30 June 2011

Simon Le Sphinx

He's always been an enigma, hasn't he? This is one of the many reasons that I've loved Duran Duran's frontman Simon Le Bon since 1983. Sure, I could gush over his devilish good looks or rave about his distinctive and mesmerising voice or go on and on about his charismatic stage presence, but today I would like to discuss my favourite part of Simon Le Bon: his mind.

I'm not just talking about the creative mind that has been delivering poetic, thought-provoking lyrics for over 30 years. He has a razor sharp wit that has been making me laugh out loud since I was 13 years old. He reveals his soul when telling us how a former choirboy became an atheist. He has an online Book Club. He ponders the absurdity of collective nouns for birds. Let's face it, he's not your average pop star.

Believe it or not, I'm not calling him an enigma because I don't understand him. On the contrary, it scares me just how much I do understand him. Or at least, what I know of him, after years of meticulously studying performances, interviews, articles and now... Twitter.

I swear, I didn't believe that he really was on Twitter. I'd had an account since 2009, but had never really used it. I was satisfied with Facebook. I'll admit that I didn't bother to "get to know" Twitter. That was, until I finally realised that @SimonJCLeBon and @thisistherealJT really were on there! Duran Duran brought me there, and now I can't get enough of the place!

Normally, I am a learned person. I am well-educated. I have diverse interests. I'm well-travelled. I can keep up with most of the subjects that Simon tackles on Twitter because we share similar interests. Of course, he kind of loses me when he starts talking about reality TV or sports, but you know what I mean. When it comes to anything related to the arts; whether it's pop-culture or high-culture, in my regular life, I can keep up my end of the conversation. I actually like talking about psychology and philosophy. When someone is sarcastic or uses innuendo, I get it. As an English teacher, I am especially fond of wordplay. I thrive on that shit. So... why is it that when Simon tweets I turn into a bumbling idiot?

I re-activated my long dormant Twitter account and started following Simon Le Bon and John Taylor at the end of April, shortly after seeing Duran Duran live at an intimate venue called Le National in Montreal on (Roger Taylor's birthday) 26th April, 2011. It was an unforgettable experience. For your enjoyment, here is a video of one of the evening's many highlights:

I digress. So, the first time I tweeted Simon Le Bon was on 29th April 2011. I have been tweeting him regularly ever since. The first (and only, thus far) time that he acknowledged my Twitter-existence was on 17th June 2011. More on that later, but first, this is where the enigma thing comes into play. For the life of me, I can't seem to figure out Simon's tweeting patterns. I doubt that I ever will. My philosophy is to just keep tweeting and expect nothing. That way, I won't be disappointed and any response is a pleasant surprise. It isn't always easy, but I actually try to make this my life philosophy. I am simply always myself, sending positive energy into the universe (and now the Twitterverse) and expecting nothing in return. If I get negative energy back, I block it out and if I get positive energy back, I accept it with open arms. There will always be people who "get" me and people who don't. This is going to sound childish, but... I just really want Simon Le Bon to "get" me. I know that I'm over-thinking this. Forgive me.

John Taylor's tweeting patterns are easier to figure out. He tries to answer as many questions as he can. He provides his tweetpeeps with lots of useful information and often posts twitpics. He lets us know about the book he's currently reading, the music he's listening too, the events he's attending, etc. He sometimes wears his heart on his sleeve, which makes him all the more endearing. Of course, he can't possibly reply to all of the tweets he receives. I can't even do that and I'm just a regular person with a little over 100 followers! Still, I've noticed that he sometimes answers questions or responds to interesting tweets hours after they've been posted. Believe me, I was totally stoked when he tweeted me (again, only once, but who's counting?) on 9th June, 2011, especially since it was in reference to the Jean-Paul Gaultier exhibit now running at MMFA.

Now Simon, he's a whole other story. First of all, his tweets read like a Jack Kerouac novel in a stream-of-consciousness kind of way. Don't get me wrong, I love this about the man. Apparently, I'm not alone. His tweets have attracted a lot of attention in cyberspace. For instance:

Simon Le Bon Tweets - Oscars Edition

Not to mention, he's got close to 40,000 followers! Therefore, I can, to a certain degree, understand why his choices of who to respond to appear so arbitrary. I've noticed that he often replies to the first person who responds to something he's tweeted. He has a tendency to respond to ridiculous tweets, usually with a sarcastic remark. He also likes to correct improper grammar or bad spelling - something I secretly wish I could do, but I tend to bite my tongue, as I'm not a celebrity so people would just get pissed-off at me. When I happen to be online at the same time as him, I try hard to compose myself (and stop shaking like a leaf) and tweet something witty, but I am usually beaten to the punch by a faster typist. I often miss his "tweet times" because of time zones (and my ridiculous sleeping patterns) so he probably never even sees 90% of my replies and mentions. Still, I wish that I could have a better understanding of how to get (and keep) Le Enigma's attention. As I mentioned earlier, it's probably better not to try and understand.

