Tag Archives: fandom activities

In My Fantasy Fire

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

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

Looking for a token

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

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

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

Something to prove

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

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

I actually do care, funny how that changes….

More than a flame

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

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

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

Even if I wait a lifetime

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

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

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

Ease the lost cause

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

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

Leave a light on

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

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

-R

In Conversation with Simon Le Bon

By Douglas Armstrong

Prologue

“Excuse me? Aren’t you…?”

“Bon. SIMON…Le Bon”

This humorous Paris conversation atop the Eiffel Tower marked the end to the cinematic music video for the 1985 MTV anthem, “A View To A Kill”. The film theme marked a crossroads for Duran Duran, and for global pop culture itself. Why?

  • “A View To A Kill” became the FIRST single from the (decades old) James Bond motion picture series to reach # 1 in America.
  • “A View To A Kill” remains the ONLY Bond anthem to reach #1 in America.
  • LIVE AID became the concert event of the decade in the 1980s. In the “Woodstock” of its era, the one-day charity stadium mega concert spanning the Atlantic Ocean in both London (UK) and Philadelphia (America) simultaneously played host to a wealth of music legends: Queen, David Bowie, Tina Turner, Mick Jagger, U2, Madonna, George Michael, Adam Ant, Phil Collins, Sting… with reunions by Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. (Only one band, however, marked the zeitgeist of the moment with the NUMBER ONE single on the Billboard Hot 100 that week: “A View To A Kill” by LIVE AID’s ABC and MTV prime-time headliner: Duran Duran.)
  • “A View To A Kill” came to mark the summit of Duran Duran’s commercial blaze as well. As guitarist Andy Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor soon departed, keyboardist Nick Rhodes and bass guitarist John Taylor forged ahead as a trio with singer Simon Le Bon.

Styles change. Style doesn’t.

This promotional manifesto emerged from Capitol-EMI Records in the 1990s, serving as the catalyst for a return to form for Duran Duran. New Wave was out. Glam Metal was out. Hip-Hop was in. Grunge was in. Was there room for the unflagging vision of Duran Duran? Yes.

“Comeback” is a tricky word for Duran Duran and their fans… this omnipresent dance-rock band has seen the top, the bottom, and the middle of the mountain creatively and commercially for 40 years since their 1978 formation.

(FOR THE RECORD: Duran Duran have never broken up… there has never “not been” a Duran Duran in existence since they dominated radio, MTV, poster and magazine sales, and sold out sports arenas in the 1980s.)

Billboard interviewed the band in the studio with producer Chris Kimsey in 1990 for the making of LIBERTY. Remarkably self-aware, singer Simon Le Bon stated defiantly: “We’re aware of the struggle we’re involved in. We will not be killed off.”

2019: A Space Coast Odyssey

In this spirit, I could hardly wait to be part of the 2019 Cultural Summit presented by the BCA (Brevard Cultural Alliance) in Melbourne, Florida. As a devout fan of Duran Duran since 1983 (at age 10!), I had seen many interviews with this band – in writing, on MTV and VH1, and later online. I have been fortunate to personally see Duran Duran live nearly 30 times since 1989, and met each founding member.

Was there anything left to “learn”? I wondered to myself.

I did know that I was delighted to be invited to this rare event. In 2000, while watching Duran Duran “Storytellers” on VH-1, I marvelled at the intimate British audience allowed into that “inner circle”… I observed how keenly these fans listened to the band members as they shared anecdotes of their culture-shifting history.

Nineteen years LATER… I was surprised to receive an e-mail from the BCA asking me if I had a question I would like considered for inclusion in the Q&A with Simon Le Bon. (My inner voice’s response: “WHOA….ME?”)

IS THERE SOMETHING I SHOULD KNOW?

May 23rd, 2019. Award-winning Orlando/Melbourne journalist Greg Pallone (Spectrum News 13) was appointed to moderate the onstage exchange: “In Conversation With Simon Le Bon.”

