Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Goodbye Starman: David Bowie Dance Ride and Reflection on a City of Bowies. ‪#‎Bowie‬ was everywhere.

public space party in the village voice.
Photos by  Jason Speakman and Kylie Shaffer for the Village Voice. V 
Last night, everyone, everywhere we were Bowies. ‪#‎Bowie‬ was everywhere.

Two Aladdin's riding the tandem, getting ready, and the iconic album from the old vinyl collection.

Monday, I woke up to the news of Bowie’s departure on the way to Judy’s funeral.  She was the second Judy we lost this year, the other Judith Malina of the Living Theater, a tale of two Judys and a David.  Somehow it all seemed fit, shoveling dirt, saying goodbye, honoring heros, remembering what they created, and aspiring to keep that creative, queer flame going.

When Judith Malina died, Monica said now its our turn to be more Judiths.  Dancing in the ally down the street from Bowie’s on Lafayette, she echoed that sentiment.  We have to be more Bowies, more open, more colorful, more expansive, more eros, more abundant, more weird, more queer. 

He brought us all together, one man chimed in as we danced.  He brought us all together.

And so we tried to honor that.

It was Monica’s idea to do the ride and everyone loved it.

We were lucky to share the planet with this divine, deliciously weird, truly original, transformative, transforming, epic artist. Join us in celebrating his legacy by taking it to the streets. We'll meet at Botanica Bar, around the corner from where he lived, ride around blasting Bowie songs, start impromptu dance parties and end at Marie's Crisis.
Wear your favorite Bowie incarnation!

We were out watching Spring Awakening as Bowie departed.  Joss was seeing Lazarus.

But when I heard about Bowie, like a lot of people, I recalled a teenage moment of connection, of hooking up with a friend who’d joined us out to see Bowie perform in Dallas on the Glass Spider Tour.  So awkward, so cute, so many hours and hours in that dark room on my childhood bed.  I had gone with my neighbor and she brought a friend, who ended up going home with me.  Sometimes it had been my old neighbor.  A transgressive time together, poly amorous friends, passing through a moment in time.  Bowie’s music was the soundtrack of my teenage years, I recalled on Monday.
And I was not alone.  Throughout Monday, people debated stories about Bowie and underage fans.  No one can condone statutory rape.  But when I saw Bowie perform in 1983, I can attest that half the people in the audience would have done the same with Bowie.

Later Monday, Monica posted.
Hey all
just wanted to say, as one of the organizers of this event, that we in no way condone Bowie's sexual misconduct with underage teenagers, consensual or otherwise. I just learned about that today for the first time And was disappointed but not surprised. Let's not idolize the celebrity but celebrate the incredible music, creative spirit, gender bending positivity and wild imaginings he brought us over the decades. New York needs more weird wild freedom in the street before it's all washed away by chains and banks. Let's dance!

Brennan Cavanaugh And to the Lori Maddox story, it seems, in her retelling, a proud moment, a consensual moment made rapey by a dude writer...
Victoria Helena Internet bullshit...she was one of the most enviable groupies ever! Do not take her agency awY from her please.   
Erika Gesue He also slept with Lori Lightning, who was 13 at the time and who also slept with Jimmy Page. I understand why people take issue with this and agree it's a bad thing but I'm still a fan of his, his music, his bravery, etc. I celebrate the man's life...mistakes and all.

Throughout the week, people posted stories and memories.  Some pointed to past spaces.  Irving Welsh’s scene in Trainspotting where Diane scolds Renton is perhaps my favorite Bowie cultural narrative:

                               Renton and Diane are lying in the bed. Diane, wearing one

Jusin Vivian Bond’s essay My Bowie: Justin Vivian Bond recalled to a moment in his life when a song pointed to a different, far away aspirational place for a 12-year-old kid daydreaming.
We all have our Bowie memories, hopes, and connections through time.

And so we rode.
We danced to heroes. Throughout the ride, people walked up to us and thanked us. Others joined the public space party, which is our purpose, to make the streets a living theater, created by everybody.
A man rode along filming as we played life on mars smiling.
We sang at Marie’s Crisis, at the top of our lungs.
And talked about what this hero meant.
Most everyone noted they would have loved to have slept with Bowie. Riding through the night, his music everywhere in the night, we kissed the sky, perhaps having that moment with Bowie.
I will be king and you will be queen. We can be heroes forever and ever. 

