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Review: The Fangirl Life

I love summer.  It provides me the opportunity to not only work on projects that have been on my to do list but also the time to really digest them.  This spring I read the book, The Fangirl Life, by Kathleen Smith.  As I read it, I remember thinking that I would like to comment about this or that in a blog post, but never had the time to really dive into the book to do so.  Now, I can.  Before I do that, let me provide you with some background info.  The back of the book describes it as a “witty guide to putting your passions to use in your offline life.”  Basically, the idea is to use one’s fandom and passion to help with real life.  The author is indeed a therapist.

While I appreciate psychology and therapy, I didn’t pick up this book in order to fix things in my life.  It interested me as any and all books on fandom do, especially ones focused on female fans.  I wanted to see how female fans were portrayed and what I could learn about fandom through reading the book.  Not surprisingly, I found some parts of the book to be right on and other parts to be questionable.  Before I dive into the book more specifically, I do want to acknowledge that the fandoms discussed were more likely to be TV, movies, comics, etc.  Music fandom was often left out, per usual.

As the book begins, I found myself nodding in agreement about a lot of it as the author describes the fangirl stereotypes like the screaming 14 year olds at pop concerts but explains that the online communities of fans provide opportunity to form bonds with others. Right on, I thought!  The author dispels the four big myths about fangirls, in fact.  These myths include that fangirls are teenagers, they are trying to escape their boring lives, they can’t develop healthy relationships and that they spend all day on the internet.  By the time I got passed the introduction, I thought maybe this book was written exactly for me!

Chapter one focuses on the fangirl brain and how hearing/seeing what we love actually does various things in our brains to make us happy.  Cool.  She even explains the post-fandom event let down and why we can all get down, emotionally.  More cool.  Then, though, the book takes a turn to assume that many fangirls actually struggle with depression or inability to find balance between real life and fan life, etc.  The goal of the author is to have fangirls remove various dysfunctional behavior in order to be more successful in life and to be happier fans.

Okay.  I get it.  We all have crap to deal with, things to work on.  Every single person, fan or not, would benefit from trying to improve themselves.  I get that.  Yet, as someone who is well aware of the stigma surrounding fandom, I have to wonder if a book like this isn’t reinforcing many of the stereotypes.  Are fans really more mentally ill than the rest of the population?  Do we really struggle with balance?  Again, I appreciate the idea that is woven throughout the book, which is to use one’s fandom to be better, a little self-improvement, but I think the author needed to be cautious not to imply the fans are crazy.

Now, this isn’t to say that everything the author mentions reinforces stereotypes.  Some of what she discusses is how to navigate through one’s fan community, including disagreements, negative comments directed towards you, etc.  While I think that can all be well and good, I wonder that she isn’t missing something beyond the individual.  There is no analysis of sociology of fan communities.  Why do fans go after fans?  This happens all the time, which shows me that it is more than just about the individual fan.  There is something about fandom that causes this.  Fandom too often contains social hierarchies, which we have talked about a lot on this blog.  Why does this happen?  The author wants the individual to be able to deal better.  I want fandom to change so that individual fans don’t have to deal.

Overall, I thought the book was mixed.  I did get some things out of it, such as the brain functioning with things we love and the post event let down.  I recognize that the author is both a fan, which is obvious, and a therapist with the best of intention to help fellow fans be happier.  That said, I think she should have been a bit more cautious not to imply that fans are crazy and I think she needs to acknowledge the community aspect to the dysfunction that can and does happen within fan communities.

Has anyone else read this?  What did you think about it?

-A

“New Found Appreciation”: Influencing New Fans

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

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

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

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

Ease into it.

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

Play human recommendation engine.

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

Discover something together.

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

Make it a party.

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

Give the gift of fandom.

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

Don’t get defensive.

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

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

-A

 

Diamond Dust and Dom

Would you believe it if I told you that on this date in 2014, the Diamond Dust vinyl edition of Diamond in the Mind was released??

When this came up in my daily DD history, I was a little surprised. I can’t decide if I’m surprised it’s been three years, or that it’s ONLY been three years! I think it’s because since 2015, we’ve had Paper Gods on our minds, and in some ways (for me) it feels like All You Need is Now was a long time ago. That thought also makes me a little sad.

I need to plan another trip to the UK.

Moving on…

Hey, is anyone going to see my favorite person on Sunday in London?? Dom Brown is playing with his new band, DB3 at The Boaters Inn and the show is FREE.

