Tag Archives: politics

Rise Above the Sorrow

Five years ago today, Duran Duran played in Biloxi, Mississippi as part of the final leg of the All You Need Is Now tour.  This show was pretty monumental for Rhonda and myself as it was the first time we ever had front row.  We had traveled to the city the night before so that we could hang out with Duranies and have a chance to line up early on the day of the show.  We arrived around 7 and were, indeed, able to secure a spot in front.  Anyone who read the blogs from then saw that our first front row did not go as planned.  No, we kinda stood there, shell-shocked, unable to really respond.  I remember attempting to process the show afterwards over drinks.  I had a lot of reasons that night for why I was so lame during the show but I suspect that I left out the real reason.

The summer of 2012 was a tough one for me.  I had spent months busting my ass to try and get my state’s governor to lose a special, recall election.  I’m sure that some of you stopped reading at that line.  After all, that is only politics and this blog about being a Duran fan.  Humor me, though, and keep reading.  Yes, it was about politics, but it was personal to me.  I won’t go into all the reasons for this but I think that anyone who has ever failed at something that really meant something to them understands my distress that summer.  On top of that, I already had experienced much stress related to this governor and feared the future.  Yet, I had hope that Duran and our little tour around the Southeast would help with my mood.  In fact, I was so determined in this that I pushed for having pre-show meet ups before each concert.  I wanted to dive into some other task.  Then, I could forget my fear and failure.

Did my plan work?  I have already mentioned that the Biloxi show was a failure, in terms of how we responded at the show.  We did better for the rest of our shows, but I never really felt it.  My distraction didn’t work.  I couldn’t shake it.  I remember after our final show in Virginia about how ready I was to go visit my sister and to have the tour be done.  That is not normal.  Rhonda itched to add a show and I didn’t even consider it.  Again, that is not normal.

Now, in 2017, I feel like I’m in a similar headspace due to the political climate.  Again, I was involved in a campaign that lost.  Like five years ago, I fear.  I feel like I get to a spot where I can shake it and then it comes roaring back.  I recognize that this makes me weird.  I get that.  I know that most people don’t feel politics that deeply.  I do.  Maybe it is that history teacher in me that recognizes the drama of current events.  Maybe it is because I have been active in politics.  Perhaps, I worry about my students and their futures.  Whatever the cause, it is a thing with me.

In 2012, I tried to get over the lost by going on tour and failed in my quest.  Looking back, I know that Durham was a great show on paper and that my partner-in-crime loved it but when I think of it I feel an emptiness that I couldn’t get beyond.  This time, in 2017, I have also gone to shows.  I’m sure that part of the reason was exactly as it was in 2012.  I wanted to get over what was bothering me.  I wanted to forget about it.  I needed to experience some joy.  Interestingly enough, the shows I have attended have all been fabulous this year.  I loved each and every one of them.  What was the difference?  I’m not sure.  I guess that is part of the reason that I’m blogging about it today, to try and figure it out.

Were the shows better?  Maybe.  Was I responding differently?  I’m sure.  If I had to determine the difference, I think this time I dove into the shows in a way that I couldn’t let my mind wander.  I also feel like there is more interaction between the band and the crowd.  Maybe that has helped me keep in the game more.  Fandom has been a sanctuary this time for whatever reason.  Perhaps, I just need my fandom differently now.  No matter the reason, I’m thankful that the shows in 2017 that I attended gave me as much joy as they have.  Certainly, Duran Duran has been the sun through a very cloudy world.

-A

It’s a Chain Cuts Across My Soul

Work has been super busy this week.  This is mostly due to the fact that my students are starting a project next week and I have had a bunch of meetings.  Luckily, I have a student teacher this semester, which helps divide up the work somewhat (and gives some work, too!).  Last night, my student teacher and I left the school after 6 pm after working on some materials.  As we were leaving, she began telling me about how peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are her go to food.  This, of course, led me to tell her about a hotel in New Orleans that Rhonda and I stayed at in 2006 when we attended the Voodoo Music Festival which served PB & J sandwiches every evening.

The answer to the next question is yes.  Of course, I proceeded to tell her all about that experience, in which Rhonda and I along with others literally stood for hours without food or water while trying to avoid crowd surfers. I attempted to explain that the only reason we put ourselves through such hell was for Duran Duran.  Then, I explained that Duran is more than my favorite band and mentioned this blog.  As I stopped talking, I wondered what her reaction would be as many tend to give weird looks or ask me if I am a groupie or both.  Instead of any of that, she said, “That’s good.”  It was my turn to look confused.  Huh?  She went on to explain about how it must be good to have something else to focus on besides work.  I nodded.

As I drove home, I thought more about what she had to say.  The more I pondered her reaction, the more I realized how right she is.  Is it good that I have Duran in my life?  That I do this blog?  I think so.

