I must take issue…

As much as I’ve enjoyed chatting about Rob Sheffields book, Talking to Girls about Duran Duran: One Young Man’s Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut , there are parts to the book that I just can’t get on board in agreement.  Throughout his last chapter, Duran Duran “All She Wants Is” 1989, Rob tends to sprinkle bits of information.  There are a few minor things that have driven me crazy…

To begin with, a “Durannie” is NOT a member of Duran Duran.  A Duranie (or Durannie if you prefer), is a FAN.  I appreciate the attempt to use the term, but the fact is – it’s damn confusing for those of us who have gotten used to hearing ourselves being called Duranies.  The band is just, well…the band!  We have cute names for them at times – like “bastards” when they’ve gone and done things that annoy us, or “the boys”…because well, it fits, but they are definitely not Duranies.  Sorry but we’re not sharing the nickname.

I recognize that the 78-03 tour was billed as a reunion tour.  I also know that the band tried not to identify themselves with the word “reunion”, because that’s exactly what John Taylor didn’t want to do.  He felt that if the band was going to reunite, they were going to go for more than just the whole nostalgia thing.  I also recognize that every critic out there desperately wants to categorize Duran Duran as JUST a nostalgia thing.  Does this have anything to do with the fact that a lot of critics are male and that they’re still jealous of this band catching the eye of every female around?  The band hasn’t gone anywhere…and they’re still not going away.  It’s only a reunion tour if they left and returned…and to the best of *my* knowledge, they never stopped making music.  Can we just get past this idea that they’re doing a come back and give them the acknowledgement that they deserve??

I can’t and won’t argue with Rob over the fact that Duran Duran are famous because girls like them. That’s pretty much fact right there, and you know – I can’t be mad about that.  What I can point out though, is that MALES are still mad about that!  We women know it, and you know what else?  We laugh about it when you’re not around, and maybe even sometimes when you ARE around.

One of the most poignant lines in the chapter is something that Sheffield wrote well before the most recent Duran drama took place, and yet it couldn’t have been more timely.  Let me quote:

“Simon still sings in the high-pitched yelp of the pop idol.  That can be a dangerous thing for a rock singer.  It’s an old showbiz truism that a low voice has a longer career than a high voice.  Even in the old-time radio days, if you were a lightweight tenor, it meant your audience would be female and that meant you would have a short run.”   (Sheffield page 257 – Kindle edition)

The reality is that I’m sure Rob wasn’t meaning the quality of Simon’s voice would downgrade to the point where he couldn’t sing; but rather that the females would eventually disappear from the audience.  Funny how that hasn’t happened.  I just found that as I read the chapter I thought about that particular section, and I suppose the gravity of what Simon, along with every fan out there has been through lately, just hit me.

Rob comments that the first time he met Duran Duran, they were called Shaun Cassidy.  I know this, because I had Shaun up on my wall until the day I took him down and replaced him with a Duran Duran poster.  Good times, good times.

The one thing that Rob Sheffield does tend to do in this chapter that chaps my hide to no end, is that he totally and completely underestimates the fans.  At one point, he mentions that no matter how big a fan you might be, you probably haven’t flipped through Nick Rhodes’s book Interference, or listened to Simon and Luciano Pavarotti sing OW as a duet.  Then he goes on to say that even a hard-core fan has to be stunned by their staying power.  To that I say “You obviously do not know the fans.”  Yes, you say that you’re a fan.  You say that you’re a huge fan.  I have no doubt (how dare I if I did!)…but I think you’re severely underestimating fandom.  Especially Duran Duran’s fandom.  You are talking about a core group of fans who have been around now for what – 30 some years?  These people aren’t amateurs, and I’m certainly not talking about myself here.  I look like a complete newbie compared to some of the fans I’ve run into over the years – and I’m not even thinking of the crazier ones!   Not only would I bet that a fair number of fans have flipped through Interference, but I would imagine that quite a few OWN the book, and some might have even gotten it signed by now.  I own an Mp3 of Simon and Pavarotti singing OW, and it’s probably one of my favorite versions of the song, believe it or not.  I know I can’t be the only fan out there that has it – I’m typically one of the last to come to the table with things like that!   But, the comment that stings the most is that last one.  Not only am I not stunned by Duran Duran’s staying power, I’m not at all surprised that critics continue to downplay them.  Why wouldn’t they – girls like them.