A. I wish I could be there.

B. If you’re going, take pictures and video and send them my way!

Last Thursday of kids in the building for me….

Cheers!

-R

 

What WON’T the band do for their 40th anniversary?

I’ve noticed a lot of people working on surveys and things, putting together a wish list for Duran Duran’s 40th anniversary. I suspect the intention is that if fans work together to come up with a cohesive list, then perhaps the band will take a look and perhaps see their way clear to incorporating some of the ideas into their celebration plans. Maybe.

Amanda and I haven’t really done much of that here on the blog. I suspect part of the reason is that we’ve been around for six years, and during that time – while we’ve gotten support from DDHQ – I think we’ve come to realize they’re not going to take us seriously when it comes to the business of the band, and quite frankly – they’re probably smarter that way.  That doesn’t stop either of us from looking side-eyed at some of the things that have been done over the years, but you know, it’s much easier to quarterback from the sidelines than it is to actually be in the game. I don’t think we were always quite that accepting, but you know, Amanda and I have changed a little bit over the years.  Now we’re just having fun with it all.

That doesn’t mean we don’t throw some ideas out there every once in a while for fun though, and today will be no exception as I put together a short list of things the band will (probably) NOT do during #DD40!

Play a cruise!

I dearly love every human being who has suggested that Duran Duran basically put themselves on a cruise ship with what, 3-4,000 of their most rabid fans. How could that possibly go wrong??

Let’s just think about that for a minute: sun, water, several bars, thousands of fans who may or may not have partaken in said alcohol….and nowhere the band can really go to hide. Or run. Outstanding!

Yeah, I think it’s safe to say that won’t be happening. Again, love the enthusiasm, but probably not for their 40th anniversary.

Play shows with Dom, Andy and Warren…at the same time!

Again, love the enthusiasm for their 40th anniversary.  Honestly, I think about the possibility of this purely for the entertainment value.  Can you imagine all three of them on stage? Together? Two of them have enormous egos…the third might be trampled in the process. All together onstage for the same shows, same songs?  My money is on a firm “no”.

For that matter, why don’t we bring back everyone who has ever played with the band to play onstage? Andy Hamilton, all of the backup singers, Sterling, Steve Ferrone, Joe Travers…is there a stage large enough???

More travel packages!

This is one idea that I could see the band instituting in part, but I’m going to gamble and say they won’t do it again, even for their 40th anniversary. Back before Astronaut was released, the band did a few very special travel packages that were in extremely limited quantity. Fans paid a tidy sum for a ticket to a specific show, accommodations, special merchandise, concierge service, and a cocktail party with all five band members in attendance. I have a good friend that bought a travel package, and by her account it was extremely well-organized and thought out, and I think it’s fair to say it was a very positive experience for her. The travel packages went from these extravagant luxuries down to a ticket and a quick meet and greet, and then they morphed into meet and greets given at random to VIP ticket buyers, and now none of the VIP packages come with anything other than the ticket, merchandise and possible cocktail parties in some cities (without the band in attendance).

I know the demand for these travel packages (and meet and greets) still exists, but I think the band hated them for the most part.  I can imagine the thought of going into a room filled with Duranies can be a bit overwhelming. I can’t blame them even if I might wish I’d been able to take advantage when meet and greets or travel packages were offered.

Play individual albums in their entirety!

The one suggestion I’ve seen over and over again is to play Rio, or any of their albums – entirely live for their 40th anniversary. It’s the one suggestion that I am positive most Duran fans want (even if there is discussion over which album they’d most like to see done that way), and it is the one suggestion that the band just doesn’t seem to get.

Just last week, Lori Majewski had John Taylor call in on her radio show, and she mentioned playing Rio live. John thinks we’d be bored (sometimes, I really don’t think they know their fans) because we’d already know the set list.

Ok, John. I get you. I’d just invite you to take a good look at your set list for the past few years as you’ve been touring Paper Gods, and then tell me again that fans get bored when they know the set list. The fact is, to have an entire album played live is a completely different experience than many of us have had before – Red Carpet Massacre aside.  For that matter, you could mix it up and that way, you’re not playing the same album over and over, and if fans like me want to see them all—they’re gonna have to take a leave of absence from their lives and travel to different shows to do it.

Even so, I think it’s safe to assume the band isn’t going to listen to reason on this one. They’re gonna play the hits, and we’re going to like it.

