Category Archives: touring

How to Tour “Right”

Last weekend, one of our friends on Twitter mentioned that he had a countdown going for the Duran shows in September. As I responded, I realized something. I used to do countdowns for tours all the time. I had calendars filled with numbers slowly counting down to when I would leave for shows. Why did I stop doing that? This made me think about all the various touring traditions we have had over the years. We had a ton and for the longest time I couldn’t imagine *not* having or doing them. What were those traditions? Should we bring them back? I wonder how much they added to our experience. Did they make touring more fun? So, here are some of the things we do or used to do in no particular order.

No Sleeping or Eating

When Rhonda and I first started touring together, it was pretty common for us to not get much sleep at all and meals were well…optional. On our first tour, we were up for something like 38 hours in a row and didn’t eat for a full 24 hours. What the heck were we thinking?! Honesty, I think we were too busy having fun to take the time to sleep or eat. Should we bring this back? We still don’t get a ton of sleep on tour and I don’t know that we really want to go back to no sleep. I also like food. So, good idea but…with limits! We are getting old here, people!

IHOP

Again, from the earliest tours, we often found ourselves eating at nearby IHOPs (pancake restaurant for those not in the know). Eventually, we even started to make note of where the IHOPs were in order to be able to stop there. I’m good with having this one or not. I guess I would put it like this. If it works to go or is convenient, then, I’m all for it. I don’t know that I need to go out of my way for it.

“The Menu”

Let me explain this one. On our first tour, we were waiting to be seated at a restaurant when I saw a take home menu. I grabbed it. At first, I just wanted something to look at but then I decided that it would be fun to write down various quotes from the weekend on it to document our fun. We had such fun with it that we kept doing it for years to come. I’m not sure when it stopped but I have realized that I miss it. So, I would like to bring this back!

Tequila Shots

So, for a couple of years it was tradition for us to start our evenings with tequila shots. Here’s the deal. This is one tradition that we don’t need to bring back. While I look back at those nights with fondness, I simply cannot do tequila shots anymore. In fact, I won’t do tequila at all. Now, whenever I have any tequila, it brings on a massive migraine. No more tequila for me, thank you very much.

Videos

This is another tradition that we have kept up, sort of. We definitely film vlogs while on tour. The reason for this is simple. It is far easier to film a video blog on tour. Plus, it is a heck of a lot more fun. That said, we used to do videos all the time just for us. I miss those videos and would love to bring those back.

Leaving Our Mark

There is a bar in Durham, North Carolina that had chalkboards in the bathroom stalls. It may or may not have had some pro-Duran Duran messages in it in the summer of 2012. Likewise, there is a wall near Abbey Road Studios in London where a lot of people have signed their names or left messages. There might be something about the Daily Duranie on there now, too. I’m not going to lie. There might have been other places that we have left our mark. I like this one, too. Let’s bring this one back.

Setlists

I’m not quite sure when and where this one started. Maybe it was Biloxi in 2012 as we sat all day hoping for a great spot in that general admission show. What am I talking about? Simple. We would create our own setlist. At times, it is just the songs we would love, love to hear live. Other times, the focus might be some sort of theme. I enjoyed the heck out of making all of those. It seems to me that we began to back off when people assumed that it was our frustration over the lack of changes in the setlist but I never looked at it like that. It was more about how to give the band a hard time (with love!) even if they never saw it or didn’t get our insides jokes. Should we bring this one back?!

Tour by the Numbers

I feel like there was always a little element of this tradition in my tours. I can tell you that I drove 1984 miles in the spring of 2005 when I attended 5 shows on the Astronaut Tour. I could look up the number of hours we spent on various forms of transportation for the UK tour we did in 2011. Now, I don’t know that anyone outside of Rhonda and I would be interested our touring numbers but I like documenting my life. I think it is the historian in me!

Meetups and Wristbands

At times, we have been pretty busy with planning meetups with fellow fans before a show. Many times, we have also passed out Daily Duranie wristbands. These would be a relatively easy to bring back. Would people be interested in that for Vegas? Maybe before one of the shows?

We Tease Because We Love

We have a strange sense of humor. I admit it. Rhonda and I get great joy over laughing with (at) the band. I love finding something to tease one or more band members about something or other. It isn’t like they don’t give us a hard time back. Anyone been in the front when Simon spits water during White Lines? If so, then you know what I’m talking about. If you have been following this blog for awhile, then you might have seen something about pants or shoes. Let me be clear, though. We only tease because we love.

So, what touring traditions do you have? I am looking forward not only to see a couple of shows in September but also to restart some of these!

-A

Early Summer Nerves

Every year, I make a Duran Duran wall calendar for Rhonda and myself. This calendar includes photos we have taken at concerts. Various dates are highlighted. Unlike most calendars, these dates are not always national or religious holidays. No, they tend to be dates of Duran concerts we have attended or dates that singles or albums were released. As I turned this calendar to May, I noticed that there weren’t many dates listed.

