Tag Archives: fandom practices

Something On My Mind

Hello, Monday. I feel as though somewhere along the way, I lost one of my weekend days, because it feels like Monday arrived far too early. I’m still trying to regain some of the hours of sleep I missed out on from being at Vidcon last week. I wish I could say it was due to having so much fun, but in this case, I just didn’t sleep well.

We drove home late Saturday night, and arrived to see many tweets and posts about the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 – corresponding with the Kennedy Space Center show tomorrow.

I’m light years away

When the show was first announced, I knew right away that there’d be no way for me to get there. Sure, I could blame it on not having enough notice, but I could have had a month’s notice or even more, and still not been able to attend. Several years back, I went to a lot of things. I would fly across the country, and I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that many times, I didn’t even think twice about it. Three spousal job layoffs/changes, one very large move, childbirth, college, and countless grey hairs later, I’m finding that I not only think twice, I know I can’t travel like that anymore.

That fact is something I guess I’m still coming to terms with. I went from going to one show a tour (or even less), to taking a single trip to New Orleans and then Chicago, which ignited something in me. Suddenly, I felt the need to try and go to everything. My husband was less-than-thrilled with the arrangement. Usually though, I’d win him over by saying I’d save money in other ways, or that he didn’t have to buy me birthday/Christmas/Valentines/Mothers Day gifts, etc. In some ways that worked, but in others – I can see how selfish I was. Any extra money I came across would go towards seeing Duran Duran, and the fact is—when you have three kids and live in Southern California, there isn’t a lot of extra anything!

My head is full of chopstick

Even so, fandom – or planning to go to shows – was sort of like a drug for me. I couldn’t say no, and yet I didn’t go to nearly as many shows as a lot of people. Gigs would be announced and I’d think “Fly to Chicago? Oh, I shouldn’t…but I will!” “Go away for five or six days and see more than three shows? YES!” I wanted to go. I desperately wanted to be a part of the fandom wave that everyone seemed to be caught in.

During the Astronaut tour, which was really the first when I’d gotten involved online and knew people from all over the country – I’d sat on the sidelines for the most part. I went to two shows: Chicago and All-State Arena, and Milwaukee. That last one had been added to my itinerary without telling my husband. He’d expressly told me prior to even buying my Chicago ticket that I could choose ONE show to see, and that was it. “The concerts don’t change that much, Rhonda!”

Turns out, that while the set might not change that much (One night I heard “Nice” and the other I heard “Union of the Snake”), there are far more other, more subtle things, that do. Roger waved at us in Milwaukee. I cried when I heard “Tiger Tiger” in Chicago. I stood outside and waved to the band when they left the Riverside Theatre in Milwaukee. I had my closest friends with me for Chicago, and got to drive to Milwaukee with a full car of Duranies. That was the first time I’d ever done something like that. After those two shows, I never wanted to miss anything again.

I’m making a break

However, that was/is an impossibility, at least for me. I’ve never had carte blanche to go to any show I want. I don’t work outside of the home, and my money is never my own money. Even when I’ve done what I consider to be a ridiculous number of shows, I’ve had to pick and choose. Sometimes, I’ve chosen wrong. That’s the crap shoot of life, I suppose. In darker moments, I wonder what it would have been like if I could have gone to all the Astronaut shows my friend Jessica went to see, or if I could have flown overseas as many times as other friends have gone. Would I feel any differently about the band now?

Over the years, I’ve seen people come and go. After having been an active fan in the online community for nearly two decades now, I have seen some patterns of behavior emerge from the fog and dust. I think about the people who seemed to be “regulars” for the Astronaut and RCM tours, and for the most part – those people don’t come around often now, and I rarely see them.

Maybe they stopped going to shows or participating online because life circumstances changed. Perhaps it was because they got sick of some of the childish drama that goes on between fans. Maybe it was something else entirely -but the fact remains that they’re not doing much these days. I have friends who went to 14, maybe 15 shows for Astronaut that just stopped following the band for the most part Can there really be too much of a good thing?

They should be mine

Getting back to my situation here – I have serious budget constraints that make it nearly impossible for me to fly very often. I don’t even fly to visit my mom or sister, so how on earth can I justify flying to see a band that doesn’t even know I exist? It is particularly frustrating when I’ve made the decision to buy tickets to something, and then another opportunity comes up that sounds even better.

