World in My Eyes by Richard Blade

I haven’t given a book recommendation in a long time, but I’m about to offer up a good one!  As most know, I grew up in Southern California, probably about an hour from where I live now. If you really want to look it up on a map, the name of the town is Glendora. I lived in the far-less-than-wealthy, southerly section of the town.

At some point during the summer between fifth and sixthgrades for me (1981), I discovered KROQ 106.7. I don’t really remember much about how that happened, except that it might have been my friend Kristy who kind of led the way.

I had an old clock radio in my bedroom starting in fifth grade.  When I got it, I had no idea about radio stations – so I just turned the dial until I found one that came in clearly playing music. Nearly every morning I’d be woken up hearing “My Sharona” by the Knack. I still twitch funny when that song comes on the radio! Even so, I left the radio untouched because I had so much trouble finding a station that came in, let alone one with music I recognized.

During that summer between fifth and sixth grades though, I started becoming more interested in music.  I asked my friends, and Kristy piped up with “Listen to K-West!”  I didn’t know what K-West was, but I figured she’d know, and so when I went home, I fiddled with my clock radio, adjusting it to the 106-area. It was so hard to fix the dial to get something to actually come in, back then. Move the knob a teensy bit too much and it would be static or you’d not get the button exactly on the right station. It would appear to be on 106, for example, but it would actually be 105 or even 107-something. Annoying.

On that day, something did come in, and it was music I really liked. I had no idea what it was, but I stuck with it. I carefully placed the radio back on my dresser and didn’t touch it, assuming I was on K-West, and that Kristy was right. I never listened for that long, just when I was waking up in the morning. At that point, I wasn’t spending a lot of time in my room listening to music yet. I must have had that clock radio set to that station for a good year before I realized what channel it was. Richard started working at KROQ in 1982, and it is just about that time when I remember hearing his voice on the air. My memory might be a bit faded and mixed up (I’ll admit having to come back and edit this post well after I first wrote it!), but I can remember Richard giving out the call sign for the station like it was yesterday!

From that time on, Richard Blade was a constant part of my life. I listened to him nearly every morning, and he had everything to do with helping me shape my musical tastes. If radio weren’t enough, I watched him on MV3 which became Video One, and later on, once I was 18, if he guest DJ’ed at clubs in Los Angeles, I went. (The Palace in Hollywood, and Fashions on the Redondo Beach Pier to name a couple!)

Most readers might also know that I hold Richard Blade responsible for me meeting my husband. Richard was a near-constant figure at Fashions for years. On his fifth anniversary, I went to the club and met Walt. Sometimes I want to thank Richard for that, and other times—well, being married has its challenges, doesn’t it?! Even so, I have a beautiful family, and my children might not be here had it not been for Richard Blade, which is wild when I think about it! I don’t know that I would have ever known Duran Duran beyond being an obscure band from the UK, and I definitely wouldn’t have had my eyes opened to alternative music. Who knew a DJ could subtly influence the direction of my life?

Since those days, I guess I’ve followed Richard.  If he’s DJ’ing somewhere, Walt and I try to go whenever we’re able. He plays the music my husband and I listen to, and the weirdest thing happens when we are dancing (and yes, he and I LOVE to dance. It is what brought us together to begin with). I forget about the tough stuff, and we both get transported back to those beginning days downstairs at Fashions. It is like we remember what is really important, and get back to the basics if only for a few hours. Those hours have somehow saved our relationship over the nearly twenty-six years we’ve been together! We’ve had the opportunity to meet Richard a few times, have had a photo or two with him, and now my friend Steven works with him quite often, which is really cool to see.

When Richard announced his autobiography, World In My Eyes, I was excited to get my hands on it. Richard markets the book by saying that we’ll read about the bands we all know – including Duran Duran – but the truth is, at least for me, I wanted to read his story. It’s not his knowing Duran Duran or Depeche Mode that makes the book interesting – although for many, I understand it’s a true selling point. I haven’t even downloaded his interviews with some of the bands I know, I’ve been too busy reading! I’m not even halfway through it yet and I can honestly say – the man has LIVED. It is no wonder why he’s so successful, or why he’s been a constant source of inspiration and learning to me personally. He has had a life well-lived.

