What is the deal with VIP, DDM and Duran Duran?

I happen to know a few fans who are very excited about the announcement of shows in South America for later this spring.  The fan community in South America is vibrant, loyal, and ready to show plenty of love for Duran Duran when they arrive.  These fans have sat and watched as plenty of other places in the world were able to celebrate the music they enjoy with the band that they love, and soon it will be their turn to host the band on their own continent.

I’ve often wondered what it must be like for fans in other parts of the world.  Granted, I live in the United States, and as it has been pointed out to me on more than one occasion – we do get plenty of shows here.  No argument from me on that point.  I have no trouble maintaining my loyalty for the band because we do get plenty of attention from them, and when they tour, the only real questions are when they will be coming and how long they will be here.  In other places of the world, they begin with the question of whether or not they’ll be coming at all.

I’ve wondered if joining the paid fan community in places outside of the UK or US (and perhaps Europe) is even worth the money.  It’s well-known and understood that the community really offers very, very little in the way of “exclusives”, so the only value is in the presale tickets and the VIP packages that may be offered.  Sure, there is a fan forum on the website, Katy Kafe, and a handful of other things that can readily be found on YouTube, but aside from those things, there is very little use to being “in the club”.  It certainly does not feel exclusive, nor does it treat the members as though they are special to the band, which in this writers opinion is essential to the success of a pay-to-join fan community such as DDM.

This is why I was incredibly curious to see whether or not VIP packages, such as those that are regularly offered in both the US and UK, would be offered in South America.  There are fans from South America that have paid to be included in the fan community, so surely something would be in fact offered, yes?  Actually, no.  No there will not be VIP packages offered for those dates.  Aside from presale tickets, there is nothing “exclusive” or “special” being offered in countries that can rarely take advantage of any other wonderful item that is offered currently through DDM.  Honestly, this should be an outrage to those South American fans, if not the rest of us, because while nothing of the sort is being offered to them through their own fan community, one can almost bet local radio stations or the like will have contests and opportunities for other fans, who may or may not be nearly as loyal, will have the opportunity for meet and greets, early entry for the standing section at the front of the venue closest to the stage, among other things.  Is this really fair or an appropriate way to treat fans?

On one hand, I can see the point of DDM.  I am sure that while there are some fans from South America that populate the membership of DDM, it’s at least possible that they don’t quite match the number of those from the US or the UK.  In order to effectively offer VIP packages, they probably need to be able to give the promoter firm numbers that surpass what they can “promise”.  I can give DDM the benefit of the doubt on that count.  That said, I find it difficult to believe that there is no way they can offer early entry to fans who have (and will) buy tickets in the standing section closest to the stage.  I know bands with far, far less of a devoted following that are able to offer such things without much of a problem in South America as well as other parts of the world.

One really cannot argue that DDM was at least originally intended (or sold to them) to be a cash cow for the band, (whether or not they are actually seeing that money is beyond the scope of this particular blog) but that point comes through loud and clear.  There is little intention to make the fans feel as though they are part of a special group or that they are getting access to the band that the general public would not have.  Emphasis is on becoming a “VIP” member with very little offered for the additional cost in membership besides a few trinket type items at this point.  In most cases, if not all, meet and greets weren’t even offered on the US tour (the argument isn’t about whether or not meet and greets are worth the VIP ticket price here – that’s another issue for another blog), so I have to ask – what was the point beyond an inflated ticket price and a couple of merchandise offerings?  In the case of fans from other parts of the world besides the US and the UK, that cash cow point is in bold face type, since they can rarely take advantage of nearly anything else that the club has to offer.  Does membership really have any advantage?

I am sure that I will hear from at least one US fan that will gleefully tell me that they’ve been a DDM member since the very beginning because the presales are worth “the small price of membership”.  Sure, it’s not an astronomical cost to join DDM, but as long as people continue to pay – there is absolutely no motivation to change what members complain about on a daily basis.  Personally I feel that the DDM loyalty is completely misplaced.

Ultimately, the point of a paid fan community is getting lost in the translation, especially for those fans in places where VIP packages of any type aren’t even being offered.  If that were the only problem with DDM, it might be overlooked, but that is only the beginning.  Fans have been screaming of the obvious, glaring issues from its inception.  Surveys have been filled out and returned, with only very select and small problems being addressed and changed (and its important to note that the changes have not necessarily been in the best interest of the fans by any means).  In this day and age where Direct to Fan marketing is being heralded as the “new model” for the industry, I have to ask where the intelligence is in simply ignoring the requests of entire fan bases, such as the one in South America where fans are begging for their chance to enjoy a Duran Duran concert in VIP style.  At the very least – offer up some early entry for these loyal fans!

DDM has cited membership numbers, market demand and promoters as reasons behind the decisions to offer or not offer VIP packages.  Here is what I know for certain: if packages are not offered, and the “exclusivity” of being a fan club member doesn’t exist – membership numbers most definitely won’t rise on their own just due to a great album or a wonderful tour.   Try again, Duran Duran. The one very small sales tactic that Duran Duran and their management continue to forget is that sometimes in order to have GAIN, you actually have to GIVE.  Its simply not enough to put out a great record, announce some concert dates and sit back to wait.

-R

Two days and I’m out of the loop!

Happy very late Monday night California time.  I apologize for the blog being late today.  I was in San Luis Obispo for a quick getaway with the family, and although I attempted to blog – due to circumstances beyond MY control, it wasn’t working properly to blog with my iPad.  (note to blogger: your new interface is incredibly stupid.  Love, me.)  As a result, this blog is going to be very short – and I’ll be typing yet another edition of Daily Duranie in about 8 hours!

As I mentioned, I was away for the weekend.  Typically when I go away I do carry my cell phone and my iPad, but I don’t really use them much – they’re more for emergency (cell phone) and entertainment (iPad – all of my reading material is on there!).  As a result, I tend to start getting the shakes after about the second day because I literally feel as though I have no idea what’s going on in the world.  In fact, I forgot today was even Monday until my husband mentioned it as we were getting packed up this morning, and I’m going to be even sadder when the alarm goes off tomorrow at 6am.

