Happy 25th Birthday Notorious!

I must apologize for the SUPER lateness of today’s blog.  Life has been BEYOND crazy for me lately.  On top of teaching full time, I have been volunteering in a political campaign.  This is really more than a volunteer job as it has become so time consuming that I have worked enough this week to make it a full time job!  Of course, I’m also trying to get ready for my trip to the UK, which is coming up quickly!  Cannot wait!!!  Despite my hectic schedule, I have seen a few people mentioned today’s anniversary/birthday.  25 years ago today the album, Notorious, was released. 

I can think back to going to the local “mall”‘s record store after the album was released.  How excited I was!!!!  A new Duran Duran album!  My 11 year old self could *squee* with the best of them at this point!  I so looked forward to this album as it was going to be my oasis in a desert of lameness that I was currently calling home as my family had moved from the Chicago suburbs to this small town in Illinois.  I was “desperate for something new.”  You see this town felt so incredibly backwards to me.  It did not have top 40 radio (where Duran and others were constantly played) and it did not have MTV.  I felt so completely lost there for such a long time.  I clung to Duran then.  Their music reminded me of “home” and the best friend that I had left behind who was also a Duranie.  I didn’t care that no one in this dumb town knew or cared who they were.  They were my favorite band and that’s all that mattered to this opinionated pre-teen! 

Despite my focus on Duran, I couldn’t help but notice that there were changes surrounding the band and their fans.  I knew that Andy and Roger had left.  I was able to shake that off without too much of a problem as Andy never seemed interesting to me then and I had no opinion about Roger.  I was all about John then (I’m sure you couldn’t have figured that out!).  Thus, if John was still in the band, it was fine.  I suppose it was good to have Simon, too, since he had the voice.  Nick didn’t matter to me one way or another.  I was an optimist and was able to ignore all of those articles and interviews surrounding the return of Duran that openly wondered if Duran would still be able to cut it without Roger and Andy.  Didn’t they see that Duran was stronger than that?  Didn’t they know how much the band mattered to me and others?  Of course, they would survive!  They would not only survive but be better off!  I know that is what the guys said many times in interviews during that time period.  Yet, looking back, you can tell that they were trying to convince themselves as much as the rest of the world.  I was, too.  I ignored the little voice in the back of my mind that said that things were not as rosy as I wanted them to be.

I knew that there were changes and I was prepared to accept them.  What I wasn’t prepared for was watching people and friends walk away.  I saw them not believing what the band was saying about being better than before.  I saw how confused they all were by Power Station and Arcadia.  Heck, I remember distinctly having a conversation with my best friend at the time about how she was taking all her Duran posters down because they were no longer cool.  I remember being shocked by this.  I didn’t understand how she could so easily abandon them.  I also remember feeling sad that I would no longer be able to share Duran with her.  We wouldn’t have this interest between us.  It also meant that I now seemed to stand on the side of the road that was marked, “uncool”.  As much as this bothered me, I wouldn’t let go of my fandom.  I couldn’t.  They were helping me survive.

Obviously, a lot of time has gone by.  Duran has seen a lot more changes, including the return of Roger and Andy.  Andy has also left again.  Was Duran better in 1986 than in 1984 or in 1982?  I don’t think so, but they couldn’t be.  They had suffered serious losses of not only band members but also of their managers.  I remember hearing in an interview that they had lost their innocence then.  I think that is true.  They did.  I could relate, though.  I, too, had experienced losses.  I had to leave my best friend and my hometown.  I had left a culture I was familiar with and liked, one that was urban and diverse, to one that was rural and lacked diversity in all forms.  I was also growing up at the time and there is always much hardships then.  Did I really think that my life was better in 1986 than in 1984?  No way.  I did believe like Duran in that I was going to be better.  I thought that, too.  I just needed to survive the new town and I would be better, cooler. 

Duran survived, too.  They survived their losses and have been able to manage at least 25 more years in the music business.  While I don’t know that Notorious is the best Duran album, it is still important.  It marked the beginning of a new era for Duran, one in which they survived and showed that they were committed to keep going.  Thus, Notorious should be celebrated for what it was.  It told the world that they didn’t end and that they were going to keep going for a long time.  It showed that they had weathered this really horrible storm.  They might not be as perfect but they were still there and that is what mattered most.  I discovered the same thing by the time I left that new town of mine.  I wasn’t the same person but I did survive and that is always worth celebrating.   

-A

2.7 million views and counting

As of this writing, Duran Duran’s Girl Panic video has had about 2.78 million views on Vevo. On YouTube, the same video under the name DuranDuranVevo has received 2.96 million views. Yes, that’s MILLION.

Dang.  I wish this blog had that many!  
While that view count might not seem to be such a feat for many, for Duran Duran, it’s a remarkable surprise to many, including this blogger.  For example, on YouTube the video for Falling Down has only received 485,000 views – and that video has been out for several years at this point.  Even just the audio version has gotten more views than that – at 1.6 million.  Then there’s videos from Astronaut.  [Reach up for the] Sunrise has gotten about 65,000 views – although DuranDuranVevo apparently only added their official version 8 months ago to YouTube. (I’m taking this information directly from YouTube so if it’s incorrect I apologize)  What Happens Tomorrow currently sits at 751,000 views – which seems very odd to me. I suspect that perhaps there’s other DuranDuranVevo uploads of Sunrise somewhere because I can’t possibly imagine that video didn’t receive more views than that.  Keep in mind that these are the counts from the “official” uploaded versions of the video, not the ones that fans uploaded for others to be able to see.  In any case, to have 3 million views for Girl Panic just barely a week after it’s been released is fantastic news.  

Of course, to be fair, I just looked up a video by Selena Gomez and The Scene (Round and Round), and it’s sitting at over 54 million views.  Her boyfriend Justin Bieber has 47 million views for Mistletoe, his attempt at a holiday song. Utterly ridiculous and a very good example of how I know I’ve aged out of the ruling demographic.  I can’t sit through a viewing of ANY of their videos without feeling the need to beat someone.

