Of all of the accolades that Bowie received after his death last January 10th, there was precious little said about his pioneering work on the Internet and the burgeoning World Wide Web. In 1998, he launched Bowie.net and became the first major artist to create his own internet service, to distribute his songs online, to use the Web to offer things like branded/vanity email (email@example.com) and exclusive backstage access to Bowie.net subscribers (using crappy late-90s streaming technology), and to use the Web to communicate directly and collaborate with fans.
In this video clip from 1999, he talks with the BBC's Jeremy Paxman and seems to shock him with what sounds like an alarming prediction about the future of the Internet.
Bowie: I think the potential for what the Internet is going to do for society, both good and bad, is unimaginable. I think we are on the cusp of something both exhilarating and terrifying.
Paxman: It's just a tool, though. Isn't it?
Bowie: No it's not, no. It's an alien life form. [Laughs] Is there life on Mars? YES, and it's just landed here.
[H/t Will Kreth] Read the rest
Last year, a few days after David Bowie died, I posted the following reminiscence/remembrance to my Facebook page. On the anniversary of his death, I thought I might share it here.
It was Friday, November 16, 1973. I was 16 years old. Every Friday night, I would rush home from whatever trouble my friends and I were trying to get into to watch The Midnight Special, hosted by the chronically-howling Wolfman Jack. For a sheltered kid growing up in a small Southern Baptist town outside of Richmond, Virginia, The Midnight Special and Don Kirshner's Rock Concert were the critical means for seeing live-performance rock n' roll.
On this night, the show broadcast David Bowie's 1980 Floor Show, a special that had been recorded in October of 1973 at The Marquee Club in London, but not previously aired. Up to that point, I don't know how much Bowie I'd been exposed to, but it wasn't much. I'd certainly heard “Space Oddity” countless times on the radio, and likely a few other tracks, but my exposure was minimal. And I don't think I'd ever laid eyes on the man until this broadcast.
I was so excited as the show began, but that enthusiasm soon turned to confusion, then outright fear. I saw this....creature that I had no frame of reference to understand. I was looking at some strange and incomprehensible being, some OTHER. The freedom I saw, the creativity, the gender fluidity, and the flaunted sexuality, it was both seductive and alarming; this pandrogyny felt fundamentally threatening to whatever male heterosexuality I'd been trying so desperately to understand and to model. Read the rest
"I glit from one thing to another a lot," said David. "It's like flip, but it's the 70s' version. *sniff*" (Subsequently) Read the rest
Matt Mihaly shares the beautiful David Bowie tribute video compiled from footage Mihaly shot at Burning Man 2016. Read the rest
See sample pages at Wink.
Mick Rock: The Rise of David Bowie, 1972-1973
by Mick Rock (photographer)
2016, 300 pages, 10.8 x 15 x 1.2 inches
$44 Buy a copy on Amazon
When I asked Taschen’s PR person for a review copy of the hardback edition of Mick Rock: The Rise of David Bowie, 1972-1973 (after sheepishly asking in vein for the $800 Limited Edition), she warned me that it was an amazingly impressive object, even by Taschen standards. Don’t laugh, but this intimidated me to the point where, after receiving the book, I waited over a week to look inside. I had damn-near passed out while first perusing the uncompromising art publisher’s recent Blake book.
Mick Rock: The Rise of David Bowie, 1972-1973 is about as woozying of a tome as you’re ever going to stick your nose into. And this “regular” edition, available at Amazon for the remainder-bin price of under $45, is anything but regular. Every single aspect of this book is elevated. The cover sports a lenticular panel which contains five iconic Mick Rock images of everyone’s favorite glam commander. This could have gone horribly wrong, too gimmicky or tacky, but this technology seems to have been invented to flash the ever-changing personas of David Bowie at the height of his (and Rock’s) artistic powers. There is no more perfect cover for this book.
And that’s just the cover. I was right to psych myself up. The first time I went through it, I got about 20 pages in and had to stop. Read the rest
I didn't know glam rock icon Marc Bolan hosted a music TV show in the 1970s. It was called simply MARC, and judging from this sixth (and final) episode, it was terrific.
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Luna plays popular music on a Korean traditional instrument called the gayageum.
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When artist and pop star David Bowie launched an Internet service provider firm in the heady dot-com runup days of 1998, a guy named Ron Roy helped Bowie run the ISP. Days after the music icon's death from cancer at age 69, Ars Technica interviews Roy about how "BowieNet" came to life, and why Bowie wanted to be in the ISP business in the first place.
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The mid-1980s' fantasy movie Labyrinth, starring David Bowie as the Goblin King, was something of a dud when it was released. Over the years, though, it's become a genuine classic. Tanya Pai explains.
Much of Labyrinth has the vibe of a particularly vivid dream; the slow-motion falls and ouroboric logic evoke that sludgy, slow-dawning realization that you're asleep and can't quite control what's happening.
Henson creates an expansive world full of odd, disquieting beings — moss adorned with eyeballs, beautiful fairies with a vicious bite, beaky swamp dwellers that pluck out their own eyeballs and swallow them. Unseen creatures slink through the periphery of Sarah's vision, and vast, unfamiliar landscapes stretch endlessly into the distance, adding to the alien atmosphere. Labyrinth is definitely more Dark Crystal than Sesame Street.
