Unattainable Pubescent Dreams

So yesterday I talked a little about this book in my blog.  I have more to say. (I am sure everyone is astounded!)
What I’ve actually done is highlight several (Ok, a LOT) of passages in the book so that I could come back and chat about them later.  Over the next several of my blogs I’ll discuss various topics included in that book – next week I’m taking a much needed vacation with my family, but never fear, I’m going to write my blogs early so that they’ll be posted each day! 
Today the topic is basically fantasy.  Without further adieu:
“I was just going through the basic paradox of adolescence, which Mozz was remarkably candid about:  I Want the One I Can’t Have, and It’s Driving Me Mad.  One hundred percent of teenagers dream about making out, but they only dream about making out with 5 percent of other teenagers. This means our dreams and our realities are barely on speaking terms, so we look forward to making out with people who aren’t real, keeping us in a nearly universal state of teen frustration.  It screws us up for the rest of our lives as we keep hoping for the unattainable.  It’s like if you planned your whole life around meeting Garfield, the cartoon cat.  I do not know anyone who claims they want to own a cat someday, but they’re holding out for Garfield.  If I met somebody who broke up with their cats every few weeks and said, “He just doesn’t eat lasagna” or “I don’t know, he was nice but seldom seemed to be thinking sassy wisecracks about the slobbering dog,” I would have to assume this person was an idiot.  Yet practically every teenager on earth channels their deepest sexual and romantic yearnings into fantasies.”   (Sheffield, page 186 – Kindle edition) *see works cited below…and yes today I’ll really post the info!!
Ok, so the true confession from me today is that I really have wanted a Garfield in my life.  I’m a cat fan, and if I could find a Garfield, I’d own him..or actually he’d probably own ME.  It’s true.   Yes, I am probably an idiot, and you know – I’m OK with that. That said, I’ve owned more than a few cats in my lifetime, one of which was dangerously close to being Garfield without being orange.  Or animated.  His name was Sigmond and he has proven to be irreplaceable.  (he has since passed on to what I’m sure he considers to be MUCH better surroundings…and service!) Definitely one of a kind, and I’m positive they broke the mold after he was made.  Never met a cat that insisted he was not only human, but a new and improved version with the kind of determination he had, that is for sure.  
Now that my conscious is clear, I want to dig into this subject a little deeper.  I was about 10 when I first heard Duran Duran in 1981.  I have to admit that I don’t recall my first thought to be whether or not they were cute – although make no mistake, once I saw them, I don’t remember thinking about much else for quite some time.  I think that due to my age at the time, every other boy/man I’ve met has been held up to some pretty impossible standards.  My prepubescent self didn’t know any better, I didn’t realize that finding my own Roger Taylor was an unattainable goal.  (I’m thinking I made out just fine in the end.  Yes Walt, if you’re reading – this comment was written for you!) By the time boys really did enter the picture a couple years later, the 6 men I knew the most about in my life: the 5 original band members plus my dad, are probably what set the bar for the boys I wanted to date.  I knew what I liked, I knew what I wanted, and I desperately tried to find it. (although at the time I’m not sure I recognized any of that)  My first love was a boy in band with me in high school.  I won’t post his name because his wife probably wouldn’t appreciate that and I can’t really blame her.  He was a drummer (go figure), he had dark hair, dark eyes, great skin for tanning, quiet and shy to begin with, but had a fantastic sense of humor.  We dated for 4 years – I actually dated him longer than I did my husband before we got married.  Funny how that happens.  Now that I look back on it, he was as close to Roger Taylor as I was ever going to get, and I don’t know why I didn’t see what I was trying to do earlier.  I guess I figured that if I couldn’t have the real thing, I’d find a reasonable substitute. Therapy, anyone??  
When I think back on that time, I almost feel sorry for any of the boys I dated in high school, including that first love.  Not only did they have to get past my dad (which wasn’t easy!), they had to deal with what I’m sure included my talking ad nauseam about the band, playing their music where ever I was, the Duran Duran “wallpaper” in my room, etc.  I think it’s pretty commendable that my high school drummer made it past all of that and STILL wanted to date me for so long.  Well, he always was, and still is, a nice guy.  My husband had it pretty easy, because by the time he came along – I was in college and not quite as infatuated.  I’ll give him credit too though – he did go with me to at least one Duran Duran concert before we were married, although it wasn’t until we were married and had our first daughter that he realized just how much of a fan I really was.  
I have to wonder if the fact that I was young when I became a Duran Duran fan, and the fact that they were a fairly constant fixture through my pre-teen and teen years had anything to do with how steadfast of a fan I really became.  Was the fantasy of the band on their yacht and the girls, the cars, the whole package part of what drew fans to them?  Do you think that any of that has anything to do with why so many of their fans, particularly the female ones, have stuck around so long and are so incredibly loyal.  Some might call it cult-like.  I’m not judging. 🙂   The fact of the matter is that at least for me, Duran Duran were probably the first real sort of crush I had as a pre-teen, or “tween”.  I did love Shaun Cassidy and a little Rick Springfield before them, but in either of those cases, it was more of a puppy love sort of thing.  Duran Duran was “real”….(and I think I’ve just answered my question about my own sanity…or lack thereof!)
So, if they’ve screwed us up for the rest of our lives, can we sue??   (Of course I’m joking!!)
-R
BTW – in case the band needs to know, I’ll be on vacation next week.  This is your cue to go ahead and post those US dates.   😉

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Works Cited
Sheffield, Rob, Talking to Girls About Duran Duran: One Young Man’s Quest for True Love  and a Cooler Haircut, Copyright July 2010 Penguin Books Ltd, London.

Is it really like that?

