Category Archives: Fandom

Where is the line crossed from Fandom to Standom?

Hi everyone! Welcome to Wednesday afternoon!  I know I’ve missed a couple of blogging days, so I apologize. I am happy to say though that the “For Sale” sign is out in front of our house, and we have a big open house weekend coming up. Anybody want a house in a nice neighborhood in Orange County, CA?

Meanwhile, there is this blog, which has sadly been neglected this week. I’ve missed writing, and I must warn you that there could be a few more days of that ahead, depending upon how it all works when we actually move. Just recently, I saw a tweet from DDHQ declaring that there would be no live dates until February 2019, and that seems like a good goal for me. Get moved and unpacked by February!  I can only hope…

As I sat down to the computer today, I didn’t have anything in my head ready to write about. Someone must have read my mind and sent me an article about Stans. (Read it here)

A “Stan” is an overly obsessive fan. Funny thing about the words “overly” and “obsessive” – they require interpretation. Where is that line, and how do I not cross it?  This is a question we have continued asking since the blog was in its infancy. It would seem that there is no hard and fast answer, even when many of us would be far more comfortable if there were.

The article isn’t about asking what or who is a stan, but instead talks about the destructive culture itself. What does that mean? Well, in the case of the article, they use a recent incident involving Nicky Minaj and a critic, who dared wonder in print if Nicky could get past the “silly” stuff and write lyric with more substance. Nicky lashed out in return, sending the critic a rather violent and crude response over DM. Not to be deterred, the critic took a screen shot and posted it for all to see. Nicky’s fans went on the extreme defensive, harassing the critic on every known form of social media. They went as far as finding her cell phone number, texting her death threats, and even locating photos of her daughter and circulating them online. In my personal opinion, it was completely unwarranted, unnecessary, and over the top.

The internet allow a shroud of anonymity to hide behind, and some are not afraid of spewing vitriol whenever they disagree with something that they read. In my own experience, it has gotten to the point that I am far more careful about what I say, or even what I write about. For a select few – it in’t enough to disagree, they feel like they need to ruin someone’s reputation, and even harass family members. All for the sake of proving a point?

Disagreeing from time to time with something that is written is normal. I expect people to take issue with things I write, for example. In fact, sometimes I write with that intention in my mind. I would expect that other writers, bloggers, and social media managers are the same. What no one truly expects though, is to have their private lives ripped to shreds because a fan base, or “stan” base.

I can cite numerous examples of this within our own fan community. Attacks on critics who aren’t as positive about the band (that’s putting it mildly – as is the word “attacks”), and even the way we go after one another when someone says or writes something we don’t agree with. But where or when should it be enough? Do we need to “expose” the person on every form of social media? Going after family members and death threats were activities that were at one time left to the most obsessed. They were called stalkers, not fans.  However,  they are commonplace now, to the point where we have an entire category of fan named for them, Stans.

It is my hope that everyone reading this blog will click on the link for the article, and that doing so springboards discussion. The question I  want to now pass on to each of you reading, is simple. Where is the line? At what point do we begin to realize that not every online disagreement needs to end with a threat of questioning someone’s character, or at worst – suggesting death?

-R

 

It’s Going to Tempt You

I am not a very spontaneous person.  I’m sure that those of you who are reading this blog post who know me personally might even be laughing at the thought.  Yes, it is true.  Typically, I take a long time to make a decision even when I have thought about my choices over time.  Let me give you an example.  Over the course of my life, I have saved money to buy the latest electronic gadget.  I will then research, decide on the best option, and save money for whatever I want.  Then, I go to the store to finally buy it and I will still stand there and debate the decision to myself once again.  I kid you not.  This indecisiveness happens with work, too.  For instance, it comes each and every time I don’t feel good.  I will literally spend hours going back and forth about calling in sick.  Why do I do this?  I suppose it is insecurity about doing the right thing.  Should I really miss work?  Should I really spend the money?

Funny enough, the one area of my life that tends not to be indecisive is when it comes to my fandom.  Just ask Rhonda.  It does not take me long from reading or hearing about a new show announcement to deciding that we should go.  Typically, if I see a Duran alert about a new show, by the time I am contacting Rhonda, I already have a tentative plan about what we should do in order to go.  Fandom is the one aspect of my life that I truly allow my heart to lead rather than my head.  Of course, this sometimes has gotten me into trouble.    Take the UK tour of 2011.  The shows were announced.  Tickets went on sale within 24 hours of the press release.  If we were going to go, we needed to buy them then, we said.  So we did.  I knew that this tour, which was to take place in May, was pretty awful timing in terms of work but I just went for it.  I assumed that I would get those details figured out later.  Well…a month or so later, I did get it approved but it took a lot of effort by contacting a lot of people to help me.  If I had thought more, I probably shouldn’t have or wouldn’t have gone for this idea, but I didn’t.  It was Duran.  It was Duran on tour in the UK with my friends.  I didn’t think.  I just acted.

