Leaving a Light On

By Jonee Howell

At some point in January of 2011, I was using the interwebs for, I dunno, SOMETHING, and I happened to run across a blurb about Duran Duran.

What? They’re back together? When in the world did THAT happen? I have truly been living under a me-sized rock!

Confession: I’d followed everything Duran from the time I was twelve — I was one of those umpty-gajillion kids with thoroughly Duran embellished walls — until just after the Powerstation project, when I sort of fell off the DD wagon and into full-blown adolescence. Sure, I knew about their next couple of albums and I bought them, but I was no longer the obsessed fan that I was as a young teen. Life happens to all of us, right?

Anyway, this Duran blurb was something related to the upcoming release of AYNIN: exciting news, indeed. But what REALLY caught my attention was at the bottom right corner of said blurb: a tiny little black and white JT icon with a little @address beside it. Hellooo, old teenage crush! John Taylor is on twitter? Wow, I haven’t thought about him in ages.. Hmm… I might just have to take another look at this Twitter thing.

So I did.

I think that for the for the first week or so I just sat back and watched. I read JT’s older tweets, his mentions; just getting acclimated to the app and to what he had to say. It was absolutely fascinating, this method of communication! (Who knew??) Then one day I happened to be logged in when JT was on and tweeting, so I thought, “what the heck?”, jumped right in and joined the fray. Tap! Tap tap! S’this thing ON?

Tweet from Random Fan:  Surreal but awesome. 30 years later, getting updates from my uber teen crush, @thisistherealjt

@thisistherealjt:  Surreal to me also

Tweet from Me:  Surreal good, or surreal…uhh..not-so-good. Could be either, right?

@thisistherealjt:  good

(!!!!!)

Oh my god! Did that just happen? He talked back! (This thing IS on!)

I remember thinking, Man…my teenaged self would be flipping OUT over this. (I think my adult-married-with-two-kids self flipped out a little bit, too.) The JT I “knew” from all the magazine-printed facts I’d memorized as a young teen, the videos, the posters, the interviews… THAT guy was actually acknowledging the existence of ME (really, to me, my thirteen year old self) by typing a one-word response on his keyboard. All that long-forgotten energy I’d expended “loving” John Taylor as a kid came swirling right back up in a vortex of instant, hit-and-run emotional gratification. Can you say “hooked”?

That first little typed out word from him would be my tweeting gateway drug, and the beginning of my part in a running conversation he’d have with all of us for the next two years. One that we’ve all sort of settled into like a comfy chair.

During these couple years, I’ve tweeted to John (a lot! Ha!), read the occasional reply back, seen him perform on stage quite a bit, read his book, met him on a few occasions, talked to him a little. But mostly I’ve listened. I’ve heard what he’s said, and have sometimes seen the significance of what he’s left unsaid. He’s been generous in putting himself out there like he has. I’m sure it can’t always be easy for him to do that. Funny thing though, I would swear that he actually liked it! Liked talking with us, and probably liked just listening, too. It never felt forced or that he was doing it solely to promote something (notice i said ‘solely’. Even I’m not stupid enough to believe that wasn’t a part of it at times.)

But then JT fell off the Twitter grid. When he was quiet in December, and even through January, I imagined that maybe he’d just decided to take a breather from all things Duran, from Pleasure Groove stuff, from ANY thing that required him to be ‘on’.

“He deserves a break!”, I read so much during this time. “He’s exhausted!”, I saw. Absolutely, I thought.

He’d been working non-stop the last couple of years, so it was understandable that he might choose to self-impose a time out. To quietly turn off the blackberry and hide its charger somewhere safe–just for a while–until he’d fully recharged himself. He’d be back around soon enough (‘of course he would!’), and we’d continue our conversation as if this blip of silence had never happened at’all.

But winter marches on, and the lasting reticence of my twitter pal is deafening. Instead of an affable turning off, it’s starting to feel like he’s slammed down the phone and jerked the cord out of the wall. Like he’s made up his mind to cease all communication, period; to end this long chat with the sharpness of a director’s clapboard — SLAP! Just like that. Connection with JT has flatlined.