I’ve been doing a lot of reading this summer, thanks to my trusty iPad and it’s Kindle application.  I love it, and I don’t feel bad about ordering books constantly now because they don’t take up space in my very small closet/bookshelf/Duran Duran shrine! (no comments from the peanut gallery on this one)  One of the books I’ve been reading is by Rob Sheffield; Talking To Girls About Duran Duran: One Young Man’s Quest For True Love and a Cooler Hair Cut.  Naturally, I was most interested in the “Talking to Girls about Duran Duran” part, but as it turns out, the entire book is a really good glimpse into what it was like growing up in the 80’s.  I love the way he uses the music he loved to help weave the stories from his adolescence and teen years into a cohesive tale.  His book could really be the book that any of us who grew up or were influenced by events in the 80’s could have written, and many of us wish we had!  One chapter of the book is called “Ask” (1986), and I have quoted a couple of excerpts here:

“We all have our Ally Sheedys, the things we cling to and do not leave behind at the bus station.  All men have Ally Sheedys and mine is Stephen Patrick Morrissey.  he has devoted his life and mine to making me a lamer, dumber, more miserable person.  I can’t leave him behind, because I’ve tried, and yet he follows me everywhere I go.  Six years on my trail?  I should be so lucky to get off that easy” (page 183 – Kindle edition)

I should explain that the Ally Sheedy reference here is to the scene at the end of St. Elmo’s fire where Rob Lowe’s character leans into Judd Nelson, takes his arm and tells him not to let Ally Sheedy’s character go, even though we’d just seen the part where Ally and Andrew McCarthy’s character are creating their own steamy shower scene.


….


“I broke up with Morrissey after the second Smiths album, Meat is Murder, came out in the spring of 1985, because he was just….too much of a jerk.  I was desperate to get out of the humdrum town Morrissey had helped me build in my brain.  My lie had gotten totally grim – I just sat around my dorm room in a depressive stupor, too distracted by gloom to get any work done, too afraid to shave or answer the phone or go outside.  Morrissey had turned into a lame self-parody, and so had I. 


I have to admit, it was acrimonious.  I went from idolizing the Smiths to despising them.  Shit got ugly.  I blamed them for all my problems – and if that didn’t make me a true Smith’s fan, what could?  Hell, Morrissey had taught me everything I knew about blaming my bad personality on people I’d never met.  In a way, hating him was my sincerest possible act of fandom.” (page 187 – Kindle edition)





“Then, just when I’d gone to all the trouble of purging the Smiths out of my system, they did something really offensive, which is they got good again.  The first night my friend Martha played me The Queen is Dead in her room, I was consumed with rage at the fact that it was so unmistakably, ridiculously great, and the fact that Morrissey was making fun of himself and doing a much better job of it than I could.  Morrissey had beaten me to making all the changes I wanted to make – he was now funny, self-deprecating, apologetic about what an asshole he’d been to me, and (unfor-fucking-givable) blatantly trying to make me like him again.  Bastard.”  (page 189 – Kindle edition)
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just so I don’t get into trouble here…please see the end of the blog for the proper Works Cited.  


I know what Sheffield writes here.  I know it all too well at this point.  Fandom is an interesting phenomena, because you can go from loving something with a sincere and pure intensity to thinking that same thing is absolute crap in the time it takes to make one album.  One book.  One movie.  One marriage.  You get the idea.  I think we’ve all experienced that moment of absolute defeat when we see, hear, witness something from an idol (in the case of this blog: Duran Duran) that just pops the balloon of joy, or takes the wind completely out of our sails.  I’m betting that most of you, if not all of you, can name a moment or two where that’s happened.  I know for me, I’ve called the band pretty much every name in the book – and I reserve the very best ones for when one of them really pisses me off!  I’m not the kind of fan that sees everything as a “good thing”.  I don’t turn a blind eye when they make idiotic decisions, and I do call a spade a spade.  Then again, I’m not the type of fan that hates more than I love, either.  I’m in the middle somewhere, until something sets me off in one direction or another.

A good example is Red Carpet Massacre.  I won’t rehash the album, that’s not the point – it’s that for many, it is indicative in a sort of crossroads in their personal fandom.  Many loved the album, so for them – it was just a reaffirmation of sorts.  For others, within one listen they knew it wasn’t for them.  Some disliked it, some flat out hated it.  Others felt it as a personal attack.  I can’t tell you how many times I myself read the words “The band didn’t make the album as an attack on anyone – you can’t take it personally.  Why get so mad about it?  If you don’t like it, so what?”  At the time, I knew what they meant.  It did seem rather silly to get so worked up about one single album.  I mean, no one forces us to be fans, right?  We make the choice ourselves every time we buy new music, go to a message board or buy concert tickets.  My problem at the time was that I did feel let down.  I did take the album personally, as much as I knew in my head that I shouldn’t.  It’s just music.  Isn’t it?

At the time, I felt very much as though the band purposely took a direction on that album many of their long time fans from way back when wouldn’t be able to follow.  I think it’s fair to say that the purpose of that particular album was to help find some new blood to fill the fan base – and yes, I really do believe they were trying to write hits as though by having some magic formula of “producer” and guest “artist” (the quotes there are intentional – my blog, my opinion, thankyouverymuch) they would strike the immediate and profound motherlode.  In that moment, yes – I felt it really was personal, and I was pissed.  Just as Sheffield says he went from “idolizing the Smiths to despising them”, I felt the same about Duran Duran, and it didn’t feel good.  Part of me hated them, and the other part of me missed them terribly.  Talk about conflicted with a huge side order of narcissism! (because yes, I really did believe it was all about me.  Wasn’t it? :D)

Just as I was getting used to pretending that my love for the band would indeed end at Red Carpet Massacre, I went to shows again.  As I’ve mentioned previously – I’d ignore the songs from RCM for the most part.  I would be thoroughly annoyed that the band would still be good live, but in a large way, the band had lost a lot of that unique “luster” it once had.  I came out of most of the shows I went to during the Red Carpet Massacre “era” feeling like I do when I go to see INXS or perhaps even Johnny Vatos and Friends;  the shows are good, I really love the songs and I’ll go again and again and again to see them, but somehow…it’s just not quite the same.

