Category Archives: personal stories

Happy 25th Birthday Notorious!

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

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

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

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

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

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

-A

This blog should come with a warning…

My apologies to those who have tried to post a comment lately, only to pour their hearts and souls and have that comment taken to the great beyond and eaten as though it was yesterday’s leftovers.  Blogger should be spanked.  Take heed my friends, as Rhonda will be looking into “other arrangements” for the blog as time permits.

Time?  What’s that, anyway?  Lately I have had very little of that particular noun.  It seems I’m always off running, and if not running, driving.  Let me share a little story from yesterday evening with you though, simply for your laughter and enjoyment.  My oldest was at a show for one of her friends last night and the plan was that my husband was going to go and pick her up while I got the little one into bed and lit a fire under our son, the video game addict, so that he would go and have a little quality time with some water and soap in the shower.  He’s 12 and sees absolutely no reason to be clean, deal with any kind of hygiene, or leave the computer for that matter.  It’s a joyous age, I must say.  As I crawled out of my youngest’s bedroom having read 4 books to her, finally convincing her that yes, it was imperative that mommy now be allowed to go upstairs herself; I knew I’d saved the tough part for last – I had to get that boy into a shower.  I wearily made it upstairs and told him he had 30 seconds to get himself to the shower or else he’d have to sleep outside in the back of Dad’s truck because he was too dirty to be in my house.  He sighed that sigh that only 12 year old boys can muster, and walked into our room.  One thing about my son, when he’s resigned himself to doing something, he wants to get it done.  Fast.  That’s a lot like me, and so I get where he’s coming from and stay out of his way.  The next thing I know the boy is calling me to the shower, and saying “You’d better look at this.”  I look down at the spigot to see that the water is not coming out of the spigot as much as it’s coming out from the spot where the spigot meets the tile.  Then he switches on the shower with bravado, and the water starts SPRAYING out from the wall.  Then he looks at me with that “Seriously mom, are you kidding me?” look that I tend to give my children.  *sigh*  After cursing quite beautifully (and with my very own special bravado, I might add), I tell him to take a shower downstairs.  My husband comes home and I announce that he needs to come see the shower – and naturally he’s following me asking me what I’ve done “now”.  Really?  REALLY?  I turn on the water and he very quickly realizes that there’s trouble afoot.  Then he quickly untwists the spigot off the wall – hey I didn’t even know it DID that – and announces that the pipe has completely rusted through.  Oh joy.  He has some genius master plan that involves going into the wall through our oldest daughter’s bedroom closet (she is not amused) and fixing the whole thing himself.  I was issued a stern warning not to use the shower (um, I’m thinking that’s not going to be a problem since the entire spigot and shower knob have been pulled off the wall….but whatever, right?) until he fixes it.  He was also thoroughly offended that I dare suggest we call a plumber, and perhaps even our insurance company.  I see trouble coming with a capital T.  I might not have much time, but trouble?  Absolutely!!!  I will keep you updated!

After all of this insanity I chose to go for a brisk walk this morning.  I live in a fairly hilly area, so a good walk will work some of this stress off in most cases and today was blessedly no exception.  As I was walking this morning I was thinking about what I needed to blog about today, and I remembered a thread I’d read yesterday.  Some very kind fan out there brought up the possibility of Duran Duran being nominated for a Grammy for All You Need is Now.  This person rightfully feels that the band pulled off an amazing album, and that perhaps now is the time.  I have to tell you that when I read that thread, my immediate reaction was “Absolutely not.  They don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of ever getting a nomination!”, and I meant it.    Bands who are nominated and especially those that win a Grammy are typically “accepted”.  They get radio play, people know their work (new and old), and while I don’t know if critics always love them – they are talked about.  They are commercialized “establishment” types of bands, and quite honestly – that’s never been Duran Duran.  Even back in the 80’s when, for a relatively short time things were super hot for them, they were never given more than a nod or two by “the establishment”.  We all know they were never a critical favorite, and while they might have gotten quite a bit of airplay back in that day – that was *gulp* nearly 30 years ago at this point.  The punchline to this joke is that All You Need is Now is probably one of the very best works of their career.  Mark Ronson did a fine job with the album, and I would expect to hear him be nominated one of these days – but not for his work with Duran Duran.  The very same reasons why Duran Duran will likely never be nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame would enter in here – and once again, I don’t think it has anything at all to do with the quality of their work, whether that’s current or their back catalog.  I know the band has stood up and said that they aren’t sure whether they’d ever really seek that sort of acknowledgement out simply because it’s so mainstream establishment – and by wanting that acknowledgement you’re sort of giving credence to the idea it must matter, and I would have to agree.  While I feel as though the band does deserve quite a bit of acknowledgement and accolades for the work they’ve done as well as the innovation they’ve brought to the industry, I don’t know that winning a Grammy counts for much more than stroking the collective egos of those whose career depends on such things.

