Category Archives: personal stories

10 Years Ago: The Fan Only Show

Ten years ago, yesterday, Duran Duran played at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City.  This concert was open only to paid members of DuranDuranMusic, the band’s official fan community.  This show took place during the writing and recording of Red Carpet Massacre.  In some ways, I feel like this show was just a year or two ago, but, in other ways, it feels like a lifetime ago.  I learned a lot about the Duran Duran fan community.  On top of that, it represents not only that time period but also marks a dividing line in my personal fandom.

In 2007, a lot of Duranies were members of DuranDuranMusic.  The message board was busy all day and all night.  Threads had pages and pages of posts.  Posters had thousands of post counts.  Whenever anyone went to those boards, it was clear which fans were friends with each other and even, I dare say, which groups were more popular than others.  In saying that, I’m not criticizing anyone–just giving my observation.  When the band announced this fan only show, I felt nothing but excitement and determination to get there.  The fan community advertised the event as special, one time only.  Most fans I know desperately wanted to be there because  it seemed to be so special.  I was no different.

While my group was no where near popular or even known by many other fans, I still wanted to be a part of it.  Did I think that popularity within the fan community was tied, at least to some extent, to how many shows people went to?  Sure did.  I remember watching other fans in 2005 and 2006 going to tons of shows and they always seemed to have these amazing stories of their experiences.  I felt certain that attending this fan only show would provide me with my own story, so to speak.

I did have a story of sorts.  It focused on our sad attempt at getting VIP tickets.  My group, at that time, included Rhonda and myself and a friend of ours.  We needed three tickets.  The tickets were distributed by lottery.  When the results came up, two of us got regular general admission and the other got VIP floor.  Through trading and much communication with other fans, we were able to score three VIP balcony seats.  No, they were not as good as VIP floor.  Yet, we took what we could get.

Then, on the night of the show, we learned that many fans think that wearing the band’s t-shirt to a show is uncool as we got many unfriendly looks as we walked by.  We also learned that fans don’t always stick together after a show with many groups going off on their own despite any promises to get together afterwards.  This, of course, was all on top of a show that left a lot desired, which we have blogged about many times.  No matter one’s opinion about the show or about the album, it was clear that all was not happy in Duranland.  For our friend, it proved too much.  The fun had left her fandom.  She went to one more show but that was it.

After that show, things changed for me.  I chose to hold on to the fandom with every ounce of strength I could muster.  My friend, as stated earlier, left.  I wasn’t happy necessarily within Duranland as I saw flaws in the album and felt like it was unDuranlike.  I also recognized that others in the fan community didn’t see that.  Tensions were high and arguments were frequent.  I thought for sure that I would be the only one remaining as Rhonda not only struggled with RCM but also had a lot of real life stuff to contend with.  Thus, I did what I needed to go to get through it.

I went back to New York City to see one of the shows on Broadway.  (I went to the second night, the one in which Donald Trump was there.  Yippee.)  I needed to give the band a chance to fix what went wrong at the fan show.  They had to show me that they were going to put all of themselves into this new album cycle.  The performance at that show did just that and gave me strength to make it through the rest of the very divisive Red Carpet Massacre era.

Overall, the fan show ended the first part of my adult fandom.  The innocence I had for the fan community and for the band seemed to end.  Lucky for me, the strength of my friendship and my love for the band kept me in the fight until a new era dawned.

-A

“New Found Appreciation”: Influencing New Fans

Last week, I received a thank you card from my student teacher.  In it, she expressed her appreciation with everything thing she had learned during the semester, including the importance of laughter.  Apparently, I make a lot of jokes in my classroom.  Who knew?!  One other thing she learned to appreciate was Duran Duran.  I know.  What does Duran Duran have to do with teaching?  Nothing.  Since I was her cooperating teacher, she had no choice but to learn about Duran.  I played the entire Rio album, for example, on its anniversary.  In order to test new equipment, I played some Duran videos.  The band provided the background to grading semester finals.

She told me that she knew some of their music but was not super familiar with them.  More to the point, what she learned about the band make her like the band more than she did.  Does that mean that  she is a fan now?  I don’t know if the new appreciation will translate to that, but it might.  I did my best or…could I have done something more?

At some point, I did a blog about which songs should be played to try to get new fans but now, after my student teacher and the book, “The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy,” I wonder if I went about it in the wrong way.

The book has an entire section entitled Resistance Is Futile:  Converting Your Friends to Fangirls.  Here are the suggestions the author listed and my thoughts about each one of them:

Ease into it.