Do I regret the decision to go to the UK for this tour?  No.  Not one little bit.  Did it suck that I had to push hard to get to go, to get approval from work?  Absolutely.  Did I ever give up?  Strangely enough, I didn’t.  Maybe, I should have.  Some might have taken it as a sign that I shouldn’t go, that it wasn’t meant to be.  Still, I pushed.  Now, we know that those UK shows in May of 2011 did not happen.  Strangely enough, I still don’t regret going even with the extreme effort with work.  I learned a lot about myself, fandom, Duran Duran and friendships during that trip.

Of course, over the course of my fandom, I have gone to other events that I should not have due to my crappy schedule.  The best example of this is when I went to John Taylor’s book reading and signing in Chicago in late October 2012.  Not only was that night a “school night” meaning that I had to work the next day but it was also days away from Election Day.  This meant that I was working about 80 hours a week between teaching and campaigning.  I knew that the responsible thing would have been to stay at home, get more work done, go to sleep at a decent hour, etc. but I didn’t.  I couldn’t.  This was John Taylor.  Was it crazy of me?  Absolutely.  I remember standing in line to get my book signed and answering call after call about the campaign.  Then, I ended up with like 3 hours of sleep, if that.  Yet, it was amazing night that was worth the multi-tasking and the sleep deprivation.

Now, I face a similar situation.  It, unfortunately, isn’t with Duran Duran or John Taylor but with the Killers.  If you have read this blog for awhile, you probably know that both Rhonda and I love the Killers.  I would definitely pick them for my second favorite band and I have been lucky enough to see them live a number of times.  Well, a few days ago I saw an event on Facebook stating that they are playing in nearby Milwaukee on September 4th.  Sometimes, I think there is a conspiracy against me.  What date is September 4th?  It is literally the first day of school with students.  On that date, 9th graders come to learn their way around the building as they walk through their schedules and meet their teachers.  It is not a regular day of school but it is tiring as there is lots to do to get ready.  The next day, the 5th, will mark the first normal day of school in which all students come and attend class during regular hours.  Ugh.  What a terrible date for a concert!

So, once I saw the event, I shared it and began debating to go or not to go.  It is right in the beginning of the year,

which means that I am already super exhausted.  That said, I also can and will be prepared so that I can leave right at the end of the day.  Should I let work dictate my life?  Should I be good and stay home?  Double ugh.  Again, I waffle.  Yesterday, though, this changed.  I found myself with a presale code for this concert.  At that moment, I did not stop and debate.  I used the code and within minutes I had tickets purchased.  Oh boy.  Will I regret this decision?  Maybe, I will when I am driving home afterwards, exhausted and begging for sleep.  Perhaps, the next day will be so painful that I will kick myself over and over again.  On the other hand, I did not second guess my decisions in those other examples.  Besides, it is a concert.  It is about seeing a fabulous band live.  How could that decision be wrong?  Now, to find someone crazy enough to go with me…

-A

Fandom Made Me a Happier Person, Too!

I apologize for my tardiness with today’s post. The past 24 hours have been rather unkind. My home, which was spotless on Saturday, now looks as though it has been hit by a hurricane. There is a film of dust everywhere, combined with layers of plastic, tape and yes, paint.

Speaking of which, I have a PSA for anybody who ever plans to paint, or spoil themselves and have their house painted. Always remember to pull out blankets, pillows, and perhaps a few outfits, because otherwise all of your belongings – like maybe your entire house – will essentially end up piled like a life-sized Jenga game into the center of each bedroom, and then shrink-wrapped in plastic without any way for you to retrieve your personal items. I have it on good authority that you will be left wondering at 11:30 that night how you’re going to get your ten-year old to finally go to sleep.  Maybe your significant other will end up folding an old down throw blanket into a cushion and sleeping on the wood floor, perhaps your son will sleep on an office chair, and maybe you’ll be stuck on your couch, without a blanket or a pillow.  Oh, and god forbid you have a stomach virus while all of this is going on. Yeah.

So yep, the blog is late, and I’m tired.

Today, I ran across an article that I think every Duran fan should read. This article, titled “Fandom Made Me a Happier Person – And There’s A Very Real Reason For That” is posted on bustle.com. It outlines some fantastic “side effects” to participating in a fandom.  I replied to the person who originally tweeted the link to the article on Twitter to say that 99% of my experience in this fandom has been positive.

