Category Archives: Duran Duran

Book Discussion – Wild Boy (Prologue, Ch 1-3)

As promised, we have started our discussion of Andy Taylor’s autobiography, Wild Boy, My Life in Duran Duran.

With the very first note, Andy makes it very clear what his intention will be with this book.  His life IN Duran Duran. That is very pertinent, particularly because while it is an autobiography, most people are not aware of Andy beyond is work as a musician in Duran Duran as well as his solo work thereafter. (or in between his “tours of duty” in the band.  To make things even more interesting, Rhonda’s notes will be in the standard black font and Amanda’s additions/comments are in blue.

Prologue

R: Andy begins the book discussing what is ultimately Duran Duran’s last appearance together as the “original five” at Live Aid, July 13, 1985.  Not in the UK of course, but in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA…a grace note that has always somewhat ruefully amused me. I don’t think many, if any of us who were fans back in the 80’s really knew the end of an era was taking place that day. I certainly didn’t, even if I remember being slightly deflated by the performance. I suppose the humor, if there really is any, to be recognized in that moment is simply that it could have been in any city, in any state, in any country.  As good of a statement as any that it happened in Pennsylvania than anywhere else, simply reinforcing the notion that you just never know when it will be the last time.

Andy chose to open his book with the what is the ending to the first act of his career in Duran Duran. The encore of course comes much later, but I found it rather telling that he chose to open with an account of performance that was not only the last, but also highlighting on a bum note. This recount is profoundly negative, if not for Andy, then at the very least for the fans who followed them along the way. I don’t personally know of any fan who looks back on that Live Aid performance with feelings of triumph and joy, if the performance itself didn’t bother us (and how could it not? It wasn’t only Simon’s note that fell flat – there was zero charisma and connection going on that stage that day.), hindsight tells us that the performance was DD’s last as the original five, and for many, it still remains a bittersweet memory. In many ways, the description of this performance sets the tone for the book – bittersweet.

One section of the prologue describes the ride they took to the venue, “We drove to the venue through streets packed with excited rock fans, but inside the bus the atmosphere was if were were on our way to a funeral.”  (page 5)  Immediately following the recount of that bus ride describes the scene of Live Aid as a giant party scene.  Not only is are the two “scenes” diametrically opposed, what I found poignant is that the only partying to be done – the festivities, so to speak – were found only when Andy is on his own, away from the band.  Although Andy admits that his heart just wasn’t in the mood to party as he tries to fall into bed that night.

A: When talking about this party lifestyle, Andy wrote, “But the lifestyle we had aspired to, and for which we had worked so hard, became the very cancer that was starting to destroy us.”  Clearly, Andy wanted to really show how problematic he found the life that he had created by describing it as “cancer”.  Word choice can be everything.  It also reminds me that so many people who become famous question if fame is really a good thing.

R: Andy closes the prologue with a question – “Was it all worth it?”  Keep that question in mind for later discussion.

Chapter One
R: Andy begins this chapter with one of the saddest things I’ve ever read – the day his mother leaves he, his brother and his father. It is quite obvious that this single event changed Andy forever, and I think the aftermath of this abandonment proves to be something Andy struggles with to this day.  I think that while perhaps not many of us have experienced something similar, we can all certainly feel empathetic. I think that after reading this section, I felt some sort of connection to Andy.  My mom never exactly left – but there was a time when I was very young (about five years old) that my mom was away for six months.  I know that for me, the worry of having my mom leave again played a huge part in the person I became.  I followed the rules and tried to be a “perfect” child, just to make sure she wouldn’t leave again, no matter the reason. Those feelings follow me to this day, and so I have no doubt the same holds true for Andy. Later in the chapter Andy comments that he has difficulty saying “good-bye” to this day, and I have no doubt this taps into the ways that he and the band have parted…twice. 

A: I also noted the importance this event must have had for him.  I took particular attention to the steps leading up to his mother’s departure.  At one point, he stated that he had no idea that there was trouble with his mother then he starts to discuss the horrible arguments his mother and father had.  Then, part of him was relieved when she left.  I wondered how much, if any of this, influenced his own behavior and his way of dealing with problems.  

R:The austere and rough beginnings from Andy’s childhood seem to be far more blue-collar than what the rest of the band experienced.  Not being from the UK myself, I can’t decide if this is in fact the case, or rather just the way Andy writes.  No matter, Andy still talks about where he is from with pride – and as someone who grew up on the “wrong side of the tracks” myself, I still speak of my neighborhood with pride.  I am well-aware of who I am and where I came from, and I think most of us can appreciate that, especially since we all know that he’s experienced far more luxury in life than most at this point.

When I think of Andy Taylor, I think of someone who just isn’t going to be forced to follow the rules.  He’s going to do what he wants to do, when he wants to do it.  Call it stubbornness, call it whatever you’d like.  I laughed when he described various “rules” in his house – not going into specific rooms, not touching certain things – and of course Andy still did what he liked.  Somehow I think we’re going to find that carrying over into his tenure in Duran Duran.  Call me crazy.

One extended note to carry for later discussion: Andy carries much of his feelings about his mom leaving with him, choosing not to discuss but rather keep it all bottled.  He is fairly silent about much of it until he is in his adult years.  Many fans have mentioned how fairly “silent” both the band as well as Andy have been regarding the events leading up to his departure(s) from Duran Duran. Granted, none of us are on the inside and know just how much talking was or wasn’t done, but it is certainly something that should be thought of for later on in the book.  Is that “silence”, the lack of finality, the lack of “good-bye” something that Andy continues?? 

A: On the topic of keeping his feelings to himself, I noted that Andy seemed to try to focus his energy or feelings towards other things.  In this chapter, he obviously turns to music, but he also mentions that he played sports, aggressively, and got into fights.  In his view, music was the best of these as they kept him out of trouble. 

Chapter Two
R:In this chapter, Andy talks about The Rum Runner.  The scene of the crime, so to speak!  Again, coming to this story as one who didn’t grow up in the UK – I always took what people said about Birmingham for granted.  I’d always heard it was a very industrial sort of town, not very nice, not some place to spend time. In fact, just two years ago when I was coming into the UK to see Duran Duran for the ill-fated shows that ended up being canceled, I was headed to Birmingham straight from Heathrow.  The customs official that stamped my passport wanted to know “Why on earth” I was going to Brum.  He told me it was not a nice city and that I should pass it by in my travels. I smiled (what else am I going to do with a customs official?  Argue??) and went on my way, not really knowing what I was getting myself into – but I figured it would be an adventure.  I have to say – I LOVE BIRMINGHAM.

