Tag Archives: Duran Duran fandom

I’ve Been a Fan For How Long???!?

Last Sunday, Duran Duran celebrated a little anniversary.  The Reflex  was released 33 years ago that day.  33?!  Rhonda often talks about how she cannot believe that this song or this album was released decades ago and I’m right there with her.  In this case, this anniversary represents my personal anniversary.  I mark it as the date that I became a fan, a Duranie.  33 years ago.  I work with teachers who are younger than that.

Anyway, why does this particular song represent my embrace of Duranie-ness?  Simple.  While I remember liking many of their songs and videos before this one, the Reflex pushed me over the edge into obsession.  I couldn’t get enough.  I had to watch each time that the video played.  In fact, whenever I saw the video I had to call my best friend at the time and vice versa.  At our sleepovers, we were glued to Friday Night Videos and MTV in hopes that it would air.  We saw it so often that we learned all the moves.  In fact, I think I have a picture of my friend doing one of Simon’s classic dance moves.

When I think back to my childhood and doing things like memorizing moves or rewinding videotapes in order to pause when John Taylor turns to the camera, I can’t help but sit shaking my head a bit.  It is not that I think we did anything wrong or that we demonstrated our fandom in an obnoxious way.  It is more like I wish I could go back in time to see how I experienced my fandom then.  I have memories of it and some of them are very vivid, including the ones I shared here.  Part of me wishes that I could go back to that time when that love for Duran was so new and so amazing.

I always think of new fandom as being like that  “honeymoon phase” of a new relationship when you can’t get enough and no wrong is done.  It feels perfect.  As an adult, I now see the imperfections of both the band, the fans and even myself.  That flawless image cannot remain, just like it never does in a relationship either.  No one is perfect and fandom is not either.

The other part of myself wants to give some insight to the young, almost 9 year old me.  I want to warn, almost, the younger version of me about how media and others will criticize Duran Duran.  They will attempt to be the thumbtacks to my fandom balloon.  Perhaps, I would explain how as time goes on, changes happen.  Bands evolve and experience change.  Some of it will sting a bit but that the heart of Duran Duran will continue to beat on for decades.  I would want to ensure my younger self that I’m not wrong for becoming a Duranie.  Some points I might make include about their staying power and about the fabulous songs they wrote and performed after the current Seven and the Ragged Tiger album.

Beyond the band, I might point out where fandom took me personally.  Maybe, I would talk about the states and countries I have visited just to see the band live or about all of the friends I have made as a result.  Then, if my younger self handled all of that, I might share the fact that I have written a daily blog with my best friend about being a Duran fan for years.  Many years.

What do I think my younger self would say to all of this?  I imagine that I wouldn’t be shocked that the band has been around for decades.  I might laugh and say something like, “Of course they will be around!  Duh!”  As far the concert going goes, my 9 year old self would have struggled with that more.  After all, at that point, I hadn’t attended a single concert.  I could imagine that I would have questions and a couple of exclamations!  “Do you dance like the audience did in the Reflex?  Do you sing along?  What is it like to breath the same air as them?  I probably would pass out if I was anywhere near them.  Is John as cute as he looks?”  Then, my older self could blow my younger self’s mind when I tell her/me about how I have pictures of the band, that I have spoken to them and seen them up close.

As far as the blog goes, my younger self definitely would have been confused by that idea.  After all, I would not know anything about the internet for another decade.  Overall, though, I think I would have been in awe.  Jealous.  I would have been excited to grow up and have the experiences I shared.  After this conversation, the adult me, the real me might have remembered the feeling of pure joy and innocence that exists in brand new fandom.  Then, I will think about the love that can and does grow over time.  It isn’t despite the imperfections but because of them.  Fandom isn’t perfect and either is the band.  What it is, though, is mine.  I don’t mean that in a possessive, I’m the only one sort of way.  Just that Duran is a part of me, part of my history and always will be. Maybe, someday, I’ll be writing about my 43rd or 53rd anniversary of being a Duranie.  That might be just as cool as talking to my younger self.


Give Me Strength: Giving Appreciation

Yesterday was Thanksgiving.  I spent the day with my parents where we ate a full vegetarian meal, watched Star Trek Beyond and played some games.  It provided me necessary down time and the comfort of being with those who provide unconditional love and support.  Thanksgiving has never been my favorite holiday but I do appreciate having the time to stop and appreciate what one has in life.  This year, this feels more important than usual.

So, what am I grateful for?  I’ll start with the obvious.  I’m thankful for my family.  I have always felt very fortunate to have parents, in particular, who support me in so many ways.  Last year, at this time, my mom was finishing treatment for cancer and this year, she has been cancer free.  My father, who has a chronic illness, has been able to manage it better.  I’m thankful, then, that they are as healthy as can be and still able to be there for me.

This year, I also learned to really appreciate my job.  I often complain about the daily grind of education and teaching.  Don’t get me wrong.  Teaching is exhausting and requires far more work than a full time job.  I wish I could change that time commitment on top of all of the district, state and national demands and criticisms.  That said, my colleagues and my students have renewed my spirit in ways that they may never understand.  Now, I feel like we really are a big, weird dysfunctional family trying to make it through each day, each week, this school year and beyond together.

Of course, I am very grateful for my friendship with Rhonda.  While we may not live close to each other or are able to speak everyday, I know that she is supportive of me.  She may not always understand all of my choices or me of hers, yet, we still support each other.  At the end of the day, that foundation matters a lot.  It can overcome whatever challenges pop up–whether those are busy schedules, differing viewpoints or something else entirely.  Without this friendship, so much of what I have done in the name of fandom would have never taken place and I would have had a LOT less fun over the years.

This leads me ot appreciate Duran Duran and my fandom.  During this summer, Rhonda and I were able to attend a number of shows.  While I felt like I appreciated them then, now I really do.  I distinctly remember a moment at one of the shows this summer when I realized very clearly that there is nothing that brings me joy like being at a Duran Duran concert.  It is where I am the happiest.  Duran represents fun and good times.

