David Bowie - Space Oddity (1979)
Fortunately for the structure of this week, Bowie neatly bookended his work in the 1970s between two retellings of the same story: 1969’s “Space Oddity,” and a rerecording of the same song in 1979. Ten years on, Bowie’s hippie folk ballad about a lonely astronaut was turned into a piece of pared-back art rock. Gone are the strings and Stylophone, instead replaced with a jarring, extended period of pure silence and a starkness that only seems to increase the horror of Major Tom’s grim tale. In the span of a decade, Bowie learned the power of restraint and the capacity of musical form to heighten its intended function. The changes made to “Space Oddity” reflect as much about Bowie as they do Bowie’s specific artistic intentions for the song.
The point I have tried to make throughout this week’s exploration of the work of David Bowie is that many of the old clichés about the man are easy and overly simplistic, specifically the idea of David Bowie as a genre-jumping musical chameleon. The template of an ever shifting sound and aesthetic with each new album has become widespread, and even expected, among today’s musical artists. However, repeated reinvention for the sake of reinvention is not what Bowie’s career was truly driven by. Bowie’s changes were always made for a specific personal or artistic reason, and it is a disservice to the spirit of his work to reduce it to the fact of the changes themselves. As long as Bowie remained true to his artistic vision, the core of his work remained constant, specifically the use of narrative, social observation, cultural references, and most importantly the restless pursuit of newness in art.
I have also explored the use of artifice and performance throughout Bowie’s work. The authenticity of David Bowie isn’t a personal one, but rather a certain kind of purity in artistic intent and vision. The poses he struck were always in service of the specific artistic purpose at the center of his work. Furthermore, a conscious use of artifice can illuminate a particular human truth in its own right, from the feeling of alienation to the absurdity of prevailing notions of gender. Through his keen social awareness, David Bowie recognized emerging social, cultural, and musical currents, and through his use of performance, he positioned himself at the forefront of these movements, embodied them, and became a driving cultural force himself. Restless and revolutionary, this is why David Bowie’s work is so fantastic and his legacy so lasting.
And finally, I just want to finish up by thanking you all very much for reading and I want to thank Hendrik for giving me a platform to talk about David Bowie for a whole week! Love on ya!
A fine week indeed! Its a great Bowie-for-(absolute)-Beginners, which is fine, and important. We cant always go up our own asses of “how Conversation Piece should have been on Space Oddity.”
But yeah, great writing, great song choices, great week, awesome show, good job!
(Now lets get a Bowie in the 80s week!)
Dear Brain Frame family, fans and friends and fanatics,
Seven days have passed since we met in celebration of death and new life, in Thalia Hall, on our third anniversary. There never was a more brilliant funeral. The altars, the spirit team, the oracle, all served as portals for grief, joy, and keening celebration. A fitting end to Brain Frame, the beginning of, as several friends and strangers wrote in my yearbook, “a movement.”
Preparation for the end was nuts, of course. And every performer pushed so far beyond themselves, exploring new content, new media, and new collaborative partnerships. The results were incredible, an impeccable assemblage of all the different ways Brain Frame blows minds - with plenty of room for further experimentation.
Collected here are a few social-media remembrances of the show. Please take a few minutes to read about what this community has meant for the people in it. Go to Gina Wynbrandt’s blog and read about her experience with BF19 and grit. Step back and look at your own community, your own work. Brain Frame is over. It’s in your hands now. Go out, take risks, make friends, experiment together.
I’m leaving tomorrow for a month long vision quest of sorts. When I get back I hope to see a lot of cool shit going on. Send me an email if you need curatorial, communication, show-running, technical, or conceptual advice. Or whatever. See you in September,
Casual reminder that in one of Leonardo da Vinci’s many notebooks containing innumerable artistic and scientific sketches and notes of incomprehensible important, there is a sketch of two penises with legs and tails walking towards a crudely drawn anus.
The sketch was most likely done by Leonardo’s apprentice Salai, who was not only very likely one of Leonardo’s lovers, but who was also infamously mischievous. Better yet, the anus is literally labeled “Salai.”
So either Salai drew these while Leonardo wasn’t looking just to annoy his boyfriend, or Leonardo himself put actual time and energy into drawing these. Either way, the human race is truly blessed to have made such a discovery.
There are dick drawings like the ones you see on desks in school in Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks. Please cherish this information.
