Happy two days before Thanksgiving, all.
I posted a new blog to my podcast’s website this morning. You can find it here.
I thank you all.
For me, it went like this.
At 10:30, I turned off my bedroom light and got into bed. For reasons beyond my immediate comprehension, I saw pink, winged ponies when I shut my eyes. The sight of them was strange, yet strangely comforting. I soon fell asleep.
At 11:25 (or what must have been right around 11:25), I woke up to go to the bathroom. When I got back to my room, I saw that my phone was, as the kids say, blowing up. Three different people had sent me text messages. 14 text messages.
I opened one. It said, “Bowie. Gone.”
At that moment, I was only about 3/4 of the way conscious. What was my friend trying to say? Was he up late listening to old Bowie records and feeling reflective? Was he so blown away by Low he felt his mind was “Gone”? Did he really hate Blackstar?
I remembered I had 13 other texts to read. Then I woke up.
I have 14 texts because people are trying to tell me that David Bowie is dead.
I opened up another message. It was a group text. Two of my closest friends and I have been babbling to each other via text about anything and everything nearly every day for several years. All three of us love using caps lock.
“ARE YOU HEARING THE REPORTS THAT DAVID BOWIE DIED. I’M REALLY FUCKED UP RIGHT NOW.”
I Googled it. BBC News confirmed it. I gasped. Loudly. Then I heard my name from the other room.
One of my roommates came to my door. I joined her in the hallway. She had just read the news on social media. “I heard the noise from your room and figured you just got the news,” she said. I looked up at the wall and saw the sepia print I bought in San Francisco 10 years ago of Bowie and Lou Reed looking rather friendly. I’m not a religious person, but I do love the idea of happy reunions.
I sat back down on my bed and contemplated staying up all night. I wasn’t even sad yet; I just knew I was in for a long one. At this point I was wide awake, but I felt like I was dreaming.
My phone rang. Another friend had heard.
It was at this friend’s house that I first saw Labyrinth. We were 10 or 11 and Bowie’s crotch had completely taken over our slumber party. We returned that VHS to Blockbuster pretty damn worn. Years later, we traded in Labyrinth for Moulin Rouge! and sang “Elephant Love Medley” with the sort of crazed abandon that can only be produced by teenage girls, particularly those who are hopelessly in love with a significantly older, married celebrity. Aw, Ewan McGregor. “We can he heroes / forever and ever.”
I picked up the call. I didn’t even say “hello.” I just said, “Dude.”
“I’m sorry. I hope I’m not waking you up.”
“Do you know why I’m calling?”
We expressed our mutual shock and confusion. Then there were a few more moments of, “Dude” and “I know” and “What the FUCK, man?”
“We both got to see him live,” I reminded her.
“Yes, we did get to do that.”
My friend started to cry. I was numb.
“I’m still in disbelief,” I said.
“I’m sorry,” she said, “I don’t know. I just…I never met him or anything, but…he was just always around. I associate him with, ya know, with you guys.”
I thought about the time my mom drove a group of us to San Francisco for spring break. We were in 11th grade. The minivan broke down at one point just outside San Luis Obispo. As my mom waited by the van for roadside assistance, my friends and I stood on the side of the highway. Arm-in-arm, the five of us sang “Ziggy Stardust” at maximum volume.
“I know,” I told my friend. “I get it.”
We talked about our concern for a friend of ours who had undoubtedly gone to bed before the news broke, and how unfair it was that she was going to wake up in the morning and find out her hero had died. Eventually, our conversation reached a lull.
“Ok,” said my friend, “I’m just gonna listen to Bowie and cry some more. Goodnight. I love you.”
“I love you so, so much.”
I hung up. I thought about when my friend and I first watched Trainspotting. We were 14. Frickin’ Ewan McGregor. We knew literally nothing about the movie besides the fact our loverman was the star. Christ. We struck gold that day. How often do you fall in love with an actor and then learn — by accident — he’s notorious for getting naked in his movies? What luck. We rewound that tape like we were two 10-year-olds watching Labyrinth, only this time there was no mystery.
