Something On My Mind

Hello, Monday. I feel as though somewhere along the way, I lost one of my weekend days, because it feels like Monday arrived far too early. I’m still trying to regain some of the hours of sleep I missed out on from being at Vidcon last week. I wish I could say it was due to having so much fun, but in this case, I just didn’t sleep well.

We drove home late Saturday night, and arrived to see many tweets and posts about the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 – corresponding with the Kennedy Space Center show tomorrow.

I’m light years away

When the show was first announced, I knew right away that there’d be no way for me to get there. Sure, I could blame it on not having enough notice, but I could have had a month’s notice or even more, and still not been able to attend. Several years back, I went to a lot of things. I would fly across the country, and I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that many times, I didn’t even think twice about it. Three spousal job layoffs/changes, one very large move, childbirth, college, and countless grey hairs later, I’m finding that I not only think twice, I know I can’t travel like that anymore.

That fact is something I guess I’m still coming to terms with. I went from going to one show a tour (or even less), to taking a single trip to New Orleans and then Chicago, which ignited something in me. Suddenly, I felt the need to try and go to everything. My husband was less-than-thrilled with the arrangement. Usually though, I’d win him over by saying I’d save money in other ways, or that he didn’t have to buy me birthday/Christmas/Valentines/Mothers Day gifts, etc. In some ways that worked, but in others – I can see how selfish I was. Any extra money I came across would go towards seeing Duran Duran, and the fact is—when you have three kids and live in Southern California, there isn’t a lot of extra anything!

My head is full of chopstick

Even so, fandom – or planning to go to shows – was sort of like a drug for me. I couldn’t say no, and yet I didn’t go to nearly as many shows as a lot of people. Gigs would be announced and I’d think “Fly to Chicago? Oh, I shouldn’t…but I will!” “Go away for five or six days and see more than three shows? YES!” I wanted to go. I desperately wanted to be a part of the fandom wave that everyone seemed to be caught in.

During the Astronaut tour, which was really the first when I’d gotten involved online and knew people from all over the country – I’d sat on the sidelines for the most part. I went to two shows: Chicago and All-State Arena, and Milwaukee. That last one had been added to my itinerary without telling my husband. He’d expressly told me prior to even buying my Chicago ticket that I could choose ONE show to see, and that was it. “The concerts don’t change that much, Rhonda!”

Turns out, that while the set might not change that much (One night I heard “Nice” and the other I heard “Union of the Snake”), there are far more other, more subtle things, that do. Roger waved at us in Milwaukee. I cried when I heard “Tiger Tiger” in Chicago. I stood outside and waved to the band when they left the Riverside Theatre in Milwaukee. I had my closest friends with me for Chicago, and got to drive to Milwaukee with a full car of Duranies. That was the first time I’d ever done something like that. After those two shows, I never wanted to miss anything again.

I’m making a break

However, that was/is an impossibility, at least for me. I’ve never had carte blanche to go to any show I want. I don’t work outside of the home, and my money is never my own money. Even when I’ve done what I consider to be a ridiculous number of shows, I’ve had to pick and choose. Sometimes, I’ve chosen wrong. That’s the crap shoot of life, I suppose. In darker moments, I wonder what it would have been like if I could have gone to all the Astronaut shows my friend Jessica went to see, or if I could have flown overseas as many times as other friends have gone. Would I feel any differently about the band now?

Over the years, I’ve seen people come and go. After having been an active fan in the online community for nearly two decades now, I have seen some patterns of behavior emerge from the fog and dust. I think about the people who seemed to be “regulars” for the Astronaut and RCM tours, and for the most part – those people don’t come around often now, and I rarely see them.

Maybe they stopped going to shows or participating online because life circumstances changed. Perhaps it was because they got sick of some of the childish drama that goes on between fans. Maybe it was something else entirely -but the fact remains that they’re not doing much these days. I have friends who went to 14, maybe 15 shows for Astronaut that just stopped following the band for the most part Can there really be too much of a good thing?

They should be mine

Getting back to my situation here – I have serious budget constraints that make it nearly impossible for me to fly very often. I don’t even fly to visit my mom or sister, so how on earth can I justify flying to see a band that doesn’t even know I exist? It is particularly frustrating when I’ve made the decision to buy tickets to something, and then another opportunity comes up that sounds even better.

