Tag Archives: Birthdays

Happy Birthday Rhonda 2019!

My blogging to-do list includes my part of a review that I’m supposed to do for today. I’m being a rebel, though, and not doing it. I will do it for the weekend, though. No, instead I want to take some time to celebrate a certain blogger’s birthday. Yep, yesterday was Rhonda’s birthday. When I started to think about her birthday, I realized that I have been wishing her a happy birthday for 15 years now! 15! So, I figured that it might be fun to share a favorite memory of each of those years as a way to celebrate her and our friendship! (By the way, you should probably get a beverage or 10. It got a little long. I got carried away!)

2004-Howl at the Moon

Rhonda and I met in September of 2004 even though we had chatted online a few times before that. As we have talked about many times before, we came together in New Orleans for the Duran Duran Fan Convention. At the time, I really just wanted to meet as many people as possible, not really thinking about meeting my best friend or partner-in-crime. Then, I would go so far as to say that if I had, Rhonda might have been the last person I would suspect. After all, I knew that she was from Southern California and seemed to be from a far different world than my Midwestern, not-that-cool background. That said, by the time we found ourselves at Howl at the Moon on late Saturday/early Sunday, I felt a connection. I have a strong memory of us sitting in the audience, sipping our drinks while singing along with Hungry Like the Wolf. Yep, that song always seems to have been there.

2005-Partying in Vegas

Here’s a story that I don’t think we have ever shared on this blog before. In the fall of 2005, we met in Vegas for a girls weekend that happened to be the same one as the Andre Agassi charity show that featured a (way too short) set by Duran. After the show, we were ready to party as were the thousands of Duranies there that night. At one point, a friend of ours told Rhonda that she knew where Roger was going to be and that she had access to the VIP part of the club. Rhonda had a choice. She could have easily gone with the cool crowd into this VIP area, but she wouldn’t go without me. So, we found a way to both go. To this day, I’m not really sure why. Rhonda has always been the far cooler one between the two of us with many more people in the community seeking out her friendship and company. For some crazy reason that I’ll never get, she has always included me, probably killing a little of her social status by doing so.

2006-HB!

In March of 2006, we attended a Duranie weekend gathering in Chicago. Originally, Rhonda had no plans to go but when an unused plane ticket came available, she jumped at the chance. The weekend was super fun from spending a lot of money on weak drinks at the Holiday Club to watching Live from London with a bunch of other fans. One of my favorite memories of that weekend was when we got separated for some reason and Rhonda had no idea where the heck I had gone to. So, she called and ended up leaving a voicemail. The message was a simple one–where the hell are you followed by…”ho-bag”. Did she just call me a ho-bag, I asked myself. She did. From then on, it is a term that we use more often than you might think we should!

2007-Pyramid Club

In June of 2007, we met up in New York City for the show-that-shall-not-be-named. The best part of the weekend, though, was attending a pre-show party at the Pyramid Club. As we entered the bar, without speaking, we separated to join other groups. (Strangely enough, I wanted to meet up with fellow John fans and Rhonda moved towards the Roger fans.) What was cool about this was how we met new people, which isn’t easy for either of us, but then came back together at the end of the night to dance and laugh before eating a diner before bed.

2008-George Washington Bridge

The fall of 2008 found us on the East Coast, hitting shows in New Jersey and Connecticut. In the process of traveling from show to show, we had no choice but to hit New York City. Fun fact. I hate bridges and the George Washington Bridge has to be one of my least favorites, especially when stuck on it due to horrendous traffic. Did you know that you can feel the bridge move?! Not fun. Thankfully, Rhonda did not laugh at my anxiety too much. The heavy traffic turned out to be helpful, in some weird way, though. Since we had a lot of time to talk, the first ripples of our research began. I remember this weird feeling of being alive, which came from being with someone who is equally curious, who seeks out knowledge and understanding, who gets excited by revelations.

2009-The Kids

In 2009, we took Rhonda’s eldest daughter, to her first Duran show. While it was super fun to see her reaction, I enjoyed being a part of this mother/daughter moment. It reminds me of how lucky I have been in that she has shared her kids with me. Not only did I get to see Heather at this show, but I was able to share some advice for her son and her youngest followed my footsteps by being born on April 29th. Fun fact. My mom’s best friend has the same birthdate. It seems like a pattern now!

