Category Archives: Fandom

When you get that lonely shine in your eye

The other day, Amanda and I were on Skype. We were beginning work on a project and kicking around ideas when the topic turned to our upcoming road trip to San Francisco. We’re both really excited to have plans this summer, even if it’s only for a couple of shows. San Francisco is a city we’ve never been together while “touring”, and it will be great to see fellow Duranies, too.

That got us talking about our friends. Duranie friends, that is. We have a lot of people we know from the blog – people that we might not know well, but that have introduced themselves to us at various shows and things. We also have our core group of friends, which honestly, seems like it’s dwindled over the years. It is that group that I’ve been thinking about more recently.

When I first started out on the message boards, I stumbled upon a group of women that I became pretty attached to. Many of them were on the organizing committee for a convention that I was a part of, and a few others were involved on the board. (Amanda is one of those people, actually!)  They were what I like to call, my people. (We also called ourselves the Gutter Gals at one time, back about thirteen years ago!) I remember feeling like I needed to study up on Duran Duran because these women knew Duran Duran’s history like nobody’s business. I knew only what I’d read. These women had been to shows. Many of them. I think I’d been to about six at the time, and one of them was a festival. I knew next to nothing compared to most of them.

One of them had organized more than one convention, and seemed to know everyone, everywhere. When I looked at her (virtually, of course) and then looked at myself, I felt like I had absolutely nothing in common with her. She seemed hard-edged, and there I was—Miss OC Soccer Mom—trying my best to fit in. Another one was easily likable. She was popular on the boards, friendly to all, and everyone thought she was cool.  She could use humor to diffuse almost any situation, a tool she still uses to this day. I witnessed women tripping over themselves to befriend this person, and when she and I hit it off – calling one another the “other half of our brain”, I thought I’d made a friend for life. Yet, I was really nothing like her, either.  She was young, independent, single, a partier—and everyone loved her.  Still others were quieter, but they knew their Duran-stuff. They had history following the band, whereas I had spent the majority of my life prior on the outside looking in.

As many know, this group of women embraced me, for reasons I still don’t really quite understand. I never felt like I measured up. I don’t have tattoos or a number of piercings. I don’t know the band, haven’t had any body part signed by them, nor have I jumped the stage and been carried off by Dave. I look ridiculous in Doc Marten’s, and I look stupid with burgundy colored hair. The hardest-edged thing about me are probably the toe rings I wear in the summer – and yes, that’s a joke (although the toe rings are not). Rocker-girl or goth enthusiast, I am not. I’m more apt to wear pink than black on any given day. Oh, how I’ve wished I could be one of those women who can pull off black hair, black leather, etc. I’m just the opposite. I’m more like bubble gum, really. I suppose in many ways, it’s why I started this blog. I wanted to prove to myself that I could be like those women in one way or another. For once, I wanted to be on the inside and actually do something. But, as time has gone on, I’ve noticed that most of that original group of women are no longer around.

I probably can’t really call them close friends, anymore. It’s not that I don’t love them, or care about them, but they’ve moved on, and I really haven’t. The most I see or hear from them is on Facebook. They’ve got careers, lives, marriages, and they’ve kind of dropped Duran Duran along the way. I don’t know if the band got “old” (I don’t mean in age), or if they got tired of it all, or if the trend changed—and me being me—I missed my cue to leave and instead, I got more involved. Many of them complain about the band in one way or another, and yet I embrace them tighter. Maybe it’s me, really. (It is probably me.)

I haven’t seen many of them in years, now that I think about it. I don’t travel alone (meaning without the family) much unless it’s for Duran Duran. Then again, I can’t afford to fly these days anyway, so unless the band plays on the west coast (thankfully they are this summer) and I can drive there, I’m sort of stuck. The good news is I’m just about halfway through the whole “paying for two kids in college” thing, so I’m hoping it will get better from here. Point being, I don’t get out much, so I don’t see them often, if at all. Maybe that’s it. Or maybe it’s just that people drift apart, and we weren’t all meant to be friends forever.

The one thing I know for sure, is that without those women, I wouldn’t be writing. The only reason I ever started writing was because I missed being able to tear through album, song, video and show minutia. I loved talking about all of that “little” stuff. I liked examining the human condition and how news would affect the fan community as a group. I used to do that on the message boards, until there stopped being message boards. So, without those women, I don’t think I would have started this blog, and I don’t think I would have gone to the last thirty shows or so. I still love this band, for some crazy reason. I have a blast when I go to the shows. I have spoken to a few from that original group over the years, and the subject of meeting the band always comes up. They don’t understand why we continue to put in so much effort to be completely ignored by Duran Duran.

First of all, I haven’t been totally ignored, and Daily Duranie hasn’t been ignored. At least for me, it really has been about the expectations I had swirling in the back of my head from day one. This was never about being accepted by the band. I wanted to be accepted by my peers. There have been times when I’ve let the idea of acceptance by the band cloud my judgment, and the outcome has not been good. This is not about them. It’s about me. I wanted to prove I was more than just a housewife. More than just some nerdy kid than never quite grew up. More than solely a mom. I desperately wanted people to like me.

