I have started my Christmas shopping and, this year, I am determined to finish my shopping sooner rather than later. Of course, I say that every year. My Christmas giving starts with wish lists. My family exchanges wish lists so that we do not duplicate what people have already. Rhonda and I do the same thing. Let me give a real life example. Everyone in my family knows that I am a big Duran Duran fan. While they know that, they cannot possibly know what I have and what I don’t have so a list help. What is even better for my family is finding a unique, one-of-a-kind gift for the Duran Duran fan. I came across something that fits that description!
Last week, I saw Duran retweet this: “Limited edition artwork signed by @duranduran created from audio of “Hungry Like the Wolf.” Benefitting @WarChildUK…” Of course, I had to look at what this limited artwork was all about! The website states: “Limited edition artwork by Tim Wakefield. Created by digitally manipulating, shaping and coloring sound waves generated in the studio…Signed by collaborating music icons.” In this case, each one is signed by Duran Duran and numbered with a certificate of authenticity. The picture below shows what it looks like:
In Duran Duran’s case, they signed 100 canvases backstage at their Austin, Texas, show. Each piece is 30 by 30 inches and available for $700. The proceeds benefit War Child UK, which an organization with the mission to “PROTECT, EDUCATE AND STAND UP FOR THE RIGHTS OF CHILDREN IN WAR.” This art is not the first time Duran has helped out this organization as they played a show for them in January of 2015.
What are my thoughts about this? Obviously, the $700 is out of the price range for a lot of us, but it does look super cool for those who can afford it. I like that it is signed and that it benefits an organization that looks after kids. If you want to buy one for you or the Duranie in your life, you can go here.
That said, I’m sure there are plenty of other cool Duran related gifts out there. What else can you find that is cool? After all, I suspect that Rhonda might be someone who would benefit something Duran related and super cool!
On today’s date in 1987, the world lost Andy Warhol. Many, if not most Duranies are at least familiar with the name – if not for his infamous soup can artwork, than definitely for his friendship with Nick Rhodes.
I remember hearing that he’d died, likely from television or perhaps the radio, and wondering how the band was taking it, and of course particularly Nick. Like most fans, I had seen photos with Nick and Andy, and some along with Julie Anne. I also remember feeling particularly sad that there would never come a day when Andy Warhol would do the cover of one of Duran Duran’s albums. In hindsight, the thought seems strange only because at the time, I was 16, fairly self-involved, and I don’t remember ever really paying much attention to their album covers. I hadn’t truly discovered art just yet, but apparently something led me to think that having Warhol do a Duran cover would have been amazing.
I still do.
Most people really only know Warhol for a few pop art paintings. Maybe it’s his soup can series, or perhaps it’s the Marilyns. I think what always attracted me to his work was likely his thought process. “Art is what you can get away with”, being one of many. I still like that thinking, because later in life, as I took Modern Art and learned more, I realized that is exactly what art is. The difference between Warhol and many others, including myself, is that he dared to put it out there, to think differently, to challenge someone’s ideas of what art is, drawing from every day, simple things – like a soup can – or like celebrity in general.
It is not really a surprise to me, although I have to remind myself from time to time, that the band draws upon a similar spirit when writing and recording. They challenge themselves (and later, their fans) to think about music, about pop…and certainly about themselves as a band, differently with every single album. They are not content to re-record Rio over and over. I think at times, it is difficult to accept progress, as a fan. We somehow program ourselves to believe that Rio, or the first album for instance, is their “signature” sound. Albums should come packaged with a photo of themselves on the cover, and all meanings should be clearly stated, ambiguity need not apply.
When I think about Duran Duran as artists, given those parameters, I realize how unfair fans might be at times. Should they never grow or mature past the 1980s? What about us as listeners? Are we really to never consider other options, or different sounds? Over the past several months, I’ve thought about this a lot. I’ve come to the conclusion that if Duran Duran had never changed, I would have gotten very bored by now. As much as I defiled RCM…and I really did… in a variety of online message boards, I have to give the band credit. They really stepped out of their box for that one. It doesn’t matter now whether or not I think it worked, because through that experience, as well as the one that followed, All You Need is Now, came Paper Gods. The evolutionary process of making music continues, and seeing every day things, even their own music, in different ways continues the pop art tradition.