The majority of my life is such that I’m serious a lot.  I work more than I should.  I focus my energy on being politically active.  No, those tasks don’t bring me joy in the traditional sense but what they do bring is immense satisfaction.  They bring a real purpose to my life.  I feel fulfilled when students really learn something and when they become politically active themselves.  The high that results from fighting in some sort campaign cannot be easily explained.  I cannot walk away from that aspect of myself.  Yet, Duran, fandom and fun provides the necessary infusion of energy and joy that keeps me going.  I need both in my life.

I then look forward to the two trips I have coming up to Washington D.C.  At the end of the year, I’ll venture there to see Duran Duran play a couple of shows and I will get the burst of energy and good times that I need.  Then, I’ll return to the city a couple weeks later to march in the Women’s March on Washington.  I am grateful to all that will make both happen from my colleagues, to my friends, to my parents, to Duran Duran and to other activists.  I appreciate them all.


Friends in Fandom

As you might be able to tell, Rhonda and I have been thinking a lot about our early fandom.  We have been pondering how and why we became Duran Duran fans when we did, as kids.  Of course, we can talk about the catchy songs or the very cool videos that whisked us away from our sometimes less than fun childhoods.  All of that would be true.  Yet, when I really start to think about fandom, both then and now, one aspect becomes glaringly obvious.  Friends matter.  They matter big time.

As long time readers of this blog know, my first fandom wasn’t really Duran Duran.  Well, Duran was my first individual, self-chosen fandom.  It was the first one that I found outside of my family, but the first one ever was my White Sox fandom.  My family constantly had their baseball games on.  Unlike many/most people, I don’t remember my first live major league baseball game.  I went to my first game when I was very young, way too young to remember.  In fact, if I asked my parents when I went to my first baseball game, they wouldn’t know because going to games was so common.

Even though, I’m long beyond childhood, I’m still a Sox fan.  I always will be.  I still go over to my parents’ house to watch games and I’m not surprised when the Sox come up in conversation with family.  When something awesome happens with a game or the team, my family gets in contact with each other.  For example, when the Sox won the World Series in 2005, after my parents and I were done literally jumping up and down with joy, we called my sister and my brother to celebrate with them.  Thus, I can’t separate my Sox fandom from my family.  They made me a fan and they keep me a fan.

When I was about 8 years old, I became a Duran Duran fan.  I don’t really remember the exact song or video that I heard first.  I know that I listened to Top 40 radio and loved having MTV on in our TV room.  My childhood best friend, Beth, did, too.  Thinking back, I know that I liked what songs I heard and saw but I don’t think I became a fan until Beth and I talked about the band.  I have no clue who mentioned the band first but once that conversation happened, we were definite fans.  I often state how the Reflex made me a dedicated fan.  After all, the song and video became extremely popular in 1984 and it featured one seriously good-looking John Taylor.  While Beth and I drooled over John Taylor, we reinforced our newly formed fandom by constantly watching and talking about him.

We frequently exchanged phone calls whenever the video aired on MTV.  Soon enough, we searched to find the best magazines to buy and share with the other person.  The two of us spent many hours at Beth’s house watching Sing Blue Silver over and over on video since her family purchased their first VCR months before my family did.  With every fan activity we did, our fandom grew stronger.  Our friendship did, too.  We shared a common love, a common passion.  Our get togethers had a theme, a reason for happening.

Unfortunately, life circumstances separated us, geographically.  My dad’s job forced my family to move about 70 miles away.  While we tried desperately to remain best friends, distance made it tough, especially once her family moved as well making our separation even more substantial.  Our lives no longer could surround our friendship with each other or our Duran Duran fandom.  School and other activities drew us away despite our phone calls and weekend get togethers.

I distinctly remember a phone call I made to Beth in 1986 or 1987.  During that call, Beth told me matter-of-factly that she had taken down her Duran posters and was “moving on”.  My spirit was crushed.  I already felt isolated and an outsider in my new hometown.  Knowing that Beth still loved what I loved gave me the strength to be the weird one, the outsider.  At that moment, I felt incredibly alone and so uncool.  Was there something wrong with me, I wondered.  Should I, too, be moving on?  Was it wrong of me to continue to love this band?  I didn’t know.

I attempted to maintain my fandom.  For example, I bought Notorious as soon as it came out and tried to love it as much as I did the previous albums.  Fandom activities remained as I still searched for magazines and watched MTV for new videos and news but soon found myself losing interest.  Not having anyone to talk to about Duran took a lot of the fun away.  Soon, I found myself searching for a new interest that would fulfill the gaping hole of my heart.  That search lead me to other bands like Depeche Mode or even Skinny Puppy but none really grabbed me as my Duran did.

Once adulthood hit, I began to go beyond bands but looked for other forms of entertainment to grab me.  I focused on Star Trek for awhile as I figured that would bring me closer to my brother, which it did.  Yet, that didn’t provide the same level of excitement that Duran did as a kid.  Then, a little show called Roswell began to air on TV, focusing on a group of outsiders.  Something deep inside of me could relate to that feeling of not belonging, of being a perpetual outsider despite appearing to fit in.  The interest grew, leading me to seek out others who loved the show like I did.  As I formed connections with other fans, my passion grew.  Finally, I felt something like what I had as a kid.

Unfortunately, the show did not last long but some of the friendships I made during its run have.  In fact, my friends from that fandom are coming out for a weekend in a couple of weeks.  In the case of this fandom, the demise of the show led for all of us to pull away from it slowly, but collectively.  I didn’t feel the same sense of isolation and otherness as I did when Beth pulled back from her Duran fandom.  Perhaps, part of the reason for that is because I also rediscovered Duran Duran at the same time.  Maybe, the pull back from the fandom did not feel like a rejection of me, which in many ways is what Beth leaving Duran felt like.

Since then, my focus truly has been my Duran Duran fandom.  Despite this focus, other interests periodically grab me and threaten to pull me in.  For example, I was super excited when X-Files returned as that is a show that I have dearly loved.  During those new episodes, I found myself seeking out other fans, but no real connections were made.  Will my interest increase if there is a season 11?  Of course.  Will I seek out other fans then?  I suspect that it is possible.  That said, I believe that my passion will be temporary, though, unless real connections are made with other fans.

