Little Richard

I got the last ticket to the David Bowie exhibit tonight! And it was great. I put on the headphones they gave me, and followed the crowd into the first room. Young David was a bit poser. He soaked up everything he read, heard, saw. Stored away in his mind. I liked hearing him talk. How being an artist would save him from streak of suicidality that ran on his mother’s side.

Bowie the musician, performer, actor, clotheshorse. He was a slim Jim. Probably due to the drugs.

The last room was my favorite. Huge projections of Bowie pics, then clips from his concerts from different time periods. You could sit on these large wooden blocks and pretend you were at one of his concerts. “The Jean Genie” – Bowie and Mick Ronson, the glam twins. “Rock’n’Roll Suicide” – goodbye Ziggy. Bowie the flirt in “Bang Bang”. A later version of “Heroes”. Why did I miss all that and instead had to sort of see (from very far away) the Serious Moonlight tour?

Last night I watched a documentary about Jimi Hendrix. What do Hendrix and Bowie have in common? Little Richard. Hendrix played in his band when he was starting out and Bowie as a teen idolized him, maybe even picked up some of little Richard’s flamboyance.

Both Bowie and Hendrix were (Bowie is) consummate musicians. Bowie is perhaps more multi-dimensional as an artist. Hendrix expressed himself primarily through his music.

I may have to go back and experience the Bowie exhibit one more time. Only 3 weeks left and work life has a knack for interfering with pleasure.

Unexpected breaks from work have some benefits. Last week I came home after work feeling tired, but ok. After wolfing down a makeshift dinner, I paid the price. Nauseous and not exactly thriving, I started watching TCM to distract myself. They were showing “The Swimmer” with Burt Lancaster. Based on a story by John Cheever. It’s a very strange movie, difficult to forget. Lancaster was in his mid fifties when he made this, his body still buff, but face beginning to show the cracks of age. He is not a likeable character. One is unsure if he is going through mental breakdown, or is so delusional that he is completely detached from reality. The concept of time is difficult to pin
down in the movie. But as the film progresses, Lancaster’s character becomes more broken and desolate.

It was a courageous performance, playing his type, against the type. So now I’m reading Kate Buford’s “An American Life” about Lancaster. Written after his death. I’m still on his childhood in East Harlem. No wonder he was tough.


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