Category Archives: personal stories

How we became fans!

As a fun little aside to the normal day-to-day, Amanda and I decided to each tell our story about how we became fans.  Yes, that means we’re subjecting the rest of our little blog-reading world to our lovely little tales.  Today it’s my turn, tomorrow it will be Amanda’s.  Enjoy!

Back in 1981, I was an awkward little tween by just about anyone’s description.  No, I didn’t wear glasses and I didn’t have braces, but I had the biggest hair ever (and not because it was the style, but because I didn’t know enough to use conditioner and contain the frizz!), I wasn’t allowed to wear make up yet, I had zero…and I mean ZERO… fashion sense, and I was in 6th grade.  I was a young 6th grader in that I had only just turned eleven by the time January 1, 1981 rolled around.  As I’ve mentioned previously in lots of other blogs, my musical taste was pretty limited.  I cut my chops, so to speak, on Disney records (give it up for Winnie the Pooh and Disney Disco albums my friends!!) and a few K-Tel compilation efforts.  I did have brief, fleeting affairs with Shaun Cassidy (I always wondered what the lipstick on the coffee cup for his “Room Service” album was all about…) and Rick Springfield (I was a sucker for the dog, what can I say?), but all in all, I didn’t really have the first clue.  Or the second!

Being rather young, I felt like I was miles behind most of the girls in my grade at school.  While they were all pouring themselves into their Jordache jeans and Vans….I was still wearing Dittos and whatever shoes my mom could find on sale at Gemco.  They were holding hands with boys in the hallway, and I was wondering why they’d want to touch them.  Then there were the ones who liked to glue their faces to the boys. (I always wanted to know what the “Wanna suck face?” pins were about and why anyone would seriously want to do that!)  Suffice it to say, I was way, WAY behind.  After school, I’d rush home to turn on General Hospital, do my homework, practice my clarinet and then turn on KROQ 106.7 to listen to music.  I was always intrigued by what I would hear, and I would sit there, wish I could be brave enough to ask my parents to take me to the record store over the weekend, and wonder what it must be like to be cool enough to actually buy records and have my own stereo in my ROOM.  This is no joke.  I was once a very pathetic tweenager, and now – I’m a pathetic parent, according to my two oldest.  😀

One evening, as I recall, KROQ would play the new music.  The DJ would make a big deal out of it and play a new record that no other radio station in the area would DARE play because it was so new.  They called it “New Wave”, and aside from that, I really didn’t know much other than I liked whatever they’d play.  On this one night, Rodney on the ROQ mentioned that he was playing a song from the new group, Duran Duran.  I remember thinking the name sounded so completely lame that no one would ever remember it.  Ha!  Live and learn….the stupid names tend to stick with you!  I turned the radio up as loudly as I could without drawing the attention of my parents, who were sticklers for my 8:30 bedtime and I was pushing it. (no that’s not a joke either.  I was 11 and had a bedtime earlier than my own 3 year old!)  I heard the beginning chords of Planet Earth, and I was immediately curious.  I loved the way the keyboards sounded, and it was clear to me right then that I needed to find out who this band was, and hear all of their music.  I remember going to the trouble of taping their song off of the radio with my super classy cassette player/stereo combo – that cassette was full of static, but you know – it was Duran Duran!  The next day I hurried through breakfast, grabbed my books and my clarinet, and set off to school earlier than normal.  I rushed to my locker, through my books in there and found my little group of friends – who were every bit as awkward as I – and told them about my new found interest.  Curiously enough, I wasn’t the only one listening to the radio that night.  My friend Marsha had also been listening, and it was agreed that I would spend the night at her house that Friday night, and we’d go to the record store in search of Duran Duran!

I’m sure it really was not that following Friday night, but at some point in the future, I did stay over at Marsha’s house, and at that point she introduced me to a show on TV that until then, I’d never stayed up late enough to see – Friday Night Videos.  It was on that show Duran Duran first appeared in our living rooms.  By then, I know we’d acquired Rio, and quite possibly the first album as well.  My memory is fuzzy of the details, but I can tell you that the very first video I saw of Duran Duran was Hungry Like the Wolf. That little memory nugget remains clear as a bell!  I was shocked by how primal and raw it all felt – and I was completely sucked in; hook, line & sinker!  After that, it’s a blur of going to Wherehouse records for any and all albums, singles, posters and even t-shirts we could find. (I had the white sleeveless t-shirt with their faces on the front and the “eye” symbol on the back)  I remember staying at Marsha’s house as often as I could in order to watch Friday Night Videos, squealing any time they played a Duran video, and going to the grocery store without fail every single Sunday morning with my mom so that she could go shopping and I could read all of the teen magazines. (Tiger Beat and Bop among them!)  Not long after Friday Night Videos started, Video One was on TV in the afternoon with Richard Blade, and I loved rushing home from school to watch.  My walls grew crowded with their pinups, and  at some point, I learned how to dress so that I wasn’t teased at school, and I finally found a hairstylist that was able to teach me the finer points of conditioning and good haircuts.  I’ll even let you in on a little secret – my mullet was WAY cooler than Simon’s ever was!  ;D

I don’t really think my story is much different from anyone else, but it’s a good memory.  I still smile when I think of how excited I’d get when I’d hear them on the radio, or how giggly I’d get when Marsha and I would watch them on TV. I even remember sitting with her when they did their infamous press conference right before the Sing Blue Silver tour – I think that was at the Roxy theater in LA or something. (yes, that’s how “good” of a fan I am, I can remember what is said at certain press conferences, but never where they were held or what they were for.  Sue me.) Regardless, it was the one where they talked about how Roger had “two hands” for his.  We laughed a LOT. I think that’s part of what made Duran Duran so fun – I shared it with my group of best friends, and we spent a lot of time laughing at the band’s expense.  Not entirely unlike how it is today, actually.  (sorry guys!)  In all that time, it never occurred to me that in 30 years, I’d still be listening to the band, still getting excited when they’d be on the radio…or even going to shows overseas!  (come to think of it, I don’t think my husband thought any of that would be the case when we married, either!)

