Category Archives: Fandom

Carry the Fight

The other day my writing partner shared her childhood story on here about how and where Duran Duran fit in to her story and her coolness factor. She described how liking Duran is the closest she ever got to not being a nerd. If you haven’t read the blog post, you can here. I highly recommend it.

One of the best parts of sharing a blog with someone else is that I can get inspired by what my writing partner has written about like this particular blog. While I didn’t have a chance to read each and every response to her blog, when I glanced, it definitely seemed like the post resonated with others. I saw people share about how they had similar experiences or about how hearing Duran Duran changed their lives. It got me thinking. Did hearing Duran Duran change my life? Did becoming a Duranie make me cool or less uncool? Hmm…I’m not sure that I would say that. Then, last night I went to book club. We discussed a book that I didn’t read but had the message of making the best out of a bad situation and how there is honor in that. My fellow book clubbers also expressed admiration for that. I couldn’t do that as I wouldn’t just accept the bad situation. Then, when I thought about that message and my experience with Duran Duran, I finally got how Duran Duran shaped me.

As I am sure that I mentioned here before, my childhood was split in two. The first half of my life was spent in the south suburbs of Chicago while the second half was an hour or so away in a small town. While the distance between the two locations wasn’t all that big, it might as well have been two different planets as the two areas could not have been more different. The suburb featured a world of popular culture as Chicago radio was readily available and MTV premiered there pretty soon after it came out while the small town lacked any sort of popular radio and MTV didn’t come until the early 90s. They were night and day. The suburb was a fairly diverse place while the small town was as white as they come. I loved being close to Chicago and venturing into the city on a regular basis for school field trips and frequent White Sox games and hated the closed-mindedness that too many had in the small town.

The adult in me can now look at my perceptions of the two places and understand why I might feel as I do. Even though, I loved my suburban life, I wouldn’t describe it as a utopia. It certainly wasn’t perfect. At school, I was not well-liked starting right away in my half-day kindergarten where I met my best friend. For some reason that I never understood, I was not allowed on my school’s jungle gym until my best friend told others that I could come. Yes, I remember that at five. First grade wasn’t that much better at school as I became the number one target by a school bully. I don’t remember much about how that kid treated me but it was something about how I played. Too imaginative or something? Yet, I could survive that because I had a best friend. While she was no longer in my class, we still saw each other frequently despite not being in the same neighborhood. We always had such a great time together whether it was creating a fake store in my family’s basement or playing with her dog.

My best friend and I discovered Duran Duran together as we would often have B96 radio on while we played. Then, when MTV began, we found ourselves glued to the TV. I cannot remember who mentioned Duran Duran first or when or even why. I’m pretty certain that the first songs we heard the ones off of Rio but I couldn’t be certain. I have a very distinct memory of hearing New Moon on Monday one night when I spent the night at my friend’s. Did Duran Duran make me more cool? No. It brought my friendship closer as we shared the love for the band and soon began drooling over John Taylor together.

How did my Duranieness work at school? Did it me become more popular at school? Not really. I still wasn’t liked by the school bully. At lunch, though, when I avoided teasing, I sat across from some boys who loved to talk about music. Of course, in this era, Michael Jackson was king. My classmates certainly believed that Michael was the best ever and that Duran Duran was so uncool. Yes, that’s right. My classmates hated Duran. At the time, I had no idea why. Looking back, I’m sure that they felt that Duran got too much attention and that Michael and other African-American artists weren’t getting enough. Now, I get it. How did I respond to this debate? Oh, I would argue each and every day. I wanted to prove that Duran was the best and, yes, I pointed to their popularity as evidence. My classmates weren’t buying it but I never gave up.

My defiant attitude followed me to my new small town home in 1985. My new surroundings didn’t love Duran Duran either. Many of the kids in this town didn’t even know who Duran Duran was due to the lack of radio, MTV, etc. Later, as MTV showed up and more options for music came around, the kids in my little small town did not embrace Duran Duran or anything like that. No, most turned to more heavy metal and hard rock options. Duran Duran was completely unacceptable. After all, they seemed “too gay” for many of them. (See what I mean about closed-mindedness.) No, they only liked bands with “real men” that seemed to treat women like sexual objects. I could never buy into that as I held onto my love for Duran despite being so unpopular.

I’m sure that my Duranieness did not win me many favors or any friends. How did this small town treat me? Rhonda mentioned that she was never quite the person who ended up in trash cans. Well, I didn’t either but I did have rocks thrown at me as I walked home from the bus on a frequent basis. Why was I target? Does anyone really know? I am sure that I was different from having a more “Chicago” attitude and perspective when I arrived. Then, I was a religious minority that I didn’t hide. Looking back, my love for Duran was just another feature of who I was that made me weird. I don’t think it made me a target but it didn’t help me fit in either. Maybe I should have tried to change or fit in but I didn’t.

The book club discussion the other night made it seem like the only admirable way to approach a crappy situation is to make the best of it. I don’t buy that. I don’t believe that and never did. Some people decide to go with a bad situation and try to make the most to it. That is not a wrong or bad way to go. It just wasn’t and isn’t for me. I’m more of a fighter, someone who refuses to change to meet others’ expectations. I don’t like to accept bad situations and don’t try to adapt. Instead, I fight to end the situation. Now, I can see that my Duran fandom has always been a part of this defiance. I never changed and never walked away from Duran even if it would have made my life easier.

-A

Mars Meets Venus

Let’s start as friends

My friends, think back to the beginnings of the band’s career. For me, 1982 puts me at about eleven or twelve – which was during middle school. As I’ve asserted on any number of occasions, I was a nerd. An awkward, frizzy-haired, clarinet player in the band, potential good student sort of nerd. I was not only a nerd, but I was absolutely an underdog in every sort of way.

Much of sixth grade is murky for me. The memories are dim. I I know that maturity-wise, I was way behind my peers. Boys? They were fine for being friends or even playing kickball, baseball or tetherball, but as actual BOYS? Gross. I didn’t even know how to flirt!