Why are there not many dates listed on our personalized calendar? The simple reason is that we have not attended many shows during May. Is that because Duran has not played many concerts in this spring month? Let’s check out the handy dandy complete concert list on the band’s official website. Here’s what I saw:

There were 0 shows in May for the following years: 1980-1981, 1983-1986, 1988-1992, 1994, 1996-2003, 2006-2007, 2009, 2013-2015, and 2017-2019. That’s a lot of years that did not have shows in May. What about the years that did have May dates? Were there many shows those years?

  • 1979 – 2 shows
  • 1982 – 1 show
  • 1987 – 22 shows all in Europe
  • 1993 – 8 shows mostly in South America
  • 1995 – 8 shows mostly in the US
  • 2004 – 1 show in the UK
  • 2005 – 7 shows in Europe
  • 2008 – 20 shows in the US
  • 2010 – 3 shows in Europe
  • 2011 – 3 shows in Europe and 9 more that were scheduled but canceled
  • 2012 – 4 shows in South America
  • 2016 – 3 shows (1 in US and 2 in UK)

So, in looking at the band’s tour history, it makes a ton of sense that we would have not many shows on our calendar for the month of May. On top of the fact that there are few years that had dates in May, many of them were outside of the US. The only years that could have applied to me easily were 1995 and 2008. In 1995, I was in college and not paying a ton of attention and in 2008, I went to one of the shows. One. Anyway, I wonder why May seems like an off month. I would get why a band would not want a ton of shows in months like January when it is winter and potentially a tough time to travel. But May? The only thing I can figure out is that they are often really busy in the spring and summer and May provides a break between two really busy times.

Now, in fairness, I cannot say that I’m terribly sad that the band has not done more in the month of May. I know. That sentence does not seem right, but it is. May is an incredibly tough time for me to get away. It is the last full month of the school year and my school district does not allow any personal days after the end of April. This means that if I were to go to shows in May, I would either need to lie (not my preference) or get special permission. I have done that before and it wasn’t fun. Anyone remember 2011? I fought my district for months to get permission to go to the UK for some shows. Eventually, the district gave me permission only to have the shows get canceled. I would rather not go through that again. No, it is so much better to just be able to go on tour easily with personal days or during the summer.

This brings me to 2020, the date of the band’s 40th anniversary. I have no clue what the band’s plans are. At one point, there was some talk on a Katy Kafe about doing something in Birmingham in the summer. I’m all for that!!! That said, I need those shows to be after June 12th and before August 24th. While I’m at it, it would probably also be good to avoid July 13th-16th. I promise that I could make anything else. Not only could I make it but I guarantee that I would be well-rested and beyond excited! I’m even saving as we speak!

-A

IT’s Too Much

I have to share a funny story. Yesterday, at work, I ran into the staff bathroom as the last hour bell rang, hoping to get in and out of there quickly as I had a meeting to get to with my principal. As I unlocked the door to the room, I discovered one of our English teachers in there. This teacher was someone I worked with last year as we shared some of the same students. If I had to give one word to describe this woman, I might say chatty. I knew right then and there that I would not get to my meeting on time.

As I passed her, she told me how glad she was to see me and asked how I was. I responded as quickly as I could, hoping that would be as far as the conversation would go. Before I could tell her that I had a meeting, she asked me about my summer plans. I sighed a little and gave a short answer, thinking to myself that we still have a whole month of school. I don’t want to think about that now as it would make the end of the year feel even longer. Of course, the conversation continued from there in a direction that I should have expected. “Duran Duran plans?” How do respond to that as quickly as possible. I responded lamely with, “Nope. Not this year.” As I walked out, I wondered what she really thinks about how things work with Duran Duran.

Later in the day, as I drove home, it dawned on me why I was so perplexed by how to answer. I honestly think she was asking me about Duran Duran like I might ask my friend, Laurie, about going to Florida during the winter or how I might ask the kids if they planned to go to any of the water parks at the Dells. She asked me about Duran in a way that made them sound like a location, some place to visit, rather than a group of people. Maybe it is not that extreme. Does she think they are just in a set location that I can always go see them like if they had a residency somewhere or that they are always on tour?

Now, in fairness, this colleague of mine knows next to nothing about fandom, especially musical fandom. She clearly didn’t mean any harm and I didn’t take it as some sort of insult. Obviously, she knows that I like Duran Duran and spend a lot of time doing something connected to the band. I don’t think she knows exactly what. She might know that I see the band play concerts but I don’t know that she really knows what that means. Is she aware that I often have to travel to see them? No clue. Does she any idea that the band doesn’t play concerts each and every day or even each and every summer?

