David Bowie

Monday, 4 November 2013

I used to play a pirated copy of “Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego?” on my DTK 386 back in, say, 1994. This was when “pirated” meant you just copied the files onto one of those 3.5″ floppies that AOL sent in the mail every two days. Since it was a pirated copy, I didn’t have the Fodor’s Travel Guide that you were supposed to use to answer the final question to move on to the next level. It was always “What State is on page {foo} of the travel guide? Me being me, I made a list of all 50 States, and slowly worked my way through via guesswork until I had most of them down.

Now if you remember this game, you had to track down criminals based on contextual clues left behind as to who they are, and where they are going. It assumes some level of geographical and pop culture knowledge. Geography I had down. Proud winner of the 8th grade geography bee, here. Pop culture… not so much. One of the contextual clues was a David Bowie cassette tape. You had to know what kind of music he made. I never could remember. (it was “rock”).

A year or so later and I start getting mail from Columbia House and BMG. Notice I didn’t say junk mail, because for me, Columbia House and BMG were pretty much my sole method of obtaining music that was new to me. I got into Led Zeppelin, Stone Temple Pilots, 311, and, on a whim, decided to find out who this David Bowie person was. You could say I was sheltered. That would be very tactful of you. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars sounded like a good start, because I was and am still a huge science fiction nerd. It arrived, and, just a bit through the half way point of the opening track “Five Years” my mind was blown.

The album itself was nearly 25 years old at that point, and there’s little young me, poleaxed. I couldn’t tell you how many times I listened to it. And every month, when my BMG or Columbia House mail would arrive, I’d get more Bowie. This was a good time for it, even though I wasn’t aware, I was getting the remastered Rykodisc versions that were chock full of outtakes with different lyrics, or rare live performances. I still have them all: Diamond Dogs, The Man Who Sold the World, Aladdin Sane, Pin Ups. Those albums all received mad play time. Low, Lodger, Scary Monsters and Super Creeps, and Let’s Dance significantly less so, though now I have a more mature appreciation for what’s going on in those albums.

Earthling came out in 1997. The first album of his that I had the opportunity to purchase in its natural milieu. I have to admit I had basically no idea what was going on with that electronica drum & bass madness. I still don’t. I’m okay with that. It’s a great album for zoning out on a road trip. 1997 is, incidentally, the year I went to the National Catholic Youth Conference in Minneapolis. I got a chance to do a little shopping at a big city record store. On that trip, I picked up Bowie’s Outside. Certainly his most macabre, grotesque, baroque work. The least appropriate Bowie album to pick up while in town with a ton of Catholic teenagers. Incidentally, on that trip I also learned that Tolkien calendars exist.

I managed to see him in concert, on the Area 2 tour with Moby, when he was touring for his album Heathen (in my opinion, his best work in these later years). I eagerly picked up Reality in 2003 when I was working in New York, and I remember playing it on the Bang & Olufsen sound system owned by the family I was staying with at the time. The first song immediately called up memories of the 2001 World Trade Center attacks, and the whole album it an amalgam of songs sifted from Bowie’s long career and new work.

For years I’ve been unable to decide which album I like best between Ziggy Stardust and Diamond Dogs, but I’ve finally decided that Diamond Dogs is my favorite album. The 8-9 minutes of Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing Reprise is my favorite chunk of music.

The version from David Live is amazing:

And I really like the alternate lyrics to Candidate (released on the aforementioned remastered Rykodisc release):

Bowie has been a constant intrigue and challenge to me as I’ve grown older, and he’ll continue to be as long as he keeps putting out albums. I learned about Jean-Michel Basquiat by seeking out the movie made about him merely because Bowie played Andy Warhol. I discovered the horrible sack-swinging fascination of his role in Labyrinth, and developed a little crush on Jennifer Connelly. I became a fan of Nicolas Roeg after watching The Man Who Fell to Earth. I’ve become a fan of just about every band he’s ever covered.

David Bowie was my gateway from small town Indiana to the rest of the world. This young dude carried the news, so hey, man. Thanks.

Friday mp3

Friday, 30 August 2002

last weekend was freshman orientation. this weekend is freshman disorientation. *evil laugh* they’ll be ok, i’ll watch out for ’em.

i’m going to try something new for Fridays. I guess it needs a name so I’ll call it the Friday mp3. Every Friday, for a 24 hour period or thereabouts i’ll put up an mp3 for downloadage and talk about it a little bit as well.

This week’s choice is The Dark is Rising by Mercury Rev. I first heard of them on Last Call with Carson Daly from David Bowie. They are hard to classify in a specific genre other than indie, but the wailing lyrics and melange of styles give it an interesting alienated flavor that is a welcome escape from the ‘my ‘rents suck cuz no one understands why i like being a fuckup’ nu-metal bands. Other good songs include: Night and Fog, Goddess on a Highway, and Spiders and Flies.

Freaks

Tuesday, 27 August 2002

Fundamentals of Archaeology: This class is going to be easy. Two tests, two quizzes and thats all. Professor Schurr is a character, but I already knew that. What I didn’t know is that he is a Super Tolkien Nerd like myself. Bonus!

Cinema Ideologies: Taught by my FEMINIST, socialist, jewish, buddhist film prof Jill Godmilow. Learning how industrial cinema makes us think it solves problems of race, gender, and class through its films when it merely reinforces hegemony. it will be good.