Getting away this weekend was a nice treat.  We went with some very close friends, and our days consisted of going to the beach where we were completely windblown (i.e. VERY cheap dermabrasion!) while we looked for sand dollars, watched elephant seals with their babies, and watched our kids run around like crazy people.  In the afternoon we went into Paso Robles, which is an area with quite a few wineries – did some tastings – went to dinner and then settled into our hotel rooms for the night.  The kids loved having time to just hang out, and we thoroughly enjoyed the lack of schedule for a change.

Today on the way home, we stopped in Pismo Beach.  I love that area because while it’s warmer than it is in Cambria a little farther up the coast, it’s still not Los Angeles or Orange County with crowds of people.  The beach is wide, with beautiful sugary sand, and if you’re lucky you can find sea glass.  On a trip to Hawaii a few years back, my husband and I discovered the joy of searching for sea glass.  The beauty is that it takes no special talent and very little brainwork.  You just look down, and if you’re lucky and you pay attention, you might find a treasure.  We have a couple glass jars at home that we fill with the glass, and believe it or not – we can even tell you on what beach we found many of the pieces.  Yes, it might sound corny, but its a nice way to spend an afternoon.  It was while we were combing for sea glass that I realized I’d been gone since Friday and had hardly though of the book or Duran Duran.  For the first time ever, I actually felt like I really had reason to take a vacation!   You see, as a stay at home parent, my work kind of goes along with me.  There really aren’t “days off” from parenting, nor do I truly expect them.  That said, I haven’t had a job that pays money since I was 26 years old, or just about the time I had my oldest.  While I have worries I often wish to get away from, typically they don’t involve  work.  This time however, I found myself enjoying the fact that I didn’t need to think of a blog to write, a chapter to finish, nagging worries about changes we want to make or goals we have for Daily Duranie, and most of all, I didn’t give a second thought to what the band must be up to in their time off.

On the drive home I checked Facebook, saw that the world was still operating well without me, and silently put my phone away, knowing I’d have all day tomorrow to catch up.

-R

Something You Should Know Review

The other day, as part of our Today in Duran History, we mentioned the fan documentary, Something You Should Know.  We didn’t have many comments on that and I wasn’t sure if that was because people didn’t want to say what they thought about it or because that they hadn’t seen it.  No matter the reason, I thought it might be useful to put my two cents about it out there.  To give some background, this documentary began when the original five reunited and was filmed through that 2003 reunion tour period through the first leg of the Astronaut tour, from what I can tell.  Here’s the trailer that is available on youtube: 

Obviously, the goal was to tell the fans’ story.  So, in my opinion, did it?  Well, I have watched this a few times now (purchased it on Amazon, by the way) and watched it again last night with some friends.  These friends are not Duranies but I did meet them through another fandom so they definitely understand what it is like to be fans.  Did they think this told the story of Duranies?

I had such hopes for this.  I really did.  I wanted something to show people so that they could understand me and my fandom.  Perhaps, that’s why Rhonda and I are writing our book.  Unfortunately, I don’t think this did that.  The film maker attempted to tell the story of Duranies by interviewing a number of different Duranies in the beginning to get a flavor for the fandom.  Okay.  Then, celebrities who are also fans are interviewed to add to this flavor until a few select fans are focused upon.  I understand why he chose to focus on a handful of fans and allowed them to tell their story.  He simply couldn’t include everyone’s story in the course of a short film.  Thus, he had to limit it.  I understand this.  Did he choose a good cross section of fans?  I don’t think so and I am not saying that because I have anything against any of them.  He basically chose two fans who are serious collectors (and I definitely respect and admire their collections), a group of fans who traveled to shows together and a longtime fan with a unique collection of her own, including items that the band had one time touched.  Based on this information, can you relate to any of these fans?  Do these fans represent the fandom?  Yes, I think there are many people who collect things related to Duran.  While I like to think that I have a decent collection, I don’t have nearly what these collectors do and I don’t focus on this element of fandom as much as they do.  I also have to admit that I don’t have anything that the band has touched except for one sharpie that John Taylor used to sign an autograph for me.  I wouldn’t want anything except for things related to the music like a drumstick or a guitar pick.  I wouldn’t need or want a used towel, for example.  Thus, the only people I could relate to were the UK fans who had been traveling together to see the shows.  I get that.  That said, I think that there are a lot of fans who weren’t represented at all by these fans.  What about the fans who spend a lot of time on message boards or social networking sites?  What about the fans who write fanfiction or create avatars and banners to be used online?  What about the fans who just buy the albums and go to shows in their hometowns?  Fandom, to me, isn’t just collecting and going to shows.  On top of that, these fans seemed to be at the most extreme with their elements of fandom.  While some people travel, most people don’t/can’t go to all the shows on a tour.  While a lot of people collect things, most people don’t have storage units full of posters and other memorabilia. 

I’m bothered with leaving out all sorts of fans and I’m bothered with showing only the extremes.  The extremes aren’t easily understood by people outside of fandom and might not be understood by people within the fandom!  My goodness, fans are already not understood by the masses.  Showing only the extremes will make this lack of understanding worse.  It may increase the stigmas that already exist for fans.  People would see this and think that fandom is about obsession.  People wouldn’t see it and understand that fans are really able to balance a “real life” existence with their fandom.  They wouldn’t really even understand why people participate in fandom.  Do they like to participate in fandom just for the chase of the next item in the collection or the next show?  I like to think it is much, much, much more than that.  In fact, Rhonda and I hope that we do a much better job of this in our book.  Of course, someone might say that the audience for the film was supposed to be Duranies.  Okay.  Still, then, I have to wonder why more types of fans weren’t represented then?  Besides, not showing fans who don’t collect or travel to shows, the fans weren’t all that diverse.  The main focus was on these US and UK fans.  Yet, the film is presented as a means of telling the story of a global group of fans.  How is that global?  If it wasn’t going to be global, then, that should have been made clear.  Yes, there were a few people interviewed who weren’t from the UK or the US but not very many at all.  This lack of representation is really strange to me considering that I remember filling out a survey online about my fandom for this project.  I remember that some of the questions were about when I became a fan, how many shows I have gone to and more.  I’m willing to bet that fans all around the world answered that.  What happened to that information?