“Hundreds of artists, creative professionals, business and political leaders from Brevard County and beyond” were welcomed by the arts and cultural nonprofit organization BCA in their event handbill. A full day conference of morning and evening workshops were scheduled for paying attendees in the business-related fields of arts, culture, and the music industry. Wendy Laister, CEO of Magus Entertainment (and long-time Duran Duran band manager), was one of many notable presenters who spoke during the day’s breakout sessions.

12:00 PM – 2:00 PM was reserved for the luncheon, prior to which hundreds of animated Duran Duran fans swelled the ample hallways of the Hilton Melbourne Rialto Place. The Florida resort and the BCA Team were well-prepared for the “Sold Out” 420-seat capacity marquee event. Fans relished reliving key DD fan moments in the resort hallways. A table of BCA volunteers cheerfully logged in each guest, and handed the “Golden Ticket”-like wristband to each pre-paid attendee. And then the ballroom doors opened…

Is Anybody… HUNGRY?!

Doug and some of his tablemates!

Flank Steak.

Grilled Chicken.

The choice of entree was yours upon reserving your tickets online. My food was delicious – better than the catered hotel fare typically experienced at such events. The lunch I was served:

  • Flank Steak (with feta cheese, garden herbs, and sun-dried tomatoes)
  • Garden Vegetables (steamed green beans, carrots, broccoli)
  • Mashed Potatoes (whipped in butter)
  • Coffee / Water / Tea
  • Key Lime Pie (w/fresh whipped cream)

My good friend Mike McCoy drove across the state from Tampa Bay for this event. We grew up together in the 1980s listening to Duran Duran’s hits when they were NEW songs – so our history as friends just added to the fun of the luncheon for each of us. Summoning the spirit of “Hungry Like The Wolf”, Mike says during our proper meal: “Wouldn’t it be AWESOME when Simon comes out, if we just ‘THREW’ the table over…??!”

(…as Mike gestures his arms upward, in a slow ‘throwing’ motion…)

Mike clearly knew we would obviously NEVER misbehave in such a way. But oh, the laugh. I’ll never forget that line. It was one of MANY great “Duran moments” from this day.

MY line at lunch: When the server places the china before me, I look upon my juicy flank steak and say aloud to our tablemates: “Is anybody… HUNGRY?!”

We all laughed. Among this crowd – we all know the lines, the cues, the nuances, the looks – and there is never a need to explain ourselves. We’re about to have lunch with ‘SIMON LE BON’. Just a PERFECT DAY…

While we dined, Neil Levine (BCA Executive Director) lead a powerpoint presentation revealing the findings of the “2019 Economic Contribution of Arts & Culture to the Space Coast. Levine made the case of how the creative community made the area a desirable locale for residents and for tourism alike. Then, Greg Pallone of Spectrum News 13 was introduced and welcomed to the stage. The audience excitement was palpable – and to the sound of forks and knives clanging chinaware, Greg enthusiastically profiled our conference’s special luncheon guest…

All You Need Is NOW…

Entering from stage right: The singer of Duran Duran – SIMON LE BON. The applause and cheers evoke a Duran Duran concert. Simon looks calm and relaxed… to describe his look in 3 words? “MIAMI VICE. HAVANA.”

  • White, long-sleeved button-down collar casual dress shirt. A few buttons undone, he looks ready to sail into Florida’s cool coastal breezes…
  • White slacks
  • Off-white, low-top deck shoes. (No socks, that I could tell?)
  • A small gold, hoop earring in his left ear. (It’s BACK! LOL)
  • Fresh haircut: short on the sides, lightly spiky length on top. Sun-bleached brown. (Think: “Last Night In The City” video.)

…Greg notes that many WOMEN are here in today’s audience. As the crowd calls out to him, Simon relishes the moment – yet with good-nature, defers to his interviewer and bellows into his microphone: “Let’s hear it for GREG!!”

