Finding the Person I Used to Be, The Final Outcome (for now!)

The day eventually arrived, and I was about to board a plane to New Orleans, alone.  I remember that day clearly because I was so glad to say good bye to my husband, and yet my heart ached when I said good bye to my kids.  The amount of guilt I felt in leaving them could have filled my house, and yet I knew in my head that I was doing the right thing.  It’s always the worst right before I leave for the airport  (its still that way to this day), but once I’m in the car it’s as though I’ve switched gears in my head and the “mom” part of me is put away on a shelf for later.

The entire way from security to the gate at the airport I kept looking around me as though I’d forgotten something – that’s another issue when you’ve had small children – I’m convinced that for the rest of my life, if they aren’t with me I’ll feel as though I’ve left something behind.  Once I got on the plane though, I felt settled.  Even a bit peaceful!  I don’t think I’d had the opportunity to read without someone interrupting me since before I got married – and as a result I’m pretty sure I finished an entire book on the flight to New Orleans.  (I’m a quick reader!)

Once I’d landed in New Orleans, I had another small worry – and that was finding a way to the Hotel Monaco.  I hadn’t wanted to rent a car or anything since I wasn’t going to be really going anywhere aside from the hotel, but I knew this meant I’d have to get a taxi for the 20 minute drive.  I’d never hailed a taxi alone before, which is ridiculous when I think back on it.  The thing is, since I’m from Southern California, there’s really not a lot of opportunity to take a taxi.  My little area of the world is easily a good 1 and a half hours from downtown Los Angeles OR downtown San Diego, and so that means I’m really in the suburbs.  Taxis aren’t really plentiful here, and as a result I am used to driving.   In any case, I hailed my cab (it was evening when I landed) and got myself to the hotel.  At this point, I can’t remember if I was the first to arrive in our room – I was sharing a room with another committee member in New Orleans that I’d grown close to – and I seem to think she’d gotten there first and either left me the key at the front desk, or I’d called her and she met me in the room.  Regardless, my biggest memory of my first night in New Orleans was finally meeting a fellow Duranie in real life!  To understand how I felt, I need to give you yet another small glimpse into my life at home.

I know I’ve mentioned I’m from Orange County California.  I live in a fairly new area, and I would say that a majority of the moms in my neighborhood are your basic stay-at-home PTA/soccer moms.   They are apt to drive luxury SUV’s, wear Ugg boots and (at the time of this story) Juicy Couture tracksuits, and hair extensions.  I, on the other hand, am not.  Yes, I do (did) have blonde hair, but that’s about where the similarity ends.  I always felt out of place when standing next to my fellow OC Moms, because while they’d be talking about volunteering in class or the latest PTA functions or Starbucks gossip – I would be thinking about getting home to read the Duran Duran boards, or chatting with my online friends.   My life as a Duranie, especially at this point in my life – was kept well under wraps.  I didn’t share any of that with my PTA mom friends, and while they would take joy in handling a class party or being the mom chosen to paint scenery for plays – I would run from that sort of thing screaming!  Don’t get me wrong, I did my “mom” duty – I was even a girl scout leader for my daughters Brownie troop, but I did that mainly for her, and as soon as I could offload that duty, I did!  It’s just not my thing.  I’m not the mom who played Barney or Preschool music CD’s in her car…I’m the mom who played(s) Duran Duran.  My kids knew the words to Planet Earth before they learned their ABC’s, and I’m not kidding.  🙂    All of that aside, I was also desperately lonely.  None of my friends here are into Duran Duran.  My husband doesn’t mind them, but there is something very odd and unsettling about attending a Duran Duran concert with him in tow.  I mean, how does one yell “I LOVE YOU ROGER!!” when their husband is right there within earshot?!?  It takes a little bit of the fun out of it at times.  I always wanted a female friend that I could giggle with, or commiserate over the lack of tour dates and so forth.  Which brings me back to that fateful meeting…

As soon as I saw JTDuran standing there (that’s her screenname), I knew we’d be friends forever.  We are very different in many, many ways – but there’s something very comforting about that.  At that point, she was very much the unsettled side of myself – the side that I wanted to get in touch with, but was almost afraid of setting loose from her cage.  🙂  She’ll say and do things that I would only dream of, and I still envy her to this day at times.  We’ve stayed friends since that weekend, and I have no doubt that we always will.  Along with JTDuran, we had several others in our room with us that weekend, and in every case, as I met each one I realized that I’d been given such a wonderful gift.  No longer was I alone out on a limb.

The main thing I want to convey from that weekend isn’t the story of the actual weekend, as it turns out.  It was a great time, absolutely.  I don’t think I’ve ever spent as much time talking and laughing as I did then.  I learned a lot about Duran Duran, and I learned a lot about the fan community in general, and all of that was amazing.  The thing is, none of that is really the story.  The STORY, is finding myself again.

I don’t think I’d truly been comfortable in my own skin since I was in middle school, to be honest.  That’s an odd statement just because of the fact that middle school is about as unfriendly of a place as you’ll ever be, and yet during that time I think I was the most “myself” I’ve ever been.  My friends during that time were all huge Duran Duran fans, and while I had many other aspects to my character and personality – I’d be crazy not to admit that being a fan was a huge part of it.  The friends I had at that time gave me the comfort and space to just be myself, and I did.  In high school, we drifted apart, I gained a boyfriend or two, and things just changed.  I still loved the band, but that part of me was kind of put up on a shelf for later, so to speak.  After that, I never really found friends who had the same love for them that I did, so I learned to just keep that part quiet – and as is the case when you ignore anything that makes you a part of who you really are – I think you become someone else, as though you’re playing a part in a play.  That convention weekend reminded me of who I really was.  I had the comfort of being able to talk all about the band without getting sideways glances from anyone, because let’s face it – they were all understanding exactly what I was saying!

