Category Archives: Fandom

Can You Hear Me Now

It has been a long week, one that I alternatively spent either super busy with work or contemplating.  The two activities are connected, of course.  The fact that I have worked way too many hours on top of criticism of my work led me to ponder a lot.  Finally, yesterday, a thought came to my mind.  I had this thought while writing directions on the chalkboard for my students who were about to take their Women’s Studies final.  I wanted to find a quote or some inspirational phrase for them to leave with.  As I thought and began searching for the perfect statement, I remembered how often we talked about the importance of voice, of not being silent or silenced.  While I emphasize this in class, I’m not sure that I’m really living it in all aspects of my life.

When I tend to think about who I am, the three things that immediately pop up are fan, teacher and activist.  Do I have a voice in all areas or am I silenced?  Let’s take it one at a time.  As far as my activism goes, I generally do feel like I have a voice.  Last year on this day, I was driving to Washington DC with a few friends to participate in the Women’s March.  I’m proud of that.  Today, I will drive to Milwaukee to participate in another women’s march.  So that area of my life seems solid.  What about the other two?

Teaching is a far different story.  It is an intense job that takes up both a lot of time and my energy.  Honestly, I feel like I could talk about my job not just hours but days.  Maybe weeks.  Yet, I often find myself only dropping hints, little thoughts, bits and pieces.  The reason for this is simple.  As much as I am bursting to talk about my job and everything that goes with it, I cannot.  It isn’t a simple job of “do I like it” or “do I hate it”.  It is a job that everyone thinks they know about but the only ones who really do are the ones who have done it themselves.  The public watches and uses what teachers say to fit whatever beliefs they have about education or teachers.  Thus, I don’t say more.  I simply cannot explain the full spectrum of thoughts and feelings I have about my job.  There is too much there.  Does my being silent about my job hurt me?  Probably.  Yet, I lack an alternative.  For now.

So, what about this?  What about blogging?  What about being a fan?What about being a Duranie?  Hmm…I never really thought about my voice when it comes to fandom.  When Rhonda and I started doing research on fandom and applying what we had learned to our fandom, the reason was simple.  We wanted to better understand ourselves and our fan community.  The plan, of course, was to share our learning with others.  Then, we added this little blog here.  In thinking about both book work and blogging, clearly, we have found means to share what we think and feel when it comes to our fandom.  We have spaces for our voices.  Many people can choose to read this blog or participate in social media with us, giving our voices acknowledgement.  As the blog moved from infancy to what we have now, a place in which not only our voices are heard, but a place where other fans can be heard, too.

When I think of teaching and being a political person, having a voice is a big deal.  When I think about fandom, it is a big deal there, too.  I think about how often fans have been criticized or mocked for having such passion for whatever it is that they love.  This has led a lot of fans to be silenced.  Too many hide that passion, that love.  Rhonda and I chose not to do that here.  We give voice to our love for Duran Duran.  We don’t hide it here and never will.  On top of that, we welcome others to do the same.  In thinking about the stigma that too many adult fans face, it seems to me that one way to fight this is to speak out and speak up about being a fan.  I am a fan.  I love the band, Duran Duran.  If being a fan seems normal, common, won’t that stigma die?  I sure hope so.

What do the rest of you think?  Is it important for fans to find and use their voice?  What other ways can fans speak out about their fandom?


Time for Temptation: Hooking the Youth

I spend a lot of time with young people, teenagers specifically.  While my work contract requires that I teach for 5 hours a day, in reality, there are teens in my room for more than 7 hours a day.  Some kids are in my classroom doing work and others are there just to hang out.  I figure that every kid who is in there has the chance at learning about Duran.  After all, there are lots of little details that show my fan status, from the Duran tumblr holding my morning coffee to my computer wallpaper.  When all goes well, a kid or two will ask me about the band.  This gives me a necessary window of opportunity to share about the greatness of Duran.  Has that made any fans?  I don’t know, but I won’t stop trying.

Interestingly enough, I have sort of stopped trying with my nieces.  When they were younger (now they are 19 and 15), I used to give them Duran tunes for birthdays with the hope that one or more songs might grab them.  I had hopes that this would work when my oldest niece started to like the Killers.  I thought the leap to Duran wouldn’t be too great, but alas.  No luck.  So I stopped trying to push the issue.

Now, though, I have a little reason to hope.  Last summer, after having conversations with my youngest niece over the TV shows, Buffy and Angel, we decided to watch the entire Angel series together.  We would decide on how many episodes we would watch per week and then on Sunday we would talk about them.  I enjoyed sharing an activity like this with her and didn’t want it to end when we finished the final season.  I had to come up with something else.  After hearing my niece talk about aliens, the choice was either going to be X-Files, which is really long, or Roswell.  While I adore X-Files to this day, there is a special place in my heart for Roswell.  When this show aired on TV, I watched out of boredom but soon got hooked.  I appreciated the cheesy dialogue and the undercurrent of outsiders as heroes.  Soon enough, I jumped into the Roswell fan community and made some good friends.  One of the people I met actually reminded me about Duran, which led me back home to this fandom.  Roswell reminds me of the best of fandom.

