Bowie’s In Space

The world lost an iconic rocker the other day. No, not Lemmy. Sorry. David Bowie. I myself am not a huge Bowie fan but it is hard to be a fan of rock and roll and not at least have a modicum of respect for what the man created. I was talking to my father about this last night and he brought up a good point. His point was that if you asked twenty people on the street to name five Bowie songs you might only get two or three who could name more than one or two. So the question is; what was Bowie’s appeal?

The answer is a lot simpler than you may think. Like him or love him, you have to admit that Bowie was essentially a cartoon. However, he was a cartoon that was part of something dark, mysterious, taboo and exclusionary. He was part of the underground in a time frame that spanned two decades whose sole purpose was to highlight and celebrate excess. In a time where openly singing about drugs, cross-dressing on stage and all of the snap crackle and pop of early punk rock shows were the norm, Bowie was involved in another realm which seemed to smuggly smirk at the rest of the music world. Like he and his friends knew something that the rest of us would never know.

Iggy Pop, Brian Eno, Lou Reed, Bowie, Burroughs, Warhol… you put those guys in the same room and something horrifically wonderful is going to happen. And it did. Bowie and his colleagues don’t stand the test of time because of their pedestal created by pretentious hipsters, who as of this moment are probably maniacally trying to get every Bowie EP and LP every made on vinyl into their studio apartments in the East Village. They stand the test of time because they simply didn’t care. They were part of a subculture (I really hate that word) which required a, “come as you are” lifestyle and demanded an, “I don’t give a shit” attitude for entry. It was a group of caricatures brought together by a desire to push boundaries which was almost as pressing as their drug habits. They also had a common theme; music. Or to a more pointed extent; performing and art. People looked up to that crew even if they didn’t agree with what they stood for or condoned their actions.

So in the end it is sad that he is gone. But what is more upsetting is that there is no more underground. Music today doesn’t have that bizarre crew somewhere off in the wings practicing and doing lines before a show in a relatively small club or concert hall. A bizarre crew whose influence in that small venue rivals that of the headliners in the biggest arenas. The closest we have today is who? Miley Cyrus? Someone ought to tell her that things aren’t scandalous when they’ve been laboriously planned by a production team. To her fans; no, you are not complex, unique or “quirky.” You’re just whiny. There are no more Ziggy Stardusts.

Music, for a pop star, has become a paycheck and an opportunity to blame being an asshole on the media so that one day they can apologize for their crass and outlandish behavior and make a Christmas album when they need tax money. For Bowie and the rest of that odd gathering of artists, it was always about being an asshole first, blaming bad dope procured for them by the people who cut their checks, never apologizing because an apology meant that there was intent. And most importantly, one day going out on their own terms. Bowie did that.

Nat a bad final performance.

 

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Bowie’s In Space

2016: Potential Breaking Point

Last year will forever be known as the year when America was offended by absolutely everything. This statement has been made by countless memes and snarky posts all over social media. So why do I think the sentiment behind the statement is important?

Simply put; it illustrates the fact that the majority of people are fed up with rampant umbrage taking which swept the United States like whooping cough did in the 1920’s. It was almost impressive to watch. If you have ever seen a blizzard, it was a bit like that. Some light snow at first, which picks up in intensity and then before you know it is a complete white out. People are sick of being made to feel sick.

So what is at the core of the monster that has become well meaning outrage with a squeeze of misappropriated anger?