The sobering truth is that, barring some sort of insane disaster where all of the teenybop pop stars are scooped up and taking to a neighboring planet right along with the rest of the top 40’ers out there – I just can’t foresee a time when Duran Duran will be getting quite that many views on a video again.  I can’t decide whether that feels bittersweet (why should I have to fight these kids for concert tickets for a band that I’ve loved longer than they’ve been alive, and besides the band has been there and already done that!) or just downright sad, regardless, I feel that just about 3 million views is damn good progress.

My question is simply this: Why?  What makes Girl Panic a video that is drawing so many views?  Is it that great of a video?  Is it the supermodels?  If that is in fact the case, I have to ask – who is really watching this video?!?  Who really watched Girls on Film?   Rio?  Chauffeur?  Sure, we all watch(ed) out of curiosity the first time.  Some of us may have watched a few more times because we had a blog to write. (Ahem)  That said, who is still watching?  One would assume that female models would draw men (for the most part)…yet as we all know, and the critics keep reminding us, Duran Duran was a band for young GIRLS to watch. My goodness that continues to be one of the biggest reasons the band is panned even today – girls like(d) them.  I hear we still kinda do.   God forbid.

I don’t really know the answers.  I just ask the questions.  You decide and tell us what you think!

-R  

The care and feeding of a Duranie

There are moments when I feel like a teenager again (not quite like a 12 year old, but certainly like a teenager) and I have trouble believing that I’m really in my 40’s and have teenagers…and one small child…at home.  Never mind the husband.  😉  Then there are other moments when I do feel like I really am 41.

Today…actually lately in general…I’ve been feeling my age a bit.  My lower back cries in protest at times, I’m having trouble with one of my feet again. (I tend to battle neuromas – pinched nerves – in my feet as well as Plantars Fasciitis)  Then this morning I woke up with the telltale sign that I’m about to embark on a tour again:  I’ve developed an “old man” cough.  This really isn’t all that shocking to me as each one of my kids has taken their turn with this same illness and I knew it was only a matter of time before it reached me (again), but as I sit back and relax with a mug of Airborne in hopes of beating this thing to the punch…let’s just consider what it takes to keep ourselves going these days.  Humor me.

To begin with:  we need sleep.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but my body desperately requires a good 8 hours of shut-eye these days.  I’ve suddenly discovered that I am not the night owl I once was.  My regular evenings consist of dinner, cleaning up, giving the little one her bath and getting her off to bed with a book.  I typically will be “finished” with my mom duties at 9pm, and only then do I flounce down on the couch with a flourish that can only be characterized as “overworked mommy”.  From then until 9:07pm (the time when I’m typically called back into the little girls room with requests for a drink, an apple, a pear, an extra blankie or the infamous “I’m scared, there are MONSTERS in my room”…) it’s a struggle to decide whether the TV is worthy of my attention or if my bed is more deserving.  Once I’m finished tucking the smallest child back into her bed with the final comment that “Mommy is going to bed now and I’m not coming back in here tonight.” I realize that it’s 9:35, and I’m done for the day.  I’ll head upstairs to bed, only to be completely out of it by 10pm.  It’s sad.  On tour, however – it’s a completely different story.  There IS no sleep.  Amanda and I joke that our hotel rooms are used as storage sites for luggage, and we’re not even kidding.  I think that on any given “tour” night, we’re lucky to get 4 to 6 hours of sleep – and honestly, that’s a good night.  Normally, it is far, far less than that, and aside from feeling as though I’m hungover the entire time even if I’m not, it’s all good!  We’re out all night, we’re eating a late night breakfast as though it’s our Last Meal (sometimes, it really is!)…and we’re feeling good about it!

Do they even do that sort of thing in the UK?  *gasps* Late night eating??

Food.  I hear there are several food groups.  At home, we swear by them, and yes – my kids even eat their vegetables, as does their mom.  I cook 90% of the time (although if it were my choice I wouldn’t know how to work my oven…), and I really do try to eat healthfully.  Lately we’ve really taken to eating more turkey and chicken in place of red meat.  Turkey tacos are the best!  I’m not a vegetarian like my writing partner, but I really have cut way back on my red meat intake, and I do make a vegetarian meal every now and then.  I’m also pretty careful about sugar.  Both of my parents were diabetic (my father is now deceased from a completely different illness), and my mother is HOR-RI-BLE about her diet.  I’ve given up on her, figuring that she’s a grown up now and if she wants to kill herself, there is nothing that I can do.  That said, I do not drink ANY kind of soda/pop/coke/pepsi/etc, or do I drink juice very often – we’re talking maybe a very small glass once a month if that.  I don’t typically add sugar to anything unless I’m baking and need it, and I do watch out for it in food.  I try to eat lots of fiber and whole grain, although I still don’t like whole wheat spaghetti.  I’m Sicilian and we don’t go for that stuff.  Ick.   Then there’s food on tour.  First of all, I don’t know how many food groups there really are, but I do know that Amanda and I actively count coffee and alcohol among them.  Wait – do we even eat on tour?!?  Seriously.  There have been times when Amanda and I have gone for ridiculously long periods without eating, and suddenly one of us will say “Oh my god, when did we eat last?!?”  It’s wrong.  It’s disgusting.  It’s touring.  I should add that eating in the UK is a bit of a challenge for us.  To begin with, the food is quite a bit different than here in the US.  Even the most basic things are just done differently, and while I don’t mind the food…it’s not home.   I found that I ate a lot of pasta and Italian food when I was there in May. Pub food really isn’t an option for us since Amanda is a living and breathing vegetarian – and I don’t mind saying that vegetarian options at such places are ridiculous…as in they either don’t exist, or we didn’t know where to find them.  PS – duck eggs are not acceptable food for these Americans. 😀  Go ahead and laugh – we do!   I found that I truly missed good salads, fresh veggies…and developed a deep seeded dislike for canned peas and carrots.  Since this time we’ll be traveling from place to place, I dare to imagine how many hours we’ll go without eating.  Perhaps we should just count how many meals we’ll miss!