I was unsure about how Roswell would go down with my nieces.  Like Duran, I had tried to show my nieces the show a few years ago when I was there visiting.  They thought it was okay but didn’t really want to watch more.  This time, I thought, they might give it more of a try because of how we are watching it.  So, we are two weeks in and they are hooked!  In fact, they have watched more than they were supposed to for the week.  This, of course, entertains me so.  In talking to the eldest niece who is about to return to college, she is sad that she won’t get to see more.  I invited her to come watch more episodes here with me.

Perhaps, there is a lesson here.  Could it be that getting someone into a TV show or a band is not about basic exposure but something more?  Could it be that there needs to be a reason to really watch or listen?  Could it be an issue of timing?  I’m not sure what has made Roswell work right now.  I just know that it has despite earlier rejection.  This tells me that I should not give up on my nieces or my students when it comes to Duran.  Maybe, someday, something will click there, too.


Expectations are just future resentments: 2018 and DD40

I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I’m still trying to settle into the expectations of 2018. I went to work yesterday and survived. I’ve got to say, I’d be way happier about that if the day didn’t hadn’t begun at 5am. I also found out that I’ll still have a job next year.

It’s a long story, but in short, my school has secured it’s charter. There are going to be a lot of changes, one of which is that my particular region, or campus, will be expanding. The powers that be are looking at the possibility of my role being full-time. On one hand I’m thrilled because it’s touring money. I need that! On the other, I’m considering the expectations for this blog and writing in general. Time is of the essence, and I have had none lately. With the added wrench of my husband’s continued job search, who knows what will happen! We will see in the coming months.

Situations and plans change all of the time. One of the worst things to do is attempt to make plans, so I’m finding. One day I’ll blog about something I’m hoping to do, and the very next, the earth beneath me explodes, and I’m realizing that nothing is going to work as I’d written. Expectations are future resentments, so I heard once upon a time.

It is not a big shocker to read or hear that Duran’s plans for #DD40 are changing. But are they really changing?  Or, is it just that fans had huge, unverified expectations for what 2018 might bring? The supposed “build up” for the 40th anniversary seems to have been something that fans invented on their own.  While it was mentioned a few times over the course of the past year or two, the band itself never focused on it the way the fan base seemed. Perhaps fans let their imaginations run wild with anticipation over what might come.

I don’t think it’s very surprising that Duran Duran is not giving us a firm idea of when or how they plan to commemorate the occasion. The fact that there are only going to be limited dates in 2018 shouldn’t be a concern. No, it’s not a full tour. Why did anyone jump to the conclusion that it would be?

In listening to the end-of-year Katy Kafes,  the band tried to readjust  expectations. Not only was that fair, but wise. There have been some pretty amazing things mentioned about what the band is going to be doing to celebrate their 40th anniversary. The trouble is, none of that information came directly from the band. It was all assumption, rumor, and flat-out wishful thinking on the part of fans. The band never actually said they were going to tour non-stop for the next three years, for instance. Just because John Taylor said they’d probably celebrate beginning in 2018 and culminating in 2020 never meant they were going to be on the road the entire time. John didn’t elaborate publicly,  so any assumptions made based on that comment were simply that – assumptions.  Furthermore, there have been no press releases saying they were going to release Reportage, invite Warren back, sing Kumbaya with Andy, or release an anthology.  In truth, the band itself has said very precious little, at least publicly. Given the voracity of this particular fan base, I don’t blame them one bit.

The band didn’t cancel #DD40. 1978 happened whether the band acknowledges that specific timeframe of the inception of the band or not, and it isn’t as though a huge celebration was planned.  Simon simply mentioned that this year was only the beginning – and he did use the word “only”, should probably clue overzealous fans in. Yes, 2018 is the beginning, just as 1978 was just the beginning. Duran Duran went through a few alliterations before coming to be the Fab Five as we knew them in the 80s. It isn’t a surprise that for their 40th, they are going with 2020 as the “official” date. It’s called business.

Let’s just think back on 78-03, or as we all call it – The Reunion. Naming that tour as 78-03 was convenient. With the press that the band reunited and that it was the 25th anniversary of Duran Duran, it was a golden marketing moment. They needed to get out and play live, and there was the reasoning for doing it. Simple, and the crowds went wild.

This time though, timing is likely different. Duran Duran likes to tour  with new music. Simon didn’t join the band until later on anyway. Since they’ve been saying for a year or more now that the celebration would begin in 2018 and culminate in 2020, it would seem to me that not much has changed, and rest assured nothing has been “canceled”. Once again, the band never said there would be a gigantic tour, that is something that only fans have said. It is easy to make the assumption that the band would tour their 40th anniversary, but it is still just an assumption. Expectations are indeed only future resentments. Watch your footing.

While many are lauding their plan to write and go into the studio this year, Daily Duranie sits here applauding it. How many of your favorite bands are still writing?!? How many are still recording forty years in? Not many. Why are people finding fault with that?

