Tag Archives: Duran Duran fandom

People Tell Me I Haven’t Changed but I Don’t Feel the Same

Are you participating in our #2017DDChallenge this year leading up to Duran Duran Appreciation Day?  I certainly am and have been enjoying it!  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read the blog posted here.  This isn’t the first time that Rhonda and I have done such an activity.  In fact, it is pretty common for us to do something surrounding or for Duran Duran Appreciation Day.  Yet, it was shocking to us at how different the original set of questions were.  Needless to say, this year’s questions for the challenge are far more positive than the ones from a few years ago.  That isn’t to say that all the questions will be positive but the vast majority will be.  We are still thinking and critical Duranies but we are different now.  At least, I feel like I am.

Looking back through the years of blog posts here it seems obvious that I’m far less negative and critical of the band now than I once was.  Even during the All You Need Is Now era, which I absolutely adored, a lot of what was said, talked about, and written about by me was more critical in nature.  Then, of course, the time in between All You Need Is Now and Paper Gods was problematic for me.  I wanted so desperately for the band to capitalize on what I felt they created with AYNIN and was afraid that any or all momentum would be lost with too much time.  My criticism or negativity definitely came from the best of intentions and with all the love I could muster but I just couldn’t or wouldn’t see it from the band’s side.  I didn’t understand that the creative process could not rushed.  Then, of course, I had plenty of ideas of how Duran could help themselves and offered many of them here on the blog.  Some of those ideas might have been good, I don’t know.  I can’t remember.  No matter, now, I like to think that  have learned some big lessons.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned during this album cycle is to just be more empathetic.  I cannot possibly know what life is like for the members of Duran Duran.  While, yes, I might have lots of ideas about how to approach this, that or the next thing, I have no idea whether or not those ideas are even possible.  Some might and others might not be.  I recognize now, though, that as much as I try to think about what it might be like to be in their shoes, I really cannot.  I can only know what it is like to be in my shoes and to have my perspective.

Because of this realization, I’m truly picking my battles. Some ideas might still cause a passionate response in me.  For example, a reader posted a quote in some Hawaiian press that the band is considering including Andy Taylor in the 40th anniversary celebration.  That got a response from me.  (For the record:  I’m not a fan.  It isn’t that I don’t or didn’t like Andy.  I just like the band the way it is now and I worry that having Andy return in any capacity would cause problems for the band and/or Andy.  I don’t want that.)

On the other side of the coin, I’m letting go of the little things.  I’m not going to worry about who is modeling the merchandise, for example, or whether or not the right or wrong word is used in a tweet.  None of that really matters to me.  I get that those things might to other fans and that’s fine but they don’t to me right now.  I realize that those little things that I could be critical of don’t change my fandom for the positive.  No, in fact, they could make me less happy being a Duranie.  I don’t want that.  I want and need Duran to be my happy place.

Likewise, I’m also going to cheer things that the band or DDHQ is doing that I like.  For example, I’m loved all of the tweets/posts/pictures of the band in Hawaii.  While I could not be there, I at least feel as if I’m a part of it in some small fashion.  It also keeps that small connection that I felt towards the band from the shows in Oakland and San Francisco alive.  I appreciate that A LOT.

Overall, I don’t think I’m the same person or the same fan that I once was.  Maybe, this change has come from my own experience with the creative process.  Perhaps, it is that the reality surrounding me means that I need my fandom to be just a happy place.  I don’t know.  It could be a new maturity.  I guess it could be a lot of things.  If I had to say, though, I think this change is a good change and one that I’m embracing.

-A

A Field Guide to Duranies

I had another blog post planned for today but decided to scrap it in light of the news.  As I’m sure most of you know, there was another terrorist attack last night in the UK.  In hearing about the news, which seems to becoming common, routine, the usual thoughts and feelings popped in my head.  There was fear for my friends who live there and for those innocent people who were at the wrong place, at the wrong time.  Then, feelings of anger take hold directed towards anyone wanting to not only injury or kill people but who also want to create fear.  They want people’s fear to change how they live.  Instead of going out with friends or going to concerts, people would stay inside or give up freedoms in order to stay safe.  The more these attacks happen, the more determined I hope people are not going to let them win.

Therefore, instead of posting a more serious blog about the difference between male and female fandom, I am going to be a little fluffy.  No one needs me to be super serious now.  There is plenty of time for that later.

Speaking of time, I am looking forward to my life in a week when the 2016-2017 school year is behind me.  I cannot wait to be done with grading, contacting parents and attempting to pull students across the finish line with passing grades.  One thing I hope to do with my extra time is to get a lot of reading done, especially for a project Rhonda and I are working on.  Luckily, I have been able to squeeze in a little reading here and there in between class sets of papers and lesson planning.  One of the books I have been reading is “The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy:  A Handbook for Girl Geeks.”

While this book focuses on fandoms based more on movies, TV shows, comics, etc, I have been able to apply some of it to the Duran fandom.  In fact, in the beginning of the book, the author describes various fandoms using the following categories:  Defining Characteristics, Key Accessories How To Become One and Unending Debates.  As I read about various fandoms, I wondered what I would say about Duranies.  Here’s what I came up with:

Defining Characteristics:

The author listed the three big characteristics for this category.  It is not easy to list just three but here is what I came up with.

  • Love for the color and creative spirit of the 1980s especially surrounding New Wave culture
  • Deep understanding for how the visual including video and fashion can impact the coolness of music
  • Appreciation for the influence of punk, disco, glam and more as well as poetic lyrics

Key Accessories:

This includes merchandise that would show off one’s fandom.

Latest concert t-shirts, classic albums on vinyl especially Rio, posters that once covered bedroom walls, John’s autobiography, unofficial and intangible Duranie card, Sing Blue Silver on DVD, concert ticket stubs, and photos of concert/tour experiences.

How To Become One:

This category is pretty self-explanatory.

Listen to all of the albums, preferably in order to understand the band’s evolution.  Familiarize yourself with various side projects, especially Arcadia and Power Station.  Watch all of the band’s videos on YouTube or through the Greatest DVD.  Attend a concert with someone who is already a Duranie to learn all of the moves and phrases.  Start following Duranies on social media.  Read a good blog.  😉

Unending Debates:

Obviously, this is about what the fandom can talk about over and over and over and over again.

Which guitarist is better:  Andy, Warren or Dom?  Why did Andy leave?  Why can’t Duran be more commercially successful these days?  Was Red Carpet Massacre a great album or not?  How should Duran Duran treat their fans?  Why doesn’t the setlist change?  Why can’t Duran Duran be more like ____________________ (insert band here)?

So, what do the rest of you think?  How did I do in describing Duranland?  What would you say to those categories?

-A

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.

-A

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.

-A

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?

-A

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?

-A

 

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!
-A

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.

-A

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.

DoJo

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!

JoSi

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.

-A

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.

-A