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I’m Still Breathing, and So Should You

There are days when I am so thankful for this blog, this safe, happy place, that I wish I could hug it. Today is one of those days.

Yes, we had an election in my country yesterday. Some may be happy with the results. Others may be very unhappy. I am concerned. I don’t know what to write, or how to feel.  Mostly I want to move on, but I can’t seem to find the right way to go forward yet.

John voted in his first American election yesterday. He tweeted a picture from the @duranduran account. I am sure that must have been a very exciting and proud moment for him, despite the results not turning out as he may have wanted.

I know the rest of the world is sick of our politics right now. I live here and I’m sick of it too. I’ve seen many a friend and acquaintance comment in a variety of ways about the election, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there is nothing I can say to make people happy.  Once again our country has come to a crossroads, voters have spoken, and we find ourselves waiting for the other shoe to drop.  There are massive wounds left behind to heal, and I would be insane to think I could do anything to help with that process.

So, I’m watching videos today. I may not know much, but I do believe that music heals. It makes ME feel better. Our world is not perfect. My country may not have voted the way the rest of the world felt best, but watching a video or listening to my favorite band still has the power to make me feel better.

 

 

 

I’m just going to shut off my TV, shut down my computer, put down my phone, and try to enjoy some music for a while. I invite you to do the same.  Sometimes, you just have to take time out to breathe.

-R

 

 

 

Happy Early Birthday Rhonda!

I like to believe that my timing is pretty good.  If I want to be on time, I can be.  This time, though, I’m even a little early.  What am I early for?  I’m early in wishing my partner-in-crime, my fellow blogger and Duranie a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  Tomorrow is the actual day but Monday’s aren’t my day to blog, typically.  On top of that, I will also be at work for at least 12 hours as I put in a full day and hold four hours of parent-teacher conferences after.  Thus, I’m using my Sunday blogging opportunity to write a little blog, celebrating not only my best friend’s birthday but also to cheer the friendship that we have.

In looking back at a friendship that began in 2004, I recognize that we have shared quite a few emotions and a number of significant events together.  I believe that strong emotions and significant experiences help to solidify friendships so that they can endure the up and down nature of life and relationships.  This blog, then, will attempt to shed light on some of those feelings and events.
Excitement:
One thing is for sure—a lot of our friendship has been fueled by our shared excitement for Duran Duran happenings.  Looking back, this began in December of 2004 when a flurry of phone calls took place surrounding upcoming tour dates supporting the reunion album of Astronaut.  I still recall the feeling of pure joy in calling Rhonda mid-day later that week to report that I indeed was able to acquire VIP tickets for us for the Chicago show in March 2005.  Of course, this type of activity has been repeated countless times since.  The most recent being when the band released the video for Last Night in the City, inspiring repeated viewing and a little video review, which you can see here:

Joy:
In many cases, those feelings of excitement translate to pure joy when the anticipation becomes reality.  For us, over the years, generally, the joy has come from screaming, singing and dancing at a Duran Duran concert.  It might even come when we squee over DoJo.  The first one was in Chicago and the last one was in Chula Vista, California, with shows in between in various locations like  the Northeast, the Southeast and even the UK.
Chula Vista
Chula Vista
 Curiosity:
Of course, our fandom has been more than video releases and concerts.  A lot of our fandom has been about talking, thinking, discussing about all things Duran.  I think of countless examples of times that we have watched or listened to something together.  Last year, for example, we exchanged a series of text messages as the lyrics to different songs on Paper Gods sunk in.  When we really paid attention to the lyrics of Last Night in the City and realized that the words described how we feel on tour, then the album began to take hold.  Years earlier, we viewed the brand new video for All You Need Is Now together, squeed in delight and picked apart the images we loved the most.  Sometimes, our need to discuss take place at strange times like when the video for Girl Panic came out.  I couldn’t wait to talk to Rhonda about how smart the video is so I called her from my classroom during my brief lunch hour.