I have even seen groups surveying the fan base about what they want, and then making incredibly leading statements that perhaps the band is actually going to listen.  If only the world actually worked that way. There is far more involved with merchandising than simply what diehard fans may want. If the world worked according to diehards, the set list would change for each show. Talk about setting someone up for a big fall! It is no wonder that John, Nick, Simon and Roger never go into great detail about their plans, and that most of them even mentioned that there would be limited dates next year. Dialing back the expectations seems to be the right way to go because the high level of expectation is palatable. Even as we wrote Daily Duranie over the course of the past year or so, Amanda and I wondered how it would be possible for the band to meet fan expectations for the 40th. In reality, they couldn’t.

It is entirely possible that fans are putting an awful lot more pressure and stock into this 40th anniversary than the band might. This is not a band rooted in nostalgia, no matter what the rest of the world may believe. Duran Duran continues to look forward, not back. This is why they are going back into the studio and creating  more music, whether it’s a full album or even a few songs. I don’t care how long that takes.

Not that long ago, someone mentioned to me that the band has nothing left to prove, that they write and perform for the sheer love of doing so. I’ve thought a lot about that, and damn, we’re lucky they do. Forty years and counting.


Back to work in so many ways!

Today is my first day back at school after the holidays. I think it is fair to say that I’m not ready, I’m going in under protest, and I nearly pitched a fit when the alarm went off at 5am.

The whole “I need a paycheck thing”…gah. Gotta go to work. So I am, with a smile on my face and all the hope in the world that I have a great week ahead. At least my co-pilot (my youngest) will be with me today. The very best thing about my job is that when I walk out of the office to supervise recess, I see her smiling face as she runs to give me a hug. That pretty much makes the whole thing worth the effort, every single day.

It’s not just my paying gig that keeps me going, though. I have big plans for this blog, as well as the whole “Daily Duranie” platform in general. First off, Amanda and I have a paper to write, and a presentation to prepare for the Pop Culture Conference in March. That is huge, and likely the most important event I have this year, at least in this moment. I would like to also revamp this website because it has been the same for a few years now, and I think it is beginning to look a little stale. Also, Amanda and I are beginning to work on ideas for a little something that we’re not ready to put out in the world yet. I’ll just say that I am hoping we can all get together, even if it’s not for a show, exactly.  As I said, we aren’t ready to announce anything, but watch this space. I’m also hoping that

Then there’s the personal stuff. It’s always a balancing act between Daily Duranie and my everyday life challenges: jobs, homes, moving, not moving, birthdays, children in college, health and happiness…the list goes on. The first of January is always a time where I feel like I’ve got to clean up, clear out, and start fresh. This year is no exception, but I will say that this time, I feel like I have a little more “fight” in me. I don’t know what that really means, but I’m looking forward to finding out!

Bring it, 2018. I’m ready to get back to work!


Happy New Year 2018!

I drove home yesterday morning from a wild weekend in Vegas. I’m always tired at the end of a weekend like that, but yesterday I was also stressed (I have been writing that word a LOT lately and I really hope that settles down some in 2018).  But more on that later.

The weekend was fantastic. I saw friends, rocked out with a couple of different bands, and for a short time, forgot all about anything else and lived in the moment. I do have a list of people to thank and acknowledge, so bear with me. I know that we’ve already thanked these people but I’m doing it again because they deserve it!!

  • Thank you to Jason for offering up his Hard Rock Live to us for our Daily Duranie meet up. Above and beyond the call of duty in every single way. I don’t know how to return the favor. We can’t thank you and the management team enough for your kindness and hospitality. You made my whole weekend, and I’m not even kidding about that. (no offense Duran Duran, I’m getting to you…I promise!)
  • Thank you to Noelle Kahn for being a ROCKSTAR and jumping in to help Amanda and I out with selling raffle tickets that night. As we said in our video, logistics at these events are something we tend to forget about. If we’re busy selling raffle tickets and wristbands, it makes it very difficult for us to be good hosts. So thank you X 1000.
  • It was fantastic to meet Durandy for the very first time, and to see Kitty (Gimme A Wristband) again. They continue to inspire and remind me why I do this, even when sometimes I feel like none of it matters to anyone but me.
  • Lisa (I am being vague on purpose, but I hope your feet are doing better than they were on Saturday night when I last saw you!), both Amanda and I want to thank you for your kindness.  I know you probably feel like what you and your friend gave us was just a little thing, but it was not. People will go nuts. However, what we really appreciate even more, are the words of support from both of you. It matters more than I can properly articulate.
  • Lori and Suzie, I adore you both. I’m glad you’re my people and I hope that continues for a very long time…. you get me and haven’t even stopped to have me committed yet. Thank you for just going along with my obsessive behavior and letting me figure it out for myself that it was going absolutely nowhere. It was a good fantasy while it lasted. 😀
  • I feel very lucky to have friends that have my best interests at heart. Those of you who “show up”…whether in person or from afar, matter so much to me. You’re there when I need you, and I just want to look you virtually in the eye, since I can’t always in person, and say thank you. I mean it. You all know who you are. The hugs, the chats, even the quick smiles and waves in passing helped me to de-stress.
  • So glad I got to meet so many friends, readers, and twitter pals!