This, of course, led me down another rabbit hole. What if Duran Duran did play concerts all the time? What if I could just go see them play anytime I wanted? My initial reaction was one of simple glee. How cool would that be? Rhonda mentioned getting to the century mark as far as shows go. This type of format would certainly make that easier or more possible. Sounds like heaven, doesn’t it? I have said it before and I’ll say it again. There is no place I would rather be than at a Duran show. I would be a lot happier with this, wouldn’t I?

As soon as I think all that, the more rational side of me kicks in. Would that really be the ideal? I don’t know any Duranie who wouldn’t like more shows. That said, would it be ideal to be able to go to a show at any time? I’m not so sure and not because I lost my mind. I would worry that being able to shows at any time would actually make the shows less special. Would I cease caring? Would it be so ordinary that it would be no different than stopping for a cup of coffee? It would be boring. Mundane. Then, if that were the case, would I stop dancing at the shows? Stop singing? Would I opt to sit in my chair and fall asleep from boredom?

How would playing so many shows affect the band? Would they grow to hate it? Would they start just going through the motions? I would suspect that they would–not because they are not amazing but because no one can sustain the level of intensity that they bring to shows. The more I think about this ideal world of Duran shows all the time, the less excited I am about that. That said, I wouldn’t complain for a few more shows. That wouldn’t hurt anyone, would it?

-A

Repost: Paper Gods, The Book

Today, I’m taking a self-imposed break. I saw that DDHQ had asked fans for their favorite tour book, and remembered how much I loved the one for Paper Gods. As you can see below, it is far more than just your average picture book commemorating a tour!

Have a wonderful Monday and I’ll be back tomorrow!

-R

**************************************************************************

I needed a diversion from reality last night.

So, I cracked opened the Paper Gods book that my ever-fearless partner-in-crime-and-everything-Duran-Duran sent me for Christmas!

cover

When I opened this particular present, I was delighted because I’d heard it was well-worth the £20, and I hadn’t ordered it myself because I just wasn’t sure I needed it. I own a few of their tour books from the past, and while they’ve always been a sort of “Oh, that’s really nice to have”, I wasn’t positive about this one. All I could think of was that it was 120-pages of photos, and did I really need a book of photos in my collection? I wasn’t sure. I wanted to see more of it in person before making a decision and I didn’t know when or how that might happen. Sometimes, a book like this needs a little previewing, you know? (It’s too bad DDHQ doesn’t know a fan website that could do that kind of thing for them every once in a while…..) So when I opened the gift and marveled at how big the book really is…and then began thumbing through it, I realized just how much I needed a book like this in my collection!

And…it’s not really so much of a tour book, although there are certainly a plethora of pictures in there (even some of Dom, Anna, Jessie & Simon W!). I would describe this book as being sort of the Encyclopedia-of-Anything-You-Wanted-to-Know-About-Paper-Gods-But-Figured-You’d-Never-Be-Able-to-Ask.

First off, the book is big. It’s not your basic 30-page tour book that’s mostly pictures (although yes, there are plenty and I mean that).  At 120 large format pages (13.25″H x 9.5″W), it’s a bit of a monster…and I mean that in a fantastic way!

bookwidth

There’s actual writing in this one, and not just a welcome note from the band or anything like that. There are interviews, thoughts, feelings…lists of words or phrases I can’t quite figure out yet (but trust me I am enjoying the process of trying!), and I’m not even halfway through it yet! Each of the band members gives a full-length interview about the book (and believe me, these are not short answers to questions), and they also interviewed Nile, Ben Hudson and Josh Blair. They even talked creative with Nick and Alex Israel, the artist who did the front cover of the album!!  I AM IN HEAVEN AND I’M NOT COMING BACK!!

I love that they took the process of recording this album and thought to have a book made for people like me.  People who basically dreamt of being a fly on the wall during the entire painstaking process: everything from those first jamming sessions at Dom’s studio down to seeing their reactions to the art for the cover.  The book is really something very special, indeed.

If the interviews and writing doesn’t grab you, the photos certainly will. This book is art…and if you needed to have large format photos of each of the band members, here they are for you to gander at will. I really love how each of the band members has a black and white full-page headshot, along with what I can only describe is a sort of silver “giclée” shadowing overlay printed on a heavier, plastic-like sheet. Way cool. And if you like stickers – they’re included too!

stickers

As I said, I haven’t even read through it all yet. I had to stop myself at 11:15 last night because I needed to get some sleep, and even after I put it down I kept thinking about what I’d read. In many ways that Amanda and I will get into later as we dissect this book from cover to cover on the blog (oh yes – it’s happening), I think the book makes me see the album with a completely different set of eyes, and I’m curious if my ears will pick up anything different too.

