Category Archives: nostalgia

Happy 30th Birthday Arena!

There are some anniversaries that just seem monumental, and this is indeed one of them. Thirty years ago today, Arena was released. We won’t talk about how old (or young) I may have been at the time, but I have distinct memories of Arena’s release. To begin with, I’d heard Wild Boys on the radio. If there was ever a quintessential “Duran Duran sounding” song of that period, Wild Boys surely met the mark. Little did I realize that it would be the last song the “Fab Five” recorded together until the days of Astronaut, but isn’t that always the way it is? You don’t realize something is really over until it just IS. There’s rarely a huge sign waved at you to pay attention and not miss anything – you only see those signs in hindsight as you wonder what could have happened and where everyone went. Laughingly, I remember getting the album and being a little disappointed that it was just live versions aside from Wild Boys – I was young and didn’t quite get it, I suppose. Additionally, I remember reading that the album was recorded “around the world 1984”, and I knew that meant it was recorded on their Sing Blue Silver tour…the tour I had missed due to some overprotective parents and a budget I couldn’t quite understand at the time.

For me, these products: the Arena album, the Sing Blue Silver VHS tape (and now DVD), Into the Arena (board game, which I never owned but had on my Christmas list…), As the Lights Go Down, the Duran Duran video album and of course the Arena movie were all symbolic for me. They represented the (then) unattainable dream of getting to see Duran Duran. The band was on a completely different playing field in a completely different stratosphere than I was as a young teen growing up in Covina, California. I didn’t think I had a hope in the world of ever seeing them in concert, much less ever standing in front of them, face to face, having an album signed or being able to tell Roger Taylor that he was in fact, my favorite. I look upon that time and space – the Sing Blue Silver tour – with a great deal of reverence. I built that time up to be so much more in my head. For many years I remained at least partially convinced that had I been to any show on that tour, I may have actually met the band, been invited backstage, and become instant friends. I would have followed through with my own dreams of becoming an orchestra conductor and being principle clarinetist for the LA Philharmonic. All of my hopes and dreams would have been realized had my parents simply bought me a ticket to a show, dammit.

In the decades since, I think I’ve been nearly rehabilitated. I’m at least fifty percent convinced, for instance, that even if I’d gone to the show and stood near my seat (most likely up in nosebleed because I know that at the time my parents had very little “extra” money to speak of), I still wouldn’t have met any of the band members.  I doubt my life would have changed much, but there’s still that lingering “What If”.

That “What if” is probably one thing that has continued to drive my fandom for all of the years since Sing Blue Silver. I know that when the original band ceased to exist, and as we went through Warren, Steve, Sterling, Wes…etc… I never once felt that sense of closure or contentment. I felt like I’d missed my chance. A chance at what? I have no idea. I just knew I’d missed out on something amazing. Let’s face it: seeing your favorite band live is something that everyone needs to do at least once (and some of us need it 30,40, 50 times!!).  By the time my opportunity arrived in 1989, I couldn’t help but feel like I was getting the consolation prize. Sure, it was great seeing Duran Duran live…but it wasn’t really Duran Duran unless all five of them were there.

When the reunion was announced, I made sure that I wasn’t going to miss out again. I know from reading message boards, Facebook and meeting countless of you along the way – the things I’m writing and sharing today are not new. There were many of us who missed out in the 80’s that have had their chance since. That lack of closure we once had is probably gone now, but we’re still emotionally driven. For many, the band helped to usher in adolescence or the teen years.  We were at least as emotional about the band as we were about life. The screaming teenager we thought we’d left behind still shows up every once in a while. None of us want to miss the next show, next appearance, or next meet and greet. Those emotions drive our fandom.

In the thirteen years post-reunion (announcement, in 2001), I’ve been in front of the band long enough to have an album signed AND had nerve enough to tell Roger Taylor that he was always my favorite, and I was really glad he came back. (He responded by saying “That is really sweet, thank you.” with a huge grin….some things you just never forget)  I’ve seen quite a few shows, and I’ve been overseas to places I honestly and truly never even dared dream I’d go. I still believe Duran Duran is on a completely different playing field in a stratosphere far, far away from me. Even with social media, they still seem incredibly unattainable or unreachable, and let’s face it – given some of our emotional behavior, that’s probably for the best. I continually marvel at the people who do whatever it takes to get near them, whether it’s getting to know the right people, standing in enough lines, or paying enough money.  I can barely manage to get myself to the shows I do without trying to show up every single time there is a possible appearance somewhere, so I applaud those who can make the extra effort. Sing Blue Silver, Into the Arena, As the Lights Go Down, the Duran Duran video album, the Arena movie and naturally the Arena album are still somewhat enigmatic to me. They still manage to collectively represent a period of time when much of the world (as well as the band) was a complete mystery.  They symbolize a lot of my adolescent hopes and dreams. The memories that come along with Duran Duran, Arena, Sing Blue Silver and other things continue to drive my fandom. I’m not chasing after childhood (or rainbows, as they say…), but I revel in those memories as much as I thoroughly and completely enjoy everything that has come along since.  Happy Birthday, Arena.

-R

Love Never Felt so Good – Jackson/Timberlake

It’s rare that I discuss other bands or artists here on the blog, but I kind of thought this deserved special mention.

Have you heard the new Michael Jackson song that features Justin Timberlake…and more importantly, have you seen the video?  It’s all over Twitter this morning, and so I decided to take a peek.