On that very subject of girls – let me “edumacate” you, Mr. Sheffield, about the Duran Duran fangirl.  To begin with, we actually DO wonder if the band is finding artistic fulfillment, especially when they’re putting out albums like Red Carpet Massacre.  Some of us actually care about how they must feel in real life.  You see, we’re not 12 years old any longer, although once in a while we might actually forget that when we see them at shows.  We do have our moments!  I think we started seeing them as real people after the reunion with Andy was over and the buzz surrounding the original five being back together faded behind the backdrop.  Some of us might have started before that – but I’m giving the fan community at large the benefit of the doubt and going with the lowest common denomenator.  We do care.  As for wondering about what goes on in Simon’s head….listen, some of us have spent the better part of our adolescence and then adulthood trying to understand some of the “really bad poetry” you describe in your book.  I’d say we want to know what the hell he’s thinking…but some of us are afraid to ask, and still more of us know he’d say “Sex” and grin as though we’re still 12 and he knows a secret he can’t quite share, but he’d really like to show us!  (you see, I think the band secretly still wants to believe we’re still 12 – because that way – they haven’t aged much either!)   I know you think that girls don’t like Save A Prayer.  While that might be true for ME…I’m very much in the minority on that one!  Even then, it’s not that I don’t love the song, it’s that I’m sick of hearing it – and by the way – I detest Hungry Like the Wolf.  Lamest song in the catalog, thanks.  As for wanting Simon to ooze vanity and lechery – which I would agree that he’s particularly good at – I actually prefer him most when he’s just human and real.  I have a huge amount of admiration for Simon that I never had before, and it’s because somewhere behind those leering grins and awesome karate-ish moves onstage, there’s a real human in there.  Some of us have had the opportunity to see that recently, and it’s become the silver lining for me in the midst of a whole pile of disappointment.  I might be in the minority on that one though, and that’s OK.  The next time I see Simon, it is likely to be from the audience, and I’ll appreciate those lecherous looks, the somewhat “creative” dance moves, and especially each note he sings, just a little bit more than I did before.

Yes, we care.  I loved your book, but the fans deserve a little more justice.

-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.

Who is the “Paul” around here?

The more I think about Talking to Girls about Duran Duran: One Young Man’s Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut, the more I realize the book really IS about Duran Duran…or should I say the fandom surrounding Duran Duran.  The book is really excerpts about Rob Sheffield’s life, and he himself claims to be a huge Duran Duran fan, as are probably most, if not all of you who read this blog with any sort of regularity.  I find myself nodding my head in agreement after re-reading and re-hashing some of more intriguing parts of his book (to me, anyway).  One section in particular had me chuckling.  Rob writes a chapter about The Beatles, but more specifically Paul McCartney.  In all fairness here, I have to say that my all-time favorite band outside of Duran Duran is probably The Beatles.  They’re the one band I’ll never have the opportunity to see live, but I have seen Paul three times.  I don’t doubt that it’s not even remotely close to what I’d feel if I saw The Beatles themselves, but sometimes, you have to make due with what you’ve got.  And I do.