So about that show. Yes, we were in the sixth row, and yes, they were great seats. Nothing I’m about to write should get in the way of that fact. Our distractions of not one but two near-fist fights in the aisle next to us, as well as the constant persistence of people trying to get closer to the stage and the sea of people in front of us who insisted on seeing the entire flipping show through their iPhone as opposed to just watching it with their own eyes definitely provided challenges to enjoying the show.  And then there was the family of four – two parents and two very young children – behind me who were very upset when the concert started and everyone stood up. They left after the first two songs, and I felt bad because the wife clearly wanted to stay, but the husband was furious with Amanda and I because we stood up. I saw a lot of the show by peering into the space under the very tall gentleman’s arm in front of me,  as he held up his phone to video. I had to laugh, because in the end, it didn’t matter. I was seeing Duran Duran live onstage over New Years weekend! I am incredibly lucky, and I know it.

I especially enjoyed Hold Back the Rain because I could see the video screen on the wall behind the band, which showed a collage of pictures of a much younger Duran Duran. I won’t even lie about how emotional I felt when I thought about how that was my childhood up on that screen. I still have trouble getting my brain to accept that the people up on that video screen are in fact the same people on that stage…because there’s no way I could ever have gotten even this close (in proximity at a show) to those guys. There’s no way that I could possibly operate a website dedicated to that band. They were the Gods of my teen years. My brain does not compute!

If that weren’t enough, the sound was FANTASTIC. I’ve sat much farther back at some shows and yet the sound has been less-than-optimal, even if it should have been mixing well at that point.  Of course, when you’re in the front, you hear a lot from the monitors themselves and the sound doesn’t mix well at that point either. However, from where I was sitting this time, it was incredibly clear. Louder than heck, but clear. I had the chance to hear subtle things in the music I hadn’t before. Dom’s guitar part in Hold Back the Rain, John’s bass in the same song, even Sunrise and the tiny snippet of Universe Alone sent shivers down my spine. I loved the show, but there was something else on my mind that night.

Right before the show as we stood having a drink in The Chandelier, my sister-in-law texted me letting me know that my niece was in the hospital. She had been going upstairs and suddenly fainted, falling straight back and hitting her head on their tile floor. She is my only niece, and I adore her. It’s the kind of accident that a parent would have on replay in their head forever, because you want to rush to grab them but can’t get there in time. She’s in ICU now with a skull fracture and a slight brain bleed, but the most frightening part is in the process of evaluating her, they discovered an irregularity in her heart beat. It is a little more involved and more serious than I need to explain here, but she is seventeen, and is getting a pacemaker. 2018 needs to be a healthier year for my family. Enough is enough.

After the show, I tried to put my worries aside and enjoy the final evening out. Easier said than done, of course. Even with a couple of distractions, I had made the decision to get up early the next day and drive home. By 2am, my exhaustion took over and I went to bed, even though I still had people I wanted to see.

It is difficult for me to admit, but this time, the show wasn’t the highlight of the trip for me. Before anyone complains, let me explain. That doesn’t mean the show was bad or that I’m slagging off on the band. In fact, it wasn’t at all. It was just that this weekend, I really needed my friends, people who actually know me, not just the Rhonda who runs Daily Duranie with Amanda, or Rhonda-the-Duran-Duran-fan, but ME.  There might not be many people out there like that, but there are some, and I think they know who they are. I have pictures with people I haven’t seen in many years. I received great big bear hugs from wonderful, generous, kind, fans and friends who care about me. Each one filled my heart and reminded me that I belong with this fantastic tribe.

I had time to stop thinking about how awful the last quarter of this year has been and instead, look ahead to the possibilities of 2018. In truth, the band contributed. Simon said nearly those same words before he introduced Ordinary World. They helped me. I think they even helped him. It’s been a tough year for a lot of people, but the one thing the New Year seems to do – crazily so without fail each year – is give hope for better things to come. Right now, I’ll take it. ]

Happy New Year everyone. I hope I see many more of you this next year, even if the band doesn’t do many shows.  We may or may not have an idea up our sleeve to pass the time … stay tuned.


And She Wonders How She Ever Got Here

The weekly lyric day blog post is here again.  Once again, it is taking place on Saturday rather than Friday.  The reason, of course, was to cover the brand new Katy Kafe with Nick.  Duran news definitely takes priority.  My shuffle today landed on the song, Girls on Film.  That is not exactly a song that I often pick to describe my life in pretty much any way.  Still, I was able to pick out a lyric when I really examined the lyrics.  I chose the line, “And she wonders how she ever got here.”  While that line has to do with experiences models go through, it sure could fit so much more.

