Note: This is 100% a work of fiction. Some of the settings are real but the characters are 100% made up. OK, maybe not 100%.
The Duran Duran Chronicles – Chapter 1 – Part 1
Back at the Beginning
…the beginning being Junior High School.
Or, the ninth circle of Hell. Dante got that shit wrong. There were no giants in the ninth circle. No frozen lake of traitors. No! In the ninth circle of Hell, the traitors walked around freely. The Nimrods and the Harpies interspersed with the intelligent and the compassionate. And, there was no escaping. Anyone who says junior high was fun is a lying sack of shit. Or, completely delusional and needs to be medicated immediately.
I wasn’t what you would call a social butterfly. Loner pretty much summed me up. Still does. I was in the “smart” classes and considered a nerd. But, my musical taste was ahead of my peers. I was listening to the Police’s “Don’t Stand So close To Me” and Gary Numan’s “Cars” while my classmates stuck to bands like Styx and Foreigner. I was also a bit of a tomboy. If I couldn’t wear Jeans and tee shirts, I became very cranky. Still do.
The girls in my sixth class thought they were super models and used graduation as an excuse to get dressed up and wear makeup. They were twelve! I wore my straight hair in a ponytail and my pants outfit. Those girls never bothered with me. I wasn’t picked on, but they weren’t friends. They acted like they were better than anyone who wasn’t in their clique. Actually, in hindsight, they were pretty much a bunch of assholes. And, if the ten year high school reunion was any indication; still are.
I wasn’t totally friendless though, there were kids in class that I talked to but Junior High was unexplored territory. I was determined to not hang out with anyone from my grade school so I made a pact with myself to make new friends.
I also couldn’t wait to take a bus to school and I was excited to change classes for every subject. I was in the advanced program which meant I wouldn’t have to take classes with the majority of kids I went to grade school with. After seven years, I was free. It was time to expand outside the boundaries of the neighborhood.
It was the summer in-between sixth and seventh grade that I started to tag along with my brother to the local independent record store, Mad Platters. He was not happy. He was 16 and a huge metal-head. The last thing he wanted was his nerdy little sister around to ruin his street cred.
He was friends with the owner’s son and they would hang around sampling all the new Metal imports from Europe. They tried very hard to turn me into one of them but I wasn’t having it. Don’t get me wrong, I liked a great deal of what they listened to and if I’m ever asked, I’m team Judas Priest over Iron Maiden every time, but their valiant attempts at turning me into a metal-head failed miserably once I discovered Duran Duran.
During that same summer, while bored to death, flipping through the TV channels, I discovered the local high school’s public access station. Usually they just aired Board of Education meetings or educational shows, but not that afternoon.
That afternoon they were playing music videos. My ears caught a catchy chorus of a band that looked like nothing I had ever seen before. The video was “Planet Earth” by Duran Duran. Wow, my little 12 year old mind was blown. And, they dressed like pirates and wore makeup! (Guyliner is hot on the right guy.) And, they were so cute! It was love at first sight. My goal in life from that moment was to be part of that TV station when I reached high school. I wanted my own block of time in which to play nothing but Duran Duran videos
I would bust my ass doing chores to save up enough money to feed my Duran Duran addiction and Mad Platters was my dealer. My first purchase was Duran Duran’s self-titled album, Duran Duran. I would later find out that the version I purchased wasn’t even the original UK release. I bought the original US release. (It was missing a song from the UK version, “To the Shore,” but had the longer intro version of “Planet Earth”. That would become important later, when in 1983, with the success of the Rio album, they re-released the first album to capitalize on their momentum.)
Most people, when they go to their “happy place” picture a beach or a serene setting. Not me. I go to Mad Platters. I picture myself standing in front of the album racks, flipping through each and every one; the scent of stale cardboard sharing the spaces in between with lingering perfumes and colognes of past visitors. I envision the 45’s that were hung on the wall behind the counter. Depeche Mode, Black Sabbath, REM, New Order, Judas Priest. I see the band posters, makeshift wallpaper, which covered every inch of wall space: Duran Duran, Joy Division, unknown Heavy Metal bands. I hear the latest import playing over the store’s stereo system; always a new discovery from across the pond. Screw the ocean and serenity. Music soothes the savage beast!
(The original US version, along with the original UK version would later go out of print and become collector’s items. Today, I keep mine in a glass frame to protect it from the elements.)