Tag Archives: Paper Gods Tour 2017

With you my friend: International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day.  Coincidentally, I’m at home today, and my youngest is sick – I think she’s got the flu. I am not planning to go on strike (I’m a mom and that just doesn’t really work), but I had planned to casually work in a little reading about some prominent female historical figures today. She’s sick though (and still sleeping!), so that will have to wait.  Meanwhile, the blog awaits…

So, here I am, eight days away from picking Amanda up at LAX, and, like before every other trip or weekend away I’ve taken, I’m beginning to worry that I shouldn’t go. Now, of course, I *am* going – so Amanda doesn’t need to be concerned about that, but I put myself through this torture every single time. I’ve been planning this weekend for a while now, and I carefully set the time aside, saying to myself that I wouldn’t let a single thing get in the way. I should have just started laughing as I thought that to myself, because inevitably, something does. In this case, it’s a few things – and now I have to leave those things to my husband while I go off and have fun.  (Truth: I will have fun.  Untruth he seems to assume: I won’t think about my family the entire time.) I’m already worried about missing a couple of things and I haven’t even left yet. Sometimes I really wonder why I plan these trips because of the amount of worrying I do before I go.

I’ve been majorly stressed out lately. Things are really crazy at work, and things are even more so here at home. My oldest is going through serious heartbreak, my son is waiting for college admissions decisions, my youngest is getting ready for Certificate of Merit testing for piano, amongst quite a few other things. As much as I worry about going, I know that I very much need to go, and this is really normal for me. Just ask Amanda.

Speaking of Amanda, I’ve gotten so caught up in work and stuff going on around here that I haven’t even really thought about the things I need to do to get ready for the weekend.  I don’t even think Amanda and I have really talked much about the trip at all, which is crazy! Normally by now we’ve carefully planned each minute of each day, and this time, I feel like we’re both just gonna show up and let the weekend unfold however it does. In a lot of ways, as much as it’s really different from what we’ve done in the past, where we’ve obsessed over most details, maybe we both need a little spontaneity.    The last six months have been so strange. I went from talking to Amanda nearly every week to talking with her only a few times since August. I don’t check-in nearly as much, although from time to time we still trade texts. Sometimes, I only know what is going on with her from what she writes here on the blog! I feel like I’ve been caught up in a vortex: homeschooling, working, eating, sleeping, cleaning house and repeat, without a lot of anything else.  On one hand, it has actually helped my blogging, because I don’t take it all so seriously.  I write what I want to write and I don’t think about much else.  On the other, I have no idea of what is going on outside of the little bits and pieces I catch in between what’s going on here with me.  I’m looking forward to a weekend where I don’t need to think, and I can just sit and gab with friends!

In 2005, I flew to Chicago on the 17th of March. I landed at O’Hare around 9 or 10pm, I think, and then took a shuttle to what was then the Doubletree near O’Hare. We called it the “Duranie-dorm” because it was the hotel that had a group rate for Duran Duran fans coming in for their show the following night at what was then called the All-State Arena. I walked in to the lobby and fell into a chorus of hugs and laughter from women that I had previously met in September at the Duran Duran Fan convention in New Orleans. I had never felt so welcomed in my life, and I mean that. I can remember standing there fighting back tears (I rarely cry), because I hadn’t felt that kind of acceptance, friendship or love in a long time. It was St. Patrick’s Day, and while I didn’t really think much about celebrating that night – I stayed up and practically reached for the Sunrise with this group of friends. Amanda was in that group of women that night, and we’ve stayed friends ever since.

I am so lucky.

Twelve years later, and this time, Amanda and I will be arriving at the Agua Caliente resort, ready to see Duran Duran on stage and mingle with friends. There will not be the same group of women waiting for us. Many, if not all of those women, have since moved on. While I think our exuberance for the band isn’t exactly the same now (for example, I’m probably not going to be sporting those same light-up horns I wore in Chicago and Milwaukee at the show in Rancho Mirage), our love for this band and their music is pretty damn strong.   Through thick and thin, we’ve managed to be Duran Duran fans, remain great friends, and even write a blog for six years. You want to talk about the strength of women today? How about that??

So, on this International Women’s Day – I am going to think about my friendships with other women, and how together we really are stronger. Yeah, sometimes the road to get to where I need to be is tough. However, I know that I need my friends, now more than ever, and I’m looking forward to revitalizing that bond….and how better than a weekend with Duran Duran??

-R

Looking at the Reasons for Me to Head Back

If Duran Duran had a philosophy of life, I would say that it was to live in the moment.  All you need is now, right?  In interviews, they often claim not to look back at earlier times.  They are happy where they are, doing what they are doing at that moment.  During the All You Need Is Now era, I loved the idea of embracing the moment that I found myself in.  I felt like this would help me appreciate the good in life and be happier.  In theory, I believed I should follow this idea all of the time.

Now, in 2017, I cannot help to reject that way of life as much as I don’t want to.  Unfortunately, I can’t embrace the now.  I am unable, as things are tough and I’m not enjoying myself very much.  Thus, I’m longing for the past, for the fun I experienced.

