Category Archives: addiction

Book Discussion–In The Pleasure Groove (Chapters 65-69)

Is it Monday already?  Where did the week go?  While I’m way less than thrilled that my weekend is over, I’m always happy to have a book discussion, especially when it is on John Taylor’s autobiography!  This week, we move on to Chapters 65-69.  These chapters cover right after the Wedding Album to John’s solo days (1994-1998/9).  Both Duran Duran and John Taylor faced a ton of changes during the time period.  Duran recorded an album of covers, Thank You, which was released in 1995.  John formed another side project, Neurotic Outsiders.  While this project was not long lasting, John’s time with Duran ended until the reunion in 1997.  The band moved on without him and he worked on a solo career.  Personally, he had a successful experience at rehab.  He also divorced his wife, Amanda, and met and married Gela, which resulted in a blended family.  Much to discuss!!!

Chapter 65:  A Million Tiny Seductions
Why do you think the chapter was called “A Million Tiny Seductions” when it really describing John hitting rock bottom?
A – I don’t have a good answer to my question, but one that I’m left wondering about.  Is it a reference to the drugs?  They seduced him a million times.  Could that be it?  Could it be that all of the seductions John had been involved with were not enough?  He still ended up unhappy and addicted until he sought out the help that he needed.
R – I really don’t think it’s was JUST the drugs. I think it was the fact that there were seductions around every single corner and yet none of them were ever enough.  I mean really – wasn’t that truly it?  The man had everything most of us every really even think of – and yet none of it was ever enough, and some of it was just way too much.  

Did you find any thing surprising about John’s decision to enter rehab?
A – In some ways, his story seemed common.  His last night of partying that he described in this chapter was bad, but not life altering.  Yet, it seems to me that it isn’t always some dramatic moment that leads to the decision to admitting that one needs help.  It also didn’t surprise me that John heard about the rehab facility and thought it wasn’t for him, at first.  I think that is common.  What did surprise me is that those around him didn’t seem to really get that John was suffering as much as he was.  Now, I’m not saying that to be critical.  It could have been that John was such a functional addict that people didn’t see it as a problem or that John doesn’t remember them being concerned.  It is just unusual.
R – I’ve been thinking a lot about that whole “English-way” thing.  I know from my own family they just don’t talk to one another! It seems to me, as the hopeless American, that they hide quite a bit and just keep going (but they don’t call it hiding).  My point being that I don’t think he would have gotten any of his bandmates to ever tell him that it was too much until it was too late.  Maybe John hid it well, maybe the band members had their own worries, and maybe it was just expected behavior.  I don’t know.  I did like the little tale about his assistant at the time who just kept driving and dared to say “You never know John, you might make some friends.”  Good on her for not giving in to his fear – because that’s exactly what all that was – fear. You know, if John Taylor ever said “F you” to me – well, he’d think twice before doing it again. Just saying. I’d have calmly stopped the car and told him to get out and walk the rest of the way to rehab, and those of you who really know me understand that I’m not kidding. Good times.  No, I wouldn’t have made a good assistant.  

Chapter 66:  Tucson
John mentioned that he blamed his parents for some of his problems while at rehab.  Does that fit with the rest of the book?
A – I think John did a marvelous job presenting himself and others as the complex people that they are.  While his love for his parents is obvious, he never said that they were perfect.  It seems to me that John had to walk through the process of acknowledging and forgiving his parents for being human in order to heal.
R – I’m not surprised he blamed his parents for some of his problems.  I am rather fond of the saying “No one gets through childhood unscathed.”…and that’s true.  I think it’s normal because our parents very much mold us into who we become to some extent…and parents are still human.  We make mistakes every single day (as I am told).  I think it is all part of the healing process, and I still believe this book is very much a love letter to his mom and dad as a way to honor their memory.  It’s not really about Duran Duran, although I think many out there see it that way. 