I heard the song itself on Monday night when it was used on Dancing with the Stars – not a show I normally watch, but I was flipping channels and caught it.  I have to say that I like the song. It reminds me very much of Michael’s older work.  I hear a lot of “Rock with You” in there, and I really like that. I have no doubt that the song, the album, and just about anything else they can squeeze the life out of will be exploited well beyond reason, which makes me incredibly sad, but the song is good. It’s Michael….and oh yes, it features Justin too.

I watched the video this morning. Granted, I’m not a Justin fan and I really don’t get his part in the video. Yes, I know he sings on the song, but for me even that seems to be a carefully placed afterthought. That doesn’t mean I don’t think he does a good job, because he does. (It’s his type of music and he performs extremely well. It’s not like he’s actually trying to sing on a Duran Duran song or something!  Oh wait…) I just think his part wasn’t necessary.  (Please see the above comment about exploitation.)  However, that wasn’t what really set me off this morning to write this blog.

As I watched the videos, I must admit that at several points I found myself watching the clips of his old videos and feeling pretty melancholy. I wasn’t ever a huge Michael Jackson fan. My sister might even say that I couldn’t stand him. That’s not exactly true, I was just sick to death of hearing about him during a time when I felt that Duran Duran ruled the world…but that’s OK. I was young and didn’t quite get it, I suppose.

I don’t think you can really be a music fan or a fan of the American Dance movement and not see the genius that took place every time Michael performed. Overexploited? Yes. Without a doubt…but still brilliant in every single way. As my daughter Heather’s dance instructors have always told her since the very day Michael passed – when you watch Michael Jackson, you are seeing the same moves we use today, and he was the reason we do them.  Musically, Michael is *the* reason people like Justin Timberlake got into music – you can hear that influence consistently in his work.  So while I may not pay homage to the man in the same way I do Duran Duran, I have great respect for his music and talent.

So, getting back to that video – as I watched, it felt just a little creepy to me. I couldn’t decide if I was disgusted that once again Michael continues to be exploited even after his death, or that I was annoyed Justin Timberlake needed to take center stage…or that it was all just way too soon.  In some ways, I suspect the latter.  Michael died on June 25, 2009 (I googled it – no, I don’t just have these things in my head!), and while it has been nearly five years, I found that watching other very talented dancers doing his moves while his own videos played in the background just a little…well…sad.

I think to Duran Duran.  How would I feel if it were them? I don’t even like to think about that.  But truly? How would I feel if a label took their most iconic videos, like Rio or Hungry Like the Wolf put them together while someone like Justin – who claims to be just as influenced by DD as Michael (I really don’t buy that, by the way) did a duet with Simon…and not only Simon, but Simon post-mortem?  Granted, Simon’s not a big dancer (unless you’re counting that chicken dance….hey…did you know it’s National Chicken Dance day??), but even so…a label will do whatever they need to do to milk the last bit of life out of something.  If THAT doesn’t give you the shivers on this Wednesday, nothing will.  But really, how would YOU feel?

I’d hate it. With a passion. I’m not really sure five years could make that work for me, either.

So to recap: Yes on the song…and a very sad no on the video.

-R

 

 

 

 

When you think of Duran Duran, what is the first video to pop into your head?

Yesterday, I was avoiding real work and looking over Facebook. I’d posted a link to an online poll regarding iconic 80s videos, and the subject got me thinking.  What is the FIRST video that comes to mind when I think of Duran Duran?

For me, it’s Rio. Keep in mind, I wasn’t considering my favorite video, or what might have been the first video I ever saw for Duran Duran – but rather the one that comes first to mind.  When I think of Duran Duran, I can’t help but think of that yacht, the gorgeous water, the neon “champagne”…the pink rotary telephone…the sun, those silk suits…Andy being thrown overboard… it all reminds me of the band.

I wondered about other people…did it make a difference as to when people became fans?  What about male/female choices?  Would they be the same?  So I decided to conduct an off-the-cuff, completely scientific poll.  I asked a simple (or what I thought was simple) question: What is the first video that comes to mind when I say Duran Duran.

In asking, I made a couple of assumptions: ONE – that people who answered knew their videos. TWO – that people could actually understand what I was asking.

Thankfully, I didn’t have anyone ask about the band. So there’s that.

However, as always – a few people couldn’t come up with one video. I’m usually amused by the people who simply refuse to make a choice. Even if I promise that Duran Duran isn’t reading, that they don’t care and that this is NOT going to be sent to them as some sort of “A HA!!! Just LOOK at what your fans are thinking!” Some people just cannot choose. The band should be immensely proud that there are folks out there that just want them all.  All the time. Everything must be equal. I had someone tell me that making them choose one video is like choosing between children.  After I uncrossed my eyes, I contemplated the comment.

To begin with, I’m not in that camp. I will openly tell you what song is my favorite, what albums I feel should have been discarded before they were released, I’ll even go as far as to say what band member is my very favorite and why.  I don’t even KNOW the band personally and I still have my favorites.  I am obviously completely heartless.  AND opinionated.  I’ve been called a bully before, by fellow fans, because I have told them they have to choose or they can’t vote.  I’m really not a bully.  I grew up being the one who was bullied much of the time – but I do insist that if you’re gonna play, you play by my rules.  This is my blog post, these are my rules.  Simple.

My bark is much worse than my bite, but don’t tell anybody that.  It’s OUR little secret.

I really didn’t ask anyone to choose, though. I just asked what video came to mind first. That doesn’t mean it must be the favorite video, or even the video you happened to see first, although I can certainly agree that perhaps the very first video ever seen could possibly be the one that comes to mind first. That makes sense.