The light banter introductions segue into about 10 minutes of Greg asking Simon to share some of his music stories. Simon speaks of the early days starting out with Duran Duran in working class Birmingham, England. He speaks of how when the band toured in America early on, radio wouldn’t play their music – yet the risque music video for “Girls On Film” gained them airplay and underground credibility in American dance clubs. During this time in their young life (“Nick was only 19!”), they were very excited to play in New York City. Dancing in Studio 54, and meeting legendary artist Andy Warhol, were quite exciting bucket list moments for them.

After playing clubs around the world, the band finally got a mainstream break in America: MTV. Simon said that MTV brought the music of Duran Duran straight into people’s homes in America. He talked of the relationship they built with the fledgling music video network – especially “the VJ’s on MTV… when they actually PLAYED ‘music’!”

Greg asked Simon to highlight his childhood inspiration to make or perform music. Simon responded by singing: “She loves you / YEAH, yeah, yeah! / She loves you / YEAH, yeah, yeah!” as he namechecks “The Beatles… Stones… classical… T-Rex… David Bowie!”

As the crowd cheers and hangs on to every name cited, the interviewer cites the similar effect that Duran Duran had upon a generation of young people, particularly in the 1980s. Simon good naturedly interrupts, to a roar of laughing approval: “…***I’M*** stuck in the Eighties!!”

Simon talks about his relationship with his fans, stating how it is special “…to be a PART of their conscience – be a PART of their wallpaper.”

Shortly after, Greg announces that a few fans in attendance have been invited to submit questions for today’s event. As the host lifts a small stack of index cards, he announces that when your name is called, you will be invited to stand up and ask Simon your question… or Greg will read it for you, if preferred. Making eye contact with his fans in the eager audience, Simon grins widely: he knows it’s TIME to leave you…

