Category Archives: escape

Navigating the “VIP” Section

First of all, a very happy In the Pleasure Groove release day to all of our US friends out there.  I think Amanda has been counting down to this day for months! (but now she’s really got a countdown going for a trip to Chicago…)

All this talk of signings and lineups to get into signings and so forth has me thinking about just how hard it is to navigate this fan community on a social level. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, stick with me because I think you’ll get my point in a minute or two.

When I first decided to get involved on a message board, I seemed to like everyone I “met”, and even better – I trusted whatever they said to be true. I guess I was pretty naive because it never occurred to me that people might lie, whether about their background, life circumstances, or how they came to know the band, or even if they’d met them. I think that’s pretty insightful about who I really am as a person – because I just expect people to tell me the truth. Why lie? I must remind myself that the truth just is not the same for everyone. Not everyone intentionally deceives.

The trouble is, of course, that in a community like this, everyone wants something. I really dislike talking about the band as though it’s a limited commodity. I don’t go around picturing them as orange futures or pork bellies, and yet many times, that is exactly how the community as a whole seems to react to their mere presence, as though they are pieces of meat and we are the lion pride. It has the potential to breed anger, greed and deception, and over the course of the years that I have been most involved, I’ve seen plenty.

If that greed weren’t enough, there is the sheer diversity of our group. I am pretty sure that there are fans from nearly every walk of life represented here. All races, creeds, careers, ages, and places on the planet. During my blogging, I’m fairly certain I’ve managed to offend someone out there, even without purposefully meaning to do so. It’s a very narrow ledge that must be navigated with care, and I truly do care. I’m also well aware that for every stance I take on a subject, there is with certainty, someone with the opposing view. This doesn’t just go for blogging – it is found in every segment of fandom (and life). Navigating between the lines, hoping not to offend, desperately trying not to stir up the pot-of-crazy that we all know exists, and hoping to somehow meet and befriend other people who have a similar interest in the fandom can be exhausting! I’ve yet to find the “secret recipe” that makes it all work, but I start by just trying to be honest and friendly with everyone. That doesn’t mean that I am friends with everyone, that everyone likes me in-turn, or that I even trust everyone – but I try to give the benefit of the doubt, at least until I’ve been wronged without a doubt.

In the research I’m continuing to do on fandom – much is made of this concept that fandom is an escape from normal “reality”. Due to the fact it is an escape, it is attractive to many, and part of that attraction is that at least from the outside looking in, it is paradise. An oasis in a desert.  I might argue that many times, it is really only a mirage. Many, if not all of us from time to time, pretend to be something they simply are not. The troubles of the world wash away with the time we spend on Twitter, Facebook or in the company of one another and we escape with relish. Let’s face it, when we’re away from home or online – we can be anything we want to be. It only becomes a problem when you spend enough time with one another where the layers get scratched and worn away enough so that reality bares through.  Everyone seems perfectly normal until you get to know them well, don’t they??

Now, I know that during my tenure as a Duran fan, I’ve read countless stories offered by others about meeting someone in person only to find out that one has been completely duped – either by their real-life persona, or by the person lying about what and whom they knew, or at worst – by thievery. Let’s be honest, it is really difficult to know what and whom to trust, and yet for many of us, we really and truly do believe the best in people. For me personally, it is shocking to find that someone wanted to “use” me because they thought I could get them something or somewhere (Don’t I wish?), and I’ve got to admit, sometimes it makes me think twice about really getting involved in the community beyond going to a show or two, and I am pretty sure I’m not alone.

So many of us talk about the “crazies” amongst us. Sure, they’re out there and sometimes they are even within plain sight – we just don’t recognize the signs. I see a complaint on nearly a daily basis…always from different people…saying that someone is misrepresenting themselves online. People make judgments about who should or shouldn’t be followed by the band, their management, people who surround them, and so forth without having the foggiest idea of why. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve gotten to the point where the cynical side of me thinks that maybe everyone (including me) is guilty of that from time to time. I certainly don’t look the way I do in pictures at shows (Are you kidding me?!? I have about 2 and a half minutes to get ready in the morning before I’m “discovered” as being awake, which means I must be ready to serve my public, err…children. I’m lucky to have time to put on mascara and eyeliner and even that is a simple luxury.), and my kids tell me I’m not nearly as cool as I sound online. Well, humph, I didn’t even know I sounded cool online!!! My point is simply that none of us really know the full-story of one another unless we care enough to find out, and sometimes, even when we do, we might very well be disappointed in the end.