-R

Be careful what you wish for!

I am completely ignoring the fact that there are all sorts of dates being thrown around on Facebook and DDM at the moment – so don’t even talk to me about them.  Yes, I know the impending tour announcement tomorrow is terribly exciting, but I am absolutely not ready to even consider them, so I’m not.  Yes, I know they’re playing Atlantic City over a weekend (or so the rumors say)….I know I’d like to go.  I also know I’m married, I have three kids, and I have no time, money, or any more of my husband’s patience… for such trips.

So, with that in mind, I’m changing the subject!

I went to see another concert this weekend – Johnny Vatos and Friends – at the Brixton in Redondo Beach.  To begin with, the Brixton was once called Fashions back in the 80’s and 90s, and it was a great little dance club.  Friday and Saturday nights were KROQ nights with Richard Blade spinning tunes, and I loved the place.  I practically lived there during my college years, and it was also the place I met my husband.  Going back to the club on Saturday night was definitely deja-vu for us, but going to see Vatos in such a small club was exciting as well.  For those who are unaware or don’t know – Johnny Vatos was the drummer for Oingo Boingo, and he put together a tribute band of sorts, except that this “tribute” band is made up of members from the old group, as well as some new friends he’s made along the way.  The only person really missing is Danny Elfman, and he’s someone I’ve never had the luck or good timing to ever see in person or see live at a show.  That said, we take what we can get and have a great time.

The show did not disappoint, and as luck would have it – front row was wide open when we arrived, so my husband and I decided to take advantage and get spots right in front of the stage.  I have never had front row anywhere before – ever – so this was doubly exciting for me. (yes, the only thing that could have been better had been if it were for Duran Duran.  I think we all know that here!)  The band started, and it was fantastic.  I was dancing and singing along when, about 4 songs into their set, an older man came and stood directly in front of me.  That’s right, the two extra feet I had between myself and the stage were suddenly taken, and since this man was probably a good foot taller than me, I couldn’t see at all.  I was peaking around him, trying to see, all the while getting more and more annoyed.  I mentioned to my husband that girls had done similar things to me at Duran shows before – but I’ve never had a man, not to mention an older man, butt right in front of me like that!  I tried to be good natured and still enjoy the show though.  I started noticing this guy holding up his glass of whatever he was drinking in some sort of a toast to the various band members, and they seemed to acknowledge him – but I figured he was some sort of a fan from way way back – and probably a little on the looney side as well.  Even so, I was really annoyed because I truly couldn’t see the stage!  I looked at my husband and made a kind of made a motion of “I’m gonna shove you the heck over if you don’t give me some space” towards the guy (he wasn’t looking at me at the time), and to my surprise (and embarrassment), the trumpet player saw me.  He looked at me, widened his eyes and shook his head no very slowly.  Well, I was shocked someone saw me (apparently there ARE advantages to being back a few rows – the band can’t see everything you do!!!), but of course I didn’t actually say anything to the new “wall” in front of me.  A couple songs later, a roadie dude came up to him and motioned for him to come to the other side of the room near the bar, and it wasn’t long after that when the song ended and Johnny spoke.  He starts off by announcing that they are going to do something new and have a break mid-set.  I thought that was odd, but you know – these guys aren’t exactly young anymore. (no offense to Duran Duran, but I suspect that Oingo Boingo members might be a few years their senior in some cases)  Then Johnny mentions that this has never happened before, but that an Elfman is at the show.  I looked at Walt – because truly this is his favorite band in the history of the world – and I could see how excited he was.  Of course it’s the dream of every fan to have Danny Elfman at a show again.  He hasn’t performed with Boingo in at least 10 years now, and to my knowledge – he never will again because he has some hereditary hearing loss – and if you know anything about Elfman at all, he’s an extremely talented composer and needs those ears.  It was only then that I started putting two and two together, and to my complete and utter mortification – they shined a light out in the crowd and who should it fall on but the old guy who stood directly in front of me.  This was not Danny Elfman (as I’d originally feared), but his brother Richard, who was also a member of The Mystic Knights of Oingo Boingo from WAY back in the day.  At that point, I felt every ounce of blood drain from my face, and as I turned back towards the stage, once again the trumpet player, along with the trombone player, caught my eye and immediately fell into gales of laughter.  Awesome.  (Yes, I said awesome.  It fits the bill perfectly.)

In my defense, and yes – I really have one here – I never knew Danny Elfman had a brother, much less someone who looks remarkably similar to him.  I wish my darling husband had taken the moment BEFORE my little faux pas to tell me that the guy in front of me looked a lot like Danny to him, and that he’d actually been thinking that he must be an Elfman – and probably his brother – but I digress.  I also still think the guy was incredibly rude to just come up and stand in front of me without any kind of a “hey I’m sorry but do you mind if I just stand here a second – I used to be in the band and just want to say hi”, but you know, I’m just a little person. A fan.