The irony that I have weeks like this, where I openly muse about friends I’ve lost along the way, isn’t lost on me. Speaking out has come to mean standing alone, sometimes. Even so, the nostalgia for that close group of friends I once had, and the journey I’ve been on since, is a little bittersweet.

I’m excited for my upcoming trip, and if you see Amanda and I at a table or at the bar—come say hello. We’d love to make a new friend or two along the way!

-R

10 Years Ago: The Fan Only Show

Ten years ago, yesterday, Duran Duran played at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City.  This concert was open only to paid members of DuranDuranMusic, the band’s official fan community.  This show took place during the writing and recording of Red Carpet Massacre.  In some ways, I feel like this show was just a year or two ago, but, in other ways, it feels like a lifetime ago.  I learned a lot about the Duran Duran fan community.  On top of that, it represents not only that time period but also marks a dividing line in my personal fandom.

In 2007, a lot of Duranies were members of DuranDuranMusic.  The message board was busy all day and all night.  Threads had pages and pages of posts.  Posters had thousands of post counts.  Whenever anyone went to those boards, it was clear which fans were friends with each other and even, I dare say, which groups were more popular than others.  In saying that, I’m not criticizing anyone–just giving my observation.  When the band announced this fan only show, I felt nothing but excitement and determination to get there.  The fan community advertised the event as special, one time only.  Most fans I know desperately wanted to be there because  it seemed to be so special.  I was no different.

While my group was no where near popular or even known by many other fans, I still wanted to be a part of it.  Did I think that popularity within the fan community was tied, at least to some extent, to how many shows people went to?  Sure did.  I remember watching other fans in 2005 and 2006 going to tons of shows and they always seemed to have these amazing stories of their experiences.  I felt certain that attending this fan only show would provide me with my own story, so to speak.

I did have a story of sorts.  It focused on our sad attempt at getting VIP tickets.  My group, at that time, included Rhonda and myself and a friend of ours.  We needed three tickets.  The tickets were distributed by lottery.  When the results came up, two of us got regular general admission and the other got VIP floor.  Through trading and much communication with other fans, we were able to score three VIP balcony seats.  No, they were not as good as VIP floor.  Yet, we took what we could get.

Then, on the night of the show, we learned that many fans think that wearing the band’s t-shirt to a show is uncool as we got many unfriendly looks as we walked by.  We also learned that fans don’t always stick together after a show with many groups going off on their own despite any promises to get together afterwards.  This, of course, was all on top of a show that left a lot desired, which we have blogged about many times.  No matter one’s opinion about the show or about the album, it was clear that all was not happy in Duranland.  For our friend, it proved too much.  The fun had left her fandom.  She went to one more show but that was it.

After that show, things changed for me.  I chose to hold on to the fandom with every ounce of strength I could muster.  My friend, as stated earlier, left.  I wasn’t happy necessarily within Duranland as I saw flaws in the album and felt like it was unDuranlike.  I also recognized that others in the fan community didn’t see that.  Tensions were high and arguments were frequent.  I thought for sure that I would be the only one remaining as Rhonda not only struggled with RCM but also had a lot of real life stuff to contend with.  Thus, I did what I needed to go to get through it.

I went back to New York City to see one of the shows on Broadway.  (I went to the second night, the one in which Donald Trump was there.  Yippee.)  I needed to give the band a chance to fix what went wrong at the fan show.  They had to show me that they were going to put all of themselves into this new album cycle.  The performance at that show did just that and gave me strength to make it through the rest of the very divisive Red Carpet Massacre era.

Overall, the fan show ended the first part of my adult fandom.  The innocence I had for the fan community and for the band seemed to end.  Lucky for me, the strength of my friendship and my love for the band kept me in the fight until a new era dawned.

-A

Review: The Fangirl Life

I love summer.  It provides me the opportunity to not only work on projects that have been on my to do list but also the time to really digest them.  This spring I read the book, The Fangirl Life, by Kathleen Smith.  As I read it, I remember thinking that I would like to comment about this or that in a blog post, but never had the time to really dive into the book to do so.  Now, I can.  Before I do that, let me provide you with some background info.  The back of the book describes it as a “witty guide to putting your passions to use in your offline life.”  Basically, the idea is to use one’s fandom and passion to help with real life.  The author is indeed a therapist.

While I appreciate psychology and therapy, I didn’t pick up this book in order to fix things in my life.  It interested me as any and all books on fandom do, especially ones focused on female fans.  I wanted to see how female fans were portrayed and what I could learn about fandom through reading the book.  Not surprisingly, I found some parts of the book to be right on and other parts to be questionable.  Before I dive into the book more specifically, I do want to acknowledge that the fandoms discussed were more likely to be TV, movies, comics, etc.  Music fandom was often left out, per usual.

As the book begins, I found myself nodding in agreement about a lot of it as the author describes the fangirl stereotypes like the screaming 14 year olds at pop concerts but explains that the online communities of fans provide opportunity to form bonds with others. Right on, I thought!  The author dispels the four big myths about fangirls, in fact.  These myths include that fangirls are teenagers, they are trying to escape their boring lives, they can’t develop healthy relationships and that they spend all day on the internet.  By the time I got passed the introduction, I thought maybe this book was written exactly for me!