Another thing that I found strange was how the celebrities were giving more of an explanation about being a fan than the fans were.  I thought it was cool that the film maker was able to talk to so many famous people who liked Duran but do they really tell the story of Duranies?  Maybe.  I don’t know.  Maybe there needed to be a greater connection.  Nonetheless, they seemed to tell more about their experiences at becoming fans and why than the fans really did.  This seemed like such a lost opportunity to me.

I really thought that this film had potential and there are moments that seem to work but I don’t think it does what it set out to do.  After we finished watching it, I asked my friends what they thought.  Their response, in a nutshell, “Was the point to show the most extreme fans?”  I asked if they thought it showed Duranies’ story well?  They did not think so.  These people, again, understand fandom and they didn’t think it did a good job.  Clearly, I don’t plan on showing it to non-fans.  I would be too worried that they would think I was every stereotype of a fan out there.  How unfortunate.

-A

Andy Taylor’s Twitter Session

Today I have had a chance to read the transcript from Andy’s Twitter Session.  You can read it yourself  here.  There was a lot to read since the whole session took like 6 hours and I wasn’t able to read it super carefully as I have friends visiting this weekend.  That said, I do feel it necessary to comment on a few things related to this little direct to fan event.  First, I want to comment on Andy participating in something like this.  Then, I will comment about some of the more interesting questions and responses.  Lastly, I will observe how fans seemed to react to Andy after the fact.

Andy took time out of his day to answer fans questions.  As I stated before, this session took about 6 hours with a couple of breaks.  He let everyone know ahead of time that he was going to be doing this by tweeting it, posting it on his facebook, and sending an email.  This allowed fans to know exactly when they needed to be on Twitter and gave them a chance to think of questions that they might want to ask.  Some of those questions, in fact, included why he wanted to do something like this.  His answer usually involved that it gave him a chance to speak directly with fans as opposed to talking through a journalist.  This makes sense to me as journalists can distort interviews, leave off part of what was discussed, ask some questions while missing other ones and more.  In my opinion, this is great that Andy announced when he was going to be on and great that he stayed on as long as he did.  Talk about being fan friendly!!!  I also really like the idea that he wants to communicate with the fans without a middle man.  He isn’t afraid of us and isn’t afraid to answer questions!  Now, of course, John Taylor does something similar by answering questions that fans ask on Twitter.  The difference being, though, that John doesn’t tell anyone when he will be on.  Fans just have to luck out and there is no time to prepare.  Beyond that, he isn’t on nearly as long as Andy was.  To be fair, I don’t know that anyone could or should expect any celebrity to be on Twitter for 6 hours.  Thus, it isn’t like John doesn’t do what he should do as much as it is that Andy went above and beyond.   

During this 6 hour question and answer session, Andy was asked and answered a variety of questions.  Some of the questions had to do with what Andy is currently working on.  Some of them had to do with real life issues like moving to Ibiza, parenting, grandchildren and more.  Still others had to do with Duran Duran, which isn’t unexpected.  As far as his current projects, it sounds like his album, Motherlode, is coming along but that there is more work to be done.  This, of course, will be released independently, which seems like Andy’s way as he does like his freedom.  When it gets released, it will probably be released on vinyl, despite Andy not being a huge vinyl fan.  He does like designing the cover, though!  I was a little surprised to find that he views being a solo artist as a lot of work and classifies himself as more of a band guy.  Another thing that I was surprised by was that he like recording music the best out of being a rock star as opposed to be being on the road.  Although, he seems to be getting the touring bug soon, which I really hope is true!!!  I would love to see him live!  As for real life questions, I laughed that he won’t feel fulfilled in life until he is a grandparent but he doesn’t want that for awhile.  That reminded me of my parents.  They wanted to be grandparents but knew that once that happened they would now “be old”!  He talked about how chill Ibiza is and how the sunshine there is great but he does miss some things about home.  Now, as for questions about Duran, he was asked about his relationship with John and Nick, Reportage, and more.  As a John Taylor fan, I was particularly interested in Andy’s answers about John.  He said that there was no bad vibe between them.  When asked about John’s upcoming book, he did comment that in order for there to be juice about him, John would have to be able to remember things.  As for bad vibes with Nick, he said that there weren’t any vibes at all.  Interesting.  Reportage is a project that he hopes to finish and says that he isn’t the one holding it back.  Again, I find that interesting.

After the twitter session was over, it was clear that a lot of fans appreciated that Andy was willing to do this for all of us.  I saw many comments comparing Andy’s session with John and Simon’s interactions on Twitter.  Obviously, I totally get why we would want all of them to do this but I also like that they are different.  I would want their personalities to come through.  I also saw a number of people say positive things about Andy.  For some people, the fact that he did this also reinforced their belief that he is a totally cool guy.  For others, they became bigger fans.  Then, other fans started to see him in a positive light for the first time ever.  Let’s face it.  Andy has been a polarizing person in Duranland.  Some fans loved him and some hated him.  Maybe for those fans, they liked Warren or Dom better.  Maybe they didn’t like how Andy left when he did in 2006.  I’m just happy that this polarization seems less pronounced now.  It feels like people don’t seem so black and white about what they think of him.  Personally, I think that Andy has lots to offer and I hope that we all get a chance to get to know him better!

-A

Missing Out

In case you all didn’t hear, Andy Taylor held a little twitter question and answer session today.  If you all weren’t around to participate or see the questions asked and answered, I hear that the entire thing will be up on his website soon enough.  Anyway, my original plan for today’s blog was going to be talking about what questions were asked, how Andy answered them and even how the fans dealt with both him and each other.  Alas, this will not be the case as I was not around to witness it for myself, despite it going for over 5 hours.  (Wow!!!  Talk about impressive!!!)

Why wasn’t I around?  I was working.  More to the point, I was working at a job that doesn’t really allow for too much non-work computer use.  In fact, while I check my personal email and do some basic searches online during work, I never use it to check any social networking site.  If I must check facebook or twitter, I do it on my phone, which isn’t easy, either, as the building gives terrible cell reception.  Besides, even if I could do social networking at work, I wouldn’t really have the time.  In fact, there are many days that I get very little of my to do list done as one crisis happens after another.  I suppose this is the life of a special education teacher working with the intense population that I do.  Just to give you an example from this morning, I was getting ready to go to one class when one of my assistants comes in to report inappropriate behavior.  This behavior is such that I knew the information had to go straight to the assistant principal, which I did.  The principal wanted me to get the child from class and put him in Detention (our room for children who have been misbehaving).  Unfortunately, I had to be in the class so I had to go to a different class to get a different assistant to cover me.  Then, the principal asks me to get another child as he was a witness to a crime out in the community.  On the way to retrieve these two children, a colleague stopped me as a student we share who had left the building and wanted to know if I had information to find him.  Therefore, at that given moment, I literally had to be in 4 different places.  My point in telling this is to explain why I don’t have the time for much fun at work!  Of course, it also explains why I’m so tired and need to go on tour!  LOL!  

