Category Archives: Fandom

I’m Lost in a Crowd

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

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

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

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

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

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

-A

Generational Universality of Fandom

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

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

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

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

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

-A

Does Fandom Need Feeding?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-A

Got any plans for Summer of 2020?

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Got any plans for summer of 2020?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

-R

During This Deafening Silence

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

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

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

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

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

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

-R

 

 

People stare and cross the road from me

What constitutes crossing the line?  Where exactly are your boundaries for what you will or won’t say online?

Mine fluctuate based on the circumstance, I suppose.  Amanda and I have been known to give one another a rough time, even mock-threatening to leave one another stranded on the side of a road somewhere, but that’s because we’re friends. (Makes you think what we might say if we weren’t, I guess!)

Does the band count amongst the people I know?  Sure, I’ve “known” them for many years, but I don’t really think any of them would be able to pick me out of a lineup.  (Then again, given the situation – perhaps that’s best!) I don’t think any of them know me by name. Maybe they do, but I really wouldn’t count on it. The math – thousands of fans, bloggers, fan sites vs. four of them….doesn’t quite make for the best odds. It’s understandable.

I’m a fan of Duran Duran. That does not mean that I am a fan of every single thing that anyone included in that precious inner-circle, such as roadies, friends, management team, wives, children, significant others, life partners, siblings, distant cousins, and so on, chooses to say or do. Just because someone decides to enter into a relationship with a band member doesn’t mean that they’ve decided to stop being human and stop responding to life the same way you or I might. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t afford them some grace, understanding, and kindness, and privacy, if you ask me.

I know that not everyone agrees with me on this. I’m asking the tough questions today: where is YOUR boundary? When do you realize your internal filter is flagging you down to stop and think?

The answers here are difficult. It is rare that I’m genuinely concerned for Duran Duran or even their friends and family because someone decided to slash and burn them on social media. After all, they pay a team of people to handle that sort of thing for them. They’ve got security, and likely – none of them care what somebody like me or even you thinks of them. Why should they? On the other hand, I do worry about fellow fans – the people who might be doing that slashing and burning – at times.

As I said recently, it’s not the line that is being crossed, it is the escalation of severity.  I know a lot of people who have gotten into arguments with fans. For that matter, I myself have had the occasional run-in with a fan or two. It happens when people are passionate about something. What I don’t see very often though, are those same fans going directly after people in DD’s inner circle.

I worry that sometimes, we are too quick to call someone “batshit crazy”, rather than hold out a hand and be the person to help rather than hurt. And let me be the first to say the obvious: sometimes people cannot be helped. I’m no psychologist, and I’m definitely not perfect. When someone goes from just ranting at fans to ranting directly at a band member, wife, or girlfriend – it’s worrisome. But what do we do? Do we make sure to point out that we’re not friends with that person, that we know of them but don’t like them? Do we message them and ask if they’re OK? Or do we do like most of us would – and just sit back and watch the drama unfold?

Sometimes, I feel like this community thrives on the drama. Rather than offer up support to people on the fringe, we pass out the popcorn and sit back on the sofa to watch. After all, the 24-hour news cycle was created for those who like to watch the train wreck. But at what point do we recognize that there are actual humans involved? This community isn’t so big that we’re all anonymous faces to one another. Many of us at least recognize one another, even if we’ve never formally met. Are we so heartless and so cynical that when someone steps outside of that ever-so-vague boundary that we give them a gentle shove over the edge of the cliff?

I’m no innocent here. I’ve certainly had my own moments of being a couch potato with my bag of popcorn, watching a couple of community members go back and forth on the message board. As I’ve watched, I’ve also ended up feeling awful. I took the easy way out. It is easier to be silent and let the masses do their thing without getting in the way and becoming the new target.

Half of the problem is that the boundaries are more personal suggestions than written in stone. Not everyone abides by the same rules – and let’s face it: the rules for some are different from others. I’m not here to tell anybody where the real boundaries are – your guess is as good as mine.  It is also very difficult to say what someone’s true intentions might be, particularly online.

I just keep thinking that with all of the reading I’ve done about fandom, there are some actions that indicate something far different besides just crossing a boundary or being an overzealous fan. It’s like this – the difference between love and hate is very subtle. Both emotions require a lot of passion. Indifference—that take-it-or-leave-it area—is easy. It requires no effort. There are some people who start out adoring someone, perhaps unreasonably so, and for whatever reason, end up hating them. Or hating their choices with the same amount of passion that they once loved. What happens then?