Two weeks from today, I’ll be in California.  I’ll be with Rhonda and we will be anxiously awaiting the show in Rancho Mirage.  The shows there will take place on an anniversary.  Twelve years ago on March 17th, I began my very first Duran “tour”.  I had seen the band before but that weekend marked the first time I traveled to see the band and the first time I saw more than one show in a weekend with other Duranies.  A big part of me wishes that I could go back to March 17, 2005.  To say that I had fun that weekend would be an understatement.  It was so much fun that I keep going on tour in hopes to have a similar experience all over again!

Yet, I cannot go back.  There is no time machine and I have no superpowers.  It is 2017.  I cannot change that.  Yet, in two weeks, I will experience another tour, another chance to have serious fun.  When I think back to that 2005 tour, I think about all of the little traditions that began then.  We consumed a few adult beverages, got very little sleep, and couldn’t find the time to eat meals.  Memories, experiences and quotes were captured on paper after I took a take home menu from a restaurant.  If those little traditions weren’t enough, more were added with many tours after that.

In thinking about this upcoming tour, I could forget about the past and just live right now in 2017.  I could also decide to re-embrace those traditions.  I’m aware that my touring days are not going to last much longer.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if these shows aren’t some of my last.  Heck, they could be my last because you just never know.  I could go into these shows thinking about how sad it is that touring can’t last forever or that there might be other factors ending my “touring” life.  I don’t want that.  This little tour needs to be appreciated and loved, especially if it is one of the last tours ever for me.

My plan, then, is simple.  As I move closer to these shows, I’ll remind myself of all our little traditions to make sure that I follow them.  If these shows are some of my last, then, I’ll go out with a bang, even if it means looking back.

-A

It’s about the money, honey! Those darn ticket prices

Lately, the blog has been void of truly controversial topics.  I have stuck to basics, like commemorating days in history and that sort of thing. The writing has been easy, and I’ve enjoyed not having my inbox/comments flooded with inflammatory and argumentative replies. I don’t miss that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, nor do I miss being called out by people on Twitter who really know nothing about me.

However, sometimes, no matter how incendiary a topic might be, it is worthy of some discussion. Amanda and I never used to shy away from the tough topics, and I don’t want to start that now just because of my own comfort zone.  Over the past few days, I noticed a friend comment about the ticket prices for Duran shows. I replied, commiserating over the cost.

On this same thread, another Duranie commented that he didn’t feel the band cared how we felt about their prices. First of all, let’s be clear: I am not all that sure that the band even knows what they charge for concert tickets. As Simon has said many times, they don’t really get involved on the business side – after all, that is why they hire management, right? Second, I would agree that they probably don’t care. I think the band comes out on stage, sees that most of the seats are full – if in fact they can even see that well past the first several rows – and they go about their business of playing their set. They aren’t fixated on how much their shows cost, only what they need to do at the time. Third, Simon himself (and I’m sorry to “pick” on Simon, it just so happens he’s the one who I remember making any mention of this subject) has said that when a fan buys a ticket to their show, they are getting a terrific value for their money.  So I think we all know where he stands, and I can’t blame him.

As the thread continued, another Duranie friend chimed in.  She’s seen them quite a bit over the years, and flat-out refuses to spend so much money to see a band that she’s seen so often. She continued by saying that their latest releases have underwhelmed her, and that also plays a part in her decision not to attend shows. I can’t argue with any of that, either. I mean, why pay to see a band that is putting out music you’re not into? Fair enough.

The one question that always seems to come up during these conversations is whether or not the band is really just into it for the money.  Now, before you hit the comment button here – I KNOW WHAT THE BAND HAS SAID. John Taylor has said in more than one Katy Kafe that it is not just about the money for them. I KNOW.  I would simply ask what do any of us think they’d really say in public?? I highly doubt ANY band would openly say they are still working and performing purely for the money. Even if we don’t think they’re ONLY in it for the cash (which for the record I do not), let’s be fair: making money is part of the deal. It’s called business.

Curiously, the answer to that one little question matters to fans. We white knuckle the belief that the band we love really is not about taking us for everything we’ve got and are willing to part with, to see them.  Yet I think most of us know in our heads that money has to enter into it all somewhere.  The question is, where is that line between having a successful career and selling out purely for cash drawn, and why?

Discussion points are continually made that the band isn’t continuing to sell out massively large venues, and that they’re playing Festivals and casinos. No argument there, although I have pointed out in some conversations that this past summer – they definitely came close to selling out at least some of the venues they performed in that while touring with Chic.  I’ll admit, in my own personal opinion, the ticket prices were pretty high (considerably so if you bought VIP, which I did).  While no, they aren’t playing the same size venues this spring [in the US], the ticket prices have not come down that much. I do see other bands besides Duran Duran on occasion, and while I pay the most to see DD (VIP cost having a lot to do with that so to some degree it is my own fault and I own that), I have found that other tickets are still expensive. It’s just not cheap to go to concerts anymore unless you’re willing to sit in the back or on the lawn.