Someone else mentioned that the video that comes to mind for them first isn’t necessarily the most iconic. Fair statement. I’m going to ask that very question at some point and see if the answers differ.  Why? Because I have real work to do and I’m looking to avoid reading about patents and types of corporations for as long as possible.

So what about those answers?  Rio was the runaway answer here, earning nearly four times as many votes as anything else mentioned. I don’t think that would necessarily surprise the band.  I once received a comment from an entirely anonymous person, explaining the band’s image to me.  Yachts, supermodels…SEX…(gasp!!).  If it weren’t for that image, maybe things would have been different for the band. Yes, that one decision may have made all the difference.  Maybe they would have continued opening for bands like Fashion, for instance.  I really don’t know.

What I did find interesting was that even with a question like this, there were a plethora of answers. Everything from Rio to Girl Panic was mentioned.  The top answers were: Rio, Girls on Film (yes, I did pay attention here and most, but not all votes on this one were from men.  I can’t say I blame them.), Save a Prayer, Planet Earth, The Reflex and yes…Hungry Like the Wolf.  And we wonder why those songs are on nearly every set list…

What I couldn’t really tell from the votes and would really like to know is just how much the timing of when someone became a fan (meaning what album was out at the time) and what the first video someone saw had to do with the video chosen. Not that it’s all very scientific – I just like doing these polls.  There’s something therapeutic in counting hashtags instead of reading up on LLC’s, I guess.  Now I see why Amanda does them every day.

This is the first real blog I’ve written in a while. I don’t know if anyone has really noticed, but I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus of my own as of late.  I needed a break.  I still wrote (and will continue) the Day in Duran History during the week as a short blog, but other than that – I was living Daily Duranie “free”.  There’s a number of reasons for this, but I figure if the band can take breaks and take years to put out albums, I can take breaks too.  When they start breaking news for us, you can bet I’ll be back to posting on a daily basis. Until then, when I have something to say, I’ll post it.

-R

 

The wish that I was on that plane

The band doesn’t do nostalgia, they say. Maybe that’s true. Maybe they don’t spend a lot of time resting on their laurels, or looking back at the past. I suppose that if I were in their shoes, I wouldn’t have time. I’d be busy working on the future, because there’s still more story to be told. I’m lucky in some respects though, because I am not quite that busy. I have time to reflect, and from time to time, I do.

New friends that I would have never met otherwise

Today is one of those days. Two years ago…and to be honest I’m truly surprised that it’s been two years…I was on a train headed for Birmingham after spending a night in Bournemouth. I had seen the band the night before of course, after having gone to dinner with three new friends. It’s funny because for me, in some respects I barely remember the show. I remember the drive from Brighton to Bournemouth very well, as we were driven by our friend Michelle, and I think we laughed most of the way. That was one of the highlights of the trip for me, and it never fails to make me smile when I think of that day. We spent the afternoon walking around Bournemouth, walking through Primark (a store very similar to our JC Penneys here in California where I live) so that I could grab a zebra-striped umbrella (the rain makes me melt, you know), we had dinner and even went to a very nice (I think the correct British term is “posh”) hotel and had tea to warm up. I know the show was great, and I know that I spent most of Leopard doubled over in laughter because at that point I was so jet-lagged that I probably would have laughed at my own reflection in a mirror (and should have I am certain!)…but memories of the band playing aren’t what come immediately to mind.  It’s the time I spent with friends. I would go so far as to say that I even remember the time Amanda and I spent after the show hanging out in our hotel bar more than I remember being at the show. Maybe I’m just weird that way.

Still pretty happy, despite the pricey train fare!

Then there is the train trip from Bournemouth to Birmingham. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this here before, but we grabbed a cab from our hotel to the train station. Once at the station, we confidently walked into the station and went to the ticket booth where we announced our intention to go to Birmingham. The booth attendant quickly rang up the sale, and gave us our total. To this day I can’t remember exactly how much he said – but it was quite a tidy sum (to put it politely), and Amanda turned to me with her mouth open. I stood there and said “Give the man your card Amanda – because we’re not stopping now!!” Naturally, we should have bought these particular tickets in advance – but having done that six months prior in May, with those tickets going unused due to a certain lead singer not being able to sing – we had agreed that we would take our chances. So, we paid dearly for that train trip, but I think Amanda would say it was worth it.  Well, probably.

On the way to the venue in Birmingham with new friends!

Prior to the show in Birmingham, we had arranged a meet-up at a pub. We hung out, saw friends, met new ones, and by the time we needed to get to the venue, I think Amanda and I were coming out of our skin with excitement. This show, I remember clearly. It’s hard not to remember the show because this was The Holy Grail. The Show to End All Shows for us. No disrespect intended but for Duranies, it was like going to Mecca. The Motherland. I think we’d built up the moment to be so important – that by the time the show was over, we were exhausted. We didn’t sleep much that night. We talked through every second of that show, and then some. I will never be upset that we made the trip to Birmingham twice, and to be honest – if I can find a way to go again, I will.