Food for thought.

-R

 

We’re All of the Same Blood

Four weeks from today, I will be traveling to Boston with my parents.  Part of the reason we are going is to see my brother who lives there but another part is to go see a White Sox game.  To be honest, we could have gone anytime over the summer but we chose this specific weekend because the White Sox are playing the Red Sox then.  This mattered to my dad.  In fact, we have seen the White Sox play in lots of different cities, including Minneapolis, St. Louis, Washington D.C., Detroit.  My parents have traveled even more than I have to Cleveland, Toronto, Baltimore and more.  It is a thing in our family.  In fact, my aunt and uncle are venturing to Pittsburgh to see them play there next week.  Despite the fact that the White Sox are having the world’s worst season, we still remain dedicated fans.

What is interesting about this is that no one rarely comments when I tell people about this plan to see the Sox play all over the States.  Generally, people tell me how cool it is that we do this as a family.  Strangely enough, though, when I say that I’m traveling all over the country to see Duran Duran concerts, I get a very different response.  It usually goes something like this, “Why?  Aren’t all the concerts the same?  Do they even play different songs?”  I always struggle to explain my reasoning after this set of questions.  Now, that I’m thinking about this family tradition of traveling to see the Sox play, I’m thinking that I have been approaching my response all wrong.

People can understand sports fans going to see multiple game because each game is different.  The results are unknown.  No one knows what is going to happen.  Heck, right now, if I were to bet, the Sox will lose the game that we are going to see but you never know.  It what keeps us going.  What if the Sox always won?  Would that stop my family from going?  No way.  In fact, that might get people like us to go to more games rather than less.  After all, winning teams generally get more and more people in stadiums because the chance to watch a win is higher.  Isn’t this really what going to concerts is like?

Hear me out.  Yes, sporting events include a competition with someone winning and someone losing.  I get that concerts are not the same.  There are not two team vying for a win.  That said, there still is a chance for a win or a loss (of sorts–not that Duran is ever a loser).  Not every concert is awesome.  At times, people can try hard to put on an awesome show and fail to live up to that expectation.  Those concerts might be considered a loss.  Yet, I would say that Duran shows are wins.  Big wins.  Even ones that fail to live up to the expectations are still victories.  Most Duran shows are like baseball games where your favorite team wins by 10-1. They are like a game in which your team wins easily and everyone has fun.  At times, Duran shows can be even better than that.  Sometimes, there are moments that are so amazing or so profound that you feel lucky to have been there. Those are just like games that end up in the record books where someone hits for the cycle or throws a no-hitters.

This is how I’m going to phrase it from now on when people ask why go to more concerts:  “Do you think that sports fans should stop going to games if they know that their favorite team is going to win?  Should fans avoid the cost of going then?”

More likely than not, the other person will say no.  S/he might say something like, “That would be dumb to stop going to games then.”

I might follow up with, “I agree.  Going to games in which you know your team has a great chance to win is awesome.  This is how it feels for me.  I feel like going to a Duran show is like going to a game where your team has a really awesome chance at winning.  In fact, there is always the possibility of going and seeing something so amazing that it will go down in Duran’s history just like going to a game might mean you get to see a grand slam in person!”

If that still doesn’t convince people then I could point out that attending a game in person means that community feeling of being surrounded by others who love what you do, cheering for the same team.  At games, you have the chance of catching a ball like concert goers can get drumsticks or guitar picks.  Both of them feature a chance to see someone you admire up close and in the flesh.

I could keep going with this metaphor but I think you all get the idea.  I really think that there isn’t that much of a difference between these fandoms anymore.  On that note, I’m off to go watch the Sox game!

-A

You’re Going to Find Out

On Monday, Rhonda wrote a blog highlighting her biggest personal moment with Duran Duran.  (If you didn’t read it, go here.)  Since then, I, too, took time to think about mine.  Is mine like Rhonda’s in that my moment is a return to the fandom?  Is it the time that I met Rhonda and other fans?  Maybe it was something like one of the trips to the UK.  Like Rhonda, I think that I could choose any of those and would be right on in doing so.  Yet, I tend to think of my fandom journey to be in parts and each part has a big moment.  Thus, I have to decide which part matters most to me.

Part one of my fandom definitely has to be fandom as a kid.  This is when I fell in love with the band in the first place.  In thinking about that time, the big moment has to be when I fell in love with the Reflex.  It pushed me from casual fan to Duranie.  If that hadn’t happened, I doubt I would have still been a fan today.  Therefore, that is definitely a worthy moment.  Biggest personal one, though?  I’m not sure.

