Doesn’t Have to be Serious!

Some days, some weeks, it seems like it is hard to be a fan.  I think that it is even harder to be a Duranie, versus a lot of other fandoms.  This week, obviously, was especially tough with the Olympics announcement and all of the negative criticism from bloggers, media people, etc.  It is amazing to me how much Duranies have to defend their favorite band, their idols, their fandom.  What amazes me, sometimes, is how much we have defend ourselves with each other.  Rather than do what I typically do, which is analyze why this is the case, I would prefer today to embrace my fandom and how I express it.  No one will make me feel badly for being a fan, for being a Duranie and for being the type of fan that I am.  Thus, here is a list of the fun aspects of being a Duranie!  I’m sure that the list is no where near complete and I welcome all of you to add to it!!!

Fun Aspects/Expressions/Memories of Being a Fan:

*Hearing a Duran song or album for the first time, especially songs/albums that really resonate with you!  There have been more than one time that I have cried over a song or album and I have seen others do the same!

*Going to buy a Duran album in the store.  Just last weekend I was reminded of buying Astronaut on the day it came out.  I went out to lunch with my mom and a friend.  I was such an excited dork that I put the cd insert on the table showing the picture of all five guys with guitars!

*Seeing a Duran performance or interview on TV.  In most cases, this means planning life around this appearance, making sure to be able to see it live.  Of course, I record the appearance even if I am watching it live!  Must keep it forever!  I still have interviews from the mid-80s on VCR tapes, after all!

*Hearing Duran Duran or Duran Duran references.  Who doesn’t get excited when someone, anyone on TV or on the radio mentions Duran or a member of Duran?  Who doesn’t get excited when you turn on the radio or are in a store and hear Duran?  I do every single time even if it isn’t one of my favorites.  🙂

*Seeing a new picture of a band member or group and *squeeing* over how good he/they look.  I know that there are a lot of fans who are horrified by this.  Here’s the thing.  I can LOVE their music.  I can even be critical about their music and think they look good.  I’m a heterosexual female, after all.  I’m human.  The fact that I think they look good doesn’t make me less of a serious fan.

*Getting through a presale and knowing that you got tickets!  This, of course, is even better if you got decent tickets! 

*Waiting for the concert to start, especially those couple of minutes after the lights go down but before the band comes out.  Those minutes feel like forever and the anticipation is a killer.  Yet, it is all forgotten once the music starts!

*Singing every line, every word of every song played at a concert.  Really, is there anything better than this?

*Laughing at Simon Le Bon’s dancing!  I often just shake my head and laugh at the silly dance moves he tries to do.  I admire his lack of self-consciousness, though.

*Quoting song lyrics to describe moments of life.  Who hasn’t done this with other Duranies?  I think Rhonda and I do it all the time on tour.  It is like having a secret language that only us fans understand!

*Buying  and collecting Duran related merchandise.  I won’t deny, for example, that I have many Duran items around my house.  I’m most proud of the album display in my bedroom as I proudly show off their various albums.

*Learning about Duran Duran.  There is so much to learn about Duran–from the music, to the members to topics and subjects related to them.  It really could be a subject for a class and I would be happy to teach it!!

*Traveling to different places to see Duran shows.  I love all of the places I have gotten to see because of Duran.  My world would definitely be a smaller place without them, literally. 

*Meeting and becoming friends with other Duranies.  The instant connection between fans is great!  It is like we understand each other without even having to say anything.  I think it is cool that I could go anywhere in the world and meet other Duranies!

*Spending time online talking to other fans, seeing pictures or clips and even finding out what the band has been up to! 

*Writing about being a fan both here on this blog and on the book that Rhonda and I are working on.  I love being able to learn about fandom and discussing it!

Obviously, this list is no where near complete!  I’m sure that there are a ton of aspects of being a fan that I’m forgetting about.  I think the best part is that there is more to come!  We have been lucky to have had our fandom around for more than 30 years and there is no end in sight! 


Trust the Process

This time of the year is always so crazy for me.  The end of the school year is rapidly approaching and, as a teacher, that represents exhaustion mixed with a lot of bittersweet moments and thoughts.  As tired as I am, as anxious for summer vacation as I am, I find myself, like always, feeling a little sad.  My job as a special education teacher is a little different in that I get to know “my” students very well as I’m with them for literally hours at work.  I see them at their best and I see them, definitely, at their worst.  I can’t help but to become attached to all of them, to some extent, even the ones who drive me the most crazy!  Over the years, I have also become quite attached to many of the adults I work with.  After all, every staff member has to deal with the intensity of dealing with adolescents, many of which face quite extreme challenges that are commonly found in urban schools of poverty.  This level of emotional attachment and intensity has begun to weigh me down.  After dealing with some not-so-great changes the last couple of years, I have begun considering, really considering, looking elsewhere despite the long history at my school and despite some great relationships there.  Part of this job search has included jobs outside of teaching but, lately, it has consisted of looking for jobs within my district (I’m in the second largest district in the state with many schools within it).  Due to seniority, I have been considered for the 3 I applied for.  This week, I finished the second interview.  Now, I prepare myself for the third interview and wait to see if these other schools want me.  It is a nerve-wracking process, with combined with the usual end-of-the-year emotions, a seriously tough political campaign, and trying to make some serious personal changes has pushed me to the edge.  Yet, I have been getting through it the same way I have for most of my life when things get a little tough.  I have been getting through it by seeking out inspiration, by seeking out motivation.  I have found that in John Taylor’s solo career. 