Frog seeks Princess

I can remember sitting in social studies in Ms. Beck’s class though, and getting into the first (of many) arguments with another kid. My face flushed, I argued until the final bell. I grabbed my books and ran out of class, embarrassed because he had been one of the “cute, popular boys”.

Eventually, he asked me to “go around” with him, which was middle-school speak for being his girlfriend. I said yes, and then had no idea how to behave. Hold his hand? As if I liked him??? Ew. Sit next to him at lunch? Uh, I have friends for that. Slow dance with you at a school dance?? Not a single chance, buddy. Keep your hands off of me, or my dad will kill you.

I was not prepared for boys.

Our romance lasted for about three days, two of which included Saturday and Sunday, days where I didn’t see him. After that, he went out with another girl in my class also named “Rhonda”. That romance lasted for a lot longer, lucky for her. The entire memory still makes me chuckle and blush over my own naivety. Poor John. We are still friends on Facebook, and every so often he has to remind me about sixth grade. As if I could really ever forget. (I’ve tried!)

Choose life

The other part of sixth grade that I do remember though, was music. First, I was a clarinet player. I sat through my regular classes in order to get to band at the end of the day. My real “academic” success, at least that year, was in band. In particular, I hated 6th grade math and science – in fact I got my first “D” notice in math from Mr. Thompson that year, who openly told my father at parent/teacher conferences that I’d probably never amount to much.

(I TAUGHT TWO OUT OF THE THREE OF MY CHILDREN, MR. THOMPSON – AND ONE OF THEM IS NOW MAJORING IN PHYSICS – A SCIENCE NO LESS – AT A UC. HOW’S THAT FOR NOT AMOUNTING TO MUCH???)

Second, I loved the radio once I figured out what stations I preferred. I would walk into my room and snap on my small, portable AM-FM radio/tape deck combo unit (not quite a boom box just yet), and let the music fill the air. It was during one of those moments that I first heard Duran Duran, in fact.

Soul sister hippy chick

I had very few close friends. While I wasn’t being thrown head first into a trash can every day, I wasn’t one of the popular girls, either. I’d avoid the mean girls like they had the plague, as they’d stand in the middle of the hallway lockers. If they saw me, they’d make fun of anything they could find about me that was “off” that day. (There was generally plenty to choose from. Fashion wasn’t a strong point and my hair was even worse.) So the girls I chose to spend time with were more like me, I guess.

When I marched to school the following morning after hearing Duran Duran on the radio for the first time – I thought I’d rock their little worlds. I had grand visions of my teeny group of friends thinking that I was some sort of secretly cool girl who knew all of the up and coming artists. What I didn’t expect was for my friend Marsha to roll her eyes and announce to all of us that she’d already heard of Duran Duran. I also didn’t expect for her to tell me that I actually already owned one of their songs on one of those K-Tel compilation records my parents bought me for my birthday. That girl knew everything!!!

The cover of my now infamous K-Tel record with Duran Duran on the B-side with Girls on Film!

What did happen though, was that everyone in that group, including me and Marsha, went home and tried to find as much on Duran Duran as they could find. We came back to school armed and ready to discuss the band, sharing pinups, interviews and anything else we’d come across. Eventually, we’d find t-shirts, hats, pins, and anything else that denoted we were fans. Sometimes, other slightly less nerdy girls would notice and comment on how cute the band was (I always enjoyed it when they’d screw up the names of the band members, because then I’d show my expertise by correcting them. Wow, how was I not trash-canned??), or they’d gush over how “cool” the band was. I felt in turn that if the band was cool, I must be semi-ok too. It was the closest I’d ever come to NOT being a nerd.

Where are you

What I don’t think I really paid much attention to until later was that while it was cool for me to like them, it was the opposite for boys. Admittedly, I didn’t care one bit about that back then. Boys? Who needs them?!? They had a plethora of other, more “rock” sounding music to choose from anyway. I never thought twice about it.

So, when my friend David O. from The D Side Podcast (check it out at the link!) discussed his theory in episode 4 that being underdogs kind of brought us to Duran Duran, it got me thinking. On one hand, indeed – I was a geek. It wasn’t just that I was a geek, but for the most part, I was invisible. It wasn’t until I made the local papers because I was the youngest person asked to join the California Junior Philharmonic that other students noticed I was even alive. The only thing aside from being in the paper that even sort of made me cool, was my love for Duran. Being a Duranie made me an instant part of a group. So while I was definitely still an outcast or an underdog – Duran Duran made me a little bit less of one.

On the other hand, I knew plenty of girls who liked Duran Duran that were not geeky at all. They might not have been in the upper echelon of popularity at my school, but they sat firmly on that second rung down the ladder. They were still cool to begin with. Duran Duran just made them all the more edgy.

Shake me up wild girl

The cool girls had more fashion sense in their pinky than I did in my entire body. They wore black eyeliner. I struggled with convincing my mother that it was OK for me to wear tinted lip balm. Their hair mimicked the styles I would see on male or female new wave artists in Tiger Beat or Smash Hits. Mine was this strange concoction of frizz and waves that could only be tamed by cutting the sides short and layering them to hell and back….a style I kept until the second year of high school.

In my head, being a Duran Duran fan made everyone seem cooler. But did it really?

Clearly, the trajectory for boys was different, although I’m the first to admit that in 1980-something, I didn’t even begin to notice. I didn’t care. A boy might have been cool until they mentioned Duran Duran in any sort of sentence that could have been construed as complimentary. Any self-respecting male wouldn’t have been caught dead listening to “Rio, much less “New Moon on Monday” or “Save a Prayer”. Once discovered, the G-word was thrown around liberally, whether the word fit or not. Looking back, I’m ashamed to think about how the boys who really were gay and struggling with their identity must have felt.

Seeking something

I don’t think the idea of gay or straight quite registered with me back then, at least beyond the near-constant name calling I’d hear in the halls. However, I did recognize the differences of black clothing, eyeliner, and sleek hair from the heavy metal, mullet-mania that was taking shape elsewhere around us. In seventh grade, I began to take more notice of the males around me. To me, the boys who liked new wave, and then the even smaller group that would admit to being closet Duranies really were cool – something I still believe to this day. I never saw those guys as underdogs in sixth or seventh grade, because I admired them. They were brave in a way I could never quite live up to myself.