Flash ahead to around December of last year when I first heard All You Need is Now.  I have to tell you – the emotional toll that one song took on me was almost unfair.  I know what Sheffield means when he says the Smiths did something really offensive by getting good again.  I had just gotten myself to the point where I felt that after this book was written, I could probably walk away and feel good about doing so.  I would always love Duran Duran, but I knew that I would get my closure and be able to end this incredibly long saga in my life.  The band of course had other plans.  When I first listened to All You Need is Now – I cried.  I almost never cry.  That stupid band had the audacity to make me like them again.  How rude!! Of course, I didn’t post any of those feelings (of anger and injustice!) on the blog.  Even I have the good sense to keep some of my thoughts to myself.  I listened to the album a lot, and realized what I should have realized all along:  I will never be “rid” of Duran Duran.  They follow me where ever I go, whether it’s to the grocery store (since when is Duran Duran muzak?), to the hospital (I heard “Hungry Like the Wolf” as I was giving birth to my youngest), or when I’m walking around the mall – convinced I’m hearing “Sunrise” everywhere I go.  I can’t be rid of them even if I want, because they are imbedded in my youth, my young adult stage, and now my middle age.  They’re kind of like stalkers that way.

-R

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Works Cited

Sheffield, Rob, Talking to Girls About Duran Duran: One Young Man’s Quest for True Love  and a Cooler Haircut, Copyright July 2010 Penguin Books Ltd, London.

Deja Vu and the friendships that last

Life is so funny sometimes.  One thing that always makes me take pause is how there are some people in your life that you can go without seeing for years, maybe even decades at a time and then when you finally do see one another again, it’s as though no time has passed at all.  I’m not sure if it’s a sense of deja vu, or if it’s just familiarity – or maybe a lot of both.

Last night I met up with a few girls (well, we’re women now I suppose) that I knew from college.  I went to Cal State Fullerton (I graduated in 1993 if there’s any Titan Alumni out there!), and after my first year living on campus in the dormitories (Fullerton is a small commuter campus, there were only 3 sets of dorms back when I attended, so there isn’t much of a “college life” going on there), I decided to try and pledge a sorority.  It seemed like the thing to do since I was no longer living on campus, yet I really wanted to meet some people and make the most out of college.  I went through “Rush” (for my UK friends, this is a time where you go and meet all of the sororities on campus – social clubs, basically – and then through a ridiculous process of voting and choosing, you end up with an offer to join a sorority at the end of the rush period), and at the end of the process, I ended up with a Bid Card to join Zeta Tau Alpha – ZTA.  To make a long story a bit shorter, when I went to the Bid Party that afternoon, I met 4 other girls that were going to be in my Pledge Class (actually, there were about 20 of us altogether – but there were 4 other girls at my table that day), and we became fast friends.  Over the course of the 3 years that I was in the “house” (that’s what we call each of the sororities, “houses”), there was a lot of laughing, fun, debauchery and drama, but once I left – I didn’t keep in touch with anyone.  Over the years since I ran into one of the girls a couple of times, but I didn’t know what had happened to any of the others.  Then along came Facebook, and somehow – we all found one another.  There were promises to meet and catch up, but nothing ever really transpired until last night.  It was the first time in about 18 years that all of us had been together in the same room at the same time.

I was incredibly nervous.  I’d gotten to the place we were meeting for dinner and drinks a bit early, and as I sat texting my partner-in-crime (Amanda), I could feel my blood pressure rising. My tenure as a Zeta ended before I graduated due to some family issues (basically I had to quit because my parents were losing their house and I needed to pull my own weight), and the sorority house was less-than-supportive.  At the same time, the aforementioned drama between all of us had put quite a bit of distance between a few of us, and so there was a lot of unresolved emotion that I think we all carried with us.  As excited as I was to see the girls, I was nervous because I just wasn’t sure what would take place.

I got out of my car and immediately saw one of them – it was the strangest feeling because it was as though I had been transported right back to those college years.  The same feeling came over me as each of them walked into the restaurant, and throughout the night I felt like I couldn’t talk fast enough!  We had so much ground to cover in such a short period of time.  We’ve all walked very different paths since college – I was married first out of the 5 of us, and my children are both the oldest (my first two) AND the youngest (my little one).  Two are still not married, one has moved out of state, one moved out of state and back again (that’d be me) one has converted to a completely different religion, and all 5 of us have aged beautifully, of course.  🙂  For all of the things that had changed though, so many things were still the same.  The laughter, the inside jokes, the annoyances we had during college and sorority, and our love for one another, despite the differences. (or perhaps in spite of our differences)  I don’t think I realized how much I missed these girls until I saw them, and how much I really do need them in my life.  I don’t know why I completely walked away from them back at school, I suppose that at the time I needed to be on my own in order to appreciate their friendship when and if I ever had the chance again.  Even today, it’s difficult not to be emotional about how I felt with them last night – they are very special people and I’m glad to have them back in my life.  It won’t be 15 years, or even 1 year, before I see any or all of them again, that is certain.