Andy’s twitter session began at 10 am, my time, right in the middle of work.  Now, I could try to take the time to read through his tweets and others, but I don’t really have the time for that either as I have plans this evening.  In fact, I have plans in about 30 minutes.  Perhaps, I will take the time tomorrow to try and catch up with what took place in order for me to properly write about it.  Right now, I have the sense that I won’t ever be able to really catch up, though, based on the nature of twitter.  I might see the completed transcript when it gets posted but I doubt that will adequately describe the mood, the energy, the reactions from the fans and that’s what really matters to me.  Yes, yes, I definitely want to know what Andy said.  Of course, I do.  Yet, Rhonda and I are students of fandom, of popular culture.  We need to see what fans do and say in order to begin to understand why.  We know how we think and act but we doubt that we represent all of Duranland!  Thank goodness!  Maybe Rhonda, who did have a chance to witness some of it, will want to blog about it later. 

Obviously, my situation isn’t unique or even that note-worthy, really.  Yet, missing out on things in fandom is part of fandom, too!  Everyone misses things.  Everyone.  All of the members have missed things.  It happens.  I know that and understand that.  It doesn’t feel very good, though…as I glance at all the tweets going back and forth between Andy and fans and between fans and fans as it looked like a ton of fun.  It, especially, doesn’t feel good after having a tough day at work.  For me, fandom has always been a lovely escape from the harsh real world that I work in and today was never a more obvious contrast.  I’m sure that I’ll give over being bummed about missing out today and about how I wasn’t able to give you guys the blog post you were hoping for!  As I stated earlier, I do have plans this weekend, which will definitely help.  Perhaps, some of you will summarize the twitter-a-thon in such a way that I will feel like I was there and was a part of it.  You all could share some suggestions on how you deal with being bummed about missing events experiences in fandom.  After that, maybe, I’ll feel better.  Of course, a good dinner, a couple of friends and a few drinks will help, too!  I know this much.  Tomorrow is a new day and there will be more to participate in and more to witness in the land of fandom and Duranies. 

-A

Happy Birthday Andy Taylor!!!

Out of all the blogs I write, I must admit that I happily and joyfully compose these happy birthday blogs each year.  They are written with respect and a lot of love, and each year I try to say something that I haven’t said before.  To a certain extent that gets more difficult each year with some, and with others, the words come easily.  Andy Taylor is in the latter category.

I’ve only “met” Andy once, and it was at the Virgin Megastore signing in Los Angeles in 2004 as Astronaut was released.  I made absolutely zero impression on him, but my daughter – the oldest one – who was about 7 at the time (by my math anyway), had him up out of his chair!  He saw her coming down the table towards him with her Astronaut CD, and he made the effort to jump up, lean across the table and shake her hand.  She giggled because he was so animated, and I was thrilled for her.  He must have been very glad to see a young kid there, and while none of the other band members believed me, she was there because she honestly and truly wanted to come with mom that day.  She knew her Duran Duran songs!  As we left the signing that evening she turned to me, grinned and said “He’s my favorite!”, and a new fan was born.

It was with great sadness that I had to tell her that Andy and the rest of the group parted ways.  I won’t lie, she’s held it against the rest of the band ever since.  She’s 15 now, and the days of having hero worship for her mom’s idols are gone, but she does still ask about Andy every now and then.  She was my biggest cheerleader when I recently wrote a blog about Andy’s new website for Daily Duranie, and yet again when I wrote my Direct to Fan article that was published directly on his website.  She still thinks that Andy is the coolest – in fact she believes he was “simply too cool” to be a member of Duran Duran.

I’ll let that thought alone because I still can’t quite decide if she meant it as a compliment for Andy, or a backhanded dig for the band.  Or both.  Probably both…and probably a dig at mom too, since I’m a fan of Duran Duran AND Andy.  Teenagers.  Gotta love ’em.  Can’t sell ’em.

I’ve always loved Andy.  He was the one that I wanted to sit with at a bar and have a beer and a chat.  I’d still welcome the opportunity whenever he’s ready. I know when I was growing up, he might not have been the one that I fawned over most, but my respect runs deep.  There’s no question when I heard he was returning to the band I was overjoyed.  I just about fell off of my chair that night when I went to dd.com and saw the news.  I remember blinking and reading the screen over and over, as though I couldn’t quite believe it to be true.  I stood motionless when they appeared on stage in Costa Mesa for the reunion tour – I could hardly believe I was seeing all 5 of them and watching Andy tear it up the way it hadn’t been done properly in 20 years.  I also knew that the time was precious, shining and perfect, and for whatever reason, part of me knew it couldn’t possibly last.

The day that we all received news that the original 5 was not to continue, I don’t think I was surprised.  Shocked – probably; surprised – no.  I’d already seen the band a time or two with Dom on guitar before they finally came out with the news, and to be brutally honest – I’d already received news from a friend of mine who worked at Sony/Epic in just the right department.  She’d asked me to keep it very quiet because it could mean her job – and I did just that.  My friend Jessica called me as soon as she heard the news, and I remember her asking me if I was OK.  I seem to recall saying that I was expecting it, but that it still made me incredibly sad, and even when I think about it today – I’m still sad, even though I know it was the right thing for everyone involved.  I’ll go one step farther and say that I think my respect for Andy has grown since that time.  It doesn’t matter to me who quit whom – I am fairly certain we’ll never hear the full story from any side, and even if we did – what would it change?  I just know the man hasn’t stopped, and he hasn’t let the giant ghost from his past (Duran Duran) beat him.