Worry:
While our friendship has often surrounded fun and good times, we have also experienced moments of extreme worry.  We grieved when Andy left for the second time, for example.  Another instance was when we felt for that we were facing the end of Duran Duran when Simon lost his voice in 2011 and the UK spring tour had to be canceled.  There we were in the UK, having flown for four shows and getting none.  Instead of staying away from all things Duran, we ventured out to the band’s studio where we witnessed Simon explain that he didn’t think he was going to be able to sing followed by John’s look of devastation.  Like others there, we put on a brave face.  Rhonda and I did what was logical.  We went for ice cream to drown our sorrows in dairy and sugar.
Ice Cream makes it all better
We did what any heartbroken American would do. We had ice cream.
 Hard Work:
Unlike almost all of my other friendships, Rhonda and I took a very brave, but risky step to do more than just be friends.  We decided that we would work together.  Sometimes, this decision brought us closer together when we faced challenges and bonded over a shared realized that only we could understand what we experienced.  Other times, we pushed and pulled against each other, wanting to dig in our heels about something or another while at the same time reaching for compromise.  I look back at some of those moments and realize that the push and pull always brought out the best in us even if it wasn’t always easy.  Yet, we weren’t afraid to have those little disagreements, knowing that our foundation as friends was strong.  Clearly, we have worked well together on this blog, with fan events, with a convention and even with writing, despite any and all setback.  Truly, I didn’t just gain a friend but someone that helps me bring out the best in me.
Very proud
Very proud
Fun:
The thing is that a lot of friendship surrounds fun.  Sometimes, our hard work has led us to celebrate.  At other times, it is simply being together that brings fun, whether in person, on the phone or via Skype.  Luckily, many of our in person good times have been at Duran shows.  I won’t lie.  We have held many “all night parties” and enjoyed many “cocktail bars”.  At the end of day, there isn’t much better than having a vodka tonic or two and laughing over some ridiculous quote that one of us had uttered.
Durham drunk
Appreciate:
Looking at all of these emotions that we have experienced together, I also have to appreciate the little moments.  I look back at all the times we were in a car driving to or from a show.  Those moments were filled with listening to Duran while creating what we thought would make a great setlist.  Other little moments that I have enjoyed include going to art museums together, dancing to 80s music at a club, or simply talking or exchanging emails.
Our Paso Robles Setlist
Our Paso Robles Setlist
On this day then I celebrate our friendship and the person, the friend who puts up with me and who has shared all of these emotions with me.  My world would be a lot smaller, a lot less fun and a lot less happy.  On that note, then,  I wish her the happiest of birthdays and many more to follow!  I also hope that all of you wish her a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!
-A

It is Time to Mobilise: DD for Best World Stage

I promised myself that I would get my act together with this blog and my new schedule. I wouldn’t miss blogging days, and it would all be fine.

Then Tuesday happened. I had no blogging ideas, I had no inspiration, and no time. It is a never-ending battle. There are moments when I long for what it was like in previous years. I could sit down to write at nearly any time. These days, I work out of the house on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and as it turns out I get asked to work remotely (from home) sometimes on other days as well.  It leaves little time for writing, and unlike Amanda, who has discovered the knack for gathering ideas ahead of time—I haven’t.

All I can do is take a deep breath, smile, and say that I am doing my best. I appreciate your patience, but I could also really use some writing ideas and/or topics. My hope is to get to a point where I can blog on Mondays for both Monday and Tuesday, and then on Wednesdays for Wednesday and Thursday. This means that yes, I’ll miss out on “breaking news” some of the time, but it’s the best I can do for now.

Until then, I see that we’re still voting for the MTV EMA’s Best World Stage, as Mr. Le Bon mentioned today on Twitter. As he says, “it is time to mobilize”. (My autocorrect immediately switches to the US spelling and I’m not fixing it…sorry!)

Unlike the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, this is totally about the fans. I’m voting. I’ve been voting.  Are you?  I would love nothing more than to see Duran Duran win Best World Stage , particularly because I really believe their live show is outstanding, and they’ve earned it. Yes, it’s vain. Yes, it’s a popularity contest.  Yes, I blogged earlier today about how I think the RRHOF is unimportant. This is different.

So here’s the link, go do your thing, Duranies.  And if you’ve already voted: DO IT AGAIN.  (In fact, do it over and over!)

2016 MTV EMA's

-R

Duran Duran Nominated for 2016 MTV EMA’s – Best World Stage

Duran Duran was nominated for the MTV EMA’s!  Those aren’t words I get to type every day, which makes this post especially fun.

No, awards don’t necessarily matter, nor do critics or poor reviews, but it’s nice to see the band review a few accolades every now and then.  Duran Duran is nominated for Best World Stage.  I looked this up because I wasn’t sure what the heck it meant, but then I remembered – the World Stage concert in the Piazza Del Duomo last year in Milan.  Ah, yes.

I think this is something we can get behind.

First of all, let’s refresh our memory.  I mean….to be fair about this voting thing we should at least remind ourselves, right??? It’s our due diligence!