The book is outstanding so far, and I have just barely gotten to the point where he moves to California. It is easy to fangirl Richard Blade, and I don’t want to seem too gushy. To many in my generation, he is (in a very vague sense) our Dick Clark. We can leave American Top 40 to Ryan Seacrest—we don’t need him. But Richard Blade? He taught me nearly everything I know about New Wave and 80’s music. He’s open, honest, and cares about people and living things. He has no problem arguing his feelings and concerns, and while I might not always agree, I fully respect him.

Richard is the real deal, and I want to congratulate him on such a wonderfully written representation of his life. I know the diligence required with writing a manuscript, much less an autobiography. It isn’t enough to just want to do it, you have to want to do it more than anything. Richard wrote every single word, no ghost-writers involved, which is rare!

I have no problem highly recommending World in My Eyes. As I said, I haven’t even gotten halfway through it, and I would easily put this on the same shelf with Mad World. We are so lucky to have books about our music and the people who influenced us. I hope everyone grabs a copy. With the holidays coming, I think it would make a great present for anyone who loves music, Duran Duran and New Wave/80s alternative, or knows of Richard Blade! At over 500 pages, it’s the best $20 I’ve spent in a long time.

(And no, I wasn’t asked to write about his book, and I’m certainly not being paid to do so – this is all straight from me)

I can’t wait to get back to reading – so I’ve got to wrap this up for now.

-R

*edited because as I could have predicted this morning when I first wrote it – I got the dates all wrong. 🙂

And Steaming Crowds They Gather and They Shout

My lyric day blog is a day late again.  I wanted to write a blog post about my decision  to go to the Vegas show first.  Today’s shuffle brought me a fan favorite, New Religion.  Then, I had to pick a lyric, which really isn’t all that easy for this song.  There are so many lines I could have picked.  Nonetheless, I went with the line, “And steaming crowds they gather and they shout.”  First of all, it is a good one.  Second and more importantly, it seemed pretty dang fitting this week as the news of a show was the topic of discussion.

Yesterday, my students watched a video about treaties the United States had with Native Americans and the lasting impact that broken treaties and more on the native people.  The video I show is one of my favorites.  The speaker is filled with dramatic pauses, emotional reactions, as well as visuals that enhance the message.  I want my students to feel the importance of Native American history.  If I could cue a classic musical soundtrack to increase the emotionality of the moment, I would.  Honestly, it is one of the aspects of history that I enjoy the most, the drama involved with the story of world events.

Why did I tell you that?  What does it have to do with Duran?  Or the song lyric I chose?  Simple.  I wish that I could convey the importance, the significance, the meaning of Duran Duran and their history to non-fans.  Just last night, I was listening to music while I did some things around the house.  The first song that came up was Planet Roaring.  Every time I hear that song, I wish that I could play it for each and every friend and family member I know so that they could understand the emotionality, the passion that Duranies feel at a show and feel about being Duran fans.  I want to use that song in the way that images and quotes were used in the video I showed in school.  For my students, those elements made it so they cared, so that they understood on a deeper, more emotional level.  I would hope that songs and lyrics like the one I have chosen would do the same thing, at least in my fantasy.

Many times, I think about posting a song like New Religion on my Facebook or other social media to try to explain my fandom.  The line about the crowd gathering is an essential piece of it.  Something magical happens at a show.  I have been lucky enough to attend shows in lots of different places.  No matter where the show is, it always feels the same.  We do all gather and shout, from casual fans who like a few songs to the hardcore fans who have traveled to be there.  Shows are essentially a  crowd who are screaming, shouting, singing, dancing together to music that matters to them.  Each person makes up the entity that is much bigger than them.  The Duran phenomenon is made up of the band members, the supporting players and the fans.  We are part of something significant and the concerts show that.  To me, each show feels that monumental, dramatic, historic.