This is not just about priority for fans. The implication that if you really want to see Duran Duran you’ll pay the price and if you’re just a fair-weather fan, you probably won’t and that’s your problem, is distasteful.That belief gives far too much leeway in passing judgment on others. After all, five years ago, I could afford to do whatever show(s) I wanted, and didn’t have to work outside of the home. Now, I can’t, and I work. Things change, and it isn’t just about priorities. There are real fans of the band who have just gotten to the point where they feel as though the ticket prices are too high to see the same basic set list, or to see songs from albums that just have not hit home.

In closing, I’ll throw out one more sub topic to mull over.  In recent weeks, Amanda and I have had conversations about where the band sits in the overall hierarchy of popularity.  The band (DDHQ) markets their success with Paper Gods.  I made the comment to Amanda just this past weekend that if one listened to management, it is easy to believe that things have never been better for the band.  On the other hand, the energy and buzz have certainly changed over the years we’ve written this blog. It is vastly different now, for a variety of reasons. It is difficult to really grasp the true interest level. On one hand, they can sell out the Hollywood Bowl when touring with Chic. On the other hand, they tend to go for the low hanging fruit and play festivals. They have the opportunity to play for huge crowds without the risk of booking massive venues on their own.  They also play a lot of casino shows.  More and more often, I read of long time fans decide to sit out shows and tours, saying that they’ve given enough to the band over the years.  Is it just the people I follow, or is it a growing trend, and why? Is it our age? Our circumstances? The cost? Are we really that worried about whether the band is only in it for the money these days – or is it just reason to complain?

-R

 

 

Is It March Yet???

I slept in this morning as I often do on Saturday mornings, hoping to recover from a very long week.  As I grabbed some breakfast, I glanced at my super long to do list that includes some cleaning, paying bills, grading some paragraphs, and more.  Instead of getting started right away, I opted to ignore the list.  I decided to go online to look for a plane ticket.  Where might I be going?  Simple!  I have a couple of Duran shows to go to next month!

That’s right.  Rhonda and I will be attending the two shows at the Agua Caliente casino and resort in California, during the weekend of March 17th.  I, for one, am very much looking forward to these shows for two reasons.  First, we have seen Duran perform there before in October 2015.  I loved the venue.  It is small, has good sound, and no barricade up front.  I cannot imagine that there is a bad seat in the house frankly!  Second, these shows will take exactly 12 years after the first shows Rhonda and I saw together.

That’s right.  Rhonda and I went to our very first show together in March of 2005.  We went to Chicago to see them play at that the All-State Arena, north of the city.  It amuses me that we will get to see another show on the very same day.  I think back to that show in 2005.  My childhood fandom had been reawakened and I could not get enough.  I remember the day before the show.  My colleagues practically pushed me out the door since they were so sick of me talking about nothing but Duran.  Since that show, I don’t talk about Duran as much at work.  My love has not diminished.  It is more that my fandom  has become just intertwined with everything else that makes up me.  I cannot separate my Duranieness the way I could in 2005.  Now, being a Duranie is part of who I am in such an essential way.

All of that said, it isn’t like my colleagues don’t know about my love for Duran.  Just this week, I participated in a trivia night fundraiser with a couple of colleagues.  When Duran Duran’s Save a Prayer was played in the music category, they were impressed (or frightened) that I could name the song in literally 2 seconds.  Then, my colleagues went on to explain to others at our table about my “dedication” to Duran, including this blog and going to as many shows as I can.  I think the others at the table were a little surprised as I saw a lot of blinking and silence filled the space.  That reaction isn’t new.  I didn’t take that as negative, more like they didn’t know how to respond.  I suspect, though, they were happy with my answer since it helped for our team to win.

Speaking of wins, I got another win when I asked my principal if I could take a couple of days to go to these shows mentioned earlier.  His response, “Sure.”  Nice.  It is nice to be able to move forward with plans.  More than that, having something fun to look forward to is keeping me going.  Now that we have our tickets, our hotel room reserved and I have my plane ticket, I’m ready for the countdown to begin.

What about the rest of you?  Do you have a countdown going for a Duran show or for something else?

-A

New Year’s Day Show and Overall Weekend Review

I returned home last night after a long day of travel from the Washington DC area with Duran Duran and the weekend still on my mind.  Throughout the day, I exchanged text messages with Rhonda about the show and weekend.  I suggested that I provide today’s blog in order to review the New Year’s Day show while it was fresh in my mind.

After I emptied my suitcase and started the laundry, I glanced through social media and came across a post with a review from the show, which you can read here.  What do I think of this review?  Read on, people.