My heart is still hoping for Late Bar…but my head knows we’re getting Hungry Like the Wolf.

Intimate shows of 3,000 or less!

Let’s be real. Again, this one is a gamble, but I’m thinking money-wise, touring the 40th anniversary would be a cash cow. Why on earth would they only want to play in small venues when they can play arenas and bring in more money?

Personally, I’d love to see them play in smaller theaters so that long time fans have the opportunity to get up close and celebrate with this band. I’d like to see fans acknowledged for the time and energy we’ve given over the years. Who wouldn’t? That said, the lure for a huge “comeback” anniversary tour (no, they never left but the rest of the country, world, so forth probably doesn’t know that) is ever looming.

I’m just hoping they don’t decide to do that “Verified Fan” thing through Ticketmaster…

There are a lot of things I’d like to see the band do for their 40th anniversary. Mostly, I’m at a point where I’m just happy to see they’re still around fighting the good fight.  I’m looking forward to reading what they’ve got planned, and I’m hoping that I can take an active part in some of it along the way!

-R

Ultimate Box Set: Live Tracks Part 2!

Today and this week, we continue on with our task to pick the best 7 songs to represent Duran Duran’s amazing live performances.  We began this process by looking at the 50 most often played live songs by the band.  From there, people voted for the 7 songs that they feel best demonstrate the band’s mad skills live.  This week, then, we get rid of the 15 or so songs that were least chosen.  Based on this, there are 32 songs remaining.  After another round of voting this week, we will eliminate more songs that are not chosen often.  21 songs will remain and we will select the 7 that should be chosen for our Live Tracks on the Duran Duran Ultimate Box Set.

On that note, which 7 songs from this poll should be included in the Ultimate Box Set?

Now that you have voted again for live tracks, you might notice that some songs were removed.  I eliminated songs that received 2 or less votes.  These songs included:

  • All She Wants Is
  • Astronaut
  • Do You Believe in Shame
  • Hallucinating Elvis
  • Hold Me
  • Last Night in the City
  • Meet el Presidente
  • Night Boat
  • Nice
  • Nite-Runner
  • Red Carpet Massacre
  • Safe
  • Skin Trade
  • Some Like It Hot
  • Tiger Tiger
  • Too Much Information
  • Union of the Snake
  • Vertigo

I was not terribly surprised by any of those.  While I know that there are plenty of people who love each of those songs, people just think that there are better songs that represent Duran’s live shows.  I also recognize that it is pretty dang challenging to just pick 7 songs out of 50!  I know that I struggled.  Hopefully, this week will be a little easier because there are less choices.  If you voted for one of the songs above last time, you now have a new choice out of your 7.  I will be anxious to see which songs are pushed out this week!

On that note, happy voting!!!

-A

Ultimate Box Set: Live Tracks Part 1

The task of creating the Ultimate Duran Duran Box Set moves on to the next category this weekend.  So far, fans have voted and chosen songs to represent Duran’s singles, their albums, and their b-sides and demos.  Now, we start on voting for songs that represent Duran’s live shows.  We will eventually settle on 7 songs that we think demonstrate the quality of their concerts.  Perhaps, these will be songs that are so good live that fans don’t want to listen to record versions anymore.  Maybe, they are songs that fans really hope they play at each and every concert they attend because they are so awesome.

Despite the description above, picking those songs will not be easy.  The band has performed hundreds of different songs.  Last weekend, I asked for opinions about how to narrow this category to a small number of songs to choose from.  Clearly, I cannot include each and every song that has ever been performed live.  Some readers felt that I should limit the list to 21.  Others believed that 50 seemed more fair.  Still others asked about specific performances or arrangements.  After weighing the feedback, I decided on the following plan.  It might not be perfect but I think it is a decent compromise.

This week’s poll lists the 51 most played live songs.  People should choose the 7 they like the best in this category of live songs.  After this week’s vote, I will drop the 15 songs that were voted for the least.  Then, we will vote again on 36 songs remaining.  We will do the same thing after then we will be down to 21 songs.  From there, we will select the final 7 to be included on the box set.  Finally, from there, we can discuss specific arrangements or performances of those 7 songs.  I hope that makes sense and seems fair enough.

On that note, let’s go ahead and give this a try.  Which 7 songs should be the live tracks on the Duran Duran Ultimate Box Set?

-A

 

On this date in 2016, the Belasco Theater, Los Angeles.

