Category Archives: guest bloggers

Flip it to the B-Side

Recently, Rhonda and Amanda offered the topic of regret as a one to guest blog about. As I pondered that, I actually thought of two regrets that I think are intertwined. It all begins with a simple question: How often do you listen to music? I mean really listen—put on headphones, close your eyes, and take it all in? 

What has struck me recently is the fact that, as an adult, I never just listen to music. It’s always in conjunction with some other activity. Music is on in the car, or on the iPod while doing yard work, or at work. In fact, the only time in the last ten or so years that I can recall just listening to music would be when I’ve been on an airplane. I can’t count that, though, since when I fly I also try to ward off thoughts of crashing into mountains, engines bursting into flames, etc. (Yes, I hate flying.)

Thirty years ago the opposite was true: I was listening to music, and doing nothing else, all the time. I didn’t get my first walkman until 1986 and the first cassette I popped in was Seven and the Ragged Tiger. I will never forget how blown away I was by the experience. And even without the walkman, I had spent hours listening to all of the early Duran cassettes, as well as So Red the Rose, on my boom box. And then I would make mix tapes and listen to those.  Listening to music was its own activity back then.  

I’ve tried to tell myself that there is not that much of a difference between sitting in a dark room with headphones on versus going for a walk while listening to your iPod, but it still isn’t truly the same. I remember imagining videos for every song on So Red the Rose back in 1985; today, I can easily go for a walk or mow the lawn and completely lose track of the playlist and wonder how I missed certain songs that had played. 

And thus does my first regret spawn a second one: Not only do I miss the days of listening to music for listening’s sake, I miss the distinctive sides that you’d find on a record or cassette.   One of the elements of those childhood and teenage listening sessions was appreciating and analyzing how different each side of the cassette was. It was a different experience listening to the B side of those early Duran albums. You could generally expect to find more of the radio friendly songs on side A, while side B tended toward the slower and darker material. (R.E.M. took this to another level when they used to actually name their sides, e.g. “Memory Side” and “Time Side”).
 
I realize that it’s the songs, and not the format, that make side A differ from side B. And certainly, in the Duran catalogue, the difference is more pronounced on some albums than others (more on that in a second). But there’s nothing like that unmistakable hiss you would hear just as the cassette was about to run out. And that longer delay because you either had to flip it or hit the “reverse” button if you were lucky enough to have a walkman that could do that.  It felt like an intermission…like the band had just rocked out to Hold Back the Rain and were taking a break, and after a moment, were returning as the first haunting notes of New Religion began to play. 

The first song on the B side was always a big deal to me. It set the tone for the second half of the album; it also served as an interesting comparison to the album’s opening track. Night Boat might be the greatest opening track for a B side in the entire catalogue—until New Religion! Of course, even though it’s not officially Duran Duran, Arcadia’s The Promise is another heavyweight track that would seem out of place in any other position on the album.  An exception to this would be Seven and the Ragged Tiger—I think the way side B ends, with Tiger Tiger and The Seventh Stranger, is more distinctive and memorable than how it begins, with Union of the Snake.

The last Duran album I bought on cassette was Big Thing, which is the poster child for albums with disparate sides (even down to the producers—one for each side!). Astronaut, while not completely mirroring the slower tempo and darkness of Big Thing’s B side, probably comes closest of all subsequent Duran albums to offering such a stark contrast between sides. And yet therein lies the problem, for Astronaut is a CD and there are no “sides.” I would assume that Astronaut’s “A” side ends with Nice (track 6)…but that would place “Taste the Summer” as the B side opener. I think Finest Hour is much more appropriate as a “B” side opening track…but without the cassette, who can say for sure? I can’t speak to any aspect of sides or themes when considering The Wedding Album, Thank You or RCM, which seem to all go on and on for one continuous side. Pop Trash Movie serves as a natural breaking point on Pop Trash, and the sequence of slow song/fast song/ slow song that pervades most of the running order is distinctive. Notorious’s two sides represent perfect symmetry: both sides’ lead tracks echo Hitchcock movies; both penultimate tracks are slow; and both final tracks rock the house. Medazzaland actually does have a natural break in the middle with Silva Halo, and the B side gets darker and more experimental (and more awesome…if that’s possible—from the first side. Sorry—I will try to contain my love for that album…!) Likewise, Liberty breaks evenly with its only slow song, My Antarctica, and gets more of an edge on its second side (with a very underrated and solid “Downtown” closing out the proceedings).
 
Which brings us to All You Need is Now. I tend to think of it as Duran’s first three sided album.  Side one ends with Girl Panic; side two ends with Runway Runaway, and side three consists of Before the Rain, Networker Nation, Early Summer Nerves, and Too Close to the Sun.  I’m sure a lot of this is due to the nature of the album’s release (first on iTunes, then the full physical release, then the subsequent “special editions” with more tracks” etc.) It also has to do with how I listened to it—although Before the Rain was part of the iTunes 9 release, I tended to keep replaying Runway Runaway and not really getting into BTR until I had the physical version of the CD with the other material. 

I’m curious what you think—do you find the time to just listen to music? Or is it next to impossible to do so when you’re juggling jobs, families, and other obligations? And when you think about the different sides of Duran Duran albums, what stands out for you? 


C.K. Shortell is a lifelong Duran Duran fan who lives in the northeast with his wife and two sons, both of whom love watching concert footage of the band.  When he’s not struggling to explain to a three year old why the guitarist always looks different or just what exactly Nick is doing, C.K. is constantly reminding co-workers and friends that the band never broke up.   

Guest Blog: Is twenty-seven years a long time to wait for disappointment?

Is twenty-seven years a long time to wait for disappointment?
By Karen Booth 

My Duran Duran love started in 1983. Not that this is a contest, I hate that idea, but I’ve put in my time with the band. Yes, my fandom has waxed and waned over the years, but we all know how life (and the occasional album that doesn’t quite resonate with us) gets in the way. Regardless, like all fans, I love and adore them, always look forward to new music from them, love to see them live, and had dreamt of meeting them since I was a teenager.

Of course, I was excited when the band released AYNIN and announced the first tour dates in 2011. I live in Chapel Hill, NC, and the closest they were coming to me in the early part of the tour was Washington, DC. I called my BFF Sara. We squealed, we planned, we plotted, we jockeyed for the best tickets. All systems go.

Backing up the truck a decade or so, I once worked in the music industry. One could make a correlation between my teenage love of DD and my general obsession with music, which eventually turned into a career and often inspires the books I write. Through a friend still working in the industry, I was able to finagle passes for the meet-and-greet in Washington, DC. I won’t lie. I’ve been backstage many times, sometimes for very famous acts, and it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. It can be dull. Stilted. Artificial feeling, especially when it’s an orchestrated meet-and-greet. Still, will full knowledge of what it would probably be like, I was screaming at the top of my lungs in my office at the thought of getting to go backstage for Duran Duran. It was finally going to happen.

Sara and I made the five-hour drive to Washington, DC on a beautiful, sunny fall day. We sang Duran songs at the top of our lungs, not just out of fun and musical enjoyment—I needed an outlet for my overabundance of nervous anticipation. I couldn’t think about meeting the band after twenty-seven years without some sort of squeaking noise leaving my mouth. 

Sara and I checked into our hotel, which was fabulous. We discussed wardrobe options and got dolled up. We had an incredible meal at a restaurant I’d researched online. A few cocktails later, we strolled down to historic Constitution Hall and got our wristbands and a set of explicit directions about where we were to be and at what time we were to be there.

Sara and I got in line to go backstage. At this point, my heart was beating a million miles a second. I kept talking, but it was entirely out of nervousness. I was yammering. Nothing intelligent came out of my mouth. The security guy poked his head out from behind a curtain and said they’d be taking us back in a minute or two. Resume panic mode.

That’s when everything went wrong. Sara told me she was thirsty and needed to get a bottle of water. My immediate reaction was, “Are you kidding?” No, she wasn’t kidding. I told her to hurry. She took off down the hall. The security guy pulled back the curtain and told us it was time. I sent Sara several texts, as fast my thumbs could go.

“Hurry up!” 
“It’s time!” 
“Run!” 

Nothing. 

My phone rang. The caller ID said it was Sara, but when I answered and started babbling about how she needed to move her cute little butt, there was a woman yelling at me to stop talking. Then I heard my name behind me and a security guy said that I needed to come with him. 

“Your friend passed out,” he said.

“Oh. She does that.” (Sara had, in fact, passed out on me at a funeral mere weeks earlier. It happens when she gets stressed.)

By the time they got me to Sara, she was awake and paramedics were tending to her. Sara wasn’t calm or dazed though, she was yelling at anyone she could yell at.