Between the drama, the deception, the honesty and sometimes even the truth, it is really no wonder that many fans choose to stick to themselves and not get involved. Sometimes yes, it’s easier. On the other hand, if I had done that from the very beginning, I wouldn’t have met Amanda and many of you that I count as true friends. You know exactly whom you are.

-R

How Much My Eyes Have Darkened…

First, let me apologize for the absolute lateness of this blog.  I have been traveling home (about a 5 hour drive) and am under the weather.  Luckily, I knew exactly what I was going to write about after seeing a comment from a Duranie friend about Duran’s music.  The statement was basically how their music is “bright” and does not contain the negatives of other music.  This statement combined with some research I have been doing about how Duran was advertised as “escapist”, especially back in the 1980s, formed today’s blog.  So, let’s dive into the question of whether or not Duran’s music is upbeat, bright, positive. 

Obviously, in many ways, Duran’s music is bright and upbeat.  After all, this is the band designed to make you party as Simon LeBon still belts out at almost every show.  This is the band that wanted to reintroduce color into the music world after the drab black, white and grey world of punk and post-punk.  Goodness, I think about videos like My Own Way and how bright and cheerful that seemed with dancing and even a parrot!  What other videos come to mind when talking about the cheerfulness of Duran?  I guess most people would immediately think of Rio, Save a Prayer and even the Reflex.  Rio was pure fun mixed with humor and the Reflex focused on how the band’s performance makes fans happy.  Save a Prayer, though very different from the other two, seemed peaceful at the very least.  So, what about the lyrics to accompany those positive videos?  Did they give the same feeling?  My Own Way speaks of independence and a carefree attitude.  Rio definitely had that fun vibe, especially when the words, “You make me feel alive, alive, alive,” are sung.  Save a Prayer, on the other hand, deals with a one night stand.  While it is deemed a “paradise” on one moment, prayers are also needed the morning after.  Is that as positive a message?  While Duran isn’t advocating violence there or swearing up a storm, they are exactly encouraging monogamy, are they?  The Reflex, obviously, is very much left up to the imagination in terms of its meaning.  It does speak of a game…so maybe it is all about fun.  😉

How about the rest of the early videos and songs?  Were they as positive?  The first video that popped in my head was Girls on Film.  It is clear in both the video and the song that it is focusing on the exploitation of female models.  I don’t see a lot of bright there even when Simon sings, “I’m shooting a star”.  He might be shooting a star but an unhappy one at that.  Careless Memories is rather dark and deals with a breakup and a bad one at that.  Whenever gun violence is mentioned, it ceases to be bright and happy.  Nightboat was clearly supposed to be scary as the band, for the most part, gets overtaken by zombies or something like zombies.  Anyone Out There touches on loneliness and rejection.  Friends of Mine focuses on betrayal and even asks the question, “Why don’t they drop the bomb”.  Again, that does not scream happiness and light to me.  Maybe some people want to argue that the albums that followed were more upbeat.  While I can think of examples of songs on Rio that are happy and positive, I can also think of New Religion or The Chauffeur, which seems dark to me.

What about recent albums?  Yeah, songs like Sunrise are upbeat.  What Happens Tomorrow is absolutely positive.  Still Breathing seems less so.  What about Bedroom Toys?  Where is the positive message in that?  What about the songs off Red Carpet Massacre and All You Need is Now?  Red Carpet Massacre is anything but positive.  Skin Divers seems kinda naughty to me.  Dirty Great Monster deals with sexual abuse.  Even songs that are more upbeat have a twist to them.  Tempted may get people moving but it also refers to the devil tempting someone.  As far as AYNIN goes, yes, the title track is very positive and gives a really good message.  Does Leopard, though?  That seems to be about obsession.  What about songs like Other People’s Lives, which absolutely is a commentary on society and the joy people seem to experience by watching celebrities crash and burn.

I guess my point here is simple.  Duran is much more complex than simply being positive or negative.  I, for one, appreciate that they make me think and that there is often way more than what is on the surface of a song, a video, a product of theirs.  They seem to touch on humanity and everything that comes with being human.  Do I think that Duran advocates a very straight and narrow lifestyle?  Absolutely not.  Even the songs and videos that are fun seem to have something extra to it to make people think.  As for how they make us, the fans, feel, they can and do bring joy into our lives (most of the time).  I suggest, though, they do this through honesty and analysis of people and what makes them tick, which is way more complex than a simple good/bad, positive/negative dichotomy. 