One of the best things to come out of that weekend, and there were really plenty – was that I met some of my closest friends ever.  One of those friends is my writing partner, Amanda.  I’d exchanged posts with her on www.duranduranfans.com – but I really didn’t know much about her until that Saturday night of the convention.  The committee had planned a dance party – complete with dinner and videos, and it was great fun.  I think we all could have continued to dancing to every single song in the band’s catalog – but eventually the party ended, and a bunch of us decided to continue out after the party, and so we did.  Somehow we ended our evening at Howl at the Moon on Bourbon Street singing Rio.  Wow.  That must have been quite a site (and sound).  I can only imagine, and I still don’t know what in the hell I was thinking getting up on stage like that.  Insanity.  I remember Amanda that night because she was wearing these really cute boots with a heel that would have killed me.  I could barely walk in my own flat shoes much less navigate a heel, not to mention the pain involved.  Regardless, that night began our friendship, and touring has never been the same since.  (then again, at that point, I’d never even gone to a show with friends!!  Another story for another blog!)  Amanda is the one person I call with an Official Duranie Alert – and I can always count on her sharing my exuberance, my frustration, and my flat out annoyance at times over whatever the band has done, is going to do, or never finishes to my satisfaction.  😀   While my husband will say “Why do you even care?”  Amanda will say “What the hell is the problem with that stupid band?”  (or something similar)  It’s a beautiful friendship and was well worth the wait to find!

I would have never guessed that at the age of 33 I’d have rediscovered part of my personality again.  It’s not really that I’ve changed so much here at home, though.  I’m still mom, I’m still married (a miracle given some of the crazy things I’ve requested from my husband over the years), and I’m still a stage mom for my oldest when I have no other choice (it’s my least favorite chore – right up there with cooking!).  In addition to all of that though, there’s another facet of me that I’m still polishing and perfecting from time to time.  It’s the part of me that I really don’t “share” with my family, but it’s every bit as important because it’s who I am.  It’s really nice to have the sense of accomplishment that came with planning and carrying out the convention, and it’s shown me that yes, it’s OK that I have interests that don’t have anything to do with my husband or my children.  Even my husband has grown used to the idea that Duran Duran and I are kind of a package deal.  He rolls his eyes a lot, and I’ve learned where his line of tolerance is. (although I do try to cross it often just to keep things interesting!)

We’ve never had another convention since that first one in 2004, at least not one that I’ve been a part of or planned, and perhaps that window has been shut for me as far as being the planner goes.  It’s a lot of work, and while I would gladly help to see another one take place, I could never put the time in now that I did before. I’ve moved on to other projects with every bit as much determination, however.  This blog is part of that, and although I admit there are some days when I can’t even put a sentence together much less come up with a decent topic, it’s been good for me as a person.  If I’ve learned anything from all of this – it’s to encourage my children, my girls most of all, not to leave themselves behind once they are married or are moms.  It’s important to have balance, and that’s something I intend to continue.

-R

Finding the person I Used to Be, Part II

As the convention planning continued to chug along, I grew more and more excited by the prospect of going to meet all of these people I’d been working with for the last several months.  Interestingly enough, throughout all of the planning, I hadn’t considered the idea that although I’d committed heart and soul to bringing the convention from an idea to a reality, there wasn’t much of a chance that I would be able to attend…at least not without creating World War III in my house.  At this point, I’d never traveled by myself anywhere, aside from a trip home to see my parents when we lived in Chicago.  I knew that I very much wanted to go to the convention, but the idea of talking to Walt about the idea of spending my (his) hard-earned salary to go on a trip…by myself to meet people I’d never truly spoken to…sounded like it would be as much fun as going and volunteering for a root canal.  So I did what anyone else would have done in my position would have:  I planned to go, and figured I’d deal with my husband later.  Priorities, people!  My husband, however, is a very smart man.  He picks up on the small things…he picks up on the omissions of word, the missing details…and the fact that I was on the planning committee for a convention dedicated to fans of the band I loved best in the world.  He definitely noticed I’d forgotten to mention that I was planning to attend.

It wasn’t that long into the planning process when, one night after I’d excited relayed the details behind the committee’s decision to have the convention in New Orleans, and the hotel we’d chosen, (Hotel Monaco, sadly which after our convention was badly damaged during Katrina and never reopened)  my husband looked pointedly at me and asked the question I’d been dreading:  “You’re not actually thinking that you’re going to this thing, are you Rhonda?”