“Don’t worry about me. I’m fine. Take my friend backstage. She’s been waiting twenty-seven years for this.”

Security guy said, “Don’t you worry about that. I’m in charge of backstage. Everything will be fine.”

“Reggie,” said Sara, who had apparently read his nametag, “I think you’re full of shit. I don’t think you’re in charge of anything.” (Keep in mind, Sara is 5’ tall and 100 pounds soaking wet. Reggie could have easily been starting defensive tackle for any NFL team.)

Reggie laughed while Sara’s eyes practically shot laser beams through his forehead.

While the paramedics took Sara’s blood, looked in her eyes with a light, took her blood pressure and a whole bunch of other stuff, Sara was still yelling. “Reggie, so help me God, if you don’t get my friend backstage right now, I’m going to freak out.”

“Your friend needs to be here for you.”

“Stop arguing with me. I’m fine. Take her now.”

The paramedics had a bunch of forms for me to fill out, even though they had determined that Sara was fine. The clock was ticking, I knew that much, but I was still so dumbfounded by everything happening around me that I didn’t do anything other than what I was told to do.

Reggie’s walkie-talkie buzzed. “The band is done. We gotta go now,” he tells me. Reggie and I run down the hall and he nearly pushed me through the door. I stumble into the room where the band was waiting.

Oh. Crap.

What happened next transpired in slow motion, even though it took mere seconds. I dropped my purse on the floor. I handed a guy my phone. 
“It’s not in camera mode.” 
“Sorry, my friend just passed out,” I said, realizing how dumb it sounded the instant it left my mouth. What am I? Twelve? 

I looked around. I had no idea where to stand. I had no idea what to do. Saying I was disoriented would be an understatement. I was the proverbial deer caught in the headlights. No one said a word to me. 

I stepped closer to them. Oh my God, I’m in the same room with John Taylor. Nick is shorter than I thought he would be. The only thing I could think to say was, “Hi.” I know. Poetic. 

I turned and had my picture taken. While standing directly in front of Simon. 


Simon asked, “Are we done?” Photo guy said, “Yes.” And then they walked away.

Nobody said, “Bye” or “Thanks” or “Nice to meet you”. That was it. 

After that, I left and we went to our seats. Sara was feeling much better. I showed her the photos, still in a daze and holding back a peculiar mix of emotions. The women behind me, who were very nosy, grabbed my phone. 
“Oh my God. She met the band.”
“Simon looks like he photo-bombed her.” 
They squealed. They were jealous. Irrationally jealous. I feel like crying and they’re jealous? 

They passed my phone around our immediate section and people were pointing at me at gasping and grabbing the phone from each other. When I got my phone back, I posted the photo on Facebook and my best friend from high school posted the comment, “I can’t believe you met them and I wasn’t there!” 

I then realized that disappointed or not, I’d still had the honor of standing in the same room with Simon, John, Roger, and Nick. Twenty-seven years of waiting, but I still got to be there. 99% of the people in that theater would have gladly traded places with me, no matter how much it hadn’t felt like a moment worth years of build-up.

Most importantly, Sara was okay and not about to assault a 300-lb. security guy. 

The show was amazing, so much fun, the band firing on all cylinders. Our seats were great and we danced our butts off, slinking back to our hotel in exhausted bliss. 

If you’re looking for a moral to this story, the only thing I can say is that we all need to remember that the reality rarely lives up to the fantasy, no matter the situation or people involved. You have to prepare yourself for that possibility. I’m still glad I went backstage that night, even when it meant that the dreams of the fifteen-year-old me were squashed along the way.

I comfort myself with the idea that lots of people have been fortunate enough to meet the band, but not everyone stood in front of Simon when they did it. 

Epilogue: I saw the band again in August of 2012 and was able to have a do-over on the meet-and-greet. Sara wasn’t able to go, which was too bad because I know she wanted to prove that she could do it without passing out. It was very calm and devoid of paramedics. I was able to introduce myself to them all, shake hands and say hello, have them sign my ADITM CD, and have a lovely photo taken. Much more like the scenario my fifteen-year-old self had imagined.




Author Karen Booth is a Midwestern girl transplanted in the South, raised on 80s music, Judy Blume, and the films of John Hughes. Her most recent novel, Bring Me Back, tells the tale of a music writer who meets and falls in love with the 80s British rock star she was obsessed with in high school and is peppered with Duran references.

Guest Blog: Fabulous Live Moments!

Live Moments!  by Jane N.

Going to see Duran Duran in their hometown is always a lot of fun!  Although, I admit I’ve only ever seen them in Birmingham so I can’t compare it to anywhere else.  It always feels like it’s a special event, though!

The first time I saw them live was on the Rio tour of 1982.  It was at the Birmingham Odoen on the 30th of November.  I was right at the back, but I didn’t care!  All that mattered was that I was there!  I remember Simon announcing over the mic that John’s mum was there “somewhere at the back” and John saying, “Hello, Mum.”  I don’t think she was on the same side as us!  Towards the end of the show, when they were performing “Girls on Film,” we managed to run down, closer to the middle!  By this point, security had given up stopping the fans so they let us go.  It was a great way to end the show!!!
The next time we saw them live was the 12th of December in 1983 for the Seven and the Ragged Tiger tour.  I was a member of the fan club, and, yes, back then they had a pre-sale too.  So, I managed to get myself and three friends tickets before they before the general sale to the public.  We were in Block A, but towards the back of Block A, in row V.  I remember being impressed because I had a good view of John and said it out loud!  Who was just a couple of rows in front of us, but John’s mum!  She heard and turned around.  Then, she gave me a really big smile!  As the lights went down, everyone made a scramble for the front.  I didn’t realise I could hurdle so well!!  I went from row V all the way to the barrier!  I couldn’t believe it!  There I was right on the front row, right in front of John Taylor!  The concert was filmed for a British music TV show called The Tube. They showed clips from the show and interviews. Here are the clips of that show:

In 1984, Duran Duran had to do some extra filming for what was to become “Arena” and “As the Lights go Down.”  This extra filming was scheduled for two days in June.  The only way to get tickets was to send off for them through the newspapers, Birmingham Evening Mail and The London Evening Standard.  I am not sure why it was only through those papers, but they were free.  I remember there many angry letters written to Smash Hits, complaining that the tickets should been for fan club members only and that it wasn’t fair.  I sort of agreed, but, selfishly, I didn’t care as I had tickets!  Yes, we managed to get some!  I went to the second days recording at Hall 2 of the NEC in Birmingham.  It started in the afternoon and went on for about four hours, I think.  There was a lot of stops and starts and Duran wasn’t always on stage.  Although, for most of it, they were.  You know the bit on Arena, where the audience point up and it shows a tiger on the screen?  Yes, I was there doing the pointing!  That took a couple of takes!  Also, “Hungry Like the Wolf” was played when we had to imagine the band was on stage performing live and we had to dance and scream like they were.  It was good fun actually, to be a part of it!  It was a totally unique experience for me.  Duran was there doing a concert, but, at times, Russell Mulcahy asked the band, off stage, to “imagine they are still on stage and to dance around like crazy.”  I can’t say I’ve ever been to anything like it since!
After these shows, the other stand out concerts for me have been the reunion shows of 2004 because I got to see the fab five back together again!  Another one was when we saw them in Birmingham for the AYNIN show because we wondered when it would happen, and when it did, boy, they were on form!!!

 Hailing from Birmingham, England, Jane has been a fan since late 1981. She     is married to a musician with two children.  The youngest, being a  ‘Directioner’, always asks about Duran Duran fan related stories and Jane thoroughly enjoys re-telling them.   Aside from Duran, she works part time in a school and loves rock music and reading. 


On my way to some far destination

Wouldn’t you know it? The day has arrived. This my friends, is the final day of blogging for me for the next couple of weeks. I’m going on vacation! After packing for the next couple of days, I will be gone from Saturday until August 6th. Believe me – I very much need the break!

I really have no idea what Amanda is going to do while I’m gone. Given the last week or so, I wouldn’t truly be surprised if she lit a match to the whole blog. No, not really, I promise! She is going to take over my blog writing for me, I’ve written a couple of themed blogs for her – and we have a few guest blogs to share during my absence as well. Have no fear, the blog will go on!