Chapter one focuses on the fangirl brain and how hearing/seeing what we love actually does various things in our brains to make us happy.  Cool.  She even explains the post-fandom event let down and why we can all get down, emotionally.  More cool.  Then, though, the book takes a turn to assume that many fangirls actually struggle with depression or inability to find balance between real life and fan life, etc.  The goal of the author is to have fangirls remove various dysfunctional behavior in order to be more successful in life and to be happier fans.

Okay.  I get it.  We all have crap to deal with, things to work on.  Every single person, fan or not, would benefit from trying to improve themselves.  I get that.  Yet, as someone who is well aware of the stigma surrounding fandom, I have to wonder if a book like this isn’t reinforcing many of the stereotypes.  Are fans really more mentally ill than the rest of the population?  Do we really struggle with balance?  Again, I appreciate the idea that is woven throughout the book, which is to use one’s fandom to be better, a little self-improvement, but I think the author needed to be cautious not to imply the fans are crazy.

Now, this isn’t to say that everything the author mentions reinforces stereotypes.  Some of what she discusses is how to navigate through one’s fan community, including disagreements, negative comments directed towards you, etc.  While I think that can all be well and good, I wonder that she isn’t missing something beyond the individual.  There is no analysis of sociology of fan communities.  Why do fans go after fans?  This happens all the time, which shows me that it is more than just about the individual fan.  There is something about fandom that causes this.  Fandom too often contains social hierarchies, which we have talked about a lot on this blog.  Why does this happen?  The author wants the individual to be able to deal better.  I want fandom to change so that individual fans don’t have to deal.

Overall, I thought the book was mixed.  I did get some things out of it, such as the brain functioning with things we love and the post event let down.  I recognize that the author is both a fan, which is obvious, and a therapist with the best of intention to help fellow fans be happier.  That said, I think she should have been a bit more cautious not to imply that fans are crazy and I think she needs to acknowledge the community aspect to the dysfunction that can and does happen within fan communities.

Has anyone else read this?  What did you think about it?

-A

“New Found Appreciation”: Influencing New Fans

Last week, I received a thank you card from my student teacher.  In it, she expressed her appreciation with everything thing she had learned during the semester, including the importance of laughter.  Apparently, I make a lot of jokes in my classroom.  Who knew?!  One other thing she learned to appreciate was Duran Duran.  I know.  What does Duran Duran have to do with teaching?  Nothing.  Since I was her cooperating teacher, she had no choice but to learn about Duran.  I played the entire Rio album, for example, on its anniversary.  In order to test new equipment, I played some Duran videos.  The band provided the background to grading semester finals.

She told me that she knew some of their music but was not super familiar with them.  More to the point, what she learned about the band make her like the band more than she did.  Does that mean that  she is a fan now?  I don’t know if the new appreciation will translate to that, but it might.  I did my best or…could I have done something more?

At some point, I did a blog about which songs should be played to try to get new fans but now, after my student teacher and the book, “The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy,” I wonder if I went about it in the wrong way.

The book has an entire section entitled Resistance Is Futile:  Converting Your Friends to Fangirls.  Here are the suggestions the author listed and my thoughts about each one of them:

Ease into it.

The recommendation here is simple.  Don’t mention the history of a fandom, that’s too intense, too intimidating.  Instead, one should keep it fun by sending pictures or something light.  What do I think about it?  I’m not sure.  On one hand, I can see why the history might be a bit much or make it seem like there is no way that someone could jump into the fandom right now.  Yet, I think there is a way to acknowledge the awesome history but also showing that one can join.  For example, I might say, “It is pretty cool.  Duran formed in 1978, almost 40 years ago and have thousands of fans.  Yet, because they are still writing new albums and touring, new fans can jump in at any point.”  Then, I might send a fun live clip.

Play human recommendation engine.

The advice here is really easy.  Suggest something you know your friend would like.  In our case, if someone likes more ballads play that person “Save a Prayer”.  If they like more rock, I might choose “Careless Memories”.  It is important to know what the potential Duranie likes, music wise.

Discover something together.

The idea here is to find a fandom together.  Okay.  Cool.  Not an option for me with Duran.  Maybe another band?  Although, I can’t really see me liking another band to the same extent that I like Duran.  Goodness.

Make it a party.

The suggestion here is to have a party and invite a bunch of people.  I do have Duran parties but would I really invite non-Duranies to it?  I’m not sure.  Would they be bored?  Feel out of place?  Wouldn’t that be just like the first recommendation where everyone else has a lot of experience and knowledge that the newbie(s) don’t?!  Maybe I would do that if the person is now a fan but not quite to Duranie status to push them over to the dark…I mean Duran side.

Give the gift of fandom.

The author says that giving gifts about your fandom that you think the person will like can work.  Okay.  I have about 20 million copies of Paper Gods that I could give as gifts.

Don’t get defensive.