After a couple deep breaths, I explained that I really WAS hoping to go – but only if he thought we could do it.  It’s very tough for me to go anywhere these days, but back in 2004, it was even tougher!   We had two young children at that point, my husband had just been laid off by one company and hired by another…and I’d have to find some way to get the kids to and from school along with having someone watch them while my husband was working during the day.  I was determined though, and while it was very, very clear that I was walking a fine line with my husband, he didn’t say no.  That said, it didn’t make home life any easier.   My husband just didn’t understand my fascination with not only message boards, but working so hard at planning a convention even though I wasn’t being paid.  I guess that to me, my “payment” was the enjoyment I received from feeling as though I was part of a group.  I loved the fact that I was working, so to speak, with other adults.  Once again I have to say that there was something very desirable about having this be one thing that was all for me.  I didn’t have to share the message boards, the friends I was making, or the convention planning with anyone….but on the same token I loved talking about everything I was doing, even though I knew that to some extent, the very things I enjoyed doing were putting quite a wedge between my husband and myself.  I suppose at the time I just felt that the sacrifice was worth it.  I needed this for me.

It was with great joy that I was able to go back to the planning committee and give my own personal commitment for attending the convention.  I couldn’t imagine doing all of the work and not being able to go and see how it came out for myself, so I was thrilled by that respect.  On the other hand, however, I was nervous, if not downright scared.   First of all, up until that point, I’d never left my two children for more than a day to go somewhere by myself.  My husband and I had taken vacations without the kids before, but only for a couple of days, and as I said – we were together.  I kind of felt selfish for wanting the time to myself, and especially when I thought about the fact that it wasn’t just an overnighter to go to a MOMS Club event or a scrapbooking convention or something that pertained to being a mom.  No, this was solely MY thing.  I couldn’t even justify a good reason for my attendance other than saying that I really wanted to go!   I suppose I really shouldn’t have felt as though I had to justify my reasons for going, but that’s never been the way our family has worked.  My husband comes and goes as he needs for work, never giving me more than day or two notice of his travels – and most of the time it’s a LOT less – which completely annoys me, but he always says the magic words…”It’s my job.”  Somehow that’s supposed to make it all OK.  I’m not sure that it ever really does, but it’s the life I lead.  I make it work.   I don’t work for a salary outside of the home, so therefore none of my travel is ever really necessary or justified (don’t get me started about traveling for the sake of book research…that comes MUCH later.)  So, as time passed I worried about every last thing that needed to be accomplished while I was gone, and I have to say – I had a lot of sleepless nights during the summer before I went to the convention.  I tried very hard to make myself sound “cool” online and not talk about my worries behind leaving my kids, but I knew that in order for my marriage to stay on the same even keel I was used to, I had to make sure everything ran as smooth as silk in my absence.

to be continued tomorrow….

Finding the Person I Used to Be

As you all are reading the blog today – I’ll be on a short vacation.  My husband and I are taking a long weekend for ourselves, sans children, up in Napa Valley.  Napa is probably my very favorite place on earth.  Yes, I thoroughly enjoy wine and so it’s my own personal version of what Disneyland should really be like, but it’s also a place for my husband and I to dream about what kind of life we’d like to have at some point after he retires and our children are grown (we would love to own our own wine bar), and I can’t help but love the beauty of the area.  So, I’m pre-writing this blog for posting while I’m gone, and I’m crossing my fingers that major news doesn’t erupt – because I will be happily sipping wine somewhere in the valley without my cell phone!  

Since we started the blog, we’ve had several requests for some of our own personal stories to be posted.  I’ll admit that at first, I scoffed at the idea mainly because that wasn’t the real purpose behind the blog.  We wanted the blog to be about the news of the day/week/etc and how we see it from a fan perspective. It seemed to be a bit more like gushing to post our own personal stories.  That said, from time to time – we’ll go ahead and post what we feel we can share.  In the case of me, my stories are far and few in between, really.  I’m no different than most other fans – I’ve seen them at concerts, never truly met them in person aside from a signing – and I’ve mostly just heard things from lucky friends who have had much better opportunities!  
With that in mind, my first story is about the first time I really had “in real life” experience with the fan community.  In 2004, I was a lurker on duranduran.com in the fan forum.  Once in a great while I would post, but mostly I read the posts and kept to myself.  Another fan had created her own website dedicated to Duran Duran and a message board forum to go with it, and wanted people to check out the functionality of the boards.  I felt I had nothing to lose – so I went over to the board. (duranduranfans.com – still in existence today)  I liked what I saw, and I especially felt comfortable because at the time it was a small board (in population) and I could post without being ridiculed or judged.  As time wore on, I found myself coming to the board more and more often.  It was a friendly place and plenty of new people seemed to be posting as time passed.  Not long after joining the board, a fellow poster brought up the idea of organizing our own fan convention.  I have to say that at the time it seemed like a very daunting task, but I was curious as to how it could be done, and I was excited by the prospect of meeting new people – especially new people who loved Duran Duran.  So, I agreed to help out.  I’m really not sure how it all got accomplished – I think the person who was in charge (I am omitting names on purpose) put her heart and soul into making sure the convention became a reality and that probably made all of the difference, but we came up with a time, city, venue and plenty of activities to keep people interested.  
In the meantime, my home life was slowly unraveling around me.  My husband, who is truly not an obsessive fan about anything other than his career, wasn’t thrilled about my sudden interest in a fan community.  I suppose that to him, it all happened overnight.  One day I was happy to be a mom and housewife, and the next – I was spending all of my “free” time online planning a convention with people I’d never met.  There were many “talks” of the time he felt I was wasting online, and it got to the point where I felt my husband was more like a father or a jailer than he was a partner.  There was concern that I was pouring money into making the convention happen (which I was not.  I never spent one single penny on planning the convention beyond the electricity to run our computer or the internet connection), and even more concern that I had virtually NO idea with whom I was trading posts with online.  The discussions we had regarding the convention, the fan community, and my involvement went on for many months (years) beyond the convention….and remained a bone of contention for quite some time. 
You would think (and really, you really would think!!) that the tension at home with my husband would have made me pause and reconsider my involvement.  At what point does it all become “not worth it”?  I suppose that for me, it has come very close many times.  The truth is, I needed to plan that convention.  When my husband and I first married, within months we were moving to Chicago – and certainly not by my choice.  I think from then on, I felt as though my life were not completely my own.  Then when we became pregnant with our oldest and it was agreed that I would give up my job to stay at home with her (which at the time was the soundest decision that could have been made given the time requirements of my job at the time), I think I felt like I’d completely lost my own will, my own purpose.  For anyone who has been a mom before of a human child (as opposed to puppies, kitties, etc.) – they are pretty darn demanding.  It no longer matters whether YOU are sick, or YOU are tired – it’s all about the baby.  My goodness, you even lose your own name when you have a child – instead of being called the name you’ve had since birth, you’re suddenly given the generic name of “mom”.  Don’t get me wrong, being a mom is beautiful, and the bond between a mom and child is something that can be truly amazing.  That said, there are real tradeoffs with becoming a mom, and it’s part of my story. Between a baby and a husband who travels constantly for work, it became very clear that my purpose was to handle the house and the child.  I know I could have gone back to work – but I also know that it would have been a nightmare.   So my career became being a mom, and somewhere along the line I forgot all about Rhonda and who she was.  Planning the convention was a step in the direction of finding that self I’d left behind.
….to be continued…