In thinking about leaving the school that I have called home for the past 12 years, I think I have experienced every emotion known to humanity.  Obviously, if I am looking for another job, it hasn’t been good.  It has never been an easy job, especially when I work in an urban middle school with students who often have many issues to deal with on top of having a disability.  It is a job that has pulled my heartstrings more often than I can count and I fully expect to be holding back tears on graduation night like I always do.  Yet, over the course of years, I find the job more and more difficult.  The kids haven’t really gotten any harder but my ability to bounce back from major and minor setbacks has been weakened.  Then, the last few years have seen additional struggles involving people that should be on my side.  It is a fight that I don’t know that I can do anymore.  It is a fight that I don’t want to do anymore.  While my job situation might be completely different than being a rock star, I’m willing to bet that John Taylor felt many of the same emotions when he was getting ready to leave Duran.

When I listen to interviews John has done about leaving Duran, I really find myself relating to much of what he has to say.  First, he often stated about how he wanted to get out for a long time.  I, too, have felt that way, long before I openly admitted it.  So, why didn’t he?  Why didn’t I?  As I stated before, long histories make it tough to walk away, to leave.  You know that when you leave, you are leaving behind people who you care about.  John had to leave his band mates, his good friends.  That can’t have been easy.  He knew that people wouldn’t necessarily understand why he was doing it, no matter how much he explained.  All people would see is that he left.  He left Simon, Nick and Warren.  He walked away.  That sense of loyalty can be very tough to break free from.  Second, he has talked about how it was something he had to do something for himself.  I, too, feel this way.  I, obviously, like kids and I like teaching.  I love the idea of me helping these kids who need so much, but, I need to do something for me for awhile.  Of course, the jobs that I’m looking at, right now, may still involve teaching, but they will be very different.  Two of the schools are less urban and serve a different population.  The other school would mean that I would be changing teaching roles to doing Social Studies.  Thus, I would keep involved in education but in a different way, a different environment.  John did the same thing by going solo.  He didn’t quit music.  He quit where he was.  He changed the scenery and, by doing that, he changed the expectations people had for him and the expectations he had for himself. 

 Then, of course, there are similarities beyond what John ever said in any interview.  John formed Duran Duran.  He had this vision of himself as a very successful rock star and one who could not only handle all that comes with that job but embracing the role.  I did the same thing, only with teaching.  I wanted to be the super successful teacher, the one who not only wasn’t afraid of those at-risk kids but the one who embraced them, who loved, who helped them.  Like John, I was successful.  I am successful at it.  Yet, there often comes time when walking away, when leaving is the only chance at coming back.  I suspect that if John didn’t leave when he did, he wouldn’t have made it.  Perhaps, then, he would have left Duran five years later and the band would have ended and Duran Duran music would have stopped in 2002.  Instead, we had a reunion of the Fab 5 around that time.  Maybe Roger and Andy would have never come back.  When John left, he didn’t just twiddle his thumbs.  He wrote and played his own music and dealt with issues that needed dealing with, issues that he couldn’t as a part of Duran.  I feel this way, too…not that my life is like John’s or vice versa.  I just feel like I need to take some time for myself, to evaluate my life and what I would like it to be from now on.  I know that I can’t do that if I continue in the same position.  I would be too drained to do that.  Perhaps, then, like John, I would be able to return to a job like the one I’m in now.  Nonetheless, it isn’t an easy process.  It is tough, especially when nothing is certain.  Heck, I may not even be offered a new job.  Yet, at this time, I choose to follow John Taylor’s words and deeds by taking it one day at a time and by trusting the process.


The best part of my week

I’ll bet you all were looking for a retort to a certain follow-up blog by a music journalist today, weren’t you?

I could postulate the differences between strongly disagreeing and threatening.  I could comment on what I really believe John meant by his CLEARLY rhetorical question he tweeted the other day.  I could mention that for as many thinly veiled threats of physical violence that have been tweeted or posted, there have been many, many more flat out rude comments made about all Duran Duran fans, not to mention the band themselves. I could also offhandedly say that for what appears to be every blog written as a derogatory slant against the band’s chosen appearance for the Olympic opening concert there was one written…by the same writer no less…practically gushing in wild fan-like abandon for their appearance at SXSW last year. But I won’t. There comes a moment when you realize no more can or should be said, and that moment for me is right now.

Instead, I will share with you what has been the highlight of my week in every way.  Yesterday I received Dom Brown’s Blue to Brown CD in my mailbox. I’ve been awaiting it’s arrival since I ordered it, and I have to tell you – I even smiled because I saw that no other than Martha Riley posted it to me. If that’s not a family operation going on in the Brown household, I don’t know what. I laugh because there are moments when even my husband has me running his secretarial errands when he’s overseas, so I get it. We do what must be done. I popped the CD into my car stereo as I went on my way to pick up my oldest from school.

