Tag Archives: fandom

Away from here

I try not to get political here on the blog because it’s kind of my escape. But then again, I’m not really sure if the word “escape” is appropriate here. For me, Duran Duran is just a part of everything else. I met my best friend at a fan convention. I write because I’m fascinated about fandom. I listen to Duran Duran music when I’m driving my kids around. I found some of my favorite people on earth because of Duran Duran. So I don’t know if I’d call the band my escape, or a just a really good and happy part of my life at this point. Whatever the case, I try to leave the stress at the proverbial “door” when I start writing, and enjoy the peace.

With that in mind, the solace of the blog has become somewhat more of a comfort in the past year. The world outside is pretty darn nasty right now. I can’t speak for what is going on in other countries of the world, but being American, I can absolutely speak to what I’m seeing and reading here. I don’t like it.

I’m not here to say who is right, who is wrong, or to judge anybody for what they believe. That’s what Twitter and social media is for. <insert big grin here>  My opinion is simply that regardless of who you voted for last November, I think it’s fair to say that our country is a mess. I don’t think anyone openly wanted to see something like what appears to be happening here unfold. I tread carefully here with my words because no one has been impeached, and I think we’re only at the very beginning of what might be a very long and dirty process. Despite what might seem to be the truth right now, there’s really no way of knowing what will happen in the months to come, and that’s no fake news. I worry a lot about what might come of it all in the end. But, I’m not really here to talk about American politics, thankfully.

It is during these times when I am most thankful for the fandom I’ve embraced, and the friends I’ve made along the way. It is so good to share even a few lighthearted laughs and tweets with people. I love that I can go online (at the moment, Twitter is that place for me), no matter what time of day, and see at least a few tweets about Duran Duran. Whether it’s someone reminding me of meaningful lyrics, or a picture, or even a memory from last summer’s tour, those simple tweets make me see that the sun really is still shining. While the rest of the world is surging to and fro similar to a washing machine, the simplest of things stay true. The music doesn’t change. Duran Duran is still Duran Duran. Thankfully.

-R

I Knew When I First Saw You on the Showroom Floor

I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading recently.  I just finished Electric Ladyland last night, which is about women and rock.  While reading, I found a quote that I couldn’t get out of my head. I sent it on to Amanda because we’re working on something and I thought it would be of benefit to her, too. I’m going to share it here as well, because I’m curious about what our readers might think.

“Even after I realized women were barred from any active participation in rock music, it took me a while to see that we weren’t even considered a real part of the listening audience.  It was clear that the concerts were directed only to men and the women were not considered people, but more on the level of exotic domestic animals that come with their masters or come to find masters. Only men are assumed smart enough to understand the intricacies of the music.” –Susan Hiwatt, “Cock Rock”, an essay from Twenty-Minute Fandangos and Forever Changes

First of all, before the roaring chorus of “No way!!” begins, I feel as though context may be important.  I found this quote in Electric Ladyland, but it came from the essay cited above. Electric Ladyland examines the role of women in music, whether as musicians, writers, or groupies (anyone want to guess why I was reading?).  More specifically, the book targets the years of 1960 through the 1970’s. Anyone who has properly studied that time in history knows how much change occurred during that nearly twenty year period (1960-1979ish).  The quote came from something written in 1971, but I’m wondering how much of it still hold true today, and for the sake of argument, we can take Duran Duran for an example.

I don’t necessarily think that Duran Duran bars women from active participation, per se. I mean, I’ve been to concerts. So have many of our readers. It’s pretty clear they’re on board with the whole “there are women in our audience” thing.

That said, let’s take a few things into consideration. The band itself has never really gotten respect from critics and the like. Part of that reason is because of their following. And who made up most of their following?  Us. Women. Girls. Teenyboppers. Even today, when the band talks about their audience in interviews, they are certain to bring up the fact that their audience has broadened to include men. The point is, if it didn’t matter, I don’t think they’d bring it up.

Let’s talk about the concert itself since that’s something mentioned in the quote I shared. If you spend any time at all looking at the video screens behind the band, the images are mainly of women. Not ALL, but most. This has always amused me, because if the audience is primarily women, and we’re watching the show, which includes the screens…who are those images for, then?  Sure, we can and should argue that girls/women/models/etc has always been a part of Duran Duran’s entire visual package. Even so, there’s part of me that wonders, if the women in the audience cannot tear their eyes away from Simon for even a second to see the screens behind them, who is watching those screens?  Their dates?? Maybe. So while I wouldn’t argue the entire concert is directed towards men (hardly!), I do think there are images there designed for them. Not a bad thing, I’m definitely not condemning the band for them, I’m acknowledging what they’re designed to do.

Now, about that whole exotic domesticated animal thing. I’m not gonna lie – anytime I read words like that I think of “The Man Who Stole a Leopard”, which I feel is symbolism for a lot of different things.  But, when I get past that thought, I would agree that it’s difficult for me to see a Duran Duran concert in that same light. But isn’t that part of the reason why critics had such trouble giving Duran Duran even an ounce of credit back in the 80s?  The band wasn’t playing just for guys, or just for girls for that matter. They were meant for everyone.

On the other hand, I feel like there are a plethora of other examples, particularly in hard rock, where women are merely the eye candy for the evening. The music is meant for men, and they can bring their women along with them for the evening. Or women can show up on their own and then go looking for men! While I’m not saying that can’t happen at a Duran Duran concert, I’m also saying that they’re not the first band that pops into my mind when that scenario is discussed.