Types of Venues

It seems that Duran Duran has announced a special show in London on March 7th.  I’m not really sure what is special about it beyond the fact that it is for a BBC Radio 2.  Maybe I was the only one hoping that they would play the entire album at one of their upcoming shows and thought something like that might be considered “special”.  Anyway, another thing that I have been seeing and hearing about over and over again is opinions about the venues.  Some people seem to be more excited by this special show simply because of the venue, which is fascinating to me.  Likewise, I have seen people complain about the choice of large venues for the UK tour.  This is interesting to me because I don’t really have a venue preference.  Is that weird?

I have seen Duran Duran in all sorts of venues.  I have seen them at large outdoor venues, at arenas, at smaller theatres, at places like House of Blues, and more.  I don’t really have a preference other than the fact that I like seats.  I know that I have mentioned that a million times before but I’m not a fan of general admission.  I hate standing for hours and having to fight to keep my spot.  I’m sure that a lot of people have a preference for a specific type of venue because they have seen better shows there, especially if they were better Duran shows.  I can get that.  Yet, I have seen really great shows at all types of venues.  For example, I loved the Chicago show in the spring of 2005, which was at a large venue.  I also really liked the Broadway show that I went to in 2007, which was at a small theatre. 

What I find particularly fascinating by this preference isn’t that it is there, but that it has been a factor in some people’s decision to go to a show or not.  Obviously, I can understand other fans wanting to go to the best Duran show possible.  For me, though, I think all Duran shows have the chance to be really great–no matter the type of venue.  A show is more than a venue or even the sound quality that comes from the right type of venue.  A good show for me depends on the crowd, the band’s energy, interactions with the band and other fans.  Yes, bad sound quality could definitely have an impact on a show (I won’t ever forget the 2007 fan show…).  Yet, I haven’t seen much of that.  Of course, I have seen not great performances and some problems with the sound but, typically, they haven’t been that bad and they don’t usually last long.  I don’t know.  Generally, I guess I feel pretty lucky to be at a Duran show at all. 

-A

Keeping Fandom Alive

How do you keep fandom alive?  How does the band?  I have often wondered these things as I ponder the nature of fandom.  Obviously, fandom begins with single fans who are people who have discovered a band, an artist, a team, a movie, a TV, an actor, etc. and liked it.  Then, fans come together (not necessarily literally) to form a fandom.  It is easy to get fans when the object of the fandom is new, young, and happening.  This was the case for Duran Duran in the early 1980s.  They were new to the scene, fresh and seemed to be busy all the time.  Certainly, when I look back, I’m amazed that they were able to release 3 studio albums between 1981-1984!  Can you just imagine that now?!  Then, it was easy for them to get fans because their music was great, their videos were amazing and they looked good!  Those fans were easy to keep for those years because the band was busy doing new music, new videos, interviews, tours, appearances and more.  Fans couldn’t get away from Duran.  I remember seeing and hearing Duran Duran EVERYWHERE during that time.  Turn on the TV and they were there.  Turn on the radio and they were there.  Go to the store and see tons of magazines featuring Duran.  They were everywhere.  It was easy to keep fandom alive then but now seems more challenging.

Duran Duran has managed to keep fans for decades.  This seems to be a pretty amazing accomplishment to me.  Obviously, this says a lot about the quality of their music and related projects.  Once we were under their spell, it wasn’t easy for us to get away from them.  Yet, I suspect that many of us have walked away from the fandom at one time or another.  Why weren’t they able to keep our attention?  Is it because they no longer made products that we were into?  That’s possible.  Is it because their exposure in the media decreased?  That’s very possible, too.  Is it also due to the fans?  I think that can be true as well.  Is it a combination of all three?  Probably.  So, how can the band help keep us?  How do we keep our personal fandom alive?