Even so, I knew that the only boys who would even quietly admit under their breath to liking Duran Duran’s music were usually different from the other boys I knew. They were nicer to me, first of all. They didn’t try to snap my bra, or tease me about my hair, or even my body shape. Their interest in me started and ended with music. I was totally on board. Music was one thing I knew I could manage.

The funny thing, at least to me, was that I didn’t fit into THAT crowd either. I didn’t wear black. There was no way I was going to be cutting my hair in some “weird, asymmetrical style” (my dad was such a stickler). Fashion? “You don’t go to school for a fashion show, Rhonda Lynn. You go to learn, and you’ll wear the clothes in your closet.” I looked like Holly Hobby trying to fit in with The Cure. Even so, I liked Duran Duran. I had made it at least partway through the door marked, “You’re not half-bad”.

Someone is perfect for you

My friend David also believes that Duran Duran are underdogs. When I think about it, I agree. Whether due to their own looks, the androgynous fashion, hair and makeup choices of the 1980’s, their fans, or their music, they’ve never been completely accepted. They’re the band that everyone outside of Duranland thinks went away, but has actually been quietly working their asses off. We love them for that, too.

I tend to believe women have a harder time seeing that we might also be drawn to Duran Duran as a result of our geekiness. After all, I’ve met many women in the years I’ve been a fan that exude anything BUT geekiness. They’re far more “in-touch” than I’ve ever been, and I highly doubt they’d agree with David’s assessment that they’ve somehow bonded with the rest of us nerds as a side benefit of being a Duran Duran fan. Being a Duranie included me into a group I might never have found otherwise, and I don’t think I’m alone.

I also buy into David’s theory that, had the band made it in the same way as some others (like U2) – with the same sort of critical success, they might have hung it up already, out of boredom. Maybe fans would have done the same. Instead, there’s been a sort of “fuck you, we’re still here” attitude that has settled in. I admire that in-your-face tenacity. Not only do they tell us not to count them out, they show us.

Here’s looking at you

I like the idea that when it comes down to it – we’re all the same and have bonded together over this band, whether we’re male or female. I appreciate that when I chat with David or anyone else about Duran Duran – they don’t automatically assume that my experience and knowledge is different or less worthy because I’m female (or vice-versa). Perhaps our perspectives are different, but the end result is the same. We’re all fans, gathered together for the love of Duran Duran.

-R

Dark Sun Rose on the Ridge

Cut clear across the sky

I’m late. I know I’m late, and I’m sorry. (and here comes the strangest sentence I’ve written YET…) I needed to go to the Farm Supply Store for Chick Grit and mealworms.

This morning I learned that chickens can be cannibalistic. I did not know that before this morning, and to be fair – I kinda wish I didn’t know now. However, I came home armed with all the aforementioned supplies, along with bottles to both heal a chick that is getting pecked as well as stop the others from thinking it is also a live buffet.

*sigh* The more you know…

The funny thing, and the topic of this blog for the day, is that as I was driving out of the Farm Supply parking lot, I thought to myself: Wow, cannibalism. That sounds an awful lot like what happens at Duran Duran GA show, or even in our fan community at times.

Dark thoughts for a Wednesday, no?

String of pearls meet bits of gems

It is true though. I mean, overly dramatic yes, but still true in some sense. I’ve seen it happen on message boards, in Facebook groups, on Twitter and most certainly in person. We tend to go after our own.

Online, it seems to happen when one chick, er, Duran Duran fan, tries to assert themselves over and above whomever is the strongest (read as “most popular”, “well-liked”, etc.). Maybe they call somebody out on their BS, or maybe they just disagree over a song or something even less “important”. At first, maybe there are a few nips or well-placed comments between the two involved. Invariably, someone sends a larger shot over the bow to make their point known to all bystanders.

Regardless of how or whom, the community tends to jump “en force”. The seemingly “weaker” fan is left defending themselves much of the time against a mob of fans willing and ready to defend the more popular fan. As if they really need defending, right? Regardless, eventually the “challenger” crawls away, the fight dies down, and some sort of normalcy prevails. Sometimes, I even see the two who were initially arguing end up as friends. It is as though a sense of mutual respect is spread between the two.

Honestly, I just think it’s weird. It’s also human nature, combined with female territorial instincts. We don’t want other women to have what we have, even when what we have is all in our own damn heads to begin with.

Enter the battle of the lenses

At shows, it is the same way. At GA shows, I’ve seen entire groups band together over one person who threatens to interrupt the balance of a crowd. Maybe that one person is drunk, or refuses to acknowledge personal space, or shoves just a little too much while waiting for the band to take the stage. If it bothers one person, well, maybe not much happens. However, let that bother enough people, or that one person in a group of people who just isn’t going to have it – and the next thing you know – there’s a real problem happening. The weak end up moving. The strong stay in their spot. It is survival of the fittest.

Are we really cannibalistic? Will we really go after our own? I kind of think we do, figuratively speaking of course! I tend to believe in survival of the fittest, even amongst humans. All one need do is observe Twitter for any length of time. The mob mentality is there. Let someone with a less popular point of view dare assert themselves and people will come out of the woodwork to band together and bring the offender down. Drag them into the proverbial street, make them into an example for all to see. I don’t think fandom is all that different.

After all, we’re all friends until we’re not. Whether that point is when the band shows up, or when someone points out that you’ve spent far too long in too many hotel lobbies, the shots are fired, and before you know it – we’re at war with the people who were our friends last week or even last night.

Dark thoughts for a Wednesday, indeed. I’m off to save my chick from the rest of the flock!

-R

When Still I Wear Your Crown

I have to admit that I’m not sure how I’m writing this blog. I’m 25 days out before election day and the exhaustion phase has definitely started. My days are beginning by 7 and often ending at 10 with little time for lunch or dinner. Part of me wants to just say, “Okay, kids. I gotta take a little break and help my candidate win a big election.” No one would be upset (heck maybe some would cheer!) and I think everyone would understand. That said, I want to write–not because I have to but because I want to. I have things I want to say. I can’t say that these blogs for the next few weekends will necessarily be awesome but hopefully I can get some ideas out there.