Today, Andy lives in Ibiza. He has a recording studio in his own home, he records what and when he wants, answers to no one except his wife (HA – we’ve all got a boss somewhere!!) and he has a group of very talented people working with him to run his website, which is nothing less than completely innovative and forward thinking.  For every fan that was glad to see him leave Duran Duran the second time and continues to hold a grudge or be angry and dismissive (and there are many, ready to beat down anything Andy has to say), there are plenty who see the road he’s headed and want to join him hand in hand.  The beauty of everything he’s doing is that it’s for THE FANS.  His website, and I encourage everyone to check it out, is about having real conversations with the fans.  Look no further than Daily Duranie for the proof.  Andy gave me, of all people, the opportunity to write a blog for his website.  He knows nothing about me except that I’m one of those pesky fans, but he wanted to read what I had to say.  He wants to know what YOU have to say.  The door is open for everyone, all you’ve got to do is walk in.  I’ll be there because I really believe in Andy.

So, on this day – I wish you a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY Andy!  Thank you for being a fantastic guitar player, sharing your life’s work, and just being you.  I hope you have a fabulous year ahead with no spam from the Daily Duranie Twitter account.  😀

-R

Boundaries are not evil (sounds like a good book title, John!)

I’ve written a few times about how I sometimes struggle for topics to write about here on the blog.  I would love to blame the band for moments of “non-activity”, but I just reminded myself that this blog is not supposed to BE about the band, so the band gets a pass for today.  Today was once again, one of those days.  In an earnest attempt to find something to spur my creativity, I checked out our email, and then our Blogger account. (Do you ever just think about looking into a very dark endless tunnel??  That’s our email box!)   Sometimes people will comment on something and it’ll get me thinking, and that’s what happened today.  There was a comment on a blog Amanda had written over the weekend (Searching for Reasons, found here), and a comment came in just last night.  Anonymous responded to something Amanda had said about boundaries and the way Simon tweets/blogs.  That person had actually referred to something I’ve said in the past about his style of tweeting and blogging. (mainly that it confuses the hell out of me, which is true.)  I responded and quickly shuffled out of our door to take the youngest to school.  On my way back home, I thought about what the person had written again and found myself composing a blog on the subject.  The challenge for me was to remember what I was thinking so that I could get home and get it written!

In my real, everyday life I’m a pretty private person.  I have a very short list of friends that I would share most things with, and to be really honest I am MUCH happier here by myself at home than I am out doing the whole “PTA” (Parent Teacher Association) fundraising or volunteering at the kids school thing.  It’s just not in my comfort zone, especially in this area where I live.  I volunteer plenty here at home by helping them do homework and being involved.  Generally speaking, I keep to myself, and while some might think I’m lonely, I am not.  Online however, I’m pretty open.  I am friendly with many different people, I’m active in many different areas (Duran and otherwise), and I’m content.  I do have my own set of boundaries though.  For example, I have tried to never use my children’s names here on the blog.  That doesn’t mean that many of you don’t know exactly who they are; it’s just that I have to be careful.  I would LOVE to share photos of my youngest because she’s super cute, show you how my son spends 90% of his time (on the computer…), or show videos of my oldest from her musicals because she is SO good. I’m extremely proud of all of them and want to share them with the world. (basically I want to brag!)  Unfortunately, that’s a part of my life that I need to keep private for their sake.  I do have them up on my Facebook page because I have lots of family on Facebook that demands that sort of thing.  (no really, they actually do demand it!)  If you’re a “Close Friend” of mine on Facebook, you can see them.  Most Duranies that I’ve never met in person are in a completely different category and list  because I don’t know them.  They can’t see everything, and that’s OK.   Those are some of my boundaries!   Another example is that I don’t talk too much about my relationship with my husband.  It’s complicated, and however “fun” that might be at times (That’s sarcasm of course), it’s a relationship that’s private.  It’s a part that I can’t share with the world if I wish to stay married.  That doesn’t mean I don’t fight the urge to tell you all about how much he drives me crazy sometimes, but it’s probably not fair to him to go telling the entire Duranieverse (yes it’s a word.  I invented it.) how he refuses to plan things in advance and waits until on the way home on Valentines Day (or my birthday, or Mothers Day and so on) to remember to buy a card, a gift, a dozen red roses….etc.

Oops.

My point is that we all have boundaries, whether it’s for safety, privacy or sanity, and for each of us, they differ.  Some are incredibly obvious.  Nick for instance, doesn’t use Twitter or Facebook.  While I’m sure it’s because he hates the idea, I think it’s also because it probably feels incredibly intrusive.  I can’t really argue with him there.  It takes getting used to, and you know, there are probably plenty of other ways he’d rather spend his time anyway.

Roger isn’t into Twitter but he uses Facebook on occasion.  Recently Roger posted a photo of himself in his hotel room when they were somewhere in Europe. (Well, I have to assume it was of him, he’d taken a photo in a mirror and the flash went off right in his face, and he called it a self-portrait.)  He posted a photo, and I was honestly surprised because he was in a bathrobe, and I was the first person who mentioned it!  I really didn’t mean for it to be a rude comment as much as I was surprised that the 40 or 50 other people before me didn’t say anything. (But I’ll bet they copied and pasted that thing so fast, and before anyone thinks otherwise, no I did not!)  Within moments after my posting the comment, the picture disappeared and in it’s place was much the same photo, this time with Roger clothed. (I am pretty sure I heard whining from all over the planet….)  I don’t know if Roger saw my post and thought twice about the picture, or if he took a good look at what he’d posted, thought about those infamous balcony photos that have circled the globe many times over by now, and retook the photo.  Regardless of the reasons those are boundaries.

John and Simon are Twitter people.  Simon uses it occasionally and posts things that sometimes I can decipher, and other times, well, I just shake my head and wonder.  The thing is, Simon tweets the way I would expect.  He also blogs as I’d expect, and when he’s in an interview and answers questions slyly, or not at all, it’s exactly how I’d expect from him.  Perhaps his reasoning behind answering things so coyly or by interacting with fans as he does, in half seriousness and half poetry, is one way to keep us all at arms length and guessing, but not coming off as though he’s completely uninterested.  John seems to have his own ideas of boundaries on Twitter.  To begin with, I think he is completely controlled how he interacts on Twitter.  He tends to use it in condensed “sessions”, and when he is ready to be finished, he’s finished.  Honestly, he’s very smart in that way.  I don’t find that he tends to only respond to certain people,  he seems to just respond to whatever tweets he sees first, and he doesn’t seem to mind answering any question he sees.  I have to give him props for that, because after about the third time I saw someone ask if he’d follow them or what type of wine he prefers, I was ready to take those Tweeters down myself.  He tends to keep himself to a firm time limit with it all though, and I have to applaud that.  I guess his “boundaries” have everything to do with how he regulates himself, not necessarily what information he sends forth.

