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David Bowie

Columnists In Residence

1981

AT SIXTEEN I THRASH IN SERIAL TRANSPORTATION AND THE BLEAK APARTMENTS OF FRIENDS’ OLDER BROTHERS. A road trip to San Francisco to see Prince perform from the Controversy album. Morris Day and the Time are the opening act. The audience is 99 percent African American, and dressed to the nines. Dancing with arms thrown up; we’re in church. Our minister preaches: I’ll Jack U Off! In May, I have my first gay sex. We warm up with vodka, orange juice, and his collection of every David Bowie video he recorded off Friday Night Videos. FNV is an hour-long program that airs weekly at midnight . . . pre-MTV (which will air for the first time this year). Not being used to alcohol, part way through I have to run from the bedroom to the toilet to heave. Unable to find anyone to go with me, I take a Greyhound bus to see The Talking Heads at the same venue where Prince played: the San Francisco Civic Center Auditorium. Afterwards, I go to City Lights Bookstore and spot Jim Carroll in the basement. He’s the author of The Basketball Diaries, which I haven’t read yet, and the song "The People Who Died," which I’ve listened to over and over. I’m too shy to say hello. We hitchhike to Berkeley to see a second-run screening of Rock and Roll High School, and then crash a dorm party to dance to Oingo Boingo and the B52s. In Sacramento I do poppers with straight stoners on a dirty brown carpet. An Iggy Pop poster is pinned to a textured wall, and Pink Floyd is on the turntable. I'm transported to a future past, and it feels like crystals are growing up out of my brain. What are these amazing sounds? The album is called My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. It's a double-barrel evening, because later that same night I read an article in The New York Times which also blows my mind, though in a much darker way. The story is about a rare cancer that is rapidly killing homosexual men.

1981
Columnists In Residence

1980

David Lynch’s The Elephant Man just opened at the Stockton Royal movie theater. Because you are a cool kid, and know about these things, you tell me that David Bowie played the part on stage. We love Bowie. We play your new Scary Monsters album as often as we can get away with it whenever I visit you at your home. When asked about his directorial styling, David Lynch has more than once quoted the Beach Boys, saying, “Be true to your school.” In 1968 Charles Manson and his followers moved from San Francisco down to LA. There, while hitchhiking, a couple of the Manson girls met Beach Boy Dennis Wilson. Wilson took them to his home, and then went to the recording studio. When he returned at three p.m., the entire family had moved into his home. There were roughly a dozen, mostly women, and this small, charismatic, bearded man named Charlie. Later Charlie and the girls would move to their most famous residence, a dilapidated western movie set called Spahn Ranch.

AC-119-1
Columnists In Residence

1979

Bowie appears on Saturday Night Live flanked by two aliens. They send waves to the chip implanted under my scalp. That was last night, today we’re in a Chinese-American restaurant that has the shady comfort of a dive bar, and a lot of Beach Boy songs on the jukebox. Wild Honey was on a moment ago, and is stuck in my head now. Likewise, one of the monologues from the play Kennedy’s Children has resurfaced from the Stockton Community Theater production that ran last April: my first set design, in what I think will be a career path. This is my brain on a Sunday: rummaging through nostalgia’s yard sale, staring without thought at the same items over and over, with no intentions of buying.

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