Mr. Sheffield makes some fairly outrageous claims that Paul is the only Beatle that people argue about.  I say the claims are outrageous mainly because I’ve never heard anyone argue about Paul…unless you count all of that “Paul is dead” stuff from the days of Abbey Road, Magical Mystery Tour and the White Album…but I don’t think that’s what he’s getting at here.  So yes, I think it all sounds outrageous.  Who knew?!?  According to Sheffield, nobody knows what to do with Paul.  (again, I scratch my head and keep reading.  Perhaps the answers will come to me if I read the section again!) He goes on to mention that Paul was the bitchiest Beatle, and that the other Beatles thought he was bossy.  This, I probably wouldn’t argue about.  He uses the example that in the 1990 Anthology documentaries, George Harrison “bristles” in his company.  (just for that one comment, I’m going to go and find the videos and watch them again, because now I’m fascinated.  Thanks a lot Rob.)  I do recognize though that Paul seemed to be the one to force the rest of them to get their shit together.  He was the one to tidy up, the one to finish the work and see it through.  I’m with him there, mainly because I can see the possibility.  Here is where the chapter gets funny, and yet remarkably recognizable…

“Paul is the bossy Irish sister in the Beatles.  Every Irish family has one of thse, and it’s always the oldest girl.  My cousin Graine in Dublin explained to me that this sister is called “the Alsatian,” which is the British Isles term for the breed of dog that Americans call a Doberman.”

“Any Irish brother can recognize what Paul was doing in the Beatles.  He was the Alsatian.  He kept coming up with more work for them to do, dreaming up big, daft ideas, sometimes brilliant (Sgt. Pepper, Abbey Road), sometimes involving walrus costumes (Magical Mystery Tour).  He got mad if he didn’t think they were pushing hard enough.  It always cracks me up that some people describe “Getting Better” as a cheerful, optimistic song.  Nagging the other Beatles about how things could be better, a little better, all the fucking time – that sounds like Paul to me.”  (Sheffield page 154 – Kindle edition)


Hmm.  So naturally I’ve got to wonder, who on earth could be the bossy Irish, or Alsatian in our band??

Of course my mind (and yours too, if you’ll admit it!) went right for Mr. Rhodes.  The Controller. The Alien Vampire himself.  Truth be told, I’ve never seen or heard of Nick being angry.  Perhaps he does get angry, but I wouldn’t really know.  When I think of the word Doberman though, Nick’s face really doesn’t come to mind.  I can’t really think of a dog breed that is synonymous with Nick Rhodes, actually.  (perhaps that’s a good thing??)  I know just from the things Nick has said, himself, in interviews and in certain Q&A’s in the tour book for the tour that has yet to take place that he continues to seek perfection.  Not a horrible quality, but I wonder if he drives the other members of the band crazy…

So in order to be thorough and fair, I must consider the others.  What about Simon?  Well, in MY mind, at least up until May – I considered Simon to be a loose cannon of sorts.  I never knew what he was going to be like or say next.   I don’t really think of Simon as being a perfectionist – anyone who wears an eagle belt buckle one moment and a blue plaid flannel the next can’t honestly be a perfectionist, can they?  Although, he IS a scorpio, and that alone does speak volumes.  How do I know?  I *am* one.  We can be sweet one moment, and vicious the next.  Catch me on a bad day, ask the wrong question and I’ll skin you alive without even thinking.  Catch me on a good day and I’ll probably agree with you that yes, the blog is crap and that I should probably be paying people to read it.  Then I’ll thank you profusely and we’ll be friends for life.  Admittedly, sometimes I should really take deep breathing more seriously.  I would imagine that Simon can sometimes be the same, given the stories I’ve heard over the years. The trouble is, lately my opinion of Simon has changed quite a bit.  I think he might actually be far more of a grown-up than I ever thought possible.  I don’t know if it’s circumstance or if it’s that he’s really changed…or if it’s more that I’ve just never seen him outside of the US and our crazy behavior before.  So, could he be that Doberman?  Maybe…but I’m not sure.   I just can’t imagine him as the bossy one though.

Roger.  Yeah, I’m just not seeing that one at all.  I love the guy, but I don’t think he’s ever been bossy in his entire life.  I know a few fans that have had less than stellar moments with him, but ultimately I just can’t see anything more out of him than perhaps annoyance at the others for not being able to get along.  I picture Roger as the trusty Golden Retriever of the group.  He’s with them until the end, or until he just can’t take it anymore and they’ve got to retire him.  I still think of Roger as the sensible one (although I happen to know he has a crazy moment or two every now and then!), which is probably why I like him so much.  My husband is the same way.  Nope, can’t be Roger.