The recommendation here is simple.  Don’t mention the history of a fandom, that’s too intense, too intimidating.  Instead, one should keep it fun by sending pictures or something light.  What do I think about it?  I’m not sure.  On one hand, I can see why the history might be a bit much or make it seem like there is no way that someone could jump into the fandom right now.  Yet, I think there is a way to acknowledge the awesome history but also showing that one can join.  For example, I might say, “It is pretty cool.  Duran formed in 1978, almost 40 years ago and have thousands of fans.  Yet, because they are still writing new albums and touring, new fans can jump in at any point.”  Then, I might send a fun live clip.

Play human recommendation engine.

The advice here is really easy.  Suggest something you know your friend would like.  In our case, if someone likes more ballads play that person “Save a Prayer”.  If they like more rock, I might choose “Careless Memories”.  It is important to know what the potential Duranie likes, music wise.

Discover something together.

The idea here is to find a fandom together.  Okay.  Cool.  Not an option for me with Duran.  Maybe another band?  Although, I can’t really see me liking another band to the same extent that I like Duran.  Goodness.

Make it a party.

The suggestion here is to have a party and invite a bunch of people.  I do have Duran parties but would I really invite non-Duranies to it?  I’m not sure.  Would they be bored?  Feel out of place?  Wouldn’t that be just like the first recommendation where everyone else has a lot of experience and knowledge that the newbie(s) don’t?!  Maybe I would do that if the person is now a fan but not quite to Duranie status to push them over to the dark…I mean Duran side.

Give the gift of fandom.

The author says that giving gifts about your fandom that you think the person will like can work.  Okay.  I have about 20 million copies of Paper Gods that I could give as gifts.

Don’t get defensive.

If someone doesn’t like your fandom, don’t get defensive.  You can calmly explain that sharing a fandom does give a ton of fabulous experiences and friendships that you wouldn’t have otherwise.  I think it is important to realize that no matter what you share with the non-Duranie, s/he might not ever become a Duranie.  That is okay, too.

Overall, I do believe that it is GREAT to have friends who are Duranies.  It definitely makes fandom WAY more fun and provides a great foundation to a friendship.  That said, it can also be tough when a friend who was once a Duranie is no more or when someone you thought was on her/his way to being a Duranie changes her/his mind.  Sometimes, that really affects friendships, even though no one wants it, too.  So, word to the wise.  Have fun with trying to create a new Duranie but don’t get disappointed when it doesn’t work or doesn’t last.

-A

 

The Concert Ticket Buying Experience

Yesterday afternoon, while I was in the midst of grading the last set of semester finals (woohoo!), my partner-in-crime posted a video on our Facebook page.  Immediately, people watched and expressed not only how entertained they were from it but also shared stories indicating that they related to it.  What video did Rhonda share?  What was it about?  How come so many could relate to it?  I’ll tell you this much–if you have bought concert tickets online, you will appreciate it.  Click on the link below and watch it.  Trust me.

When You Are Trying to Buy Concert Tickets Online:

https://www.facebook.com/thebragsydney/videos/1539565626056578/

Okay, people, who has purchased concert tickets online?  Raise your hands.  Don’t be shy.  Yeah, I’m willing to bet that most/many/a lot of you have.  I think you all know that I have.  Heck, I wonder how many blogs focus on the ticket buying experience, especially for those little ticket sales we call pre-sales.  So, what parts of this video can I relate to?  What parts are accurate?  Where do I start?!

Honestly, I could relate to SO much of this.  The person in the video definitely does a lot of talking aloud.  I’m not gonna lie.  I do the same when by myself going through the ticket buying process.  Self-talk isn’t a bad thing, correct?  Right from the beginning of this video, I found myself nodding with much agreement.  I refresh the ticket websites over and over again with 20 minutes before the tickets go on sale then 3 minutes before then 60 seconds.  Of course, I also usually spend time talking to friends about the plan especially if we are all trying to buy tickets.  This reminds me of the shows that we went to in March.  Rhonda bought for a show and I bought for a show.  Up until the time of purchase, I was so nervous that I would buy for the wrong day and we would end up with 4 tickets for Friday and 0 tickets for Saturday.  Luckily for us, it didn’t happen.