For me personally, the shows were literally just the tip of the iceberg. They were the catalyst, the reason I went to the UK, but once there, I just felt as though there was so much more to my trip than the band. The land I saw, the towns I experienced, the friends I met…the Winter Markets, the differences in culture…I loved every second of it. (Even when I was freezing my ass off in the venue in Glasgow!)  Let’s face it: I’m from Southern California. As of this writing it is December 2nd and I’m wearing a short sleeved t-shirt and flip-flops. My youngest doesn’t remember ever being in the snow, much less touching it or tasting it, because the last time we actually went to see the snow, she was less than a year old.  Where we live – it never snows. If it did, people would lose their minds. Our palm trees are decorated as though they were evergreens, and yes, it really IS hard to have the “Christmas Spirit” when it’s 80 degrees outside. The UK is a world away from anything I experience on a daily basis. As I’ve explained to my husband since that trip, seeing the band was great – but the truth is, as most Duranies know, the setlist doesn’t change that much from show to show. It’s true, I can remember the setlist differences between the shows – or the funny things that set one show apart from another, but it’s not like those change that much. What makes these trips worth it for me, especially my trip to the UK, is what I do, or what I see in each place. The people I meet, and the experiences outside of the shows. I wouldn’t trade any of that.

I’m not sure when the band might decide to tour again, and if they do – I have no idea if I might be able to travel again – or where I’ll go if I can. I’m just thankful I took the opportunity to go when I did.

-R

We told everybody all you need is now

I am nearly positive I begin Monday the same way, by saying that it’s a very busy day. They always seem that way! Today is a picnic and sing-a-long at the school of my youngest. She is in her very final year at preschool, and next year she will start kindergarten. This day is bittersweet for me because it’s the very last one. Of course, I did say that before…about nine years ago when it was my son’s turn for his final sing-a-long. Little did I know that I’d be back for yet another “tour of duty” at our preschool. All three of my kids have attended the same preschool (In the US, preschool is optional and it’s not “free” in most cases – and we have our choice of where our children attend. Once you get to Kindergarten, in most cases you attend the school within the predetermined “boundary” for your neighborhood.). What is special for us is that quite a few of the same teachers are still at the school now as there were when my oldest two attended – and they still remember my kids. (and in case you’ve lost track, my kids are 16, 13, and 5.)  So, assuming that I am completely finished having children (I am!!), this will be a final good bye for us, and today all three of my kids will be at the picnic and sing-a-long (under protest in the case of my son….but I’m willing to accept that.), and there will be photos. We have a tradition of doing a “first and last day of school” photo by the school sign…and today I’m getting one with all three. Cheesy? Nostalgic?  Perhaps, but I’m allowed. I am mom.

Lately, it’s been a series of saying “good-bye”. We bid farewell to our para-educator for my son’s homeschool program earlier this month as he moves on to a high school program and she retires; then last week I picked up my oldest at her arts high school for the final time. (I am NOT sorry to be saying sayonara to that commute on the 5 freeway each day – her new school is literally 4 minutes from our house, as opposed to that blasted nearly two hour commute back and forth!) Today, it’s my youngest’s turn. It seems to me that nothing ever stays the same for very long, and we all constantly need to adjust and evolve as necessary.  I have found the constant change to be difficult at times, as it is typically me who does the most “adjusting”, but it’s part of being a parent. The band collectively says that they aren’t particularly nostalgic…well, I think that as a parent, I can’t help but embrace a bit of nostalgia from time to time. When my oldest two were very little, I think I spent a fair amount of time wishing they would grow. I couldn’t wait for them to begin school and get involved in things. I blinked, and now I’ve got a junior (10th grade or about 16 years-old) and freshman (9th grade or about 14 years-old) in high school. Where did that time really go?!? So with my youngest, I admit that I’ve spent more time enjoying these preschool years. They have gone incredibly fast (it feels like just yesterday that I was sitting in the doctors office being told that while yes, she said it was unlikely that I would have more children – I was definitely having another baby!), and now we’re about to start the whole elementary school process all over again.  I’m not sure that I’m really ready, but as life typically works out: ready or not, here we come.

So as some of the Katy Kafe discussions and tiny news bytes and things have come out regarding the new album – one of the comments I hear most often from the band this time is that they really aren’t nostalgic and that they keep moving forward. They don’t expect the next album to sound like All You Need is Now because they’ve already gone down that road. I can understand that, because with art – sometimes looking back really does hamper you from moving forward. It’s even that way as a parent, so one has to keep it all in prospective. Just as it wouldn’t be fair for me to keep my youngest at her preschool because I adore the school – it wouldn’t be fair to insist that the band continue to put out Rio over and over again.  Some might say that the last album really was Rio, the sequel, but I would disagree. I believe there is a difference between taking ownership of the space you’ve created for yourself – the sound that is uniquely yours – and continually rewriting history. However, on that same note, I believe there is also value to be found when you look back over the whole of your career.  You see where you’ve been, but you’re also able to see where you are going, and have some sense of the full extent of what you’ve accomplished. Although my two oldest have done quite a bit of growing since they sang at their last preschool picnic, my daughter still has the same sense of humor (albeit a bit more dry) and joyous energy, and my son is still as serious and quiet (albeit he’s found his own EXTREMELY dry sense of humor and sarcasm!). They are the same people, just more grown-up.

So, while I don’t expect #DD14 to be the same style as All You Need is Now, I do anticipate hearing some of the same glimmering attributes that I know to be Duran Duran: the stacked harmonies, John’s terrific bass lines, Nick’s synths, and if I’m lucky – maybe a bit more guitar. I loved what they did with All You Need is Now, but that won’t stop me from moving forward and being excited for what is to come next. I look forward to seeing how the band grows.

As I give my youngest a final squeeze before I send her into her preschool classroom a final time, I will probably be holding back a few tears (I am mom and it’s my Right.)…thinking back on how lucky I’ve been to experience all of this a final time (again!), but excited about what kind of wonderful person she is to become in the future.

-R

Has it really been 20 years?

