Tag Archives: fandom

When the Title of Your Album is Crowned Upon Thy Heads – Paper Gods

Are they really Paper Gods?

So many times now, I’ll see fans refer to Duran Duran as the Paper Gods.  In theory, I know what they mean. I had their posters as my wallpaper too, and yeah, I definitely worshipped them. They were the Kings of Everything to me. I hadn’t met them, knew nothing of substance about them except their music, and yet, they were everything that mattered. Sound familiar?

Here we are now, some thirty-five or even forty years later, and they’ve been graced with the moniker from one of their own albums – The Paper Gods. Fans hear, “bow to the Paper Gods” and assume it must mean the band. I can certainly see how that happened. If you listen to the song, it isn’t hard to draw the conclusion that they must be referring to themselves in the lyrics. I’d argue that the entire album, from Paper Gods to The Universe Alone, is a reasonable snapshot of their full career, at least until present day.

Bow to the Paper Gods

in a world that is paper-thin.

The fools in town, are ruling now.

Bleeding from paper cuts

money from headshots

Fools leading

who needs it

On one hand, the point is that paper is thin. It’s fairly destructible by being crumpled, burned, torn, etc. At the end of it all – paper means extremely little. Nick describes it like an origami butterfly that is able to fly away at any point. Butterflies aren’t known for being strong. Their wings are fragile. It’s like fame in that sense. Besides, even the thickest origami butterfly can also fall from the sky by being shot down or burned at a moment’s notice (I’m feeling violent today I guess?) That hero status is delicate and fragile.

In another way, when you’re a God of Paper – what does that really mean? Are you part of a throwaway culture? Is it really a good thing to consider anything a Paper God?

Or, is the point really that by calling Duran Duran our Paper Gods, by embracing the very thing that the band has tried running from all these years, we’re laughing in the face of the critics?  It is an interesting thought. Is it derogatory to refer to them that way?

I don’t think the words I’m about to share are any different from what most fans feel. This band is far deeper than the words on any lyric sheet. They are geniuses when it comes to communicating subtle points through music and lyric (and even the occasional interview!) – their sardonic, sarcastic and dry senses of humor come through even when most people miss it. Simon intentionally writes things that most see as fairly obvious, when in fact it may mean anything but. It is creative, smart, and quite honestly has kept me intrigued for nearly forty years, along with many other people.

I don’t know for sure what Duran Duran really intended when they wrote Paper Gods, or when they titled the album or tour that way. In some ways, it is certainly shallow of fans to just shout-out “DD is the best band ever!” whenever DDHQ posts anything at all. However, those words are also demonstrative of how the music world goes ’round. Those fans are a significant part of what keeps the band going.  They simply cannot have a league of people who critically question every last detail and get very far.

This band is so much more than just the shallow pinups I taped up on my wall as a preteen. I, along with a legion of others, have spent the better part of the last four decades peeling back the layers. We continue recognizing that through all of the smoke and mirrors, they’re actual human beings. Extremely talented humans at that. I wouldn’t dare tell anyone that they’re not Paper Gods, but to me, that’s merely where they began.

-R

Duran Duran live in February 2019. Can you wait?

Time is flying by, my friends. Yesterday, I spent the afternoon school supply shopping with my youngest. She is ten, going into fifth grade this year, and is in all of her preteen glory. I can’t believe she’s really approaching the same age I was when I first discovered Duran Duran. It hardly seems possible, although judging by the growth spurt she has had this past year, I shouldn’t be surprised. So we are staring down into the tunnel of a new school year, one that will include many changes, no less. I’m not ready. Summer was fairly non-existent. Twenty years of solid abuse takes time to undo, particularly when the main fixer-upper person lives elsewhere during the week. I’ve gone to two shows this summer, and I’ve been out with my husband alone three times. No vacations, no camping, just a lot of sweat, dirt, and achy muscles.

School starts in about two and a half more weeks. Our house goes on sale Tuesday. Why move during the summer when you can pull out your hair, move boxes and shuffle holidays, children and school around mid year??  My husband and I have a certain way about planning, as evidenced by the sheer genius spacing of our children – Heather is 21, Gavin is 19, and as I said – the youngest is 10.  (my sarcasm is alive and kicking) Mark my words, I will be moving over Thanksgiving weekend if not even mid-December when things are even nuttier. I can feel it coming, and I’ve already accepted my fate.