What about Duran Duran’s videos? This is another area that I think we have to at least acknowledge packaging.  Let’s be honest: many of their videos have beautiful women in them. Girls on Film, Rio, Hungry Like the Wolf, Falling Down, Girl Panic, New Moon on Monday, Careless Memories…I could go on and on.  They don’t just put women in their videos for their own benefit. They’re there to attract the audience the label (and maybe even the band) would like to have: men. Now why is that?  Why are men so important, and why is it that even when a band has millions upon millions of ardent female fans, why are they never given credit?

It’s not just Duran Duran in that boat, and it’s not just the 80’s we’re talking about here. The Beatles, Bay City Rollers, New Kids on the Block, N*Sync, Backstreet Boys, and yes, One Direction. By any account, all of those bands were (and still are) very successful. Millions of fans, sold-out tours,  and #1 records to go all around. In every example given, women make up the majority of their fans, and in every case the critical acclaim has never quite been there. (with the possible exception of The Beatles, where the majority of their critical success came after the band broke up). I just don’t think that’s   purely coincidence.

“Only men are assumed smart enough to understand the intricacies of the music.” 

If I am to understand that quote correctly, if men like the music – I think of Bruce Springsteen, U2, The Rolling Stones, The Police, etc – it’s because the music is genuinely good, men get that, and that is why they choose those bands to follow.  If an audience is made up of women and girls, it is because those women don’t really get the music. I mean, how could they – they’re too busy looking at the band to hear much else, and they don’t really understand music anyway. Ah. I see.

I can remember sharing my thoughts about various songs the band has done over the years. Amanda and I have done many reviews on the blog or even on YouTube. I never failed to be amused by some of the comments we received, some of which came incredibly close to a virtual pat on the head, explaining that while we’re cute, we don’t understand music.

Outraged, I’d write back, sharing my education with them. I would punch at the keys on my computer as though each one was hurting the (typically) male who dared question my intelligence. But then one day, I got smart and stopped responding. I don’t need to bother. I know what I know. I am confident that for the most part, the men (and some women) who choose to belittle whatever Amanda and I are doing at the time, aren’t going to ever be convinced of why or how we do it. We run into that kind of judgment all the time, whether it’s someone criticizing why we go to shows, why we blog, or why we’ve written manuscripts. We can’t win those individual battles on our own, but together, we can win the war.

It just doesn’t have to be this way.  I’m interested in reading your thoughts and ideas!

-R

Don’t You Just Grow Out of It? Fantasy and Gender

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were talking about fandom. I can’t remember exactly what prompted the discussion, but  I was explaining that when I was young, I did have the marvelous, very naive fantasy, of marrying Roger Taylor. That kind of ended once he got married and left the band because reality has a nasty habit of setting in to ruin things. After that, while I still idolized the band, my fandom sort of took on new meaning. I explained that not everyone has that same experience. He responded by saying, “Well, don’t you just grow out of that?”

I took a deep breath and blinked a couple of times, trying to process what he was really asking, and what I really wanted to say in return.

So many other thoughts and quotes I’ve heard and read over the years rang through my head..

“You can love Roger Taylor, you can adore John Taylor…but some people need a certificate [are certifiable].” 

“Fan is short for fanatic, right?”

“Oh, we know you guys. You’re fans and you’re all crazy.”  (emphasis not mine)

I didn’t even know where to start or what to say.  I was thinking, “Here I am, the woman who has Duran Duran posters plastering her closet, and blogs about them nearly every day, and you’re seriously asking me that?” 

The truth is, no. No we don’t just grow out of that. Obviously.  Sure, I stopped thinking Roger was going to ride up on a white horse and marry me, but that didn’t stop me from idolizing him. While I may have let go of that fantasy, there are still plenty of others that took its place. Anyone who knows me, including just passing friends and people I know from Heather’s old dance team and teachers from Gavin’s old school, knows I’m a Duran Duran fan. Sometimes, they even send me links to  contests to win tickets, or charity events where the band is going to play! (I still haven’t been hooked up with actual tickets to one of those corporate or charity events though, dang it!)  So yes, I’m still a fan. No, I didn’t grow out of all of it.

On the other hand, I understood where Walt was coming from. At some point, I did let go of the fairy tale, at least to a certain extent.  The problem I see here though, is that we women are expected to give up our dreams and become our mothers at some point. Society trains us to believe that once married, or once old enough to marry, the posters and t-shirts and all that jazz needs to be put up in the attic, buried in the basement, or tossed out with the trash. What is scary, is that I very nearly bought into this insanity at one point. I think back to when I was a new mom, and I can tell you that Duran Duran was about the very last thing on my mind. I very quickly embraced the idea of staying at home, taking care of Heather, and succumbing to the role of motherhood. It didn’t occur to me that I could still be Rhonda AND do all of that.  Gender roles are a real thing, and we need to acknowledge that the expectations are out there, and that quite frankly – they’re a lot of BS.

To this day, I still have an ongoing struggle with my own expected gender role and what I really want out of life. I am a people-pleaser, I seek approval, and yet many of the things I enjoy most out of life put me in the direct line of fire and reproach from family and friends. If that weren’t enough, society thinks we’re all crazy for being fans anyway.  I still do an amazing amount of horrible (and really dumb) self-talk at times, telling myself that I need to get “back in line” as a wife, or that I should just give it all up and stay at home because it would make my family happier. Since when do my feelings not matter? Since when does being a wife, mom or woman mean that I can’t have my own interests, hobbies, and enjoyment? I’m learning to ask myself those questions more and more often in return when I start thinking about just giving up. (just imagine my house at times…)

Bottom line: it doesn’t have to be this way. It really doesn’t. The more you, and I, and everyone else, starts embracing the word “fan” and recognizing that it’s OK, and that it is absolutely NOT OK for the word “fan” to equate to the word “crazy”, the better off we’ll all be. Same goes for those expected gender roles. It won’t be easy. There are people out there that desperately need us to fall in line to carry on their own agendas, but it’s time we begin standing up for ourselves.