Drinking.  That’s right: drinking.  At home, I probably will have a glass of wine a few times a week.  Typically it’s after dinner as a “wind me down” sort of thing.  My idea of a glass of wine, or rather – the way it works with me – is that the wine will be poured into the glass, I’ll take a sip, get called away by someone or something, and come back to it an hour or more later, realize it’s time for bed and end up dumping the glass down the drain, which drives my husband crazy.  So, I’ve taken to sipping out of his glass instead.  It’s amazing how much more I’ll drink of it that way!  😀  On the weekends, especially those when we’re out with friends, I may have more.  Last weekend for instance we spent Friday night with friends and I had a couple glasses of wine, and then two martinis (it was an especially late night).  No, I did not feel ill nor did I have a hangover the next day.  It takes more than a few drinks for me to tie one on!  Then there’s touring…when under the right set of circumstances drinking begins with lunch!  We’re out late, we’re having fun….you do the math!  What’s even better is when you wake up in the morning knowing that it’s time to blow out of town and your body says “Oh hell no.”  Yeah, gotta love that about the touring.  Good times were indeed had by all!

Coffee.  I am truly to the point at home where I’m considering just mainlining the stuff and being done with it.  It was not long ago when I began drinking coffee.  Prior to that, I hated the stuff.  Starbucks had absolutely no real use for me other than as a point of interest.  No, it wasn’t until about 2003 that I began my love affair with coffee…and if you’re keeping track you’ll already realize that there’s a correlation between the beginning of my coffee addiction and the time I got involved in this godforsaken fan community.  Coincidence?  Of course not!!! Back in 2005 when I was “involved” with Clear Static (another band for another time…) I was going to shows fairly regularly, getting home at the ridiculous hours of 3 and even sometimes 4 am, going to sleep only to get up at about 7:15 to get the two oldest children off to school.  Coffee was my lifeline, and I used it!  I really try to only drink one cup a day, but there are days that require far more than just that.  Guess when most of them are?  No, not on tour – here at home!  😀  Honestly though, I really do try to stick to the one cup a day habit simply because I have to add both half & half AND one spoonful of sugar to my coffee (hey, that’s down from two spoonfuls a couple years back!).  If only I could get used to black coffee…but I just can’t!   On tour though, and I should probably say on tour here in the US, I need one venti coffee of the day to get me going.  I add my own half & half and sugar (you should read this to say: I have half & half, sugar and some coffee to get through the day.)

Exercise.  Really???  Well at shows I’m dancing the whole time.  Does that count???  I think it should.  My doctor probably doesn’t agree.  Oh well.

So basically what I’m saying here is that I try to take care of myself at home (aside from that exercise thing), but on tour….well…I think the plan is to get through it with minimal damage.  It’s a good rule.  We tend to try and stick to it.  What I really think Amanda and I should do for this tour though is to take a “Before” and “After” picture.  That would be amusing, and it’d probably scar everyone for life, too.

In the meantime, I’m actually going to get out and walk today…after I drink this coffee.

-R

Two weeks…

I am pretty sure I have a blog from some point in the last year with the same title and for that I apologize.  Creativity is at a minimum this morning, and it’s sure to go downhill from here.  Yay me!  Yay for you readers for having to put up with it!

So all members of Duran should either be in London or on their way back, I’d imagine.  I feel fairly relative to a tuning fork today in that my insides are buzzing away (no, not on drugs unless you count my allergy medicine and the coffee I just had!) at the idea that in two weeks, I will be on a plane at this very moment, bound for Chicago to meet up with Amanda and continue the trip from there.  I am so not prepared.

Just yesterday I realized with alarm while shopping in Target that typically I spend that first week in December decorating my house. (inside and out – I’m a bit of a holiday freak I suppose)  So I announced with bravado to my husband last night that this next weekend I’ll need him to go up into our attic and get down our Christmas decorations.  This was over the phone on his way home from work…and I would swear I heard him sigh in the background.  Normally this would annoy me, but I actually almost giggled last night.  Never mind that it was literally AUGUST when he last put our decorations back UP in the attic (he’s a procrastinator)….he’s got work to do.  I also began to panic when I realized that I’d miss an entire weeks worth of shopping time.  So, my Christmas shopping began in a sweaty rush yesterday as I got the first person’s gifts crossed off of my list yesterday afternoon.  Of course, this was just prior to my closest friend here in California calling me to ask for jewelry advice (I really am a gemologist in my spare time!!) during which phone call my oldest called from school to announce that she was in the nurses office and desperately needed to be picked up because she was “going to die”.  Scratch my ideas of shopping online in the afternoon for another person on my list, making a good dinner and getting laundry finished. Never mind that my son was due to be picked up from school in a half hour.  His school is easily 3 miles from our house and my oldest goes to school a good half hour away.  Do the math and you’ll realize that there’s no way I can be in both places at one time, and there’s no one that’s really able to help.  Sadly my oldest had to wait in the nurses office far longer than any sick kid should, and that would explain the disapproving look I received from the nurse upon my arrival to retrieve my oldest.  *sigh*  Every single day is like this, and I’m really to the point where I look at myself in the mirror each morning and remind myself that I shouldn’t make plans.  This of course never works.   I’m a planner!   I giggle now because I know that in two weeks – my husband is *never* going to be able to keep up this pace.