2010-The Beginning of the Blog

Uh…we started this blog in 2010, a million years ago. While we have talked plenty about the blog, I have to acknowledge that it has made us closer and has worked to always keep us connected. I’m forever thankful for this. We are truly the only two people who know exactly what it is like to be us, the owners of this site. I know that I’m constantly thankful that I am not alone in this public journey. Speaking for myself, I know that I would have folded a long time ago but knowing that I am not alone has definitely given me strength. On that note, I have to give another shout out to the birthday woman. Thank goodness that she deals with keeping the computer programming aspect of this going as I have neither the will, the time or the patience to tackle it.

2011-Birmingham Tour

We have probably written about some aspect or another of our trips to the UK in 2011 countless times. This is a little different, though. When we went to the UK in May of 2011 for the shows that did not happen, we still ended up in Birmingham, mostly because it was too late to change plans. Even though many told us that there was no reason to really go there, I was glad to be there. I wanted to see where the band I know and loved came from. In fact, before we left, I had done some research about where Duran related places were located and wrote up a walking tour of sorts. After all, I figured that this was my one chance to really gain a new and/or deeper understanding of Duran. Well, by the time we got to the city, our traveling companions weren’t that excited, to say the least. In fact, they really wanted Rhonda to push me into forgetting about it. She didn’t do that. No, she supported me in my desire to really see the city. Much like the VIP club in 2005, she could have chosen to be with the cooler people and chose me instead. By the end of the day, I believe that she was glad to have joined me on this tour even if it separated her from the others. On top of that, again, we found ourselves having a unique experience that only worked to bring us closer together.

2012-Front row

The summer tour of 2012 was a monumental one in that we finally found ourselves in the front row. Biloxi’s general admission setting provided us the chance to get up early and wait all day to get that coveted spot. For once, we just embraced the idea. We didn’t talk ourselves out of it or tell ourselves that the desire for the front was dumb. Then, as we have previously written about, we weren’t so awesome during the show once we met that goal. This reminded us that we are still learning and to just dive into enjoying shows, no matter what.

2013-Durandemonium

Umm…we organized and hosted a weekend long convention in Chicago during the fall of 2013. That alone would make for an awesome memory but there is one part that really made me smile. At the end of Saturday night/early Sunday morning, we arrived back to the hotel from the 80s club via the party bus along with a number of convention attendees. Something told Rhonda and myself that we shouldn’t follow the crowd in. Instead, we ran down the road before heading over to a diner for an early breakfast. The relief we felt after having it all go successfully required some down time.

2014-Visits

Over the years, Rhonda and I have visited each other’s houses a number of times. Sometimes, those have been connected to shows or tours and some have not. Rhonda came out to visit in the summer of 2014 in order to finish one of our manuscripts, which we did. Beyond that, though, the time allowed us plenty of time to talk and just enjoy being together. Typically, when we are together, we are constantly on the move to get to shows or to get ready for some event or another. This visit, though, wasn’t about that. It gave us real time. I, for one, loved showing off my life to some extent. Visits like these help give insight that cannot really happen on tour. This is why, at some point, I would love to welcome Rhonda into my classroom so that she could see that aspect of my life or even on the campaign trail.

2015-Ace Hotel

Desperation results in people flying out to Los Angeles to see one to three songs performed live. Yep. This was me in the spring of 2015. I needed a Duran fix so I did what must be done and flew out to LA to see the band perform at the David Lynch Tribute Show. The night of the show was so fun from getting pictures with some band members, enjoying many drinks, closing down the bar and more. Yeah, it might not have been the most logical move for me, but so fun. I’m forever thankful that Rhonda just went with my crazy plan (as usual). (Let me make it clear–when it comes to shows, I’m almost always the one to push for more shows and not less.)