It is hard for me to believe that on this very day last year I was waiting in line to get into the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles. I remember it was a warm day, and my husband went with me to see the show. We came prepared to be in the line all day – and even brought chairs. It was the most “prepared” I’ve ever been for a GA line, and the funny thing is that I spent almost zero time IN the chair.

One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that the GA line, at least for me, is becoming less and less of a chore and more like a reunion.  That entire day was spent walking up and down the line, spotting faces I hadn’t seen in a few years, and then talking with them. The time flew by, and I could hardly believe it when Walt told me we needed to pack up the chairs and stuff and get it back to the car.

As much as I hate the idea of GA, these days, I feel like I know so many other Duranies – it is like sitting around and chatting all day, with no place else to be, and then getting into the theater and talking more before the band comes on stage. I don’t hate that. I also haven’t noticed the same pushing and shoving that I used to experience at one point. Either we’ve gotten to the point where we understand one another and don’t bother, or, we’re a kinder, gentler set of die-hard fans these days. Sure, every show has its resident idiot that thinks they need to shove or just behave out of line, but for the most part, we’re a tame crowd.

In July, I will head up to the San Francisco bay area to see two more GA shows. I’m curious to see if I’ll still be feeling the same sort of love there as I did last year. I hope so – I’ll be there with Amanda and our two roomies from Rancho Mirage. I can’t wait for another road trip!

So, were you at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles last year?

-R

Were you at Sunfest in Palm Beach – 2016?

It is getting to the point where I am beginning to recall dates off of the Paper Gods tour on our “day in Duran history” calendar.  That seems hard to believe. Just last year on this very day, Duran Duran played in Palm Beach at Sunfest. It was a date on the Paper Gods tour, and the album still had that new car feeling. We’d had the music for a while, but it still felt new.

If I had to pinpoint any one thing different about the shows I saw recently in Rancho Mirage and the shows I’ve seen previously for Paper Gods, I would say that now, the album feels less new. That’s not a criticism, either. For me, it just feels like songs such as “Pressure Off” have kind of found their place in the set and the album has a rightful place in their catalog. Rather than feeling like the NEW song, it’s more like hearing one of my favorites, or another crowd pleaser.

That song in particular, feels right. Duran Duran seems to appreciate their set creating the backdrop to a party, and songs like “Pressure Off” and “Rio” fit so well together to make that scene happen. I love the festivity, and while they’ve been doing the confetti-bit with “Pressure off” for a while now, during this last run of shows I think it just feels like a natural part of their set. I hate to say that I hope they never take it out of the set because, as we all know, there are FAR too many other songs we never hear because they’ve got too many of these “can’t leave it out” tunes in their catalog. So, I’ll just say I’ve enjoyed the festivities!

As this year moves on, it’s hard to believe that it won’t be too much longer before the Paper Gods album cycle draws to a close. This is the second album that this blog has been around to experience from start to finish, and it’s been quite a ride. I look forward to seeing what comes next – whether it’s an album or more touring or just celebrating 40 years of success!

Were you at Sunfest? Can you believe it’s already been an entire year since the show?

-R

 

You Won’t Miss Me When I’m Gone

Well, the spring run of shows is over, and the band has gone back to England.

I feel a little deflated, and yet my shows ended weeks ago. If that weren’t enough, I’ve seen a few people comment that they’ve never seen a tour happen this way – and so that must mean it’s farewell.

Oh come on now. Really?

First of all, I’ve seen a lot of tours like this. As in, most, if not all of them. The band always adds dates here and there, at least for as long as I’ve been actively paying attention. They do first, second…sometimes third and even fourth “legs”, and Duran Duran is FAR from the only band in the universe to do this. As John Taylor said recently in an interview, sometimes dates (like the South American shows) come up, and they have to get their whole group together, and so it just makes sense to add in a few more shows to make the trips worthwhile. I’m not going to find fault with that kind of sanity.

Second, if we’re talking about the fact that they haven’t gone many other places aside from the UK, Italy, the US and now South America – again I have to say it’s about money. Like it or not, the band has bills to pay, and they only go where they’re being paid to go. I know it’s hard to imagine, but the cost involved with doing a world tour – a real world tour – are staggering. They can’t just fly to Australia and do one show, and they can’t do more than that if promoters and bookers aren’t getting them shows. It’s that simple, whether we want to believe it or not. Sometimes, I think Duran fans look for conspiracies that just do not exist.