The author begins by going over band members and stating how they seemed excited to be there.  I would agree.  Their energy level was hundred times greater than the previous night.  I’ll give a couple of examples.  John Taylor bounced up and down a TON more during Wild Boys on the 1st versus the 31st and we got Sunrise/New Moon on Monday, which we did not have on the 31st, which I love.  Anyway, unfortunately, then, she goes on to rave about the venue.  The author writes:

“There are so many music venues across the country that were never really designed for concerts. This theatre was designed with concerts in mind and its apparent. Soon, I believe, The Theater at the MGM National Harbor will rank as one of the top concert venues on the East coast. So remember you read it here first!  The modern style theater holds around 3,000 people but still manages to feel intimate, there isn’t a bad seat in the house helped out by two huge screens on either side of the stage.”

As I read that, I scratch my head.  There isn’t a bad seat in the house???  Our last two posts, which you can read here and here, point out that there are seats that literally face walls.  Yes, she is right that there are screens and I am sure that people in the back appreciated them.  That said, some seats had such extreme angles that the only way to really see was to watch a screen.  To me, when I go to a concert venue, I want to watch the actual band.  On top of that, the barricade between the stage and the front row was HUGE, causing all others on the floor to be pushed back.  The flat floor does not help attendees who are short see beyond taller people in front of them.  Needless to say, I was not impressed.  Now, in fairness, the author stated that the last time she saw Duran it was in a muddy field.  This would be better than that.

The rest of the review focuses more on the performance with the standard ‘they haven’t aged at all’ comment.  The author mentions the crowd and describes how they “lit up screaming”.  I cannot disagree with this.  The front center section appeared to be full and what I could tell they were up, off their feet, singing and dancing the entire time.  The crowd felt more like genuine fans.  I cannot help but to think that there is a correlation between the band’s energy level and the crowd.  Better crowd equals more energy and vice versa.  The two feed off of each other.

The author goes on to mention some specific songs, including Planet Earth with the David Bowie tribute, The Reflex and more.  Interestingly enough, she called them “oldies.”  Ouch.  Yes, these songs that she referenced were released decades ago but to call them oldies hurts.  She also compliments Simon’s voice as well as the backing vocals of Erin Stevenson and Anna Ross.  I agree that Simon generally sounded strong and unlike the previous night, I didn’t notice any lyrical goofs.

The rest of the review discussed aspects of the casino itself from the parking to size of the casino and how she liked what she saw.  Overall, I would say that the casino has potential but needs to iron out some details that detracted from the fun.  First, I appreciated how friendly and helpful all of the staff were from coat check staff to cleaning staff and everyone in between.  I liked the layout with the casino in the middle surrounded by restaurants on the outside perimeter.  All that said, last call inside the bars was 1:30 even on New Year’s Eve.  This particularly did not make sense to me as cocktail waitresses inside the casino itself still served beyond that.  Some of the bar staff was super slow to deliver drinks.  Restaurants also closed early, which was a problem when you want to hang out late into the evening and needed food.

I saw lots of people I have seen at previous shows, which was great!  At one point over the weekend, I declared that there should be a Duranie yearbook with people’s names, pictures and a list of shows they attended as it is hard to remember everyone and when/where you met them.  The Lobby Bar, which was an open (no door man monitoring who comes in and out unlike the other bars in the place), bar served as a decent meet up spot for Duranies both before and after the shows.  As always, I saw people there whom I didn’t have a chance to talk with much but wanted to.  Time flies when people are having fun.

That said,  I felt a bit of a disconnect there.  If I had to guess why, it was the hotel situation.  The MGM hotel was far too expensive for the vast majority of us to stay in.  Therefore, we sought out different places within a short distance.  Some stayed there in Oxon Hill, others in Alexandria like myself and Nat, and some in DC proper.  There wasn’t the same running into people during the day like you would find at a typical casino show.  During the day, everyone scattered to do different activities only to meet up very briefly before or after.  On top of that, the early closings of bars and restaurants did not make it easy to stay late and hang out.  When I go to a casino show, I want to be able to hang out all night long.

Overall, I still feel as though I made the right decision to go.  I loved being able to finish off a year with a Duran show and starting a new one the same way.  One thing that Simon said at the New Year’s Day show that stuck with me was this theory that whatever you were doing on New Year’s Day is how your year will go.  I would love for that to be the case.  My year would be a great one if it was filled with Duranies, Duran music, and fun.  I loved seeing many friends there and enjoyed getting to know my friend, Nat, more.  She put up with me, which is always impressive!  Just ask Rhonda!  It also increased my excitement for the next shows in Agua Caliente in California in March.  With a little over 10 weeks until that trip, I know that I’ll be ready to go!

-A

Shouldn’t VIP seats be great?

Happy New Year!

It is my first blog of 2017 and I am hoping this post finds everyone happy and healthy.  Many of you are making your way home from the  New Year shows in Washington DC – safe travels! I have to say, sitting these shows out and staying at home wasn’t nearly as depressing as I thought. Not that I didn’t miss being there to see the band, but seeing the posts and updates from Amanda gave me a totally different perspective than I would have had if I were there too. It was interesting, not that I’d seriously try to recommend staying home to anyone!  I just didn’t have a choice, and I needed to make the best of it. I am going to have to get used to that, until I win the lottery.

