Tag Archives: fandom

I’m Lost in a Crowd

In this discussion I had with one of our readers regarding buying tickets, the question, “Does it really matter who buys the tickets?” came up.  I gave an answer that I thought captured my thoughts and feelings well, but is one that I realized that I wanted to explore further.

The commenter asked, “Would it matter to Duran Duran who bought the tickets to their shows?” or something to that affect.  On one hand, do they know who buys the tickets?  No.  Does any band?  Any artist?  No.  They can see how many tickets were sold, what percentage of capacity that is and what the bottom dollar was.  Heck, let’s be real.  The band might not get that information at all.  They have people to watch that kind of information for them.  If I was a member of a band or someone involved with setting up tours, would it matter who buys the tickets as long as someone does?  Probably not, at least not before a show.  I would want as many tickets sold as possible.  That is what matters most.  I think about when Rhonda and I were selling our own tickets to our convention.  Did it matter to us who bought the tickets before the convention?  No.  We were far more concerned with whether or not we had sold enough to cover our costs.  I’m sure touring acts feel the same way.

That said, I do believe in the power of fans and fan communities.  Does it matter who is in the audience at a show?  I cannot help it.  I feel like it does matter, to both the band and their fans.  First, does an audience affect a band’s performance?  My response–how can it not?  Let me give some examples to explain what I mean.  If the crowd is filled with record label executives and the band is trying to get a deal, does it matter to them?  Absolutely.  They might be more nervous in that setting.  Perhaps, they also practice more or put more into it than they would have otherwise.  What if the crowd consists of people who had never heard of the band or doesn’t like their music?  Could that impact the performance?  Again, why wouldn’t it?  The band might play harder to try and win people over, but a band might also feel deflated if the response is lame.  (By the way, I’m speaking in generalities.  On top of that, that is not a criticism.  I recognize that people are human, even people in bands.) So, what about a regular show?  Does the crowd matter?

I have been to shows in which the audience is made of a lot of people that I wouldn’t describe as the typical fan.  At those shows, I have seen bands lose their excitement when they realized that they aren’t getting any sort of positive response.  On the other hand, I have also seen crowds lift up a band by sending them more energy.

What about the fans?  Does it matter to fans who is in the crowd?  I can only speak for myself when I say that it does.  When I’m at a Duran show, for instance, and I know a lot of people there who are as excited as I am, my enthusiasm grows exponentially.  Of course, the opposite is true when I have people near me at shows who don’t care who is playing.  I find myself having to expend some energy to ignore the lame crowd to enjoy the performance.  As much as I logically know that it shouldn’t affect my enjoyment, it does to some extent.  If I have a less than stellar experience, I’m less excited to go back.  The opposite is true, obviously.  This, in turn, could affect the bottom dollar for the next show or the next tour.

Having a lot of fans in the crowd makes me have a better show.  To me, fans can make a good show, a great one.

-A

Generational Universality of Fandom

Last weekend, I went to a friend’s birthday party.  This friend is someone I used to work with, which means that there were a lot of colleagues there.  I enjoyed talking to them outside of the school/work setting.  More than that, it was nice to speak to people whom I have very few conversations with at work, simply because our roles don’t interact much.  One of those people is in charge of our tutoring program.  She is many years younger than me and when we started chatting, I doubted that we had anything in common except where we work.  Then, I learned that wasn’t true.  We do have something in common.  No, she isn’t a Duranie, but she is a fan.

I don’t remember exactly how the conversation moved towards the area of fandom, but when it did, my interest level increased dramatically.  I think someone mentioned the Spice Girls and that’s all it took.  This colleague of mine mentioned that she was a huge Spice Girls fans when she was a kid.  I nodded and said that a lot of us  found our favorites as kids.  She went on to say that she was such a big fan that she led a little local fan club.  The group, made up of her friendship group, met weekly.  They wrote agendas that usually focused on discussing any news on the group.  Of course, I felt like I could relate to this.  I explained how I became a huge Duran Duran fan as a kid.  While we didn’t have a fan club of sorts, my best friend and I frequently shared whatever news we had about what the band was up to.  In our case, the news either came on radio or MTV or through magazines.  Then, of course, we dissected each little detail of the news.  (Somehow, as I am typing this, I realize that life isn’t that different now since Rhonda and I do the same thing!)  Anyway, I told her that I’m jealous that they had a whole fan club and that I would have loved something like that.