I won’t do a full review here because I want Amanda to have the chance to listen to her copy before we both comment, but for those of you who haven’t bought a copy or haven’t heard yours yet, I’ll tell you something: you’re in for a treat.

Truth be told, I am no fan of the blues. I’m really not. I had to take two classes that covered the blues when I was in college – and both were rock music history classes. I tried hard to understand the blues, I listened with an open mind and tried to feel it all and I just never connected. I really wanted to support Dom and his dad on this project – even if just by purchasing a CD – because I think it’s very special. I am truly an emotional sap right now, but the fact is he is SO lucky to be able to work with his dad. Those are moments you just can’t get back after your parents are gone, and for that reason alone I was determined to give this CD a real shot and listen with not just my ears, but my heart.

Ok, so I’m apologizing right now for the continued sap. It’s a tough time for me right now and I promise that after May 13, I’ll be back to my normal sarcastic self.

As I said, I promise not to review the whole CD. The one thing (well, maybe a few things) I’ll say is that this is your opportunity to really hear what Dom can do with a guitar. There were moments when his playing nearly moved me to tears, and not just because he’s a nice guy.  He can really play and Duran Duran should be ashamed of themselves for not featuring him more often or making him sign a contact in blood that he will be a lifetime member. (blood too extreme maybe?!?)  Another thing I will say is that I sat with a smile on my face the entire time.  Maybe it was because I knew it was his dad singing and that made it special.  Maybe it was because Anna Ross also does back up – beautifully, I might add.  Or maybe it’s just because the CD is just so easy to listen to and not the least bit overdone.

One song in particular did “it” for me and that was Please, Please. This song is a gem and is as much that traditional American blues/50’s rock & roll as I’ve ever heard.  For me, it was a bit of a trip down memory lane because I could picture my mom and dad dancing in our living room as I was a kid. I can remember hearing an Elvis record or something similar be put on the console tv/stereo set up we had when I was really little, and I’d wander in there to see my parents slow dancing to the music. I can remember giggling at the sight of them and my parents would smile and invite me “in” to dance with them. I was probably no more than four at the time, and I always wondered why my dad loved that music so much. He never really got into music beyond the likes of Elvis and possibly the Beach Boys (I still have to thank he and my mom for the brilliance behind naming me after one of their songs…which is exactly why my children are not named Rio, Arcadia or JT.)  Interestingly enough now I get it: he was a fan of the blues.

Make no mistake, this is not Duran Duran. If you’re thinking you’re going to hear Rio or anything remotely close to Save a Prayer – you will be disappointed. Moreover, this isn’t Between the Lines. (Dom’s most recent solo album) This is not rock. It’s the blues. You have to listen with your heart as much as you do with your mind. That’s the real key here, and I think it probably took this album to make me see what I’d been missing in my previous attempts to appreciate the blues. I only listened with my ears and my head.

Truly the best part of my week was spent listening to that album!


I light my torch and wave it…

There are days when it is really tough to be a fan.

Then there are more days when it is really tough to follow one’s own advice.

For me, yesterday was a little bit of both. I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that I got caught up in being on the defensive for Duran Duran when I probably should have shut the screen on my laptop and walked away. Yesterday could have been a productive cleaning day for me here in the house, but instead I felt as though I needed to clean up the mess left behind by more than one blogger, journalist and even an “anti-fan” or two.

I’ve blogged about how personal the music is. I’ve blogged about how the line between the band and fan gets somewhat blurred just because the music has played such a key role during various points in our lives. Their victories as a band feel very much like our victories as fans. Sometimes it’s incredibly difficult to separate the two, even when we know we must.  Yesterday was in fact one of those days for me, and I would imagine it was very much that way for many of our readers.

I kept waiting for the news to get better yesterday. I was waiting patiently for someone to blog about how fantastic it was that the band was involved with the Olympics, and that they were in fact deserving. Aside from a wayward Duran fan or two – I really didn’t see much along those lines. In fairness, inflammatory comments tend to “sell” blogs. It gets them read by many people. Those people tend to comment, and then post links for their friends to also read and comment. Next thing you know, you’ve got page views reaching 50,000 or more.  It happens. Let’s face it, after reading a wonderful review or two from a show, I don’t tend to keep reading. No need really. However, yesterday I made damn certain to read every last blog on the subject of the Olympics, becoming more and more incensed with each click of the mouse. I would see fellow fans posting links to these blogs and articles, trying to get the attention of other fans. It was the talk of the entire day on Twitter, and as much as I knew I should just get up and walk away – it was like the train wreck I could not move away from.  Nothing else got done, that is for sure, and at the end of the day I felt like I’d fought a war, and completely lost.

I’m really not sure why I was so surprised to see the backlash and outcry from the announcement that Duran Duran was playing the Olympics. I think it’s been this way, this sort of battle for the band since it’s inception. I suppose my own frustration and anger comes from just being sick of defending them. It’s as though the past thirty years has counted for absolutely nothing. No matter how much they’ve accomplished the playing field gets leveled to the Girls on Film video, Rio, Hungry Like the Wolf and the fact that they wore makeup and frilly tops. It’s disgusting. I can’t count how many times I saw the words “irrelevant” yesterday, or “has beens”.  Or my personal favorite, “Their fans still believe it’s still 1984”. It felt like a slap to MY face, and I’m not even in the damn band.  Makes me wonder how they weather this kind of thing on a daily basis. I have to admit, if it were like this every day I’d hide in a hole somewhere and never read a single paper!