For example, tomorrow Duran Duran is playing at the Kennedy Space Center for the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11. As soon as this show was announced, I knew there was no way I could go. The idea of traveling to Florida was out of the question. A flight from here would easily cost $500 during the summer, plus the $300 ticket for the concert, another $300 or more for a hotel room and the additional expenses for food, uber and drinks. It adds up quickly to a similar amount that my family might spend on a camping vacation – one that we’re not even taking this year. HOWEVER…

Had I known that they were going to be playing this show in advance of buying the tickets for Las Vegas (each was $441, if I remember correctly) I might have chosen differently. Sure, I’ll see Duran Duran three times in September whereas if I’d gone to Florida I’d only be seeing them once – but how many times does someone get the chance to see Duran Duran at the Kennedy Space Center??? I worry that I made the wrong choice. Zigged when I should have zagged…bought when I should have waited.

I’m saying this in private

Similar scenarios have happened before. In 2013, Amanda and I along with a committee of amazing helpers worked our butts off to put on a fan convention in Chicago. I can’t remember the precise timing, but I would say that within days of returning from that weekend, Duran Duran announced a special opportunity to see the debut of UnStaged at MOMA in New York City.

I think that at least to begin with – both she and I weren’t too upset. I mean, to some degree we’d wished we could go. We’d worked hard to put on that convention for fans, and in a lot of ways New York City seemed like it would be a great way to reward ourselves. Even so, Amanda didn’t have time off from work, and my husband had pretty much declared a moratorium on spending money and traveling. Just getting to Chicago was hard enough. Amanda and I paid the same amount of money to attend the convention as every one else. That’s right – we bought tickets to the very convention we were putting on for everyone else to enjoy. I paid for my flight from California, and Amanda and I split the cost of our hotel room., same as everyone else. That money did not come out of the convention budget. No sooner did I get home and back to an exploding family crisis when the MOMA show was announced.

We absolutely tasted our share of sour grapes while watching a few of the same people who came to our convention fly on to NYC. I remember feeling so dejected after I saw how the evening went. What started as a screening ended up as a cocktail party with the band present. There were pictures, and the band seemed so welcoming to fans that night…those who were there were so lucky!! Oh well, right? What can you do??

Breaking open doors I’ve sealed up before

Even with the missteps I’ve taken along the way (and there have been many), I can’t be bitter. My days of sour grapes are over. I’ve done and seen a lot – much more than a lot of people. I’ve had times when I’ve been able to afford to go to a lot of shows and travel, and now I’m in a time where I really just can’t. Oddly, I feel like I’ve won the lottery because for the past few years – coincidentally the time when I’ve been least able to afford to fly – the band has played within reasonable driving distance to where I live. I am very lucky, which is why you’re not going to see me complain about set lists or much anything else. My luck isn’t going to hold out forever though, and I would imagine that next year – should they decide to tour for their 40th anniversary – I’ll be sitting at home doing most of my cheering.

I also can’t ignore the fact that for most of the rest of the world, they’ve had to sit on the sidelines since before Paper Gods was released, watching the US fans complain about ticket prices, set lists, and the like. It is easy to forget that many of these worldwide fans would pay whatever ticket price the band wanted, and would be willing to listen to whatever set the band plays, just to be able to see them.

Looking for cracks in the pavement

The reality is, most of us just can’t go to everything. I feel like I’m a recovering addict in that sense. Every time something is announced, I have to forcibly talk myself out of feeling like I need to go. I’m learning to say “no” to myself more and more often. I can’t say it’s easy, but a lot of times, it’s necessary. I’m not responsible for only myself. I have a family and husband to consider, and I wouldn’t trade my family for all of the Duran Duran shows in the world. That’s progress, right?

I see friends tell one another all the time that they should just buy the ticket and that they’ll make more money later. That thinking might work, until something catastrophic happens. I’ll never forget going to New York City in 2007 to see the special fan show that fell on Father’s Day. My husband and dad were fine with me going, and I came home to celebrate with them the following weekend. Little did I know at the time, that was the last Father’s Day I’d ever spend with my dad. I think about that a lot.