The ticket buyer’s feelings were right on, in my opinion.  I have uttered the phrase, “I have been dreaming of this concert for so long!”  Likewise, I have paid a lot more money than I probably should have all in the name of a concert “of a lifetime”.  Usually, for us, the phrase is a little different.  We are more likely to say that it is going to be the “tour of a lifetime” or “you never know when a tour will be the last tour” or “they might not tour for years after this”.  The sentiment is the really the same as are the tears of relief and joy once the tickets have been purchased.

One part of the video that I found especially entertaining is when the ticket buying does not go as planned.  In this case, the site wouldn’t load and the wi-fi wasn’t working well.  We have all experienced something similar when buying our tickets, especially when Ticketmaster is involved.  Just recently, when buying tickets for the San Francisco show, I couldn’t get the site to load on my computer and I ended up buying the tickets on my phone.  Like the video, I knew that I wasn’t the only one as I exchanged messages with a friend leading me to buy tickets for her, too.  Of course, like the video, the fear of having the show sold out or only having crappy seats left is real, my friends.

While I loved the heck out of this video, I do wonder about something.  Hmm..anyone else?  Why is a dude dressed in a wig and attempting to sound “like a girl”?!  Is the implication that only “fangirls” would respond this way to concert ticket sales?  Was the idea behind the video to mock female music fans?  I assume that the main character was also supposed to be young, probably a teenager since “she” lived with her dad and didn’t know her post code.

Perhaps, I’m assuming ill will where there is none.  Maybe the creators of this video just wanted to relate the concert ticket buying experience in a funny, relatable way.  That’s very possible.  That said, why not have a teenage girl or a teenage boy or…an adult woman in it?!  I think that still would have been funny.  Why not show multiple types of fans since we come in all ages and genders?  How hard is that?

-A

Find yourself in the moment

On Sunday, my husband and I went and visited my brother-in-law. He’s on an extended stay at the City of Hope, a world-renowned research hospital in Southern California. It is by far the best place for him. He finished a first round of very strong chemotherapy, hoping to kill off the cancer cells in his blood, and he’s in the hospital hoping that his numbers all come up so that he can go home, and then wait for a bone marrow donor match.  My family’s operating word right now is hope.

I was really nervous about going to the hospital. I hadn’t gone to see my brother yet, and finally on Sunday Walt suggested we go.  I must have come up with 50,000 reasons why I shouldn’t go.  In the end, the kids stayed home while Walt and I climbed into the car and made the trip. I tried to stay calm, but I could feel my nerves on edge. I hate admitting that. The White Coat Syndrome I’ve developed over the years has not lessened. It’s just unnerving to walk in to a hospital, particularly when you’re going to the hematology floor and you’ve got to slip on gloves and mask in order to visit a beloved family member. There’s no way to make that comfortable, and I’m just the visiting family member. I can’t imagine the one being in the bed.

I don’t remember what I said exactly after I’d fumbled to put on gloves that were two sizes too big (that’s what happens when you’re nervous and grab a pair of XL rather than M) and a face mask – backwards of course.  I stepped through the door and noted the sterile floor, the “brain” that controlled all of the different medicines and platelets that my brother was getting at the time. I mumbled something about how that room was the last place I expected to hang out with my brother-in-law.  He smiled easily, just as he usually does, and told me to relax.  He wanted to just to stay in the moment, forget about where we were or why, and just enjoy talking. And we did. While no, there was no ignoring the nurse coming in every few hours, or the big chart on the white board telling us all how his numbers are doing – everything from white blood cells to potassium being tracked with the hope of sending him home, I did find a way to relax. We truly visited, and my brother-in-law is a rock star.

He is doing so well. I mean, he is very sick and there’s no getting past that, but he looked really good for someone who is fighting for his life. He hasn’t lost his hair or his sense of humor, or his faith, for that matter (my BIL studied to be a pastor, and while it is not a passion I share, I fully respect his devotion). And we did talk about his illness and what may come.  We talked about how there is a time for questions about how he’s really doing, and a time to just enjoy the moment just like we would if we were wine tasting. For some reason, those words finally clicked with me. He was right.

We didn’t let the fact that he was sitting in a hospital bed stop us from laughing that day. Later in the day, my sister-in-law arrived and it was the four of us, laughing and joking around just as we normally would. It felt good, and normal, as strange as that sounds. I don’t think I looked at my phone much that day, because I was far too busy enjoying every single second I could sit in that chair and talk with my brother and sister.