The reason I tell this particular tale is the familiarity of the story.  How many of us felt (or feel) that same weird sense of deja vu when we’ve gone to see Duran Duran?  I know the first time I saw all 5 of them on stage in Costa Mesa in 2003 I just stood there unable to move for the first 10 minutes of the show because I felt like I had to be in some crazy dream or something.  I looked  like an adult, but boy did I ever feel like I was back in junior high again.  Our “relationship” with the band is much different than the one we might have with close friends.   I don’t believe it’s quite the same as the two-way street we have with friends we genuinely know and love – but the band was a very large part of our lives as we grew up.  I know I didn’t realize how much I’d missed seeing the band until I saw them again in 2001 at the House of Blues in Anaheim even though at the time it was only Simon and Nick that were original members at the time.  After that show, I grabbed on to fandom for dear life!   At a similar point in my life, I even put the band on the back burner in my life just as I’d done with my sorority friends.  At the time, I don’t even think I knowingly decided not to follow the band as closely as I once had – it just happened.   Of course, when the time came and I saw them play onstage again, it felt as though no time had ever passed – just as it felt last night when I looked at each of my friends sitting around the table talking and laughing.

When I see the band again in December, I have no doubt that as they take the stage, it will feel as though no time has passed – yet I believe that by that time it will have been about a year and a half since I’ve seen them.  Not exactly decades, but my point is that a certain part of me will feel that same sense of comfort, familiarity and recognition that I had last night with my friends, even though I won’t even be seeing the band in my own country.  There is definitely something extremely special and priceless about being a Duran Duran fan into my 40s.  I’ve learned to appreciate them in a way I couldn’t have done at 12 – even though they truly exasperate me at times.  Not much different from friendship, really.

-R

How long do you have to be a fan to be a real fan?

In the comments surrounding Amanda’s blog last week about message boards, an interesting topic came up about fans in general that I think is worth exploring.

I’ve had no trouble boasting, bragging, reminiscing, and even lamenting that I have been a fan of Duran Duran since 1981.  Planet Earth drew me in, and I was hooked immediately.  Oddly, I’ve never really left – sans for about a year or two in the late 90’s when I was knee deep in diapers, bottles and laundry.  I don’t know that I could have told you my name and address at the time without having it written down in front of me, much less anything recent about Duran Duran…. but once I awoke from that night…er…dream…  I was back to normal.  (don’t ask me to define “normal”)  I’ve been a fan for a long time, as have many if not most of our readers.

I think that as a fan who was around in the 80’s, I feel as though I’ve seen the band come full circle, and then some.  I remember what it was like back in the day when kids my age would call the local radio station and beg for Duran Duran to be played.  Hell, I remember calling the stations myself!  I remember squealing in delight when their videos would come on TV, or when they’d play a performance on TV for a show like American Bandstand, New Years Rockin’ Eve or something on MTV.  I know I’m fortunate that I have those memories to look back on. (and I’m lucky I still HAVE those memories!!)  I was around to read the news on DD.com when the band announced Warren’s departure and the reunion of the original five members, and I was there the night that they announced they were playing the Pacific Amphitheater near my home in California.  It’s been a long, strange trip, as they say.

I think it’s pretty obvious that there aren’t just 30,000 other fans (I just picked a number out of thin air – I have no idea how many fans there are out there!) who started out with the band in the 80’s.  They’ve had the good fortune to pick up fans along the way, and we should all be thankful for that.  It’s one thing to have a loyal fan base from day one, it’s quite another to be able to continue to attract new listeners over the years.  It’s the difference between being a one-hit wonder and having staying power in the industry, isn’t it?

Yet somehow, there does seem to be a difference between all of us. There’s a sort of utterly annoying superiority that comes from fans just like myself, who have been with the band all along.  I can’t explain it – it’s almost as though since we’ve been around the longest, everyone else must be a newbie and somehow not quite worthy; but that’s not really the way it should be.  I myself have friends who have been fans only since the 90’s, and I don’t really look at them any differently.  Some of them have been fans that long because they were born in the 80’s!  So aside from calling them “youngsters” (and someday they’ll be happy for that title)… I would say that they’re as big of fans as I am.  I’ve seen it on message boards though.  Everyone judges everyone else simply because they haven’t been a fan since the moment of inception, or because they wandered away after Seven and the Ragged Tiger and didn’t come back until Ordinary World…and I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I’ve done the same.

I could probably admonish everyone, including myself, and be done with this blog for the day (as I glance at the mountain of laundry lying on my table to fold…), but that’s not really my job.  I just have to wonder WHY we make such a big deal about how long we’ve been fans.  Does it really matter??

It’s one of those items that is brought up any time there is a moment of ambiguity in Duranland. In between albums, tours…when there’s speculation about the band’s future, or when there’s discussion about a change in musical direction.  Then suddenly everyone, including myself, starts throwing “I’ve been a fan since….” into the ring, as though because we’ve been fans for X amount of years, that somehow gives us credibility over one another.  At the time, the argument seems particularly worthy, but from a distance, I think we all start sounding like complete idiots with no other substance in our lives. I say that about myself as much as I say it about everyone else.   I know this tiny detail about myself, I see when I’ve done it in the past…and I can guarantee that it’ll happen again in the relatively near future, I’m just that perfect of a human.  (insert a rueful smile here!)

The one constant I have discovered in the time I’ve spent studying fandom is that it’s all code for competition.  Yes, you can absolutely choose not to compete with others and still be a fan.  My assertion here is that if that were to be the case – why would you bother labeling yourself?  You’d go about your business, enjoying the music, going to shows, etc…and never once even bother to think beyond that personal enjoyment.  It’s only when we start announcing to the world that yes, we’re fans of whatever we’re enjoying at the time that we are announcing that we’re ready to engage.  We all see it at that moment as wanting to make connections with other fans.  We want other fans to recognize that we have that interest in common.  Somehow though, there’s a moment where the tide turns, and that need for connection becomes a need to keep up, to prove our worth, to show that we know as much as the next person.  That’s fandom.  Can you be a fan without that sense of competition?  Yes, but chances are, you wouldn’t be announcing your fandom, either.

