Tag Archives: fandom practices

Teach You How to Live

This blog post finds me in Philadelphia on a family vacation. My sister and her family drove from North Carolina to meet my parents and I there after we took a short flight from my home town airport. We are basically taking a long weekend to spend some time together, to see some of the local sites and to go to a baseball game. A few years ago, we discovered that we enjoy going on vacation together and planned this one as a result.

So why Philadelphia on the first weekend in August? Did I mention that we are going to a baseball game? Yep. That’s right. We are going to see the White Sox play the Phillies. Fandom is part of the family DNA. My mother likes to tell the story about how my grandpa used to travel through the Chicago sewers to sneak into old Comiskey Park to watch games for free with his brothers. My dad, on the other hand, talks about dumping an old girlfriend when she was not interested on the day the team won the Pennant. I literally do not remember a time when we weren’t White Sox fans. Games were always on and summers often revolved around listening, watching and reading about Sox games. Family discussions are filled with criticism and ideas about what the team should or should not do. I remember when my grandpa died in 1983. When grief got too much, we went out to play catch or turned on the game, which helped. It is definitely part of my family culture.

I often hear or read about the first time someone went to a baseball game and how memorable it was. I don’t have that. It isn’t that I haven’t been to a game but the exact opposite. My first game was when I was very young and I don’t remember it. The same is true for my siblings and parents. I couldn’t even tell you how many games that I have been to. Lately, we have started traveling to different cities to see our team of choice play. I have seen games in Milwaukee, both parks in Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Detroit, Boston, DC and Philly as of tonight. My parents could list even more like Denver, Cleveland, and Kansas City. My aunt and uncle do the same thing as well.

The point here is a simple one. I learned how to be a fan as a kid. My parents taught me that there is nothing weird or abnormal about traveling to participate in one’s fandom. They never sat down and said, “You are going to be a White Sox fan. Here’s why and how you will express your fandom.” No, they taught me and my siblings by example. I saw them be fans like I saw my grandparents be fans. As I was growing up in this White Sox household, I also realized that this brought us together as a family. We cheered the World Series win in 2005 as well as no-hitters and other big games. It provides us with something that we will always have in common. Even when we are frustrated with each other, we ALL still root for the White Sox.

Interestingly enough, this made me think of those Duranies who have taken or will take their kiddos to go see Duran. Rhonda and I took both her daughters to shows, for example. I never really thought much about the fans who bring their kids to Duran functions. Up until now, part of me probably didn’t really get it. I mean I can understand why fans would want their kids to also love Duran Duran. I get that. I would love for that to be the case with my nieces. But to take them to shows? I have taken my oldest niece to see the Killers with me but Duran is different. Would they be as into as me? What if I want to party that night? Could they go where I go? Now, though, in thinking about my White Sox fandom, I think I get it more. I totally understand wanting to really share the love of something with your family and having it unite the family. The question that I have is does age matter? In order for this to happen, do the kids have been exposed from day one?

-A

I think you might have noticed that there was not a question of the day today. I’m taking a break with them while with my family. They will return on Tuesday!

Crazy About Boybands, So They Say

Sorry the blog is late today. I’m trying to steal away the last few days with family for a summer “staycation” before we are back to school.

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been doing some reading as of late – and yesterday I found myself watching a British television documentary on One Direction fans. The program was titled “Crazy for One Direction”, and chances are – everyone on the planet has already heard of this but me.

Crazy sells

I sat down to watch knowing that One Direction fans were furious when it was originally aired. They felt betrayed and a bit cheated because the director tended to weigh filming more heavily on what the fans felt was the most extreme portrayals of fandom, rather than focusing on how the overwhelming majority tend to express themselves. I watched purely because I wanted to see how those fans were really portrayed. The title alone, complete with the word “Crazy” – made me cringe.

As I watched, I saw behaviors that were not really that far off from what I’ve witnessed even as a Duran Duran fan. Sure, if you took specific incidents to heart – I suppose some situations felt a bit out-of-hand. Context matters, but I suspect the full intention of the director was to show the extremes. This is something I’ve grown very accustomed to even as an adult – as I’ll come back to a bit later.

What I will say though, is that despite fandom itself being a gender-neutral sort of activity, this documentary focused SOLELY on females. No males aside from the band and perhaps a wayward adult male or two were seen in the documentary, and certainly not interviewed. I highly doubt there are zero male One Direction fans in the same way that I know for certain there were male Duran Duran fans back in the day (and many more now!). This very obvious slant enrages me as someone who not only studies, but participates in fandom because of the obvious implications that continue to be made about female-specific fandoms.