Yes, Amanda and I have examined some of the less-than-positive aspects to certain fan practices. That’s part of studying fandom. However, she and I would be among the first to jump and shout about the good things we’ve experienced and discovered simply because we happened to be Duran Duran fans.

I’ve written about many of these things before, but just the very idea of having some interest that is mine, and mine alone, has been empowering. I’ve traveled, I’ve made lifelong friends, and I’ve even challenged myself to leave my very comfortable “box”, in search of pushing my own boundaries a bit. I’m far from perfect or finished, but I’m much happier!

Sometimes, we all get so focused on the small, insipid annoyances that go along with socializing within a small community that we forget the broader, far more positive, payoffs. I have to thank Kelsea Stahler, the author, for the good reminder. Check out the article (linked in the text above!)

-R

They Lay Back Laughing at Naivety’s Star

Thirteen years ago on this date, I saw Duran Duran play in St. Louis.  This show blew my mind despite the side seats, the massive headache I had and the excessive heat.  (Seriously, it was over 100 degrees that weekend and the sweat just poured off of Simon.  I felt bad for the band as it must have been three times as bad for them with the stage lights.  Interestingly enough, I never saw one bead of sweat on Nick.  Hmm…)  Anyway, while the show was great, the after show is what sticks out the most in my mind.

Let me provide some context.  This show took place during the second leg of the Astronaut tour.  I had been to shows during the spring but still was pretty new to the ways of touring.  I didn’t go with Rhonda but a couple of other friends.  We had decided beforehand that we would try to find the band after the how.  After all, I had tried during the spring with no luck and I kept seeing and reading about so many other fans who had their moments.  I wanted a moment, too.  I never questioned my desire to do this.  To me, it just seemed to be what fans in this fan community do.  More importantly than that, I never considered what would happen if we did.  I never thought about how to act.

In order to achieve our goal, we did what so many have done since.  We guessed a hotel.  Yes, we were that awesome.  Funny enough, though, we were right along with what seemed like hundreds of other Duranies.  Once we got there, I made a decision.  I would just try to get John Taylor’s autograph.  That’s it.  I wouldn’t ask for anything else.  (Maybe this shows how naive I was.  It seemed to me that so many other fans wanted/expected a lot more from the band whether that would be photos and autographs or photos and their time.)  Quickly after that decision was made, the band pulled up.  As the band members exited their vehicles, my group split, trying to get to the band member of choice.  Looking back at this, it makes me cringe.  Never once did I stop and think about how it the band members would have felt in having strange people approach them as they try to enter a hotel.

Soon enough, I reached the crowd surrounding John Taylor.  Many of the people there seemed to be those professional autograph hunters who had tons of professional photos to get him to sign.  I just wanted my poster signed.  When I got to him, he kindly signed my poster.  Then, I simply walked away.  Mission accomplished.  I went to go find my friends.  I saw one talking to Roger.  Did I say anything or do anything?  Not really.  I already got what I came for.  (Later, I wondered if I should have asked for something.  Did I miss an opportunity?)  Then, I walked into the hotel to find my other friend.  Once inside, I found John Taylor surrounded by people in the lobby.  He could not move beyond the crowd.  As people started to touch his arm, he turned looking for security.  This made me uncomfortable.  He seemed trapped.  Did he want people touching him?  Did he want all this attention?  It got me thinking.   Does being famous mean that you don’t have the right to consent or freedom of movement?  Is that part of what he signed up for?

Fast forward a bit.  I desperately needed something to drink.  One of my friends had found a spot at the bar…next to Roger.  Well, then.  My mixed emotion self did not really know what to do.  Do I try to butt in and get in the conversation?  Do I leave her alone?  I knew this much.  I was dying of thirst.  After all, it was ungodly hot that weekend.  Perhaps, this was my way in.  I could get a drink, which would give me a logical reason to be there.  But it also meant standing there for awhile to get someone’s attention to take my request.  After a few minutes of just standing there, I left.  I distinctly remember feeling just foolish on top of not really knowing where my comfort level was as a fan.  How do I manage to have my fan moment without doing something that makes me feel uneasy?

The next day forced me to think more about the issue as the message boards exploded with posts and comments about the post-show activities.  Many fans were excited for those who shared their moments or their photos.  Still, others criticized the fans there, implying that some crossed the line.  I had no idea that there was even differing philosophies when it came to interactions between fans and the subject(s) of their fandom.  All of a sudden, the fan community felt a little less safe to me.  After all, many included me with the group of fans who were harassing the band.  Did I?  Looking back, maybe I did.  I followed some of the people I was with.  Maybe I shouldn’t have.

