There are two subjects I normally deliberately stay away from because I know they'll push me into a period of crazed , quasi uncontrollable obsession, and that's Star Wars and Bowie. (Science-Fiction doesn't count.) Star Wars is more or less ok these days, George having gone and maimed it with the prequels, Bowie was silent for about ten years and I hardly noticed, just vaguely wondered now and then what he was up to. But now there's the Bowie exhibition, which I saw in Paris in May, and a record and videos came out, but it has taken me all this time to absorb them. And there's the interwebs, full of pictures and blogs and "lost" interviews.
(And if you're wondering why I'm writing this in English, well, it's simple : it's a test, I want to see how long it'll take me to write a blog entry in English, and I tend to think in the language I read. Besides, I like to think that some of the Bowiephiles on the planet might find this blog and more of them will be able to read it if it's in English.
I wasn't aware of Bowie before 1983 and Let's Dance.
Well, I guess I'd heard about him (I don't remember, I hate it but I don't). There are only two pictures, and I consider them reconstructions, memories cherished and rewritten because "how I discovered Bowie" is so important to me.
The first is me entering my teenage bedroom, the one I shared with my sister, and hearing this strange, guitar-filled (I wanted to write "guitarry"), twanging, and beautiful, beautiful song. I don't know who is singing and I won't know for years, because, you see, this was the age before the future got dumped on us in the form of the internet).
I have decided that it was Ziggy, because what else could it be ? I have no musical education, was more into Jacques Brel than rock n' roll at the time. If a rock song got played (probably on France Inter) at the time and was so different I payed attention, it has to be Ziggy.
It was Ziggy.
The second is me (again) watching the tv in the family sitting-room in Ussel, Corrèze, France, the one with the cream carpet and the 70's wallpaper, and seeing this incredible, fluorescing, dreamy video, at a time when videos for songs were rare, and really avant-garde and new in the way culture is new when you're under 20.
I guess I knew it was Bowie (they must have told it on whatever programme this was) but it didn't quite register until 1983 and the release of Let's Dance. Which was this incredible pneumatic bouncy song with the strange lyrics and the Australian video with peroxide-haired Bowie, and learning that the guy had had this incredible career, even written a song about himself and his career in Scary Monsters, been this beautiful, strange, camp lad Ziggy and was playing in Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence and The Hunger. Was, in short, an Artist.
This was the first and only time in my life I fell in love with a singer's whole career : not just the music and the lyrics (although Bowie's lyrics have been more than important), but the story, and the way the story was constructed and told, and the way people relate to it.
And the guy was also eerily drop-dead good-looking, a fabulous alien on earth and I'm a Science-Fiction writer, after all.
The ways people relate to Bowie are wonderfully diverse and crazy, and I positively love the idea of all these people who invest even more time and energy in it than I do. It makes one feel a bit less crazy and obsessive. Just a bit.
So, the point of this supplement : my three favorite crazy Bowie acts of love :
David Bowie's area web page.
An old, ugly, flashy and silly site, dedicated to, er, well, yes, I told you they were crazy acts of love. But it's really, really fun. The tone and writing reminds me of the silly fannish things we science-fiction fans used to write in the old days.
A sculpture of Bowie's old teeth by German artist Jessine Hein.
I have bad teeth. I had an operation on my jaw in 1993 to make it longer because I had terrible pains and various jaw troubles I can't even explain in English. Anyway, the artist who did the dentures explains why in this article. And it's really interesting.
«I cannot imagine that a person like David Bowie willingly left the interior design of his mouth to so meone else, so I interpret the pearly whites he got as a bold statement that signalled a new chapter in his career—maybe a comment on the beauty obsession of our society: “You want regulated perfection? Here you have it!”. The transformation was part of his development from alien hero of the heart to world star. My sculpture intends to underline this, as well as pay homage to the eras of the crooked-toothed miracle who fell to earth once upon a time. »
And finally, from Australia, where the David Bowie Is exhibition currently is, the man who relives David Bowie's life.
Will Brooker is a professeur of film and cultural studies at Kingston universities. And he explains that he is… reeacting Bowie's life. Like in, dressing like him and following his supposed diet of milk and red pepper (and coke ???). It's supposed to be for research, but frankly, it looks like some king of DIY therapy to me.
Because, you see, I think I know what depressed, ego-flattened, dark part of me is obsessed with the angelic, creative and oh so rich and well-dressed David Robert Jones.
Even when you've largely become what you wanted to be you want to be someone else, just for one day, or one song.