I’m a work in progress. Every single time I start feeling self-pity because I can’t be in Florida, or something else, I quickly force myself to acknowledge that other fans in the world haven’t done much in several years. I have one hell of lot of nerve feeling bad about one single event. That usually snaps me out my funk. I still feel like a recovering addict in some weird ways – but I’m working on it.

-R

These Beautiful Colors

Good morning, Duran Duran fans.

It is Thursday morning, and I am currently sitting in my daughter’s apartment in Fullerton, California. It is about a zillion degrees in here, and the traffic from the street outside is enough to wake the dead

My kids and I arrived yesterday to go to Vidcon. We went to pick up our badges and things when we got to Anaheim, and then drove to where we’re staying with my oldest. I’ve only been gone from Southern California for six months, and I’ve decided that I can never come back here to live permanently. Too crowded, too frenetic…and just too everything. I apparently have slowed WAY down since moving, which is both good and bad, I suppose.

Til the colors bleed

So, Vidcon. It’s like all the internet fandoms poured into a confetti cannon along with rainbows, unicorns, and glitter. Then someone stood in the center of the convention center area with a firehose, and sprayed. Vidcon is both horrifyingly shallow, and incredibly inclusive. I can’t quite figure it out. I’ve never seen so many girls (and yes, I do mean girls – they’re way too young to be women) so worried about how they look. Nor have I seen SO many selfies being taken all at once. Upon first glance, I admit being concerned for my youngest, and youth in general. That said, I suspect there’s far more depth going on than meets the eye.

Yesterday afternoon, I stood in line to use the restroom, and a girl walked past in a micro mini skirt, tube (or bandeau) top, and platform sneakers that had to be at LEAST a foot high. Another very tiny young lady was with her mom as she was being herded towards the “Creator” area, wearing the smallest, most glittery, silver boots I’ve ever seen. Nick would have approved. I didn’t know who she was, but she was stopped more than once for selfies on the short walk to the roped off area set aside for talent, production, and other YouTube creator-types. (I suppose our few v-logs don’t really count!)

There is a lot of that at this convention. I’ll see kids swarming around someone like worker bees to a queen, and then they all move on to another one. All the while, I’m trying to see if I recognize the person they were surrounding, and so far, the answer has been “nope!” The trouble with YouTube, or at least as I see it – there are too many freaking YouTube channels with far too many pseudo-celebrities!

Everyone’s their own universe

Sure, there are some serious breakout YouTube stars. There are people pulling down far more per month or year than I’ll make in a lifetime. That said, there are far more kids that have YouTube channels and subscribers that aren’t exactly Sofie Dossi, Jake Paul, or Kasey Neistat…or even Pewdie Pie. (In full disclosure – I had to consult with Gavin on those names. I don’t know who in the heck these kids are, but I will say out of the four names he gave, only one is female. Fascinating.) There are many people who work very hard only to have a few thousand subscribers or even tens of thousands, and yet they’re not really stars in any other arena besides YouTube. It makes me wonder.

So today we’re headed out for a full day of programming. I’m looking forward to seeing these fandoms in their full glory and reporting back! Is it all that much different from Duran Duran?? We will see!

-R

Passion, Obsession, Bliss, and Success

“Don’t ever let anyone take your bliss away.”

This is one of the most thought-provoking sayings I’ve ever had directed in my general direction. Uttered by a well-meaning friend, I continue to let that grouping of words wash over me from time to time. It is both a good reminder of how I need to handle my own life, as well as how I should respect the choices of others.

At this moment, I find myself in this now-familiar territory. One of my children is at a serious life crossroad. To explain the entire story would give far more away than I think is prudent. However, these same words have flooded back to me at regular intervals during the past six months.

The storm’s about to blow

One of the things I learned far too late was that the only person who should have a hand in deciding what my passions should be in life, is me. When I was young (and even when I wasn’t), I allowed other people to literally change my entire direction in life. Fresh out of college, I wanted to go back for my masters – my plan being to teach. I had found a school where I could go back for the extra year (for teaching in California you need a bachelors +1 extra year for the credential), and then continue classes for my masters. I wanted to either go into administration or teach at college level – I wasn’t positive which direction I’d go in, but I knew I wanted to have a masters degree. I was sold on the program, ready to sign on the dotted line and get started.