By even the next day, I knew that while I, too, still wanted my moment, I needed to decide about how I would ever act in that situation again.  I starting figuring out what makes me uncomfortable for either myself or a band member.  Notice I said what makes me uncomfortable, where my line is.  That line might be very different for others.  I get that.  Heck, I don’t think I totally have it figured out for myself.  I am still learning.  One thing I feel strongly about now, in 2018, that I didn’t even really think about before that night is St. Louis is touching.  I know that if I ever see a band member or anyone else famous, for that matter, there is no way that I would touch that person without seeking consent first.  Have I always done that?  No but it is something I am working on with people in my life as well and when I have done it, I feel really good about the interaction.  Let me give an example.  When I met President Obama, I consciously decided that I would assume nothing about how the interaction was going to go.  I was there, along with others who had worked on his campaign.  We were lined up to meet him.  I watched to see how he greeted people ahead of me.  When it was my turn, he opened his arms for a hug which I happily returned.  Besides touching, I have also decided that I really like giving anyone famous space.  I won’t surround someone as that would make me uncomfortable.

I know that many people out there might disagree with my philosophy.  You all might be saying…but they are famous.  They had to know what they signed up for.  I think they signed up lots of media attention, sure.  People want to know them and know what they are up to, but, personally, I think they should have the right to their own bodies.  It is okay if you disagree with me.  Fans do not always have to be agreement.  It doesn’t make me a better fan or a bigger fan.  All it means is that after 13 years, I’m starting to get an idea of who I am and what I believe in as a fan.  It has taken me a long time to get to this point.  I have made a lot of mistakes.  Heck, I did 13 years ago today.  That night, that weekend provided a crash course in fandom that I didn’t ask for and didn’t know that I needed.  Looking back, I’m thankful for the experience.  It taught me a lot about fandom, but about myself, too.

-A

Through the Barricades – a Wild debate over Spandau’s new lead singer

In the few minutes of spare time I’ve had since my last day of work, I’ve kept up with posts in a Spandau Ballet Facebook group. Just as Duran Duran fans sometimes find themselves embroiled in debate, Spandau fans are currently going a similar, yet far more intense deliberation. The subject, is  of course, the new lead singer. His name is Ross William Wild, which doesn’t quite roll off the tongue or my keyboard quite so easily yet. He’s young, good-looking, and most importantly, at least to Spandau fans—he is not Tony Hadley.

Whether or not that is a problem, depends upon with whom you’re chatting. Ross performed at his first Spandau Ballet gig last week. Social media went wild, no pun intended. There were many who felt as though he has the potential to re-energize the band. Some felt strongly that Spandau needed to hang it up. Still others have taken to calling the band nothing more than a “tribute” at this point.  (That last one is an “ouch” for sure!) It would appear that either you are “for” Tony and therefore hate everything about this new frontman and the existing members, or you are “for” the newest reincarnation of Spandau and therefore cannot possibly still love Tony. There is simply no in-between. Choose a side and get on with it…or so may seem.

I bring this seemingly un-related issue up here on a Duran Duran-dedicated fan blog purely because it has been both fascinating and heart wrenching to watch the debate unfold. The issues are vaguely similar, yet incredibly different, to some of the things we ourselves have debated.  It has been enlightening to witness the passionate outcry, and it reminds me that fandom is driven completely by emotion. Barely containable under the best of circumstances, fans struggle with change. Emotions run high. Choices are taken on an incredible, personal level.

This claim can be substantiated by recalling the heated debates in our own fandom over guitar players or even changes in musical direction from one album to the next. The fact is, fans are entangled tightly around the heart of Duran Duran. Like it or not, sometimes it is forgotten that we fans are not the band.  Many times over the past week I have read posts from fans proclaiming, “had it not been for the fans, the band would never be here”. We’ve grown up as fans, entered adulthood as fans, we are skipping down the path of middle-age as fans, and it can be very difficult to separate our own lives from the career of the band.  Decisions made by the band, are taken as a direct hit to fans. It makes no difference how pragmatic, practical or business-oriented those choices may be. Fans take each one to heart.