Since I’ve been at home, I’ve had the opportunity to hear a lot about the venue. From a dress code that didn’t seem to be enforced to a countdown to New Years during the show that did not include the band dragged down spirits a bit. On the upside: DURAN DURAN. I mean, what could be better than that?  I have a hard time thinking of anything else that could be better than spending New Year’s weekend seeing Duran Duran.

Take it from someone who wasn’t there: I WISH.  I saw plenty of tweets, posts and comments that began with the words, “Once in a lifetime”.  I get it, and I have to concur. Those of us who weren’t there missed out (although I speak solely for myself when I say that I’ve gotten to do a lot of other “once in a lifetime” things as a result of this band – so missing one weekend won’t kill me).

On the other hand, had I spent the nearly $400 a show to see the band, I would have been very disappointed to get to the venue and see this view:

photo taken on an iPhone with no zoom, courtesy of Jennifer Burroughs

That’s a view from a VIP seat. In order to see any portion of the stage, the person in the seat had to angle way to the side. If they looked straight ahead, this may have been their view:

This is a photo Amanda took the first night.

Sure, the seats were close, and there’s no argument about that. Close seats, however, are not always “great seats”, and they definitely aren’t the “great seats” that paying nearly $400 for a VIP tickets should get you. These seats are partially obstructed, and should not be marketed as anything else. Shame on the venue for that. Sure, you might be in the first six rows, but if those rows face a brick wall and you never see the band – are they really VIP? That’s my question to all of you.

In an online discussion about this very issue, I mentioned that Amanda and I really try to do our homework before pre-sales. We search online for images of the venue. We even look to see photos from people in the audience, just to try to get a handle on the length of the stage as opposed to seating. Then we print out a copy of the seating chart, and we try to make sure that we know how the seats are numbered within each section. Buyer beware: even the seating charts that ticket agencies use sometimes aren’t always the best or most accurate. That’s why we take a good look at any photos  we can find online. Those are things we do ahead of time, so that way when row 2, seats 45 and 46 show up in our basket at the pre-sale, we can decide for ourselves whether or not we want them. And believe it or not, we’ve thrown second row seats back before because they were so far to the side that it didn’t matter. We’ve agreed that we’d rather be back a bit farther but in the middle than be way off to one side.  But that’s a choice that YOU must make as a buyer. We all want different things. So let’s look at the seating chart used for this pre-sale:

seating chart for MGM

It feels very counterintuitive, or even greedy, to throw back first or second row VIP seats because they’re not more to the middle. No doubt about it. I’m certainly not telling anybody what to do here because I don’t know what I would have done, had I participated in the pre-sale. Which brings me to another point.

Shouldn’t VIP seats be, well….great?

In the past on DDM (and by past I mean PAST)…we’d participate in pre-sales and not be guaranteed to have the best seats. It was explained that the DDM allocation for pre-sales were 10% of the best and worst seats in the venue, and it was a crap-shoot as to what you might get. DDM customers knew that risk going in, and I don’t know many of us who weren’t burned at least once. Those pre-sales, however, were not VIP. They were simply fan pre-sales. Over time, DDM began promoting their own VIP packages in various forms, whether they included cocktail parties, meet and greets, tiers, merchandise, or just the “great seat”.  Keeping in mind that during a pre-sale, you could go for just a regular seat OR pay the extra to do VIP.  Call me crazy, but if you’re paying the surcharge for VIP, you’re probably expecting a really good seat – one that doesn’t have you staring directly at a wall.

Granted, I’m not entirely sure that DDM has much control over what the venue touts as a “great seat”.  It isn’t as though DDM actually sorts through the tickets themselves and allocates them to fans (although at one time, they did). I just know that as a fan, if I bought a VIP ticket and ended up with that kind of view—I’d think twice before buying another. It doesn’t beg for repeat business.

I saw quite a few comments to DDM from “owners” of these types of side-seat tickets. Many asked if this is really how the band should treat their VIP customers. I can understand the question and the sentiment. I also have a fair idea of just how much attention DDHQ pays to such complaints. Unfortunately, it’s widely regarded that the only comments online are the negative ones, which is incredibly untrue (those are just the ones easily seen, which says more about the viewer than it does the countless GOOD things I see every day about the band).

Here’s the problem: we are customers. We also happen to be fans. Those are two different things. Sometimes, I feel that DDM and subsequently DDHQ forget that point. Fans can be fans without being customers; and many customers really aren’t fans. But, once they are truly customers – when they buy something directly from DDM—they should be treated as such.  The complaints have little do with crazy fans, it’s about wanting good service. It is wanting the goods and services one paid for. The relationship is transactional, not emotional.

I’m somewhat dismayed by just how many times I see the comment, “You saw a great show for the ticket price” or “The band puts on a fantastic show.”  without any validation given to the concerns of the customer. Particularly so when the complaints aren’t about the band doing their job, but about the folks behind the scenes doing theirs.

-R

My Last Post of 2016. What is to be gained?