I know far too many of you out there who have brilliant careers as teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers and accountants, or supermoms,  and volunteers who donate so much of their own blood, sweat, and tears into one thing or another, to know that most of us aren’t crazy. We might get a little excited, or even sway into lunacy when our favorite band member grins at us from the stage, but we’re not crazy.

Being a woman doesn’t mean we are somehow required to give up being a fan, and it’s appalling that some people are determined to preach otherwise.  As my friends have told me rather recently, it’s OK to have the fantasy! I think almost all of us recognize the difference between reality and fantasy, and sometimes it’s those fantasies that keep us going each day. In some ways, I almost feel sorry for the people who argue otherwise, because they’re missing out on so much.

So how did I answer my husband that day? Well, I didn’t, really. I changed the subject. Now, I know everyone would love to read about a moment of triumph, but that didn’t happen for me. I’m admitting this because I want to show you that I don’t have it any more figured out than anyone else. It takes an incredible amount of work. Sometimes I do well. Other times, I take the easy way that does nothing to help in the long run. In that moment, I recognized that if he didn’t get it by then, he probably wouldn’t. I won’t lie, there are some days when I am just not up for the argument, or the scrutiny. So yes, I still have plenty of work to do on my own. I can’t change him, but I can change me.

No, we don’t just grow out of it, and we shouldn’t. The fantasy lives on.

-R

Thirty-eight and counting. Happy Anniversary!

Yesterday was kind of a big day to look back. I know the band isn’t nostalgic, but we can afford to take a minute to think back on the beginning in order to fully appreciate where we are right now.  This blog was supposed to have published yesterday, but due to owner error (mine), I blew it.

I’m still publishing this damn thing, regardless. Day late…don’t care.  You’re welcome.

On April 5th in 1979, Duran Duran played their very first gig at the Birmingham Polytechnic University. Duran Duran even commemorated the day by posting the flyer that John created and copied on the xerox machine. (did they even call them that way back then?? Kidding….)

While you’re contemplating whether or not xerox machines were in wide-use back then (come on, you know you at least thought about it), let me just make you aware that this is the 38th anniversary of that show. THIRTY-EIGHT.  

WHA???????

At least, that was my reaction when I thought about it, followed up by, “That’s impossible. I’m not even thirty!”  After which, I considered what age I posted the LAST time I said something like this. Truth is, I can’t remember.

Yes, I know that’s a sign of old age. MOVING ON…

Ultimately, it means that today we’re celebrating, or at least acknowledging, a time before Simon was even in the band. Now, if that doesn’t blow your mind, not much will. And, in a year from now, it will be the fortieth anniversary that Duran Duran has been in existence. Their 40th birthday.

Again, That’s impossible.

My, my, how things have changed. We’ve gained a singer. Lost a guitarist or two. Had a couple of drummers, lost a lot of good people along the way, and have also found some really wonderful friends and “family”.  Life has happened.

I can’t let a post like this go without expressing some of my own gratitude.  Every band has a first gig, and I suppose on some level, it can seem pretty insignificant. After all, it’s just the first of many.  In this case, thirty-eight years worth of “many”. Who knew?  I didn’t even pick up on Duran Duran until a few years later, and they’ve been one of the very few constants I’ve had in my life ever since. I know many other fans feel similar. I try not to take the blog or my own fandom TOO seriously these days, but my love for these guys—who don’t even know me, my face, or my name—is real. I’m forever grateful I didn’t change the dial when Rodney Bingenheimer played Planet Earth. To this day they remain a huge part of my life, through the love I have for them, and the friends I’ve made along the way. Yep, being a fan is weird, but I can’t imagine my life without it.

Happy Anniversary.

-R

Of Crime and Passion, or Mosh Pits and Survival…

What defines “passion”?

The last festival I attended was Voodoo in 2006. My memories of that show are pretty graphic. I’d walked onto the festival grounds with Amanda, our friend Sara and my sister that morning, thinking we were so smart. We’d bought general admission tickets, and figured we’d wait through the day, securing spots in about the second row or so.  All was fine until late afternoon, and then things quickly turned ugly. It wasn’t long before we were no longer congratulating one another, instead calling ourselves idiots while ruefully laughing.

At one point, I turned around to see the hell that was behind me. The crowd went back as far as my eyes could see. I made a silent pact with myself to never turn around again, no matter how bad it got. (I’m more than slightly claustrophobic and that was a sight I never needed to see) About that time, My Chemical Romance took the stage, and we went from a mildly calm crowd to a mosh pit. I would not use the word “passion” to describe the scene. No, instead I would describe it as a cauldron of anger, and I was floating in the middle of it, right alongside Amanda, Robin and Sara.

It’s one thing to be in a mosh pit at say, a club the size of the House of Blues. You feel people push and shove and you just step aside. It’s not a big deal. It is entirely another to be in a crowd of tens of thousands and feel the wave of energy overtake you. I remember feeling as though it was similar to being in the ocean. Nothing was going to stop that wave, and I was either going to go with it, or it would mow me over, and I’d drown. The trouble is, there isn’t much to hold on to, and I’m of the opinion it is rude to grab onto someone I’ve never met and hope for the best while quickly introducing myself.

