Tag Archives: fandom

Everyone’s Their Own Universe

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

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

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

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

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

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

-R

You Own the Money

…and then there are REALLY days.

Don’t monkey with my business

This morning, I got up and drove my youngest to school – which is about 15 minutes from our house. Not bad. No traffic because we live in the middle of nowhere. Sort of.

All was fine at first, but as I was getting off the freeway I noticed my car suddenly shift gears at a weird time. Noting it, but not saying anything, I drove on, only to have it happen again after exiting the freeway. Still, I said nothing. I mean, why acknowledge the inevitable??

As I pulled into the school lot, I realized that the engine sounded a little weird, like it was revving the teeniest bit. I let Sabrina out, who broke the silence by saying “Good luck getting home, mom!” and then shut the door as if she was glad to be rid of the insanity. (I get that!)

Here’s one you don’t compromise

I started to pull around to exit the lot, and noticed it was still shifting weirdly. Pulled over and texted the husband (who of course is in Santa Barbara today – easily two hours away and in all-day meetings of the utmost importance, you know). He suggested I try to drive it home. “After all, what’s the worst that could happen? You get stuck. Oh well!”

Oh how I love that man. I really do. I reminded myself of that as I put the phone back down and started the car. I threw out a not-so-silent plea to my trusty car to “please, please just get me home”, and left the lot. At first, it was fine. Should I get on the highway (freeway if you’re from CA)? Sure. Why not?!? After all, what’s the worst that could happen???

I could miss the Duran Duran presales. Amanda was counting on me for our Sunday night tickets. Gotta get home. “Please, please just get me home, car!”

I heard your promise

It made it off the freeway. Yeah, it may have limped for the final quarter of a mile, but it got me off the freeway. Then for the 1 mile drive to my neighborhood. It started shifting strangely more and more often, and I feverishly started noticing that my engine was revving quite a bit. EEK. Do I pull over or just chance fate?

I kept going. I had presales to do in less than an hour.

Kind of mostly coasted down the hill to the entrance of my neighborhood. I didn’t need the gears to shift if I didn’t press on the gas, right?? Turned the corner onto my street (but still had to drive about 2/3 of a mile up the twisty-turns to get to my gate). Uphill… uphill was a problem. My car started not wanting to go into any gear, and revving wildly, then catching the gear and going. I figured if I could just keep this up, I’d get it to the top of my drive, and then coast down.

What was the worst that could happen? I had 45 minutes to presales, and there’s literally no shoulders to park on in my neighborhood.

Fight it out

I rounded the next to last corner before my gate. I saw it – waiting for me just to get the car up there. Just a little more gas to get me up the hill. Then nothing. No gear. No moving forward. Just backward. So I stop the car on our narrow two-lane road and realize I’m screwed. What do I do?

Well, one of my neighbors, whom I’ve never met, was out walking. She saw me and between the two of us, we got my car onto the expanse of “grass” between the neighbors driveway entrance and mine – the ONE spot in my entire neighborhood that actually has a bit of a shoulder area. (I use that term lightly because right now, it’s brush season and there’s no green anyway. It is brown.)

My car is safe. I’m safe. My car literally got me *almost* home. I ran up to my fence, got inside and walked down our driveway just in time for presales. I was frantic. Panicked. A little emotional, and pretty freaked out. I had no idea how I was going to pick up my youngest or what I’d do with my car, but I was at home in time for presales.

Not wild about it

At this point, I didn’t even want the damn tickets. My stomach was nauseous and I was busy calculating the cost of a new transmission in my head. (Spoiler: it is a lot.) I figured I’d just try for tickets and if nothing came up, that’s the way it is, and oh well.

When the clock struck ten and I was able to get onto Ticketmaster (I was buying for Sunday night in Vegas first), it was weird. Nothing came up as available, and I mean nothing. I was perplexed, a little annoyed, but oddly calm. I refreshed the best seats option a few times, and suddenly – seats started coming up.

Then I started looking at the final cost. $440ish total for a gold package ticket. That stung a bit, particularly when I consider that at least based on previous gigs this year, the band is going to do a 90-minute show and then an encore. I thought about it, checked ticketing prices for Mtn Winery, and decided that no, I wouldn’t do more than Vegas after all.