Staying in the moment can be a really hard thing to do. I don’t know if it’s just a “me” thing or if everyone has a hard time with that – but I’m always thinking about where I need to be next. Admittedly, I have a really hard time putting down my phone and just focusing on what is in front of me. Oddly, the only time I don’t seem to struggle is when I’m at a Duran Duran concert, but it wasn’t always that way.  I can remember when bringing small cameras to the shows stopped being such a big deal – most venues allowed them. I took my camera to every show and spent a fair amount of time trying to take the perfect shots. And then one time – at the Sears Center show outside of Chicago in 2006 – I forgot my camera in the car. I didn’t take pictures and just enjoyed the concert. It was AMAZING. I enjoyed that show so much more, and yet I didn’t take a single picture to capture the memory. It is all in my head, down to the moment Dom came to center stage and played the opening melody to Ordinary World as our friend Sara leaned over and said “Welcome to the band, motherfucker.”  (Yes, we curse like sailors.) Oddly, it fit the moment.

From then on, my urge to reach down and grab the camera (or phone nowadays) shrank considerably. There are many shows when I don’t take a single picture. I would rather just dance, smile, laugh, and not have anything but the memories in my head when I leave.

I soak up every single second of those shows. I forget about the world outside, or what might happen the next day. I don’t think about work, or family, or stress. I just enjoy the music, the show, and the people – both those on the stage and off.  I’m starting to realize I sometimes need to experience real life that way too. There are times when I need to just put down the phone, or forget about what is going on at work, or what is going to happen tomorrow, and focus on the right here and now. Find yourself in the moment. I am still learning.

-R

 

In This Place You Made

May is always an interesting time for me.  It is the end of the school year.  This means that the way life is right now will end soon, never to be quite the same again.  I think about my classes and the kids who come in on a daily basis to hang out.  Next year, I’ll have new kids with different kids popping in and out of my classroom.  Some of my colleagues will remain the same and others will change.  The end of the school year almost always means that I stop, look around and think about my life a bit.  I take stock.

One element that I have to acknowledge is my fandom and this place.  Most of the time, I don’t even really think of this blog.  It is just part of my daily routine.  There isn’t much questioning on my part.  No “should I still be writing this blog” or “should I take a break”.  Unlike my paid gig where I do take the time to look around, think about how things are and how they will be, I don’t here.  Maybe, I should, though.

Rhonda and I have been writing this blog for six and a half years.  We have created over 3,000 posts and have had hundreds of thousands of page views.  That is pretty remarkable, isn’t it?  While we have taken some time away for various reasons, for the most part, we have posted something daily.  On top of that, I look at the Duran fandom and see plenty of what we do here replicated, including Duran history or surveys.  Clearly, we have readers who check out what we write on a  daily basis and still others who read a few posts a week every week.

Beyond the statistics of the blog, I think about what it has meant to me.  On one hand, it has become a diary of sorts.  I have discussed many personal issues on this blog from political campaigning to my job to my parents’ health.  This diary has also captured the band’s history in the last six years.  Just the other day, Rhonda mentioned about the 2011 shows that had to be cancelled due to the fact that Simon lost his voice.  We documented that here.  In fact, we have documented two album releases and many tours, at this point.  Have we captured every single thing?  Of course not but we have talked about quite a bit.

Fandom is an interesting element in someone’s life.  For me, I have had some fandoms my whole life.  Those fandoms including Star Trek and the White Sox, represent my family, my childhood.  They are like comfort foods or a security blanket.  I feel safe when I think about them.  Then, there are the fandoms that I participated in for awhile that might have brought me great times and good friends but couldn’t last.  Duran Duran fandom, though, is in a category all by itself.  While it has existed in my life for decades, it is not as old as my family connected ones.  Like the short term fandoms, it has brought me amazing times and experiences along with good friends.  Yet, it has been so much more than all of those others combined.  It has a grasp on my heart and soul that the others don’t come close to.

When I think about why this fandom matters so much to me, I consider the history I have with being a Duranie.  Memories of tours, conventions and friends pop in my head.  I immediately think of all of the tremendous shows I have been fortunate enough to attend.  Yet, this blog is a big part of the picture, too.  It has kept me grounded into this fandom in a  way that all of the other elements of the fandom could not.  It keeps me always thinking about Duran.  I’m forced to pay attention to what the band is doing even when I’m distracted by real life or other concerns.  Some of you might view what see this as an unfun responsibility, but I don’t.  I’m thankful for it.  The blog allowed me to really commit to a fandom that I love more than words can ever show.