Fans are so personally involved at this point—twenty, thirty or even forty years in, there’s just no way to ignore what a serious change like a lead singer leaving (regardless of the backstory, which still seems to be in question) would do to any fan base. I don’t envy Spandau, they have quite a rebuilding process ahead. It is painful to see fans, completely torn by loyalty—to whom is very much the point of contention here—say that they’ve enjoyed their time with Spandau but they cannot continue on, citing that the band is not the same with Ross, or that he’s not good enough. It is heartbreaking to read posts pointing blame, or completely discounting the work of one young man purely because he dared to step into a spot previously owned by another. The arguments of why Tony left, or who is to blame, will not doubt continue.

I feel for Ross. Like someone else I know, he is the one most likely to “pay” in this situation. He cannot win. Even if he is every bit the singer that Tony is, the reality is that he is not Tony Hadley. He is Ross William Wild. That alone is a sin far greater than any bum note he may ever hit. He will never sing “Through the Barricades” like Hadley, even if he sings it note for note. The same can be said for “True”, “Gold”, and pretty much any other song in their catalog. I have already seen the words “hired gun”, “stand-in” and my favorite, “hack studio-singer” used to describe Ross. Unfair? Definitely, although I know I’ve read most of those words before somewhere…. He’s in an impossible situation because while many have and will embrace him, just as many (if not more original SB fans) will not. Many will openly (and loudly) proclaim him to be nothing more than a stand-in. It is most assuredly a no-win situation.

Tony Hadley tours with his own band as a solo artist, and still sings many of the same songs Spandau will also continue to sing with Wild at the helm. How on earth can anyone move forward under these circumstances? I am not sure.

While undertones of this debate seem very familiar, the truth is— what we’ve dealt with as Duran fans is likely 1/10 of the agony and turmoil Spandau fans have felt, particularly lately. It is painful to watch, particularly since I have some limited sense of what it feels like.  Spandau Ballet as we once knew it ceases to exist. While the band has stood at the crossroad and decided to take a new direction, fans must decide for themselves. I do not envy them.

-R

I’m Lost in a Crowd

In this discussion I had with one of our readers regarding buying tickets, the question, “Does it really matter who buys the tickets?” came up.  I gave an answer that I thought captured my thoughts and feelings well, but is one that I realized that I wanted to explore further.

The commenter asked, “Would it matter to Duran Duran who bought the tickets to their shows?” or something to that affect.  On one hand, do they know who buys the tickets?  No.  Does any band?  Any artist?  No.  They can see how many tickets were sold, what percentage of capacity that is and what the bottom dollar was.  Heck, let’s be real.  The band might not get that information at all.  They have people to watch that kind of information for them.  If I was a member of a band or someone involved with setting up tours, would it matter who buys the tickets as long as someone does?  Probably not, at least not before a show.  I would want as many tickets sold as possible.  That is what matters most.  I think about when Rhonda and I were selling our own tickets to our convention.  Did it matter to us who bought the tickets before the convention?  No.  We were far more concerned with whether or not we had sold enough to cover our costs.  I’m sure touring acts feel the same way.

That said, I do believe in the power of fans and fan communities.  Does it matter who is in the audience at a show?  I cannot help it.  I feel like it does matter, to both the band and their fans.  First, does an audience affect a band’s performance?  My response–how can it not?  Let me give some examples to explain what I mean.  If the crowd is filled with record label executives and the band is trying to get a deal, does it matter to them?  Absolutely.  They might be more nervous in that setting.  Perhaps, they also practice more or put more into it than they would have otherwise.  What if the crowd consists of people who had never heard of the band or doesn’t like their music?  Could that impact the performance?  Again, why wouldn’t it?  The band might play harder to try and win people over, but a band might also feel deflated if the response is lame.  (By the way, I’m speaking in generalities.  On top of that, that is not a criticism.  I recognize that people are human, even people in bands.) So, what about a regular show?  Does the crowd matter?

I have been to shows in which the audience is made of a lot of people that I wouldn’t describe as the typical fan.  At those shows, I have seen bands lose their excitement when they realized that they aren’t getting any sort of positive response.  On the other hand, I have also seen crowds lift up a band by sending them more energy.

What about the fans?  Does it matter to fans who is in the crowd?  I can only speak for myself when I say that it does.  When I’m at a Duran show, for instance, and I know a lot of people there who are as excited as I am, my enthusiasm grows exponentially.  Of course, the opposite is true when I have people near me at shows who don’t care who is playing.  I find myself having to expend some energy to ignore the lame crowd to enjoy the performance.  As much as I logically know that it shouldn’t affect my enjoyment, it does to some extent.  If I have a less than stellar experience, I’m less excited to go back.  The opposite is true, obviously.  This, in turn, could affect the bottom dollar for the next show or the next tour.

Having a lot of fans in the crowd makes me have a better show.  To me, fans can make a good show, a great one.

