Tag Archives: 1980s

Being Hard Isn’t Being Strong

Yesterday was my first day back at work.  As with every other teacher inservice day, the agenda was filled with meeting after meeting.  One meeting involved us getting into small groups and sharing the path each of us took to become a teacher.  One of the specific questions involved childhood and our experiences as kids.  Interestingly enough, before yesterday, I had been thinking about my childhood and how that fits who I am now specifically in regards to my Duran fandom.

As I told my colleagues yesterday, I spent my formative years in two very different places.  I was born on the south side of Chicago and spent the first half of my childhood in the south suburbs.  Most of my classmates were African-Americans who like my family were part of the lower middle class.  Like many of you reading, during this time, I witnessed the explosion of MTV and found myself falling for five British guys with catchy pop tunes and fascinating, beautiful storyline-filled videos.  Despite it being the early 80s, Duran Duran was not popular in my neighborhood or in my school.  Michael Jackson was the be all and end all to most of my peers.  (For the record, I liked Michael but not like I loved Duran!)

I remember sitting at the cafeteria next to my friend, who was the only other Duranie I knew, across from very serious Michael Jackson fans.  We debated everything (or so it seemed from an elementary school position).  I can recall talking about the differences in videos from Michael’s Billie Jean to Duran’s Hungry like the Wolf.  Billie Jean was better, according to my classmates, because Michael “danced”.  While I couldn’t disagree with that fact, I focused on the more intense storyline and the exotic location of HLTW.  These (mostly male) classmates could care less about the storyline.  To them, Michael’s commercial success combined with awards received proved he was better.  I tried, unsuccessfully, to show that Duran was more compassionate by being on Band-Aid, months before Michael joined with others to do We Are the World.

Part of me loved these debates as it was thrilling to demonstrate my passion.  I also felt confident that I had enough information to really argue my point.  In reality, I desperately wanted to prove why Duran was better.  Looking back, I know that part of this desperation was that I believed I was judged by my likes.  If my friends didn’t like Duran and didn’t think they were cool, then would they still like me, I wondered insecurely.  I also really liked the idea that I could be SO convincing to increase Duran’s fan base all by my little self.  I wanted to feel powerful and to be looked up to.  I’m sure some of that feeling comes from being the youngest of three children and having brilliant older siblings that I never felt I could live up to.  Overall, though, the goal was to keep or make friends, something that never has come easy for me.

The lunchtime debate didn’t not last much past the release of the videos for Thriller and Wild Boys as I moved about 70 miles away to a small town.  Before I even stepped foot into my new bedroom, I already despised the town.  MTV was not available and there was no Top 40 radio.  My family moved into our new house on a hot August day with the idea being that my room would be all set before I would enter one of the town’s elementary schools.  As the movers pulled away from the curb, a girl about my age stopped her bike in my driveway, introducing herself.  Having hope for the first time that the town might not be as bad as I feared, I greeted her and began to ask about what liked.  My hope was dashed quickly as I found out that not only wasn’t she a Duran fan, she had never even heard of the band!  I was outraged!

Needless to say, I spent a few years feeling pretty alone.  Initially, I tried to engage in debates similar to the ones I had in the suburbs.  For whatever reason, these heated discussions turned negative and personal very quickly.  Soon enough, Duran was used to make fun of me.  The year was 1985 and I was all about John Taylor’s Power Station look.  I wore a lot of black and red as well as those black jelly bracelets that he sported at the time.  Unfortunately, kids in that town did not appreciate my fashion style and frankly dismissed Duran as a “bunch of homos”.

Now, I find myself still responding as I did as a kid.  On one hand, part of me wants to openly share my fandom and my love for Duran.  I want to prove them and my love of them worthy to everyone I can.  Part of the reason is because of the passion I feel for the band.  The other part has to do with me protecting myself and feeling good about myself.  If I can convince others that what I like is great, then they will be with me.  They will be an ally.  This would also make me feel really good and cool and who doesn’t like that?  They will want to be friends, perhaps.  The protective side knows that even if they don’t want to be friends, they at least won’t make fun of me.  It is hard to make fun of someone who shares your interests, right?  Strangely, adult Amanda still worries about this kind of thing, which is a big part of the reason that I seem so private.  The less people know, the less people can make fun of me for, the less I can be rejected for.