I don’t know what my fandom would have been like without this blog.  Maybe I would have walked away at some point.  Perhaps, I wouldn’t remain as involved or I would have dived deep into something else.  On top of that, I’m proud of what Rhonda and I have created here.  I think that 6.5 years is pretty impressive.  To be honest, I’m not sure where or when it would ever end either.  No, this blog and this fandom of mine are truly lifelong commitments.

-A

Newcastle show canceled, 2011. Do you remember??

On this date in 2011, some of the longest “waiting” of my life began. Duran Duran was to play the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle that evening, and was the first show to be canceled during the All You Need is Now tour.  Here’s the original announcement from DDHQ:

(from duranduran.com) Singer Simon Le Bon has today been diagnosed with a throat infection that is forcing the band to postpone their Newcastle Arena show that was scheduled for tomorrow, May 18. All fans should hold on to their tickets. Details of the rescheduled date will be forthcoming within the next couple of days.

I can remember hearing about this show being canceled. I can still feel the shock waves that reverberated through my body when my friend called to tell me the bad news that day. Every one of my hairs stood on end and I really didn’t know what to do.

Amanda and I, along with two of our friends, were to fly to the UK to see shows in Birmingham, Nottingham, Liverpool and London.  We were leaving in less than 48 hours for what was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime. I had an afternoon flight from LAX on the 20th and would arrive in London the 21st. I’d meet Amanda and the rest of our friends that day and we booked a car to drive us to Birmingham. We would stay at the Birmingham Malmaison in a very fancy suite that we’d spent a bundle to book, and continue on from there. It was going to be the second time I’d been to the UK, and the first time I’d ever flown outside the country without Walt. For me, the trip was huge.

I stood there by my stairs, listening to my friend rant on and on about what my choices were and whether or not she thought I should still “chance it” and make the trip. All I could do was stand there, bite my nails, and hope it was a one-time thing and that Simon would be fine for the next show, which was in Glasgow the following day.

Of course, it wasn’t. The next day, it was announced that Glasgow would be canceled. I was to leave the very next day, and this was about the time I began to panic.  I think I kind of knew our shows would be canceled, but I held out hope until the following day, literally minutes before I left my house. My bags were packed and I was waiting for my husband to arrive home to take me to LAX so I wouldn’t have to leave my car.  I believe I got a phone call from one of our friends, who alerted me to the latest announcement from Duran Duran, canceling the next three shows….all three of which I was supposed to attend.

I remember thinking about what my options were that day, but my husband quickly quelled any plans I had to stay home. “You’ve already got your plane ticket. You’re going.” I knew he was right. It was a lot to give up, and at the time, there was still that London show. It was possible he’d be able to do that, right? I gathered my things, made my flight and hoped for the best.

As we all know, the entire UK tour was canceled, so no – London didn’t happen. It was months before Simon was in the clear and able to perform again. The trip itself was good, but strange. In some bizarre way, I think going over there and experiencing the cancellation with people who understood how I felt was oddly comforting. Amanda and I tried our best to make the trip fun, and parts of it were. For me personally, the trip was cathartic. I can say that I came back home as a completely different person. A totally different fan.

I’m still annoyingly critical, sarcastic and judgmental. I still make plenty of rookie errors when dealing with the public. But, the love I have for Duran Duran is far, far different now. I think that trip made me see them as humans. Finally. Not every fan wants that. Some want to keep the band on their pedestal as perfect, mystical beings. That’s fine. It just wasn’t the path I wanted. I can’t say it’s helped with my writing or even the blog (I have still upset fans in the past and will likely do so again at some point), but I think maybe the trip gave me a little more perspective.

Later that year, Amanda and I went back, this time seeing shows and experiencing all that a Duran Duran tour in the UK had to offer. The memories from that trip are wonderfully happy and I’m glad I went back. However, the trip that taught me the most was the one that didn’t go as planned. Maybe there’s something to that.

-R

These words are like sand, just get blown away.

April and May are tough months for my family. On one hand, I’m delighted to celebrate the birthdays of my youngest, my best friend, and my sister. On the other, I tend to get a little melancholy when I think about my dad. It is the curse of losing a parent, and while I don’t dwell on it quite as much as I once did, admittedly – I still think about it. My dad would not be pleased, and I can almost hear his stern admonishment to focus on LIVING. So I try.

