Reflections on a Life-Changing Introduction to Ziggy Stardust

I had certainly never seen anything like that in my little, sheltered, suburban life.  (Had you??)  I still remember vividly the exact first time I saw this creature…and it changed me forever.

 

OK look:  People don’t think of me as a rocker.  They never did, it always took them a bit by surprise.  To be fair, I have never looked the part, I’m pretty white-bread all-american non-threatening rule-following type of girl.  On the surface.  But that’s okay, nothing wrong with flying under the radar a little bit.  Let people think what they think.

A rocker underneath, and those who know that side, well, they KNOW.  And you know who you are.

Herewith is the story of how I got in touch with my INNER ROCKER and broke through the, like, dull, unenlightened, like, totally mid-western haze into GLAM ROCK:

I was at home in suburban Chicago, babysitting for my little brother.  I was 13 years old I think.  So, 1973.  Nothing had happened to me yet.  And nothing was going on.  Nothing.  Like, bummer.

Anyway, there I am watching TV.  It’s late.  I’m feeling bored, clicking through the channels, looking for something… not sure what.  I ended up on the Public Television station, (yes indeed, those were the days!) and there was this highly bizarre personage:  bright red mullet, emaciated sunken cheeks, rainbow eye make-up, skinny bone white appendages, and, I think, high heels.

ZIGGY CATSUIT

WTF, A CATSUIT??

Wow-wee!  I immediately knew… NOW something was going on.  At last!  Thank you Jesus!

Ziggy Stardust was such a freak!  Freak.  Freak!  Freak show!  And it went on and on.  The costume changes, the music, the challenging strut, and insolent yet seductive facial expressions.  Each one fn freakier than the next:

mick-david-bowie-ziggy

Zow-eee!  Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am!

It scared the SHIT out of me!

And I could not turn away.  I watched the whole thing, feeling vaguely awakened in some way that I wasn’t really in touch with, and a bit appalled, (actually quite a lot appalled cuz I was a goody-goody-type).  I honestly didn’t understand!  Especially the pink lip gloss, bodysuits, pale white thighs.

What was this madness??

By the end of the show I still didn’t really UNDERSTAND, but I knew I liked it.  A lot.  And I became just obsessed!  Such was my introduction to glam rock, and the end of a certain part of my childhood.

Let’s be clear:  when it comes to Ziggy Stardust and all that ambiguous posturing, you either get it or you don’t.  Am I right?  And do I really need to get into all the “CONTEXT STUFF”?  OK, here’s some context for you:  It sounds almost quaint now, to say that this outlandish character coming into our suburban Chicago living room through the TV screen that night, like, blew my friggin mind.  It just was so powerful.

Not just the outrageousness, but the talent, passion, and performance artistry.  Turned me right round, baby, right round.

Can you think of anything with that kind of impact now?  With 24/7 updates, and people seemingly willing to do anything in front of the camera?  And many things amazingly commonplace.

Lady Gaga anyone?  Marilyn Manson?  How about Caitlyn Jenner?

David Bowie was so brave, brilliant, sly, and ground-breaking.  Thanks David.  R.I.P.

Aladdin Sane

Aladdin Sane

Hey, I know I’m not alone in this, I’m sure many of you have amazing and compelling memories of David Bowie and his music, please take a moment and share them in the comments section… even just place/song/date!

“This is Major Tom to Ground Control

I’m stepping through the door

And I’m floating in a most peculiar way

And the stars look very different

Today…”

Space Oddity, David Bowie

 

Advertisements

Iris

I gotta be honest… Getting older freaks me out. All the clichés you’ve ever heard start to ring in my ears:

“Getting old…it ain’t for sissies!” and

“Youth is wasted on the young!” and

“My get-up-and-go just got-up-and-went!” and so on.

*Bleah*

I start to wonder how I’ll survive that seemingly long, difficult period that heads inexorably towards…well, let’s just say it: Death.

Then I went to see the dazzling, life-affirming movie “Iris”, which is about a woman… IN HER 90s… who has been kicking ass all over the fashion world: magazines, museums, runways from New York to Paris, and now of course, a documentary by a super-influential filmmaker. Hello! Not bad for someone who was apparently “discovered” only about 10 years ago!

Iris Apfel is being celebrated for her extraordinary style, but it goes much deeper than that. It is also who she is, and her unique-yet-straightforward approach to life. It’s also a look at the culmination of all the experiences… all the influences… which have made her so fabulous and have caused such a stir.