So when Duran Duran mentions that they’re working to score a ballet out of one of the pieces of music that was left off of Paper Gods, or that they’re devising a musical, my first question isn’t, “Why aren’t you working on another album?”, but instead, “Where can I sign up to help make this happen?!?” I hope it’s incredibly outrageous and forces me to see in yet another different, but equally glorious light.
Yeah, I saw Lady Gaga last night. After realizing I wasn’t going to be at home in time to catch the beginning and a quick text home, I knew I’d be playing with the fast-forward button on my DVR in order to squeeze in the more interesting parts of the Grammy Awards into my evening TV plans. Rest assured, Lady Gaga and Nile were on the top of that list.
Naturally, I watched some of the rest of the awards show as well. I don’t know about anyone else, but it very much felt like a LACK of awards show, and much more about just performances, which is fine…I guess…but it was strange to be five minutes into the broadcast and have LL Cool J announce that Lamar Kendrick had already won five awards. What the hell? Maybe that’s just me.
As I continued fast forwarding whenever possible, I finally got to the Bowie tribute. Here is where things get tricky for me. First of all, I wouldn’t dare call myself a huge Bowie fan. I have dear friends who are huge Bowie fans, and it would be unfair to put myself in that same category. I will say that I have become far more of a fan since his passing, and that’s probably a subject for a much different blog post that has more to do with art than fandom. Moving on…
Performing something called a tribute is a very difficult balancing act. The goal of course is to honor the artist. That artist might be honored posthumously, as in the case of David Bowie…or they might be watching in person, as in the case of Lionel Richie last night. Either way, I truly believe that the people performing do so in an attempt to honor. Do fair justice and respect to the work without making the performance about you (the performer) when it should be about the artist being honored. Make it too much about the person you’re honoring, and it can end up looking like a mockery of the very person(s) you’re trying to honor.
This goes as much for tribute bands, who make a living (or try to do so!) playing onstage in the persona of the band/artist they honor as it would for something like the Grammy’s where a huge portion of the show was dedicated to tributes (like last night). When I go to see a tribute band (I go often and have seen many, from Elvis and the Beatles to Oingo Boingo, Depeche Mode and Duran Duran to name but a few), the acts that are the most successful are the ones that take it seriously without going over the edge into ridiculous. Make too many jokes about the band you’re paying tribute to – and you’ve just taken that down a road that fans will not like. Play too much like your real-self, changing the original music and arrangements to suit your own taste, and you’re just a cover band, which is fine, but don’t call yourself a tribute act. There’s always a fine line to walk, and many bands do not do it well.
So, with that in mind, I watched intently as Lady Gaga’s face appeared on my TV screen and became painted like the Starman. She came on stage with beautiful red-hair and sang incredibly. Had she just done that: relied on her voice, her obvious love for Bowie’s style, music and art, I think it would have been fine, I really do. But somewhere along the line, either she decided or someone told her that she should try to completely embody Bowie. And that’s where it all went wrong for me. I am not even a huge Bowie fan, and yet I couldn’t help feeling as though I was watching a poorly executed Vegas act in certain moments of the performance. It wasn’t her voice, gosh no. She was incredibly strong and did a beautiful job. It was theatrics that really got me. No one need point out that Bowie himself was theatrical. Believe me, the point has not been overlooked. The problem is, in recreating that drama, it felt very over-the-top, sliding down the steep terrain into mockery. It was pointed out to me by Katy Krassner that she really didn’t seem to be doing that intentionally (and I am sure she wasn’t), but I struggled with how to describe it all. Campy is the right word. Picture a Vegas lounge act, and I think we’re on the right track.
Here’s the thing, at least for me: Lady Gaga sang beautifully last night. I want to make sure that point comes across. As much as I disliked and was confused by what was going on visually, her voice completely blew me away. I really don’t know that they could have found anyone else to do the job as well when it came to singing the songs. I loved seeing Nile every time he was given precious camera time, and I was thrilled to hear just a few bars of “Let’s Dance”. I just don’t understand why her voice and Nile’s obvious talent and emotion for his friend weren’t enough without the theatrics.