This year, in fact just last week, my family got some fairly devastating news. My brother-in-law has been diagnosed with Leukemia. He is 51, and we are very close. He is the big brother I never had. His wife is my husband’s sister, and our children (aside from my youngest) are very close in age. We have gone on numerous vacations and trips together, and have even talked about moving somewhere together to retire. Aside from Amanda, his wife is my closest friend, just to give you some context of what they mean to me, personally.

Many within my BIL’s family share an unfortunate genetic defect that makes them susceptible to Leukemia. His mother passed away from the disease about 8 years ago, and it would appear that it is now my BIL’s turn to fight. We all knew that it would come to this eventually, but I never thought it would happen so soon.

Why am I writing all of this? Well, we all get strength from different places, I guess…and right now, I feel pretty helpless. He’s in the hospital and will be for at least a month. Overall, the news is not great. He has some complications that make it all trickier than necessary, and there really isn’t much that can be done except to wait, think positive thoughts, and hope. I’m terrible at most of that. So, I’m writing. I need strength.

Ridiculously, I thought that after my dad passed away that I probably wouldn’t have to endure that kind of pain again for a long, long time. I don’t know what I was thinking. My mom is still alive, and she’s healthy. I figured as long as she didn’t get sick, everything would be fine. I never gave it much thought that anyone else would become ill. Ignorance and denial equal bliss, I suppose, and I was absolutely, blissfully, unaware.

When I first met my husband, it took him a long time to take me to meet his parents. Let’s just say his family is, well, tight-knit. The standard for significant others is very, very high. (No, I did not meet the standard. Surprise!) While the welcome mat wasn’t there for me at first, my brother-in-law has always been my ally. He took me under his wing, taught me the ropes, and pointed out some very hard truths to me when I needed them. Let’s just say my learning curve with the family was probably no less rocky than my learning curve with this blog and social media. <wide grin here>  It’s been a wild ride, and thankfully, my BIL knew what to say, how to reach out, and how to be a big brother.

My BIL is a Duran Duran fan, although he will admit that he prefers their earlier music (although he did love the first four or five songs on Astronaut).  He and I haven’t had a music chat session in a while, but he is about the only person in my family that genuinely knows the back catalog. He has versions of songs that I don’t have, and I love talking to him about music in general. He has the best vinyl collection from the 80s of anybody I know, and he has such a zest for life – it’s contagious.

A lot of people go through their pain privately. I envy those people in some ways because they tend to seem like they’ve got it together. Not me. I’m pretty much a “blurt it all out and take a deep breath afterward” type of person. My husband and his family are exactly the opposite. Stalwart, quiet, proper, and restrained. I hate it. No one talks, ever. I desperately need to talk. I wasn’t raised to be quiet. I’m Sicilian! So I come here. I blurt it out, and while it doesn’t fix the problem, it makes me feel just the tiniest bit better.

Given my choices of whom to talk to and when, I choose this blog and the people who read it. I can’t even say I know the majority of people who read each day. I don’t. I just know that when I have bad news, good news, or I need help – I come here. That says something about our community. We’re a family. A crazy, sometimes really dysfunctional and large family.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

-R

Leave Her Out Now She’s Having Fun

I know that I got the lyrics wrong in the title.  I did it intentionally since it is about me and I identify as a “she”.  The thing is that I’m looking forward to this weekend.  Heck, I look forward to every weekend.  I like the break from getting up early and not having to go to work or deal with teenagers.  Normally, weekends are my time to get caught up on whatever I didn’t get to over the week like…you know…sleep.  Good weekends mean that I have something to look forward and special weekend mean that the something is really good.  This weekend is one of those.

Before you ask, I’m not going on tour.  I wish but I will be thinking about that and will mention it again later.  It isn’t that special but it is pretty dang special.  I have a whole weekend of plans!  Shocking, I know!  Friday afternoon, I’ll go out and get a drink with my team at work.  I have to admit that I feel very lucky to have such fabulous people to work with.  They definitely make the day-to-day grind of teaching so much easier to deal with.  Then, I will come home and sleep.  I hope to sleep lots.

This will ensure me that I have energy for Saturday evening in which a number of people are coming to my place for some Duran games and viewing.  All of them have previously come by at some point or another to celebrate that Duran fandom.  I’m looking forward to all of the above for a good time with little thought to the “real world” and what tasks await me.  Let’s be real.  If I can’t be actually on tour, this is the next best thing.  I can’t think of anything I like more than sitting around, watching, talking Duran with other Duranies.  Those nights remind me of why I’m a fan and how amazing they are.