It took until pretty late in the day for the news to start making it’s way into blogs and news items coming from the US, and so today I’m starting to see and read some opinion pieces on the subject.  So far, I have to say that I’m seeing more optimism than I did yesterday.  That alone is fascinating to me, given that from what I could see yesterday – their fellow English were harder on them than anyone else.  It’s an interesting world we live in.

Bottom line for me is that I’m very proud of the band. It’s not as though the Olympics are held every year, or that they are held in London each time. This may be the only time the Olympics are held in that city during my lifetime, and I am extremely proud that the band I’ve loved all of these years have been highlighted to be a part of a showcase they are bringing to the rest of the world.  The critics may have their say, and perhaps some “anti-fans” out there feel as though they are just a “token band”.   After it is all said and done, it’s going to be the band and their fans left behind with this memory carried like a torch in our hands, just the way it has always been, and that’s good enough for me.


The Olympics!!!

It really isn’t every day that I wake up to hearing that Duran Duran will be playing the Summer Olympic games Opening Ceremony Concert.  This is fantastic news for Duran fans, and well deserved for the band.  Of course, we fans know this – it’s one of the many reasons we have supported the band for over thirty years now.  We understand that their music goes well beyond Rio and Girls on Film.  We know the band is about far more than champagne and yachts (although both things are good!).  We recognize just how far reaching their talent is as a band, and we know that they have proven themselves to be consistently capable.  They are innovative, willing to take artistic risk, and definitely not nearly as “stuck in the 80’s” as perhaps many of their fans might be. Admit it. Embrace it. I was proud to hear that the announcement had been made regarding the concert, and thrilled to see that the band was finally getting some good press.

Naturally, my joy was rather short lived when I began to read the Tweets (big mistake) and some of the news articles that have come out of the announcement. So far, none have been worse than what I read in The Telegraph by Lucy Jones. I simply refuse to post the link because any more traffic to her pathetic blathering is too much. I would actually dare her to name more than maybe 5 Duran Duran songs she’s ever really heard, because from reading her drivel, it’s pretty clear she knows next to nothing about any of the bands mentioned in the lineup. She seems to pride herself on being able to name a few of the more recent hipster bands, and well, if that’s what she needs to hang her hat on, then good on her. What Ms. Jones fails to acknowledge is that while yes, Duran Duran did have the majority of their hits in the 1980’s – they were and still are the biggest and brightest musical act to come out of the entire UK since The Beatles. It’s not necessary to be a big fan of the band to at least acknowledge what they’ve accomplished over the years, and that’s really all anyone – including myself – is asking.

My original intention with the blog was to refute every last one of the negative statements out there, and the reality is – I probably could write several thesis’ denying every single one of the claims that other bloggers and self-proclaimed journalists have made, but what good would that really do? Probably none. People like what they like, and while it might anger us, their opinion is just that – opinion. The fact is, while the volume of the negativity might feel especially loud today – it’s never stopped the band before, nor should it stop us, the fans.  We have every right to be proud of what the band has accomplished.  We should take a moment to send the band a congratulatory tweet, post an encouraging comment on their Facebook page, and even post the news to our friends on our own pages. Be proud, be supportive – it’s what we do best!

However, if you feel the need to prove to the world that the band really is an INTERNATIONAL treasure – I welcome that. Here’s a link to take you to a news article in The Telegraph, along with a poll about the band performing at the Olympics.  I encourage you to take the poll. Vote early, vote often.


Is it personal?

Good morning world! It has been a very long weekend for me and I feel as though I’m just coming out of the hangover haze. This is what happens after a weekend of celebrating the birthday of my youngest with family, friends and 25 (yes, TWENTY FIVE) four and five year olds. My youngest shares her special day with none other than my blogging partner Amanda.  I remember calling Amanda from the doctor’s office the day I went in for a normal appointment only to be told that day would be “The Big One”. Happy Birthday Amanda – guess who is going to be sharing their birthday forever more?? Even funnier? They share the same favorite Duran Duran song – Planet Earth. Coincidence??

I was mostly out of reach for the weekend, so I took some time this morning to read the blogs Amanda had written. One particular comment made me stop and think. So much so that it’s turned into my topic for the day.

For me, art of any type is incredibly personal. It reaches me on a soulful level – that is, if it really and truly speaks to my heart. Naturally, not every piece of art achieves that, and conversely what might touch my soul may very well not touch someone else’s. That feeling of connection holds true whether we’re talking about music, visual arts, dance, theater or even writing. That doesn’t mean to say that I can’t admire a drawing that my four year old does with crayon (typically I can’t see much beyond the possible stick figure and perhaps a sun with a smiley face in the background – and that’s on a good day!), nor does it mean that I can’t enjoy listening to a song like Bedroom Toys (For me that song is humorous and cheeky). It’s about the depth of where it all reaches my soul.