There’s more…

Another…

I remember this show not because it was MTV…but because the setting was fabulous, and the band seemed like they were on fire. I remember seeing photos of the Piazza during the day and then that night. Stunning. Then the band came on stage and the Piazza was electrified. Shows like that are hard to top, no doubt.

At the time, I remember thinking that they’d been cheated out of performing on the actual show itself.  Another show of music industry age-ism, no doubt. In hindsight though, I think they had the better deal, playing for fans in the middle of that beautiful setting.

The following night, they earned the very first MTV EMA for Video Visionary. Again, not a bad deal.  Let’s remind ourselves of that grand moment!  (this clip is from YouTube and was filmed from the back because – there’s another clip on MTV if you want a better one but I couldn’t get it to post here, although the link is below)

 

MTV link (from the front!) 

And, let’s face it, being nominated for an EMA isn’t a terrible payoff either. But now, we have work to do, Duranies, if we want to see them actually win.

We have to vote.  A lot.

Here is the link to vote for Duran Duran to win Best World Stage at this year’s MTV EMA’s.  Just click on the picture and it’ll take you to the website!

2016 MTV EMA's

Now, I know many fans will scoff and say awards don’t matter, or that MTV doesn’t even play videos anymore…or that no one in the audience will even know who Duran Duran is, or better yet, that setting up and encouraging multiple votes lacks honesty and integrity.

Not with that attitude! It takes about two seconds and two clicks to vote for a band that we all love, and at the same time we are helping expose them to an international audience that might not know them as well as we do.  Besides, it’s cool to see them get an award for something that we already know: They are amazing live and put on one hell of a good show. Supporting that is easy.  Now go do it. Many, many times!

-R

 

 

Looking for a Token

Twelve years ago today I was in New Orleans at the Duran Duran Fan Convention.  I had just landed in the epic city and was ready but nervous about the weekend with other Duran fans.  Truly, I had no idea what to expect but hoped that I would have a ton of fun and would meet some great people.  Luckily, my hopes turned to reality and then some.  Not only did I have a tremendous time but it really started me on this little fandom journey.  On top of having my newly awakened fandom reinforced, I also met my partner-in-crime there.

A big part of me wishes that I go back to that convention.  I would love to have a weekend of nothing but fun.  Think about it–a weekend of partying all night with friends, discussing and listening to nothing but Duran!!  Yes, please!  It would be the exact opposite of what life feels like right now.

I hate this time of the year.  In fact, I always do.  September means the beginning of the school year.  My focus is on establishing relationships with a new group of students while being slammed with work.  Summer allows me time to relax and to forget about how much work and time goes into teaching.  Every year, I say the same thing, “This year, I will manage my time in such a way that I’ll will have real weekends off and that I’ll still be able to work on this project or that.”  Quickly, the school year proves that goal to be impossible.

Once I’m into a school year, it becomes all-consuming.  The few minutes I have each day becomes focused solely on having some down time rather than anything else that I would want to do.  Initially, I’m okay with this.  It feels good to have that tunnel-vision as part of me believes that is what is necessary to be the best teacher I can be.  Soon enough, though, I begin to feel like how I’m feeling now.

I am finding myself missing other aspects of my life.  For example, I don’t want to just be teaching all day, every day.  In reality, I don’t think that makes me a better teacher despite what my employer might think.  Breaks are needed.  Time to do other things is necessary for me to be happy.  While I know that I can’t be at a Duran convention like I was 12 years ago, I would like to work on some of the projects that Rhonda and I have on our plates.  Yet, I know that I have had little time to do so and she is in the same boat.

Perhaps, part of my wish to work on writing projects and convention planning is to have the reason or excuse to be in more constant contact with Rhonda.  We have been so busy that our communication has been minimal.  In thinking about this, a wave of sadness rolls over me.  I miss my friend.  Of course, I miss the fun that we always have when we are together like at that convention, but I just miss chatting about whatever.

To be honest, this week has been emotionally tough for me.  Some of my classes are tough, really tough.  I haven’t had classes like this in a long time.  I haven’t been feeling great, either, which always makes everything tougher.  My stress level has been high as has my anxiety. In thinking about what would makes things better, one thing is clear. I can’t neglect my friendships for work.  My fandom shouldn’t be pushed to the side as something I do or squeeze in when my schedule allows.  No, I need to keep those aspects of my life that bring me joy in my life.