Is it really possible??

This morning, during my morning “catch up” on Facebook and Twitter, I came across the oddest post – something about it being the 20th anniversary of The Wedding Album.

I respectfully request a recount.

As I sit back and try to sort through the cobwebs in my brain to find the dusty box holding memories of 1993, I seem to recall that this was the year I graduated from Cal State Fullerton. I have no memory of hearing Come Undone or Ordinary World on the radio for the first time. I just know that I was shocked that the songs actually charted or that I was hearing “new” Duran Duran at all. It’s true. I thought the days of Duran Duran gracing the Top 40 had long since ended, and at the time – I really wasn’t keep up with the activities of Duran Duran. I was beginning my own life, worrying about what was going to come next, and from what I can remember – I was going through “On Campus” interviews, trying to find a job after college, because I was about to graduate at the end of May. Joy.

Of course, Simon has said several times that it was Ordinary World that saved the band at this point.  I can certainly understand why that might have been the case, and I can’t really imagine what it must have been like for the band at the time. They had gone from being the biggest band in the world to somewhat of a nostalgic novelty – we’d hear Rio when a radio station wanted to play an 80’s “Flashback”, or Hungry Like the Wolf when we’d go to see an 80s cover band. I would cringe in sheer disgust. Good times. When I started hearing Ordinary World on the radio with regularity – probably long after it had actually played for the first time, I know I felt pride right along with the sense of shock that they had found their way again. Perhaps their best days weren’t really behind them after all.

Once again, this was 1993. The internet wasn’t really a part of my life yet. I remember Walt, who at this point was still just a boyfriend, knew all about BBS (online bulletin boards – a precursor to message boards), but I had no interest. There was no way to really find out what the band was doing unless I were lucky enough to come across news about them on the radio or a magazine interview. Truth be told, I didn’t try very hard either, so once again I fell away. Every now and then I’d hear they had a show planned somewhere, or a new album coming out – but mostly there was nothing. For me, Duran Duran had effectively been put in a box marked “Childhood Memories” and placed on a shelf in my closet, where it would get delightfully dusty for the next several years.

So for me, it is hard to believe that yes – this was twenty years ago. Twenty years seems like such a long time on one hand, and on another – it went by remarkably fast. It really does not seem like that long ago I was driving into the school parking lot or walking across the campus for class. How could that much time have passed since Walt and I spent our weekends walking around the streets of Hermosa Beach where he lived, or going to Fashions – the nightclub on the Redondo Beach Pier where we met? (That nightclub is now called The Brixton) Time flies, doesn’t it?

My mother warned me that this would happen as I age. I am not amused.

-R

There’s nothing wrong with sharing nostalgia!

Before I left on my two week family holiday, I sat down and watched Sixteen Candles with my two oldest children. I don’t really know how popular this movie was outside of the US in the 1980’s, but for me it is one of the most iconic treasures and memories I have from that period of time. There are several of these movies that bring the most fantastic memories right back, and Sixteen Candles is one of them. My kids had never seen the movie before and I was happy to sit down and watch with them. (I’d also like to comment that man, oh man have PG movies changed since 1986 when this one came out! Nowadays this one would easily be rated “R”…funny.)

I have to admit that I spent a lot of the movie trying to point out the styles and music that were synonymous with being an American teenager in 1986. As soon as the movie started, I felt transported back to 1986. Its funny how some movies/bands/books will do that. I immediately felt 15 again, and I loved it! Levis 501’s, off the shoulder layered t-shirts, Fedoras (is this sounding familiar to anyone??), button down oxford shirts, bangles, and of course Molly Ringwald’s famous hair. I wish I had a scanner because I’d scan in my yearbook picture from my sophomore year of high school. (10th grade – that would have made me about 14-15 years old) I had it all going on – the hair, the layered shirts, all of it. Then of course there was the music. I heard Madness, Simple Minds, Culture Club, Spandau Ballet…and if that weren’t enough there were the posters in the girls’ bedrooms. There’s one scene where I even caught the bottom half of a very familiar band in a poster that I still have to this very day.  I think I squealed in delight quite a bit last night, and my two kids were laughing at me in response.

The funny thing is, the movie held their attention. The themes of the movie: turning 16, having your birthday forgotten, feeling like a complete outcast and then of course finally being noticed by “That” guy…  those themes translate well no matter how old the movie was. At one point my daughter turned to me and mentioned that some of the styles in the movie were popular today (Yes, yes they are my dear child. You think your mom hasn’t noticed how you cut the neck out of your t-shirts and wear bangles these days??) even though the movie is almost 30 years old now. (Gee, thanks for reminding me…)

I tried to explain to both kids, my oldest in particular though, why we girls loved Molly Ringwald so much. When she saw the movie, I could see the question in her eyes. Molly looks like any other ordinary girl. I would necessarily say she was a knock out back when she was a kid, but you know – isn’t that the way of most girls? My teen years certainly weren’t my best!  I felt awkward. My body had grown, sort of…but I still felt like a kid. I couldn’t quite figure it all out.  Molly always seemed to capture that beautifully and that’s why we loved her.  She could BE us. She could have been our best friend. I really did look up to her and for me, she was everything I aspired. (Although we were nearly the same age – another thing I loved about her movies. She wasn’t a twenty-five year old trying to look and act like she was sixteen.  She simply WAS sixteen.) Of course I say that with not just this particular movie in mind, I think that at least for me, I knew I was very much the sixteen year old that could be easily forgotten, but also the girl who admired “THAT” guy in high school – the one that never even remotely looked my way. I was also the girl who befriended some of the most interesting outcasts at school (I had friends who were so much like Ducky in Pretty in Pink that it’s scary.), and I was apparently from the wrong side of the tracks: something that never really bothered me that much in high school, but I knew I wasn’t from “The Hills”, either.  So Molly’s characters kind of collectively embodied everything that I knew, at least partly. (She did always end up with the guy though…which still fascinates me to this day.  :D)