I had two hurdles left. One was to tell my parents. My dad wasn’t as sold on the idea as I was. He wanted me to get a job and start bringing in money to help, which was hard to hear. I didn’t have the money for school on my own unless my dad was agreeable to let me continue living at home rent free and covering my car payment. He wasn’t. His feeling was that masters degrees were unnecessary. I needed to work. Then I had to tell my then-boyfriend. He told me that I needed “a taste of business” before deciding to teach.

Knowing that my both my boyfriend and father were against the idea, I quickly shelved my plan. I scoured want ads, sent out my resume to hundreds of companies – basically floundering from the moment I graduated from college in June until mid-August. My dad came into my room one morning as I was looking at the newspaper and announced I had to come up with the money for my September car payment. “By the way, you are starting at my friend’s office in downtown LA as their temporary receptionist on Monday.”

The gaping hole

The phone? I hated covering phones. I went to school…got a degree…to be a receptionist?? He kept telling me that I had to pay my dues and work my way up. It was like being sentenced right back to hell because I had been working as a receptionist most of the way through school to begin with. All I could think about (and still occasionally think about when I’m down in the dumps) is that I went to school and worked my backside off to get a degree that didn’t help me one single bit.

Over the next couple of years I bounced from job to job. I was never satisfied, and I always felt like the work was “just a job”. I don’t know what it is like to have a career, much less one I’m passionate about doing. Instead, l’m passionate when it comes to writing about Duran Duran. I am obsessed with their career, their music, this fandom.

Caught in the crossfire

Parenting is tough. When you first start out, you think having this newborn is going to be the hardest time. You’re tired, sick, frustrated, exhausted…how much worse can it really get than that? Well, I’ve done all that three times now. I have to say that at least for me, cuddling a crying newborn has nothing on parenting a young adult. NOTHING.

I’ve made serious mistakes with my kids, and sadly for my youngest – I continue to make them. My heart is always in the right place, but sometimes I just blow it. In parenting, you don’t necessarily realize the severity to which you’ve failed until years later. For me, now is that time. My comeuppance.

Too often, I turned a blind eye when I should not have done so. I ignored obsessions and interests when I should have fully encouraged them. The things I thought were just hobbies or wastes of time, were in fact road signs that I forced us to pass by, in favor of sticking to the “tried and true” way to get through life. Only now do I realize that essentially, I tried to push my kid into a mold s/he wasn’t destined to fit. I think s/he always knew, and it’s a funny thing – even a kid on the spectrum wants their parents and family to be proud of him, even if at the time they’re not fully aware of those feelings.

Take a look before you run off and hide

I spent most of Heather’s teen and college years reminding her to look for her passion, and live it fully. My husband would look at me in utter horror with a little bit of irritation mixed with good measure as I’d recite these words to her, but I meant them with every fiber of my being.

“If you love dancing so much that you’d live in your car – then damn it, that’s your passion and it is what you were put here to do. Go do it!”

The trouble is, I didn’t extend those words to anyone else in my little family. I didn’t consider other obsessions that were perhaps just as lofty as a performance art. It never occurred to me that by not saying them directly to each child – I was basically saying that their own interests weren’t worth living in a car to do. Their passions were maybe just hobbies. Stop playing video games, go to college, and get a degree, in other words.

Don’t look away

What on earth does this have to do with Duran Duran, you say? Can you imagine what would have become of them, of ALL of us, had their parents not encouraged them? What in the hell would I be listening to, writing about, or traveling to see had they just gone into trade like their parents before them?

Unconventional choices aren’t always bad. Sure, there’s risk involved, either way. Success is reached when you finding the thing you’re so passionate or obsessed with that you’ll stop at nothing to keep doing it.

I don’t really believe that Duran Duran keeps making music because they want to achieve some tangible goal or dollar amount. Chart success or critical acclaim isn’t the one thing that keeps them going. While perhaps they are underdogs to some extent, I really don’t believe they’re continuing to chase a carrot. They’ve already been the biggest band in the world. They know what it means to sell out arenas and have millions of fans. Music is a part of their soul. At one point, I think they would have lived in their car(s) to keep doing it. If nothing else, they lived in a Cheapside squat in order to be a band.

If you’re willing to live in a car to keep doing your thing – then go do it. “Don’t ever let anyone take your bliss away.”