Sometimes, the fear is so strong that I just hide my interests including this fandom or elements of my fandom.  I’ll give an example that once again circles back to work.  Today, we are going on a community scavenger hunt.  The directions include a statement about wearing something comfortable.  My initial thought about what is comfortable is a Duran t-shirt.  The kids are not there yet.  I don’t need to look “professional”.  Lots of people, including my boss, know that I am a big fan.  Other colleagues wear t-shirts advertising their interests.  Yet, I struggled to put the t-shirt advertising my interest on today but I did it.  I wore the shirt.

It is funny how a simple discussion at work brought up a lot of realizations on my part.   Moving forward, I would like to be able to embrace my fandom–not to increase my coolness factor or to protect myself from attack but because it is a part of who I am.  I want to be authentic and confident enough about what I like and who I am.

-A

Is This How We Stay Connected? The Joy of Social Media

I am thinking about quitting social media.

I remember back in the day, not so long ago when I would venture online and gleefully connect with others. I found friends I lost track of, discovered brand new friends, and even found a line of nearly direct communication with a band I’ve loved since childhood. What wasn’t to like?

It gave me great joy to chat with so many people. I still love hearing from friends I’ve known since childhood. I got back in touch with people from my old high school marching band, and there are even pictures of me from grade school floating around somewhere.  I found some of my sorority sisters, and had the chance to make things right with one of them before she died tragically in a car accident a few years back.  Social media made that happen and it still gives me a sense of peace, happiness and light knowing that Laurie knew how much I loved her before she died.

I found message boards, then MySpace and eventually Facebook and Twitter. Fans flooded the various platforms, and I rode the tide as long as possible.  I saw the band, or at least members thereof, embrace social media, and then make a hasty retreat back to the sanctity of private life.  I’ve watched fans clamor for attention, beg for retweets, offer love, respect, and admiration, often (but not always) tinged with a little lust in return.

While the band recorded new albums, I read any article I could grab, and inhaled the gossip. I poured over every last possible Katy Kafe,  gleaning whatever I could. I read interview after interview, retaining as much as possible. I debated other fans, and was taken to task more than once over things I’d written and/or posted.

I remember what it was like to be a Duranie in the mid-80s. I didn’t really worry about what was coming next. I enjoyed each album, played it until the grooves wore out (after all, we’re talking days of vinyl!).  I watched videos until my VCR would eat the tape!  Then, out of nowhere—a new song would suddenly pour out of the speakers of my radio. My heart would flood with pure joy. I didn’t think about what producer the band used, or worried about who was playing guitar. I didn’t think about meeting the band because they were untouchable. There was no such thing as Twitter, so being retweeted was impossible! I didn’t need to compete for attention from a band that was unreachable. The bliss of being a fan in the 80s.

These days, the band really isn’t online much if at all. I avoid saying a lot of what I think or feel. I don’t tell jokes about the band, because to say a single disparaging word, even in jest, is asking for trouble. My friends from high school have grown tired of the political nonsense on Facebook, as have I. My sorority sisters have moved on. Our lives are very different from they were in college thirty years ago. It was great finding them again, but we’ve run out of things to talk about. I don’t check every Duran Duran set list posted. I want something left to chance, to surprise.

Can I still balance joy to annoyance when it comes to social media?  Is it worth my time to try? Why doesn’t the band bother?? That said, privacy is golden. Where is the line of trust? Does one exist? Do I really need to know that so-and-so fervently believes the band doesn’t need a guitar player because the one they have for touring is terrible, or that Jane Doe knows that “it’s serious” that Nick isn’t on tour?  For every single thing posted, there are 50,000 opinions, and I’m talking purely about Duran Duran. Was I better off in the bliss of not knowing a single thing about the band until they did an interview?

I suppose, as I mull the possibilities, the real question is joy.  Where do I find joy? How do I keep it…and how do I ignore the rest of it?  There’s a lot of BS out there.  The “truth” is often a tangled mess. With all of the information overload available, I enjoy the moments where I’m present. While away from home, I stopped paying attention to the never-changing set list posts from the shows. Reviews were put aside until I got home. I just enjoyed being at the shows. I forced myself to stop comparing each one (not an easy task and I definitely found myself failing from time to time!), and just spent my time ENJOYING them.  Living in the moment, particularly in the shadow of social media, isn’t easy.