The band, certainly, can help by getting as much exposure as possible.  I’m sure that they would love to be on the radio and TV all the time.  I bet they want as many magazines as possible to do stories or features about them.  Unfortunately, they don’t have the exposure like they once did.  They also don’t release products nearly as quickly as they once did (and some might argue that they aren’t as good).  Heck, they have released 3 albums in the last ten years.  That doesn’t help.  Of course, it seems like they are trying to combat some of this by participating in social networking and updating their official site with news about what they are doing.  But, do we have some responsibility with keeping fandom alive, at least within ourselves?  I think we do.

Since I have spent time away from fandom for the last week, I have had thought about how removed I feel from Duran and the Duranie community.  I have missed it.  I feel a little lost.  On the other hand, I also feel like the longer I’m away, the easier it gets.  The easier it would be to walk away.  Of course, I don’t have any intention of doing that.  I would miss the music, the other fans and especially my friends who are involved in the community.  I certainly would miss writing this blog and would hate to not finish a book that I’m already extremely proud of.  This led to me to think that it is my responsibility to pay attention to what is going on.  I should be communicating with other fans.  Yes, those things are fun but they also help me to keep my fandom alive.

-A

Escape from Reality

I honestly have no idea what is happening in Duranland and that is pretty much a first for me in years.  Years!  I won’t go into too much detail (for the sake of your sanity and mine) but I’m a teacher in the state of Wisconsin and, if you have seen the news lately, you understand my lack of time and energy for Duran.  So, here I sit after a VERY long, stressful, exhausting week and think about Duran and what the band and being a fan brings to me.  It seems to me that life is hard.  It is really hard for all of us.  Yet, for many of us, Duran Duran provides the escape.  The music can definitely give you an escape from whatever you are dealing with at any given moment.  The videos do, too.  The tours even more so. 

I always have found it interesting when I hear/read statements talking about how Duran Duran exhibits Margaret Thatcher politics in the 1980s.  I honestly have no idea what they thought of her or how they voted.  I have often wondered where that assumption has come from and the only thing I can figure out is that people took Duran’s videos as reality.  They believed that Duran really did live on big, beautiful yachts and drank champagne everyday.  Obviously, Duran had plenty of money then and seemed to live a very glamorous life.  Does that mean that they would support more Conservative politics?  Who knows?  Who cares?  It certainly didn’t matter to us fans during the 1980s as those videos and images meant something different to many of us.  Yes, they did show wealth and luxury but they also showed a world VERY different from the one we experienced.  For many of us, these video clips allowed us to escape for a few minutes as we were transformed to their world of glamour.  Now, of course, we attempt to reach the same type of escape by touring. 

One element of touring that I love the most is the lifestyle I lead for that day(s).  When I go to a Duran show, I must travel.  I have never attended a Duran show where I live.  Now, they have come to my city but it was in 1984 and that was before I lived here.  Thus, I always have to go somewhere to see a show.  It may be a close city, which I can get to in a couple of hours, or it could require a plane ride.  Nonetheless, Duran shows mean that I get out of town, which is always a good thing.  It is nice to get out of town and let it all go.  Then, typically, a show always means that I get to stay in a hotel and, if I’m lucky, a half way decent one.  (I am spoiled on this front!)  Obviously, staying in a hotel is very different than staying at home.  Of course, the show is (with any luck) a perfect two hours of escape.  Let me ask you, fellow fans, do you ever think about your problems when you are watching a good Duran show?  I don’t.  Every problem seems to melt away, at least for a little bit!  Then, if things go well, the escape continues after the show by whatever my friends and I do, whether it is going to a club or just hanging out in a nearby bar.  In many cases, after show times means having a ton of fun by hanging and partying with my friends and fellow fans. 

I long for this escape right now.  I would love to have a show tomorrow.  Unfortunately, I have to deal with reality for a bit longer.  Perhaps, this will just make me appreciate this escape even more when it does come!

-A

Bop Ba-bop, ba-bop bop ba-bop….

I’m in my car quite a bit between taking the two younger kids to school, picking up my oldest and doing all of the chauffeuring, shuttling and errand running.  I’ve never been the mom who plays Kid Bop or Barney CD’s in the car – I’m the one who exposes her children to the finer things in life rather early, like from birth.  I am pretty sure there hasn’t been a time since I bought my car (or my long-since retired minivan) that I haven’t at least one DD cd in the player, and more likely – all 6 slots are taken up by various works of DD art.  As you can probably guess, my kids were educated early, Sabrina included.

When my first two were younger, Astronaut had just been released.  I remember the first day my son – he was probably about 4 at the time – started murmuring the words to Sunrise in the backseat.  At first I thought I was hearing things, then I realized he knew the words!  It got to the point where the entire van was singing a rousing rendition of the song, along with much of the Astronaut CD.  We were enthusiastic if not entirely on-tune!

As the years wore on, my son began to groan incessantly as he’d begin to hear the familiar chords of Duran Duran’s music in the car.  I don’t know when and where the change first began, but I realized with sadness that somehow, my choices in music were no longer acceptable to him, but with a flair that only moms have – I insisted that since it was MY car, MY music prevailed.  🙂  It wasn’t that long after that when my daughter started her eye rolling, but once again – my car, my music.   Rarely she’ll beg me to plug in her iPod, and typically I’ll relent, mainly so that I can get a sense of what she’s listening to these days.  (there is ALWAYS a method to my madness, you see.)   What is my oldest listening to these days?  Well, to my ears – complete and utter crap.  😀  (Spoken/written/typed like a true parent.  Ha ha!)