What was that song, though? The one from the opening credits? And what was that song from the scene were Renton ODs and sinks into the floor at the Mother Superior’s house? Those questions haunted me so much I went out and bought a copy of the soundtrack. The song I fell in love with was Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day.”
“How’d you learn about Lou?” my dad asked me one evening.
“From the Trainspotting soundtrack.”
“You saw Trainspotting?”
“Have you listened to any Velvet Underground?” he asked.
“Look for them next time you go to download songs off the internet.”
That was the moment dad officially became my guide. He played me Lou’s Berlin for the first time and told me it was the perfect thing to listen to when you’re depressed. He played me weird Iggy Pop songs and drove me to a little record store one afternoon and bought me a copy of London Calling. He put on New Order one slow Saturday night and we danced our hearts out to “Temptation.” For Christmas I was given a small turntable and I fiendishly raided his record collection.
One night he came into my room and handed me his copy of Marianne Faithful’s Broken English. “Put this on next time you really feel like you hate men,” he said.
I was just a bit proud of myself when I picked up a copy of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars from the Sam Goody in the Thousand Oaks Mall. I was 15. It was the summer before 10th grade, and I was desperate for a distraction from my assigned reading. I had already spent half the vacation listening to Raw Power — David Bowie seemed like the next logical step on my teenage rock and roll adventure.
Is there a stranger opening track than “Five Years”? And what’s with the aliens? And what exactly is a “rock and roll suicide”? I had no answers, but I still felt like I had found the key to everything. (Take that, Aldous Huxley.)
The day after I turned 16, my dad played me “Life on Mars?” He called it, “One of the most beautiful rock and roll songs ever recorded.” A little over a year later, he took me and two friends to see Bowie in concert, where he sang “Life on Mars?” Beautiful, indeed. So beautiful, in fact, that I stopped doing my homework for a good month and a half. I had no time for homework — I was too busy listening to Bowie and perfecting my eye shadow technique.
Wait, wait, “Life on Mars?”? That was it — that was the song I needed to play to begin mourning Bowie!
I jumped off my bed and ran to the corner of my room to plug in my ancient turntable. I queued up the song, turned up the volume, and stood in the middle of my room waiting for the deluge. I was ready.
Bowie sounded like a robot that was powering down for the night. Was the speed wrong? I tinkered with the settings. Nothing worked. I turned off the turntable and crawled into bed and listened to the song on my iPhone. It wasn’t the same. I cursed the modern world and I did not cry.
This morning was a flurry of texts and facebook messages. Everyone was sad and no one was ready. We reminisced about important moments of our teen-hood for which Bowie was cosmically present: driving through Topanga Canyon on a Saturday afternoon; convincing our theater teacher to play “Let’s Dance” during our annual holiday play; improvising an interpretive dance to “Space Oddity” in my parents’ driveway. I sat at my desk at work and answered text messages and read opinion pieces and news briefs and wondered how one person could inspire so many.
I was clad in black from head-t0-toe, but I still hadn’t cried.
My phone beeped.
It was dad. He had sent me a YouTube link. “From the tour we saw,” he said. “I’m getting a little choked up as I’m remembering you and your friends holding hands and crying to this song.” As I listened, I, too, became a little choked up, but there was no time for real tears. Not at work.
I’m home now. I’m sitting on my bed in my pajamas and I’m looking at the clock wondering how I managed to stay up this late. I’ve been in this exact situation before — up past my bedtime feeling too wired to sleep and too tired to relax and too anxious about everything I’m doing and not doing — and it’s actually nights like these where Bowie sounds the best. I couldn’t say exactly why — maybe something to do with the night sky increasing a spaceship’s visibility. Perhaps I’ll sleep with my blinds open.
Finally — tears.
“How can Rick be dead when we still have his poems?”
That’s the attitude I try to have when it comes to the death of someone I loved, yet never met.
In 2013, I lost three of my best friends. The news was devastating every time. Did I know them personally? No. And yes. And not really. And very well.
Why did I consider them my friends? All of them had just, I dunno — all of them had gotten me through so many confusing, shitty, or just plain boring times. I hope I don’t sound too crazy when I say that. I’ve never stalked anyone and I understand the difference between fantasy and reality, but yeah, these people meant a lot to me. They still mean a lot to me. I can call them my “friends” if I want. And I was sad when my friends made their exits.