When I stop or take a break from my never-ending to-do list and look around, I’m sometime surprised at my life.  Tell me that I’m not the only one, right?  If someone had told me thirty years ago that I would be teaching high school right now, I wouldn’t be surprised by that.  I would expect that.  What I wouldn’t expect or didn’t expect was that teaching has not gotten easier.  It is just the opposite.  I kept waiting for that magical time when I would not have so much work to do, but that has never happened.  Weird.  Still, teaching seems and feels normal, especially the high school history part.  Very deliberate choices led to this career of mine.  No, it is the rest of my life that leads me to wonder more about how I got here.

I figured that I would be politically active, in some way.  Voting would be a normal part of existence.  Again, what I didn’t expect was to be involved as much as I have been in the last ten years or so.  I didn’t expect to be motivated by a potential presidential candidate as I was by President Obama.  The movement against Governor Walker’s plan to stop unions for public employees was not anything that I expected.  As someone who was/is directly impacted by this, I had no choice but to get involved.  I feel the same way now.  Are the choices I have made ones that directed me to this now?  In some ways, sure.  In other ways, I am just reacting to the world around me.

Then, there is probably the weirdest aspect of my life.  This.  Fandom.  While I always had fan tendencies, I would have never imagined that fandom would be such a huge part of my life.  I figured that there would be bands or tv shows or movies or something that I would like but none such as what I feel for and about Duran.  Even as a kid, when Duran posters made up my bedroom wallpaper, I believed, somewhere in the back of my mind that I would eventually let it go.  I had no idea when that would happen or why, just that it would.  After all, I didn’t know anyone that dedicated to a fandom, for that long.  I had no real examples of it.

Even if I could have imagined myself being a big fan of Duran still, I’m pretty certain that I had no clue that I would express that fandom in the ways that I do now.  Again, I didn’t know anyone who traveled to go to concerts.  Heck, I probably would have thought that was weird, too.  What about the idea of writing a daily blog?  Or a book about fandom?  If someone had told me all of that, I would have asked the person how long s/he had been doing crack because that would be the only explanation.  So, how did I get here??

That is the big question, isn’t it?  How did I get here?  When I think about my adult fandom, the first step in this direction is becoming a fan of the now-long canceled TV show, Roswell.  The show’s focus on alienation while seeking connection with others grabbed me–probably because I was searching for any and all connections in a new city.  This led me to seek out other fans online.  Some of those fans traveled for fan-related events, something that was shocking to me then.  It opened my eyes to the possibility of doing really crazy but fun things in the name of fandom.  More specifically, one of those fans was also a Duran fan who reminded me about how amazing Duran is.  That’s all it took to awaken my fandom once again.  It didn’t hurt that the band had just reunited and a new album and tour was on the way.

From there, I sought out other Duranies online.  That led me to DuranDuranFans, a message board where I met Rhonda, and learned of a fan convention in New Orleans in September 2004.  I couldn’t resist the idea and jumped at the chance to go.  There I met Rhonda in person along with other friends of ours.  The Astronaut Tour of 2005 gave an opportunity to really get to know those fellow board users.  Rhonda and I discovered that we toured well together and could cause each other to laugh and laugh and laugh.  Obviously, then, we knew that we had found our touring partner for life.

Okay.  This tells me how I got to be good friends with Rhonda, but how did we start this blog or think about organizing meet-ups or writing a book?  The answer there is actually pretty simple.  We spent a lot of time talking, thinking and analyzing about what we saw and felt on this crazy fandom journey.  While we were trying to figure out what made fandom tick, we also wanted to help make it better, at least in the small ways we could.  Were we perfect with this?  Far from it.  That said, we did learn a lot along the way.  Now, all of this is part of my life.  I cannot imagine it any other way.


Brothers and Sisters We Can Take It

Lyric Saturday has brought an interesting lyric to respond to.  Actually, I picked the song last night when I was sitting in my local Barnes and Noble, offering free gift wrapping along with my school’s Gender Equity, a student club that I advise.  I asked one of the students to take a look at the lyrics and pick something that grabbed her.  Her choice:  “Brothers and sisters we can take it.”  Hmmm…

The first thought that popped in my mind when I read the lyrics was work.  Perhaps, that was the first thought because I felt like I was still at work since I was surrounded by teenagers.  Still, the lyrics could definitely represent teaching.  At work, I’m surrounded by staff members who work hard everyday and take whatever is thrown at us, whether that is criticism by the public or parents or new state mandates or kids demonstrating less than respectful behavior.  We take it all.  Plus, the “brothers and sisters” part reminds me of our teaching union as union members refer to each other as brothers and sisters.  That said, the lyric could also relate to politics.

Politics is not for the weak.  Political candidates must know that they will face extreme criticism, negative attacks and more.  Likewise, political campaigns, as representing and working for a candidate, have to deal with the same negativity.  Heck, at this point in time in the U.S., I don’t think that people have to be part of a political campaign to feel attacked on the political front.  As much as it sucks, I think that a lot of us have to have that attitude that we can take it and will keep standing and fighting.  What helps many to project that strength is due to the unity they feel with others and knowing that they are not alone in the fight.