“Hello, my name is Rhonda, and I’ve never wanted to be in a mosh pit. Chalk this up to a crazy idea to see Duran Duran…a band I am starting to have second thoughts about supporting, if I’m honest. I’ve got two kids at home, and honestly I just want to survive. Help me!” 

That wasn’t the route I took. Mostly, I just fell into Amanda, Sara and Robin and hoped we weren’t all going down for the count in the process. I stumbled a lot, tried to not to fall down completely and made a lot of bargains with the universe.

“Dear God, if you let me live, I swear I will NEVER go to another festival again.” 

“This stupid band, WHY did I think this was a good idea???” 

If that weren’t enough, there were the crowd surfers. Bless their evil little hearts. I couldn’t care less if someone wants to live out their fantasies of being carried by people they don’t know, as long as I’m not involved. However, that’s not what happened that day. People came by, surfing away—and they expected you to hold them up while they might grab and pull your hair, kick you in the head, not-so-playfully slap you, or use their razor-like long nails to scratch your face—which is exactly what happened to me that day.

Never did I expect to leave a Duran show with a scar, but I earned one that evening. It’s very faint and blends in well, so most people don’t notice. I’ll never go to another festival again unless I’m invited to watch from backstage, and since that’s not gonna happen, I’m good right here at home. It’s not a lack of passion that keeps me here—it’s a little bit of fear (well, more than a little, really), and a whole lot of sanity. I didn’t enjoy having my face scratched, or holding on for dear life while the crowd surged. The fact is, I like going to shows. I love cheering for Duran Duran. I’m not interested in blood loss, among some other personal atrocities I haven’t mentioned, while doing so.

At this point you’re probably wondering why I’m telling this tale. Well, for the last week or so, I’ve seen tweets from Duran Duran and others, talking about how amazing a time they’ve had at Lollapalooza. By now, you’ve also read about how passionate those fans are, and that they played in front of 95,000 fans in Argentina. On one hand, I’m glad that they’re having such a great time. On the other, are they really any more passionate than the rest of us…except that they seem to be en masse?

It’s a word I’ve seen used a lot this week by various band members…including my personal favorite…and I just have to wonder what that word really means. Let’s face it, I live in the US, and overall, it’s easy to be a fan here. The band performs a lot in the states. We don’t have to wait decades or even more than a few years at most between shows. Does that mean we’re less passionate as a result? I’m sure some fans around the world would say yes. But is that a fair statement? Just because it’s easy to be a fan doesn’t necessarily mean there’s less passion or loyalty. On the other hand, it is very difficult to argue against the sea of people who screamed for the band in Argentina, and I am not taking anything away from those fans anyway. Sure, you can look at the crowd and say that they weren’t all there for just Duran Duran…but they sure look and SOUND like they are, and the videos I’ve seen don’t lie. It’s the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen, and while I think it looks amazing from the stage, I am still relieved I wasn’t there. I can feel my heart begin to race just thinking about being in that crowd, and not in a good way, but that’s just me.

The fact is, I have to remind myself when I see tweets about how great those audiences have been, that for the band, those big crowds keep them going. It might not be very fun or exciting for them to play in front of 3,000 people (even if I’m having the best night of my life at the time), particularly if they’re playing in a casino where chunks of the audience were given their seats because they’re high rollers at the casino, or won the tickets from the radio. On the other hand, when you’ve got 150,000 music lovers screaming for you, of course you’re going to come away feeling energized, ready, and wanting for more. Those shows are what keep you going. It’s no contest, even if you’re like me, and want the band to love coming to where you live to play. I know the audience in Rancho Mirage, or anywhere else I’ve seen them lately,  didn’t even come close to in comparison.

In America, as much as we die hards love Duran Duran, it’s an uphill battle for the band, and they know it. We know it, too. Doing festivals here can be tough work. They don’t necessarily “fit” with every festival, and the crowds can be very fickle. Other countries don’t seem to have quite the same problem. I could be wrong, but I don’t think that America would ever draw the same sort of audience for them as they had in Argentina for Lollapalooza. That makes me sad, but it’s the reality. I’m sure it makes Argentinian fans wonder why the band doesn’t take advantage and tour there more often—and thankfully, it’s not my job to figure that out!

So are those fans really more passionate? Individually, I doubt it. I think a Duranie is a Duranie, no matter where they live. I’m not convinced enough to say that I don’t have the same passion as someone else, because we all do whatever it is that we can do. We all love the band. However, there’s no denying that crowd, and I’m glad Duran Duran got to experience that type of energy. They deserve it.  While I don’t wish I had been there, I do wish that our audiences created that same type of energy for the band.

Good luck Atlanta, Florida and North Carolina fans. Have great shows, and give ’em what you’ve got!

-R

 

Media Representations of Fandom: Be Somebody

It has been a long time since I saw fans represented in a movie, TV show or book so I haven’t done a post about the media representations of fandom for a very long time.  Yet, last weekend, I saw a movie called “Be Somebody” that definitely featured fans and motivated me to do a little writing about the movie.  What is the movie about?  How are fans featured?  How are they shown/depicted?

IMDb describes the plot of this movie in this way, “Pop superstar Jordan Jaye has a big dream – he just wants to live like a regular teenager. When he’s chased down by some excited female fans, he finds a perfect hideout and a reluctant new friend from a small town, high-school art student, Emily Lowe. Despite being from different worlds, they soon discover they have way more in common than they ever imagined. Over the course of several days, the two embark on an unexpected journey of friendship, first love and self-discovery — proving that maybe opposites really do attract.”