…ANSWERED WITH A QUESTION MARK

  • Simon is asked how it feels to have recently become a grandfather. He notes that he recently turned 60 years old – and he loves family, and loves having a newborn child in his life again.
  • Simon talks about the effect of his fame upon his children. He namechecks the SING BLUE SILVER 1984 tour DVD (to enthusiastic audience cheers). “I recently showed it to my CHILDREN for the first time. They were VERY surprised……. (with a look of being awestruck, the audience laughs loudly with him).”
  • A fan says “You are a HEALER…” and tells Simon how his music has given hope to so many fans through the years, and asks how he feels about that. Simon thanks the fans, who have sent him so many letters detailing how his songs saved them. He says “Save A Prayer” may be the one that fans give him the most feedback on in helping them out of dark times…
  • A woman stands up and tells Simon that she was the person who introduced him to the modelling photos of (his now wife) YASMIN in the 80s, backstage at Madison Square Garden in New York. Simon is completely floored… “Do you have the pictures WITH you?” he asks. She says yes, and holds up the portfolio. Simon motions to her, to come join him onstage. Standing up, Simon and this young woman leaf purposefully through the book of glossy photos. Slowing down the present with his own eyes – Simon indulges his PAST, recalling how falling in love with the face of a girl forever changed his FUTURE.
  • Another fan asks if DD will be making any new music together again… Simon confirms that in the 40th year of the band, they have been. “We’re writing a new Duran Duran studio album in London with new dance producer Erol Alkan – and in L.A. with Mark Ronson. We’ll be celebrating (DD 40) all year… and for the NEXT 10 years…!”
  • “You know what your music has done for US…” the next fan is called upon to ask. “What has it done for YOU?” Simon answers: “It… has kept me OCCUPIED. It has given me the SCRIPT for my LIFE, really. Time FLIES, when you’re having FUN… It’s given me a reason to wake up in the morning, to wake up with these guys (his bandmates).”
  • Host Greg Pallone takes up the subject of sailing (close to the heart of Melbourne locals and many Floridians)… calling upon the fan who submitted that question. Simon waxes poetic, tying in his draw towards the ocean and being a member of a sailing crew, into his love of the give-and-take process of creating music in a band. “You learn to RELY on other people…”
  • Somebody asks Simon what music he enjoys today. He loses me personally with some names I am unfamiliar with. He mentions relishing the music of Fela Kuti, a frequent fallback for him. And Tame Impala is one of many new bands he thinks is great.
  • “We’ve heard from a lot of female fans today,” host Greg says, “now let’s hear from some of the MEN. Where’s Douglas Armstrong…” “RIGHT HERE! Hi!” I enthusiastically reply, standing up. I roll up my left sleeve, showing the skin of my upper arm, declaring, “I just want to represent – ‘MAN’ with a Duran Duran TATTOO!” Our spirited ballroom of Duran fans cheered my ‘ink reveal’ to the singer approvingly. What could feel better! Simon responds: “It’s quite a rare BREED, you know…!”
  • My question: “I just wanted to welcome you today to Melbourne, Florida. It is the birthplace of Jim Morrison. I know in 1995, The Doors’ ‘Crystal Ship’ was a song that Duran Duran covered. So I just want to ask: A lot of us know the ‘MUSIC’ – but part of what always captivated me about Duran Duran was a ‘POETIC’ aspect… it wasn’t just literal. It didn’t ‘TELL’ you where to go… it was open to interpretation. I get a lot of that listening to The Doors as well. So I just want you to go into that a little.”
  • “Yeah, I think it’s a very valid point,” Simon replied. “I think it’s something in works with a lot of lyrics – AND poetry as well. A lot of songs are not ‘specific’. And they leave a lot to the imagination. I think there’s a very good REASON for that. I know there is in my songwriting. And that is because I want to leave room for you, and you, and you, and YOU to insert your own experiences, and points-of-view, into the song – so you can make it your OWN. Because for whatever happens – the songs that come back, the way that people interpret them into their own way, are WAY more important than the ones that convey a ‘message’. Because it’s when you get that FEEDBACK from people… You say ‘I understand this song, I know what it’s all about’ – and its NOTHING that you intended. But it means SUCH a lot to THEM. And suddenly, it speaks to the audience about their OWN lives. And I think that’s a really wonderful thing.” (Crowd applauses… Simon breaks back in, to close.) “And I think – that’s a really IMPORTANT part – of what makes ‘poetry’, poetry.”
  • “In the Eighties, NOTHING was more important than music to people…” Today, Simon notes the most unifying passion across generational and cultural lines “seems to be sports.”
  • Host Greg asks aloud to know who is the “youngest” fan of Duran Duran in the audience (a mother speaks aloud for her daughter, named Rio(!) – aged 9! The mother of Rio asks: “Why did you name the song “Rio”? Simon replies, “I LOVE that name! I was just BLOWN AWAY by this beautiful country (America). I felt that ‘Rio’ could be about something much MORE than a girl. I wrote ‘Rio’ about your country. I wrote ‘Rio’ about the United States of America!!”
  • Greg turns back to ask the crowd who is the “oldest” person in the audience… “ME!” Simon cheekily says into the mic. The crowd loves it, rewarding him with hearty laughter at his self-effacing British humor. A young woman arises and introduces her elderly mother (I couldn’t discern her age), who smiles and waves back while remaining comfortably seated at her table. Her daughter then asks Simon who his biggest influence was in pursuing the arts? Immediately he answers: “My MOTHER, Anne Le Bon.” He goes into some detailed recollection about all the ways she encouraged him in his creative life. He was pursuing academics in university, only to find himself at an impasse after joining a local Birmingham, England band… “SHE said I should go for the band. I MISS her, everyday.”
  • He then adds “My choirmaster…” as a mentor who figured heavily into his musical development. Simon wraps up his answer by encouraging us to watch the recent BBC documentary “There’s Something You Should Know”, adding that the career retrospective “…really showed great footage when we were young.”
  • Will Simon ever write a published BIOGRAPHY about his life and career? The question came from an inquiring mind, pointing out that John Taylor has written his bio about Duran, and Andy Taylor has as well… the singer’s response? “I don’t have any particular ambition to write a book.”

“Did you read John or Andy’s book?”

“NO.”