-R

The Excitement of Tour Rumors

Last night, I saw posts on various people’s facebooks about a Duran show in Atlanta on Friday, October 14th.  Now, this show hasn’t been officially announced, but what people were saying it appears to be listed on the venue’s website.  I don’t live in Atlanta and don’t really have any plans to go to this show, but I still got all excited.  How sad is that?! 

Now, I’ll be clear here.  I don’t think I will end up going to many shows in the US during this fall at all.  I have to save my pennies to go back to the UK.  That said, I’m sure that I will try to go to a show, if it is close to home.  Maybe, if I’m lucky enough and have enough airline miles I might be able to go for a weekend somewhere, which may equal 2 shows.  So, why did I get excited over seeing a new tour rumor despite the fact that I will probably not be attending this or many other shows in the US, if any?  There are many reasons, really.  To me, shows are always exciting!  I’m sure that the band is excited but I think the fans are more so.  For me, I enjoy hearing about other people’s shows and seeing the clips on youtube.  I get to live a little bit through youtube, I guess.  I get to live a little through other fans.  Hearing and seeing clips of shows are better than no shows.  I also think that shows wake up and keep the fandom alive.  It gives us fans something to talk about.  We can talk about the setlists, the venues, the stage setup, etc.

The rumors of shows is, sometimes, better than having the whole tour spelled out.  Notice that I said sometimes.  If you don’t know what all the shows are, you can speculate.  You can hope that there is a show or two that might work for you.  Once all of the shows are listed, then, you know exactly what can be done and what can’t.  Of course, you can always keep hope that another show or two will be added but there won’t be many added, if at all.  There is nothing worse than knowing that you can’t do any of the shows and that realization happens if the whole tour is announced at once.  On the other side of the coin, if you know all of the shows, locations and dates, then, you can really plan.  You would know exactly what you can do.  From there, the real planning begins.  The tickets must be purchased.  Hotels can be reserved.  Travel arrangements are made. 

I guess what really excites me about tour dates is that they represent the beginning of the fun.  I like the whole experience.  I like planning and I definitely like everything that goes along with a show.  I like meeting other Duranies.  I like seeing new places, if possible.  It goes without saying that I LOVE the shows (most of the time).  To me, there isn’t much better than going to Duran shows, which is probably why I keep doing it.  Thus, in reality, hearing about a tour date is like the promise of something better.  It is like seeing the first advertisements for Christmas and knowing that a fun time is just around the corner. 

-A

Avoiding Message Boards

Lately, I have been talking to a number of people about the Duran Duran message boards, which, in my mind, include DuranDuranMusic, Mark’s board and others.  It seems that a number of fans don’t actually go to any of them.  When asked, they talk about how negative the boards have been in the past or the desire to stay away from the drama.  This makes me wonder if there were a lot of fans who avoided the message boards.  From there, I ponder what the point of message boards is in the first place and if these non-message board people get their fandom needs met elsewhere.

Based on my loose observation, there are a lot of Duranies who don’t go to any message board.  From what I have seen, they don’t go because they don’t like the negativity that can be found on them.  Is this a fair statement?  Perhaps, so.  I have seen much negativity on the various message boards.  Heck, even the most positive, most pleasant of boards can have its share of problems.  The very nature of message boards is discussion, right?  When people discuss anything, they are not always going to agree.  When there are disagreements, some people handle this well and just agree to disagree and others become more argumentative or negative and everyone in between.  Yet, this very discussion is what a lot of people go to message boards for.  They want to talk about their interest, their fandom.  At least, I do.  Of course, now, I can come here and talk about what I think for paragraphs and paragraphs.  Yes, people can also respond to me and my ideas, too.  They can do it here or on twitter or on facebook.  They can even do it on message boards.  I appreciate this discussion.  So, do people who avoid message boards not want to have discussions about Duran?  I don’t know.  Perhaps, they, like me, have found other means of expressing themselves.  Maybe social networking sites like facebook and twitter provide that.  Maybe, they live with people who are Duranies or are friends with Duranies so they can have more personalized discussions.  Of course, there is always the chance that they don’t want to talk about Duran.  Their fandom doesn’t require the conversation or they don’t want to hear negative statements.  Some fans, I think, want to just think happy thoughts about the object of their fandom.  They want to think that everything their idol(s) does is great.  For them, the focus is on fun rather than analysis.  I can appreciate that to some extent, even if I can’t do that.  Of course, maybe the negativity has nothing to really do with the band and maybe it has to do with the fans.

It seems to me that drama in fandom is common.  There are always fans that seem to have problems with each other.  I’m not sure why this exists.  It could be that people feel so passionate about their fandom that this carries over to other fans.  Thus, when there is friendship, it is all good, but when there is not, it is bad.  It isn’t uncommon for people to go to message boards to find others like them and to make friends from this common interest.  Perhaps, that common interest isn’t enough to make solid, long-lasting friendships as there needs to be more in common than that.  I don’t know. It could just be that they see behaviors or attitudes that they just don’t like and instead of ignoring them, fans are open what they don’t like.  I’m sure that the medium also helps this.  People might say and do things because the communication is taking place online as opposed to doing face-to-face communication.  People can post comments and then walk away.  It is an easier medium to have confrontations.  Based on this type of drama, I can understand why people would want to avoid online places where there is a lot of talking behind people’s backs or posting negative statements or arguing.  The message boards then are no longer about making friends but avoiding making enemies.  Maybe real life provides friendships, even ones surrounding fandom. 

Then, if a fan gets friends elsewhere and gets Duran discussion elsewhere, how does a fan get the information found on a message board?  Removing the infighting and the debates about the band, there is still information provided.  For example, I couldn’t go on a message board today without seeing a news article about the band or a rumor about some upcoming event.  Can you get this type of knowledge through social networking or real life connections?  I don’t know.  Again, maybe fans that avoid message boards, don’t feel it necessary to get news and rumors.  Maybe the negatives of message boards still outweigh the positives for them. 