On that subject, if you are feeling creative and want to share, we could still use a blog or two on any regrets you have as a fan. What does this mean? Well for example – maybe you missed a show or a tour that you really wish that you hadn’t missed. You can blog about what you missed, the reason why you missed it and so forth. Sometimes, humor helps, but sometimes, there are heartfelt reasons things happen – now is your time to share. If that topic doesn’t float your boat, you might want to write about your favorite band member. That is a favorite talking point amongst fans – I get asked about it every time I run into someone. They want to know who my favorite is, and then the next question is why. If you know our blog, then you know it’s not enough to tell us the obvious answer of “He’s totally hot!”…surely there must be more. In a lot of cases, you’ve had the same favorite band member for thirty years now – by now there must be more to it than his looks, so ‘fess up and send these, or any guest blogs, to our gmail address.

Typically when I’m gone for any length of time and I’m completely incommunicado – which will be the case for the second week of my absence (I’ll be on a cruise ship), the band starts announcing things. Shows, appearances, things like that. They have said there will be no shows in 2013 – and I’m holding them to that while I’m gone. Otherwise, I do have a backup plan, and she’ll do whatever must be done. Just let me know when I need to be on a plane.  Thanks Amanda!!

As always, a vacation would not be a vacation if something funny didn’t happen to me before I left. This time, it is an injury. I’ve been doing this crazy workout plan for about 50 days now called Insanity. It’s not at all easy, and for someone like me, one of my greatest fears each day is hitting “play” on my DVD player. There’s this Insanity meme going around that says “Your workout is my warmup.” It’s not a joke. The workouts really ARE hard, but I was seeing improvement in myself and what I could actually finish each day, so that kept me going.  Until month #2.  Month 2 was like starting all over again. The workouts were nearly impossible at first – and they are almost twice as long. That first week was pure hell, and to top it off, I started noticing some pain in my right knee. To be fair, I’ve been in pain all over my body for a while now, and I think I spent most of month 1 in some degree of soreness each day. It’s just my muscles building from the ground up, and let’s face it – each day I’m burning myself out with these workouts. But this was different, and at first I did what I do with most things – I ignored it and kept going. The trouble is, my knee got worse. It now hurts to bend it, and at some point it started hurting when I was doing absolutely nothing. This past week though, the pain was nearly excruciating when I’d try to do a simple squat, never mind some of the stretching we do, or the plyometric moves – which involve a lot of jumping. (which as I’ve been told – are Satan’s exercises) And, there’s this really NOT cool sound like dry spaghetti being broken that happens at certain times when I’m trying to get up off the floor. Yeah, that’s bad. Even I know that, and don’t even talk to me about going up or down my stairs. So, I’ve made an appointment to see our sports medicine doctor – the one that my oldest goes to for her dance injuries. I can hardly wait. (that is sarcasm right there!) I wish I could say this was just arthritis, but sadly – it’s not. My daughter had something similar (she says it sounds exactly like her injury but I’m in denial) last September and ended up with a metal framed knee brace and crutches for six weeks due to a cartilage injury.

That does not sound like fun while walking all over Florida…or on a cruise ship. Or packing and unpacking for that matter, and don’t even get me started on what it will be like in the airports. So for now, I’ve been wearing a brace on my knee, which seems to help, and staying off of my feet as much as possible. I’m a mom of a five year old, which means – I’m not off of my feet very often. So, let’s hope for the best or else it’s going to be a very long vacation.

With that in mind, I have a pile of laundry to finish and some packing to start. Try to behave while I’m gone, be nice to Amanda, and I will “see” you all in August!

-R

Running Like a Fox to Keep Up with Me

It is summer.  I should be spending my days sleeping in, reading, hanging out with friends, watching White Sox baseball.  Well, I’m doing some of those activities but I’m certainly not in the lazy days of summer.  I’m too busy for that!  What am I busy doing?  Isn’t it obvious?  Yes, I’m working on sending out resumes, which isn’t the most fun ever but necessary.  I’m also doing a lot of work for this blog, our book and that convention in the fall!  While I’m sure that many/most/all of you might want to read some interesting topic, instead, I’m going to catch you all up with all that is going on and will be going on!!

Blog:
Obviously, nothing really new here.  Rhonda and I still post a blog every single day.  That isn’t changing and won’t change.  We enjoy doing this and hope that you do, too!  Yet, it is summer.  I have taken a vacation and Rhonda will soon be taking one.  When I was gone, she held down the fort and I will do the same for when she is gone.  During the time of her vacation, we will be doing a couple of themes here.  Those themes will have blogs from both of us and then they will have a few guest blogs.  If you are someone who has submitted a guest blog to us, we will be using those!  Have no fear!  In fact, I would keep checking throughout this month and next.  🙂  We still have a few spots for guest blogs, if you are so inclined.  In fact, we are looking for the following blog posts:

*Regrets you might have about your fandom-
Maybe this about a show you wished you did or some event you wished you had attended.  Maybe it was about a situation within the fan community.  Perhaps, you didn’t purchase something or got rid of something and kick yourself about it to this day!

*Favorite band member-
We are looking for thoughtful posts about why your favorite band member is your favorite band member.  Obviously, we are looking for something a bit deeper than, “Band member x is so hot!”  What drew you to that band member beyond the physical and more.

Book:
Admit it, how many of you even remember that we are writing a book?  Do you remember what it is about?  We don’t talk about it a lot but it has been featured more and more in our thoughts and in our daily to-do list.  To refresh people’s memories, the book is about fandom–what it is, what is included in it and most importantly, why do people participate.  Yes, obviously, we use Duran Duran fandom as our case study, as our example.  I am very happy to admit that we are getting there with the book.  We have pushed through all of the tough stuff and moving on to the next BIG steps.  We are honest in saying that it has taken us a lot longer to do than we wished but…at the same time, we are thrilled we are where we are.  We didn’t lose our commitment and are seeing the project through!  Besides, I bet that a lot of people would have struggled to write a book while doing everything else that we do (work, family, this blog, other outside projects), especially since the book is research based.  It required a lot of reading, thinking, organizing, outlining, drafting, etc.  Frankly, I’m feeling pretty dang proud right now about it.  We aren’t done yet but are really getting there!  By the way, those of you attending the convention will be getting a sneak peek!

Durandemonium (The Convention!):
It is way hard to believe that we are a little over 3 months away!!!  The committee has much to do and things are starting to get done.  This is exciting!!!  The more we get done, the more excited I am!  I am starting to see the details fall into place.  If you don’t have a ticket yet, it isn’t too late!!  We have tickets for the entire weekend (October 18-20 in Chicago) and we have tickets just for the banquet (Saturday night only-October 19th) for those who can’t attend the entire time but want to join in for the dinner and dance!  All information and link to get tickets is here:  http://durandemonium2013.webs.com.

A couple of other things you need to know, if you attending:

*Fan Book Questionnaire Information has been sent to your email!  I will be sending a reminder to those of you who have not filled out your information to be included.  If you have problems or continue to have problems, let me know!

*As you all know the name of the convention is Durandemonium 2013:  The Music Between Us.  This theme of the “music”will apply to Saturday night’s banquet.  We challenge each and every one of you to dress in such a way to represent the music!  Perhaps, you have a cool way to dress that would represent Nick’s keyboards or Simon’s vocals.  Maybe, you love a certain lyric and know that you could dress in a way that represents it.  For example, maybe you love Girl Panic, you could then wear a “dress falling off your shoulder” to show this.  Be creative!  Be fun!  This is your chance to show your love of Duran Duran music in a fun way!
Wow!  After rereading this blog post, it is no wonder that I’m feeling so tired!  Lots to do!  Lots to look forward to!  I might not be getting the super calm, super relaxing summer but it will be worth it in the long run!
-A

The Way You Look, The Way You Move: Adventures of Cutout Madame Part 3

By Madame Duran

The concert date for Toronto was scheduled for April 25th at the Phoenix. The first half of the AYNIN tour had Duran Duran playing in smaller venues which meant ticket availability was extremely limited (The Phoenix Concert Theatre’s capacity was listed as 1,300). Larger arenas with 20,000+ seating have had shows sold out in a matter of minutes so I already surmised that there was NO FREAKING WAY I’d make it to see them. Absolutely NONE. Forget about it…case closed.

I was working on the day of the public ticket sale when I received a call on my cell phone.  It was from my friend, Patricia (aka, “LoveVoodoo”/”80s Queen”).

“Guess what! I got 2 tickets to the Phoenix! WE’RE GOING TO SEE DURAN DURAN!!”

What the…?