I wish I’d have recognized him, but you know – he looked like any other person to me that night.  All I could think about was that 1. I was glad it wasn’t Danny Elfman and that I didn’t open my big mouth.  2.  That I wasn’t at a Duran show and that it wasn’t a member of Duran.  3. That it wasn’t Danny Elfman.     Wait.  I said that already.  You see for me, Elfman is a god of sorts.  He’s one of the very few people on an extremely short list that I would never want to actually meet because I don’t think I’d be able to speak.   I’d have absolutely nothing of any substance to say beyond “I really appreciate your work”, and I’ll bet he’s maybe heard that a time or two.

Moral of the story?  Be careful who you want to shove out of your way at a show.  Never know when it’s going to be YOUR Elfman, or Taylor…or LeBon or Rhodes.  😉  Oh, and GA still sucks.  -R

Duran Dreams

Am I the only one who dreams about Duran and/or about touring?  Tell me I’m not.  I’m not that much of a freak, am I?  The dreams related to Duran seem to fit into certain categories:  1.  Fans/Traveling.  2.  Shows themselves.  3. Seeing the band before or after the shows.  In this past week, I have actually had 3 Duran related dreams!!  That’s crazy!  (Do you think that is a sign that tour dates will be announced or that I’m insane?  Don’t feel like you have to answer that one.)  The first dream I had this week fit in the fans/traveling category.  I dreamt that I was at the first UK show that Rhonda and I are planning on attending.  We met up with a bunch of people and were all walking to the show together.  In the dream, I remember holding all of the concert tickets in my hand.  Is this a sign of excitement?  Some anxiety about the tickets?  I don’t know.  We generally seemed to be having fun.  I remember talking about how much the tickets cost with my friend, Robyn, which is weird since she isn’t going to those shows.  Then, I realized that Rhonda wasn’t there for some reason.  It didn’t seem like she was gone or not in the same city just not with the group.  The second dream happened last night.  In this dream, Rhonda and I were with another friend of ours and someone new.  It was like we were training this new person about to tour or something.  As we walked through a parking ramp, it started to flood and water was everywhere.  People’s belongings started traveling by us.  We decided to grab things that were cool to keep.  Not sure why.  Then, we got to a house and we came to the conclusion that we should be leaving everything there and not take anything with us.  We weren’t going back.  We weren’t going home ever.  There seemed to be mixed emotions there.  Yet, we weren’t going to give up touring, which is what I think we were supposed to do.  Then, just this afternoon during a nap, I dreamt about being on a train in England that was filled with Duranies.  This train wasn’t normal, though, as it traveled through water, up stairs, etc.  We were just getting to our destination when I woke up and I was mad about that!  I still didn’t get a show!

Beyond these recent dreams, I have had many other dreams.  Some of those dreams have been of shows themselves.  Most of these shows haven’t been normal.  Once I dreamt that they were playing a whole show of James Brown songs.  During the songs, huge James Brown heads moved across the stage.  What was weirder about this dream is that the venue was a Kmart, the old store.  I have had a number of dreams where the band is playing in a school, either a gym or in an auditorium.  More often than not, they played in a gym.  This one always made sense to me.  I have been a teacher for a long time and I’m sure this was a way to bridge these two worlds together.  Why did they play in a gym more often than not?  My school doesn’t have an auditorium.  Strangely enough, none of these shows ever took place at my school, just similar schools. 

As for dreams with the band, again, I don’t know that my dreams are very common.  I had one dream where I was in a hotel with some friends and saw Roger head to the bar after the show to get a drink.  What did he order?  A strawberry milkshake.  Seriously, WTF?!  The last dream with John was not normal, either.  In it, he was organizing roommates for tours.  I was standing with this group of fans and we were waiting to get matched up so that we didn’t have to pay for a room by ourselves.  The thing that really stood out to me in this dream was the diversity of fans.  Everyone came from a different country and I kept wondering how we would be able to communicate. 

I’m sure over the course of my life as a Duranie, I have had a ton more.  I guess it shows that being a fan, being a Duranie is a part of my life, that it does take up a part of my brain.  What about the rest of you?  Any Duran dreams that you wanna share?

-A

30 Day Challenge Update of Yesterday’s Results about Favorite YouTube Clip:
Lots of great clips were shared!  I was happy that there were some that I had never seen before, which is pretty rare.  I really enjoyed watching Simon’s 50th birthday gift, Pop Quiz from ’84, A Day in the Life, old interviews, Nick’s stolen moments and more.  On this challenge, there weren’t many people who repeated the same response and I think that is very cool!  I hope that everyone got a chance to enjoy the clips that were shared as much as I did!

Back to an Ordinary World

Today is going to be a rough one for me.  I’m very tired.(Probably not unlike Roger or Gisella Taylor!)  Coffee is indeed my friend.  I have been up since about 2:30 in the morning CA time.  Why?  Well, today marks a bittersweet (although I’m having difficulty finding the ‘sweet’ right now) moment in my the life of my family.  The Atlantis shuttle landed at about 3am my time – and really it could have been earlier than that but I was half asleep as we watched it land on CSPAN2 and I’ve lost track of the time.  Yes, we actually watched it land because that shuttle is a very important part of my husband’s family.  My husband was raised in a Boeing family, which was once named Rockwell, which before that was North American Aviation and a few other names that I’m omitting because I can’t remember them.  His dad was an engineer (a real-life rocket scientist, to be honest!) – and yes, he really did design part of the engine.  Don’t ask me which part, because that’s typically when I start to tune out…  He eventually retired from Boeing, but Walt’s brother and sister still work there (or consult for them) in some capacity, and all of them worked on the space shuttle program in various capacities.  He has other family members that also work(ed) on the shuttle program.  My husband has all sorts of space memorabilia that his dad sent to him over the years as he went to launches at Mission Control, and never once did Walt look at them as being more important than he does today.  It’s as though a part of his childhood ended today, and for his dad – well, today marks something even deeper.  He lived Boeing through and through, and it’s inconceivable to him that the US would simply stop funding space exploration.  Yet we have.  I’m not writing the blog to discuss politics, only to point out that all things, even things that we never think will end, do find their end, whether it’s marked with an exclamation point, question mark, or simply a period.   So, our family finds a new beginning and we carry on.