My only problem with this book is simply that they really should have marketed it differently. It’s such a great piece of Duran-memorabilia, you’d think they would have gone to more trouble to alert the fan base to it, you know? Seems like they could have used a resource…such as this very website, thankyouverymuch…to get some enthusiastic words out to the fan base and beyond. Amanda and I have a certain knack for grabbing the attention of the fan base when it comes to things like this, and let’s face it..the book is also a freaking steal at £20. (That is $28.91 USD as of this morning)

Let’s just talk about that price for a second before I settle back into my chair and read a bit more: for less than $30.00 US, you can have a large format, coffee table-sized book on Duran Duran (It is paperback). Everything from what some  might describe as “lickable” photos (I certainly wouldn’t say that..,coughs…but hey… I may have heard the term used before somewhere…) to in-depth discussions of the music and process. For the more abstract-minded amongst us, there are poems and lyrics and lists to read and ponder, as well as the aforementioned photos, both posed and from live shows (from the last year). I can’t really get over the value on this one – it’s the best bang for your buck I’ve seen in quite a while.

Like nearly everyone reading, I own a lot of Duran Duran books. I’ll go one further and say I own a lot of books period, but particularly within the realm of fandom and music history of this particular band  – I own a lot. This is a book that any fan of Duran Duran should have in their collection, and I’m thrilled (and shocked!) that they’re not charging the $50 or $60 that the book is really worth, even as a paperback.

Run out and grab a copy while you can! As I said, in coming weeks Amanda and I plan to do several blogs about the interviews and other writing within the book, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who is running off to order their own copy right now…so go get it!

Meanwhile, I’m going to settle back in my chair and read Nile’s thoughts on Paper Gods…

-R

If We Can Stay Awake

I have been sitting on my couch for awhile now trying to get some idea, any idea about what to write about. This is not common for me. Usually over the course of the week, I come up with many ideas, but not this one. I blame my lack of sleep. The sleep deprivation I have been experiencing has been forming over weeks. It isn’t that I didn’t get enough sleep last night (although I didn’t). I haven’t gotten enough sleep in days, even weeks. Then, the days have been packed with events and long lists of things to do. This results in not great sleep when I can get it as I am over-tired and stressed.

I am actually a really big fan of sleep. Most people, most adults, I know are. Yet, I have fond memories of times when I have gotten anything but. Strangely enough, many of those experiences surround touring. I wonder why. Here are some of my favorite highlights or lowlights or most sleep deprived moments or however you want to call them.

Is That Sunrise I’m Hearing?

My first real Duran Duran tour happened during this time of year in 2005 as part of the Astronaut Tour. I was extremely fortunate in that the tour swung through the Midwest at the exact same time as my spring break. This meant I was able to see five shows over the course of the week, including Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, Moline and Detroit. It was definitely one of the best spring breaks ever, if the best.

In many respects the first weekend of that tour was the most fun. That weekend included the Chicago and Milwaukee shows. Like many others, Rhonda flew in for the weekend and it felt like a party from the very beginning as Duranies filled the hotel bar until the wee hours of the morning. Even after it closed, Duranies packed hotel rooms to chat, to laugh, to ponder everything and anything Duran. I believe that the first night of the tour, which was the night before the show, we got to sleep about 4 hours of sleep. Turns out that was a good amount.

The next night featured the Chicago show and an even later night. Again, the hotel bar was hopping as fans and the opening band enjoyed drinks until late. By the time our heads hit the pillow, it was very late or very early, depending on how you look at it, bringing our sleep total to about seven hours for the entire weekend. Then, Saturday night hit, proving that all things Duran are worth it or so we thought.

On Saturday, we drove up to Milwaukee for the show then did the obvious by driving back to Chicago in hopes of seeing the band after the show at their hotel. (Of course, who wouldn’t do that?) As the hours ticked by, we sat in the hotel bar, chatting, waiting, uncertain about what to do. At which point, I knew that I would need caffeine if I would be able to get us back to our hotel, resulting in a visit at an all night diner where Rhonda and I started laughing hysterically and couldn’t stop. If I had seen us, I would have thought we lost it, for real. By the time we got back to the northern suburbs, the sun was rising and there wasn’t really enough time to sleep before friends needed to be dropped off at airports. This means that we literally got a hotel room that we never slept in. All it did was store our stuff. Yes, we are geniuses.

By that Sunday afternoon, Rhonda and I found ourselves killing time by walking around a mall, waiting for her to be dropped off for her flight. We only had about 7 hours of sleep in three nights and had been up for well over 24 hours. At this point, we swear we started to hear “Sunrise” playing in the mall. Was it? We don’t know. Maybe? Maybe not? After all, it could have been an auditory hallucination. After I dropped Rhonda off, I began making phone calls as I ventured north to Madison. I was that worried that I would fall asleep at the wheel. Despite my exhaustion, I loved every minute of the weekend.

We Might As Well Stay Up

In 2011, we had one of our most favorite tours, which was doing a few shows in the UK in November/December. Initially, we were just going to do the shows in Brighton, Bournemouth and Birmingham. Then, we noticed great seats for the show in Glasgow for sale online. It would mean traveling up to Scotland and arranging a flight back to London but that show seemed to be calling us with the amazing seats available. On top of that, my friend was living in Scotland and could offer us a place to stay. We jumped at the opportunity.