I just wish that I could adequately explain or show this to friends and family who don’t get it.   Until I figure out a way, I will stick to the songs that seem to capture that feeling of significance for me.  New Religion is definitely one of those songs.

-A

I Must Have Flowers in my Brain

I have no business going to Las Vegas in December.  I should not be going to that Duran Duran concert on December 30th.  Nope.  It is completely not logical.  The concert ticket was ridiculously expensive and the hotel room isn’t much better.  On top of that, the flight is going to cost me an arm and a leg from what I can tell.  The timing isn’t great either.  It is in the middle of winter break, a break that is super short again this year.  My to-do at home is a mile long as I get nothing done during the school year.  If all that wasn’t enough, I have been to plenty of shows.  Heck, a lot of you are probably thinking that I have been to way more shows than I should.

I could start listing all of the reasons that it “makes sense” to go, including that I don’t have to worry about work, that I get to see Rhonda and our other friends, and that going to a Duran show is a blast.  Work is a significant reason.  I could say that I deserve a lot of fun after working 10-12 hour days, at least 6 days a week since September 5th.  Besides work, I don’t have a lot of other responsibilities as I don’t have a family beyond the parents and nieces.  All of that is definitely true and they are all good reasons, but I admit that it isn’t the whole story.

When I think about what going on tour means, visions of groups and friends fill my head.  Memories of hanging out in bars or dancing in clubs with a whole bunch of people flood my consciousness.  While Rhonda and I definitely admit that our fan community (like all other fan communities) is not perfect.  I do not and will not like each and every fan and the same is true about me.  Competition too often gets in the way of genuine interaction and friendship but there is still something special with being on tour, at least for me.  It means being accepted.

Throughout my life, I have stood out from the crowd and not really in a good way.  I have been viewed as someone who is different.  Heck, many of you reading this probably recognize that, even through my writing.  I can come across as cold, calculating, closed off when I am just observing and thinking through things.  Many cannot relate to the way I analyze everything and write in a more serious way no matter the topic.  My passions, including politics, history, women’s studies, are not always easy to put up with.  I get all that.  I recognize that my life is different than a lot of other people our age.  I don’t have a husband.  I don’t have children.  A heck of a lot of time is spent on working and on politics.  Not everyone is into that.  I’m okay with that, but I also know that it is hard for people to relate to me.  As a kid, this really bothered me.  I was relieved when Duran Duran entered the world because it meant that I shared something that a lot of other people did.  Instead of being a total outsider, a part of me fit in.  The same is true now as an adult.  Being on tour means that I have a few days to fit in, to be accepted, to be a part of a group that I don’t get much in “real life”.

Speaking of my wacky personality characteristics, I’m sure it comes to no one that I tend to overthink everything.  I also put a lot of stuff on my shoulders as my responsibility and I feel guilty as heck when I take a break from those responsibilities.  Even Wenesday, when I was home sick (those presales often cause bad headaches, upset stomachs, etc.), I had checked into work before 10 am.  I was so worried about my classroom that I didn’t get much sleep the night before.  Thus, when something comes up that requires me to take a break from a responsibility or two, I struggle to go through with it.  I cannot tell you the number of times that I have gone back-and-forth with calling in sick when I’m actually sick.  I swear that my brain goes through every detail, every affect.  I envy those people who can just be decisive about things that affect their work lives.  I suck at it.  Funny enough, Duran is the one thing that pushes me out of this.  I don’t let myself think too much.  I just go with what I want within reason, of course.  The excitement overrides that voice of responsibility.  Maybe some of you think that is not a good reason to go, but, for me, I appreciate the break.  Of course, the break from thinking non-stop also happens on tour.  I don’t think too much then.  I just feel and react and live.

So, while I should not be going to Vegas for all the reasons I listed above, I am.  The desire to fit in, to have fun, and to take that mental break overrides the logic of not going.  Now…I gotta figure out a flight there and back.