Meanwhile, there is this band I “kind” of like, and tend to blog about on an almost daily basis. They’ve been semi-awol for a while now while I’ve been in my own rabbit hole. I think they’re around, enjoying their own lives. Imagine that! Earlier in the week, DDHQ had tweeted a photo from #Duranlive, saying that there would be no live shows until February, but that they liked the picture.

This, my friends, was news I needed. I can’t lie, this entire year, I’ve had this little niggling, nagging, thought in the back of my mind.  Would the band end up doing shows this year? If they did, how would I get there? I’m awful, because there I was, husband just starting back to work, me up to my neck in boxes, and I worried about Duran Duran. I mean, not the kind of day-and-night worry. Just the kind that would appear in my head when I heard “Rio”, or “Paper Gods”, or thought about drummers and guitarists. It was a thing. Even the band themselves seemed unsure, saying that there was a chance they’d have a one-off show here or there before year-end.  Uncertainty drives me crazy.

February of 2019 though, is a lot less uncertain. This tidbit, or mile-marker on the journey, makes my heart begin to sing the joyful sounds of “Hungry Like the Wolf” (I can see you laughing at me, Nick. Knock it off.) As I “doo doo doo do, do doo do, do doo do, do doo do, doo doo” my way through packing the precious little that is actually left in this now-personality free house, I’ll be thinking of the fun that is waiting for me in 2019.

Funny how times change. During the Mojave Desert of nothingness between All You Need is Now and Paper Gods, I was desperate. Foraging for anything I could find. A small but tasty sliver of news would have satiated me. A tall, cool drink of Dom or Roger (oh yes, I did just type that.) would have quenched a bit of my thirst along the way. I was dying. I even begged Amanda to fly out to Los Angeles for what could have easily been one (yes, ONE) song performed by Duran Duran at the David Lynch gala at the Ace Theatre. Thankfully, it was a few songs. I nearly died that night in more ways than one, but even those memories kept me going.

This time though, I’m far more patient. I do still miss the band. Any time I see Dom tweet (which isn’t all that often), I grin like the Cheshire Cat. Do I have it that bad? Maybe. I love seeing the very occasional tweet from Simon, or even the photos that John sends to DDHQ to post. Once in a while we’ll get something from Roger or even Nick, and I’m smiling for days. However, I am thankful to have the time to get my life back together. There will time for crazy drives to LA or even San Francisco later. I’m looking forward to getting my own touring group back together for late nights, vodka, cups with no lids and lots of laughing. But I can wait a bit longer. 2019 is beginning to show up on the horizon.

-R

Where is the line crossed from Fandom to Standom?

Hi everyone! Welcome to Wednesday afternoon!  I know I’ve missed a couple of blogging days, so I apologize. I am happy to say though that the “For Sale” sign is out in front of our house, and we have a big open house weekend coming up. Anybody want a house in a nice neighborhood in Orange County, CA?

Meanwhile, there is this blog, which has sadly been neglected this week. I’ve missed writing, and I must warn you that there could be a few more days of that ahead, depending upon how it all works when we actually move. Just recently, I saw a tweet from DDHQ declaring that there would be no live dates until February 2019, and that seems like a good goal for me. Get moved and unpacked by February!  I can only hope…

As I sat down to the computer today, I didn’t have anything in my head ready to write about. Someone must have read my mind and sent me an article about Stans. (Read it here)

A “Stan” is an overly obsessive fan. Funny thing about the words “overly” and “obsessive” – they require interpretation. Where is that line, and how do I not cross it?  This is a question we have continued asking since the blog was in its infancy. It would seem that there is no hard and fast answer, even when many of us would be far more comfortable if there were.

The article isn’t about asking what or who is a stan, but instead talks about the destructive culture itself. What does that mean? Well, in the case of the article, they use a recent incident involving Nicky Minaj and a critic, who dared wonder in print if Nicky could get past the “silly” stuff and write lyric with more substance. Nicky lashed out in return, sending the critic a rather violent and crude response over DM. Not to be deterred, the critic took a screen shot and posted it for all to see. Nicky’s fans went on the extreme defensive, harassing the critic on every known form of social media. They went as far as finding her cell phone number, texting her death threats, and even locating photos of her daughter and circulating them online. In my personal opinion, it was completely unwarranted, unnecessary, and over the top.

The internet allow a shroud of anonymity to hide behind, and some are not afraid of spewing vitriol whenever they disagree with something that they read. In my own experience, it has gotten to the point that I am far more careful about what I say, or even what I write about. For a select few – it in’t enough to disagree, they feel like they need to ruin someone’s reputation, and even harass family members. All for the sake of proving a point?