When I think about fandom throughout my life, the only logical conclusion I can have is that friends are essential to me diving deep into an interest.  They also help to maintain fandom for me over time.  In thinking about Duran Duran, I have to wonder if I would have become this hardcore had I not found Rhonda.  Would I still be as passionate about them today without her or other friends I have made?  Would I feel that same sense of isolation and loneliness if Rhonda were to leave the fandom like I did when Beth did?  I suspect I would.

Clearly, for me, friendship and fandom have gone hand-in-hand and will continue to do so.  What about the rest of you?  Is that true for you?  If not, how do you keep your interest in a fandom up without others to feed off of?


I’m Not Alone: Fandom Ends Isolation

Last week, Rhonda posted a blog about why she became a fan, which you can read here.  In that blog, she discussed how she felt like a bit of a misfit in school and didn’t really feel connected to other kids her age.  Being a Duran fan meant that she was included for the first time.  Interestingly enough, a few of our friends responded to that blog stating similar stories.  Words like “misfit” or “outsider” seem to fit many Duranie stories of when and why they became fans.

This got me thinking.  I wonder how many Duranies who became fans as kids felt like they belonged before becoming fans.  How many Duranies were popular as kids?  Or is being a misfit or an outsider a common experience for Duran Duran fans?

Like Rhonda and other friends of ours, I never felt like I fit in as a kid. I have very distinct memories of kindergarten, for example.  For some reason, I was banished from the jungle gym.  I didn’t know why (and still don’t).  That said, I had a friend in that class that vouched for me, who convinced the others to let me climb on.  That person became my childhood best friend.  In fact, when I think of my early childhood (ages 5-12), she is the only friend who comes to mind.  While I know that there were other kids who came over or who I played with, for me, my friendship with Beth was so much more.

By the end of 1st grade, we no longer attended the same elementary school as our school closed and we were split.  That didn’t stop us as our parents were willing and able to arrange for us to get together.  Beth and I did everything together.  We hung out every weekend, playing in our made up store or playing with her dog, Wendy.  Together, we discovered the pop culture trends of the early 80s.  B-96, Chicago’s Top 40 radio station played in the back ground often on while we hung out.  This allowed us the opportunity to learn about what music was cool. I’m sure this is how we heard Duran Duran for the first time.

I’m not sure who decided that they liked Duran Duran first.  Although, if I had to guess, it was probably Beth.  While I might have been thinking that, I was (and am) pretty shy about what I like.  After having been shunned from classmates and having been made fun of more than once by older siblings about my likes, I learned to keep a lot to myself.  Yet, once we declared our love for the band, we definitely reinforced each other.

From there, of course, our fandom was expressed in much of the same way as all other Duranies of the 80s.  We listened to the radio and became glued to the TV once both of us got MTV.  When Beth’s family got their VCR before my family did, we spent many hours watching and rewatching videos and Sing Blue Silver in her family room.  Our bedrooms became wallpapered with Duran posters.  Interestingly enough, both of us decided that John was our favorite and we were okay with that.  For me, I always felt that it meant that I had good taste and that my choice would not only be accepted but supported.

Sounds like my childhood was great, right?  Outside of school, it often was.  I had great parents and a close family as well as an awesome best friend.  At school, though, I was never accepted.  It seemed that every grade brought new opportunities to be teased at school.  When I tried to be creative or clever at school, I found myself being made fun of.  It didn’t help that I was a good student.  In fact, in early elementary school, I knew that I was one of the best students with older siblings who definitely held reputations of being beyond bright.

At times, I really struggled with the isolation of school and the fear of being teased.  Yet, for some reason, I didn’t try to blend.  I didn’t try to hide or fit in.  One reason is that I thought no matter what I did or said, I would never fit in so why try?  Instead, I tried to embrace my strong academic skills and I proudly declared my Duranie status.  In some way subtle ways, I’m sure that I dared my classmates to keep coming after me.  Looking back, I think I felt that my friendship with Beth and my intelligence shielded me or would save me.

Of course, this means that I spent a lot of time and energy trying to keep up my friendship and my good grades.  I put a lot of pressure on myself, academically, and constantly worried about my friendship lasting instead of just enjoying it.  I strongly believed that if we always had Duran Duran between us, then our friendship would last.  Duran Duran took a great friendship and bonded us for life, I believed.

Unfortunately, both of us moved away from our little suburb.  Beth moved north and I moved west.  For awhile, we kept in touch and tried to get together for weekends.  Duran remained a constant fixture for awhile.  Then, one day, Beth told me that she took her posters down and was moving on from the band.  (You all can imagine when this was–probably 1987, if I remember correctly.)  Panic gripped me.  Would our friendship last?  Would I be strong enough without the fandom shield to face the even worse harassment of my new town?

To make a long story short, Beth and I eventually lost touch as friends who move away from each other often do.  The bullying of the new town increased and became pretty unbearable.  While I was a misfit in my Chicago suburb, I was the devil to the small town.  Needless to say, there were a number of really tough years.  I do remember trying to hold onto my Duran fandom but recognizing that it wasn’t going to bring me the friend(s) that I desperately wanted.  I’m sure that it won’t surprise many of you that I then turned a little or a lot darker in both my musical tastes and my look for a few years after that.

In thinking back to my story, to Rhonda’s story, to stories shared by friends, it seems to me that many Duranies who became fans as kids felt like they were misfits.  Becoming Duranies often brought or kept friendships that are so important for all kids, but especially for kids who don’t fit in.  Again, I have to wonder if all Duranies had similar experiences.  Other questions, then, come to mind.  Did we all become Duran fans because there was something about them that spoke to us as misfits?  Was there something we recognized in them as misfits or was it is simply a situation of right time, right place?  Did we all become Duranies because we all needed something and they happened to be popular then?

Clearly, I have a lot more to think about and a lot more to figure out.  What do the rest of you think?  Were you all outsiders as kids?  Do you think you became a fan simply because of the band being so popular or is there something that attracts misfits to them?