For example, tomorrow Duran Duran is playing at the Kennedy Space Center for the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11. As soon as this show was announced, I knew there was no way I could go. The idea of traveling to Florida was out of the question. A flight from here would easily cost $500 during the summer, plus the $300 ticket for the concert, another $300 or more for a hotel room and the additional expenses for food, uber and drinks. It adds up quickly to a similar amount that my family might spend on a camping vacation – one that we’re not even taking this year. HOWEVER…

Had I known that they were going to be playing this show in advance of buying the tickets for Las Vegas (each was $441, if I remember correctly) I might have chosen differently. Sure, I’ll see Duran Duran three times in September whereas if I’d gone to Florida I’d only be seeing them once – but how many times does someone get the chance to see Duran Duran at the Kennedy Space Center??? I worry that I made the wrong choice. Zigged when I should have zagged…bought when I should have waited.

I’m saying this in private

Similar scenarios have happened before. In 2013, Amanda and I along with a committee of amazing helpers worked our butts off to put on a fan convention in Chicago. I can’t remember the precise timing, but I would say that within days of returning from that weekend, Duran Duran announced a special opportunity to see the debut of UnStaged at MOMA in New York City.

I think that at least to begin with – both she and I weren’t too upset. I mean, to some degree we’d wished we could go. We’d worked hard to put on that convention for fans, and in a lot of ways New York City seemed like it would be a great way to reward ourselves. Even so, Amanda didn’t have time off from work, and my husband had pretty much declared a moratorium on spending money and traveling. Just getting to Chicago was hard enough. Amanda and I paid the same amount of money to attend the convention as every one else. That’s right – we bought tickets to the very convention we were putting on for everyone else to enjoy. I paid for my flight from California, and Amanda and I split the cost of our hotel room., same as everyone else. That money did not come out of the convention budget. No sooner did I get home and back to an exploding family crisis when the MOMA show was announced.

We absolutely tasted our share of sour grapes while watching a few of the same people who came to our convention fly on to NYC. I remember feeling so dejected after I saw how the evening went. What started as a screening ended up as a cocktail party with the band present. There were pictures, and the band seemed so welcoming to fans that night…those who were there were so lucky!! Oh well, right? What can you do??

Breaking open doors I’ve sealed up before

Even with the missteps I’ve taken along the way (and there have been many), I can’t be bitter. My days of sour grapes are over. I’ve done and seen a lot – much more than a lot of people. I’ve had times when I’ve been able to afford to go to a lot of shows and travel, and now I’m in a time where I really just can’t. Oddly, I feel like I’ve won the lottery because for the past few years – coincidentally the time when I’ve been least able to afford to fly – the band has played within reasonable driving distance to where I live. I am very lucky, which is why you’re not going to see me complain about set lists or much anything else. My luck isn’t going to hold out forever though, and I would imagine that next year – should they decide to tour for their 40th anniversary – I’ll be sitting at home doing most of my cheering.

I also can’t ignore the fact that for most of the rest of the world, they’ve had to sit on the sidelines since before Paper Gods was released, watching the US fans complain about ticket prices, set lists, and the like. It is easy to forget that many of these worldwide fans would pay whatever ticket price the band wanted, and would be willing to listen to whatever set the band plays, just to be able to see them.

Looking for cracks in the pavement

The reality is, most of us just can’t go to everything. I feel like I’m a recovering addict in that sense. Every time something is announced, I have to forcibly talk myself out of feeling like I need to go. I’m learning to say “no” to myself more and more often. I can’t say it’s easy, but a lot of times, it’s necessary. I’m not responsible for only myself. I have a family and husband to consider, and I wouldn’t trade my family for all of the Duran Duran shows in the world. That’s progress, right?

I see friends tell one another all the time that they should just buy the ticket and that they’ll make more money later. That thinking might work, until something catastrophic happens. I’ll never forget going to New York City in 2007 to see the special fan show that fell on Father’s Day. My husband and dad were fine with me going, and I came home to celebrate with them the following weekend. Little did I know at the time, that was the last Father’s Day I’d ever spend with my dad. I think about that a lot.

I’m a work in progress. Every single time I start feeling self-pity because I can’t be in Florida, or something else, I quickly force myself to acknowledge that other fans in the world haven’t done much in several years. I have one hell of lot of nerve feeling bad about one single event. That usually snaps me out my funk. I still feel like a recovering addict in some weird ways – but I’m working on it.