-A

Generational Universality of Fandom

Last weekend, I went to a friend’s birthday party.  This friend is someone I used to work with, which means that there were a lot of colleagues there.  I enjoyed talking to them outside of the school/work setting.  More than that, it was nice to speak to people whom I have very few conversations with at work, simply because our roles don’t interact much.  One of those people is in charge of our tutoring program.  She is many years younger than me and when we started chatting, I doubted that we had anything in common except where we work.  Then, I learned that wasn’t true.  We do have something in common.  No, she isn’t a Duranie, but she is a fan.

I don’t remember exactly how the conversation moved towards the area of fandom, but when it did, my interest level increased dramatically.  I think someone mentioned the Spice Girls and that’s all it took.  This colleague of mine mentioned that she was a huge Spice Girls fans when she was a kid.  I nodded and said that a lot of us  found our favorites as kids.  She went on to say that she was such a big fan that she led a little local fan club.  The group, made up of her friendship group, met weekly.  They wrote agendas that usually focused on discussing any news on the group.  Of course, I felt like I could relate to this.  I explained how I became a huge Duran Duran fan as a kid.  While we didn’t have a fan club of sorts, my best friend and I frequently shared whatever news we had about what the band was up to.  In our case, the news either came on radio or MTV or through magazines.  Then, of course, we dissected each little detail of the news.  (Somehow, as I am typing this, I realize that life isn’t that different now since Rhonda and I do the same thing!)  Anyway, I told her that I’m jealous that they had a whole fan club and that I would have loved something like that.

I went on to ask her a few questions that directly relate to the theory of female fandom that Rhonda and I have been focusing on for awhile.  Was there competition between the members of the fan club?  What did it look like, if so?  Obviously, I haven’t studied the Spice Girls fandom, specifically, so I had no idea what she might say.  Likewise, the fandoms that we have focused on tend to female dominated ones with males being the subjects of their fandoms.  So, will things be very different for a fandom with women as the subjects of the fandom?

I started my investigation by asking, “Did you have a favorite?  How did you pick your favorite?”  Clearly, many/most Duranies developed a favorite quickly and it was often the band member the fan thought was the most attractive.  Indeed, this colleague of mine did have a favorite!  In her case, it was mostly about which band member she hoped she would grow up to be like.  It was about a role model, of sorts, as opposed to attraction.  Interesting.  Then, I followed that up with, “Could the members of the fan club have the same favorite?”  As we know, many Duranies had an unwritten policy that friends couldn’t share favorites.  (Heck, even Rhonda and I don’t share a favorite.  Could we have become best friends if we did?!)  Surprisingly, my colleague said that they did not share favorites.  If one’s choice about a favorite had to do with identity, it makes sense that they couldn’t share.  Who wants to be exactly like one’s best friends?  This allowed them to be similar in terms of interests but gives enough freedom to be unique.  Fascinating.

Before I had a chance to follow up with more questions, we got interrupted, unfortunately.  I still appreciated the conversation and what I learned.  Clearly, there are some universal truths with fandom, no matter the subject or the generation that fans are a part of.  The Spice Girls fandom, at least to my colleague, presented itself in a similar way to the Duran fandom.  A group of friends loved the same band.  They wanted to talk about their fandom.  Besides that, they also chose favorites and couldn’t share them.  Yes, indeed, fandom is universal, at least between my generation and the generation below me.

-A

Does Fandom Need Feeding?

The other day I received a text message from someone whom I once considered a very close friend.  In recent years, we contact each other only a few times a year despite living in the same city.  This got me thinking about friendship.

This local friend was someone I used to be in daily or almost daily contact with.  When talked frequently, we got along well.  We got together a lot for either something major like traveling to a show or simply running errands together.  Now, though, I have a hard time imagining all of that.  When we talk now, we struggle to converse.  It feels like it is hard to understand where the other is coming from while we force ourselves to communicate.  It makes me miss the old times when we talked all the time.  Likewise, I miss the friendship.  I wish that I didn’t feel so distant from her now.  At some point, we stopped speaking so often and now we suffer for it.  Our friendship needed to be fed in order to be maintained.  I think we needed it to understand each other.

Then, of course, there are other friendships like one I have with a friend from high school.  We don’t see each other often and don’t talk much, especially since she lives in Sweden now.  That said, whenever we get together, it takes no time at all before we are right back to where we always were.  If I had to guess, I think part of the deal is that we never really communicated.  We hung out more.  Basically, we got together to have fun, not to share deep thoughts.  Does not mean that there isn’t an emotional connection there, but it is different when that relationship matters a lot to you, which is more of the situation for the first friend.