If you notice the story begins when fans chase down Jordan, the teen idol.  The chasing happens when Jordan leaves his tour bus to have a break from the non-stop life of a pop star.  He assumed that he wouldn’t run into anyone who would recognize him.  When fans did notice him, they went all crazy by screaming and literally running after him.  Within the first few minutes of the movie, I found myself shaking my head.  Do all teenage female fans scream and chase the star of their desire?  Did all of you, if you had the chance to be anywhere near Duran?  While I didn’t have the opportunity to see Duran in person until I was way beyond my teenage years, I doubt that I would have chased them!  My point here is simple.  This feels like a stereotype about teenage female fans.  All teenage music fans would chase after their idols, is that what they are saying?  All of them?  Every last one of them?  How does this make the female fans seem?   Illogical.  Crazy.  Hysterical.  Emotional.  Out of control.

Then, when the pop star finds another teen female, the assumption is that she must also be a fan.  When he thinks she is a fan, he asks her not to scream because all female fans scream.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  Many female fans of all ages scream.  I do.  I’m not judging it.  What I am questioning, though, is that movies, the media, perpetuate images of fans, especially female fans as being hysterical, crazy, over-the-top.  They aren’t showing them as just excited but going WAY beyond excited.  You can see what I mean in the trailer:

After the pop star finds out that the teenage girl is not a fan, he opts to stay with her.  Obviously here, the message is that non-fans are safe for stars but fans definitely would not be.  While I understand that this is the usual storyline for movies like this, I wish that they would have shown the female main character as a fan but a reasonable one.  Wouldn’t that be cool?  The idea could be that he gets in the car of a fan and is about to jump out when he realizes that she’s cool, that he’s safe with her.  Being a fan doesn’t mean that she has lost her mind.  Then, the movie could be about how an idol becomes a real person and about how the idol starts to see the fan as a individual rather than one of the collective.

While I thought the movie was cute with a good message about sticking up for oneself, fighting for one’s dream, I also found it following a usual formula.  The movie is safe, in that regard and relied on too many stereotypes, including not only stereotypes about female fans but also about the music industry, fame, etc.  Has anyone else seen this movie?  What did you think?

-A

Since when did being a fan become a bad thing: Crazy Some’d Say

I could probably just post this picture and be done with the blog for today, because it probably says everything (and much, much, more) than I’m about to say anyway.  I am consciously reminding myself that sometimes, the toughest blogs to write turn out to be the ones most needing to be read.

Yes, I went to some shows this weekend, and yes, I had a fantastic time. I am so grateful that I had the chance to go and be with friends.

So, while I was basking in the sheer glory of being up front, screaming for one of my favorite people on the planet, a friend took the photo.  I (OBVIOUSLY) had no idea it was being taken at the time. I’m not so sure I love my face, but I see the sheer joy. It’s kind of hard to miss, really.

I pride myself on being pretty low-key. (HA!) I have a great time at the shows, but I also recognize that the band are indeed real people. Being on stage is part of their job, in the same way that wrangling young children during recess and lunch is mine.  I don’t have children screaming for me at work (but I do have a few that are insistent about coming to visit me nearly every day for tummy aches or to apply band-aids to non-visible “injuries”).  In the same respect, once the show is over, I typically don’t bother the band. Yeah, I’ve ended up at the same bar once or twice, but other than that – I expect them to resume their normal lives. My students don’t come to my house and wait out front for me, and I try to be the same way with the band. I get it. It’s a job.

Since Dom is the lucky guy in this photo (which btw was taken by my friend Suzie at the “breast show ever”….just go with it and don’t ask…), he’s part of the example here.  As much as I love this photo, I also struggle with it. I tweeted it out, but stopped short of tweeting it directly to Dom. I wanted to share it with him because it’s both hilarious and really kind of sweet at the same time, but I just couldn’t.  Why?

On one hand, if you really need an explanation of fandom, it is all right there in that shot. I suppose that yeah, you could look at that photo and see all the craziness you want.  Context is important here, because at the time Dom was playing the guitar solo for White Lines, and he knows that I love that song live.  I smiled at him when he started it, and he came right over to me, and this picture was taken just before he bent down to play.  He does an excellent job, and I was screaming for him. I’m proud of his work, and I’m not shy about that.  I was also in the front, and I was thrilled to be there.  I had so much love and joy flowing through me in that moment, and this picture captured all of that.

On the other hand, and this is the part I have a rough time with – I almost hate using the word “fan” because it immediately puts me on the crazy train.  Since when did the word “fan” make me so damn self-conscious?  Here I am, writing a fan blog, and I’m worried about someone thinking I’m a fan?

There are so many different directions I can take this post from here. The path that seems most relevant is simply to say that we fans, collectively speaking, have been equated with the word “crazy” for so long now, that at times it is painful to admit that I am, indeed, a fan. I’ve been a Duran Duran fan since I was ten. I don’t remember life much before being a fan. Yet everywhere I go, particularly when at shows, all I hear is the word, “crazy”.

“You’re still one of those crazy Duran Duran fans? How old are you again?

“You’re a woman out on the town going to a show without your husband?  You’re just crazy to get into Simon’s pants, right?” 

“You crazy Duran fans…we know all about you guys!” 

If that’s not enough, we even admonish one another while we’re at the shows!

“Don’t rush the stage, the guards will think you’re crazy!” 