-R

Kennedy Space Center PRomotion

I am not heading to Florida this week. There is a part of me that really wishes that I would be. I recognize, though, that I cannot do everything and be everywhere. Yet, I do have Vegas coming up and a family vacation in a few weeks. That said, I am completely excited for those who are going and feeling nothing but pride for the band to be given the honor to play at the Kennedy Space Center for Apollo’s 50th Anniversary. On top of all of that, I love all the publicity that Duran has been getting. Let’s share some of what I have seen and heard, shall we? (I’m not sharing the CNN interview because Rhonda had a blog about that one last week.)

I think what I have been most excited to see are the videos about the individual band member’s memories about the moon landing. As someone who was not on the planet then, I love hearing other people share stories about historical events that they witnessed. My parents, for example, told me that they were at my uncle and aunt’s house that day to play cards but that they all stopped when the news came through. So, what did Roger, Nick, John and Simon share? Let’s see!

I love that Roger mentions about how he already knew that he was going to be a musician but the idea of an astronaut couldn’t help but come into his consciousness then. I bet that a lot of kids started to think about this as a career choice after seeing this footage and the hero’s welcome the astronauts received.

It is interesting to me that John mentioned how school felt like it was in slow motion that day. I can remember later space flights in which my teachers in elementary school put on the radio for us to listen to the lift-off. Of course, I also can distinctly recall sitting in my classroom in 1986 when the Challenger exploded with what probably was the exact opposite feeling to the one in 1969.

Nick’s story about keeping the Sunday Times Magazine about this historical event reminds me of a quote that I have in my classroom. It says something about how you never know that you are living in history while it is happening. On that day of the moon landing, I’m pretty certain that the whole world knew that history was happening. Nick clearly did.

I love the fact that Roger’s parents woke him up to see the moon landing. Those are parents that I can appreciate!

Leave it to Simon to get philosophical at the end. I agree with him, though, it must be hard to have one’s life to be defined by one event. It could be magical but also limiting.

Besides these video clips, the band has been busy promoting the event through talking to various media. Tomorrow, for example, Simon will be on Sirius XM Volume in the morning to talk about it. He was also on iHeart radio with Martha Quinn this weekend, which you can hear here! While Martha tried to get setlist intel out of him, he instead focused on the drones that will be up in the air during their set.

Did I miss any other press? If so, let me know and I would be happy to edit this post to include it. Excited to cheer Duran from a distance this week while I listen to all the space related songs of theirs.

-A

Been Under Quiet Attack

Sometimes, fandom feels like an endurance test. It like the world and everything and everyone in it is just to push you away from fandom. For some people, they might opt to leave, to avoid, to hide. I, on the other hand, am feeling feisty, determined. I’m digging in my heels.

It has never been easy to be a Duran Duran fan. I am sure that a lot of people would think I’m insane for saying that. After all, at one point, they were the most popular band in the world. They were everywhere and you could buy merchandise upon merchandise in the mid-1980s U.S. Yet, for me, it didn’t always feel awesome. Sure, it was great fun with my friend as we watched Sing Blue Silver for the millionth time in her TV room but sucked that other kids at school talked smack about them along with countless DJs, music critics, and random strangers. “Aww…that band sucks. Can they even play their own instruments? Must be rough to be put together by a management company. What’s with the eyeliner? What are they gay?” were just some of the rude and untruth comments I was exposed to both then and now. It didn’t make me turn away from Duran but made me more determined to love them.

Then, of course, the mid to late 1980s was not always kind to the band and their fans. I saw my best friend walk away from the fandom. All the fans had to watch Duran regroup after side projects but also with the departure of Roger and Andy. On top of that, life often got in the way to the point where I found myself moving on while holding on to the that sliver of being a fan. Could I? Would I return to the really join the fan community? I wasn’t certain especially as the 1990s grew older but I know that when I took the time to watch and listen to Duran my love endured even if I remained pretty isolated as a fan.