A:Ditto, says Amanda! 

R: Sure, it has a certain industrial feel to it, not at all unlike where I grew up.  I think that’s why I fell for the city – it feels like home to me. (Sans the canals. The closest thing the “Charter Oak” area of Glendora/Covina had when I was growing up was “The wash”, a place I was strictly forbidden to go and play. I guess it was a “sort” of canal…it was a big concrete gutter lined with chain link fence that collected the runoff water and funneled towards treatment plants or the ocean!)  Anyway, in reading the book what struck me was how, compared to Cullercoats, Birmingham was the utmost in trendy.  I still don’t think anyone would actually say that about where I grew up, unless you want to talk about the downtown area that has been used for various movies over the years…but that’s OK.

A: Ditto again! My childhood was also spent in a place with an industrial feel (south side Chicago), adds Amanda.

R: Another sight that comes into plain view during this chapter is Andy’s feelings for Nick.  Even on a musical level, it’s pretty obvious that there is no love lost here.  Andy talks about how Nick only played the black keys on his keyboard – something that Kate Bush was known for doing at the time – and that it only amounted to playing one key.  “Nick’s interpretation of doing music was very obviously going to be different to mine.  Playing seemed to be the last thing on his mind, but he wanted to make keyboard sounds and textures and layers of sound – and in that sense he wanted to do something different that had never been done before.”  (page 40)  I’m not sure at the time that Andy recognized the significance of what Nick was trying to do – but I think it’s clear in the tone of his writing that he felt Nick was on a completely different musical planet.  Of course, it’s that difference between the two that helped to create the most iconic sounds of the 1980’s…. 

A: I, too, took note of Andy’s comments regarding Nick, especially when Andy said that he didn’t want to understand traditional structure of music.  Besides Nick, I thought it was interesting that he took time to describe first impressions of each band member in some detail.

R: I did as well, Amanda.  What I noticed though was that in nearly every description – Andy poked fun, and of course the now-infamous LeBon Leopard pants, in pink, were mentioned as well.  I suppose a reader could take his gentle ribbing about his first impressions of each band member as a sort of “dig”, but I really think Andy reflects back on that time with fond memories, thinking that when they all first met – they were really all just normal kids – the farthest away from being rock stars than we could imagine.  Things changed very, very fast!

The chapter ends with the band getting signed to EMI. “It felt strange and unreal to be at the headquarters of EMI negotiating a new beginning at the same time that John Lennon’s death brought to a close a huge chapter in the history of rock and roll. We didn’t know if it was fate or a bad omen.” (page 56)  In my opinion, this continues that bittersweet tone of the book. The passage reads so negatively, I can’t honestly believe Andy feels that way about his career in Duran Duran.  This edition of the book was published in 2008, and I have to think that not enough time had passed from his second tour of duty to allow the sharpness of the more angered or painful memories to dull…does the negative tone overshadow all the good??

A: It is fascinating to me that they agreed to split the royalties equally as John and Nick could have easily asked for more as the founders.  To me, that shows something about their characters. 

R: I didn’t even think about that, Amanda.  I think it’s because I’ve heard for so often that they always split things equally that I read right over that without noticing.  I’m not sure it really says that much about Nick or John’s character as much as it shows their naivete and youth at the time. They were probably so excited by the very prospect of being signed that they didn’t give any thought to whom had been around longest.  Ego probably didn’t crop up until a bit later.

Chapter Three
R:The chapter opens with Andy talking about the first time he tried cocaine. We all know by now that the band and cocaine were fairly synonymous back in the day. Apparently Andy felt (and perhaps this was widespread belief at the time) that cocaine was a “rich man’s drug” and that it was harmless. I have to be honest, as a kid – I never thought about their drug use and I’m not even sure I was aware.  I think that for me, it was the beauty of being far removed.  I didn’t *see* all of those things.  I heard the music, saw the (eventual) videos, read the articles and didn’t know about the rest.  I’ll go one step further and say that I’ve never tried cocaine. That’s right. I really am one of those good kids to this day! I just never saw the point.  I think I was fairly judgmental about people who did any kind of drug when I was young – alcohol aside – and so for me, I’m really kind of glad I never paid much attention to the murmurs of drug use by the band. For me it probably would have made a difference (keep in mind that we’re talking about me at the age of twelve or thirteen) because drug use scared me, apparently for really good reason!

One thing that I find fascinating is how Andy describes the recording of Planet Earth and his role that he shared with Nick in being the two that made most of the commercial decisions at the time.  Knowing the tension that seemed to exist between Andy and Nick makes it all the more…humorous, perhaps…that they were the most involved on the business-end.  Of course Andy explains their backgrounds and why this made sense, but I have to wonder if this didn’t just add to the friction. 

A: I noted the same thing and was surprised by that.  Why wouldn’t John have been involved more? 

R: In reading this chapter, I noticed that Andy takes the time to point out the tiny fissures already  forming.  In one part he talks about the lack of confidence in Simon’s vocal quality while recording Planet Earth, at another point he says though that as far as he was concerned, Simon was the vocalist.  Fair enough. Management always has different ideas than the band and record company, it seems.  Andy talks about how the label chose to promote John first (He was the most photogenic.  No, really?) in Japan and that he (Andy) thought this would upset Simon.  He talks about the competitive nature, notably between John and Simon, of meeting the most girls, this of course being the beginnings of the much-publicized hedonistic lifestyle of the band. Andy goes on to point out that this lifestyle goes completely against what was happening in the rest of the country at the time, with rioting in the UK, the height of the cold war, nuclear bomb fears, etc.  Yet the band known for excess everything grew beyond the limits, meeting Warhol, taking a bus filled with crazily dressed fans from The Rum Runner into Paris.  I think Andy continues to make his statement simply by juxtaposing the good times with the rougher moments that fans like me never really saw or experienced.  Bittersweet. 

A: Adding that this focus on fun, partying, and statements about being the band dancing when the bomb dropped did not help Duran get critical acclaim.  Instead, it led many people to look at them with scorn, according to research I have done.  

