Tag Archives: fandom

In My Fantasy Fire

I love summer break. Extra time is giving me the chance to catch up on some movies I missed. For example, a couple of weeks ago I watched Crazy Rich Asians. I had read the series (I like escapism when I’m reading for fun, obviously) and was very curious as to how the movies would turn out. It was cute and I enjoyed it. This past weekend, I was able to catch A Star is Born.

Now, I know the rest of America has already seen the movie. Like many, I sat entranced watching Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper sing “Shallow” at the Oscars. The song didn’t thrill me, but their chemistry was undeniable. (I think that might be called “acting”. Apparently they’re both good at it!) I was channel surfing this weekend, I decided to give the movie a try.

Looking for a token

One teeny little scene keeps replaying itself in my head. For those who may not know, Bradley Cooper plays a rock star in the movie by the name of Jackson Maine. Gaga plays a singer named Ally who is nearly giving up on her dreams of being on stage. They meet by chance at a drag club. Jackson is entranced by her. At one point, they’re sitting down on a curb in a parking lot, talking. (as one does with a rock star, you know?) She mentions to him that people seem to treat him as though being a rock star or a celebrity means he’s not a real person. Maine deflects and changes the subject almost immediately.

The scene reminded me of a conversations I’ve had. Both with other fans, as well as with people who have worked with the band. The way people react to, or treat the band, is a real thing that we’ve written about here before. I suppose to some extent, some of the circus-like atmosphere that ensues is part of the deal when you’re a celebrity. Admittedly, this is the area I most enjoy studying when it comes to fandom, and seeing the topic barely being scratched at on screen immediately piqued my interest.

There are at least two issues here: putting a celebrity on a pedestal, and, possibly as a secondary response – not seeing that star as a real person. What it is about the relationship of fan to rock star that creates this dynamic?

Something to prove

For my part, I know I’ve done some of this. When I was a kid, I couldn’t imagine any member of Duran Duran as a real person. To me, they were enigmatic “beings”…purely existing on a stage, on my TV, on the radio, and of course, in my daydreams. It never occurred to me that one day I might actually occupy breathing space any closer than say, me in nosebleed seats while they were on stage. My brain couldn’t get past the idea that they were rock stars – pure fantasy.

As an adult, particularly back during the time of the reunion shows and even the Astronaut tour, I still didn’t quite equate them with being “real”. I mean, of course I knew they were real people – but those thoughts didn’t run through my head as I pranced down hotel corridors with friends gleefully yelling “Le Bon”! (Oh yes. Yes we did. Those of you with me here know who you are.) I didn’t think about how they might react to seeing signs and posters at shows that said “Roger, can I twirl your stick?!?” (I wince ever so slightly while typing that). Cognitively, yes I knew Roger might see it, and possibly even react…but my feeling at the time was “He doesn’t know me, he’ll never recognize me after this, so who cares?!?”

I actually do care, funny how that changes….

More than a flame

But when did that really all change? I suppose that if I had to nail it down to a moment, there were two. The first was when I went to the UK with Amanda in 2011, and the second was when I was in the front row in Biloxi, 2012.

Going to the UK permanently changed me, and as result, my fandom too. There is something about walking the same streets as the band once did, seeing entire tours canceled, and then actually seeing Simon standing directly in front of me, explaining what had happened to his voice. (without anybody else screaming, or begging for pictures, or autographs in the process) I’ll never, ever forget it.

I really think it was that day when I realized that yes, these are real people. They have problems like anyone else. They LIVE like anyone else. That day, Simon was just a normal man – standing in front of us wearing a flannel shirt and denim jeans. He mentioned that a few of us had come a long way to see them, which was true. I can remember being surprised he even noticed, given the situation at hand. Despite not actually seeing them perform, I don’t regret the trip. The best way to describe my feelings is that I saw Simon as a person for the first time. I continue to have trouble rationalizing that the man who seems to recognize me, and has waved to me on more than one occasion, is in fact the same person who is in all the videos. Yet, he really is the same guy, and my life has taken an incredibly odd turn.

Even if I wait a lifetime

Later, even after we’d returned to the UK in December of that same year – something else happened to change my thinking. Amanda and I had thrown caution to the wind and traveled to Biloxi, Mississippi in 2012. We were determined to do the one thing we hadn’t experienced yet, and that was front row. We waited in that GA line, and yes, we did get those front row spots. Standing there waiting at the rail was surreal, but I felt something else stir deep in my belly. Apprehension? Concern? Nerves? Probably all of the above. The only way I can really describe this, and even then many of you may not relate to my feelings that night – was that I knew with certainty that the band would see me, and in turn, I would see them. No trickery needed. It was happening.

I could no longer pretend that they were just these figures up on a stage. For whatever weird reason, being at the rail broke some sort of bizarre boundary for me. I went from thinking of Duran Duran as these fantasy-figures to seeing them as real people… who could in turn see me, too.

It took me months after that trip to come to grips with being so close to the stage. Think about when you’ve seen the band yourselves. It is easy to trick yourself into believing they looked right at you while you were singing the words to “Ordinary World” or when you were smiling along with Nick during “Pressure Off”, regardless of how far back you are. If they look in your general direction, it is obviously meant for you – am I right?? It is another thing entirely when you are directly in front of them – no one else in front of you – and you KNOW they’re looking at you. They see you. As a real person.

Ease the lost cause

I think those moments when a band member and I saw one another as actual people, are what changed the way I viewed them. Not only were they totally knocked off of the stories-high pedestal they’d been living on since 1981 or so, but I saw them as people like me. No better, no worse. I tend to respond to them in that way on social media. It makes no difference whether or not they truly read anything or not. I “converse” with them the same way I might any one else I’ve known for over half my life. Weird? Maybe.