Context is everything

The director speaks with two teens (the interviews were done in the girls’ bedrooms – and in every case, their walls were wallpapered with One Direction pictures and pinups) about what they might do in order to meet the band.

The girls giggle, as one answers, “I wouldn’t kill a puppy, but I might kill a cat!” She is chided by her friend – and she quickly backpedals. I suppose that to some adults, that answer might seem a little too far into crazy-town, but they’re KIDS. Exaggerations go with that territory. Maybe it is comes with being a mom, but I wouldn’t have been worried if it had been my kid. We would have, however, had a little chat about wording and context while in the public eye.

We know the exact time of their birth, and the hotel they’re staying at!

They speak about Twitter, explaining, “We can find out everything about them.” Even the tiniest personal details about the band, such as their exact birth times, can and have been mined and shared via Twitter. Directioners rely on Twitter as though it were a life line, particularly when they wish to track the band’s every movement. It surprised me to see how easily the teens were able to find the band while they were touring, and of course this subject sparked discussion of actually meeting the band – which for this community (as well as our own in many aspects) is of paramount importance.

The girls seem to take pride in giving exact numbers for the amount of times they’d met One Direction, explaining (just as fans who have met Duran Duran multiple times) that finding the band “takes time and a lot of patience. We’re not lucky, we work hard.” They suggest that other fans just don’t bother, or don’t try and that because they go the extra mile – they are rewarded for their efforts. “They say I’m a stalker and that people [presumably she means the band themselves or management] don’t like it, but I don’t care.”

Border-policing

One of the teens interviewed comes across an online post suggesting that one of the boys (the band, of course) should die. There is an immense line of cursing and violent suggestions of what should happen to the person who created the post. It is border-policing (what fans do to keep one another in line) at it’s most extreme.

I don’t think anyone would disagree when I write that fandom can be intense. It certainly was portrayed as such in the documentary. That intensity runs like a river throughout every possible nuance of the One Direction fandom, good and bad. These are young women who recognize that much of their fandom has to do with being a part of a larger group. It is a community. More than one of the girls interviewed commented on the friendships she’d made as a result. That can’t be bad….although one of those interviewed mentioned that she is part of a fan community that “can kill you if they decide”. That’s the double-edged sword of fandom. What builds you up can also slice and dice like a Ginsu, I suppose.

Is it Larry….or JoSi???

Then there are the shippers. One Directioners have a fantasy/fanfic going about Liam and Harry – they call it “Larry-shipping”. There are stories, memes, and even fan drawings and paintings about “Larry”.

Before scoffing, I’d just like to remind everyone of “JoSi”. It is indeed, a thing.

Ultimately, the longer I watched, the more I realized that these teenagers are no different than I was at their age – although most of them enjoy far more freedom than I did. However, as the documentary concluded, I recognized something more.

I can’t really say that these girls are much different at 15, than many of us are at 40, 45, or even 50. I still see people my age chase after the band after a show. I’ve watched people follow Simon right into a restaurant, or wait just outside. Many of us have shed tears at concerts, or become tongue-tied when we meet the band. Information of all-sorts is spread via social media, and we border-police ourselves as good as it gets. The label “stalker” is thrown around rather liberally – and truthfully, we are the kings and queens of double standards when it comes to this band. Anything we do to meet them is fine until we see somebody else doing it, then it is judge, judge, judge all the way.

I don’t know how I feel about that connection. On one hand, I can see the obvious – perhaps we never quite grew up. I became a Duran Duran fan at the age of 11 or 12, maybe I still feel that way when I hear them play to some extent. Feeling young again isn’t a bad thing. On the other hand, I’m nearly 49. I’m still trying to sort that out, I guess. My advice? Watch the documentary for yourself and decide. I’d love to read what you think!

Watching these girls tell their story was very much like watching us tell ours – and then having the media decide to play it up as though we’re far too crazy to be roaming free on the streets. For me personally though, this documentary wasn’t nearly as cringe-worthy as watching “Something You Should Know” – which is our own fan documentary. The fact is, extremism sells.

This is something that Amanda and I know firsthand. We’ve written more than one manuscript that has been submitted and rejected by publishers at this point. While with each one we’ve sharpened our pencils and improved our research, writing, and voice(s) – we’ve also learned that virtually no one cares about the positive things that fandom has done. Publishers aren’t interested in reading about friendships that have been created, or the sense of community. They want to know the dirty. Editors want to read the torrid tales. Slept with the band? Snuck onto a bus? Verbally threatened another fan who dared get in our way? They want to read about crazy. The widespread belief, of course, is that female fans are crazy.