The difference between Gaga and Bowie comes down to artistry. Bowie just knew how to make it all work together without one overshadowing the other, and he did it with ease. Bowie’s work never really looked like he was forcing it into being a spectacle, in my opinion. Even at the time of his death and in the making of the videos for “Blackstar” and “Lazarus”, he was able to work in those deep, hidden messages without changing the intention of his work. Hell, I fell in love with Lazarus before I even realized what it was truly about. That it ended up being this lasting message to fans about the end of his life on this earth, and the idea that he made his death into this gorgeous supernova which becomes a black star (another word for a black hole) that will live on, just makes me long for more. (I could write and talk for hours about that single album and its artistic references. I mean, the man turned his death into a fucking multimedia event. Who does that?!?) When Bowie sang Starman, for instance, it wasn’t campy or in danger of becoming a late-night lounge act on the Vegas strip. It was just enough without going over the edge. That’s where the real art lies, and for me, that’s what last night’s performance was missing.
I’ll end with this thought: should the day come when it is Duran Duran being honored, I would hope that it would be done with the utmost in care and respect. I don’t need to see a full-mock up of the yacht from Rio, military suits, tigers, leopards, or a scene from Wild Boys on stage to honor them. I simply want to see respect from an industry that has offered them very, very little over the years. I would think that is all any fan would want.
I miss great music videos. Don’t get me wrong, music videos like “Pressure Off” are fun too. I can watch something that like and not really need to get past the frivolity – and to be fair, isn’t that really the point of the song anyway?
On the other hand, I love art. I just watched David Bowie’s new video for “Lazarus”, and marveled. It’s dark, disturbing, even scary. It made me uncomfortable, and I really found myself thinking. (gasp!) How appalling to be forced to employ the grey matter while watching pop culture, right? Wrong, at least as far as I’m concerned.
Pop culture has the potential to be fraught with messages and artistic meanings, if one cares to look. I love the irony and sarcasm…the double entendres, and even the intelligence and dry humor. This past weekend, I went with my son to the Getty Center up in Los Angeles. Truth be told, he’s taking an Art History course this year and he needed to go and find a work of art to study and write about otherwise I’m fairly certain I could have never convinced him to go. I, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to visit! I’ve been to the Getty several times, but it had been several years since I’d gone – and I knew they had an exhibition on Ishiuchi Miyako. She is a Japanese photographer, and the entire exhibit, named Postwar Shadows was meant to profile her career, beginning with the series Yokosuka – focusing on the town she grew up in, post-war and ending with her current series, Hiroshima – which is a collection of photographs of artifacts from the bombing. I loved the entire exhibit, spending more time in there than I did in a few other areas of the Getty. There were two areas within the exhibition that profoundly affected me. Scars -photographs of scars on humans – no faces are in the photos, just close-ups of the battle wounds from life. My son thought they were bizarre – not really feeling the same sort of soul-bearing emotion that I got from the work. Even more so were the collection of photos entitled Mother’s. She had begun by taking photos of some scars her mother had received from a horrible scalding when she was young as well as some of her belongings. As she worked on that series from time to time, her mother passed away. She continued the work, focusing on photographing some of her mother’s belongings, in effect turning the collection into a beautiful tribute, almost eulogizing her mom. One pair of photos I loved most were tubes of her mother’s lipsticks. They were taken up close, with every possible crack and crevice exposed. I think that in my head, they sort of illustrated a life fully lived, but just as we never know how long we have – they were half used, assuming they had a “tomorrow”, when in fact they did not. Just ordinary tubes of lipstick, shot in a way that felt like such an intimate exposure. I won’t forget those photos any time soon.
That’s honestly how I feel about some music videos. I will never forget the mark they’ve left on me. On one hand, it’s “just” music, as I’m sure many might be thinking in response to this post. On the other, videos (and music of course) have the potential to be wonderful art, to convey a message and/or tell a story. At one point, videos had many of these themes in spades, often times hidden just enough so that viewers from the broadest of spectrums – everyone looking for anything from art to escapism, basically – would be entertained. The more bizarre, the better. I think of “Like a Prayer” by Madonna – not necessarily bizarre but definitely controversial, even more so after the Vatican condemned the video and later on as sexual abuse in the church was brought to light. How about “Two Tribes” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood? Not weird, but certainly with a message about Cold War. Here’s one for you, “Radio Ga Ga” by Queen. What’s odd about a family sitting at home, listening to the radio….while wearing gas masks? I’ll let you decide. I just know I LOVE it! Let’s talk about “Wild Boys”, by our own favorite group! Not necessarily that weird. No even all that controversial, but how about that windmill? Or John Taylor strapped to a car? (I had to throw it in here just to see if anyone was still reading!) One last one for now – Genesis’ “Land of Confusion”. I still don’t get that one, but I dig it all the same! More recent examples I can name, both from the Duran Duran “family”, would be “Falling Down” (obviously Duran Duran) and “Euphoria” (TV Mania).