“I don’t want to go up and try to say hi, because if I do, he’s going to just think I’m some crazy fan.”  (In this case, this fan was ME, and I was specifically talking about going up to say hi to Dom in the hallway. Even though he saw me clear across the hallway and smiled – I was still concerned about how it would look if I got up from my chair at the bar and walked over there. I knew he was trying to just get up to his room and I didn’t want to bug him. For the record, I did finally get up the nerve to walk up and say hi, and I don’t think he believes I’m crazy. Imagine that!)

“Look at those fans fighting over the set lists. They’re crazy!” 

The word surrounds us and it is never-ending.  Even I’m starting to buy into the hype. Since when did being a fan become a bad thing?? Pictures don’t lie – when I look at that picture of Dom, the girl at the bottom is a FAN. That girl is me, yet it’s the last thing I want to be known for. It’s silly because of course I’m more than a fan. I’m Rhonda. I write. I am smart. I play a couple of instruments. I have three amazing kids. My life is pretty damn full, and I have feelings. I refuse to be just another face in the crowd.  When I get up the nerve to walk up and say hi to a band member (or anybody for that matter) in a hallway and even get a hug, the last thing I want for that person to think is that I’m just another crazy fan who won’t let them go up to their room. Yet, in the back of my mind – that is always my worry.

This blog aside, of course. Because yeah, it IS pretty crazy that I’ve written a fan blog for 78 months now. (That’s six and a half years for those of us who don’t love math.)  Someday I’m going to switch the name of this to Daily Duranie Rehab and we can call it group therapy!

The relationship we have with our idols and other people we care about is complicated at best. (I have a tough time calling Dom my idol, I have to be honest. I didn’t grow up with him on my posters, or worshipping the ground he walked on in the same way I did the rest of the band. It isn’t the same.) Impossible at worst. Not everyone gets to have their moment, even fewer become true friends, but somehow – those of us who have been around awhile get called “crazy”, and it’s unfortunately a term that has wrapped itself around my core.  Sure, we can say we don’t care what other people think, but what about what WE think about ourselves?

Food for thought.

-R

 

Just a number on the metal fence

2018 will mark the 40th anniversary of the band’s humble beginnings in Birmingham, UK.  When I stop and think about that, I’m convinced of two things: 1. There’s obviously been a miscount. 2. Time really does fly.

There is a group out there that is working to collect data from fans-at-large in order to put together some suggestions that the band may or may not consider if they should decide to put together a tour or collectors editions from their catalog, etc.  I think it’s great to try to gather some sort of collective voice from the fans—after all, it is something Amanda and I have been doing for the better part of nearly seven years now.

When we first began the blog, I really don’t know that we gave thought or credence to the idea that the band would actually HEAR us. We just knew that there was a lack of a central…place…for lack of better words, for fans to gather and really talk about Duran Duran fandom.  Message boards were pretty scattered, fanzines didn’t really allow for discussion. Facebook was Facebook, and even that has changed quite a bit over the period of time the blog has been around, and rest assured it has evolved, too. Over the past four years or so (give or take), Amanda has asked daily questions and polls.  While she’s tried to do a variety of topics, a lot of them have had to do with songs, set lists, etc.  What is your favorite album? What song do you wish they’d play live, and so on. She’s great at being able to take that information and see trends, and I love the way she breaks it down in her wrap-up blogs on the weekends.

So, when I stumbled upon word that a group that is working to compile similar information for the possibility of shows and other special releases in 2018, I was curious. Amanda has done survey after survey in seven years, and while we could always use more participation – we have a reasonably sized sampling of those who are active on social media, and I remember how clear some of the winning songs have been over the years.  I wondered if they would get different answers than we might have gotten over the years for similar questions. Would their sampling be all that much different?  How would that change the results? I was looking forward to reading more about it all.

Amanda and I never did our daily questions with the intention that the information found would make its way back to the band. Unless management reads the blog, it isn’t like we’re sending a dossier to the band each year.  Yeah, we joke a lot, much of it being tongue-in-cheek, but we don’t expect much. For a time we were overly hopeful with grandiose dreams of meeting the band and somehow getting dream careers out of this – but believe me when I say that our feet are firmly planted back on the ground. (I almost said Planet Earth….) The blog is our hobby and about the only thing we take seriously about it is our dedication to writing it each day.

Yesterday I stumbled across what is apparently the top 10 list from the survey that @DD40_2018 compiled from the request survey they devised.

  1. The Man Who Stole a Leopard
  1. Serious/Friends of Mine/Hold Back the Rain

  2. Election Day/New Religion

  3. The Chauffeur

  4. Secret Oktober

  5. Do You Believe in Shame

10 The Seventh Stranger

I was surprised that such a relatively new song like The Man Who Stole a Leopard would take away the entire survey, being the number one most requested song. When I looked back at some of the surveys we’d done in the past – specifically those that discussed set lists, The Man Who Stole a Leopard was always requested, but in the overall scheme of things, the song didn’t even make the cutoff for the 17-song setlist that Amanda compiled based on our survey results in October of 2016. (I’ve copied and pasted that list below).

Planet Earth
All You Need Is Now
New Religion
Wild Boys
The Chauffeur
New Moon on Monday
Save a Prayer
Pressure Off
Hold Back the Rain
Nice
Union of the Snake
Before the Rain
Come Undone
Rio
What Are the Chances
A View to a Kill
Paper Gods

Some of the rest of their top 10 list are the usual suspects, including Secret Oktober, Friends of Mine, Hold Back the Rain… and only one of those is included on the fan-requested set list we compiled. I see that What Are the Chances and Paper Gods are both included in our results and I have to wonder if those results would come out the same way if asked again tomorrow. I would bet not. Even so, the lists are very different.