I recently edited my Twitter profile in which I described myself as a teacher, an activist and a Duranie, but not necessarily in that order.  During the school year, yes, typically I most often consider myself a teacher first.  I spend a LOT of time, energy and thoughts on my classroom, curriculum and students.  My school day lasts much longer than 8 or 9 hours a day.  Yesterday, for example, I was in the school building from 7:45 to 6:15.  I also had some grading to do when I got home.  On top of that, when public education and teachers become the topic of discussion on the state or national level, I am included in that conversation.  I take it personally as it generally has been my life work and a huge part of my identity.

Lately, a lot of my “free time” (Ha!  I don’t really have much free time but you all know what I mean.) has been spent on political activity, including reading a lot of current events, contacting legislators, planning meetings, contacting other organizations, and more.  I can and am sucked into political activity easily.  This connects with the teacher in me.  As a history and women’s studies teacher, I feel it is essential to be an example to my students about the importance of being engaged in one’s community, city, state and nation.  My undergrad studies focused on social movements as it is something that fascinates me.  Thus, if I’m not thinking of myself as a teacher, I’m thinking of myself as an activist.  While I love both of those parts of myself, I recognize that both suck the energy from me.  They exhaust me, mentally and emotionally.  I have a friend who is constantly saying,  “You are terrible in taking care of yourself.”  She is right.  I am.  I don’t take care of myself, putting my students and community/country ahead of what I need.

This is where Duran Duran enters the picture.  In many ways, being a Duranie is most selfish part of myself.  It is the aspect of myself that allows me to have fun, to take breaks, to escape the world.  I suspect that going on tour, writing this blog, organizing fan events is what has allowed me to give so much of myself as a teacher and a community organizer.  Thus, my student teacher is right.  It is good that I’m a Duranie and that I write this blog.  I am then given the opportunity to pause from my reality even if I think I don’t “need” it.

-A

Give Me Strength: Giving Appreciation

Yesterday was Thanksgiving.  I spent the day with my parents where we ate a full vegetarian meal, watched Star Trek Beyond and played some games.  It provided me necessary down time and the comfort of being with those who provide unconditional love and support.  Thanksgiving has never been my favorite holiday but I do appreciate having the time to stop and appreciate what one has in life.  This year, this feels more important than usual.

So, what am I grateful for?  I’ll start with the obvious.  I’m thankful for my family.  I have always felt very fortunate to have parents, in particular, who support me in so many ways.  Last year, at this time, my mom was finishing treatment for cancer and this year, she has been cancer free.  My father, who has a chronic illness, has been able to manage it better.  I’m thankful, then, that they are as healthy as can be and still able to be there for me.

This year, I also learned to really appreciate my job.  I often complain about the daily grind of education and teaching.  Don’t get me wrong.  Teaching is exhausting and requires far more work than a full time job.  I wish I could change that time commitment on top of all of the district, state and national demands and criticisms.  That said, my colleagues and my students have renewed my spirit in ways that they may never understand.  Now, I feel like we really are a big, weird dysfunctional family trying to make it through each day, each week, this school year and beyond together.

Of course, I am very grateful for my friendship with Rhonda.  While we may not live close to each other or are able to speak everyday, I know that she is supportive of me.  She may not always understand all of my choices or me of hers, yet, we still support each other.  At the end of the day, that foundation matters a lot.  It can overcome whatever challenges pop up–whether those are busy schedules, differing viewpoints or something else entirely.  Without this friendship, so much of what I have done in the name of fandom would have never taken place and I would have had a LOT less fun over the years.

This leads me ot appreciate Duran Duran and my fandom.  During this summer, Rhonda and I were able to attend a number of shows.  While I felt like I appreciated them then, now I really do.  I distinctly remember a moment at one of the shows this summer when I realized very clearly that there is nothing that brings me joy like being at a Duran Duran concert.  It is where I am the happiest.  Duran represents fun and good times.

The majority of my life is such that I’m serious a lot.  I work more than I should.  I focus my energy on being politically active.  No, those tasks don’t bring me joy in the traditional sense but what they do bring is immense satisfaction.  They bring a real purpose to my life.  I feel fulfilled when students really learn something and when they become politically active themselves.  The high that results from fighting in some sort campaign cannot be easily explained.  I cannot walk away from that aspect of myself.  Yet, Duran, fandom and fun provides the necessary infusion of energy and joy that keeps me going.  I need both in my life.

I then look forward to the two trips I have coming up to Washington D.C.  At the end of the year, I’ll venture there to see Duran Duran play a couple of shows and I will get the burst of energy and good times that I need.  Then, I’ll return to the city a couple weeks later to march in the Women’s March on Washington.  I am grateful to all that will make both happen from my colleagues, to my friends, to my parents, to Duran Duran and to other activists.  I appreciate them all.