Of course, I jumped back in with two feet along with countless others as the band reunited. I believed that this would be the best ever. Not only was I thrilled that the beloved Fab Five was back, I looked forward to getting to know more and more fans to share my love with others. Sadly, I also assumed that Duran’s longevity would result in nothing but acceptance and kudos from the music critics and the public as a whole. As we know, that didn’t always happen. Yes, they received more public acclaim than they had previously but they are never quite totally respected. On top of that, I found myself battling on a new front. Now, it seemed that others criticized my fandom because I’m “too old”. I should have let that go as a kid, people would imply. It certainly should not interfere with real life or all those responsibilities.

Still, I figured that I could blow off all those music critics, journalists, and nosey people in my own life as long as the fan community provided nothing but acceptable and joy. Sometimes, it has. I have had tremendous moments in which everything just feels right. I remember looking around, for example, at various points of Durandemonium, the convention that Rhonda and I organized, and thought how amazing it all was. Another example is when it seemed like the entire venue was clapping along to the Man Who Stole a Leopard in Glasgow in December of 2011. Sometimes, I have had it when we have held our online parties. It can be the best time ever.

Yet, there have been other times that it feels like I have battle both the outside world and the inside one. Yes, Rhonda and I chose to express our fandom by writing this blog, by organizing fan events, etc. It’s cool that it is not everyone’s cup of tea. Maybe some people don’t want us to do this or that. Others might not always like who we are or what we have to say. That’s okay, too. That said, I’m not going to stop loving Duran, who I am or how I express my fandom. I’m more determined than ever to stick around, do what I do and love the band with all of my being. I’m looking forward to partying hard in a couple of months at some great shows with my friends. Then, all of the obstacles put in my way will get pushed to the side and all that will remain is what started all of this to begin with.

-A

This Is How We Get Connected

Sometimes, the strangest, least expected things can relate to fandom. This week, I was reminded of that in a big way. Anyone besides me follow politics? Interestingly enough, politics and fandom aren’t really that different. In the case of politics, a candidate wants to win over voters and keep the ones they already have. Bands like Duran want to do something similar. They want news fans and keep the ones who have been around for while. The question, then, becomes how to do that.

Up until recently, I, personally, went with the standard assumptions about how to get voters/fans. In the case of politics, I assume that candidates have to fundraise. After all, I had my candidate fund raise. I know that a lot of people cringe when it comes to fund raising. It seems icky and it really isn’t very fun. But money is needed. It just is. Candidates need money for everything from paying staff, to advertising, to printing materials, to creating literature, to buying office supplies, etc and so forth. Interestingly enough, bands need money, too. For example, creating an album doesn’t come for free. Studios cost money as do producers, additional musicians, artists for artwork, etc and so forth. This is why I never fault Duran for playing private gigs. That money helps with production and touring costs, right?

This week, though, I wondered if the typical way to raise funds and get supporters is the only way. Two events led me to question this. First, early in the week, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s campaign came out with their second quarter fundraising totals. (Campaigns have to declare all of their earnings to follow campaign finance laws.) Her campaign raised $19 million. That is a serious chunk of change. What is most interesting about this amount is that she did not do it in the usual way. She did not seek out donors at big money fundraisers like most in politics do. Instead she got the money from more than 384,000 separate donors with an average of $28. That is a lot of different people. When I heard that, I was impressed and intrigued. Then, I saw a tweet that really made me think. The tweet indicated that Warren made that money by taking selfies with countless number of people. Hmmm….Interesting.

Then, last night, I decided to see the candidate in action myself. (In full disclosure, I have seen her before but when she was campaigning for others rather than herself.) On top of paying attention to her message and how she delivers it, I also watch for how the campaign is being organized. (I would have a hard time supporting a candidate, if their campaign was unorganized.) At the end of the question and answer session, her Midwest director indicated that Senator Warren would stay for everyone who wanted a selfie to get one and that if you were interested to form a line on the right side of the gym. (It was in a high school gym.) Now, I had heard that she was doing this but…I wasn’t certain that she would really stay for each and every person in this incredibly long line. We are talking hundreds of people and this was after a town hall and a convention appearance before that! How much energy could one person have? I decided to line up and find out for myself.

The line for selfies was long and stretched out of the gym and almost out of the high school. My friend and I were towards the back and it took over an hour for us just to make it back *into* the gym. We started questioning if the wait would be worth it. As we got closer to the stage where the Senator stood, I watched closely to see how these selfies were being done. First, her staff was taking people’s belongings so that they would not have anything in their hands to worry about once they got on the stage. They would then hand the stuff back as people exited. Nice. That’s organized and helpful. Then, there were multiple people on the stage taking the pictures. Clearly, there was one photographer connected to the campaign and another person who would take people’s phones to take the pictures. Super cool.