Last week, I got together with a couple of friends both because I wanted to see them and to pass along yard signs for them. During the course of the evening, my one friend shared a little story about this guy she had been seeing. Without breaking any confidence, she told me that they had been getting to know each other for months by just spending time together as friends. She didn’t think too much of it because he had just gotten out of a relationship. Finally, after a year of being friends, he asked her out. Did it go anywhere? No. Apparently, this is a habit of his. He gets to know people then starts to date briefly only to break it off as he did the same thing with other women in his past. My friend went on to say about how she didn’t get it.

As I sat there thinking about this situation, it dawned on me. This guy likes the chase. He enjoys those moments when you first meet someone and that person seems fabulous, perfect, the best match possible. As soon as the dating starts, though, this feeling does not last and the interest goes away. He doesn’t really want a relationship. I tried to explain my conclusion. She still struggled to understand what I was saying. I decided then to provide an analogy. This one, strangely enough, had to do with fandom.

The situation reminded me that there are some fans who love the moments when they fall in love with something/someone new. They get into the latest show or movie and dive into the fan community. Then, as quickly as they fell in love, they fall out of love and lose interest. This, of course, leads to new interests and new fan communities. They only like something when it seems perfect. I’m not judging that. In some ways, I totally get it. Everyone loves those magical moments of early participation in fandom. The Astronaut Era will always be special to me since it was the first time that I really participated in the fan community. At that time, every aspect of Duran and the fan community felt magical.

Does that feeling of magic and perfection last? No. It doesn’t. No band or actor or TV show or movie or book is perfect. Certainly, I have never seen a fan community that is without fault. Fans then have a choice. Move on to avoid the warts, the imperfections or accept them as part of the package. While I understand why fans would choose to leave, I cannot imagine actually doing that. I get wanting to have that honeymoon feeling but I like that I’m loyal. Now, I find myself appreciating Duran’s imperfections. In some ways, that makes my love for them grow. They are human and less untouchable now. I doubt I would have that feeling without committing long term. Plus, I like having a history as a fan, as a Duranie. To me, it makes my fandom special. It isn’t about what is in at the moment but about something I love deeply.

-A

Reconciling Neverland

What would you do if your idol fell so far from grace that their music stopped being played on the radio? Musicals in his/her name were being canceled? What if the music you grew up with, was written and performed by a known pedophile?

There are thousands of blogs I could write this morning. The creativity synapses are firing on all cylinders for me today. So why write about a subject so glaringly sad, frightening, disappointing, disgusting…I could go on and on. How many of you watched “Leaving Neverland” on HBO last night?

I’m writing about it because I feel like I need to, first of all. Secondly, this subject sheds light on an entirely different angle of fandom that I’d never considered before. Oddly, I haven’t even watched Leaving Neverland yet. (We don’t have HBO) That didn’t stop me from researching, reading transcripts from the documentary, and doing a fair amount of pondering and soul searching last night, and again this morning.

The bottom line here is that this isn’t just some ordinary guy. It is Michael Jackson, King of Pop. Up until a very specific time in the 90s, I believed he was “Guardian of The Children”. Then that first pedophile scandal hit the news. Truthfully, I was taken aback, but I have to admit I didn’t necessarily buy into all of it. I do remember seeing footage of very young boys with him – always boys – and taking note. Where there is smoke, there is usually fire. After that, Michael’s modus operant was called into question. I never looked at him quite the same. I couldn’t, and I wasn’t even a big fan. He was just very difficult to escape. His fame and persona are interwoven with pop culture in such a way, I don’t think he could ever be erased.

I am not a voyeur of the outrageous. I don’t like watching people fall, and I hate epic fails. My interest isn’t really with Michael, or even with his victims – I can’t begin to fathom any of that. I’m curious about his fans, and not necessarily those that consider themselves “Truthers” – those that insist the accusations are completely fabricated. No, I’m curious about the others. How would it really feel to have your idol fall from grace? What does one do about the music, particularly if their fandom really had more to do with the music than the man.

I try spinning this around to bring it closer to home for me. Once, I was a fan of a band named LostProphets. Their lead singer, Ian Watkins, was sentenced to 29 years in prison for pedophilia. I loved their music, but my immediate reaction was to swiftly delete their music from my music library. I couldn’t separate it, and I didn’t ever want to hear his voice in my ears again. I’m a mom. My most important job – one that I cannot fail at no matter what – is to protect my children. I just didn’t think you can listen to a known, convicted pedo while doing that job. So I didn’t.

However, Michael Jackson, or at least his music, is in a completely different universe. Like many of you, I grew up with Michael as a near constant in my life, through his music and fame. Even during the days of Thriller, when I wasn’t very much of a fan, I couldn’t deny his talent. My sister had his posters on her wall. My older cousins drove us to his parents house multiple times, and would gleefully share tales of seeing him in the backyard! (This was before he bought Neverland). I still have his albums in my music library. Off the Wall is probably one of my top ten favorite albums of all time. I’m not a fan of Michael Jackson per se, but I did love some of his music. I 100% learned to moonwalk when I was in seventh grade because of him.

In a strange twist of fate, one of the victims hits entirely too close to home for me. Wade Robson is a prominent choreographer and dance teacher. He has worked with Britney, NSYNC, and has done a fair number of conventions. My oldest has taken class from him more times than I can count. She didn’t really know who he was, and to put this in perspective – at a convention there are hundreds of dancers, but I knew who he was. I couldn’t even believe it was the same person. I knew him as a fully grown adult. Looking back at photos of him with Michael, seeing him groomed and costumed to look just like Michael’s mini-me….I feel ill thinking about it.

How do I reconcile?

How does one separate the music from the man, anyway? Can we? Should we?

I don’t think I can. Can you?

-R


Hi, My Name is Rhonda

Good morning, Duranies!!!

I have approximately 30 minutes to write about something that could easily take hours, and then I’ve got a full day of homeschooling a less-than-motivated 10 year old (with the attitude of a 13 year old) along with laundry and grocery shopping ahead. Yay me!!