That show in Glasgow was amazing. It was well worth the additional travel cost and money on top of the ticket price. Honestly, it remains one of my favorite shows of all time even if we didn’t stay too long after the show as we had to get back to my friend’s place in Edinburgh through the light snow that evening. Still, by the time we arrived back, there were only hours until we would have to turn around and get our ride to the airport. Right then and there, we decided to just stay up. After all, we didn’t want to miss our flight back to London, which would mess up the right of our travel plans or so we told ourselves. In reality, the show left us with such a concert high that we spent the few hours we had searching online for any videos of that show or any of the other shows we saw.

Touring Is Tiring

I have so many pictures of Rhonda and myself at the beginning of a tour looking refreshed and healthy. I have an equal number of photos of us looking beyond exhausted and that we had partied hard. I distinctly remember a sign I saw at O’Hare one time coming back from a tour that said, “I’m ragged. I’m raw. I’m a rock star.” I think it was an advertisement for shoes or something but that phrase sure felt fitting. Touring has always meant little to no sleep. While I do love sleep, the fun that we have had makes the lack of sleep totally worth it. I’m sure the heck hoping that I feel the same lack of regret come April 2nd, Election Day. Then, like any post-tour, I’ll recover and get ready for the next time. That said, anyone know how to bank sleep? Anyone? Anyone?

-A

My Heart It Screams

I flew home a week ago from Las Vegas to Chicago. On the flight and the bus ride home, I had some time to think. I put Duran Duran on shuffle and just let my mind wander. As I listened and thought, I found myself writing down some ideas.

The Music’s Between Us

I must have listened to Duran Duran for about 30 minutes when I made a realization. I put ON Duran Duran’s music. Now, I know that sounds dumb. Of course, I would listen to Duran, right? And I do and have been but it has been a really long time since I just spent time listening to Duran Duran. Really listening. Over the course of the past year, I haven’t been listening to Duran much. At times, I would play a song or two when they would come up on shuffle, but I rarely sought out a particular song or album. I don’t know that I can adequately explain why this is but if I had to make a best guess, I did it to avoid feeling sad. I missed them. I missed the fandom. I missed Rhonda. After the Paper Gods Tour ended, I knew that it would be a long time until they came back. I promised myself that I would be patient (unlike how I was after All You Need Is Now). Then, life happened to get in the way of my usual fandom. This pushed me to separate myself even more from fandom. Now, though, I found myself seeking out Duran. Is this a sign that I’m through that time period that feels like a black hole. I hope so.

What led to this change? Every time I see the band live my love for them and the music is renewed. Those shows in Vegas went by so quickly. I found myself desperately wanting to bottle up the feelings I had so that I could open it later when I needed it between these shows and the next ones. Interestingly enough, as my plane began our descent into Chicago, into a high wind warning of 50-60 mph gusts, I found myself really thinking about my life. This turned a little…uh…morbid as the plane really struggled and I began to think this might be my last, I honestly thought myself, “Well, if this is it, at least I will go down listening to Duran,” which actually gave me some comfort.

We Are Forever

You know what else I loved outside of the shows themselves? I loved seeing people I haven’t seen since the last show in whatever city as we would greet each other with hugs and genuine smiles. I remember walking quickly into the venue on the first night so late after spending time with a fabulous group of people, thinking to myself that this really is like a family reunion as we come from all over to be together and to celebrate. Then, before Rhonda and I could get to our seats, we must have been stopped like every other few feet to either greet more old friends or to meet new people, new friends. That kind of joy wrapped me in a warmth that I didn’t realize how much I missed it until it came back. Then, after the show and hanging out, we returned to our room only to find confetti all over our bathroom floor. Clearly, we were all bringing a bit of the show with us. What did we do? We did what we always have done. We laughed until we couldn’t laugh anymore. I had missed moments like that and hope to have more of them in future.

The past couple of years have been tough. I have worked myself pretty hard, doing what I believe is best for a number of reasons. I have always hoped and still hope that the future, though, contains more of the best moments of last weekend. I don’t think they came as easily as they have in the past, but I’m hopeful that we can get back to that. Heck, I would love to see the emotional challenges of the past couple of years bring something even better. I can envision it. Maybe it will be a UK Trip in 2020. Perhaps, it will be some time, energy and focus on finishing a book project. If we are really lucky, it could be both.

As I look back to last weekend, I’m struck by how much emotional growth can and does happen while on tour, drinking vodka tonics and making fun of Simon like when John needed to bring him a setlist on Friday night’s show. I, for one, feel lucky to have had the moments I had here and look forward to the next time.

