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Free Form Friday: Winter in America

Free Form Friday

I was planning to write this week about how winter finally came to New York State and how I hate winter. I certainly have not intended to make “Free Form Friday,” my weekly non-Bowie post, “Politics Friday.” All the more so because, much as I did when I was doing the song-a-day Bowie tribute in 2016, politics has already seeped…

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Lyrics Series I 14 I From “China Girl”

Lyrics Series

I stumble into town Just like some sacred cow Visions of swastikas in my head Plans for everyone This is going to be a kind of preview of a post that’s coming in a few days that will mention the above lines. But before we get there, I want to spend a little more time with the specific lyrics. Without…

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Divine Symmetry I 12 I Did Bowie secretly write “Stranger in Paradise?”

Divine Symmetry

I was listening to Tony Bennett sing “Stranger in Paradise,” which doesn’t sound anything like a Bowie song, but was listening more intently to the lyrics than maybe I have in the past and noticed…certain similarities. What stood out to me at first was this lyrical sequence, from right in the middle of the song: “somewhere in space I hang…

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Hooked to the Silver Screen I 11 I The Hunger (1983)

Hooked to the Silver Screen

David Bowie never looked cooler in a movie than he did in The Hunger. A stylish vampire movie directed by Tony Scott, The Hunger downplays its supernatural elements and is really about aging, vanity and specifically how the futile quest to stay young can lead to desperate acts. “The hunger,” in the context of the movie, is hunger for blood,…

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Bowie Cover of the Week: Wilco covers “Space Oddity” on the Mountain Stage

Songs

Bowie’s birthday and the anniversary of his death were both last week. Accordingly, there were a lot of Bowie tribute shows around the world, more so than usual. That accounts for the timing of Wilco’s performance of “Space Oddity” on the NPR music show, The Mountain Stage. At first blush, this cover has many of the elements that I shy…

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She tore down Paris… City of Light names street for Bowie (plus, my greatest failure in government…)

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Paris, France named a street after Bowie last week, on the occasion of his birthday. This got a lot of international news and is, I think a great way to attract tourists! (Although Maryland has an entire city named Bowie, so France has a ways to go). When I was in a position to do something about it, I tried…

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Eduardo Kobra’s “Ziggy Stardust” mural

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I recently made a pilgrimage to Jersey City to see this enormous Bowie mural on the side of a building, painted by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra in 2016. Somehow I have never seen this before or even knew it existed until recently. It is the ultimate “find Bowie” prize. The mural is on Google Maps, which took us to a…

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Free Form Friday: Reality At Stake

Free Form Friday

I recently read John Vaillant’s book, Fire Weather, which is about both climate change in general and one of its catastrophic impacts— massive wildfires. The book is horrifying, illustrating the point by an extended description of the 2016 Ft. McMurray fire that just about destroyed a mid-sized Canadian City and burned a swath of the Boreal forest larger than some…

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Divine Symmetry I 11 I Talking Heads’ “Life During Wartime” and Bowie’s Vision of the Apocalypse

Divine Symmetry

The end of the world seems to have preoccupied David Bowie throughout his career. His vision veered between the actual death of the planet with “Five Years” (1972) and societal breakdown “Panic In Detroit” (1973). I view those as Bowie’s idea of the coming end, then the end in progress. “Diamond Dogs” (1974) paints a picture of the aftermath. Notably,…

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Where are we now? How the world changed since Bowie’s death

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Something happened on the day he died…* David Bowie died eight years ago today. All of these things happened since then: - Donald Trump was elected president, was defeated for re-election, attempted to illegally retain power through a failed coup, was indicted for reasons related to that and everything else and launched his third bid for president. - COVID-19 came…

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Hooked to the Silver Screen I 10 I Shot! The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock (2017)

Hooked to the Silver Screen

Here’s one I didn’t know about until I came across it on Prime Video— an excellent documentary about photographer Mick Rock, “the man who shot the 70s.” Rock (that’s his real name), who died in 2021, was probably the premier photographic chronicler of rock music, and Bowie was one of his central subjects. Accordingly, Bowie’s voice, image and music appear…

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Why Bowie?