Of course, I laugh, but what I should really be laughing about is the pace that Amanda and I are going to be on once we land in London.  Every day of our trip will be all about the train.  Our first trip is from London to Brighton, which I believe is an hour and a half…and each day following the trips seem to get longer for us, with our trip from Birmingham to Edinburgh (for the Glasgow show – we’re staying with Amanda’s friend there) being the longest.  I don’t even like trains!  Who thought this was a good idea?!?!

My list of things to do is incredibly lengthy, and I’m not sure how I’m going to finish it all, but I’m thankful that next week is a school vacation for my two oldest – without the crazy 3-7pm drives each day I might actually have a shot of getting ready for what I think is going to be the trip of a lifetime if I actually survive it!

-R

Are we really THAT crazier than anyone else??

Last night I was catching a bit of the news on TV and there was some coverage over a different sort of “Occupy” type event here in Los Angeles.  (I’m assuming that everyone has heard of the Occupy Wall Street movement? If not – email us and I’ll explain!)  Apparently, several hundred “Twilight” fans had set up their own camp outside of LA Live in downtown Los Angeles.  LA Live is kind of an entertainment/restaurant area in Los Angeles right next to the Staples Center, complete with a movie theater that is apparently going to be the “Red Carpet” premier for Twilight: New Moon Part 1.  The camping was done with permission by the movie theater (they’d even set up a sort of sheltered area for the campers), and as I understand the campers were there waiting for wristbands to be given out by the theater so that they could be in the stands for the big celebrity red carpet premier tomorrow night.  I don’t even think these folks will be actually seeing the movie since it doesn’t come out until the 18th, but because they camped out, they’ll be able to see all of the stars walk the red carpet.  I don’t know exactly how many people camped out – but there were MANY tents under the shelter they had constructed for them.  It was impressive to see how organized it all appeared.

Several things earned my attention during the news coverage.  To begin with, almost every single person they interviewed said that they’d made new friends during the camping.  Several others talked about camping out as though it had been a life changing experience for them, and still more said it was the best thing they’d ever done for themselves.  While I listened, I was thinking in the back of my mind that it reminded me very much of the fandom I’d experienced my own life.  Yet, this was for a movie, not a rock band.  Not a sports team…and even more importantly, not for celebrities.  Yes, I recognize that the people IN the movie might be celebrities (at least now they are!), but as I’ve been told several times by other Twilight fans, the celebrities themselves aren’t what they are fans of.  They are fans of the book series. of Edward, Bella and Jacob and the story that entwines them.  It’s much different than being a fans of a rock band in some respects, but in others – is it really all that different?

When the news was on covering the Twilight campers, my husband continually laughed at the campers.  He just could not seem to wrap his head around the idea that someone would camp out to earn a wristband to see those celebrities on a red carpet.  I grinned when he commented on the “older” 40 somethings that had camped out.  Naturally these women were of the same age as I am…and I’m sure that fact wasn’t entirely lost on my husband.  I tried to point out the similarities between my fandom and theirs: that it was a book series that brought the fans together, but that its the friendships they are making from attending these functions that will bind them.  I couldn’t help but be annoyed by not only my husband but also the newscasters, because while they were covering the event as news, you could definitely see the amusement, in particular from the male newscasters.  As though going to see celebrities or being fans of a book series is somehow silly, yet camping out for tickets to see a football game (soccer or American football…take your pick!) is somehow not at all silly.  Its not silly to put your heart and soul into a team that gets paid money to play a sport?  Its not silly to say something to the extent of “We did it.  We got behind the team, supported them all season and now we’ve brought home the championship!”, as though by being a fan somehow you actually helped the team win.  How is that not silly?  Really?  Are you sure??  What makes that so much more serious and worthy than putting your heart and soul into supporting a band that makes money by playing concerts and putting out albums for over thirty years?  If the team or band speaks to you on some level – what is really the difference??

The one constant that Amanda and I have found over and over again throughout any fandom is that people very much desire to meet others that have their same interest.  They want to make that human connection.  Lets face it, it’s fun to go to a concert.  Its MUCH more fun to go to a concert with a friend or someone else who truly gets it.  I discovered Duran Duran on my own to some extent, but once my friends were also big fans, it elevated the enjoyment I got out of being a fan so much more.  Its no fun to giggle over a video, interview, or news article alone, even at the age of 40, or even 50!

I have to say that I was touched by the very idea that women (I never saw a single male – perhaps they were there but in hiding!) traveled from all over to gather at an event like that.  It seemed like so much fun for them. (even if I was wondering where on earth they used “the facilities” or washed up…)  Some of them talked about how they’d come for other premiers for previous movies in the Twilight series and had met friends they’d stayed in touch with since then, and so for those folks it was somewhat akin to a reunion.  I also considered that at least for these fans, it will be a sorrowful moment when the last movie comes out, because the series will be complete.  The celebrities will move on to other movies, and in time the series will be forgotten by everyone but the most ardent fans.  They will have to find other ways to experience their fandom, if that’s even possible. It reminds me of the same feelings fans had when the LOST TV series came to an end, as that show had it’s own fan following that they themselves characterized as almost cult-like.  Its a moment that Duran fans have somehow avoided thus far, with hopes its still many years in the distance.

Crazy? Somehow I doubt that.

-R

Are Fans Really That Like That?!

Does anyone follow “Something You Should Know:  The Duran Duran Fan Documentary” on Facebook?  Anyway, their status the other day got me thinking.  On Friday, they asked fans to describe their best adventure with the guys and then they gave some examples:  have one of Simon’s empty cocktail glasses, have John’s towel or a half eaten hot dogs.  I love the idea of having people share their best adventure in terms of Duran.  It is something that we might do here.  Obviously, for Rhonda and I, hopefully, our best adventure is yet to come as we return to the UK for the second time in a year.  That said, as much as I love the idea of sharing this, I don’t know if I like those examples given.  To me, most fans wouldn’t fit those.  I think most adventures have more to do with being with other fans.  Plus, on top of that, I think it breeds negative stereotypes about fans that does not help anyone. 