I went on to ask her a few questions that directly relate to the theory of female fandom that Rhonda and I have been focusing on for awhile.  Was there competition between the members of the fan club?  What did it look like, if so?  Obviously, I haven’t studied the Spice Girls fandom, specifically, so I had no idea what she might say.  Likewise, the fandoms that we have focused on tend to female dominated ones with males being the subjects of their fandoms.  So, will things be very different for a fandom with women as the subjects of the fandom?

I started my investigation by asking, “Did you have a favorite?  How did you pick your favorite?”  Clearly, many/most Duranies developed a favorite quickly and it was often the band member the fan thought was the most attractive.  Indeed, this colleague of mine did have a favorite!  In her case, it was mostly about which band member she hoped she would grow up to be like.  It was about a role model, of sorts, as opposed to attraction.  Interesting.  Then, I followed that up with, “Could the members of the fan club have the same favorite?”  As we know, many Duranies had an unwritten policy that friends couldn’t share favorites.  (Heck, even Rhonda and I don’t share a favorite.  Could we have become best friends if we did?!)  Surprisingly, my colleague said that they did not share favorites.  If one’s choice about a favorite had to do with identity, it makes sense that they couldn’t share.  Who wants to be exactly like one’s best friends?  This allowed them to be similar in terms of interests but gives enough freedom to be unique.  Fascinating.

Before I had a chance to follow up with more questions, we got interrupted, unfortunately.  I still appreciated the conversation and what I learned.  Clearly, there are some universal truths with fandom, no matter the subject or the generation that fans are a part of.  The Spice Girls fandom, at least to my colleague, presented itself in a similar way to the Duran fandom.  A group of friends loved the same band.  They wanted to talk about their fandom.  Besides that, they also chose favorites and couldn’t share them.  Yes, indeed, fandom is universal, at least between my generation and the generation below me.

-A

Does Fandom Need Feeding?

The other day I received a text message from someone whom I once considered a very close friend.  In recent years, we contact each other only a few times a year despite living in the same city.  This got me thinking about friendship.

This local friend was someone I used to be in daily or almost daily contact with.  When talked frequently, we got along well.  We got together a lot for either something major like traveling to a show or simply running errands together.  Now, though, I have a hard time imagining all of that.  When we talk now, we struggle to converse.  It feels like it is hard to understand where the other is coming from while we force ourselves to communicate.  It makes me miss the old times when we talked all the time.  Likewise, I miss the friendship.  I wish that I didn’t feel so distant from her now.  At some point, we stopped speaking so often and now we suffer for it.  Our friendship needed to be fed in order to be maintained.  I think we needed it to understand each other.

Then, of course, there are other friendships like one I have with a friend from high school.  We don’t see each other often and don’t talk much, especially since she lives in Sweden now.  That said, whenever we get together, it takes no time at all before we are right back to where we always were.  If I had to guess, I think part of the deal is that we never really communicated.  We hung out more.  Basically, we got together to have fun, not to share deep thoughts.  Does not mean that there isn’t an emotional connection there, but it is different when that relationship matters a lot to you, which is more of the situation for the first friend.

In thinking about all of this, I began to wonder if the same thing is true for fandom.  Is Duran like the first friend in that the band means a ton to me and needs to be fed frequently?  Or is it more like the second when I don’t have to speak to that often but when I seek it out, I have a ton of fun?

In many ways, I feel like I have assumed that fandom is like the first friend.  After all, this is part of the reason I do this blog and the question of the day.  I want my fandom to be part of my day-to-day existence.  Am I worried that if I don’t spend time on it every day that my affection will decrease?  Looking back to the last time the band was in between albums, I wrote a lot of blogs about how I worried that if the band didn’t speed up the process, they would lose fans because I worried that the fandom did need to be fed frequently in order to be maintained.

Yet, could it really be more like the second friend in which it doesn’t need constant attention, but when I can get to it, it is a ton of fun?  This could very well be the case.  After all, all it takes is for me to think about a show to get all excited and to put fandom first.  That said, even if it is more like the second type of friend, I really would like both.  I need the fun and excitement from the second friend but the companionship from the first.  I like having the constant presence of those who matter in my daily lives even if the affection could remain without it.