Yesterday, the challenge was to name the song that shouldn’t have made it off of the editing room floor.  I couldn’t wait to read your answers – and the answers were all over the map!  There were some definite surprises though, for instance – I had NO idea that there were so many Union of the Snake haters out there!!!  I pictured some of you taking that record and roasting it slowly over an open fire until it gave in and melted, dripping into the hellish fury below.  Following closely behind were Zoom In, I Take the Dice, and even Bedroom Toys.  There were some other surprising answers out there though that only got a mention or two, such as New Moon on Monday, Breath after Breath, and even Sunrise!  There were many, many more songs mentioned – but those were among the ones that surprised me most.  Wow, even Sunrise is disliked by someone out there.  Who knew?  That band has absolutely no chance of ever making us all happy, do they?

For today, the challenge is to name the most overrated song.  I realize that many of you (including myself) have already made our choice and posted, and that’s fine.  However, for those of you still on the fence, I want to clarify what overrated really means.  We’re talking about songs that may have been hits, or songs that the band has really promoted as being amazing, and yet when you hear/heard it, you are/were either underwhelmed or in hindsight you see that it’s just not “all that and a bag of chips”.  Or crisps if you’re in the UK!  I would imagine that for most of us, there’s still some dislike in there though, and that’s OK – but I wanted to clarify what was meant purely because someone mentioned that it seemed like the same question as the day before.  I hope that helps someone out there!

Now, why did I title the blog using Ordinary World?   Well, if you’re one of my personal facebook friends – you already know my answer for today!  Happy Thursday and have a great weekend everyone!  Oh, and I hope that little Julian learns that sleep is not entirely overrated so that his parents can sleep…and if anyone wants to fly me to Sicily in August, and take care of my children while I’m gone, I’m totally up for it.  😀

-R

Tour dates soonish, or nowish?

Unless you’ve been underground hibernating today, or at the doctors office (read: me)…you know that tour date rumors for the US have been a-flying.  Obviously there are some Duranies out there with the coveted info…or at least they’re pretending to have what the rest of us want.

Here are the facts as I know them:  The band hasn’t announced dates since they canceled the European dates over the summer, while we all wait for Simon to recover his voice.  Originally the band’s camp had said they would be announcing dates around the beginning of July, but it is now the 18th and of course we’ve heard nothing of new dates – again, waiting for Simon to get back to 100%. The band has rehearsed a few times, and the last I’d read – Simon actually sung all of his notes, although that day he also said that his neck felt like a London bus had been parked on it.  Not sure what that was about…  Just a week ago or so, John had said they were going to rehearse again in a few (3?) weeks.  Then today, all sorts of dates are announced on DDM.

I don’t make any habit of going to DDM these days – so my information has come to me via “trusted sources”.  I hear that the US tour is going to start in NYC, and that there will be dates in most of the big cities, including a couple of dates in LA and of course a date in Vegas.  I’m actually surprised they’re coming back to my neck of the woods (assuming the rumors are true), simply because they’ve already been here and played a few shows, including Coachella.  I just wouldn’t have thought they’d come back, in favor of spending their time playing in places they hadn’t already been to where they had at least half a shot of getting airplay.  Then again, perhaps that’s not the goal at this point.  For the life of me, I have no idea – and I’m glad it’s not my job to know!

You would think I’d be neck-deep in the plotting and planning, even though all we’ve really got are some rumors, but the truth is that at least for today, I’ve been stuck in my own reality.  The blog is late today, and it’s only been at just this moment where I’ve had the focus or the time to be able to write.  You see, today I was able to close a door on a chapter of REAL LIFE.  For the past year, I’ve been having a nagging worry in the back of my mind that would come up to the surface every now and then.  Last year, during a normal doctor visit, my doctor found a lump in my breast, and while she felt it was benign, this set off a chain of events that has taken a full year to put to complete rest.  I went in for my first mammogram and ultrasound a year ago – where indeed the lump was found to be just a regular fibroid.  Then I had the joy of going back in 6 months, only to be told that I got to come back again in 6 months.  In between the mammograms, I managed to push the worry to the back of my mind and focus on being a mom, but each time I would make the next appointment, I’d set myself up for another week or so of worry before my fears would be relieved.

Truth be told, having a mammogram is NOT a big deal.  Mine didn’t even hurt, and they take just a few minutes.  It’s a lot less invasive than some other “regular” tests that we women endure, and yet for me, having the mammogram is SO much more stressful.  I never think twice about whether or not my pap smear will come back with anything less than good results, so why do I worry so much about the mammogram.  I don’t even have it in my family tree.  1 in 7 women have breast cancer, and I know a great percentage of those women recover and go on to lead long lives. I also understand that conversely, death is a part of life, but as I discussed with God this morning, I’m not ready for it yet.  I’ve still got plenty to do around here, and I insist that I see my kids all the way through their childhood.  That’s not negotiable.  It’s just knowing that any one of us could be the 1 in 7 that’s so darn frightening, and I myself know of two women who have died from breast cancer, and they weren’t that much older than I am right now.  That’s scary, and that’s the place I’ve been inhabiting since I made my appointment to go back in for my follow-up mammogram.