I’m off in search of new pastures for this blog!
-R

Round 2, coming up!!

Good morning!!  Please excuse the short Daily Duranie for today…it’s a nutty day in my house so far.  As most know, it’s the first day of school, and I’m about to find out just how “wonderful” it’s going to be spending my afternoons driving to and from school pickups.  I’d post my schedule for all of you – but I don’t want to scare anyone, including myself, away.  🙂

So the GQ awards were yesterday, and the band was looking mighty fine in their tuxes as they went in to accept their Lifetime Achievement award.  I’m still amused by the fact that if any of them could see me on any given day, they would likely yank my “Duranie” card right out of my hand. (I’m referring to the completely fictional membership card we all have as Duran Duran fans.  This is not to be confused, of course, with the absolutely real membership card one receives if they choose to fork over the now $55.00 a year to be a “Gold” member of DDM….)  Fashion amuses me, mainly because I’m about as casual and probably fashion challenged as they get.  I don’t have the time, energy or money…but yet I follow a band that arguably has hung much of their career on being fashion icons. (whether that was intentional or just coincidence!)  But, until Nick kicks me out…I’m here for the duration!  One thing that knocked me off of my chair was seeing the picture of Roger with his absolutely stunning and grown up daughter Ellea.  It wasn’t the fact that she is every bit as beautiful as her mother and father combined (and she genuinely is a perfect mix of the two in her looks!), it’s that she is quite obviously grown UP.  When did that happen?!?  I swear I was just looking at a photo of her with her mom when she was about 13… Unbelievable.  I guess it’s very similar to my experience with my oldest.  I am pretty sure when I put her to bed last night she was still 3.  Or wait….maybe that was my youngest!  🙂    That must have been a very proud moment for Roger to have Ellea on his arm and I thought it was very sweet.  The band were well deserved in their honor and from the sounds of it, they’ve had very busy days since their Bournemouth show.

Tomorrow is their next show, this time in Cambridge.  Then they follow up with two more shows in a row – Bristol on the 9th and finally Oxford on the 10th.  I would imagine this is going to give Simon (along with the rest of us) a very good idea of what touring is going to be like this time around.  Naturally I’m wishing the band the best, and hoping that it all works out as planned.  Funny how even a year ago the thoughts that something could go wrong wouldn’t have crossed my mind, and now I’m actually waiting until the weekend is over before finally booking my airfare to Chicago and the UK.  My carefree days of travel are over in many ways I suppose – although I still have longings to see the band in as many places as possible, I’m not sure that I would ever book a ticket without considering the circumstances at hand.  I miss those moments, but I really do look forward to seeing the band live once again.

With that, I’m off to begin this first day of school!  As a personal update – my son, the middle schooler, absolutely refused to get up out of bed (although he’s now up and dressed), so we’ll see how this all goes.  I’m sure I’ll be sharing updates!!

-R

One last day

It’s always nice when the “work” week begins on a Tuesday.   I woke up feeling somber and melancholy, longing for easier days.  I received some very sad news last night – my closest friend from college let me know that her father passed away that morning.  This was especially difficult to hear because for one year during school, I nearly lived at this girl’s home.  Her parents took me in and treated me as I were their own, and I mean that.  They made sure I ate, that I felt comfortable, and I even had a key for a while.  They didn’t need to do that – I did have a home of my own, but it was a fairly long drive from school and while I didn’t necessarily mind the commute, their home was much closer to Cal State Fullerton as a whole, and of course I was the best friend/sorority sister of their daughter.  Her dad was a very nice, very humble man who was already retired by the time we were in college.  As I recall he worked in the aerospace industry as an engineer (I would swear that everyone in my life as I grew up worked in that industry at one point or another), and I’ve always wondered if he and my father-in-law ever crossed paths, but I’ve never actually found out.  Janell and I eventually drifted apart due to a silly argument back during my last year of school, but I’ve never forgotten the kindness of her parents.  It broke my heart to hear the news last night, and of course my thoughts and prayers are with my “adopted” family.