In thinking about all of this, I began to wonder if the same thing is true for fandom.  Is Duran like the first friend in that the band means a ton to me and needs to be fed frequently?  Or is it more like the second when I don’t have to speak to that often but when I seek it out, I have a ton of fun?

In many ways, I feel like I have assumed that fandom is like the first friend.  After all, this is part of the reason I do this blog and the question of the day.  I want my fandom to be part of my day-to-day existence.  Am I worried that if I don’t spend time on it every day that my affection will decrease?  Looking back to the last time the band was in between albums, I wrote a lot of blogs about how I worried that if the band didn’t speed up the process, they would lose fans because I worried that the fandom did need to be fed frequently in order to be maintained.

Yet, could it really be more like the second friend in which it doesn’t need constant attention, but when I can get to it, it is a ton of fun?  This could very well be the case.  After all, all it takes is for me to think about a show to get all excited and to put fandom first.  That said, even if it is more like the second type of friend, I really would like both.  I need the fun and excitement from the second friend but the companionship from the first.  I like having the constant presence of those who matter in my daily lives even if the affection could remain without it.

What about the rest of you?  How do you view fandom?  Is it something that you need to feed to keep it alive or does it just take a little fun to restore the love?

-A

Got any plans for Summer of 2020?

I woke up worrying about the blog today. I don’t even know why. I think this might be a sign or symptom of the amount of stress I’m carrying around these days. Moving is hard. I keep telling my husband that it would be far more motivating if I knew where we were going, like maybe if we’d already bought a house or actually knew what city we were going to end up in. Right now, all I’ve got is a short list of houses I really like in a very wide area going from Camarillo to the south (of Santa Barbara) alllllll the way up to Atascadero and South Paso Robles to the north. (yes, those places are far from Santa Barbara. It’s a long story. Just go with it for now.) Meanwhile, there’s still this  “Boston” possibility hanging in the air. Walt is going out there in a couple of weeks, and at the moment it’s possible that I’ll go along with him. That could change though because the timing is, of course, really bad with family graduations, birthdays, and moves home from college. I find myself asking (very loudly) when am I ever going to find the time to go house hunting anywhere. Thank goodness for Zillow.

No one really answers back. That’s probably best given that most of the time I’m alone while asking.

My last day at work is next Thursday. It’s the little one’s last week at school for summer. I still don’t know where she’ll go to school after what I think might be the shortest summer of my life…and then this morning I woke up worrying about the blog.

The blog is fine. It really is. I’ve felt as though I’ve neglected it a bit lately, right along with my writing. I don’t know when I’m going to find time to actually write this summer. It’s a small price to pay, I suppose, but writing keeps me sane. Blogging will at least continue, book writing may not for a bit. I am worrying for no reason about things I can’t even deal with right now.

I had big Daily Duranie plans for the summer, including a convention that I’m going to have to push out until I’m moved (I can’t plan a convention when I don’t even know where I’m going to be traveling from to get there. Bad timing – so once I know when and where I’m going, I can figure out the rest. I’m disappointed, but I just can’t do it all), and a visit with Amanda. I need to hang out with my best friend. I miss her. One way or another that has to happen. Then there’s a girls trip with Amanda and our other two friends. We need a getaway. I’m still trying to figure out how I can squeeze that in, because we are way overdue for a catch-up. I’m hoping the answers will reveal themselves soon. I don’t do very well without some basic plan, and I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants now since December. I hate it.

Amanda and I did chat on the phone last week. That might not seem like a big deal to you, but I think I can count on one hand the amount of times we’ve done so since January. Times have indeed been tough. I welcomed her phone call though, and it was good to hear her voice. She gave me a little shred of hope that life WILL return to some sort of normalcy, because she asked me one question that snapped me back into my typical, Duranie-self.

“Got any plans for summer of 2020?”

Wow. I can’t even plan for next month, right now.  It is a very strange feeling, after living in the same place for twenty years, to know that in 2020, I have no idea where I’ll be living. Where will I be when Amanda and I are planning and plotting? Forget all of that, where is my family going to spend Christmas this year? It is SO weird to know it’s probably not going to be in this house. (For that matter, we just got rid of our 9-ft tall artificial Christmas tree, so….) So no, Amanda, I don’t have plans for 2020. I’m sure I’m about to make some, though!

She went on to tell me about the Katy Kafe with John Taylor and how he gave a full laundry list of ideas they had for celebrating their 40th and so on. I hadn’t even had time to listen to the Kafe at that point last week, so I welcomed her explanation of how it all went down. John talked about having some sort of show in Birmingham, and that was as far as she got before I stopped her. “We are going!”