This is an audacious, accomplished woman and watching her made me realize not only is it OKAY to follow the beat of your own drum, to be truly creative you MUST do so. How rewarding and fun life can be when you stop trying to please everyone else and just start suiting yourself!

Iris Apfel may be one-of-a-kind, but the film’s message about her bold spirit and willingness to continue to say YES to life is inspiring to anyone and at any age.

Now, the filmmaker himself is no Spring Chicken, and perhaps it took his OWN age and experience to capture her unique vitality. He has since passed away, but I wish I could thank him because THIS is the quote about aging that I believe now:

“None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.”

header

About Bruce

Well!  How do you like THAT!  Reality TV has gotten me again.  But THIS time the underdog character, the sort of unhip, laughable, ponytailed side-character… the unimportant one if you will, has COMPLETELY STOLEN THE SHOW!

At least for me.

The Kardashians, God love ’em, have built this huge multi-media empire on the most frivolous and transient subjects:  fashion, beauty, club appearances, flying around the world, and like, hair extensions.  (Don’t get me wrong, I love ALL those Hot Topics and they ALL have their place in life, but the Ks take on things is so wispy thin and insubstantial as to just be, like, well… it doesn’t take up ANY space in your brain.)

So this whole time, apparently all 8 years that this show has been on the air, the emotional tone has been self-absorbed, glib, occasionally vulgar, and very, very insular.  Most of the scenes are filmed in one of their huge houses in So California, and involves their latest marital or professional escapades, and they all seem to live in just their own little worlds of wealth, access, and entitlement.  And the whole MACHINE runs on moving through things FAST… they will have a meltdown-y melodramatic moment about something and then, as they like to say repeatedly “It’s, like, SOOO time to move on.”

Now a storyline has emerged that, like, nobody saw coming.  One that is so big, so freakin important that they have had to have TWO special episodes and a Diane Sawyer interview just to cope with!  The patriarch of this entrepreneurial clan, the out-of-step but likeable Dad, will soon be living publicly as a WOMAN!!!!

Now I am old enough to remember Bruce Jenner on the Wheaties box.  Arguably, one of THE top male athletes of our time.  OLYMPIC athlete in all those intense and uber-masculine events.  (I mean discus throwing??  Who even DOES that?)  He is so familiar in THAT arena that this news really throws you back.

And the fascinating thing to watch is the juxtaposition of this Superficial Franchise Operation dealing with such a… well, let’s be honest, WTF kind of situation.  Because they’ve had to show, like, REAL EMOTION.  And tolerance.  Not to mention delicacy!

All the Kardashian/Jenner kids obviously adore Bruce, and he gets so tickled and excited when talking about his future… letting his hair grow, painting his nails, putting on cute clothes… he is SWEET and SINCERE and GOOFY and… well…it is like, SO MOVING!  This man that we all thought we knew… we had a category for him:  All-American Olympic Hero… he has been living with a huge and painful secret his WHOLE LIFE… and now, at the age of 65, he has the courage to change everything about himself… well I just thought to myself:

“Huh!  So the REAL story of the Kardashians has been going on between-the-lines and off-camera this whole freakin time!”

Wow.  Good luck Bruce… we’ll try to Keep Up…

“At the Intersection of ‘Yes Ma’am’ and ‘Dude’ “

I admit it: I live in a bit of a fantasy world. Don’t worry, there is no real break with reality, I just prefer to think that life is like a colorful, interesting movie with a great soundtrack. Honestly, why would you choose otherwise when regular life is so mundane, frustrating, and just so darn…LIFE-Y?

Anyone who tries to get my head out of the clouds, and wants me to be more “realistic” (ugh!) is doomed to failure. But have no fear: LIFE does a pretty good job of bringing me right back down to earth, where I land with a *PLUNK*.

This is what happened when my intrepid husband and I stayed at the seemingly fabulous Thunderbird Inn in Savannah. This is a bona fide retro motor lodge built in 1964, 2-story, drive-up style. You can’t miss this place: it has the MOST stunning neon sign:

322123_242998882447827_129844517096598_524041_2089797398_o

and the exterior has an authentic mid-60s color scheme:

DSCF2099

The outside is so well done, they have added little touches like retro bicycles, and the whole thing looks just untouched by time. Really cool.