Why is that? Well, to begin with it could be the survey itself.  As I recall, we had participants create their own set list back in October. So people sent in their own set lists, made from whatever songs they wanted – and I believe Amanda kept the framework to 17 songs. In contrast, the DD40_2018 survey had people choose the songs they wanted to hear most off of each album, but the songs were not ranked in terms of importance. So for example, if you wanted to hear five songs off of the first album – you clicked on those five songs and then moved on to the next album. There was no way to indicate which song(s) you might want to hear most. We’ve done similar in the past – and in every case, no matter how we’ve worked the survey, the song that wins by a landslide, is New Religion.  In their results, it landed at number five, behind a few songs that didn’t even make the final setlist in our case. Fascinating, right?

I also wonder if knowing that these suggestions will be presented to management for touring consideration made a difference to respondents.  In our case, the surveys have always been done for fun with no promise of the band paying any sort of attention. Does that make a difference in the way people answer? I don’t know, but it’s a possibility.

The sampling of participants for surveys counts as well.  As I’ve noted in the past, different people are drawn to different places on the web. Those that read here might not be on a message board, and those on Twitter might not be as active on Facebook, etc.  I also think the sample size matters as well – the more respondents a survey has, and the closer that sampling is to the actual demographic ratio of the fans, better the chance that the results will accurately represent our community. It isn’t always easy to get people to respond to a survey.

I’m not here to suggest that one method or one set of results outweighs another, that’s silly.  My interest is only to note the differences in the results. I might even make a broader claim, as it turns out, that perhaps no one survey is going to really provide an accurate assessment of what the fan community at large wants. What that may or may not mean with management actually taking such suggestions seriously, I don’t know.  Admittedly, Daily Duranie is not in such discussions with management or anyone else – we just write our blogs and do our surveys with the same basic goals in mind we always have: to provide a place for discussion and to make fandom just a little more fun.

-R

When the curtains are pulled back: a little thankfulness

Yesterday I wrote about appreciation. I have great appreciation for the fact that I’m starting to have fun with this fandom thing again. I can’t really say how long it’s been that I’ve actually wanted to carve time out to sit down and watch, say…Live from London, or Sing Blue Silver, or even Diamond in the Mind. I’m starting to feel that again, and yes—I definitely appreciate that feeling.

Today, I’m going to write about being thankful, because I am.  Just yesterday, I saw something on Twitter about airline pilots at O’Hare airport in Chicago. They are going on strike over the weekend. Political statements aside here—I feel for the travelers because their plans to get home, or get away, might be entangled in a giant mess.  When I read the tweet though, my mind immediately went back to 2012. I was supposed to fly to O’Hare to meet Amanda and then we were going to fly on to Heathrow so that we could go to four DD shows in the UK.  On Black Friday, I spent a lot of the day on the phone with Amanda. We were freaking out because there was to be a huge public workers strike in the UK, and naturally that was planned for the day we’d arrive. Anyway, I smiled at the memory and tweeted it to Amanda – saying that at least we wouldn’t have to worry about that kind of thing this year.

Amanda is going to DC over New Years, and she’s going to see Duran Duran. She’s going with someone else, and yeah, it’s weird. I’m somewhat wistful about the entire thing.  She’s gone to shows without me before, as I have without her. The difference is, she’s traveling by plane for this one.  Normally, in fact, I can say that since we met – if I’m traveling to see the band, it is with her.  We go together like peanut butter and jelly. That’s not happening this time. On one hand, I want to go. On the other hand, it has been one HELL of a year for my family. It’s been one hell of a year for me. I need to be here and I need to be thankful for what I have, and what I’ve done. But yeah, I wish I were going…but I’m very thankful I didn’t spend the money on tickets at the same time.

For a long time now, Duran Duran was sort of a job for me without it actually being a job. I’m not saying this to complain, I’m saying this to point out my stupidity to others. Lately, I’ve been enjoying doing things, like actually gawking at the band.  I’ve watched some videos. For fun! And…I’ve been listening to their albums. FOR FUN.  I realize that to many of you this is like, well…breathing. It used to be for me, too. I’m getting back to that, and dammit I am thankful.

I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t pay some respects to my touring drink of choice, vodka. (although wine still comes in at a very close second, followed by coffee and then iced tea. Caffeine surges through my veins. ) Time for truth for anyone who might be concerned: I don’t drink often. Even so, when we tour, we TOUR.

I am thankful that I get to have my three kids and husband together with me for a few days this week. That’s unusual for us anymore, and we’re going to one of my favorite places – Paso Robles.  Yes, there will be some wine tasting, but also a lot of laughter and love.

Amanda and I have been friends since 2004. That is twelve years. I wouldn’t say our friendship is necessarily complicated, but our lives certainly are. There have been moments when I haven’t felt as close as others, but I value our friendship. We are proof that you don’t necessarily have to be the same in order to be friends – our mutual respect, love, and loyalty is what carries us. I’m lucky I found her.

I feel particularly thankful that I have met so many wonderful Duranies over the years. Some, if not most, have flowed in and out of my life, their time with me not always a constant. What has been really eye-opening for me though, is that in every case, they’ve had some sort of life-long effect on me. Whether teaching me to be more open-minded, or to embrace the adventures that life has to offer, or even to be more forgiving and careful with the feelings of others, I’ve learned something. Thank you.

I am learning not to take what I’m about to say for granted – but I’m really thankful for those five guys (ok, six or seven guys) who have been, or are in Duran Duran. I may not know all of them personally, but they have also been invaluable to my life in some way.  Even in the few instances that I have been around a couple of them – they managed to give me something to think about for the long-term.  They gave me something to look up to when I was young, something to aspire to when I most needed it, and reminded me that yes – even though they are rock stars, they really are human. I am particularly lucky that they happen to create some decent music, too.