Others have shared some goings on over the last few months, which is cool. I appreciated hearing about his recent award ceremony: seems a lot of love surrounded him that night, which makes me ridiculously happy for him. He’s studied to become a half US citizen now — Love that, too. And he’s probably gone back to England, hopefully getting ready to start stirring up a lil Duran somethin-somethin. All good things.

But its just not the same, is it? A big part of the Twitter connection is the two-way-streetness of it. That even when he doesn’t say anything, the line is still open to say something to him. And I’m fairly sure he used to hear all that, and that was the special bit. For me, having John on Twitter hasn’t been just about what he decides to share but that he’s cared enough to listen back. Must be the extrovert in me that likes to know that I can talk to him and there is at least a chance that he’ll hear me. Otherwise, what’s the point of all this? I can get news from anywhere. It’s the interaction that matters, and for a long time we had it. Totally just a gut feeling, but I think that line’s been cut. Is it a temporary thing? Who knows? Was it something we said? No idea. One thing we can be sure of, though: he now has an “off switch” that is fully functional. And maybe that’s a good thing for him.

I’d love to be able to tell him that we all miss him around here. I think he knows that, though. He’s a pretty smart cookie. I’d also like to tell him that if this is something he needs to do for himself — for whatever reasons — that we’ve got his back (even though I really hate it from this end). And I’d also tell him we’ll still be here when (if?) he decides it’s time to open up the lines again. Cause that is what friends do. They leave a light on.

Mostly, I hope he’s so happy that he can’t stand himself. Truly, inexhaustibly, ferociously happy.

Much love your way, brutha. Much love.


Jonee has been a fan of Duran Duran ever since she saw John Taylor running down the streets of Sri Lanka bare chested in Hungry Like the Wolf when it came on Friday Night Videos (she was 12). She missed a great deal of touring since her first show in ’84 (life, college, grad school, family, yadda yadda), but has since come back into the Duranie fold just in time for this whirlwind All You Need Is Now tour. She loves the band and all the ridiculously cool friends she’s made through them. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, is the mom of two kids, and is currently trying to convince her sweet husband that she needs to see Duran Duran just one more time..

18 thoughts on “Leaving a Light On”

  1. Great blog Jonee. I feel your pain but I really don't identify with it – I identify with JT's boundaries around down-time and Twitter. I think – like you said about the off-switch – he's discovered through his recovery how to have healthy communications and he's putting that into effect. As much as we, the fans, want it to be otherwise, I think he associates twitter with work, and however much he can enjoy that and enjoy spending time with us online, when he's not on the Duran clock he can really switch off and spend quality time in other areas of his life.

    I'm actually quite jealous – my to-do list is huge but I still spend time catching up on Fb & Twitter every day! If I didn't, I reckon I'd have a whole extra hour a day to do stuff… ;-D

  2. HI, Bryony!
    Thanks for the comment..I completely see where you're coming from. If he does, indeed, view twitter as a “work” thing, then–absolutely! I'd expect he would want to put his energies into non-work stuff. This is what lots of people feel (probably most of us) . I just don't have the ability to compartmentalize my life like that-never have had it. Not that it's right or wrong, mind you: It all just sort of melds in together. The point of my blog was that I don't feel like that is what's happening (gut-level thing)–I don't think it's a work v. non-work thing. I think it's something else. I dunno what, exactly, but that's just what Im sensing. Lets hope I'm wrong. I WANT to be wrong! 🙂
    If it IS a work thing, I guess he'll be picking right back up where he left off pretty soon, huh? 🙂

  3. I guess my take would be that if it's really just part of “work”…then that leads me to believe that his reaching out to fans isn't quite as genuine as everyone wants to believe. It would be a transactional thing only – for the sole purpose of selling Duran Duran, which is fine as long as everyone understands that, and I'm not at all sure that's what is going on. I think part of the problem is that people really want to believe that John is interested in knowing the fans at least on some level – which leads to an entirely different discussion (another blog, another day).

