14 David Bowie Quotes You Should Probably Read Today

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1
There was a distinct feeling that nothing was true anymore, and that the future was not as clear-cut as it had seemed. Nor, for that matter, was the past. Therefore, everything was up for grabs. If we needed any truths we could construct them ourselves. The main platform would be, other than shoes, “We are the future, now.”

2
Speak in extremes, it’ll save you time.

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3
I think people have a real need for some spiritual life and I think there’s great spiritual starving going on. There’s a hole that’s been vacated by an authoritative religious body – the Judaeo-Christian ethic doesn’t seem to embrace all the things that people actually need to have dealt with in that way – and it’s sort of been left to popular culture to soak up the leftover bits like violence and sex.

4
I’m an instant star. Just add water and stir.

5
It amazes me sometimes that even intelligent people will analyze a situation or make a judgement after only recognizing the standard or traditional structure of a piece.

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6
It’s odd but even when I was a kid, I would write about “old and other times” as though I had a lot of years behind me. Now I do, so there is a difference in the weight of memory. When you’re young, you’re still “becoming”, now at my age I am more concerned with “being”. And not too long from now I’ll be driven by “surviving”, I’m sure. I kind of miss that “becoming” stage, as most times you really don’t know what’s around the corner. Now, of course, I’ve kind of knocked on the door and heard a muffled answer. Nevertheless, I still don’t know what the voice is saying, or even what language it’s in.

7
Confront a corpse at least once. The absolute absence of life is the most disturbing and challenging confrontation you will ever have.

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8
I’m in awe of the universe, but I don’t necessarily believe there’s an intelligence or agent behind it. I do have a passion for the visual in religious rituals, though, even though they may be completely empty and bereft of substance. The incense is powerful and provocative, whether Buddhist or Catholic.

9
On the other hand, what I like my music to do to me is awaken the ghosts inside of me. Not the demons, you understand, but the ghosts.

10
I’m out all the time to entertain, not just to get upon a stage and knock out a few songs. I couldn’t live with myself if I did that. I’m the last person to pretend that I’m a radio. I’d rather go out and be a color television set.

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11
I’m always amazed that people take what I say seriously. I don’t even take what I am seriously.

12
I think Mick Jagger would be astounded and amazed if he realized that to many people he is not a sex symbol, but a mother image.

13
I don’t have stylistic loyalty. That’s why people perceive me changing all the time. But there is a real continuity in my subject matter. As an artist of artifice, I do believe I have more integrity than any one of my contemporaries.

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14
Interviewer: Do you practice a form of worship?
David Bowie: Life. I love life very much indeed.

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Kill Your Idols: Lady Gaga’s Final Round of “Applause”

I sincerely apologize for the astronomical length of time that’s passed between the VMAs and this blog post (3 days)! It’s just that Breaking Bad is also on Sundays and I had to go to work and then it was Monday, and then Tuesday…whatever. Tardy to the party.

I pointedly refuse to address Miley’s moment, because my analysis will bear no new fruits. It was terrible in so many ways. You’re all smart people, you know racism and internalized mysogyny when you see it, right? You don’t need to see the word “twerk” again in print, do you?

Instead, here’s some words on my fave moment, because I think it deserves a little sweet love from my fangirly fingers. Witness the Lady:

Color me disappointed, but not surprised, that Gaga’s performance of “Applause” was met with a lukewarm reception. People were meh on the staging because it wasn’t up to her usual standards of insane, and they were meh on the fact that she even appeared. I hate to say it, but Gaga’s zeitgeist is nearing its end, fading gently into the warm embrace of the 2000s. Perhaps the viewers expected more of a shocking swan song after last year’s provocative performance of the best thing she ever wrote.

If it wasn’t obvious before, let me state definitively for the record that I’m a big Lady Gaga fan. I admire the cultural work that she’s doing from the precarious ledge of a pop star. She’s a gifted songwriter, producer, storyteller, and performer. She knows Americana inside and out, and she actively critiques it through her art. The thing I love most about Gaga is that she TRIES, she ASPIRES. She may not always get it right, but she is unafraid to disgust people or lose favor. She believes the iconic and/or the transcendent is possible in pop, following in the great tradition of Freddie Mercury and David Bowie. I think her career would last longer if she was male. I think she knows this.