Lastly, even if this is their final farewell, does it really change anything? Does it change how YOU are touring? What shows YOU are attending? For me personally, I’m going to what I can. Even if I knew it was the final countdown, I couldn’t possibly do more shows right now, even if I wanted. I mean, what more could I really want though?

I’m not the type of person that is going to sit and wait for them outside of their hotel, or at an airport. I love them, but I also feel awkward doing that stuff. I know a lot of others do, and that’s great. It’s not my thing. There is only one time I’ve asked one of them to sign something for me, and in all honesty it was Dom, it wasn’t Simon, or Roger, or anyone like that. I’m just not that kind of fan, not that I think those people are wrong or weird or anything like that – it’s just that for me, I don’t want or need much signed. I’ve been to the UK. I’ve seen Birmingham – out of everything I’ve ever done in the name of “fandom”, that was the one thing I really wanted and it lived up to every last possible expectation and then some. Truth be told, I would really like to go back to the UK again. Very much so. I don’t know if I will have a chance to take that trip though, just because of timing and family expenses (again, college is NOT CHEAP).  I’ve taken long road trips with Amanda, I’ve had some wonderful experiences at shows, and I have made a lot of friends along the way. I just don’t know if there’s much else I could reasonably want, except more.

So while the idea of “farewell” bothers me, I can’t go on worrying about it looming overhead. A bit of advice my dad gave me before he died was that I needed to not worry so much about the dying. I’d call him at least a few times a week towards the end, and I’d always ask how he was feeling. It was natural, and I meant it in the most loving way possible – he was my dad and I was worried. Dad got tired of talking about how he was feeling though, because let’s face it – he already knew he was dying. It was no secret. He didn’t want to focus on the end, he just wanted to enjoy the living. So, he told me that the end was going to be just that, the end, and that none of us had much control over when that was going to be, or how that was going to transpire. What he and I could do though, was to enjoy the time we had. So I am, and I will. It was still a shock when the end arrived, and I still went through all of the same stages of grief as anyone might. But, I’m kind of glad my dad gave me that little pep talk though, because it’s come in handy more than once in the almost nine years he’s been gone. That’s my dad – watching out for me up until the very end!

Of course I’ll be wistful and sad when they stop touring. I have friends that I don’t know if I’ll see again when that time comes, even if I don’t think now is that time. I can’t imagine not seeing the band, or Dom, or even some of the roadies again. We fans have known them so long we can’t imagine not having them around and yet they really don’t know us at all. There’s really only one person in or around the band that truly knows me or my name, and I don’t even question whether or not he’ll know me in a crowd. It’s kind of like going to family reunions every time they tour or do a show, and I’ll miss those.

I think that’s really just it. Family. Somewhere along the line, this band and all of the fans that go along with them, have become a family, whether we like it or not! Some I might see as crazy uncles (there’s always one!), and others are probably related only by marriage and we don’t really know how they fit in, but they’re part of the group. I can’t imagine that feeling of family just ending, can you?

I don’t know what the band has coming next. I know that they’re coming back to California in July. I have heard rumblings of other possibilities, courtesy of the monthly Katy Kafes. I don’t think this band is quite done yet, but I’m not going to worry about that. I’m going to enjoy seeing pictures, chatting with friends, and planning for the shows I will see in July. I am going to work on a couple of projects I have going on here at home – including a high school graduation for my son, and I’m going to be reveling in the joy I have bubbling within for getting him to this point. I’m going to savor each moment as it comes, and live in gratitude for each day I’m given, and so should you.

-R

Highlights and More from Night One of Spring 2017 Tour!

I apologize for the lateness of the blog today (as well as the lack of a question of the day).  Wi-fi has not been super cooperative for us as we have been out by the pool most of the day, enjoying drinks and Duran trivia (let the record show that our friend, Lori, and I beat Rhonda and our friend, Suzie!!).

Today’s blog is a little vlog that captures the good, the bad and the ugly of last night’s show.  Just kidding…it is more about the highlights, lowlights and hopes for tonight’s show.

Without further ado, here are our thoughts about last night’s show, the first Duran show of their Spring 2017 Paper Gods Tour.  This show took place at the Agua Caliente casino and resort and definitely features some excitement (a new song!!) and some disappointment (have I mentioned that Planet Earth is my favorite Duran song of ALL TIME?!? and it wasn’t played!!!).

-A