Thus, maybe I will be motivated to make the changes necessary due to this convention anniversary along with the end of a tough week at work.  I need to set aside time to talk to my friends.  My days should not be filled with just work.  Grading can wait.  I will find the balance that is needed to bring back some joy.

-A

A Drop of Blood on Evil Beach

So, the Duranie fallout from Mike Bell’s unfavorable review of the Calgary show continues this morning. I can’t remember the last time Daily Duranie had so much discussion on its Facebook page, actually.  Dissenting comments populated our page and spread like wildfire.

Coyly, one commenter asked, “Is he not allowed an opinion?” She continued by saying she didn’t know if she would agree with his review until she went to see the show.

Fair enough.  Her loaded question made me think.  Mike Bell, and others like him are critics. In order to be a critic, opinions are necessary.  I mean, you can’t very well review something if you don’t have an opinion, can you?  But is that the point here?  I’m not so sure on my end.

There have been numerous times when Amanda and I have given an unfavorable review. Fans are not afraid to call us out when they do not agree.  We’ve had it pointed out to us occasionally that we’ve been too harsh with regard to one topic or another. Carefully, we  cite reasons, give examples and with varying levels of success—we attempt to be fair when we write blogs that are less than favorable. It isn’t easy, and we don’t expect everyone to agree. Our job is to start the conversation and let it go from there.

Those details that Amanda and I try very hard to incorporate here, such as examples, reasons, and yes, fairness, were missing yesterday. It wasn’t so much that the reviewer didn’t like the show, it was that I hardly saw critique of the show.  His article displayed his predetermined utter dislike for the band with a few dismal sentences about the show thrown in for good measure. Had he taken the time to prove why he felt that HLTW wasn’t quite up to par, or how he felt that the band was inanimate, perhaps the review might have gone over differently.

That’s just it though, these critics don’t have to prove anything. They can just write their drivel, and for the most part—it goes unnoticed and unchallenged until a blog like Daily Duranie comes along. I make no apologies for starting the conversation.

-R

 

Summer Tour 2016: By the Numbers

Today marks the official end to my summer.  It isn’t that the calendar states September whatever to indicate the beginning of fall or that my students arrive in my classroom tomorrow.  It is, for me, though the last day before I go into that classroom and prepare it for students.  Yes, kids, this teacher is going back to work tomorrow.  (Please note…the utter enthusiasm…HA!)  Before I do that, I want to take one last, long look back to my summer and, more specifically, the summer tour!  Following in our touring tradition, I give you all our summer tour by the numbers!

Miles Driven:  2348

On the road to Toronto
On the road to Toronto

We drove a LOT.  I mean A LOT.  For the first leg, I drove from Madison, Wisconsin, to Toronto and back.  During the second leg, Rhonda drove from her place in Orange County to Paso Robles to Vegas to Chula Vista back to Orange County.  It is definitely the most we drove for any  “tour”.  I can speak for Rhonda when I say that we are SO thankful that we have days and breaks in between driving.

8 Shows:  (1 extra for each of us)

During this summer leg, we saw 8 shows together and one extra separately as Rhonda went to the LA show in May and I drove up to Minneapolis.  I know that some might think this is excessive.  My response to that is simple.  We did just as many shows during the All You Need Is Now Tour.  They were just split up more.  (Logical response, right?!)

Chicago July 8
Chicago July 8
Chicago July 9
Chicago July 9
Detroit
Detroit
Toronto
Toronto
Paso Robles
Paso Robles
Las Vegas
Las Vegas
Irvine
Irvine
Chula Vista
Chula Vista

7 Hotels

We stayed in 7 different hotels in the following places:  Chicago, Kalamazoo, Detroit, Toronto, Tinley Park, Paso Robles and Vegas.  I generally like staying in hotels but they are a killer on the pocketbook!

7 States/Provinces:

Like the hotels, we were in 7 different states or provinces:  Wisconsin (just me) Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ontario, California and Nevada.  Those places remain standing.  As for their vodka supply…perhaps, not so much!

Those Damn Pants:  

If you were reading our blog while we were on tour, you might

Las Vegas
Las Vegas

have seen a mention or two (hundred) about John Taylor’s pants.  I won’t go into detail other than to say that they were not my favorite and I saw him wear them for 5 shows (Chicago night 1, Detroit, Paso Robles, Vegas and Irvine).  Call this acknowledgement closure on my end.  I promise.  They will never be mentioned again.

Holy Confetti Batman!

Our summer tour began without the confetti at the two Chicago

Irvine
Irvine

shows.  We missed it terribly.  The other 6 shows more than made up for it!