Instead, I will imagine that it is still circa 1984, when all my conversations with Simon Le Bon took place inside my head (or on the pages of my journal) and the very thought of him noticing me was enough to make me swoon. I will recite my mantra: Keep tweeting and expect nothing. I will keep sending him positive vibes and interesting links and witty remarks, etc. and not be envious of the people who get regular tweets from him. Some of them are my Twitter friends, so I try to live vicariously through them. It's best to let him remain an enigma, isn't it?

That being said, allow me to recount the story of how I did finally manage to get his attention on Twitter. For two days, I had been trying to send him an article about a woman who blamed her GPS when she drove herself into a swamp. The story caught my attention because it reminded me of the brilliant song Blame the Machines off the latest Duran Duran album All You Need Is Now. If you haven't purchased it yet, I highly recommend that you do. It's a work of genius!

Anyway, I was experiencing yet another bout of insomnia when I saw that Simon was online. It was around 5:00 am in Montreal (10:00 am in the UK) and I still hadn't slept. I used cut and paste from a previous tweet and sent the article to him, hoping that he would see it but expecting nothing in return. Suddenly, I saw that he had indeed noticed and had retweeted my tweet! I nearly passed out. I composed myself and thanked him for the retweet, then realised that I hadn't included the link to the article! I tried sending him the link. I felt like a nincompoop.

I've met loads of interesting people on Twitter. However, nobody gets me the way that fellow insomniac Duranie @ladygrinning does. Therefore, I started tweeting her about what had just happened. I said, "Did you see the retweet, Maya?! I just about plotzed! I'm verklempt. But I forgot to add the link." Notice the Yiddish? I don't actually speak Yiddish (although my grandmother did) but Simon Le Bon causes me to speak in tongues. Guess what happened next? He saw what I had tweeted Maya. He responded with: "Well go on then, post it." Of course, I started freaking out again, frantically searching for the link. I sent it to him three times. No reply.

Meanwhile, he started getting all philosophical, in a surrealist way. He tweeted, "This is not SimonJCLeBon," followed by, "In the RenĂ© Magritte sense at least," then, "Ceci n'est pas SimonJCLeBon." I was so busy trying to find the stupid link that I missed out on all this. Maya didn't. She replied to Simon with, "Magritte was a tortured genius," to which he replied, "You must be thinking about the other Magritte." Now, both Maya & I started freaking out in our 14 year-old selves kind of way. We freaked out so much, in fact, that our sleep deprived selves didn't even catch on to what he was saying. Obviously, he was referring to Magritte's Treachery of Images meaning that the other Magritte (who Maya called a tortured genius) would be the one who lived and breathed between 21 November 1898 – 15 August 1967. D'uh! So...you see what Simon Le Bon does to us? He reduces otherwise well-informed, clever women into piles of pre-pubescent mush. Will this ever change? Will I ever become complacent enough with Simon Le Bon's presence on Twitter to react to his online self in a mature, composed way? Not bloody likely.

Addendum: The day after I wrote this, Duran Duran announced that they have been forced to reschedule their entire European Summer Tour. I have been following this story ever since Simon Le Bon first started experiencing vocal problems in May of this year. My heartfelt wishes go out to him, the entire band, their employees and of course, the fans who had purchased tickets. The timing is horrible, as they were on such a roll, but Simon's health comes first. At least, he is on the road to recovery. That's what is most important. I've signed three virtual cards so far: two for Simon and one for Duran Duran. I will continue to send positive vibes to Simon, Nick, John, Roger and Dom. I feel foolish and self-centred for worrying about getting tweets from Simon whilst he's going through this rough patch. All will end well, I'm certain. xoxo


LadyGrinning said...

Simon Le Bon is a tortured genius! No he's not! We must be referring to the 'other' Simon Le Bon. :-)

Deena said...

Ha! I love it! Thanks for reading, Maya.

Simply Me said...