Yet, beyond all that, the lyric could definitely also relate to Duran Duran and their fans.  How so?  Well, from what I have heard the song has to do with trying to get an album/single to make the charts. If that is, indeed, the case Duran Duran and everyone on their team has to be prepared to take whatever is thrown at them, including those bad reviews and criticism from so-called music journalists and critics.  Certainly, Duran Duran has had a ton of criticism throughout their career.  How many reviews have I personally read calling the band names or dismissing their music or making fun of this, that or the other?  I’m afraid the answer to that is more than I can count.

Beyond the band, the fans have certainly faced our own judgment for being Duran Duran fans.  As a kid, I remember spending hours defending the band.  I have vivid memories of explaining to kids at school how cool they were because of their videos, the fact that they wrote and recorded their own music and more.  Strangely enough, as an adult, I have had similar conversations with friends and family members who want to dismiss the band due to the use of keyboards or the fact that they wore make-up or whatever.  Then, of course, some of this disapproval carries over to how I express my fandom now.

For many people, it is bad enough to be a fan of Duran Duran, but to blog about being a fan?  Wow.  That often equals true insanity, especially when people find that out that Rhonda and I blog each and every day.  It is almost funny to watch people’s minds get blown when they realize that I also travel to go see shows.  Too many people cannot wrap their heads around the level of dedication that I have to this little fandom of ours.  Again, though, like with teaching or being politically active, I believe that having other fans on the same side as me fortifies me to be able to take whatever negativity is thrown my way.  Perhaps, Duran Duran experiences the same thing with having an army of fans behind them.


Your Rhythm Is the Power to Move Me

Finally, I am getting to Lyric Day on Friday again!  During the last couple of months, I have found myself pushing Lyric Day to Saturday or Sunday or never.  This week, though, I’m on it!  So, what song popped up when I hit shuffle:  I Don’t Want Your Love.  As soon as I see it, I cannot help but to smile.  Oh, yes, I can use this song!  From there, the lyric I would choose was obvious, to the say the least.

Every time I hear this song, the line, “Your rhythm is the power to move me,” always grabs my attention.  How could it not?  It feels like it screams fandom to me.  It yells Duran Duran fandom, more specifically.  You know, fandom is a funny thing.  I think that being a fan is my blood.  My parents taught me fandom from day one as I watched them be White Sox fans.  Then, I saw my brother obsess over comic books and Star Trek.  I learned that fandom was good.  I even learned to be a Sox and Star Trek fan.  Now, decades later, those fandoms remain.  While I wouldn’t say that my youngest niece is a serious fan, I see some signs that she could be if the right thing grabbed her.  She likes lots of different things and can and does focus on those things in the way a fan would.  For example, for a while, it was Harry Potter then Buffy.  Yet, nothing has really stuck.

In my adult life, I have had some interests that have caught my attention.  Sometimes, those interests have lasted quite a while.  The TV show, Roswell, had my attention for years until I finally let it go.  I adore the X-Files and will get super excited when the next season starts, but those just aren’t the same as that Duran fandom.  The rhythm of being a music fan is just different.  With fandom surrounding TV or books or even movies, it is all about the love of a story or characters.  Most fans of those watch and rematch various scenes that they like.  Perhaps, those fans write fanfic to add to the story or to fill in the gaps.  I can understand all of that.  I, too, have loved specific characters on shows, for example, but the fan fiction train was never for me.  While I enjoying reading some, I couldn’t write it and got tired of reading the same old things.  Therefore, once the show is over or off the air, it is much hard for me to stick with the fandom.  This, of course, is the story of how Roswell died for me.  I didn’t wake up one day and determine that the show sucked.  No, I found that it could no longer keep my attention, no matter how great some of the fan fiction was.

Music fandom has been different for me.  Perhaps, part of the reason that music fandom resonates for me is because it was my first fandom.  While I appreciated those family fandoms, Duran was mine and all mine.  I discovered at a young age that their music moved me. When Duran writes one of those amazing tracks that stay with you long after you listen to it, I fall in love all over again.  Truly, Duran’s music affects me longer and stronger than any show or any book ever has.

Of course, I think that beyond the music itself, which is super strong, is also how I participate in the fandom.  For movie/TV/book fandoms, it feels very passive for me.  When I was into Roswell, for example, I had get togethers with friends but for the most part, I watched clips and read fanfic.  I would go online and dissect all of the little scenes but that was it.  I didn’t do much with it.  My Duran fandom, on the other hand, has motivated me to not only go to as many concerts as possible but also to travel, to write, to blog, to plan events.  The band’s rhythm have motivated me in ways that I could have never imagined.  Sometimes, I think back to when I was a kid watching Duran videos and I just start shaking my head.  Would my 9 year old self believe that thirty years later I would have seen the band a bunch, write about being a fan and more?  Somehow I don’t think so. Yet, it is true.  They have the power to move me and have for a long time.