This is my last post of 2016. I don’t post again until Monday, January 2nd 2017, so have a wonderful New Years, everyone! I don’t know what Amanda has planned for her blogs this weekend, but I would imagine they’d have something to do with traveling and seeing some band from the UK a couple of times.

There’s a part of me that is jealous, but another part—the saner portion of me—that is a bit relieved I’m staying home. It’s not about the band, because I would love to see them and my friends again.  No, my relief is about the not having to pack, schedule out the time while I’m gone, get on a plane, and then come back before I have to be at work on Tuesday, that makes me a little relieved I’m not planning a trip across the country.

I’ve seen many say that 2016 has been a tough, cruel year. The loss has been pretty tough to take. While I don’t typically lose family members every year, invariably there is a celebrity figure or two.  They pass on, and we all stop for a moment to pay our respects, then life simply moves on.  This year, I daresay the loss seems to have felt more acute. Whether it’s the number of people who have left us, or the people themselves, 2016 has been a roller coaster.

I’ve seen so many people tweet that we need to wrap every member of Duran Duran in bubble wrap, as if that will somehow protect them from the dreaded 2016. I’ve said similar things myself, in jest, as if adding humor to the situation will make it all more palatable. The reality is that there’s nothing any of us can do to make this stop. I’m 46, and many of my idols, including the band, are hitting their mid to late 50’s now. Many others are even older. I remind myself that my own father died at 68. Death is a certainty, it’s a matter of when. And that thought is pretty damn depressing.

How many of us actually sat down at the age of thirteen that we’d have to someday see all of the celebrities and people we admire leave this earth? How many of us really thought about the day we’d read online that George Michael passed away? Or David Bowie? Or Prince?  I know I didn’t. I never gave mortality much thought. I lived in the moment, and didn’t think too far beyond what I might wear to school the following day.  Blissful ignorance of youth.  And then we grew up.

It is 2016. Many of you reading are also in your 40’s. This year alone, we’ve felt the loss of many legends and heroes. Death has this annoying way of forcing you think about life, and I think we all want to be able to blame some THING for why so many people are dying this year. So, we blame 2016. I highly doubt we’ll wake up in 2017 and the Grim Reaper will have decided to take his talents elsewhere, but it is how we make sense of things that really have no answer.

I suppose that I’ve come to the conclusion that this constant parade of RIP’s and tributes will not have an end until I leave this planet myself. I’m at middle age, my heroes are either my age or older, and none of us live forever. I can remember my grandmother sitting in her chair in my childhood home, watching the news in the afternoons during the summer when she’d babysit my sister and I.  Occasionally there would be news of a celebrity death, and invariably she’d take a sharp inhale of breath, shocked by the news.

She’d softly say something like, “Well, there’s another one gone. Soon there will be no one left.”  Then she’d look over at me and my sister, playing with Barbies on the floor and muse, “Getting old is terrible, Rhonda Lynn. You can’t move, and your friends die constantly.”

I can remember looking at her then looking over at my sister, who couldn’t have been much older than five or six. I’d give her a tiny smile and then roll my eyes. Why? Well, we were never going to get old!!

I don’t blame people for wishing 2016 away, mind you. There are a number of reasons for wanting this year to just end already. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that by this time most years, I’m ready to get on with it already. On the other hand, I’m also trying to be careful not to wish my life away. I have things to look forward to in 2017. A girls weekend in Rancho Mirage, seeing Duran Duran again, my son’s graduation from high school, more college acceptances for him (I hope!), and then seeing him walk onto his college campus for the first time.

Even with all of that, I’m trying very hard to put the art of enjoying each day as it comes into practice. I don’t like saying the words “I can’t wait” anymore (although I still say them out of habit) because as it turns out, I CAN wait. Anticipation isn’t a bad thing. It heightens and stretches out the enjoyment of what is to come.

If there’s anything to really be gained from the loss we’re all learning to accept these days, it is to learn that time isn’t to be wasted. There’s not an infinite amount somewhere. When your cup runneth out, you’re done. One of the first things I said when I heard about George Michael—after shouting “NOOOOOO” and grabbing my phone, of course—was that I never saw him live. He was one of my favorite artists, and I never bothered. I didn’t buy the ticket. Granted, I am sure I could cite reasons, and timing would be at the top of the list, but the fact is, I didn’t buy the ticket.

I lightly pounded my fist on the dining room table, startling my mom in the process, and proclaimed that no one could or should ever tell me again that I go see too many shows, or that I shouldn’t spend the money, because once these people are gone, they’re gone. I really don’t know if the sentiment was understood. My family was never into concerts the way I am, and they don’t really understand my obsession with Duran Duran anyway.

What it all boils down to is that in 2017, I’m buying the ticket. Before my husband has a fit—that’s a euphemism. I’m going to seize more of the moments. See more of the people I want to see, do more of the things I want to do. Fear plays a huge part in my life, and my goal for the year is to live just a little bit outside of that box. Instead of just dreaming, I’m going to try doing.