Disagreeing from time to time with something that is written is normal. I expect people to take issue with things I write, for example. In fact, sometimes I write with that intention in my mind. I would expect that other writers, bloggers, and social media managers are the same. What no one truly expects though, is to have their private lives ripped to shreds because a fan base, or “stan” base.

I can cite numerous examples of this within our own fan community. Attacks on critics who aren’t as positive about the band (that’s putting it mildly – as is the word “attacks”), and even the way we go after one another when someone says or writes something we don’t agree with. But where or when should it be enough? Do we need to “expose” the person on every form of social media? Going after family members and death threats were activities that were at one time left to the most obsessed. They were called stalkers, not fans.  However,  they are commonplace now, to the point where we have an entire category of fan named for them, Stans.

It is my hope that everyone reading this blog will click on the link for the article, and that doing so springboards discussion. The question I  want to now pass on to each of you reading, is simple. Where is the line? At what point do we begin to realize that not every online disagreement needs to end with a threat of questioning someone’s character, or at worst – suggesting death?

-R

 

It’s Going to Tempt You

I am not a very spontaneous person.  I’m sure that those of you who are reading this blog post who know me personally might even be laughing at the thought.  Yes, it is true.  Typically, I take a long time to make a decision even when I have thought about my choices over time.  Let me give you an example.  Over the course of my life, I have saved money to buy the latest electronic gadget.  I will then research, decide on the best option, and save money for whatever I want.  Then, I go to the store to finally buy it and I will still stand there and debate the decision to myself once again.  I kid you not.  This indecisiveness happens with work, too.  For instance, it comes each and every time I don’t feel good.  I will literally spend hours going back and forth about calling in sick.  Why do I do this?  I suppose it is insecurity about doing the right thing.  Should I really miss work?  Should I really spend the money?

Funny enough, the one area of my life that tends not to be indecisive is when it comes to my fandom.  Just ask Rhonda.  It does not take me long from reading or hearing about a new show announcement to deciding that we should go.  Typically, if I see a Duran alert about a new show, by the time I am contacting Rhonda, I already have a tentative plan about what we should do in order to go.  Fandom is the one aspect of my life that I truly allow my heart to lead rather than my head.  Of course, this sometimes has gotten me into trouble.    Take the UK tour of 2011.  The shows were announced.  Tickets went on sale within 24 hours of the press release.  If we were going to go, we needed to buy them then, we said.  So we did.  I knew that this tour, which was to take place in May, was pretty awful timing in terms of work but I just went for it.  I assumed that I would get those details figured out later.  Well…a month or so later, I did get it approved but it took a lot of effort by contacting a lot of people to help me.  If I had thought more, I probably shouldn’t have or wouldn’t have gone for this idea, but I didn’t.  It was Duran.  It was Duran on tour in the UK with my friends.  I didn’t think.  I just acted.

Do I regret the decision to go to the UK for this tour?  No.  Not one little bit.  Did it suck that I had to push hard to get to go, to get approval from work?  Absolutely.  Did I ever give up?  Strangely enough, I didn’t.  Maybe, I should have.  Some might have taken it as a sign that I shouldn’t go, that it wasn’t meant to be.  Still, I pushed.  Now, we know that those UK shows in May of 2011 did not happen.  Strangely enough, I still don’t regret going even with the extreme effort with work.  I learned a lot about myself, fandom, Duran Duran and friendships during that trip.

Of course, over the course of my fandom, I have gone to other events that I should not have due to my crappy schedule.  The best example of this is when I went to John Taylor’s book reading and signing in Chicago in late October 2012.  Not only was that night a “school night” meaning that I had to work the next day but it was also days away from Election Day.  This meant that I was working about 80 hours a week between teaching and campaigning.  I knew that the responsible thing would have been to stay at home, get more work done, go to sleep at a decent hour, etc. but I didn’t.  I couldn’t.  This was John Taylor.  Was it crazy of me?  Absolutely.  I remember standing in line to get my book signed and answering call after call about the campaign.  Then, I ended up with like 3 hours of sleep, if that.  Yet, it was amazing night that was worth the multi-tasking and the sleep deprivation.