My point here is that while I dare say that music videos were better in the 80s, it is really because I miss the weirdness. I miss the less-than-obvious messages and the creativity. Mostly, I miss Duran Duran doing videos like that, because I know they’ve still got it in them. This is a band who, beneath it all, still very much believes they are art school-based. In some ways I think they’ve bottled that creativity once reserved for videos (which in all fairness were conceptualized by directors, not the band themselves) and brought it to their live show. Now to just remind myself to tear away from the minutia of the show long enough to grasp the bigger picture. Even so….
For months now (actually it’s been YEARS…but we won’t bring that up again right now), I’ve wondered what they would do for a cover and a title. Would it be something artsy like All You Need is Now? Would it be a photo of the band? Would they use the black and gold or black and silver DD logo? And what would they call this thing? I was starting to think they’d go with Pressure Off only because they hash tagged it everywhere; but my heart was with DD14 because, well…duh. It’s what we’ve all called it since about September of 2013. Maybe it can be the treasured nickname, only used by friends and family.
Overthinking again. Right….anyway…
And…as is very indicative of my “relationship” and communicative abilities with this band, I was so, so wrong. In a lot of ways, I’m glad I couldn’t read their minds (actually, in MOST ways I’m glad I can’t read their minds). After all, when the day comes that I can pinpoint what they’re going to do, I will need to probably take a giant step back from the keyboard and find a new hobby. I mean, if there are no surprises, what is truly the point? In my point of view, some surprises can be good.
Admittedly, I am still trying to come to terms with the album cover, if not also the name. This is not meant as an insult, it’s that we’re all in that awkward phase where we’re introducing ourselves to someone (something) we’ve not really met yet. I’ll give a personal example and pray that my youngest never reads the blog. When I had my youngest, back in 2008 – we were pretty set on her first name. (That name came from a stuffed dog that my oldest owned, oddly enough…we are very careful to say that we didn’t name her after the dog of course, only that it gave us the idea!) Anyway, her middle name was tougher. We’ve named our kids after various family members, and I wanted to continue the tradition but I also wanted to give her the middle name of Marie (a name which belongs to no one in our family). Instead of doing so, I went with Renee, a middle name she shares with my sister. For the first few months, she didn’t look at all like her name to me. I was still getting used to her, finding her personality. I would even occasionally slip and call her the name I’d originally chose rather than the one on her birth certificate. Now? I couldn’t imagine her having any other name. It fits perfectly.
I’m trying to remember back to All You Need is Now. Remember the cigarette burn on the cover? I believe some of you out there even called it a sperm…isn’t that lovely? I’ve never seen so much criticism given to a cover of an album we’d yet to have heard. Funny, I hear nothing about that cover these days. We got used to it, and the album of course grew on most of us, too….and now we’ve moved on to Paper Gods.
Let me briefly comment on the name since I didn’t have a chance last week. I don’t even know when the news of the name hit – was it Friday? I didn’t really come up for air until Sunday afternoon, so the name doesn’t quite roll off my tongue (or my fingers) with ease just yet. I think the name is one of those things that will explain itself in time, and then I’ll wonder why I even thought twice about it…because that’s what albums are really supposed to do. If I had the chance to ask the band about this album, I’d ask them if they feel like it’s a complete “statement” in the same vein as albums back in our day were done (Ziggy Stardust comes to mind), or if it was put together the way so many are today, where they’re meant for quicker consumption. There’s no wrong answer there, albums are written so much differently today, thanks to iTunes and similar. People buy songs, not albums – so there isn’t as much of a motivation for a band to create an album that tells a whole story, or gives a statement. I’ve just been curious as to how they feel about it, especially now that it’s finished. In any case, as I ramble on here, I am hoping that once I really listen to the album, the name and it’s meaning will unfold in the very same way that all of their albums have done. I think back to not just All You Need is Now (although perfectly named), but Red Carpet Massacre, Astronaut, Pop Trash and even Medazzaland. When you stand back and look at those albums as a whole – the meanings are clear and the names are perfect. I can’t wait to hash this one over.