Lay your seedy judgments

I could have done ALL the shows. I had the ok from my husband – because we consult one another when we’re doing stuff like this – and the time worked for me. When it came down to it, I realized that for me, this is my breaking point. I am not going to continue paying nearly $450 a show to see Duran Duran – particularly for multiple shows each tour. That’s insanity.

I love this band. There’s no need for me to prove that to anybody. I do, however, need to retire at some point. College is expensive and I’m not finished paying for my kids education. Now, I’ve got some sort of a crazy car expense coming up. I had more than enough money in the bank to pay for tickets to all of the shows. That isn’t the point. It is that I think it is crazy for me to spend that much money.

Now, I’m sure some are saying, “You don’t have to go for gold!” You’re 100% correct. I don’t, and I didn’t, when I checked into other venues after buying the Vegas tickets. There’s just something very off-putting over paying what will amount to nearly $150 (ticket price + fees) to sit in the extreme back of a venue. I’m not spoiled about being in front, but I’m also not crazy enough to think I’d enjoy being in the very back. For many other bands yes, but not DD.

You pay the profits to justify your reasons

So there you go. I’ve seen so many people talk about the prices this morning. Far more than normal. Many have complained about the Ultimate Front Row package not including a meet and greet for $1000. Others complain about the fact that even front row at the Hollywood Bowl was “just” $600. My answer? The only reason the band and venue can charge this much is because people have no problem paying the price. Supply vs. demand. New transmissions, Duran Duran, and college. These are real problems. <grin>

I bought for the two Vegas shows out of the five dates I’d originally planned to buy. I feel good about my decision, and can’t wait to see friends in Vegas. What did you do?

-R

Nothing’s Going to Bring Me Down

There are days, and then there are DAYS. This is one of the latter. It might even be one of those weeks!

They can drag me to the gates of hell now

As I’ve exclaimed many times while in the privacy of my own home, “I am not a webmaster!!” When technical abilities were being passed out, I got in the wrong line. (The universe only knows what “special” skill I ended up with instead!) I’d been getting some sort of PHP warning on this site for months and ignored it. When I finally clicked on it to find out more information, our server host said we didn’t “need” the upgrade. Well, turns out – we did. The site never went down, but we also couldn’t update as necessary. I was growing nervous that one day, I’d be woken up at 4am by a concerned Amanda telling me that the site wouldn’t load.

So today was the day to figure out how to upgrade (and why). I’m still not exactly sure I understand, but the fix was a five-minute thing. From what I can tell – I didn’t break anything in the process. I even loaded a plug-in for compatibility testing on the backend, and even forced the site to break to see if I could fix it. (one click to correct it!) So that’s the kind of maintenance crap no one sees. It makes me feel a little better when I find out that I’m not nearly as incompetent as I think I might be with this stuff.

Then again, there’s still the issue of archiving. After nearly nine years of blogging (yes, nine) – we have a lot of posts. I am pretty sure the place needs a good spring/summer cleaning. (also a massive site overhaul in time for the next whatever-the-music-they-are-currently-working-on-is-going-to-be). As soon as my youngest is out of school and my mom, who is arriving tonight for a two-week visit, is back home – that’s the next project. I’ll have to take the site down to do it, but I’ll warn everyone first!

I’m not running away (yet, anyway)

Meanwhile, presales are tomorrow! I’m still trying to figure out the logistics. I have a reasonable idea of what shows I want to do (A & I are both going to Vegas, but after that – I’m on my own and I’m not entirely positive of what I’m doing), but whether I’m going to attempt to break my bank and buy gold or just do regular tickets to some – who really knows?! It’s going to be an adventure tomorrow morning. My poor mother has never seen a DD presale day. Chances are, after hearing me attempt to go through the process, she’ll want to wash my mouth out with soap!!

Honestly, right now I’m trying not to stress. I’m taking the attitude that whatever will be, will be. As long as I get in the venue(s), that’s enough. I have a couple of other, more pressing personal family things going on at the moment, and while I don’t want to miss the chance to hang with friends – I’m more worried about the other life stuff. I hate being “that” person to say that, but it’s true. Someday, I’ll write a book about all of it and then you’ll know what I mean. <big grin here> Nonetheless, I’ll see everyone in Vegas for sure, and possibly one or two of the others. For those shows though, I don’t think I’ll be trying for anything but just regular tickets. Probably. Unless I win the lottery by tomorrow morning.