If someone doesn’t like your fandom, don’t get defensive.  You can calmly explain that sharing a fandom does give a ton of fabulous experiences and friendships that you wouldn’t have otherwise.  I think it is important to realize that no matter what you share with the non-Duranie, s/he might not ever become a Duranie.  That is okay, too.

Overall, I do believe that it is GREAT to have friends who are Duranies.  It definitely makes fandom WAY more fun and provides a great foundation to a friendship.  That said, it can also be tough when a friend who was once a Duranie is no more or when someone you thought was on her/his way to being a Duranie changes her/his mind.  Sometimes, that really affects friendships, even though no one wants it, too.  So, word to the wise.  Have fun with trying to create a new Duranie but don’t get disappointed when it doesn’t work or doesn’t last.

-A

 

The Concert Ticket Buying Experience

Yesterday afternoon, while I was in the midst of grading the last set of semester finals (woohoo!), my partner-in-crime posted a video on our Facebook page.  Immediately, people watched and expressed not only how entertained they were from it but also shared stories indicating that they related to it.  What video did Rhonda share?  What was it about?  How come so many could relate to it?  I’ll tell you this much–if you have bought concert tickets online, you will appreciate it.  Click on the link below and watch it.  Trust me.

When You Are Trying to Buy Concert Tickets Online:

https://www.facebook.com/thebragsydney/videos/1539565626056578/

Okay, people, who has purchased concert tickets online?  Raise your hands.  Don’t be shy.  Yeah, I’m willing to bet that most/many/a lot of you have.  I think you all know that I have.  Heck, I wonder how many blogs focus on the ticket buying experience, especially for those little ticket sales we call pre-sales.  So, what parts of this video can I relate to?  What parts are accurate?  Where do I start?!

Honestly, I could relate to SO much of this.  The person in the video definitely does a lot of talking aloud.  I’m not gonna lie.  I do the same when by myself going through the ticket buying process.  Self-talk isn’t a bad thing, correct?  Right from the beginning of this video, I found myself nodding with much agreement.  I refresh the ticket websites over and over again with 20 minutes before the tickets go on sale then 3 minutes before then 60 seconds.  Of course, I also usually spend time talking to friends about the plan especially if we are all trying to buy tickets.  This reminds me of the shows that we went to in March.  Rhonda bought for a show and I bought for a show.  Up until the time of purchase, I was so nervous that I would buy for the wrong day and we would end up with 4 tickets for Friday and 0 tickets for Saturday.  Luckily for us, it didn’t happen.

The ticket buyer’s feelings were right on, in my opinion.  I have uttered the phrase, “I have been dreaming of this concert for so long!”  Likewise, I have paid a lot more money than I probably should have all in the name of a concert “of a lifetime”.  Usually, for us, the phrase is a little different.  We are more likely to say that it is going to be the “tour of a lifetime” or “you never know when a tour will be the last tour” or “they might not tour for years after this”.  The sentiment is the really the same as are the tears of relief and joy once the tickets have been purchased.

One part of the video that I found especially entertaining is when the ticket buying does not go as planned.  In this case, the site wouldn’t load and the wi-fi wasn’t working well.  We have all experienced something similar when buying our tickets, especially when Ticketmaster is involved.  Just recently, when buying tickets for the San Francisco show, I couldn’t get the site to load on my computer and I ended up buying the tickets on my phone.  Like the video, I knew that I wasn’t the only one as I exchanged messages with a friend leading me to buy tickets for her, too.  Of course, like the video, the fear of having the show sold out or only having crappy seats left is real, my friends.

While I loved the heck out of this video, I do wonder about something.  Hmm..anyone else?  Why is a dude dressed in a wig and attempting to sound “like a girl”?!  Is the implication that only “fangirls” would respond this way to concert ticket sales?  Was the idea behind the video to mock female music fans?  I assume that the main character was also supposed to be young, probably a teenager since “she” lived with her dad and didn’t know her post code.

Perhaps, I’m assuming ill will where there is none.  Maybe the creators of this video just wanted to relate the concert ticket buying experience in a funny, relatable way.  That’s very possible.  That said, why not have a teenage girl or a teenage boy or…an adult woman in it?!  I think that still would have been funny.  Why not show multiple types of fans since we come in all ages and genders?  How hard is that?

-A

I’m Not Alone: Embracing the Connection from Fans

In one way or another, I have been studying fandom now for just about nine years. You’d think I’d be an expert by now (or at least have a Master’s degree!), but instead I’ll just say that I have a very good grasp on the complications of fandom. Not an “expert”, not even very knowledgable. I just know about how much I don’t know.  Progress?  I’m not sure.

Every once in a while, something new comes down the old Twitter timeline to grease the wheels. This time, it was something a friend who had recently gone to see New Kids on the Block in concert. I believe it was an excerpt from their tour program (forgive me if that’s incorrect), and it’s certainly worthy of sharing here.

photo courtesy of @expired_data

When I read the statement, I have to admit, I wished that I had been a New Kids fan. I was never into their music, but I have friends who still go to see them. They speak of meet and greets, and fan events like cruises, and even tweeting back and forth with them on Twitter. There seems to be very little barrier (if any), between fan and band, which to me is both incredibly unusual…and honestly…a little other-worldly, given my own experiences as a Duran Duran fan. It’s completely different from what I know.