My curiosity about other fans and their reactions remain, though. When I mention here about what fans do to be near them or have their time – I’m not doing so in judgment. I have been with people who have no issue – they run down hallways, jump over furniture, cut in line, interrupt private meals or conversations just to have their moment. In fairness, these are all things that the band expects, and they have reacted by putting up their own personal boundaries as to what they will or will not do for fans at any given time, and rightly so. On the other hand, I know of people who are more likely to give them wide berth, even if there are no other fans around. Maybe it is due to circumstance, or because these fans can see more value in allowing the band to decide for themselves whether or not to engage.

Leave a light on

I don’t know that there is truly a “right way”. The socially accepted behavior of fandom always seems to be up for debate, and perhaps that’s the core of the issue. What is remarkable though, is how differently each of us perceive the band, and the roles they occupy for ourselves. My fascination lies not only with how we see and/or perceive our idols, but the reasons behind our behavior. I need John, Simon, Nick and Roger to be real, and in turn see me not as a crazy fan. Someone else might need for them to be on a pedestal. They need them to occupy that space seen as “perfection”. I don’t know why that is, but I like theorizing possibilities!

How do you see Duran Duran? Are they meant to be the epitome of perfection? Do you find yourself forgetting that they’re human? Are you more of the type that wouldn’t approach? How do you feel about those front row spots? Join the conversation – tell me what you’re thinking!

-R

Passion, Obsession, Bliss, and Success

“Don’t ever let anyone take your bliss away.”

This is one of the most thought-provoking sayings I’ve ever had directed in my general direction. Uttered by a well-meaning friend, I continue to let that grouping of words wash over me from time to time. It is both a good reminder of how I need to handle my own life, as well as how I should respect the choices of others.

At this moment, I find myself in this now-familiar territory. One of my children is at a serious life crossroad. To explain the entire story would give far more away than I think is prudent. However, these same words have flooded back to me at regular intervals during the past six months.

The storm’s about to blow

One of the things I learned far too late was that the only person who should have a hand in deciding what my passions should be in life, is me. When I was young (and even when I wasn’t), I allowed other people to literally change my entire direction in life. Fresh out of college, I wanted to go back for my masters – my plan being to teach. I had found a school where I could go back for the extra year (for teaching in California you need a bachelors +1 extra year for the credential), and then continue classes for my masters. I wanted to either go into administration or teach at college level – I wasn’t positive which direction I’d go in, but I knew I wanted to have a masters degree. I was sold on the program, ready to sign on the dotted line and get started.

I had two hurdles left. One was to tell my parents. My dad wasn’t as sold on the idea as I was. He wanted me to get a job and start bringing in money to help, which was hard to hear. I didn’t have the money for school on my own unless my dad was agreeable to let me continue living at home rent free and covering my car payment. He wasn’t. His feeling was that masters degrees were unnecessary. I needed to work. Then I had to tell my then-boyfriend. He told me that I needed “a taste of business” before deciding to teach.

Knowing that my both my boyfriend and father were against the idea, I quickly shelved my plan. I scoured want ads, sent out my resume to hundreds of companies – basically floundering from the moment I graduated from college in June until mid-August. My dad came into my room one morning as I was looking at the newspaper and announced I had to come up with the money for my September car payment. “By the way, you are starting at my friend’s office in downtown LA as their temporary receptionist on Monday.”

The gaping hole

The phone? I hated covering phones. I went to school…got a degree…to be a receptionist?? He kept telling me that I had to pay my dues and work my way up. It was like being sentenced right back to hell because I had been working as a receptionist most of the way through school to begin with. All I could think about (and still occasionally think about when I’m down in the dumps) is that I went to school and worked my backside off to get a degree that didn’t help me one single bit.

Over the next couple of years I bounced from job to job. I was never satisfied, and I always felt like the work was “just a job”. I don’t know what it is like to have a career, much less one I’m passionate about doing. Instead, l’m passionate when it comes to writing about Duran Duran. I am obsessed with their career, their music, this fandom.

Caught in the crossfire

Parenting is tough. When you first start out, you think having this newborn is going to be the hardest time. You’re tired, sick, frustrated, exhausted…how much worse can it really get than that? Well, I’ve done all that three times now. I have to say that at least for me, cuddling a crying newborn has nothing on parenting a young adult. NOTHING.

I’ve made serious mistakes with my kids, and sadly for my youngest – I continue to make them. My heart is always in the right place, but sometimes I just blow it. In parenting, you don’t necessarily realize the severity to which you’ve failed until years later. For me, now is that time. My comeuppance.

Too often, I turned a blind eye when I should not have done so. I ignored obsessions and interests when I should have fully encouraged them. The things I thought were just hobbies or wastes of time, were in fact road signs that I forced us to pass by, in favor of sticking to the “tried and true” way to get through life. Only now do I realize that essentially, I tried to push my kid into a mold s/he wasn’t destined to fit. I think s/he always knew, and it’s a funny thing – even a kid on the spectrum wants their parents and family to be proud of him, even if at the time they’re not fully aware of those feelings.

Take a look before you run off and hide

I spent most of Heather’s teen and college years reminding her to look for her passion, and live it fully. My husband would look at me in utter horror with a little bit of irritation mixed with good measure as I’d recite these words to her, but I meant them with every fiber of my being.

“If you love dancing so much that you’d live in your car – then damn it, that’s your passion and it is what you were put here to do. Go do it!”

The trouble is, I didn’t extend those words to anyone else in my little family. I didn’t consider other obsessions that were perhaps just as lofty as a performance art. It never occurred to me that by not saying them directly to each child – I was basically saying that their own interests weren’t worth living in a car to do. Their passions were maybe just hobbies. Stop playing video games, go to college, and get a degree, in other words.

Don’t look away

What on earth does this have to do with Duran Duran, you say? Can you imagine what would have become of them, of ALL of us, had their parents not encouraged them? What in the hell would I be listening to, writing about, or traveling to see had they just gone into trade like their parents before them?

Unconventional choices aren’t always bad. Sure, there’s risk involved, either way. Success is reached when you finding the thing you’re so passionate or obsessed with that you’ll stop at nothing to keep doing it.