-A

Fandom is a Luxury

Fandom is a luxury.  It is “great comfort and extravagant living,” to quote the google dictionary.  For some, it is a luxury because it is and always will be connected to money, finances.  People must pay money to own music, to attend concerts, to even own a device in which to hear it on.  While, yes, I suppose there are opportunities to hear music without money, it still seems to me as something that really requires some money.  The luxury of fandom involves more than money, though.  It requires emotional availability and time.

Fandom is about passion and about having intense feelings for someone or something.  In the case of this blog, we have strong emotions about Duran Duran.  We can feel great joy with new music from theirs and significant worry when one of the band members is ill or has to cancel shows.  Our lives are such that a part of our emotions can and is used up by fandom.  While certainly both Rhonda and myself have had significant events happen in our lives that were/are extremely taxing, emotionally, we have been able to save some of our emotions for Duran Duran and the Duran fandom.

Likewise, we have always been able to maintain some time for fandom.  The question/comment that we most frequently receive goes along the line of “I don’t know how you have time to blog everyday.”  We have made the time.  We have squeezed it in despite our busy schedules.  While our days are filled with lots of obligations, we have made this one of those “must dos”.  We don’t have to and never had to.  The lack of time never locked us out of our participation in fandom.  Sometimes, it made being a part of the Duran fan community challenging but never excluded us.

Now, though, I fear that is changing, at least on my end.  If you have been reading this blog  for awhile, you know that I’m the political one, the one who not only votes for the candidates of my choosing, but also campaigns for them.  If you know that much about me, then you also are aware that I’m a teacher.  I teach United States History and Women’s Studies.  The school I work at is extremely diverse, the most diverse in my city with about equal numbers of whites, African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and even some Native Americans.  Likewise, all genders and gender identities are represented as are all sexual orientations.  We are also a religiously diverse community with all major world religions represented.  I feel extremely lucky to teach in this beautifully diverse community as I know that I learn from my students and colleagues each and every day.

Based on what I just shared, then, it will come to no surprise that I’m struggling with the election results as are my students.  Most of them are terrified about what is going to happen and if they will continue to be safe.  All day on Wednesday my room was filled with extra students looking for additional support and giving it in return.  (If there is any silver lining, it is that unconditional love and support given to and from my students, my colleagues and my school.)  That morning, my attitude was simple.  I wanted to give up.  I am tired of fighting.  Yet, at lunch, one of my students turned to me and said, “Now, what do we do?”  She looked to me to lead her and others as I have done in the past.  I knew then that I must fight on.  They need me.  My community needs me.

What will this fight entail?  I’m uncertain but this much I know.  I will do more than post on social media.  I will actively engage with elected officials and I will work to get strong messages of unity out there.  I will do my part and push others to do theirs.

I’m sure you can see where this post is going.  Fandom is a luxury that I might not be able to afford much moving forward.  My days were already extremely busy.  I used to prioritize my participation here and on various social media sites.  Now, there will be times in which I will put political action higher on the list.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be a member of the Duran fan community or that I don’t want to participate in fandom.  I do want to and plan to, as much as I can.  When I am able to, it will be good for me.  Fandom will provide me the breaks and joy I will need moving on.  It will give me strength.  Hopefully, then, someday, I will be able to have the luxury of fandom full time, once again.

-A

All Over You As They Say: Tomorrow is Election Day!

Tomorrow marks a day I have been awaiting for over 500 days now.  It is Election Day, and that means the end is nigh. No, I don’t mean the end of the United States or the world… I mean Decision 2016 will finally come to an end. I don’t know what will happen in the days following, but I do know that the political ads on television, radio, and other media will finally end. That alone is worth celebrating. For what has seriously been over a year now, celebrities of all kinds have voiced their feelings, concerns, and even a certain amount of vitriol on every type of social media. Musicians, including but certainly not limited to Duran Duran, have used their own on stage soap boxes to comment on our election, regardless of where they’re from, or their right to vote (or not) in our elections.

I have no shame in writing that the idea for this blog came from Lori Majewski. She asked on Facebook if fans mind seeing musicians making political comment. The answers and opinions were widely varied, as you might have expected.

As I’ve commented before, my views are unlike many other DD fans. I vote as a Libertarian these days, because I lean conservative when it comes to fiscal (money) issues, but I am also socially liberal. I am not here to tell you how to vote – only to admit how I vote so that no false assumptions are made as I continue writing.

I pondered Lori’s question as I read some of the replies posted. On one hand, I really believe music and politics go hand in hand. Throughout history, music has been used within cultures to describe, create, and foster social change. That doesn’t happen without people willing to put their opinions out there. Punk didn’t just “happen”. Gospel music didn’t just come out of nowhere. Someone had to come up with the words, thoughts and feelings.