Yet it's also ostensibly a children's movie, and Henson tempers the story's darker elements with plenty of silly humor. The Left and Right Door Knockers squabble like an old married couple, and everyone's inability to pronounce Hoggle's name correctly is a running joke that includes even Jareth. Plus, the Bog of Eternal Stench is pure 12-year-old-boy humor, complete with fart noises.
Some time ago, Heather and I sketched out a sequel (screenplay) to Labyrinth.
The concept: Jareth is cursed with mortality and is dying of old age, and needs not a consort but a "successor"—which is to say, a young man whose youth he can steal. The boy, of course, is Henson, the teenage son of Sarah, herself now middle-aged. Read the rest
Artnet collects a set of interesting stock images of David Bowie
you might not have seen before, hidden from the Google spiders (if not the ones from Mars). Read the rest
Images from around the world today, as fans mourn the death of David Bowie. He died Sunday, January 10, 2016. He was 69, and had been receiving treatment for cancer for 18 months, according to reports.
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Here’s some great music from David Bowie that I didn’t know about until today. Even though it was created over 15 years ago it would fit in perfectly alongside his newly released Blackstar.
Released around 2000 for PC and the ill-fated Sega Dreamcast, Omikron was a strange hybrid game that let players do a bit of body snatching around the titular science fiction city…
Bowie is said to have had some input into the storyline, but his most memorable contributions are to the soundtrack and of course his in-game cameos. 'Hours...', the 1999 album Bowie released just prior to the debut of the game, featured a number of songs that had been written just for the game, but were slightly reworked so that they were not so specific to the sci-fi world. They would appear on the Omikron soundtrack in more tribal, remixed forms alongside original instrumentals Bowie also composed for the game.
Read more on Atlas Obscura. Read the rest
The musical references of this year's most daunting commercial video game are resonating in surprising and brilliant ways.
Should we ever need to explain David Bowie to aliens, and have less than a minute to do it, we are covered. Watch Bowie's entire career unfold in one, ingenious take. Read the rest
The Age of American Unreason, Susan Jacoby, 2008
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz, 2007
The Coast of Utopia (trilogy), Tom Stoppard, 2007
Teenage: The Creation of Youth 1875-1945, Jon Savage, 2007
Fingersmith, Sarah Waters, 2002
The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Christopher Hitchens, 2001
Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder, Lawrence Weschler, 1997
And there's more! [Open Culture]
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Mark Dery's new ebook, All The Young Dudes: Why Glam Matters (the debut publication from Boing Boing's digital imprint) is a delightfully Derynian cultural excavation of the deeper definition of masculinity in the 20th century and beyond. His extended essay on the post-meterosexual landscape takes as its point of departure the doomed-teen anthem penned by David Bowie and performed by Mott The Hoople:
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And what, exactly, was a young dude? In the ’70s Southern California of my adolescence, “dude” was the universal form of address among teenaged males. A verbal virus spread by the surfer scene, “dude” was a jocular hi-sign, the verbal fist bump of male bonding. Variously inflected, it could also be a remonstration (dude!), a quizzical exclamation (dude?!), or a backslap of bong-loaded bonhomie (duuuuude, underscored with a Cheshire-cat grin). With the right verbal spin, the term could even signify Jeff Spicoli’s idea of satori, a kind of Tao of Whoahhh—the existential weightlessness common to surfers, stoners, and slackers, a state of mind incarnated by Jeff Bridges as The Dude in The Big Lebowski. But whatever else it was, “dude” was an expression of Dude-ism—straight guy-ness, distilled down to its bro-mantic, brewski-chugging, perpetually adolescent essence.
It’s doubtful Bowie spoke fluent Dude, in 1972. More likely, he reached for the word because of its historical associations with dandies and other Dedicated Followers of Fashion—the sort of “handsome young man, curled, well-dressed, pomaded, painted and powdered” (Edmond de Goncourt, on one of Proust’s friends) whose flamboyance or excessive fastidiousness in dress struck a note of unmanly vanity, even effeminacy.
“All the Young Dudes,” glam rock’s rallying cry, turned 40 last year. David Bowie wrote it, but Mott the Hoople owned it: their version was, and will ever remain, glam’s anthem, a hymn of exuberant disenchantment that also happens to be one of rock’s all-time irresistible sing-alongs.
Bowie, glam, and “All the Young Dudes” are inseparable in the public mind, summoning memories of a subculture dismissed as apolitical escapism, a glitter bomb of fashion and attitude that briefly relieved the malaise of the '70s.
Now, cultural critic Mark Dery gives the movement its due in an 8,000-word exploration of glam as rebellion through style, published as a Kindle e-book (and Boing Boing's first published e-book): All the Young Dudes: Why Glam Matters. As polymorphously perverse as the subculture it explores, “All the Young Dudes: Why Glam Matters” is equal parts fan letter, visual-culture criticism, queer theory, and true confession.
In bravura style, Dery teases out lines of connection between glam, the socioeconomic backdrop of the '70s, Oscar Wilde as a late-Victorian Ziggy Stardust, the etymology and queer subtext of the slang term “dude,” the associative links between the '20s-style cover of the Mott album on which “Dudes” appeared and the coded homoeroticism of the '20s magazine illustrator J.C. Leyendecker (considered in the context of the 1970s fad for all things 1920s), and Dery’s own memories of growing up glam in '70s San Diego, where coming out as a Bowie fan -- even for straight kids -- was an invitation to bullying. Read the rest