What about the rest of you?  How do you view fandom?  Is it something that you need to feed to keep it alive or does it just take a little fun to restore the love?

-A

During This Deafening Silence

Sorry for my absence last week!  My husband was laid off late last year, and spent five incredibly long months looking for a new job. Some people find jobs quickly, but in the tech industry, his work is far more specialized and it just takes longer.  Unfortunately in his business, reorganizations and layoffs are normal. For the past twenty years, we have been lucky. His job changes—we think there have been at least seven—never required a move, and we’ve lived in the same house in So Cal. Two of our three children were born nearby, and for all of them, this house is “home”.

My husband started a brand new job this morning in Santa Barbara, which is about 150 miles from our current home. Over the summer (I sincerely hope it’s over the summer!), we will be moving because the commute from the OC to Santa Barbara is insanity, obviously.  He drove up this morning, leaving our house just after five (that is AM, thank you). He just texted me at about 8:45 my time to let me know he’d gotten there. That’s an hour longer than it should have taken him, thanks to typical Los Angeles traffic. There’s no way he’s going to be able to keep up that pace for long, not that we ever thought otherwise.

So, last week, I began the slow and steady process of packing, getting the house ready to sell, and moving. The funny part is that I still am not sure where we’re moving quite yet. It could be north of Santa Barbara, but it could also be the Boston area since a good portion of his team are located there. I just love surprises and not having any idea of where we’re going. (This is such a lie I can’t even type it without laughing)

I do find the timing and the uncertainty amusing. After all, we’re in-between albums, aren’t we? None of us have any idea when a new album will drop…or IF a new album will drop. (To clarify, I have no reason to suspect they wouldn’t go back to the studio!) We don’t know if that band will ever tour again, although right now I feel pretty positive they will. (No hate mail, please) I’m just glad that if my life is about to be turned upside down, we’re doing it now…and I’m willing to bet that on the next Duran Duran album, there will be at least one song that I’ll identify with that describes this period of my life, because THAT is how good this band is. They get it right even when they have no idea who I am, or what I’m about, or going through.

Each of us have our own lives going on during the time when Duran Duran are killing us with silence. I tend to think in terms of “pre <insert album title here>”, “post <insert album title here>”, or even “in-between titles”. I’ll probably always remember this time in between as the period where my life closed one chapter and began another (and yeah, that’s pretty poetic). The joys of moving.

I listened to Paper Gods today as I was driving home from dropping Gavin back off at his UC Riverside dorm. It’s an hour from our current house, which isn’t awful as long as there isn’t traffic. I hadn’t listened to PG in a while just because I was trying to give it a bit of a rest after having it playing on repeat for over a year. I can still remember how it felt to stand in the audience at the Hollywood Bowl and seeing them play the set live for the first time. I don’t know if the album really is a favorite of mine – I found that it took me quite some time to really bond with it in any sort of way – but I will say that the tour was a lot of fun. Those memories will stick with me in the same way that the memories I have of this house will linger with me forever.

-R

 

 

People stare and cross the road from me

What constitutes crossing the line?  Where exactly are your boundaries for what you will or won’t say online?

Mine fluctuate based on the circumstance, I suppose.  Amanda and I have been known to give one another a rough time, even mock-threatening to leave one another stranded on the side of a road somewhere, but that’s because we’re friends. (Makes you think what we might say if we weren’t, I guess!)

Does the band count amongst the people I know?  Sure, I’ve “known” them for many years, but I don’t really think any of them would be able to pick me out of a lineup.  (Then again, given the situation – perhaps that’s best!) I don’t think any of them know me by name. Maybe they do, but I really wouldn’t count on it. The math – thousands of fans, bloggers, fan sites vs. four of them….doesn’t quite make for the best odds. It’s understandable.

I’m a fan of Duran Duran. That does not mean that I am a fan of every single thing that anyone included in that precious inner-circle, such as roadies, friends, management team, wives, children, significant others, life partners, siblings, distant cousins, and so on, chooses to say or do. Just because someone decides to enter into a relationship with a band member doesn’t mean that they’ve decided to stop being human and stop responding to life the same way you or I might. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t afford them some grace, understanding, and kindness, and privacy, if you ask me.

I know that not everyone agrees with me on this. I’m asking the tough questions today: where is YOUR boundary? When do you realize your internal filter is flagging you down to stop and think?