It’s funny—I ran into Dom after the last shows in Vegas, and he asked me where I’d sat because I’m usually closer to the front. On one hand, I guess he’s right, and on the other – I think that was probably a sign that maybe, just maybe, I’ve been to one too many shows over the years! Joking aside, I get the feeling these guys have no idea how much it costs to sit near the front at their shows. Granted, I’m usually a bit closer than I was in February, but that’s Vegas (and Lady Luck, apparently!) for you. Our seats weren’t that great last time. We still had a fantastic time, though.

I’m not the only one feeling this way

Like many of you, my bank account is not without limits. I saw more than one fan comment about the expense of the tickets yesterday, and I just want to commiserate. They ARE expensive. Most tickets are these days, and at least in my case – it stops me from going to see a lot of bands. I have to really love them to be willing to spend money on tickets. On the other hand, I’ve discovered quite a few really good, but far less popular local bands over the past few years as a result. I still see a lot of live shows, but maybe not as many bands that other people recognize. I save my budget for a few very favorite, or I buy super cheap seats.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Duran Duran and I love going to the shows, but I’m not going to be paying $1000 a ticket just to say I was in the front row. More power to those of you who are able to continually do it without thinking of the cost. I’ve had my turn up there a few times – it was great while it lasted.

A bit of a warning from me: the next couple of weeks may or may not be spotty for me – blogging wise. I am going to do what I can when I can. If anyone out there (ha!) has something they’d like to guest blog about, send it to our gmail (dailyduranie at gmail dot com) – we will gladly post and give you plenty of credit for contributing!

-R

We Light a Spark

Do you ever get tired of it? You know…bickering about the band? Rehashing topic after topic?

This post isn’t about this blog. We write daily, and we try to write about different ideas, bring different angles, and sometimes, we even end up changing our own views about a previous topic. There is a challenge to writing daily, even though Amanda and I split the writing duties. It isn’t always that easy to come up with something new to write about, particularly during times where the band isn’t necessarily “active” outside of the studio, or if they’re on hiatus. When we started Daily Duranie, we recognized the challenge would be the “daily” part. For the past eight years and seven months (who’s counting?), we’ve stayed committed. It definitely isn’t my blog that I’m pondering. Writing is my joy.

A drop of blood on evil beach

Lately, but I’ve seen a dedicated effort to rehash nearly every single “hot button” topic regarding Duran Duran. Is it due to downtime? There’s nothing really “new” to discuss, yet fans want to talk Duran. It is easy to get a conversation started when someone posts a volatile blanket statement about who is the most important member of the band, or blasts into a tirade over various personnel over the years. Don’t we get tired of it?

The thing is, when I look at the people starting the conversations, they’re not names I typically recognize. I’m one of the admins for a DD fan Facebook group, and we still have people requesting to be admitted into the group almost every day. Whether these fans are my age and just haven’t been active, or they’re much younger and are just discovering the band, for the most part it is fair to say that they’re new to this part of fandom.

Here lies the misadventure

Back in 2000, as I made my own first forays into the world of online fandom, I can remember the message boards constantly abuzz with topics just like what I see today on Facebook or even Twitter. The activity was constant. The debates and the occasionally very heated arguments were par for the course. Then the noise started to settle, and people drifted to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Some fans floated away completely. Maybe they still went to shows but didn’t participate in the online community portion. Perhaps, as several of my own friends have done, they got their fill, and moved on completely.

Yet, here we are in 2019, and there are still very active posts on Facebook with many participants discussing guitarists, the most important member(s) in Duran Duran, and even songs that should have been included on various albums. While part of me is appalled and bored with the discussion, because “dang it haven’t we already beaten this topic to death?!?”, another part of me realizes that the problem isn’t with the posts at all.

I’ve been an active “online community” fan for 19 years now. I don’t know about the rest of you reading, but that seems like a crazy amount of time. It doesn’t feel like 19 years – the time went by in the blink of an eye. When I first started participating, my two oldest kids were 3 and about 1. Heather, my oldest, is going to graduate from university in 10 days, and my son Gavin is in his second year. I didn’t even have my youngest yet!