This is also the final day of summer for my 12 year old son, who will begin middle school tomorrow morning.  He’s very nervous (as am I) – it’s hard enough to be 12 and go to middle school, but to top that off with having to start down one friend due to a sudden move over the summer and a bit of social awkwardness (and braces), it’s bound to be nerve wracking.  As for the mom, I’m just nervous because I’ve already had some challenges with the school over some items in his 504 plan. (My son carries a diagnosis of High Functioning Autism – which in his case requires just a few classroom accommodations – hence the “504 plan”)  The bottom line is that I want him to do well, just as any other parent would want, and I don’t care to use his plan as a crutch, but I do expect it to be respected and followed.  Simple.  Yet not so much.  *sigh*  Anyway, tomorrow is the big day.  My youngest starts preschool again as well, but somehow that’s not nearly as scary!

Middle school is a big step, and I remember my first day very well.  Middle school began in 6th grade for me, which is a year younger than my son.  I was actually 10 years old when school started that year (I have a November birthday). I’d already decided what I would wear, at the time not realizing that no matter what I chose, I would never look nearly as cool or put together as the 8th graders, and I was probably going to be ridiculed for not wearing a “designer” label on my jeans.  That would become an almost every day issue as the year went on…   Honestly I was shocked when I walked on to campus for the first time.  It was the first year I’d had my own locker, and I can remember being awake for much of the entire night before the first day of school, worrying about what I would do if I couldn’t remember the combination or get my locker to work right – those silly combination locks were sometimes touchy!  As I entered the hallways lined with lockers, the swarm of kids was nearly impossible to navigate, and while I was excited to see any face I recognized from elementary school, it was clear that school was never again to be the safe, friendly place it once was.  I remember seeing kids kissing around campus for the first time, and my shock at their open affection for one another.  I suppose I was a bit sheltered, but shouldn’t any kid be at 10?  It was only as I grew to the point where I knew my way around campus along with where to hang out at lunch (back by the band room) and where to avoid (the girls bathrooms at ANY point of the day and yes – that made for some very interesting RUNS home after school – thank goodness I only lived a block away!) that made the school year bearable by any means.  I stuck to my circle of friends, found a common interest in some sort of crazy rock band with a silly name, and spent my days wondering how I could meet and marry a drummer that was a good ten years older than I.   Thank goodness for Duran Duran, because in the three year period where I felt the least like any of my fellow 6th, 7th or 8th graders, I focused more on the band, less on my own awkward moments. (which were plenty!!)   Good times!

I’m sure my son will eventually get the hang of middle school.  The situation at our school is fairly unique in that it’s only 2 grades of kids – yet about 1500 kids go to the school, and they work on a revolving schedule.  That means the kids have 6 classes to go to every day, and each day they begin their teaching periods in a different class than the day prior.  For example tomorrow they’ll start in homeroom – that class stays the same, and then they’ll go to their first through sixth period classes (they switch rooms for each class of course).  The next day they’ll report to homeroom for 15 minutes of announcements, then go to their 2nd period class, then 3,4,5, 6 and end the day in their 1st period class.  So every day it continues from there.  It’s the only school in our area that does this, and while they tout all sorts of studies that say it works the best for all students, for my son in particular it’s a total nightmare.  It’s the whole “Autism…I need a routine that stays the same” sort of thing.  Eventually he’ll see the pattern, but let’s just say that for the first 3 weeks of school or so, we’re all liable to need medicating, and by “we” I mean ME.   So yes, I’m nervous.  I’m hopeful that he’ll settle in with a decent group of kids, and that by November I’ll be laughing at how worried I was in September.  Wish me luck!

-R

Reflections

To begin with, writing this blog for what is rapidly coming up on a year now has been a learning process.  When Amanda and I started writing, I’m not sure if either of us had a clear vision of what we were hoping to accomplish.  For my part, I was just hoping to be able to come up with a new topic each day.  Hopefully we haven’t rehashed topics too many times, and given the fact that our reader count has gone up significantly since day one, I have to believe we’ve done fairly well.  When I sit down each day, I rarely know exactly what I’m going to write about; and I never  know for sure how it will be received.  Playing that game each day is fairly akin to Russian Roulette – a game I have never envisioned myself playing.  Topics that I would believe to be fairly benign end up being firebeds for discussion, and other topics that I would like to believe get people thinking and talking (or responding in comment) seem to welcome the sound of crickets singing on a summer evening.