So today I spent my morning having yet another mammogram, and then having an ultrasound.    The mammogram was quick and painless, but the ultrasound took quite a while.  Then, the doctor came in to see me because the radiologist thought she’d found something new on my scans.  There’s not really much scarier than having the doctor tell you she found something suspicious and she wants to do a scan herself before doing a biopsy.  It was in that brief moment that I thought I might actually lose what breakfast I ate – and my first thought was that I couldn’t possibly stay any longer – I needed to pick my youngest up from preschool!  However, I laid back down on the table, and after several more agonizing moments – the doctor felt confident that what they thought they saw on my initial scans was basically, nothing.   Then she told me that I could come back again in a year – which is normal at my age.

Insert HUGE sigh of relief here.

What does all of that have to do with Duran Duran?  Well, nothing except that none of us are getting younger – and if you’re 40 and haven’t gone for a mammogram yet – GO.  If I can do it, anyone can.  It’s funny because when I was in college, I was in a sorority named Zeta Tau Alpha, and our main philanthropy was the Susan B. Komen organization, which is a charity for breast cancer awareness, fundraising and support.  We’d do the fundraisers or help out with things and I never made the connection between the philanthropy and myself.  Never once did I really understand the importance of such a thing while I was in school, and I probably didn’t even think twice about the possibility that one day, it could be me needing that help.  You don’t really think much about 40 when you’re 20, I guess.  Now here I am at 40 and I finally get the point.  I don’t want breast cancer to be the reason than any of you, or I miss the next Duran Duran shows.

-R

The Layman’s guide to John Taylor

I don’t know how I came up with that title for this blog, but I suppose I wanted to convey just how very little I know about the man.  Perhaps it’s supposed to be that way, perhaps I’ve not paid enough attention over the years, and perhaps I know more than I realize. (doubt it!)  Regardless, this is the blog I should have written yesterday.  Thank you to Amanda for pointing out to me that I’d been remiss when I only said a hearty “Happy Birthday” to him in the blog rather than dissect him the way I have done the other band members. (those are her words, spoken to me yesterday on the phone – and as appropriate as they might be – I envision myself in a lab coat leaning over him on a table with a scalpel in hand – and biology was NOT my best subject in high school. Sorry John!!)

The fact is, I don’t know where to begin.  I don’t honestly know John Taylor.  (then again, that hasn’t really stopped me before….)  My closest encounter with him was at the Virgin Megastore signing for Astronaut on Sunset Blvd.  Nick handed him my Astronaut album, John didn’t even look up, signed it – and handed it on to Simon, who was already chatting up my daughter about the book she was reading and quizzing her on what songs she liked best off off of the album.  In desperation to have SOME sort of real interaction with him, I said “The album is beautiful, John”, to which he briefly glanced up at the girl directly in front of him and said “Thank you”.  That’s it, that is my John story!  (you can’t see me, but I’m taking a bow right here)

John is the one band member that I haven’t ever seen out in public after a show.  He doesn’t tend to mingle – although I know he has tried (I just haven’t been to a show where that’s happened).  I hear it’s nearly impossible for him, that fans still believe that they have the right to grab him, attempt to rip his clothes off and behave like wild animals.  Yep, because that is DEFINITELY going to make him see that fans are cool people and that we aren’t crazy.  I can’t say I blame him for not hanging out after a show, rather choosing to find refuge, quiet time and privacy.  The only people missing out are indeed the fans on this one, and it’s a shame.

Where is John Taylor in my personal line-up of Duran Duran favorites?  Here is the reality:  John Taylor is too handsome for me.  He’s completely and totally out of my league, and I know it.  I’ve never had a crush on John just like I never had a crush on the cutest football player in high school, or any of the Sigma Pi’s (arguably the most popular fraternity on my college campus at the time I went to college) at Cal State Fullerton.  They were out of my league.  Sure, I’d admire them from afar; but I never dared mention that they were the object of my admiration. Back in the 80’s, John was the most popular member of Duran Duran. (my apologies to Roger, Nick, Simon and Andy)  I knew it.  He probably knew it…and every other female fan out there knew it.  As a result, when I’d hang out with my friends from school and discuss Duran Duran (every single day at recess and lunch!), we’d talk about our favorites.  John was always the one that the girls would fight over.  I’d wait until they were finished, see how it all settled out, and then name my favorite: Roger.   I always wondered why everyone went for John and fought over him – sure, he was cute and all – but Roger had that dark hair, dark eyes and those brooding looks – (and oddly enough, my husband…as well as my boyfriends prior to my husband, have ALL had dark hair and dark eyes.) who needed blonde bangs and a baby face?   I suppose that while I knew John was the obviously handsome one, there was a certain amount of comfort knowing that most of the time, no one would fight me for Roger.  So I stuck with him.   John had a very secure place on my bedroom walls – right above my mirror, just to the left of Roger.  I knew where he stood with me, I know where he still stands, and I’m still way out of his league.

Once upon a time, I complained quite openly on this blog about the lack of connection between the band and the fans.  John was truly at the center of my complaint because not even a year prior (to the time I’d written the blog), he’d spoken at a conference for the 25th anniversary of the internet at UCLA.  His main assertion was that the internet, with the sheer amount of information, content, etc that is available – really ruins the romance and mystery that takes place when you’re a fan of a celebrity or band.  To his credit, I did and do understand his point.  The trouble was, this was no longer the 1970’s or the 1980’s.  The media is available.  Social networking is the norm – either celebrities and bands use it, or they are left behind.  The general public wants more than an album and a tour.  They want to feel that personal connection.  Even more to his credit, John apparently revisited his theory and actually tried Twitter.  The first day he posted, I nearly fell out of my chair.  Within what felt like days, he was obviously hooked, and so were the fans.  I can’t speak for John, but as a fan I have to say that I think it’s helped many of us feel that bonding on a completely different level than we ever have had before.  After 30 some years of following the band, it’s as though our “relationship” with the band is at a new level, and most of the time – it feels good.  I would venture to guess that it feels good for John as well.  When he says that it feels like good therapy – I believe him. He’s witty, not at all rude (even when I think he should be!), and extremely patient even in times where I think he should tell us all to take a long walk off of a short pier.   Some say he might wear his heart on his sleeve, and some may say he overshares – but I think he’s become much more to me than just a pinup on my wall or the bass player in the band.  He’s become a real person, and I treasure that even though he still has no idea who in the hell I am.  (probably for the best!)