-R

Going On Together

Last weekend, I attended the Democratic Party of Wisconsin State Convention with two members of my former campaign team. I have been to other types of conventions before, including Duran related ones (attended and organized), other fandom ones like Wizard World, and the National Popular Culture one. I was not really sure what to expect exactly but I looked forward to finding out. While I learned more about the Democratic Party in Wisconsin, the more interesting thing was how much it felt like touring to me.

It’s All About the People

As soon as we began walking through the convention space to register and to see what groups and organizations had tables to advertise people or organizations, I began to see many people who looked familiar. In some cases, they are people I have seen at other events but don’t know well but others were people excited to see me and vice versa. In those situations, it was common for hugs to be exchanged and comments about what people have been working on lately. Each and every time that happened, I found myself smiling from ear to ear both because it is nice for people to be glad to see you but also because it totally reminded me about what it is like on tour. I think about just the last shows we attended in Las Vegas. As we walked from the bar we were hanging out at to our seats, we were stopped every few feet. Like the convention, typically there was an exchange of hugs, a quick conversation about how people are, maybe some discussion about seats or what they are doing afterwards and more. We were greeted so much that we ended up getting to our seats super late but thankfully arrived just before the lights went down. Obviously, in both cases, the venue and occasion provided a chance to see people who have a shared interest or a connection with.

Night Time Focus

The convention last weekend opened early in the morning. We aimed to get there a couple of hours after it opened just to give ourselves a little more sleep and the chance to drive there. On top of it, the schedule seemed light and was. The afternoon featured some meetings of different groups within the party. While interesting, everyone looked forward to the main attraction. At night, the large convention hall filled with party members all there to hear from the state’s elected officials. The lineup started out with less important people like the leader of the Assembly Democrats. As the night wore on, bigger names appeared to speak including our U.S. senator and our newly elected governor. The cheers got louder as we got closer to the keynote speech by Governor Evers. By that point, the crowd greeted the speakers with signs and standing ovations. What does this remind you of? I couldn’t help but to think that this was like a festival with the bigger acts coming on at the end and the crowd getting more and more excited and impatient as time passes.

Of course, the night does not end there. Like concerts I attend on tour, there is the after party. We looked forward to the various parties that were going to be held as we ran back to our hotel to change clothes and have a drink back in the room. (Not our first for the day as my friend, Andrea, and I found bars at the convention site!) Notice that what we did not have is food. We managed to grab something quickly back at the convention but I would not call it a meal. That is exactly how Rhonda and I usually roll on tour. So, what were the after parties like? It probably does not come to anyone’s surprise that the parties offered ice cream and beer for free. It is Wisconsin, after all! Of course, we ended up at the party with the DJ and dancing. We were not all that excited when it ended as we were ready to keep partying. Even then, though, it was all about people watching for awhile.

Next Time

Needless to say, I had fun. As Andrea and I drove back home, we found ourselves having a conversation about what we would and should do next year. Do we know the dates? Do we know the location? One thing that we determined was that we wished we were staying at the convention hotel rather than a different hotel. That meant we lost time at the parties by traveling to and from our hotel. Plus, we could drop stuff off as we need which would make things easier. Then, we also learned which sessions we would want to go to again. Again, this conversation reminded me of what Rhonda and I have sounded like after almost every tour ever but especially when we started to tour.

While the focus of last weekend was completely different, there were many similarities between the convention and touring. I loved them both. It also got me super excited for the shows coming in September!!!

-A

Something to Remember

The night I stood near the stairs at the House of Blues in Anaheim back in 2001, I could not have imagined the turns my life would take. I would have never guessed that I’d meet friends online, eventually see Duran Duran more than fifty times, or even write a blog. There’s no way I could have looked into a crystal ball and known that I would go to the UK, or that I would log more miles in road trips to see the band than I would in family vacations. (Yeah, that’s kind of crazy – even I have to admit!)

You are forever

The truth is, this community is my family. There are times at each and every meet-up when I look around the room—whether it is a small gathering or a giant group—and I marvel at how far I’ve come. I don’t mean the social ladder (I’m still as awkward as ever!), I simply mean that in 2001, I knew next to no one.

I can remember sitting in my seat at the Pacific Amphitheater in 2003, watching people sitting in the closest rows to the stage file in. Sometimes they’d claim their seat, and then run up to a group and begin throwing their arms open to bear hug everyone. Other times, they wouldn’t even make it to their chair before they’d be bombarded by smiles, waves and even the occasional collective squee (haven’t used THAT word on this blog in a long time!). I remember being perched, stiffly upright in my own chair back in row T, wondering how it could be that all of those people knew one another.