Now, I face a similar situation.  It, unfortunately, isn’t with Duran Duran or John Taylor but with the Killers.  If you have read this blog for awhile, you probably know that both Rhonda and I love the Killers.  I would definitely pick them for my second favorite band and I have been lucky enough to see them live a number of times.  Well, a few days ago I saw an event on Facebook stating that they are playing in nearby Milwaukee on September 4th.  Sometimes, I think there is a conspiracy against me.  What date is September 4th?  It is literally the first day of school with students.  On that date, 9th graders come to learn their way around the building as they walk through their schedules and meet their teachers.  It is not a regular day of school but it is tiring as there is lots to do to get ready.  The next day, the 5th, will mark the first normal day of school in which all students come and attend class during regular hours.  Ugh.  What a terrible date for a concert!

So, once I saw the event, I shared it and began debating to go or not to go.  It is right in the beginning of the year,

which means that I am already super exhausted.  That said, I also can and will be prepared so that I can leave right at the end of the day.  Should I let work dictate my life?  Should I be good and stay home?  Double ugh.  Again, I waffle.  Yesterday, though, this changed.  I found myself with a presale code for this concert.  At that moment, I did not stop and debate.  I used the code and within minutes I had tickets purchased.  Oh boy.  Will I regret this decision?  Maybe, I will when I am driving home afterwards, exhausted and begging for sleep.  Perhaps, the next day will be so painful that I will kick myself over and over again.  On the other hand, I did not second guess my decisions in those other examples.  Besides, it is a concert.  It is about seeing a fabulous band live.  How could that decision be wrong?  Now, to find someone crazy enough to go with me…

-A

Sleep Train Amphitheater, Chula Vista California 2016

Just two years ago today, Amanda and I were headed south, to the Sleep Train Amphitheater in Chula Vista, California. It was our final show of the summer, on the road trip of all road trips. In fact, it was so long that we had to take a two-week break along the way, just to rest up!

That final show was fun, but as always, it all went by too quickly.  I remember getting there that afternoon and hanging out before the gates even opened (we were entirely too early). I don’t think either of us were ready for our tour to end. Bittersweet endings are just that, endings. It is difficult to push the thought that it’s the “last time” from my mind so that you can just live in the moment.

Last night, I saw another final show of a tour. The concert was Foreigner, and it was the final date on their “Jukebox Heroes” tour with Whitesnake and the Jason Bonham Led Zeppelin Experience. Yes my friends, when I’m not listening to Duran Duran, I will occasionally rock out to hair bands, metal, and classic rock, and I love every minute of it.

The concert was outstanding. I was able to check quite a few things off of my bucket list, and I really enjoyed the show. I mean, it was the closest I’ll likely get to seeing LZ live, and I relived my middle school years, most notably the school dances, in the process. “Stairway to Heaven”, “Here I go (Again)”, “Waiting”, “Urgent”, “Cold as Ice”…. I had a blast.

In between sets, I did a lot of people watching. I don’t know why I’m continually surprised when I see fans from other bands greet one another in the same way we do at shows, but I am. It’s as though I’m flabbergasted that other bands have as loyal of fanbases as Duran Duran. As we were walking in last night, I saw two girls scream in delight as a friend they knew ran up to join them. I heard them exclaim, “We didn’t know you were coming to this one!” All of them in Foreigner t-shirts from earlier tours, of course. This interaction seemed to happen again and again as we waited in line to get through security at the front of the venue, and then again while we were buying wine.

** As an aside, this was the first show I’d attended (or at least the first I’d noticed this as an option) where we could buy an entire bottle of wine and have it poured into a very handy plastic (BPA free) carafe for consumption in the stands. They had many different choices, and most of them were decent. I approve.

The one thing I kept noticing, and have been reflecting on today, was just how much the bands kept thanking their fans, talking about the wild journey they’d been on with them this tour. They called out people they recognized in front, and even in a small amphitheater of 12,000 people – it felt far more like family and friends than much else. I liked it.

I suppose that really isn’t a surprise, after all.

-R

Happy 37th Anniversary MTV!

Can you believe that MTV launched on this date in 1981—a mere 37 years ago???

I kept going back and redoing the math on that, because it just doesn’t seem possible. I can’t remember exactly when MTV arrived at my house. I know we had cable at some point, and I remember watching MTV for hours and hours. I just don’t know when we finally got it, although I’m sure it was before Live Aid in 1985.  What I do remember is that my friend Marsha had it as soon as it became available to residents in Covina, California.  I began spending many hours of my day planted in front of her TV as a result. (Thanks Mrs. W!!)