For my son, it was/is just as easy to pick out why I usually loved the male characters in her movies so much. My son is a gamer. He feels completely out of it without his headset on and his computer live in front of him. (I can’t wait to see what withdrawals will be like during these next few weeks while we’re on vacation.) He’s never going to be the football player (even though he’s truly built to be one – to those who know him he has REALLY grown this year and he’s a big guy now!) or the big man on campus. He’s going to be living in the computer lab, and maybe someday he’ll actually notice that girls are for more than just annoying boys.  (I’m hoping that’s a little ways off though!) He doesn’t really care about what others think of him just yet, but I know he got the point when we were watching last night. I was never that fond of the guys who played the romantic “goal” for Molly, but I usually adored her sidekicks.  Michael Anthony Hall couldn’t have been any more perfect in Sixteen Candles. Braces (as my son currently wears), trying to dress as though he were part of the crowd when the only person he succeeded in fooling was himself – yet at the end of it all, he was just trying to find himself like any other kid his age. You can’t help but love him. Then there’s Jon Cryer in Pretty in Pink. He plays Ducky – and like I said, he was the coolest nerd ever. I had many a friend like him back in high school, and I would take a Ducky Any. Single. Day. over a Blaine in my real life. Actually, I sort of married a Ducky. 🙂 My son doesn’t romanticize quite as much as my oldest and I tend to do, because that is “…so girly and lame, Mom”, but I think he got the point.

For me as their parent though, I was silently very thankful for being able to share a little bit of what makes me…well…me…with them. I love my mom and dad dearly, but they never really spent the time watching old movies with me or things like that. Or maybe they tried and I just didn’t take an interest, I’m not really sure to be honest. I know that my dad had a wonderful childhood, even though he was truly poorer than dirt at times. He was on the football team in high school and had a great time. My mom on the other hand, did not have such a great childhood.  She doesn’t talk much about her time in high school (in fact she dropped out for a year then went back to finish – scandalous!!), she doesn’t like to say much about being a kid, much less talk about the bands she liked or things she saw back then. Me? I have to say that I adored being a kid. I have some fantastic memories from both junior high and high school.  I wasn’t at all “popular” – in fact I was in band during high school, which immediately branded me as one of the nerdy kids, but you know – I had a great time and I sure didn’t feel like a nerd or outcast. I just wasn’t a cheerleader, and that was just fine by me. (We actually made fun of THEM.)

I’m glad to be able to share some of my history with my children. I’m even happier that they seem so interested, even though I had to endure my husband’s groans and protests every single time something off-color was on the screen during the movie last night. (Like I said – PG means something completely different these days than it did back then I guess!) He’s a lot more reserved than I am. My kids think he’s a stick-in-the-mud, and I have to say – he kind of is these days. I’m a little more free-spirited with them. My husband finds fault with what I allow sometimes, but I figure it’s worth the kids seeing and doing a little more than I might have intended if it means letting them understand me a little better. I guess I really treasured being able to share that time with them, and I hope that they remember little moments like that as fondly as I do.

The real secret here is that I kind of think this movie will be something my daughter remembers forever. I saw the look of delight in her eye at the end of the movie when Samantha (Molly) and Jake (Michael) are kissing over the cake at the end. Yes, it’s completely schmaltzy, syrupy teenage love — and girls eat that up!  I sure did, and loads of other girls my age did as well. I hope she does remember it, and that someday she takes the time to share it with her kids as well.  By that time, Duran Duran and I will probably be long gone, or at least we’ll all be in our Duranie retirement, but the legacy will live on forever.

-R

Return to Now

After the GMA appearance yesterday, I saw a flurry of posts from friends, both commending the performance of the band, and lamenting (if not panning) the interviewer for focusing on the band as though they’ve come straight from 1985 as though the band has done nary a thing since the chords of Rio or Girls on Film were recorded.

I have to be honest here, I didn’t think too much about the interview.  I don’t know if it’s because I’ve gotten so used to the band being billed as a nostalgia act that I just don’t pay attention, or if it was because it was such a joy to see MOST of my favorites on TV for an interview that I just didn’t hear what the interviewer was saying. (I’ll just say it: it’s time to include Dom in the band. He’s been around a long time and he looks like he belongs there anyway at this point. I don’t care. Send me all the hate mail you’d like…call for my public flogging. I’m going on vacation in a few days anyway, so I’m throwing caution to the wind!)  Where was I?  Oh yes, the interview.  It was only later in the day when I watched it again that I really took notice of just how intent she (Lara Spencer) was to stick to the past.  I winced a bit when she asked them how it was to get back together after thirty years, and then I had to remind myself that this was not 2003.  It wasn’t even 2005, or even 2007.  It’s 2012.  Their latest album has been out for over a year now.  She even mentioned it herself when she commented that it hit #1 on iTunes. (I’m going to be even more honest here, I don’t care if it hit that on iTunes for 30 damn seconds, I’m glad the band holds on to that.  All You Need is Now is SO worthy of that number one spot and I’ll never stop being proud of them for writing such a fantastic album.)  I just don’t understand why the press is so apt to ignore the present when it comes to Duran Duran.

