke it has become.

Each year I read the list of names, and while of course, there are several on there that should and deserve to be there, there are just as many that I seriously question. Even bands I adore, like Depeche Mode or The Cars, I really have to wonder about. What makes them any more deserving?

Most awards come down to popularity. I’m well-aware that the MTV EMA’s are also awarded based on vote. Is it any different? In some respects, yes I think it is. The EMA’s are not trying to decide the most important acts of our time based on the previous twenty-five years (or more) of work. They reflect a single year, and in many aspects they reflect a single song and how it was received by the public.

Ultimately, this post isn’t going to convince anyone of anything. It’s simply a conversation starter in the same way that morning talk shows might spark discussion. Speaking of which, in case you haven’t heard, Lori Majewski (author of Mad World and fellow Duranie who once  was the editor of her own fanzine named Too Much Information: the Definitive Duranzine ) along with co-host Nik Carter have their  own brand new music talk show called Feedback on Sirius Channel VOLUME. It airs 7-10 AM EST live in all time zones and then repeats as soon as it ends, and is also available on demand. We wish Lori the very best!



An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!