Monday, January 11, 2016

RIP David Bowie

Oh, You Pretty Things - we've lost one of rock's biggest icons, David Bowie. He died at age 69, two days after his birthday and the release of his 25th studio album, Blackstar, after an 18-month struggle with cancer.

Much like his ever-changing personas, he was a force of nature too hard to nail down. For me, each part of Bowie helped shape my current taste in music, film, theater, even fashion. As I already loved musicals, seeing Labyrinth was no stretch for me, however the sexual awaking that happened was a total surprise. Seeing his name flash on the screen during each viewing of The Breakfast Club made my teenage life so much more manageable. The meaning of an icon is having no shame in the life you lead.

Once while visiting San Francisco, I picked up a used copy of a biography called Bowie: Loving the Alien by Christopher Sanford on a whim. I already loved reading music biographies, but this one was different. Being published in 1998 it was a little outdated, but learning the history of Bowie's childhood and rise to rock god fame was more than enough to propel my fandom to a whole new level. After learning that nearly everyone in his family had schizophrenia, I came to believe that Bowie probably had a touch of it too; but he was able to successfully channel it into creating new and exciting characters to explore throughout his career. It's just a theory, but he never minded speculation.

Each song, each album, each performance is tied to a great memory for me. "Oh, You Pretty Things" always makes me think of driving with Carrie Sue singing at the top of our lungs. When I sneak onto the rooftop of my office building, I pass a store called "Sound & Vision" and instantly hear that great guitar riff. No Broadways 80's Dance Night or karaoke night could ever end without "Let's Dance" or "Rebel, Rebel" coming on. And who can forget how "Fame" busted back on the scene when it was remixed for Pretty Woman. Yep. That happened, and its really weird. It's also in Copycat. But anyway...  

Let's put his music aside shortly and discuss his other passions. Art and literature. The man loved to read. So - as Queen Bitch, let me request that we be a couple of Kooks, and salute The Man Who Sold the World by digging into his Must Read Books. May we all continue Loving the Alien through his music and favorite works of literature.

The Age of American Unreason, Susan Jacoby, 2008
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz, 2007
The Coast of Utopia (trilogy), Tom Stoppard, 2007
Teenage: The Creation of Youth 1875-1945, Jon Savage, 2007
Fingersmith, Sarah Waters, 2002
The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Christopher Hitchens, 2001
Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder, Lawrence Weschler, 1997
A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1890-1924, Orlando Figes, 1997
The Insult, Rupert Thomson, 1996
Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon, 1995
The Bird Artist, Howard Norman, 1994
Kafka Was The Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir, Anatole Broyard, 1993
Beyond the Brillo Box: The Visual Arts in Post-Historical Perspective, Arthur C. Danto, 1992
Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, Camille Paglia, 1990
David Bomberg, Richard Cork, 1988
Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom, Peter Guralnick, 1986
The Songlines, Bruce Chatwin, 1986
Hawksmoor, Peter Ackroyd, 1985
Nowhere To Run: The Story of Soul Music, Gerri Hirshey, 1984
Nights at the Circus, Angela Carter, 1984
Money, Martin Amis, 1984
White Noise, Don DeLillo, 1984
Flaubert’s Parrot, Julian Barnes, 1984
The Life and Times of Little Richard, Charles White, 1984
A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn, 1980
A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole, 1980
Interviews with Francis Bacon, David Sylvester, 1980
Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler, 1980
Earthly Powers, Anthony Burgess, 1980
Raw (a ‘graphix magazine’) 1980-91
Viz (magazine) 1979 –
The Gnostic Gospels, Elaine Pagels, 1979
Metropolitan Life, Fran Lebowitz, 1978
In Between the Sheets, Ian McEwan, 1978
Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews, ed. Malcolm Cowley, 1977
The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, Julian Jaynes, 1976
Tales of Beatnik Glory, Ed Saunders, 1975
Mystery Train, Greil Marcus, 1975
Selected Poems, Frank O’Hara, 1974
Before the Deluge: A Portrait of Berlin in the 1920s, Otto Friedrich, 1972
In Bluebeard’s Castle: Some Notes Towards the Re-definition of Culture, George Steiner, 1971
Octobriana and the Russian Underground, Peter Sadecky, 1971
The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll, Charlie Gillete, 1970
The Quest For Christa T, Christa Wolf, 1968
Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock, Nik Cohn, 1968
The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov, 1967
Journey into the Whirlwind, Eugenia Ginzburg, 1967
Last Exit to Brooklyn, Hubert Selby Jr., 1966
In Cold Blood, Truman Capote, 1965
City of Night, John Rechy, 1965
Herzog, Saul Bellow, 1964
Puckoon, Spike Milligan, 1963
The American Way of Death, Jessica Mitford, 1963
The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea, Yukio Mishima, 1963
The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin, 1963
A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess, 1962
Inside the Whale and Other Essays, George Orwell, 1962
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark, 1961
Private Eye (magazine) 1961 –
On Having No Head: Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious, Douglas Harding, 1961
Silence: Lectures and Writing, John Cage, 1961
Strange People, Frank Edwards, 1961
The Divided Self, R. D. Laing, 1960
All The Emperor’s Horses, David Kidd, 1960
Billy Liar, Keith Waterhouse, 1959
The Leopard, Giuseppe Di Lampedusa, 1958
On The Road, Jack Kerouac, 1957
The Hidden Persuaders, Vance Packard, 1957
Room at the Top, John Braine, 1957
A Grave for a Dolphin, Alberto Denti di Pirajno, 1956
The Outsider, Colin Wilson, 1956
Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov, 1955
Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell, 1949
The Street, Ann Petry, 1946
Black Boy, Richard Wright, 1945