“I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!! I WAS JUST SITTING AT THE COMPUTER AT 10AM, WAITING IN QUEUE TO BUY TICKETS. I ENTERED THE INFORMATION THEN–BOOM!–A PAIR OF TICKETS CAME THROUGH! I WAS SO SHOCKED! I KEPT STARTING AT THE SCREEN…HAD TO LOOK AT IT TWICE TO MAKE SURE IT WAS WHAT I THOUGHT IT WAS ‘COS I WASN’T EXPECTING IT TO HAPPEN. I WAS SO STUNNED, THE TWO MINUTE TIME LIMIT TO MAKE THE PURCHASE ALMOST RAN OUT! ANYWAY, WE GOT THE TICKETS!! WE’RE GOING!! WE’RE GOING!! WHOO HOOO!!”

Well, whatever reservation or weariness I had before quickly dissipated in that instant. Ohhh yeah…CUTOUT MADAME’S MISSION WAS BACK ON TRACK!!!

=================

Late in 2010, I had discovered that Simon Le Bon and John Taylor obtained their own Twitter accounts in a bid to increase DD’s online presence. For months, I held off from jumping on the Twitter bandwagon simply because I didn’t see the point of it (my life wasn’t that interesting to necessitate daily/hourly updates). I changed my tune once I observed how Simon and John were conversing directly with fans. The mental lightbulb switched on.  “THAT’S IT!!!!!!! I’LL TWEET A MESSAGE TO SIMON ABOUT THE CUTOUT!!!!”  Straightaway, my inner child (forever 12 years old) thought the idea was sheer brilliance and thus guaranteed to work. I became so excited and pleased with myself that I didn’t have time to reflect on how flakey the plan actually sounded.

But what was the best way to get Simon’s attention? I knew I didn’t want to send him a plain message that could easily get lost among the cyberspace clutter. I had to do something different, something original…something leaning towards the artistic. The solution? A poem.  Yessss, perfect! After signing up on Twitter, I spent the next three days composing a poem that concisely summarized the story of cutout madame and ended with an open request to Simon. It read as follows:

One cardboard cutout, sent on a quest
To collect signatures at madame’s behest
Five different names from five Duran men
Each permanently scrawled with a Sharpie pen

The first to sign was keyboardist Nick
Which person came next? Boy, it happened so quick!
Wes Wehmiller, Joe Travers, fans of LK
Even Warren Cuccurullo joined the fray

The job’s not done; three Taylors to go
All were to meet down at KROQ radio
Andy, Roger and John — they complied
To etch their names on cutout’s laminate hide

Autographs in hand except for one
That of lead singer Mr. Simon Le Bon
For ten long years, he elusively escaped
Despite some close calls, madame was made to wait

Not the type to be kept down at bay
Cutout has travelled from England to L.A.
Now there’s word of an upcoming show
Duran Duran is coming to Toronto!

April 25th…could this be it?
Will Simon grant me his precious script?
Will this quest remain as an incomplete task?
It’s hard to predict so I must boldly ask

Dear Simon…

I plead, I beg, I humbly beseech
Don’t deny my dream that’s within reach
When cutout madame appears that night
This is your chance to make things go right!


On April 7th, I forwarded the poem to both Simon and JT (a few of my Twitter followers re-tweeted it as well). I anxiously waited for either one to reply but none of them answered. I remained undeterred. Four days prior to the concert, I sent the poem again but this time by email to Katy Krassner, asking that she would gently remind Simon to be on the lookout for cutout madame in Toronto. Katy’s response was quick. “I can try!” was all she said.

April 25 2011
Patricia and I arrived at the Phoenix around 7:30 pm. Cutout madame was packed inside a knapsack along with a mini-photo album showcasing pictures of past DD concerts and band encounters. As we waited in line, we chatted with a few other fans standing next to us (I couldn’t resist to regale them with tales of the cutout’s adventures!!). My plan for the evening was….well, there was no concrete plan other than to enjoy a Duran Duran show. I still had no idea of how I was going to accomplish my objective of getting that signature. Believe it or not, I wasn’t bothered by that. My mind was totally stoked over seeing Duran Duran again (up close, no less) that I didn’t give it much thought. I simply trusted that everything was going to work out fine.

The doors opened at 8. Both Patricia and I managed to plant ourselves roughly six rows from centre stage–an ideal spot right within Simon’s view. I didn’t dare budge from there and patiently stood for what turned out to be 1.5 hrs of waiting before Duran Duran appeared (I passed the time chatting and watching music videos created by DD fans who had won a contest sponsored by Genero.tv). Despite the late start, the band didn’t disappoint. From the opening strains of “Planet Earth” to the celebratory finale of “Rio”, they gave a powerful performance that had everyone screaming for more. Simon, in particular, was literally drenched in sweat; his entire dress shirt glistening with moisture and pasted on to his skin.  He was smiling, though, elated by the crowd’s response. I raised the cutout several times during the show for him to see it then tried to move closer to the front during the last song but nobody was shifting to let me through. Damn you, wretched people! The show is almost over!  Gimme a break! I tried to explain to a few of them of what I was trying to do but they refused to move. I could feel my frustration level increasing as the music edged towards its final note. At the conclusion of “Rio”, the audience burst into the usual loud cheering and applause, the band members came forward to take their collective bow, then they left the platform. My heart sank. I had failed.

By concert’s end, I was despairing. I didn’t want to leave the venue without Simon’s signature but most people were already clearing out and the road crew were packing up the stage gear to head off to Montreal. What should I do now? Do I follow the band to their hotel? Heck…I didn’t have the slightest clue as to where they were even staying!! I just stood there, lost in thought, clutching the cutout. Patricia didn’t hold out any hope: “I guess that’s it. Cutout madame is cursed!”. I mentally retorted her with a stern “Hush, you unbeliever!” because discouragement was NOT what I wanted to hear that day. I was too close to completing my goal to turn back now.

I quickly scanned the room and spotted their security guy. I had recognized him from previous appearances with Duran Duran at various shows and interviews. Despite his big, tall frame, he had a reputation of being fan-friendly and good humored (not the typical image of a security person). Just go and ask him if he could help, my inner voice urged. Boy, if only it were that easy. My mind was agitated as I considered my approach, vacillating between feelings of bold confidence and crippling insecurity.

My gawd…what do I say? I feel so stupid and desperate!
It’s now or never.  
That poem…ugh…so embarrassing! What the hell were you thinking??!?? Did you REALLY think it would work???
You’ll never know unless you try!
 
I feel sick…this indecision is too much. I wanna go home.
How badly do you want that signature?
Why am I getting so emotional over this???
C’mon, girl. Don’t let yourself down. Take the initiative…JUST DO IT!!!  

I finally relented.

He was talking with a couple of ladies when I walked up to him. Not wanting to rudely interrupt, I waited my turn. He shifted his head in my direction then said, “She looks like she’s 18!” (Huh? Umm, no I’m not…far from it…but thanks for the compliment!). That conversation–whatever it was–quickly wrapped up and I now had his full attention.

“Hi. How can I help you?”

Right at that moment, I started to cry (“whimper” would be more precise).

“Sorry, I can’t hear ya”.  He leaned forward.

“…uhh…I have this cutout that I’d like to get signed by Simon. I…I…I got all the band member signatures except his. He’s the last one and it’s really important I get it. It’s a sentimental thing with a lot of history. I’ve been waiting for 10 years and I wrote a poem…”

My self-conscious side was cringing, rolling its eyes. Had to mention that poem, didn’t you? And you’re blubbering like an idiot. Awww, geez…so pathetic! Someone bury me, please!

“It’s only one signature, right?”

“(sniff) Ah, yeah. Simon’s.”

“OK, just wait over there”. He gestured to a nearby exit then hurried off elsewhere.

In what seemed like an eternity, I waited with Patricia for about 10-15 minutes. He re-emerged then took us to another spot closer to the venue’s main entrance where a group of VIP members of the Duran Duran fan club gathered. At one point, a VIP member asked me if I had a pink VIP pass. Obviously, I didn’t possess one which prompted a few raised eyebrows but I later quipped, “I’m here by special request” . He came back again to direct the VIP members into another room, leaving me, Patricia and two other fans alone to wait (they were also seeking autographs). Another 20 minutes elapsed. My restlessness was growing. Had Dave forgotten about me? I had my back turned to the inside doors when I felt a strong hand grab mine and say, “Let’s go!”. He had returned to retrieve me and in the startled rush, I left my backpack and purse in the lobby but not cutout madame! I called out to Patricia to follow close behind (she, the unbelieving one with the decent camera). We were ushered into a tiny side room next to the stage where a couple of VIPs were standing around. Oh no…not another holding spot! I was on the cusp of letting out a loud, open rant on being (what I assumed) part of the “shafted shuffle” when a tall, casually dressed man suddenly turned around from a huddle in a corner of the room—IT WAS SIMON LE BON!! He had changed out of his concert outfit and his hair was slicked back like he had just showered.