I know it’s a day early, but I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving if you’re in the US and celebrate. If you’re elsewhere in the world, thank you for allowing me to indulge!

-R

 

When the lights of hope are fading quickly

Yesterday was Thanksgiving at my house. Actually, that was the second time we celebrated—on Sunday, we were at my sister-in-law’s home with her side of the family. We’re celebrating early because we’re going to Paso Robles for the weekend, and I’m excited because all three of the kids are going with us.  Sunday was lovely, but my oldest, Heather, had told us she wouldn’t be there. She was on campus, working backstage as part of the crew for a show. It is part of the requirements for her major and requires a lot of time, including striking the stage, which was happening that night. We’d agreed as a family to then have our Thanksgiving yesterday when Heather could be at home.

We had just finished our meal on Sunday and were talking with family when the doorbell to my sister-in-law’s home rang, and someone shouted out “It’s Heather!” I was in the living room and heard the commotion at the door, and thought to myself, “Who’s Heather?!” Then I saw the long brown hair and knew.  She’d gotten off much earlier than expected and came as a surprise. It’s ridiculous really, because Heather lives just a half hour from me and I have seen her, although since the beginning of October she hasn’t been able to come home and stay, but I was still overjoyed.

I’m finding that more and more often, I cannot get all three of my kids, my husband and myself into the same room for any length of time. There are too many independent parts, so invariably it ends up being my husband and I with one or two of the kids. One is always not available, and this is likely not to improve any time soon with our next one getting ready to graduate from high school. I treasure the very few moments I get, and there is something incredibly special when all three of my kids are together here.  I used to find fault with my mom when she’d complain how she never saw my sister or myself—I get it now.  Something that was at one point commonplace or expected (and sometimes even dreaded – imagine that at one point, we’d divide up the kids between Walt and I so that it wasn’t quite so crazy!) is now something I yearn for.  (we will see if I still feel that way Sunday night!)

Lately, I feel that way about Duran Duran, too. I wrote the blog, went to a lot of shows, and while they were all fun, I’m not sure I actually appreciated them. I mean, of course I loved seeing the band play, or hearing new music or seeing a new video.  The only way I can explain myself, is to say that at some point, I stopped really listening for enjoyment. Weird words to use, maybe, but they’re truthful.  I can remember back to when I saw Duran Duran in Costa Mesa in 2003, or several weeks later when I saw them at 4th and B in downtown San Diego. I was so excited at the mere thought of being in the same breathing space that I couldn’t sleep the night before.  I listened to their albums here at home, in the car, whenever I could.  I think my mind would be on them (leading up to a show) so much that I’d dream about running into them somewhere crazy, like at a gas station!

Somewhere along the line though, that stopped. It is similar to when I bought annual passes to Disneyland when my kids were little (and the passes weren’t so darn expensive!).  It was great at first, but it got to a point when Walt and I would tell Gavin and Heather that we were going to the park for the day and they’d complain.  (Yes, complain. I mean, who wants to go to Disneyland when you can stay at home and play video games, right??) That was the last year we bought passes, I might add.

Don’t get me wrong, I never complained about seeing the band. That would be monumentally stupid since I was the one buying the tickets! Nobody forced me to go, and I always had a blast. I just think the idea of going to show after show lost a little of that magic, and I did it to myself, really.  I started comparing venue to venue or being more annoyed by the silly, trivial things about going to shows. I stopped listening to Duran Duran in the car.  I certainly never listened to them here at home. I didn’t watch their videos very much, or if I did – it was solely for blogging or researching.

In a sentence: it stopped being fun.

I felt it happen. I think a lot of you probably saw it happen through my writing. Instead of being fun, it felt like a job. That isn’t how this is supposed to work. I didn’t know how to turn it all around, until I had no other choice.

You see, as so many have rightfully pointed out to me, touring is expensive. I’ve recently had to get real and cut back on my expenses. I stopped writing and rewriting a manuscript Amanda and I had been working on because the last one that seemed like it had a good shot was rejected. After putting so much hard work into it, I had to stop. My brain was tired and I was emotionally SPENT. I wasn’t even sure I could keep writing this blog. Then I got a job, and little by little – I was forced to put the blog and even my love for Duran Duran on the back-burner.  I’ve been feeling this way since August for sure, but if I really think about it, I think I’ve probably had these sorts of feelings since before Paper Gods was released.

 

Yesterday, I blogged about Notorious.  As I was writing, I realized that  I probably hadn’t listened to that album in years. Not the whole thing, and definitely not just for pleasure. I put it on. I finished blogging, and then set the table for Thanksgiving. I found myself singing along, not really deeply listening for every single guitar chord or synthesizer track – but just enjoying the music. I really enjoyed it.  Two nights ago, I woke up after having a dream.  I’d run into Simon somewhere and he took down my name because one of my shows had been canceled and he was going to help me out. (clearly a dream, right?) I haven’t had a dream about Duran Duran…or really ANY dream….in many months. Most importantly, I’m thinking about blogging again. Thinking about what I want to write.

No, I’m not planning to see the band live any time soon, unless they come to the west coast again…but I feel like I’m enjoying being a fan again, and I’ll take that over a show any day. I suspect the next time I do see them, I’ll be far more appreciative. That isn’t about being Daily Duranie, or blogging, or trying to write a manuscript. It’s about just being me. A fan.

-R