That leaves John.  John is emotional, and I love him for it.  I think he wears his heart on his sleeve, and while I suspect John might be just a bit high maintenance, I can’t really see him as the bossy one.  He might be the one to argue his way through situations, and he might be willing to step up and offer a differing point of view, but I highly doubt he’s the one burning the midnight oil in order to finish an album, or insisting that the band take a different direction just to keep things fresh, experimental, and new.  I think John will try new things to a point – but he still wants the band to be Duran Duran.  He seems to know they’ve got a sound that’s worth fighting for, and worth owning up to.  I wholeheartedly agree.

So I’m still sort of mulling this one over.  I really do tend to lean toward Nick, but what about the rest of you?  I hope to read your comments when I return from vacation!  Happy 4th of July to the American’s reading – enjoy those fireworks safely!!  I’ll be viewing mine from Mission Bay in San Diego!

-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.

Postponed dates and why I’m not stressing

So, the most recent bombshell to hit Duranland is of course the total and complete postponement of their summer European dates.  My good friend Amanda already covered this in her blog on Saturday, and by the comments and things being said in various places, it appears as though this topic has gotten just about as much attention as the postponement of the UK tour.

As you’re reading this, I’m likely to be sitting in a lounge chair in San Diego.  Hopefully my kids are playing happily in the pool in front of me, as I’m on a much needed vacation with my family. Perhaps that’s the reason why as much as I probably should be worried, I’m not.

I’ve seen a lot of comments from people who are completely freaking out about these shows being canceled.  They’re beginning to wonder if Duran Duran will ever be back to normal.  They’re wondering if the band is telling us everything (Of course not, but they’re telling us as much as they can, and as much as we really need to know!), they’re wondering if it’s all a big conspiracy (I love a good conspiracy and cover up as much as the next person – but is not the case here), and naturally people are wondering if the US dates are going to be postponed next.

The simple answer for all of it is that we don’t know.  We can’t know.  Only the band knows for sure in some of those cases, and even then – I don’t think they know for 100% certainty what is really going to end up happening.  I think that above all else, this is why I can’t worry.  I did a lot of worrying, soul searching, and quite honestly – hiding my own disappointment back in May.  There are still moments when I’ll think back to that UK trip and sit back in astonishment that I literally flew all the way over there to get almost nothing.  No shows.  A fleeting glance at a few of the guys – a few moments that I’ll never forget standing in front of Simon and listening to him tell us what’s really going on.  A few “field trips”….but not one single show.  That’s kind of mindblowing at times.  Yeah, I was thrilled to be in England for 9 days – but for me, the main reason for going was to see the shows.  I don’t dwell on that disappointment, but every now and then I’m almost shocked it all happened and I kind of have to remind myself that it was no insane dream of mine – it really happened.  Crazy.

Deep in the dark chasms of my brain (and there are many!), I suppose there’s a nagging concern that Simon might not ever get his full range back.  When I think of something to worry about, that is the one thing that comes to mind, and not because I’m worried about ever going to a Duran Duran show again.  I just would hate to read someday that he has to hang it all up because he just physically can’t do the job.  That said, I just don’t believe that’s going to happen right now.  I just don’t believe they’re done, and in return – I’m not finished with them, either.  I guess I’m demanding that way.

I may have mentioned to you all before that I’m a worrier.  It’s true, I am.  I’ll be up at 3am thinking about things I have absolutely no control over, full-well knowing that I’m either rehashing things that have long since been water-under-the-bridge, or worrying about things that there’s nothing I can do about.  Over the past few months, I have wondered about the band and how they’re taking all of this  – I can’t imagine it’s easy for any of them, yet in some cases, it might be a gift in surprise. (I’m thinking of Roger, his wife Gisella and their baby – in fact that baby may have already been born by the time you read this, in which case I’m sure congratulations to Mommy and Daddy are in order!)  I’ve also wondered about the “what ifs” and the “so then what’s”.  That’s always fun at 3am when I should be sleeping.