I believe music has the potential to change people. It is what I believe to be the great common denominator. Music brings people together, and it is the essence of what is truly good. Even when the message isn’t one I necessarily agree with, I recognize that there are many others out there who probably need that message communicated.

Additionally, music has been used to make people aware. I think about Bandaid, USA for Africa, LiveAid, FarmAid, even Rock the Vote.  So in one sense, yes it’s OK with me if a musician I admire makes political comment. I expect it!

However, there is also a part of me that dreads seeing it. This comes into play when I see celebrity after celebrity trying to tell me, the voter, what is the “right” way to think or feel. I really dislike the parade of musicians and celebrities that come out in favor of one side (and in the US – I don’t think it’s any shock that they’re mostly Democrat). They use their celebrity draw to influence the vote. I’m equally bothered, if not more so, when the musician or celebrity isn’t even from this country. Should they even have an opinion? I suppose it’s a slippery slope. Yes, of course everyone is entitled to their opinion. It would be wrong of me to insist that they never voice it. But, I’m still bothered by it, whether or not I happen to agree with their stance. As I said—it’s a slippery slope.

For me personally, it is rare that I find a celebrity or musician who I identify with politically. I’ve gotten used to the fact that I disagree with not only most of my friends, but also a lot of the musicians I admire. I think there is a real risk of turning people off when you wear your politics on your sleeve, but more and more often—I’m finding that it doesn’t matter. This particular election cycle has been ugly. I’ve seen celebrities fire right back at hate and anger with their own hate and anger, whether they’re talking to someone who was once a fan or not. It is a little jarring to see a celebrity tell someone to F*** off on social media, because that someone was rude, and there is plenty of that going on anymore. It’s like we forgot how to be kind to one another, regardless of what “side” we’re on.  In our own community there has been a little of that, which has been equally disturbing.

I don’t think it’s a secret that Katy is outspoken with regard to her feelings for Trump. She has her own Twitter account and is not afraid to use it. Some fans haven’t always appreciated her candor, and voiced that opinion in return. She has since changed her account name (can’t blame her), but some fans really believe that people like Katy should keep their opinions to themselves because they represent the band. I have to wonder if it’s really that people believe that political views from people like her should be kept private, or if it’s really just that fans don’t like the message she’s conveying, so therefore it shouldn’t be said.

Ultimately, I am more concerned about the state of my country after election day. Tomorrow, someone is going to be elected the next US  President. Immediately following, we’re going to have to undo a lot of damage left in the wake. I’ve seen many of my friends say that they’re not sure we’re going to go back to being nice to one another. Many others say that they don’t really want to just be nice again, because they feel very strongly about the positions one candidate seems to convey – and if someone agrees with him even enough to vote that way, they want no part of that person. I have seen the other side say nearly the exact same thing, that there’s no going back.

I think that attitude is just sad. The candidate is one person, regardless of whether or not you agree with those views. I voted for neither of the main candidates. I usually don’t. If I said I wasn’t going to keep talking to people based on the way they voted, I’d be out of friends by now! The people who are voting come from several million different walks of life, with millions of difference circumstances. It isn’t all black and white. The last thing we should be doing is ignoring one another and assuming it will all go away with election day. That’s the thing with music. It speaks when some of us just cannot find words. Maybe it is time we start listening.

-R

Before I forget – thank you for all of the lovely birthday wishes left for me on Facebook and Twitter. It has been a strange birthday this year – my daughter is at school and there’s been no time to really celebrate, so your message brightened up my day and I truly appreciate them. Thank you!!

Some Days Are Strange to Number

Some days, some things just make me laugh.  Sometimes, the laughter happens right away.  Other times, there needs to be some space between the event and the giggles.  Tuesday morning was one of those days…

I arrived at work/school early on Tuesday.  I had much to do, including copying four handouts to start a brand new unit for my US History kiddos.  As I mindlessly stood by the copier at 7 am, I thought through my game plan.  I had to find a colleague to cover me at 9 am so that I could buy tickets to the National Harbor Duran shows.  Once my class was covered, I could seek a quiet classroom to refresh my DDM and/or Ticketmaster page frequently as I anxiously waited for tickets to go on sale.  Then, I would quickly type in the password and seek the tickets of my choice.  Of course, the perfect tickets would pop up instantly, almost placing themselves into the shopping cart without me even clicking a button.  The process would be nothing but smooth sailing.  I could then return to my classroom, having been gone for less than 10 minutes.  Yeah…those copier fantasies can be intense and terribly inaccurate.

Still, the plan seemed on track when I found my colleague and friend across the hall.  I begged her to cover my first hour class and even told her to give treats to my students if they were good since I had brownies and cupcakes with me.  She readily agreed.  Perfect.  Nothing could go wrong, I figured.  I had coverage.  I had a plan.  I had the seating chart printed.  I logged into my computer and the necessary sites.  I was all set.  