Well mister, I took one look at that place and the Movie Music just swelled in my head… Dean Martin “Everybody Loves Somebody” and The Shangri-Las… how wonderful it would be to stay there!

So when we found ourselves with two events in Savannah on consecutive days, my husband suggested we stay there, for fun. I was so excited, and promptly exclaimed that we would have to take our dinner to-go in the room in order to spend as much time as possible in that groovy setting.

At check-in we were “upgraded” to a King Suite. Sweet! When we got to the door of our room, there was a sign saying that the bed had the Magic Fingers Feature. Fantastic! As visions of ambiance danced in my head we opened the door, entered the room, and *PLUNK*! I was yanked flat out of my movie soundtrack and I thudded down to earth.

Let’s just say… the ultra-cool, retro vibe of the exterior did not extend into the room! It was an ugly, plain, not-very-stylish hotel room. In really the lower levels of hotel rooms I have ever stayed in in my life. Furnishings? Bland. Walls? Bare. Color scheme? Beige. It was such a letdown. And the King Suite designation? Seemed to be because there was a large fold-out couch uncomfortably shoved between the bed and door.

tbird 2

And the Magic Fingers? We never did get that to work.

DSCF2102

Disappointing, to say the least. After we went OUT to dinner (definitely not taking it to our room) I kept my husband out walking the streets, here and there, to avoid actually hanging out in this room. But when we returned, I had to acknowledge that the room was actually quite clean, the A/C unit worked well, and the bed was super-comfortable.

That night I slept ridiculously well, because the bed WAS so comfortable, and I woke feeling refreshed. We headed towards the lobby to get coffee, and this is what we saw:

Weinermobile

Weinermobile!

Oh joy!!! Cue the soundtrack! The movie continues!

tbird 1

The Antiques Road Show Axe Murderer

“Do you like our street?” asked the man blithely crossing one of those confusing, cars-going-every-direction Savannah intersections.  “That’s MY house.” he added with a big grin.  “Would you like to come in and see it?  It is the oldest building on this street.”

My husband and I exchanged a glance, and followed the man up the steps.  He was so cheerful, with a completely matter-of-fact hospitality, that it would have seemed terribly rude to decline.  And that is how we met Mr. Duke Beauregard Turner of Savannah.

Here’s the house:

Savannah Staircase

I’m thinking, like you do in such instances, “What if he’s an axe murderer?!”  My husband’s kinda fake-y smile indicated he was thinking the same thing.  We had been doing our usual Savannah sight-seeing:  walking the streets, poking into the odd little shops, and yes, gawking at the quaint historic architecture.  This was a particularly charming house, with a “Built in 1850” bronze plaque by the front door.

Savannah Rowhouse

So Mr. Turner gave us a tour.  He talked about the history of the house (originally built for a prominent wealthy merchant) and pointed out some of the more significant features.  And it was, in fact, quite intriguing to see how folks might live in such a museum-quality environment.  He was not boastful in any way, perhaps just “house-proud” as they say in the South, and with a genuine desire to share his enthusiasm that was quite infectious.

However, the biggest “wow” was not the house itself, but the antiques that furnished it.  Mr. Turner and his wife have amassed some really cool treasures, if you like that kind of thing, which my husband and I do, being regular viewers of The Antiques Road Show.  The thing about really old stuff is that it all has such fascinating stories attached to it…that’s what we really like.

So when he asked us if we wanted to go upstairs to see some “really unusual and interesting things”, I pushed aside my “DEFINITELY AXE MURDERER!” thoughts, smiled and said, “Sure!”.

The architecture upstairs was even more personal and charming, with some pieces like a large oval gold-leaf-framed mirror with a fierce, wings-spread eagle across the top that looked so Revolutionary War I swear it could’ve come from Betsy Ross’s place.

But the piece de resistance, the Big Kahuna if you will, was over the fireplace.  It was a large, framed, torn and tattered, slightly charred, but completely colorful and intact CIVIL WAR CONFEDERATE FLAG.  (!)  Now I don’t know about you, but big ole Confederate flags kinda make me a little uneasy.  I guess I get confused: true and important artifact, clearly on the wrong side of history, what would my New York friends say, etc.

This particular flag was the real deal and given to Mr. Turner’s family after the death of his great-grandfather on the battlefield.  Approximately 2 1/2′ square, it dominated the room.  Written boldly on the flag itself was a list of important battles this particular Confederate Army Company had been engaged in, such as Bull Run, Antietam, and several other very significant campaigns.  Mr. Turner explained that someone from his regiment had taken special care to be sure this memorial flag got to his ancestor’s surviving family.