Simon just let that one ‘hang’ out there… and the one-word response grew funnier to the laughing crowd, as he deliberately resisted elaboration. “I LIVED with them!” he finally pleads. “Why should I READ it?” (Again, the crowd laughter has not abated, as Simon holds his mic waiting for the next comic line to arrive from the ether like the 5:30 train…)

“You SHOULD read Andy Taylor’s book. You SHOULD read John’s book. I… ‘HIIIIGHLY recommend’, that you read them. Have ‘I’ read them? ‘NO’.”

  • Once the audience’s amused laughs tapered, Greg deferred to the next audience pre-screened question. How does Simon feel, about a possible induction to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame one day? He shared how honored he was to be asked by the organization (along with John) to present Roxy Music with their induction to the Class Of 2019 this year. Simon elaborated by saying how astonishing it felt to be considered for that honor – and what it was like to be backstage and onstage with Bryan Ferry and his heroes who he admired as a young lad growing up. He then stated in earnest that if there were NO Roxy Music in the world – there would be no Duran Duran. But yielding slightly to the nature of the original question, Simon said of a Duran Duran induction to the Rock Hall: “We would be grateful. We would WELCOME it, with open arms.”
  • Greg directed another audience member to ask Simon about his favorite “football club” (I.E. American soccer). As I personally follow American NFL football and NBA basketball – I honestly didn’t pay much attention to this answer. (Sorry, soccer fans! LOL)
  • A GREAT question emerged from the audience, asking: “How would you like Duran Duran to be ‘remembered’?”

Simon looked thoughtful. He elaborated that it didn’t matter what he thought or preferred – he just wanted the band’s life work to continue to be soundtracks to people’s lives. “I would like my ‘MUSIC’ to be remembered. I would like people to JUST, STILL, PLAY – DURAN DURAN music.”

  • The last question asked of Simon was for… his autograph. (Hey, who doesn’t want that, right?!) Simon smiled, but explained why it truly wasn’t practical due to the scale of audience in attendance here today. There were music industry workshops still scheduled for the afternoon session of BCA Cultural Summit, and he did not want to impede upon their times. Yet, as Simon talked himself OUT of autographs for 420 giddy Duran fans – he cracked open the window for ONE lucky fan… “If I do ONE, I’ll have to do it for all… (sigh) I’ll do ONE. Where is ‘RIO’…….?”
Simon and the youngest fan in the audience…who just happens to be named after one of their biggest songs!

The young girl of 9 was brought to the stage by her mother. Simon revealed his sweet, paternal instincts – lifting the joyous child into the air. It was near OLYMPIAN in pose… delivering on the promise of an icon who adorned school lockers, Trapper Keepers, bedroom walls, and even the daily TV or VCR rituals of the 1980s “MTV Generation.” The frontman of Duran Duran was a music video “god” to teenagers of a different era – yet today’s Simon Le Bon is a 60-year old grandfather. Simon lifting the living embodiment of his band’s legacy into the air onstage was the perfect ending for our private “Storytellers” Q&A luncheon today with this pleasant and engaged music legend. Our luncheon ended with a NEW iconic image for Simon Le Bon and Duran Duran fans.

“HER NAME IS ‘RIO’…….”

Douglas Armstrong is from The Palm Beaches, Florida. He has been an ardent Duran Duran fan since the days of MTV, Martha Quinn and Union of the Snake. He loves music, dreaming, and traveling with his wife and three children. You can reach him on Twitter: @TravelAgentA

Sure We Can Make It Till The Evenings

IT IS FINALLY THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL FOR MY YOUNGEST!!

I really can’t remember feeling quite this relieved and/or exuberant about the last day of school. This has been a rough year. Not only did we move, which alone could have created enough havoc, we had to switch schools three times (not counting the time we had to switch regions within a school). This was fifth grade, and while I think we really did get everything covered, I would be lying if I didn’t concede that the year didn’t go as smoothly as years past. She was less-than-interested, and I was less-than-patient a lot of the time. She needed “mom”, and I had to be “teacher” far too many times. These, along with plenty of other reasons, are why we decided to let her decide where to go to school next year. It wasn’t a shock to me when she announced “I’m going to be going to regular middle school”, although it was certainly a surprise when she announced it loudly five minutes into an Open House presentation we attended at the beginning of May.