At five to nine, my colleague stepped across the hall to take over as I sought her quiet classroom to begin my incessant refreshing.  As I started to refresh the Ticketmaster page, I noticed that sometimes I would get a countdown clock and other times I did not.  Cue self-talk as I reminded myself that it would be fine and that I had done a million presales before.  There was no need for my heart to be beating that fast.  None, whatsoever.  Finally, the countdown reached zero, the page indicated that it was loading and loading and loading and loading.  What the hell?!  Do I need to refresh the page, I wondered.  Finally, after what felt like hours, I refreshed, revealing the ticket sale page.  I put my request in.  Denied.  Grumble.  Grumble.  Okay, I thought.  No big deal.  Stay calm.  Refresh again.  Up pops crappy seats all the way to the side and far back.  No thank you.  Refresh again.  Same result.  

“Are they kidding me?” I said out loud to an empty classroom.  Could the tickets already be sold out, I asked myself?!  Nooooooo….refresh again for the sixth time.  Then, Ticketmaster asked me to click on pictures with mountains.  I did that and when the page appeared it stated in big, red ugly letters that they could not fulfill my request.  I felt the blood pressure rising.  I didn’t understand.  What was going on?!  Deep breaths began.  More waiting.  Then, the dreaded bell rang indicating that I could pursue this no longer as 2nd hour awaited.  Damnit, I muttered as I crossed back into my classroom and my role as teacher.

As sweat popped up on my forehead, I frantically searched for my team teacher.  Where was she?  Was she coming to class?  Could she start the class so I could keep…attempting to get tickets?!  Finally, she appeared in the door frame.  Relief.  I begged her to start the class while I explained the situation.  She nodded while directing me to her room, to try on her computer.  That might work, I thought as I turned around to leave.  Unfortunately, ten minutes on a different computer  proved to be no more successful.  Swearing under my breath, I marched back into my classroom, knowing that I could not stay on Ticketmaster all dang day.  Teaching demanded my presence.

As I walked in, I noticed that I had another laptop to try Ticketmaster on.  I logged in while my colleague finished going over the political vocabulary.  She wandered over to my desk to ask how my pursuit was going.  I quickly explained the situation to her before jumping up to lead the students through some notes.  As I waited for the kids to jot down ideas about the political parties, I glanced back to see my colleague refreshing the page as I had done.  Involuntarily, I let out both a partial smile and a partial sob at the same time, thinking about how lucky I was for colleagues like that.  Thankfully, my misery ended when I received word that the friend I am going with acquired tickets for us.  I desperately wanted to collapse in my desk chair, exhausted, but I still had a room full of freshmen to teach!  Someday, this band really might kill me, I thought as I resumed the political science lesson I was presenting.

By now, you all have realized that unlike my counterpart, I will be attending the shows outside of DC around New Year’s.  Will I miss Rhonda’s presence?  That is a given.  It feels weird to go to any show or any Duran function without her.  This is even more significantly weird and sad is because it involves traveling and staying in hotels.  Yet, the shows made too much sense for me NOT to go.

As someone who is single, with few single friends near me, holidays like New Year’s Eve create a lot of personal anxiety.  Immediately after Christmas, I begin to wonder, each year, what I should do. Should I make plans, should I try to go somewhere, do I not try to make plans, do I stay at home.  In many cases, I can find a friend or two to hang out with but not always and usually last minute.  The holiday always acts as a unwelcome reminder that I’m single and don’t have a family.  It can be very lonely to be single during the holidays.  Yes, of course, I could always spend time with my parents, who are nearby me, but that usually doesn’t feel great despite how much I love my parents.  Thus, I’m thrilled that I not only will I not have that anxiety but that I have amazing plans.  I never thought I would see Duran on New Year’s.  Talk about a party!

The other reason that I am thrilled about going is that I love DC.  As I’m sure many of you reading this know, I’m a very political person and January marks the end of Obama presidency and the beginning of the next one.  As someone who worked for the Obama campaign and who has met the President and the First Lady, there is something special and affirming about going to DC during this transition.  It is like two really significant aspects of myself are coming together.

Now, some may argue that I am crazy for spending this money to go and maybe I am (although tickets weren’t any more expensive than some of the summer shows I went to).  Yet, this is an extra I can afford.  For me, it is worth it as I can think of nothing else that makes me happier than being at a Duran show.

-A

 

I Made a Break: Fun Memories

Things are pretty serious in my life right now.  My time is generally spent on teaching related tasks or on campaigning for this year’s presidential election (and my state’s senate election).  Right now, my students, at work, are finishing up a tough unit on Reconstruction, or the time after the Civil War.  We discuss some tough issues, including lynching, segregation, and sharecropping.  On top of that, we connect the past to the present with issues surrounding the criminal justice system.  The unit is heavy with its seriousness and emotionality.  When my teaching day is done, I turn to politics, filled with issues surrounding democracy, sexual assault, etc.