He didn’t seem to recognize me from the previous times we met BUT his eyes lit up when he saw the cutout (I don’t think he recognized the cutout either but he seemed genuinely impressed/amused/surprised by its uniqueness). Knowing that I was allowed only a BRIEF time with him, I cut to the chase: I’ve been hounding him for 10 years to get his signature, could he please sign cutout madame. He already had a black marker in hand and was about to write on the back of the cutout but soon realized there was no available space left as it was completely covered with autographs. I, however, was prepared for this. I presented my own silver Sharpie for him to inscribe his name against the dark-coloured front. Just before signing, he paused as if he was deliberating the best location to affix his sig.  Earlier that evening, my concert buddies (Patricia and Wendy Lancashire) were speculating where Simon would place his signature. We unanimously agreed it was going to be on the cutout’s boob. Can you guess where his signature eventually landed? Yup, right around the breast area (that man…so predictable when it comes to women)! I was so overcome by emotion that I gave him a big, fat kiss on his bearded cheek. Having obtained my prize, I happily headed towards the exit until Patricia reined me back in to take a picture of me with Simon. DUH!!!  How could I forget to document such a monumental occasion??  Good thing she was there. We both had our photos taken with Le Bon, said our “thank yous” then left the club, overjoyed. 





It was dark and drizzling cool rain outside but I couldn’t be bothered with wearing a coat.  I felt lighter than air, brighter than a halogen lamp. Nothing would dampen my spirit that evening. At long last…MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!
Afterthoughts/Addenum
There are reasons why I love re-telling this story so much. The whole experience has been a source of immeasurable uplift for me. It’s exciting, it’s inspiring and it’s laugh-out-loud funny. It affirms, it energizes and it redirected my thoughts to focus more on the positive. I’ve also drawn valuable lessons out of it such as the importance of community, the power of persistance and utilizing dreams as a personal motivator. Best of all, it made people smile whether their reaction ranged from “That’s awesome!!” to “You are certifiably crazy!!”. The story of cutout madame ultimately is NOT about Duran Duran (despite their prominent role and the obvious pleasure I get from discussing them at every opportune occasion). Rather, it’s a reminder of all the GOOD that can and does exist in everyday life–the kind of stuff that’s meant to be shared, celebrated and fill us with gratitude. If by my sharing someone realizes at least some of that goodness in a tangible way, then relating this story will have achieved everything I intended.
Much thanks to everyone who assisted or participated in cutout’s journey. It’s a beautiful testament of fans coming together for each other and creating lasting memories to enjoy.  I couldn’t have done it without you. The ride definitely would not have been as interesting.
As for the cutout itself, its adventures may not be entirely over. A plot is underway to acquire signatures from Dominic Brown (guitarist), Anna Ross (backup vocalist) and maybe Mark Ronson (music producer/DJ) as they were connected to the recent album/tour’s success. I had bought a ticket for the AYNIN tour stop in Orillia, ON (Casino Rama) with this challenge in mind but plans were dashed when Nick Rhodes unexpectedly fell ill and the final five shows were cancelled. An unfortunate setback for sure but cutout madame is willing to wait

The 3-dimensional version of Cutout Madame leads a relatively quiet life in Toronto, Canada. When she’s not preoccupied with all things Duran, she likes to draw, read, collect vinyl records (45s mainly) and blissfully listen to a steady stream of 80s music (especially U2, Eurythmics and  The Police).


The Way You Look, The Way You Move: Adventures of Cutout Madame Part 2

By Madame Duran

Monday, July 14th The KROQ morning DJs, Kevin & Bean, had announced that the Taylors were to be at the station by 8:30 am and I was worried. Fran and I were running a little late and the estimated time it would take to drive down there meant that we were cutting it real close. I was certain that the penalty for our tardiness was to be relegated to the fringes of a mass fan gathering. The thought of coming all this way to California (my first visit!) only to miss that one rare shot at fulfilling my cutout’s mission made me ill. During the whole drive, I tried not to show my nervousness. So, we finally pulled into the radio station’s parking lot at precisely 8:30 and……nobody was there. The scene left me totally stunned. There were no barricades, no police for mob control, no media hoopla, not even a string of pylons to mark off a designated VIP spot. NOTHING. I turned to Fran and asked her if we were at the right place. “Yup, this is it!” she said, three or four times (‘cos I kept asking to be sure). One would think that I’d be thrilled and relieved at our tremendous luck in having unobstructed access to the Taylors but instead my initial reaction was to feel a bit miffed at the lack of fan turnout. All I was saying to myself was, “The original Duran Duran are back, all three Taylors are coming here in person and nobody else cares to show up?” 


It became apparent that we weren’t the only ones running late. Fran and I couldn’t do much except to wait. We struck up a conversation with the lone security guard that was by the entrance gate–a guy by the name of Charles Connor who told us he was the original drummer for Little Richard (how cool is that? Got his signature and a picture taken with him after hearing that). As I was talking to him, I stopped mid-sentence when I noticed a slate grey BMW pull up into the lot. I noticed three occupants inside and seated in the driver’s seat was JOHN TAYLOR!!! Right there, all conversation was DONE! My heart fluttered and I began to tremble. “It’s him!  It’s him! Omigosh, it’s HIM!”. Now, I have a confession to make.  John has been my favourite Duran member for the longest time. I can’t begin to tell you how much I fantasized about him as a young teenager (hint: A LOT!!!) and this was caused just by seeing his image on TV, in magazines, on wall posters and on album covers. So you must understand why my brain shut down and my insides turned to jelly at the sight of JT–the man in the flesh–slowly walking towards me. My inner child (forever 12 years old) managed to squeal out “JOOOOOOHN!!” really loud, right in front of Patty Palazzo (graphic designer, PunkMasters.com/one of JT’s personal friends) and Atlanta (his daughter) who were walking beside him. I’m sure my adult self was mortified with embarrassment and wished there was a tranquilizer gun nearby to shoot down the crazy but inner child JUST DID NOT CARE!  When John got closer, I held out cutout madame and sheepishly asked, “Can you sign me?”.  He smiled and gamely penned his signature.



 I uttered a meek “thank you!” and then he strolled inside the building. It took a while for my mind to descend from cloud nine to realize what had transpired. Suddenly, I remembered to breathe. Then it dawned on me that I didn’t take a picture of my encounter with John but, thankfully, Francesca did (See? That’s what friends are all about. Kind people who got your back and act as your thinking brain when yours abruptly goes on hiatus). 



About ten minutes later, while I was still in a daze, another car pulled up to the parking lot…and out popped Roger and Andy. The time of their arrival was around 9am so they were really late. Nevertheless, both of them did pause to sign cutout madame before rushing in. 

At this point, a couple other fans came running up to the two Taylors, begging for autographs. Andy had to politely decline yet he promised to satisfy their requests after the interview (which he did). Two things I gotta say about Roger: first, he’s physically GORGEOUS when you see him up close–delectably rugged and masculine (Mmmmmm…so nice); second, he smells GREAT (dammit!  I wanna know the brand name of the cologne he wears!)!! Andy was very cordial towards each of the 12 fans or so that came to see the Taylors. He took his time to sign whatever they brought and chatted away. In addition to the cutout, I also got them to sign the booklet insert of my Arena CD. The guys were on a tight schedule–most likely doing more interviews and/or rehearsals–so they soon hopped into their respective vehicles and drove off. I later learned from the other “KROQ Duranies” that the reason for the minimal size of our group was because most of the fans were still lining up outside the Roxy in the vain attempt of getting in to what eventually became a sold out show. Boy, was I glad I avoided that hot mess!

WHAT AN UNBELIEVABLE, AMAZING, FANTASTIC DAY!!! Francesca and I returned to the car and drove back to her home. Given our mental and emotional states, I was surprised we made it there in one piece. I couldn’t function for the rest of that afternoon except to frantically type up a report for my absent message board friends. I did it!  I actually, truly, positively did it!!!  FIVE SIGS DOWN, ONE MORE TO GO!! 


Concert Day, July 16th, 2003 Someone from the LK board had organized a pre-show party at ahotel for all local and out-of-town LKers. Fran and I (with cutout madame in tow, of course) attended the festivities and met several board members in the process. Shared my KROQ story and gained a few more signatures. I had no idea of how I was going to get Le Bon’s autograph but that wasn’t the foremost thought in my mind at that moment. I was too busy enjoying the company of my Duranie comrades. After spending roughly an hour there, Francesca and I headed out the door early. As we walked towards her parked car, she said to me, 

“Madame…I have some good news and some bad news.”  