For obvious reasons, I can’t just quit social media. For one, this blog depends upon that interaction. Instead, I find myself working to keep social media in its place. Nothing matters more than face-to-face interaction. On the same token, many of my friends do not live next door to me. In fact, none of them live anywhere near me. I get great joy from engaging with those people.

Instead of gulping down every single last tweet or Facebook post, I am learning to be far more discerning with my time. I don’t respond unless I have the interest to do so, and I’m finding many times—I just don’t. There’s no need to argue about guitarists, or bother explaining why I feel one way or another about a particular song. I am not sure that I really need to worry about what is going to happen tomorrow, because I’m really just trying to enjoy today. I’m going to do more of that, too.

-R

 

 

Thud(s) Heard Around the World

Mysterious thudding noises can be heard all over the world today as Duranies get their first full views of the official video for Duran Duran’s latest single, “Pressure Off”.

Let me be clear: if seeing John Taylor mouth a delightfully colorful two-word phrase to someone off-screen doesn’t rock you, and seeing Roger twirl his stick doesn’t send your blood pressure soaring a bit; or if eyeballing Nick in more eyeliner than most of us have ever worn in our entire lives doesn’t stop you dead in your tracks, and seeing Simon’s sultry, all-knowing smirks and grins don’t make you fall over…SURELY seeing John Taylor slowly unzip the arm to his jacket will do the trick!

And, if none of that particularly fascinates you, the design elements most assuredly will – and I promise we’ll talk about all of that. Tomorrow.

Haven’t seen it yet? Allow me to link you up!

As I mentioned earlier on Facebook, the first five to ten seconds of the video made the wait all worthwhile (for me, anyway).  Having done the majority of my growing up in the video-MTV-age, I can remember the anticipation I would have when a new video would be announced for one of my favorite bands.

“Coming up, the ‘World-Premier’ of Duran Duran’s video for Wild Boys!”

…I’d go CRAZY to hear those words! I’d sit through HOURS of videos (so it would seem) just to watch one-three or four-minute video. Back then, I didn’t necessarily have a VHS machine ready to tape (I was just as unprepared back then as I am now) and so as soon as the video would be over, I’d be both elated, and really pissed off at the same time, because I’d want to see the video again. And again. And AGAIN!

Sound familiar?

Last night, while the rest of you were likely watching TV, or doing whatever it is that you do in the evenings, I had tweeted DDHQ (more than once, but who is really counting??) “innocently suggesting” that since the video for Jools Holland wasn’t working in the US at the time, they could make it “right” by throwing the video for Pressure Off up on YouTube. I didn’t realize at the time that the video would be making its debut today, and let’s face it… I was also being a major pain in the ass. (I consider it one of my “many” gifts. You’re welcome, DDHQ!) Of course I knew they weren’t going to put it up online, but I also knew they’d been tweeting teasers for the video all day, so why not bug them about it? I am certain this admission will send waves of shock and awe throughout the fan base, but my tweets to DDHQ last night went unanswered. So sad. (cue sad violin here)

In the 80’s, videos were a small vehicle for a fan to actually SEE bands they liked. Not everyone went to concerts, but nearly everyone I knew would spend hours watching videos, whether those were on MTV or some local video show.  I’d run home from school, bust through the front door, throw my books down on the couch and turn on the TV in time to see MV3 (which later became VideoOne) with Richard Blade. After that was over, I’d watch Mundo Music – which was obviously in Spanish no less, but I didn’t care. (I’d like to believe it helped me learn Spanish. However, I suspect my high school Spanish teacher, Mr. Recio, would disagree. Vehemently.) Then I’d switch over to watch MTV, until my mom would come home and announce that I’d done “nothing” all afternoon. (Not true! I watched videos!!) Music videos, along with music in general, was my entire life outside of school. I knew the bands, I knew their music, and most of all – I knew their videos. To this day, when I hear a song from back then, I can often times picture the video before I can even remember the name of the band. I’m funny at parties when we play those 80’s music trivia games I guess…

Nowadays though, it’s different. The excitement has changed. Don’t get me wrong, when Duran Duran announces a new video I obviously take notice. Most fans do. But it’s different now. It’s not as though I’m watching on MTV, for one thing. It’s YouTube, it’s a little smaller of a screen, and I don’t have to sit through five videos I don’t necessarily care as much about in order to see the one video I’ve been waiting for. I can also play the videos over and over again without delay. (Do not think for one second I only watched Pressure Off once, for example!) In some ways, I wonder if that feeling of “It’ll always be there to watch however often I want” hasn’t hurt music in general. I mean, if it’s always gonna be there, the sense of urgency is sort of missing. The “special-ness” of being able to watch is really gone. I miss that.