Chapter 67:  Day 31
Why do you think that John believed that it would be difficult to continue his career sober before he saw the interview with Michael Douglas?
A – John didn’t explain this very thoroughly but he did comment that magazines like NME taught him that he needed to be wasted.  Why would he need to be wasted?  As we know, NME was not kind to Duran ever.  They did not think that Duran deserved the success that they had.  So did he feel like he needed to be wasted to be able to blow off the negative feedback?  Was only able to be a rock star when he was wasted or so he thought?
R – You know, some part of me thinks that John Taylor, along with many many other young celebrities out there, really just didn’t get it – it being his life, his career, etc.  I came away from the entire book thinking that it must have been very difficult to reconcile your sense of self as an individual entity away from the celebrity self.  They seem to be two very different things, and I think it takes a certain amount of self-awareness and even maturity to be able to really handle celebrity.  It’s only natural to attach yourself to whomever that “onstage” persona might be, and navigating the span between the two must be incredibly difficult.  I really don’t think being a drug addict had anything to do with dealing with the negativity as much as it did for him to deal with real life – the time when he wasn’t onstage working and was trying to function as John Taylor.  Or Nigel for that matter.  Who was he supposed to be?  I think that was just as much of the issue as anything else.

Chapter 68:  A Fine Bromance
Why do you think John included Neurotic Outsiders versus something like his acting?
A – Clearly, he learned an important lesson from playing with this band, which was that he could have fun playing music again.  It didn’t always have to be career focused.  I also think it was important for him to be around other rock stars who were in a similar situation in celebrating their sober lives.  They probably acted as a support group of sorts for each other.  On a completely different and unrelated note, I love the song, Better Way, and was happy that John included something about it.
R – I think the lesson was important for him.  He needed to see if it was still fun.  I really don’t know what acting really was for John other than maybe an aside – could he do something else entertainment related?  I’m not really sure.  It’s all self-exploration when it comes down to it, but I can understand why he left acting out of the book.  

Chapter 69:  Gela
Did you feel like you understood why John left the band?
A – John didn’t go into too much depth for why he left Duran.  He mentioned how he had to travel less in order to really focus on his family and blending it successfullyWhat I find interesting is that I had forgotten he was still in the band in the last couple of chapters.  It seemed like Duran was the last thing on his mind.  While I’m sure that part of that happens after being in a career for awhile, but he didn’t talk about making Thank You or starting to work on Medazzaland.  It seems to me that John explains it more as he talks about his solo days.  He needed to see who he was or if he even existed outside of Duran Duran.
R – Admittedly, I am so fuzzy on details when it comes to this point in the history of Duran Duran. I don’t have the timeline straight in my head until I re-read what he says.  I was busy trying to define who *I* was during this period for very different reasons, so Duran Duran wasn’t really on my mind much either, I guess.  In my opinion, his quitting the band was as much of a statement as to the fact that John had finally figured out how to BE John as it was anything else. He was able to distinguish his own self from the band.  I have to applaud him for being able to walk away from that and just exist.  

What lessons do you think that John got from being solo?
A – Clearly, he learned two very important lessons.  First, he learned that he really could connect with people through music.  The machine of Duran had/has gotten so big that it must be hard for the band to think of making connections with individuals.  I’m sure it is far easier to think of us as “The Fans”, collectively, rather than a group of individual people who have something in common.  Second, he learned to really love playing live and that each gig should be approached with the idea that this gig must be the best one.
R – I think you pointed out all of the same points I was thinking!  In some ways, it is a shame that the Duran Duran “machine”, as you put it – got so out of control in the 80’s.  I don’t think it was just John that didn’t have any idea how to deal with us, “The Fans” on any sort of individual level.  I mean, let’s face it – it’s been many many years and I think it’s only just recently that they are even SORT of beginning to feel comfortable with us as people.  Sort of.  I can’t really blame them in some respects.  We’re very overwhelming as a whole.  As individuals – which might be easier to see with Twitter and Facebook, we might not be so bad, but it takes a long time to reprogram yourself to think that way after the days of the 80’s where we were a huge mob just after anything and everything we could get.  Anyway, it’s clear that he needed to see what it was like to connect with fans again.  Like he said, standing up in front of thousands was easy, but 8?  Maybe not quite as simple in a completely different way. 