I really thought my years of sharing the joy of Duran Duran had come to a swift end.  I’d failed in my mission to completely brainwash them into being Duran Duran fans, but the shame I felt in having done so drifted aimlessly into complete apathy towards their own musical choices, probably in much of the same way that my parents felt when I first became a Duran Duran fan. (although I will share here that I can distinctly remember my mom singing along with Hungry Like the Wolf in the car on more than one occasion!)  Little did I realize that along with the surprise of welcoming yet another little one into our household, I also had the opportunity to educate her in all things Duran Duran!

Truthfully I haven’t even thought about what the youngest must be hearing when she’s in my car – a lot of times the music will be on and I don’t even hear it myself – it’s just background noise to whatever else is going on in the car. (with three kids, I’ll leave it up to your own imaginations!)  Since the remastered albums have come out, I’ve been playing them in my car – right now I’ve got their first album along with the CD of demos that came with it in there, along with the Arcadia album and a couple of other DD cd’s from a variety of places in there.  They’ve been in there quite a while I suppose, but like I said – I don’t notice them a lot of the time.

Yesterday afternoon, I was on my way to pick my oldest up from the bus stop – and it’s a good 20 minute drive from my house (she goes to an arts school that’s pretty far from where we live).  All of the sudden my little one was yelling from the backseat – “More bop bop bop Mom!”  At first I didn’t realize what she was saying, and then all of the sudden it dawned on me – she wanted more Planet Earth!!  I put it on…she sang along with the “bop bop” section, and then she requested it again.  And again.  And again.  (gotta love toddler repetition)

Let the brainwashing begin.  🙂

-R

Durama!

Before I completely forget – I wanted to say a VERY Happy Birthday to Andy Taylor today.  While you may no longer be a member of Duran Duran, without you – there would have been no band, and as a result there wouldn’t be this blog or my friendship with so many Duranies around the world – including my writing partner Amanda.  May you continue to enjoy good health and happiness Andy!!

As of late, I have not had a lot of time to be a constant presence on any Duran Duran message boards.  I try to check in when I can, but I seem to only have a few seconds on any given board, not nearly enough time to read, process and write.  It seems as though between my regular duties as “Mom” and writing the blog – there just isn’t enough time leftover for anything else.  That would include writing for the book, which is an entirely different issue that I need to address on a different day.  *takes deep breath*

Yesterday, I decided that it was beyond time I spend some quality time with the few DD boards I tend to visit on any kind of a regular basis and get caught up.  One of those boards is duranduranmusic.com (DDM).  I have to admit that I have grown sick of that board, mainly because there’s never really any good “news” on there.  Where other boards will dissect the music and talk about things that I actually care about – that one just doesn’t.  I’m sure the regular members there would disagree, and that’s OK.  I can only read so many threads about John’s looks, or what members are thinking of right in this moment….those threads are great and they are the things that bind a community together, so I’m not finding fault, it’s just that my time is limited and I have to pick and choose carefully.  I’ve never felt as though I was a part of that board – there seems to be one particularly close knit group that “runs” the board, and although I know some of the people within that group, admittedly I am not one of the “cool kids”, so I’m really not involved.  No bitterness there – I know where I fit in and where I do not.  🙂

So yesterday morning I sat down and began browsing the various threads on DDM.  Almost immediately I noticed that things were not calm and friendly on the board.  There was a battle of nearly epic proportions taking place between members, and unlike other scuffles that have taken place over the years, this one wasn’t really just confined to one thread – it carried over into other threads, and kind of cast a pallor onto the entire board, which is unfortunate.   After getting my fill of personal attacks, name calling and other behavior that I thought I left behind in my sorority house in college, if not middle school or high school (oh yes, I really WAS a sorority sister.  Just imagine that for a second….Ha!), I went over to another board I’ve mentioned here before – www.duranduranboard.proboards.com to read some real news.  Even over on that board, I could feel the tension.  People are ready to snap at anyone, for any reason.  Odd.

Rather than discuss the board issues here, (and I’m really not sure if there is just one issue for either message board….) my point in bringing it up is to draw attention to a strange sort of phenomenon that seems to happen any time there is downtime, desperation and anxiousness in the fan community.

Since December, we have had a single released (AYNIN), the iTunes 9-song version of the album released, and a handful of dates announced – both in the UK and in the US.  We’ve seen the band doing some promotion work in various places.  None of us have a physical album to have and hold, and those who have either not been able to take advantage of buying tickets for the announced dates, or are in places in the world where dates have not been announced don’t even have shows to look forward to.  (yet!)  We all know something is coming our way:  the physical album is coming in March, the tour is coming….well, we know it’s coming.  Eventually.   Duran Duran management has announced the revamping of both dd.com and DDM, but to my knowledge as of this morning, nothing has been completed yet. (although DDM has gone through some big changes as of the website and the pre-sale handling – I just don’t think it’s completely done yet.)  I would assert that the overall sense of anxiousness has led to desperation during this period of downtime.  I keep joking that the community is ready to offer up one another as a sacrifice to the Duran “gods” in return for tour dates – the only thing is that I am really kind of not joking, and the in-fighting on the message boards is only leading up to deciding which one of us is going to be the sacrifice! Go on to any message board these days and you can cut the tension like a knife.  It’s like being in a sorority house on any college campus right before Rush (this is the time spent in early fall and early spring where the houses are trying to recruit new members) – the girls are typically ready to kill one another.  It’s not pretty.  Talk about a Red Carpet Massacre, wow.  Some say it’s like Duranie PMS, and in my opinion they aren’t exaggerating.

