Tag Archives: iggy pop

No Reservations: Why This One Has Me Panicking

My arms feel tingly. My vision’s weird. I don’t remember how much water I’ve had today and there’s a dull ache in my temples.

I’m feeling a bit lightheaded. Maybe you should drive. 

My phone woke me up at 6am. I jumped outta bed, walked to the phone, and when I saw the message was from a friend sent to an ongoing group text, I said, out loud, “Ya can’t message me now, man.” An hour later, when I was standing in my bathroom getting ready to put my face on, I finally looked at the text. There was a link to some real bad news. Anthony Bourdain. Gone. Cause of death: suicide.

The intensity of my reaction startled me. My knees didn’t go weak, but my ankles did. I leaned over my bathroom counter and planted my elbows against the tile to steady myself. It wasn’t true. He wouldn’t do that. How do they know?

Screen Shot 2018-06-08 at 2.54.52 PM

I thought about Asia Argento and how Goddamn in love she and Anthony looked. I thought about Marc Maron and imagined him frantically re-uploading their WTF interview. I thought about tuna tartare. I thought about eating iguanas. I thought about shooting heroin. I thought about Iggy Pop, who once looked into a crowd of people at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles and reminded all of us that, “junkies are people, too.”

By the time I got to work and sat down at my desk, I was angry. I was so, so angry at Goddamn Anthony Bourdain. He didn’t owe me anything, but he owed a lot to at least a handful of people. Still, why should I care? It’s not really my business. I didn’t really know him. I’m not really an expert on anything. What the Hell do I know about sadness?

And then, I cried.

I know enough about sadness to know that if you get to a certain point, you think fucked up things. Something might cross your mind that scares the Hell outta you, but if you’re lucky, it’ll scare you straight. “Why am I thinking this way? That’s not me. I need some sun.” It happens. And while it’s maybe not something to bring up on a Wednesday morning to a co-worker you hardly know, it’s also nothing to feel ashamed about. Life is hard. No one knows what’s going on. For fuck’s sake, we’re in space. Name something scarier than that.

For as much of a dork and a jerk and a child as Anthony Bourdain could absolutely be, I loved that dude. Dork. Jerk. Child. I mean all this with Love. I loved dorky Bourdain, even when I kinda couldn’t stand him. I loved hearing him talk about Hunter S. Thompson as if he were just another college kid sneaking his first cigarette. I loved hearing him namedrop all the cool bands he liked. I loved hearing him say “Fuck” one too many times. It was hilarious. And endearing. Sometimes, yeah, it was annoying. But so what? A lot of people I love can display a good mix of those qualities, and hey, I’m sure I can, too.

I think that’s a big part of it. Watching his show was like hanging out with your slightly nerdy, undeniably smart friend who was always down for a good fuckin’ time. I never just watched him: I laughed with him and listened to him and rolled my eyes at him and cursed at him. “I feel like I’m watching the Keith Richards of egg flipping!” “Shut the fuck up, Bourdain.” 

Sometimes you hear something terrible like this and you can’t help but feel unsurprised. That might sound fucked up, and look, I’m not saying it isn’t, but do you know what I mean? You’re still in shock, but all the dots connect. The behavior adds up. Not here. Not on the surface. I’m not the only person saying this. I listened to NPR this morning, just like you did. “Shocked.” That’s the word they’re all using. And yes, there’s always more to the story. I know. But this whole thing, though? This whole thing is making me feel creepy. I have the creeps. I’m being reminded that we never have the whole story. Unhelpful. Unfair. Unkind.

This was a person who managed to elevate an art form by taking it down a notch. He got real about food criticism. Seriously, food criticism. How ridiculous, right? Exactly. But all that honesty about hard times in NYC and sweating away in frantic kitchens and kicking drug addiction and struggling with depression didn’t translate into the strength to be honest about just how bad it was.

Or hey, maybe he was honest about it, but not on camera. Or on paper. Maybe that was private. Either way, I lived to see another frustrating, stressful, wonderful day, and Anthony Bourdain did not.

What does it take to be happy? What does it take to silence the bullshit? Clearly not money. Not the adoration of millions. Not travel. Not food. Not love. On camera, he had the kind of life that most of us will only dream of having. Off camera…I guess we’ll never really know.

I’m curious to see what happens next. I’m curious to see who cries “mental health.” This stuff isn’t new, and from the looks of it, it’s on the rise. Why? Why are some people able to come to the edge of the cliff and then wake the fuck up?

In a nutshell, the sad truth is this: I hate to think about that cool motherfucker with the shit-eating grin and know that he was unhappy. It hurts. It hurts a Goddamn lot. His show made the world, of all places, look like paradise. Paradise.

Such a shock. Such a bummer. Such a waste.

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Just for One Day.

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.

“Steff?”

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.

david_bowie_ziggy_lou_reed_kiss

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.”

courtesy of 8tracks.com

courtesy of 8tracks.com

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.”

“You’re not.”

“Do you know why I’m calling?”

“Yes.”

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?”

“…No.”

“Have you listened to any Velvet Underground?” he asked.

“No.”

“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.

Thanks, Ewan.

Thanks, Lou.

Thanks, dad.

Thanks, Bowie.

Finally — tears.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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No One Important Reads My Blog, But You’re All Important to Me.

This is a Dorky Dorky Dorky thing.

This is a Mother Hen thing.

This is a Post That Doesn’t Necessarily Actually Need to Be Posted thing.

I’m not trying to go for a, “Back in high school I’d be hangin’ with Sam and Rado and Shaun” bullshit name-dropping “Behind the Music” thing.

I can’t say, “I can get you backstage.”

I can’t say, “I saw them all last week in my apartment for tempeh taco night.”

I can’t say, “All the guys pitched in to buy me a jukebox with all my favorite songs arranged in chronological order starting from when I fell in love with The Velvet Underground and ending with “Backstreets” by Bruce Springsteen because that’s the only song I wanted to hear last week LOLZ they’re so #sweet.”

None of that.  Much less than that.  Regardless, I’m proud.  I just wanna tell the world, “I’m proud.”

I’m proud they never stopped.  Impressed, really.  Impressed because it was so long ago that I first heard a silly song about a Passport.  Then a song about a Pumpkin Patch.  Then Dog Day Afternoon was parodied [kind of] and Jesus was Fun Fun.  I commented on every MySpace blog from afar because I was a fan and because I meant it and because I had nothing else to do between classes freshman year.  I also requested they make me their tambourine girl, which never happened…

There were live shows.  They were good and they were silly and sometimes they weren’t all that great because they were just boys.  They kept going, though.  They actually kept going, which is the best thing anyone with an idea can do.

Small places.  Bigger places.  Places of some notoriety and then smaller places.  And it was a joke.  And it was serious.  And the songs got better and the shows got better and things changed and changed again.

A year ago someone put on some music and I said, “This is Foxygen,” and he said, “Yeah,” and I said, “Where the hell did you get this?” and he said, “iTunes,” so I went to iTunes and did the same thing, and it was weird, because for the first time I wasn’t getting the music from my younger brother or directly from one of the guys — the guys who were not at my apartment for tempeh taco night but have always been on my radar because Agoura Hills is a small place and we all have to grow up somewhere.

How the fuck did this happen?  How the fuck did I sit down at my computer and find a way to watch them play at Coachella from hundreds of miles away?  Because things have changed.  Globally.  Personally.  Foxygenlly.  You guys are great.  You guys are among my favorites.  You guys make me wanna be a better artist.  You guys make it look easy.

Thank you.  I’m proud of you.  Stay hydrated.

 

 

 

 

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