I don’t really believe that Duran Duran keeps making music because they want to achieve some tangible goal or dollar amount. Chart success or critical acclaim isn’t the one thing that keeps them going. While perhaps they are underdogs to some extent, I really don’t believe they’re continuing to chase a carrot. They’ve already been the biggest band in the world. They know what it means to sell out arenas and have millions of fans. Music is a part of their soul. At one point, I think they would have lived in their car(s) to keep doing it. If nothing else, they lived in a Cheapside squat in order to be a band.

If you’re willing to live in a car to keep doing your thing – then go do it. “Don’t ever let anyone take your bliss away.”

-R

Here and Now it’s a Different Storyline

Music really is my lifeblood. I don’t think that should be a surprise to anyone reading. After all, this is a fan blog dedicated to a music group! My love of music comes from not only listening, but also practicing and performing.

I started learning to play the clarinet when I was eight. The earliest memory I have of this period would be my clarinet case sitting on my lap as I fumbled to keep my music books from falling on the floor in the front seat of my dad’s old Ford truck on the way to lessons. I had only been playing for a short while at the time of this memory, and honestly – I wasn’t very good. I was beginning to get very frustrated, and practicing definitely wasn’t fun. My dad came up with the idea to put me in lessons, and for my parents—paying for those lessons was a luxury I didn’t take lightly.

We took the drive to Gard’s Music from our house, and I told my dad that I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep playing. The deal we’d made was that I had to play for six months before I could decide to quit. My parents has rented my clarinet from Mr. Gard, and my dad was very firm: if he was going to pay for the rental, I had to agree to stick it out for at least the six months. He wasn’t giving in, to my dismay. At the time, saying six months to me was not really any different than suggesting six years.

That day in my dad’s truck though, he also shared something with me that I never forgot. I got into the truck after my lesson, still discouraged and thinking more and more about giving up the clarinet to play with in the girls’ city softball league that spring.

My dad put the key into the ignition, the Ford roaring to life as I rolled down the window to get some air. He then turned to me. “Mike told me something I think you should know.” I waited to hear the inevitable news that I was never going to master the major C scale, much less anything else.

“He said that you have great potential.” I can remember asking him what “potential” meant, assuming it must have something to do with my lack of talent. My dad smiled and explained that it meant if I really practiced hard, I could one day be a great player.

I don’t really know what Mike heard or saw in me. I thought I was terrible. Learning the notes was tough, reading music was even tougher, and putting it all together felt unsurmountable. I got into the truck after my lesson, still discouraged and thinking more and more about giving up the clarinet to stick with the girls’ city softball league that spring.

Those words were just the encouragement I needed to keep going. I played the clarinet for the next ten years, thinking I’d even major in music in college. For a lot of reasons that make very little sense now that I’m 48, I changed my major that first year at Cal State Fullerton. While I could have easily played professionally, I scared myself into believing I wasn’t good enough. I quit. A decision I think about to this day. I don’t regret it, exactly – I have three children and a husband I adore – but I dearly miss playing.

When I turned 40, my husband bought me a new clarinet. It is a gorgeous, wooden and silver, professional-series, Buffet Crampon R-13. Every now and then I get it out and play, finding it ever-so-slightly harder to hit the upper register notes than I did whenever I played last. The one thing I always longed to do, was play with a group again, like a community band. Either there wasn’t one where we lived, they only accepted professional musicians with proper credentials, or I had children to raise with very little time. It was the kind of a dream I had to just put away, and be satisfied with the few stolen moments I’d have to play some of the sheet music I have at home.

We moved to Atascadero in December, and it never occurred to me that maybe now would be a good time to find a community band. So, when I stumbled upon an article in our local town magazine about our community band, I lit up like a Christmas tree. Not only is there a band, but they’re LOOKING for woodwind players.

I love writing. I adore Duran Duran. While sure, I blog, I’m not a great writer. Yes, I’m a fan and love to study it. Even so, I can’t throw myself into fandom with abandon and travel around the world. This band has been with me nearly single step of the way throughout my life, even if they don’t know it. They fed the part of my soul that continued longing for music even after I stopped playing. Yet, I’ve always felt like something I couldn’t quite put my finger on was missing. My career has consisted of raising my children, and I’m thankful I was able to stay at home and put my full self into their care. But there’s an emptiness I’ve never quite been able to completely fill. I’m still unsatisfied on a deeply personal level.

I have a hard time talking myself into the idea that I could play with a band again.I’m fine with the idea of playing with a group – but those first few seconds of walking in and meeting new people, clarinet in hand, FREAK ME OUT. Performing or rehearsing with real bands haven’t played a part in my life for more years than I care to count. Honestly, I’m not sure if I’m any good. (probably not right now!) I have a real fear of failure. This time though, I’m forcing myself to see it through. I’m not a young pup now, and life is short. I need to do this for myself.

I unpacked my clarinet yesterday. It was still in perfect condition, waiting for me. There is something so uniquely comforting to me when I feel the coolness of the chromed keys, the smell of the cork grease, or even the way the wood of the reed feels in my fingers as I’m adjusting it on the mouthpiece. Weirdly, I feel whole in the same way I do when I’m standing in front of Duran Duran at a show. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

-R

Yeah, It’s Just a Story

Until about thirty seconds ago, this morning was shaping up to be one of those days when blogging was going to be like pulling teeth. I had no ideas coming to me, and I was toying with the idea of just saying forget it and taking the day off. But then I remembered what I did yesterday afternoon!

I think most everyone knows we moved from Rancho Santa Margarita, California up to the central coast – we live in a smaller town now, and kind of went from typical “OC suburban” living to country living. For example, I now have twelve chickens and we just spent the past month or so clearing annual brush because we live in a high fire danger area. In any case, it has been a life-changing exercise for the past five months. While we’ve unpacked a lot, we still have a lot of yellow and black plastic bins in our garage that have yet to be opened. I look at them nearly every day, think “Oh, I should probably grab a couple and get it done.” Then I skip back into the house and find something far more fun to do, like binging on TV, reading a book, or blogging!