I’ve learned that my writing style is raw – I’m not the type to write first or second drafts.  What you see here is exactly what came out of my brain, through my fingers and onto the screen the first time.  I write in a very “train of thought” type of way, and I always have.  My college professors would all typically write the same thing on my papers, “This could have easily been an A if you’d had done a first draft.”  True, true….but then I wouldn’t have had time to go to that party last night.  Sadly these days I would need to respond saying “True, true, but then I wouldn’t have had time to do laundry, clean the house, take my kids to school, etc. etc. etc.”  I like writing this way for the most part, because I think there’s something very cleansing about my methods, but I’m also very much aware that sometimes what I hear myself saying in my head as I type isn’t exactly how it comes out in print without my voice to accompany it all.  That’s a problem I’m trying to work on.  Sometimes it works well, and other times, I get hate mail.  (or at least “I’m very disappointed with you, Rhonda” email!)

I’ve also learned that for every opinion that I have on any subject, there are 50,000 other dissenting ones – and for each of those opinions, they have 100,000 examples to prove why I’m wrong.  I love those because, truth be told here – I’m no Duran Duran expert.  I’m just a fan, I don’t know it all, hell – I don’t think I know MOST of it.  I just like to write and I hope you all like to read.  If I get one of you saying that you agree or felt something for what I wrote – I’m in good shape.  For the rest of you that insist on continuing to teach me a little something, I swear I’m learning as fast as I can.

I’ve found that I do have feelings, even after all of these years, and when someone comes to the blog purely to put Amanda and I down….it actually does still sting a bit.  I thoroughly enjoy those moments when they have the balls to tell us how incredibly ludicrous we are and how we must not even be fans due to something we said or how we said it, but then won’t even sign their own name to the comment.  That’s amusing, mostly because here we are, putting ourselves out there for scrutiny (which comes very often), and yet we’ve got some yahoo announcing how lame we are – and yes – we DO publish every comment whether we like ’em or not – but they wouldn’t dare sign their own name.  I guess those are the breaks when you’re writing a blog.  Not everyone is going to like you or agree with you, and while I don’t like it, I’m learning.  I’m also learning that it’s not always welcomed to argue my point with said commenters.  I’ve driven more than one person away from the blog by doing so.  Apparently being “touchy” about comments is not allowed.  *sigh*   I’m learning!  I do feel badly if I’ve driven someone away from reading though, because obviously, that’s not what we want.  I think though, that it’s sometimes very difficult to find the boundary between someone not appreciating something I’ve written versus feeling as though that person doesn’t like me.  It’s something I’ve had to really learn how to deal with this past year, and while I am by no means good at it yet – I’m getting better.

The bottom line here for me today is that this blog was created out of my thoughts, and of course Amanda’s thoughts – for whatever day it is that we’re writing.  It’s all about what being a fan is like on any given day, and how all of that mixes with our everyday lives.  Sometimes, we get it all right, and other days – we get it completely wrong for everyone except ourselves.  Sometimes, we have the right sentiment and the wrong words, and still other days we even have the wrong sentiment!  Our goal here is to share what we’re thinking – but in doing that we never wish to harm anyone with our thoughts or words.  It’s sometimes a very difficult and thin boundary.

-R

Why You’ve Stayed (Part 3)

In telling why we have stayed, we asked you to tell us why you have stayed.  Interestingly enough, we did not get as many responses.  If I had to give a reason for that, I would say that it is much more difficult to answer why one stays versus why one became a fan.  Finding an interest is more common than keeping one for years or decades, even.  That said, out of those people who responded, we found similarities to why we have stayed fans.

Many, many people mentioned the music and how the quality of the music remains high.  Obviously, this is important since we are talking about being fans of a band.  It also reminds me of the answer that the guys give when asked about why they continue to make music.  They almost always say it is because of the love of music and their ability to write quality songs.  I think that if Duran wrote album after album of not great stuff, most of us would leave no matter the other reasons we stay.  The music is what matters most.