John has commented that he’s a narcissist.  I say “show me a rock star that isn’t!”  I think that when you’re a celebrity, it’s very easy to fall into that trap.  Let’s face it – when you’re on stage every night, it IS all about you.  This isn’t a free pass for John, or anyone for that matter, but the reality is – John SEES it in himself.  How isn’t that admirable?  Let me tell you John, I worked with a “rock band” (the quotes are necessary here for a number of reasons…), and those kids were not only narcissistic without reason, but they didn’t even notice it in themselves.  That, my friend, is not admirable, it’s immaturity.  You sir, are just the opposite in about every single way imaginable.  Newsflash to John Taylor:  You are human.  You have faults.  We kind of like you anyway.   🙂

-R

Happy Father’s Day and the Lesson on Fandom

Today, like many people, I’m helping my dad celebrate Father’s Day.  The celebration started this morning by taking him out for brunch at the best breakfast place in town.  Later, my parents and I will watch the White Sox game then probably play some games ourselves.  I have been working on a Duran cd for him that I hope to be finished with so that he can enjoy it during the game playing!  That’s the thing about my dad.  While I can’t say that he is a Duranie, I can say that he has always tried to appreciate them, even if he still can’t recognize my “favorite” member after all of these years.  Just the other day I went over there after a bad day and my dad put on the first Duran cd I had made him.  It was very sweet.  That cd was done in 2005 so it is definitely time for him to have a new one.  This shows me that he tries to understand my fandom, even if he doesn’t understand Duran.  In fact, he is a fan himself.  He is such a fan that I actually blame my fandom on him as he is the one who taught me how to be a fan.  Seriously.

I was born and raised in a White Sox household, which is common for those of us from the south side of Chicago.  The family activities often revolved around the White Sox games.  For example, we made sure to have dinner eaten and cleaned up if there was a game on TV.  When we got together with my cousins or grandparents, discussion on the Sox was routine.  The real treats were when we actually went to the Sox games at old Comiskey Park.  We didn’t have good seats but we still watched intently and often kept score.  My dad taught us to take the game seriously.  I will never forget the story that he frequently tells about how he was on this date that he had been really looking forward to on the day that the Sox won the pennant in 1959.  He decided that he had to take this woman to a bar to see the game, etc.  She wasn’t at all interested and my dad just knew that she wasn’t the one for him.  Lucky for all of us, he met my mom who is as much of a Sox fan as anyone! 

My parents and the rest of my family always rooted for the Sox and we sat through many, many, many horrible, losing seasons.  Those seasons were tough as they were filled with frustration and much discussion about what roster moves should be made and criticism over the past trades.  We always took and still take the losses to heart.  It is like we are part of the team and it bothers us to see them lose.  Yet, no matter how poorly they played, we never stopped caring.  We believed in the team.  We didn’t always believe in the moves that were made but we believed in the tradition, in the institution.  We still wore Sox t-shirts and sweatshirts and bought our Sox related household items.  My parents today, in fact, have a Sox mailbox!  It’s true!  Sox fans around the world have survived all of those losing seasons and were able to celebrate a World Series Championship in 2005.  I won’t ever forget that season.  First, they clenched the division on the day that I was leaving for Vegas to hang with friends and to see Duran play at the Agassi charity event there.  Then, they won the World Series on the night before I was co-hosting a Duranie weekend.  It was the best of times, in many ways!

As you can see, I learned many things about what it means to be a fan from my dad.  I learned that to be a fan means that you are loyal, through good times and bad.  While that love always remains, there can and should be criticism when it is due.  Despite this private criticism among other fans, the outside world should know that you are a fan and that you should show that proudly.  I also learned that there is an emotional connection between the object of your fandom and you.  For my dad and I, our Sox fandom connects us to our family, to each other.  It has been a part of our family for decades and will remain so.  The Sox have always brought us together.  For example, whenever there is an exciting event in Sox history, it is common for my siblings and I to all check in with my parents.  When Mark Buerhle pitched his perfect game a few years ago, my brother and sister both called to share their and our excitement!

My Sox fandom isn’t really that much different than my Duran fandom.  I will always be loyal to Duran and have certainly witnessed both good time and not-so-good-times.  I can’t imagine really ever leaving.  That said, I will always offer my sincere opinions about the band.  I will voice my thoughts about when they have done something awesome and when they missed the mark.  To me, that is what is means to be a fan.  Like in my Sox fandom, I’m pretty open about being a Duranie and will wear their t-shirts when I can!  Last, but not least, Duran like the Sox brings people together.  It is the connection I have with many other people, including my partner-in-crime.  Duran is something that we share and always will.

