A Festschrift for Bowie
Dames Nation, We Mourn.
Naturally, we also celebrate this great, decades-long gift to #punimwatch
(h/t #DamesPal Julie)
It has been a rough week for people, like your Dames, with a weakness for
Sinisterly Beautiful British Men.
Dame Margaret lives in the world and loves anyone with heterochromia iridum, so she was brought pretty low on Monday morning when she heard of David Bowie's sudden death.
But Dame Sophie grew up loving Bowie from the age of nine. He has lived in her bones for longer than Dame Margaret has even been alive.
So, in the words of Aaron Burr (sir)-- I'll let her tell it.
It’s 1984. You’re a generally people-pleasing and well-behaved child of 9. Your parents decide to give this new cable thing a go for the summer, and your favorite babysitter, Rosemary -- a very glamorous teen who French braids your hair and taught you to roller skate in the driveway -- introduces you & your sister to a channel called MTV. You are, predictably, entranced. There’s a video for a song called “Blue Jean”, sung by a...well, a really compelling, strange-looking guy. (Re-viewing this video, you notice just how well he seemed to understand contouring before the Kardashians were even a glimmer in Kris’s eye.) But there’s just something about him. And what’s this? He’s playing a dual role in the video, as both the magnetic weirdo performer and the hapless yet swoony swain in a perfect suit? You really fucking love this song. Blue Jean does indeed send you.
It’s 1990. Thanks in large part to classic rock stations routinely counting down the Top 500 Songs of All Time (As Defined by a Group of White Dudes Older Than Your Dad), you are now a full-on music nerd with many crushes on many singers: Prince, Bowie, Bono, Sting, Michael Stipe, Michael Jackson, George Michael, George Harrison. You’ve watched Labyrinth more times than is probably healthy (still with the genius contouring! Not that the king of Punim Watch needs it, but still). You also babysit several nights a week and use your responsibly-gotten gains to subscribe to Rolling Stone & SPIN, and to buy a lot of tapes & concert tickets. One of your first purchases down at Tower Records is the remastered re-release of The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders from Mars (complete with bonus tracks! You never knew they were a thing before!). You listen to it all summer, memorizing the lyrics. You buy some more Bowie tapes on sale, your favorite uncle tells you about his favorite Bowie song (“Changes”, which you also love an almost unreasonable amount), you talk your friend Jen into going with you to see him play the Spectrum on the Sound + Vision Tour and splash out on a copy of the concert program (sadly long since lost). When he plays “Heroes”, you think you may die of an unbearable mix of happiness, sexiness, and melancholy.
It’s 2000. You tag along with your best friend to meet one of her best friends from her study abroad program, an English guy who you know has great taste in music. You put “Soul Love” on a mixtape for him, knowing it’s a deep cut & he’ll either know it and be impressed or (even better) not know it and be a little intimidated. It’s the latter -- yesssss! -- and you have a conversation about how for all their love of conformity, what the English love best of all is a beautiful genius weirdo like Bowie, Mercury or Morrissey. Thanks in part to your mixtape sorcery, you later marry that guy (who now lies next to you, gently nudging you in the shoulder and saying “yes, I think we SHOULD watch the 1972 ‘Starman’ performance again! And then the 1973 ‘Jean Genie’ with the fisheye lens stuff, please.”).
It’s 2016. One week, you think, “oh, I must watch that ‘Lazarus’ video. Excellent surprise, Bowie! Please never change, you glorious wackadoo.” The next week, you’re in mourning. You reflect on all the things David Bowie gave you: The notion that being a restless cultural magpie might be a worthwhile thing to be. A sterling example of how rewarding it is to collaborate with people you love and respect. Some solid reasons not to do hard drugs. A lifelong appreciation for beautiful genius weirdos. Lust. A day (quite a few days, really) when you had occasion to sing “Moonage Daydream” in the car with your ten year-old, as loud as you could.
A key motto in the Bossy Aerie.
And Now, A Partial Bowie Link-Wake
There's been so much great coverage of and reflections on David Bowie, both as a person and as an artist, over the last week. Here's a sampling of some of the best, including familiar classics, and a couple we knew nothing about til a few days ago.