– A&R

I Must Have Flowers in my Brain

I have been a part of Duranland, of the Duran Duran fan community for a long time.  I have seen and heard a lot of discussions about a variety of topics.  Sometimes, topics come back over and over again.  For example, discussions surrounding setlists and single choices seem to pop up over and over again, especially during touring time and during new albums.  Despite my experiences and observations, I still find myself surprised, at times, by what comes up in discussion and what does not.  Rhonda and I comment to each other frequently about which blog posts result in a lot of discussion and which do not.  Sometimes, we know a topic might get a lot of attention.  Typically, posts surrounding things like DDM, the official fan club, or presales get a lot of comments and discussion.  Yet, some topics result in crickets chirping.  Those topics are easy to see if you look through the history of this blog.  Many of those posts have very few comments or no comments.  Of course, there are topics that we have yet to tackle and many of those haven’t been talked about by the fan community either.  One of the topics I am surprised hasn’t had any discussion in the documentary part of A Diamond in the Mind.  I can’t imagine that people haven’t watched it.  Yes, there must be some fans who haven’t but there has to be a lot of fans who have.  So, why isn’t there discussion about it?

The documentary part of the DVD is not very long, a mere eleven plus minutes.  Yet, it is jammed packed with discussion topics.  The documentary title is Duran Duran 2011.  It goes through the previous year, including highlights, Simon losing his voice, the live band, the Girl Panic video and a summary.  Of course, there are more specific topics that can be pulled out.  For example, when they discussed the live band, they talked about Dom and Dom spoke.  The only people who spoke in the documentary where Simon, Nick, Roger, John and Dom.  So, certainly, there could be a discussion surrounding Dom’s role, his place in the band, etc.  Another topic that could be discussed would be the highlights given.  The band talked about Coachella, Unstaged with David Lynch, and American festivals.  We could discuss if we agree with those highlights, why the band might think those were the highlights, etc.  Of course, there was a great bit of attention given to Simon’s vocal problems in the summer of 2011.  Again, I have to ask.  Are those not worthy topics?  Are we tired of talking about Simon’s vocal difficulties?  Do we not want to look back to 2011?  Is our fan community focused more on the present and the future?  That could be.  After all, the band, themselves, seem to focus on the present and the future much more.  Yet, as a historian, I see the value of looking at the past and analyzing it.  After all, hindsight can make a big difference in how we see something.  Then, of course, there is the discussion of Dom and his role in the band.  I know how passionate people are about Duran’s guitarist no matter which guitarist one is loyal to.  That said, isn’t it worth a discussion? 

As someone who likes dive into everything Duran, I propose that we tackle the topics that I presented, the topics that Duran included in the documentary.  I wish go through topic by topic in the coming weeks.  I am hoping that everyone has a chance to rewatch the documentary or watch it for the first time before I dive into these items of discussion.  It is also very likely that I have missed a topic.  Thus, I welcome suggestions for topics.  While this blog is mine and Rhonda’s, it is also a place for all fans.  Maybe, you not only have a topic from the documentary to discuss but you want to lead the discussion.  I would welcome that.  After all, a lot of people are probably sick to death of what Rhonda and I.  Next week, I will start the documentary discussion on 2011 highlights.  As part of this discussion, I plan on not only talking about the band’s highlights but my personal highlights related to Duran as there were many.  I will ask you to do the same. 

-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.  🙂

Chains

It is pretty funny when a quote affects both Rhonda and I so much that we both have to blog about it, but that is what John’s quote from the speech he gave at his former school did.  The quote was the following:

“For me, passion is the most important asset a person can have. To work with feeling for something. To care. That’s why I think it is most important that we connect with what it is we want to do- not someone else’s idea of what we should be doing with our time and our lives. Sometimes people are old and grey before they realize they have been following their parents dream, not theirs- and they wonder why they are so unhappy.

Find your passion and you will find happiness, because there is nothing more important in the adult world than enjoying your work. That has been my experience. And if you enjoy your work you will find work, because you will be appreciated wherever you go. ”  -John Taylor

Yesterday, Rhonda blogged about how this applied to her life and her discovery about her own passion.  This quote also caught my attention, especially after the questioning I have been doing with my own life lately.

I, too, feel like I have a passion.  For a long time, I have felt my passion was my work, my career.  I have been a teacher for a long time.  In many ways, I find it hard to believe that I have been in classrooms since 1997.  I thought experienced teaching would feel very differently than it does.  I went into teaching for a pretty unique reason.  I wanted to make a difference.  Yes, I think that a lot of people go into teaching for the exact same reason.  The difference between my reasoning and most is that I wanted to make a difference in a broad, whole society, big picture sort of way.  I had spent most of my college years reading, analyzing, writing and researching about social movements.  Thus, I thought teaching would be a perfect way for me to do my part to continue the necessary progress of many social movements that I studied, including the Women’s Movement, Civil Rights, etc.  In particular, I chose to focus on students with disabilities who also lived in poverty.  Many of my students are also students of color.  Such an idealist I was!  Then, as settled into my teaching career, I took on something else, something more.

In 2008, I decided to get involved with a political campaign.  (I’m sure you can guess which one!)  I found this work fulfilling.  I can organize well.  It truly is my strength.  I can also lead people and explain things well, especially since I have been doing that for years in the classroom.  On top of that, I loved the intensity of it.  Loved it.  I also loved the win.  I had only felt that kind of high at concerts of a certain band we all know.  After election day, I couldn’t let it go.  It seemed like such a logical addition to my work in the classroom.  Fast forward four years later, I’m still teaching.  I’m still politically organizing.  Teaching is more than a full time job.  That said, I’m in a new position this year, which definitely is less stressful and does not require as much time after work.  Campaigning, though, is taking up about 20 hours a week.  If you are doing the math, that equals at least about 60 hours per week.  I’m sure you are all wondering why I’m “sharing” so much here.  I’m getting to the point, I swear!

What I have left out in this story of my “career” is this.  Rhonda and I started thinking about the book, seriously, a few years ago.  Soon, we started writing, reading, researching.  It worked well for me, for Rhonda.  Then, we added this blog.  Still, all was good.  We added twitter and facebook.  This year, we started adding the today in Duran history and the daily/weekly questions.  I get up an extra 30-45 minutes to do that everyday.  We have more up our sleeve and just need the time to finish the book, get it published and do other related projects.

So what is the point?  How does this connect to John’s quote or to the title of the blog?  Here’s the deal.  I thought my passion was to help others, to help make the world a better place.  I am proud of the work that I have done both as a teacher and as an organizer.  If I died tomorrow, I would know that I have done my part.  Unfortunately, though, I’m not sure if that is my passion.  Was it ever really my passion?  Did I just want it to be?  Would it still be if I wasn’t just exhausted, both from working so much and from working so intensely for so many years?  I don’t know, for sure.  The only way to really be able to answer that is to step away for a long time.  After doing some soul searching, I think I know a little bit about where my passion really lies.