I am not going to lie.  I have been to a few more than a few Duran shows.  I have traveled to see them.  I will also admit that I have seen various members in their hotels, in bars and in clubs over the years.  Yet, if I were to answer the question about the best adventure, my answer would have very little to do with the band members themselves but about my life on tour.  Yes, they are the reason I travel to places and see many of my Duranie friends.  They aren’t the main characters in my adventures, though.  I’ll give a couple of examples.  The first time I went to Vegas for Duran, my friends and I partied all night in a club and reached up for the sunrise after enjoying a hearty breakfast at 6 am.  Yes, we were there, in parts, to see Duran and, yes, we did see Roger.  Did I talk to Roger that night?  Nope.  Yet, that night was super fun as I enjoyed a lovely buzz for about 12 hours straight, danced with my friends and had a real good time.  It wasn’t about Roger and it wasn’t about taking his wine glass after he finished.  For me, that idea would never even cross my mind.  Why would I want anyone’s glass after he was finished with it?!  I guess I don’t understand why someone would, really.  I remember someone saying to me that she got Roger’s towel once at a show.  My response was, “Eww.  Is it used?”  To me, that just isn’t the way that I express my fandom.  While I realize that they are my “idols”, I also recognize that they are human and probably don’t want me to want stuff like that.  They want me and others like me to buy albums and concert tickets.  Another example of an adventure I had on tour might be when we went to New York City for the fan show in 2007.  The best part of that “adventure” was going to the Duranie meetup at the Pyramid Club where I met lots of people and had a great time dancing to 80s music.  The band might be the catalyst to the adventure but they aren’t the adventure. 

To me, fandom is only partly about the celebrities of choice.  Fandom is about the community that is created with other fans.  I don’t know that I would care as much as I do about Duran if I didn’t have friends to share that interest, that passion with.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that Rhonda and I keep each other going.  When one person is busy or not focused on Duran, the other is.  Then, when we see each other or talk, that interest is reignited.  If I was just focusing on when I see the band or get some weird object connected to them, I think I would have lost interest a long time ago.  After all, how would fans who live in places that the band doesn’t go to maintain their fandom?  They don’t do it through taking cocktail glasses, that’s for sure. 

More seriously than that, this idea that a typical “adventure” involves taking something that one of the guys had or used negatively impacts all fans and fandom, in general.  I have talked about the stigma involving being a fan all the time.  Non-fans don’t get it.  They don’t understand why would be so interested in something.  They don’t understand why would spend so much time and so much money on something like a band.  Part of what Rhonda and I hope to do with our book is show that it is perfectly normal to be a fan because in the end it comes down to exactly what I mentioned earlier–friendships.  The band might bring people together but it doesn’t keep people together.  Friendship does that.  Unfortunately, these images of stealing towels makes non-fans conclude that being a fan means that do kinda strange things.  Now, I’m not criticizing those who want or have the cocktail glasses and the towels.  Obviously, in some cases, those items might have even been given to you.  It just isn’t my thing.  Also, I don’t think that is super common.  I think more fans are the ones focused on getting the music rather than items that some member touched.  I just think it is hard enough for non-fans to understand why I want to go to as many shows as I can.  If they can’t get that, how in the world would they understand someone who takes a kleenex that John used that he talked about in some interview in 2005?  In fact, I think it could make non-fans think that fans, all fans, aren’t normal.  It feeds stereotypes or reinforces them. 

I’m not obviously saying that people don’t have the right to take a towel, if given it.  I’m not even saying that people shouldn’t even if I wouldn’t.  What I am saying, though, is that this behavior does reflect on fandom in general and Duranies in particular.  I also think it overshadows the real story of fandom and that is friendship and the bonds that are formed between fans. 

-A

Falling Down-An Interpretation

In yesterday’s blog, I mentioned that I believed that there were two basic camps of fans; those who want just fun and entertainment and those who want to analyze as well.  To me, the Red Carpet Massacre era showed this division clearly.  Many fans liked the music because songs like Tempted were “fun” and made them want to move, to dance.  Others recognized the music as lacking soul, specifically Duran Duran soul.  I was one of those fans criticizing the project.  Yet, for me, there was one glimmer of the Duran I knew and loved in the form of the video for Falling Down.  Thus, it seemed so strange to me that so many fans seemed to be disinterested in that video, at best, and hated that video, at worst.  I couldn’t figure it out.  I even posted my interpretation about what I thought the video was about in various message boards and still no one seemed to appreciate it more.  No one saw that it was filled with meaning and that the majority of the rest of RCM was empty.  Clearly, this animosity for Falling Down still exists.  Let me give you my interpretation and then we can ponder if my interpretation is crap or if it is just an example of the two camps of fans and that, in this case, the larger camp is one that just wants the entertainment.

On the surface of the video is the story of a celebrity entering rehab or some sort of psychiatric hospital with others like her.  She is resistant to go but does.  Inside the hospital, she meets others and is under the care of doctors played by the members of Duran.  At the end, she leaves the hospital and returns to her regularly scheduled life, including drinking champagne, hanging with a disinterested agent, and riding around in a driven towncar.  Thus, it appears to be about celebrities like Britney Spears and is once again filled with the model types that are frequently shown in Duran videos.  I saw something completely beyond or below this surface story.  I saw the bands’ story and I saw our story.