I respect that she sticks to it when she enters a new phase of her career. The new album, ARTPOP, may be terrible, and this song “Applause” may also be terrible (it is), but I’m digging the meta-ness of her new identity. This time around, Gaga Is Art. She chooses to reveal herself as a changeable construction. I think that many viewers missed the nuance of this performance, like her visual shoutout to The Birth of Venus:

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Note to female pop stars and females in general – THIS IS A BODY! I’m so hungry for all the meaty feminist living flesh hanging off this bitch!

And then there was her rapid transformation – five onstage costume changes to make clear that the persona of Gaga is ever-changing, ever-derivative, like the culture she lives and thrives on. In case you didn’t get it the first time around, during the “Telephone” era, Gaga reminds us that Warhol Matters:

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And then there’s the actual song itself. “Applause,” like I said, is really not great when you stack it up against her far superior stripped-down-dance hits like “Alejandro” or even “Judas.” The melody is super weak, as is the beat. But I found that it grew on me when I actually watched her perform it. I kind of got that the song is about the utter desperation that drives our icons, and the constant switching-up and face-clawing that becomes necessary to stay on top. It’s also about how celebrity is contingent on the fans, and that a star can’t measure their worth by box offices or concert attendance, but by how loud their audience screams and how long they clap. For now, Gaga is interested more in occupying the space of a star, and reminding all of us that we’re basically religiously beholden to a cycle of building/destroying false idols. And YOU thought it was just a show! For shame, little monsters!

As Lord Gaga’s time on earth comes to an end, I find myself saddened. Why did she have to die so soon? Who will take her place? I guess only history will tell if Stefanie Germanotta managed to achieve immortality. I really hope so. Not because I think she’s perfect, but because I badly want a female to ascend to pop legend – not selling sex, but truth and humanity like the dudes are allowed to sell. Side-eye, Madonna.

What did you think of Gaga’s performance? Toss me some brainjuice in the comments.

Tales from the HBO Crypt: Carnivale

In case you weren’t aware of what I’ve been doing with my spare moments this past week, I’ve been watching Carnivale and sometimes sleeping and usually eating. For me there’s really no “casual watching.” I’ve kind of made it my mission to chug every single HBO show without stopping for breath.

If you’ve never seen Carnivale and your eyes and heart are hungry, give it a shot. It is one of the most beautifully photographed shows I have ever seen, and on the merits of eye candy alone, it deserves a place in the televisual hall of fame. Beyond Mad Men, far beyond Boardwalk EmpireCarnivale reproduces 1930s Dust Bowl America with utter perfection.

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Showrunner Daniel Knauf was an insurance salesman and a history buff who loved carnivals. He lovingly created a universe teeming with religious mythology, classist politics, and more ships than the British Royal Navy. Carnivale is filet mignon, people. This is a huge cast of talented character actors who were just getting started on the amazing plot tapestry that had been planned for five seasons. And then the show was cancelled at the end of Season 2.

I hate stories that life fast and die young. Because you can see from those first two seasons that Carnivale was gearing up to take over television. It was so moving, so subtle and full of life. Nick Stahl as protagonist Ben Hawkins is a total revelation. He starts out as a blank little cipher, but Stahl imbues him with such pain, such purity, that positing Ben as a Jesus figure gradually becomes second nature for the viewer. He’s a healer who desperately rejects the miracle of his abilities. I love this scene from the pilot. The slow build of the moment, and Stahl’s performance, leave me in awe.

I don’t even want to go into all the other angles of Carnivale: the early rumblings of sex-positive feminism…the painful cyclical nature of mortal life…all that good stuff. The proliferation of freaks and fortune tellers make it an “outsider” show, one of those exercises in interrogating “normal” life through the lens of the socially rejected. The thing that makes Carnivale so special, though, is the heart. So much care is put into developing relationships between the Carnies, and revealing their history to us, one iota at a time. It’s slow-moving, but satisfying in such a rare way.

And like I said, ships galore. So many vulnerable men on this show. Kreeeeeptonite! I mean, have you ever seen Tim DeKay look this good??