-A

Reminders!

This weekend, my blog posts have had a theme of sorts involving taboo subjects in an attempt to make Duranland a happier, more peaceful place.  I had every intention to continue that theme to ask some tough questions about us, about the fans and about our behavior.  I have decided to put that off for another day.  I was reminded about what is good, what is great about being a fan last night and thought it might suit me better today to focus on that. 

Today is my birthday and last night I had a few Duranie friends over.  We had a great time!  Food and beverages were consumed.  Duran footage was watched and much discussion took place surrounding our experiences as fans as well as plans for the upcoming show in Chicago in August.  This is really just what I needed for a variety of reasons.  First, my life has been ridiculously busy as of late.  I’m sure that if you have been reading the blog regularly, you probably would have seen that written by me a number of times.  While I was telling the truth in those previous blogs, this time has some added stress to the busy life I’m leading.  I won’t go into details as that is not the focus of this post.  The point being that I was happy to have a reason to stop focusing on everything else and just have some fun.  Last night was a complete escape from the reality I’m living in.  I needed that, emotionally and mentally.  Of course, some of you might point out that I spend time on Duran everyday.  While that’s true, last night wasn’t about my commitment or responsibility to this blog, to our book or to the fan community as a whole.  Last night was just about fun with friends.  Duran happened to be the connection.  Our discussions about Duran made everything else flowing through my head stop.  When we watched various clips from different eras, we could laugh at Simon’s dancing or at the silly fashion choices.  Even when slightly serious discussions surrounding Duran came up, we quickly moved on as something else would catch our attention.  Perfect.  Duran became the escape once again.

Second, I was reminded about how much I like Duran.  I know that sounds silly, especially from someone who blogs, posts daily questions about the band, and posts today in Duran history.  Yet, even through those activities, I forget.  I focus on the details, on what I need to do and not necessarily on the reason for these activities.  Anyway, over the course of the night, watching clips with other fans, listening and exchanging stories increased my excitement for the band.  While not all of the clips we watched were fabulous or showed Duran at their best, many did.  The clips reminded me why I think their music is great, why I became a fan in the first place and why I stay a fan.  I was reminded that while they don’t always hit the mark, a lot of the times they do and when they do, they are simply the best around.  I think I needed to take a step back to see that again, to be reminded of that again.

Lastly, I was reminded that one of the best parts about being a Duranie is other Duranies.  As great as the band is, it wouldn’t really be any fun without other fans!  My love for the band increases every time I’m around other fans as I get to see their love for the band.  We encourage each other to be fans and to stay being fans.  This is how fan communities come into existence and stay.  We are united in that love.  We share that love.  In many cases, this love starts the beginning of great friendships.  It obviously did years ago with Rhonda and myself.  It did with some of the other fans I have met throughout the years and I hope it will with the fans I have yet to meet. 

Thus, last night, I was reminded about what fandom really is, about what Duranland really is.  It is about a fantastic band who have provided us fans with fabulous music, with an escape from reality, and with a connection with other people that can and often leads to real friendship.  Today, I’m thankful for the band and thankful that I’m a Duranie.  Glad that I was reminded of this last night!

-A

Leaving a Light On…

Time is funny.  I have been back home since Sunday and haven’t really blogged since then.  I have been watching, reading and reacting to Rhonda’s posts.  In many ways, my feelings since I returned from the UK haven’t changed and, in other ways, they have changed.  During the course of this week, nothing much has changed with the band.  Yes, they postponed the rest of the UK tour but I knew that was coming.  They are still scheduled to play in Berlin next Wednesday.  I’m sure I am not the only one anxiously awaiting that day.  Obviously, I hope that Simon is able to sing and that the show will go on as planned.  Yet, I live in fear that it won’t.  I’m probably not the only one feeling that, either.

Over the course of the 9 days in the UK, Rhonda and I had many conversations about many topics.  One of those discussions came at the end of the trip, after we knew that the show in London had been postponed.  In that discussion, we acknowledged Duran’s role in our lives.  In fact, we couldn’t think of anything we had loved as long in our lives beyond our immediate family and that which might be connected to it.  Duran was the first thing we loved independently of our family and it is a love that has lasted for decades for us, personally.  The truth is that we are all scared.  We are all scared to death that Simon won’t improve and that Duran won’t be able to continue, at least not in the way we have come to expect.  I hate even typing those words but that is our fear.  Interestingly enough, after we admitted to each other and to ourselves that we have loved for Duran for that long, we also acknowledged that we wouldn’t know what to do if there was no more Duran.  Would Rhonda and I still talk?  Would we still get together?  Would we still travel together?  The answer to all of those questions is yes.  Easy.  Yet, we both could acknowledge that something would be missing from our lives.  Something huge.  Something monumental.  Something essential. 