When you really think about it, to imagine any one of them in their homes, going to their computers and “chatting” with us whether it’s by Facebook or Twitter, is relatively personal, and at times I wonder if it doesn’t feel almost too intimate of a connection for them to make with people they used to run from.  😀  Yes, there’s a big world and computer screen between us, but it’s not as though they’re in public on a concert stage.

Ultimately, I have to respect their boundaries because to be honest, I care.  I want them to feel comfortable in their space, and know that not every fan will knock them over in order to get close.  The trouble of course is that not everyone feels the same.  Many fans say, very openly I might add, that when you choose to be a celebrity, you choose a life in the public eye and that it’s their job.  While yes that is true, there is quite a bit that is being forgotten there.  To begin with, they are not “at work” 24/7, in the same way that you are not.  *I* on the other hand AM at work 24/7.  I’m a mom.  😀  (Wow I have an attitude and need a vacation!!!) Secondly, the only part of their lives that is “their job” is their music.  When they are on stage, doing photo shoots, publicity, etc; that is work.  The rest really should be their own, and so when they take time to chat, post an update, etc, I’m happy.  Respect is a two-way street, I suppose the bottom line is that if we wish to be respected, we probably need to afford them some of the same.  Boundaries are not evil.

-R

The Daily Duranie Valentines Day Mashup!

Happy Valentines Day!  This is probably my least favorite day of the year, ranking right up there with Mothers Day for me.  I’m just happy because it means the Valentines Day themed advertisements will stop for another year.  Yay!

As I sit here at my trusty kitchen table trying to decide what to blog about, it occurs to me that there are several things I should touch on, so today is going to be a quick mashup blog.

Ask Katy: I’m not much of an Ask Katy person, in that I can’t ever think of good enough questions to send in. I sit back and let the rest of you more creative types out there ask the hard questions.  So, it is with great pleasure that I mention my friend (and blogging partner) Amanda had her question answered this past weekend.  You can find it on the band’s website if you want to read it verbatim, otherwise read on.  Last May, Amanda and I were wandering the Tate Modern in London.  You see, we’d found ourselves in London with “some extra time on our hands”, so we chose to go see some modern art – one of our shared interests.  Both of us really wanted to see the sculpture that inspired “Other People’s Lives” on the new album, and so we were really excited to have the opportunity to spend quality time at the museum.  In our search for the sculpture, we were also looking at some paintings by Dali – who is one of my more favorite artists.  For those who are unfamiliar with Dali, he was known as being a Surrealist, and his paintings are fun because they’re very symbolic.  For example, he has a pretty well known painting of some clocks that appear to be melting – and one of the meanings that could be derived from that is that time is just “melting” away.  (For you art experts out there, I’m being extremely basic here in the interest of not confusing the hell out of our readers.)  In any case, we were really looking closely at a painting of Dali’s called “Mountain Lake” (also called “Beach with Telephone”) – I was completely lost in the moment (Or suffering from continued jet lag…. Jury is still out on that, depending upon which one of us you ask.), and suddenly Amanda says “It’s Anyone Out There.”  I’m not going to lie, in that moment – I was trying to figure out what in the hell she was talking about.  I honestly thought she’d heard music playing somewhere, but as I looked at the painting it dawned on me what she was going on about, as you might surmise from checking out the painting below.  What’s funny to me about the incident is that out of the two of us – I’m the one with a certificate in Art History (although Amanda has art running through her veins as her mom is a very accomplished if not quite discovered artist in her own right.)  I needed it to become a decorative arts appraiser, yet she’s the one with the imagination.  Clearly!

We laughed as we continued to look at the painting, and Amanda wondered if it was possible that this painting inspired them.  If you look closely, you’ll notice that not only is the phone hanging on a pitchfork type telephone pole – the line is cut.  It gives the impression that no one is really listening. (Oh do I EVER know that feeling in my house with 3 kids!!!) There’s far more to the painting though, and I’d encourage you to google it if you’re interested in several interpretative meanings (Some of which make absolutely no sense, and that’s the beauty of art!) We agreed that it was worthy of an Ask Katy question, and when we returned to our homes in the US, Amanda sent in the question.  We’d never heard a thing after that, and I’d long since forgotten about the question.  Then last Friday we did the review of Anyone Out There for the blog…and Sunday the question and answer pops up on Ask Katy.  Coincidence?!?  We may never really know….

Something You Should Know:  Did YOU know that on this day in 2005, the website for Something You Should Know (A film about Duranies) was launched?  I know many a Duranie that was interviewed in detail for this film.  It took a few years, but the DVD finally came out (and is available on Amazon) for those interested.  I saw the film about a year and a half ago, and I have to say – it wasn’t at all what I’d expected.  I think I was expecting for the film to be a collection of oral histories captured on video with regard to being a fan, and instead the film focused on a few fans with “over the top” stories and examples of their fandom.  I’m glad the film was completed and I do give major props to the director for sticking with the process – it was a long one.  I just wish it had been a little less sensationalized and a bit more heartfelt, and I don’t mind sticking my neck out to critique it in that way.  It continues to apply a certain stigma to the idea of fandom, and not an especially positive one at that.  Perhaps someday in the future the real story will be told….

Have you seen it?!?  Sh*t Duran Duran Fans Say is a short YouTube video that’s worth watching for some giggles.  

In order to laugh, I think you’ve got to put your ego aside, and recognize that this person IS a fan, and it’s absolutely fine to laugh at ourselves.  I’ve learned to laugh on a pretty much daily basis.  Let’s face it – I’m over 40 and I’m blogging about a band.  Yeah, that’s worth laughing at.  Sure, I make it sound good by saying I’m writing about being a FAN of the rock band rather than constantly posting “I love you” notes…. (A creepy thought.  I’m sure someone has already done that though.)  but the reality is: I’m writing about a band.   So I’m giving you permission to find the funny in what we are…and if you watch this and find that you’ve never said any of it, at ANY time….maybe you’re just not a “Real Duranie”……Ha!!