Feel the same as you yourself

My point though, is that during that 19 years, I’ve written, posted, and talked a LOT. I’ve seen fans come and go. I’ve seen blogs and websites come and go, too. As crazy as it seems, when I think of the big picture – there does seem to be a bit of a fan cycle. People get energized, or even re-energized. They seek out information online. They connect with other people, then they talk about every possible Duran Duran topic under the sun. They go to shows, experience album cycles. At some point, they get tired of talking. Outside life pressures need more attention. Maybe they even get tired of participating with the community at large. They go to a show or two, but ultimately, they drift away. From what I’ve seen, particularly lately – there are always people with brand new energy, ready to take up that slack.

While sure, there are some people who rather enjoy posting the same information and photos, hoping to somehow get attention, there is also an influx of new and energized fans, ready to dissect the differences between band members, albums, and songs.

Truthfully, that’s the way we want it, too. My “get off my lawn” attitude aside, I’m recognizing that it’s all great. New blood is a good thing. Seeing people continue to write and talk about the nonsense of leaving “Beautiful Colors” off of Astronaut is something to be applauded. If it were left to the rest of us who have already had our fill of the hot topics- the fandom would slow to a trickle. It wouldn’t be “Planet Roaring” at all, now would it?

-R


You’re Taking my Heart to Pieces

This week, I watched the season finale of the TV show, Roswell New Mexico. This show was a remake of the original TV show simply named Roswell, which I adored. I loved it so much, in fact, that I dived deep into the fan community spending hours on message boards, reading a lot of fan fiction and making friends with nearby fans. This group of Midwestern fans began to get together for weekends to celebrate our love for the show. We provided comfort for each other when the original show was canceled and when the final episode aired. The show truly meant something to us.

When we heard that the show was coming back in a new formed, we decided to watch, cautiously and with an open mind. This led me to watch each episode of the new series. At times, I forgot that it was a remake and just watched it on its own. At other times, the emotions of the original came flooding back. Anyway, as I watched the season finale, I hoped to feel satisfied with however it ended, not knowing if it would return. All the while, attempting to keep relatively unattached as the previous show broke my heart into a million little pieces throughout the three seasons and that it ended.

Well, as the final episode wrapped up, it became clear to me that my plan to keep the show at arm’s length didn’t totally work. How do I know? I ranted and raved at the end of the episode for multiple reasons. If I didn’t care, why would I respond so passionately? Even now, days later, I’m left thinking about the finale and how frustrating it was. It led me to even seek out fan fiction again. My thinking was simple. Surely someone out there wrote an alternate ending that was so much better, right? Then, the next thing I know I started searching to find out the fate of the show. Is it coming back for a second season? Do I even want it to? After all, there was a lot that just sucked at the end. (It apparently is coming back for another season.)

As someone who has studied and thought about fandom, I started to wonder if anger and disappointment actually keeps fans attached. Now, I know that if the subject of a fandom changes in a dramatic way, fans can and do walk away. There are countless stories about TV shows, for example, that lost fans when the show changed directions or got rid of a favorite character. But did that exodus happen right away? I’m sure that there were some fans who left immediately but could it also have drawn others in as many fans would want to know about how it was going to go?

Then, I think about Duran Duran. In recent times, the album that caused the most controversy surrounded Red Carpet Massacre. For many fans, that album felt like a significant change in direction. Likewise, it was also the album right after Andy left. Did RCM send some fans running away right away? I’m sure but could it also help keep some fans interested? For example, did this change cause some fans to be so annoyed that they actually started talking more online with others in the fan community? Actually increasing their participation? Did it make some more interested to hear the new music? Could it have kept some in to wait and see how the following album after RCM would be? I think about Rhonda. During the RCM era, she didn’t walk away. Instead, she found herself talking a lot with other fans about the album. The passion she felt was not indifference but more likely to be described as frustration.

What is really the opposite of love? Is it hate or is it indifference? If it is indifference is that what causes fandoms to die or is it negative reactions to a project?

-A

A Shared Obsession, a Shared Ambition

This morning, I listened to my now favorite podcast (OK, in all honesty it is the first one I ever listened to, but I love it), The D Side . David (@boysmakenoise) was interviewing Baranduin Briggs (@bbamok), a fellow Duran Duran fan, and very gifted photographer. Amongst a garden variety of topics, one of the discussions was about how Baranduin experiences shows.