The argument of course is that not all music does that – and that doesn’t make the music which does NOT do that any less pertinent. I’m not sure I would agree, but that’s also the point in which I’m trying to make here. It’s personal. The way someone might feel when they hear Rio or using a non-Duran reference here: Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears is almost certainly not the way I might feel when I hear them.

Here’s a short story to elaborate: nearly four years ago now, my father was in a hospital ICU.  He was hooked up to a ventilator because his lungs had decidedly stopped working due to a disease called Pulmonary Fibrosis. On the day that my mother, sister and I finally agreed to shut off the machines and allow nature to take it’s course – my son was home sick with the stomach flu, AND I had a not-quite two week old newborn to handle. The only thing I could bring myself to do that day was the laundry (I don’t know why) and watch Greatest by Duran Duran. It was about 1:30pm that day when my mom called to tell me that they’d shut the machines down, and as I hung up the phone – knowing that it could be hours or even days before I’d get the final phone call – I sat down with my baby in my arms and watched Rio over and over again. I don’t even love that video or the song that much! I just couldn’t really do anything else and it was the only thing that took my mind off of what could possibly be happening in that hospital room. Thankfully, it was only about an hour and a half later that my mom called, telling me that my father had passed on peacefully, and I went back to folding laundry – bath towels, actually – as if nothing had happened.

Later on that same month, I stood up in front of close family and friends to deliver my father’s eulogy. Truth be told, I’d been preparing for that moment since we’d gotten his diagnosis three and a half years prior. My father, who was never devoid his sense of humor – insisted that I play the song Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears. It was the one song by the one band I liked that he would allow to be played in his beloved motor home as we would go on vacations when I was a teenager. He felt so strongly about this that he would openly and humorously threaten to haunt me if I didn’t play the song for him at his funeral. When I heard that song long after I’d grown up but before his diagnosis, I’d picture us lumbering down the road in that motor home, and there was a sense of comfort that came along with the song. Now, my dad wanted me to play the song to send him off in a completely different way. Tears for Fears is probably one of my most beloved bands after Duran Duran. Sadly, after that day of playing that song at his service, that song no longer holds the same memory, but rather is a painful reminder of all that I’ve lost, and trust me – my dad is a big loss. We were incredibly close. Those feelings are intensely personal.

Yes, art and specifically music are intensely personal. After years of wondering why it is that all of us act so crazily at times by the least little bit of news we might receive regarding the band, for instance news of who they might be working with to produce an album, or a specific musical direction they might be taking on a particular song right down to the setlist choices for a tour, I think I finally understand why. When you feel that deep-seated connection with something, there is a certain amount of feeling as though you own it. I don’t mean that in the literal sense, although I think sometimes we get confused by the definition of “own, it’s just that it’s so personal you can’t really draw a line between yourself and the creator(s) of such things. That’s how I feel about Duran Duran at times. They’ve been the soundtrack of my entire life. My highest moments, and the lowest of lows. Hell, they’ve been in the background even when it was the last thing I wanted to hear. (Hence that moment of coming back to consciousness after I’d flatlined when I had my youngest only to hear Hungry Like the Wolf in the background) It’s hard to think of my own history without feeling intertwined with theirs.  There are times when words fail me, and other times when I think I’ve gotten it as right as rain. Last week I wrote a blog for which you should read here. If you don’t feel like I’ve gotten it all – everything you would say to the band (or any band) if you could – I encourage you to add your own.

I suppose that is why, when a band or even when an artist change their direction, it enlists a response from their audience. There have been many, many times in history when a painter changed their artistic direction and it’s drawn anger and criticism well-beyond what I would have considered to be expected. Picasso is one example. People during that time preferred the days before his cubist style, and when he incorporated that style into his paintings of female figures – basically mutilating and destroying their form, crowds become enraged.  It was not only due to how he was painting, but rather because of the artistic journey he’d taken from what the public felt was his norm. The same could be said for Duran Duran over the years. The response that many fans had to Red Carpet Massacre was one of anger and even sadness. Many fans felt that this was a slap in the face to long time fans. Still others felt that the band had sold out in order to create a hit. Whether those things are in fact true or not is not the point. Fans felt enough of a connection over their previous style(s) of music that it went beyond just being “a song” or “an album”. To those people, it was a part of their lives. It’s like being a long term bus rider on a specific route, and then getting to that same bus stop one day just in time to see the bus shut it’s doors and pull away, leaving you behind. On one hand, I agree that when we start going around taking more ownership of something than we should it seems pretty silly. I also agree that artists should be allowed to expand their horizons and explore as many directions and avenues as they wish. On the other, to try and lessen the impact that art makes on people by saying “it’s just music” is almost demeaning the artist.  As with just about anything, there’s a fine line and while not all music touches each of us on a deep level – I think of the band Weezer and how their music is just fun, tongue-in-cheek music for me, yet for their hard core fans it’s much different. Recently their own fan community took up a donation in order to get the band to simply quit making music because the fans felt so strongly about the musical direction the band had recently taken – ALL art reaches someone deeply. Isn’t that why we participate?