-A

Can Duran Replace Band Members?

Some days are quiet in Duranland and others are busy, busy, busy.  Most days, lately, are in between.  Today was one of those days.  First, the band posted an updated tour poster for the UK dates.  Then, there was a radio interview with Roger Taylor that Duranasty was kind enough to put up for everyone to download.  Of course, seeing the new UK tour poster advertising the dates got us all excited, well, cautiously excited.  During Roger’s interview, he stated that Simon is about 80% back.  The reaction to that piece of information was mixed, as is the case with most things Duran.  On one hand, this is evidence that Simon is indeed improving, which is good considering that there are dates coming up in a few weeks and the postponed dates have been rescheduled.  On the other hand, it could remind us all that Simon isn’t perfect yet.  It has taken a very long time for him to get here.  This reminded me of something that has been bouncing around in my head since Simon’s vocal problems began.  Can anyone in the band be replaced?

In all of the discussions about Simon, I haven’t read many, if any, comments about how they should get someone to replace Simon for a few shows.  Most Duranies agree that Simon is the voice of Duran and it wouldn’t really be the same without him.  Then, the next comment is usually about Nick.  Many people say that they couldn’t do without Nick, either.  Some would say that they are the “heart” of Duran now.  Let me dissect this idea.  Why couldn’t we replace Nick?  Is it because he has so much of what is needed for a live show on his computer?  Is that why?  Okay.  That might make it difficult to have someone substitute for him for shows, but is it impossible?  I don’t honestly know.  I admit that I don’t really know what Nick does exactly on stage.  Yes, sometimes, I see him hit the keyboards but there are other times that I see that he has time to take pictures or whatever.  Would they be able to do shows without him?  Apparently they don’t think so as shows were canceled in 2008 due to his inability to travel for an ear infection.  As for replacing him in the band, I understand the idea that he couldn’t be replaced.  Yes, Nick has been there since the beginning.  Yes, he is often the one with many of their big ideas and the one to fixate over all of the details.  Is Duran his?  I have heard that he owns the name.  If this is true, then, I guess Duran is legally his.  Would the band be the same without him?  Obviously not.  Could it survive?  I don’t honestly know.  So, is Nick and Simon at the heart of the band?  I don’t know if I would say that either.  To me, that implies that John and Roger aren’t important.

I acknowledge that both John and Roger have left the band and have come back.  Obviously, the band can and has survived without them.  Would they postpone shows if they couldn’t play?  Well, in 2005, they canceled shows in Japan because Roger had broken his foot.  Clearly, they wouldn’t replace him anymore on stage either.  This leaves John.  Would they replace John now, even for a few shows?  I can’t imagine.  Why would he be any different than Simon, Nick or Roger?  Now, I know what you all must be thinking.  Then, what happened with Andy?  Good question.  I obviously have no inside track, no inside information.  For whatever reason, they felt like they could or should replace him for shows.  They decided this way back in late 2004 when Andy was replaced by Dom for the first time due to Andy being sick.  Then again, Dom came in during the spring of 2005 when Andy’s dad passed away.  What does this mean?  I don’t know exactly.  It could mean that it is easier to replace the guitarist for Duran than to replace a drummer.  It could mean that things with Andy were always different.  Maybe Andy wanted it this way.  Maybe he didn’t.  This leads me to wonder what they would do now in 2011 if Dom wasn’t able to play.  Would he be just as easily replaced as it appeared that Andy was? 

For me, personally, as much as I want shows to continue and did benefit from Dom filling in for Andy in 2005, I wouldn’t want any of them, including Dom, to be replaced for shows.  Does that mean that I disagree with the statement that Nick and Simon are the heart of Duran?  I guess in a way that I do.  I don’t like the idea of leaving out John and Roger.  Yes, I admit that they both left for awhile but they are in now.  I wouldn’t want them to have secondary status.  I would want the heart of Duran to be big enough for all four.  Heck, maybe someday, the heart will be big enough to squeeze Dom in, too.  To me, Duran is all of them.

-A

The 2011 All You Need is Now UK Tour….THE SEQUEL!

“I’m on a ride and I wanna get off, but they won’t slow down the roundabout.”  (anyone ever heard THAT lyric before?)

I swear I’ve written a blog about planning a UK tour before.  It suddenly all went very differently than was planned, didn’t it?  

The time for evasion and procrastination has now ended.  I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but I’m really going back to the UK.  I really, really am.

Why do I feel ashamed?  Where do I begin with that one?  Well, to begin with I’ve already been there this year.  Some of you might say that we didn’t learn our lesson the first time.  Maybe so, maybe so; although I’m not really sure what the lesson there really is.  Never take a chance?  Never try to live out a dream?  Never dare to have fun?  Regardless, I’m holding tickets to 4 shows that I didn’t get to see, and they’ve been rescheduled for a time that sort of works for me.  I’ve already spent quite a bit of money on these tickets, and while yes – I could get them refunded, I still want to see the shows.  I still want to see the band, and I still want to see the friends I made over there the first time.  If that makes me a schmuck to some, then well – so be it.  I never really complained much about the shows being canceled, I never went around talking violently about the band, and I made the best of an imperfect situation. (and had a great time)  Now I’m going back for round 2, and I don’t mind saying right here – Simon had better sing this time.  Or else.  😉   As for feeling ashamed, I suppose part of me feels spoiled that I really can go to the UK twice.  I am fortunate, and I know that.  I know people who cannot go back due to their own life situations, and I know a few who simply refuse.  I can only say that for me – my journey isn’t finished.  I’m going back.