My musical tastes were formed by two things: playing clarinet, and MTV.  As a clarinet student, I learned far more about classical music than I ever thought possible. In the years before MTV, I knew more about classical composers than I did contemporary 1980’s-era artists on the radio. By then, I’d cultivated a deep appreciation for  Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, and Mozart, along with many others. That list is long, my friends. Benny Goodman was and still is my hero and spirit animal, right alongside Pete Fountain and Artie Shaw.  On the other hand, I really didn’t know much about pop music. I discovered a local radio station – KROQ – before MTV came along, but once the videos got started, there was no stopping me. I relished every single video that came on the screen, along with juicy bits of music news and background information that VJ’s such as Martha Quinn and JJ Jackson diligently doled out in between.

I cut my New Wave and Alternative teeth on artists like Wall of Voodoo, Burning Sensations, The Motels, The Fixx, Visage, Soft Cell, Joy Division—I could go on and on and on, and you’d likely know every band and artist.

It blows my mind that this all began 37 years ago. Can it really be possible? Sadly, I know it is. Life goes by in the blink of an eye.

I wouldn’t mind sitting down in front of the TV to watch an MTV video marathon direct from 1981, even if only for a day. It is a shame we can’t step back in time, for even just one moment. The innocence of youth, hope for what the future might hold, and seemingly limitless energy all seem very appealing right now.

Yep, I’d take a little more of all that today.

-R

When It Comes Down to my Soul

Every summer I come up with a long list of projects, things I want to accomplish but cannot when I’m working 60-70 hours a week during the school year.  Typically what happens is that I get about 75% of the way done and then the rest goes undone until the next summer.  For example, last summer I worked on organizing pictures.  I finished organizing them through 2011.  Clearly, I did not finish (and haven’t yet).  This year is no exception when it comes to starting a big project.  Organization is my big focus.  I decided, perhaps stupidly, to go through my entire house and reorganize it.  Needless to say, I have thrown out a bunch of stuff and put other items aside to give away.  This makes me feel good and more in control.  I need that.

In some ways, this summer, this time reminds me of the summer of 2015.  During that year, my mom battled cancer.  This meant that my entire focus was on her and what needed to be done to support her.  This, of course, didn’t mean that everything else stopped.  I still had to pay my bills, go to the grocery store, clean my house, etc.  Life didn’t stop but my priority changed.  Now, in 2018, my priority is my political activity.  It is an election year (maybe the most important in US history), which means that a whole lot of my time is spent gearing up for August through Election Day when voter contact will be frequent.  Thus, I’m trying to keep up on my household tasks while keeping my eye on political stuff and reorganizing my house.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not complaining.  I chose this and feel like it is what I need to do.  But I do realize that other parts of my life are being pushed to the side.

I’m getting close to finishing this big summer project having just one room and one closet left to complete.  What room and closet is left?  It is my office, which is really my second bedroom.  Now, some of you might know that my office is my Duran sanctuary of sorts.  It is covered with Duran posters, album covers, photos from various tours, and much more.  

In the process of reorganizing this space, I have gone through convention materials, notes from various book projects, notebooks filled with brainstorming and blog ideas.  I smiled a lot as I came across each and every item.  In some cases, my facial emotion reflected the joy that arose from a good memory of a fun time.  In other cases, I felt a longing to finish or to start a project that once came up.  I miss writing and researching in that way.  Yet, I instantly recognized that now is not the time as much as I might want to sit down and write or research some angle of fandom that I hadn’t considered much.  No, my focus is elsewhere.  I get it.  This is how life goes.  Hopefully, it will swing back to this sooner rather than later.

This leads me to think of the blog.  For some reason, this is different.  Unlike more significant writing, this remains part of my daily existence.  I suspect that part of this is the fact that we made a commitment to do this daily.  I follow through on my commitments.  The other aspect is our longevity.  We have been writing this blog for a long time.  It is now a habit, part of my daily existence.  It does not fit in the projects category of my life.  No, writing this blog is like paying bills…although that makes it sound like a chore.  Perhaps a better way to say it is that it is like showering.  Yes, it takes time, but it is time that makes me feel better.  It helps me get the rest of my to do list done.  This task gives me energy and an escape from the less than fun aspects of life.  It keeps me attached to the fandom, to the  Duranie in me that I desperately need when the rest of life gets heavy.  In the past whenever I have pushed some aspect of myself aside, that part always bubbles to the surface, demanding my attention and showing that I was unhappy without it.  Now, I guarantee that this won’t happen.  No, the blog keeps one foot in fandom while I take care of business elsewhere.  For that, I’m grateful.

-A

Fandom Made Me a Happier Person, Too!