Still, the question remains: “How can Rick be dead when we still have his poems?”
Lou Reed? He ain’t dead. He can’t be. I still love him very much and I still have “Sweet Jane,” so nothing has changed.
James Gandolfini isn’t dead, either, and neither is Tony Soprano. (My theory, anyway.)
Peter O’Toole. My dearest, darling Peter O’Toole. The coolest. The smartest. The hottest. The craziest. That voice. That height. That hair. I think about him all the time and I miss him all the time, and yet, as long as I can get together with my friends every December and laugh and cry and yell and drink champagne while watching The Lion in Winter, Peter O’Toole can never die.
This morning, as soon as I got to work and turned on my computer, I found out that Rik Mayall died. Today. Rik Mayall died today. Weird. So very weird. And sad. He was still, well, young…
Just last week, I was listening to The Pogues and wondering when Shane MacGowan would die. I was also wondering why Shane MacGowan hasn’t died already. Seriously.
I should stop. I don’t wanna give the universe any ideas.
My point is, I was already thinking about my remaining heroes and wondering who I’d lose next. Apparently, not Shane MacGowan.
Oddly enough, I was also thinking about The Young Ones last week. I don’t remember why or how, but, quite suddenly and inexplicably, I felt inspired to find the Dr. Marten’s boots song on YouTube. After watching it, I spent a good hour and a half searching for cheap Dr. Marten’s online. No avail.
The next day, a co-worker of mine mentioned The Young Ones. He’s Scottish. I said, “I fucking love The Young Ones.” He said, “That’s too weird.” I asked him why. He said, “It’s just weird that you even know that show.” I asked him why. He said, “I dunno. I mean, it’s British and it’s old and it’s weird…I mean, I was watching that when I was in high school.” I said, “So was I.”
If you knew me in high school, you must recall that I was a pretty cool teenager. I mean it. Like, the coolest. For example, when I was 15 or 16, I begged my mom to buy me orange suede ADIDAS like the ones Ewan McGregor wears in Trainspotting. I felt so badass whenever I wore them. Like, so very, very badass. I also begged her to buy me a pair of plaid pants, because, ya know, Scotland. Or something.
There’s really, like, very minimal plaid in Trainspotting. I realize that now.
The coolest thing, though, was that every Saturday afternoon in tenth grade (after improv practice, no less) I would go to my friend Kaley’s house for Britcom. Yes. Britcom was our somewhat exclusive club that involved eating ice cream and watching British comedies until our eyes hurt. We wrote a constitution at one point. I don’t remember what was in it except for The Golden Rule, which came from an episode of Father Ted: “If anyone is ever talking to you again, think about what you’re saying and then don’t say it, and then just run away somewhere.”
The Young Ones was one of Britcom’s staples. Every David Bowie reference made me feel so damn validated. I went out and bought a Madness record and listened to “House of Fun” on repeat. I began referring to my English teacher as a “fascist bully boy,” despite the fact that she was a She. I seldom said, “I don’t have any money” — I usually launched into a Neil impression and said, “We haven’t got any breaaaad.” When I was feeling boy crazy I was a “Bitch funky sex machine.” I wrote “Boomshanka” on things I shouldn’t have written “Boomshanka” on. I even once got a Starbucks barista to write it on the sleeve of my Americano. I think I still have that sleeve somewhere.
Rik Mayall is dead. The people’s poet is dead. I’m sad for his wife and his family. I’m sad for Ade Edmondson. Like I keep saying, though, “we still have his poems.”
My VHS tapes of The Young Ones were dragged from my parents’ house to my college dorm (there was a VCR in the downstairs common room), and when I moved out of the dorm and into an on-campus apartment, I made sure to buy a TV that had both a VHS player and a DVD player. Why? Well, how could I live without Neil, Mike, Vyvyn, and Rick? They were university students, after all.
I still have those tapes. I’m not ever going to get rid of those tapes.
Aw, Rick. Thanks for helping make it nearly impossible for me to legitimately enjoy 99.9% of the current comedies on television. No giant sandwiches falling from the sky? No jokes about Leonard Cohen being a vampire? No pervasive political undertones? No, thank you.