I love doing this blog.  I love writing the book and I’m damn proud of all that we have done so far.  I enjoy doing the daily tasks on twitter, facebook and here.  It has become a third job of sorts as it is also time consuming and believe that it could be a lot more.  Right now, 3 weeks into the school year and 46 days until the election, I find myself wishing I could just dedicate myself to this, this crazy thing that Rhonda and I created.  Is it because this is about Duran?  Sure.  Of course, the band is part of it but it isn’t just because of the band.  It is a lot more than that.  Is it that I  am uninterested in my other jobs?  No, it isn’t that.  I still love watching and talking politics.  I enjoy being with kids and teaching them.  Yet, I’m just not feeling the passion there.  Maybe, in many ways, the true passion here is for writing, researching, reading, organizing around something.  Something that matters.  In our case, it is reading, researching, writing, and organizing in order to make OUR world, OUR community better by bringing people, Duranies, together for fun, for discussion.  After all, part of what Rhonda and I wanted to do with this, with the book is explain our lives as fans and to show that being a fan is good, is worthwhile.  Now, if I could just figure out a way to pay my bills this way…maybe those chains of the other careers could be lifted.

-A

My Own Way

Passion is something I’ve looked for, without knowing what I was looking for, throughout adulthood. It wasn’t to be found in parenting, no matter how much I love my kids. It certainly hadn’t been in my previous job. I know I had passion when I was a budding musician back in junior high and high school, but that was many years ago and it was right for that time in my life. Now it’s become more of a hobby and I’m happy with it there. Still I searched for something… I took classes, I took up hobbies, still nothing. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed all of it, but there’s a huge difference between enjoying something and wanting to live to do something.

When Amanda and I began writing the book and later blogging, I wrote with vigor. I loved the writing, and I wanted to do it all the time. I would start writing and completely lose myself – then I’d look up and realize I was late to pick up the kids from school!  I’d have to tear myself away, go get them, and then try to rush back and pick up where I left off. (Not easy when you’re in the “zone”.) I felt that passion, and I loved it!! The trouble was, when I would explain to people what we were doing, I immediately felt the scorn. Friends would immediately ask “Are you a groupie then?” I’d try to explain that no, no we weren’t – we were fans like anyone else, but that we were curious about studying the fandom. Then they’d say “Oh well isn’t that the same thing?”, then they’d follow up with “What does Walt say about that?” In my head I’d think, “Who in the hell CARES?!? Since when do I have to ask him about writing a book?!?” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked those same questions since I started writing.  The same happens even with family, and I’m pretty careful about with whom I share “book news”. Invariably my family – the very people who should be the most supportive – are simply not. I had a conversation this past summer with one family member who literally chuckled and scoffed about the book. “It’s just a little hobby that’s gotten out of hand, Rhonda. I mean, how are you even qualified to write something like that?” I had to remind this person that I actually did go to college, and that my degree was based in writing, very similar writing to what I’m doing for the book, and that makes me qualified! The immediate reaction is typically to downgrade what I’m working on to a hobby at best, and something slightly more icky at worst. For me it’s a personal game of tug-o-war between feeling as though people (and my family most specifically) should simply accept me for who I am and be supportive, and feeling like I’ve got to hide my interests because they just aren’t quite as acceptable as being President of the local MOM’S Club or working at the kids’ school. It’s constant and honestly, it is even degrading. I feel like I’ve got to keep the one thing I’m passionate about to myself, or face the scorn and disapproval from friends and family.

I try to keep my lives as separate as possible. I don’t talk too much about the blog or the book on my personal Facebook, primarily because it’s the way I keep in touch with a lot of my family. I still use my Facebook to comment on friends pages, and sometimes – I even comment on the pages of band members, never usually considering who might be reading because I don’t really say anything that I’m ashamed of saying. Yesterday though, that too came to a crashing halt because an extended family member inadvertently noticed a comment I’d made on a Facebook public page and commented in return. It was completely innocent and innocuous, but it forced me to explain some things that I’d previously kept quiet, and as a result it’s become the subject of a bit of uproar in my extended family. “A book about a rock band? Are you serious Rhonda?” (Well no, it’s not really about a ROCK BAND…it’s about being a fan) “Being a fan? Isn’t that something you should have given up by now? You’re not a young woman anymore? Who would buy such a silly book? Does Walt agree with this?” (A. Yes, I’m a fan. B. No, I won’t give that stuff up until I’m dead because I enjoy music. Why is that bad and why don’t you have your own life? Oh…and I’m not THAT old! C. I’m not even going to go into who would buy the book because obviously you’ve already made up your minds about my “silly book”. D.Why even ask?) I’ve found myself left with quite a bit of anger and frustration as a result. You’d think that I quit school and joined a rock band or something…!!! (Irony is a funny thing.)

Perhaps it was naive on my part to assume that my family wouldn’t notice. I’m always telling my own kids that you never know who is reading what is posted online, and I probably should have followed my own advice. I didn’t post anything that I’m ashamed of…it’s just where I’d posted that is apparently the problem…and apparently now my posting is under more scrutiny as certainly family members have gone back to see what else has been said/written, and they are reporting back to my husband. I guess that the boundaries and considerations I afford my family members are simply not extended to me.  I’m frustrated, mad and bewildered today. So I’m doing the only thing I know to do….I’m writing.  

 As our readers know, I’m a stay-at-home mom. (I still don’t know why they call it stay-at-home. I’m a glorified, volunteer chauffeur and houseslave. Home has nothing to do with it unless I’m cooking or cleaning.) Once upon a time, I did work outside of the house – I wouldn’t have called it a career, but I did earn money. (I was a staffing coordinator/account manager for a few different staffing companies after I graduated from college. Basically, I interviewed and placed applicants for temporary light industrial and clerical jobs.) I can’t really articulate just how much I hated that job, no matter what company I worked for at the time (there were a few). I felt horrible telling people “No, we don’t have work for you today.” thousands of times each week. I despised getting the phone calls at 5pm from clients saying that they needed 100 people on a job site the next day, knowing that our company policy was to stay until the “order” was filled – whether that meant we left at 5:30 or we left at 2am.(and there were plenty of those days – we’d leave at 2am and have to be back at work at 7:30am. I lived 40 minutes from work, so you can do the math as to how much sleep I would get.) I despised the companies that would call and ask for specific races/ages/skill levels of people (no joke), and I honestly didn’t like the applicants that would come in and assume I worked for THEM when in fact it was the other way around. It was a horrible place for me to work, and I had zero passion for the staffing industry. My job had an enormous amount of stress attached to it – it’s never good when people call you and start crying when you tell them there’s no work, or when they call you and shout at you over the phone because a job has ended. So, when I found out that I was expecting our first baby and my blood pressure got so high my doctor insisted I stay at home, I quit. Gladly. With great enthusiasm even! The only passion I had for that job consisted of dislike.