The answers here are difficult. It is rare that I’m genuinely concerned for Duran Duran or even their friends and family because someone decided to slash and burn them on social media. After all, they pay a team of people to handle that sort of thing for them. They’ve got security, and likely – none of them care what somebody like me or even you thinks of them. Why should they? On the other hand, I do worry about fellow fans – the people who might be doing that slashing and burning – at times.

As I said recently, it’s not the line that is being crossed, it is the escalation of severity.  I know a lot of people who have gotten into arguments with fans. For that matter, I myself have had the occasional run-in with a fan or two. It happens when people are passionate about something. What I don’t see very often though, are those same fans going directly after people in DD’s inner circle.

I worry that sometimes, we are too quick to call someone “batshit crazy”, rather than hold out a hand and be the person to help rather than hurt. And let me be the first to say the obvious: sometimes people cannot be helped. I’m no psychologist, and I’m definitely not perfect. When someone goes from just ranting at fans to ranting directly at a band member, wife, or girlfriend – it’s worrisome. But what do we do? Do we make sure to point out that we’re not friends with that person, that we know of them but don’t like them? Do we message them and ask if they’re OK? Or do we do like most of us would – and just sit back and watch the drama unfold?

Sometimes, I feel like this community thrives on the drama. Rather than offer up support to people on the fringe, we pass out the popcorn and sit back on the sofa to watch. After all, the 24-hour news cycle was created for those who like to watch the train wreck. But at what point do we recognize that there are actual humans involved? This community isn’t so big that we’re all anonymous faces to one another. Many of us at least recognize one another, even if we’ve never formally met. Are we so heartless and so cynical that when someone steps outside of that ever-so-vague boundary that we give them a gentle shove over the edge of the cliff?

I’m no innocent here. I’ve certainly had my own moments of being a couch potato with my bag of popcorn, watching a couple of community members go back and forth on the message board. As I’ve watched, I’ve also ended up feeling awful. I took the easy way out. It is easier to be silent and let the masses do their thing without getting in the way and becoming the new target.

Half of the problem is that the boundaries are more personal suggestions than written in stone. Not everyone abides by the same rules – and let’s face it: the rules for some are different from others. I’m not here to tell anybody where the real boundaries are – your guess is as good as mine.  It is also very difficult to say what someone’s true intentions might be, particularly online.

I just keep thinking that with all of the reading I’ve done about fandom, there are some actions that indicate something far different besides just crossing a boundary or being an overzealous fan. It’s like this – the difference between love and hate is very subtle. Both emotions require a lot of passion. Indifference—that take-it-or-leave-it area—is easy. It requires no effort. There are some people who start out adoring someone, perhaps unreasonably so, and for whatever reason, end up hating them. Or hating their choices with the same amount of passion that they once loved. What happens then?

Food for thought.

-R

 

We’re All of the Same Blood

Four weeks from today, I will be traveling to Boston with my parents.  Part of the reason we are going is to see my brother who lives there but another part is to go see a White Sox game.  To be honest, we could have gone anytime over the summer but we chose this specific weekend because the White Sox are playing the Red Sox then.  This mattered to my dad.  In fact, we have seen the White Sox play in lots of different cities, including Minneapolis, St. Louis, Washington D.C., Detroit.  My parents have traveled even more than I have to Cleveland, Toronto, Baltimore and more.  It is a thing in our family.  In fact, my aunt and uncle are venturing to Pittsburgh to see them play there next week.  Despite the fact that the White Sox are having the world’s worst season, we still remain dedicated fans.

What is interesting about this is that no one rarely comments when I tell people about this plan to see the Sox play all over the States.  Generally, people tell me how cool it is that we do this as a family.  Strangely enough, though, when I say that I’m traveling all over the country to see Duran Duran concerts, I get a very different response.  It usually goes something like this, “Why?  Aren’t all the concerts the same?  Do they even play different songs?”  I always struggle to explain my reasoning after this set of questions.  Now, that I’m thinking about this family tradition of traveling to see the Sox play, I’m thinking that I have been approaching my response all wrong.

People can understand sports fans going to see multiple game because each game is different.  The results are unknown.  No one knows what is going to happen.  Heck, right now, if I were to bet, the Sox will lose the game that we are going to see but you never know.  It what keeps us going.  What if the Sox always won?  Would that stop my family from going?  No way.  In fact, that might get people like us to go to more games rather than less.  After all, winning teams generally get more and more people in stadiums because the chance to watch a win is higher.  Isn’t this really what going to concerts is like?