This weekend, my blog posts have had a theme of sorts involving taboo subjects in an attempt to make Duranland a happier, more peaceful place.  I had every intention to continue that theme to ask some tough questions about us, about the fans and about our behavior.  I have decided to put that off for another day.  I was reminded about what is good, what is great about being a fan last night and thought it might suit me better today to focus on that. 

Today is my birthday and last night I had a few Duranie friends over.  We had a great time!  Food and beverages were consumed.  Duran footage was watched and much discussion took place surrounding our experiences as fans as well as plans for the upcoming show in Chicago in August.  This is really just what I needed for a variety of reasons.  First, my life has been ridiculously busy as of late.  I’m sure that if you have been reading the blog regularly, you probably would have seen that written by me a number of times.  While I was telling the truth in those previous blogs, this time has some added stress to the busy life I’m leading.  I won’t go into details as that is not the focus of this post.  The point being that I was happy to have a reason to stop focusing on everything else and just have some fun.  Last night was a complete escape from the reality I’m living in.  I needed that, emotionally and mentally.  Of course, some of you might point out that I spend time on Duran everyday.  While that’s true, last night wasn’t about my commitment or responsibility to this blog, to our book or to the fan community as a whole.  Last night was just about fun with friends.  Duran happened to be the connection.  Our discussions about Duran made everything else flowing through my head stop.  When we watched various clips from different eras, we could laugh at Simon’s dancing or at the silly fashion choices.  Even when slightly serious discussions surrounding Duran came up, we quickly moved on as something else would catch our attention.  Perfect.  Duran became the escape once again.

Second, I was reminded about how much I like Duran.  I know that sounds silly, especially from someone who blogs, posts daily questions about the band, and posts today in Duran history.  Yet, even through those activities, I forget.  I focus on the details, on what I need to do and not necessarily on the reason for these activities.  Anyway, over the course of the night, watching clips with other fans, listening and exchanging stories increased my excitement for the band.  While not all of the clips we watched were fabulous or showed Duran at their best, many did.  The clips reminded me why I think their music is great, why I became a fan in the first place and why I stay a fan.  I was reminded that while they don’t always hit the mark, a lot of the times they do and when they do, they are simply the best around.  I think I needed to take a step back to see that again, to be reminded of that again.

Lastly, I was reminded that one of the best parts about being a Duranie is other Duranies.  As great as the band is, it wouldn’t really be any fun without other fans!  My love for the band increases every time I’m around other fans as I get to see their love for the band.  We encourage each other to be fans and to stay being fans.  This is how fan communities come into existence and stay.  We are united in that love.  We share that love.  In many cases, this love starts the beginning of great friendships.  It obviously did years ago with Rhonda and myself.  It did with some of the other fans I have met throughout the years and I hope it will with the fans I have yet to meet. 

Thus, last night, I was reminded about what fandom really is, about what Duranland really is.  It is about a fantastic band who have provided us fans with fabulous music, with an escape from reality, and with a connection with other people that can and often leads to real friendship.  Today, I’m thankful for the band and thankful that I’m a Duranie.  Glad that I was reminded of this last night!


What Should Fans Expect from the Band

Yesterday, I brought up one of, what I consider to be, the taboo subjects in Duranland:  What should Duranie be expected to know.  Another taboo subject that seems to come up again and again in Duranland is what fans expect from Duran Duran.  Let’s face it.  We all expect many things from the band but they are definitely not the same and I may not understand why you want thing x from them and I might not understand what you want thing y from them.  So, let’s talk about what we, the fans, expect from Duran Duran.

First, this goes without saying, but, we all want good music from them.  Will we all agree as to what that is?  Nope.  Yet, how much of their material should be deemed good?  Should we expect every album or every song to be at a certain level of quality?  For example, not everything is going to be as good as Leopard but everything should be as good as All She Wants Is.  I don’t know.  Is it fair to expect, at least, every other album to be good?  Perhaps, we want every album to have a certain vibe to it?  I don’t know.  This seemed to be a particular issue during the Red Carpet Massacre days.  There seemed to be quite a bit of tension in the fan community.  Yes, some of it was between the fans who liked the album and those who didn’t but there was another kind of tension as well.  Some of that tension was between the fans who thought/felt we should always support Duran, no matter what, and others that thought we should be able to criticize the band and their music. 

Second, should we expect the band members to be on social networking sites?  If so, should they be on both facebook and twitter?  Should they participate regularly; and how do you define regularly?  What if they are only on social networking sites when they are going on tour or trying to sell an album?  Is that okay with us?  While this question might, again, seem like one with obvious answers, it isn’t.  Some fans feel like band members should be on social networking sites as this might be considered part of the job in 2012.  Others feel like it is a great thing that they are and that it enhances the connection between band and fans, but that it is not necessary.  Their only job should be to make music and try to sell it by going on tour, promoting songs/albums, etc.  So, I’m asking.  What should we expect of them?  Let’s have that debate about what is fair and reasonable.