While someone might attend a concert and feel fully immersed in the music, their body trying to soak in and store every single note like a sponge, she sees the show in frames – as in camera shots. I thought a lot about this as I listened to the rest of the podcast, which was very entertaining. I chuckled and smiled a lot, thinking back over the first time I’d met Baranduin in Las Vegas. (I think that was 2016, right??) She’s a seasoned Duran Duran concert traveler now!

I think that our other hobbies likely influence the way we experience Duran Duran. For example, Baranduin takes thousands, and I do mean thousands, of camera shots at the shows she attends. She commented that at the recent New Orleans show, she had a front row spot and took 5,000 shots – to which she later said she’d only end up with maybe 15 pictures that met with her seal of approval (methinks maybe she’s a bit harder on herself than necessary…) While some might assume that because she’s so focused on pictures she’s missing the show, I’d argue that for her, the pictures are what enhance her experience. The photos are personal to her enjoyment.

When I think about my blogging partner, Amanda – she’s an organizer. I don’t think that’s a hobby for her though. It’s her passion, and she utilizes that throughout most aspects of her life, whether teaching (um, take it from me – you’ve got to be organized and plan ahead to teach), politics, or even in fandom. She really loved planning fandom events and really wanted to do far more with them than I ever did. I think being an organizer enhances her fandom. Yes, planning takes a lot of energy, but I think perhaps Amanda feels less connected without them.

Besides Duran Duran – what would you say is your biggest obsession? It doesn’t have to be another band. It could be a hobby like cooking or quilting. Maybe it’s cosplay, or perhaps you’re a movie buff! Do you find that in someway it plays a part in being a Duranie or is it a separate thing?

I’m thinking about what my own obsession might be. I’m honestly not sure I have one outside of writing this blog. I like writing. I thought about that a lot while listening to The D Side. Oddly, when I’m out, I think about writing quite a bit. What would work as a blog topic? How can I write about something in a way that hasn’t been discussed before? However, just because you love doing something doesn’t mean you’re necessarily great at it. Writing is sort of that thing for me. I am not blind to the enormous talents of other bloggers and writers – such as Jason, our contributor. I’m hoping to absorb some of his skill by screen time osmosis.

Let me know about those obsessions. Meanwhile, I’ll be outside mowing what has gone from beautiful green native grass to now golden yellow brush!

-R



To Find the Twist in Me

There must be somebody

I butted into a Twitter conversation this morning about “getting it”. How many times do you need to listen to an album before you connect, or “get it”? Is it a case of, “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again?” Or, do you figure that if the ears don’t like it, you’re done?

Naturally, we brought the topic right around to the band at hand. I will confess that there have been a few albums where it’s taken me plenty more than one listen to really get there. Paper Gods is one of them.

When I first listened to Paper Gods, I really don’t know what I was hoping to hear. I’d already heard several songs by the time I’d had the full album in my hands. My love for “Pressure Off” began with the first listen. I still contend it to be the best hook the band has written in years. That feeling still stands and one needs to look no further than their live show to see how the entire audience comes alive when they play it. (Sure, the confetti helps.) That said, much of the album was still a mystery. So, when I finally played the entire thing from start to finish, I came away with it not sure of how I felt.

Blow the rules away

On one hand, it sounded similar to Red Carpet Massacre, with the beats and slightly electronic feel. I didn’t hate it, but I also wasn’t sure I loved it. Amanda and I called it RCM-lite for a while, because it did feel very much like the halfway point between the urban sounds of Red Carpet Massacre and the more mainstream, slightly retro-sound of All You Need is Now. Even so, I have to be honest and admit that I really had a hard time deciding that I liked the sound.

Anyone can go back and read my blogs on Paper Gods to see what I mean. I’m not exactly proud of the fact that I didn’t jump in with both feet and say I loved it. It just took me a long time to come to terms with Paper Gods I had friends – patient, kind and very well-meaning friends – come to me and explain that I reviewed it way too early after far too few listens, and that my feelings about the album may have tainted other fans from supporting it. I felt terrible because A. the last thing I want to do is ruin someone else’s listening experience; and B. I didn’t want to upset the band, either. They’d worked hard on the album, and here I was – a long time fan with a fairly big mouthpiece, even if at the time I didn’t realize. I was souring the water without really meaning to do so. I did what any other fan might do (in silence!) – I kept listening.