-A

You’ve Got That Thing Which Makes Them Smile

To say that I have not yet recovered from my trip to Vegas would be an understatement. I feel like I haven’t slept in a decade and I’m struggling to get going. My to do list is long and I am cannot get motivated no matter what I do. I’m crossing my fingers, hoping that I bounce back super soon as time is of the essence. Is this because part of me is still on tour? Still in Vegas? I’m sure. I also think that I want time to process last weekend and have had minimum time to do that. Despite that, I did realize something while I was in Vegas.

Could you describe yourself in one word? The other day Rhonda blogged about how she did not want to be defined solely by the term fan among others. It feels to her that being known for just one thing limits her and I totally appreciate that. After all, I don’t want to be known just as a “teacher” or “fan.” I am more than that. Yet, I do think that I could give one word to describe myself. That word is organizer. I certainly feel that in the classroom as I have to organize lessons and curriculum while organizing groups of children. Beyond that, that word fits when I think about my role as a campaign manager. I have to organize materials as well as events and volunteers to implement a plan. With both of my official jobs, I like the challenge of trying to figure out a game plan and how best to implement it. Not only do I like it, but I think I’m pretty decent at it, too.

Last weekend, in Vegas, we opted not to organize a big thing (ha!) or plan a real formal gathering. Instead, we went with the flow and had more unofficial meet-ups. While I enjoyed all of these gatherings, there was a part of me that felt removed, away from the action. Over the course of the last year or so, I have pulled back from the Duran community. There are a few reasons for this. Some of the reasons I have written about previously, including my incredibly busy life. Part of it, though, I realized, is that I don’t feel my participation adds much. I’m not terribly clever online and I don’t have any real insight into the inner workings of the band. I could talk about campaigning for hours. I could talk about fandom for hours but neither of those is what people look for in members of a fan community. People don’t share juicy gossip with me and even if they did, I don’t share what people share with me. I am pretty private so a lot of people don’t gravitate to me. On top of that, I don’t think a lot of people can relate to my life.

I hope this does not sound like I’m feeling sorry for myself because this is not what this post is about. I have spent a lot of time and energy trying to figure myself out and develop self-awareness. I know who I am and am okay with myself. Likewise, I have spent a lot of time and energy trying to get, to understand fandom and fan communities. Here is what I have realized by all this. I like organizing events for the fan community. Does it make it easier for me to socialize and people with me? I’m sure but it also feels right. It is something I like and am good at. It gives people a way to get past my private exterior and gives me a way to open myself up in ways I cannot get otherwise. I won’t ever be that bubbly personality that everyone wants to know. I certainly won’t ever be that person with a connection to the band or to insider or even interesting info. What I can be, what I am, though, is an organizer.

It was right for us not to organize anything big this past weekend but I missed it and hope that when more shows come our way that we can go back to doing something.

-A

And I Cut So Far Before I Had to Say

I am so stupid. Well, I don’t really mean that but I do sometimes wonder what the heck I was thinking. Then, I question why I feel the way I do and remind myself of what is logical. I’m sure all of that was clear as mud. Let me explain.

These February Duran Duran shows were announced in the fall. It was the heart of the campaign season as I remember getting the tweet notification on my phone while I was working at the temporary campaign office. As soon as I saw that Duran was playing in Vegas, I texted Rhonda and returned to reporting numbers and keeping track of volunteers. While I was all for going and was excited that she, too, was all for it, I couldn’t think much about it. I was drowning in campaign materials. At the time, I assumed that the election would be long over so going wouldn’t be a problem.

Fast forward to now. February. Months later. While THAT election is over, another one is looming. As I have shared on here before, I’m working on a campaign for a local candidate. On Tuesday, there will be a primary. My candidate will make it through as there is only one other candidate still in the running. (The third candidate dropped out.) The results next week will give us the best idea of where the race stands as polling is not an option for a campaign of our size. This makes me nervous. Has my campaign plan been effective? How much more do we need to do after that to either stay up or catch up? This weekend is full of activities to reach as many voters as possible. Likewise, there are campaign events on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. While I’m already feeling pressure to get everything done and to be effective, this adds some significant stress.

Beyond the worry about Tuesday’s result, I find myself also concerned about work. My students are about to start a big project that needs a little of time on my part to get it organized and to get them started. I am concerned that I’m so distracted that I am going to forget some key pieces. On top of that, my students have been…well…not super angelic. I worry that my room won’t be in one place when I return or that there will be massive bloodshed spilled. (I am exaggerating…slightly.) Of course, things are also piling up at my house. Bills have been sitting on my coffee table for far too long. The dishwasher is over flowing and my cat wonders if I sometimes don’t like him because I forget to see if he needs food.

Despite the need to deal with any and all of the above, what do I want to do?! I want to write up the agenda for the tour or see what needs to be done when it comes to transportation to the hotel. I want to watch Duran video’s from the show in Miami. Questions like will there be merchandise are wanting my full and undivided attention. Alas, I push through all that to get back to my to do list as I wonder if I should even be going on tour right now. The campaign only goes until April. My students could definitely use a more focused, less exhausted me. On top of that, I am concerned that the guilt over having gone will result in less fun and me not being able to really be in the moment. I don’t want that.