Wow. Talk about coming right out of the blue. Not sure of what could possibly be wrong, I tried to brace myself for the worst. “Alright, tell me the bad news first.”

“You’re NOT going to get your cutout signed by Simon.”

Ummm…okaaay. I was puzzled by her air of certainty and wondered how she knew since we still had a couple hours to kill before the concert’s start. Geez, hasn’t this woman learned the lesson from two days ago that “anything is possible”?? But, eh…whatever.  Not getting Simon’s signature NOW just meant that I had to wait a little longer for it to happen. I’ve already waited for twenty years to see Duran Duran in concert so another momentary delay didn’t seem like a big deal in comparison. “So”, I calmly asked, “what’s the good news then?”

“You and I are going to meet the band right now.”

Huh? 
Say what??
Can you run that by me again??
Girrrrrrl…this is NOT the time to play with my emotions! Seriously…ARE YOU JOKING WITH ME??? 

Francesca proceeded to explain that she had won a radio contest where she and a guest were to meet Duran Duran AND get two tickets to the Costa Mesa show (which turned out to be upgraded seatsfrom what she originally bought). The reason behind her urging to get me flying down to California was because she wanted to surprise me with this gift of being her “guest”. 

[pause for tears welling up in eyes and clearing of lump in throat]

Well, I won’t bore you with any details of how that meet-and-greet went since cutout madame wasn’t there (we couldn’t bring stuff to get signed–that was a rule set up by one of the organizers. A very fan-unfriendly move, I know!). Anyway, here’s what my 2-D twin missed:



The Costa Mesa show was absolutely fab!  Everyone danced, sang and yelled. Nobody I saw sat down for one second. Fran and I were so pumped after the concert, we spontaneously decided to head to Vegas that same night to see Duran Duran a second time!!


==================

Arriving in the early morning of July 17th, Fran and I got ourselves a hotel room for the day and crashed on the bed. We didn’t do much during our stay because of the stifling heat that enveloped the entire city. Thankfully, we were within short walking distance to The Joint (the club located inside the Hard Rock Hotel where Duran Duran were set to perform that evening). The venue had the small, intimate setting I wanted–a welcome change from the grandiose Pacific Amphitheater.

It was a general admission show which meant there was no seating arrangement but I wasn’t bothered since it brought the audience closer to the band. Although the setlist varied little from the previous day, the concert itself was supercharged with energy. We waited impatiently in the darkness then…an escalating roar broke out in the midst of bright strobe lighting as each Duran member came on to the stage, lining up side by side to create an imposing profile that declared, “Yes, here we are…together again!!!”. Oh yeaaaaah…BRING IT ON!!!  And brought it on, they did. I was about five rows back, off of centre (slightly to Andy’s side) and I madly waved cutout madame in the hope that Simon would see her.  There was no way of telling whether he saw her but it was such an amazing show nevertheless. Best of all, the concert was recorded by themusic.com and I eventually bought a CD copy to keep as a souvenir.

Show was over, the lights came on, leaving me to contemplate how I was going to get Simon to sign the cutout. I met a guy whom I assumed was part of the FansOnFilm documentary crew that was reportedly lurking about, seeking to chat with DD fans. I told him how I was trying to get Simon’s signature and briefed him on the history of the cutout. He gave me a white adhesive backstage pass and instructed me to go up to the bar/lounge area on the 2nd level and wait for the band there.

Gosh, that was easy! I went up there and found Warren’s assistant, Sarah and a few other people hanging around. It looked promising. After waiting for well over an hour, the promise of meeting the band faded. They didn’t show up at all. Disappointed with the let-down, I spent the rest of the night driving around downtown Las Vegas searching for Duran Duran in vain (I later learned the band was at the Hard Rock Hotel the entire time but were seen by fans in an entirely different area to where I had been directed. Grrrr!!!). My trip was drawing to a close and time had run out for me in getting Simon’s sig. Another DD concert was set for the following evening but since I couldn’t attend, I had to make the gut-wrenching decision of leaving cutout madame behind in Vegas for someone else to complete the task. I returned to Canada, empty-handed. I eventually got cutout madame back albeit in somewhat rough shape. She was bent and sustained multiple creases because some CARELESS American Airlines attendant forced her to fit into a tight cylindrical container during the flight (The nerve!). Sadly, the cutout guardians had no luck in obtaining the prized signature either. *sigh* How long must this torture last???

2005


April 4th: An unforgettable day which included a fortuitous encounter with Simon Le Bon that lasted for TWO HOURS…and an unfortunate one for the poor cutout as it was locked in a car trunk across the street from the hotel where he was staying.


2011
Years passed. Life moved on. Cutout madame was left to linger in a storage box, barely touched since 2005. Meanwhile, things were a little rocky on the Duran Duran front with Andy Taylor’s abrupt departure from the band (oy, not again!) and the lacklustre sales of Red Carpet Massacre. I wasn’t enthused by DD’s latest output so I turned my attention elsewhere.  Thankfully, the stagnation spell was broken upon the release of the 13th studio album, All You Need Is Now. Initially sold through iTunes on December 21, 2010, the record became an instant hit with music critics and fans alike. It was a return to Duran Duran’s stylistic roots with a modern twist and there were repeated claims that it was on par with–even surpassing–the gold standard set by their classic Rio album…which thrilled everyone to bits. The fire of fandom had returned!!!

My thoughts immediately turned to the still corner of the room where the cutout rested. Ten years on…gosh, shouldn’t I have outgrown this crap of chasing down rock stars? By now, I had lost contact with almost all the LKers I knew. The once close-knit community had dispersed into the ever-magnifying scope of the Internet. Without the group’s enthusiasm and support behind me, the task of getting that final signature seemed bleaker than it was back in 2003. The long wait had begun to take its toll; a sense of weariness started to creep in.  Maybe it was time for me to just give up, settle with what I’ve achieved and be happy with the memories.

Or maybe not.



….to be continued


The 3-dimensional version of Cutout Madame leads a relatively quiet life in Toronto, Canada. When she’s not preoccupied with all things Duran, she likes to draw, read, collect vinyl records (45s mainly) and blissfully listen to a steady stream of 80s music (especially U2, Eurythmics and The Police).

The Way You Look, The Way You Move: Adventures of Cutout Madame Part 1

Today we begin a short miniseries on the blog written by a fellow Duranie.  It never fails – every time a tour is announced or a gig comes up, we’ll get messages from fellow fans saying that they’re sad they can’t attend.  As you’ll soon read…there is clearly more than one way to “attend” a show.  Enjoy!!

-R


by Madame Duran

Prelude/Backstory/The Beginning
I’ve been a Duran Duran fan since 1983. I’ve always dreamed of going to see the band perform live but never got the chance. Every time a concert date was announced, there was always something that prevented me from attending the show (chief obstacles: parents didn’t approve of me attending rock concerts, work schedules, other commitments conflicting with the dates). I had to live vicariously through other people’s vivid accounts which left me feeling partly excited but more often envious. Such was the story of my life.

2001
At this time, I was a member of Lizard King’s Duran Duran website–a popular online community where DD fans would gather and talk (my screen name: “madame duran”). The band–now reduced to a trio consisting of Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes and Warren Cuccurullo–was touring to promote their album, Pop Trash. The LK message board was naturally abuzz with excitement as people were making arrangements to meet each other at various stops along the tour route. The biggest draw was Las Vegas (aka “Party Central”…for obvious reasons). Many fans planned on travelling long distances to be there. Of course, I was unable to attend because I had just spent big money on a trip to Barbados to visit family and was flat broke. One evening, while I was in the LK chatroom, a friend asked me if I going to Vegas to see Duran Duran. “Sadly, no” was my unsurprising reply (she, on the other hand, was going). During the conversation, we amused ourselves with the thought of, “wouldn’t it be cool if we sent a cardboard cutout of you to the concert instead?”. We laughed at our silliness and thought nothing of it afterwards…that is, until the Vegas concert date drew closer. Call it desperation or wild impulse but something deep inside me stirred. I couldn’t bear the thought of missing out YET AGAIN while everyone else was revelling in all the fun. Something had to be done.