I knew very little of online fan communities back then. The one thing I did recognize in the moments before my preteen dreams came true that sultry July evening, was that I wanted in.

All I understand

During the 16 years since those first fleeting moments of awareness for me, I’ve gotten far more involved. Many others have done far, far more than I have, at least with regard to meeting the band, photos, or even traveling and touring. My fifty-some shows don’t seem like such a much when I run into folks who have done nearly a hundred gigs or more. I know of people who miss nary a single show on a tour, whether USA or elsewhere. I learned very early on that I cannot, and should not, attempt to size myself and my experiences up to those of others. There is always someone else who knows, or has done, far more. Fandom is not a quantitative science.

What I do know is this: you are my chosen family.

I don’t write about it very often, but when I was in college, I was in a sorority. Hard to imagine—but that’s neither here nor there at this point. One of the few quotes drilled into me since Bid Day, is “Family is blood, but you choose your sisters”. There’s actually eleventy-thousand (Sure it’s a real number, if you want it to be!) different versions of this quote. This is the one I remember. I still roll my eyes when I think about it. That probably tells you all that you need to know about my life in sorority.

I had the wrong family back then, I guess. Who knew I’d find the right one at the ripe age of 33? Fifteen, nearly sixteen years later and I’m still here, feeling more connected than ever!

I hold forever

It’s true that the fan community can be a roller coaster. People still drive me crazy with their impossible expectations and insipid, constant need for validation. The competition, particularly between women, but also between men. (bring up guitar players and watch a few of them try to one-up one another! They mention interviews from 30 years ago, or suggestions that they know music better than the other guy!). I won’t lie—sometimes it is maddening!

However, even more often are the moments when I can see just how connected we all are to one another. I can’t help but smile. The older I get, the more I appreciate the uniqueness of this community. We have a very special bond.

Try much harder, until the truth is drawn

There are the times when a great male friend of mine takes a few seconds out of his day to post a countdown to Vegas. Not only does he mention seeing the band, but also seeing one another. He cares just as much as I do about getting everyone back together again for a weekend hangout!

What about the friend who lets us all know how another mutual friend is hanging in there with an illness? Then there is the pain, worry, concern, and genuine fear we share over this same person. Some of the people I’ve chatted with have only met this fellow Duranie once or twice. Others only know of her online, and yet we are all hoping, praying, and/or sending positive healing vibes her way. In this day and age, as divisive as we seem to think, we are all pulling for her. We care about one another.

Lastly, there is the sheer, utter joy I feel when standing in a crowd filled with other fans. I just don’t believe the band has any way of knowing just how moved the crowd was when they played Seventh Stranger. It wasn’t even so much the song, as it was to look around and see every set of eyes fixed on the screen. They too were intently watching the same video, mouthing or singing the same words, and experiencing Simon at the age of 60 singing along with Simon at the age of what – 26? It was knowing that most everyone in that crowd had the same overall past as I did with Duran Duran. We share in that journey together.

The very thing you’ve been searching for has been yours all along

And that knowledge— was WILD that night. That’s why I cried. Sure, seeing Andy play onscreen while watching Dom play Andy’s part expertly onstage was touching. Seeing the band grin, knowing they’d knocked us virtually off of our feet by playing Seventh Stranger, made me smile. But the tears came from knowing that it wasn’t just me in that audience that knew the background. It wasn’t only me who had grown up with Duran Duran in the 80s. It definitely wasn’t just me that has had the majority of her life set to a soundtrack made possible by a single band’s back catalog.

I choose this family. I will choose it again, and again, and again. The one drawback, if there is such a thing, is that during times of crisis, I cannot get to my people very easily. Unfortunately, it isn’t so easy as to hop onto a plane to get to the east coast. I’m not quite as able to deliver proper goodbyes, or even hellos, in person. I am thinking of you. If positive vibes are real – then you should be feeling that healing energy in the strongest amounts possible. The people I include in my smallest, tightest circle, should be well aware of how I feel. (and if you are not, you should inquire within!)

I choose you.

-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

A Shared Obsession, a Shared Ambition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-R