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Because My Love For You Would Break My Heart In Two
January 12th, 2016 by Dr Karma

NPR yesterday: mumble mumble mumble [I had not yet had my tea] . . . David Bowie has died.

I felt like I’d been punched in the chest.

I won’t claim to be the biggest fan in the world; I’ve never even seen him live.

But he meant something to me.

Labyrinth premiered when I was 13. The combination of medieval scholar/screenwriter/Python Terry Jones, Henson sensibilities, and David Bowie rocked my young world. Is it a coincidence that I was coming into my sense of sexuality (aka puberty) just when David Bowie appeared as a sexy stalker/s&m king/rocker?

Of course not.

That man started everything.

I know the whole point of the movie is that Sarah learns about being strong and independent, but every single time Jareth/Bowie says, “I ask for so little. Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave,” I say, “fuck, yeah!” (Coincidence that the Heathen album has a song called “I would be Your Slave”? I think not.)

My step-father took a strange pleasure in telling me that Bowie was gay when he learned of my crush (he was trying to crush my crush). I didn’t know then that Bowie was bi if anything. I just had my step-father’s word on things. Now, I was being raised in the South, being forced to attend Southern Baptist churches.

I know I was supposed to be disgusted. I don’t remember how long I ruminated, whether it was hours or days, but I do remember coming into the living room and announcing that my step-father’s news didn’t change anything. Bowie was famous; I had no chance with him; thus, who he loved didn’t matter in my life or to my crush at all. DSCN2007

I named my last little kitten Jareth.

I dressed as Jareth for Halloween a couple of years ago.

While wearing that Halloween costume, I first met my niece, Artemis. She was screaming at her parents, as one month olds are wont to do. I showed up in my costume and took her in my arms. She fell instantly asleep on my corseted-up breasts. The Goblin King is so good with babies.

My first piece of fan fiction (before I’d ever heard the term) was written when I was 13 or 14. I started writing a sequel to Labyrinth: Between the Stars.

After I discovered Bowie in film, I discovered his music, playing the albums my step-father had, and getting cassettes of my own when new stuff came out. Never Let Me Down (1987) was my first acquisition. “Beat of Your Drum” is one of my favorite love songs. “Time Will Crawl” is an apocalyptic masterpiece, and I sometimes listen to it when I fear my migraine will last “three long years.” “Glass Spider” is epic, despite its terrible intro. When Bowie was bad, he still managed to be awesome.

Like everything I love, Bowie intersects with my work. Years ago, I wrote a movie column: 13 Facts About Labyrinth. When I teach poetry, I always start with a couple of songs, to both demystify poetry and to encourage students to pay attention to words. “China Girl” is a staple of the lesson.

My work on Hanif Kureishi (I wrote the encyclopedia entry on him for World Writers In English) includes Bowie; Kureishi went to the same high school as Bowie and models a character on him in The Buddha of Suburbia. Bowie did the soundtrack for the film version.

When I teach Sandman, there’s Bowie–Gaiman had his artists model Lucifer on him. Gaiman also wrote a piece of fan fiction about Bowie.

In Y: The Last Man (another graphic novel series I teach and do work on), almost every man in the world dies in the same instant. One woman mourns when she realizes that all the male rockstars are dead. Grief is especially painful when Bowie’s death hits.

We’ll miss you so much. We are honored to have shared this time with you. Thank you for everything.

 

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One Response  
  • Rabbi Steve writes:
    January 14th, 20168:48 amat

    For lack of a better (single) word, Amen ( I suppose the word “This”, also works, but it doesn’t have quite the same resonance).

    I saw him live once. While not his biggest fan, I have always admired his artistic trajectory, have loved much of his music, was inspired by the way he constantly redefined himself and his work, and there is not a week that goes by, that I don’t dance to “Modern Love” (Often in the same dancing music playlist, as “Rebel Rebel”, “Suffragette City” & “Young Americans”, “Let’s Dance”, and while I might not get to those as often as “Modern Love”, they do get a lot of rotation).

    His turn as Nichola Tesla, almost stole the movie The Prestige.

    His final album, released Friday of last week, is a bold artistic statement. I have already listen to it through at least three times, and it gets better upon each listen. It puts a wonderful cap or signature to his life.

    I feel the same way about the two videos I have seen from the album.

    Anyways, well said, Doctor. Thanks for sharing your personal journey intersections with this great artist.


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