About a month prior to the concert, I emailed a full-length photo of myself to my chatroom friend,”Fan4Life” (Francesca). She saved the picture on a disk, went to her local Kinkos shop and asked them to print out my image to “life size”. She cut my image from the paper, glued it to bristol board then reinforced the cutout by laminating it. The whole process cost around $80 (U.S.). I was absolutely ecstatic with the final result. I immediately announced on the LK board that I would be one of the attendees for the Vegas show…well, a version of me anyway. The news was greeted with lots of enthusiasm by the LK crowd as none of them had ever met me before. The novelty of meeting my 2-dimensional self just served to heighten the level of anticipation. I was no longer on the sidelines; “cutout madame” was to become an intricate part of the craziness that was about to unfold. I wanted to create a memento of the event so I encouraged all the Vegas-bound fans to add their signatures on the back of the cutout. Getting signatures from the band members, however, seemed implausible to me but being suddenly buoyed by optimism, I figured “why not?”. I decided on a whim to notify Katy Krassner (DD’s fan liaison rep) at duranduran.com in the hope that she would alert the band of cutout’s upcoming appearance in the audience. To be honest, a part of me had doubts that my email would get noticed so it came as no shock when I didn’t receive any reply from her. Oh well, it was worth the try.

Finally, the day of the concert arrived. Fan4Life and a couple of other Lizard King members (Gretchen aka “GretchieLove”, Julie aka “JulieDuranie”) were assigned “guardianship” of cutout madame. I had nothing to do except to wait for the inevitable concert reports to stream in on the message board. On the morning after the show, I woke up to read a discussion thread entitled, “Madame Duran kidnapped by Simon LeBon!!!”. WHAAAAT WAS THIS??? Apparently, Duran Duran’s lead singer spotted cutout madame as JulieDuranie brought it closer to the stage. He then grabbed the cutout and proceeded to dance with it! The audience erupted in loud cheers and laughter. The whole scenario had me in a fit of giggles. Warren, DD’s guitarist, placed an adhesive backstage pass on Cutout Madame then gave it to one of the side stage workers. “Wow…that cutout is such a lucky girl!”, I wistfully thought to myself. Had the cutout’s journey ended at that moment, I would’ve been impressed with its achievement…but, fortunately, it didn’t stop there. At some point in the evening, Warren Cuccurullo’s assistant Sarah (“Redsexy” on LK) managed to bring cutout madame backstage by staging a mock confrontation with the venue’s security, insisting that her “friend” had to meet the band. The commotion roused Nick’s attention but he was relieved to discover that the intruder was just a harmless prop. While holding a glass of wine and snickering like a naughty school boy, Nick gleefully signed the cut out and drew a few “cosmetic enhancements” all over its face (e.g. lipstick, eyeliner). Joe Travers (tour drummer) and Wes Wehmiller (tour bassist) also signed. I couldn’t believe it. This outcome was better than anything I ever expected.


Sitting at home, I openly wondered how a paper thin representation of myself had better luck at meeting Duran Duran on the first attempt than I ever had in close to twenty years.  Outrageous!!! By all accounts, cutout madame’s stay in Las Vegas was a blast (except for the instant where it almost landed in a dumpster by mistake but was eventually rescued by Pamela aka “QueenDuranie”). It danced to 80s music at a nightclub, played the slots, got signed by an Elvis impersonator and inhaled deeply at an oxygen bar. Typical touristy stuff.  After an adventure-filled vacation and a stop-over at Capitol Records in L.A, it made a safe return back to me in Canada.




For whatever inexplicable reason, Warren and Simon didn’t sign cutout madame right away

(too busy? feeling under the weather?). Invigorated by the cutout’s success, the mission to get signatures of each Duran Duran member was born. Sarah volunteered to persuade Warren Cuccurullo to sign the cutout so off to England it went. Cutout madame got signed at Warren’s Privacy studio and he was kind enough to pose with her for a picture. It was early June and I had hoped that Sarah would reach Simon Le Bon before he headed off to Japan but she had missed him by a whisker. Darn! Meanwhile, John Taylor was performing solo and I tried getting him to sign little madame in Seattle at one of his shows (much appreciated effort given by LKer Kathryn, aka “frenzied silence”) but it was not meant to be. Double Darn!! Acquiring additional signatures seemed virtually impossible at this point with the band members so widely dispersed. The logistics of tracking down their individual location and enlisting a trustworthy “guardian” in that area to carry out the mission was much too complicated. Faint as it was, I held on to the belief that I would get all of Duran Duran to sign the cutout but I had to accept the equal possibility that I’d never achieve my target. Ah well, at least I had two signatures and an unforgettable experience in the process so I can’t complain. Besides, what are the odds of me getting the other signatures anyway, let alone meeting the band? 



2003
News of a reunion between the original 5 members of Duran Duran was now official.  The band with its iconic lineup of Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, John Taylor, Andy Taylor and Roger Taylor was scheduled to perform a few dates in Japan and California (this would mark their first set of performances together since 1985). This surreal announcement sent shockwaves of disbelief and joyful frenzy throughout Duraniedom. The long-awaited hope of many to see the Fab Five rejoined was turning into a reality. I, on the other hand, narrowly saw the situation as a golden opportunity to get the remaining band members to sign cutout madame!! But how was I going to achieve this? Circumstances had changed since the time in Vegas. A shift in the band’s entourage led to an increase of unfamiliar personnel. The concert venue was significantly larger and the number of attendees had expanded to thousands. Coordinating a small band of LKers to replicate the cutout’s previous strategy just wasn’t feasible. The truth of the matter is that I had NO detailed plan and ZERO connections. All I possessed was the sheer desire to attain a goal.


Needless to say, tickets for these shows were in very high demand. It was beyond assured that fans from across North America and around the world would be making the effort to show up for one of these special dates. Once again, Francesca posed the question: are you coming?? Hard to believe but I actually wavered a bit because I was concerned about travelling costs. Fran kept on insisting that I had to come (more on her reason for this later).  The show at the Pacific Amphitheater in Costa Mesa, CA was happening during my summer vacation so I really had no excuse to miss this (seemingly) once-in-a-lifetime chance. My mind snapped into clarity. Screw the expense…I have to make this happen!!  I’VE BEEN DEPRIVED FOR TOO DAMN LONG AND I’M NOT GONNA LET SOME CUTOUT HOG ALL THE FUN!!  Right then and there, it was settled. I was going to experience my very first Duran Duran concert!!!


Flew out of Toronto and arrived in L.A. on Sunday, July 13th. I had pre-arranged for my cutout to be sent to Francesca’s home earlier on and that is where I stayed for my week-long trip. There was word on the LK message board that all three Taylors were to appear for a radio interview at KROQ on Monday morning. I also learned–at the last minute–that tickets were being sold for an exclusive Duran Duran concert at the Roxy on Sunset Boulevard (the Roxy nightclub was where Duran Duran made its first Los Angeles appearance during its debut tour of America in 1981). An impromptu performance of new and classic material by a major rock act made this a “must see” event. However, the Roxy’s greatest appeal to me was its small, intimate setting — perfect, I thought, for getting near to the band (I wanted to be close enough to throw cutout madame on stage or to draw Simon’s attention in the same manner as it was done in Vegas. How ingenious! *roll eyes*). Although we had already secured seats for the Costa Mesa concert, Francesca and I were still eager enough to drive all the way to Sunset Strip to find out if any Roxy tix were left. NOT A CHANCE!!! The lineup stretched down a full block and wrapped around the corner of Hilldale Avenue. Some fans had camped out almost 12 hours before we arrived. Given the fact that the place had a maximum capacity of a few hundred people (approx. range: 300-500), we instantly abandoned any prayer of getting in. The only option left was to catch the Taylors at KROQ. I figured we weren’t going to be the only ones making the trek to the radio station so I was determined to get there early the next day to beat the crowd. I had envisioned the guys being greeted by a throng of screaming fans–all pushing and vying desperately for their affections.  Duranies are a passionate bunch and having watched the 1984 Sing Blue Silver tour documentary umpteen times through the years, I sincerely expected a complete meltdown to occur. That night before falling asleep, I tried to mentally prepare myself for the chaos that I was sure to witness.

To be continued….





The 3-dimensional version of Cutout Madame leads a relatively quiet life in Toronto, Canada. When she’s not preoccupied with all things Duran, she likes to draw, read, collect vinyl records (45s mainly) and blissfully listen to a steady stream of 80s music (especially U2, Eurythmics and The Police).

Leave me lost and stranded

My computer is dying a slow death…and so I’m semi-concerned as to whether or not today’s blog will actually make it through to publishing. It is going extra-slow today, and so I’ve had to shut down every single other program I typically have open in order to keep this thing running at a reasonable clip. Otherwise, every two or three characters I get the very cheerful and colorful spinning “thinking” circle (I am trying to be as upbeat about this as possible), telling me I need to wait. If I keep needing to wait for my computer to catch up…this blog will take 4 days to finish. I’ve done all of the things my super-special “Mac” guy (I swear I have his personal line now) has warned me and told me to do to prepare for my laptop’s ultimate and final demise, hoping to extend it’s life as much as possible, and now – not even MacKeeper is helping, so my Mac expert feels it could be any day now. I’m just short of bowing my head and giving it last rights. I’m extra attached to this laptop because I have typed almost every single blog on it, and it’s the one computer I’ve ever had that hasn’t failed me – until now of course, and after over 4 years of service, apparently it’s time for retirement.  I really need this to last until the weekend though (because I’m not making the trip to the Apple Store for my new one until then!), so let’s bow our heads and pray to whatever gods you might that it’ll last and that this blog will be published properly.