What about Senator Warren herself? She greeted each and every person with a handshake and exchanged a sentence or two. While it went fast, I doubt any person in the line felt it was impersonal or assembly line like. It was a genuine interaction. In my case, she immediately commented on my shirt (one of hers with a positive pro-woman message). Then, I mentioned that I was also a teacher. She was completely impressed by that, too. (She was a teacher as well!) Then, when I look at my phone to check out the picture, I noticed that the photographer didn’t just take the posed photo but photos of the entire interaction from the handshake through the exchange of words to the posed moment. Wow. I think about the previous photos I have gotten with important people and how I wished I had the entire events captured like that. I cannot help but to share the photos here to show you what I mean.

So, how am I feeling about Senator Warren now? I am feeling super pumped, that’s how. Was it just the selfie that did it? No but the personal touch matters. It makes me feel wanted. Her campaign has already reached out to me since then. That matters, too. Everyone wants to feel wanted and appreciated. So, to bring this back to fandom. If Warren is getting supporters and donors simply through quality messaging and personal touches, could a band do the same? What would it do for your fandom if Duran held selfie lines like this? Would it make you more determined to support them? Buy their products? Food for thought.

-A

These Beautiful Colors

Good morning, Duran Duran fans.

It is Thursday morning, and I am currently sitting in my daughter’s apartment in Fullerton, California. It is about a zillion degrees in here, and the traffic from the street outside is enough to wake the dead

My kids and I arrived yesterday to go to Vidcon. We went to pick up our badges and things when we got to Anaheim, and then drove to where we’re staying with my oldest. I’ve only been gone from Southern California for six months, and I’ve decided that I can never come back here to live permanently. Too crowded, too frenetic…and just too everything. I apparently have slowed WAY down since moving, which is both good and bad, I suppose.

Til the colors bleed

So, Vidcon. It’s like all the internet fandoms poured into a confetti cannon along with rainbows, unicorns, and glitter. Then someone stood in the center of the convention center area with a firehose, and sprayed. Vidcon is both horrifyingly shallow, and incredibly inclusive. I can’t quite figure it out. I’ve never seen so many girls (and yes, I do mean girls – they’re way too young to be women) so worried about how they look. Nor have I seen SO many selfies being taken all at once. Upon first glance, I admit being concerned for my youngest, and youth in general. That said, I suspect there’s far more depth going on than meets the eye.

Yesterday afternoon, I stood in line to use the restroom, and a girl walked past in a micro mini skirt, tube (or bandeau) top, and platform sneakers that had to be at LEAST a foot high. Another very tiny young lady was with her mom as she was being herded towards the “Creator” area, wearing the smallest, most glittery, silver boots I’ve ever seen. Nick would have approved. I didn’t know who she was, but she was stopped more than once for selfies on the short walk to the roped off area set aside for talent, production, and other YouTube creator-types. (I suppose our few v-logs don’t really count!)

There is a lot of that at this convention. I’ll see kids swarming around someone like worker bees to a queen, and then they all move on to another one. All the while, I’m trying to see if I recognize the person they were surrounding, and so far, the answer has been “nope!” The trouble with YouTube, or at least as I see it – there are too many freaking YouTube channels with far too many pseudo-celebrities!

Everyone’s their own universe

Sure, there are some serious breakout YouTube stars. There are people pulling down far more per month or year than I’ll make in a lifetime. That said, there are far more kids that have YouTube channels and subscribers that aren’t exactly Sofie Dossi, Jake Paul, or Kasey Neistat…or even Pewdie Pie. (In full disclosure – I had to consult with Gavin on those names. I don’t know who in the heck these kids are, but I will say out of the four names he gave, only one is female. Fascinating.) There are many people who work very hard only to have a few thousand subscribers or even tens of thousands, and yet they’re not really stars in any other arena besides YouTube. It makes me wonder.

So today we’re headed out for a full day of programming. I’m looking forward to seeing these fandoms in their full glory and reporting back! Is it all that much different from Duran Duran?? We will see!

-R

An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!