I was lying in my bed looking at the white ceiling and listening to the sounds coming from the box fans we have in our room. Neither myself nor my wife can sleep without the sound of the fans. It’s been like that for a very, very long time. Dead silence is the devil. I looked over at her asleep on her side. Her hair falling so perfectly across her back. I couldn’t believe she was my wife, in my life, but there she was. Still there beside me becoming more precious to my existence every single day…
Anyways, I had just come out of a crazy dream, and like I said, I was staring at the ceiling and thinking about a documentary I watched the night before on the television. It was a documentary about the last five years of David Bowie’s life, released in 2017. The name of it being David Bowie: The Last Five Years. Well, there you go.
Now, I’ve never been an overly huge David Bowie fan or even cared for some of his music so I’m not even sure why I queued the show up in my line of saves on HBO Max. I guess I was intrigued because it was about the last years of his life which may not be something everyone always considers when an artist such as himself has such a long and storied career. People tend to look back at the energetic youthful years, the bubbling to the top years — not the settling down into yourself years. Maybe I wanted to get a glimpse of what aging had been like for him and his artistic process. Maybe I wanted to watch it in an attempt to prepare me and teach me how to still be cool when you’re in your mid-60s. (Not there yet, by the way). And despite a cancer battle, Bowie was still actively creative to the end. I hope I can be actively creative to the end. I don’t want to wastefully linger.
One of the things that kind of stood out for me in the documentary was a song from 2013 called Valentine’s Day — a dark message about mass murder and the need for gun control. I found it to be emotional and moving and sadly appropriate nearly ten years later… Considering what happened at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas in May, and continues to happen in a country that values its guns more than its children, its very own future. It can be a harsh world and Bowie knew it, felt it, and often conveyed it through his music. You can watch the video HERE.
I have a Bowie greatest hits CD (a round, shiny disc about the size of a sandwich that contains digital pieces of music that you slide into a slot or plop onto a tray to initiate playback) somewhere, but after watching the documentary last night, I am really wanting to buy one of his later in life releases — The Next Day from 2013 or Blackstar, released three years later on his birthday, two days before he died on January 10th, 2016. Both albums were heavily featured in the documentary, and for me, contained some intriguing music that I’d like to delve deeper into.
Like I said, I was never a huge Bowie fan or an expert on his career, but the documentary reminded me that I had included something about him in a yet unreleased short story I had written a few years ago. I may need to dig it out, blow off the dust, and add some polish.
This is what I wrote in a story titled The Chinese Guy and the Angels of Uranus. I know, I write weird stuff, but Bowie liked weird.
Here’s the bit:
Janice Ho worked at a big commercial real estate office in the central district. I looked up at the tall building of blue glass. It seemed to go on forever. It was a giant with cold clouds for hands. I went in through the heavy doors and found the elevators. I went up — floor number 22 it was. It seemed like a long ride. There was a lady in there with me. She was all dressed up and she smelled good — like one of those uptight stores in the mall. I could tell I made her nervous. She wouldn’t look at me. She wouldn’t talk to me. I couldn’t stand it anymore.
“Did you hear that David Bowie died?” I finally said.
She turned to look at me. “Who died?”
“I’m afraid I don’t know him.”
Her stupid cell phone rang, and she turned away to talk on it. Blah, blah, blah. The doors slid open at 22 and I stepped out.
Yeah, I know. Not a grand cameo, but still, he got a mention, and I’m glad I remembered it and was able to include it. I think he’d appreciate it, with a laugh, welcome it even, maybe. He had a disdain for fame. And here’s something that I just learned — so, it appears Bowie’s eyes are two different colors, but in fact, his pupils are two different sizes — a unique trait for a unique person. He was a complex, eccentric, and intriguing guy with a head full of all kinds of peculiar, strange, and brilliant thoughts and ideas. The world is a better place because of him and his mind and art.
And even though his influence will reverberate forever, that was then, and this is now, and I’m at my desk drinking coffee and madly typing, and Bowie’s in the afterlife, floating and dreaming on a Buddha waffle somewhere near the moon, and he’s looking down, and admiring all the good, weird things that he left behind.