Final Thoughts:
This section could be called the lessons learned part of the book.  It seems to me that John learned about himself, about the disease of addiction, about how to forgive and stop blaming, about how to stand on one’s own two feet, about how to really be in a family, about how fun music can be especially when making connections with others.  It seems to me that we could all benefit from remembering some of the more universal lessons ourselves.

Next week, we will be discussing Chapters 70-72.  This is a short section that covers his mother’s death and the reunion.  It should be interesting.  Until then, grab a beverage and chime in!

-A

Withdrawal Symptoms

I woke up this morning sick to my stomach.  The symptoms clearly said it was some sort of flu with nausea, stomach craps, alternating between chills and sweating and exhaustion.  Of course, I posted my illness on my personal facebook while I called the campaign I’m working for to tell them that I needed someone to cover me at today’s canvass.  The consensus on facebook was that I had been pushing myself too much and that a day off would do me good.  While it could be a virus or a virus that was able to hit due to working so much, I suspect that there might be something else going on.  I was able to put it together after receiving an email from Rhonda and seeing her facebook status.  She, too, has been battling illness this week and experienced insomnia last night.  My sleep has been awful lately as well.  Now, we don’t live near each other.  I’m in Wisconsin and she’s in California.  There is no way that we have the same virus or do we?!?

Today is September 22nd.  Where were we one month ago?  We were in Portsmouth, Virginia, going to our final show of the All You Need is Now tour.  This was the last show for probably years and we both were well aware of that on that day.  Strangely enough, I also had a weird dream last night in my very restless sleep.  The location of this weird dream:  Portsmouth, Virginia.  When I woke up this morning, I thought it was a strange location to dream about since we weren’t there very long and it wasn’t the most memorable location or show of the tour.  Yet, my subconscious was thinking about it.  Clearly.  In this dream, I had to get to a show.  I was in a rush to get there but I kept running into roadblocks, both literally and figuratively.  Traffic was a nightmare in my dream as was road construction.  I only had a few hours to get there, to the show.  Rhonda, too, was struggling to get there.  I assumed that she wasn’t going to make it.  I found myself slowly accepting the fact that we weren’t going to make it on time for the show.  In fact, I decided I wasn’t even going to see Rhonda.  I tried to accept it.  At the last minute, Rhonda showed up in what I assumed was a hotel room.  The last thing I remember saying to her was, “We might make it but it isn’t going to be easy.”  When I woke up, I thought I was talking about making that show and maybe I was.  Now, though, I think it is bigger than that. 

This dream connected with my symptoms, Rhonda’s symptoms and today’s date only means one thing.  We are experiencing withdrawal symptoms.  Yes, this means that we are addicted.  We are Duranaholics.  I am standing up as I type this and admitting it.  My name is Amanda and I’m a Duranaholic.  Clearly, now I know that this addiction isn’t just mental but physical as well.  Now that I have taken the first step and am not longer trying to deny this addiction, what do I do?  Do I try and break the addiction?  If so, this means I have to continue through this detox and, frankly, I have no choice as there is no time with the band in my future.  Although, I keep hoping, despite all evidence that it won’t happen, for at least, a tiny fix with a John Taylor signing in…say…Chicago.  Okay.  *deep breath*  So, I must continue through detox.  Then what?  Meetings?  Do they have to be in person meetings or can twitter and facebook be enough?  I know that there are many Duranies in the Madison area or within driving distance.  Should I organize DA (Duranaholics Anonymous) meetings?  What if I’m the only addict?  Yes, many people may be able to enjoy Duran in small quantities and might be able to really control their usage.  Do you think that they would be able to encourage my change in lifestyle or will they be enablers by showing Duran clips or playing Duran music?  Then, there is the issue of Rhonda.  Will she walk this path with me or will she continue to use? 

Of course, I could just decide to keep using.  Maybe I can do enough Duran like to keep the mental and physical suffering away for the most part.  What should I do?  Which path should I choose?  How do I survive until the next fix?  How are the rest of you surviving without Duranlive?! 