Details make you shiver

This plan went well up until yesterday. My well-meaning husband decided the day had come to get my car into the garage. I’m sure this has a lot to do with the fact that after years of no car payments, we had no choice but to buy a new (gently used, but new to me) vehicle last weekend. We’ll just call that “motivation”. That meant moving bins around, getting rid of some of the extra things we don’t need, and insisting that I unpack some of those yellow and black boxes that have grown to be the bane of my existence over the past year.

In addition to the bins in the garage, there were two, very heavy, very full bins in our bedroom that I’d been ignoring. Quite literally, they were beginning to feel like furniture themselves, as I’d use them as a sort of resting place for things I needed to put away – like clothes, or maybe my purse, or even books and magazines. In my defense, the reason I hadn’t unpacked these two (actually three) bins away is because they contained a good portion of my Duran Duran memorabilia, and I had nowhere to put it all.

One of the bins contained music. All of the band’s CD’s, and a ridiculous number of gig bootlegs. I don’t know how many I have – but there are a lot. Another bin contained DVD’s. Again, I feel like maybe it’s out of hand at this point. Then the last bin contained print articles I’ve collected. Magazines, newspapers, a few posters, notes I’ve gotten from a couple of special friends, packets from conventions I’ve both attended and helped organize, and even a couple of tour books that somehow found their way into this bin rather than the one I already unpacked containing all of my fandom and Duran Duran books.

It’s hard to escape

I didn’t know what to do with all of this…STUFF. I felt overwhelmed just looking at all of it. No, it didn’t really spark JOY (thank you Marie Kondo) it mostly stoked a fire of anxiety over not having my own space. The thing is, my youngest has her own space. My husband has HIS own space. I have my closet, which is significantly smaller than the one I had before. We do have a guest room, but for reasons I can’t get into at the moment, I don’t dare claim it as my own just yet. I stared at the boxes and piles of music. I thought about putting all of the music on a hard drive. That would take a long time. I considered shoving the entire thing up into the attic. That goes against the rules I self-imposed. We’re not storing crap for the sake of storing it. I took a deep breath, knowing what would have to happen.

I had my husband haul our old armoire back into the house.

We’d agreed to get rid of some old furniture when we moved. We haven’t done much of that yet, though. So, back in with the old. I needed a cabinet, and the armoire was going to serve the purpose well. As I unpacked the bins and put everything into it’s new home, I wondered what other fans did. Do people still collect things? Not everyone can be Durandy and just rent a storage unit, am I right?

So, while I pondered, I unpacked. Everything fit into the newly designated “Duran Duran Armoire”. It’s not that pretty, but it works, I guess. I can access everything pretty easily, which is an improvement from our old house. Seriously though, what does everyone else do with their stuff??

When your head is stuck in vice

I think it’s one thing when you live alone and can designate a closet or room – but I’ve been lucky to even have a desk (which I don’t right now). I had an office in our old house for about four months one time over the twenty-one years we lived there. It was great, but obviously short lived. Once my husband lost his job and needed space for a serious job search, me, my memorabilia, and my Duran Duran posters were unceremoniously kicked out. Back to the kitchen table I went, laptop in arms.

It is a problem that has continued with this house for sure. We have one extra room for an office, and since he works from home – it has to be his. I even tried arguing that since the garage is well-insulated, (his words when we bought the house, which I cleverly stored away in my brain for later use!)we could easily turn part of it into a lovely office space for him. Oddly, he wasn’t having any part of that. I cannot imagine why!

We do have a small area upstairs that could be turned into an office “area”, but I wouldn’t have wall space for posters or anything like that – it’s too out in the open. Last night I tried convincing him to turn part of our attic into an office for me, but we can’t really stand up in there, and the whole “no ventilation” thing is a problem too. Go figure, I do need to be able to breathe, darn it. So me, and my nearly lifelong obsession don’t really have a good home. Until I figure it out, I’m here at one end of our kitchen island, attempting to write.

It’s everywhere

Is it just me lugging boxes and boxes of Duran Duran-everything around?? What does one do with all of this stuff?? First world problem?! Of course. I mean, the whole thing about having a favorite band at all is kind of several feet in that direction anyway, isn’t it?

Perhaps I should have taken him up on using the chicken coop as my office back when I had the chance. Dang it.

-R

Don’t They Understand

I don’t really hide my fandom much. My family and friends all know that I’m a Duranie. Heck, a number of my students even know that I’m a big fan. My wallpaper on my work computer is a group picture, after all. Recently, I found myself out with friends, many of them work friends. It is almost inevitable that Duran Duran will come up in conversation. Lately, when the band comes up, a friend or two will say something like, “I would love to go to a show with you!” Then, for the next few minutes, multiple friends will say how fun it would be! In those situations, I find myself not saying much beyond having a little smile on my face. Why don’t I say something? Do I worry about what they are thinking about me? Do I want to share the band with them? What about sharing my fandom?

Generally, the people who say that they would love, love, love to attend a Duran concert with me are those whom I am pretty close friends with. They do know how much the band and the fandom means to me. This leads me to think that they aren’t making fun of me but…I do wonder if there isn’t a little piece of them that would like to see me in this very different way. I suspect that they have a hard time imagining me as a fan since they see me as this very serious teacher or activist. Do they think I go completely wild? That I lose control? Act totally differently? I’m not sure what ideas go through their minds about me and my Duranie status. Those of you who know me or have seen me in person know that I have a great time at shows and on tour but I don’t think I have a totally different personality. *shrugs*

Could it be that I don’t want to share the band and the fandom with them? That is an interesting idea. Let me ponder what it would mean for my local friends to go to a show with me. In almost all cases, this equals traveling. My friends would need to hop on a plane with me to see the concert or two. That is a serious level of financial commitment that I don’t expect anyone to do unless you love the band. Then, when I go to a Duran show, I go for good seats. I might not try for those $1000 ultimate front row seats but I generally go for Gold. Again, that is a lot of money especially for a non-Duranie. Then, of course, I don’t like the image of that. I prefer that fans get the best seats. I would hate for a friend of mine to take a seat that a serious Duranie could have instead.