The next part of my fandom surrounds the reunion and returning to being a loud and proud Duranie.  I know that I have talked about this a lot on here but it is worth sharing a little again.  Around the time of the reunion, I found myself overwhelmed with the beginning of my teaching career with grad school on top of that.  To say that I didn’t have a lot of extra time would be an understatement of epic proportions.  I heard rumblings of a reunion but put blinders on as I kept telling myself that I didn’t care.  Interestingly enough, as I finished grad school, I found myself watching the silly TV show, Roswell, religiously.  I appreciated the escape with it and the outsider as hero theme.  My lonely self sought out others who were as into the show as I was.  This lead me to message boards and eventually to meeting other Midwestern fans.

One of these fellow fans mentioned Duran Duran in passing one day.  That is all it took.  I had free time by then as I had finally gotten that Master’s Degree and needed something to obsess over.  My Roswell internet searches turned to Duran Duran ones and to Duranies, which eventually led me here.  That moment, that one mention certainly was a big moment in terms of my Duran fandom.  The biggest?  I am sure that I could make the case for that, for sure.  While that one comment got me back to Duran, I’m not sure I would vote for it as the biggest.  Stick with me here because my biggest moment, I think, will explain why this one didn’t matter as much.

After that reminder, I found Duran message boards and made the decision to attend that Duran fans convention in 2004 in New Orleans.  This, of course, is the event in which I met Rhonda and so many other fans whom I’m lucky enough to call my friends.  From there, this led to going on tour, seeing a bunch of concerts and so much more as part three of my fandom.  I might even say that this led to so much fun that I’m still getting over it.  Yet, despite all that, I’m still not sure that I would pick the convention as the biggest.

In 2008, my fandom took a turn for the fourth segment of my fandom journey.  It ceased being nothing but fun.  I noticed fans behaving in ways that made me curious.  Heck, I found myself doing things and thinking things that normally I wouldn’t.  At first, I tried to ignore observation of myself and others and just have fun, which wasn’t always easy for a variety of reasons (Red Carpet Massacre division, anyone?).  At the end of 2008, Rhonda and I decided to go to a few shows in the Northeast.  During that tour, I lost a friendship as this person made some decisions that felt like she  placed fandom over friendship.  I was hurt.  Friendships mean the world to me.  As someone who struggled (and struggles) to make friends, I appreciate each friend.  When I have strong, loyal friendships, I feel stronger and more confident in everything I do.  When it feels like I don’t matter or don’t matter much to a friend, it feels like being stabbed in the gut.

I had a choice then.  One option could have been to walk away from fandom.  After all, a lot of the fun had left with the Astronaut era.  If I had chosen that, then, I think the biggest moment with Duran would have been attending that convention.  Yet, I chose something different.  I sought out understanding.  I wanted to “get” or comprehend this former friend of mine.  I needed to understand myself, too.  The idea was simple.  If I could understand fans better, then I could figure out how to make it fun again.  This decision, of course, has led Rhonda and myself to research fandom for years.  We have written about our experiences and our research with the goal of one day getting something out there.  The moment that Rhonda and I came up with the idea of researching and writing about fandom took my fandom to a new level.  It led to this blog, much research and more.  Frankly, it increased whatever commitment I had to Duran.  I cannot see just walking away now or ever.

-A

If You Leave a Light On For Me

Some people might describe me as intense.  When I am into something, I dive deep no matter how much it seems to others that I’m drowning.  I don’t have a half speed.  It is either all or nothing.  One can see this aspect of my personality in everything I do.  When I’m focused on teaching, I’m really attentive on whatever needs to be done.  At work, I rarely even take a minute or two to think about much else.  When I’m working on a political action, it is all I can think about.  I start dreaming about it.  Then, when I’m on tour, I won’t let work or politics invade my fun.

Lately, fandom has been on the back burner.  Part of this, of course, is because it is quiet in Duranland.  The other part is that I have been in the work and politics zone, not thinking much about Duran.  Yet, even when I have narrowed my focus, it doesn’t take much to bring me right back to my Duran fandom.  I have had a few moments like this in the last couple of weeks that I just have to share.