While I’m on the subject of Red Carpet Massacre, ever listened to that song with the fan community in mind?  It gives you an entirely different prospective.  During your downtime, I highly recommend it!  Go listen and let us know what you think!

The constant state of Durama seems to come to an ugly head each time we get close to an album release or a full tour being announced – sometimes it’s far worse than others, and of course each message board handles it differently.  Some boards have personalities that are able to diffuse the conflict, and others tend to just allow it to breed and seep throughout the membership of that board.   The cure?  Well, that’s easy – when the band announces the tour and the album is finally (yes, FINALLY!) released, they’ll be far more threads about who is going to what show, where people are staying, and of course the ever-popular “What I’m wearing to the show”.  I almost feel sorry for the male fans sometimes…. 🙂

I’ve had a few fans comment to me that you don’t find the Durama on Twitter.  Oddly, I think you still do.  First of all – it’s probably not quite as inflammatory as it is on the message boards because of the blessed 140 character limit. (as wordy as *I* am, it’s a tough limit to follow!)  However, I’ve seen groups of people gang up on others to the point where they’ve deleted their account, whether justified or not.  I’ve seen the same name-calling as on the boards, and I’ve seen people talk about what is happening on the boards. (hi kettle, meet me, I’m the pot.)  It’s funny how we can all agree that it’s ridiculous, but yet none of us know how to stop ourselves.   I’ve also had more than one (actually FAR more than one) tell me that they don’t consider themselves Duranies because they can’t deal with the drama.

Hell, if I thought that doing that would have stopped it all – I’d have done that years ago and just stuck with the music!  The fact is, you can call yourself anything you want, but if you’re a fan and you’re at all involved in the COMMUNITY – whether it’s on Twitter, on Facebook, on a message board or even the paid fan community – you’re one of us.  You’re a fan.  Learn to love it.  😀

So at this point I humbly and kindly request for the band and their management to take pity on their fans and release some tour dates.  It’s like throwing fresh meat to the lions….it’ll be a frenzy at first, but we’ll all be so busy that we’ll forget what we were fighting over in the first place.   🙂

-R

Back to Basics

Today is Tuesday, and for me – that means it’s a morning of priceless independence.  I leave the house at about 8:25, drop my son off at school (which is literally down the hill from my house…my son is nothing if not spoiled sometimes!), and then I continue on to drop my little one off at preschool for the morning.  It’s a precious 3 hours of time that I have to myself, and typically that means coming home, writing this blog and perhaps perusing the message boards a bit before leaving to go and get her from school.  It’s a short amount of time, but I’ll take it!  Anyway, this morning as I pulled out of my driveway I switched the CD changer to slot #1 – which infamously holds Duran Duran’s newly remastered first album.  Naturally Girls on Film began, and since I had two kids in the car with me, it drifted off into the background noise – which is what typically happens whenever I’m in the car.  After I dropped the youngest off, I did something I rarely have a chance to do anymore – I turned the volume up.  🙂  I skipped Girls on Film (Yes, I like the song, but as happens with any song after 30 years – I’m a little tired of it these days) and went straight to Planet Earth.

First of all, I have to say that it is rare that I have the chance to really LISTEN to any song on my car stereo, much less enjoy it.  I’m never alone, nor am I really in the car for long stretches without stopping 50 times for kid drop-offs, pick-ups and runs to the grocery store, so it could take me hours to get through one single song, I kid you not.  Regardless, turning up the sound and sitting quietly is something to savor, which I did.  I was almost shocked at the clarity.  Funny how much differently an MP3 file sounds from a CD…. it’s nice to hear the song in an uncompressed state for a change, never mind that I had the opportunity to fully appreciate the Mark Levinson stereo system that came with my car!