Do we still live in times of backlash when it comes to this band?  Sure, they have worn and occasionally still wear make up.  Name bands who don’t at this point in time.  There’s not many.  Yeah, they’re still good looking. (thank goodness!!)  Yep, their fans are still primarily female, although there are more than a few really good men out there that love their music as much as I do.  I’m lucky to count several of them as my friends, actually!  Does that really all add up to discounting them to nostalgia?  Here’s the real question: what about their music???  When does that actually count for something?

Sometimes, I stop and wonder if any of this bothers the band.  I mean, it was one thing to be a pop idol back in the 80’s. I’ve read enough to know that the band never minded being idols to their fans, they wanted to be famous and they were willing to do whatever it took for that to happen.  (Goal successfully reached!)  I have to believe that at some point, they were hoping to be known for more than just making young girls scream.  Sure, we fans have grown up and while we might all still scream for more when we see them live on stage, their music resonates.  While we fans take them seriously (and still have fun all the while), it would seem   at least to me that the press never has.  Do you think that bothers them?

I suppose the band can either fight it or embrace it and continue to work towards whatever personal goals they have on their own. While I sit here writing and contemplating, I recognize that the press can be very much like a tidal wave, and sometimes it’s just better to let the wave do it’s thing and help you get places in the long run than fight mother nature.

While that method seems to work for the band, I know I’m not alone when I say that as a fan – it’s really tough to sit back and see the hard work of thirty years diminished to a few shining moments that happened decades ago.  It’s difficult not to feel personally affronted, and yet if it doesn’t bother the band, perhaps we need to take our cue from them.  They certainly didn’t write All You Need is Now (single) with absolutely nothing in mind.  It really is all up to us to find ourselves in the moment.  It’s never really been about what the press or critics have said about them, it’s been about you and I…and the band.

-R

Pictures, rules and nostalgia

Lately I’ve been reading books about MTV.  I already finished one, and I’m starting a couple more this week, all of which will likely be used as some sort of research for the blog and book writing.  I must admit, the reading has been wonderfully nostalgic thus far.  I love reading the tidbits about various videos I haven’t seen in years (and then looking them up on YouTube to refresh my memory!), and I suppose that reading has gotten me in a bit of a mood to think back a bit.

As I was getting ready for the day this morning, for some reason I thought about pictures, or rather, my lack of pictures with the members of Duran Duran.  I have a dear friend here in California who “obsession” (so to speak) is to go to the various award shows – Golden Globes, Oscars, etc.  Yesterday were the SAG awards, and I’m sure I’m due an email with her photo file from the night.  She’s attended several awards now, gone to the after parties and things, and has pictures with everyone from Brad Pitt to John Stamos.  I’m always astonished when she sends me her latest photos from the award shows, and I’m pretty sure every single time I see them (and giggle over them with her) I yelp “I can’t even believe you have a photo with _____________, I’ve been a fan of Duran Duran for 30 years now and don’t have a single one with ANY of them!!!”  To which she always says, “I know.  What IS your problem, Rhonda?”  (good question.  I’ve no single answer to that.)   She was highly disappointed with me after my return from the UK, as she had put me on notice that I wasn’t to return to the US without at least one photo.  I failed miserably.

As I thought about that lack of pictures, I remembered that for me – it was only just after the reunion that I’d ever gotten a picture (that I had taken on my own camera) of ANY of them.  Back in the 80’s & 90’s, I couldn’t really attend many concerts – just one in 1989 and then another in 1993, and in those days – cameras weren’t really allowed into the venues.  Sure, people probably snuck them in, but I never did.  I took “no cameras” to be gospel, and followed the rules.  I’m a good kid, but being well-behaved never got anyone anywhere, did it?  I still have a hard time “breaking” rules to this day, which explains why I still do not have pictures with the band.  I don’t go hanging out waiting for them outside of theater doors, I refuse to intrude on their privacy after the shows….and as a result tons of my friends have photos with them that I do not.  You’d think I’d learn.

It wasn’t until after the reunion at a show in San Diego at 4th and B theater that I ever took pictures at a concert.  I remember that night, being SO thrilled that my husband snuck a disposable camera into the theater (actually, I’m not even sure if he had to sneak it…but he kept it tucked into his jacket all the same), and just before the show, presented it to me.  I think I genuinely squealed when I saw it.  When the band came on stage, I couldn’t get very good shots, so my husband started taking the pictures for me – and that practice of his being the photographer while I’m enjoy the show continues to this very day.  I was so excited to see those pictures – I remember taking the camera to have the pictures developed, and when we got the photos back, I was shocked at how lousy they were.  A disposable camera just didn’t do the band justice.  That said, I proudly scrapbooked the pictures, and still have the doubles somewhere.  After that, it became standard to take a camera to the show, and I worked harder and harder at getting good pictures.  For a while I took my good Canon Rebel (both the film and the digital SLR’s…at different times of course) to the shows, but then security started to tighten up on cameras, and I was told a couple of times that it was a professional camera.  I laugh about that, because if they saw my pictures – they’d no I’m no professional.  In any way. At. All.  That said, I stopped bringing the big Canon after the Voodoo show because I got tired of carrying it around.  I use a small Canon point and shoot now, and I’ve learned to take pictures during my “less than favorite” songs.  I’ll let you all guess which ones those might include…

Speaking of nostalgia, one of the things I’ve always wondered about nearly constantly since I was ten or eleven and first discovered the band was what it must be like (or been like) to actually live in England and have more access to the band.  Here in the states, we had relatively little unless they were touring or were here doing press.  We didn’t live near them on a daily basis, and so naturally we didn’t have quite the same familiarity with them as other fans might in England.  No matter how often I talk to fans from the UK, I just think it’s nearly impossible to really get a good sense of what it must have been like to be able to hop on the tube and get to their studios or homes. (even though we all know that the information might have been difficult to come by unless you knew whom to talk with…)  Well, my friend Michelle kept a diary of her Duran Duran adventures back in the 80’s.  She’s used this diary to begin her own blog, and I encourage everyone to go visit and read!  I found myself giggling away while reading this morning…and as soon as I’m finished blogging, I’m going back for more.