I’m thrilled to be finished, and had to be half-dragged to the fifth grade finish line. I’m also a little sad because I will miss teaching. Homeschooling gave me the opportunity to relearn subjects I was a little fuzzy on before. Geometry no longer freaks me out. I learned a lot more about world history, particularly the world wars. Biology was far more fun the second time, and I found that yes, I still have a deep dislike for both physics AND algebra II. Teaching really did give me the opportunity to learn, share, and enjoy my children in a way that I never thought possible. Despite what others may say about homeschooling or even charter schools, our experience with the several we were a part of was nothing short of wonderful. Regardless, it is the end of an era for my family, and I’m ready for something new.

Long days are coming up

Amanda and I had a conference call yesterday, as we prepare to get back at writing again. After taking off more than a year, both of us are in a place where we can think clearly enough to write. Well, at least I am. Amanda should get to that point in another couple of weeks (she’s still in the classroom and grading for another week or so!)We’re not really going to work on a new project, instead we are going to be working to finish something we’ve already started. I’m excited to do some reading, research, and writing this summer on a subject I’ve spent nearly 40 years learning about. I think that for Amanda and I, we are ready to put the past in the past, and try something new for marketing this next project. We will see how far we get with it over this summer. Despite working on something that we’ve already started, I feel like it’s a new era for writing, too.

We also talked a lot about this blog and reaching out to potential new readers. I don’t know about other people, but I subscribe to a couple of different YouTube channels, as well as several blogs. My general cycle is that at first, I read or watch everything faithfully as it comes out. That could last for months, if not years. Eventually though, I start noticing that I’m not reading as often. Maybe I’m saving up several days or weeks worth of material. If it’s YouTube, maybe I end up binge watching a few episodes…and then I start picking and choosing the things I want to read or watch most. Inevitably though, I fall behind or stop keeping up altogether, and unsubscribe. The same can happen with this blog, even though Duran Duran is an obsession for many fans. We’ve gotten out of the promotion and marketing habit, and it’s time to renew that process. You might begin to see ads for us on Facebook or maybe even engaging tweets from us this summer.

Staying out and playing

Likewise, we know we need to do meet-ups. That isn’t to say that other people can’t do them well, it is just that Amanda and I enjoy hosting! (even though I am still far more likely to sit and peruse the situation from the bar….) Be on the lookout for Facebook Event pages, because we will be hosting TWO meet-ups while in Vegas. One on Saturday, one on Sunday. Both will be at the sports bar in the Cosmopolitan starting at 5pm and going up until it is time to leave for the show! I happen to know that we’ll have wristbands to hand out, and we are hoping to meet as many people as possible that weekend. Don’t miss it if you’re going to be in Vegas for the shows!!

After the conversation with Amanda, I feel rejuvenated. We all need that kick the pants once in a while, and it was good to trade new ideas and get back into the drivers seat when it comes to writing and this site. Having new goals and tasks to accomplish makes me think less about the time I will lose with my baby, and more about the things I can do while she’s busy making friends and learning at school.

Speaking of her, I am off to go and pick her up from the last day of her learning center classes! Happy Summer!!!

-R

Don’t They Understand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-A

Here By Intervention

I want your attention

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

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

Best. Thing. Ever.

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

Hits you with a groove

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

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

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

We covered all the angles

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

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

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

Hate to bite the hand that feeds me

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

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

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

-R

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

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


There’s a Fine Line

If you’ve followed our blog for a reasonable length of time, you are probably aware that Amanda and I write about fandom. Rather than this blog being a constant, never-ending, series of love notes to Duran Duran, we write about being a fan. The act of being a fan. Additionally, we write about fandom studies (yes, there is an entire section of studies that focuses on fandom). Today’s blog is going to be a little bit of fandom studies, and a little more “being a fan”.