What is really funny is that I almost don’t want to jinx it by saying what shows we’re going to see.  (so maybe I’m a little superstitious!)  All I can tell you is that we’re only doing one of the original 4 shows we planned (Birmingham), and we’re still trying to figure out the others.  Our time in the UK is going to be much shorter this time, and as a bonus – I’m hoping that it doesn’t overlap any of my husband’s business trips or my parental duties here at home.  (one can hope, can’t they?)  Of course I’ll share our plans once I know for sure what’s happening…and after I see that Simon is really singing shows and feeling fine.  Can’t help feeling just a little gun shy, and I apologize for that.  Hard not to get the hopes up, and even harder to let them go up knowing that it could all go very badly again.  I’m just hoping for the very, very best for the band – they really need to be able to tour again.

I’m excited to be planning to go back.  I’m excited that I’ll be seeing some new friends again, and I’m even excited about seeing that band and what they have in store for us.  I’m not excited, however, about turning into a human popsicle…the possibility of snow….or the idea of 3 hour train rides.  All for the love of a band.   Yep, I’m crazy.   I’d have to be at this point, wouldn’t I?

-R

What qualifies as a stalker, anyway??

One of my favorite websites, dictionary.com, defines stalk (verb): to pursue persistently and, sometimes, attack (a person with whom one is obsessed, often a celebrity).  There are varying forms of the word – but this definition suits the needs of this particular blog.  A stalker is someone who basically participates in the act of stalking.  


The subject came up recently on a message board.  I believe the original thread topic was whether or not there are still DD stalkers.  It was an interesting question not just because of the topic, but because there are apparently many, many different definitions of “stalker” in the fan community.  Prior to reading this thread, I don’t know that I would have thought that to be the case.  I suppose in part, it is due to my own assumption that everyone knows the definition of ‘stalker’.  Naturally, this is not the case.  


Some believe that stalking is a matter of simply pursuing the band at all costs.  I suppose that does fit the definition, but is that really all there is to stalking?  I think that my own personal definition of stalking feels a bit more sinister than just pursuing an interest.  I’ve always maintained that fan is short for  fanatic – in fact it’s one of my favorite sayings on the message boards – and in my opinion, stalking is a bit more to the evil side of fanatic.  


Others feel that stalking has everything to do with obsession.  I would agree.  Rebecca Schaeffer was an American actress, best known for her role in My Sister Sam, which was a sitcom on TV back in the 80’s.  Her case is widely recognized as a crime of obsession and stalking, and her murder is the case that was used to develop anti-stalking laws to be passed in my state of California.  In California, stalking has a much more qualified and succinct definition than what dictionary.com uses, and rightly so.  


What is downright fascinating to me, someone who studies fandom from all conceivable sides, is that even legally – the attempt to define stalking has presented major difficulties.  It’s not just our fan community that has trouble defining the term, it’s everyone.  Part of the difficulty with defining stalking is that while stalking is indeed a criminal act – the actions that contribute to stalking are legal, and most fans do these things every single day. (for example: gathering information, calling someone on the phone, emailing, tweeting, sending gifts…etc.)  It’s a bit of a grey, fuzzy area as to when and where being a fan crosses the line – and clearly – each of us has our own point of view as to when that line has been crossed.  For example, I’ve personally never sent any of the band members (present, prior, auxiliary, or otherwise) gifts.  I don’t think I’ve ever sent them an email, and I’ve certainly never called them on the phone…but I know people who have done all of the above (Collectively.  Not that one single person has done all of the above).  I don’t consider those people to be stalkers, but I might if they were participating in those actions on a continual basis.  I also think that along with the basic definition of a stalker, there has to be some sort of intent that seems “off”…and additionally, the actions need to be unwanted in order to truly be breaking a law.  (yes, it really says that the actions have to be unwanted in the legal definition – and in order to qualify as such, the object of the obsession must communicate that to the stalker)  


Still other fans qualify stalkers to be people who will do absolutely anything to get to the band.  The word anything isn’t really defined…but I suppose that means….anything!  Is that really stalking though?  I’m not sure, mainly because I don’t know the intent in any one given situation.  We all know people who have gone to some extremes to see the band, whether that’s by lining up a day or two in advance to get tickets to a concert, or to get a spot at a GA show; or whether they’ve waited outside a hotel all day, in the rain, in order to touch John Taylor as he walked by.  Again…I’m not sure that’s really stalking in the sense that might require a restraining order.  


Lastly, there are the fans that seem to have an ax to grind in one way or another.  One poster in particular believes that “99% of all female fans are stalkers or wanna-be stalkers” simply because they tend to go to extremes to defend the band, even when it’s been apparent that the band has no interest in their fan base.  Given the definitions I’ve seen for the word “stalker”, I’m pretty sure that this definition is really for the word(s)  ” passionate fan”…. but that’s just me, and yes, I’m female.  🙂 


It’s been mentioned on more than one message board over the years that if you hang out on video shoots, wait for the band outside of their rehearsal space or dare to say hello to a relative of one of the band members – you’re a stalker.  Really?  What makes any of that any different from say, hanging out at a hotel bar in tight, revealing clothes, waiting for the band to make an entrance?  I’ll let you answer that on your own.


Let’s face it, we’re all fans.  The idea of being called a stalker, or thinking that perhaps you’ve crossed a line into “stalkerhood”, isn’t a very comforting thought.  None of us wants to believe we’re THAT person.  Of course not, and I’m not suggesting it…even for you crazy people who still try to grab the band, run your fingers through their hair, and to be blunt, forget that they’re humans who deserve a little space.  Unless the band themselves tell you to back off and you don’t listen, it’s still not stalking, even if it’s a bit rude…and I’m not suggesting that we all run out and start acting out on our impulses whenever we see them, either.  My only food for thought here is the same phrase I’ve used for years:  Fan is short for fanatic.  Sometimes it’s difficult to navigate the difference, but it’s there.  