The sad truth is that all we can do is wait, be hopeful, be supportive, and certainly be understanding – which I believe seems to be the toughest part for my fellow Duranies.  This isn’t the tour any of us wanted, but in this case I really do believe the best is yet to come, even if it ends up being something none of us ever planned.  I have to believe that, and it’s likely because the alternative is absolutely unacceptable, which is why I’m sticking to not worrying.   I may be a lot of things, but I simply refuse to be a bitter, angry fan over this tour.  It sucks to pieces that they couldn’t support this album the way they should have been able.  It’s an amazing album and I don’t give care what the sales look like, people are stupid for overlooking Duran Duran.  I’ll go to my grave saying that, and I’ll also continue to believe that it’s not over and they will be back until the band tells me themselves that they just can’t.

It’s time for me to go and join my youngest as she splashes around the pool – she’s still kind of unsteady and ready to drown herself at any moment, so I’m going to excuse myself here and resume my mom (and lifeguard) duties!   Have a great week, everyone!  – R

Are All Fandoms Treated Equal?

In about an hour, I will drive to Milwaukee to pick up my parents at the airport there.  They have spent the last week in the Denver area.  Why Denver?  The answer is simple.  They went there to see the Sox play the Rockies.  (BTW, they saw a great come-from-behind extra inning win!)  Strangely enough, I never hear negative comments or see funny looks when my parents tell people that they picked a vacation spot to see a Sox game.  (Last year, they went to DC to see them play the Nationals, for example.)  Yet, when I tell people that I’m going to insert-random-city-here to see Duran, I almost always get a funny look or some veiled statements, like these, “Really?  You are still following them?  How can you afford this?  Work lets you do this?  Why do you need to see so many shows?”  This leads me to wonder if all fandoms are treated equally and I have to admit that I don’t think so.

Obviously, there are many fandoms out there.  There are movie fandoms, TV show fandoms, book fandoms, specific actor/actress fandoms, music fandoms, sports fandom and more.  It seems to me that the only really acceptable fandom in American culture is sports.  No one thinks it is weird for football fans to set aside their Sundays to watch the games.  I doubt if those who are getting ready to travel to the All-Star game gets questioned like I do.  In fact, major media supports the sports fandom by not only showing the results of the games or events on the news but also by showing featured “big” games on primetime TV.  The Superbowl, itself, is a crazy, big deal with a significant viewership and big time dollars being spent to have an advertisement during it.  Can you imagine if the news covered things like Sci-fi conventions?  How would it be if they showed big concerts live in primetime?  Is the lack of media attention the cause of the unequal treatment between sports and every other fandom?  Perhaps.  Maybe the media coverage just reinforces what was already in existence.  *shrugs*

In analyzing fandom, I have thought a great deal about the differences between fandoms as well as the similarities.  When I think about what makes sports different from the rest, I’m forced to acknowledge the demographic difference.  Who were the majority of fans when most of the major American sports came to be?  Men.  Who are the majority of fans for things like Duran or movies like Twilight?  Women.  Are there female sports fans?  Obviously.  I’m a Sox fan and so is my mother, my sister, and my nieces.  I know many women who are into football or basketball.  Are there male fans of things like Duran or Harry Potter?  Of course.  Do they make up the majority or are they in the minority?  I think it is pretty clear that they are in the minority.  What about fandoms like Star Trek?  Those fandoms have a decent number of guys from what I can tell.  How come they aren’t treated like sports are?  Could it be that the guys involved in sci-fi or comic fandom aren’t like the guys into sports?  Perhaps.  Obviously, this assumption could be based solely on stereotypes of both types of fans.  Nonetheless, it does make me wonder if sexism isn’t playing a role.