Working up to something

I can remember the day when my feelings began to turn around. Mop in hand, I’d been cleaning my house. I had the album on, earbuds in, listening to each and every word and note. I noticed the lyrics during “Last Night in the City” were things with which I could directly identify. In fact, I was pretty sure Amanda and I had actually said some of those lines in the song ourselves! “Pressure Off” was and is (to us, anyway) the story of Amanda and I. We feel every note of that song and then some. “Butterfly Girl”, “What are the Chances”, and even :Only in Dreams” all had lyrics that meant something to me personally.

Musically, the album started to work for me too. I enjoy the depth and meaning of the lyrics. Yet the music is light and fun. I use the word “juxtapose” fairly often when I describe DD’s music – but it works here. Even that though, there is music depth on that album. “The Universe Alone” uses a multitude of electronic effects, but it is also one of the toughest songs I’ve ever had to come to terms with as far as content.

Can you handle it?

So how many times did it really take for me to get it? I don’t know for sure, but it took many listens. I just knew in my heart that I wasn’t a “one time” fan of Duran Duran, and that I was probably going to have to work for it in order to really feel the album get under my skin. Some people will tell you that if you really love an album or really love an artist that it doesn’t work that way. Love should be instantaneous. Is there really a point where you should just give up? How many times do you listen before you shelve it and move on?

-R

Part of a Celluloid Dream

So, anybody got that trip to Iceland booked yet???

Me neither. *big sigh*

If I rewind back to yesterday

Speaking of sadness, did you know that on this date in 1986, Duran Duran sent out a press release with the announcement that my favorite drummer (and hopefully yours), Roger Taylor, was leaving the band. Headed for greener pastures. “Gentleman farming”, as he later referred to it.

Bah. Whatever.

The good news, of course, is that he came back! Only took him what…17 years or so….before he played live shows with Duran Duran again?

Watching slo-mo going frame by frame

Needless to say, I wasn’t thrilled he left, but I was overjoy upon the announcement of his return! While I don’t love “celebrating” this day each year, I like reminding myself that things change. “This too shall pass”.

I sure hope so.

It’s been a rough week for me personally, Duranies. Positive thoughts go out to those who need them and a reminder that help, love, and support is here and waiting, whenever and however needed. Cheers.

Happy Easter to those who celebrate, and a wonderful weekend to all.

-R

Headline In Tomorrow’s Papers

Happy Monday. Today marks the beginning of Spring Break for us. The youngest and I have this week off of school, and I can spend time thinking and doing something other than teaching. This has been a rough year. A move combined with changing schools twice, I can’t say that fifth grade has been great, but my girl is trying her best, and I think she likes her new school for the most part. Me? I welcome this week with open arms, and a to-do list that is longer than I’ve got hours to complete. I’m sure I’ll blink and it will already be Friday, but the good news is that we’ll only have about five weeks left in the school year. We can make it…probably.

Midnight, I think I’m gonna make it

After working on our various home projects during the day, we sat down to watch SNL on Saturday night. BTS – a K-pop group, was the musical guest.I have to admit that I was curious about them. My husband ran into them waiting for a flight in a Korean airport once – he’d never heard of them, but there were a crowd of girls waiting for other flights that had come running when they saw them. They draw a huge crowd, and the girls who camp out to see their shows or follow them look strangely familiar.

K-pop isn’t something I am deeply involved in. I know what it is (obviously), but I don’t follow much of it. My oldest went to a school of the arts during high school, and one of her closest friends was a girl who came to America to attend the school. Apparently in Vietnam, she was a huge star and part of the K-Pop community. That’s when I first took notice of its apparent popularity.

There’s a lot that can be said about K-pop. People call it “manufactured” and “throw away”. Others complain that it’s not real music. I can understand the criticism. After all, this is a boy band, and no – they don’t seem to perform by playing instruments. They’re good looking, the music is catchy, they do highly choreographed dance moves to every song they perform, they sell out places like the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA and Soldier Field in Chicago, and – the real kicker here – girls love them.