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So yeah. This post might’ve been a wee bit more coherent and detailed, but my brain is honestly addled from so many hours logged on HBOGo. Just watch it, okay? Watch Carnivale. There aren’t that many episodes and it’s gonna make you feel all the feelings that are available to the human soul.

 

Yoü And I (Mark Taylor Remix)

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For reasons I can’t explain, Jo Calderone has been on my mind lately. I miss him. I miss Gaga’s ever-so-brief comeback. Born This Way was not a very ambitious album overall (almost every song sounds the same), but it doesn’t matter, because it showcased the finest composition of her career, “Yoü and I.” The rawness of the lyrics, her honeyed voice, the musical triumph of it all! Gaga’s so talented when she’s real, and when she’s not blatantly Madonna-ing all over me, I’m so in it with her.

Here’s a fantastic remix I stumbled upon via Spotify. It’s much more dancey, which I think brings out the nostalgic joy of the song. Something about lonely nights, and my lipstick on ya face.


Just for posterity, I’m posting an old Tumblr post that I spat out after the “Yoü and I” video was released.

Okay, so here is my thing about this video. Well, first let’s get macro: I really do support and appreciate Lady Gaga’s assertion that she represents gender issues by occupying an objectified media-whore space. She says she brings problems of femininity to light by perfectly embodying THE OBJECT. And through purposely performing that identity, she becomes THE SUBJECT, and starts dialogue about power, relationships, culture, etc. Cool. Thumbs up.

This song, Yoü And I, really zinged me in the heart when it first came out. It sounded like some of her most honest and universally appealing work – she’s bare and vulnerable and wailing about how the love of her life will never truly fade from her soul. It is by far the most sensitive and real track off Born This Way.

I am a little disappointed by this video, because on the one hand it is so conceptually ambitious and emotionally complex, and on the other, it’s a total retread of all of her artistic endeavors. The strongest parts of it, by far, are the brief glimpses of Gaga’s gritty Italian greaser alter-ego Jo Calderone and his reverent girlfriend with lips and hair like sweet corn. Their relationship is represented in raw, sexy strokes, like an old Fellini romance or a James Dean film. Now THAT’S a rumination on the exchange of power between a man and a woman – aggression mediated by understanding, rough meeting soft, love conquering brutal strength.

Jo was a flesh-and-blood iteration of the best, most relevant work that Gaga’s done for the reinvention of the female pop artist. More confrontational femme masculinity, please, sweet Lady. Vive Calderone!

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Paperman (2013)


Paperman
Disney animated short
2013

Very sweet, gorgeous new animated short from Disney. Nominated for an Oscar this year because it is pure magic. Make no mistake, this ain’t Pixar. Although the drawing was aided by computer rendering, 2D animation still lives and thrives! That’s the Disney way. I really like this style, especially the black & white, since it makes you pay attention to the subtle shifts in tone. Art in every frame.

A Case of the Lynchface

I was just reminded of the existence of this 1990 TIME cover. David Lynch as the subject of one of the most subtly AMAZEBALLS portraits ever photographed. I have not been able to find the artist. This thing is going to infect your dreams.

Are those Twin Peaks, or is it cold in here?

Such an arresting image! It does such honor to his twisted legacy!

David Lynch’s particular genius lies in messing with the abject – i.e., aggressively flooding its black reservoirs with aesthetics and pleasure. It took a long time for him to gain a foothold in the collective pop conscious and become a cult figure, because his stuff was always just so UNCOMFORTABLE. It’s hard for us as a culture to readily accept a popular artist who makes a career out of wedging us into dark psychological space.

And I mean the best of “us” – prom queens, strapping young men, femme fatales. When Lynch lays his wonky sights on an American trope, shit gets weird.  Blue Velvet comes to mind, of course: a gorgeous-looking film noir unraveling at the edges, shots of Isabella Rosselini’s creamy skin spliced with physical torture and psychosis. Lynch’s work melts in your mouth and has a poisonous aftertaste.

And it’s all captured here in this crazy photo. On one side, he’s world-weary Mr. Director…on the other, bathed in sickly green, is a lazy-eyed monster. The shadow even makes his mouth appear to quirk up in a devilish smirk on the right. Grotesque bulgy little eye glancing into the gates of Hell. Perfection.