Hear me out.  Yes, sporting events include a competition with someone winning and someone losing.  I get that concerts are not the same.  There are not two team vying for a win.  That said, there still is a chance for a win or a loss (of sorts–not that Duran is ever a loser).  Not every concert is awesome.  At times, people can try hard to put on an awesome show and fail to live up to that expectation.  Those concerts might be considered a loss.  Yet, I would say that Duran shows are wins.  Big wins.  Even ones that fail to live up to the expectations are still victories.  Most Duran shows are like baseball games where your favorite team wins by 10-1. They are like a game in which your team wins easily and everyone has fun.  At times, Duran shows can be even better than that.  Sometimes, there are moments that are so amazing or so profound that you feel lucky to have been there. Those are just like games that end up in the record books where someone hits for the cycle or throws a no-hitters.

This is how I’m going to phrase it from now on when people ask why go to more concerts:  “Do you think that sports fans should stop going to games if they know that their favorite team is going to win?  Should fans avoid the cost of going then?”

More likely than not, the other person will say no.  S/he might say something like, “That would be dumb to stop going to games then.”

I might follow up with, “I agree.  Going to games in which you know your team has a great chance to win is awesome.  This is how it feels for me.  I feel like going to a Duran show is like going to a game where your team has a really awesome chance at winning.  In fact, there is always the possibility of going and seeing something so amazing that it will go down in Duran’s history just like going to a game might mean you get to see a grand slam in person!”

If that still doesn’t convince people then I could point out that attending a game in person means that community feeling of being surrounded by others who love what you do, cheering for the same team.  At games, you have the chance of catching a ball like concert goers can get drumsticks or guitar picks.  Both of them feature a chance to see someone you admire up close and in the flesh.

I could keep going with this metaphor but I think you all get the idea.  I really think that there isn’t that much of a difference between these fandoms anymore.  On that note, I’m off to go watch the Sox game!

-A

Broken glass for us to hold

Things are looking up.

Yesterday, I noticed that DDHQ had their #WatchItWednesday as “Is There Something I Should Know”.  That is my favorite Duran Duran song, and of course I love the video too. On #TuneInTuesday, they featured my other favorite – “Late Bar”.  This adds up to this week not being too shabby, in my opinion.

I had started to type out a tweet in response to DDHQ’s choice for Wednesday, when I realized how elementary it sounded. Of COURSE they’re good at choosing my favorites.  Duran Duran is my favorite band and has been for begins counting on fingers and toes and runs out….a very long time! Posting a song and having it be one of my favorites (or anybody’s favorite) is pretty much like shooting fish in a barrel, isn’t it?

There is a lot of comfort in Duran Duran, and I’ve needed it quite a bit during the past six months, and I’ll need it going forward. I know that music like the back of my hand. I know what I’m going to hear when I put on any one of their albums. I remember what it was like to be a fan back in the 80s, and I know what it is like to still be a fan now. (far better now than then, in my humble opinion!)

I love that my memories are entangled with their music, and I especially enjoy that since the early 2000s, I can even retrace my steps based on their tours (OK, so that’s probably a little crazy sounding to some, but that’s fine). My closest friends, the people that I count on, and that I immediately share good news with, I’ve found as a 100% direct result of being a fan of this band.

During the past couple of months, I saw a few things from well-known people who are directly or indirectly connected to the band. Well-meaning questions and comments about why they aren’t already in the Hall of Fame and so forth. It is pretty easy to fall down that rabbit hole. As a fan, of course I know they should be included, and should win awards, and so forth. On the other side of that same coin, I know in my heart that they’ve already done so much – a silly plaque, award, or induction isn’t going to change what so many of us already know to be true.

I don’t want to be too melodramatic, but for so many of us, this band has changed our very lives. Maybe that doesn’t matter so much to a radio host or even a PR person, or even the band themselves (but I’m betting it does). As a fan – and someone who can honestly say this band has not only changed my life but in fact saved it – no Hall of Fame is going to make that simple truth any more or less real to me. I’m not saying that wanting them to be recognized is bad, I’m just saying that for me personally, I already know.

