Monday Reads: Ch-ch-ch-changesPosted: January 11, 2016
The year is young but I’ve already had more lessons in impermanence than normal. Late last night, I got the news that David Bowie–icon of my youth and as I’m learning the icon of nearly everyone around my age and younger–died after 18 months of living with cancer. I’ve been listening to Bowie’s new album with its haunting images and melodies. The accompanying videos aren’t easy to process. Blackstar felt like it was bringing many things full circle to me. Now I realize that’s what Bowie was about especially after reading a press release from his producer. I woke this morning to find that Bowie’s final body of work was labelled a “gift to fans”. Bowie was the consummate artist and public intellectual. I feel blessed to live in a time when I could see him unfold and that he could provide nuance, context, and soundtracks to my life and loves.
David Bowie’s last release, Lazarus, was ‘parting gift’ for fans in carefully planned finale
The producer of Blackstar confirms David Bowie had planned his poignant final message, and videos and lyrics show how he approached his death.
Like most kids my age, I heard Bowie’s Space Oddity from a small am radio and found it odd but compelling. It wasn’t until my freshman year in college I found myself in love with some one quite obsessed with the newly released Diamond Dogs and the older Ziggy Stardust music. I loved the Movie “Man who Fell to Earth”. I saw it several times because it was so fascinating. My favorite album will always be Changes. So, early Bowie will always be my Bowie. To my daughters, Bowie is the Goblin King.
Bowie threaded together lots of interests of mine. He had an amazing sense of fashion and the theatric along with with his gift for composing and arranging music. He didn’t have a great voice but it was expressive and worked well with what he tackled. He also managed to lace things with social commentary and a vision for a freer society as well as a love of science fiction. Every project of Bowie’s was intelligent and visually arresting. He kept my attention with each one over my entire romance with his body of work of over 40 years.
The singer-songwriter and producer excelled at glam rock, art rock, soul, hard rock, dance pop, punk and electronica during an eclectic 40-plus-year career.
David Bowie died Sunday after a battle with cancer, his rep confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 69.
“David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer. While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief,” read a statement posted on the artist’s official social media accounts.
The influential singer-songwriter and producer excelled at glam rock, art rock, soul, hard rock, dance pop, punk and electronica during his eclectic 40-plus-year career. He just released his 25th album, Blackstar, Jan. 8, which was his birthday.
Bowie’s artistic breakthrough came with 1972’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, an album that fostered the notion of rock star as space alien. Fusing British mod with Japanese kabuki styles and rock with theater, Bowie created the flamboyant, androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust.
The BBC has a great tab full of all things Bowie including interviews. You can find many things because Bowie was and did many things. Will Gompertz, BBC Arts editor had this to say about the artist. (I have to let you know that Merce Cunningham–one of his influences–was my brother-in-law’s Uncle.) Bowie did continue the avant-garde tradition of the early 20th century and carried it into a future yet to be realized.
David Bowie was the Picasso of pop. He was an innovative, visionary, restless artist: the ultimate ever-changing postmodernist.
Along with the Beatles, Stones and Elvis Presley, Bowie defined what pop music could and should be. He brought art to the pop party, infusing his music and performances with the avant-garde ideas of Merce Cunningham, John Cage and Andy Warhol.
He turned pop in a new direction in 1972 with the introduction of his alter ego Ziggy Stardust. Glam rock was the starting point, but Ziggy was much more than an eyeliner-wearing maverick: he was a truly theatrical character that at once harked backed to pre-War European theatre while anticipating 1980s androgyny and today’s discussions around a transgender spectrum.
He was a great singer, songwriter, performer, actor, producer and collaborator. But beyond all that, at the very heart of the matter, David Bowie was quite simply – quite extraordinarily – cool.
I still like to think of him as more than an artist because of his sense of social justice. He was an important figure in bringing GLBT culture into the mainstream as well as bringing the sexual revolution into every one’s face. He also had a political side. Bowie was all about freedom of expression in all forms.
In June 1987, David Bowie returned to the divided city of Berlin for a concert that some Germans, rightly or wrongly, still view as having helped change history.