In the midst of exploring Renaissance Italy history for reasons, I have found a wonder.
a cultural win
CAPTAIN JOHNSON NOW IN CHARGE OF FERGUSON SITUATION
"I’m going to march with you. There won’t be a police line."
I’ve started coloring Episode Two of FEELS (Episode One has six more installments, I think?), and I think I’m doing some of my best work with it, I am very excited.
This is so FUCKING SCARY
what the fuck is going on
THIS IS THE ONLY TIME I WILL EVER SAY THIS. NO MATTER WHAT KIND OF BLOG YOU ARE RUNNING REBLOG THIS. THIS CRAP NEEDS TO BE KNOWN. NEEDS TO BE SEEN. AND NEEDS TO BE SPREAD.THIS IS HAPPENING IN MY STATE AND IT IS FUCKING TERRIFYING. LET IT BE KNOWN. DON’T STOP SPREADING THE NEWS. MAKE EVERYONE SEE THE SHIT THAT IS GOING DOWN. Please. No body else seems to be protecting them anymore. Do what you can.
Remember when democracy and freedom of expression were actually things we strived for in this country?
…Okay, neither do I, but do you at least remember when we pretended that they were things we strived for?
I have so far stayed silent on the situation in Ferguson, not because I don’t think it’s important and worth talking about, but because I think our pattern of national outrage and mourning - defined by a tendency to yell about it on social media and then to ignore it and to go back to our day-to-day routines, followed by surprise when it happens again, virtually unchallenged - is a fairly unproductive cycle, and I didn’t want to add my voice to that particular fire until I had something new and interesting to say.
(Which isn’t to say that I don’t understand why people do it - sometimes there is genuinely nothing you can do but be outraged, and I’m not here to tell people how to express their outrage.)
But I can’t stay silent on this one. I’ve reached the point now that I genuinely can’t imagine a solution to the problems of United States politics and law enforcement that doesn’t involve rebellion. We can’t rely on democracy, because there is no democracy in the US anymore. We can’t rely on protest, because people get attacked and killed for that. Our government is now our enemy. Our law enforcement is now our enemy. And that’s heartbreaking and terrifying.
There are so few demographics that aren’t being systemically targeted right now, too. People of color are systematically killed, and the media tries to justify this by re-writing them as “thugs.” Women are having their right to their bodily autonomy attacked. People of the LGBT+ community are having their rights denied. Anyone in the millennial generation has been the victim of a long con to make sure that we’re burdened by unmanageable amounts of debt while unable to break into the work force to pay off said debt. It’s absurd the sheer number of people who are victimized by the United States political system. And I’m so sick of it.
And I think it’s time to start a cultural war against our own government to make sure that stops. I don’t know what form that needs to take - I’m certainly open to suggestions - but I don’t think taking our country back from the inside is going to work. I think all suggestions beyond “radically re-define what the United States of America is” is the only option that still presents itself.
Fuck. Respectability. Politics.
oh and i hadnt even read this one yet
The police in Ferguson are spraying tear gas and arresting peaceful protesters and reporters (2 reporters so far). Christina Coleman is an NBC Channel 5 news anchor from St. Louis…Son.
Watching this happen through Twitter has been both amazing and (obviously) deeply dispiriting, both for the actual events and for the fact that Twitter is pretty much the only place you can actually get news about Ferguson… sonic weapons, tear gas, tanks, and snipers, for around 100 protestors. Loudspeakers blaring “WE ARE NOT RESTRICTING YOUR RIGHT TO ASSEMBLE” as they try to disperse people. Journalists being ordered to turn off their cameras. Tons more (I’ve been retweeting so many things, as useless as that is). This should be breaking news everywhere in America.
i am so ashamed i want to die
If someone were to die at the age of 63 after a lifelong battle with MS or Sickle Cell, we’d all say they were a “fighter” or an “inspiration.” But when someone dies after a lifelong battle with severe mental illness and drug addiction, we say it was a tragedy and tell everyone “don’t be like him, please seek help.” That’s bullshit. Robin Williams sought help his entire life. He saw a psychiatrist. He quit drinking. He went to rehab. He did this for decades. That’s HOW he made it to 63. For some people, 63 is a fucking miracle. I know several people who didn’t make it past 23 and I’d do anything to have 40 more years with them.
One of the more helpful and insightful things I’ve seen about depression/suicide in the last couple of days.
trekko1601 presents: a Guide to the races of the Starn Trek universe