If sexism is playing a role, could it be that some fandoms, like ours, won’t be accepted in general American society because the majority of fans are women?  Could it be that other fandoms aren’t treated equally because the majority of fans for those fandoms are made up of men who are deemed as cool as sports fans?  I don’t know.  What about fandoms like Phish or the Grateful Dead?  How are they treated?  They certainly aren’t put in the spotlight like sports but they aren’t as made fun of as Twilight fans?  What makes those fandoms different?  Could the age of the fans also play a role in determining how acceptable fandoms are?  Thus, younger fans equal less respect?  Could it be that Duranies experience far less acceptance because it is made up mostly of women, because many of us started when we were young and because the men that are involved aren’t as cool as sports fans? 

If this is the case, then, it seems like being a Duranie will never be accepted.  I wonder if there is anything we, as fans, can do to try and change this unequal treatment of fandom.  Of course, some will argue that it shouldn’t matter to me or to anyone else.  While I agree with that and will certainly deal with that, I have to admit that I would prefer the rest of the world to treat my fandom as it does sports as I believe that both can have value.

-A

European Dates Postponed

There was a big announcement on dd.com yesterday about the upcoming dates in Europe.  According to the press release, which you can read here, the band was forced to postpone the dates scheduled in Europe, which includes all dates in July, all dates in August and the first half of September.  As of now, the first date would be September 26th in California.  This announcement was filled with more information than we have had in quite awhile.  It explained that while there has been improvement with Simon’s vocals and getting his range back, it isn’t perfect and they want to ensure that no further damage be done.  To that note, they will not be “putting anything back in the calendar” until LeBon’s voice is at 100%.  They also wanted to do this in advance to be fair to the fans.

This news was met with a strong reaction, even by fans who had no intention of going to see any of these shows.  Most fans seemed sad and concerned.  Some were shocked.  Many were worried about their upcoming shows or about buying tickets to shows.  Obviously, all of these reactions are valid and understandable.  I, too, am sad.  How could I not be?  I feel down both for the band and for the fans.  It is a no-win situation for anyone.  The guys must be feeling terrible about having to do this.  Simon, in particular, must feel completely frustrated despite whatever progress has been made.  I, obviously, also feel badly for the fans who planned to go to those shows.  As someone who recently went through this myself, I understand how horrible that feels.  Do I think it is good that the band announced this a couple of weeks before the next show was expected to happen?  I guess.  Yes, I think it is good for people to know and for people to be able to change plans to save money and time.  That said, I don’t blame them for how they have handled things previously.  Would I have liked to have known that my shows were being postponed a week or two before?  Sure but it didn’t happen that way and it worked out as well as it could.  There is no one I could blame, anyway.

Am I worried more or less about Simon and the band’s future?  This announcement did not change my concern.  It is the same.  I wasn’t going to feel really good about Simon until I saw that he was able to perform at a series of shows.  I wanted to know that he was able to sing and hold up for a full tour.  One show wouldn’t have cut it for me.  That said, I was still surprised by this.  I had heard that things were improving.  Plus, I saw that they were adding more dates, even in Europe.  Yes, I was aware that things weren’t 100%, though.  I heard that radio interview with Roger and did notice that he said that Simon was 80%.  80% isn’t 100%.  I had hope, however, that he would be able to improve fast enough to play these dates.  Of course, I am glad that they have postponed these dates if it means that Simon has more time to recover and less of a chance of more damage or permanent damage.  Thus, all I can really do right now is offer support to both the band and the fans.

Once the community gets over this shock, I’m sure there will be more and more discussions about the chances of those US dates being played or even about those rescheduled UK dates being played.  I don’t have any answers there.  I wouldn’t know what to do if I was thinking about getting tickets to the California show or to the Atlanta show.  I’m not sure what Rhonda and I should do.  We had been operating under the idea that Simon would be better and that the shows would be played.  Will the UK dates happen?  I don’t know.  Will we know if Simon is able to do them in advance?  I don’t know that, either.  So, should we rethink our plan to go back?  Right now, we aren’t thinking that, but it is something to consider depending on how the next few months go.  The more that they tell us about Simon’s progress, the easier the decisions regarding shows will be, not only for us but for everyone.  Right now, we are all in the same boat.  Watching, waiting and hoping that everything will be okay.