-R

Memories of The Belasco Theatre 2016, or “GA lines aren’t that bad”

A couple of years ago on this very day, my husband kindly drove my friends and I up to LA for a show at the Belasco Theatre. It was a very warm day for it only being May, but we found a shady spot to spread out, and wait the day away in the GA line.

By contrast, today it is raining, and cool – at least by “Los Angeles-in-May” standards. Oh, and Duran Duran is NOT playing today. Yes, there is that, too.

I remember the day outside The Belasco well. Despite my plans to sit down and relax, I found myself up and walking around, talking to everyone I knew. The hours seemed to fly by as I chatted away with fellow fans from all over. I am one of the first people to say that I don’t like GA shows (I really don’t), but I have to say that standing (sitting) in line with everyone all day is not all that terrible. In a lot of very bizarre ways, it’s like a giant pre-show party.  You see people you haven’t seen in a long time, you gab about the band (of course), music, other shows you’ve attended, and maybe someone goes on a food run.

While sure, the waiting can be monotonous, and sure, I suppose it can be a bit cutthroat when you have people around you who are more concerned with being at the rail and loudly asserting that no one dare get in front of them than they are with making (and keeping) friends. I find that many times, those people are the minority, and in the end, don’t need to make a difference in my evening unless I allow it. For the majority of people who are there to have a good time, even if they end up in second, third row or beyond, I can think of far worse ways to spend a day.

The weird thing is that I did know a lot of people in that line at the Belasco!  It was a stark contrast to even a few years prior, when I went to a show at the Mayan Theatre. That show was also GA and required many hours of waiting in a line, yet I really didn’t know that many people then. I kept mostly to myself, talking with my husband and a couple who stood behind us, although I did say hi to the few people I recognized.

Everyone I know who isn’t a huge fan of a specific band the way I am always asks me how I can keep going to shows. They don’t mean financially – although my husband has certainly asked me that very question over the years! Ha ha! They just can’t understand why someone would want to see the same band fifty or sixty times, or more than once during a tour. The thought of going to fifteen shows during a single tour blows their minds. Yet, as we all know, my experience is tame compared to some who have gone to twice or even three times as many shows.

My answer is always the same: it isn’t purely about the band. In some ways, my life might be a lot easier if it were ONLY about Duran Duran! For me, seeing my friends is everything. I don’t live near them. Sometimes, weeks go by without even a single text…and those are just my close friends. There are many people that I just don’t keep in that close of touch with, yet I do consider friends. I see them when I go to shows. I look forward to seeing and hugging those people as much as I do seeing the band. After all, Duran Duran is only on stage for about 90 minutes these days (give or take). What in the hell do I do with the rest of the time while I’m away from home?  I talk to my friends. We get together. We go to lunch or dinner.  We do video blogs. (this is true…and we’ll do them just about anywhere, right Amanda?)  We have vodka tonics or sodas in to-go cups with lids that don’t fit! We try to squeeze in as much time together as we possibly can during the time we’re gathered.

 

 

I don’t know how I missed out on all of that for so long. The Belasco show was in 2016. The Mayan show was in 2011. Before the reunion, I’d only gone to a few Duran Duran shows, and I definitely didn’t know anyone from the fan community. In a lot of ways, I think I’m making up for lost time, now. When I think to my friends in the UK or even a few on the east coast – I can’t help but be a little envious. They grew up together. They spent their teenage years going to shows, waiting in the GA line (and yes, even waiting for band members outside of studios). I spent mine doing anything but all of that. I didn’t meet my touring buddies and best friend until after I’d already grown up, gotten married and had children. So now, I don’t miss an opportunity to go and be with them. It is a truth that is sometimes difficult for my family, but it is something that I don’t want to give up.

Yesterday, I had a student and parent at my desk at school. I was looking something up for them on my computer and they noticed my mousepad. It is one of my prized possessions these days – Amanda had it made for me. It is filled with pictures she and I had taken at various Duran Duran shows. I always smile when I look at it, even during the toughest days at work, and lately – there have been quite a few. Anyway, they wanted to know who those people were (the student, who is in middle school and is now one of my very favorites thought that one of the men must be my husband. HA). I explained that they were Duran Duran which of course led to a full discussion of how many shows I’d been to, who was my favorite band member, and of course – this blog – which I honestly try NOT to publicize at work. The question asked by the parent was simple “how long do you think you can really keep going to these shows and not feel silly?”