2016-Toronto

This memory makes me shake my head. I know that you have all read the story of our interactions with Simon that night at the hotel bar after the show. While I love the heck out of that part, I’m almost more amused by two statements made by Rhonda that night. When we first arrived at the bar, we knew that the night was going to be something…um…interesting, so when the waiter asked if we wanted drinks, Rhonda let him know that he should just keep them coming. She explained that there was no reason for him to waste time by asking. No, he should just keep making them. The result? We were a little tipsy by the end of the night and that was a pricey bar bill. Then, if that was not enough, at the end of the night, Rhonda struggled to take off her earring. No clue why. I even tried to help. I think back to how ridiculous we must of looked, I laugh and laugh.

2017-Lime Green Shoes

Who would ever consider doing this and why?

Enough said!

2018-Post Election Day

I suspect that a lot of people don’t really understand my political activism. Rhonda might not either but I do appreciate that she tries to get it. More than that, she has celebrated my wins. I cannot begin to express how much that means to me. Likewise, she offers sympathy when I lose a battle. That kind of support means a lot and helps me to keep going for the next fight. A good example of what I’m talking about is the blog she wrote the day after Election Day 2018, after I had won a big one. She didn’t care about writing about Duran or fandom. No, she used the blog to congratulate me. I thank her for that. It means a lot.

2019-New project

Somehow, despite all, we are venturing onward with another project. It would be safe to say that we are both excited by this one. Every time we conference (like we will today) I am reminded about how lucky I am to have a best friend that is so smart and committed to doing a good job with researching and writing. How lucky am I that my best friend is not only the person I laugh with the most, have the most fun with but also can work with?

As I look back at these last 15 years, I realize how fortunate I have been to have Rhonda in my life. She has been around for so much, including some absolutely amazing times and moments and some really tough ones. On top of that, together, we have created an amazing blog that has such an overwhelming amount of posts. Our research has taught us a lot about the process, about ourselves and about each other. So, on the day after Rhonda’s birthday, I raise a glass for her, wish her a happy birthday and thank her for all of these memories and countless more! Happy Birthday, Ho-Bag!

-A

Happy Birthday Dom 2019!

I have another Duran birthday to cover! Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to share a little of what I love about Nick Rhodes to celebrate him and wish him the happiest of birthdays. Now, I turn to the person behind the guitar. That’s right, it is Dom’s birthday!!! Like Nick’s birthday blog, I’m opting to share a little bit about what I love about Dom and why I’m super glad to have him in Duran.

The first time I saw Dom play live was in March of 2005 during the Astronaut Tour. While I had seen him make a couple of TV appearances in December of the previous year, I didn’t pay much attention. In 2005, I could not ignore him. I would go so far as to say that I appreciated the heck out of him. Like many, then, I was so upset when I discovered that Andy would not be touring with the band during that week as he had traveled back to the UK to be with his critically ill father. While I desperately wanted Andy as I was one of the last people to see the Fab Five live (or so it seemed), I understood and was grateful that Dom could step in. After all, I didn’t want the shows to be canceled. During that week, I saw Dom play in four cities: Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Moline. My biggest take away then. This guy had no ego. He helped make the songs sound like Duran without drawing one ounce of attention to himself. In my mind, he did exactly what he should have.

Fast forward to October 2006 when the band had just announced the departure of Andy Taylor. Again, I found myself at a show in Chicago, wondering what the heck it was going to be like without Andy. At the time, I had no idea if Dom was just filling in before someone permanent came in or what. I assumed that he would play as he did in 2005. Yet, I saw something different that night. He still was respectful, professional, but he also was part of the show more. I distinctly remember noticing him sing back up during Sunrise as I turned to Rhonda and welcomed him to the band. While I was still heartbroken over Andy, Dom’s presence felt right, good. Even his introduction showed this:

The next tour provided me something new to pay attention to when live shows. That’s right. I started to notice the DoJo, those moments when Dom and John seemed to really jam. I went to see the band perform on Broadway in the fall of 2007 when they played the entire Red Carpet Massacre album. After the show, I told Rhonda about how awesome the song, Tricked Out, was live. She didn’t believe me. It sounded so different live. If that was not enough, the DoJo during the song was mind-blowing, to say the least.

The next album cycle found Dom more and more active with the band. I loved seeing him in the video for All You Need Is Now, for example. I’m glad that he participated as a writing partner on the album as well. Then, I saw him give some interviews or on video clips like this holiday greeting.