There was also the music: Dexy’s Midnight runners doing “Jackie Wilson Said” and multiple Madness appearances and that great scene with friggin’ Motorhead…
What the hell is that shot of you guys being pushed on that…what is that? That’s a luggage carrier thing, right? Well, it slays me. Every time.
Ah, Rick. Thank you. Your show is so damn cool. So, so cool. It had everything the teenage version of Steff wanted in a show, and, since 27 year old Steff is very similar to the person she was 11 years ago, it’s still one of my all time favorites. It’s part of me, really. An appreciation for The Young Ones (or the ability to sit through several episodes in-a-row) is my litmus test for whether or not a man is husband material. (Husband, not boyfriend. Those are two different things.) Watching an episode of The Young Ones is my solo go-to activity when I’m having a shitty day. The music that plays during the end credits is what I hear in my head when I’m exceptionally happy.
Aw, Rick. RICK. My favorite pseudo-intellectual-anarchist-hipster-bachelor-boy. You’ve never failed to make me smile. You never will, you friggin’ weirdo.
Holy Mother of All That Is Holy.
Yes, “Mother.” Life-giver. Caretaker. Diaper-changer. Housekeeper. Chef. Chauffeur. Goddess Supreme who deserves nothing less than complete and utter reverence.
This article, if you can even call it that, was brought to my attention this afternoon by a good friend of mine via facebook. It’s titled “Things women must learn from men.” (That’s right. It doesn’t even have proper capitalization, and yet there it is, in writing, for all the internet to see.) This friend of mine deemed it, “one of many reasons why no one likes Yahoo!” I opened up the link expecting to see some asinine dissertation on lipstick shades and sexting, but, instead, I saw something a couple million times more terrifying.
The piece begins:
Things women must learn from men
Beyond doubt, women are the finest creations of the Almighty. They posses some qualities that are even beyond the comprehension of men. However, if they adopt some of the qualities of men too, they will undeniably be the better sex.
From the beginning, this article (feature, commentary, whatever) is a complete waste of time. First of all, I’ve had enough of The Almighty being used as a tool to minimize womankind. It’s bad enough that He keeps coming up in the political discussions of the [mostly male] sociopaths who run this country, but does He also have to make appearances in Yahoo! puff pieces? BAD Yahoo! puff-pieces?
“They possess some qualities that are even beyond the comprehension of men.” This is just boring. If I wanted to be entertained by this kind of shit, I’d pour myself a drink, put on Down with Love, and call it a day. News Flash: there is no “better sex.” There are amazing men and amazing women, as well as shitty men and shitty women. And please, let’s not minimize gender inequality and bring it down to the level of Boys vs. Girls like it’s Coke vs. Pepsi. Please?
Oh, but you’re going to, aren’t you? You just are. You so are.
There is no foreseeable end to the battle of the sexes. So it would be wise to come to terms with the fact that both sexes have some qualities that are unique to each of them. Men are creatures of physical strength, chivalry and pride whereas women are creatures of beauty, grace and elegance. However, there are some things that are universal to all men, but went somewhere missing in the case of women. Let’s take a look at some of those things.
Most things just aren’t universal. That’s not my UC Santa Cruz liberal education talking — it’s just a fact. “Men are creatures of physical strength, chivalry and pride whereas women are creatures of beauty, grace and elegance.” I’m gonna hafta stop ya right there…I can accept the fact that my brothers can lift more weight than I can, but I can belch like I have balls. And what about all those [awesomely sexy] skinny men out there who just plain cannot gain muscle? Also, who the Hell is to say that men cannot be elegant? Have ya seen Fred Astaire dance? Have ya seen David Bowie sing “Ziggy Stardust” in a kimono? Have ya seen Cary Grant do ANYTHING?
Yeah. What NOW, Yahoo?
But oh, we’re not even at the rules yet.
Women have a penchant for being dramatic. It is understandable that women are sensitive beings, but having emotional outbreaks over the most trivial things is something that can be avoided for the better interest of all.