Fencing Gym: an epe? fencer that left due to academic reasons is now back, threatening my eligibility to travel. all i can do is work harder.

Cinema Ideologies Film Screening: Tod Browning’s Freaks.

As they pulled you out of the oxygen tent
you asked for the latest party
With your silicon hump and your ten inch stump
Dressed like a priest you was,
Todd Browning streak he was
Crawling down the alley on your hands and knee,
I’m sure you’re not protected, for its plain to see
Diamond Dogs are poachers, and they hide behind trees
Hunt you to the ground they will,
mannequins with kill appeal

David Bowie, Diamond Dogs

an interesting film by all accounts, produced by MGM but it was a very shoddy film in many of its conventions and exploitative to the extreme. also full of melodrama. several points of subtle effect were evident as well especially in a way that portrayed the circus performers in a curiously dichotomous way. although they appeared in a position of power, their very physical presence made it laughable. this says something very important about the way we see physical eccentricity.

Concerts and Chicago

Thursday, 15 August 2002

Balls! tis been awhile. Here is the last week.

wednesday: went up to Purdue then drove with Phil to Chicago where we stayed with his brother Bo and his fiance? Kerri. played monopoly. lost horribly. i HATE that.

thursday: area2 concert featuring Ash, Blueman Group, Busta Rhymes, David Bowie, and Moby. all around good concert. but David muthafuckin’ Bowie, held me in thrall for the entire time he was on stage. I have wanted to see him in concert since for the past seven years and never thought i would get the chance. i can not find words strong enough to describe the euphoria that i felt watching this 56 year old cockeyed brit sing. he played the great stuff. Life on Mars, Fame, Fashion, China Girl, Let’s Dance, Heroes. he played some new stuff, Cactus, Hey Lou, 5:15 All the Angels Have Gone, and he played some old stuff that no one but Bowie junkies would have recognized. from the ’77 album Low he played Breaking Glass and A New Career in a New Town. Ever since i first heard Low several years ago I have always thought of it as a primitive forerunner, a prototype of what house music is today. Not only did Bowie prove my right, but the review I read of the concert the next day agreed as well. to top it all off and raising me to higher order throes of ecstasy, he played Ziggy Stardust. shit. what an encore. it rocked the shit out of me. it was so frikin awesome to hear it live. Bowie is like fine wine, improving as he ages. Ziggy Stardust alone was worth every penny i paid for the ticket. its the closest thing i’ve ever had to a religious experience. knowing the best Moby was capable of wouldn’t even compare, we left (like many others) before he even came on. I have seen David Bowie in concert. I can die a complete person.

friday: Brian Rose, Matt Rose, Brian Miller, and Macalister Fahie (pronounced Foy thanks much) came up to celebrate Macs 21st birthday. they had a beer bong. we got 24hr passes for the El and headed downtown to eat at the ESPNzone which was pretty cool but too expensive for the quality of the food. Then we toured the Earth from Above exhibit promoting solar power. very nice. then we wandered to Navy Pier and rode the bus back to Bos ‘hood. some dude on a street corner was handing out reduced cover passes to a bar so we went there and 5 bucks got us all we could drink until 11:30. 3 vodka tonics later it was 11:30 and Mac had consumed a rather large quantity of liquor. we stuck around till about 1 and then took off. Mac puked off the El platform all over some newpaper thingys. so we barely got him home, almost all of us listing ever so little to starboard.

saturday: we went shopping and got a daylight look at where Mac puked. (did i mention he is black? not that that has anything to do with him puking on newspapers) I bought two vintage triacetate shirts at this damn cool store for cheap. That night Bo, Kerri, Phil, and I saw Juliana Hatfield at the Double Door. totally different venue than the Tweeter Center where area2 was at. only a couple hundred people can fit in there. i wasn’t too familiar with Juliana but the show was very good just her on the geetar, Freda on the drums, and oh so cute Heidi Gluck on the bass. i enjoyed it much.

sunday: 5 hour drive home. hadn’t shaved in over a week. competent as a broke dick.

since: still haven’t shaved, working on a beard, left my Bowie ticket stub at Bos. hope he saves it. visited with friend Emily. In the home stretch of playing Baldur’s Gate.

Upcoming Concerts

Thursday, 1 August 2002

I’m starting to get hyped up, in a week i get to go see David Bowie and Moby on the Area2 tour, and Juliana Hatfield. Plus I’m going to get to chill with some friends a I haven’t seen in awhile in Chicago. I’ve also been listening to some new music. my buddy Matt recommended Dovetail Joint, they sound pretty good although i’ve only got one song so far. Phil always has the hook up and I’ve listening to alot more Self lately. (Rolling Stone says they are an industrial pop band, is that even possible)? On my own I found out about The Shins. They are just ok. A little too mellow and spaced-out for my taste. They seem like they are a rip-off clone band, but I’m not sure. As always I need new musical groups to listen to. Feed me people! What have you listened to lately that has inspired you?

I’m going to talk about the Machines of Loving Grace again. This early industrial band from Tucson, Arizona is just plain badass. I was in Tucson when they started to get popular but unfortunately I was also only 11 and hadn’t heard of the bastards. I don’t think I have come across another band with such a large repetoire of brooding melodic and percussive songs that are all of rather high quality. Its a shame they didn’t get big. If you have The Crow Soundtrack (everyone should) you’ll probably recognize their song Golgotha Tenement Blues.