Wednesday, March 09, 2005

All roads lead to Bowie

I was talking to a friend yesterday and mentioned that, “coincidence of coincidences!,” on the very day I was introduced to Bukowski in the form of a New Yorker article, that day at dinner my dad brought up the man as we were debating the merits and demerits of the Beats. But while I thought it quite the thing that, after never knowing of Bukowski previously, he was suddenly mentioned twice within three hours, the friend in question assured me that Bukowski, though certainly a cult figure, was not such a great enigma as I believed (“I think Modest Mouse wrote a song about him”). Apparently, I was just out of the loop.

Admittedly, I was not much of a fan of Bukowski’s poetry, but I liked this comment on his use of the phrase “some people”:

"Bukowski's fans realize that 'some people,' like E.E. Cummings's 'mostpeople,' or J.D. Salinger's hated 'phonies,' are never us, always them--those not perceptive enough to understand our merit..."

Today my first period class was canceled and I, in true geeky T.C. form, spent my free period in the library reading the Guardian online. I love the Guardian. I love that it uses British slang journalistically without batting an eye and that it has a music section called “Who the hell are…?” And that R. Crumb article! (Also, the Guardian published the only review of The Life Aquatic that I actually agreed with.)

Speaking of which, I have been listening to those Seu Jorge Portuguese-ized Bowie songs nonstop for the past week. They are so perfect—how did that soundtrack win no awards?; in addition to the best re-interpretation of Bowie since, well, ever, it featured Nico, Joan Baez, Wes Anderson’s old pal Mark Mothersbaugh (of Devo fame)…and was that Sigur Ros in the scene when they spotted the shark?

I’ve accidentally turned my brother on to Bowie as well, and the entire time he’s been home for spring break, he has been playing “Life on Mars?” late into the night. I have to admit, that is a damn good song. (I also like his lesser-known “Song for Bob Dylan” because it sounds so Dylan-esque and it reminds me of Dylan’s similar “Song for Woody”—carrying on the tradition, as it were.)

That Bowie. Gotta love him.

A few days ago, my brother and I were talking about how there are no stand-alone music stars nowadays: no Dylan, no Bowie, no Clapton, no Springsteen (by the way, anyone else notice that the catchy chorus of that Grammy-nominated Shrek song is straight from “Rosalita”?). Who have we got? A handful of indie bands drumming their hearts out, including the new Franz Ferdinand which was the new Gang of Four, and the likes of Ashlee Simpson, who apparently can’t even spell.

Where are our heroes? Where are our Abraham Lincolns, our Charles Lindberghs, our Joe DiMaggios, our Cary Grants? All we have today are celebrities. In an unintentional throwback to Bowie, I’d like to post something Neil Gaiman said a while ago that struck a chord with me:

“When I was sixteen, The Stranglers released their song "No More Heroes" at the same time that Bowie released "Heroes" ("We can be heroes/just for one day") and I remember pondering what heroes were and whether we needed them, and whether we could be them. I wasn't sure that we did need them: when everyone's a hero then no-one's a hero, and I'd rather live in a world in which everyone's a hero.”

Oh Neil, what a guy! Speaking of my favorite mythology-touting British import, I’m excited to announce that his latest book since the incomparable American Gods—to be called Anansi Boys—is finished and set for publication on September 20th. (Anansi Boys will, I think, be my Strange & Norrell of 2005: it’ll be the big book I’m buried in just as the school year’s busily winding up.)

(This is to be the US cover of Anansi Boys; I think the lighting bolt is a throwback to the American Gods cover)

If Neil’s other books are any indication, I think I will love this one. I wish I had connections in the book industry so I could get one of those galley-proof copies of Anansi Boys and read it early…that would just be the epitome of coolness for a bookworm like myself.

Well I’m off to a meeting for the school newspaper (you can call me Chief now!), after which the remainder of my evening will be spent writing my Religion paper, Milton paper, and Weathermen paper, in that order. Such fun! I wish I could be reading Don Quixote, ye wretched knaves…


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