Summer means sleeping late, catching up with friends, watching baseball and more. While I consider my time off to be compensation for all the overtime I work during the school year, I don’t completely turn my teacher brain off. What does that mean? Sometimes, it means taking classes or joining a summer teacher book group. This year, the teacher in me is tackling the book, Lincoln, by Doris Kearns Goodwin. This dense masterpiece is a bit of a monster at over 700 pages. As I read it, I ponder Lincoln’s smart political moves, including his understanding of the times and inherently knowing when to push for progress. Yet, I cannot help but think about what historians call “turning points.” These are moments in history that shift the trajectory of a person, group, country or world. Lincoln’s election would be one, for example, as it led to states like South Carolina to secede from the Union. Of course, in thinking about turning points, my brain immediately turns to my own personal turning points and the fan in me wonders the same about Duran.
Typically, turning points, for historians, are ones that change things. They are not moments that show the results of significant change or work. In thinking about this, what were the turning points for Duran Duran? What were the turning points in my own fandom?
In thinking about Duran’s history, the first moment that pops in my head is when Nick and John walked into the Rum Runner for the first time. There, they met the Berrow brothers who would not only become their managers but also provide them a place to practice and play. What if the band members did not meet these guys in the beginning of their careers? What if they didn’t manage them? Then, I think about having Simon come to audition. That moment was clearly a significant turning point for Simon. His life changed dramatically based on that one action. What if the barmaid in the Rum Runner never suggested Simon? What if he never came? Would Duran be as successful as they have been? What about having producers like Colin Thurston? What if he didn’t produce the first album? Would it have turned out as fabulous as it did?
I don’t really have an answer to any of those questions. The easy answer would be to say that they were all essential moments for the band. Did the band members know that they were turning points, that they were so super significant? I don’t know. Obviously, I think about John’s autobiography when he talks about Simon’s arrival. He called his lyrics “poetry”. Maybe, John had a sense. Did Simon know? I don’t know. I remember hearing an interview in which Simon claimed that he would just going to sing in the band as a hobby but that John convinced him otherwise.
Then, I think of my own fandom. What were my turning points? I know that I have talked about falling for the band in the first place over the song, The Reflex. That song certainly changed my life. Then, of course, I might pick the moment I heard about the reunion or checked out message boards for the first time, bringing me back into the fan community. For sure, Rhonda and I might list the 2004 Duran Duran Fans Convention in New Orleans as a turning point. What if Rhonda and I hadn’t met each other? So much would be different. We wouldn’t (probably) be blogging everyday. The Daily Duranie would most likely not exist or not exist in this format. Did we know it then? Did we know that the convention was a big deal in our lives? I cannot speak for Rhonda but I had no clue. When I returned home, I had more friends, memories of a seriously fun time and my love for Duran had been reinforced. That is all that I knew.
Would I recognize another turning point? Would the band? I don’t know. Maybe. Some events, I think, are so big that you might know. For example, if I walked outside my house right now and got hit by a bus, that might be an obvious turning point. Then, it makes me think. Is it important to recognize them when we can? As a historian, I know that it is essential to understand the story of the past but I am not sure that it does it matter in our personal lives. Maybe, it does. After all, just like in history, recognizing turning points provides clarity that can not be gathered else wise. Perhaps, it is the same for people, personally, and for fandom, generally.