-A

Some Things Never Change!

Today, tickets went on sale for Duran’s Atlanta show in October through Artist Arena and DuranDuranMusic, their online fan community.  It seems that whenever a presale happens, there is always a great deal of discussion/complaining, depending on how you look at it.  This lead me to think back over the last six months or so and how I think things are going with the official fan community, including these presales.

I am a member of DDM and have been for a long time.  While I wasn’t there right from the beginning, I have been there most of the time.  I have never left, either, once I joined.  In fact, I recently decided to renew and upgrade to the gold membership package.  Why did I decide to stay and even upgrade with all of the fan complaints about it?  Good question.  I can’t imagine NOT being a member.  This isn’t some sort of “I need to be a member there to show that I’m a fan” thing.  It isn’t about that.  Of course, I like some of the features that come along with my membership.  I admit that I enjoy the monthly Katy Kafes as I think they give us an insight into the band members that we don’t often get and don’t really get with official interviews.  Those are not worth the money, though.  What about the message board?  Well, I go and check it out but I’m not a regular poster there or anything.  The board is becoming more and more of a ghost town as people have left due to the drama that can be found there or due to the fact that the guys themselves have discovered social networking.  Thus, the message board isn’t worth it, either, for me.  What about the extra merch that comes with the upgrade to the gold package?  I can admit that I’m looking forward to getting some of the items that comes with the gold package (messenger bag, keychain, t-shirt, etc.), but still that isn’t worth the money.  For me, though, it is all about the presales.

I can already hear fans grumbling at that statement, especially after the Atlanta presale today.  I can definitely acknowledge and sympathize with people’s frustration.  I completely agree that they do not do them well with the extremely short notice given.  Atlanta is obviously a good example of this.  Most of the fans knew that this date was true because it had been on the venue’s website and even appeared on ticketmaster.  Interestingly enough, as of this morning, that show still wasn’t listed on dd.com, the band’s official website.  How was this presale announced?  I only saw it on the band’s facebook and twitter.  What happens to those fans who aren’t involved with these social networking sites?  I guess it was listed on DDM’s site, but many fans, even those who are members skip over that main page and go right to the forum.  How did they find out about it?  Then, of course, there is the factor of timing.  When was this presale announced?  Yesterday.  It was announced, literally, within hours of the actual event.  How does that help the fan?  It doesn’t, of course, as they are many fans who might not have been online to see this announcement.  Now, these complaints are common as they seem to happen over and over again.  What can be done about this?  Obviously, one can either choose not to deal with DDM or one can accept the fact that this is how it is done.

Once one assumes that this is how presales will be done with DDM/AA, then, it is on the fan to check frequently the band’s social networking sites for any and all presale notices.  I, for one, accept that, even, if I don’t like it.  I have to put up with it in order to get to participate in the presales.  The presales have pretty much always worked out for me.  I think my worst seats through DDM were 11th or 12th row.  Can non-DDM members say that?  I don’t know.  Maybe they can.  Maybe people have found other means of getting tickets.  I do know that there are many ticket brokers out there, but, generally, I suspect people will have to pay quite a bit to have seats like I have had.  I rarely VIP, too, so these are regular presale tickets that I’m talking about here. 

Yes, the system sucks.  The lack of notice is an issue.  The communication is an issue.  I am dealing with it myself as I have been emailing Artist Arena over and over again in regards to some of the UK tickets we still have.  Yes, I’m annoyed that I haven’t gotten a response.  That said, I will still choose to work with them because they have the product I want.  Now, if someone has a good way of getting them to change some of their practices without actually giving up the membership, let me know.  I’ll do it.  I’ll encourage others.  Right now, though, I have no means of forcing them to change their behavior because I’m not willing to give up the presales.  I’ll put up with the crap for the better seats.

-A

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

An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!