He managed to do something else pretty amazing, which is to help make Hungry Like the Wolf live more tolerable. Heck, part of me even began to look forward to it. Impressive.

If all of that was not enough, Dom also has a solid solo career that I recommend that Duranies check out (if you haven’t already).

All in all, I’m so glad that he is around and part of the Duran Duran team. He certainly has made my fandom better and I wish him the happiest of birthdays!!!

-A

April 2019 Katy Kafe with Roger

Someone else has a birthday this month, along with Amanda and my youngest, and his name is Roger! As he explains early in this month’s Katy Kafe, this year isn’t the “big” year – and we’re not talking about that yet!

We did hear within the first few seconds that the band is going back into the studio today, and that his birthday is also a studio day. Little by little, we’re hearing more teensy little items of interest about that studio time. I can’t lie, for me, a lot of this Kafe, seemed to be about his drums, and while some of the questions were interesting, others really didn’t resonate – purely because I am not a drummer, and I don’t know the difference between Tama drums or any other brands. I took notes, and as always, I encourage everyone to get their own DDM membership!

Today’s Kafe featured a selection of Katy-chosen questions from their Instagram.

What is your max heart rate when playing Wild Boys?

Roger laughed, because I would imagine he hasn’t had too much of an opportunity to measure his own heart rate (kind of wonder what an Apple Watch would do under those conditions though, I must admit). However, he did say that whatever it might be – it would be much faster for “Rio”. Somehow this led into a short sidebar about the fact that he finds that he plays far more powerfully when he is relaxed. It isn’t about sheer strength, it is about playing with flexibility and precision. So while you and I might think he has pretty strong arms….he says no.

I’ve seen them. Well…I have in pictures before, anyway. I’m still gonna go with yes. <big grin>

Which drum track from your entire catalog makes you the most proud?

Roger says “Anything from Rio”.

What tracks from other drummers do you admire most?

“Trampled Under Foot” – John Bonham (Led Zeppelin)

“Superstition” – Stevie Wonder.

Your homework, fellow Duranies – is to go listen to both. 🙂

What provides inspirations when writing new songs?

“What is going on around me”, Roger explains. Just as they enter the studio today, they won’t have any preconceived ideas of what they’ll play. Nick might begin playing something and then that will give Roger inspiration for a drum beat and so on. They write “off the cuff” and have done so for many years (and albums). He mentions how they were in the studio with Errol Alkan and Mark Ronson, and that in each case – they had no ideas of what they might do, but that each of them had their own creative ideas, and that in turn inspired them.

Katy interjects at this point and asks if he’s heard any of the finished songs and Roger quickly says that nothing is finished yet. I add this tidbit purely because if you were hoping for finished music in 2019….I’m still thinking you’d be better off hoping for 2020!!

What were you whispering to yourself in the video for “Night Boat”?

Roger laughs and says “I was probably wondering what in the hell we were doing or what it was all about!” Then he explains that he hasn’t WATCHED the video since they made it!

I just have to say, this little kernel of truth shocked me. I mean, I know these guys have been busy over the years, especially back then – and maybe I’m just a control freak (I know I am), but really? You didn’t even WATCH it to see if you thought it was any good? I really hope Roger watches it, and that eventually somehow, we hear what he thought when he did! (In case you’re reading: your acting on it was A+, Roger. <big grin> I must have watched that video 30,000 times when I first got the video album. I mean…you were speaking! It didn’t even matter what you were saying – I could hear your voice.

Wow. Yep, I was indeed a fan. Big fan. Huge!

If you were stranded on a desert island and had the choice of what band member was with you – who would you choose and why?

Apparently, there is only one answer to this question as far as Katy and Roger are concerned. They’d choose Simon because he could get them out. (It turns out, they trust Simon’s sailing ability. Ok then. I can’t argue…except to ask, “Who said we wanted to leave the island?!?”).

Where’s the one “bucket list” place you’d like to visit?

India. Roger has never been to India, and he’d like to go and visit – not just a resort, but the “real” India.

What song from Arcadia (aside from Election Day) would you like to add to the set list?

Roger’s favorite Arcadia song is “The Promise”, and he’d like to add that – in fact, he says he may suggest that the next time the set list conversation comes up!