I apologize for my tardiness with today’s post. The past 24 hours have been rather unkind. My home, which was spotless on Saturday, now looks as though it has been hit by a hurricane. There is a film of dust everywhere, combined with layers of plastic, tape and yes, paint.

Speaking of which, I have a PSA for anybody who ever plans to paint, or spoil themselves and have their house painted. Always remember to pull out blankets, pillows, and perhaps a few outfits, because otherwise all of your belongings – like maybe your entire house – will essentially end up piled like a life-sized Jenga game into the center of each bedroom, and then shrink-wrapped in plastic without any way for you to retrieve your personal items. I have it on good authority that you will be left wondering at 11:30 that night how you’re going to get your ten-year old to finally go to sleep.  Maybe your significant other will end up folding an old down throw blanket into a cushion and sleeping on the wood floor, perhaps your son will sleep on an office chair, and maybe you’ll be stuck on your couch, without a blanket or a pillow.  Oh, and god forbid you have a stomach virus while all of this is going on. Yeah.

So yep, the blog is late, and I’m tired.

Today, I ran across an article that I think every Duran fan should read. This article, titled “Fandom Made Me a Happier Person – And There’s A Very Real Reason For That” is posted on bustle.com. It outlines some fantastic “side effects” to participating in a fandom.  I replied to the person who originally tweeted the link to the article on Twitter to say that 99% of my experience in this fandom has been positive.

Yes, Amanda and I have examined some of the less-than-positive aspects to certain fan practices. That’s part of studying fandom. However, she and I would be among the first to jump and shout about the good things we’ve experienced and discovered simply because we happened to be Duran Duran fans.

I’ve written about many of these things before, but just the very idea of having some interest that is mine, and mine alone, has been empowering. I’ve traveled, I’ve made lifelong friends, and I’ve even challenged myself to leave my very comfortable “box”, in search of pushing my own boundaries a bit. I’m far from perfect or finished, but I’m much happier!

Sometimes, we all get so focused on the small, insipid annoyances that go along with socializing within a small community that we forget the broader, far more positive, payoffs. I have to thank Kelsea Stahler, the author, for the good reminder. Check out the article (linked in the text above!)

-R

They Lay Back Laughing at Naivety’s Star

Thirteen years ago on this date, I saw Duran Duran play in St. Louis.  This show blew my mind despite the side seats, the massive headache I had and the excessive heat.  (Seriously, it was over 100 degrees that weekend and the sweat just poured off of Simon.  I felt bad for the band as it must have been three times as bad for them with the stage lights.  Interestingly enough, I never saw one bead of sweat on Nick.  Hmm…)  Anyway, while the show was great, the after show is what sticks out the most in my mind.

Let me provide some context.  This show took place during the second leg of the Astronaut tour.  I had been to shows during the spring but still was pretty new to the ways of touring.  I didn’t go with Rhonda but a couple of other friends.  We had decided beforehand that we would try to find the band after the how.  After all, I had tried during the spring with no luck and I kept seeing and reading about so many other fans who had their moments.  I wanted a moment, too.  I never questioned my desire to do this.  To me, it just seemed to be what fans in this fan community do.  More importantly than that, I never considered what would happen if we did.  I never thought about how to act.

In order to achieve our goal, we did what so many have done since.  We guessed a hotel.  Yes, we were that awesome.  Funny enough, though, we were right along with what seemed like hundreds of other Duranies.  Once we got there, I made a decision.  I would just try to get John Taylor’s autograph.  That’s it.  I wouldn’t ask for anything else.  (Maybe this shows how naive I was.  It seemed to me that so many other fans wanted/expected a lot more from the band whether that would be photos and autographs or photos and their time.)  Quickly after that decision was made, the band pulled up.  As the band members exited their vehicles, my group split, trying to get to the band member of choice.  Looking back at this, it makes me cringe.  Never once did I stop and think about how it the band members would have felt in having strange people approach them as they try to enter a hotel.

Soon enough, I reached the crowd surrounding John Taylor.  Many of the people there seemed to be those professional autograph hunters who had tons of professional photos to get him to sign.  I just wanted my poster signed.  When I got to him, he kindly signed my poster.  Then, I simply walked away.  Mission accomplished.  I went to go find my friends.  I saw one talking to Roger.  Did I say anything or do anything?  Not really.  I already got what I came for.  (Later, I wondered if I should have asked for something.  Did I miss an opportunity?)  Then, I walked into the hotel to find my other friend.  Once inside, I found John Taylor surrounded by people in the lobby.  He could not move beyond the crowd.  As people started to touch his arm, he turned looking for security.  This made me uncomfortable.  He seemed trapped.  Did he want people touching him?  Did he want all this attention?  It got me thinking.   Does being famous mean that you don’t have the right to consent or freedom of movement?  Is that part of what he signed up for?