Part of me says that I should just cancel. I’m too all over the place to get myself in a state where I feel like I could leave everything behind for a few days. I even wonder if that is the mature, professional thing to do. Then, I stop this line of thinking. The candidate I am working towards knows that I won’t be around. She supports me going. My household chores will wait and I have a great sub coming in for me at work. They might even do better with her than with me. I need to stop this sense of guilt from even forming. After all, don’t I deserve a break? Am I not worthy to have fun sometimes? I think it is fair to say that I work hard (and a lot). Even during my snow days, I worked. I have worked each and every day since November except on Christmas. I need this break. I will be better off for having it. I will be a better teacher and a better campaign manager.

So, why do I have to battle this line of thinking? Is it that women are taught by society that we have to take care of everything and that when we do something for ourselves we are being selfish? I definitely think that is part of it. I feel bad because being on tour is about me, my good times, my enjoyment. Could it also be that a part of me has bought into the notion that fandom isn’t important or that there would be something wrong with me if I’m too into it? That could be, too. I’m only human. I could have internalized all that. I also think part of it is simply that when I get involved with something, I care about the outcome a lot. It is what makes me a good teacher and a good organizer for political actions/movements.

All that said, I’m going to be done worrying. Yes, I have a massive list of what needs to get done before I leave Wisconsin on Thursday morning. It will be an intense week, but I am pretty sure that the reward at the end will be worth it.

-A

The Lights Turn On

Today is the final day of my “vacation.” I put vacation in quotes because it has not really been a vacation in the traditional sense. No, I did not go to work, at least at the main paying job. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t work. In fact, I took one day off. One. Christmas was the only day that I did not do work for school, for my teaching career. I had a lot of grading to do. It was important to get as much of this grading done as possible for a couple of big reasons. First, the end of the semester is quickly approaching. This means that not only will I have to enter quarter grades but I will soon be giving finals. I will have to grade those, too. Second, I have an extremely busy schedule coming up as I am also working for a campaign for the spring election. This means that I have lots of tasks to do and many meetings and events to attend. Next week, for example, the only days I don’t have campaign related activities are Monday, Thursday and Friday. I’m already tired. Am I sad that this break is coming to an end? Extremely. I could have used a day more or five just to chill.

On top of grading on top of grading, I did get my house really clean, which felt so good as it had been months since that has happened. I also got some other household chores done like cleaning the coffee pot. More importantly to this blog, I finally purchased a plane ticket to Vegas. Of course, I practically have to sell a kidney in order to afford it but I assure myself that it will be worth it. And it will.

This weekend in February literally happens right after the primary here in Wisconsin, which marks the half way point of this campaign I’m working on. What a perfect time to get away! I am hoping that it act as a reward for the hard work so far and give me the break necessary to regroup, recharge to finish out the job. Why do I need a break with shows? Why couldn’t I just take a day or two to relax? Well, did I mention that I spent my entire winter “break” working? That should answer that question. If I am at home or anywhere near home, I will work. It is in my nature to do so. Therefore, I need a serious intervention to get me to stop. The only thing that will do that is a tour or in this case, a mini-tour.

I am not sure exactly why tours or mini-tours provide the complete escape for me but they do. Is it a change of scenery? I don’t think that is it. I have gone to visit friends or family out of state and I still take grading or other work with me. Is it being surrounded by friends? Again, I don’t think that does it. If I was really worried about getting tasks done, I would work on them even around friends. I have done it before. If I had to make a guess at what does it, I would say it is the whole thing. I am away from home, sure. I am also with friends but in a setting in which the band is playing. I have heard many interviews in which John Taylor has said something along the line that when they are on tour it is all about the show. This is a sentiment that I can relate to. When I’m on tour, it is all about that. It is like something all encompassing. My senses are filled with sights and sounds related to having fun, seeing my favorite band, and more. My thoughts become fixed on to fandom related activities and ideas.

Therefore, I’m looking forward to the real break in my working action. If that was not enough, I’m anxious to reconnect with my friends and work on meeting and getting to know others. Speaking of that, it appears that we will be in town on that Thursday night. I’m sure that we will be partying it up somewhere. Watch this space along with our social media to see where and when, if you would like to join us!

-A

Here in lives of misadventure

Ten years ago today, Rhonda and I were on tour.  In fact, we were in New Jersey, having seen the band play first at the Foxwoods Casino and Resort in Connecticut then in Atlantic City and Montclair.  It was an interesting tour and not at all what I was expecting.  This tour, of course, was part of Red Carpet Massacre era.  It felt to me that there was a major transition both within the fandom and for Rhonda and I. If that was not enough, I feel like I learned some very important lessons during this little tour.