I have heard Simon introduce or discuss this song many times and he almost always states how it is about falling down in public.  It is about making a fool of oneself, becoming an embarrassment, falling from grace, etc.  I think many of us can relate to that idea, in general.  Yet, for the members of the band, they have made their mistakes in the public eye, for the whole world to see.  For them, they must live with what the public thinks of them and of their perceived mistakes.  The video showcases what their mistakes were or what their embarrassing moments are BELIEVED to be.  For Simon, he is surrounded by women and is clearly being tempted at all times.  This is shown by even the nurse who is showing quite a bit of cleavage.  Isn’t that Simon’s reputation?  To be a womanizer?  Someone who is focused on female bodies?  Then, there is John.  What does he do in the video?  He passes out the medication, the drugs.  Obviously, John is very open about his drug addictions.  Thus, the video shows that his public moment of falling down surrounded drugs and drug use.  What about Roger?  In my opinion, Roger is barely shown in the video and I believe that this was intentional.  After all, didn’t Roger seem to disappear for YEARS, for decades?  Roger was the quiet one who was rarely seen and heard from, at least “back in the day”.  Again, this video shows Roger’s experience.  Lastly, there is Nick.  What does Nick do?  He takes photographs of the women.  In many cases, Nick is taking strange photos.  Isn’t that what Nick is famous for?  He is known for not only taking photos but taking very strange photos.  Nick is believed to be not ordinary in any way and the video shows that. 

Now, the video also addresses the fans and our weakness.  The band and the fandom is our weakness.  Don’t we all go a little crazy when we become fans?  Don’t we leave behind our rational side for something emotional?  I keep thinking about how I will be going back to the UK in a couple of weeks and keep thinking to myself about how no normal person would do this.  Look at how much time and energy we spend on thinking about or discussing the band and everything associated with them.  Therefore, I believe the women really represent us.  Before you start typing about how you aren’t crazy or that you don’t spend that much time on the band; yes, I realize that this is a generalization and one that won’t apply to everyone.  Think about it, though.  What do the women do in the video?  They seem fixated on things related to how they look (like many of us before a show, for example).  Other activities include reading magazines (wonder what those magazines might be about…one’s chosen celebrities?!) and playing with their cell phones.  I’m sure that no Duranie ever plays with his/her phone.  Nope, I’m sure no one does.  😉  Towards the end of the video, these women all go to seats to do what?  They go to see Duran perform.  Then, you start to see the women smile for the first time.  You also start to see the women take pictures of each other.  Again, this is a common occurrence at every Duran show I have been at. 

At the end of the video, the main character seems to leave.  Let’s assume that the hospital represents fandom and being a Duranie, in particular.  Does she really leave her chosen fandom?  It certainly doesn’t seem like it, especially when Notorious begins playing when she enters the car and I think the choice of Notorious is intentional as well due to the meaning of “notorious”.  Perhaps, this is saying that even when a fan is away from the band and maybe away from a show, they are still connected, still part of the fandom.  One could go so far as to argue that the champagne and nice car represents the travel and the partying that Duranies often do when going to a show or going on tour and these activities remain as part of fans’ culture.

So, now that you have all read my interpretation, does that make you appreciate the video for Falling Down more?  Does it make you conclude that I think WAY too much and analyze things to do death?  Are you still just interested in watching the video for fun and this video isn’t fun?  What do you think?

-A

Girl Panic (The Shortened Version) and Entertainment

By now, I’m sure many (most/all) of you have seen the shortened version of the Girl Panic video.  I have seen many people say that they prefer this version over the 9.5 minutes of the original.  I can’t say that I have seen many reasons why they prefer this version.  A few people have mentioned that they feel like it showcases the song more since the song is played all the way through and it is a more traditional version of the song.  I suppose we are more used to this format of having the regular song being played the whole time.  As I ponder the differences and my preferences, I thought back to another Duran video from another era with different lengths and that is New Moon on Monday.

As a kid, for a very long time, I only knew of two versions of New Moon on Monday.  I knew the “regular” clip that was shown on MTV.  This clip was the exact length of the song and had no dialogue despite the very obvious storyline.  I was not sure exactly who the main female character was but I knew that there was some sort of protest being planned and that Duran had to hide from the totalitarian government.  This female seemed to be working with them, Simon in particular, but decided to turn them in, even though at the end, she rejoined their efforts.  The other version I knew was the one from Dancing on the Valentine.  This one was longer and had Simon by a big moon (the opposite of a new moon, ironically enough) and showed shots of John playing bass and singing that were to die for!  These additional shots did not enhance the storyline but they did add plenty of squee moments (ha!).  Later, I discovered the movie version and I thought I died and gone to heaven!  This had the storyline that I thought was fascinating AND it had dialogue!  It was 17 minutes of pure Duran gold, in my opinion.  I thought Girl Panic was going to be similar in that I would like one version and LOVE the long version.  It is not similar.

I hate the short version.  Hate it.  If I wasn’t a big fan, I wouldn’t have a clue that the supermodels were supposed to be the members of the band until the very end when they are “playing”.  Before that, I would just assume that the video was about supermodels.  The storyline was totally taken away.  I might not even know if was Duran, if I was unfamiliar with this song and their style, as we don’t see a band member until we see John driving about one minute and twenty seconds into it.  To me, the storyline was not maintained like it was in the shortened version of NMOM.  On top of that and more importantly than that, it took away literally everything I found fabulous about the long version.

The shortened version did not contain any interviews from the band members.  It did not and would not make me question stereotypes and assumptions about rock stars or celebrities in general.  Instead of showing how over the top and over-indulgent these assumptions are, they reveled in them.  The video became the stereotype instead of questioning the stereotype.  Early in Duran’s career, they got a lot of grief in the press and with music critics because their videos seem to be promoting a lifestyle that the common person could not relate to, which was seen as an insult to common people (at least by these critics).  While I obviously don’t agree with those negative reviews, in this case, it would appear to be true, in my opinion.  The longer version, however, showed that this lifestyle isn’t real.  I saw an interview with John and Simon where Simon says that everything was based on some experience in their lives and John responded with, “We wish.”  Enough said. 