All right. Let’s assume that my friends would be willing to travel and willing to spend the money for tickets, would I want them to go? If not, why not? After all, I have no problem with any and all of my friends going to see bands like Depeche Mode or the Killers with me. What’s the difference with Duran?

First, Duran Duran is not just another band to me. They matter a LOT to me. (Obviously, I write this blog.) Now, I’m certain that if my friends were to go, they would have a blast. They would fall for Duran and see how amazing they are live. All this should make me want my friends to go. After all, wouldn’t it be awesome to have more Duranie friends? Of course…yet, I still hold back, sort of. Looking at this situation, I have no problem with friends going to the show. I would like that actually. I’m just not sure that they should go with me.

First of all, this would feel wrong to me. I typically go to shows with Rhonda. That is the way it is supposed to be. After all, we have seen well over 30 shows together. This doesn’t mean that we go to every show together. When we go without each other, it always feels a little weird. Second, going to a show is more than the 2 hours the band is on stage. It is a much bigger event. On show days, I revolve everything around the show. When to get ready? What to wear? What time to meet others? All of that works to increase my excitement and to bring me closer to the other fans I am going with but also the other fans that I look forward to seeing.

I think back to the first time Rhonda and I had front row at a general admission show in Biloxi in 2012. We got up at the crack of dawn to get ready and to head to the venue to wait and wait and wait some more. We recorded a video at like 7 am of us talking to each other about how dumb we were to do this. Of course, we laughed while we said that and continued to get ready. Even if we were dumb, we didn’t head back to sleep. Then, as we stood in line all day, we talked with other fans, watched a Diamond in the Mind on computer, made up a setlist. We participated in all of these activities as if they were steps in some sort of religious ceremony or holiday. Would my friends get that?

What if they did attend a pre-show party? Would they have fun? More importantly, would they be able to contribute to the conversation? After all, it is likely that there would be discussion about Duran happenings from things like the setlist to studio news to fashion choices, etc. Maybe people would talk about previous shows or times that they met the band members. Now, my friends are smart people. If nothing else, maybe they would be fascinated by the whole thing. After all, the social scientist in me watches a lot and ponders the state of our fandom They might do something similar. Yet, I think that I would feel like I had to be the go between, the translator. I would have to make sure that everyone was happy. When I go to a Duran show, that is time that is just for me. It isn’t about doing for others. I spend a lot of time worrying about other people like my family, my students, my colleagues, etc. Being on tour allows me time for me.

I also think another reason I might want to keep my work friends from entering the world of Duran Duran fandom is because I need those worlds to be separate. My fandom world needs to bring me fun. My work friends help me get through the daily challenges of teaching teenagers in a large, urban school district. I don’t really want the reality of my job to sneak into my fun.

So, for now, I’ll just nod when this comes up in conversation but I won’t ever really push it. I like it the way it is as it is.

-A

Here By Intervention

I want your attention

This morning, I woke up to a text from my daughter’s boyfriend. I watched the short little iPhone video clip, immediately recognizing music from the song “1985”. Turns out, the video was of my daughter Heather, bravely belting the karaoke song, in a very crowded bar. It appears to be a post-graduation celebration with many other gr long after yours truly went back to her hotel room with kids, husband, dogs and a wayward grandma in tow. (is it weird that even as I sit here writing, I’m slightly jealous – I could have used some celebrating and light-hearted fun that night myself!!)

Now, while I do still have this video, and will keep it for future use when she least expects it – I can’t share it here, unfortunately. I actually enjoy living, as it turns out. I will say though, that the shout-out to mom was VERY obvious as she sang the line “thought she’d get a hand on a member of Duran Duran”.

Best. Thing. Ever.

The thing is, as much as I know singing this song was indeed a way of poking good natured fun at me, the-mom-who-writes-a-blog-about-Duran-Duran (and who wouldn’t chuckle about that anyway?!?), I love it. I know the song “1985” wasn’t an ode written for me. However, Bowling for Soup may as well have been living at my house, or even down my street when they wrote it. I own it all, too. Proudly. I mean, what else can I really do? Guilty as charged!!

Hits you with a groove

As I was chuckling to myself over the video this morning, it made me think back to my dad. When he passed away, the one main request he had for his funeral was that we would see him off by playing “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears.

That’s a strange song to play at a memorial. Truth be told, I don’t think my dad ever actually listened to the words at all. He just loved the tune. Back in 1985 (I wish I were kidding about the year – but I can’t make this up!), my mom and dad bought a motor home. That summer, and each one following for the next several years, we took a two-week camping trip as a family. It was required attendance for my sister and I, so we took turns choosing music to play on the stereo as my dad drove. Much of my musical choice was—Duran Duran of course—but after a while they were outlawed in the motor home. Apparently my dad got sick (*gasp*) of them. So, I put on Tears for Fears. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” came on, and next thing I knew, my dad was bopping his head going down the highway to this song.

From that day on, that song was his most frequent request. It played each and every time we went camping, whether the two-week summer trip, or a quick weekend getaway. I began to equate the song with my dad, and now—I can’t think about the song without a memory of being in the motor home, sitting at the table watching my dad bob his head in time to the music as we ambled down the highway. It is both a comforting, as well as bittersweet, image forever burned in my head.

We covered all the angles

Aside from that, and a wayward Beach Boys song that may or may not have my name in it, I don’t really have musical memories that align directly with my parents. Both of them did like Elvis Presley, and I suppose that when I do hear him, I do think of my mom and dad. (Which is rare, I must say – for being The King, I rarely hear Elvis’ music today. Isn’t that interesting?) I have definitely left a lasting legacy for my kids. My “mark” has been deeply engraved into 80s pop culture, and I’m not sorry.