Happy New Year! Be safe and have a fantastic time if you’re headed to the shows in Cancun or DC!

-R

Rhonda’s Merry Christmas Wish List

This is my last blogging day before Christmas. It is amazing how quickly I filled up my “work-free” week with, well, WORK. It is the unpaid kind, and while I enjoy blogging, that isn’t the kind of work I’m talking about. It’s the shopping, wrapping, baking, cleaning and cooking variety that has worked very hard to make sure my lower back is in quite a bit of pain just before Christmas, and I am sure I’m not alone.

So before I make a mad dash to try to contain the mess in my house before my sister arrives late tonight from Chicago, I thought I’d settle in and post some good wishes.

This year, I barely got my family Christmas cards out before the holiday. I think that’s a side-effect from working, college applications  (which are finally done!) and teaching at home. There are plenty of my friends who appear to have it all together and got their cards out with time to spare. Me, on the other hand, well…I’m learning. Maybe next year will be better! In any case, I want to say a very Merry Christmas to all of you. It has been a wild year for me and my family, and while we’ve had good cheer, there has been a fair amount of heart ache and loss. My wish for Christmas is time for peace, love and reflection, for all.

I feel very fortunate to be able to write most days. The latter part of this year has been about finding the enjoyment again in doing so. When I first started working, I couldn’t find the time to write. What I’ve begun to realize is that once I started enjoying it again, finding the time was easy. Hmm. Must be something to that, somewhere. The same holds true for being a fan (for me). I am thoroughly enjoying being a fan again. It is one of many things I love, and I’m thankful. My wish here is just for more of the same. I would like to keep writing and enjoying. I don’t have big dreams for the blog or my writing—I just like doing it.

I learned this year that it really doesn’t matter if fellow fans like what I write, or if the band likes it, or even if a publisher likes it. I write for me. It took me a long time to get back to this space and my wish is to stay here and enjoy the moments as they arrive.

Naturally, I can’t forget the band. We’re really and truly talking about their fortieth anniversary coming up. That blows my mind. We’re all “those” fans who have stuck with the band forever with no sign of stopping. I remember going to see the Beach Boys about ten or even fifteen years ago with my husband—laugh if you must, but my parents loved them, so they’re a sentimental favorite. Anyway, we saw a couple of elderly fans being wheeled in and even a couple with oxygen tanks in tow. Walt turned to me and said, “Maybe that’s going to be you someday!” I was not amused. I felt like I would give up the live show before then. I’m not quite elderly, but I hope to never give up the music. Simon says that it can’t go on forever (live shows). I say we should give it a good try.  😀 I can’t imagine the day when this kind of fun just stops.

When I was young, I wished for a lot of things. I still have that type of wish list, but I find that the older I get – the more I wish for the things that just can’t be wrapped. Time with family and friends, peace and quiet, loud concerts, drinks at a bar with people I rarely see…those are the moments I long for.  Additionally, I am thinking about college acceptances for my son, time with my youngest curled up beside me on the couch as we read together, mother/daughter time with my oldest, and a place to retire with my husband with plenty of space where I never have to hear a phone ring (from someone else’s house – yep, I live in Southern California where I can hear my neighbors!) or hear a garbage truck pass.  I think about the simple enjoyment from writing a good blog post, putting on fan get togethers, and yeah—a smile or shared laugh from the stage to cap it all off.

This year’s wish list for me is simple, yet tough to pull off. Much of it, I am going to have to work to make happen on my own. Some of it just requires telling the people I care about how I feel.  So, Merry Christmas to all of you. I’ve met many of you over the years. My memory is poor when it comes to matching names to faces, but my heart is full. I am lucky. I met a lot of wonderful people this past year, especially. I want to thank all of you and tell you that yes, you matter. Every time someone says that they enjoyed the blog or love what Amanda and I do, it means something. I get embarrassed when people say that to us—my red face is a dead give-away, I’m afraid—but I relish it every single time, and I appreciate it.

I hope to see as many of our readers as possible in March at the shows in Palm Springs (It’s really Rancho Mirage at Agua Caliente). Have a fabulous time if you’re headed to Cancun. (oh, to be headed to Cancun….) If you’re going to the shows in DC, I hope you have an amazing time and that you hang out with Amanda. I am looking forward to reading her reports from the road next week. I don’t know how much blogging I will be doing next week, as I have family here from out-of-town, but I will check in and will be back blogging as usual come January 2nd.

Merry Christmas!!!

-R

Final 2016 Year End Katy Kafe with Simon LeBon

On today’s final 2016 year end Katy Kafe, Simon LeBon took time out from a busy day (they performed for Brian Cox’s charity that evening) to chat, covering everything from the weather to the Far East!

Simon begins by saying that it isn’t very cold by UK standards for December. Apparently the weather is hovering around the 40 degree F mark most days. Freezing for Southern California, mild for everyone else!  Katy asks what his favorite “tipple” for Christmastime might be (tipple is alcohol if you’re scratching your head in wonder).  Simon responds exactly as I’d imagined, “Everything!” He does say though that he had some cider brandy shipped to him and is really enjoying that. (I won’t lie, I immediately decided to do a search for that online because it sounds like something I would be into!) After saying that he likes anything from red wine to beer, to champagne, white wine, etc…they move on to the favorites for the year.