This leads me to wonder why my response was so different than other peoples.  Is it because they felt comforted in the shorter, more traditional format?  Maybe.  It seems to me that there are two camps of fans.  One camp of fans just want the entertainment, the fun.  I can understand that.  The other camp is where I live.  I want something that makes me think as well as makes me feel.  I want my entertainment to be something that I can analyze and look for deeper meaning.  Obviously, Rhonda feels the same way or else we wouldn’t be writing this blog or our book where we analyze what it means to be a fan and a Duran Duran fan, in particular.  Tomorrow, I will talk about one other video that showed this division within the fandom and contained models!  Can you guess what that video is?
It is one that is usually talked about in a negative way as it seems that most fans hated but one that I thought was brilliant.

-A     

Should I be relieved…or sick?

I’m on a ride and I wanna get off….

Forgive me.  I heard The Reflex on the radio this morning and I can’t get it out of my head. (thank you very much 93.1 JACKFM in Los Angeles – it’s the only station I can hear The Reflex and Back in Black by AC/DC in one 10 minute car ride to and from my son’s school!)

However, better lyrics could not possibly have been written for how I am feeling this morning.  All I’m asking for are my four shows.  Is that really so incredibly wrong?  Am I not allowed?  Is there some sort of embargo in place somewhere that requires every single damn show I wish to attend (never mind the buying tickets, selling the original tickets, buying new tickets since the original shows are on dates I can’t be out of the country…) outside of the US be somehow plagued by bad news??

If you are scratching your head wondering what I’ve taken this morning (the answer is nothing, I swear!), there was an article in The Argus that was posted by our good friend Kitty from Gimme a Wristband.  The article is here for your reading pleasure.  As of this moment, the venue staff will not be under strike and the show should go on.  However, if you read the article – I daresay that the wording doesn’t sound all that solid for the show.  It’s a little unnerving for people who, oh, I don’t know….are traveling all the way from California and Wisconsin for the show!  Then of course there’s the issue of other public worker unions deciding to strike in support.  I don’t even know if that sort of thing happens in the UK, but it does happen here, on occasion.  It gets my paranoia going on overdrive, that is for sure.  I can’t even imagine going through what we did in May again.  I just can’t.

Might I suggest that perhaps the strike take place a week or so earlier?? 😉 Far be it from me to tell people that they shouldn’t strike – I wouldn’t dare be so bold – but I would absolutely be bold enough to say that I’ve already gone through the insanity of dates being postponed once and that I’d REALLY like to be able to attend the shows this time, thanks!

And to think I was going to talk about the shortened version of Girl Panic that is popping up…
funny thing…I’ve got a completely different type of Girl Panic going on right here.  *headdesk*

I will say one thing about the shortened version:  NOT ENOUGH BAND.

There you have it from me!
-R

If I ruled the world

Yesterday I stumbled onto a post on a message board that I can’t stop thinking about.  I don’t know who posted it, but they were asking how fans would feel about an intimate show.  What would we pay?  What would we want for merchandise?

At first, I honestly thought the post was a big joke.  I don’t know about any of you dear readers, but I am sick to death of people coming onto message boards, pretending that they are someone important and asking silly ass questions about getting a “private” show together.  Here’s a clue: if I knew how to get a private show together (aside from collecting the million bucks to pay the band), I’d have already done it.  I think most of us would have by now, no?  So, my initial response was to point out the obvious.  People pay for VIP tickets for every single show they play.  In doing so, we’re paying to sit near the front (sometimes rows 1-5.  other times it’s rows 1-10.) and we get some merch with the price.  In the past we’ve been entered into some sort of lottery to win a 30 second backstage meet and greet with whichever band members they can drag out into the hallway to say hi and pretend they are actually interested in the fans.  We all know they are not and that they’d really rather be just about anywhere else in that moment, which is EXACTLY why I never felt bad about not winning.  I don’t know how many VIP tickets they actually sell for each show, but the section always looks filled when I get there.  Anyway, the answer would seem pretty obvious to me – of course fans would pay for an intimate show!

Well, today I went back to the board in preparation for writing this blog, and the initial poster commented that no, the answer really isn’t that transparent.  That’s when I started really thinking because maybe this person is “for real”.  (Hard to believe these days, but OK…let’s just pretend he is for a second.)  To begin with, this person is only talking about one show in the US and another in the UK, I believe. (Hey you, the person who is already clicking “comment” ready to tell me about how you live somewhere else in the world and that the band NEVER does shows there, much less intimate fan shows and that it’s ridiculous that the US continues to get their undivided attention….I KNOW.  I’m not the organizer, I promise!  I am simply answering this man’s questions here and I completely get the injustice – I really do!!)  So, not only would people need to be willing to pay – I believe he threw out the number of $250 – to see the show, but they would likely need to be able to travel to see it.  How many folks travel to shows?  All I know is that I travel, and that there are a handful of other Duranies that I know will regularly travel for shows.  I know the fan show had quite a few people traveling great distances to get to NYC.  I also know that in order for ME to travel to NYC to do a fan show – it’d have to be something extremely monumental and cool because I’ve been there, done that and still have the emotional battle wounds to prove it.  So do many, many others.

That brings me to what I would require if I ruled the world….or at least had control over one truly special fan show. The original question posed was would you pay to see an intimate fan show, and what about special merchandise, such as a USB drive with the show on it or something like that.  I kind of have my own ideas as to what I’d like – what about you?  I encourage you to come up with your own ideas.  BE REALISTIC.  The band is not going to agree to meet you in your hotel room after the show, nor are they going to be willing to do a private show for just you and a friend.  I already asked.   Ok, not really…but wouldn’t it have been funny if I had?  

I will gladly direct the thread at the board I visited – it’s www.duranduranboard.proboards.com to see our lists if there is any kind of participation.  Why not?