Fast forward a bit.  I desperately needed something to drink.  One of my friends had found a spot at the bar…next to Roger.  Well, then.  My mixed emotion self did not really know what to do.  Do I try to butt in and get in the conversation?  Do I leave her alone?  I knew this much.  I was dying of thirst.  After all, it was ungodly hot that weekend.  Perhaps, this was my way in.  I could get a drink, which would give me a logical reason to be there.  But it also meant standing there for awhile to get someone’s attention to take my request.  After a few minutes of just standing there, I left.  I distinctly remember feeling just foolish on top of not really knowing where my comfort level was as a fan.  How do I manage to have my fan moment without doing something that makes me feel uneasy?

The next day forced me to think more about the issue as the message boards exploded with posts and comments about the post-show activities.  Many fans were excited for those who shared their moments or their photos.  Still, others criticized the fans there, implying that some crossed the line.  I had no idea that there was even differing philosophies when it came to interactions between fans and the subject(s) of their fandom.  All of a sudden, the fan community felt a little less safe to me.  After all, many included me with the group of fans who were harassing the band.  Did I?  Looking back, maybe I did.  I followed some of the people I was with.  Maybe I shouldn’t have.

By even the next day, I knew that while I, too, still wanted my moment, I needed to decide about how I would ever act in that situation again.  I starting figuring out what makes me uncomfortable for either myself or a band member.  Notice I said what makes me uncomfortable, where my line is.  That line might be very different for others.  I get that.  Heck, I don’t think I totally have it figured out for myself.  I am still learning.  One thing I feel strongly about now, in 2018, that I didn’t even really think about before that night is St. Louis is touching.  I know that if I ever see a band member or anyone else famous, for that matter, there is no way that I would touch that person without seeking consent first.  Have I always done that?  No but it is something I am working on with people in my life as well and when I have done it, I feel really good about the interaction.  Let me give an example.  When I met President Obama, I consciously decided that I would assume nothing about how the interaction was going to go.  I was there, along with others who had worked on his campaign.  We were lined up to meet him.  I watched to see how he greeted people ahead of me.  When it was my turn, he opened his arms for a hug which I happily returned.  Besides touching, I have also decided that I really like giving anyone famous space.  I won’t surround someone as that would make me uncomfortable.

I know that many people out there might disagree with my philosophy.  You all might be saying…but they are famous.  They had to know what they signed up for.  I think they signed up lots of media attention, sure.  People want to know them and know what they are up to, but, personally, I think they should have the right to their own bodies.  It is okay if you disagree with me.  Fans do not always have to be agreement.  It doesn’t make me a better fan or a bigger fan.  All it means is that after 13 years, I’m starting to get an idea of who I am and what I believe in as a fan.  It has taken me a long time to get to this point.  I have made a lot of mistakes.  Heck, I did 13 years ago today.  That night, that weekend provided a crash course in fandom that I didn’t ask for and didn’t know that I needed.  Looking back, I’m thankful for the experience.  It taught me a lot about fandom, but about myself, too.

-A

REPOST: You’ve Built Your Refuge Turns You Captive All The Same

From time to time, we all need a break. I’m finding that today, I need one too. This is something that Amanda and I have discussed off and on over the years, never really coming to a firm decision about taking vacations or holidays. We take time when we need, and we handle it however makes sense, which is what I’m doing today.

I decided to look back five years from today’s date and post whatever blog is there. (one good reason for the archives, I say!) It turns out that on this date in 2013, Amanda wrote the blog. The topic is just as timely now as it was then. Not everything about fandom comes up smiles and rainbows, am I right?  Enjoy!!


You’ve Built Your Refuge Turns You Captive All The Same

Originally posted July 19, 2013

I have been a Duran Duran fan for a loooooooooooooong time.  A lot of us have.  I have been involved in a few other fandoms over the course of my life but none have stuck with me like Duran has.  There is probably a ton of reasons why that is but that isn’t the point of this particular blog post.  While I might have been with Duran over these other fandoms, there are Duranies who have ONLY been in the Duran fandom.  Then, there seems to be people who bounce from fandom to fandom to fandom.  Why do they do that?  Why have I been interested in other fandoms, at times, too?  While the simple, surface answer is that people can like many things and I can like other things besides Duran.  That’s true but…I think there is something about fandom itself that leads people to enjoy joining fandoms or leads people to leave fandoms once they become familiar, common place.