Then there’s the cover, as I mentioned earlier. At some point over the last several days, I saw the new logo and the blurred background image. I love the logo by Brian Roettinger. I really do. I love the way the Duran kind of sits on top of and blends into the other Duran. I actually like the colors, too. I was able to make out the ice cream cone and even the telephone and tiger (actually at one point I had thought the cover looked similar to the one they did for the single of Perfect Day), and that’s when I realized that those images of the ice cream cone, telephone and tiger were meant to remind us of what came before. I dug that…because they were blurred. They were sort of enigmatic in their own way. We knew they were there, we knew what had come, but we weren’t meant to focus on them. The colors were complementary, they’ve had pinks and blues around them for as long as I can remember, and I like them. At the time, I didn’t realize that the intention wasn’t for the cover to remain blurred.
The cover was reveled just yesterday (I believe??), with the caveat that the artwork is not final (Warner store website). The images are no longer blurred, and they kind of look like stickers. Someone else said (very accurately) that they reminded him of Colorforms from back in, well…OUR day.
The cover artist is LA-based Alex Israel and was done as a collaboration with the band, overseen by China Chow. Alex’s work is very large scale and much of it might remind you of gorgeous soft sunsets across a blue sky, although he has a multitude of other work as well. What tickles me with a cover such as this, where it might be easy to discard it as just pop -whether pop art or pop culture or even pop music – Alex Israel puts those images right on a reproduction of one of his very fine art pieces. Those images are somewhat styled to look like stickers or Colorforms if you remember them, very much icons of pop culture, if you will. But, if you bother to look beyond the surface, you’ll also find real art.
If that doesn’t describe this band; well, you’re not looking hard enough. Yes, Duran Duran are a part of pop culture. Yes, they’ve been pin-ups and have not been taken seriously, very much like this cover is being taken by FANS right now, but if you look hard enough, if you really pay attention, you just might find something far more valuable underneath. I think it’s genius, and I love that Duran Duran makes comment on the (supposed) paradox of their career in such a unique and subtle way.
I’ve seen many, many negative comments regarding the cover. There was even one or two comments suggesting that fans put together a sort of online petition so that the band reconsiders. Really?! Really??? First of all, the obvious: it is THEIR cover. The band can call the album whatever they want, put whatever they want on the cover, and the rest of us have to respect their choice. That’s the way this all works. This is the boundary between being a fan and being the band. It’s a slippery slope at times, and yes – there are moments when we have that sense of ownership, but this cannot be one of those times. We have not commissioned the band to go into the studio and make the album we want. They wrote the music THEY wanted, created the package and message they wished to convey. I’m as guilty as the next person, but enough is enough. Secondly, how about putting a little thought into the cover before condemnation? Dig a little deeper and see what you might find.
Lastly…anyone ready to take some Pressure Off?!? I sure am! I can’t wait to hear that single!!!
Anyone see anything interesting in last day or so? My social media universe seem to once again explode with activity late last night. No, it wasn’t new tour dates but something exciting, nonetheless! The following picture was posted by Duran Duran:
This, of course, alerted Duranies all over Planet Earth (pun…totally intended) that the Wild Boys (again intended) were really getting ready to release their next studio album, their 14th studio album. This album we all have been referring to as #DD14 now has a name. The baby has a name. Paper Gods.
What were the reactions? As with everything else in Duranland, there were some mixed reactions and some additional thoughts. In general, the reactions were of two basic camps from what I could see. Many were just simply excited by this. It represents the end of a VERY, VERY, VERY LONG drought in between albums. It will end this time’s Durantime. It means new music, a tour and a flurry of Duran activity. I assume that those fans would have been excited over anything related to the new album. That isn’t a criticism. I just think there were many fans who are too excited to even decide what they really think of the album title!!! I get that! I want the end of Durantime, too! I love that there is so much to react to that I could be blogging every hour or so and still not run out of things to talk about.