Therefore, as I continue to celebrate my dad today, I will also celebrate what he has taught me about what it means to be a fan.  Happy Father’s Day, to you, Dad, and to the rest of the dads out there, including those dads in Duran!  😉

-A

Biographies, Memoirs and Life Lessons

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of biographies, autobiographies and memoirs. (I suppose those last two are really sort of the same…)  Normally, I’m a romance reader, but lately I’ve grown sick of them.  One can only live in fantasy for so long, I suppose.  So now I’m living vicariously through others!  So far, I’ve read things from George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Ron Paul, (you may think you see a theme, but it’s just that I haven’t finished reading all of my books yet…I have plenty from the left side of the aisle to get through!!!), Rick Springfield, Portia DeRossi, Molly Ringwald, Rob Lowe and Tina Fey.  As I said, I still have quite a few more to either start or finish – and yes, I read more than one at a time.  I can only read so much about politics before my head starts hurting.  It’s been eye-opening on more than one occasion, and yes, it’s even changed the way I feel about some people.  That seems to be a sort of recurring theme in my life as of late.  It’s as though the assumptions I’d made regarding people have had to go a sort of re-tune now that I’m older. (I say that because most of the books I’ve read lately have been about people that I’d grown up admiring, or arguing with while they were on various TV talk shows and or news programs!)  Duran Duran should really be included in that list.

It’s no secret that their current situation has probably made any fan really think.  I must admit that writing a book about the fan base has given me plenty to consider, and in some respects I think it’s opened my eyes to a lot of things that I’d never given any thought.  For instance, once upon a time, I never really thought much about what went on behind the scenes.  All I cared about is what I saw onstage, or heard on a CD.  I never really considered the various walks of life their fans came from, I never really thought about how each of our cultures helps to “train” us to be different types of fans.  I thought that fans were fans.  We all want the same thing, we all react the same way (basically).  I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The biggest example of how different we all react has to be the postponed UK and European shows.  I don’t have an interest in rehashing the reactions, I just want to acknowledge that they exist.  My writing partner wrote a blog over the weekend that created much buzz on Facebook.  Not all of it was positive.  Many reacted the way I would have expected, but some reacted with complete anger and frustration.  I don’t know that I would have anticipated that.  The motive behind the blog topic was simply to ask “What If”; while many had no trouble commenting on how they would feel – regardless of what those feelings were – still others were incensed that the question was even asked.  Initially, that upset me because, as I explained on Facebook – this is a BLOG.  It’s about opinions, it’s about presenting topics and allowing discussion.  Comment all you would like on whether you agree or disagree, but to comment on the topics chosen seemed to be counterproductive.  As the day wore on, however, I realized that the anger behind our topic has far more to do with not being willing to even discuss the possibility.  I need to respect that, and I do.  I may not necessarily agree, but the fact is – we’re all fans.  In as much as I know that Amanda meant no harm in expressing her feelings about the subject at hand; I also recognize that the comments weren’t meant to harm her, or her thoughts specifically.  Let’s be honest, none of us want to be talking about the demise of the band.  Real, imagined, or otherwise.  I think we all can agree on that.

For me personally, I’ve reached a point in my life where on one hand, I have to give people credit for putting themselves out there, doing the hard work, having an opinion, or just plain being good people – and for the most part – I do believe people are good.  On the other hand, I’ve gotten to a point where I refuse to put up with the, well, B.S. (for lack of a better way of describing!)  My friends take me as I am, and I take others as they are – and if I can’t, I won’t.  I think that I’ve stopped caring about trying to be what other people want.  I have the luxury of being a mostly private citizen – I don’t put myself up for public scrutiny in the same way that the band might.  I recognize that for Duran Duran and the plethora of other bands and celebrities out there, their livelyhoods depend very much on what we think, and what we want.  I don’t envy them for that.  There must be a very fine line on which they must balance, and while a good part of me says “Who the hell cares – they should put out the music they like!”, another part of me recognizes that business is business.  They employ a good many people who count on them, and they do have the right to make music that will sell, even if I don’t personally enjoy their work.

I don’t envy the band, celebrities or even my favorites from the 80’s Brat Pack years in much the same way I don’t envy any of our politicians, which is one thing I’ve learned from all of my reading.  I don’t have to like their choices, but I must give them credit – because I’m mighty comfortable being an armchair critic!

-R

 

How Will the End Be?

Before I begin this post, I must be honest about something.  I have been pretty emotional lately, but today I have reached the peak of heightened emotionality.  Today was the last day of school for me.  As a teacher, this day is always an emotional one but this year feels all the more so.  On this day, we not only say goodbye to our students, most of whom we have grown fond of, but also to colleagues who are moving on to other jobs or adventures.  It is a double whammy on any given year but today is at least a triple whammy as I said goodbye to many close colleagues and more as I am facing career changes myself.  I’m not sure exactly what those changes will be but I know that there will be some.  This lead an overly emotional me to ponder the end.  In this case, today is the end of the school year.  For some, it is the end to their teaching careers.  For others, it is the end of an era as significant changes are taking place at my school.  I have always found teaching to be a very strange career in the sense that we have very clear beginnings, middles and ends to every year.  At the end, there are always people leaving.  In the beginning of the year, new people come.  The school year has these decisive bookends.  In many ways, Duran has had the same type of thing.

Duran Duran’s career is marked by various “eras” that go along with albums.  They have often made these eras more defined themselves.  For example, for the Red Carpet Massacre era, they played an electro set and had Jackson Pollack/military uniforms to perform in.  The websites always take on new looks with each passing era.  Many of the fans have noticed this happening and have taken to dividing up Duran’s history in the same fashion.  How many times have fans discussed their favorite time in Duran’s history and heard something along the line of, “I really liked Astronaut and the reunion days” or “My favorite time was during Rio and those videos filmed in Sri Lanka.”  We, as fans, really understand this cycle of separate eras and have learned that Duran’s typical fashion has been to write an album, make some videos of songs on that album, play a certain tour with a certain look and setlist until that new album and everything that goes along with it are played out.  Then, there might be a little action in between the next album, but, generally, Duran and the fans experience downtime.  Then, it starts all over again with a new album.