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Today would have been David Bowie’s 77th birthday. I’m taking the occasion to reflect on why I write this blog, and why it’s focused on Bowie. I feel compelled to start by acknowledging that nobody reads this blog. If I’m wrong about that, and somebody reads this blog, I can say with certainty that nobody talks to me about it.…

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Bowie Cover of the Week: Terzacorsia (?) performs “Ziggy Stardust:

Songs

One of the points of the “cover of the week” post is to highlight how Bowie’s music not only lives on but provides inspiration to contemporary artists, whether they be armatures or professionals. The exercise of finding a “cover of the week” has led me to find videos made by bands from all over the world. In this case, it’s…

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Why I’m still not going to these upcoming Bowie shows

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I posted the below explanation of why I’m not going to any of the many upcoming Bowie tribute shows anytime soon. I’m updating the post in part because more shows are popping up, while all the time the COVID infection rate is surging (I’ve added a chart showing that the rate of COVID is the highest its been since the…

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Free Form Friday: On Claudine Gay’s resignation as Harvard President

Free Form Friday

I was going to write a letter to Harvard President Claudine Gay, urging her not to resign. But I was too slow. President Gay resigned under pressure on Tuesday. I have a Master’s Degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School, which makes me an alumnus and gives me reason to send a letter to the Harvard President. I have personal experience with…

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Lyrics Series I 13 I From “Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed” (1969)

Lyrics Series

I'm a Phallus in pigtails I mentioned this line in two recent posts, one about Bowie’s funny lines and one about his outrageous claims of identity. It surely is a weird thing to say. So, I thought I’d take a closer look as to what he was getting at. Perhaps disappointingly, the line makes a little bit of sense within…

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Divine Symmetry I 10 I Morrissey’s “I Know Its Gonna Happen Someday” and “Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide

Divine Symmetry

I don’t especially like the music of Morrissey or his former band, the Smiths. On top of that, the guy seems like a jerk. It doesn’t help that he publicly feuded with Bowie. Morrissey fired off insults while Bowie responded with a tongue-in-cheek cover of this song, “I Know Its Gonna Happen Someday” (1993) plus, possibly, subtly digging Morrissey in…

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Hooked to the Silver Screen I 9 I The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

Hooked to the Silver Screen

Martin Scorsese’s Last Temptation of Christ is the best movie in which David Bowie ever appeared. Bowie plays the small but crucial role of Pontus Pilate, and, in his brief time on screen, lays out one of the movie’s major subplots. A question looms throughout the movie of whether Jesus is actually divine, if he actually hears the voices of…

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Bowie Cover of the Week: Have a Barry Nice Day performs “Dead Man Walking”

Songs

From what I can gather, Have a Barry Nice Day is a family band, with the family name being Barry. This cover features one person, Laurie, presumably Laurie Barry, performing an acoustic version of Bowie’s 1997 song off the Earthling album. Its a static-image audio recording, which I usually avoid for “cover of the week,” but there’s too much going…

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Why am I posting a video of Miley Cyrus’ different “Let’s Dance” song on New Year’s Eve?

Songs

Last New Year’s Eve, Miley Cyrus and David Byrne performed a cover of Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” on the show covering New York City’s ball-drop event. I posted the video the following day and then…poof- it was gone. I saved my write up for a year, hoping that the video would return on YouTube for this New Year’s Eve, but nope.…

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Bowie’s places

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When recently writing about Lodger, it occurred to me that Bowie frequently mentions places in his songs. These places can be as specific as streets or even buildings and as general as “space” or “Earth” or “Mars.” I was thinking about identifying every place mentioned in a Bowie song, but discarded that idea. There are too many songs that mention…

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Free Form Friday: My Year

Free Form Friday

2023 was a pretty sad year. The biggest event in many life was the death of my friend, Letizia Tagliafierro. I miss her and think of her every day. Societally, it seems like we have been moving in reverse, as we learned the wrong lessons from the pandemic and American (and world) fascism is on the march. Meanwhile, I have…

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Lyrics Series I 12 I Bowie’s outrageous claims of identity