Maybe some of you would argue otherwise. Perhaps those who really know the band would say they’re just as tuned-in. Maybe not. Maybe Duran Duran is more reserved. Personally, I still revel in the moments when Simon comes to center stage just before they perform during the encore, because he usually speaks from the heart. Sometimes it’s about the fans. I appreciate that moment because it’s heartfelt. I almost always leave a show feeling bittersweet and thankful I’m fan.

There are so many potential discussions to be had here, it’s difficult to know where to begin. I can also see how easily this can slip into “why can’t Duran Duran be this way” territory, which it did the other night when I had some chats about it on Twitter.

There were tweets about the relative absence of Duran Duran members on social media (aside from the DDHQ posts). Some mentioned that sometimes the band just seems very inaccessible, cold, and distant. I had one person even say that sometimes they look down from the stage at the fans as though we’re trying to climb into their lifeboat  just a like a scene from the movie Titanic. Still others think the band is slowly trying to disengage because they are coming closer to their own retirement.

Whether or not any of that is true, I think as fans we tend to expect a lot more than any human can deliver. Also, despite speaking the same basic language, the differences between our cultures and the types of boundaries we maintain are vast. I can cite hundreds, if not thousands of tweets I’ve seen with my own eyes from fans that are miles over the line of what is socially acceptable. While yes, it’s all in good fun when we send them, we don’t know how they’re being taken on the other side. I must count myself in that insanity. I’ve done dumb things over the years just like anyone else. Lastly, the band skyrocketed to fame hard and fast at a very young age. I can’t help but believe that didn’t have some effect.

Comparing Duran Duran to the New Kids on the Block is like comparing an apple and an orange. They’re both fruit – juicy and yummy – but in completely different ways. It is unfair to hold one up to the same standards as the other, so we (I) must resist the urge.

So, let’s focus on the obvious – how cool was that statement??  I think what strikes me most is how well they recognize exactly what fans feel. Not only do they acknowledge how they feel as a band, they seem to realize that fans feel the same way. They share that connection, and one feeds the other. I’ve often wondered if bands out there really get it. NKOTB certainly does.

The last few lines really tug my heartstrings. “That reminder, that ‘somebody out there knows me’ and that ‘I am not alone.'” (Anybody know, are those lyrics?)  That’s how I feel at a show, which is crazy because Duran Duran doesn’t know me, but sometimes it feels like they do.

The one thing I’d say to Duran Duran, if possible, is that whenever I’m on social media and get into this kind of discussion with fans, invariably someone will interject and say that the interpersonal connection doesn’t matter. It’s only about the music. I can count on someone tweeting me to say that every single time. In some ways, it feels a little like a dismissive statement, in other ways, it feels like they’re trying to tell me that since I’m not “all about the music”, I’m less-than.  While I cannot deny that for some fans, it may really be all about the music… maybe they go to concerts, buy albums and go home. I don’t hear from them about my blogs, or see them online very often, if at all. I’m here to tell you that for the vast majority of Duran Duran fans that I have ever run into, it is NOT JUST ABOUT THE MUSIC. Music plays a huge part, but there’s a little something more there than just liking some songs or a few albums over the years.

I like a lot of different bands. I sing along to many different songs on the radio, and buy hundreds of albums. I love music in general. But there are remarkably few bands that I spend real time on. I mean REAL time. Forget the money, I’m talking time that could (and probably should in my case) be spent elsewhere. My friends come from this community. My travels are at least in part due to this band. I wouldn’t spend that time if I didn’t like, if not adore, the people I was supporting. I’d just sing along on the radio or buy an album and be done with it. That isn’t what is going on for me (and thousands of others) with Duran Duran. You don’t spend thirty or forty years on a band if you don’t feel some sort of connection with them. You just don’t.

Sure, you can pay someone to do all that work for you. The tweeting, the fan gatherings, the contests. Every band does that, and by all means it is a vital and necessary part of PR that no one has the time or passion to do on their own. I will just say that the few times John even goes to the trouble of sending a video that gets posted, or when Nick takes a picture pointing out Late Bar on a sign…or when Simon takes a picture from his hotel room just to share what he’s seeing, those moments are golden. Why? Because it’s an acknowledgment that we exist. That they know we’re out here, still paying attention, still supporting, still being fans…and maybe, just maybe, we actually matter to them even a fraction as much as they matter to us. It’s about the connection. Despite what some try to tell me, I know enough to realize that yes, it really does matter.

I applaud the members of New Kids on the Block for not only getting the message, but embracing it. By far, this is the most lovely thing I’ve ever read from a band to its fans.

-R

 

 

These Beautiful Colours – It’s All About Happy

I don’t know about everyone else, but I’ve had it. It’s Monday, and I’m already done.