I’m Thankful…

Yesterday, Rhonda wrote a heartfelt blog about what she is grateful for during this Thanksgiving holiday so I figured that today might be my turn. Like Rhonda, I’m very thankful for my family. I’m lucky in that I have amazing parents. That fortune is increased by the fact that they live near me so I am able to not only enjoy them as people but benefit from all the little things they do to help me out. As they get older and need more and more of my assistance, I want to always remember that they deserve my love and care even when my patience is thin and I have more on my plate that it seems like I can handle. This year, my nearby family grew when my oldest niece arrived in Wisconsin to attend college here. To say that I am overjoyed by having her close by is an understatement. Like with my parents, sometimes, this has means that she needs me for some purpose, but I would gladly sacrifice my time in order to have her close. After all, she and her sister have spent their formative years in North Carolina far away from me. I missed many of the big moments and countless small ones over the years. Now, though, I get to be a part of seeing her finally come into her own and reach adulthood. She has become an amazing person who is getting smarter, more confident and stronger with each passing day. This Thanksgiving, in fact, I got to spend it with her and a couple of her fiends, which was fun.

On top of my personal family, I have to acknowledge my work family. It isn’t easy being in education these days. Heck, it wasn’t easy being a teacher 15 years ago but the last 7 or so have been especially difficult for reasons that I won’t go into on this blog. Let’s just say that we are being asked to do a lot more with less and have very little holding us up in terms of outside supports. The job requires more of my time, energy, and emotions and the kids are getting tougher too (through no fault on their own). Throughout it all, my colleagues have been there for me. When things were getting really bleak, I had colleagues checking in, giving me stuffed animals to represent strength, offering to help and more. Truly, when I think about what keeps me going in teaching, a lot of it has to do with them. Of course, the other factor is the kids. While I struggle to reach them all, there are a number of students I have gotten to know pretty well over the years. Being a part of their struggles and their successes also keep me moving forward. I’m truly the lucky one to be their teacher.

Yes, work does take up a lot of my life. Just last week, I calculated that I worked 58.5 hours, which didn’t even seem so bad to me until I realized that it was more than 18 hours OVER what it should have been. It was like I worked an extra 2 days. No wonder I’m super tired all the time! While I wish my job wasn’t so time-consuming and stressful, there is a part of me that is proud of the work that I do. I believe that I’m a decent teacher. My kids, generally, learn from me and, more importantly, become more passionate citizens of the world. That is all I can ask for. If that wasn’t enough, I’m still involved and working, politically. I have to keep fighting to make the world a better place, both in and out of my classroom. I’m grateful to those people who work along side with me, telling me that I’m not alone and to keep going.

Beyond all the fabulous people at my jobs, what really helps to keep me going is my fandom. First, this blog helps on a daily basis. I love that it forces me to stop and think about something other than work or politics. Every morning I do the question of the day. It makes me sit down and take 10-15 minutes in the morning to clear my head, which probably saves my sanity and my students first hour. Then, on the weekends, when it is my turn to blog, I can take longer to think about all things Duran. During many weekends, it is my break, my time away from grading or household chores. While it is something on my “to-do” list, it isn’t really a chore. I look forward to it and I often find myself thinking about what I’m going to write about or how I’m going to write about this topic or that. There is always a corner of my brain thinking about Duran, fandom and this blog. This also means that I allow myself to check in with Duranland during the week so that I can comment in future blogs. I might not always have time to respond or make comments but know that I’m always watching (as much as I can) and thinking about what I see, read and hear related to this fandom. Again, this probably keeps me sane. (No comments, Rhonda!)

Beyond the time spent during the week on my Duran fandom and blogging, there are the times I go on tour. I truly cannot think of anything that makes me more happy. Touring is the one time that I can (and do!) push everything else to the side. When I’m on tour, I’m not thinking about anything on my to-do list. I’m not worrying about my parents or about kids at school. No, I can take a break and just HAVE FUN. People will always ask me, “Why are you going to another show? Don’t they just play the same songs?” The answer to that is yes. They typically play the same songs. While the setlist matters somewhat, it isn’t the big reason. No, it is about that fun that I have. Of course, I wouldn’t have fun without the people with me. In 2005, I discovered the best touring partner around. Sometimes, when I think about it, I cannot believe that Rhonda and I really tour so well together. We trust each other when it comes to money, buying tickets, reserving rooms, etc. We approach traveling in similar ways and have the same general philosophy when it comes to partying, staying up late, etc. More importantly than all of that, is that we enjoy spending time together. We know that when we are together we will laugh and laugh and laugh. Truly, I get more laughter in during a touring weekend than I do all month long. I swear! I will always be grateful to have her in my life—not just for fun touring but also because we share this blog, planning meet-ups and conventions and writing. I couldn’t ask for a better fandom partner. Rhonda and I have also been extremely lucky with the friends we have made. In a little over a month, we will descend onto the city of Las Vegas with our friends, Suzie and Lori. Much like touring with Rhonda, they are easy people to tour with who are also a lot of fun. Let’s just say that we all appreciate our vodka! I couldn’t be more thrilled to have another opportunity to hang out with them this year. So lucky to have found them.