Why so much going on in one weekend, you might wonder.  Simple.  I guess you could say that I’m celebrating being on planet earth (pun…totally intended) for another year.  Of course, when I think about what I wish a few things pop up in my head.  I might wish to know Duran’s complete schedule when it comes to the rest of this year and next.  It would really help Rhonda and I plan.  Heck, I would be happy just to know about this summer.  When might the band be arriving in California?  Where might they be staying?  I know…I’m not asking anything big, right?  Here’s another idea.  I might request a slight change in the setlist.  Planet Earth, anyone?  A little Careless Memories?  Perhaps, an additional song or two might fit, something like Late Bar.  Now, that I’m asking, I wouldn’t regret a proper meet and greet.  Would anyone?  Ha…a woman can dream, can’t she?

While I certainly wouldn’t reject any of those (I’m not crazy!), I would happily sacrifice any of those if it meant that democracy could be secured or world peace could be guaranteed.  Selfishly, I would trade any of those in to ensure that my parents would be healthy and strong now and for decades to come.  I would love for my friends and family to be healthy and happy, even if that means that I don’t get any of those mega gifts.  Really, when I look at my life and this year on the planet, the one thing I keep coming back to is that I was lucky to have it and hopefully, I get to enjoy another one(s)!

-A

 

I’ve Been a Fan For How Long???!?

Last Sunday, Duran Duran celebrated a little anniversary.  The Reflex  was released 33 years ago that day.  33?!  Rhonda often talks about how she cannot believe that this song or this album was released decades ago and I’m right there with her.  In this case, this anniversary represents my personal anniversary.  I mark it as the date that I became a fan, a Duranie.  33 years ago.  I work with teachers who are younger than that.

Anyway, why does this particular song represent my embrace of Duranie-ness?  Simple.  While I remember liking many of their songs and videos before this one, the Reflex pushed me over the edge into obsession.  I couldn’t get enough.  I had to watch each time that the video played.  In fact, whenever I saw the video I had to call my best friend at the time and vice versa.  At our sleepovers, we were glued to Friday Night Videos and MTV in hopes that it would air.  We saw it so often that we learned all the moves.  In fact, I think I have a picture of my friend doing one of Simon’s classic dance moves.

When I think back to my childhood and doing things like memorizing moves or rewinding videotapes in order to pause when John Taylor turns to the camera, I can’t help but sit shaking my head a bit.  It is not that I think we did anything wrong or that we demonstrated our fandom in an obnoxious way.  It is more like I wish I could go back in time to see how I experienced my fandom then.  I have memories of it and some of them are very vivid, including the ones I shared here.  Part of me wishes that I could go back to that time when that love for Duran was so new and so amazing.

I always think of new fandom as being like that  “honeymoon phase” of a new relationship when you can’t get enough and no wrong is done.  It feels perfect.  As an adult, I now see the imperfections of both the band, the fans and even myself.  That flawless image cannot remain, just like it never does in a relationship either.  No one is perfect and fandom is not either.

The other part of myself wants to give some insight to the young, almost 9 year old me.  I want to warn, almost, the younger version of me about how media and others will criticize Duran Duran.  They will attempt to be the thumbtacks to my fandom balloon.  Perhaps, I would explain how as time goes on, changes happen.  Bands evolve and experience change.  Some of it will sting a bit but that the heart of Duran Duran will continue to beat on for decades.  I would want to ensure my younger self that I’m not wrong for becoming a Duranie.  Some points I might make include about their staying power and about the fabulous songs they wrote and performed after the current Seven and the Ragged Tiger album.

Beyond the band, I might point out where fandom took me personally.  Maybe, I would talk about the states and countries I have visited just to see the band live or about all of the friends I have made as a result.  Then, if my younger self handled all of that, I might share the fact that I have written a daily blog with my best friend about being a Duran fan for years.  Many years.

What do I think my younger self would say to all of this?  I imagine that I wouldn’t be shocked that the band has been around for decades.  I might laugh and say something like, “Of course they will be around!  Duh!”  As far the concert going goes, my 9 year old self would have struggled with that more.  After all, at that point, I hadn’t attended a single concert.  I could imagine that I would have questions and a couple of exclamations!  “Do you dance like the audience did in the Reflex?  Do you sing along?  What is it like to breath the same air as them?  I probably would pass out if I was anywhere near them.  Is John as cute as he looks?”  Then, my older self could blow my younger self’s mind when I tell her/me about how I have pictures of the band, that I have spoken to them and seen them up close.