  1. Publicity. First and foremost, publicity is what drives the industry of outrage as without it, it cannot exist. The amount of publicity that certain campaigns received was absolutely astonishing. However, that is more of a media concern and not so much the desire for publicity. So who am I referring to then when I mention publicity? Actors, Actresses, Pop-stars, has-been’s and never-will-be’s. Publicity is what fuels a celebrity’s career. So when the tank starts to run dry the car starts to stall. There is one person in particular that crops to mind whenever I think about the pathetic residue of a faded star and the lengths in which they will go in order to garner some sort of following again. I use these two following examples because I am on Facebook and Twitter enough to see their posts, daily. First off and I hate to say it, because I used to love the guy’s music… Talib Kweli. I don’t think that anyone revels in the death or misery of others, however when the deaths and misery of others happen to interest a small segment of your fan-base which is rapidly dwindling much like your talent and appeal, then all bets are off.  Yes, Talib we get it. You hate cops, white people and only care about people who have your same skin color. Isn’t that the definition of racism? On the opposite end, we have someone like James Woods. Who, while I enjoy the guy’s work and I agree with a lot of his points, is basically riding the wave of Conservative anger to it’s high point because well… what else is he going to do? Aside from seeing him in Ray Donovan three seasons ago, I can’t remember anything he has been in of note.
  2. Greed. Do not think for a minute that an, “activist” wouldn’t take a paycheck. In fact, more often than not, they do take a healthy pay check and this is what fuels the more outspoken Social Justice Warriors of the world. Outrage is big business these days and it sure as hell beats getting up and driving to work. SJW’s are the new rock stars, because there are no real rock stars anymore. They are the youtuber’s nemesis as they actually have the guts to stand in front of people rather than a webcam to make asses out of themselves. They are loud, obnoxious and for some reason all still seem to shop at Hot Topic. Where there is money, you will find people trying to make a cheap buck. Greed is one of the more dangerous forces at work in our world. For a big enough sum, you can convince anyone of anything. Once you mobilize them, then the sky is the limit for outrageous rhetoric coupled with equally outrageous payouts. “Should I say this? I’m not even sure if these figures are correct and I have little to no idea what I’m talking about” translates to, “cha-ching!”
  3. Jealousy. This is the plight of the non-affected. Those who aren’t a minority or if they are have never been harassed, aren’t transgender, homosexual, Muslim, foreign, etc. Everyone wants to be part of the crowd and if they can’t be naturally they will become part of the crowd unnaturally. It simply isn’t fair that someone else gets to be angry all the time. Regardless of whether or not you start off relatively happy, you should, if you CARE, be royally pissed off by the end of reading a Jezebel or Salon article. How dare … they? In a room filled with people telling half-hearted sob stories where everyone is crying in unison, you’d better damn well have a story of your own to tell or at least cry harder than everyone else. It is an obsolete, animalist pack mentality which kept our earliest ancestors safe but now serves no purpose other than to capitalize off of other people’s legitimate tragedies.
  4. Boredom. Finally, good old fashioned boredom has a huge or as Donald Trump would say, “yuge” part to play in all of this. Coupled with a large chunk of stupidity. We as modern people have ridiculously short attention spans. We are the only generation of people who actually get bored with wars. Yes, people are still dying all over the Middle East. Because of social media, 140 character limits, memes, clickbait, statuses and Buzzfeed, people do not have the time to actually analyze an issue that interests or concerns them. Or at least they think they don’t and have convinced themselves they don’t because reading is yucky. So, they become instant experts on the subject because they have scrolled through a few pages and voila; they have a pet cause. This pads the numbers in the SJW front line but does no one any good. A thousand misinformed SJW soldiers will always be brought down by 100 thinking people. Unless those same SJW soldiers are louder, incredibly obnoxious, vitriolic, intolerant to any view other than their own and have pinker hair than the rest. Which is what 2015 was.

So why do I think 2016 may be the breaking point? Because as anyone who has screamed at a concert can tell you, after screaming for a while, you lose your voice. People are fed up with being told that they are part of a boogey man system which actually does not exist. Women are being tired of being told that they are victims. Men are being tired of being told that they are potential rapists. Minorities are tired of being treated like charity cases which must depend on white people to survive. White people are tired of being told that they are evil and have privileges that don’t extend past a Talib Kweli rant. Working people who collect a paycheck are tired of having it plundered by a government led by a president and party who have made it clear that they are going to do what they want despite the wishes of the American people.

So maybe the quiet will become loud in 2016. I hope so at least. Loud enough to make some positive strides towards normalcy in this nation and in this world. But not too loud. Because then there will be a rush on pink hair dye.

 

2016: Potential Breaking Point