David Bowie

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

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

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

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

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.