All three of my children liberally tease me about playing “Hungry Like the Wolf” at my funeral. We are kind of dark that way, I guess, talking about my inevitable end as though it is a joke – but it’s how me and my kids roll. In any case, I laugh at them in response, all the while promising to haunt them for all eternity should they happen to pick that song.

Let’s face it – they are totally going to blare that one, for all the planet to hear when my time has come. Well played, Duran Duran. Well played.

Hate to bite the hand that feeds me

Every time Heather is out and about and happens to hear Duran Duran, I get texted, as though I’m personally responsible. Even Gavin—my quieter, less bombastic child, chuckles when he recognizes a song, TV show reference, or something else entirely. It is my legacy, or as they prefer to call it—my curse.

My youngest is still at the stage where she will sing along to Paper Gods. She still loves “Last Night in the City” and “Pressure Off”. She’s not as familiar with their other albums because I’ve had THAT one in my car for so long now – literally half of her life at this point. Even so, every so often she’ll be humming as she’s doing math problems, and more often than not it is some super obscure Duran Duran song I didn’t even know she knew. For example, last week she was singing “American Science”.

I don’t know how that happens, but I love that it does. I may not have taught my kids very much – but they do know Duran Duran. It is my lasting legacy. Or my curse. You’re welcome, kids.

-R

I’ve Been Waiting For You

It’ll take a little time

I apologize for my tardiness today. I’m currently taking a break from a morning filled with online car shopping to write a few words here. My poor Lexus died a sudden death last week, despite my insistence that it could be fixed. (actually, it *can* be fixed…but it will cost me more than the car is worth. *sigh*) So, onward and upward, right?

The funny, and probably very sad, thing about me and that car is that we were pretty attached. Or I was to IT…rather. It was my dream car, and I fell in love with her (yes, it’s a she) immediately. I thought she was perfect, and I can honestly say I enjoyed every single minute of the thirteen years (nearly to the day) that she ran. That car was the most reliable vehicle I have ever had. In fact, the current oil leak and transmission issue (or death, rather) are the ONLY two problems the car has ever had that weren’t entirely man-made. (I did crack the oil pan once in a smallish accident that we won’t go into here.) No joke – Lexus makes a reliable car, and if they want to give me a new one, I’ll gladly take it as payment for my remarks. <wink, wink>

Stay wilder than the wind

Out with the old and in with the new, I guess. That’s kind of the way it is, isn’t it? I’ve had my Lexus long enough to where I am familiar with every subtle nuance, but it wasn’t always that way. For example, when I first got the car, on Mothers Day in 2006, I spent the first year or two marveling over the idea that I was driving my dream car. Fangirl mode, anyone? I knew next to nothing about the car at the time, but I knew I liked it.

However, as the years went by, I stopped being starry-eyed over driving a new car. I learned when things didn’t sound quite right, or when it was time for an oil change. I knew something cataclysmic was happening well before my husband ever listened to my worries. I’d poke at him when we’d be driving and say “Do you hear that little hum? That’s not right.” He’d listen and say “It’s FINE, Rhonda.” I’d sit back in my seat, full-well knowing the end was nigh. As much as I loved that “new car” feeling, there is something very satisfying about knowing my vehicle well. Good, and bad.

Words, playing me deja vu

Oddly, I think the same holds true with Duran Duran. I’ve been a fan of this band since the early 80s, and I was probably ten or maybe eleven when I first heard them. Very quickly after that, they became my obsession. I definitely fawned over photos, pretended to pass out when they’d come on the television. My bedroom walls, along with my school locker and folders for class, were decorated, and I absolutely had a favorite band member (Hello, Roger….I say in my most sultry voice…which isn’t sultry at all. *sigh*). I was absolutely a fan girl in every sense. Theband could do no wrong. It didn’t even occur to me that they could have opinions I wouldn’t like! The idea of not agreeing with them on one thing or another never even crossed my mind.

The weird thing is I’m 48 now. I don’t want to count the years – but there’s been a quite a few since those first days of staring deeply into Roger Taylor’s eyes….on the pinup pages of my Tiger Beat magazine! I doubt I know everything there is to know about Duran Duran, although I’ve certainly tried. Their history is well-known – I’ve studied them so long now, it feels like my story too. Their songs, music and videos have been the soundtrack for most of my life. I think I know the band itself rather well now. But do I know the people?

Is it something real

Definitely not. Sure, I can pick them out of a lineup, but I don’t know them as a true friend might, and that’s OK (and not the point I’m trying to make here at all). I appreciate the Katy Kafe’s that go beyond the surface “Duran Duran” stuff. Finding out a little bit about them as people, such as listening to John explain his interest in visual art, or what photography exhibits Nick has been to lately makes them seem a lot less enigmatic. I actually enjoyed hearing what Simon thought of our presidential elections, or even what type of food Roger likes to eat. While I recognize it’s not even remotely possible for them to have reciprocal relationships with 99% of the fans out there, I do like hearing and learning more about them as people. I’d have to imagine that while they realize talking and selling the brand is important – they probably like discussing something other than what they’re working on in studio too. (Not gonna lie here, if I were them, I’d be sick of it by now. I can almost hear them stiffen or shift position in their chairs just before Katy asks about the studio!)

The chances of getting to know John, Roger, Nick or Simon to the point when I can immediately recognize when something is “off” is highly unlikely for me, or most fans, I am sure. Even so, I appreciate having the chance to get even the tiniest of peeks into their “real lives”. I don’t feel slighted when I hear that one of them doesn’t like the same sort of food I do, for example. I’m not offended that maybe John has a real interest in politics. I love that he’s different from me in exactly the same way that I adore Amanda. Thank goodness there are people who are unlike me and have different joys! For me, learning about the band as actual, real, people isn’t about validating my own self though their likes and dislikes. I appreciate our differences, smile at the similarities, and today— I’m particularly grateful they don’t have failing transmissions!