Today though, I’m going to write about being a fan. Now I can hear you saying, “Don’t you do that every day???” Yes, I suppose so, on some level. However, there’s more to it than that…which is really the point I’m about to make.

Those words are all remainders

I had a conversation this weekend with someone who may or may not be known as the touring guitarist for Duran Duran. We had a very short chat about being a fan. As odd as it seems, I think I dislike being “labeled”. Just think about it for a minute. I go through my entire day here at home, and I’m almost never addressed by my actual name. I’m “mom”, most of the time. That is followed closely by “Daily Duranie”, “fan”, and then “dear”.

My name is Rhonda. I don’t really mind hearing someone call me by my real name all that much. That’s one reason why I made sure Dom (yes, that Dom) knew my name back when we met, and not just “that-crazy-fan-who-writes-the-blog”. He meets tons of people all the time, and yet I had the nerve to quiz him several times about my name. More on that later.

He never forgot my name, by the way. For some really weird reason, that small, seemingly silly thing made me see he was a real person. He wasn’t just a musician…a rock star…who didn’t care about the people he was meeting.

I’m changing my name

Identity is huge, isn’t it? For example, I know that I’m identified by this community, most likely members of DDHQ, and perhaps even the band and support people as “Daily Duranie”. They know me as a fan, and a big one at that.

Now, that word “fan” has a certain connotation to it. I’m no dummy. I’m well-aware of both the positive and negative attributes associated with the term. l am both proud, and a little weary of the word myself.

As I explained this weekend, sure, I’m a fan. There’s no getting around that at this point. I write a blog that is happened to be named DAILY Duranie. Some might automatically assume that makes me Mayor of Crazyville. I hate that part. Truly, 100% despise it.

I wouldn’t say that you were ruthless or right

It’s funny. In order to write this post, I keep typing things and then I delete them, thinking it’s too much or that I want to keep the conversation private. The truth is, in order to really explain my point, I have to share the context. I hope this post makes it back to Dom though because he needs to read it. Obviously.

I had just finished saying something to him that his problem (with me specifically) was that he sees me just as a fan. I’m one of thousands in an audience. I can imagine where some of you are going in your heads with those words…let me explain before you freak out. Context is key.

He’d asked me where I was at the shows. I told him I had been in 4th row that night. He was incredulous because he said he had been looking for me. He actually accused me of sitting on *gasp* John Taylor’s side. Indignantly, I replied that I had been on HIS side (thankyouverymuch), and followed up with my comment about being a fan. Making the point that because I’m just a fan to him, I was just one in a giant sea of faces. One of thousands. How on earth could he possibly see me anyway?

Can’t tell the real from reflections

Again, don’t read more into his looking for me than what he said. I’ve known Dom since Andy quit. We met on a plane to New Orleans. Yes, I knew who he was, but at the time… he was just some guy standing in for my favorite guitar player. No one really knew him. Most fans just accepted that he was the session player. Then the band announced the split and that Dom would fill in for a while. Those were big shoes to fill, and I saw how people treated Warren when he joined. Hell, for that matter I knew how *I* felt about Warren. This felt very different. Talking with him on the plane was easy. I couldn’t help but like him. So I’d regularly wave at him when I’d go to shows after that, while he was onstage. Usually, he’d see me immediately. Almost like we were being friendly. Imagine that!

As an explanation that came a few years back, Dom told me I was one of the few familiar and friendly (see? friendly!!) faces he saw at shows, so yeah, he looks for people he recognizes. He mentioned that he usually finds me near the front with all of the die hard fans. Of course now there are many, many, fans he knows. Oh, there’s that word again. Oops. Anyway, the point was that we were teasing one another about his not seeing me on Saturday night, until he answered my comment about being just a fan to him with, “Well, you ARE a fan.”

I visibly bristled. On one hand, he isn’t wrong. I AM a fan of Duran Duran. I’ve loved them since I was ten. I go to shows, write blogs, watch videos, etc, etc. Yep, I’m a fan. No doubt about it.

When all these faces look the same to me

I’m a fan of a lot of people and things. My daughter Heather is a dancer/choreographer, and I attend every performance possible. I cheer for her, buy tickets to see her (Oh yes, even for my daughter – there are no free rides!!), and applaud the competition teams she coaches. I have friends who are in other rock bands, too. Seeing their shows, going backstage, and even wildly cheering for them, are all things I do in support of them. I’m their friend, and I’m a fan of their work. I am proud of what they do.

When I think about Duran Duran though, my feelings are a little different right now. They are people I’ve never really met, beyond a quick hello at a signing. I put posters of them up on my wall, and I’ve waited for them outside of venues. They were my idols, particularly when I was growing up. I never imagined I’d ever meet them, nor did I ever fathom writing a daily blog…about anyone for that matter.

Even so, just as I replied to Dom that night, I don’t really follow any of them anywhere after a show. I haven’t been backstage, or to afterparties. I have ended up at the same place, but only out of silly, dumb, luck. I’ve never “stalked” any of them, or waited for hours in lobbies, or outside of restaurants, or even at their homes. Some might even say I’m terrible at being a fan if all of these things act as the litmus test. I mean, think about this: after meeting Dom in 2006, I have seen Duran Duran approximately 42 times. Out of those 42 possibilities, I have spoken in person to Dom maybe five times, and I think that’s probably an overestimate. I have taken a picture with him just one time. Just once! I’m a fan, but I’m pretty sure I suck at it.

No steel reproaches on the table from before

I would imagine that some might assume from this blog post that I think I’m entitled. I can hardly wait for those emails and comments to come rolling in! That’s not really the point I was trying to make, either with Dom, or in this post. Make no mistake. I know I’m a fan. It’s the connotations that go along with it that bother me, I guess.