The other general reaction is a new push for “when”! The fans who responded with questions such as that are excited, too, but they are also impatient. They want to know exactly when the album will drop, when the first single is being released, when more tour dates will come and more. Again, I’m not sure the fans who reacted that way indicate what they actually think of the title. The fact that the album title got thrown out there makes them want all information now. It increases their anxiousness. Again, I can’t criticize that. I’m impatient, too. Heck, we here at the Daily Duranie have been complaining about Durantime since like 2013. Is it harder now that there is a tease? Maybe so. I think of it like driving. If I’m on a long car ride, I’m fine until I get close to my destination then I can’t wait to get out of the car. That’s how many are feeling about #DD14…wait…I mean Paper Gods.
The other reactions/thoughts/comments focus on either the title itself and what it means and the art. First, what does “Paper Gods” mean exactly? I don’t know. I know that there are a lot of fans trying to figure that out. Does it represent “money”? Does it represent false or empty “gods” that people might worship like money? Assuming that there is a song of the same name, will we get a better clue then? I suspect so. I admit that I will be looking to that song to give me a clue as to the meaning and even direction of the album. Could the cover offer some clues?
If you look closely at the cover, you can see that there are images in the background. Many are calling these images “subliminal”. Let’s take a look at the other pictures that are also flying around social media that could be showing these background images.
Many are speculating that these images mean something. For example, “cherry ice cream smile”. The bottom picture has a lot more pictures that directly represent Duran and their musical and visual history. Now, if these background images represent Duran, either directly or indirectly, what does that say about the title? Is an album cover “paper” and the musical genius behind the album the “gods”? I, obviously, have no idea. Not a clue. I do also wonder about the use of blue and pink. It does remind me of those phones in the Rio video with Simon using the blue “boy” one and the woman using the pink “girl” phone. Will those be the colors of the album? Are they a reference to Duran’s history? Again, I have no idea.
What are my thoughts then about the title and the image that went along with? I’m not sure about the title. I am anxious to hear the song to see what it is a reference to. I would love for it to be a subtle social commentary that Duran is so capable of. While that shade of blue and pink aren’t my colors, I do love that there is something to speculate about, something to wonder about, something to discuss. This is a BIG part of what I miss with Durantime! I’m ready for many, many discussions about all of it!!!
Friday night, my parents had me over for dinner. I have been so busy that I rarely see them, despite living in the same city. Thus, they have started inviting me over for dinner to ensure that they do see me. I do like seeing them over the weekend, though, for two reasons. First, I don’t feel quite as rushed as I do during the week. Second, my mom is usually buzzing. On Friday afternoons, she gets together with her art group, which is a group of women who are all fiber artists. During these sessions, the members share what they have been working on, getting/giving feedback and suggestions and trying out new techniques. My mom loves these days and always comes back with some new idea or something to change on one of her current pieces. I love seeing her energy and excitement. I always remember my mom having these bursts of creativity. When I was young, I waited for her to finish a piece in the hopes that I might be able to use some of her leftover materials to create something myself. Sometimes, the materials were expensive oil paints and, other times, they were charcoal or pencils. I loved it and desperately wanted to have not only her talent but also her creative genius. I tried hard in my school art classes, but was not successful. I couldn’t create what I envisioned in my head and never seemed to “let go”enough to really create something new. I blamed my father who has a much more analytical brain, one that excelled in math and science. The claim I made was that his gene was dominant. I accepted my role as cheerleader, as an appreciator of art, as someone who offered thoughts and opinions to my mom. Still, I took art history in college and visited many, many art museums. While I couldn’t be an artist, I wouldn’t be a math/science person either.
When I discovered Duran Duran as a fan, I think that part of what caught my attention was that I saw the same energy and excitement that I saw in my mom. It seemed like Duran was always creating. They weren’t content to just perform. No, they had to write their own music. Their videos were more than simple advertisements for their songs. They were mini-movies with storylines and other film elements. They embraced other arts as well whether that would be Nick’s photography, John’s graphic arts and acting, and even Roger’s DJing. They saw and embraced art in their image and their fashion choices. It seemed like Duran was always trying to do something new. Some examples include having the first downloaded single in Electric Barbarella, using flash technology for the video of Someone Else Not Me, having the 3-D song in Live from London, etc. I admired all of those attempts at something new, something special, something more creative even if they didn’t work as well or didn’t stand up with the passing of time. I also remember reading articles or interviews in which John Taylor has talked about the importance of having passion for something. This passion makes all the difference in succeeding in whatever you want to do with your life. (I can’t remember the exact quote but this is the feeling I remember from it.)