-A

Good seats, white flags and the Daily Duranie Holiday Office Party

Sometimes, I can be so naive it ends up being a little embarrassing.  Yesterday morning, I participated in the pre-sale for The Cosmopolitan in Vegas. I knew going in that the show was probably going in high demand, but I felt that with the DDM VIP membership, I’d have half a chance at good seats.

Let me define “good seats” for you, because I suspect my definition might be different from yours. Basically, I want to be closer to the front, not necessarily front row probably within the first ten rows, and in the middle. I’ve sat on both sides before, and while they’re not terrible, I like the middle best. Chances are, this has something to do with Amanda’s favorite being John and mine being Dom. Middle is what suits us, as the compromise. Before each pre-sale, we call one another and decide on how far over we’re going to be wiling to go, and how far back we’re willing to sit.

This time, since purchasing VIP meant that I’d be giving up food for the next few weeks (joking), we felt that spending $400 a ticket on something like 8th row was too much. That doesn’t mean that one of you should feel terrible for doing so, its just OUR limit. Yours can be different and that’s fine. No judgment.

Our trouble began when we found out the password was “Simon”. I joke, but Amanda and I agreed the pre-sale would either go really well, or be a disaster, and if it was the latter, Simon cursed us.

Dammit!!

From the get-go, neither of us were getting the VIP packages to show up once the sale began. Then once they did show up, we quickly tried clicking on seats. We’d select the tickets only to be told they couldn’t process the transaction. Then we’d get bounced out of the pre-sale and would have to re-enter the password, only to see that the seats we’d just try to buy were still available. We did this for five or ten minutes, panicking the entire time. I decide to tweet Duran Duran and tell them that I think the system is broken.

This is where my naivety came in. First, I was dumb enough to believe that anyone at DDHQ or DDM actually cared. Yeah, I know I wrote all about how they care yesterday. That was before pre-sales and as I said yesterday – this part IS business. The truth of the matter is, it’s not their system. It’s Ticketmaster’s system. DDHQ couldn’t fix it even if they knew what was wrong. I know that.  I just thought they should know that no one seemed to be getting anything. Secondly, never once during all of this did I consider that perhaps it’s just bad luck on my end. I wasn’t meant to get tickets today. Some people get them, others don’t. This happens for every single resale.  I just thought something was really wrong, like a server issue. What was probably really “wrong” was that other people, whether bots, scalpers or real people with quicker computers or phones or whatever, were probably grabbing the tickets from me. I was stupid in thinking that once I selected the tickets, they were in my basket. Nope.

This happened over and over again for over a half-hour. Never mind that it continued to require me to type Simon’s name over and over and over again, which was also really stupid. I suppose those are all measures to stop bots and scalpers, but I doubt it.

Then suddenly, I had third row seats. I was able to get through to the next screen to begin the actual payment process, and then Ticketmaster decided I needed to log in. I was amused at first because I’d already logged in and even in the corner of the screen it said “Hi Rhonda”. Yep, that’s me, I thought. It’s STILL me, motherfucker!! 

(I curse like a sailor during pre-sales and today I was pretty damn tame until that moment. My mother would not be proud.)

So, I typed in my password.

Nope, Ticketmaster didn’t recognize that combination. OK, try it again. Type slower, Rhonda.

Nope, still doesn’t get it. I take a deep, cleansing breath. Ok, asshole hamster working behind the scenes….I am the same freaking person I was an hour ago when you let me log on. GIVE ME MY TICKETS!  Why do I even have to log in? Can’t I just be a guest??!

(Yes, the song “Be Our Guest” came into my head at that moment.  Get your head in the game, Rhonda, I thought firmly, trying to redirect myself from the ear worm. You have no time for Disney movies, you’re buying Duran Duran tickets!!) 

Amanda saves me at this point from throwing my laptop. She suggests I use her password. Surely that will work, I thought.  I type very, very, carefully.

