Living in Montana has its plusses, but access to headline entertainment isn’t one of them. At least, not the ones I’m interested in. If you want to see a band like… say, Duran Duran… on tour, then you have to hope they’ll pass through Denver, Minneapolis, or Seattle. And then you’ll have to pony up. Airline tickets (or, if road-tripping, gas), room and board, ride-shares and/or rental cars, and food add up to a hefty bill.
To say nothing of what concert tickets are going for these days.
I personally was rooting for the band to include Seattle for their latest US tour promoting their 2021 album Future Past and celebrating their 2022 induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Craig and I haven’t been to Seattle since we saw Duran Duran in the nearby town of Everett. We had third-row center seats courtesy of our dear friend Jon Ehret. (Oh, how we miss him.) September 1, 2016. One month before our wedding.
We have many friends in Seattle. I was blessed to stay with two of those friends on this current trip. And it’s just a cool city. Close to sea level. Close to the sea, too. Or, more specifically, the Sound. (As in Puget.)
That 2016 trip was also the last time we saw my sweet Andy Golub; perhaps known better as “Durandy.”
And, it was one of the last concerts we attended before The World Shut Down. (The very last one was Guster in 2019, in Providence, Rhode Island.)
So much has changed since I’ve last been to the archive. I’ve changed. For one thing, I’m seven and a half years into marriage—that in and of itself is astounding. I’m seven years older. Thirty-five pounds heavier. Shorter hair. Longer bibliography. Like many, I’ve been through significant loss—of friends, of family, of a move that didn’t work out. Of a career that nose-dived and is back on its feet, albeit making a slow, steep climb back up the mountain. I’ve confronted health challenges. Financial challenges. Creative challenges.
I’m still learning how to reconnect. And if the pandemic taught me anything (it taught me plenty, actually), it’s that connection is paramount to survival.
I’m not talking about the Internet. I could hypothesize that at the end of the day, social media, which was supposed to bring us together, will contribute to our demise. I’m talking about face-to-face. Eye to eye. Hand in hand. Conversing. Listening. Living together. Being together.
I’m talking about more than staying alive. I’m talking about what I call aliveness.
Music connects. Books connect. Art connects.
And, as it turns out, Andy connects.
Andy, for whom kindness is an instinct, uses his collection of Duran Duran memorabilia—arguably, the world’s largest—to bring fans together. From every place and every background, each with their own story of fandom to tell. It would be easy for him to hoard it, or to charge a fee to view the posters, news clippings, prints, and countless rarities that span four decades. (Heck. I would pay to see it.) However, Andy’s payment is the joy he derives from the fans and their connection to not only the band and the music but also to each other. That makes him quite rich.
A first glimpse of the archive’s home—a weather-protected storage unit in an undisclosed location—might be a turnoff to a newcomer. But when Andy raises the gate, magic happens. Like when Willy Wonka opens the door to the wonderland of his chocolate factory. Or Dorothy opens the door to the technicolor of Oz.
We step back in time and onto a yacht in Antigua. Or a stage in the UK. Or our very own bedrooms.
We turn into teenagers without the acne or angst. We giggle. We squeal with delight, albeit not as ear-splitting as forty years ago. We tell stories. We know our history through every phase of Duran Duran’s life, and we know their history through every phase of our lives.
We hug each other. Even if we’ve just met.
For the time we spend in Durandy’s Den, as he calls it, we momentarily forget loss and separation. We forget the time we all lived in isolation. We are connected.
This week’s visit to the archive turned out to be something of a party. As much as I selfishly would have loved to have had Andy all to myself, spending that time with fellow fans and making new friends was an experience greater than myself, and it turned out I needed that more.
And of course, there’s the archive itself. We spent hours immersed in contact sheets from iconic photo shoots, some of which I’d never seen before. Pored over them with magnifying glasses. When we were tired from standing (my spirit was 14, but my body was still 53 and my back was starting to hurt), we sat with curated books of pinups, news clippings, and advertisements from all over the world. Andy has so meticulously preserved these pieces; any archivist would be impressed. Got a favorite Duran? Andy’s got a book just for you. Or a box of posters. Or an amass of jacket pins.
All set to the soundtrack of Duran Duran, of course. We listen to the music while we ogle the artifacts.
Sometimes I lingered a bit, took a step back to let the newcomers have all the fun. I derived pleasure in seeing their pleasure, just as Andy does. Other times I joined in, fully engaged and excited.
But what Andy lives for is that moment when a fan gets the look—when something has completely captivated her, and her eyes light up, she breaks into a toothy smile, and she is alive.
He stands, phone camera poised, ready and waiting, because he knows the moment will come. And he shares them on social media not as promotion, but as goodwill. Every fan who’s been there knows the look because they’ve had it. Every fan who’s not yet been there hopes to someday because who wouldn’t want to experience that look themselves? Who doesn’t want to know what aliveness is really like?
Andy’s aliveness is derived from the fans’ aliveness. Every look feeds his soul and charges his batteries. And he expends all of that energy on others. It’s the greatest feedback loop ever.
If my visit lacked anything, it was the companionship of my husband. Seven years in, I still want to share these moments with my best friend.
Duran Duran are about living in the now, but they are also inextricably connected to their past. They’re humanly mortal and culturally immortal. They are forever the face of the eighties, but their music is timeless. They are our soul mates. Eternally connected to us. Forever alive.
And this archive in a seemingly ordinary storage unit, so lovingly cared for by the “keeper of the paper flame” (as John Taylor elegantly signed in one of Andy’s books), is the portal.
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I'm launching a new blog series called The Five.
Writers/authors will share five lessons they learned from writing and publishing. These gifted writers come from different walks of life and write in various genres. I'm grateful to them for so graciously sharing their knowledge, wisdom, and craft. It's intended for aspiring and/or seasoned writers.
We kick off our series with Vicki Nadal. I met Vicki in the early days of Facebook after we connected via a mutual friend.
Vicki Nadal lives in New York City where she is a Senior Copywriter and Associate Creative Director by day, and frustrated novelist by night. An avid lover of the arts, she finds that going to museums or to the theatre is an excellent way to become inspired when feeling stuck in a creative rut. When not procrastinating by showering her cat, Miriam Meowsil with attention, Vicki remembers that while there are countless great stories out there, we all have those few that only we can tell.
I mean, how can you not already love someone with a cat named "Miriam Meowsil." ;)
Here are Vicki's Five. Short and sweet.
1) If I feel that something I wrote is absolutely brilliant, it probably isn't.
2) Everyone thinks they can write, so when getting feedback, don't be afraid to push back (provided you can defend it!).
3) Word and character limits can actually be your friends.
4) Writing garbage is still better than not writing at all.
5) It's about the journey, not the destination.
I especially love "Word and character limits can actually be your friends." Indeed!
Would you like to contribute to The Five?
Simply write five things from your writing/publishing life/career/journey. It could be lessons about the genre you write, craft, business, success, failure, your five favorite books, best/worst pieces of advice, go-to snacks, must-haves on your desk or in your office, distractions to avoid, etc. Have fun with it. You can write a list, or you can really dig in.
Editors welcome too!
You choose the theme. Then write the five. Then send it to me. Simple!
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I'm an author of commercial women's fiction and a writing instructor. My claim to fame: I can say the alphabet backwards.