Split Personality

The  end of a tour usually brings thinking and introspection.  This summer tour is no exception.  In fact, it might have brought more, especially since I go back to work next week.  Yes, the school year officially starts for me even though the kiddos don’t arrive until September 1st.  The classroom needs to get ready.  Lesson plans need to get written.  Adjustments to curriculum are required.  Despite the fact that I have been teaching a LONG time (this will be my 19th year!), I still don’t feel like I have the beginning of the year smooth.  Perhaps, I wonder if the lack of intensity is to blame.

I remember being a kid or even a young adult and feeling determined to figure out exactly who I was and where I needed to be.  Should I commit myself to being an activist, I asked in college.  A teacher should focus 110% of the time on one’s classroom and students, I believed early on in my career.  Where and how does fandom fit in with all of this, I periodically asked.  Yet, I felt that I had to choose ONE.  There was only one path that led to personal success.  Success required intensity and extreme focus.
As I have gotten older, I began to see and feel life with more complexity.  Yes, I’m a teacher and, yes, there are parts that I LOVE about the job.  I love when my students get into a serious debate over political issues of our time or the moves that were made by the United States throughout history are discussed.  My favorite moments are when I see my students’ passionately engaged in a topic.  Unfortunately, I’m well-aware of aspects of my job that I feel less (in some cases, much less) excited about.  I am not a big fan of meetings filled with educational jargon about the latest trends that will supposedly increase student achievement.  Grading is time consuming and often painful.  I despise the amount of time and energy this “full-time” job takes.  During the school year, I desperately long for breaks or at least a day away from school related work.  Teaching is not my whole life and it is NOT the defining characteristic of who I am.  It is one part of who I am.
Beyond teaching, I can be a political activist.  At times, that has meant diving deep to work on specific political campaigns or for specific candidates.  At other times, it means joining a protest or two about issues that matter to me.  It almost always means that I’m watching politically focused shows and reading the latest news.  Many conversations with friends and colleagues feature political discussions.  Yet, like teaching, it is not who I am but a part of who I am.
Likewise, fandom is a part of who I am.  It is just as big of a part as teaching or being an activist.  The commitment I have made with regards to this blog or our various projects show that.  If it didn’t matter to me, I simply wouldn’t do it.  I wouldn’t take the time to read the latest Duran news and the reactions from fans.  I wouldn’t write about Duran or the fandom surrounding the band.  There would be no Duranie focused event planning for me.  Is everything about it perfect?  Of course not.  Just like in teaching or campaigning, there are elements that frustrate me, that I don’t like.  Do those negative aspects affect what I do with my fandom?  It can and does.  I’m only human.
Sometimes, I think I would be a better teacher or activist or fan whatever you want to call it if I would focus on just that aspect of myself and my life.  I wouldn’t be distracted by the other two.  I wouldn’t be split into thirds.  Maybe this singular focus would help make my good teaching great or make my political activities so much more affective.  The laser focus might improve this blog or my writing or the fan events we plan.  Yet, I also know that I’m wouldn’t be happy just doing one over the other two.  Some aspect of my personality needs all three or a FORM of all three.  Do I have to be in a classroom to enjoy teenagers engaging with historical topics?  No.  Do I have to be writing a blog to be a good fan organizer/writer?  Probably not. Yet, I would need something like those examples.
Does my participation with all three hurt my performance, actively hurt it?  Maybe.  Some think so.  Then, the question becomes how do I make myself happy (while still paying my bills) by acknowledging all three aspects of myself without harming or muting what I could be doing with these three ambitions?  How can I commit myself more to them, individually, while maintaining all?  How do I make it so the lack of time and energy from doing all doesn’t kill the reason I love these?  I need to find a way to show and maintain my passion for all three to be the most effective and most happy.  While I feel as though I have accepted the complexity of myself and my passions, I feel like I struggle to keep those passions AS passions or struggle to show them as passions.  My goal for this year is to figure out how to do just that.  Clearly, it won’t be easy but I have a feeling that it will definitely be worth it!

Caught in a Landslide

Yesterday, our first leg of the tour officially ended as I dropped Rhonda off at Midway airport before making my way back home to Wisconsin.  As I drove, thoughts turned to the tour and how quickly it went by.  The days, nights and shows flew by, which I expected but was still found frustrating.  I wanted to enjoy each and every moment and I tried desperately to do that, but time moved too fast.  It felt like I blinked and then it was gone.  Over.  Done.

Duran Duran and the band’s related side and solo projects provided the soundtrack to the drive.  The song Last Chance on the Stairway came on and many of the lyrics captured my attention despite it being a song that I have known for over thirty years.  Lines like, “caught in a landslide,” “the party runs on all night,” “I don’t even know what you’re drinking..” all reminded me of touring.

The traveling from place to place, going from show to show, enjoying drinks and parties in different cities all work together to create the landslide for me.  There is no time really to think, to question much.  You just got to go to move on to what is next.  Now, this tour allowed us more time to think than most.  We didn’t have to leave for our next destination immediately following a show as we had days, in between shows at times, which was nice.  Despite the extra time, I still had the same feeling of being pushed along due to the forces of nature, or in our case, the Duran Duran force.

Now, I’m sure that there are many people who wouldn’t like that feeling.  Heck, I’m surprised that I do considering that I often like to control…well…quite a bit.  I do enough planning before to give me a sense of control, but then I try to just let the tour take me.  As soon as Rhonda and I meet up during a tour, it doesn’t take long for the vortex to pull us in as drinks and laughter start to flow.  The real world occasionally tries to bring us out with national or world events.  Sometimes, our families try to bring us back to reality with messages or less-than-thrilled attitudes.  The pull of touring, though, is strong and most of those attempts don’t work until our tour is over.

With every tour, the end always feels abrupt despite usually having some time after the last show to get ready to rejoin the real world.  This time, we had a whole day to drive from Toronto to Chicago to get ourselves back into real life mode.  Yet, I still felt the change immediately upon dropping Rhonda off at the airport.  The end.  Over.  I thought I wouldn’t notice it as much since I’ll be flying to her neck of the woods in nine days for the second leg.  I did, though.  I felt it even with the very best of circumstances for me.  I do have more touring to come.  I don’t have to work this week (or today, which is usually what I have to do the day after I return from touring).