Much of that feeling comes from writing this blog. People assume Daily Duranie is synonymous with “obsessive.” I hear the judgment all the time. “Oh, they’re fans.” Sure, some people can be overzealous. I get it. Unfortunately those people tend to be louder than the rest. Then there’s the people who act normally, and are there gathering because they’re friends with one another. There’s even a few people who make it past that barrier and genuinely become friends or even more, in SPITE of originally being fans. *gasp, shock, awe…horror*

I can still feel those splinters of ice

I wasn’t in that bar that night because I thought anybody from the band would be there. Usually, I’m dead wrong about where anyone is going to be anyway! I was there because I wanted to see my friends. Turns out, some of my friends happen to be involved with the band, in one way or another.

So in short, yes, I’m a fan. I’m also a pretty damn good friend along with a thousand other things.

My name is Rhonda, by the way.

-R

(took WAY longer than 30 minutes…)

Standing On A Roof Up Here

This is where it starts

One of the best things to ever come from listening to Duran Duran, at least for me, has been friendship. When I was in sixth and seventh grade, completely awkward looking and feeling (may those school photos never surface…), finding other girls who liked Duran Duran helped me feel a little more normal. Still nerdy and weird, but not alone. As a mom of two, Duran Duran was my one “adult-outlet”. Now, as a middle-aged mom of two adults along with one 10-going-on-15 year old, I have a few incredibly good friends that are my people.

Now, I know that the band doesn’t like to pat themselves on the back for that sort of thing. I get it. You can’t just go around taking credit for saving the world and all that. On the other hand though, isn’t it remarkable that the music continues to bring people together?!? Relationships have been formed, many of them proving to be long lasting and able to withstand thousands of miles in distance. No, I don’t think you can be “proud” of that, per se….but I do believe it’s worthy of marveling over, just a little.

Saying goodbye to darkness

I think of my own fandom in two parts, really. The first would be when I was in school, all the way through college. I adored the band, but I wasn’t involved in a true fan community. Coincidentally, this was all before social media was ever a thing. The second part started in about the year 2000, continuing through present day. Naturally, social media plays a gigantic role in my fandom activities. It is how I first “met” every single one of my current Duran Duran friends. It is also how I stay in touch. I’m not a phone person. I’ll text all day long, but I HATE speaking on the phone. A lot of that has to do with my hearing, but that’s another story for another day.

I’ve known Amanda since 2004. I have a few other friends (Jess, Lisa, Tarcia, Tracye, Robin, Krissie and a few others that I’m failing to list and will likely hear from later) that I’ve been friends with since almost Day One, which would be slightly before I met Amanda. Many of those women have drifted off into their own worlds now, but we still stay in touch. Who said you can’t meet “real” friends online???

When Amanda and I hosted Durandemonium several years back, our goal was to bring fans together. It mattered very little to me whether or not we received any sort of “notoriety” from having put that party together. I didn’t care about being recognized, or having someway call me an uber fan. My joy came from seeing people make new friends. I still see many of those friendly faces when I go to shows, and I like the idea that the weekend that we, along with a great group of organizers, brought people closer.

Now I can see the big idea

Lately, I’ve been spending more time on Twitter. The whole social media thing has had it’s own strange learning curve with me. At first, I spent more time on Facebook (after message boards), then I moved to Twitter, and then back towards Facebook. Now, I’m on Twitter a lot.

Plenty of fans backed off from Twitter once John and Simon stopped tweeting. Even Dom only surfaces once or twice in a blue moon, and I don’t see nearly the same amount of activity on Twitter from fans. But I’m not really there for the band members. (Yes I know everyone says that. I’m not, though. I was there before Duran Duran even joined Twitter!) I like the flow of Twitter. Ignoring the political stuff, the anger and angst – I like to talk about music. There are plenty of people on there that know far more than I do, and I enjoy learning from them.

I feel like I’ve started to fall in with some new friends, whom I treasure. They don’t seem to mind that I write Daily Duranie, or that I’m overly opinionated about some things. I definitely don’t mind that most of them know far more about Duran Duran than I do. In fact, I appreciate it. Our chats range from discussions about Nick’s fashion sense to talking about newly mentioned producers.

One of my newer friends is a podcaster (If you haven’t taken the time to listen to “The D-Side”, you should), another is a photographer (shout out to @BBamok – you’ve seen her work because DDHQ reposts it every once in a while. She is incredibly talented!), still another lives in Birmingham and does beautiful sketches and paints, and a few others are DD collectors that have proven over and over that I know almost NOTHING about Duran Duran. I love them all.

One of them is planning a Duranie party in Atlanta in April. I’m actually considering using a frequent flier ticket and going out there. I haven’t done something like that in years – and I think getting together with other fans is exactly what I need. Just like anyone else, getting away from the house isn’t an easy task for me, so I am going to need to figure out the logistics and have answers before I mention it very quickly in passing to my husband…but I’m working on it!

An empire in a day, built on hope

So what is all of this musing really about, then? I suppose that I’m reminding myself that the best part of being involved in a fan community is in fact the “community” part. Meeting new people, making new friends, learning new things. That is what makes life so wonderful and rich. In turn, if I can remind someone else of that before going into what can sometimes be a crazed, fan-frenzied environment, so be it.

The real experiences and memories don’t come solely from getting that picture of John Taylor. I know that very few of you will believe me there, but it’s true, at least for me. I have one photo with Simon, and another with Dom. Those memories are nice, but when I think about being a Duran Duran fan – those pictures aren’t what my mind drifts to most often. Obviously, the shows and music go without saying, but what else?

My smiles come from thinking about ordering that first vodka tonic with Amanda, when we discovered we liked the same cocktail. I think about listening to Mac tell me about the time John came walking down an escalator. One of my favorite memories was the time Walt drove Amanda and I up in the Hollywood Hills, which culminated in a litany of curse words from me as I exclaimed “Start the damn truck Walt and get us the hell out off of his driveway!” I think about the Ace Hotel, the Sunset Marquis, and how cocktails that mix vodka and champagne are unkind a few hours later. Hurricanes and PB&J’s with Mac and Jess in New Orleans, my friendships with Lori and Suzie, and of course those trips to the UK are the things I think about whenever I start to feel down.