-A

P.S.  I do truly understand that real addiction is a disease that should be taken seriously.  I was only comparing fandom to real addictions for fun.  No offense was meant.  I promise.  🙂

Searching for Reasons

As I’m sure, most, if not all, of you are aware of Whitney Houston’s death.  As of the time of this blog, no official cause of death has been reported.  Many are speculating that drugs could have been the cause or a factor in her death, especially since she was so young (48) and her problems with drugs have been very public.  While the world reacts to this news, I find myself wanting answers.  Obviously, many of us want to know what happened to cause her death, but many want to know issues deeper than that.  How come Whitney Houston found herself battling drugs?  How come she ended up dead at 48 and others who have had the same battles end up okay?  Interestingly enough, I posted yesterday about the song, Hold Back the Rain, and its connection to John’s drug and alcohol battle.  Whitney Houston’s death has me thinking more about John Taylor and his battle.

After yesterday’s blog, I saw and heard a number of comments about the timely of the song.  Many people did not realize that John had been using back in 1982.  Before I go further, though, it is worth noting that he wasn’t the only one in the band.  Other band members have admitted to using drugs and many of them still drink.  I also feel it necessary to note that I’m not judging John or any other member.  That said, while other members of Duran might have used, as far as I know John is the only one to have gone to rehab and is now clean and sober.  This, of course, leads me to wonder what was different about John.  How come his use became an addiction?  How come it didn’t happen to the rest of them?  Obviously, I don’t have the answers, but I suppose that I could speculate.  Was John more likely to become addicted?  The only thing I could guess here is what I sense about who John is.  I have heard people describe John as intense, that he doesn’t do things half way.  Perhaps, then, this applied to partying, too.  I don’t know.  It also seems to me that John isn’t naturally comfortable, socially.  Even now, he seems to be the member who is least likely to go out of his way, in person, to interact with the fans even in situations removed from partying.  For example, John typically heads back to the hotel immediately after a gig.  He doesn’t greet the fans outside venues.  I have also heard that he isn’t very social during meet and greets.  Maybe he is uncomfortable there.  I don’t know.  I even find it interesting that he uses twitter so much.  Perhaps, this is a safe and comfortable way for him to interact with us.  Therefore, maybe, his substance abuse started by him using to be more comfortable in social situations or be the life of the party that people assume rock stars are.  Again, I don’t know if any of this is true and is just me guessing.  I’m also not judging here, especially since I, too, can be intense and can be uncomfortable in social situations.  Anyway, just some of my ideas about maybe why he started using to begin with and why he got addicted and the others didn’t. 

Then, I wonder why John was able to battle his addictions and others aren’t.  Did he have enough people or the right people around him to give him the support that he needed?  Did it help that he decided to become clean when Duran wasn’t in the spotlight as much?  Did he have the right motivation?  If so, what were his motivations?  We know now that one of the motivations he had for quitting smoking was that he kept getting sick and that non-smokers don’t get sick as much.  No matter the reasons behind him entering rehab, I think it absolutely is a testament to his character.  He wasn’t afraid to get the help he needed and isn’t afraid to admit that now.  On top of that, he has been successful.  I can only imagine how much strength it takes to fight addiction, especially since it is something that never completely goes away.  He must remain committed to being clean and sober everyday. 

I suppose, in the end, it doesn’t matter what lead John down the path to being addicted to drugs and alcohol.  It doesn’t even matter why he has been successful in fighting his addictions as long as he keeps doing what he needs to do to be clean and sober.  What does matter is that he has the strength to keep fighting and how lucky we are that we still have him and the rest of the band.  Deaths like Whitney Houston are extremely upsetting and tragic.  While I don’t have the answers for a death so young, what I can do is appreciate what I do have and support my idols in their quest for healthy living and long life. 

-A

Calendars, Tour Books and Collections…Oh My!

I was thrilled to hear/see that Duran will have a calendar for 2012!  I so missed having one for 2011 as I have all of their recent calendars (2006-2010).  This year I decided to pick my favorite picture for any given month to display since there wasn’t a current calendar.  That worked out fine but it wasn’t very functional and often had to remind myself that it wasn’t the current year.  In case you have not heard, their calendar for 2012 will be available to purchase from the dd.com store on Monday, November 7th.  (Happy Birthday to Rhonda!)  Now, I suppose that I should wait to purchase it until I come back for the UK or simply put it on my Christmas wish list since all of my extra money will be going towards the trip, but I probably won’t.  I get too worried that it will sell out, which causes me to buy right away, which is strange because I’m not really like that with anything but Duran.