Do you remember what it was like when you first joined the Duran fandom?  Or any other fandom?  My memories from every fandom feel the same.  It feels good, happy, thrilling, exciting.  Everything and everyone feels positive.  I, for one, typically can’t get enough and can’t stop talking about whatever the object of that particular fandom is.  Everyone in the fandom literally feels like a family and I can’t ever imagine that there is ever bad blood or that people don’t get along.  I have such fond memories of when I joined the Duran fandom in 2004 (remember I was a fan before that but not part of the community).  I posted frequently on message boards and spent time reading them even more.  I spent a lot of money trying to fill in any gaps in the Duran catalog and organizing the pieces of memorabilia that I had while acquiring even more.  I wanted to know and have everything and everyone in the fandom seemed to support this. It was wonderful.  Just wonderful.  When I decided to go to the convention, part of the reason was that I wanted more.  I wanted to be around others who understood the overwhelming love I had for this band.  At the convention, it seemed like every single fan was awesome and each and every one of them could become my best friend because we all shared this very important thing.  I didn’t need to hide.  In fact, my fandom was cherished, was celebrated.  Everything and everyone seemed perfect from my fellow fans to the band.

After that, the album came out and the tour happened.  I went on tour for the first time in my life.  It continued to be perfect.  Part of the reason was that it provided a perfectly positive escape.  Who doesn’t need an escape once in a while?  I know that I did.  I had just finished my master’s degree and was tired of taking classes, writing papers, etc.  Work was still pretty significant and was literally working many hours more beyond that forty hour a week contract.  While I wasn’t unhappy, I still needed those mental and emotional breaks that fandom was providing, that the Duran fandom was providing.  Once I went on tour, my interest became like a real obsession.  The escape from reality was intense there.  I wasn’t thinking about students, curriculum, behavior plans, etc.  I wasn’t worried about presenting myself professionally with parents or administrators.  Instead, it was all about fun–going from one show to the next, partying, staying up late, laughing like there was no tomorrow.  I found my refuge, for sure.  I loved it and couldn’t imagine ever stopping.  Heck, still today, I can’t imagine ever really stopping.  I can’t imagine not going on tour ever again.  Thus, in the early days of my Duran fandom, it was perfectly fun.  Beyond fun.  Beyond anything I could have ever wanted or imagined.  In my observation, while the details and experiences I had in Duranland might be different from other activities in other fandoms, the feelings I had were the same, at least to some degree, in other fandoms and what I have seen with other friends and family and their fandoms.  This feeling of everything and everyone being wonderful and the feelings of escape seem to happen with all fandoms when people join them.

Yet, as time has gone on, I have learned that not everything in Duranland is rainbows, butterflies and unicorns.  It isn’t perfect.  The band isn’t perfect and neither are the fans.  I don’t always agree with everything the band and their management has done.  I have met many, many fans.  Some of them have become close friends of mine (ha!), some have become people I like and would like to get to know more, and some I’m not too crazy about and they aren’t too crazy about me, either.  The perfection did not last.  The hearts and flowers did not live forever.  I still have many, many great days as part of this fandom.  I can’t really imagine leaving.  Yet, I have to acknowledge that it doesn’t always have that same level of escape and fun that it was once did.  In fact, there are days that I wonder if I shouldn’t consider walking away.  Why?  Simple.  I have those thoughts on days when it feels like the Duran fandom is the exact opposite of an escape.  There are days that it can feel almost like a trap.  The negatives fly fast and furious.  Luckily, those days, those times don’t last forever.  I then can focus on the good times I have had, the good friends I have made.  This allows me to wipe away the negatives, the hostility from others.  My experience has taught me what it takes to remain in a fandom and why some people might go from fandom to fandom.  I suspect those people are trying to avoid the negatives.  They only want the fun and escape.  I can’t blame them.  Who can?  Part of me is jealous because I can’t ever go back to those innocent, carefree days of early fandom, at least not with Duran.  I know too much.  I have seen too much.  People have seen and heard too much of me.

Initial fandom might feel like a perfect escape and definitely can be for a while.  Yet, as time goes on and people settle in, imperfections that occur with every human being, with every human community becomes clear.  To remain in a fandom means accepting those imperfections, accepting that it can’t always be an escape.  At times, it can and will feel just like the rest of reality with positives and negatives, with people of all opinions and more.  In that sense, fandom and fan communities become just like any other community, filled with reality.

-A