Sure, John might have lofty ideas. Chances are, nothing he wants to do will actually come to full fruition. That isn’t really the point though, at least not for me. I need something. I need something to give me some motivation to get through what I think has to be one of the most stressful life events: moving.

The weekend before last, Walt and I took every single box down out of our attic. Turns out that he wasn’t lying when he said I was a packrat. Somehow, I’d saved nearly every single thing my kids touched as babies (and what’s weird is that I know I’ve given away a ton of stuff to charity over the years!). I went through box after box, blinking back tears on occasion. It was awful. I’m beginning to come to the realization that not only are we moving, but we’re closing a chapter on the childhoods of my two oldest kids. I am not a fan.  I’m overly emotional at times, downright sentimental at others, and suffering from hot flashes at the same time. God, I love middle age.

So for me, even the possibility of going to London, Birmingham or pretty much anywhere during the summer of 2020 is incentive for me to get my act together, get this house moved and my family settled. I have two years to make it all happen. I want to see friends, I want to go back to places I enjoy. I want to actually live. Right now, I feel like I’m just closing up shop to move on. I’m looking forward to getting past it.

Yes, I know how quickly other fans want to pee in my bowl of cornflakes (I hate cold cereal anyway), but you know – it’s OK to let fans just have some hope. Why not? Is it really hurting anyone?  The same goes with the band recording a new album – does it really hurt anyone to have hope that they’ll record again? I mean, as a fan, why wouldn’t you want to believe that they’re not completely finished?  It’s the one thing I’ve never really understood about people. Hope is a powerful motivator, and you know – I need it. So I’m tucking it into my pocket, and grabbing another box to fill.

-R

During This Deafening Silence

Sorry for my absence last week!  My husband was laid off late last year, and spent five incredibly long months looking for a new job. Some people find jobs quickly, but in the tech industry, his work is far more specialized and it just takes longer.  Unfortunately in his business, reorganizations and layoffs are normal. For the past twenty years, we have been lucky. His job changes—we think there have been at least seven—never required a move, and we’ve lived in the same house in So Cal. Two of our three children were born nearby, and for all of them, this house is “home”.

My husband started a brand new job this morning in Santa Barbara, which is about 150 miles from our current home. Over the summer (I sincerely hope it’s over the summer!), we will be moving because the commute from the OC to Santa Barbara is insanity, obviously.  He drove up this morning, leaving our house just after five (that is AM, thank you). He just texted me at about 8:45 my time to let me know he’d gotten there. That’s an hour longer than it should have taken him, thanks to typical Los Angeles traffic. There’s no way he’s going to be able to keep up that pace for long, not that we ever thought otherwise.

So, last week, I began the slow and steady process of packing, getting the house ready to sell, and moving. The funny part is that I still am not sure where we’re moving quite yet. It could be north of Santa Barbara, but it could also be the Boston area since a good portion of his team are located there. I just love surprises and not having any idea of where we’re going. (This is such a lie I can’t even type it without laughing)

I do find the timing and the uncertainty amusing. After all, we’re in-between albums, aren’t we? None of us have any idea when a new album will drop…or IF a new album will drop. (To clarify, I have no reason to suspect they wouldn’t go back to the studio!) We don’t know if that band will ever tour again, although right now I feel pretty positive they will. (No hate mail, please) I’m just glad that if my life is about to be turned upside down, we’re doing it now…and I’m willing to bet that on the next Duran Duran album, there will be at least one song that I’ll identify with that describes this period of my life, because THAT is how good this band is. They get it right even when they have no idea who I am, or what I’m about, or going through.

Each of us have our own lives going on during the time when Duran Duran are killing us with silence. I tend to think in terms of “pre <insert album title here>”, “post <insert album title here>”, or even “in-between titles”. I’ll probably always remember this time in between as the period where my life closed one chapter and began another (and yeah, that’s pretty poetic). The joys of moving.

I listened to Paper Gods today as I was driving home from dropping Gavin back off at his UC Riverside dorm. It’s an hour from our current house, which isn’t awful as long as there isn’t traffic. I hadn’t listened to PG in a while just because I was trying to give it a bit of a rest after having it playing on repeat for over a year. I can still remember how it felt to stand in the audience at the Hollywood Bowl and seeing them play the set live for the first time. I don’t know if the album really is a favorite of mine – I found that it took me quite some time to really bond with it in any sort of way – but I will say that the tour was a lot of fun. Those memories will stick with me in the same way that the memories I have of this house will linger with me forever.

-R