Beyond the music, there is what Duran has given us and what they continue to give us.  Many people mentioned the memories associated with Duran Duran and with being a Duranie.  These memories are positive ones.  In fact, Duran Duran has been around so long for some of us that they are a part of us and a part of our lives.  Typically, they are something we have loved for so long that we simply cannot imagine not loving them and not having them and their music in our lives.  In many situations, we connected emotionally to the music.  It spoke to us and continues to speak to us.  Often, the music has helped us get through tough emotional situations.  Because of this emotional connection, it is next to impossible to turn one’s back to it.  How do you walk away from something that helped you, that was there for you?  The answer is that you can’t. 

Of course, in reality, Duran is still giving to us.  They give us great music but they also give us tremendous performances that leave us so happy, so excited, and so ready to do more.  That kind of “high” doesn’t just happen in real life.  Thus, none of us are ready to walk away from it any time soon!  Of course, they have also allow us a chance to be ourselves and to be part of a larger community.  At a Duran show or on a Duran message board, we are all “fans”.  We are no longer the typical roles we have in life.  Rhonda is no longer just “Mom”.  Amanda is no longer just “teacher”.  We are just Rhonda and Amanda, fans.  In this case, we are all just like everyone else as we are all fans.  Nothing more and nothing less.  We then form a community, a community based on a common interest.  We are a community of Duranies.  We all love their music.  We may express that interest differently but we are united in that common love.  Being a part of a community isn’t easy to walk away from ever.

I, for one, am happy that Duran Duran is a part of my life and that I am a member of a larger fan community.  I appreciate everything that they have brought to us and continue to provide, which is rather fitting on Duran Duran Appreciation Day! 

-A

Why I’ve stayed Part 2

Yesterday, Rhonda answered the question about why she has remained a fan.  Today, it’s my turn!  One of the reasons she mentioned was how she is a fan because it is an escape from being a mom.  While I’m not a mom, I, too, find myself in need of escape from real life (don’t we all?!).  Most of my life is focused on some pretty serious stuff.  Career wise, I have been a special education teacher for years.  While that job isn’t easy anywhere, I am in an urban district at a middle school of poverty.  While I have loved my students, their lives are not always easy and I often take their worries home with me (not by choice!).  Then, outside of work, I’m pretty active politically as I have been working for and with political campaigns.  This isn’t an easy gig, either, as I feel very strongly about candidates, laws, policies, etc.  In fact, today, I’m a huge bundle of nerves as my state is going to the polls in six recall elections.  (Go Dems!)  Thus, most of my life is spent dealing with tough “real life” issues.  Yes, I choose to do that because I believe that I can and should try to make a difference.  I’m a sap that way.  That said, I need a break, at times.  I need something to focus on that is silly and fun.  Duran Duran is that for me.

Not only does Duran’s music often take me away from all of the stuff I deal with on a day-to-day basis, it has taken me physically away.  In the name of going on tour, I have traveled so much more than I ever thought that I would and have seen so many more places.  Since going on tour, I have seen great places like London, New York City, New Orleans, Vegas, and more.  Their tours have given me permission, in a way, to vacation, to spend money on traveling.  Without Duran, I would just be traveling to Boston or Raleigh, where my siblings live.  This has made me realize that while I still hate flying, I actually enjoy seeing other places.  I have learned a lot of about how to travel and gained quite a bit of confidence in my ability to do so.  For example, I have always wanted to see England but never really thought it possible.  Now, I’ll be there twice in a year!  Insane!   Of course, a big part of my enjoyment with traveling has to do with who I go with.

My tours have been fun for many reasons.  They have been great for the shows themselves (of course!) and I have loved seeing new places, but the real reason they have been fun is because of the company.  In many cases, I have traveled with Rhonda.  Duran Duran brought us together as we met at the Duran Duran Fans Convention in New Orleans in 2004.  We barely knew each other before that as we had only “talked” via posts on a message board before that.  We didn’t know if we were going to get along.  Yet, we did.  Now, I can’t imagine not having her in my life and I’m willing to bet that she feels the same way about me.  (After all, we do have this blog together!)  Beyond Rhonda, I have met SO many great people!  Part of the reason I like going to shows away from home is that I get to meet people.  How cool is it when you meet other people who feel like you do about Duran?!  Then, in between tours, I have gotten to meet people online through message boards, twitter, and facebook.  My life would definitely be less fun without all of the people I have met!

Of course, at the end of the day is the music.  The truth is that I still love their music.  I love the classics like Planet Earth but I also love the new stuff!  While they might irritate me at times and while not every song is awesome, when they do a song or an album right, it is REALLY right.  Thus, Duran Duran has given me great, timeless music, forever friends, an escape from reality and the reason to travel!  What a great combination!