2008, of course,  was no longer the time of the reunion.  Some of the fans from the 1980s who just wanted to see the Fab Five one more time had been there and done that.  They were long gone.  Others who believed that they were going to be there for the long haul found themselves questioning so much about the band and the fandom.  RCM felt very different for them.  Too different for a lot of fans.  Others held on through this tour and slowly peeled away, a year or two later.  Of course, there were fans like us.  We continued to wave the fan flag through this transition from reunion with Andy to the new normal without him.  While it was happening, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen.  Would I walk away like I saw others do?  On top of that, I even found myself questioning friends and friendships.

This tour was different from the last time we had seen Duran, which was the summer of 2007 for the fan show.  For that concert, there were three of us but by 2008, there were only two.  Our friend walked away.  I have to admit that I was still feeling sad by that and, honestly, a bit confused.  I didn’t understand why she walked away.  Sadly, this friendship has only grown more distant since then.  When we do talk, it is awkward and uncomfortable.  So, during this tour in 2008, I worried that Rhonda would be next.  After all, she had her youngest during that year.  Will family pull her away?  Like our other friend, I wouldn’t be mad or upset, just sad at the loss.  

So, in the midst of all this friendship turmoil, fandom shifts and transition for the band, we went on tour.  I expected a return to what I had grown used to and a ton of fun.  While I did have a blast, I also found myself learning some really important lessons that, now, I’m grateful for. 

Lesson One:  Attitude is Everything

As Rhonda and I went into our first show, I think we had a sense of uncertainty.  After all, the fan show in 2007 wasn’t great and RCM did not live up to our expectations.  Yet, we didn’t utter those concerns.  It was almost like saying something would reinforce our anxiety.  Maybe, though, we would have been better off to process the possible show results beforehand.  I wonder if, then, we would have sat down in a better frame of mind.  Of course, we had some additional drama with a former friend who made some hurtful statements.  The result?  Our attitudes sucked at that first show.  The band hadn’t even played a note and we thought it was terrible.  

Was the show awful?  Honestly, I don’t know.  Our seats were far to the right, which did kinda suck.  The crowd lacked some energy or was that just our lack of energy?  It is hard to say.  Soon enough, we started to express our disgust at everything, including the setlist, performances, the service of the venue, the crowd, etc.  Seriously, if anyone heard us, they would have thought the show was a complete dumpster fire.  Looking back, though, did we make the show terrible?  Was it our attitude?  I didn’t know until the third show.

Lesson Two:  Don’t Be Afraid to Show What You Want

The next night and show took place at the House of Blues in Atlantic City.  My friends and I wanted to make it special so we got a membership to the Foundation Room where we also ate a fabulous meal ahead of time.  While I loved the dinner, when we checked in, we discovered that our membership would get us early access to the venue.  For a general admission show, this means that you would have a chance to be near the front.  Did this idea interest me?  Okay.  That is a bit of an understatement.  I was jumping up and down.  On the inside.  So…I didn’t say anything.  I didn’t do anything.  I continued to hang with my friends.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I loved spending quality time with them.  Absolutely.  That said, it felt like we threw away an opportunity to see the show from a great vantage point.  But something stopped me.  Was I worried what my friends would think if I wanted to go?  Would they judge me or make it seem like I cared more about the band than them?  (For the record, that wasn’t the case.  I wanted to see an awesome show WITH my friends.)  All of the above?  As I realized that I wanted this but didn’t say anything made me hate myself.  What was wrong with me?  Was I five?  Still in high school?  Wouldn’t my friends understand?  They were fans, too.  But I said nothing but felt terrible about a missed opportunity and that I let others control me.

Thank Goodness for Three

Good things come in threes, right?  By the time the third show rolled around, I was annoyed enough about how the first two shows went that I knew that something had to change.  Somehow, Rhonda was on the same page or at least went with me in my desire to get a better show.  We decided that we would try to get to the venue for the third show at a decent hour to get a good space for this general admission show.  While I’m not sure we got there as early as we would have liked, it definitely felt better as soon as we staked our spot.  Soon enough, I started listening to those fans around us.  There were a couple of guys a row or two ahead of us who were so excited that they could barely contain themselves.  Instantly, I found myself smiling.  Yes, that is what this is all about, I thought.

Needless to say, Rhonda and I had a much better time at that show than the first two.  I learned to embrace what I want and also to go into any experience with a positive attitude.  It matters.  So often, we talk about fandom from a purely joyous point of view.  Other times, we discuss what the band is doing in very serious tones as we had the chance to save the world.  Even when Rhonda and I discuss fandom, it is usually through the lens of an academic, from a sociological point of view.  Yes, we have turned the mirror on ourselves, but still it fits in with the larger scope of social sciences, usually.  This time, at this moment, fandom has taught me about myself and how to be a better person.  For that, I will always be grateful to this little East Coast Tour of 2008.  

-A