It is unfair when you think about it. Men could follow Bruce Springsteen around the country on tour, and not only would they be held up as heroes amongst fellow fans – they’d get press, and the slant would be incredibly positive – “it’s about the music and the brotherhood, man”. Let women follow Bruce around, and it suddenly becomes a whole lot less about the music…because what could women possibly know, right?

Let me know what you think after you watch the documentary!

-R

Fan-made Time is Durantime

I don’t know if Amanda or I have flat-out written the words here, but we’ve been working on a new project. Right now, it is not much more than a very basic outline – topics, basically – of a direction we’d like to take, but we’re both reading, and doing some researching, and reflecting. I don’t think either of us have quite given up the dream of having something published, but it has taken us quite a while to decide to try writing again.

So with that in mind, yesterday I was reading about teen fans of bands such as One Direction and The Beatles. While there are many, many things I could write about here – ways fans have been marginalized, or how pop was created for women (true story!), I’m going to stick to something a little more basic and easy-reading.

I’ve been reading, writing and studying fans now for as long as we’ve been writing this blog (longer, actually). I am continually learning new terms and angles to see things. Yesterday, I learned about “fan made” time, which applies directly to us as Duran Duran fans.

In this community, we have something called “Durantime”, which is a well-loved moniker we’ve applied to the wait-time in between albums, projects, tours, etc. In our case, “Durantime” not only describes the time, but it also has come to be known as the clock the band uses (which is unlike any clock or calendar I’ve ever known). In this sense, we hear things like “the album will be done when it is done” – which is Durantime for “it could take decades. Probably should go get yourself some sustenance and another hobby while you wait!” Or, “we hope to tour next year” which could easily mean, “we hope to travel to Mars.”

Yes, I’m exaggerating a little…and maybe poking a little bit of fun at the guys. Hey, at least I didn’t mention that one time when Roger announced that the album would be finished by year end and instead it took another couple of years!

Oh wait. I just mentioned it. Oops!

Regardless, “fan-made” time is the wait in between present and whatever anticipated event is coming next. That could be a show, a tour, a movie, interview, appearance, etc. The term is rather elastic and fits just about everything. In my opinion, the word “Durantime” is far catchier, but a lot less generic. What makes fan-made time such an interesting topic though, is that it is one way fans have taken back control.

What does that mean? Well, we have zero control over when the band tours or when the new album is coming out…or even when they plan…IF they plan…to do anything more to celebrate #DD40. So, fans do what they can with that downtime and “in-between” space. They control that piece but doing countdowns, having fan parties, creating whatever content they wish during that time. It is about the fans continuing the party without the guests of honor, so to speak.

The thing about fan-made time is that even while we’re sitting outside of a GA venue, or waiting in line at whatever event might be taking place, we’re creating that fan space. Talking to friends in line, organizing ourselves into a systematic group, even chatting about the set list, or taking surveys or citing our own fan stories are all ways we manage fan-made time. I would say it is THAT space where (and when) we go from being relative strangers to a community.

Fan-made time as Duran Duran fans in the same way that fangirls of other bands do. They might be two decades younger, or lived out their concert days in the 60s, but we all do the same things. Just a little something of interest from yesterday’s reading…

-R

So Complicated Part 2

Yesterday’s blog talked how simple fandom can be in as I wrote about the three interactions I had with random people who either were fans or knew fans of Duran. At the time, I found myself envying the simplicity. It was just a matter of liking the band’s music. In one case, that’s all there was. The woman in the second case went further in that she attended concerts near her and the last case, the person talked about how big of a fan he was. Yet, I suspect that while these fans like Duran, they do not participate in the fan community at all. They might not know other fans and might not talk about the band much. There is no traveling for shows, friending or following other fans, collecting merchandise or any other fandom practice. Their fandom can be described as casual.

I, of course, am on the other end of the spectrum in that my fandom consists of producing new material related to being a fan (like this blog!). Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that I am a bigger or better fan by acknowledging that. I’m just pointing out that I devote more time and money to fandom than these people do. (Again, maybe, I’m the crazy one!) We just express our fandom differently. One is not better or more important than the other. In meeting these people, a part of me was jealous of them. It must be nice and easy to just be a casual fan. I know that it is easy for me to be a Killers fan as I just buy the albums and go to concerts nearby. That is the extent of my fandom there. No one in the fan community knows me and I don’t know any of them. Part of me wishes that is how things can be for me in the Duran world.