I generally embrace intensity.  As many have pointed out to me, I’m a pretty serious person.  Sometimes, I’m so serious that people can’t ever imagine me having fun or being silly.  Yet, as I point out to my students, there are times for both.  Now is the time to be focused on big issues.  That said, this doesn’t mean that I’m not looking forward to fun times ahead.  I always do.  This week, though, reminds me of fun times in the past.  I need those reminders.  They boost my energy, my will to see things through.

What fun memories popped up this week?  The first one surrounds a little convention that was held in Chicago three years ago now.  I can’t believe that Durandemonium was three years ago.  It certainly doesn’t feel that long ago.  Where the heck is time going?  Is it on fast forward???  For those not in the know, Durandemonium was a convention that Rhonda and I planned with some friends.  The event went from Friday to Sunday and featured various activities, including watching A Diamond in the Mind at a movie theater, a banquet/dance, Duran games, dancing at an 80s club, author panel and more.  Want to know more?  You can find out about it on our convention page here!

Maybe the convention memories make me smile because the event marked something that we spent a lot of time planning and organizing that went off without any major problems.  It was a success, in our eyes.  I appreciate those moments when you plan and plan and plan for something and then it works out.  It is one of the things that I treasure about political campaigns.  All the work comes down to one day and one result.  When it goes well and your side wins, there is no greater feeling.  The goal is obvious with campaigning and the result is clear.  This is the opposite of what teaching is like.  There I have no real end goal besides all of the little steps of progress, which happen at different times for different kids. Teaching requires a lot of work over ten months instead of just a few with most campaigns.

Plus, there is the obvious.  Durandemonium like other Duran conventions was filled with Duranies and non-stop focusing on Duran Duran.  Being at a convention means that my laser focus becomes about the band.  I don’t have to multi-task.  I can push aside the rest of the world.  The same is true with Duran shows and tours.  Five years ago today, Rhonda and I saw the band play in Chicago.  The weekend went by way too quickly and the show was a little strange for us because we weren’t sitting together but it provided us that escape from our regular day-to-day existence.  If you want to read our review of that show, you can go here.

In thinking about my current life along with Duran tours and conventions, I realize that I do truly live with intensity.  I like having events that suck up all of my thoughts, time and effort.  Perhaps, this gives some insight to why touring really works for me.  Yes, I do need significant breaks from my real life in order to continue to do my job and fight in the political arena and touring does provide those breaks.  In reality, though, it gives me something else just as intense, something all consuming.  When I’m on tour, I don’t pay as much attention to education issues or to politics or even to other popular culture I like.  It becomes all day, everyday Duran.

My conclusion is pretty simple then.  I have a few more weeks of serious, real life, big issues.  After that, I could use some intensity of the other sort.  You know something surrounding Duran Duran and fun…

-A

Come Down From Your Pedestal

Never have I been so glad as to talk about something other than politics.

Like many of you, I spent my weekend glued to TV. I’m a news junkie. I won’t lie. By last night, after the debate, I needed an intervention. 🙂 It doesn’t really matter where my views lie, but I will say I’ve been outraged since Friday.

Unlike my dear friend and counterpart, I’m not really politically active. I vote, I watch the news (sometimes obsessively), I research the things I will be voting on. But I don’t campaign, I don’t volunteer, and no – I don’t donate to campaigns. I don’t put bumper stickers on my car, I refuse to put signs on my lawn. I don’t even post memes online, although I have been known to tweet a few politicians directly and let them know how I feel in no uncertain terms. Other than that, I leave “politicking”, so to speak, to others.

I miss the days before social media when it comes to politics. I had my voting positions, my friends had theirs, and no one really talked about them. They were private. I didn’t feel ashamed when some politician from my party did things that were wrong. I blamed the person, not the party, knocked the politician off of the proverbial pedestal I may have had them on, and went on about my day without scorn from others. These days, it’s very different and hard to escape.

The thing is, for both Amanda and I – Daily Duranie is our baby. It’s our safe place, and it’s kind of an island. Amanda and I have agreed (although we’ve never really had a discussion – we just “know”) to leave politics at the door. Nobody comes here looking for those types of discussions, and I’m thankful for that.  I see enough of that on Facebook and Twitter!

That said, the political climate of the world sometimes has a way of lending itself to discussions here. Yesterday for instance, Amanda talked about how the band isn’t known for saying and doing some of the things we’ve heard from other notable celebrities as of late.  I think she’s right, to my knowledge I haven’t heard those things.