Let me be clear, I love being a mom. My children ALWAYS come first, except in those very few times when I attempt to do something for me – and in those times – I typically feel guilt. I feel like I have to say that out loud, often – because the people around me (whom I will choose not to name) tend to believe otherwise. I have made certain decisions to ensure that my kids remain happy, cared for, and whole. Many times, I’ve made those decisions at the expense of my own happiness. I don’t regret those choices and decisions, but make no mistake – I live with the consequences of those choices every single day. Sometimes I wish I could scream that at the top of my lungs. Not because I think I deserve an award or something, but because again – there are people that believe otherwise, and I guess to some degree I still feel as though I need to prove my self-worth. Other times I think I need to say those words because I need to remind myself of what I’m doing or what is the final goal. I’m not sure that any of that constitutes real passion. I just know what has to be done for the love of my three beautiful babies. (They hate it when I call them that!) Regardless, the one thing in my life that I am the most proud of is that I’m a very good parent, and that I love my children more than they’ll ever really know.

Even so, there’s been something missing in me, in my spirit, for years, and John Taylor hit the nail on the head in the speech he gave to his old school in Redditch this past week.  Here’s a short excerpt:

“For me, passion is the most important asset a person can have. To work with feeling for something. To care. That’s why I think it is most important that we connect with what it is we want to do- not someone else’s idea of what we should be doing with our time and our lives. Sometimes people are old and grey before they realize they have been following their parents dream, not theirs- and they wonder why they are so unhappy.

Find your passion and you will find happiness, because there is nothing more important in the adult world than enjoying your work. That has been my experience. And if you enjoy your work you will find work, because you will be appreciated wherever you go. ”  -John Taylor

I found my passion. My passion is writing. I’m lucky that I can take that passion and use it to fuel an interest, which of course is Duran Duran, but I also have the interest and passion of bringing people together…creating a community…fostering a community. I want people to feel the connection, the sense of belonging, and the sense of place that I have struggled to find for most of my life. For far too long I’ve allowed the scorn, disapproval and flat out judgment of others decide my fate. No more.  

To begin with, my family really needs to respect some boundaries. I don’t follow anyone, including my husband, to their places of business. I don’t read every email they send, listen to their phone calls, or even see if they are on Twitter. I allow them to do their jobs, scorn free. I also do not ask how much they get paid and then decide if their job is an appropriate career choice based on how much they make. That isn’t MY business, and it certainly isn’t anyone else’s either. My statement is simply this: I write, and yes – I write about a rock band and about fandom. I am thrilled with what I do. I can only hope that others feel the same about the work they’ve chosen.  

Finally, I need to respect myself and recognize that I really am fine. As Amanda knows – I talk a good game but the fact is, my self-esteem has taken a beating over the years. It isn’t an easy thing, but I recognize where I’m at. I have a favorite saying that I tell my oldest two children pretty often, “Nobody gets out of childhood unscathed”, and I’m no exception.  Of course, that’s not where all of this comes from, but it’s the beginning. It’s time to live my own dreams and my own passion and stop worrying about proving myself to the rest of the planet.  I’m happy, and really – isn’t that the point?  

-R 


Who Do WE Think We Are?

I’ve been thinking a lot about books lately. I can’t imagine why. So many people have talked about John’s book and comparing it to Andy’s book that I started trying to remember back to what Andy had written. We’ve never properly tackled Andy’s book here on the blog, so I decided to take it out, dust it off and give it another good look. Andy’s book Wild Boy was published in 2008. It’s been quite a highway I’ve been traveling on since that time. I’m curious how my eyes and brain will process his book now as opposed to four years back. So, if you are inclined and have some time, pull Andy’s book off of the shelf and read along with me.  My plan is simple: I’m going to read a few chapters at a time and discuss them here on the blog.  We have four weeks until John’s book is released here in the US, and we’ll finish Andy’s book during that time.  Chances are, I’ll discuss the chapters in Andy’s book on Mondays – just as we’ll do with John’s book. However, I want to stress: I am not comparing the two books. We can certainly do that on a blog if need be after we’ve finished both books, but for now, we’re reading each book on its own merit. (Which really, that’s the way it should be. The truth is not the same for everyone.) So for this week, I’m reading from the prologue through chapter three. 77 pages. We can do this!

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There has been a little chatter about some of the questions and comments that John has been fielding during his Q&A sessions. Most of the questions have been great, but there always seems to be one that makes me scratch my head and wince, and some even make me blush! (If you know me, you know this isn’t really that difficult to do…) I just have to wonder why it is that some people seem to have absolutely no filter for the things that should be asked verses the things that should honestly be kept in one’s brain.  I’m not talking about the slightly cheeky questions that get asked – I’m no prude, and I laugh as easily as anyone else. I’m talking about the really off-color comments that would make nearly anyone wince. I recognize that John is likely an expert at navigating slightly unnerving questions these days. I am pretty sure that things that make me want to squirm in my chair are probably topics he handles without batting a single eyelash. My question to all of you though is “Why does that make it OK to ask those questions or make those comments?” Yes, I realize that in some cases these comments will get a laugh out of the audience, or even out of John. (honestly – what is he going to really do otherwise? Throw the person out? Call them names? Get angry? Of course not. He’s going to be a gentleman because in all honestly – he HAS to be if he wants people to like him and buy his products.  It’s part of the deal.) I maintain – why does any of that make it OK?

This is the same topic we’ve discussed before, in different wrapping. These guys are still human, aren’t they? I know we joke about Nick being alien, but I think he has more than proved that yes – he’s really still human! In the same way that I would expect people to treat me with respect and kindness – I suppose I expect the same for the band. Why is that so unusual? Admittedly, I’m incredulous when people respond (and they always do when this topic comes up) that they’re celebrities and they should be “used to that” by now. Being used to it and knowing how to handle it doesn’t mean the band gives any of us the “permission” to be rude or make off-color statements at the onset, does it? I see it over and over again, and if I’m not right there to hear it – I get told about it much later. People will be at a bar or pub after a show, a band member will show up, and fans will think it’s perfectly acceptable to go up to that person and pet them as though they were an animal, or make comments as though they’ve been lovers for quite a while. It’s bizarre and uncomfortable to witness for me, and I can’t imagine how it must feel to the band themselves.