    -R

  4. Well, I think it can be both, really. He may want to interact (I think he does..or at least DID), but still associate it with work in his mindspace. If that's the case, I get why he needs to put up a partition. Well, I get WHY he would. I don't think I identify with NEEDING to. But that's his business, not mine. Either way, I support him doing what he's gotta do.

  5. (One more-sorry 😉
    I don't think he's got it in him to be that disingenuous. I think he's been pretty much an open book. And I also think he's stubborn enough to only do things (like twitter) if he jolly well WANTS to. 😉

  6. My point was exactly what you've said here, Jonee. I don't really think it's all work. I also believe (as you do) that the man is going to do what he wants, when he wants. -R

  7. Great Blog Jonee! you voiced a lot of what I was thinking too….

    I wonder (and this is total speculation) if he just needed to pull back from the public eye a bit after putting his book out. He seems to be a very open and honest person and his book was REALLY open and honest. He really put himself out there in a way he has not done before. The response to the book was good but maybe a little overwhelming? like I said, just speculating.

    Its just hard to know. The silence makes our imaginations come up with all kinds of potential reasons though. And we may never really know why….

  8. Michele, I think you could very well be right. Seems completely like a natural reaction in that particular sitch. And you're right about prolly never knowing for sure: I don't see him as one to delve into deeply emotional jibber jabber to explain himself. At least not to us. 😉

  9. Jonee..you and I have so much in common in regards to Duraniedum. I, like you was a huge DD fan in my youth. Lived for Friday Night Videos just to get a peak at the latest DD video. Then life happenings came along. I did finally go to see them live the first time in April 2011 and once more in August 2012.

    I must admit seeing John on Twitter made me just a giddy as that 14 year old watching FNV's. Though I've never had a response back, just reading along with the conversations makes me a happy gal.

    I did have one thought after reading your blog. Wonder if his time away from Twitter has anything to do with studying for his US citizen test? Maybe he just needed the extra time to focus. I know Twitter would distract me if I was suppose to be studing.

  10. I don't know about the citizenship test but you mean that we could all be doing other things besides being on TWITTER???? Like writing a BOOK for instance?? 😀

    Hmm… that could be part of the problem. Of MY problem. (although I personally blame it on the blog, the convention and my children. Not Twitter.) 😀 -R

  11. Friday Night Videos!! Ohhh yeah!! I remember sitting on the floor in front of the TV, volume turned waaaay down–parents and all–waiting til midnight for it to come on..and Duran were ALWAYS on. And half the time I fell asleep and missed them and wanted to just SCREAM! (Hahaha!)

    And Rhonda, I hear ya about twitter multitasking (or not!) lolol! Im usually all over the place (and ALWAYS on some sort of mobile device), and I can tweet between things. It's a great thing in that respect..Short attention span theater of the Internet! 😉 I DEFINITELY can't be logged into it when I need to concentrate on anything tho. No way.

    So maybe it was the test! Who knows? (This seems to be a running theme, huh? ;-P )

  12. I promised that I would comment on this blog so here I am. 🙂 First of all, Jonee, I love that you wanted to share how you were/are feeling. Based on a lot of people's reactions, you were not the only one missing JT on twitter and that a lot of people could relate to your experience/feelings. I'm glad that you thought that this blog could be a good place to share as we hope that it is a comfortable environment for readers and writers.

    My thoughts about this are simple. I have not had the same experience on Twitter with Mr. Taylor. There has been no interaction with him–partly due to my work schedule and my inability to be online at work and partly due to my belief about tweeting him. (To summarize a long blog post: The philosophy is simple. I would/do only tweet if he is on when I am (VERY rare) and/or if I have something meaningful to say, which is few and far between.) Thus, I'm not really missing him in the same way that people who have had interaction with him are, which makes sense.

    Now, are his tweets just for work? If so, does that make them less genuine? I don't think it needs to be as black/white as it may seem. Twitter could be part of work and be something he enjoys/enjoyed. We all have elements of work that we like better than others. He could, too.