If I listen close

Who watched the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last weekend? If so, you were treated to seeing Janet Jackson, Stevie Nicks, Def Leppard, The Cure and of course, Roxy Music, (among others) inducted into the Hall of Fame. Naturally for Duran fans, the best part of the night was likely when John and Simon gave their speech for Roxy Music.

In full disclosure, I’d already seen their speeches prior to the show on HBO. So when I comment, I’m referring to what I originally saw in full, since HBO cut part of their time as the show went to air. Regardless, their speech impacted me in a few ways. For one, and likely the most important – I loved seeing just how vested John and Simon were in the moment. Clearly it was a point of pride to be chosen to honor Roxy Music. It wasn’t difficult to see that yes, they too are fans. I loved that. That validated so much for me. Overall, it confirmed that yeah, even rockstars can be fans of something. I also felt a great deal of pride hearing the thunderous applause from the crowd as John and Simon took the stage. Yes, there was also some screaming. Obviously, there were Duran Duran fans in the house.

I took the cheers as a positive. That seems like it should be obvious. There were plenty of people sitting in the audience that like Duran Duran. The applause was loud, and it was long. I may be reaching a bit, but it felt an awful lot like “we’re glad you’re here”, or “it’s about time your band is on this stage!” There were a great number of peers in the audience, in addition to fans.

I can hear them singers

Then of course, we’ve got to talk about the screaming. It was there and yes, it was hard to miss, particularly as John and Simon were trying to speak. I could have written the headlines I would eventually see the following day. As proud as I was to hear those cheers and screams, I had a feeling there would be a collective marginalization in 2019, just as there was in 1985.

I didn’t have to wait long, and in fact – DDHQ were the ones to find it for me. The web-mag Vulture carried an article titled “The Highs, Lows and Whoas of the 2019 Rock Hall Induction Ceremony”.

I knew this was a big mistake

The tongue-in-cheek subheading of “Whoa: The Horny Ladies of Barclays” did absolutely nothing to quell my concerns of depreciation, and I readied myself before reading on.

“At least, we think it was a terrific speech, as the near-constant screams from excitable women in the audience hindered Vulture’s transcription. Those ’80s New Wave heartthrobs — they’ve still got it!”

(Vulture.com “The Highs, Lows, and Whoas of the Rock Hall Induction Ceremony 4/27/2019, Devon Ivie, 2019 New York Media LLC)

The chosen title was bad, at least from where I sit. Horny ladies. Really? It couldn’t be that the women in the audience actually knew their career? Loved their music? Listen, I’m no fool, and I do have eyes. Of course John and Simon are good looking men. I wouldn’t dare suggest otherwise. I just don’t see a whole lot of critics or music journalists commenting on the libido of male fans just because an audience happened to cheer loudly for a female artist. Why is that, exactly?

Then there’s the actual text, which doesn’t really make the sting any less painful. Duran Duran has been in existence now for over 40 years. 14 studio albums, a zillion (highly technical term that means “many more than I can count!” tour dates, millions of albums sold, and several personnel changes later, it still comes down to the fact that they attracted a largely female audience in the 80s? Really? Nothing else they’ve ever done or will ever do matters because I (and many others like me) once had my bedroom walls completely lined with their pinups? The time has come to stop equating the band’s entire career with the words “New Wave Heartthrobs”. For crying out loud it is 2019, people. At least get creative with your dismissive comments.

Give me strength, at least give me a light

Many took the comments from Vulture as positive. Certainly, some will say I’m too serious or that I should lighten up. Indeed, I saw many fans – mostly female – respond online, giggling over being called “horny”, some going as far as to agree. If guys whistle and cat call while you’re just trying to walk down the street, do you laugh and flirt back, or do you show annoyance? To me, it is the same thing. It comes down to deciding how people are going to treat you.

