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 mélange 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.


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 fi­ancé? 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.