This process of having defined eras is similar to what I experience as a teacher.  It seems to me that other jobs aren’t like that.  Changes move through at various times and in various degrees.  People come and go whenever.  There is not the sense that the process stops and takes a break.  I was watching a close colleague of mine say goodbye to people today as she begins her retirement and I thought to myself that she must have always known how the end of her career would be.  She always knew that she would end on the last day of class on a day when everyone is leaving, to some extent.  She was able to leave at the natural end of one year before the beginning of the next.  There were no loose ends and no one needed to come in and finish some element of her job.  I envy that.  I, too, hope that I am able to leave in such a fashion, during a natural break.  I guess I always figured that is how Duran would end as well. 

When I was a kid and thought about how Duran might end (probably says a lot about me as a kid if I was thinking about something so…upsetting), I assumed that they would end in between one of their clearly defined eras.  They would finish the whole cycle with an album from writing and releasing the album and touring for it.  Then, they would just cease to continue this process.  No new album would be made and it was be a subtle goodbye.  There would be no dramatic exit and that the fans might not even notice it.  This idea became more and more reinforced as the years went by and as Duran took longer and longer in between releases.  I figured that they was preparing the fans for the bound-to-happen-sometime end.  We would get so used to long times in between eras that we wouldn’t even notice when they weren’t working at all.  Plus, as the years went on, it was more and more clear that Duran had staying power, which meant to me that they weren’t going to end in some dramatic argument like other bands.  It would be more subtle than that.  I also figured that members who tend to be a bit more controlling (*ahemNickahem*) would prefer to end when one project was completely done.  I even figured that they might be so happy with how well something went down that they didn’t feel the need to do more or that they thought everything went so badly that it was time to end it.  Thus, I always get a major sense of relief when a new album is actually coming out.  To me, it translated to the band continuing. 

Now, I’m not so sure that this is how the band will end.  Simon’s voice struggles have made me realize that it might not be so clean, so subtle.  It might not be a gradual fade from our collective consciousness.  The end might be in the middle of a project.  It might be dramatic and horribly painful.  Instead of being a slow quiet death, it could be so quick that it leaves us all shaken to the core.  Obviously, the end of anything human can end in a quiet, calm way or in a screaming, frantic way.  I guess I wished that Duran would go quietly (and much, much, MUCH later) and while we were all sleeping rather than quickly with a lot of screaming and crying about how it wasn’t time yet.  Both cause pain but one kind of pain is subtle and the other is sharp and deep. 

As I face the next couple of months filled with uncertainty about both my future and also the band’s, I think it is best to try to prepare myself for whatever may come next.  I will obviously wish for something bright, positive and wonderful on all fronts and will do whatever I can to reach that, but will also try to come to grips with the unknown, including how the end will be.

-A

It’s gonna be a short one…

So today is one of those days where my real life is severely intruding into my online presence.  I have several places to be, things to do…and only one of me to be present and do them all with.  It’s the one thing I dislike about being a parent (ok, there may be several things, but this one is in the top 10 for sure!).  My husband travels quite a bit for work – this week it is Taiwan, and I feel for him because it’s hot, sticky and he’s working a trade show.  (I ruined your game again, Jessica!)  Anyway, tonight is Open House for my son (not sure if everyone knows what that means but basically I go and visit his classroom.  He’s in 6th grade, last year at his present school, so it’s a big deal.) At the same time that Open House starts, I must also be dropping off my oldest for her rehearsals – she’s in a musical called Anything Goes that opens here in a few weeks.  This morning, I have to drop that same child off at school which is a good 25 minute drive from the house, and be back here in time to take my son to school because he has to carry not only his backpack, but a major school project, along with 50 cookies for tonight’s festivities.  Did I mention that my oldest notoriously runs late,and I do mean LATE, for everything??

*sigh*

That’s just today.  Tomorrow I somehow have to get her to her voice lessons, a beach party and be back home in time to see my husband get home from his business trip.

I really need 4 more of me.  🙂

So, I’m writing this blog at 6:37 am California time, and hoping that I don’t run out of steam before I can get this house cleaned and back into shape so that it looks like I’ve actually done something while my husband has been gone. (because to be honest – the house has been the last thing I’ve thought about!)

I wish I had Duran news to share with you all, but I really do not.  It’s been very quiet on that front.  I don’t suppose there’s really much they can say until Simon is able to sing again, and unfortunately, none of us knows when that will be.  One thing that has struck me through all of this: each of us reads the situation entirely differently.  We all process it differently.  I think that has everything to do with why there are so many threads on so many message boards about it.  Each one of us posts something different, we read it differently, and are completely shocked when other people don’t see it the same way.  Then there are the people who are willing to sit back and wait it all out without saying a word.  Those people are probably more than annoyed at the rest of us who are trying to process it all by talking it over, guessing about what/when/where Simon will sing again.  The in-fighting that is going on right now on the boards is something akin to what it’s like just before an album is released.  I dare say it borders on frustration…and you all can decide for yourselves what type of frustration it is!   So, I’ve decided to steer clear of the boards, and really for the most part I’m trying to just move on with life in general.  It’s easier for me to focus my attention on something else rather than sit back and wait for the band to announce something.  I don’t want to think about it all, I guess.  That doesn’t really stop me from thinking, some might even say I overthink things, but I try.

Did you hear that Georgie Davies is likely to be really coming out???  😀

Hilarious, really.

-R