I’d really like a day, heck, I’ll even take a MORNING, where there’s at least a little peace. Life is busy. My schedule is crazy and changing every single week because of various things going on. I never know where I’m supposed to be (and when). I have things written on my huge master calendar at home, in my phone, and even on a calendar I keep near my desk, and yet I still forget things. I’ve even had to turn down a couple of really fun and quite frankly, once in a lifetime type of opportunities for various reasons – all of which have to do with being an adult and putting my own feelings aside. On one hand I feel like I did the right thing, and on the other I wish I could just seize the day and take a chance for a change. Isn’t that just like being an adult???

I’m not even mentioning the world. I don’t really need to do that, as I’m sure all of you have heard the news each day. I don’t want this blog to turn into a political forum, but I will say this much – peace would be good right about now. It’s pretty bad when I am thinking about stocking up my trailer (camping caravan), throwing my phone in the garbage and heading north to pine trees, blue skies, and no internet connection.

There are moments when I see all that is happening here at home and abroad, and wonder if the “good old days” are totally behind us now. Sometimes I think that’s what the media wants us to believe. Sometimes, I even think that’s what we want one another to feel.  But then, there’s Duran Duran. The bright light.

The band tweeted this picture this morning from a show they did for a Princeton University class reunion this weekend. (Never before did I wish I went to an Ivy…) Dom retweeted it saying that he loves the colors. At first all I could think about was that in a month from today, I’ll be picking Amanda up at the airport and we’ll be headed to San Francisco. That thought alone made me smile. I can’t wait to see Amanda, our friends, and yes – the band.

Dom says he loves these colors. To me, they are joy and happiness.

I am no different from any other fan. I’m excited to go see the band in July. On one hand, I feel like I’m going to be seeing old friends that weekend, and on the other, I sound like a hopelessly deluded fan. They don’t know me. I only know them from their posters. Yet it all feels so familiar after thirty—nearly forty—years.  I can’t help but feel that way. Yes, I hope to at least make eye contact long enough to say hi and let them know they were missed, and I’m glad they’re back.

In many of my blogs, I try to remind the world that to the band, our relationship is probably more transactional than anything else. Very few of us have a real person-to-person connection with them. Yes, it would be nice if it were more than that after all this time, but realistically – how can they really know thousands upon thousands of people?? I’m even shocked when Simon says he recognizes faces in the crowd.  Even so, as I sit here writing this—I’m thinking of how lucky I am to be able to still go and see the band I grew up idolizing, and sure—a big part of me wants to pretend that when they see me standing in the audience, they recognize my face. Who doesn’t?

It is very hard not to feel like there’s some sort of relationship there, just based solely on the amount of time I’ve invested. Of course there really isn’t—I don’t know John, Nick, Simon or Roger—but as a fan, there’s all the loyalty in the world there. Of course, then there’s Dom. I’ve met him more than once. I’ve spoken to him while on a plane and traded emails a few times. Yet every time I see him up close enough to say hi, I’m pleasantly surprised he addresses me by name. I don’t really know why that surprises me so much, because if he were anyone else – any other guy for example – it’d be normal! There are many people I’ve met one time, and then seen again two or three years later, and we all manage to know and remember one another’s name. Yet with him, it’s different. I both love and kind of hate that all at the same time, I must admit.

I just think now, more than ever, if you get a chance to be close enough to say hi, give/receive a hug, or whatever – it’s important to let them know we care. There’s a lot of bad going on in this world. Even if, like 99% of us, you only know them for being Duran Duran, I think right now, it’s good to let them know how much they’re loved.  Love is a very good thing. We’re lucky to have this relationship, however confusing, messy, and undefined it may be. Not everyone does…and these moments are what carry me from one show to the next. The memories of a hug, a hand squeeze, or even a wink from the stage remind me that all is not so bad. So in the moments when I’m struggling to remember what paperwork I was supposed to bring to a doctor’s appointment, or that I need to contact the registrar at Gavin’s school about his high school transcripts, I try to think about those happy times. It helps.

I’m also really excited that for at least a couple of days – I’ll be nothing BUT happy. So the more I looked at the photo, the more I realized that yes, for me – the colors are happy. I need happy. Don’t we all?

-R

A Field Guide to Duranies

I had another blog post planned for today but decided to scrap it in light of the news.  As I’m sure most of you know, there was another terrorist attack last night in the UK.  In hearing about the news, which seems to becoming common, routine, the usual thoughts and feelings popped in my head.  There was fear for my friends who live there and for those innocent people who were at the wrong place, at the wrong time.  Then, feelings of anger take hold directed towards anyone wanting to not only injury or kill people but who also want to create fear.  They want people’s fear to change how they live.  Instead of going out with friends or going to concerts, people would stay inside or give up freedoms in order to stay safe.  The more these attacks happen, the more determined I hope people are not going to let them win.

Therefore, instead of posting a more serious blog about the difference between male and female fandom, I am going to be a little fluffy.  No one needs me to be super serious now.  There is plenty of time for that later.

