Yesterday’s winner: Wild Boys
Which video do you like better: A View to a Kill or Notorious?
Yesterday’s winner: Wild Boys
Which video do you like better: A View to a Kill or Notorious?
Yesterday’s winner: New Moon on Monday
Which video do you like better: The Reflex or Wild Boys?
Yesterday’s winner: Is There Something I Should Know?
Which video do you like better: Union of the Snake or New Moon on Monday?
Yesterday’s winner: Save a Prayer
Which video do you like better: The Chauffeur or Is There Something I Should Know?
Yesterday’s winner: Night Boat
Which VIDEO Do You Like Better: Friends of Mine or My Own Way?
There are days when I am so thankful for this blog, this safe, happy place, that I wish I could hug it. Today is one of those days.
Yes, we had an election in my country yesterday. Some may be happy with the results. Others may be very unhappy. I am concerned. I don’t know what to write, or how to feel. Mostly I want to move on, but I can’t seem to find the right way to go forward yet.
John voted in his first American election yesterday. He tweeted a picture from the @duranduran account. I am sure that must have been a very exciting and proud moment for him, despite the results not turning out as he may have wanted.
I know the rest of the world is sick of our politics right now. I live here and I’m sick of it too. I’ve seen many a friend and acquaintance comment in a variety of ways about the election, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there is nothing I can say to make people happy. Once again our country has come to a crossroads, voters have spoken, and we find ourselves waiting for the other shoe to drop. There are massive wounds left behind to heal, and I would be insane to think I could do anything to help with that process.
So, I’m watching videos today. I may not know much, but I do believe that music heals. It makes ME feel better. Our world is not perfect. My country may not have voted the way the rest of the world felt best, but watching a video or listening to my favorite band still has the power to make me feel better.
I’m just going to shut off my TV, shut down my computer, put down my phone, and try to enjoy some music for a while. I invite you to do the same. Sometimes, you just have to take time out to breathe.
Yesterday I blogged about Duran’s Big Thing album as it has recently had an anniversary. I wanted to take note of when it was made, what singles and videos it had and more. Today, though, I want to take it personal. What was my relationship with this album and where is it today?
Before I dive into Big Thing, I wanted to provide a little context, a little backstory. I had moved with my family in late 1985 from the Chicago suburbs to a small town in Illinois. A lot of aspects of my life felt wrong then, including my Duran Duran fandom. I missed my best friend and a fellow Duran fan. In my new town, no one knew who Duran Duran was and they certainly didn’t care. I tried desperately to hang onto my fandom but it was tough. Heck, I even attempted to persuade new acquaintances that they should love Duran like I did. Thus, I loyally purchased Notorious as soon as it came out, but a lot changed in the two years that followed.
In between the Notorious and Big Thing releases, MTV arrived in my new home town. My new friends and I were glued to the channel. We couldn’t get enough, despite our growing annoyance with Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance with Somebody that played on continuous loop. One day, I happened to catch a world premiere video. Of course, the big event was the brand new video for I Don’t Want Your Love. My reaction? It felt instantly like Duran. While the video wasn’t as cool or as exciting as some of their previous ones in exotic locations with story lines, I still liked it. I even recorded the premiere on my VCR. Yet, it didn’t catch my attention for long.
By 1988, I was on an island surrounded by people who were not into Duran Duran in any way, shape or form. My classmates played a lot of hair metal bands. While I never got into that, my love for Duran had waned. I couldn’t share it with anyone. My video watching became a lonely, solitary activity, which was no fun. I soon realized that it almost made me sad to watch this new Duran video as it reminded me of better, more fun times. I hoped that MTV would feature Duran like they once did, in order to convince my peers that Duran was the band to love. Unfortunately, while the video was played a lot, it wasn’t enough. My new friends weren’t open to the band.
My fandom began to sink as I didn’t even buy the album for a long time. By the time All She Wants Is was released, the band was out of sight, out of mind, for the most part. When I heard about the band touring, I didn’t even look at the dates or try to go. After all, we now lived about an hour and a half from the closest concert venue and I knew that I would have no one to go with. Emotionally, it became easier to dismiss the tour as something I wasn’t interested in rather than really think about how cool it would be.
Of course, at some point, I did buy the album. In fact, I bought it used as one of those used cd/book/dvd stores. Now, of course, I know each and every song, but I wouldn’t say that I ever really bonded with it, not like I have with other albums. This has nothing to do with the music. It has more to do with the context of when the album came out and where I was in my life at the time.
That said, there are clearly some quality music on it. For example, The Edge of America is one of my favorite Duran tracks of all time. The song captures a lot of what I see and feel from some of my students, a helplessness and anger directed at a country who has done harm too often in its history. Speaking of history, I’m not sure that this album was a highlight in Duran’s catalog, not because of the music, but because like in my own life, this time period represented more of Duran’s slide away from being the biggest band in the world (commercially and fame wise). The tour, for example, was a massive one but had some moments that many fans look at now and question like the decision to feature dancing during All She Wants Is.