On my way home, I read my favorite Bowie reflection.

David Bowie: glimmering, ever-mutable image.
David Bowie: fallible human.
David Bowie: powerful.
David Bowie: protected.
David Bowie: mourned.
Mourning a celebrity is a strange thing. I don’t do it often; it just doesn’t strike me personally to do so. Most of the art that has the greatest personal impact on me is made by people I know, or come to know.
David Bowie: different.
Part of the reason his work is so meaningful to me — and perhaps to you — is its resolute humanity. Through the idiosyncratic, he found the personal. Besides the surprise of his death, curated as the art spectacle he wished it to be with the release of a truly stunning album and the semiotic closure of his own self-created mythology, the reason it seems to have struck so many of us so hard is that we saw our own ugly, gawky, fucked-up, queer, wrong selves transformed into something world-changing in his alchemical mirror. He built a home for freaks. He may not have intended to, at least not in the beginning, but he did. A home on skeletal songbird-legs, roaming the world in search of the next transformation.
David Bowie: familiar.
Of course I thought of Lori Maddox last night. Of course I thought of the capability of those whose art we love to do things we consider morally wrong. I thought of our culpability, our vulnerability.
Maddox does not view herself as a victim. This does not excuse the fact that Bowie had sex with her when she was underage, but we need to allow survivors the ability to define our own realities and speak our own experiences. We can believe it was on him, as the adult, not to have sex with her, and we can understand the context for his actions without excusing them.
I had sexual contact with a lot of men inappropriately older than me when I was 13 and 14. 22, 23, 24, 25, 26-year-old men. Sometimes I initiated it; sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes I felt coerced; sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes I was forcibly raped. Sometimes these men used the power that they had as musicians I admired to appeal to me. Sometimes I was manipulated. Sometimes I wasn’t. I wanted to be loved; I wanted to be desired. I felt that sex was all I had to offer. This is clearly based on my own history as a survivor of child sexual abuse. You learn early on how to be used, how to offer yourself. That is what grooming does.
Were these men ethically wrong? Yes.
Do I feel that I was abused? Only in the situations where I felt forced or coerced. Which, again, was not all of them. Some of those relationships, even with uneven power dynamics involved, felt real, and mutual, and loving. I look back on them and don’t know how to feel about them. They are part of my life.
Were they pedophiles? Some of them. Some of them had a history of going after inappropriately young girls. Some of them didn’t. Some of them found themselves with me as an anomaly. Not everyone who commits statutory rape is a pedophile, someone who seeks out such encounters and has a significant pattern of doing so.
I am not Lori Maddox. I am not anyone except myself.
But I understand that things are grey, and uncomfortable, and it’s ok to let that sit with me.
If I am to mourn Bowie, I am to mourn his wholeness — all that he did right, all that he did wrong. His fallibility, his humanity, his beauty, his brilliance, his queerness, his abuses. His loving and beautiful relationship with Iman. His inappropriate relationship with Lori Maddox. It is all part of the same picture of a human who was constantly, by his own admission, changing, both with and against the cultural backdrop he had such an indelible impact on.
I can hold that — queasiness, love, questions, reservation, sadness, disappointment, anger, admiration, all of it — and hold it sacred. Resolutely human.

But he brought us together. 
Rock stars are not generally known for their generosity to other artists…Early on, Bowie realized he was more himself—had more of himself—when he built bridges between different worlds..
Bowie was a miscegenationist at a time when it wasn’t necessarily cool, or tolerated. Bowie was “queer” in that way, and things only got queerer…
Hello goodbye David. Hello goodbye.

Throughout the night, people showed me their Bowie tatoo's, shared stories, and we all shared our inner Bowies, a whole city of bowie.


Photos by  Jason Speakman and Kylie Shaffer for the Village Voice. Voice

Owen Crowley wrote:

A great evening celebrating the life and passing of an accomplished artist. There was a quiet gathering at David Bowie's New York apartment. Some of this crowd joined us at an alleyway around the corner where, dressed as various Bowie incarnations, we danced to his music. Then we decamped on our bikes to a Village music bar. Absolutely lovely, with lovely people.

Photos by Owen Crowley

Drinks at Marie's Crisis & Stonewall after an awesome Public Space Party‪#‎DavidBowie Dance Ride. ‪#‎bikenyc

Photos by Barbara Ross

A few blurry shots of the old albums and an evening in time by this writer.

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