What drum gear are you using in the studio for the new recordings?

He is working with more of a live drum set-up. Errol and Mark both had kits in their studios he used. While the last album relied a little more heavily on electronics, these songs are more live, less electronic. More organic. Acoustic.

**note here for everyone committing this to memory, expecting whatever music to come out to be exactly as Roger describes here. It is still early in the process. Roger himself said nothing is finished. While this is how it’s sounding now, WHO KNOWS what will end up coming through our speakers when it is done…and remember he’s talking about the drums. We don’t know what the rest of it will sound like at all. Right?

Do you still have your earliest Tama drum kit?

They have a lot in storage, but Roger says he doesn’t really have anything from his first kit. As a side note though, Paul McCartney did at one time have a drum of his in his studio. Roger knows one of Paul’s daughters and gave her one of the drums he no longer needed.

Roger continues by explaining that he’s really not a collector. He doesn’t keep things – same with clothes. He has his Rio jacket, but he doesn’t know where the trousers are. That beautiful blue silk jacket was on display at the O2 Music Experience when I was in London back in 2011 – don’t know if it’s still there though!

Which song would you go back and re-record if you had the opportunity?

Roger said “None”.

His feeling here is like most artists – when you record a song, it is like a snapshot in time for that particular period. Going back and changing it is similar to stepping into a time machine and going back to fix some part of history. Once you do that, everything changes.

Would you still join the band if you had already known what was going to happen (all of the ups and downs, etc.)

He says he wouldn’t change a thing. One thing I can hear in Roger’s voice is how grateful he is for his career. He talks about how he might have been a mechanic or hated his day job, and obviously that’s not the case with the band. Despite the ups and downs, he clearly still loves his life just as it is.

Favorite performance of his entire career?

I would have thought a question like this would stump someone. I mean, this includes thousands of performances! However, he said that the last time they played the O2 – he had his family there with him. There was an incredible synergy with the audience, and the night was magical. So there you have it!

Happy birthday, Roger! It might be a working birthday, but we hope it is still fantastic!

-R

Happy Birthday Amanda!!!

It is a busy day!! Not only do I take great joy in celebrating the birthday of my partner-in-crime; but I also have the great pleasure of celebrating the birth of my youngest on this fine day!

I will never forget sitting down in the recliner for my non-stress test at my doctor’s office on Tuesday, April 29th, 2008, only to be told that I was going to be headed to the hospital to have the baby later that afternoon.  So I did what any normal woman would do – I grabbed my phone and called my best friend first. No, not my husband. He was the second. You see, in my head I knew it was Amanda’s birthday and that if I didn’t call her right then, I’d miss the chance to send my good wishes – AND to tell her that my youngest was going to be born that very day. And now each year, I get to celebrate the birthdays of the two of them on the same day. I consider it a gift, and I’m lucky that my daughter was born on April 29th. STRONG women are born on that day, despite what my dear friend Amanda may think.

Amanda and I have been through a lot together in the ten years we’ve been friends. Sure, there have been a lot of shows. Plenty of plotting, cursing…maybe even some whining. Incredible amounts of laughing, even in the middle of shows during the most serious of songs. We’ve done things I never thought we’d EVER do. (See yesterdays’ blog, A Dream that Strings the Road, for a good example of that.) We’ve gotten brazen enough to give wristbands to band members, telling them we have a list of tasks for them…and have even insisted that they wear the wristband for photo ops. We even finished a massive manuscript, and someday we might even finish sending out proposals for literary agents for it! (it’s very difficult to do that in our “spare time”) We’ve planned a convention, meet-ups, and we’re still friends! I can’t even imagine how many minutes we’ve spent on the phone together in total. I don’t know why we didn’t think of Skype a lot sooner, actually!  I’m sure there’s been thousands, if not tens of thousands of emails. There’s even been blood, and I honestly think we both have battle wound scars!! “Ho-Bag down, Ho-Bag down” (In New Orleans. Those damn curbs…) “Amanda, I think I split my head open…” (In Minneapolis. I was assaulted by a soap dish in the shower. Don’t ask…) We’ve sweat our way through gigs together, like the time we thought we were geniuses for only spending $25.00 on tickets to see this ridiculous band at the Voodoo Festival in New Orleans and stood in the hot sun for eleventh-million hours, braving crowd surfing, moshing, seeing someone get their teeth knocked out in front of us, and having the sweat of people we don’t even know smooshed onto our bodies. There have even been a few tears at times, mainly because this stupid band just does not get it. Or maybe they DO get it…  I’m really not sure anymore….and life in general sometimes really sucks. We’ve made it through not just one but two trips to the UK, getting lost in strange cities, walking for miles… She was there for me when my dad passed away and for about nine months I didn’t even know whether I was coming or going. I was there for her when Scott Walker turned her entire professional life upside down and she needed to vent. We’ve been there for each other throughout the process of this blog.  But we’ve been through it all together. There’s even been arguing between the two of us, but it is blessedly rare. (and really kind of remarkable given that although we may write halfway decently – the two of us are terrible at communicating with one another!) We have the sort of friendship that lasts through the good, bad and even the ugly.