I’m no innocent at the age of 46. I’m well-aware of storied tales from the 80s and beyond. I’m just glad, to some extent, that I haven’t had personal experience with much of it. When I read Amanda’s blog yesterday, I thought about how I might feel if I heard a band member talk the way Trump did in his now infamous video. I wondered if I didn’t still have the band on a pedestal.

I won’t lie, I expect certain behavior from the band. I expect them to act like gentlemen, and to behave with some decorum when needed. That doesn’t mean we don’t all have times where we’re laughing and partying it up, but for me—there’s a pretty big line between that and what was on that video, for instance. Yes, I’ve seen things in the years I’ve even been nearby the band after the shows, though.  I wouldn’t necessarily disagree that celebrities get away with a lot. Even so, I remain very thankful I haven’t seen too much. I still feel they live up to the type of people I want to be around, and yet I am fully aware that alone might be a bit of a pedestal for them.

Maybe that’s the mystique talking. Would we all still like them as much if we knew they behaved differently?  Isn’t that always the question?  We (the public, the fans) assume that the Simon Le Bon we see on stage is the same Simon Le Bon that we might run into off stage, and when it is not—hell hath no fury like a disappointed fan. Isn’t that really the issue? Very, very, few of us are able to make the distinction between the person who is onstage playing the “part” and the real person offstage. I would imagine that goes for even some celebrities themselves. If they didn’t know themselves and who they really were before fame…how on earth do they manage WITH fame?  Those pedestals can be pretty high, and for me, it’s worth considering if I’m being fair.

For me personally, these are much easier concepts to think about than politics today. I appreciate the breath of fresh air, and I hope others do too!

-R

You’re Welcome to Celebrity

I am a political person.  I hold teacher certificates in History and Political Science and has volunteered for many campaigns from local races all the way up to President.  Yet, I try to avoid political discussions here or on our Daily Duranie social media.  Fandom is supposed to be focused more on fun.  Plus, I recognize that not everyone agrees with me and I would never want to alienate anyone because of that.  (Heck, my partner-in-crime doesn’t always agree with me.)

The latest big new story about Donald Trump’s statements about sexually assaulting and objectifying women really has me thinking, especially since part of his statement in 2005 surrounded fame and celebrity-ness.  According to the article from the Guardian, which you can read here, “…a tape emerged of the Republican candidate bragging about using his fame to try and “fuck” women and groping them without waiting for their consent.  ‘When you’re a star they let you do it,’ Trump says in the recording, which was obtained by the Washington Post and released on Friday. ‘You can do anything.’  Does fame really give people or men, specifically, a free pass to commit sexual assault?  Then, I wonder what would happen if I ever found out anything close to this about Duran Duran.  Could/would I still support them?

Unfortunately, Donald Trump is probably not the first, nor will he be the last celebrity to make statements like this.  I think there are some celebrities out there who do believe that their fame gives them the opportunity to do whatever they want to whomever they want.  I’m not naive as I’m sure that for some people, fame is a turn on and they would gladly jump into bed with whatever celebrity they can find.  Of course, that is not what is going on in this situation.  This is about the lack of consent.  It isn’t about someone thinking a celebrity is hot simply because he is famous.  No, it is about the assumption that Trump felt (feels???) like fame means that he does not need to wait for consent.  He didn’t need to wait to get permission before acting in a sexual way towards someone.

In my world, consent does not change depending on who is the person giving or getting the consent.  Every person, every woman, has the right to say no.  Every person must get consent before acting sexually.  According to the Department of Justice, the definition of sexual assault is, “Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.”  Based on this definition, sexual assault is sexual assault.  Trump’s statements on tape indicate sexual assault.  His fame is irrelevant other than the fact that fame could create more of a difference in power.  Therefore, in my eyes, fame does not excuse sexual assault.  It just makes it worse.

The next question is more challenging.  Would I be able to support Duran Duran if one of the band members was accused of something similar?  I’ll be honest.  I didn’t like Donald Trump before this.  (Actually, that might be an understatement.)  Therefore, this news did not change my thoughts or feelings about him.  My negative thoughts about him were just reinforced with this revelation.  Obviously, Duran is the opposite.  I have been a passionate fan of theirs for decades.  Finding out something even remotely similar to this would crush me.  Luckily, I can’t imagine anything so horrible to be true of my favorite band.

Yet, I have to acknowledge that they aren’t always or haven’t always been pro-woman.  The video for Electric Barbarella is pretty dang sexist, in my opinion.  The woman is designed to just clean and be a sex toy for the band without actually having or using a voice of her own.  Does that kind of sexism equal what Trump said and did to women?  I don’t think it does for a really big reason.  A video is fiction.  It isn’t real.  It is made up.  All of the people are acting.  I still don’t like it (understatement) but it isn’t the same as sexual assault.