Speaking of time, I am looking forward to my life in a week when the 2016-2017 school year is behind me.  I cannot wait to be done with grading, contacting parents and attempting to pull students across the finish line with passing grades.  One thing I hope to do with my extra time is to get a lot of reading done, especially for a project Rhonda and I are working on.  Luckily, I have been able to squeeze in a little reading here and there in between class sets of papers and lesson planning.  One of the books I have been reading is “The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy:  A Handbook for Girl Geeks.”

While this book focuses on fandoms based more on movies, TV shows, comics, etc, I have been able to apply some of it to the Duran fandom.  In fact, in the beginning of the book, the author describes various fandoms using the following categories:  Defining Characteristics, Key Accessories How To Become One and Unending Debates.  As I read about various fandoms, I wondered what I would say about Duranies.  Here’s what I came up with:

Defining Characteristics:

The author listed the three big characteristics for this category.  It is not easy to list just three but here is what I came up with.

  • Love for the color and creative spirit of the 1980s especially surrounding New Wave culture
  • Deep understanding for how the visual including video and fashion can impact the coolness of music
  • Appreciation for the influence of punk, disco, glam and more as well as poetic lyrics

Key Accessories:

This includes merchandise that would show off one’s fandom.

Latest concert t-shirts, classic albums on vinyl especially Rio, posters that once covered bedroom walls, John’s autobiography, unofficial and intangible Duranie card, Sing Blue Silver on DVD, concert ticket stubs, and photos of concert/tour experiences.

How To Become One:

This category is pretty self-explanatory.

Listen to all of the albums, preferably in order to understand the band’s evolution.  Familiarize yourself with various side projects, especially Arcadia and Power Station.  Watch all of the band’s videos on YouTube or through the Greatest DVD.  Attend a concert with someone who is already a Duranie to learn all of the moves and phrases.  Start following Duranies on social media.  Read a good blog.  😉

Unending Debates:

Obviously, this is about what the fandom can talk about over and over and over and over again.

Which guitarist is better:  Andy, Warren or Dom?  Why did Andy leave?  Why can’t Duran be more commercially successful these days?  Was Red Carpet Massacre a great album or not?  How should Duran Duran treat their fans?  Why doesn’t the setlist change?  Why can’t Duran Duran be more like ____________________ (insert band here)?

So, what do the rest of you think?  How did I do in describing Duranland?  What would you say to those categories?

-A

Breaking Stigma with a Commercial

I have written about a lot of different topics over the years.  I have written about Duran Duran’s music, their career, band members, rumors, fans, fandom, and so much more.  Yet, I never thought I would write about a commercial.  That’s right.  I’m writing about a commercial, an advertisement, something to sell a product.  In this case, the product is a bank’s credit card.  If you know me at all, you know that commercials, companies, businesses, profit are not normally terms I embrace or even talk about.  Generally, I focus on people, not money.  Stay with me, though.  I promise that it will make sense.

What commercial am I talking about?  The one you can see here:  https://ispot.tv/a/wdOI.  Seriously, go watch it but know that I’m not championing the product as I have no opinion on it.  No, the focus here is the commercial itself and its message.

The focus of the advertisement is two guys who work together.  One pops into the other’s office to confirm a rumor.  This rumor, of course, is that a favorite band is playing a gig that weekend.  Without too much thought, the pair buy plane tickets, hotel rooms and concert tickets.  At the end of the commercial, you see the two enter the club, all smiles.  Of course, the premise is that this particular credit card allows them to do this.  Again, that’s fine and dandy but that’s not why this commercial makes me smile.

I relate to the entire commercial.  After all, I’m a fan of a band.  Rhonda and I have had many conversations that sound exactly like that.  We often share rumors about what the band is doing show wise with each other and then give an “official Duranie alert” when there is confirmation.  The line about “we gotta go” that is stated by one guy and repeated by the other is one that Rhonda and myself have said to each other countless times.  Seriously.

Then, the plane, the hotel, the venue all remind me of what life is like on tour.  After all, many/most of our tours feature those.  The excitement that they show from rumor confirmation to entering the venue resembles us, too.  We are that happy on tour as well.

Beyond how similar this advertisement is to my fandom, there is something bigger at work here.  Normally, when fans are shown in advertisements, they are sports fans.  In fact, when I googled to try to find this ad, I came across a lot of ads with sports fans.  Here’s an example:

I have nothing against sports fans.  Heck, I like many sports.  I get tired of the assumption that it is totally normal, or even cool to spend money on sports but not on other fandoms.  This Bank of America commercial shows that music fandom is just as cool.  We need more of that before we are able to really destroy some of the stigma around being a fan of a band.

I applaud Bank of America for this commercial.  It is nice to see an ad I can relate to and one that makes fandom a little more acceptable.  I say that the ad worked well.

-A

Manchester Reflection: Fear and shame becomes the violent breath

I want to first apologize for NOT making comments on the Manchester bombing when I wrote yesterday’s blog.  There were several reasons for this, most of which had nothing to do with emotion and everything to do with logistics.

However, 40-hours post bombing (give or take) now, I suppose I do have something to say.