The funniest thing about our friendship is that as much as I wanted to write this little note in tribute to Amanda and have it just be about  HER and our friendship, I can’t unweave the band out of it. If you look at nearly everything I’ve written, the band is honestly part of the thread that is our friendship. They are the reason we met, they’re much of the reason we talk on a weekly basis and email nearly daily. Yet, if the band ceased to exist, I can honestly say that Amanda and I would: 1. Need MASSIVE amounts of therapy.   2. We’d still be friends. I don’t know what in the hell we’d talk about all the time, but we’d find something. 🙂  That said, the band does not have our permission to quit.

The truth is, Amanda has taught me a lot about friendship. I don’t know if she realizes that, but it’s true.  There have been times when I just wanted to shut the world out, and she’s waited patiently.  When I am quick to react with anger, she is much more likely to be level-headed. When I’m sitting at home thinking that maybe we just can’t find common ground, Amanda is the one calling me to try and work things out. Mostly she has taught me that good friends don’t give up. They don’t just worry about themselves, and they don’t expect the world to revolve solely around their own needs.  Amanda is one of the least selfish people I know on this planet. She puts herself aside constantly so that she is better able to help others, and I really admire that about her.

Amanda knows things about me that no one else on this planet knows. She is my secret-keeper, my confidant, and in a lot of ways, even my protector. She tells me when I am completely out of my gourd, she calls me out when necessary, and she even encourages me in areas where I (still) have absolutely zero courage. I am blessed because if the world caved in around me, I know exactly whom I would call, and I have no doubt that she’d answer. Not many people can say that. There was once a time where I wouldn’t have dared traveled or bothered hanging out at strange sidewalk cafes (!!), or tried getting involved in a fan community – but I feel (mostly) completely comfortable (Ok, I’m totally lying – I’m still neurotic) because most of the time, Amanda is right with me. I won’t say I don’t need other friends, but I guess I would say that I’m lucky I already have one that I completely trust. Had we never met up with a single other Duranie (or Duran-member) in Los Angeles that night after the show at the Ace Theatre, I am 100% positive that we would have been fine. We’d have gone up to that rooftop bar, and laughed our way through the evening anyway. I never have to wonder what Amanda is saying about me behind my back or whether or not she’s going to ditch me so that she can find the band, or whether or not I’m going to be included when she plans events or wins tickets to things, or I-can’t-even-imagine-what-else. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even want to bother going to shows without her, and aside from the time where she literally hung out at a bar sandwiched between Roger Taylor on one side of her and Dom Brown on the other….while I was at home with my family in California (seriously, what is the irony there and why do these things happen when I’m not there!?!)….I think she feels the same. The distance is always a problem. sigh

I’m very, very glad you were born, Amanda!!  Hug your parents for me! I look forward to all the adventures that are yet to come, and I’m excited about coming to see you this summer, too.  I can’t wait to cheat on Duran Duran with Brandon Flowers (that sounded so much better in my head…)…and maybe we can even squeeze in a trip to Chicago. Let’s try really hard to figure out a way to go to the UK or Europe….because life is WAY too short and we need to LIVE. I hope you have a fantastic birthday with many more ahead!

Amanda & Rhonda Ace Rooftop

-R