-R



The Layman’s guide to John Taylor

I don’t know how I came up with that title for this blog, but I suppose I wanted to convey just how very little I know about the man.  Perhaps it’s supposed to be that way, perhaps I’ve not paid enough attention over the years, and perhaps I know more than I realize. (doubt it!)  Regardless, this is the blog I should have written yesterday.  Thank you to Amanda for pointing out to me that I’d been remiss when I only said a hearty “Happy Birthday” to him in the blog rather than dissect him the way I have done the other band members. (those are her words, spoken to me yesterday on the phone – and as appropriate as they might be – I envision myself in a lab coat leaning over him on a table with a scalpel in hand – and biology was NOT my best subject in high school. Sorry John!!)

The fact is, I don’t know where to begin.  I don’t honestly know John Taylor.  (then again, that hasn’t really stopped me before….)  My closest encounter with him was at the Virgin Megastore signing for Astronaut on Sunset Blvd.  Nick handed him my Astronaut album, John didn’t even look up, signed it – and handed it on to Simon, who was already chatting up my daughter about the book she was reading and quizzing her on what songs she liked best off off of the album.  In desperation to have SOME sort of real interaction with him, I said “The album is beautiful, John”, to which he briefly glanced up at the girl directly in front of him and said “Thank you”.  That’s it, that is my John story!  (you can’t see me, but I’m taking a bow right here)

John is the one band member that I haven’t ever seen out in public after a show.  He doesn’t tend to mingle – although I know he has tried (I just haven’t been to a show where that’s happened).  I hear it’s nearly impossible for him, that fans still believe that they have the right to grab him, attempt to rip his clothes off and behave like wild animals.  Yep, because that is DEFINITELY going to make him see that fans are cool people and that we aren’t crazy.  I can’t say I blame him for not hanging out after a show, rather choosing to find refuge, quiet time and privacy.  The only people missing out are indeed the fans on this one, and it’s a shame.

Where is John Taylor in my personal line-up of Duran Duran favorites?  Here is the reality:  John Taylor is too handsome for me.  He’s completely and totally out of my league, and I know it.  I’ve never had a crush on John just like I never had a crush on the cutest football player in high school, or any of the Sigma Pi’s (arguably the most popular fraternity on my college campus at the time I went to college) at Cal State Fullerton.  They were out of my league.  Sure, I’d admire them from afar; but I never dared mention that they were the object of my admiration. Back in the 80’s, John was the most popular member of Duran Duran. (my apologies to Roger, Nick, Simon and Andy)  I knew it.  He probably knew it…and every other female fan out there knew it.  As a result, when I’d hang out with my friends from school and discuss Duran Duran (every single day at recess and lunch!), we’d talk about our favorites.  John was always the one that the girls would fight over.  I’d wait until they were finished, see how it all settled out, and then name my favorite: Roger.   I always wondered why everyone went for John and fought over him – sure, he was cute and all – but Roger had that dark hair, dark eyes and those brooding looks – (and oddly enough, my husband…as well as my boyfriends prior to my husband, have ALL had dark hair and dark eyes.) who needed blonde bangs and a baby face?   I suppose that while I knew John was the obviously handsome one, there was a certain amount of comfort knowing that most of the time, no one would fight me for Roger.  So I stuck with him.   John had a very secure place on my bedroom walls – right above my mirror, just to the left of Roger.  I knew where he stood with me, I know where he still stands, and I’m still way out of his league.

Once upon a time, I complained quite openly on this blog about the lack of connection between the band and the fans.  John was truly at the center of my complaint because not even a year prior (to the time I’d written the blog), he’d spoken at a conference for the 25th anniversary of the internet at UCLA.  His main assertion was that the internet, with the sheer amount of information, content, etc that is available – really ruins the romance and mystery that takes place when you’re a fan of a celebrity or band.  To his credit, I did and do understand his point.  The trouble was, this was no longer the 1970’s or the 1980’s.  The media is available.  Social networking is the norm – either celebrities and bands use it, or they are left behind.  The general public wants more than an album and a tour.  They want to feel that personal connection.  Even more to his credit, John apparently revisited his theory and actually tried Twitter.  The first day he posted, I nearly fell out of my chair.  Within what felt like days, he was obviously hooked, and so were the fans.  I can’t speak for John, but as a fan I have to say that I think it’s helped many of us feel that bonding on a completely different level than we ever have had before.  After 30 some years of following the band, it’s as though our “relationship” with the band is at a new level, and most of the time – it feels good.  I would venture to guess that it feels good for John as well.  When he says that it feels like good therapy – I believe him. He’s witty, not at all rude (even when I think he should be!), and extremely patient even in times where I think he should tell us all to take a long walk off of a short pier.   Some say he might wear his heart on his sleeve, and some may say he overshares – but I think he’s become much more to me than just a pinup on my wall or the bass player in the band.  He’s become a real person, and I treasure that even though he still has no idea who in the hell I am.  (probably for the best!)

John has commented that he’s a narcissist.  I say “show me a rock star that isn’t!”  I think that when you’re a celebrity, it’s very easy to fall into that trap.  Let’s face it – when you’re on stage every night, it IS all about you.  This isn’t a free pass for John, or anyone for that matter, but the reality is – John SEES it in himself.  How isn’t that admirable?  Let me tell you John, I worked with a “rock band” (the quotes are necessary here for a number of reasons…), and those kids were not only narcissistic without reason, but they didn’t even notice it in themselves.  That, my friend, is not admirable, it’s immaturity.  You sir, are just the opposite in about every single way imaginable.  Newsflash to John Taylor:  You are human.  You have faults.  We kind of like you anyway.   🙂

-R

An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!