I admit it.  I like Duran stuff.  They make a lot of money off of me as I’m someone who buys merchandise.  I have a ton of t-shirts, which include ones that I bought at a show and ones that I bought from the website.  I already mentioned the calendar.  I have posters.  I have keychains and I have buttons.  There are tons of bags that have some Duran logo in my closet from various tours and VIP packages.  Heck, I renewed DDM and did the Gold package in order to get the message bag, t-shirt, bookmark, etc.  I am such a sucker for Duran related items.  I am weak.  I admit it.  They must love having fans like me (other than the part that I voice my opinion about what they are doing and sometimes it isn’t all that…flattering or positive). 

I was like this as a kid, too.  Like everyone else of my Duran generation, I had the tons and tons of posters on my wall and saved up money to buy this week’s copy of Bop or Tiger Beat.  I bought every album and singles, when I could.  I even had Duran Duran pajamas!  How cool was I when I pulled that nightshirt out at a slumber party?!  Of course, I purchased copies of Sing Blue Silver, Dancing on the Valentine and their other major videos.  I also saved my money to buy larger books of Sing Blue Silver, the photograph book, and the Book of Words.  How could I not?  I wanted to buy as much Duran as I could, including one of my favorite Duran items of all time…the Into the Arena board game!  I still have my original board game despite it being away from me for awhile.  I bought the game when it came out and even attempted to play it a few times.  The directions still dumb to me but the pictures were pretty!  Anyway, at some point in my childhood, I decided that I should try to move on from Duran for various reasons.  Yet, I couldn’t just get rid of everything so I did the next best thing!  I gave my stuff to one of my good friends!  Years later, then, she asks me if I wanted the stuff back!  Of course, I did!  Thus, items like the board game were returned home to their rightful place.  I went to my first Duran show with this friend and we went to a few more after that together.  Now, I will see her during our UK tour as she will be hosting Rhonda and I and going to the Glasgow show with us! 

My childhood revolved around getting Duran items so it isn’t super surprising that my adulthood is filled with that as well.  One of my more recent items is this tour’s tourbook.  I have the ones for Astronaut and RCM.  (By the way, who didn’t think the Astronaut one was cool as hell?!?!)  I have fond memories of both of them.  My friends and I purchased our copies of the Astronaut tour book in Chicago in March of 2005.  It provided fun reading material as we drove from Chicago to Milwaukee to the show there the next night.  Likewise, I purchased the RCM one in Chicago in May of 2008 but didn’t have fun with it until I purchased one for Rhonda.  Then, I could go through it and highlight the fun parts for her.  We did the same after purchasing copies of the Ask Katy book, “Would Someone Please Explain?” and read it together on a flight to Philadelphia in December 2008.  Therefore, we decided to purchase this year’s tourbook.  Originally we planned to buy it in the UK.  Thankfully, we didn’t as the size is…uh…an issue.  It is 12 inches by 16 inches and is way too long to be user friendly. 

As far as this year’s tourbook content goes, there is some positive aspects and some…I think are lame.  The cover is a shiny silver with a big pink D on it.  It fits with the theme of the album art.  It has many photographs of the band members taken live but they aren’t my favorite as the photos are more artistic and less clear.  They are also in black and white.  That said, there are colored photographs that are quite lovely.  Unfortunately, the crease of the book gets in the way at times, including blocking Nick in one picture and Dom in another.  Lame.  Some of the photographs were those that were used to create the album cover.  Again, I didn’t think they were necessary.  Call me crazy but I would rather have photos of the guys!  Most of the photographs besides the live ones were of the band, either as a group or as individuals.  Yes, most of those photos were quite attractive!  They did include a page with photos of Dom, Anna and Saxy Simon. 