-R

Something to Remember

The night I stood near the stairs at the House of Blues in Anaheim back in 2001, I could not have imagined the turns my life would take. I would have never guessed that I’d meet friends online, eventually see Duran Duran more than fifty times, or even write a blog. There’s no way I could have looked into a crystal ball and known that I would go to the UK, or that I would log more miles in road trips to see the band than I would in family vacations. (Yeah, that’s kind of crazy – even I have to admit!)

You are forever

The truth is, this community is my family. There are times at each and every meet-up when I look around the room—whether it is a small gathering or a giant group—and I marvel at how far I’ve come. I don’t mean the social ladder (I’m still as awkward as ever!), I simply mean that in 2001, I knew next to no one.

I can remember sitting in my seat at the Pacific Amphitheater in 2003, watching people sitting in the closest rows to the stage file in. Sometimes they’d claim their seat, and then run up to a group and begin throwing their arms open to bear hug everyone. Other times, they wouldn’t even make it to their chair before they’d be bombarded by smiles, waves and even the occasional collective squee (haven’t used THAT word on this blog in a long time!). I remember being perched, stiffly upright in my own chair back in row T, wondering how it could be that all of those people knew one another.

I knew very little of online fan communities back then. The one thing I did recognize in the moments before my preteen dreams came true that sultry July evening, was that I wanted in.

All I understand

During the 16 years since those first fleeting moments of awareness for me, I’ve gotten far more involved. Many others have done far, far more than I have, at least with regard to meeting the band, photos, or even traveling and touring. My fifty-some shows don’t seem like such a much when I run into folks who have done nearly a hundred gigs or more. I know of people who miss nary a single show on a tour, whether USA or elsewhere. I learned very early on that I cannot, and should not, attempt to size myself and my experiences up to those of others. There is always someone else who knows, or has done, far more. Fandom is not a quantitative science.

What I do know is this: you are my chosen family.

I don’t write about it very often, but when I was in college, I was in a sorority. Hard to imagine—but that’s neither here nor there at this point. One of the few quotes drilled into me since Bid Day, is “Family is blood, but you choose your sisters”. There’s actually eleventy-thousand (Sure it’s a real number, if you want it to be!) different versions of this quote. This is the one I remember. I still roll my eyes when I think about it. That probably tells you all that you need to know about my life in sorority.

I had the wrong family back then, I guess. Who knew I’d find the right one at the ripe age of 33? Fifteen, nearly sixteen years later and I’m still here, feeling more connected than ever!

I hold forever

It’s true that the fan community can be a roller coaster. People still drive me crazy with their impossible expectations and insipid, constant need for validation. The competition, particularly between women, but also between men. (bring up guitar players and watch a few of them try to one-up one another! They mention interviews from 30 years ago, or suggestions that they know music better than the other guy!). I won’t lie—sometimes it is maddening!

However, even more often are the moments when I can see just how connected we all are to one another. I can’t help but smile. The older I get, the more I appreciate the uniqueness of this community. We have a very special bond.

Try much harder, until the truth is drawn

There are the times when a great male friend of mine takes a few seconds out of his day to post a countdown to Vegas. Not only does he mention seeing the band, but also seeing one another. He cares just as much as I do about getting everyone back together again for a weekend hangout!

What about the friend who lets us all know how another mutual friend is hanging in there with an illness? Then there is the pain, worry, concern, and genuine fear we share over this same person. Some of the people I’ve chatted with have only met this fellow Duranie once or twice. Others only know of her online, and yet we are all hoping, praying, and/or sending positive healing vibes her way. In this day and age, as divisive as we seem to think, we are all pulling for her. We care about one another.

Lastly, there is the sheer, utter joy I feel when standing in a crowd filled with other fans. I just don’t believe the band has any way of knowing just how moved the crowd was when they played Seventh Stranger. It wasn’t even so much the song, as it was to look around and see every set of eyes fixed on the screen. They too were intently watching the same video, mouthing or singing the same words, and experiencing Simon at the age of 60 singing along with Simon at the age of what – 26? It was knowing that most everyone in that crowd had the same overall past as I did with Duran Duran. We share in that journey together.

The very thing you’ve been searching for has been yours all along

And that knowledge— was WILD that night. That’s why I cried. Sure, seeing Andy play onscreen while watching Dom play Andy’s part expertly onstage was touching. Seeing the band grin, knowing they’d knocked us virtually off of our feet by playing Seventh Stranger, made me smile. But the tears came from knowing that it wasn’t just me in that audience that knew the background. It wasn’t only me who had grown up with Duran Duran in the 80s. It definitely wasn’t just me that has had the majority of her life set to a soundtrack made possible by a single band’s back catalog.

I choose this family. I will choose it again, and again, and again. The one drawback, if there is such a thing, is that during times of crisis, I cannot get to my people very easily. Unfortunately, it isn’t so easy as to hop onto a plane to get to the east coast. I’m not quite as able to deliver proper goodbyes, or even hellos, in person. I am thinking of you. If positive vibes are real – then you should be feeling that healing energy in the strongest amounts possible. The people I include in my smallest, tightest circle, should be well aware of how I feel. (and if you are not, you should inquire within!)

I choose you.

-R

Can You Hear Me Now?

My plan for this blog was a simple one. I wanted to write about the evolution of my feelings about this week’s announced September shows but I cannot do it right now. Don’t worry. I will. Right now, though, I need to focus on how I got on a different path than I had expected. It sort of reminds me of the track, This Is How a Road Gets Made, in which Simon discusses how a new path is formed. While first glance, he might be talking about literally that but he could also be referencing something more metaphorical. I wonder if he knows which it is. Did he then when it came out?