Of course, none of this would be possible with the band that started it all. From the first time I heard their music until now, Duran Duran gives me such joy. When I hear their music, I’m reminded of good times, great experiences, and the most fun I have ever had from the little moments of my youth to the silly times of today. I recall the joy of getting a new album, putting up a new poster or tuning into MTV to catch a new video with my childhood best friend. Now, when I think of my fandom, I think of the lovable teasing about fashion choices or giving cheers in a hotel bar. I am reminded of leaving notes encouraging the playing of Planet Earth while watching closely the stage location for every JoSi or DoJo moment. Overall, I am grateful that this band entered my world and refuses to leave even after three plus decades.


You Caught Me in Your Web of Youth

It is Lyric Day Friday!  My shuffle resulted in the song, Love Voodoo.  Like many Duran songs, when I looked at the lyrics, many, many lines could have been chosen for the inspiration of the blog post.  Before I got overwhelmed, I decided to focus in on the first one that caught my attention.  The line, of course, is “You caught me in your web of youth.”  It immediately reminded me of fandom, my Duran Duran fandom, to be specific, despite my lack of youth and the band’s lack of youth.  Still, I became a fan as a kid when the band members were really young, themselves.

Whenever my students find out that I’m a Duran Duran fan, they want to know right away how old they are and if they were any good.  Yes, they use the past tense.  It makes me crazy.  I immediately correct that assumption and explain that the band still creates music to this day.  As for their second question, I have tried to explain that they were the most popular band when I was a kid.  Each time I tell that, I feel inadequate in convincing them of the truth of my statement.  I try to reassure myself that no matter what I say, they cannot really get it.  They weren’t around then.  After that, the next common questions are, “Why do you like them?  Have you liked them for a long time?”  Again, I try my best to answer but never feel like I capture their appeal.

I cannot remember the first time I heard or saw Duran Duran.  As a kid, in the early 80s, I do remember listening to B96, Chicago’s Top 40 radio station.  I recall turning the dial on the TV to MTV or staying up “late” to tune into Friday Night Videos.  I’m certain that the first place I saw/heard Duran was on one of those sources.  I doubt it was anything from the first album.  I simply was too young and wouldn’t have tuned in then.  It could be something off of Rio.  I’m not sure what exactly.  The first songs I remember really connecting with are the first couple of singles from Seven and the Ragged Tiger.  One memory that stands out in my head is hearing New Moon on Monday on the radio at my then best friend’s house.  If my memory is accurate, I was staying there overnight while the rest of my family was out of town, trying to look for a house for us to move to, which would bring us closer to my dad’s new job.  I distinctly remember laying in my friend’s bedroom, trying to go to sleep while the radio played softly, when that song came on.  While I liked the song, it wasn’t until their videos that the band really caught my attention.

To the kid version of me, every video I saw seemed so cool.  First of all, I was drawn to the way they looked.  At this point in my life, I was living in a Chicago suburb, a working class suburb, no less.  People in my neighborhood, in my suburb did not dress up.  They tended to work in blue collar jobs, in factories.  Even my dad, who was a manufacturing manager, did not really dress up to go to work as he worked in an office within a factory.  He wore steel-toed shoes for protection and never wore his wedding ring, in case he used the machinery.  The only time I remember my parents, extended family or neighbors really dress up was for something like a wedding, a very special occasion.  On top of all of that, even their dress clothes weren’t fancy or anything fashion-forward.  No, they all dressed rather conservatively and all people stuck to their assigned gender role.  Women wore dresses with pantyhose and short heels while the men picked a suit jacket and button down top.

This, of course, is the exact opposite of Duran Duran.  They wore colorful clothing that was unique and fashion forward.  I remember thinking to myself that I would love to dress like them, but that my family could never afford style like that and that I wouldn’t even know where to go to get clothes like that!  Their fashion choices included things like fancy belts, leather pants, and fedoras.  They looked nothing like the men and boys I knew.  Heck, I also adored that they didn’t stick to their gender.  I never questioned the make-up.  I just knew that I liked what I saw.  Overall, they oozed cool.

If that was not enough, the videos and concert footage showed a group of friends who had so much fun.  Goodness, just writing this brings up scenes from Sing Blue Silver where the band is laughing and having fun together.  While I didn’t need to see them having fun or being with a group of friends to think they were amazing, these images added to the coolness to create a package that I had no choice, but to fall hard for.  As a young kid and preteen, I wanted to be them.  I longed for my upcoming teenage and young adulthood to be the cool that my childhood was far from.  The fantasy I focused on then wasn’t about becoming one of their wives but about being as cool as they were.  That was more important to my geeky self.

By the time 1985 rolled around, I was definitely caught in their web of youth.  They showed me that everyone does not have to be like those around me.  No, there was a whole colorful, cool world out there.  As a kid, it gave me something to look towards to determine what to do, how to dress, etc.  Obviously, this web that they created is a strong one as I’m still here, over 35 years later.