This weekend, I keep thinking about my mom and Duran. I keep thinking about energy, excitement, creativity, innovation, passion, and every other synonym to these words. I think about the book I just finished in my book club, Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple. This book focused on a woman who was a genius in her field of architecture. At one point in the book, her boss said, “People like you must create. If you don’t create, Bernadette, you will become a menace to society.” (Semple 114) Is this true? Do all creative people need to create? Does Duran feel it necessary to create? Would there be negative consequences if they didn’t? This particular character believes that the consequences would be felt by society. Could the consequences be personal as well? I know it would be for my mother. Does this enter into the band’s decisions to make the next album or the next project? As I think about this, I start to turn inward to look at myself. I’m not a fiber artist like my mom. I’m not a musician like the members of Duran. I’m not any kind of artist in the other areas that Duran has dived into. Yet, the longer I do this, the longer I write, the longer I do things like fan events, the more my thoughts about myself start to shift.
As I stated in the beginning of this post, I accepted that I wasn’t an artist. I accepted that I fit in between the innovative mother and the scientific father to become a social scientist. I could be analytical but about people, groups, society. I could accept that there were no definitive answers when studying human beings but that conclusions could be drawn based on systematic research and experiences. I still believe all that. I still believe that I’m a social scientist. Yet, my findings as a social scientist has been producing bursts of energy and excitement about projects that Rhonda and I are working on or will be working on. These bursts are just like what I see in my mom or in the band when they are discussing a new project. I feel my passion in fandom coming through, loud and clear, in both my writing and in past and future fan events. I feel creative. This feeling I have right now reminds me of another quote from the book I mentioned, “My heart started racing, not the bad kind of heart racing, like, I’m going to die. But the good kind of heart racing, like, Hello, can I help you with something? If not, please step aside because I’m about to kick the shit out of life.” (Semple 262) Yeah, that’s where I am. Who I am? I believe that I am an artistic social scientist.
Semple, Maria. Where’d You Go, Bernadette. New York: Little, Brown and Company. 2013. iTunes book.
Art by Linda Pustz. The first piece is called “Door-Open or Closed?” It is one of my favorite pieces of hers and one that resonates with me, at this point in my life. The second piece is her interpretation of Duran Duran’s Planet Earth that she made especially for me. 🙂
Today seems like a good day to put a fan and her talent under the blog’s spotlight. As many of you might know, recently, I asked people who expressed their fandom in different ways from me to fill out a questionnaire. Thankfully, many, many, many people responded and I’m so relieved. I wanted to be able to show all ways that fandom can be expressed. Our blog discusses a lot about touring, meetups, conventions, and social networking. Yet, there are many other ways that people express their fandom. The first fan who contributed was Patricia who is a member of a tribute band. Today’s fan, Lara, is also creative as she draws pictures. Duran Duran motivates her to create works of art! How cool is that?! As someone who has a mother who is an artist and wishes for creative talent, I’m envious of and appreciative of anyone who does! So, let’s take some time to get to know Lara, why she expresses her Duranieness this way and her work.
How do you express your fandom?
Art. It’s been a hobby of mine to draw the guys ever since high school.
Describe exactly what it is that you do. I mainly do pencil-sketch portraits of the band members. But I also still have paintings and ink prints I did for college art classes many years ago. Lately though, I have had more fun manipulating DD pictures in Adobe Photoshop on the computer.
Why did you choose this means of expressing your fandom? Drawing has always been a fun outlet for me. I prefer faces and figures over landscapes or objects, so when I became a Duranie, the band members proved to be a big inspiration.
Tell me your fandom story. When did you become a fan? What drew you to Duran Duran?
During the spring of 1994, I was nearing the end of my 9th grade year in school. On the bus one morning, something on the radio managed to catch my attention. I had never heard it before, didn’t recognize the artist or anything. But I thought the melody was beautiful and something about the vocals drew me in. The little bit I could remember stayed in my head all day. Luckily it was on the radio again on the way home from school and I was sitting next to a friend who knew what it was: “Ordinary World”. Later that same day I saw “Come Undone” on MTV for the first time. From that moment on, I was hooked. I spent the following summer catching up on everything and anything DD. I think my entire allowance was devoted to buying nothing but Duran CDs, posters, etc. for quite a while after that, too!