Beyond the photos, they did include some written content, which I was generally disappointed with.  One page included the news story from the Man Who Stole a Leopard.  Really?  That was necessary? Then, there were pages where the band and Ronson discussed making the album.  Typically, this type of content would thrill me.  It didn’t, in this case, because I had all ready heard it on the DVD for the album.  Nothing drives me more crazy than when they recycle material.  The one part of the writing I really did enjoy, though, was when each band member was given the same series of questions.  I loved reading their answers and getting an insight into how they think.  A few answers really stuck out to me.  Clearly, Nick is obsessed with time and getting things done as he listed his greatest fear as running out of time and listed wasting time as his greatest extravagance.  Roger dislikes his nose and thinks that he is lazy.  Simon actually gave much longer answers and told a beautiful story about when his eldest daughter, Amber, was born.  John wishes that he didn’t care what others thought of him.  Very interesting, overall. 

Thus, while the tour book had some great photographs and some lovely insights into the boys, I wished for much more content.  I also wish it was smaller to be easier to store and travel with.  Despite its limitations, I’m still glad that I have it.  I’m glad that I have all of my Duran stuff, including the tourbooks, t-shirts, videos, calendars, bags, posters and board game.  Do you collect Duran?  If so, what is your favorite item?

-A 

Can I Become a Professional Duranie?

This blog post is obviously a bit late tonight.  While this time of year is always a busy one, right now, it is especially busy, if you are a Duran fan.  As you all know, Duran Duran released a new single and is on the verge of releasing their 13th studio album on December 21st.  This would be exciting in and of itself.  The new song would provide plenty of discussion among the fans on various message boards and social networking sites.  Of course, the discussion might also include speculation about the other new songs, possible touring and more.  All of that reading and posting would take up time.  Lots of time.  Yet, it seems to me that Duran is finding other ways to keep us busy as Duranies on a daily basis now. 

Today was a good example of this.  I know that I saw and heard a new snippet of a song, “The Man Who Stole a Leopard” on the band’s official website.  Roger posted pictures from the video shoot on facebook.  There were more tweets, including one from John talking about how almost all of the reactions to the song were very positive.  Then, there was a live twitter chat with Simon and Katy where the fans could ask questions of Simon live and he would respond to them.  This isn’t all, I bet.  I suspect that I probably missed a thing or two.  Now, I’m not sure how the rest of the Duran world is feeling but I’m struggling to keep up.  I’m having a hard time finding a balance between keeping up with Duran news and real life.  I admit that I had gotten used to nothing much happening after the RCM era past and I am having a hard time realizing that in this is a new era of Duran Duran.  This era appears to be an extremely busy one.

Do not get me wrong here.  I am not unhappy with all of the Duran happenings.  On the contrary, I love reading about something new and discussing it with other fans.  Love it.  Since the single came out, I have spent more time on the phone and on the computer than I have in weeks in order to discuss the new material!  I have even found myself up late way.  Now, somehow, this lack of sleep hasn’t impacted my working performance yet.  The key word there is “yet”.  I suspect that all of my excitement about the new material is helping with the tiredness I should be feeling.  Anyway, despite all of the time spent on the latest Duran information, I don’t feel like I know everything.  Up until recently, I would have said that I was able to hear or read about every little detail about Duran Duran.  I never feel caught up!  Now, I feel lucky if I caught between 50 and 75% of what is new.  Today, I heard about so many things that I couldn’t even figure out what to blog about!

Where does that leave me now?  Well, I could wish for Duran to settle back down and just give us a piece of information once every week or month, but I don’t.  I LOVE all of the action taking place and cannot wait for more action with both the album release and tour dates (hopefully and soon!).  What is another choice then?  I know.  The band could just hire me to be a professional Duranie.  The job would allow me all the time in the world to see what is happening in Duranland and to respond to it.  Alas, I doubt this will happen so I’ll be left with trying my best to keep up while making another pot of coffee!

-A 

What’s the Difference?

From time to time in this blog, I’ve tried to bring up issues that aren’t necessarily central to our community, but about fandom in general.  One of those topics is fanaticism.