Don’t get me wrong, tweeting about a Duran Duran video, seeing people’s comments on Facebook, and of course blogging here about it are all really fun. That part of it adds a dimension to fandom that didn’t exist in the same way for me back in the 80’s. The closest I’d get to chatting with a fellow fan over a video was when I’d call my friend Marsha while watching a Duran Duran video – and that would only happen if my mom wasn’t paying attention, because if she was, I’d hear, “Rhonda Lynn, why on earth are you sitting there talking on the phone when you’re watching TV? You can’t do both at the same time!” (cue loud, dejected teenage sigh) Nowadays, there’s a certain level of excitement that goes along with seeing GIFs tweeted or posted of JT unzipping his jacket arm, and those dizzying moments shouldn’t be denied!! It’s just different now. I think back in the day, there was an importance placed upon doing the best video, the most different video, even (especially) the sexiest video. But now? It’s kind of all been done, I suppose. So we’ve got a very stark, very bold video of the band playing Pressure Off, and yet fans are losing their minds and virtual thuds are happening all over the internet today. Can’t be all bad, right?!?

It’s just that sometimes, the “ease” of technology; maybe it’s really the “instant gratification” that technology fosters, seems to have done more damage than good when it comes to being a fan. Everything is always available: twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Additionally, there’s so much of “everything”…it’s pretty damn gluttonous. As exciting as it still is to see a video, it’s just different.

When I think about it, maybe that’s the real reason behind the band not being on Twitter or Facebook like they once were…too much really can end up being too much. Sometimes it’s good to want things, or people and be made to be patient. The art of anticipation, no?

-R

 

Secrets they could tell: 30th Anniversary of Wild Boys!

This week marks the 30th anniversary of Wild Boys.  I actually had to do the math before typing that, because it doesn’t seem quite right. That said, it didn’t feel right when we celebrated for Rio, either.

Katy spent some time chatting with John Taylor about the conceptual origins of Wild Boys. I loved hearing the story from his perception.  Here it is if you haven’t checked it out yet:

We’ve all seen the video for Wild Boys, and even for the 80’s, it was a very decadent, over-the-top video. The video felt more like a movie to me, which is explained when you realize it was done more like a trailer as a vehicle to sell an idea for a movie to a studio.  John explains how expensive and indulgent it all seemed, and that at the time – the goal was to be as conceptual and as large as possible.  (Everything was bigger in the 80s, I guess…)

John also speaks of how crazed he was at the time, how things were at their peak in Duran Duran, and from hearing him talk – it strikes me just how out of control things really were. I get the feeling the band was really dragged from one thing to the next without allowing for any time to really process. I know I couldn’t have handled it, if it were me.

One last little tidbit from his chat with Katy is really in regards to the current album they are (hopefully) finishing up in the studio.  We all know they’ve been working on this album for the last couple (three if you count that first year as they were in the studio on and off), and I don’t think it’s wrong to characterize the recording of this album as perhaps more difficult for the band to zero in on what they really wanted. I don’t know if it was genuinely a difficult album to record, or if it was just a process of settling on the right direction for them…or something else entirely.  But I think that towards the end of his chat with Katy, as he mentions that each of the songs he truly loves to play live night after night were truly hell to record – and that he needs to remember that as they enter the final lap with this next album, one can truly see how trying the process has been, at least for John if not the others. With any luck, we’ll soon be able to hear the final product of their efforts soon!

-R

 

 

Question of the Day: Friday, October 17, 2014

Yesterday’s winner and Nick Rhodes 1980s win:  Picture N

NRN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question of the Day: Thursday, October 16, 2014

For the Nick Rhodes 1980s Picture WIN!!!

Question of the Day: Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Yesterday’s winner:  Picture AA

NRAA

Question of the Day: Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Yesterday’s winner:  Picture Z

NRZ

Question of the Day: Monday, October 13, 2014

Yesterday’s winner:  Picture N

NRN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question of the Day: Sunday, October 12, 2014

Yesterday’s winner:  Picture F

NRF