As far as the blog goes, my younger self definitely would have been confused by that idea.  After all, I would not know anything about the internet for another decade.  Overall, though, I think I would have been in awe.  Jealous.  I would have been excited to grow up and have the experiences I shared.  After this conversation, the adult me, the real me might have remembered the feeling of pure joy and innocence that exists in brand new fandom.  Then, I will think about the love that can and does grow over time.  It isn’t despite the imperfections but because of them.  Fandom isn’t perfect and either is the band.  What it is, though, is mine.  I don’t mean that in a possessive, I’m the only one sort of way.  Just that Duran is a part of me, part of my history and always will be. Maybe, someday, I’ll be writing about my 43rd or 53rd anniversary of being a Duranie.  That might be just as cool as talking to my younger self.

-A

Lost Souls Diamonds and Gold

One of my favorite scenes in Duran’s Sing Blue Silver documentary is when John Taylor is woken up to do an interview.  During that interview, he comments about how the tour (he is referring to the 1984 one) was “never an assured tour”.  I always took this to mean that the band didn’t really know how the tour was going to go.  Would the fans show up?  How would they react?  No matter how many times I see that scene, I find myself shaking my head.  How could they not know?  Of course, the fans would show up and love it!  Duh!

Yet, this past weekend, that quote floated through my brain quite often.  After all, I, too, felt that way before this past little mini-tour of ours at Agua Caliente.  I didn’t know how it was going to go, which was weird and felt very odd.  In the days leading up to going, I found myself struggling to get excited in the same way that I normally do.  Yes, I looked forward to it but it wasn’t the usual jumping out of my skin in excitement.  Was I losing my Duranie touch?  Looking back, I think it had more to do with me.

Life hasn’t felt very friendly lately.  I lost a lot of motivation for many things and to be honest, my friendship with Rhonda felt strained.  I couldn’t pinpoint anything specific but we were distant from each other due to lack of time, lack of effort, and lack of understanding.  I knew this going into the tour.  In fact, I told some people that I fully expected this to be my last one  This wouldn’t be because I wouldn’t have fun or because my love for Duran would end.  I just thought that maybe it had run its course or it would seem like too much effort.

As the weekend began, I told myself to have no expectations other than having fun.  The weekend didn’t have to be perfect (whatever that even means) to be great, I figured.  If you read or watched our blogs last weekend and beyond, you are well aware that the weekend definitely exceeded my expectations.  The shows were so much fun.  While, yes, I grumbled and complained about the lack of Planet Earth, I didn’t let that tick me off (too much).  I figured that it gave me permission to give them a hard time back, right???  I sang.  I danced.  I screamed.  It was glorious.  Yes, I wished that we had at least 18 songs and, yes, I wish that Sunrise or Careless Memories or Planet Earth was on the setlist.  Instead of complaining or wishing for something else, I appreciated the heck out of Only in Dreams and Is There Something I Should Know?.

Then, there was everything surrounding the shows.  I loved having drinks with friends, seeing people I only see at Duran functions and being reminded that everyone connected to Duran makes a community, a family of sorts.  I got to know people better and I got to meet people for the first time.  And, yes, I was reminded of why Rhonda and I tour so well together as we were the last ones standing on both nights.  Perhaps, there is also a lot less vodka in the resort after we had been there (along with our fellow vodka drinking friends!).

Of course, Rhonda and I had a chance to talk as well, which was much appreciated and needed.  I feel confident that the conversation reminded us both to be supportive of each other even if we don’t always understand the other’s choices.  Since then, things have felt very normal, which is so nice.  So much has not felt normal for me for a long time.  I have been focusing on fighting to keep the normal as I feared that many changes, significant and negative ones, would be coming down the pike.  While I don’t regret that and embrace that part of myself that must fight back, I must also remember what is part of my normal, what I am working to keep.  My normal means that Duran Duran and fandom plays a significant part.  It includes touring when and where I can.  Having fun is necessary to keep going during the less than fun times.

The weekend, the mini-tour, reminded me that I can wear more than one hat at a time.  In fact, it is required.  I remembered how much fun touring is and why my friendship with Rhonda matters as much as it does.  It gave me motivation to keep working on a dream, in one way, shape or form.  I don’t know that I can say that the weekend was perfect or the best tour, but it really was damn good.  Even better, it didn’t even end before I started to plan for the next one.  That is the ideal way to be, isn’t it?  Lost souls diamonds and gold, indeed.

-A