Did the members of Duran Duran know when they ended taking the unexpected path, one that led them in a very different direction than they might have otherwise? Let me give you an example. When John decided to stop attending art school in order to focus on making music, did he know then that this would change his future forever? Of course, not every decision is that dramatic or changes one’s life in an instant but sometimes those little moments build up to make some changes without a real conscious effort to do so. For the band, those could be something like Roger playing drums using pots and pans as a little kid or John and Nick attending their first concert. Did those moments set them down a path?

Why am I wondering this? Why now? I think I’m starting to recognize some of those little moments in my life have actually built up to alter my life in a way that I wouldn’t have thought possible fifteen years ago. Did I know that this little moments would matter so much? My answer is a simple, “Heck no.” Yet, now, I cannot imagine what the alternative would be.

What are those little moments? What have they brought me to? I look around and realize that I have found my voice. I don’t obviously mean that in the literal sense. I can speak and do speak. No, I’m talking about something more, something meaningful. I speak up and out about what matters to me. now When I was younger, I always wanted to be that person, the person who is fearless and strong in her convictions. This strength would not aggression or closed-mindedness but one that gets the necessary sentiment out.

So, how did I get here? The first step is an easy one. I got involved in my first political campaign. I finally decided to do more than just talk but tried to get something done. This was in the winter of 2008, during the primary when I chose to not only vote for President Obama but to work for him. Throughout that campaign, I wasn’t sure if I *should* be doing this. I worried. Would people walk away from me? What if they didn’t feel as I did? Would they judge me or think less of me? Throughout that spring, I grew stronger in my convictions. Then, you know what happened to me that really helped? I went to see Duran Duran play in Chicago in May of 2008. In the encore, John came out on stage wearing an Obama shirt. Somehow, that made me hold my head a little higher and gave me some courage to keep going. Of course, John later went on to do a couple of videos supporting him.

Despite having experienced a victory, I figured that it was a one time only thing. I had teaching to do after all. But then, this started. Yes, this. The blog began. Initially, I took baby steps in what I talked about, avoiding controversial things for the most part and certainly not talking about myself. Who the hell would want to read about my life? Yet, I discovered that I cannot separate different parts of me. I cannot just be fan Amanda and I cannot just be teacher. No, they are both a part of me. Then, as I got braver in my topics and experienced…well…push-back, at times. I realized then that I could take more criticism than I thought I could. I never liked it. I still don’t and would still love to avoid it. That said, it is something that made me stronger.

Then, of course, the Wisconsin teacher protests hit in 2011 raising the bar both in terms of importance but also in intensity. Something happens to your ability to speak your mind when you are out protesting in frigid temperatures for hours on end or spending the night inside the Capitol in order to occupy it with your political allies. In the midst of that protest, I had to fight for my right to take a mini-leave from work in order to go see some shows. Refusing to give in worked, at least on a personal note. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for teachers as a whole here. At that point, though, I had realized that people might attack me no matter what I say and do so I might as well work for what and who I believe in.

More campaigns followed, my participation growing steadily along the way until I ran my own campaign this past spring. I could not and would not sit back and be silent anymore. In that case, I let my work behind the scenes represent my ideas and feelings. This brings me to now. In the past month, I have found myself using my voice in a number of different settings. At times, it is within the work setting, taking charge with a group. At other times, it is about my work. I am a teacher. I have been my entire adult life. It has never been an easy profession on a number of different levels. One of the hardest aspects of my job is that so many people think they know what it is like to be a teacher. After all, most people have been in classrooms. Yet, unless you have actually done it, you don’t really know. One of my first jobs out of college was to work at a Sylvan Learning Center, teaching reading, writing, etc. I thought it gave me teaching experience. As soon as I got my first classroom, I realized how wrong I was. It was so different!

On top of that, leaders within the profession can make the job easier/better or the opposite. This school year has proven to be an extremely difficult one. In fact, it has left a lot of teachers and students really hurting. I could not stay silent. In the past month or so, I have found myself in communication with a number of different reporters who are trying to tell the story about life in my school district. It is a risk to be open, to share, but I learned to use my voice so I did. After all, it could lead to positive changes in the future and how can that be wrong?

-A

Everyone’s Their Own Universe

I’m taking a break from writing about shows that most people can’t get to in order to write a little about my friend Alana.

I first met Alana in 2012 when Amanda and I did several shows in the southeastern part of the US during the All You Need is Now tour. When I met her, I can remember that I loved her long hair. It was blond with dark undertones and even some peek-a-boo purple. She kept it straight with long layers, and it was exactly the type of hairstyle I’d want if I had the patience to let my hair grow. The next thing I remember about her from that first meeting were her glasses. They were similar to mine at the time (for reading), and I noticed she had more than one pair that she’d coordinate with her outfit, which I also thought was cool. Lastly, but most importantly – I remember how comfortable I was with her when we met. She is just a very real, genuinely nice person.

After that initial meeting, we stayed friends. I saw her at Durandemonium in 2013, and then again in 2015 at the Ravinia shows in Illinois. All the while, we’d tweet back and forth on Twitter. She has a sunny disposition, and even when she doesn’t have the best news, she has the uncanny ability to make anything sound like it’s just not that bad. I love that about her.

She’s been sick lately, and right now she’s in the hospital. I think it’s fair to say that she’s fighting for her life at this point. I traded tweets with her not that long ago, but before she was admitted into the hospital. She’s still positive that she and I are going to meet up at one of the DD shows on the next tour, and I’m still counting on it.

After hearing this recent news about my friend, it made presales, ticket buying and hand wringing over cost seem pretty silly. I went through the motions yesterday, thinking about how lucky I was to even have the choice to go. Alana doesn’t, at least not right now. In that sense, just buying the damn ticket feels right. On the other hand, spending so much to see one band for one show also makes me feel dumb. What am I thinking?

I kind of said that on Twitter yesterday. One can love Duran Duran, be thankful they tour here, and still feel like the shows are pricey, which I do. All of that said, I wish more than anything else right now that my friend Alana was healthy and able to go – for that, I’d pay just about anything to see.

-R