Donald Trump wasn’t playing a character in that tape from 2005.  He was being himself.  I have never heard one story about a member of Duran Duran treating, thinking, or talking about women in such a way in their personal lives, in their real lives.  Instead, I hear them speaking highly of their wives, their daughters, their mothers as well as the women who work with them and women in the public eye.

What would happen if I did find out something horrible about a band member?  As I stated earlier, it would crush me.  I could not continue to be a fan or support someone who advocates assaulting women.  It is a line in the sand for me.  They could disagree with me about how best to approach countless political issues, but they could not be hateful of women like the Republican nominee for President.

As I continue to process this story and what it means for this year’s election and politics in general, I’m thankful that I am a fan and a supporter of a band, made up of men, who may not be perfect in their treatment of women over their careers but who, personally, have demonstrated nothing but respect for women in their lives and women in general.

-A

Split Personality

The  end of a tour usually brings thinking and introspection.  This summer tour is no exception.  In fact, it might have brought more, especially since I go back to work next week.  Yes, the school year officially starts for me even though the kiddos don’t arrive until September 1st.  The classroom needs to get ready.  Lesson plans need to get written.  Adjustments to curriculum are required.  Despite the fact that I have been teaching a LONG time (this will be my 19th year!), I still don’t feel like I have the beginning of the year smooth.  Perhaps, I wonder if the lack of intensity is to blame.

I remember being a kid or even a young adult and feeling determined to figure out exactly who I was and where I needed to be.  Should I commit myself to being an activist, I asked in college.  A teacher should focus 110% of the time on one’s classroom and students, I believed early on in my career.  Where and how does fandom fit in with all of this, I periodically asked.  Yet, I felt that I had to choose ONE.  There was only one path that led to personal success.  Success required intensity and extreme focus.
As I have gotten older, I began to see and feel life with more complexity.  Yes, I’m a teacher and, yes, there are parts that I LOVE about the job.  I love when my students get into a serious debate over political issues of our time or the moves that were made by the United States throughout history are discussed.  My favorite moments are when I see my students’ passionately engaged in a topic.  Unfortunately, I’m well-aware of aspects of my job that I feel less (in some cases, much less) excited about.  I am not a big fan of meetings filled with educational jargon about the latest trends that will supposedly increase student achievement.  Grading is time consuming and often painful.  I despise the amount of time and energy this “full-time” job takes.  During the school year, I desperately long for breaks or at least a day away from school related work.  Teaching is not my whole life and it is NOT the defining characteristic of who I am.  It is one part of who I am.
Beyond teaching, I can be a political activist.  At times, that has meant diving deep to work on specific political campaigns or for specific candidates.  At other times, it means joining a protest or two about issues that matter to me.  It almost always means that I’m watching politically focused shows and reading the latest news.  Many conversations with friends and colleagues feature political discussions.  Yet, like teaching, it is not who I am but a part of who I am.
Likewise, fandom is a part of who I am.  It is just as big of a part as teaching or being an activist.  The commitment I have made with regards to this blog or our various projects show that.  If it didn’t matter to me, I simply wouldn’t do it.  I wouldn’t take the time to read the latest Duran news and the reactions from fans.  I wouldn’t write about Duran or the fandom surrounding the band.  There would be no Duranie focused event planning for me.  Is everything about it perfect?  Of course not.  Just like in teaching or campaigning, there are elements that frustrate me, that I don’t like.  Do those negative aspects affect what I do with my fandom?  It can and does.  I’m only human.
Sometimes, I think I would be a better teacher or activist or fan whatever you want to call it if I would focus on just that aspect of myself and my life.  I wouldn’t be distracted by the other two.  I wouldn’t be split into thirds.  Maybe this singular focus would help make my good teaching great or make my political activities so much more affective.  The laser focus might improve this blog or my writing or the fan events we plan.  Yet, I also know that I’m wouldn’t be happy just doing one over the other two.  Some aspect of my personality needs all three or a FORM of all three.  Do I have to be in a classroom to enjoy teenagers engaging with historical topics?  No.  Do I have to be writing a blog to be a good fan organizer/writer?  Probably not. Yet, I would need something like those examples.
Does my participation with all three hurt my performance, actively hurt it?  Maybe.  Some think so.  Then, the question becomes how do I make myself happy (while still paying my bills) by acknowledging all three aspects of myself without harming or muting what I could be doing with these three ambitions?  How can I commit myself more to them, individually, while maintaining all?  How do I make it so the lack of time and energy from doing all doesn’t kill the reason I love these?  I need to find a way to show and maintain my passion for all three to be the most effective and most happy.  While I feel as though I have accepted the complexity of myself and my passions, I feel like I struggle to keep those passions AS passions or struggle to show them as passions.  My goal for this year is to figure out how to do just that.  Clearly, it won’t be easy but I have a feeling that it will definitely be worth it!
-A