In many ways, Big Thing represents a period of real change and adjustment, I think, for both the band’s career and for me personally. It may not represent the biggest commercial or critical success for the band, but it represents many qualities that I love about Duran. They were not afraid to try a new direction or be influenced by the musical world at the time. Their persistence remained despite all who wanted to shut the door on them. The album was necessary for them to make the albums of the future. Similarly, I continued to battle and had to push through to find a new me in my new town.
Perhaps, by placing Big Thing in Duran’s history as well as mine own, my appreciation for it will only grow.
Yesterday students arrived at the school I teach at for the first time this year. (I know that this blog is supposed to be about Duran fandom. This post will get there, too. I promise.) The beginning of the school year is always a little rough and this year is no exception. There are always changes and adjustments that need to be made no matter how much summer planning was done by school staff. In my case, this year, it is all about my class rosters and how many students I have.
For those not in the know, I teach 4 sections of freshmen United States History (along with the very welcomed Women’s Studies). This means that I spend most of my day trying to get 14 and 15 year olds to engage in activities and discussions surrounding U.S. History from 1865 to 1945. It is not the easiest task in the best of circumstances. This year, though, my class lists are pretty messed up. I have a small class that I’m team teaching with a colleague. Then, I have two HUGE classes. One of those classes I am also teaming with but not the other one, which makes no sense. I also have 25 more students than my colleagues, which is beyond not cool since we assign a lot of essays so I’ll be grading until the cows come home. Even weirder, still, is the fact that I have a class that has 25 boys and 5 girls. A lot of those boys have a history of getting themselves into trouble, on top of it all.
While the scheduling seems random, I would not be surprised if I was assigned the class of what I would lovingly call “naughty boys” because I have a long history of success with kids who fit that description. Part of me appreciates the weird sort of compliment. The other part of me just worries about being exhausted for the next 37.5 weeks. Therefore, it is pretty obvious that I’m going to need some energy, some motivation, something to keep me going. As with everything else in my life, I find myself turning to music, Duran Duran music. Can Duran give me what I need to be a successful teacher this year?
In order to see if Duran’s music can get me through, I have selected some songs that should work to motivate me.
The reasons for this song seems obvious, yes? If I’m going to have a class of “wild boys,” then the song of the same name better keep me going! I specifically chose the one with “Relax” in the middle because I will need to remind myself of that a lot!
This song will be used not so much for motivation but for validation. A teacher’s life in the present day United States is typically filled with a lot of “paper cuts,” both literally and figuratively. This song acknowledges that paper cuts of some form or another exist, which I often need and appreciate.
The thing I love about this song is how optimistic it is. I think most teachers need to feel that optimistic, that hope in the beginning of the year and I am no exception. Many, including myself, need to “feel the new day” as a positive. I chose the John version of the song because…well…I like his version for obvious reasons and because I stop thinking or worrying about anything else when I’m watching it.
This song always reminds me of being on the road, being on tour with “no time to worry.” While the school year gives plenty for me to worry about, I need to remember that there are times, moments when I don’t have to worry. I will need to recall fun times of this past summer and hope for more in the future when things start to weigh me down. This song will allow me to go to my happy place when I need it!
Of course, the school year features breaks and the summer when the pressure truly comes off. This song will me to remind of that during the long stretches without breaks.
While breaks are always welcomed, I have to remember to appreciate the now and live in the moment. While teaching is never an easy gig (I just read a stat that states how teachers make about 1,500 decisions in a day or more than 4 decisions in a minute!), I also want to appreciate the moments that remind me of why I got into this field to begin with and why I stay. I have already had a few this week, such as when I saw some former students who ran up to give me hugs.
So what about the rest of you? What Duran songs do you use to motivate yourself or to keep you going even when you are exhausted? Which songs keep you going at work? I would love to see everyone’s lists!
Yesterday was my first day back at work. As with every other teacher inservice day, the agenda was filled with meeting after meeting. One meeting involved us getting into small groups and sharing the path each of us took to become a teacher. One of the specific questions involved childhood and our experiences as kids. Interestingly enough, before yesterday, I had been thinking about my childhood and how that fits who I am now specifically in regards to my Duran fandom.
As I told my colleagues yesterday, I spent my formative years in two very different places. I was born on the south side of Chicago and spent the first half of my childhood in the south suburbs. Most of my classmates were African-Americans who like my family were part of the lower middle class. Like many of you reading, during this time, I witnessed the explosion of MTV and found myself falling for five British guys with catchy pop tunes and fascinating, beautiful storyline-filled videos. Despite it being the early 80s, Duran Duran was not popular in my neighborhood or in my school. Michael Jackson was the be all and end all to most of my peers. (For the record, I liked Michael but not like I loved Duran!)