When I can raise it up again

I am so lucky. So, so lucky. It feels good to spend a few minutes in gratitude over the times that I have had in this fan community. I really don’t want or need time directly in front of the band or a band member in order to make my life full or have meaning. I’ve hit the jackpot in so many other ways when it comes to Duran Duran. Seeing the band again in Las Vegas, and more importantly having the opportunity to connect with everyone while I’m there is a bonus to what has already been a wonderful ride.

I wish everyone the very best time in Vegas or New Orleans. We’re going to have a great time! Hope to see many of you along the way – say hi if you see me!

-R

You Can Still Be My Icon

Good morning, world! I hope everyone is having a good start to their respective week. I’m finally able to breathe fairly well again after battling a lingering cold/flu thing, so things must be looking up!

My weekend was rainy and wet, although I did get out of the house on Saturday night to go see a concert. This was our first “date night” in months, and we went to Rava Winery to see a Beatles tribute band called Hard Days Night.

First of all, I’m from So Cal, and I’m used to lights, and plenty of them. Cars, buildings, street lights, traffic lights….light pollution!! One of the things that I’m having a tougher time getting used to here out in the country is that there are relatively few of those lights! It’s harder to see at night, and so while we were driving in what felt like the middle of nowhere, through rain, to get to this winery – I wondered if we’d A. get there in one piece and B. make it back home at the end of the night. (spoiler: we were fine!)

Now is the time to come out

When we got to the winery, it was sprinkling, but my fears about being the only people showing up to the gig were unfounded. There were plenty of people there. I noticed a few things about the crowd. To begin with, Walt and I were on the younger side compared to many. I don’t know if that surprised me that much, but it was worth noting. I went dressed pretty casually (as is the usual with me), but a LOT of people dressed up in their 60s-era finest attire: from go-go boots for the women, to bright floral shirts for the guys. The other thing I noticed was that everyone, and I mean everyone, seemed to know one another. I spent the hour or so before the concert just watching everyone greet one another.

Again, being from Orange County (and there is a point to this so stick with me here), I don’t know very many people here yet. When we go to most concerts down south, it is rare that I know anyone unless I run into a neighbor, which almost never happened even when I’d be at a local grocery store!

Come out of the shadows

As the band took the stage, I noticed a sizable dance floor and commented to my husband that we were not going to be out there for all to see. He agreed, as he was nursing a sore back anyway. I figured no one would use it. I was dead wrong.

Within minutes, the floor was packed, and this crowd of primarily 50-60 somethings were out on the floor, dancing and reveling the night away. Granted, a lot of the women were the ones either dragging their men out on to the floor, or they were dancing with groups of friends while the men snuck more glasses of wine back at the tables with their friends, but it was fun to watch! It reminded me of something so very familiar….

Invariably, when I see family or friends outside of my Duran Duran “family”, the questions I get range from: “Aren’t you getting a little old for concerts?” to “When are you too old to be a fan?” I have to tell you, no matter how well I prepare myself for the questions, I always feel uncomfortable by them. What is the right answer? What can I say that will stop the conversation in its tracks so we can talk about something else? Why do I always feel like I’m wrong for having fun?? No matter what I say each time, I end up feeling icky.

Out on the edge

Well, Saturday night reminded me that age shouldn’t be a factor at all. The table directly in front of us had a group of probably 10 couples, and they were easily in their mid to late 60s. They were locals, and judging from the very loud conversation amongst the men, they were ranch and small orchard/winery owners. I heard one of them comment that they were “checking out the competition” that night as they drank their bottle of Cabernet. I’ve never seen people party it up harder in the first hour they were at a show than this group! They downed bottles of wine faster than I drink vodka tonics. It was a sight to behold. The dancing and laughing reminded me very much of some of the Duran shows I’ve attended.

The way this concert was set up, the band took a short break after about a 45-minute set for a costume change. At that point, a lot of people made their way back out into the rain. I was a little surprised to see that about half of the table in front of us left at that point, citing that they had early mornings ahead of them. Even so, I’d say about 2/3 of the audience stayed behind, and finished out the evening. The dancing didn’t slow down, nor did the imbibing.

My face in the mirror

As the show ended, and we made our way out into the now-pounding rain (I need a better raincoat, apparently!), I thought about aging. I can see the years whenever I look into a mirror. It’s getting more difficult to ignore the lines on my face, or the way my body aches after a full day of weeding or raking. Age is just a number, though. It shouldn’t stop anyone from wanting to have a night out with friends, or enjoying good music, or even cheering on a fantastic band.

My age is definitely not going to stop me from having a great time in a few weeks!

-R

It’s a Lonely Burning Question

Our little corner of the world is certainly small, isn’t it? The longer I am a participant in the fan community for Duran Duran, the more I realize just how tiny it really is.

Unlike most other bands I go to see in concert, with Duran Duran I tend to be more involved. (Shocking, right?) I subscribe to their fan club (DuranDuranMusic), and I tend to buy VIP tickets to most shows because I’m greedy and I want the best seats. I can’t lie about that. The thing is, there are quite a few of you out there – many of you reading, actually – that are right there with me!

I am I myself alone

I don’t make it my business to introduce myself to the “who’s-who” in the fan community. I’m not buddies with each and every person who seems to be attached to the band in one sense or another. I’m not somebody who will go bouncing up to someone I’d call a “well-known fan” just because I recognize them and want to make nice. That’s not me. I hate approaching people as it is, unless I’m comfortable and actually know them.

There’s no way I’m going to just insert myself into someone’s evening just because I happen to know they’re friends with a roadie, married to someone in management, or is actually on “the team”. I would be a horrible politician, and it is very obvious that I’m not the greatest at making connections. All one has to do is look at my LinkedIn to know that I fail horribly at networking. I always assume I’m putting someone out, or that I’d be bothering them. I guess I’ve mostly stayed to myself, as much as one can when they write a familiar blog, I guess??

The thing is, and I’m going to be brutally open about this – the “It” list of fans, you know the ones – they tend to be at most of the shows, they always seem to know where and when to be, and how to get places that normal, everyday fans don’t – aren’t really on our reader list. At least, not that *I* know of. They’re not usually people who will even admit to reading this, or any fan blog for that matter. I suppose we might be a bit too pedestrian, maybe too wide-eyed, and probably far too “Fan” like. With a capital F. I get it.