What about you?  Why do you stay a fan? 

-A

Why I’ve stayed

That’s really the question, isn’t it?  Amanda and I have been writing this book about fans…about the fandom…and the question that pops up over and over again is “Why do we stay?”  Why have we been fans for over 30 years now?  What is it about Duran Duran that keeps us coming back??  I wish I knew.  I’d bottle it, sell it to new upcoming bands and make millions!   While I think the answer to why we each became fans is probably very generic and simple (it’s the memory we each have that makes it so unique), I’m certain that our answers for staying are as varied as our personalities.

To begin with, my memories of childhood are very good.  I am extremely lucky in that I came from two wonderful parents.  Yes, they were strict, but when I think of my dad or even of my mom, I have mainly good memories.  They were married up until the day my dad passed away, and they truly loved one another.  My home life wasn’t broken, I was safe, well-fed, clothed, and even happy.  Duran Duran play a fair part in those memories.  It’s impossible for me to think back on my bright green (yes green.  Summertime Green, to be precise!) room with yellow furniture and the strangest shade of orange-brown carpet I’ve ever seen (and I wonder why I was always an insomniac….) without thinking of my beautifully self-wallpapered Duran Duran walls.  When I think of the time I spent in my room (probably cleaning because my mom INSISTED that our house be vacuumed and dusted every single weekend regardless of what else we all had going on), I remember my trusty record player – the one I begged and begged for until my parents finally caved in and gave me the old one from our family room – and how I would play records until either my sister started complaining about my choice in music (Duran Duran of course) or my dad finally came in and shut it off.  I can remember riding in my parents  car just about anywhere and hearing Duran Duran come on the radio.  I would always squeal in delight, and my sister (she is 5 years younger) would simultaneously groan and begin complaining in an attempt to convince my mom to change the station.  This would then grow into an argument – meaning I wouldn’t even HEAR the song – until my dad would get mad, snap the radio off and tell us both that if he heard one more word out of either of us, he’d pull the car over “and come back there.”  Nothing good happened when that occurred.   Yet I’m still smiling at the memory.  So I suppose that yes, a good portion of why I still love the band has everything to do with the memories I associate with Duran Duran while I was young.   They’ve really been the background music in my life (our lives) for a long time now, haven’t they?

As anyone who has been reading the blog knows – I’m now married with three children of my own.  I was married fairly young – let’s see here – I was 24 when we got married in April of 1995.  Looking back,  I had absolutely no business getting married at that age.  I hadn’t even had the chance to experience life on my own yet.   In fact, I moved from my parents home right in with my new husband. (actually, we moved in together 3 months before our wedding but his parents still don’t know that to this day!  shhhh!!  Ha ha!)   I’d been out on my “own” during college; which really doesn’t count because I lived in the dorms and then in my sorority house for a school year.  Not really the same as paying for an apartment or buying a house.  I’d never traveled on my own, I’d never really been responsible for my own budgeting, and I’d certainly never bought anything big on my own.  I did have a car – but my parents had bought it and I was just making the payments, but the fact is – I don’t think I’ve ever really been on my own.  Then a year into our marriage I decided that I was ready to start a family. (a gross overestimate of my abilities at the time…)  Before long I was knee deep in diapers, bottles, laundry and motherhood.  During this time, I can almost say that Duran Duran was nowhere in my thought process.  In fact, none of my own hobbies or interests were in my thoughts!  I grew increasingly tired of “just being a mom”.  I hate saying that, but you know – I couldn’t stand the thought of just doing play dates and discussing the merits of Tide vs. Gain (different laundry detergents – for my friends outside of the US.), or talking about what preschool my kids were going to attend.  I tried making it fun by getting involved with local MOMS Club, but I was the mom who insisted on setting up Mom’s Night Out at the local clubs.  The other moms didn’t really “get” me, and quite frankly – I didn’t get them either.  I didn’t see the point behind embracing PTA with a vigor and never doing anything without a child in tow.  I needed more.  I needed ME.  I grabbed onto the internet with a death grip, found all of the music I’d been missing over the years, and my husband made the slight miscalculation of taking me to a Duran Duran concert – my first one since 1993.  My interest was indeed piqued. Then the reunion happened, and I nonchalantly suggested to my husband that we attend the 78-03 shows in our area.  (actually the truth is that I fell over a chair and have scars on my legs to this very day from trying to run from our then computer room out to the garage to scream at my husband that the band was playing a show as the “Fab 5” for the first time since the 80’s – and the show was in Costa Mesa near our house!)  Sadly for him, he agreed.  Our lives have never been the same since.