I remember sitting at the cafeteria next to my friend, who was the only other Duranie I knew, across from very serious Michael Jackson fans. We debated everything (or so it seemed from an elementary school position). I can recall talking about the differences in videos from Michael’s Billie Jean to Duran’s Hungry like the Wolf. Billie Jean was better, according to my classmates, because Michael “danced”. While I couldn’t disagree with that fact, I focused on the more intense storyline and the exotic location of HLTW. These (mostly male) classmates could care less about the storyline. To them, Michael’s commercial success combined with awards received proved he was better. I tried, unsuccessfully, to show that Duran was more compassionate by being on Band-Aid, months before Michael joined with others to do We Are the World.
Part of me loved these debates as it was thrilling to demonstrate my passion. I also felt confident that I had enough information to really argue my point. In reality, I desperately wanted to prove why Duran was better. Looking back, I know that part of this desperation was that I believed I was judged by my likes. If my friends didn’t like Duran and didn’t think they were cool, then would they still like me, I wondered insecurely. I also really liked the idea that I could be SO convincing to increase Duran’s fan base all by my little self. I wanted to feel powerful and to be looked up to. I’m sure some of that feeling comes from being the youngest of three children and having brilliant older siblings that I never felt I could live up to. Overall, though, the goal was to keep or make friends, something that never has come easy for me.
The lunchtime debate didn’t not last much past the release of the videos for Thriller and Wild Boys as I moved about 70 miles away to a small town. Before I even stepped foot into my new bedroom, I already despised the town. MTV was not available and there was no Top 40 radio. My family moved into our new house on a hot August day with the idea being that my room would be all set before I would enter one of the town’s elementary schools. As the movers pulled away from the curb, a girl about my age stopped her bike in my driveway, introducing herself. Having hope for the first time that the town might not be as bad as I feared, I greeted her and began to ask about what liked. My hope was dashed quickly as I found out that not only wasn’t she a Duran fan, she had never even heard of the band! I was outraged!
Needless to say, I spent a few years feeling pretty alone. Initially, I tried to engage in debates similar to the ones I had in the suburbs. For whatever reason, these heated discussions turned negative and personal very quickly. Soon enough, Duran was used to make fun of me. The year was 1985 and I was all about John Taylor’s Power Station look. I wore a lot of black and red as well as those black jelly bracelets that he sported at the time. Unfortunately, kids in that town did not appreciate my fashion style and frankly dismissed Duran as a “bunch of homos”.
Now, I find myself still responding as I did as a kid. On one hand, part of me wants to openly share my fandom and my love for Duran. I want to prove them and my love of them worthy to everyone I can. Part of the reason is because of the passion I feel for the band. The other part has to do with me protecting myself and feeling good about myself. If I can convince others that what I like is great, then they will be with me. They will be an ally. This would also make me feel really good and cool and who doesn’t like that? They will want to be friends, perhaps. The protective side knows that even if they don’t want to be friends, they at least won’t make fun of me. It is hard to make fun of someone who shares your interests, right? Strangely, adult Amanda still worries about this kind of thing, which is a big part of the reason that I seem so private. The less people know, the less people can make fun of me for, the less I can be rejected for.
Sometimes, the fear is so strong that I just hide my interests including this fandom or elements of my fandom. I’ll give an example that once again circles back to work. Today, we are going on a community scavenger hunt. The directions include a statement about wearing something comfortable. My initial thought about what is comfortable is a Duran t-shirt. The kids are not there yet. I don’t need to look “professional”. Lots of people, including my boss, know that I am a big fan. Other colleagues wear t-shirts advertising their interests. Yet, I struggled to put the t-shirt advertising my interest on today but I did it. I wore the shirt.
It is funny how a simple discussion at work brought up a lot of realizations on my part. Moving forward, I would like to be able to embrace my fandom–not to increase my coolness factor or to protect myself from attack but because it is a part of who I am. I want to be authentic and confident enough about what I like and who I am.
We are one week away from our Dancing on the Valentine online party!!! I think it is super safe to say that we are looking forward to breaking out of the winter blahs and having some fun with Duranies while watching Duran videos and drinking Valentine Stones (vodka and cranberry)!!! We need a break from our routines and know that there are others out there who feel the exact same way! Again, we would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE for you to join us! Sign up on our event page here! This event is a little different than our other online events in that we are asking our guests to come up with the playlist! No, no, no…this won’t be the Rhonda and Amanda show. It will we the party guests’ show! So far, we have some suggestions including:
We are obviously accepting more! That said, this got me thinking! (Dangerous, I know…) What do Duranies prefer to watch when they have a chance to watch some Duran footage? What type of clips, shows or DVDs? What era(s) do they gravitate to ? Therefore, I thought, maybe, it would be fun for people to answer some polls about the topic. Perhaps, this will help our attendees think about what they want to watch but it will also help us for future online parties!
With your help on these polls, Rhonda and I will have a good idea what clips to suggest for this party and for parties in the future. The results will also tell me more about what Duranies prefer, which is just plain fun! On that note, we really hope that EACH AND EVERY ONE of you joins us on Saturday, February 13th at 8 pm CST/6 pm PST.