is the word 'diary' better than the word 'blog'? probably not.


lost control.

I haven’t written anything about David Bowie since his death. (Until now, and this probably isn’t really about David Bowie.) I haven’t listened to his music, especially not the new Blackstar CD that arrived on that Monday when I had just found out he was dead. I cried when I went out to sing Karaoke on that Wednesday with some friends and we tried some Bowie songs. I haven’t even read the articles and blog posts shared by friends all over facebook. I haven’t been able to. We all mourn in our own ways.

It has been surprising, and nice, to see how many different kinds of people were deeply affected by his death—a wide range of ages and identities. I think every one of us thought Bowie was our own. We all had private relationships with this person we had never met. For a great many of us, he was that freak who made it OK not to fit in. He made it OK to be queer in all the resonances of that word. More than OK, he made it an aspiration, a badge of honor. And so some part of him dwells inside most people who have ever felt like the world wasn’t made for them.

I love so many of his songs from so many different eras so very much. I love his shape-shifting. I defended every new thing he did even when I didn’t particularly like it—because I always saw every new incarnation as his way of asserting that art doesn’t stop, and that living that way is possible. I love how he is not Mick Jagger—he never settled in to doing that one thing well. That story was more important to me than whether I would ever like any Bowie more than I love early 1970s Bowie.

So much of who I am and what I’ve thought I could be and do comes from my idea of David Bowie. And I’m not just talking about my taste in shoes. I’m not ready to write about all that right now.

Right now I just want to share three moments since Bowie’s death.

Moment one: There are a lot of reasons to love Gustavus Stadler, but from now on one of those will always be my picture-memory of the look on his face on Monday morning, January 11, when he knew he was about to tell me that David Bowie was dead.

He asked whether I had seen any news yet and I thought, because of that face, that he was going to tell me that there had been a terrorist attack or something. But it was Bowie. And that face was right—Gus knew more than I did how hard the news was going to be for me. I remember going through a range of emotions right away but right there in that moment the predominant one was a kind of shocked, “huh, I guess I somehow thought he was immortal.” About thirty minutes later I was up in my home office sobbing like a child or a really sad adult. I’ve been doing that more often than you might imagine ever since.

So that’s moment one: That look on Gus’s face. He really loves me, and he knows me.

Moment two: January 11, later in the afternoon. I came back from a meeting on campus and picked up the mail. I had no idea why Amazon was sending me something in a padded envelope. It was my preordered CD copy of Blackstar. And then I realized that Bowie’s death was most likely an assisted suicide. He had incurable cancer. He fought. He admitted defeat. He planned an end. And he turned that end into an art project. And that art project was delivered to many of his fans on the day they heard he had died, like a bereavement package. Then I spent about three days with an endless loop of “oh no, not me, I never lost control” stuck in my head.

Moment three: January 16. I was at a dinner party and my friend Asali looked over at me and said, in a way that was simultaneously sincere and wonderfully arch, “I’m sorry for your loss.” I paused for a minute, confused. Then I realized what she meant, and laughed: “Oh! Andrew told you that I was crying at karaoke!” Yes, that was it. And it felt good to laugh about it. That’s moment three.

Still, I cried pretty much the whole time I was writing this.

3:49 p.m. - January 21, 2016


previous - next

the latest

older than the latest

random entry

get your own

write to me