There is a fine line here that is incredibly difficult to walk even under the best of circumstances. We all want them to know we’re fans and we support them. We also want them to know that (most of the time), we’re pretty sane. I know that *I* would prefer them to walk away thinking that I’m respectful, and in return, I’m worthy of a little return respect. I wouldn’t want them talking to me as though I was to be their next nightly conquest. (I realize that not everyone agrees – some really do WANT to be the nightly conquest and to you I say “More power to ya”. I need to be able to look myself in the mirror and my children in the face in the morning, and for me – I couldn’t do that if I were just looking for a one-nighter.) I guess for me, it comes down to simple respect. I believe the same could be said for the majority of my fellow fans out there.

-R

Second Life with John Taylor

I’m late with the blog today and I apologize. Up until about 5 minutes ago I was eyebrows deep in the beginnings of the American Revolution, and I think I might have even told the story well enough to keep my 13 year old son from falling asleep.  That’s progress!!

I don’t know how many of you have seen the video from You Tube of John’s reading and Q & A session on Second Life, but it’s actually REALLY good.  I was one of the skeptics, not really sure how it would turn out, and for reasons that have to do with Homecoming Dress Shopping (A very serious drama-filled in our house right now for my 15 year old…and for those unaware of the term “homecoming”…it comes down to a fancy high school dance for us.), I couldn’t even attempt to be there on Sunday, so I was thankful for the video.  (A huge shout-out and thanks to Johnny Beane for taking such great video and putting it up on You Tube for all to see!)  To begin with, John was there for a really long time!  I was surprised.  I know the readings and signings he’s done so far have been fairly lengthy, but I guess I figured his stay in Second Life would have been shorter?  Regardless, it was a nice surprise.  I loved that he interspersed the section readings with questions from those in attendance, and the questions were great.

There’s so much to comment on, and yet since I don’t want to give book details away, I will stick purely to a few topics asked in the Q&A.

To begin with, do you want a signing in your US town?  At the moment, John says they have signings planned in NYC and LA, but he is working on convincing Dutton, the publisher, to do more.  He says they have to really be pushed a bit – so he suggested that fans write the publisher.  If you’re on Twitter, they have an account there as well. (@DuttonBooks)  I have to admit that I’m surprised more emphasis isn’t being put on the US market.  It’s not as though John has no fans here, or people willing to buy the book.  I would think that if he’d do a few signings, including one in Chicago…that it wouldn’t hurt sales.  I guess that shows just how much I know about books though.  I’m an avid reader, avid iBook person, but signings?  I’ve never been to a single one.  Maybe that says something.  Not sure.

One thing that I’ve noticed, and surely John has noticed at this point, is that fans are eager to try and compare his autobiography to Andy’s. I think this is partially natural and it probably would happen regardless of who was writing. On another hand, I think there’s also a propensity to create more tension and drama where there might already be plenty to go ’round. At each Q&A I’ve heard or seen video…I’ve heard someone ask if he did his book as a sort of answer to Andy’s. I can see why this is a valid question, and I’m sure John can as well. He was very kind during the Q&A on Second Life when he said that he was glad that Andy had done a book, and that he hopes other people do them as well. (In fact he encouraged ANYBODY to write a book about Duran Duran. To that I coyly reply, “Be careful what you ask for, Mr. Taylor.”) In some strange sort of kismet that I’ve yet to really figure out, my son and I are doing a unit in his Language Arts class that asks the “Big” question: “Is the truth the same for everyone?” I think this question of John’s book to Andy’s is of the same vein. Both people were in the same band, and a lot of their experiences were shared, but the truths are very different. Perception is everything. I can’t imagine John sitting down and trying to “right” whatever stories were told in Andy’s book – that wasn’t his purpose in writing, and honestly, I think that his story comes off very genuine as a result.

Another fan asks about collaborations – a very common question the band has gotten over the years, and they never fail to stun me with their answers, until today anyway.  I think my mouth dropped open (in pure unadulterated joy, mind you) when I heard John say that there just wasn’t anyone he was interested in collaborating with.  I stopped the video, then stood up and applauded.  Then I played it back again to make sure I heard him correctly.  He says that he and the bands would wrack their brains coming up with appropriately “cool” answers when they were asked in the past, but at this point, he’s happy with what he’s got.  So are we.  Completely.

I would be disappointing myself if I didn’t mention John’s comments about Dom. Someone asked if Dom would ever be made a permanent member of the band. John answer really kind of took me back, to be honest. He said that Dom already is a permanent member and he is welcome to stay until he chooses to leave. After I picked myself up off of the floor, I heard John explain that Dom is not, however, a Founding Member. It would be difficult if not impossible to bring someone into that sort of circle of trust at this point. History cannot be rewritten, and I think most people would understand that. On one hand, I was happy to hear that at least as far as the band is concerned Dom isn’t going anywhere…on another hand…I’d really like to see Dom included in future press, PR, merchandise…and listed as an actual member of Duran Duran if in fact he’s really part of the band and not just a member of the “onstage ensemble”. I guess I’d like to see him get the same sort of billing that other guitarists and a drummer or two who were not “founding members” enjoyed during their tenure(s) with the band. I would think he had more than proven himself to be worthy by now, but I also completely recognize that for the band – this goes way beyond just “fitting in” and the longevity of nearly nine years. I realize that for the band, a lot of this is purely business. However, for fans? Completely different matter entirely. It’s a matter of fans seeing for themselves that yes, Dom is truly a member of the band – that the band in fact accepts him as such, not quite as much the “hired gun” that some fans continue to claim him to be even though he was given writing credit on nearly all of the All You Need is Now album. Maybe with the next album this will happen, we shall see.

John talks about his excitement with the Second Life community, and I think he really appreciates the visual he gets – I suppose it’s a little like being on Twitter but with pictures.  He said that it was “easy”, which makes me wonder if Second Life has been completely overhauled since I last visited.  I had a tough time doing anything but flying – and even then, I’d fly into buildings and things.  *big sigh*  My son (the video gamer in the family) would have not been proud.  He definitely doesn’t get the gaming genes from me.  I don’t know though, if the band really does continue doing things like this on Second Life, it does make me think I should give it another try. How hard can it really be???  (Famous last words, right??)

I know there were many, many things John answered in the Q&A, but these were my favorite “highlights”.  I smiled as I heard John comment that there’s comfort in that where ever he gets on stage, he can always count on some of us being in the audience.  This is true, and we’ve been through a lot together, haven’t we?  It’s been a great ride so far, with more to come.

-R

For those who haven’t seen the video:

Still sipping on the high of desperation!!