How else do you participate in the fandom? In the early years (late ’90s for me), I participated in a lot of meetups in Missouri (we called ourselves the MODuranies). I knew a few fellow Duranies in high school. But we’ve all most gone our separate ways since then. Also, unfortunately, I’ve only been to a precious few shows so far. The bulk of my fandom has been undoubtedly online. I’ve been a regular on the Lizard King message board for over a decade. I regularly read a few others, and I have lots of Duranie friends on Facebook. I wish I could devote more time and money into fandom. I do still love to hang out with fellow fans in person when I can. But life has a way of making me change my priorities now that I’m older. The internet, though less personal, has been the most convenient way to participate on a regular basis.
What has the reaction been to your art? What do people think of your work?
Most people I’ve shared my artwork with seems to like it overall, I guess. I don’t expect much since I draw mostly for myself. But it is nice to share it with other fans. I have gotten a couple reactions I’m rather proud of, too, though.
Do you use your art outside of fandom?
I used to. I’ve been drawing since I was 3. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree as well. But I haven’t don’t much drawing outside of fandom since college.
Where and how do you share your art?
I’ve shared some on message boards, in a couple Facebook groups, and I have a folder-full on my Facebook page.
Can you share something that you are most proud of?
Surprisingly, John Taylor commented on a drawing I posted on his Facebook page once, and Andy Taylor used a silly little Photoshop thing I made just for fun, for his short-lived “rock affairs” website. Those may seem small, but they are probably the best reactions of my artwork I could ever hope for!
Do you all know what today is? Yes, it is a Saturday. It is a Saturday in June. For me, this means grading, grading and grading (for hopefully the last time in June ever!). More specifically, though, it is June 8th. Hmm…did something important happen on this date? Oh, yeah, I remember now. There was an earthquake in Peru in 1624. Wait, that’s not it. Cable car service began in Los Angeles in 1889. *shakes head* That doesn’t seem right. Parking meters were invented in 1936. Nope. That annoying invention doesn’t have to do with this blog. What does?!? Oh, yeah, that keyboard guy was born, right? Yeah, that’s it! Nick Rhodes was born! It’s Nick’s birthday!!! So, how can I celebrate his birthday on this blog?
First, we all know that Nick is pretty dang instrumental (ha!) in creating the Duran sound that we all know and love. How in the world can you comb through all of Duran’s songs to pick just one that always makes you think of Nick Rhodes? It certainly isn’t easy, but today, the song that immediately came to mind for me was New Religion. Obviously, as soon as the song begins, the attention is turned to Nick with those first few notes of his keyboard. Then, when I think of New Religion, I think of how Live from London really showed this.
Second, Duranies all know that Nick does more for Duran than just writing and playing a few notes of music. No, he often has the great ideas that we all associate with Duran Duran. Whether it is to include a 3D track on the Live from London DVD or taking the photos for the Red Carpet Massacre album cover, he makes more than a significant mark on the Duran label. One of the more recent creations of Nick’s in the Duran universe was the concept behind the video for Girl Panic.
Third, Nick has also used his creative genius in a couple of side projects connected to Duran Duran. The first side project was the Devils, which essentially took the very first Duran album and finished it with Stephen Duffy and released it with the title of Dark Circles. Here is a clip from 2003.
Of course, Nick’s most recent side project, TV Mania, has been getting quite a bit of attention from Duranland as this one was a long time in the making. This is a project that started in the 1990s with Warren and finally saw the light of day this year. This side project includes an album like the Devils and it includes videos. Here is the video for Beautiful Clothes, which is significant as it was directed by Nick himself!
Beyond the music and the video, Nick remains a force in the art and photography world. I’m so proud to be an owner of his Interference book that has even influenced my mother in some of her fiber arts pieces. The TV Mania project also saw Nick’s photographic talent as well with the Bei Incubi exhibit.
Clearly, there is so much to commemorate when celebrating the birth of Nick Rhodes. Beyond what he has given us, creatively, he also appreciates what fans have given him as seen by his birthday message here. I, for one, enjoyed the last bit in which he stated how he hoped next year’s birthday message would be from some place other than London. Could he be referring to some summer shows?! That would be a great birthday present to us!
Happy Birthday, Mr. Rhodes!!!
An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!