With that, I’m off to bake some Valentines Day cupcakes with the cutest Valentine around, my youngest.  They’re fun when they’re little and still love you….

Have a great day everyone!

-R

The 54th Grammy Awards – The Morning After Buzz

Even though our daily blog is about being fans of Duran Duran, the truth is that I am a fan of music.  I am an observer, participant and student of pop culture.  Nowhere is pop culture, or at least the result thereof, more evident than at an awards ceremony – and last night the Grammy’s took place in Los Angeles.  There was much to see, absorb and make comment!  I’d like to point out that while old habits will continue to die hard (with me), this is the first Daily Duranie blog I’ve ever taken the time to outline in advance.

You may hold your applause.  🙂

I must give props where they are due, and LL Cool J deserves just that.  Both entertaining and authoritative, he cut to the chase at the beginning of the show with the statement “There is no way around this, we’ve had a death in our family”…and then did something I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed before: lead the audience in a real prayer at an industry ceremony.  Sure, the lines were likely written for him, but he handled what has apparently been a shock for everyone with class and grace, qualities that I can honestly say I rarely see in the music industry these days.

Last night’s show was probably one of the more thought provoking Grammy Awards I have watched in my lifetime.  I am an avid watcher of the show, and in more recent years I’ve watched with increasing apathy.  Last night gave me several brief glimmers of hope in an industry that I personally feel has become far too concerned with getting the most bang out of a cheap buck, then throwing away the leftovers and moving on without a second glance.  To put it bluntly, our landfills are getting quite full and it’s high time to rethink that recycling plan.

Let’s do a little celebrating, and for that I must begin with Adele.  Her return to the stage was incredibly triumphant, and as a fan I was thrilled.  I am indeed humbled by the sound of her voice and look forward to many wonderful years ahead for this talented woman.   She gives both my oldest daughter and I real hope that talent still reigns, and while no – her album was never intended to be a pop album, it has crossed over that line and gained fans that probably didn’t even realize it was possible to sing like that without the help of a computer. Naturally, I feel a special sort of kinship with Adele’s fan base simply due to her vocal problems – as it was very similar and timely to what we all dealt with last summer.  I cheered in happiness for all involved last night.  Oh, and her six trophy win last night wasn’t bad either, but we’d be mistaken if we all believed that was the real “winning” moment for Adele.

In more celebratory moments, the Foo Fighters came away with 5 trophies of their own last night.  I’ve had my special moments with the Foo, but I can’t say I’m a hardcore fan by any means.  However, I do believe that Wasting Light is worthy of many an award.  For crying out loud the album was recorded in Dave’s garage, and I will stick my neck out to say it’s a damn sight better than most of what I’ve heard this past year.  There is something precious and pure about recording with some mics and a tapedeck.  If I didn’t already have a bit of a love affair (in the most respectful sort of way) with Dave Grohl over some other statements he’s made, I definitely do after last night.  “To me this award means a lot because it shows that the human element of making music is what’s most important.  Singing in to a microphone and learning to play an instrument and learning to do your craft – that’s the most important thing for people to do.”  The crowd started to applaud and only grew louder as he continued, “It’s not about being perfect.  It’s not about sounding absolutely correct.  It’s not about what goes on in a computer.  It’s about what goes on in here (your heart) and what goes on here (your head).  Long live rock ‘n’ roll!”  The beauty is that the Foo Fighters album IS perfect. It is a representation of what they are and what they wanted to show the world in the moment they recorded.

Chris Brown is also exactly whom he’s already shown us, and it’s perplexing if not infuriating to me as to why this man continues to be allowed any sort of air time, respect, dignity or INfamy.  I don’t think I really need to remind anyone that he in fact beat Rihanna to a pulp in 2009.  Yes, I know that was three years ago.  The effects of abuse last a lifetime, not just three years.  While it is not up to me to forgive, it IS up to me (and you) not to forget.   Never mind that I don’t think the kid can sing or dance his way out of a tin can…it’s the fact that to this day, he has thousands of women believing that he’s the hottest thing since sliced bread.  That shocks me, saddens me and worries me to the core.  Forgiveness?  That’s not my job.  Forget?  Never.  He’s already shown the world exactly who he is, and we should have believed it the first time.

In much more of a celebratory moment, The Beach Boys took to the stage as a full group, complete with Brian Wilson for the first time in many years.  Granted, only the surviving Hall of Famers could make the show.  This group has had more than it’s fair share of deaths over the years, but there was something particularly charming and heart warming about seeing them up on stage together.  On a purely personal note I watched this group with very misty eyes, for it was the one group I went to see in concert with my parents (more than once!) while growing up.  There is something very special about hearing the song you were named after while standing beside your parents, and it was one of the two music groups I shared with my dad.  (The other being Tears for Fears – which is another story for another day.)  On the same token, my silent and persistent prayers were answered because neither Maroon 5 nor Foster the People (Who were too darn cute for words in their matching button down blue striped shirts – very reminiscent of The Beach Boys back in the day!) dared sing “Help Me Rhonda”.  There are some things that should just not ever be attempted.  That said, I did think that both performances were solid.  It wasn’t even remotely close to the cringing I did when I witnessed The Jonas Brothers DARE to perform Planet Earth.  *shivers* (Again, there are some things that should just never be attempted.) I digress.

The Rhinestone Cowboy (Glen Campbell) himself made what has to be one of his last public appearances.  I can remember my father humming that tune many times during my childhood.  I didn’t even realize I knew the words (Or that Paul McCartney knew them!) until last night.  It was a beautiful moment in time, and a true celebration of what he has bestowed upon music history.  My children have absolutely no idea who he is, which makes me think I have much teaching to do before I set them free on the world.

You want a triumphant, in your face moment?  How about Taylor Swift singing “Mean” up onstage at the Grammy’s?  My favorite line of the song is “Some day I’ll be singing this at the Grammy’s and all you’ll ever be is mean.”  The truth is, Taylor is among my 15 year old daughter’s favorites – and while yes, she’s young and yes, her lyrics can be a bit juvenile, there is something WONDERFUL about that in a world where 15 year olds are more grown up than I was at 21.  I don’t mind my daughter listening to Taylor at all, and you know what?   The girl *can* sing.  She might not be Adele, but I’d much rather my daughter aspire to be Taylor than aspire to be Nicki Minaj, say what you will.