Average Number of Drinks:

Cheers!
Cheers!

Uh…I thought about doing this one as just a straight up number but I figured that it might scare people (or me!).  Let’s just put it this way.  We had quite a few vodka tonics.  Maybe we had more than a few.  Some might say we had a lot.  So, I think we averaged between 4-5 per day.  I think.  Maybe.  We apologize to all of those cities that had to replace the vodka after we left.

5 Setlists:

Our Paso Robles Setlist
Our Paso Robles Setlist

One of our touring traditions is to suggest a setlist for each show we go to.  This time, we gave the band a break on the first leg since Nick was not there.  By the second leg, we felt confident that MNDR knew how to bring it leading us to suggest a setlist or four.  Of course, the fifth one was the one we actually got, you know…from the band, on stage!

 

 

 

4 Official Meet-ups:

We organized and hosted 4 official pre-show meet-ups in Chicago (both nights), Toronto and Vegas!  We had a good time and were thrilled with the turn out!!!

1st night in Chicago
1st night in Chicago
2nd group meet-up in Chicago
2nd group meet-up in Chicago
Toronto meet up
Toronto meet up
In Las Vegas
In Las Vegas

2 Bloggers on Tour:

Sometimes, touring can be lonely.

All by ourselves in Irvine
All by ourselves in Irvine

Sometimes, touring can be tiring.

Catching a few zzz's
Catching a few zzz’s

One Wristband Given:

For this tour, we had new wristbands made with the idea being that sales of them would go towards next year’s convention.  Many people at our meet-ups bought one (or more than one!), which we are truly thankful for.  I am forced to admit that I did give one away, but just one…to this guy below.

Nile wearing the wristband
Nile wearing the wristband

One Future Blogger:

The Irvine show had a special attendee.  We are hoping that she will be ready to take over for us one day!

Sabrina's sign

One Awesomely, Amazing, Durantastic Tour and Summer!

I have had other summers that featured touring but nothing quite like this one!  I felt like I was on tour for literally most of the summer and when I wasn’t on tour, I was either getting ready or recovering from it.  I’m anxious to go it again, but I doubt it will be any time soon.  That said, I’m willing to plan for an East Coast show, though…

-A

Split Personality

The  end of a tour usually brings thinking and introspection.  This summer tour is no exception.  In fact, it might have brought more, especially since I go back to work next week.  Yes, the school year officially starts for me even though the kiddos don’t arrive until September 1st.  The classroom needs to get ready.  Lesson plans need to get written.  Adjustments to curriculum are required.  Despite the fact that I have been teaching a LONG time (this will be my 19th year!), I still don’t feel like I have the beginning of the year smooth.  Perhaps, I wonder if the lack of intensity is to blame.