All right. I will be the first to admit that I cried two nights ago when I heard the opening bars of a Tom Waits song come on my iTunes shuffle. It was one of those moments where I wasn’t sure why I was crying. I was crying because I was tired. I was also crying because I was happy. I was also crying because the moment was perfect. I was sitting in my room alone typing a list of all my film and music heroes, and then Tom Waits started singing to me, and all was right with the world. Often times, when punched in the face by a beautiful piece of art, I will let the tears roll free. (And yes, if it were a certain week of the month, I probably would have cried more. It’s SCIENCE, assholes. EVOLUTION. VITAL TO THE SURVIVAL OF HUMANKIND. That being said, let’s stop minimizing a woman’s period. My last period made me so sick I ended up in the health center at work unable to walk and unable to drive home. But, then again, I’m just an emotional woman. I shoulda stuck it out and crashed my car. Like a man.)
And let me be even more frank. Men are emotional creatures, too. It is completely unfair that males are taught from a very young age that is it not acceptable for them to cry (get nervous, get scared, get excited, etc.). Who came up with that rule? And does it really make things easier for everyone? To just walk around like volcanoes ready to erupt at any moment? Instead of labeling any singular display of emotion as “dramatic,” lets just accept that humans are meant to have emotions…shall we? Maybe?
Also, when my high school boyfriend agreed to watch Moulin Rouge! with me and ended up loving it, I fell so damn in love with him. I also loved it every time he showed up at my house in the morning with an iced Americano. Ya know why? Because it’s awesome when men are sensitive AND when they like taking care of a woman. In fact it’s hot. So, what does that teach you? Fuck you, Yahoo!
Often, women seem to live by a make-believe perspective that clouds the reality from them. While it is perfectly appropriate to be positive, it is not apt to blatantly ignore your flaws and faults. Embracing faults and living with them is something women can learn from men.
Okay. So women do things like watch wedding shows and dream about their ideal centerpieces. They also dream about meeting ideal partners who treat them with respect. Guilty as charged.
“Embracing faults and living with them is something women can learn from.” Right, uh, because men never spend hours at the gym showing off their hard earned muscles? Because there hasn’t been an increase in men of all sexual orientations who do things like have their nails manicured?
AND FUCK YOU, PLENTY OF MEN HAVE RIDICULOUS EXPECTATIONS OF WOMEN!
Think of all the scum bags out there who only date women who have breasts implants. Think of all the scum bags out there who only date women who are smaller than a size 8. Think of all the scum bags out there who only like blondes, or only like redheads. Think of all the scum bags who can’t stand the sight of a woman without makeup. Think of all the scum bags out there who assume that every woman is insane (and rich!) enough to regularly allow a total stranger to cover their vulvas with hot wax in the name of eradicating unwanted, all natural pubic hair.
I could go on? And I am NOT anti-man. I’m anti-scum bag. And this article.
I LOVE MEN. I love men SO MUCH that I can’t stand the idea of them being portrayed as emotionless, hard-hearted assholes.
Life is something that can only be thoroughly enjoyed by taking risks. Women often hold back on some of the most crucial junctures of life when they should have just taken the leap. Mankind has made numerous advances just because of man’s affinity towards risk.
I think this is a thinly veiled plea for anal. Yeah. Definitely.
Women are always picky on the details even up to the point of obsession. They seem to over-analyze and complicate some of the simplest things in life. While attention to detail is a good quality, women should learn not to push the limits of the same.
“Women are always picky on the details even up to the point of obsession.” I wore a sleeveless dress to a party a few weekends ago and I didn’t bother shaving my armpits. No one noticed.
Again, what is this “always” bullshit? This suggests that men are “never” picky about details, which is completely unfair. Generally speaking (see what I did there?), men are not completely mindless wastes of space who sit on couches not giving a shit about absolutely anything that transpires in their lives. That is the kind of man you see in commercials who sits idly watching his pragmatic wife clean the floor with Swiffer wipes. That man isn’t real, ok? And if he is, he’s single. And probably high.
Finally, I’ve dated many a man who had more than a touch of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. “I can’t hang out with you for the next few weeks. I have a midterm.” “Don’t touch that door handle! Wash your hands!”
No offence to the ladies but they just never seem to get the hang of driving a car. They even have a hard time parking the car. So this is one of the practical traits that women can learn from men.