Got to show now, got to move on

In a lot of ways, I’m more of a watcher than a participant. I remember a number of years back when I was in Chicago for a show. A group of us met up afterward and walked to a local bar. When we got there, the place was packed, to the point where we were turned away at the door because it had reached capacity. We stood outside for a bit, trying to decide where to go next. As I glanced towards the windows of the bar, I saw somebody inside. She was waving at me and kind of laughing. I could guess what she was laughing about. There I was, along with a small group of others, proverbially on the outside looking in. She was IN, along with several members of the band, I might add, and we were most definitely OUT. Weakly, I waved back and tried not to feel like a complete loser. Story of my life.

At every single show I attend, I’ll see quite a few of the same people. Over and over again. I silently marvel at how they’re able to be everywhere. It isn’t jealousy as much as it’s curiosity. I know how tough it is for me to be at the several shows I can attend each tour, and I can promise that from here on out – it will be far less than it was during Paper Gods. (Or so my husband assures) How do they manage?!? Even more so, I’ll watch other fans flock to these people, befriend them, and situate themselves near them. I don’t even know their names or who they are beyond their faces, and yet the fan-community-at-large are already Facebook friends with them, at the very least! On one hand, I’m surprised I don’t know everyone’s name by now, I guess. On the other, I am not one of those super outgoing and bubbly people.

Puts my faith in none of the above

The kicker for me, is when I’m online and happen to be reading a Facebook post or reading through a Twitter thread. As I go through it, I realize that most all of my friends are actually connected, to some of those people I mentioned above. They’re not just “social media” connected, but obviously know them. Or maybe I’m surprised by people who have not really been active in the fan community for very long (not that they haven’t been fans – that’s different), but are very connected to the “A list” of fans and people in the Duran Duran circle. Perhaps I’m shocked when I realize that the reason why so-and-so IS at all of the shows is because she’s married to somebody who works for the band. It could be a million other scenarios, because for as long as I’ve been in the fan community, or have been actively blogging – I know very little about the people within.

I know how people behave as a group. The trends and patterns of behavior are easy for me to recognize. I can, and have helped put together some really fun meet-ups and parties over the years. But do I really KNOW people?

Probably not so much. It is strange how one can blog for eight years and yet really still be on the outside looking in, isn’t it?

-R

I Try to Hold the Rising Floods

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a little blog about how I am concerned that my fandom might be dying. In this blog, I explained how I wasn’t falling out of love with Duran Duran. No, I fully expect that I will always be a fan but I wondered if I was on my way out when it comes to the rest. What do I mean by the rest? Would I still want to go to shows? Would I want to talk about the band with other fans? Would I be interested in planning fan events? Would I stop buying Duran merchandise? Would I want to stop writing here? I could go on and on. The basic idea is that I might stop being part of a community of fans.

After that blog, I didn’t think too much about it. I didn’t worry or fret. I just decided to continue with what I needed to get done. After all, it was a busy time of year with my two jobs and planning for Christmas. Since then, though, I have taken some time to just get caught up. This means that I have really cleaned my house. The Christmas presents were purchased or created and shipped off, when necessary. I made appointments and planned out the next month or so. On top of that, I listened to some year end Katy Kafes and updated the day in Duran history that Rhonda and I keep for this blog. Every time I checked off one item from my do list, I felt better. My list isn’t done even with my almost two full weeks off but the list is a lot smaller. I’m feeling less overwhelmed.

Since my stress has eased some, I am better able to examine where things are in terms of fandom. Overall, I feel like things are better. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the Kafes and found myself smiling throughout them all. The idea of #DD15 gave me some excitement, no matter when it ends up getting done. Honestly, I think that is part of what has made this so tough for me. I have not had much to be excited about when it comes to my fandom. Now, I’m not new to this gig. I know how it goes. It isn’t like there is going to be something in Duraland each and every day that will thrill me. I know this. I recognize and even understand downtime. Heck, I’ve been so busy that I am almost glad that there hasn’t been a lot. I don’t think I would have been able to enjoy it much. It might have even added stress. Nonetheless, I miss having something Duran related to look forward to.

Now, those of you who have been reading this blog know that I do have something Duran related to look forward to. I have a couple of shows coming up in February. My friend, Lori, reminded me that there are less than 50 days until them even. I have to admit that I haven’t given them much thought. Again, I might give the lack of time as the reason and I wouldn’t be lying to say so. But it is more than that. I have missed the friendships that I have grown to associate with Duran Duran and my fandom. It used to be that when there were shows coming up that is all my friends and I would talk about. We became broken records with silly ideas and inside jokes. We had nothing but fun to look forward to. Now, it is different. We don’t talk very much. I wish that we did more, for sure, but I cannot control that. It is hard to develop those funny moments when there aren’t many chances to do so. It seems that we are all busy and have different priorities, for sure. That said, February will be fun. I have no doubt about that. I’m not sure it will be the same kind of good time. It might be more about that escape from reality rather than just letting it all go for a few days. It might be more about the lack of responsibilities as opposed to screaming for band members.

As I type all this, I cannot help but feel older, more settled, less wild. I have worked hard in the last year or so to find that ordinary world that we all crave. I think I have succeeded in that but the one I have made for myself doesn’t have a lot of time and space for my Duran Duran fandom. It felt like something that had to be pushed to the side. Yes, part of that is because I had and have more pressing concerns, but another part is that I didn’t trust that it would be there if and when I reached for it. It began to feel like something in my past rather than my present or my future. Listening to those Kafes made me realize that this feeling wasn’t about the band at all. I still love them to pieces. I look forward to seeing more Duranlive or hearing new music. It had more to do with my life and where I placed fandom in my list of priorities and why. It was still there but much smaller with little reinforcement besides what I got from writing on here.

I’m still not freaking out about any of this. This feeling I have may change. It may grow strong and fandom will take up less and less of my time and my heart. It could also be a situation in which the tiny flame that is barely there might be turned back up to a torch that all can see. Time will tell. Until I know which way for sure, I’ll keep holding the rising flood back from drowning what is left.

-A