Show me your secret

Put together by a management group (Big Hit Entertainment) in 2013, the band has already had certified platinum albums in the US. The last time they played shows here, I can remember my local Los Angeles news covering the fans camping out for days in order to secure spots. Like it or not, this manufactured boy band has taken on the world by storm. In four years, they’ve managed to do more than some bands do in a lifetime. However, this is a boy band that actually co-writes and produces their own music. It is a lot less, “stand there, wear that, and sing these words” than some might want to believe.

I wasn’t disgusted when I saw them on Saturday. While I didn’t know their songs at all, I was still impressed. They can dance and they’ve definitely got stage presence. They’re not very much different than N*Sync, New Kids on the Block, the Backstreet Boys, or any other boy band, except that from what I saw on Saturday – it doesn’t seem to matter to fans if they’re singing in English, Korean or anything else. Sure, we can complain that they’re not a real band if they don’t play their own instruments. We can cry foul because they didn’t come about in the same organic sort of way as other bands we might know – but does any of that really matter?

I’m not the only one out there taking notice. Just this morning, Notorious Nik and our friend (and fellow Duranie) Lori Majewski talked about BTS and Kpop’s world takeover. It is perfectly OK not to like their music, and to say they’re not your thing – but give them due credit. Like it or not, they’re selling faster and far more than your favorite band.

Try to remember again and again

It wasn’t so long ago that our band was in the crosshairs of those who came before them, complaining of their lack of substance. How many times did we see Duran Duran reduced to sheer “Bubble gum pop”? How many times did I read of a critic casting Duran Duran aside for one reason or another? Did it really have anything to do with the music, or was it because the girls – girls like me – loved them? If a little tween-aged girl loved Duran Duran, surely that must mean the real men couldn’t. Damn if history doesn’t just continue repeating itself, over and over.

As Lori is fond of quoting, “Men don’t get it, but the little girls understand.” And we did. I’m just wondering if we still do.

I look at those fans – the ones who lined up, days ahead of time – camping out in hopes of being in the audience Saturday night. I think about friends of my daughter, who gleefully put posters of BTS and other K-pop and J-pop groups up on their wall. They’re not so different from me at their age. Hell, I didn’t even camp out for Duran Duran tickets back then. As much as I’d like to point fingers, and suggest that Duran Duran had far more musical merit, and thus was much more worthy of my attention, I can’t. I won’t. When it comes down to it, I don’t think this is about the music at all.

What it is that I recognize

Sure, it is easy to just sit back and say “Nope. It isn’t about any of that. They suck. They look glossy, fake, manufactured and synced to a backing track.” I get it. I felt that way about N*Sync, New Kids on the Block and countless other boy bands. I’d point at Duran Duran, with their obvious musical talent, and righteously mention that they didn’t need to rely on choreography to perform. They could actually play. Yet, ask any critic during the mid-80s and they’d tick off any number of crazy reasons why Duran Duran wouldn’t amount to a single thing. The thing is, to write BTS off is doing virtually the same thing that others did to us in 1980-something (and still do).

Sure, it is your right and mine to say it like we mean it – I’m just suggesting we take a second before taking to social media in an attempt to rid the world of their manufactured uncreative souls. (that’s tongue-in-cheek, people!)

Don’t be angry that a group of seven young men are taking the world by storm. I don’t think any of us need to mourn the idea of real creativity or music. No, BTS doesn’t have to be in our wheel house, and I’ll just forget that I’m not really in their target demographic, anyway. I’ll leave off by asking a simple question – food for thought, if you will. When was the last time Duran Duran was invited on SNL? Now, if you want to be mad about something – be mad at that. Be furious.

Is it really just about the music? I doubt it.

-R

I Heard You Were a Duran Duran Fan…

I do not have a typical place of work. It isn’t like people surround a copy machine or a water cooler to have discussions about the latest episode of a popular TV show or to ponder the latest moves out of Washington DC. Conversations happen in hallways and classrooms and usually focus on the most ridiculous thing said that day by a kid. Occasionally, there might be discussions about having digital copies of a handout or what people are doing the next day in whatever class. Rarely is there discussion about personal lives or what people are doing over the weekend. Those types of conversations only happen if people go out for a drink after work or on those teacher work days. We just don’t have time for anything else, which is why I didn’t know what to do earlier this week when I popped into the staff lounge and had to react to an actual personal question!