From the time I was a child and really became aware of what being a “fan” was all about – it became very clear to me that you can be a fan by enjoying someone’s work (whether that is a sports team, an actor, a band, etc.), and that experience can be very positive.  Somewhere along the line, however; there is a point where fandom can be very negative.  The love and appreciation for a certain entity can become something very ugly, and even dangerous.  There is a very clear difference between hanging posters on a wall and say – photoshopping pictures so that it appears that your life is somehow entwined with the obsession.  Even more drastic, there’s a difference between leaving a kind “can’t wait for the album” comment on a facebook page and writing a threatening and long winded “love” letter to the band.  I think most fans can see that difference and recognize when another “fan” has indeed crossed that line.

What tends to be more blurry, and far less black and white, is when someone who has been a fan for years starts to become frustrated with the band’s situation, or with the fact that in their opinion the band hasn’t “delivered” in many years.  What was once kind appreciation becomes anger and again, frustration.  Of course, this is much different than just not liking a specific album.  The problem is when, for the same fan, over the course of a few years or a few albums, it’s as though the band can do nothing right.  Again, many can say (and would be right and fair in saying!) that perhaps the band/artist/etc. has hit a very bad patch – and there is absolutely nothing wrong with having an opinion.  That isn’t my point at all, and that’s also what makes this type of negative fanaticism difficult to identify, both in ourselves and in others.  It has much more to do with a cycle of behavior than a few flippant comments.  After all, there are many fans who haven’t liked an album or two.  There are still plenty more that joke about “Durantime”, or comment on the bands’ chances of hitting the charts again.  Those comments do not indicate the behavior of a fanatic, other than the fact that we spend an awful lot of time discussing the band!  I would assert, however that there is a distinct point when the negativity becomes much more fanatical than fan.

In the time I’ve been involved in the community, I have noticed there is a definite roller coaster feeling to this nonsense we call fandom.  There are huge highs, and very low points that can sometimes be very difficult to even out from, and gigantic hills to climb to get to the good parts.  I don’t think it’s unlike addiction, to be honest.   At first, the ride is fun – even the drop offs and hills don’t seem so bad because everything is moving so fast.  All we want to do is ride the coaster again and again.  Then slowly, we start to get tired of it all.  We only want the good parts – and yet those seem so far back, and so hard to reach in front of us that we start to hate the ride.  We want the band to play on tour so that we can feel that high again, we want to get new music because we want to feel that shiny and new feeling again and again.  The band doesn’t move fast enough to keep up with our own “needs”…and we start really getting down on the band.  Then the album comes out, and while it’s OK, it’s not exactly what we wanted.  What we wanted was back 20 years ago, or maybe we want more of what was on the last album – but in any case the current album doesn’t give us that high at all.  What’s up with that?  Then they tour, and while the shows are OK, that exhilarated feeling we used to have after the shows seems to be missing.  We want that high – desperately so – so we continue to go to show after show and still nothing.  At this point, we’re getting angry because the band just isn’t meeting our needs at all…yet we can’t seem to tear ourselves away.  We just want the band to respond correctly, and maybe if we complain loudly enough, they’ll hear and fix it.  And so the roller coaster begins again.

The trouble comes when we don’t recognize the behavior for what it really is.  As I said above, there’s nothing wrong with disliking an album or a direction the band is taking.  That’s part of the normal give and take of fandom.  There’s nothing wrong with being disappointed, and it’s very normal to vocalize that disappointment, whether that’s in a discussion with fans or on a message board.  It’s something far different when over the course of extended time there is nothing positive coming from the fandom, whether that’s in words, actions, or feelings about the band.  What is the point of being a fan if there is nothing about the band that feels positive?  It’s behavior that isn’t entirely unlike addiction, which can truly be ugly.

As usual, this subject leaves me with far more questions than answers, and is something I will continue to focus on from time to time.  What makes a self-described fan go from sincere adoration to critical on all counts?  Is it something that happens to all fans over time, or is only a select few?  Is it that longtime fans see where the band has been, and realize the fun is over and that it’s time to quit?  Why bring down the entire community if you never have anything positive to add?  More importantly, why is that these fans don’t always leave the community? Is it really addiction to the band that keeps them around, and if so – what is the real defining difference between fandom, fanaticism and addiction, or is there really any difference at all?

-R