Consider Bowie’s 1972 live performance of Starman. It’s lost none of its explosive appeal as a giant, audacious middle finger extended in the direction of the confines of masculinity (while also being a combination of sexy and endearing that Dame S. finds irresistible).
In 1983, during an interview with MTV’s Mark Goodman, David Bowie mentioned that he thought it was weird that the network wasn’t showing many videos by Black artists. Watch his Politely Smiling Face of Disgust & Disbelief as Goodman digs himself into a whitesplaining hole.
We associate Bowie so strongly with Germany & France, but he was global artist, with global reach, as shown by these eight Latin American tributes to his songs.
Remember when Bowie wore a pistachio green suit to Freddie Mercury’s tribute concert & took a knee to recite the Lord’s Prayer after performing "Under Pressure" with Annie Lennox? That was pretty great.
Grieving for someone who meant a lot to you, who also did some monstrous shit in his lifetime, is complicated.
Bowie: A Book Nerd (maybe even an honorary librarian?) who compiled a master list of his Favorite 100 titles.
A surprisingly effective Bowie Grief Management Strategy: The Flight of the Conchords’ silly, perfect, loving parody, Bowie’s In Space (PLUS: Jemaine Clement’s story of how they wrote the song, but couldn’t get Bowie on the show.)
Also effective: watching this true and correct brief animated documentary of life in the studio during the recording sessions for Low.
Dame M's Link Buffet
Viciously, David Bowie wasn't the only beloved British star to die this week, at age 69, of cancer, with no warning for their fans-- we also lost Alan Rickman, but not before he saw Hamilton, a fact which gives Dame Margaret's grieving heart real comfort. Another source of comfort: Rickman's extremely charming and funny interview with Jesse Thorn on Bullseye, one of Dame M.'s very favorite podcasts. DID YOU KNOW that Hans Gruber was Rickman's very first film role? HAVE YOU ever wondered why, in period movies, everyone has a British accent even when the past they're depicting is set in France? Then you will definitely want to listen to this interview-- or even the whole episode, which also includes a fascinating interview with the director of a documentary about the history of hip-hop fashion.
If your ears aren't quite to lust and grieve at the same time, then maybe you can comfort them with Stephen Thomspon's "Best of 2015" playlist. It's been an especially revelatory list for Dame M., whose ears have been A BIT PREOCCUPIED since Hamilton's original cast recording dropped in September. Best find so far: Saintseneca, whose album Such Things has been on repeat now for about a week.
And, speaking of music, mayhaps you want to read an excellent story about how songs recorded in 1955, by a woman a woman missing since 1974, have become cult classics in 2016.
And finally, if none of these things provide you comfort, perhaps Erstwilder's array of Twee As Fuck resin jewelry can finally ease your doldrums with a Dapper Dachshund brooch, a Superhero Corgi necklace, or even postage stamp earrings. Just to name some examples. (h/t #Damespal Julie, for the second time in a single issue!)
WARNING! This brooch exists! It is not a drill!!
This Week in Hamilton
Real time footage of Dame Margaret this Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Dame Margaret’s best friend surprised her with tickets to see the show in August, which is clearly the most important news that we have ever been able to share in “This Week in Hamilton.” It will hold this exalted position until we can share similar news about Dame Sophie and her adorable, Hamilton-fanatic daughter obtaining tickets.
This Monday was A. Ham’s birthday, and Vulture celebrated all week long with a fantastic package of pieces, including a roundtable interview with most of the leads, a compendium of all the #Ham4Ham performances to date (complete with faceted search options!!!!), and a guide to naming your child after characters in the show. Truly, it is a gift, and each piece was brought to our attention by more of you than we could EVER thank.
The Schuyler Droids are exactly as hilarious as you imagine they will be.
Librarians: They may love Hamilton not wisely, but too well.
Surprise, surprise, Lin-Manuel Miranda was named the 2015 Broadway Showperson of the Year!
It's been a bit of a week. To recuperate, Your Dames are looking forward to watching the complete Kennedy Center Honors Ceremony. (Related: A GIF Taxonomy of the Various Emotions Carole King and the Obamas Experienced During Aretha Franklin’s Performance of "Natural Woman".)
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It must be nice, it must be niiiice, to have the perfect dismissive Bowie response GIF on your side (especially when something is almost too dumb to merit comment)