I do feel some level of contentment sitting in my own living room, after having gotten quite a bit of sleep in my own bed.  I loved being able to pet my cat and I prefer not living out of a suitcase, but part of me that truly loves being in that touring vortex, that landslide where I don’t think too much, where I just feel and experience, where fun and good times are the focus.  While I know that this week will be spent getting things together from when I was gone and gearing up for the next leg, I know that, somehow, I need to prepare myself emotionally for that next time I am pulled from the touring landslide.  That time won’t represent just a break in between legs of a tour, but probably the beginning of a long touring drought.


Top 10 Reasons for Tour Excitement: Part 2!

Last week, I gave a list of what I am excited about when it comes to touring.  The list included:  Our meet-ups, meeting new people, seeing old friends, having late nights at clubs and bars, following tour traditions, getting out of town, seeing new places, laughing with Rhonda and more.  If you want to read all of the details, go here.  That said, I promised a part 2 that would focus on what I’m looking forward to when it comes to the shows themselves.

Hearing new songs on the setlist (HA!)

Aww…I couldn’t resist.  I’m a hopeless optimist.  I will continue to hope until the very last song at my very last show that they will mix up the setlist some.  Adding in one new song a night, maybe?  Anything?  Please.  If you are reading this, Duran Duran, Rhonda and I will help you out.  We will tweet out some suggested set lists soon!

Confetti in Pressure Off

One aspect of this current tour and set list that I do love is the confetti during Pressure Off.


You all knew that this was going to be on the list, right?  The DoJo (Dom and John for those not in the know!) brings together my favorite and Rhonda’s favorite.  It is so good that it actually makes a song like Hungry like the Wolf one to almost look forward to!

Laughing at John’s dancing in Danceophobia

Much like DoJo helps with HLTW, John’s dancing is what makes Danceophobia work for me live!  I am so very entertained by all of his moves!

Laughing at Simon’s dancing during the whole show

While John really only makes me laugh during Danceophobia, Simon’s dancing provides much laughter during the whole show.  Aww…you all know that I only tease because I love!


As much as I like to tease and I do, I also really, really appreciate any and all moments of JoSi.  Perhaps, in fact, John and Simon might want to increase the JoSi during this summer leg of the Paper Gods tour.  Just sayin’.

Hoping for something extra to entertain 

Every show has a chance for a little extra moment of entertainment, of fun. For example, just recently in Italy, Simon lost the microphone.  While that is funny enough, I love that someone not only recorded the moment but enhanced the moment with this little video!

Hoping that we have perfected the ability to avoid

There are a couple of moments during the show that we don’t necessarily look forward to.  For example, I like to avoid the finger licking during Come Undone if that is even still being done.  I’ve gotten pretty good at recognizing when it is coming so that I can look away.  Likewise, Rhonda and I know exactly when Simon is going to spray the crowd in the “spit zone” during the song, White Lines.  Now, we just have to hope that we know exactly how to ensure that we don’t get sprayed!

Singing, dancing, clapping with the band and the rest of the crowd

Of course, one of the aspects of Duran Duran concerts that I love is that so much of any crowd not only knows the songs but can and do participate.  When it really works, it is magical.

Experiencing that concert high

Duran Duran concerts give the concert high like no other.  During the show, real life, problems, concerns all wash away, at least for a little while.  At the end, most people want more.  Another encore.  Another show.  Another tour.  I’m sure these shows will continue the pattern.


Interviews: Why Go to Multiple Shows??

The next leg of Duran Duran’s Paper Gods Tour begins in less than two weeks.  I know a lot of people hold tickets to various shows but there has been a lot more grumbling for this tour.  Many people aren’t very happy about shorter shows as the band used to play for a solid two hours and now…they are more likely to play for 90 minutes.   On top of that, many people are really not excited by the lack of variety in the set lists.  In fact, I know a bunch of people who opted NOT to get tickets for this leg because of these complaints.  Others have stated that they won’t be buying tickets for the next tour unless they play longer and mix it up a bit more.  Trust me, when I say that I can totally see people’s points.  After all, people want to know that they are getting their money’s worth.  I am no different and part of me wonders if I should not have bought as many tickets for summer shows as I did.  So, I did what I often do in these situations, I turned to other Duranies.  In this case, I asked a couple of my European friends who attended a bunch of shows about why they did.

I met Anu and Rie in the UK in 2011 and am grateful that they were willing to share their thoughts about the current state of Duran Duran live and their fandom.  Here is what I asked of them along with their responses.

1.   Can you give a little background in your Duran Duran fandom?  When did you become a fan?  How long have you been a fan?  What did you like about them?  What do you like about them now?

Rie:   “I became a fan in late 1984, when I was 10 years old.  I have been a fan ever since.  I love the music and I also like the personalities (and looks) of the band members.  That was what I liked back then and still is.

Anu:  “I’ve been fan since May 1982.  Hungry Like The Wolf was the song that caught my attention during school’s music class – teacher had requested us to bring fav music to be played to others and HLTW was choice of my classmate.  Went to record shop that afternoon and came back with Rio and Duran Duran. ?  I like their dedication to music including art and visuals.  The looks, graphics, designs and music – the combination has been well thought during the years.  Also the dedication of making music.  A long process to create new music since that includes lot of jamming and finding right tunes.  Naturally themselves as persons.  In the beginning it was the music & looks.  Now it’s grown into respect of a long career and appreciation of them as musicians.”

(I could totally relate to these reasons and I bet many of you reading can, too!)

2.  How many shows have you seen on the Paper Gods Tour?

Rie:  “6 in the UK in December 2015, 2 in Italy in June 2016 and one festival show in Denmark June 2016.”  (I added that up to be 9 total.)

Anu:  “If Night at the Park festival in Den Haag, Holland in June 2016 is counted then 16.  Pressure Off was expected live for that festival gig, but they ended up playing it from tape as opening just before DD got on stage.  Apart from that, 7 on UK tour in December 2015, 4 in US in April 2016, 3 in Italy June 2016, and 1 the one festival in Denmark in June 2016.”