I remember being a kid or even a young adult and feeling determined to figure out exactly who I was and where I needed to be.  Should I commit myself to being an activist, I asked in college.  A teacher should focus 110% of the time on one’s classroom and students, I believed early on in my career.  Where and how does fandom fit in with all of this, I periodically asked.  Yet, I felt that I had to choose ONE.  There was only one path that led to personal success.  Success required intensity and extreme focus.
As I have gotten older, I began to see and feel life with more complexity.  Yes, I’m a teacher and, yes, there are parts that I LOVE about the job.  I love when my students get into a serious debate over political issues of our time or the moves that were made by the United States throughout history are discussed.  My favorite moments are when I see my students’ passionately engaged in a topic.  Unfortunately, I’m well-aware of aspects of my job that I feel less (in some cases, much less) excited about.  I am not a big fan of meetings filled with educational jargon about the latest trends that will supposedly increase student achievement.  Grading is time consuming and often painful.  I despise the amount of time and energy this “full-time” job takes.  During the school year, I desperately long for breaks or at least a day away from school related work.  Teaching is not my whole life and it is NOT the defining characteristic of who I am.  It is one part of who I am.
Beyond teaching, I can be a political activist.  At times, that has meant diving deep to work on specific political campaigns or for specific candidates.  At other times, it means joining a protest or two about issues that matter to me.  It almost always means that I’m watching politically focused shows and reading the latest news.  Many conversations with friends and colleagues feature political discussions.  Yet, like teaching, it is not who I am but a part of who I am.
Likewise, fandom is a part of who I am.  It is just as big of a part as teaching or being an activist.  The commitment I have made with regards to this blog or our various projects show that.  If it didn’t matter to me, I simply wouldn’t do it.  I wouldn’t take the time to read the latest Duran news and the reactions from fans.  I wouldn’t write about Duran or the fandom surrounding the band.  There would be no Duranie focused event planning for me.  Is everything about it perfect?  Of course not.  Just like in teaching or campaigning, there are elements that frustrate me, that I don’t like.  Do those negative aspects affect what I do with my fandom?  It can and does.  I’m only human.
Sometimes, I think I would be a better teacher or activist or fan whatever you want to call it if I would focus on just that aspect of myself and my life.  I wouldn’t be distracted by the other two.  I wouldn’t be split into thirds.  Maybe this singular focus would help make my good teaching great or make my political activities so much more affective.  The laser focus might improve this blog or my writing or the fan events we plan.  Yet, I also know that I’m wouldn’t be happy just doing one over the other two.  Some aspect of my personality needs all three or a FORM of all three.  Do I have to be in a classroom to enjoy teenagers engaging with historical topics?  No.  Do I have to be writing a blog to be a good fan organizer/writer?  Probably not. Yet, I would need something like those examples.
Does my participation with all three hurt my performance, actively hurt it?  Maybe.  Some think so.  Then, the question becomes how do I make myself happy (while still paying my bills) by acknowledging all three aspects of myself without harming or muting what I could be doing with these three ambitions?  How can I commit myself more to them, individually, while maintaining all?  How do I make it so the lack of time and energy from doing all doesn’t kill the reason I love these?  I need to find a way to show and maintain my passion for all three to be the most effective and most happy.  While I feel as though I have accepted the complexity of myself and my passions, I feel like I struggle to keep those passions AS passions or struggle to show them as passions.  My goal for this year is to figure out how to do just that.  Clearly, it won’t be easy but I have a feeling that it will definitely be worth it!
-A

Last Time La Luna

I don’t want to be sad. I hate tears and that kind of thing, particularly in front of other people. (I’m a really good shower crier) The last thing I want to do is start to cry at a show. In front of the band. I’d say no thanks, but I already did at the last show (Irvine). Damn that “New Moon on Monday!” I discreetly wiped the few that escaped and tried to sing and clap along as I willed myself to stop thinking about how that song encapsulates everything I know and remember from my youth, or how that was the second to last time I’d hear the song this tour. Now tonight, I’ll hear it one last time (for me) on this tour. I look forward to hearing it because I love the song, but I also dread the wistfulness that will be attached.

I knew the eight shows would go by fast. The first four certainly flew by, but then I anticipated the next four and that got me through a very busy week in between. But now, well, it is different. Mind you, I do have things to be excited about. Early Saturday morning, I’m leaving for a two-week vacation with my family. Before you all get jealous—we’re camping. In a trailer, thank you. We are going to Arches National Park in Utah (where we will bake in the sun), then up to Yellowstone for seven days, and then the Grand Tetons and back home. In case anyone is curious: yes, touring and camping are complete opposite ends of the spectrum. It is going to be detox in a major way as we are fairly sure I won’t even have cell or data service for at least portions of the trip. I get a nervous tic whenever I start thinking about not being able to check in with the world. Life will be returning to normal in a big way once I drop Amanda off at the airport tomorrow.

I have more fun on this tour than ever. Sure, our seats have been great most of the way, and the band has entertained us wildly. Amanda and I have laughed until we’ve cried. We’ve successfully ducked from Simon’s White Lines spitting trick five times so far (the other two times we were so far back or to the side it didn’t matter).  I’ve been hit directly on the head by a beach ball about four times, and twice Dom has kicked a beach ball right in my direction. My reflexes still work well enough to duck in time. We spent time with our Canadian bestie, Heather. We drove over a border and weren’t arrested. Twice! I witnessed Amanda’s horror at walking through the livestock section at a county fair (priceless!!). We tried (and failed) at winning enough money in Vegas to pay for our bar bills (which have been atrocious this tour and I’m not even going to joke about that).  I think we tried to pack as much fun, laughter, serious discussion and even a bit of work (yes, we’re working on a proposal for a brand new book…and yes, it’s on Duran Duran!) as possible during our time together. But, it’s never enough.

Oddly, I distinctly remember questioning whether or not I should even embark on this tour. Something happened to me after finishing that manuscript in June. I really wondered if maybe I had completely reconciled my feelings to the point where I was done being a fan. Did I still love the band? Did I still love being a fan? Was I ready just to walk away completely? I felt very much as I did after I’d had my first baby (who is now 19), that maybe it was just time to let it go. I told my husband and everyone I knew that this was my last trip for Duran Duran. I couldn’t afford it any longer (true), and that you can only go and see the same show so many times. I convinced myself that this was my swan song, and that I had to do everything I possibly could this tour to get it all, and I mean ALL, out of my system.