My answer? “How long can Simon and the band keep going?  They’re older than I am…and I’m not going to give up before they do.”

Note to the band: YOU’RE NOT DONE YET!

-R

 

Happy Birthday, Amanda!! (2018)

So, yesterday was crazy. Not only was it my daughter’s tenth birthday – celebrated with a big family get together, including lots of cooking, cleaning and general merriment – but it was also Amanda’s birthday.

The day did not go by completely unnoticed. I certainly posted my good wishes on all sorts of social media, but it wasn’t quite the same. I didn’t have a chance to post a birthday blog for her, and goodness knows a birthday cannot go by without that happening. So, today is that day.

Happy Birthday Amanda!!

Friendships ebb and flow, particularly when they are conducted from a long distance, such as ours. There are some periods of time where we have spoken every single day, but admittedly for the past year or so, those conversations haven’t happened as regularly as I would have liked. Most of that is my fault, and I acknowledge that. It isn’t that I have forgotten about our friendship, found someone else, or have felt like our connection has faded – in this case, it is truly because life has gotten incredibly complicated and busy. Amanda knows that right now, I’m not quite sure if I’m coming or going.  Yet, her friendship remains steadfast, and it is one constant I can count on. So this post is for Amanda, and I’m writing to her.

Rather than rattle on about how tough things have been lately – I like thinking about the things we’ve done along the way. Weirdly enough, remembering all of those times we laughed ourselves silly has kind of helped me during these past few months when the darkness has gotten SO dark that I couldn’t even really see the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak.

There are the times that come to memory first – like when we first met and somehow ended up on a small stage at Howl at the Moon singing Duran Duran songs. What about the day we were sitting at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg and calculated that we’d gone 27 (pretty sure I’m exaggerating) hours without eating at one point that weekend? Or when we were at Voodoo Festival and you had to go on a search for sunscreen with Sara. Yeah, that was also the night when Simon just HAD to go and ask if we had time for one more.  I also chuckle when I think about Toronto. I have one word for you: “Really?”  “REALLY?”  That memory always makes me laugh.

What I really like thinking about most though are the moments we haven’t necessarily talked about a lot. Like when we drove to Milwaukee that very first time and I was making signs as quickly as we could think of things to say. I think about how you and I love going to the Art Institute in Chicago, and how oddly – we both love modern and contemporary art. The weirder, the better!  I remember how in England (I have so many great memories of England, many of which really don’t even include the band at all, which is probably a shock to some) we sat on that train listening to John Taylor, watching the English countryside go by. That’s one of my favorite memories from that trip…right along with the first night in Brighton when Duran Duran played Secret Oktober.

Remember when we saw the band in LA at that David Lynch thing and we got there a day or so early? We stayed at the Luxe, which has this fantastic patio bar area, so you and I decided to have a pitcher of sangrias in the sun? It was glorious sitting there, relaxing and talking away. That day didn’t have a lot to do with Duran Duran at all. It was a simple afternoon, and I wouldn’t trade it, even for “Late Bar” live in a set!

I remember driving during that Southeastern US road trip. We spent SO many hours in the car that time. It was a weird tour for us (they all are, though. I don’t think any of them ever go how we think they will, and at this point I don’t know why when drama happens while touring, we’re still surprised. I believe that someone might call all of that careful planning, “expectations”, which I have on good authority are just future resentments. <insert grin here>. But you know, I look back on that tour and think about how differently I saw things then. I remember the heat and humidity, and going for pancakes at IHOP that last night because we were so sick of drinking we didn’t even want to bother!

Remember when we went to lunch with Kitty in England?  It was after we saw the band going into their rehearsal studio on the “tour that wasn’t”, and I asked the waiter about how big their pizzas were, and he made some comment about how as an American, I’d probably think they were small. Funny that he assumed I wanted a big pizza when in fact I was worried it would be too much – then he brought it out and it was bigger than my head (AND the plate it was on!).  I still remember having to take the bus and learning how to use the tube (for those reading – we don’t have them where I live in Orange County!) I don’t know why that still makes me chuckle, but it’s those moments that I think about when I’m feeling myself get down.