As I walked into the staff lounge to heat up my coffee, I spotted a women who is a frequent substitute flipping through a magazine who glanced up when I walked in. We greeted each other with some normal small talk when the conversation takes a turn. “I heard you were a Duran Duran fan,” she said innocently enough. I literally stopped moving. I didn’t know what to say. For some reason, I felt uncomfortable, almost awkward. Why? I responded in the affirmative, hoping that this ended the conversation. Instead, she continued by telling me how much she loved them when she was in high school and how cute John Taylor was. I nodded while I watched the microwave time. She went on to say that she thought the “original” drummer was really cute, too. I could no longer keep quiet. I questioned, “Roger? Yeah, he still looks good.” This caught her attention. “The original drummer?” she wondered. Like I might respond to a student question, I explained how, yes, the original drummer, Roger, was back and had been back for over a decade. Ignoring that statement, she brought up when Simon almost drowned when the yacht capsized and asked if I remembered that. As I tried to keep up with what seemed like random memories, I nodded. As the microwave beeped, I gave a silent, “thank goodness,” as I turned to leave.

Before I could get out, she asked me about Vegas. “Oh yeah, I heard that you went to Vegas to see them. How was the show? Was it good? I know someone else who went to the show.” I couldn’t ignore the comment and told her that I did, indeed, go to Vegas and that, yes, the show was good. She repeated the question, “It was good?” At this point, I swallowed the urge to just let all things Duran in a quest to educate her and restrained myself by saying, “Yeah, they pretty much always put on a good show. I have seen a few shows.” As I left the room, I realized that I was uncomfortable the entire time. Why? What’s that about?

My first thought about why was the stigma that fans experience. Did I feel judged or that she thought less of me because I was a fan? I don’t really think that was the case. There was no judgment. If anything, she demonstrated a level of enthusiasm that I should have appreciated. Was I upset that she knew I was a Duranie? I don’t think so. After all, I have worn Duran shirts and have a Duran Duran lunch bag. I have pictures of the band on the wall by my desk so I am not hiding that fact. Was I weirded out that she was almost too enthusiastic? In many ways, she sounded like so many people who loved the band in the 80s as they find themselves back in the fandom. She definitely knew some stuff from the band’s history in the 80s.

As I try to figure out my weird reaction, I have to acknowledge that it is all on me. She didn’t do anything wrong or weird. This is all on me. So what is the deal? While I’m not sure I think it is a couple of things. First, I resisted the urge to really tell her all about the band even though I desperately wanted to. I longed to tell her about the reunion and all of the albums and tours since then up until the present day but…I didn’t. Why? One reason is the lack of time that exists on a daily basis at my job. I had to get ready for my next class. On top of that, I knew that if I started talking Duran, I wouldn’t be able to stop. After all, I have a lot to say about the band and being a fan of theirs. I know that sometimes my intensity gets to be too much. While I love sharing all I know, others, even fans, might not. I recognize that.

The other reason that I felt awkward at this conversation is that the term “fan” didn’t feel right. This isn’t because I’m ashamed of my fan status or that I worried about the stigma connected with the term. No, it was the exact opposite. Fan felt inadequate. I’m a fan of Reese peanut butter eggs and wearing jeans. My connection to Duran Duran feels a lot more than that three letter word. Yes, I’m a fan but it is more than that. I bet a lot of you reading this get what I’m trying to say even if I am being totally inarticulate here. Reading and writing blogs about a band and being a fan of that band means that you are more than just a fan but a serious one, a hardcore one. That is really what I wanted to say. I wanted to say, “Heck yes, I’m a fan. I’m a huge Duranie. I have seen them live more than fifty times and hope to get at least one hundred times more. I love them so much that I have a blog about being a fan. In fact, my friend and I who write the blog post pretty much each and every day. We are that dedicated (or insane–depending on how you look at it.) If you love the band as much as I do, then I would love to share what they have been up to for the last decade or so. I think you will fall in love with them all over again.” But I didn’t say any of that. It would have felt too personal. It is like this random person would know too much about me and what I love.

-A