The slope is slippery. A male fan can hit it off with a band member and say “Hey, we should keep in touch” or, “Come hang out with us and have drinks”, and no one thinks he’s trying to make a pass at them. Should a woman dare to do similarly, and suddenly it’s assumed they must want something entirely different. It is asinine, and yes, I speak from personal experience. I’m 100% over it. My God, I’m 48, married, and have three kids. The LAST thing I need is another man assuming I’m ready to jump his bones. I could, however, always use more good friends. This isn’t difficult, people.

If it had been mostly males cheering in the audience that night – I can guarantee there wouldn’t have been anything written about the band being 80s heartthrobs. Instead, their enduring talent and legacy would be heralded. Their looks would have never been mentioned, much less the sexual drive of the audience in question.

It is 2019. I’m over it.

-R

Dark Sun Rose on the Ridge

Cut clear across the sky

I’m late. I know I’m late, and I’m sorry. (and here comes the strangest sentence I’ve written YET…) I needed to go to the Farm Supply Store for Chick Grit and mealworms.

This morning I learned that chickens can be cannibalistic. I did not know that before this morning, and to be fair – I kinda wish I didn’t know now. However, I came home armed with all the aforementioned supplies, along with bottles to both heal a chick that is getting pecked as well as stop the others from thinking it is also a live buffet.

*sigh* The more you know…

The funny thing, and the topic of this blog for the day, is that as I was driving out of the Farm Supply parking lot, I thought to myself: Wow, cannibalism. That sounds an awful lot like what happens at Duran Duran GA show, or even in our fan community at times.

Dark thoughts for a Wednesday, no?

String of pearls meet bits of gems

It is true though. I mean, overly dramatic yes, but still true in some sense. I’ve seen it happen on message boards, in Facebook groups, on Twitter and most certainly in person. We tend to go after our own.

Online, it seems to happen when one chick, er, Duran Duran fan, tries to assert themselves over and above whomever is the strongest (read as “most popular”, “well-liked”, etc.). Maybe they call somebody out on their BS, or maybe they just disagree over a song or something even less “important”. At first, maybe there are a few nips or well-placed comments between the two involved. Invariably, someone sends a larger shot over the bow to make their point known to all bystanders.

Regardless of how or whom, the community tends to jump “en force”. The seemingly “weaker” fan is left defending themselves much of the time against a mob of fans willing and ready to defend the more popular fan. As if they really need defending, right? Regardless, eventually the “challenger” crawls away, the fight dies down, and some sort of normalcy prevails. Sometimes, I even see the two who were initially arguing end up as friends. It is as though a sense of mutual respect is spread between the two.

Honestly, I just think it’s weird. It’s also human nature, combined with female territorial instincts. We don’t want other women to have what we have, even when what we have is all in our own damn heads to begin with.

Enter the battle of the lenses

At shows, it is the same way. At GA shows, I’ve seen entire groups band together over one person who threatens to interrupt the balance of a crowd. Maybe that one person is drunk, or refuses to acknowledge personal space, or shoves just a little too much while waiting for the band to take the stage. If it bothers one person, well, maybe not much happens. However, let that bother enough people, or that one person in a group of people who just isn’t going to have it – and the next thing you know – there’s a real problem happening. The weak end up moving. The strong stay in their spot. It is survival of the fittest.

Are we really cannibalistic? Will we really go after our own? I kind of think we do, figuratively speaking of course! I tend to believe in survival of the fittest, even amongst humans. All one need do is observe Twitter for any length of time. The mob mentality is there. Let someone with a less popular point of view dare assert themselves and people will come out of the woodwork to band together and bring the offender down. Drag them into the proverbial street, make them into an example for all to see. I don’t think fandom is all that different.

After all, we’re all friends until we’re not. Whether that point is when the band shows up, or when someone points out that you’ve spent far too long in too many hotel lobbies, the shots are fired, and before you know it – we’re at war with the people who were our friends last week or even last night.

Dark thoughts for a Wednesday, indeed. I’m off to save my chick from the rest of the flock!

-R