My Duran Duran life is full.  My husband might even say it’s overflowing, but I’ve really never been happier.  There are some things I wish I could change – for instance the fact that the people I most want to see live a good 2000 miles from me, and in a few more cases they are overseas. (and I’m not just referring to the band!)  Overall though, Duran Duran has become my escape from the pressures of being Mom.  I’m the most “me” when I’m writing the blog, talking to friends or going to shows.  I am rarely without a smile on my face during those moments, and for me, they’re special.  Sure, the last year has been a trial at times.  Going to the UK in May only to be completely blown out of the water really sucked.  I think the band would agree.  Knowing that my touring during the fall has to be curtailed so that I can fly out to the UK again in December really bites too, but that’s OK.  I suspect that if I could really do it all – both financially and time-wise, none of it would mean as much.  This time is precious for me and I’m enjoying it as much as possible.

I’m not sure if I’ve really answered the question of why I’m still a fan though.  I mean, sure – it’s about the music, because if I hated what the band was doing, I don’t think I’d still follow them.  I do need to give them their due when it comes to that, but it’s not entirely about the band, and in my case, I’m not sure if the music means nearly as much as the rest of it at this point.  If the band stopped playing tomorrow, I would still have so many great memories with friends to look back on.  I would sorely miss Duran Duran, there is absolutely no question there, but I’d still have all of those fantastic memories and friendships.  The music they bring is only half of the equation. That said, I don’t want to sound judgmental.  Everyone comes to being a fan for their own reasons, and as I’ve found during the writing of our book, we all continue to be fans for VERY different reasons, and the beauty is that none of it is wrong.  It’s far too easy in our fandom to look down at one another for not being the same as ourselves.  Not all of us has the ability, time, or need to experience our fandom in the same way. We really and truly cannot quantify those things to equate to how committed we are to being fans.  It sounds so silly to say or put into print because we all should know that and it shouldn’t matter, yet for some reason that subject always seems to come up.  The reality is that each of us have our own story for becoming a fan and staying a fan, and I hope that many of you will share!  -R

How we became fans! Part 3!

Rhonda and I completely appreciate those of you who have shared your stories about how you became fans and welcome more stories.  As I read over all of the stories we have received via facebook, twitter or here, I couldn’t help but notice that there are some common themes in them no matter if people became fans in 1981 or in 1993 or in 2004. 

First, most people mentioned a specific song or video that did it for them, usually one heard on the radio.  This song or video grabbed attention and demanded that the listener/viewer ask for more.  Many fans then went ahead and searched out other songs/videos/albums.  While I’m not surprised by this, I have to admit to being pleased by it.  It seems to me that we became fans, that we became Duranies because of the MUSIC.  While this seems obvious, it just reminds me that we genuinely liked their music.  It wasn’t that we saw their pictures on the cover of a magazine that made us fans or even heard an interview on an entertainment show.  It was the music.  Perhaps, this is the reason that we have all stayed.  We will look at that next week. 

Second, most people talked about the videos and how they often reinforced their interest.  Many people talked about how they fell for the fantasies they provided, the escape from their dull lives.  We, too, wanted to travel to exotic locations and have James Bond like adventures.  At this point, people did mention the good looks of the individual band members.  It seems that their attractiveness just added to their appeal but it wasn’t the only thing, which is not what music critics thought then.  Everyone assumed that we became fans because the boys were cute.  Yet, based on this, that is completely untrue (not that we didn’t know that before!).  While on the topic of videos, a number of people mentioned watching MTV and Friday Night Videos.  These video shows as well as listening to the radio are no longer common means of kids finding music.  As a child of the ’80s, I can’t help but feel sorry for kids these days. 

Of course, as people dived into fandom, most began to buy teen magazines that featured Duran and put up posters in their room.  They often bought strange merchandise like school folders.  I know that both Rhonda and I had Duran pajamas.  That’s how cool we were!  We began to show our fandom openly with our posters or with the buttons on our jeans jackets.  We were proud to be Duranies and it seemed that we wanted everyone to know!