Third, should we expect the band to want to meet fans?  In what capacity should this be done?  Should the band have meet and greets at every show?  Some shows?  Why or why not?  What about in public?  Should the band welcome fans when they are out at a bar or a club?  What about at their hotel?  Should they be approachable then too?  Then, when meeting fans, should they be willing to sign autographs and/or take pictures?  Should there be limits?  Again, on the surface, this question about the band meeting the fans doesn’t appear to be one that would create friction, but it does.  Some people feel strongly that the band should be left alone in public.  Others are passionate about the idea that part of their job is meeting fans and being willing to sign autographs and take pictures.  Then, likewise, those two sides may get annoyed or bothered by the fans on the opposite side.  So, let’s really talk about what we expect from the band.  It would certainly stop some potential bad feelings if we knew what people thought about the issue. 

Lastly, what should fans expect when it comes to the team surrounding Duran?  Should they be held accountable, even if they are far removed from organizations like Artist Arena, or should we understand that they don’t oversee every little aspect of Duran Duran?  Some fans obviously expect that Duran knows and does something about the people that are working for them.  Others think that they have a lot on their plate so they can’t pay attention to everything that is happening.  Perhaps, both sides get annoyed with each other then.  One side thinks that the fans who complain to Duran about their team are being negative and the other side thinks the positive fans are naive and being taken advantage of. 

So, readers, I ask you.  Where do you sit with the question of the day?  What should we expect from Duran?  What about those fans who don’t agree with you?  How can we get consensus about issues regarding the band?


What Should Every Duran Fan Know?

About a couple weeks ago, I posted a blog about taboo subjects in our fandom.  In this blog, which you can read here, I argue that our fandom does not talk about some difficult subjects and this leads to problems, to misunderstandings, to drama.  If we truly wanted our fan community to be united and as drama-free as possible, we would welcome these discussions.  Of course, I did get quite a bit of feedback from this idea.  The question that came up is that what would the point of the discussion be.  My answer was simple:  To come to some sort of understanding and to make that understanding explicit and clear for everyone.  While not everyone would follow it, there would be some sort of established and known expectation.  Thus, if someone chose not to follow it, that person would expect that there would be some sort of reaction.  This, after all, is what happens in real life and in real communities.  Let me give you an example.  In the United States, it is expected that if people are outside of their homes, they should wear clothes.  The vast majority of the people agree with this, at least, as far as I can tell.  Does everyone?  Nope.  There are people who wish to be free of clothing, especially since nudity really isn’t hurting anyone.  Some of these people who disagree will do nothing but disagree, privately.  Others may try to find places where nudity is allowed like nude beaches.  Still others might just openly rebel and wear no clothing out in public.  Those people are aware of the expectation and what would happen if they choose to wear no clothing.  Yet, cultures also have subtle rules and expectations over behavior.  Many of these subtle rules are explicitly taught and some are learned by observation.  The same is true for Duranland.  There are explicit rules with the biggest and most obvious one being Duranies should think that Duran music is good.  Yet, there are areas within the fandom, within the fan community that a consensus hasn’t been reached.  People just decide on some position and get annoyed, bothered or angry at fans that do not follow the same position, philosophy or rule.  This is where misunderstanding comes in.  One area that is unclear is knowledge.  What should all Duranies know about the band, the band members, etc?

I already hearing many of you responding to this.  We shouldn’t dictate how much fans should know!  Everyone is different!  People can’t be expected to know everything!  I’m not saying that anyone, especially ME, should decide anything.  I’m saying that we should talk about how much Duranies should know and what they should know.  Maybe we will never come to an agreement but, at least, we can find out how people feel about knowledge.  We can, at least, come to an understanding.  I am starting the conversation here.  I don’t have answers to these questions.  I just want to stop some of the disagreements and disappointments that seem to happen.  Let me give some examples to explain.  Fan number 1 asks John Taylor on Twitter about what his favorite wine is.  This fan is not aware that John no longer drinks.  Fan number 2 says either out loud to that person or other fans behind fan number one’s back something along the line of, “How does this person not know this!?”  Fan 1 simply didn’t know.  Fan 2 is bothered by this because s/he does not want John to be put into an uncomfortable position.  Is either fan wrong?  Is neither fan wrong?  How should fans handle a situation like that?  Here is another example:  Fan number 3 has never heard the Astronaut demos.  Fan number 4 is horrified by that since in his/her experience and knowledge they are available in countless locations online!  Again, did either fan do or say anything wrong?  I don’t know.  Here is what I do know.  Knowledge is deemed somewhat important in this community.  After all, we wouldn’t get upset with interviewers who ask questions like, “Are Roger and John brothers?”  Also, the situations I described above happen all the time.  In too many cases, the responses cause hurt feelings whether that was intentional or not.  Wouldn’t it be better to decide what is important to know and how we should handle it if people don’t know things? 

So, readers, I ask you.  What do you think Duranies should know about the music?  Should they have heard every official album?  What about side projects and solo work?  What should they know about the band members themselves?  Should they know, for example, that Nick doesn’t like sports or that Simon has three daughters?  What about new fans?  Should we have some sort of understanding towards them?  Maybe, it isn’t how much fans should know but what they know?  Then, based on our community agreement, could we also come up with a way to respond that is respectful and kind as this is part of the problem as well.  For those fans who do know more, they don’t always respond in ways that are constructive to the fans who know less.  Too often, the comments are destructive and hurtful.  Let’s face it.  The reactions are so intense because fandom brings out intense emotions.  Duran Duran, in our case, matters to us.  If they didn’t, we wouldn’t be doing anything with the band or their fans.  Yet, there has to be a way for us to focus our intense feelings on being excited about the band and not being bothered by other fans!