I am not even going to dignify this with my opinion. I am not going to tell the story of the time when my father decided to teach me to drive a stick shift before I had even been behind the wheel of an automatic and he ended up hitting his head against the windshield because he neglected to fasten his seat belt before DRAMATICALLY yelling at me to slam on the breaks. I am not going to bother saying that both of my brothers have had minor fender benders, while I have never EVER had a minor fender bender. I will say, though, that I noticed you spelled “offense” as “offence.” This tells me you’re probably English. I know that because I pay attention to detail. Just like Sherlock Holmes…who, I’m rather sure, had a penis.
Men don’t hold grudges; they seem to sort even the biggest fights over beer. Women can surely learn a thing or two from the brotherly bond of men.
The brotherly bond of men? You mean when you’re paid to beat the shit out of each other in stadiums? Or when you have one too many beers and end up punching each other in the face and getting thrown out of bars? Do the men who run the world start hideously destructive wars with each other because they can’t figure out when and where to meet up for a couple pints of Guinness?
To reference my own life again, plenty of males have held grudges against me. Many of my ex-boyfriends held grudges because I broke up with them. Ya know why? They didn’t like being broken up with. It hurt their pride. It hurt their feelings. It made them sad and angry, because these men were (and still are…) human-beings with emotions. Oh, I was plenty sad and confused as well, don’t get me wrong, and I’ve had more than one Closure Conversation with an ex-boyfriend that led to BOTH of us getting a little bit weepy.
And yeah, men have de-friended me on facebook over trivial fucking grudges. We all do dumb shit. ALL of us.
Women and technology don’t go well. While men humbly embrace their geeky side, women like to keep a reasonable distance from it. It wouldn’t hurt for women to learn a thing or two more about their gadgets.
I know ALL THERE IS TO KNOW about my “gadget”. It’s got six different speeds.
Do you have six different speeds?
Men can be light-hearted about almost anything while women are not that receptive to all kinds of humour. Women can certainly enjoy themselves more by increasing their range of humour.
I don’t know where this is coming from. Have you not seen Who Framed Roger Rabbit? When asked why she is married to Roger Rabbit, Jessica — the ultimate example of realistic expectations, right? — simply states, “He makes me laugh.” Women LOVE to laugh. It’s all we do when we get together. Ever wonder why the words “giggling” and “girls” often appear right next to each other? It’s because girls often DO spend lots of time giggling. It’s fun. Why do you think we love having epic sleepovers so much? We laugh our asses off.
My first love was Adam Sandler. I find Jack Black irresistibly sexy. Drew Barrymore married Tom Green, for fuck’s sake. And ya know what? I know plenty of men who loved Ted and hate Woody Allen movies. How’s THAT for not having a “range of humour”?
The article just kinda ends. Just kinda sits there. Like a fucking turd. There’s no conclusion, or final paragraph of cookie-cutter wisdom that synthesizes all these ideas and leaves the female reader with the boost she needs to transform herself into the perfect woman with the help of these eight easy tips. Then again, judging by the intelligence displayed within this list, I’m sure that whomever wrote this was absolutely exhausted by the time he or she finished typing and hit “submit.”
I’m exhausted, too. I’m done with the commercially accepted assumption that Women’s Rights are synonymous with splitting a dinner bill. I’m exhausted by the fact that there are people out there who read this Yahoo! piece of shit and took it seriously. I’m exhausted by the idea that young girls are taught that “feminist” is a dirty word. I’m exhausted by generalities, vagaries, and steadfast expectations.
So exhausted, I am now going to watch The Sopranos with my younger brother and one of my very best girlfriends. We are going to stuff our faces with guacamole and watch people manipulate and shoot each other. We are going to laugh at Pauly and cringe at Christopher. If something offends my brother, I am not going to make fun of him.
Also, I’m gonna brush my teeth for the first time today (as it’s now 4pm and I have company), and I think I should also put on a bra so my breasts don’t get all saggy and give men the wrong idea that breasts are body parts that are just as subject to aging and gravity as their balls are.
Plus, it’ll feel good to get out of this room. I’ve just been writing here in my bed all day. On my laptop. That I don’t know how to operate, apparently.