I really don’t know what I was thinking, but I thought I could wait. I figured that it wouldn’t bother me, and that I would simply sit back and wait until it was our turn. Then I got busy with my family vacation, going on a road trip to the southeast, and getting ready to homeschool. Then at some point last week, I realized I was missing out. I’m not sure if the moment hit me when I saw friends headed to London, or when I saw pictures of the signed books….or maybe it was on Saturday morning when I realized that even a lot of my US friends had a copy and were ravenously pouring through the book as though it was their last meal. No matter to me, right? I could simply wait.

Nope.

By Saturday afternoon I was climbing the walls. It didn’t help that every time I went onto Twitter OR Facebook my senses were being assaulted with images of signings, of John himself standing and speaking, or even better – interviews explaining in the vaguest of terms what I was already missing. My curiosity was strangling me, and I knew of only one thing: I wanted that book.

I’m not even a huge John Taylor fan. (OK, that is such a lie. I really am, but I’m not one of the millions of “John-girls” out there. I could probably have a reasonably intelligent conversation with the man and not even swoon slightly. Well, at least that’s what I tell myself. Listen, we ALL have fantasies!!) I think that’s why I didn’t just go ahead and buy a UK hardcover version of the book to begin with – I figured I’d just wait it out. I mean, I already sort of know the Duran story, don’t I? What could possibly be in there?! If we’re going to really get to the nitty-gritty here, I don’t even think I realized that the US release was going to be a month later until last week. Yeah, that’s how much I was paying attention. All I really allowed myself to think about was that I had something I was working on for late Septemberish, and John’s book was coming out for the UK, but then the US release would be in mid-October, and that there might be signings. I figured I’d wing it when the time arrived. I love all of the band members without question, but I just didn’t think a book was going to make me as crazy as an album release.

Clearly, I was very, very wrong. By Saturday afternoon I was starting to twitch wildly as I sat at the computer. I wanted a copy, and I thought of my options. I could order one and have it shipped quickly – which might end up costing as much as a ticket to a gig…or I could do what others suggested and simply order off of Amazon.uk and get it for the Kindle app on my iPad.    That’s when a light bulb went off. I saw a bright flash and I don’t remember much after that, until last night when I finished the book.

Now I know what some of you are saying right now. After you finish begging me for no spoilers (There will be none. We’re waiting until the US release to do any sort of book club), many of you are saying I cheated. You’re right, I totally did! Still others are wondering if I still have the US book on order (I do. I have the normal hardcover copy as well as the audiobook, thankyouverymuch.)…and then there are those of you who want to know how I downloaded it because they want to do it themselves. Of course you do. (email me)

To begin with, as I said above, I did cheat. I also think it’s completely lame that the US release is a full month later than the UK. I am not a book publisher, and so I don’t really know why this is the case, but I still think it’s silly in this day and age. Normally I pay about zero attention to release dates for books; but, since it’s THIS book that THIS community will want to read, it is of paramount interest and speculation. Isn’t that typical? Regardless, I did feel somewhat pathetic (OK, very pathetic!), sad and dirty going to the trouble to change my amazon account to a UK account for one simple order, but that certainly didn’t stop me. I did think about the fact that I already have two books coming, but now I’ve got all types of media covered, just like I would have done for an album. This reminds me of the day All You Need is Now came out and I went on an all-out search to nearly every Best Buy in the area trying to find a single copy. I don’t know why I didn’t order it beforehand (Personally, I think it had something to do with post-traumatic stress from Red Carpet Massacre…that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!), but Amanda and I decided that I needed the copy so that we could do a review.  She of course had responsibly ordered hers ahead of time and had it in time for release day. It was ridiculous: I had people crawling on their hands and knees looking through their shipments to find the SINGLE COPY that the store had been allocated.  That’s no joke.  Anyway, you are right and I own up – I cheated. Proudly.

About the other books I have on order though: I am a collector. I like having several versions of whatever it is that I want. I think I’ve got about 3 or 4 different versions (not actual copies…those number at about 10 now.) of All You Need is Now…and many of them remain unopened, preserved for all eternity. I have vinyl in our garage that is still in shrink wrap, along with the same exact copy that HAS been opened and played. I’m funny that way…and not funny ha-ha. Funny as in, “You are mental, Rhonda.” Do I have a problem? Um, YES.  Yes I do and OCD is likely only the first minute issue – according to my husband, anyway. Admitting it is the first step, but the reality is – I’m perfectly happy right here. Someday one or more of my children is going to have one hell of a collection to enjoy. (They’d better keep it all or I will definitely haunt them.) I do want to make one note though, and that’s of the “Catholic guilt” I felt while I was downloading the UK copy. (My grandmother would be so proud…) I did think more than twice before I did it, and not just because I couldn’t quite figure out how to change my Amazon account properly. I thought about whether or not I’d somehow be hurting John’s book sales, but I’ve still got those same US copies on order, and all I did in downloading this Kindle version was give John and his publishing company another sale.  Even so, I did feel deliciously devious….

What I will say today, since I finished the book (and so did Amanda) last night, is that I am even more of a fan now than I was before, and that’s of both John Taylor as a person AND of Duran Duran. Talk about feeling connected, I certainly do. It almost makes up for the decades prior where I felt as though the band was this sort of enigmatic vision or mirage that was completely untouchable aside from the posters on my bedroom walls (closet!). They put out the music, we bought the music, attended shows and nary between the two shall meet…am I right? Keep in mind that I didn’t grow up in the UK, nor did I have any possibility of ever seeing/writing/connecting with the band until Twitter or Facebook came along. There was no waiting outside of a band members home or going to the studio…I grew up in Glendora, California and trust me – no rock bands hung out in my little town or did studio time nearby. (Well, except for Motley Crue. Then again, those guys went to my high school and graduated well before I got there. That’s not really the same thing.)  It’s a completely different world in which to be a fan these days.

There will be no spoilers in this blog because that really would be unfair and unkind, but I’m very proud to call John Taylor one of my idols.

-R

Guest Blog: An Evening with John Taylor


A little bit about how I came to love Duran Duran. I’m your average 17 year old girl except for one thing – I love DD. As a child, my mum and dad would play CDs in the car. Looking through all of my parents’ extensive collection, I stumbled upon the Greatest CD when I was about 12/13, that would change my life. Soon after that I was given a CD that came free with The Daily Mail which had 10 live tracks from the reunion tour. I identified immediately not just with the sound but with one special person on the front of the CD sleeve, John Taylor, who was wearing a white shirt and black waistcoat standing behind a billiard table. Since then I have seen the band on the All You Need Is Now Tour in December of 2011 and at the Hyde Park Olympics show. Growing up I have never been a fan or really liked any bands that are around today – mum calls me her retro girl.
 