Is there a drummer with a birthday around here???

I have had great difficulty writing this week. I don’t really know what it is, I just know the words simply aren’t coming the way they should. It’s frustrating really, because I have plenty of things I need to be writing and doing. It could be that this week has been busier than most, perhaps it’s that I feel as though I’m on the cusp of some personal growth and change…maybe it’s in the waiting for Dom Brown’s new CD to arrive in my mail. I’m just not sure, but that’s one more reason why I’m glad to have a birthday to write about today!

Not only is it a special birthday, but this also marks the 600th blog.  I’m stunned that Amanda and I have come up with 600 topics to write about, and what’s more – there are days when I have more topics than time to write.  It’s safe to say that we’ll be around for at least 600 more.  As long as the band keeps playing, we’ll keep writing.  We’re not done yet!

I don’t have a ton of Roger stories in my personal collection. That saddens me just a little because…and I don’t mean to play favorites…but he’s been my favorite since day one. Well, maybe not quite day one since on that day, I’d only heard Planet Earth. Perhaps since whatever day it was that I saw Hungry Like the Wolf, because I think that was the first video I saw of theirs.  Don’t quote me on that, as the memory is distinctly fuzzy. Yes, distinctly. Dark hair? Brooding looks? At least seemingly quiet and shy? SOLD. I loved the fact that there weren’t many other Roger girls around. Most tended to go for John or Simon, and while I didn’t deny their good looks, they were just too obvious of choices. So, I stuck with the drummer and was rather proud of the fact that I didn’t have to fight over him amongst my friends.

We all know that Roger left the band after Live Aid in 1985 even though his permanent departure wasn’t announced until 1986. (That’s according to the ever-accurate Wikipedia and NOT my memory.) The more important piece of the puzzle for me was that he returned. I can still feel a sense of joy when I think about the first time I realized that he was back in the band.  My husband says I glow when I talk about it, which is utter nonsense. I am not thirteen years old, and while I might spend a small fortune going to concerts and traveling…I don’t glow (without help from a set of horns, that is).  After the reunion, I found that suddenly there were more Roger girls than ever before. It was alarming, really! Alas, I’ve grown used to the idea that I must share. Sigh. He must know that he is very well loved, indeed.

As I said before, I really don’t have a lot of personal stories with Roger. One story I haven’t shared here yet happened in Milwaukee back in 2005. Back in those days, I had horns. No, it’s true – I had a set of light up horns that I would wear to the concerts. Yes, we were dorks, but it was fun. I was not the only one with these horns, and when worn en masse, we quite possibly stopped traffic, or at least made people question whether or not they should call the authorities. At the show in Milwaukee, I’m not sure what row we were in, but we must have been closer than I’d realized because during Chauffeur, Roger went offstage for a bit. It was then that I spied him looking out into the audience with Dave (their trusty bodyguard), and Dave was pointing out at something. I remember seeing him point, and then somehow, my hand made it’s way up to my hair, and that’s when I realized, oh my god, I’m wearing those damn horns, aren’t I?  They are pointing at me. At my horns. Weakly I brought my hand ever so slowly back down to my side and thought about what to do next.  Do I ignore them and keep swaying my way through Chauffeur? Do I smile triumphantly? Should I hold up my Roger sign?? So I did what anyone else with no sanity or self-preservation left would do – I waved and smiled like a mad-woman, attracting even more attention to myself.  (Hey. If you’re going to look like an ass, you might as well own it. I did.)  Roger smiled and waved back.  Naturally, I squealed like a pig at that point…and if you’re laughing at this story right now, you’re laughing because you know you’d have done it too. Unless of course you’re Roger Taylor, in which case, well…I just don’t know what to say. I’d apologize for being stupid, but it was my one moment of glory when it comes to you.

I don’t wear the horns any longer. They served their time well, and they’ve since been retired.

I haven’t had quite the luck in personal interaction that my partner in crime has had.  I really shouldn’t steal her thunder, but the fact is I’ve listened through a particular story from a recent tour where not only was she sitting next to Dom Brown…but Roger Taylor as well.  Both of my favorites in one place. Amanda in between. How does that happen without me?!  My luck is seriously lacking, folks. The best I’ve gotten has been a disdainful glance as he approached a pub I was standing outside of while waiting for friends. I know, it’s my light hair and fair skin…and the word “Duranie” that is forever inscribed on my forehead.

Like anyone else, I’ve enjoyed seeing the posts from Roger over the past year or so on Facebook. I wish he’d participate more often, but I can’t help but grin when I see him interact, and as hard as I try – I can’t help but post responses. I have no idea if he ever really reads what is said (I doubt it), but if he does, then he knows just how much the fan community really does love and respect him, and how glad we are that he’s still the one behind the drum kit.

Happy Birthday Roger!!  We all hope you have a wonderful birthday and many many more ahead!


By the way, I’m still hoping for that drumstick one day.  Biloxi? Durham??  See you on the road this summer!!

An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!