You can find The Duran Diaries here.  Read away!!

I know that often times, there’s a sort of rivalry…implied or otherwise…between the US and UK fans.  The fact is, we have had very different experiences from one another.  There is plenty of joy, exasperation, excitement and even moments of disappointment, to be shared amongst all of us.  It’s my hope that those who read Daily Duranie and the Duran Diaries can embrace all of what is offered without judgement.

Happy Monday everyone!  
-R

Happy 25th Birthday Notorious!

I must apologize for the SUPER lateness of today’s blog.  Life has been BEYOND crazy for me lately.  On top of teaching full time, I have been volunteering in a political campaign.  This is really more than a volunteer job as it has become so time consuming that I have worked enough this week to make it a full time job!  Of course, I’m also trying to get ready for my trip to the UK, which is coming up quickly!  Cannot wait!!!  Despite my hectic schedule, I have seen a few people mentioned today’s anniversary/birthday.  25 years ago today the album, Notorious, was released. 

I can think back to going to the local “mall”‘s record store after the album was released.  How excited I was!!!!  A new Duran Duran album!  My 11 year old self could *squee* with the best of them at this point!  I so looked forward to this album as it was going to be my oasis in a desert of lameness that I was currently calling home as my family had moved from the Chicago suburbs to this small town in Illinois.  I was “desperate for something new.”  You see this town felt so incredibly backwards to me.  It did not have top 40 radio (where Duran and others were constantly played) and it did not have MTV.  I felt so completely lost there for such a long time.  I clung to Duran then.  Their music reminded me of “home” and the best friend that I had left behind who was also a Duranie.  I didn’t care that no one in this dumb town knew or cared who they were.  They were my favorite band and that’s all that mattered to this opinionated pre-teen! 

Despite my focus on Duran, I couldn’t help but notice that there were changes surrounding the band and their fans.  I knew that Andy and Roger had left.  I was able to shake that off without too much of a problem as Andy never seemed interesting to me then and I had no opinion about Roger.  I was all about John then (I’m sure you couldn’t have figured that out!).  Thus, if John was still in the band, it was fine.  I suppose it was good to have Simon, too, since he had the voice.  Nick didn’t matter to me one way or another.  I was an optimist and was able to ignore all of those articles and interviews surrounding the return of Duran that openly wondered if Duran would still be able to cut it without Roger and Andy.  Didn’t they see that Duran was stronger than that?  Didn’t they know how much the band mattered to me and others?  Of course, they would survive!  They would not only survive but be better off!  I know that is what the guys said many times in interviews during that time period.  Yet, looking back, you can tell that they were trying to convince themselves as much as the rest of the world.  I was, too.  I ignored the little voice in the back of my mind that said that things were not as rosy as I wanted them to be.

I knew that there were changes and I was prepared to accept them.  What I wasn’t prepared for was watching people and friends walk away.  I saw them not believing what the band was saying about being better than before.  I saw how confused they all were by Power Station and Arcadia.  Heck, I remember distinctly having a conversation with my best friend at the time about how she was taking all her Duran posters down because they were no longer cool.  I remember being shocked by this.  I didn’t understand how she could so easily abandon them.  I also remember feeling sad that I would no longer be able to share Duran with her.  We wouldn’t have this interest between us.  It also meant that I now seemed to stand on the side of the road that was marked, “uncool”.  As much as this bothered me, I wouldn’t let go of my fandom.  I couldn’t.  They were helping me survive.

Obviously, a lot of time has gone by.  Duran has seen a lot more changes, including the return of Roger and Andy.  Andy has also left again.  Was Duran better in 1986 than in 1984 or in 1982?  I don’t think so, but they couldn’t be.  They had suffered serious losses of not only band members but also of their managers.  I remember hearing in an interview that they had lost their innocence then.  I think that is true.  They did.  I could relate, though.  I, too, had experienced losses.  I had to leave my best friend and my hometown.  I had left a culture I was familiar with and liked, one that was urban and diverse, to one that was rural and lacked diversity in all forms.  I was also growing up at the time and there is always much hardships then.  Did I really think that my life was better in 1986 than in 1984?  No way.  I did believe like Duran in that I was going to be better.  I thought that, too.  I just needed to survive the new town and I would be better, cooler. 

Duran survived, too.  They survived their losses and have been able to manage at least 25 more years in the music business.  While I don’t know that Notorious is the best Duran album, it is still important.  It marked the beginning of a new era for Duran, one in which they survived and showed that they were committed to keep going.  Thus, Notorious should be celebrated for what it was.  It told the world that they didn’t end and that they were going to keep going for a long time.  It showed that they had weathered this really horrible storm.  They might not be as perfect but they were still there and that is what mattered most.  I discovered the same thing by the time I left that new town of mine.  I wasn’t the same person but I did survive and that is always worth celebrating.   

-A