And that’s what it was:  a memorial and a tribute to his great-grandfather’s service.  It is quite moving to look at in that context, which is the privacy of Mr. Turner’s home.

As we left the company of this delightful, pleasant man in one piece (no axes, antique or otherwise) I was appreciative that Mr. Turner had certainly made our day, and while he was genuine and unfazed, I still found myself wondering:

Is it politically incorrect to display Confederate Army memorabilia??

Mr. Turner in his living room

Mr. Turner in his living room

Normcore

I really wish I hadn’t read that article.

It really effed me up, and now I can’t stop worrying about my clothes.  Am I too normal?  Do I have style?  And what about my husband??  He is either so on the cutting-edge of fashion trends that it is not apparent to the naked eye, or he is hopelessly out of step.

“Normcore” is a term that emerged from the deepest recesses of Hippest hip hip super-hip Brooklyn.  (There is no way we can keep up with these people!)  It is a trend amongst these uber-hipsters wherein they have taken to wearing Super-Normal Clothes.  (Egads!)  Like jeans, Coors Light t-shirts, and real, non-ironic baseball caps.  Also, Gap cargo shorts and white sneakers.  Basically dressing like an uncool dad or 80s suburban soccer mom, with Jerry Seinfeld being the ultimate aspirational look.  Got it?

This is considered a fashion statement.  Well, actually, it is an ANTI-fashion fashion trend…supposedly these tiresome creatures are “dropping the pretense” of their intensely alternative lifestyles and throwing themselves into the mainstream.  (Please remember, this is a population that previously was all about pretty extreme eyewear and facial hair, i.e. “Martin Van Buren mutton chops”).  The next thing you know they’ll be joining country clubs, eating Cobb Salads, and taking up GOLF!

Now I’m having an existential crisis just looking in my closet.  What is a girl to wear??  I find myself kind of OBSERVING my wardrobe, and really overthinking what used to be “normal” clothing choices.  Like:  “Are these Gap jeans a super-mega-hip item?  Or just Gap jeans?”

They’ve sent me right down the Fashion Rabbit Hole….

So I guess I am turning in my Vogue Magazine subscription, and tearing up my Fashion Week membership card, because I can now do all my shopping for the latest looks at Walmart!  Or Dick’s Sporting Goods.

jerry-seinfeld-jason-alexander-inline[1]

Puck It

So I was at a hockey game the other day, and….(wait…. let me back up a minute:  I married a Canadian.  Got it?  And I was told that watching hockey is practically a Marital Responsibility with these people.)  Anyway, there I was at this hockey game and I realized:  I.  Don’t.  Get.  It.

I do vaguely understand the premise, and of course heartily endorse all the protective gear, but the macho posturing?  Not so much.  These fans, like, BANG on the glass partition when a player from the opposing team is in front of them and loudly YELL sort of violent, provocative things.  Also they LOVE any fighting on the ice and the entire arena goes NUTS when one is even threatened.  Egads!

Kinda meathead-y, frankly.

Now my husband is NOT a meathead, in fact he is a lovely and sensitive man.  I think we can transcend the culture of our birth, but only so far.  And we have to really really want to.  And in this instance?  Canadians don’t want to!

So I did what any bored, vaguely appalled sports fan would do:  I played with my husband’s new Windows 8 smartphone.  I posted things on FB, checked out the features, and gave his camera a try:

DSCF2079

A Happy Canadian

   Some Meatheads in Action

Some Meatheads in Action

As I scanned the building for shots of the crowd, I was struck by something.  (A thought, I mean…not a flying puck.)  It just so happened to be “Frozen Day” at the game that day, as in the Uber-Successful Disney animated film of “Let it Go” fame.  So there were TONS of little sparkly blue-frocked girls!  They were everywhere!  And they were dancing and twirling and jumping up and down and trying to get on camera on the big screen.  There was even a Prettiest Princess contest:

DSCF2075The juxtaposition of the 2 realities was so ironic:  on the one hand you have an aggressive game with pretty intense fans, and on the other this sweet, cute ultra-girly fan club.  (“Frozen” has a tender theme of sisterhood, and some have said, an underlying pro-gay message. (!) )

DSCF2080

Never mind the Canadians!  Doesn’t Contemporary American Culture just take the cake?