World Event

Simon mentions a few things, but first is Brexit. Simon has an interesting take on this—rather than be outraged by the outcome, he is thrilled that the UK was allowed to voice their opinions and make a decision, citing that many other places in the world have “so-called democracies” and yet the people really aren’t allowed to make the big decisions. I can certainly understand that sentiment, and I applaud his open-mindedness.

The ongoing “sad and tragic” war in Syria is also mentioned, and I agree wholeheartedly with Simon that we certainly cannot forget those people or their suffering.

He also cites the electoral race here in America, calling Trump an “extraordinary candidate”, and saying that he isn’t a big fan of Clinton either. He does say though that Trump has wanted this office for a long time, and that now he’s got it, and he had better do something productive with it, going on to remind us that Americans know how to get their Presidents OUT of office if need be.

The Olympics is another big event for 2016, commenting that Andy Murray’s big win in tennis is a first in a very long time for the UK.  (I don’t mind adding here that the Olympics feels like it happened two years ago rather than just this past August. Unreal!)

Favorite Movie

At first, Simon doesn’t recall if he’s actually seen anything, saying that this category could actually be “What ONE film did you see in the theater this year, Simon?”

He then remembers that he saw Jungle Book with John, and he did just recently see Fantastic Beasts, but overall he wants to defer the question to next year, or at least until he goes to see Nocturnal Animals.

Favorite Book

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry  It is a love story taking place in the Victorian era, and it focuses on the struggle between religion and science. Simon read it quickly and says “It is as good as a book gets.” So there you have it!

Favorite TV Show

He mentions several, but settles on The Vikings, saying that it is brutal and sexy.

Favorite Album

This category nearly stumps Simon. Katy mentions Blackstar by David Bowie, but Simon says no, that it was too depressing. He prefers upbeat. He says he’s still listening to Tame Impala’s album, and then also mentions Lemonade by Beyoncé, explaining that he loves the project as a whole.

Favorite DD Event

Simon says he loved the tour. All of it, going on to explain that the shows were good and consistent, and so he can’t pick out one moment. He really loved it all.

Personal Event

He really enjoyed sailing but that nothing compares to being on stage. He’s having more fun now, and it’s likely because he realizes that it can’t go on forever.

Onward to 2017

Simon eagerly exclaims “The tour!” He follows that up by saying, “When I am in this mode, it is the single most important thing.” He likes the simplicity of it.  They are still trying to schedule shows in the Far East, and at the time this was recorded they were thinking those shows would be towards the end of next year. I think the takeaway is two-fold: 1. They don’t know for sure where they are going or when.  2. There is no real set schedule for returning to the studio – so we cannot hang on every single word the band says about such things, at least not yet!

-R

Time for Temptation: It is Presale Time!

It is that time again.  Agua Caliente Presales!  While this one may not affect most of you, those who are planning to attend the shows in Palm Springs at Agua Caliente in March are beginning the countdown to clicking “buy tickets” later this morning, myself and Amanda included.

You’d think we’d get used to it. The jittery nerves, the lack of sleep, the feeling of nausea deep in the pits of our stomachs….  you would think that would all be old hat by now. I’m willing myself to shake it off, say it’s no big deal and take whatever tickets I can get…but my inner self-talk is saying “OMG what if you aren’t able to pull up any? What if they use…gasp… TICKETMASTER?!?!  What if the only seats you can get are last row? (hasn’t happened since my very first Duran Duran concert at then-existing Universal Amphitheater)”  The words go on and on…

and my jitters take over.

The fact is, the jitters last for a matter of minutes, and then we’re on to the planning, plotting, and anticipatory stage of the pre-concert process. Next to the few moments where I am buzzing like a bee, trying to remain seated when the lights go down and the entrance music begins just before the band takes the stage, I live for pre-planning.  That moment when they walk out, though? It is triumphant, and the feeling is so addictive that I can’t stop myself from the next presale. Hence, here I am today, counting down the minutes until alarm strikes, ever so patiently.

I’m getting ahead of myself though. First, I must manage the presale and buy the tickets. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve told myself that it doesn’t matter where we sit, as long as we’re in the venue. I will continue to keep up that mantra until the confirmation for the ticket sale arrives in my inbox. I’m just thrilled to have the opportunity to do this again, particularly when I didn’t think I would, quite this soon.

As excited as I am, I know many friends who either cannot buy because the Agua Caliente presales are so close to Christmas, or live in parts of the world that the band rarely visits. It does seem unfair. I have to acknowledge that unfairness, even if I cannot do anything about it on my own. I wish I could offer some sort of explanation—the only thing that comes to mind is that the reasons must be purely financial.

I’ll end here with what I tweeted earlier, “May the presale gods be with us all today.”  Good luck everyone!

-R