    Why the twitter silence? I'm not sure. Could it be that he has been busy? Sure. Could be an extended break? Absolutely. Could it be that he wanted to ensure that he wasn't becoming addicted? Something else? Could it be that he needed separation from the fans? I hate to say that as I'm sure that my statement could be taken in the wrong way. I'm not saying that he hates the fans but it must be exhausting to go on twitter and see 80,000 tweets all directed at him. It must be overwhelming. Maybe, in the beginning, it was great but too much of a good thing…Obviously, we may never know why he has left twitter. Only time will tell.

    -A

  13. I love your perspective, A… I hadn't even thought about the whole idea of 'fan separation'… I wouldn't blame him for that, either. I think it must feel like people are constantly in a state of frenzied want…Wanting a picture with him, an autograph, a TWEET (now don't I feel like the jerk..). I didn't look at it in that light. I should've though. *falling on sword*
    You know what though (here comes the flip side to that thought)? A simple 'hey, everybody! Going away for a while. See ya later' would've been nice, too.
    No explanation needed. But still thoughtful. Polite. Pretty much most people do that sort of thing when they plan on being away for a long time, right? Or maybe we don't warrant that sort of thing.

  14. I wasn't trying to point fingers, blame anyone or make anyone feel badly, Jonee. I just was speculating a possible reason.

    Now, I COMPLETELY agree with you that he should have made some sort of statement like what you mentioned. It would be polite. Heck, if he didn't want to do it himself, he could have had Simon or Duran's twitter make a statement for him.

    -A

  15. No, I know you weren't trying to do that, A–I came to that conclusion all on my own. 😉 I was just thinking that, by pining for him to 'get the back to twitter' that we were nibbling at his heels just like fans who get all bent for a picture or something. Of course, you know I wouldn't wanna do that. (And since he's not AROUND, we can say whatever we want, anyway! Haha) Seriously though–I think anyone would wanna know what happened to their friend if they just up and disappeared. Natural, right? It just so happens that he has a sh*t ton of friends is all. 😉 (maybe he could see that as being lucky…hmmm…)

  16. Maybe he didn't plan on having a break, but then enjoyed it – no point in getting back to Twitter just to tweet 'I'm not going to tweet'! The other word I meant to mention is addiction – if you are prone to this, as he freely admits, sometimes the only way is a complete break. If he found it starting to feel problematic then I'm sure he'd have no qualms in taking this action. Really hope this isn't the case – his tweets are intelligent, fair & educational and I'd miss them if they were gone for good. I firmly believe they'll be back when he feels the time is right though!

  17. How do I feel about my heroes’ silence?
    Gosh, back in the 80s we didn’t have Twitter or anything similar that could provide us with immediate updates on their lives: how did we survive?
    I can remember I kept myself tuned on a certain radio station on which some “informed” DJs passed us along the snippets during the band’s gaps: I-we were lucky to have spies, LOL!
    Fingers crossed and I’ll try to be patient.

  18. Hellooo… my little piece if I can add it..*Loved the blog Jonee 🙂 I think John loves the interaction with the fans… he seems to tweet a lot on tour and when doing Duranie things (ie work).. he loves to get fan reactions to what they're doing… he stops tweeting for a few days.. sometimes a few weeks. but i'm guessing that this is the longest time he's not tweeted… I can't imagine he's counting the days, weeks or months.. maybe he's been so busy that time has flown by.. maybe he'll tweet when he has something to say.. maybe he feels the Duran tweets are enough for now.. Who knows?.. only himself… but I can't for the life of me imagine he is 'shutting' out Duranies and the Duran world on purpose.. addictions or no addictions… He's spending time doing what he's doing.. doing what keeps him busy… if he comes back to twitter when they're in the studio.. he'll be welcomed back with open arms (and laptop/iphone/blackberry keyboards)…. I certainly know that when I've been inundated with an abundance of work.. I”ve not realised how much time has flown by…. but then sometimes you just want quiet… and it's not like.. when I tweet I MIGHT get ONE reply.. as soon as he tweets. .he's inundated! ha… poor fella… maybe he relaises that when he does drop by and say 'what's up tweet peeps'.. he'll have to prepare himself for the flood gates of tweets that will barrage him……

    ok.. enough from me… I don't think it's as big a deal as it's made out to be… like everything in life.. moderation… otherwise we're all addicted 😉

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