The last common theme that most people talked about was that emotional piece.  For some people, being a Duranie connected them to friends or family.  It was something that was shared.  It was a part of important relationships.  For others, the music provided an escape from unhappy or tough situations.  The music and the videos took them away from reality even if it was just a few minutes at a time and this escape could be essential to surviving, emotionally. 

I’m sure that every fandom has themes like ours.  Duranies seem to share common experiences in terms of listening to the radio, watching videos and having an emotional connection to what we heard.  These common experiences have led us all to be the Duranies we are today.

-A 

How we became fans! Part 2!

In many ways, my story about how I became a Duranie isn’t that different from Rhonda’s and probably not all that different from any Duranie out there.  Like Rhonda, I was near a major city when I became a Duranie as I was living in the south suburbs of Chicago.  I, too, had a radio station that I listened to frequently (B96) and got MTV at some point in the early 1980s.  I also had some cool friends. 

My story as a Duranie really begins in 1984 when I was 8, going on 9, as I’m a bit younger than Rhonda. 😀  I do remember hearing many of their songs on the radio in 1983, including their new singles like Union of the Snake and New Moon on Monday.  I liked them just fine, but I wasn’t a Duranie quite yet.  I needed two big pushes for that to happen.  The first push came in the form of my best friend at the time.  We were constantly together, which is pretty impressive as we didn’t go to the same school and couldn’t easily get to each other’s houses as a major street separated us (which also separated the school districts).  Luckily for us, though, our parents got along and were pretty accommodating when it came to driving us.  My friend and I used to listen to the radio when we hung out.  One of our favorite activities was hanging in my backyard and taking turns swinging (I had one swing in the backyard).  There we would often talk about the music we were listening to.  One night, we heard Save a Prayer and I literally could not get the chorus out of my head.  Could either one of us tell you that it was by a band named Duran Duran?  Nope.  It was funny to us, though, that I kept singing it and singing it.  We vowed to pay attention the next time that song was played.  Strangely enough, I don’t remember who learned the band name or even if it was connected to Save a Prayer but I do know the next song to catch our attention:  The Reflex.

Like many kids, my best friend and I used to spend the night at each other’s houses, especially on Friday nights.  In my house, this meant that we would crash in the room we called the toy room (in reality this room housed the laundry and my mom’s art studio as well as my toys).  There was a very small TV that we would watch.  Again, like many kids in 1984, we tuned into Friday Night Videos.  At some point, they started airing a new video by Duran, which was the Reflex.  We fell in love with it.  Seriously.  We were obnoxious about it, too, as this was around the same time we got MTV, which acted as my second push to being a fan.  From that time on, we tuned into MTV and Friday Night Videos as much as we could to catch a glimpse of this video.  If we were not together, we would literally call each other on the phone to tell the other that it was on.  Strangely enough, this really isn’t that much different than calling, texting or emailing your Duranie friends to alert them to new tours or album news.  Of course, from this focus on videos, we discovered the old clips and fell in love with all of them.  At this point, the Reflex was a number one hit and we, officially, started calling ourselves “Duranies”.

From this point on, our friendship was focused on Duran Duran.  Our sleepovers consisted of watching Duran footage, which including their videos and eventually Sing Blue Silver once VCRs came out.  When our mothers forced us out of the house to go to the grocery store, we went to see what the latest issue of Bop or Tiger Beat had on it.  In some ways, we competed with each other as it was exciting to see who got the newest poster or a paperback book that described the band’s “long” history.  We ate up all of the information we could and tried to outshine the other with who had the band member’s birthdays memorized or who knew the kinds of cars John Taylor liked.  That’s another thing.  We both loved John.  I tried to like Simon for awhile but that didn’t stick.  You might be wondering if that caused a problem for us.  It didn’t.  We were cool about it since it meant that we both had good taste!  We could both *squee* over the same pictures or the same facial expressions he made in the videos.  In this way, we reinforced each other’s fandom. 

In 1985, I moved away from my best friend but my love of Duran stayed.  As the years went by, we still talked (though haven’t for years now) and I remember how bummed I was when she moved away from Duran.  I was shocked when she told me that she had taken her posters down.  I, of course, questioned whether or not, I should do that, too.  I obviously decided against that and the rest is history.  ;D

So, what about the rest of you?  What is your story?  How and when did you become a fan?  Rhonda and I appreciate those people who have already shared their stories but we definitely want to hear more.  Keep ’em coming!

-A