Anyway I jumped at the chance to buy a ticket to go to the Leicester Square book signing from Alison, whom I follow on twitter, as they were sold out when I tried to book them. Details of the ticket were arranged the night before the signing, talk about last minute! Thursday 13th September: My dad drove me into town so I could buy the book and go to college. Once I had finished college I got the train to Leicester Square and arrived there about 5pm. By this time I had already read up to chapter 30!

Outside the venue were a crowd of Duranies all eager to get into the theatre. With everyone sat down in their seats, it was time for John (and Tom Sykes the co-writer) to come on stage. After a very warm welcome from the audience, John and Tom talked about the production of the book and how it all started. John rose from his seat to read the first chapter to the audience, beginning with “Are you sitting comfortably?” After this both Tom and John shared their favourite parts of the book and anecdotes about the writing of the book. John read a few more chapters of the book before having a Q and A with the audience. A short break followed, so that a desk could be set up on stage, for the row-by-row signing. This gave me a chance to read up to and beyond chapter 39. If you notice carefully there is a typo “On 5 October 5,1982” on page 207 – the beginning of chapter 39. As I get nearer the stage I think to myself ‘It’s a do-or-die, now-or-never moment’. I hand over my book and camera to a woman. John looks straight at me and says “Penelope” in a questionable but interested tone. It is at this moment when I nervously say “Correct me if I’m wrong but I think there is a typo.”  He immediately says, “There’s gonna be one somewhere.  Where?”  Me (pointing):  “Chapter 39, page 207.”  Making a face he crosses it out, draws a line and scribbles on the page, “HORRID TYPO!”  Everyone around us has gathered to see the typo, we exchange glances once again before him ending with, “You’ve ruined it” (humorously) and me apologising.

  
 For a girl who has never caught a train or been to London on her own, I think it was very successful and a night I will remember for the rest of my life!
By Penelope Gush
 
Bio: Penelope Gush is 17 and lives in Essex, England. She is studying at college and hopefully going to university to become a primary school teacher. Her passions include ballet and music.


Taking Off Makes Motion Sickness

I hope everyone has been appreciating the John Taylor lyrics as blog titles for the last few days.  I just can’t seem to stop focusing on that bass player guy for some reason.  It’s bad and I don’t even have the book yet.  *Deep sigh*.  I did note an article yesterday that featured John but had much more of a focus on Nick, his illness and the band as a whole.  The article was featured in the Huffington Post UK and can be found here.  The article provided additional information on Nick’s illness but also pondered the future of Duran.  According to the article, Nick had “hit the wall” from working too hard.  He then began to have fainting spells, which resulted in seeing a doctor and being directed to rest.  John points out how Simon had lost his voice early in the tour and Nick had this at the end.  As John points out, these illnesses were warnings to them all and that they may need to rethink the way that they tour.  Lately, their tours have consisted of 3 or 4 shows a week, usually never in the same place two shows in a row.  It is not uncommon for them to be in three different states in one day.  Obviously, as I read this, a thousand and one thoughts popped in my head.

First and foremost, I thought about Nick.  I can’t imagine how scary it is to have fainting spells like that.  It isn’t like getting a cold or an upset stomach in which you know that you will be feeling better in a few days.  No, something like this could be caused by many things, serious and not-as-serious causes.  Now, it sounds like in this case that the conclusion is these spells were caused by working too hard.  This gives me some relief as there is a simple, not serious cause and a simple, easy way to treat it.  As much as I am hating the idea that Duran won’t be in the studio until February or won’t be touring for a long time, I’m glad that Nick will have plenty of down time.  It sounds like he needs that.  Part of me feels like I can relate–not to his job or his schedule but I know what I have felt like when I have been working two full time jobs, doing this and trying to maintain my day-to-day tasks.  There have been times that I truly question how much my body can take and I’m younger than Nick.  I have had times when my caffeine intake has been through the roof along with getting only 3-4 hours of sleep a night and being under a tremendous amount of stress.  Thus, I sympathize with Nick.  I’m sure that he just wanted to get through the tour.  He might have even been counting down so that he could rest and relax.  Unfortunately, his body forced him to rest and relax early.  I’m hoping he is already feeling better.

Second, I thought about the theme of this last album and tour.  All You Need is Now.  I thought we had learned that lesson with Simon.  Heck, I was already ready to live up this past tour even before that as evidenced by the fact that I flew to the UK in the first place.  The point that is again emphasized by Nick’s illness is that nothing lasts forever.  Nothing.  While we would all like to think that Duran will play forever and that their tours will last well into the following decades, we don’t know that.  Foxwoods could have been their last show.  Obviously, we hope not!!  That said, every show, every album, every tour could be their last.  I have to admit that I was shocked by all of the people who didn’t go to a show this last tour and could have.  Most of the reasons I saw had to do with seeing them earlier in the tour or being sick of the setlist.  That said, there was an underlying assumption there that there would be a next time.  Do I think that there will be more?  Yes, I do.  They haven’t altered their plans to go back into the studio so I have confidence that they will do this next album.  My point is, though, we should embrace the now because tours, opportunities may never happen again.  Thus, if, for example, John does do a signing that I can reasonably do, I’ll go.  I am not advocating being illogical with what one can do but I am saying that people should do what they can, when they can.  No putting off what can be done today. 

The last thing I thought about with reading this article was about how Duran tours might be different in the future.  I couldn’t help but to think about this past summer tour.  I pointed out how hard it must be on the band to do outdoor venues in the summer.  I still think that.  The heat might have been a contributing factor to Nick’s illness.  While I understand that the band allows their tour people to organize the tour, I think it would be both practical and beneficial for them to do more than one show in a place.  I’m not advocating for them to do a whole run of shows in some place like Vegas but why not do two or three shows in the major cities.  I’m sure that large cities would have a big enough draw to bring people to the shows, which would keep ticket sales up.  It would also help the band in that they wouldn’t have to travel as much and would have more time to rest in between shows.  For those of us who travel, it would be SO nice to see shows this way.  It would save us money and give us a chance to enjoy the places we are traveling to.  I’ll give an example.  During the 2008 tour, we did the Atlantic City show.  We had done the Foxwoods show the previous night and did the Montclair show the night after.  This resulted in us being in Atlantic City for less than 24 hours.  I feel like I was never there because it was so fast. 

While Nick’s illness is not a positive, I’m hopeful that it turns into a positive in the long run.  I’m hoping that it is a reminder to the fans to do what we can when it comes to the band and I’m hoping that it results in a better touring schedule for all involved! 

-A