The first return to Duran fandom was last Friday.  A week ago, I found myself at work sitting around a circle with my colleagues having a structured discussion as part of the school’s professional development day.  Usually, these discussions center around some topic related to education.  Instead, though, the questions this time were more personal.  For example, everyone had to share a passion of theirs.  Another question had to do with a time in which you made “lemonade out of lemons.”  As soon the question was asked of the group, I chuckled remembering a certain trip to the UK in the spring of 2011.  This, of course, was the UK trip of non-shows.  Rhonda and I had traveled there to see four shows with a couple of friends.  Instead, all of those shows were canceled.  We had a choice then.  Be upset or make the best out of a crappy situation.  Instead of being angry, we used the time to see some sites, to walk around Birmingham to get a real sense of the band’s history and more.  I think we even wrote a blog with the title of making lemonade out of lemons.  I, for one, am glad that we pushed ourselves to make lemonade out of lemons.  Did I share this story to the group at work?  You better believe I did!

A second example of a moment that recently brought me back to thinking about Duranland was last Monday.  Rhonda wrote a little blog to celebrate my birthday, which was super kind of her.  The blog featured a ton of memories and experiences that we have shared together in this fandom.  I laughed and/or smiled with every example.  It reminded me of all of the truly great times that we have shared together and have shared in the name of fandom.  Rhonda definitely picked out some amazing examples and even better is the fact that we could probably come up with about fifty more examples.  Of course, the best part is that we aren’t done with this fandom yet.  I would like to make more memories in the future!

Speaking of touring, as I drove home from work yesterday the song “Last Night in the City” came up in the shuffle.  Like the other two moments, this song instantly reminded me of being a Duranie, of the best part of being one, which is going on tour.  I remember when I was trying to bond with the Paper Gods album.  This was the song that did it.  It isn’t because it is my favorite on the album (even though I enjoy it).  No, it is because I connected with the lyrics.  To me, it describes life on tour perfectly.  After all, how many times have we been up all night partying after a show?  Being on tour is always our time.  It is where we get connected.

As I sit here on a Saturday morning about to head out to a political meeting, I’m thankful that I have moments like the ones I described here.  As much as I love my job and being involved, politically, fandom provides the fun that gives me the energy to do the rest.  This blog keeps my fandom alive.  Heck, even the daily questions help remind me of this aspect of my life.  I’m thankful that I have something that keeps bringing me back to Duran fandom.

-A

Broken glass for us to hold

Things are looking up.

Yesterday, I noticed that DDHQ had their #WatchItWednesday as “Is There Something I Should Know”.  That is my favorite Duran Duran song, and of course I love the video too. On #TuneInTuesday, they featured my other favorite – “Late Bar”.  This adds up to this week not being too shabby, in my opinion.

I had started to type out a tweet in response to DDHQ’s choice for Wednesday, when I realized how elementary it sounded. Of COURSE they’re good at choosing my favorites.  Duran Duran is my favorite band and has been for begins counting on fingers and toes and runs out….a very long time! Posting a song and having it be one of my favorites (or anybody’s favorite) is pretty much like shooting fish in a barrel, isn’t it?

There is a lot of comfort in Duran Duran, and I’ve needed it quite a bit during the past six months, and I’ll need it going forward. I know that music like the back of my hand. I know what I’m going to hear when I put on any one of their albums. I remember what it was like to be a fan back in the 80s, and I know what it is like to still be a fan now. (far better now than then, in my humble opinion!)

I love that my memories are entangled with their music, and I especially enjoy that since the early 2000s, I can even retrace my steps based on their tours (OK, so that’s probably a little crazy sounding to some, but that’s fine). My closest friends, the people that I count on, and that I immediately share good news with, I’ve found as a 100% direct result of being a fan of this band.

During the past couple of months, I saw a few things from well-known people who are directly or indirectly connected to the band. Well-meaning questions and comments about why they aren’t already in the Hall of Fame and so forth. It is pretty easy to fall down that rabbit hole. As a fan, of course I know they should be included, and should win awards, and so forth. On the other side of that same coin, I know in my heart that they’ve already done so much – a silly plaque, award, or induction isn’t going to change what so many of us already know to be true.

I don’t want to be too melodramatic, but for so many of us, this band has changed our very lives. Maybe that doesn’t matter so much to a radio host or even a PR person, or even the band themselves (but I’m betting it does). As a fan – and someone who can honestly say this band has not only changed my life but in fact saved it – no Hall of Fame is going to make that simple truth any more or less real to me. I’m not saying that wanting them to be recognized is bad, I’m just saying that for me personally, I already know.

-R