So, the first question is why? Sometimes, being part of a fan community is tough. Initially, it might feel totally awesome as you are meeting tons of people who love the same band you do. You can gush about how fabulous the music is or how there is nothing better than their concerts. But, then, you realize that it is not that simple. Some fans might not like how you express your fandom or disagree with your fandom philosophy and you to them. For example, some fans enjoy reading this blog. Others might never click on it, thinking that Rhonda and I are terrible people. Sometimes, people love what we have to say or do and others totally disagree with us. By writing this blog, it put us in a position in which we can be judged. I am not saying that to earn sympathy. On the contrary, we knew that criticize was going to happen and still went ahead and wrote the blog anyway. We accepted how this was going to go, for the most part. While we get it, it doesn’t always make things easy.

The next question is can I go back? If I stopped writing the blog tomorrow, could I go back to be like those casual fans I met this week? When I think about my real life, the people I run into and interact with, I know that if I stopped listening to Duran today, they would still associate me with the band. A couple of weeks ago, a friend from high school was passing the area when Duran apparently came on the radio. She immediately thought of me and messaged me to get together. Duran Duran leads people in my life to think of me. That would not change if I stopped writing this blog or even stopped being a fan. What about in the fan community? Could I go back to being anonymous there? I don’t think I could get rid of every evidence of this blog existing or all of the meetups we have done. Could I be anonymous at concerts? I have met a lot of fans at concerts. Would I want those people to forget me? Could I forget them, especially those fans who go to a lot of concerts? I don’t think so.

Finally, would I really want to go back to how things were in 2003 or early 2004? As much as that might be easier, I have never been one for easy. I am teacher. That is not exactly the easiest profession. I’m also an activist. Both of those are such that I work really hard for sometimes minimal changes. Yet, I don’t give up. Even when things are tough in our fan community, I cannot see myself walking away. I am part of this fan community and always will be.

-A

Running Like a Fox

Ain’t your problem

One of the trickiest things about our fan community – is that while we are all here because we love the music, the way that fandom manifests for each one of us is very different. I don’t think we can judge fandom using one particular sort of barometer. It is a mistake I fell into early on in my fandom studies.

I believe, for the most part – and strictly when it comes to die-hard fans, there are likely two, perhaps three, different groups of people. The first group are the creators – they’re people who like to create content (of any kind) to go along with being a fan. Maybe they write blogs, maybe they do podcasts, make fanzines, design jewelry – it’s all content of one form or another. The next group collects. Those people might collect shows (meaning they go to as many as possible), or posters, or albums…or all of it! The final group might be the largest because they’re the consumers. Maybe they do a little of all of it: they buy the albums, go to the shows, and do the creative things. They aren’t doing more in one area than another. It’s fairly equal.

Even though we each might fit into one of those groups, I still don’t think there is, or should be, a barometer in order to judge who does what “the best” or “the most”. That’s the problem. It isn’t supposed to be a contest, yet for some bizarre reason, we try to make it one. I think this goes mostly for the females amongst us, but perhaps male fans find this also to be true.

What you say

This seems to happen often in our community, particularly lately. I used to joke about this going on between albums, but it is true. I think we get bored. We go after our own. It isn’t pretty. It is one reason why I’m glad the band has done a few things in between recording sessions (which have apparently taken place far more often than I’d realized). It has only been within the last few weeks that I’ve noticed the Duraniverse getting a bit restless.

I know it is a trying time. Summer is hot. People are anxious for whatever is coming next. It can be difficult to remind ourselves that we’re grown adults and to give one another some grace and respect. This is something I need to put into practice, and will continue working on.

Another rattle in your brain

Just today I was talking with a friend. We were commiserating over how we felt walking in to a crowded bar of Duranies. I definitely have felt in the past as if all eyes were on me, giving me the once over. Hello again, Sunflower Intermediate and your main locker hallway. My mom would constantly tell me not to worry about what the other, more popular girls said as I walked down the hall. “You’re there to learn, not to get into it with other people, Rhonda.”

(that never worked for me)

Isn’t it strange that even as many of us are edging ever closer to 50 than 40, all it takes is to walk into a room of our peers, or see something online that doesn’t sit well, to shove us straight back to the halls of junior high? Why is that? Why do we let it get to ourselves so easily?

-R

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