I’ve been doing some blogging about the Bruce Springsteen fan community book I am currently reading, and so I did find it rather fitting and timely that Springsteen should open the show with his new song “We take care of our own”.  I can’t help but believe one of the many meanings for that song has to do with his own fan community.  Bruce is very close to them, and one standout theme for that book is how they really do take care of one another.  In fact, it’s shocking how much the fans look out and help one another – I can’t wait to tackle that topic in another blog.  The big celebration moment for me though, was at the very end of the show when Paul McCartney took to the stage again along with Bruce and Dave Grohl, among others.  You give as good as you get.  The love you get is equal to the love you make.  We take care of our own.

Do we?

In a moment that left even this blogger in tears, Jennifer Hudson left the house in stone cold silence as she sang her tribute to Whitney Houston last night.  Just Friday night I sat and watched Jennifer on Piers Morgan’s show as she recounted how much of an inspiration Whitney Houston had been for her during the formative years of childhood.  Who knew she’d be up onstage Sunday night singing in tribute?  The entire show left me wondering just how long we’ll continue to allow this industry to chew people up and spit them out.  It’s not just about who handed Whitney her first line of cocaine on a mirror as though it was just a cocktail.  It’s not just about who are the enablers, although we’d do ourselves welcome to look right in the mirror…our money lines the pockets of the idiots in charge.  It is absolutely not just one issue.  How much longer are we going to reward the worst behavior and overlook some of the best?  Sure, we can sit back and say “That’s just the way it is.”, or we can actively do something to change it.  In what kind of a crazy, messed up world are we going to seriously applaud a girlfriend beater because he can dance and maybe even sing?  Who CARES?!?  Why are we continuing to applaud people that truly don’t have an ounce of real talent in them?  They certainly don’t play an instrument and they clearly don’t know their craft but damn they look good in a photo…so that makes it fine?  How is that OK and better yet, why are we teaching our children those values?!? One of my favorite sayings is “If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” It lends itself perfectly to almost everything I saw last night, including my next comment.  If you haven’t already bought the Foo Fighters album, do yourself a favor and buy it.  Listen to it.  Understand how it was made, and respect the place it came from.  You don’t have to be a fan of the band, but every music lover out there should be a fan of HOW it was made. The album was made from human hands.  Human heart.  Human talent.  Let’s celebrate, support and applaud those facts.   Do we really take care of our own?  Perhaps the prevailing thought here is that we SHOULD take care of our own.

-R

Searching for Reasons

As I’m sure, most, if not all, of you are aware of Whitney Houston’s death.  As of the time of this blog, no official cause of death has been reported.  Many are speculating that drugs could have been the cause or a factor in her death, especially since she was so young (48) and her problems with drugs have been very public.  While the world reacts to this news, I find myself wanting answers.  Obviously, many of us want to know what happened to cause her death, but many want to know issues deeper than that.  How come Whitney Houston found herself battling drugs?  How come she ended up dead at 48 and others who have had the same battles end up okay?  Interestingly enough, I posted yesterday about the song, Hold Back the Rain, and its connection to John’s drug and alcohol battle.  Whitney Houston’s death has me thinking more about John Taylor and his battle.

After yesterday’s blog, I saw and heard a number of comments about the timely of the song.  Many people did not realize that John had been using back in 1982.  Before I go further, though, it is worth noting that he wasn’t the only one in the band.  Other band members have admitted to using drugs and many of them still drink.  I also feel it necessary to note that I’m not judging John or any other member.  That said, while other members of Duran might have used, as far as I know John is the only one to have gone to rehab and is now clean and sober.  This, of course, leads me to wonder what was different about John.  How come his use became an addiction?  How come it didn’t happen to the rest of them?  Obviously, I don’t have the answers, but I suppose that I could speculate.  Was John more likely to become addicted?  The only thing I could guess here is what I sense about who John is.  I have heard people describe John as intense, that he doesn’t do things half way.  Perhaps, then, this applied to partying, too.  I don’t know.  It also seems to me that John isn’t naturally comfortable, socially.  Even now, he seems to be the member who is least likely to go out of his way, in person, to interact with the fans even in situations removed from partying.  For example, John typically heads back to the hotel immediately after a gig.  He doesn’t greet the fans outside venues.  I have also heard that he isn’t very social during meet and greets.  Maybe he is uncomfortable there.  I don’t know.  I even find it interesting that he uses twitter so much.  Perhaps, this is a safe and comfortable way for him to interact with us.  Therefore, maybe, his substance abuse started by him using to be more comfortable in social situations or be the life of the party that people assume rock stars are.  Again, I don’t know if any of this is true and is just me guessing.  I’m also not judging here, especially since I, too, can be intense and can be uncomfortable in social situations.  Anyway, just some of my ideas about maybe why he started using to begin with and why he got addicted and the others didn’t. 

Then, I wonder why John was able to battle his addictions and others aren’t.  Did he have enough people or the right people around him to give him the support that he needed?  Did it help that he decided to become clean when Duran wasn’t in the spotlight as much?  Did he have the right motivation?  If so, what were his motivations?  We know now that one of the motivations he had for quitting smoking was that he kept getting sick and that non-smokers don’t get sick as much.  No matter the reasons behind him entering rehab, I think it absolutely is a testament to his character.  He wasn’t afraid to get the help he needed and isn’t afraid to admit that now.  On top of that, he has been successful.  I can only imagine how much strength it takes to fight addiction, especially since it is something that never completely goes away.  He must remain committed to being clean and sober everyday. 

I suppose, in the end, it doesn’t matter what lead John down the path to being addicted to drugs and alcohol.  It doesn’t even matter why he has been successful in fighting his addictions as long as he keeps doing what he needs to do to be clean and sober.  What does matter is that he has the strength to keep fighting and how lucky we are that we still have him and the rest of the band.  Deaths like Whitney Houston are extremely upsetting and tragic.  While I don’t have the answers for a death so young, what I can do is appreciate what I do have and support my idols in their quest for healthy living and long life. 

-A