To begin with, I think a fan show that is touted as being special should truly be just that – special.  What if, rather than just a show, we call it a fan EXPERIENCE?  Not really a convention of sorts, but definitely something that takes place over a weekend in a cool city somewhere.  (I’m not even going to begin to guess where it should be.  Let’s pretend it’s somewhere we all want to go here in the continental United States)  Why not work to get a group rate at a hotel – keep in mind that this is meant to be a nice weekend – not a “let’s get in, get out and do it for super cheap because we’re touring” experience.  Therefore, it should be at a decent hotel, maybe even a “resort” style hotel.  Yes, this might mean that you need to share your room with 3 of your best friends.  For example, my husband’s company is having a holiday party.  It’s at the Pelican Hill Resort here in Newport Coast, CA.  It’s a pretty expensive hotel at $395 a night for a room.  (told ya it’s pricey)  Well, for that weekend the rate is $225.  Not cheap.  Not horrible if you’re sharing a room, even if it’s with 10 friends I guess, and like I said, this weekend is SPECIAL.  Just think of the in-room parties you could have.  😀

So let’s say this starts on a Friday (show is on Saturday).  Friday late afternoon/evening is a very casual get together in the bar downstairs.  People are there, drinks are on tap (or mixed)…it’s no host so you’re on your own to pay up, but it’s about meeting other people who are there.  No, I don’t know if the band is staying at the hotel, but if they are – they are smart enough to stay the hell OUT of the bar at this time.  Maybe later on they’ll sneak down, who knows?  Assuming the bar closes at some point earlier than we want it to – perhaps it would be fun to have a nearby club that has a Duran Duran night on tap for us.  The club would need to close very late (or early) at like 4am.  Then it’s a late night breakfast before we reach up for the sunrise and head back to our hotel rooms.

Saturday just after noon – maybe 1pm because we’re talking about Duran Duran here – there’s a panel “discussion” starring none other than the band.  I mean all of them.  (that means YOU Mr. John Taylor – everyone must be there and I promise we won’t bite.)  Since this is a pretty intimate (and completely fictional at this point) weekend, I’m guessing there are only a couple hundred people at the panel discussion.  I would think that in a situation like this perhaps the topic of the panel would be decided earlier, and then maybe questions could be submitted early??  I think I’m taking into account that people who would be going to this sort of thing would be polite and gracious, especially since you’ve got the band right in front of you answering good questions and talking to us as the 30 year fans we’ve been.  This panel might last what – 90 minutes to two hours?

Then after the panel, there’s another get together in a bar for fans that might last a couple hours, giving just enough time to go and get ready for the show!

The show itself must be held at a venue close to the property – I have no idea where because well, this is not my job.  🙂  I’m simply the dreamer here.  It should probably be walking distance, but if not – there should be chartered buses for those of us who want to go.  I’m thinking of the buses we had taking us from the hotel to the grounds for VooDoo in New Orleans back in 2006.  Anyone need a wristband???

Personally I think that there should be only 2-300 people max for the show, and given the type people I’m talking about here, it should be SEATED.  There should be no reason for fans to have to camp outside of the venue all day to get that “front row” spot.  Yeah, that means some people might be in the first row, and some will be in the last – but my guess is that with that few of people, everyone is going to have a great spot.  The setlist will have been determined by the fans and Hungry Like the Wolf will have absolutely NO PLACE on the setlist.  In fact, if they start to play the chords, Rhonda will give the band a very stern look and they’ll stop, smile and play Late Bar instead.  (it’s MY dream people…)  The types of songs I’d like (this list is not even remotely close to having everything on it – it’s a good start though):

The aforementioned Late Bar (I still love that word)
Secret Oktober
Fallen Angel
Too Bad You’re So Beautiful
Sunrise (gotta have it)
Sound of Thunder
Friends of Mine
Careless Memories
Rio (again, gotta have it)
Last Chance on the Stairway (last chance to know the words Mr. Le Bon…)
Shadows on Your Side
The Edge of America (it’s MY dream dang it….)
Serious
Planet Earth
Make Me Smile
All You Need is Now
Red Carpet Massacre

Obviously, there are some that I couldn’t part with – but the fact is, if they don’t typically play it at a show, I’m willing to hear it, and I’m guessing that most of you are with me on that.  Perhaps you have your own favorite to add – fantastic!!

After the show, we head back to the hotel to freshen up, and it’s onto another club for a night of dancing, partying and other debauchery.  I don’t know that the club has to play only Duran Duran – I think it would be fun for it to be a mix, but the club should be prepared for 200 of us to descend upon it, and it should be somewhere that has that exclusive Duran Duran feel to it.  Again, must be open VERY LATE…and afterwards, yet another infamous late night breakfast before back to the hotel.  Does the band show?  Who knows – will we bite them if they do??  I hope not.

Next morningish – it’s time for goodbyes.  Maybe there could be a breakfast/lunch thing for those of us who aren’t leaving until later in the day.

One thing I forgot: special “Duran Duran experience” merchandise that is included in the cost of the experience.  Hmm.  What about a photo book of the show and the weekend?  Signed pictures?  USB of the show on some sort of cool keychain or something…  I think it would be fun to have a roving photographer around the whole weekend – you get a certain amount of these casual pictures in the weekend package but if you want to order more later you can or something like that.  I also think that a t-shirt for just that weekend is in order, and yes – I want a picture that isn’t going to be on any other merchandise, ever.  🙂

Yeah, it sounds a little like a convention, but I wouldn’t bill it that way and I’d make it feel exclusive, yet not stuffy.  As you can see, the weekend isn’t just about having access to the band – in fact, I don’t think it should really be about that at all aside from the show and perhaps the panel discussion.  It would be about having a lot of fun at a show and making a weekend about being a fan.  We want the band to feel comfortable being there and know that they aren’t going to be mobbed if they walk around – the understanding being that their time really is their own, and its appreciated.  It’s also about recognizing the fans and appreciating them as well though.

And now it’s back to reality….although it was fun dreaming and I’m sure I forgot about things I could have added.  It’s your turn though…what would you want out of a special show, or a full weekend??

-R