Lyrics Series

I recently noted that one of Bowie’s funniest lines (perhaps unintentionally), came from his 1969 song, “Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed.” It’s one of several songs in which Bowie either declares himself to be something, or not to be something. Sometimes these claims are clearly metaphorical, but sometimes I have no idea what he had in mind. Bowie actually does…

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Divine Symmetry I 9 I Frank Sinatra’s “Come Fly with Me” and Bowie’s “Move On”

Divine Symmetry

At first blush, David Bowie and Frank Sinatra have very little in common, other than, broadly speaking they were both pop stars. Bowie admired Sinatra, placing him alongside Elvis Presley and John Lennon in his holy trinity of role models. I didn’t think Bowie meant that so much in terms of their music (well, at least not when it came…

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Hooked to the Silver Screen I 8 I Zoolander (2001)

Hooked to the Silver Screen

As was the case with Yellowbeard, a bad comedy, Bowie makes a cameo in Zoolander, a good comedy, in which his mere appearance is supposed to be funny. And it is. Zoolander is a very funny, ridiculous movie about two idiotic male models who end up on a mission to prevent the assassination of the Malaysian prime minister. I’m not…

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Bowie Cover of the Week: Acoustic Moon performs “Cat People”

Songs

The visual elements of this video are pretty simple— a couple of people performing in a basement studio. There were better looking videos this week, but I selected this one because of how it sounds. This is the first acoustic version of “Cat People (Putting Out the Fire)” I’ve ever heard, and these two do a great job with it.…

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Pretty much had to post this one again…

Songs

I typically don’t like to post the same video more than once in this blog, but I pretty much feel compelled to re-post Bowie’s bizarre Christmas duet with Bing Crosby today, and probably next year, too. I’m not sure what’s to be said about this strange encounter. Bowie was a few years away from becoming a non-threatening, mainstream pop star.…

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Find Bowie game

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Since his death, and maybe before, David Bowie (or his lightning bolt symbol) has become a nearly ubiquitous cultural phenomenon. If you start looking, you will find him all over the place. This is such the case that you can actually make a game out of it— find Bowie. The object is to be the first to find Bowie…somewhere. This…

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One Bowie-inspired album I can’t listen through all the way…

Albums

Back in 1998 I became aware that Marilyn Manson— who I had heard of but never previously heard— was going to release a Bowie-inspired album, which ended up being called, Mechanical Animals. That was enough for me to buy it back then, and I think I still have the nearly-pristine CD…somewhere. Well, Manson’s cover art vaguely looks like Ziggy Stardust.…

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Free form Friday: On The Name of the Rose

Free Form Friday

My favorite of the books I read this year was Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose. It’s a book I’ve had on my shelf for years, waiting for the right time before taking it on. This was the right time. I found the book so excellent, and with so many threads that I haven’t been able to even write…

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Divine Symmetry I 8 I “Space Oddity” versus “Rocket Man”

Divine Symmetry

Unlike most of what I’ve already written in this series, comparisons between Bowie’s “Space Oddity” (1969) and Elton John’s “Rocket Man” (1972) are easy to find. Despite “Space Oddity” coming first, Bernie Taupin denied being influenced by Bowie’s song. But that’s hard to believe, even if Taupin might not have had Bowie front of mind. Anyway, while not original, I…

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Lyrics Series I 12 I Bowie’s funny lines

Lyrics Series

The Far Out online magazine seems to have nearly as many Bowie posts as this blog. A recent article, which you can link to here, listed what its writer thought were Bowie’s five funniest lyrics. It’s an interesting selection, including a few that are not inherently funny but evoked in the writer’s mind funny images. Without repeating the list (read…

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Hooked to the Silver Screen I 7 I The Snowman (1982)

Hooked to the Silver Screen

The Snowman is a short, animated British Christmas special that largely would seem to have nothing to do with David Bowie. Except that he introduces it, and in his introduction suggests that the lead animated charter was Bowie, or Bowie’s character, as a child. Adopting his warmest, most accessible Let’s Dance era appearance, Bowie shows the audience a distinctive scarf…

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