3.  Did you go with the same people each time?

Rie: “More or less.  It was the same group of fans but I didn’t sit/stand with the same people at all the shows.”

Anu:  “With Duranies met on the road along the years, yes!  Not always with the same people, but the shared experience is an important part of going to the shows.”

4. What was your favorite show during this tour and why?

Rie:  “London or Milan because of the fantastic atmosphere.  The band performs better when the crowd are really into it.  Aarhus was also very special to me because I had my 10 year old son with me for the first time.”

Anu:  “Mohegan Sun, CT in US. because of the hugely enthusiastic crowd, Nile Rodgers & Chic playing before DD, and that itself did not feel as opening act but as a full show on it’s own.  The crowd was singing along, dancing and clapping from first Chic song to the end of Rio!  The energy from audience is directly mirrored by DD in their performance, relaxation on stage, jokes, interaction with each other, and as interaction with audience.  It is so fun to watch, listen and be part of!

We also got upgrade of seats from the upper tier seated area to very good seats on floor.  ‘Since you have traveled from so far, we have taken the liberty of upgrading your seats’ was the venue’s sales manager’s reason . ??

Have to say Milano was fabulous too!  Fantastic ending to an intense Italian tour.  The crowd was loud and energetic which made difference in the performance too! We were in the seated area quite far from stage.  And once DD came on stage majority of the seated section stood up and remained standing.  The dancing and jumping was so intense that he whole seated areas was wobbling under us. And when you share eye contact in the shouts like ‘Wild Boys’ ‘Cain’ ‘Sugar’ ‘Switch it off!’ with total strangers and laughter after, you know you are amongst dedicated Duranies even though you’ve never met them before.  Fiercely enthusiastic and participating crowd.

And as said the Band catches the energy of the audience, and that is directly linked to their performance.  Those were fantastic shows also because the Band were in high energy and played solid!”

5.  What was your least favorite show during this tour and why?

Rie:  “Brighton I think.  I have seen them so many times now that I can’t enjoy it as much if I don’t have a really good seat/standing position (and I didn’t have that in Brighton).  I like to have some kind of interaction with the band that you can’t have the same way from a distance.”

Anu:  “I’d say O2, London.  It’s a big arena, and seemed that part of the intensity of the show was lost.  Audience was mixed, and I felt that it was not as intensely involved as in the smaller venues. However, for the Band London is home ground nowadays.  The show was good, fun and with loud singing from audience.  Just not one of the best in my books for Paper Gods tour.”

6.  Why did you decide to go to multiple shows?

Rie:  “It’s the whole thing about it.  I compare it to following a football team (except Duran wins every time).  The travelling, the meeting up with other fans, the excitement of queuing (lining) up and running to the front (I prefer GA).  Even though the concert is still the main purpose of the trip it wouldn’t be the same without the other things.  I have seen so many places and met so many cool people I wouldn’t otherwise have met.”

Anu:  “It’s not just a Duran Duran concert I’m going to.  It’s the people I travel with, the travel itself, the waiting, anticipation, meeting other fans, and sharing the experience.  The shows are what I travel for, but it contains so much else.

On Paper Gods tour UK shows are on their home ground and that is special with home audiences.  US shows, because I wanted to see the difference of home and US shows, and was very pleasantly surprised of the audience participation.  And Nile Rodgers & Chic as part of the shows, was of course another reason.  Italian shows, simply because of holiday in sun and enthusiastic crowds!”

7.  What would you say to the fans who are frustrated by the shorter show (time wise) and lack of variety in the set list?

Rie:  “In the UK the set list wasn’t short so to answer the question I speak mainly for the festival shows.  For a hard core fan like me I wish the set would be longer and with more album tracks but at festivals 1) The set is always shorter, goes for all bands and 2) There is a greater amount of “casual fans” at festivals than at ordinary concerts.  They come mainly to hear the hits.  It gives a better atmosphere at the show if the majority of the crowd know the songs. Sometimes they do vary though.  In Aarhus they decided last minute to play Reflex instead of Save a Prayer b/c it was a crowd who wanted to dance.”

Anu:  “Shorter set list is sometimes needed due to e.g. time restrictions as is typical for festivals.  On those occasions it’s a given fact.  The Band still discusses the setlist before every show since the ones appearing after have a clear mark of version x, y or z on them. For bands that have such a long history it’s a question of balancing the shows with of old and new songs.

One could also say that if the show is solid, keeps audiences dancing and singing, provides great entertainment, then why change the formula.  It’s a different crowd every eve, and that makes a difference to the performance.

In the last show I went, in Aarhus Denmark NorthSide festival, DD had been given time 1,5 hours to perform.  They started in Durantime … about 5 mins late.  When their stage time was over, I could see festival staff going around on one side of stage showing signs of time / cut off.  That was when they were playing the Reflex. When John saw it, he clearly said “No, one more”.  And they went on to play Rio.”

What Did I Learn/Think:

I wouldn’t say that I learned a ton, but I will say that I was reminded of a few things.  First, both of my friends reminded me about the importance of the audience.  They seem to imply that the audience matters more than the actual setlist.  If the crowd is into it, the band has more energy, interacts more, etc.  I’m hoping that I have GREAT audiences for the shows I’m going to.  That said, I also hope that the band pushes the audiences to be awesome.  I know that Rhonda and I hope that our pre show meet-ups will help to increase the crowd’s energy.

Second, I was reminded that traveling to go to a Duran show is WAY more than the band.  It is about seeing new places and meeting up with old friends and new ones.  It is about being with people who just “get it.”  I don’t have to explain why Duran Duran is good.  People at Duran shows know that.

I’m still not totally convinced that the band shouldn’t mix up the setlist, no matter how tight of a set they are playing.  That said, I will go to my shows with an open-mind.  Duran Duran could absolutely convince me that they are right in this decision by playing the BEST concerts of their lives.  I challenge them to be the best they can be.  That’s right, Duran Duran, I am saying, “Bring it.”  Then, at the end of the summer, I will respond to these questions myself and am hopeful that I am as positive as my friends are.