So funny Deena. Our perspective on him is so paralleled. I too, got sucked into Twitterverse due to JT and him and have never looked back. I have called him an enigma many, many times, ranting endlessly about his Mensa status. He is such a "man" as in the sports/reality-tv, boobies, yet significantly more interesting than most. I, unlike you, am not an English teacher so I don't understand many of his tweets, but identify with his love of science (more fiction for him, but woteva).The aspect of him I struggle with is that he is an atheist (actually one of my unwritten blogs, lol) because I can't prove God exists and an atheist (he) can't prove he doesn't. With that said, the foreword he wrote for the book is extremely thought-provoking and intelligent and to hear him read it haunts me to this day.

I am glad to have met you Deena (and Maya too). It is refreshing to find such intelligent, well-rounded women.

OH and by the way, check out my Favorites. Jonee and I had your "tweet experience" with him during the Oscars. I only have a snippet of the conversation (didn't know about saving to favorites then), but we still giggle about it like a couple of school girls : )

Deena said...

Thank you very much for your kind words! I too, am thrilled to have met you. You are an amazing woman.

I was 13 when I discovered Duran Duran and although I have listened to and admired many musical artists over the years, none have truly had the profound impact on my life that they have. They opened the portal to a world my teenage soul embraced. They made me feel like it was okay to be different. Long after the posters came down, the lessons that they taught me lingered.

I often wonder... if it hadn't been for Duran Duran, would I have learnt to express myself through clothing and attitude and delved into the world of youth subcultures: New Romantic, followed by Goth and then literally going backwards to Punk and finally Mod? Aspects of all four still influence the way I dress and think, to this day. Would I have developed such a passion for music and attended so many concerts? Would I have switched from Judy Blume and become an avid reader of more thought-provoking literature? Would I have stopped writing chidish stories and started keeping a journal and writing poetry, not to mention Duran Duran fan fiction that was highly popular at my high school? Would I have started going to museums and art galleries on a regular basis while other teenagers were hanging out at the mall? Would I have become a regular theatre-goer? Would I have attended drama school? Would I have taken singing lessons? Would I have gone to film festivals? Oh, I could go on and on here, but you get my point: would I be the person that I am today?

I'd like to read that unwritten blog of yours. I am agnostic, myself. In terms of religion, I had a rather confusing upbringing. My French-Canadian mother converted from Catholicism to Judaism (my paternal grandmother wouldn't have accepted her otherwise) and took her new religion very seriously until she realised that my father didn't. By the time I came along (I am the fourth child) my mother had sort of given up on trying to follow the rigorous rules of Judaism. It was all very confusing and by the time I was about 15 or 16, I seriously started questioning the existence of a higher power. I still haven't figured it out, which is why I consider myself agnostic.

I have spent a significant amount of time in Asia, and am very intrigued by Buddhism. I even had the opportunity to spend the weekend at a Buddhist temple in Korea. I've had the privilege of seeing the Dalai Lama speak. I'm not Buddhist, but I can relate to Buddhism's core beliefs of virtue, equality, reciprocity, mental development and discernment, although, like Simon, I'm not sure about the whole reincarnation thing. Not to mention, true Buddhists adhere to a list of rules longer than those of Judaism.

I'm sorry. I'm just rambling now, arent't I? I have a tendency to do that, which is why Twitter can be a real challenge for me! What I really meant to say was...thank you for reading my blog! I've been checking yours out as well. You've got all sorts of great stuff in there!

One last thing... I did find your favourited tweets and they are priceless! I totally get the whole giggling like a schoolgirl thing, believe me. I would've been tickled pink! I wish I had become active on Twitter earlier. Simon's tweets certainly would've made the Oscars more entertaining! There's no point in having regrets, though. All you need is NOW.

Simply Me said...

The answer is "no" you would not be who you are today. I wouldn't either. I didn't take the musical route or acting, because I feel so under-qualified--not talented. LOL. But music is in my soul. Like I said, I try to teach my kids the real meaning of music.

My mom didn't go to church. My dad was an agnostic. I went to a Baptist church with a friend in school and the pastor basically said "If you're not in church, you're going to Hell." That turned me against religion most of my life. I too have been fascinated with the Dali Lama, more when I was younger. When my dad was dying I found a note that said "he's going to be alright, I am with him," right outside his hospital room. Like I said, he was an agnostic, but told me a month before he died, my grandmother told him he was going to "be going home soon." That pushed be back to church and I cried the whole time I was there for the first few visits. I still question a lot, but have seen so many "miracles" with children I work with that I have to believe there is a higher power. I think the scary thing is that if you believe, you have to be accountable. Not really talking about church, just who you are, how you treat others. I try to work on that aspect the most. I try to give back often and treat people with dignity and respect (usually), be non-judgemental. I think many miss that. True teachings of most religions are based on that, but people get so wrapped up in their view is the only view and ritual. Anyway......