I didn’t know what that meant for Daily Duranie, and I never really discussed that with Amanda. I figured that I would probably still blog, and that if they came to California again at some point, that sure, I’d go see them. But, the traveling and touring days were over. I knew I’d keep writing books, and I just told myself that I didn’t have to actually go on road trips or tour in order to be an author. The week before I left for Chicago, my mom’s partner had a massive heart attack and died, and at that point I was even more convinced that this tour would be my very last. My mom isn’t young, and she will need my help going forward doing the things that Dennis used to do for her. I started feeling even more guilty about the money I’d spent, and by the time I left, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to have fun even though I desperately needed some. I had some hard conversations more than once with Amanda along the way, and while I knew she understood that my life had taken a turn, I also knew she wasn’t happy about it. By the time the first set of four shows ended and I was dropped off at Midway, I was beginning to waver.

On one hand, I did (and do) recognize the expense of doing what we do. I’d like to take more vacations that do not consist of me cooking and cleaning all the time, but with traveling like this, it doesn’t leave much in the budget. I also know that my mom and kids still need me and yet I’m running around the country like I’m still in my twenties, so I’m told. (and it’s fun!) I know my husband isn’t a big fan of me going to all of these shows because he doesn’t like me being gone. That’s another problem that I’ve grown very tired of dealing with. I feel torn. I’ve spent twenty years putting the needs of others before my own. It isn’t as though I tour every month or even every year. I don’t even see Amanda every six months consistently. But the guilt and the annoyance factors are strong. Sometimes it’s just easier to give in and make everyone else happy and just convince myself that it’s for the best. I think a lot of moms do that and it becomes a basic skill of survival.

So now, here I sit the morning before my last show. The show I’ve told myself would be my final one. We stayed in fancy hotels, we hung out in bars. We tried to do meet-ups that would bring the community together. We laughed WITH the band onstage. I tried to show my support without seeming like a crazy, desperate fan. Do I feel like I’ve done everything I set out to do?

No.

If I’m really being honest, the answer is no. There are two levels to that answer. First of all, as a fan, the one thing this tour has taught me is that the set list really doesn’t matter as much as I thought it did. I still have a fantastic time no matter what they play. They put on an amazing show with SO much energy, and they honestly and truly loo like they have fun doing it every single night. In turn, I have a blast every single night. I don’t want to stop doing that. Ever.

Secondly, Amanda and I want to keep writing. We can’t control whether or not we ever meet the band beyond a quick “hi” at a signing.  We aren’t in their “inner circle” and probably never will be. We write what WE see, witness and/or believe here, whether or not the band and management agree.  That might not always earn us friends, but we can look ourselves in the mirror. That matters more to us in the end. Showing up at places we think the band might arrive will get us nowhere. Asking people we thought we could count on for help has also done very little. (Let me be clear: both scenarios continue to get us nowhere.)  We are irrelevant in that sense, so for the two of us—it is about our writing and bringing this big, dysfunctional family we call a fan community together. We are determined and can do this—on our own steam no less, because we’re just crazy enough to believe it can be done. I am proud of that work and want to keep doing it. Some may not call what we do “work”, and you know what? I don’t fucking care what anyone else thinks, to be incredibly blunt. I want to keep doing meet-ups, planning conventions, and writing. Not all of that requires that I attend countless shows, but some of it really kind of does.

So where does that leave me? Well, aside from broke right now, I’m not sure. I’m pretty stubborn when I want to be. As result, there’s a part of me that is desperate to sell these manuscripts to publishers so that way I can look a lot of people in the eye and say “I told you so, and I can do this whether or not you claim to know me, or respect our work, dammit.” I’m annoyed by my own life circumstance just enough to throw caution to the wind and get it done. I just hope to stay determined in the coming months as life gets challenging with college applications (it’s my son’s turn now!), homeschooling, and schedules.

Stubbornness aside, I wouldn’t be surprised if tears are shed tonight during “New Moon on Monday. I’m glad I’ll have Amanda there, because she’s really the only one I know who understands me. Once I had a friend who did something like thirteen shows on a Duran tour. She traveled with friends for like three weeks and I know she had the time of her life. She cried when she got home, and I could never figure out why.