Bowie knew West Berlin well. He’d lived there for three years in the late 1970s, sharing an apartment in the Schöneberg neighborhood with Iggy Pop, escaping from the drugs and over-the-top glam of his early career into the city’s expressionism and art pop. It was there that Bowie recorded three of the albums for which, upon his death today from cancer at the age of 69, he is still remembered and cherished.
In 1977, the year Bowie recorded Heroes, the second of his three Berlin albums, East German border guards shot and killed 18-year-old Dietmar Schwietzer as he tried to flee west across the wall; a few months later, 22-year-old Henri Weise drowned trying to cross the Spree River. Heroes was haunted by the Cold War themes of fear and isolation that hung over the city. Its still-famous title track tells a story of two lovers who meet at the wall and try, hopelessly, to find a way to be together.A decade later, when, in 1987, Bowie returned for the Concert for Berlin, a three-day open-air show in front of the Reichstag, he chose “Heroes” for his performance. By then the city’s Soviet-dominated East had become safer, but it had not become more free. Rock music was treated as a destabilizing threat.
But the wall couldn’t keep out radio waves; the West German–operated, US-run radio station Radio in the American Sector was popular in the East, and had secured rare permission from the performing acts to broadcast the show in its entirety. (Record labels typically opposed this in the 1980s, knowing listeners would record the broadcasts, undercutting album sales.) The concert was held near enough to the border that many East Berliners crowded along the wall to listen to the forbidden American and British music wafting across the city, allowing these two halves of the city to hear the same show, divided but together.
I love this tribute to him. It’s a thanks from all the “weird kids” who can count me in their number. I spent my youth feeling totally out of place and time. Bowie made being out of place and time feel special and easier to bear.
I do not believe it is a wild exaggeration to say that there are on this earth today many people who would not be here without David Bowie — either because their parents procreated to his music or because (and this is I believe the more important group) he gave them a reason to stay alive when perhaps they did not want to. He was the patron saint of all my favorite fellow travelers: the freaks, the fags, the dykes, the queers, the weirdos of all stripes, and that most dangerous creature of all: the artist. He was the crown prince(ss) of the unusual. He was so marvelously, spectacularly weird, and he gave so many oddballs, including this one, hope.
So, 2016 is resplendent in lessons for me on surfing Samasara as I’ve mentioned before. While the world processes the news over David Bowie with awe and grief, Louisiana celebrates being a rid of “Governor” Bobby Jindal. We are officially out of his clutches but not out of the huge mess the man leaves all around us. Our new Governor was sworn in today and has promised to at least stabilize the budget.
Saying he won’t be a “business-as-usual” leader, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards took his oath of office Monday, promising to stabilize the budget and end cycles of financial crises that threaten public health services and colleges.
As he placed his hand on the family Bible for the swearing-in ceremony, Edwards became the only Democratic governor in the Deep South after an improbable victory.
He follows term-limited Republican Bobby Jindal, inheriting a budget mess that will require him to work with a majority GOP Legislature. Edwards pledged bipartisanship in his approach, which he said needed to end Louisiana’s use of stopgap, short-term financial maneuvers that create new budget troubles annually.
“We can no longer afford to lurch from year to year, cobbling together temporary fixes and expecting to realize permanent sustainability. If we don’t fix the structural budget deficit, we can’t fix any of our other problems,” the new governor said at the inaugural ceremony held on the steps of the Louisiana Capitol.
The Edwards administration estimates Louisiana faces a shortfall of up to $750 million in the state’s $25 billion budget for the remaining six months of the current fiscal year and a gap more than twice that amount for next year.
While he talked of working across party lines, however, Edwards also outlined a decidedly Democratic agenda.
He said he will ask lawmakers to increase the minimum wage, pass a new equal pay law and work to make college more affordable, to combat poverty in Louisiana. And he said he’ll start the process for expanding Medicaid on Tuesday, as allowed under the federal health care law.
“Your tax dollars should not be going to one of the 30 other states that have expanded Medicaid when we are one of the states that expansion will help the most,” he said.
But the governor called addressing the financial mess his top priority, saying he’ll seek to make budget cuts and “rework the failed system of tax incentives, credits and rebates, which bleed the state’s revenue and too often leave little to show for the spending.”
So, I’m really late today and I’m anxiously awaiting how you’re processing the world without David Bowie.
I’m releasing it all to the Greater Ethos for the moment.
Be well and love yourself and others. We really don’t have as much time as we think.