Maybe one day the old tweeting Simon will come back. You joined in April, so got the tail end of it. He was so funny. He would tell crappy jokes everyday. A couple of times he got sauced and got a little cranky with peeps--whew! There is definitely a dark side. That's what I love about him. He's real. Miss him : (

I love your free spirit! I'll have to live vicariously through you. I did go to China by myself in '07. It was so refreshing!

Deena said...

For the record, I didn't take the showbiz route either. I'm more of a student of the arts, an observer rather than a direct participant. This is something I regret, but try not to dwell upon. Nonetheless, everything I've learnt has helped me become a better teacher. Although it isn't necessarily the career path I would have chosen, I've been told that I have a gift for teaching. I'll tell you one thing, my classes are often very theatrical and I have a tendency to spontaneously burst into song in the middle of an English lesson.

I was deeply saddened to learn that your father has passed. I don't know how long it's been, but I'd like to offer you my sincere condolences. Losing a parent is never easy, at any age. My father is very ill and none of us have any idea how much longer he'll be with us. He has never been a permanent fixture in my life, but I do love him and will miss him. In fact, I already do, as he is a shell of the man he used to be.

I want you to know that I have friends who are deeply religious and I respect them greatly. In my travels, I have met people from every possible religious background and I would never judge someone for their beliefs. However, I have no tolerance for fanaticism and any belief system that causes an individual to hate anyone who doesn't conform to their rules. That being said, regardless of our different beliefs, I think that that we are on the same page in terms of how we treat others.

I begin every relationship (in the real-world and in the virtual world) with every human being I meet with the same level of respect and empathy. I feel that we can learn something from every person we meet, regardless of their age, background, culture, education, level of cognition, etc. However, if an individual is repeatedly disrespectful or unable to show empathy, I eventually write them off, end of story. This may make me seem intolerant, but I assure you that I am one of the most tolerant people you will ever meet but, I have my limits. Life is too short to put up with bullshit. That's just my opinion.

As for Mr. Le Bon... I think he'll be back in "full tweeting form" eventually or at least, I am hopeful. Unfortunately, I started becoming active on Twitter shortly before he started experiencing vocal problems. I can only imagine what he's going through. It would be extremely self-centred of me to expect him to spend time on Twitter entertaining us when he obviously has more important things on his mind. Nonetheless, I think that he has remained stoic and positive throughout this ordeal and he has managed to grace us with his Twitter presence on occasion, despite the fact that he must surely be bombarded with questions about the status of his health and of the tour every time he logs in. I wish that people would remember that he is human, after all. I hope that he hasn't been put-off Twitter because of all this. I believe that he recognises the amount of support and positive energy he has received and continues to receive every day. Oh yes, and I enjoy the glimpses of the dark side too, although I believe that deep down, Simon is a true Jedi. Yes, I am a geek.

You were very courageous to go to China on your own! I've never been there. I am planning on visiting China this time around. I'd also like to go to Macau, as I have a friend who is currently living there. Actually, I'd also like to explore South East Asia since I've only ever been to Thailand. We'll see...

briteliz said...

Bravo! Brilliant and entertaining blog! I am an English major, though nit a teacher by trade and I have to say it has definitely helped me to understand Simon's lyrics and tweets. If only for that, college was worth the time and expense. LOL From the very first sentence, as I read your blog I had the eerie yet thrilling sense that you were channeling my very thoughts. Simon is my favorite singer/songwriter and I adore his maddeningly sexy good looks, but what attracts and fascinates me most is his mind. My mini conversation with him on Twitter was as exciting as meeting him in person and reduced me to schoolgirl giddiness which persists months later. The most remarkable thing is that I just woke up at 3:30 am ET and decided to check Twitter, which I have not been on for months, and as soon as I hit the Twitter icon, your tweet, including the link to your blog, seemed to pop up out of nowhere! Good karma! Thanks so much for so eloquently sharing your thoughts, and uncannily, my own thoughts as well, right down to your philosophy on tweeting Simon.

Simone said...

I'm tired and my first comment did not read correctly...

"So...you see what Simon Le Bon does to us? He reduces otherwise well-informed, clever women into piles of pre-pubescent mush." So true!!

Brilliant post that so many of us can relate to! Love it!