I get it now.

Last time La Luna.

-R

 

Chicago Show #2 Review!

I wanted to think of a catchy title but nothing is hitting me this beautiful Sunday afternoon.  I guess I could have named it the weird but wonderful Chicago show number 2.

The Smoke/Fog Machine:

Within the first few minutes, we knew that the show was going to be super entertaining.  The band came out to play Paper Gods with the smoke/fog machine enveloping the stage, creating a very cool atmosphere.  Yet, last night the smoke machine didn’t turn off when it was supposed to.  It kept going and going.  Poor Dom Brown couldn’t even be seen.  I was impressed that he could continue to play in the midst of it!  As soon as we all realized that the fog machine had a mind of its own, we started laughing.  Soon enough, Simon and John were laughing, too.  Thus, right away, we knew that this show was going to be a funny one!

Clothing changes!

I’m not going to lie.  My friends and I have spent quite a bit of time the last few days discussing John’s…pants, you know the ones he has been wearing most of the time at the shows.  They look like track pants with an orange stripe up the side and a length that is questionable at best.  Clearly, we do not love these pants.  Thus, as the pants came up in conversation, we began pondering whether or not we should offer to take him shopping or if we shouldn’t buy pants ourselves and toss them on stage for him to wear.  Yet, last night, the man wore different pants!  Text messages expressing our delight were quickly exchanged.  We all approved of these other pants!!!

Simon also appeared in a new white jacket, which also met our approval.  That said, the man wore a new hat during White Lines that we had to wonder about as you can see below.IMG_2747

Again, seeing Simon in this sparkly pink hat alerted us that this show was something to behold!  Perhaps, there is a connection between this moment and another Simon moment that happened on this exact date in 2009.

We have to wonder when is the madness going to end??????

Those Damn Beach Balls:

Speaking of madness, again, giant beach balls appeared during Rio.  Many of them found their way to the stage where the band would gleefully punch, throw, or kick them back out to the crowd.  At one point, John’s microphone stand almost fell over from one while he was singing into it.  Then, just a couple of minutes later, he sent a beach ball into the audience, knocking the stand completely over.  It was all distracting.  Where do I watch?  Am I watching the band?  Watching the balls to ensure that I don’t get hit on the head with one?  Even after the song ended, the crowd and band continued to toss them back and forth.  Craziness.

Holy JoSi, Batman!!!

Oh my.  I’m still reeling from all of the fabulous JoSi moments last night.  Honestly, there were SO many that I wondered if I had taken a time machine and it was 2005 all over again.  On top of the frequency of those John and Simon moments, they were also longer and…dare I say…more quality.  Longer eye contact, for example.  At one point, Simon walked over and kissed John’s shirt, which was the mouth from Rio.  Well, then.  Simon even grabbed at John’s collar to pull him closer.  Let this pattern continue for the rest of the tour.  Please.  I beg the Duranie gods!

Song Highlights:

Both Rhonda and I are REALLY loving New Moon on Monday.  For both shows, it just adds something to the show.  I love how it connects Duran’s history with more recent Duran.  I also thought Pressure Off was great, but I missed the confetti terribly.  Wild Boys was great fun!  I have also liked I Don’t Want Your Love both nights.  Last night, though, I noticed that while Simon introduced the song, John and Dom were mouthing the words that Simon was saying.  Clearly, they have heard it a time or two.

There were a couple of moments that reminded me of times past.  First, during Planet Earth, I had heard that the crowds had not been shouting “switch it off” anymore.  Well, we proudly did.  Last night, John saw us yell and responded by saying, “That’s right!”  On top of that, Simon ventured off the stage to encourage the crowd to sing the “ta na na” part of the Reflex.  If that wasn’t enough, Simon also messed up the lyrics to not one song but two (Hungry Like the Wolf and Save a Prayer).  Again, we wondered if we didn’t go in a time machine?!

Ravinia and the Crowd:

While these two shows were great fun, I’m for one glad to be moving on to different venues.  While last night’s crowd was way better, there were still so many people there who were NOT there to see Duran Duran.  It is hard to remain excited when you hear people say things like, “Who’s Nick Rhodes?”  On top of that, the venue is far from the city, from downtown and a serious pain in the ass to get to and from.

Overall:

I would have to say that Friday’s show was probably a better performance but last night’s show was way high on the entertaining side.  They seemed more relaxed and that they were having fun.  We look forward to seeing how things go for the next couple of shows in Detroit and Toronto.

-A