First of all, as you all know – I’m American. I’ve been to the UK twice in my entire life, so it’s not as though I can count it as my home. But somehow, I do feel that way. No, I’ve never lived there, but I think part of my heart remains there regardless. It comes with loving this band, adoring the people I call my UK friends, and some of my favorite people on the planet being British. I love the UK. I love how different it is, yet so similar to “home”. I embrace the cultural differences, and the fact that even while being given a thorough tongue-lashing by a Brit – it STILL  somehow sounds far more polite and refined than when I call someone a jackwagon. Or worse. (probably worse, let’s be honest)  I wasn’t there in the Manchester Arena the night of the incident, I wasn’t in the UK at all. I was here at home, but when I read some of the tweets from friends who live in Manchester, my heart was with you. No, it didn’t happen to me. But somehow, it feels like it did. I witnessed it all unfold with friends online, just as I’m sure many of you reading experienced as well.

Secondly, I’m a concert-goer, just like many (if not all) of you who are reading. I think as Duran-fans, we know the significance of Manchester Arena. As concert-goers, as long time fans, we all know what it is like to be one of those little girls, or little boys, in an arena. As a parent, I know what it is like to send a child to their first concert, or to go along with that child and see their eyes light up as the show begins. As an adult, I know what a concert means to me. It is my safe place. I love music. I adore it. Music is what makes me come alive. The energy flows through my veins like blood, and when I’m at a show – yes, particularly Duran Duran – but any show is like this, it is when I feel like I’m the most ME. To have that space violated rocks me to the core. I know I’m not the only one feeling this way.  It doesn’t make me sad, it makes me angry. Very angry.

In 2015, when the mass shooting at The Bataclan in Paris happened, I was also here at home, working on a poster with my youngest for school. When the news broke, I can remember stopping whatever I was doing and slowly sitting in a chair because I knew the band was in Paris. When they mentioned who had been playing at the Bataclan that night, I felt a shiver go down my spine. It was far, far too close to home for my taste. I can remember frantically tweeting the band and Dom, hoping any one of them would respond. It seemed like hours before someone finally answered, assuring us that they were fine. I think when Dom finally tweeted that he and Martha were fine, I wrote back saying that if I could hug them both right then, I would. And that’s 100% accurate. All I could think about was that they had kids, and that they were both there that night. You’d have thought I knew them personally. I didn’t – and still don’t. I’m just some weird woman from the US to them. But I was relieved, regardless.

I just don’t know if I ever felt really angry about the Bataclan, though. At the time, I was just so relieved. I mean, in some ways it’s silly – the band doesn’t know me. They aren’t my personal friends, but even so, I felt relief knowing they were safe. I wouldn’t have wanted anything horrible to happen to them, in other words. That feeling of relief was far stronger than anger for me at that point. Sure, I was shocked and horrified by the incident – I still am when I think about it, which is exactly why I try not to dwell on it – but I wasn’t angry.

This time though, I’m furious.

This isn’t about being a mama bear, protecting my (or anyone else’s) young. It’s the idea that some asshole decided that his beliefs were more important, more “right”, than the lives of every other soul in that building and surrounding area that night. It is the fact that a concert is the one place where many can go and completely be themselves. It is the belief that music is healing. It is a place to go when the world is closing in, and escape can be found, if only for a few hours. A concert is a place of celebration, of hope, joy, and love. And that night, some idiot tried to ruin that for not only the people who were there in Manchester, but for everyone in the world.  Now, I’m angry.

Yes, I’m also sad for the lives lost and forever changed that night. I have a difficult time thinking about the kids, particularly because I’m a mom, I’m sure. But it’s also because at one time, I was one of them. Part of the reason I still go to concerts is because when I’m there dancing to music, I still feel like one.  My heart hurts when I think about how so many souls went to a concert in Manchester that night and didn’t ever go home. No one should have to die just because they went to a concert.

I’m also angry because no matter how much we say we won’t change the way we live – we are. It’s not about the damn metal detectors or about a simple bag check at the door, either. I see friends openly arguing on social media about whether or not they should continue to allow burkas to be worn on the streets of the UK, or about armed police presence.

I see racism in places that (quite frankly) know better. I’ve been called names purely because I didn’t agree with something someone else said, or because I wanted to stop being angry about an election for one single day so that I could enjoy a freaking holiday with my family. That doesn’t make me a Nazi, or a Nazi sympathizer, people. It makes me FUCKING HUMAN. I can see how our world is changing, and honestly – THAT is what scares me. It’s not the terrorists themselves. I have a better chance of being flattened by a bus than I do being killed by a terrorist. I’m far more afraid of what is to come from an argument between friends about building a wall or allowing refugees into a country than I am about some lunatic shooting up a nightclub.

I’m not about pushing my personal beliefs on others. I’m not going to tell you how I feel about walls, refugees, burkas, or praying to cabbages, for that matter. All I know is that fear is a strong motivator. It coaxes and lures us to act in ways we never thought we might otherwise, and I’m angry that fear is changing our world.

I will leave you with one last thought for today.  I find it hauntingly poetic that the one thing that has the ability to bridge all cultures, languages and beliefs – music – was targeted to display such violence and hate in Manchester.

I don’t have a lot of answers, I just know that fear isn’t going to solve this.

-R