Nope. I try mine again. Denied again. It now says I’m locked out of my account. Bye-bye tickets. My stomach begins to do flip-flops and I can feel myself suddenly get very tired and a cold, clammy feeling washes over me. I am worried that if I keep trying Amanda’s, she’ll be locked out as well, so I stop. I tell her to keep trying, and I set about requesting a new password from Ticketmaster. Oddly, they sent it to me right away, even though I’d been locked out. I reset my password, time ticking right by. I logged back on. Everything seemed normal, except there were no VIP package seats available whatsoever.

From then on, I pulled nothing that was VIP.  Keep in mind, we are now about 40 minutes into the pre-sale. The realization that I’m not going to be getting VIP seats to this gig begins to dawn. I tell Amanda I’m done, that I just won’t go, this is a sign from the universe, and that I’m too tired to go on.

I sometimes have a flair for the dramatic.

While all of this was happening, the other two people in our four person extravaganza struck gold. Literally, because they pulled two good seats in the third-row for themselves. Amanda and I were happy for them, but we were feeling pretty dejected at the same time. I mean, it sucks when things don’t go right. That’s not just me being a poor sport, it’s reality. It’s a bummer when you can’t get what you want. Ticketmaster and I are no longer friends, and I’m really not sure we ever were.

One of our friends sends a text, “Do you want us to keep looking for you?” I’m halfway tempted to say no, that I’m staying the hell home and that I hated Duran Duran, which is untrue on even the worst of days.  I didn’t really hate them. I hate the process. Trust the process,  my ass. (Sorry John.) I’m sick of this pre-sale nonsense. But I said none of that. Instead I said “Sure.” I figured they wouldn’t find anything or they’re just being kind, or that like us – they’d see tickets, select them, and be told they couldn’t complete the transaction at that time.

Meanwhile, Amanda and I continued to go through the motions of selecting, being denied, refreshing the “best available tickets”, entering the magic word (I have never typed Simon’s name so many times in a single day. Ever!), selecting different but still good seats, and being continuously denied. It was awful, and as Amanda cheerfully pointed out, “The very definition of insanity.”

I did not laugh or share her cheer. Instead, I groaned.

Our friends texted back saying they’d found a pair of tickets but they were way off to one side, and then another pair to the other side at the very edge of the stage. Nope. While we wanted to be at the show, neither of us felt comfortable paying $400 for tickets that were going to be staring at speakers or the wings of the stage. Picky? Probably so, but again – they’re our standards, they don’t have to be yours. I was just about to say goodbye to Amanda and head out to a piano lesson when I got another text about good seats in the sixth row, just to the right of middle by a few chairs. They were good, just back a pinch more than we’d agreed initially, but things change over the course of a pre-sale!

“Take them”, Amanda said. I could hear the white flag being raised in her voice. We were both pretty spent.

We’re going. We have good seats. We’re not complaining about our seats at all. The process though, kicked our asses.  While I’d heard about bots and scalpers buying up seats en mass before, I haven’t ever had this much of a problem getting VIP tickets in the past. It was a genuine mess for us this time.

Later on, someone pointed out to me that it was just bad luck, not operational issues.  They felt I shouldn’t have tweeted the band about it because it made me seem whiny. This person continued to say “It was your turn, and about time for you to have bad luck.”  The insinuation was made that Amanda get to do more than anyone else in this fan community and that they’re sick of seeing it. First of all, we don’t go to everything. We do what we can do. You do what you can do. But to go around wishing for one of us or the other to have bad luck is just mean.  I know that life isn’t always easy or peachy keen for either Amanda or me, but perception is everything. Point taken.

Sometimes pre-sales are really hard, and other times Duran Duran and/or the venue doesn’t use Ticketmaster as the agency and it all goes smoothly. We don’t expect to have good seats every single time. Overall though, Amanda and I aren’t going to be salty (my new favorite word, courtesy of my son) about this. We’re going to Vegas. We’re going to hang out over the holidays, exchange our gifts in person and drink at our own freaking Daily Duranie holiday office party, and everyone is going to be invited. What could be better than that?!

-R

 

 

An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!