We have made good friends along the way. Some have stayed, others have drifted away, and still others have been a gift of late. I treasure those people. I will never ever forget ordering that big fishbowl cocktail in San Francisco (never ever again. Stay away from the group cocktails in the future) and laughing about it the entire weekend, or the Cat Club – which was a blast. We did not really see or speak to a band member the entire weekend, but I think we had more fun than we’ve had in a long time, just dancing to Duran Duran songs and videos. I’d do it again in a hot minute. I remember laughing at you one of those nights at the Cat Club for reasons I don’t need to disclose here, but it was joyous all the same.  Our friends have stood by us, bought us tickets when the two of us couldn’t get the Ticketmaster gods to work in our favor, and listened to us go on and on about blogging and fandom and who knows what else. (well, I do know, but there’s only so much I’ll say here!)

I have tried to sum this up in a few different ways, but the fact is – I want to celebrate you and our friendship. I don’t want to think about the bad stuff because as soon as I’m done writing, it’ll still be there. In this moment, I want to focus on the joy. I am so glad you were born and that I can still count you as my best friend! Despite our differences, we are incredibly similar, and I love how we’re two sides of the same coin.  As I think back on all the things we’ve done, it is impossible not think about all that we have left to still do. I think there must be corners of the US we haven’t visited yet – so the band had better get on with it!  We still have things to do!!

A very happy birthday to you, my friend. I hope you had a wonderful day. I thought of you lots yesterday, believe it or not. The good news is that for all intents and purposes, Walt IS back to work – and that means I need to plan a trip to see you. Soon.  I picture a week during the summer where we do nothing but watch videos, hang out, have some vodka tonics, and maybe do some writing if we are so inclined.

I am so lucky (no really, right now I am definitely the luckiest) to call Amanda my best friend. I am well aware that we are not everyone’s cup of tea. That’s fine, because we’ve got each other.

-R

She’s Not Afraid of Leaving

Recently, I had a long conversation with my mother about friendship.  I’m not even sure how we got talking about that but the conversation got me thinking.  As I considered the conversation, I started to think about how my students and how they have met their friends.  Here, the answer is obvious.  They met their friends in classes, through their parents, in clubs and sports.  In fact, they spend a lot of time with their friends, which could make their initial friendships deeper and stronger.  Looking back to my youth, I experienced the exact same thing.

What about as an adult?  I have definitely made friends from work.  In fact, some of my closest friends now are people I have worked with.  Beyond that, I have met people through various political activities and through other people.  Yet, when I think about friendships, I often turn to fandom.  How many people have I met through fandom?  Countless.  You might think that I’m exaggerating but I don’t think I am, especially if I consider online friendships.  While I have not met every Duranie I know in person, I have met a bunch of people through this fan community.  In fact, I would say that the people I have met keeps me here when I might not have otherwise.  It is great fun to go to events and know that you will run into people you know.

This makes me wonder about why friendship within fandom seems so unique.  When I compare my friendships from fandom to other friendships, there is something different there.  For one thing, real life friendships seems to take longer.  There is a lot more surface conversation or small talk with real life friends.  It feels to me that it takes a long time to develop real trust with colleagues, for example.  Yet, I don’t sense that as much from fans.  There does not seem to have as much small talk with fan friendships.  I might even go so far as to say that I think there is more chances for equal trust.  Take my friendship with Rhonda.  I didn’t know much about her when I met her for the first time and we hit it off right away.  In fact, we decided to go to a show together and share a hotel room right after having met in person only once.  How did I know that I could trust her?  I don’t know.  I just did.

Does this immediate connection and trust happen because you share the same passion?  The same love for a band?  Maybe.  It is almost like being members of this exclusive club means that we understand each other deep at the core.  We understand something that doesn’t need to be described but something that defines us in a way.

Then, I wonder what happens when that passion does not remain.  What happens when friends leave the fandom?  Does the friendship remain?  I wonder.  I have friends who have left the fandom.  Am I still friends with them?  Yes, I am, but it doesn’t feel the same.  Why the heck is that?  I don’t have a good answer for this.  Could it be that it feels like a rejection of that something that lies at the core of your being or is it a matter of lack of having something in common?  I don’t know.

What do the rest of you think?  Does fandom breed quicker, closer friendships?  Then, if it does, can those friendships last in the same way if one of the people leave the fandom and the other doesn’t?  If not, why not?  What’s the deal there?

-A