Until then, onward and upward, right? Today the band is at the amfAR gala in Cannes.  I’ve never been to Cannes (someday, oh yes…someday I will make it there), for me it’s another one of those far-off places that seems more like a fairy tale than it does an actual destination. I chalk it up with Monaco…I can’t imagine what they must be like. I did see a photo of their sound check, and I heard a rumor that we can even watch the show online. I’m somewhat wary of that really happening, both in part to that the website mentioned a fashion show, not a concert AND my computer seems to hate streaming (listen, if I can’t even get it to do simple word processing at this point, I’m thinking that streaming is a little “pie in the sky” of a dream, but I’m going to give it my best shot), if it happens – I’ll be sure to post about it on the @dailyduranie twitter. Regardless, I found myself with that familiar “butterflies in the tummy” feeling when I saw the photo of the sound check and the news that we would be able to see their performance. August was a very long time ago, wasn’t it? I miss the excitement of seeing them take the stage, watching the band and of course, having them play five or six feet in front of us. I do miss that rush!

Naturally, as my dear friend Faby reminds, she can’t “promise that HLTW will be off the 4 song set list” Anyone care to make a bet??? (I wouldn’t take that bet either!)

Today on Facebook I saw that Duran Duran had posted a link to an article from Gibson, compiling what they believe to be ten of the greatest alternative rock bands.  You can read the article here! Duran Duran is on that list, along with The Cure, Depeche Mode, REM, Violent Femmes, Dinosaur Jr., New Order, The Smiths, Sonic Youth and Hüsker Dü. The list seems to be a decent compilation – and of course the taste of the writer is reflected. What is curious though, is the comment made under Duran Duran’s notation, “…even though the bands popularity didn’t last long…”

Now, before we start gathering our pitchforks and shovels, I think it’s probably fair to point out that the writer of the article might have a different litmus test for popularity than say, we might.  In Anne Erikson’s defense, perhaps she was just considering chart popularity, or radio play.  I’m really not sure. All I do know is that the band is still hugely popular with us, and while they might not be playing in stadiums all across the world (although they DO play in arenas in many places), I think they still make a fair dime or two. More importantly, I wish that these writers would stop with the qualifiers every single time they post an article about Duran Duran. The band does well. They have proved their staying power far beyond what anyone (anyone besides their fans, obviously) ever thought. A little respect is not only warranted at this point, it should be required. I don’t know if I will live to see the day when this band is given their fair due, but I certainly hope so.

Lastly, I want to throw out another reminder (I’m begging here) that we are looking for guest blogs this summer. Do you have the urge to write for Daily Duranie? Here’s your chance!  We are doing a few themed series this summer, and are looking for blogs on the following topics:

  • Proudest moment as a fan
  • Something you might regret as a fan (a meet and greet gone awry, missing a show, etc.)
  • Favorite band member (we are looking for thoughtful blogs on this subject – why you feel more “in touch” with one band member than another, as opposed to a love note to this particular band member!)
If you have something else you’d like to blog about, let us know.  Send your completed blogs to dailyduranie@gmail.com, along with a short bio about yourself (check out our previous guest blogs for ideas) along with a thumbnail bio picture of yourself. 
Amanda will be taking over for my extended absence in the latter part of July through about the first week in August, and I will be taking over for her as well – so get us your blogs ASAP.  
Thanks – have a great weekend!
-R

Trust the (songwriting) Process

by C.K. Shortell
Kill your babies.
Of all the advice given to aspiring writers, this is possibly the best—and most difficult—to follow. Why? Because every word on the page is like a child—especially if you’ve been staring at a blank page for a long, long time. You can’t possibly just delete something that you’ve labored over, can you? What good would that do?
Imagine that you’ve actually written a huge chunk of a story, poem or blog. The concept is sound—or so you think. There are parts of it that work well; perhaps other parts—characters, specific stanzas, ideas—aren’t as good. You read it over and over. Overall, something just isn’t right. Maybe the plot is taking too long to unfold, or the meter is off, or it’s just too unfocused. Whatever the problem is, and however much you like specific aspects of it, the fact is that it’s not working.
Scrap it. Start over. Kill your babies.
Doing this is hard enough for writers. It has to be far more difficult for musicians in a band committed to “democratic” song writing. We’ve all heard about Duran’s song writing process that usually involves everyone in the room jamming until someone hits on a groove or hook that the others can build upon. (I say “usually” because in watching interviews from the DVDs included with the last few albums, or specials like the Classic Albums show featuring Rio, we do hear of exceptions to the process like The Chauffeur and Before the Rain. And I think it’s safe to say from info gleaned off of interviews during the Warren era that the “democratic” song writing process was not always in force then, either, or at least it was strained as band members were trying to write while not always on the same continent!)
Some of us (okay, me) like to make fun of Duran Duran for the length of time it takes them to record a new album. But consider the process: John comes up with what he thinks is a fantastic bass line…Roger likes what he hears and adds drums…Dom stops whatever he was doing and brings in some guitar…Simon begins to hum something about “puffs of clouds, dewy raindrops and broccoli sprouts” and all’s well except for that fact that Nick is just sitting there shaking his head.
Thanks, Nick, for killing that one.  Time to start over.
And maybe next time it’s John who doesn’t like the direction they’re taking (Why do I always pick on Nick? Wasn’t I the one who wrote the fawning guest blog on Arcadia?). But the fact is, in a “democratic” songwriting process, you could’ve hit upon something that you love only to have it vetoed by someone else in the room. That can’t be fun or rewarding from an artistic/creative standpoint.
Is that what happens, though? I suppose that’s where a producer like Mark Ronson could step in and either validate Nick’s doubts or overrule them, if he’s even in the room at that point in the process (remember, on AYNIN, he wasn’t involved in every track from the outset; e.g. “Runway Runaway” was written before he arrived. And let me add that the fact the band wrote that song on their own is one of the more overlooked stories of AYNIN. There’s  a perception that the band was lost without Ronson and that may be partially true…but they wrote, in my opinion, one of the best songs on the album before he even arrived, ergo…they still have it…just had to be said). But let’s assume he’s not there yet; that it’s just the five guys (or four—I’m not clear on Simon’s role in the creation of the actual music vs. lyrics) in a room jamming. Surely egos clash, tempers flare…
 
Or do they?
In nearly every guest blog I’ve written, I’ve always included the qualifier that “I’m not a musician” when giving my descriptions of a particular song. However, in this case, I think I can relate to this process. In college, I was involved in a live comedy show. We wrote and directed an hour-long show of live comedy sketches that ran over the course of five nights.  Several of us wrote individual skits that were then brought and read before the larger group (there were about ten of us total). The majority of the show ended up being comprised of these skits that each of us had individually written.
However, one night, three of us ended up hanging out after our rehearsal and started throwing around ideas. As we talked and laughed, we began to realize we might have something serviceable. I began typing and in about 20 frenetic minutes—with the three of us suggesting lines and stage directions and basically laughing and shouting at each other—we had come up with a hilarious skit. When we brought it to the rest of the group, they liked it too, and we ended up placing it second in the show. We ended up writing several other skits via this same process.
In a vacuum, the thought of trying to write in a group like that would seem to be infuriating at best, and impossible to complete anything worthwhile. And yet it was one of the most exhilarating creative experiences I’ve had and I remember it vividly, nearly 20 years later. It helped that it happened late at night among some college kids who had nothing better to do—but it was as fulfilling to me as the skits that I wrote individually which also made it into the show.
“We believe the sum is greater than the parts,” John and the band like to say in describing the motivation behind Duran’s writing process. Sometimes it may take longer, and sometimes it may frustrate some or all of the band members. But judging from the finished product that we fans get to hear, there clearly is a method to Duran’s madness. For as many “babies” that drop to the cutting room floor…there are diamonds in the rough—er, mind– that make the final cut.
C.K. Shortell is a lifelong Duran Duran fan who lives in the northeast with his wife and two sons, both of whom love watching concert footage of the band. When he’s not struggling to explain to a three year old why the guitarist always looks different or just exactly what Nick is doing, C.K. is constantly reminding co-workers and friends that the band never broke up.