Like most fans out there, Rhonda and I have full lives.  We are both extremely busy people.  We could definitely survive without Duran but…we wouldn’t be happy.  Duran is an escape of sorts.  The band pushes us out of our normal everyday existence.  Would we be able to do our daily tasks as well without that escape?  I actually doubt it.  I am about to end another school year, which always causes my emotions to run high.  Yet, I know, deep in my heart, that I have been able to teach for as long as I have due in part to them.  They have provided me with something intangible but real that allows me to get up every morning and do what must be done.  Who knows what I would be like every morning, every day without that.  Then, Duran has pushed me out of my shell in many ways.  The most obvious example here is that I did not travel much before going on “tour”.  Now, I have been to many, many cities and some of them more than once because of Duran.  I’m forever grateful for that.  Of course, I have met many people because of them as well.  Some of those people, like Rhonda, have become lifelong friends.  Again, I’m forever grateful.

Obviously, I’m still hoping that everything is okay, that Simon will be able to sing next week and that the rest of the tour goes on as planned.  This, then, would just be a blip on the radar of Duran’s history–a little something but nothing super significant.  I’m also trying to prepare myself that this might take longer than that.  It did in 1993.  Will it take longer than the four months it did then?  Maybe.  Here is what I do know.  I’ll still be here in a week or in a few months or in a few years.  I’m always going to leave a light on for Duran.  They mean too much to me to just let them go that easily. 

-A

Escape from Reality

I honestly have no idea what is happening in Duranland and that is pretty much a first for me in years.  Years!  I won’t go into too much detail (for the sake of your sanity and mine) but I’m a teacher in the state of Wisconsin and, if you have seen the news lately, you understand my lack of time and energy for Duran.  So, here I sit after a VERY long, stressful, exhausting week and think about Duran and what the band and being a fan brings to me.  It seems to me that life is hard.  It is really hard for all of us.  Yet, for many of us, Duran Duran provides the escape.  The music can definitely give you an escape from whatever you are dealing with at any given moment.  The videos do, too.  The tours even more so. 

I always have found it interesting when I hear/read statements talking about how Duran Duran exhibits Margaret Thatcher politics in the 1980s.  I honestly have no idea what they thought of her or how they voted.  I have often wondered where that assumption has come from and the only thing I can figure out is that people took Duran’s videos as reality.  They believed that Duran really did live on big, beautiful yachts and drank champagne everyday.  Obviously, Duran had plenty of money then and seemed to live a very glamorous life.  Does that mean that they would support more Conservative politics?  Who knows?  Who cares?  It certainly didn’t matter to us fans during the 1980s as those videos and images meant something different to many of us.  Yes, they did show wealth and luxury but they also showed a world VERY different from the one we experienced.  For many of us, these video clips allowed us to escape for a few minutes as we were transformed to their world of glamour.  Now, of course, we attempt to reach the same type of escape by touring. 

One element of touring that I love the most is the lifestyle I lead for that day(s).  When I go to a Duran show, I must travel.  I have never attended a Duran show where I live.  Now, they have come to my city but it was in 1984 and that was before I lived here.  Thus, I always have to go somewhere to see a show.  It may be a close city, which I can get to in a couple of hours, or it could require a plane ride.  Nonetheless, Duran shows mean that I get out of town, which is always a good thing.  It is nice to get out of town and let it all go.  Then, typically, a show always means that I get to stay in a hotel and, if I’m lucky, a half way decent one.  (I am spoiled on this front!)  Obviously, staying in a hotel is very different than staying at home.  Of course, the show is (with any luck) a perfect two hours of escape.  Let me ask you, fellow fans, do you ever think about your problems when you are watching a good Duran show?  I don’t.  Every problem seems to melt away, at least for a little bit!  Then, if things go well, the escape continues after the show by whatever my friends and I do, whether it is going to a club or just hanging out in a nearby bar.  In many cases, after show times means having a ton of fun by hanging and partying with my friends and fellow fans. 

I long for this escape right now.  I would love to have a show tomorrow.  Unfortunately, I have to deal with reality for a bit longer.  Perhaps, this will just make me appreciate this escape even more when it does come!

-A