My Heart It Screams: The Book Writing Process

Today marks the second blog I have written in months.  In many ways it feels much, much longer than that.  Yet, I have thought about writing this particular blog post many times throughout the book writing process when I had the chance or took the time to stop and really think.  Think of this post as reflection, as my processing through, or whatever you really want to call it.  These thoughts/conclusions/ideas are in no particular order and I apologize in advance for the length.  Like Rhonda, I can be a bit “wordy”.

Nightmare Schedule

As I sit on my couch on a lazy Saturday morning, part of me wonders what is on my list of things to do.  I always have one.  Today’s list consists of what to clean since I’m still way behind on that as well as what I should be doing to get ready to go on tour.  That said, there is no pressure to get any or all of it done, which feels weird.  Before this week, my schedule from March on was a complete nightmare.  Teaching is hard enough.  It exhausts me to put on a show for 5 hours a day only to have lesson planning and grading that never ends.  Then, I would come home to write (and to grade or lesson plan).  I literally worked all day, everyday.  Yes, I took some breaks to be social, to sleep, but not much.  I’m not going to lie.  There were many days that I sat on my chair in my office, literally in tears over how exhausted I felt.  Yet, I knew that I had to keep going.  I pushed and pushed even when my brain and body wanted to shut down.  That said, for the next book, I hope we give ourselves more breathing room.


Believe it or not, this type of schedule wasn’t totally new for me.  I experienced a similar amount of work when I was campaigning on top of teaching.  Yet, this type of work was, in many ways, more challenging for me.  It was often done in solitude with the exception of text messages from that writing partner of mine.  As someone who works in a VERY social setting, it was hard for me to keep working when it was quiet and I was by myself.  At school, it is never quiet and I’m lucky if I get 25 minutes of solo work time a day.  When I’m in front of the kids, I have to pump myself up or they eat me alive.  I had none of that with writing.

That isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy the writing process (I’ll get to that)–just that it was challenging for me in many ways, too.  That said, like campaigning and teaching, at the end of the process, when we sent the manuscript off, I felt such a surge of pride.  Pride that we saw it through.  Pride that we saw it through TOGETHER and pride at the quality.  The one area of my life that I have always felt competent in is through work.  This book reinforced that, no matter what happens from here.  I may not be the most successfully social person but I know that I can work hard and can accomplish great things when I put my energy there.

Creative Process/Openness

As Rhonda has mentioned, I believe, the version of the book we just sent to the publisher is vastly different than the first one.  I would describe the first one as safe.  It required a lot of research, organizing, outlining, etc.  We could hold the topic of fandom at arm’s length, not sharing much about ourselves or our personal fandom.  For me, personally, this is a realm that I feel comfortable in. I liked doing research in college and grad school.  My social science background got some use.  Then, of course, we decided to go at the topic from a different angle, a more personal one.  In fact, we started a second way then changed to a third way.  For the first time in my life, I found myself second guessing my work.  Again, I question myself socially all the time but I don’t at work.  I’m confident in my choices, my decisions–no matter if those decisions happen in my classroom or on the campaign trail.  Yet, now, I wondered.  I questioned and pondered up until a few days before we sent it.  Did we do this the right way?  Are we sharing too much?  More importantly, did I share too much?  That is never easy for me.

As some of you may know, my mother is an artist.  She creates these amazing fiber art pieces, often combining fabric with other materials.  A part of me always wished to be her and to be that creative.  I always joke, though, that I can’t be because my father is more scientific, more analytical, more anal.  He has a math/science brain.  This combination produced three kids who all went into social sciences, which allowed for the analysis that my father is comfortable with but isn’t as black or white as a hard science.  I never felt like I could live like an artist with the struggle of baring one’s soul.  While our book is still non-fiction and still has academic elements to it, it is also creative in how we approached fandom.  It also required me letting go more than I usually do and to be more open than I am normally, like most art does.

I do believe that the process was good for me.  I pushed myself in ways that needed to be pushed.


Whenever Rhonda and I work on a project, I’m always amazed at how well we work together, whether that is this blog, our book, or fan events.  Our commitment to our friendship and to our work keeps us going, keeps us focused on the goal.  At times, it isn’t always easy.  We both have strong feelings about what is needed and sometimes those ideas clash.  During this process, there were times that I needed her to step in with a part I was working on and times that she needed me to.  We were in constant communication during the past few months–often not even bothering with greetings but moving right to “business”.  As we often say, we did what must be done and still live to call each other friends at the end of the day.    That said, I’m really looking forward to spending time together as friends, not writing partners but as two people who like each other.  We deserve to have FUN and I’m ready to laugh my way through most of July!!


Beyond being and feeling incredibly thankful for having a great writing partner who kept me on track, pushed me to be the best writer I could be, I am also thankful for a few people who personally helped with this little project of ours.  (I know this is what an acknowledgement page is for–I don’t want to wait!)

First, I have to thank our friend, Heather, who read every single word, providing feedback on content as well as line-by-line refinement.  We couldn’t have done it without her.  I am especially grateful to her.  Let me share a little story.  Early on in the rewrite process, I finished a chapter on the 1980s.  I had spent a lot of time on it, brought in some great references, put Duran Duran fandom in context.  I felt confident until Heather read it.  Her feedback implied that parts of it were…boring.  Oh shit.  I don’t and can’t have that!  I knew that something needed to be changed but I couldn’t figure it out.  Fast forward a couple of weeks.  I woke up in the morning, needing to get ready for work when an idea struck me, one that wouldn’t let go.  I suddenly realized what Heather’s point really meant and knew that we should again shift how we were writing this book.  By ten am, I was texting Rhonda begging for a conference call causing us to start all over again, requiring us to throw out some of the new chapters we had written.  (I’m sure that Rhonda wanted to kill me that day and days after!  Thank goodness, we live far away from each other!)  I have to believe that Heather’s feedback festered in my brain until I knew what needed to be done.  I thank her for that (assuming that the third version is the best one!).