As I listened, I marveled over just how perfect the first album really is.  Andy said rather recently somewhere that the first album is the best because it all happened before they all had egos. (I’m politely paraphrasing for him)  I can’t really argue that, given that I don’t know any of them personally, but I can definitely agree that it SOUNDS as though it were recorded without ego or judgement.   My personal opinion is that if I can hear each instrument without having to strain…and that none of it (collectively and or individually) make my ears bleed or give me a headache – it’s recorded well.  You’d think that would give the band, or any band for that matter, a wide range of fuck-up-ability (yes, it IS is a word…my blog…my dictionary.), but I can say that this first album is the ONE album where the band gets it totally right.   There is something stunning and beautiful in the way this album comes about.  Planet Earth, for example:  Nick provides this beautiful, exquisite atmosphere, and you can hear Andy playing call and answer with another layer of Nick’s synths, and John has this gorgeous bass groove (and nobody out there does it better) that just ties it all together, yet you can hear every single instrument with complete clarity.  Of course Simon’s lyrics are outstanding and Roger’s drums are as perfect as ever.  The one thing I thoroughly enjoy about this remastering is that you can totally hear Roger’s hi-hat.  I don’t know how to describe it, but you can hear the brass in those cymbals – it’s not just a crash, but it’s the metallic sound to it that makes it perfect.  You never get that in an MP3, or even on the album itself – it’s just not quite as clear.  If you can’t hear what I’m talking about on Planet Earth, try listening to Anyone Out There and you should really be able to hear what I mean.   John’s bass on Anyone Out There should truly be (and IS, in my mind) a testament to his sheer talent as a musician.  Yeah, the groove might be simple to some of you out there – but it’s not just the notes, it’s the accents he plays, and more specifically, it’s the emotion that comes through as he’s playing.  Anyone can play a freaking instrument.  ANYONE.  Not many can be a real musician.  The difference between being able to play a piano or a clarinet or a bass is that where the player plays the notes in front of him or the ones in his head – the musician adds the emotion.  There’s where the true talent comes in.  You can hear that in John’s playing, even at a live show.  When you listen to this album, not only do you get all of that emotion and the great bass grooves he’s known for – the recording is so smooth – there’s a “roundness” to the notes he’s playing.  They don’t have that electric flatness to them that seems to prevail when I listen to an MP3.  It just sounds round and whole, for lack of a better way to describe it. That, my friends, is PERFECT recording, from production through engineering and straight on through mixing.  I miss the days when they used to allow the instruments to speak for themselves.  I think it’s a case, and I’ve mentioned this before, where nowadays they can change anything and everything – there is so much available technology out there, that during recording no one knows how to hold back – they want to put every possible bell and whistle to use, to the point where the song ends up sounding like a wall of noise. (as opposed to a Wall of Sound )  Don’t get me started on auto-tune.  That’s an example of something that was a great idea, a fantastic invention and has been so abused by people that shouldn’t even be allowed in a recording studio that now it’s a joke.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had the opportunity to really listen to their first album like that – and I only got through Planet Earth and Anyone Out There.  I’m really looking forward to getting the CD of All You Need Is Now and listening to that intently for about 6 months on my car stereo, I’m hoping that it lives up to the spirit of their first couple albums.  I know that the MP3’s are pretty good, but I’m betting that the CD will sound even better.  Here’s hoping!

-R

Happy Valentines Day and other updates!

A hearty (yep, it’s another pun!) Valentines Day greeting to all of you!  Truth be told, Valentines Day is really more of a holiday for my kids than it is for the adults in our house.  I always get the kids some little treat, and tonight we’ll do a chocolate fondue for a special dessert, but otherwise the holiday really goes unnoticed.  That’s not to say my husband forgets, but with his schedule, it’s very hard – and I’m OK with that.  The trade off is that next weekend, we’re going to my favorite place in the USA – and that’s Napa, California.  I can certainly live with that.

Today wasn’t a disappointment – Duran Duran “gifted” us with a rather lengthy Nick Rhodes update this morning!  If you haven’t seen it – you can view it here  Nick shares news of tracks being mixed, and tells us that different tracks are going to go on various products.  That seems to corroborate earlier information that Wendy Laister, their manager, indicated.  It would seem that the band is putting out several different versions of the physical album, and on each version there will be different tracks.  While yes, I know fans out there are likely unhappy with the idea of buying 10 different albums in order to collect all of the songs, if you look at it from the business standpoint of the band, it’s a brilliant move.  Why fight to have 350,000 people buy a single copy of the album when you can focus on getting 35,000 fans to buy 10 copies each, or 75,000 fans to buy 5 copies each?  Wait…is my math right? (yes, yes it is.  Good for a Monday).  Yeah sure, I suppose that following Duran Duran can be a pricey habit.  So can drug addiction, buying cigarettes, being an oenophile (a connoisseur of wine) or even going to Starbucks every day.  It’s about choices, people.  No one is forcing you to buy all 10 versions…or however many versions they are.  It’s just nice to have the option to do so!   Nick also shares their excitement (John Taylor’s excitement) over playing Coachella – can’t blame him there, and he is welcome to send Daily Duranie a postcard or love note from the festival.  I’ll be sure to catch whatever videos I can find on youtube!   While there is absolutely no chance I’ll be braving that show, it’s going to be a great day for them I am sure!   For all intents and purposes, Nick gave a great update, and I’m looking forward to hearing more about these secrets and surprises that will be coming our way….

Before I part ways this morning (it’s morning in California!), I would be completely out of character if I didn’t poke fun at not one, but TWO members of Duran Duran today.   Once upon a time on duranduranfans.com , a list was formed.  This list consisted of statements or musings that we had decided Nick Rhodes would never say.  I believe the thread title was “Things We’d Never See or Hear Nick Rhodes Say” – I have no idea if Robin archived the thread, it’s from a while back.  In any case, it became quite the lengthy list – and some of the comments were very silly, and others were more serious in nature.  One thing that I am sure made the list – and would now need to be removed *gasp* – was the word “Y’all”.  Never in my life did I think I’d live to see the day Nick would use the word “Y’all” in a sentence…and he has not once, but twice!!  *more gasping*    If that weren’t enough (and rest assured, it really kind of is!), today I was on Facebook and saw that my darling Roger Taylor had left a Happy Valentines message as his Facebook status.  In his status update, Roger used the word “lurve”.  I had to read it twice to make sure he’d actually written that word….and then I paused….because once again, it’s a word I never thought he’d use.  Hmm….I wonder how that sounds with his British accent…..

The apocalypse is coming, people.   This is just more proof.   Prepare.  Repent.    😉  *tongue firmly in cheek*  Don’t send hate mail.  Just get a sense of humor.

Happy Valentines Day!!
-R

An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!