Second, I also have to thank my brother for feedback on some chapters, too.  It wasn’t easy for me to ask him since he is much older than me and I never felt equal to him.  (He points out his Ph.D. a little bit more than I would like, sometimes!)  That said, his feedback gave me confidence that we were on the right track.

Lastly, I have to thank my parents.  Their unwavering support and confidence in my abilities helped the most when I was struggling with a part or a chapter.  I know that a lot of people think they have the best parents but I know that I really do.

Now, we wait for feedback from the publisher and focus on having some fun.  I hear some Duran shows are in our near future!


Almost Impossible for Fans to Become Friends

Late last week we were treated to the return of airwaves by a Mr. John Taylor. He was interviewed for a Toronto radio station – Boom97.3 – and you can hear that interview here.

I’d encourage fans to give it a listen because it’s quite a lively, entertaining 15 minutes or so! John sounded great, and I daresay he even sounded excited about getting back out on the road.

I won’t ruin the entire interview for everyone – but I will touch on one subject that had several talking on Twitter and Facebook last week. The topic of Bowie had been brought up, and John responded by talking about his influence on the band and how they had known him for quite some time. He then made the statement that when you’re a fan, there’s never really any getting past that.

“It’s almost impossible, in my experience, that once you’ve been a fan, to become a friend.”

Context, of course, is important. They were talking about Bowie and how the band had toured with him and were able to see him over that length of time. John’s argument is that of course, once you have someone on that pedestal and you look up to them in that “fan” sort of way, you always will.  I think his intention here was that although they’d hung out with Bowie many times over the years, they still looked up to him and saw him as their hero. Very reasonable feelings to have. But does that mean John feels the same about fans in general – such as his own?

Here’s the thing: I don’t know the answer here. I’m a fan. Not a friend. I don’t know any of them beyond the people I see on stage. Hell, I’m even behind many of you in that department because I’ve only just gotten pictures with a couple of them, by no means am I going to say I know them personally. All I can really do is say how I feel.  Maybe some of you will feel similarly, and perhaps not.

First of all, that pedestal is real. In plenty of ways, it has to be there. Particularly for those of us who became fans when we were very young. Hell, Amanda became a fan before she was even TEN. Of course she’s going to look up to the band at that point. I know I sure did. Back then, it was even “worse” (so to speak) because there was no internet. No social media. No news other than through magazines. At that point, they were 100% completely and totally untouchable. The idea of being in the same air space with any of them seemed completely out of reach, much less hanging out over coffee or tea. But now I’m in my 40s now. Do I still feel that way?

As I was saying to someone last week on Twitter – they are still my heroes, to a certain, limited, extent. I haven’t exactly forgotten how I felt about them when I was ten – for example. I’m sure many fans out there are nodding their heads in agreement. I think the difference now is that the hero-worship I once had for them has now turned to respect. However, I still remember what it was like to be a teenager and hear them on the radio. I remember that giddiness – it was part of the fun. Don’t we all??

More on that respect thing: If I wanted or needed to go up to John Taylor or Roger Taylor to ask for something, whether that’s a picture or even just to say hello for instance, I would still be nervous because I respect them. For me though, that isn’t because I think they are Gods and would fawn over them. I have seen people do it, and I always feel for those people because in the end it’s uncomfortable and no one wants that. I’d have to think the band would be sick of it by now. However, I’d be nervous in the same way I’d be nervous going to my boss (well, back when I actually had a boss, that is) and asking for a raise, or even those butterflies I have when I meet new people for the first time. For me it’s the same feeling. The hero thing, while sure I can acknowledge that the band matters – isn’t really the same now as it was when I was ten and needed them to occupy my hopes and dreams. Their role in my life has changed. Yes, they’re actually real people, as it turns out. I get it, and to be blunt: hell would freeze over before I would ever be willing to make myself look like a fool in front of people I respect.

Even so, can I actually expect to be friends?

I really don’t know. For me, it’s an impossible question to even fathom, to a very large extent. I mean, I’ve met a lot of Duranies online over the years. We started talking whether by message board or through the blog, or even on Facebook or Twitter. Some of you I even called my friends before I met you personally because I felt like I knew you well enough to know. That said, there are people out there that I’ve met online or in person, and well, we didn’t jive so much. It happens, right?? I don’t know who I can or cannot be friends with until I really have the chance to know them. I think that’s why the idea of being friends with any member of Duran Duran sounds so, well, fake to me. I would much rather talk about being friends with John or Simon, or Nick or Roger. The whole “Duran Duran” thing really shouldn’t enter into it until I have no choice but to recognize the guy I’m friends with happens to be in that band.

But then there’s that whole “famous person” thing. The “Pedestal”.  That’s the real wrench that’s thrown in. Does it really make a difference? I am sure it must.

All I know for sure is this: I have friends who call themselves friends with various members of the band. I would imagine that for Nick, John, Simon or Roger, it is difficult to know at first whether someone is genuinely friends with you because they like you or because they want to be friends with the band. I can see that being a problem, and I can see how their onstage persona could really screw with that possibility. It has got to be as difficult for John Taylor, Roger Taylor, Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes to get past being members of Duran Duran as it is for me to get past being a fan of the band. All I know with relative certainty is that we’re humans.

I don’t believe John meant his statement to be hurtful or even to marginalize fans. Unfortunately based on some of the comments I saw the other day, many may have taken it that way. Some fans reminded me that Nick’s current partner was once a fan just like us.  But out of thousands and thousands, how many really do count themselves good friends and vice-versa? I would venture to guess not many.  When I really think about it, I know a lot of people, but truly very few are what I would call good friends. That’s really not so very different from anyone else, celebrity or not.

The real trouble, as I see it, is that many of us fight that “fan” label each day because it’s become such a bad word in many ways. We are sensitive to that word, and yet for me – it is a huge part of my identity both personally and professionally at this point. Many outside the world of fandom equate it with being crazy. Obsessive. Out-of-control. It’s not an easy road for anyone, and as always, these boundaries are difficult to navigate. I think all we can really do is try to have understanding and respect for one another.