Category Archives: Culture

➤ A sensational portrait of Bowie as the man who shaped our responses to an age of shattered dreams

David Bowie, genius, pop music, obituary, Major Tom, The Economist, alienation, annihilation, 1970s, Space Oddity, music videos, Apollo 11,

1969: “This is Ground Control to Major Tom / You’ve really made the grade / And the papers want to know whose shirts you wear”

➢ Today’s issue of The Economist pulls out the plum – a superb obituary casting David Bowie as a wonderful epitome of alienation who saw a way through the world’s fears of imminent annihilation:

IN JULY 1969 men walked on the moon, a technological leap all but unthinkable 50 years before. Three years later they abandoned it, and have renounced all return ever since. What boosters saw as the great opening act of the space age turned out to be, in effect, its culmination. Within a few years presidential corruption, economic stagnation, military ignominy and imagined catastrophe had warped post-war America’s previously impervious belief in progress, a belief that had resonance across the then free world. After Apollo, the future would never again be what it used to be.

The Economist, Space Oddity, David Bowie,tributes, David Bowie’s greatest years began nine days before Apollo 11 touched down in the Sea of Tranquillity, with the release of his single Space Oddity; they ended 11 years later, with the single Ashes to Ashes. Over that decade he used imagined futures to turn himself into something contradictory and wonderful — an epitome of alienation with whom the alienated flocked to identify. In doing so, he laid bare one of the key cultural shifts of the 1970s: the giving up of past dreams. . . / Continued online

“In Space Oddity Major Tom, floating in a most peculiar way, had been an isolated spaceman;
by Ashes to Ashes his isolation was a junkie’s”
– The Economist

David Bowie, genius, pop music, obituary, Major Tom, The Economist, alienation, annihilation, 1980s, Ashes to Ashes, music videos,

1980: “Ashes to ashes, funk to funky / We know Major Tom’s a junkie / Strung out in heaven’s high / Hitting an all-time low”

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: “I’m not a rock star” Bowie often said – No, David, you were a messiah

OVER TO YOU, MAJOR TIM:

➢ Update on the first Friday of the new era AD (After David), Britain’s first official astronaut Major Tim Peake takes his first walk outside the International Space Station

International Space Station, NASA, British, astronaut,Union Jack,

2016: The British astronaut Major Tim Peake – sporting the Union Jack on his shoulder – takes his first spacewalk at 2pm today from the International Space Station (NASA Television)

NOT FORGETTING COMMANDER CHRIS HADFIELD


❏ This is the cover version Bowie called “possibly the most poignant version of the song ever created”, recorded by Commander Chris Hadfield on board the International Space Station in 2013.

Today’s hits on mainstream media!

➢ Tim Peake on live NASA Television

➢ David Bowie Breaks Adele’s Vevo record

FRONT PAGE

Image

➤ David Bowie 8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016

Posted on January 11, 2016
David Bowie, dead, BBC News, breaking news,Duncan Jones, pop music

David Bowie, dead, pop music, genius

All-Bowie search here at Shapers of the 80s

FRONT PAGE

➤ Now David Bowie’s landlady tells her story of the lodger from Mars

David Bowie , Mary Finnigan, book, pop music, biography, Psychedelic Suburbia, 1969, Space Oddity, Beckenham Arts Lab,

David Bowie at home in Beckenham in 1969, where he became the lodger and lover of Mary Finnigan. (Photo by Ray Stevenson/Rex)

◼ AS A STRUGGLING FOLK SINGER David Bowie was 22 years old and living with his parents in south-east London when, by chance, he met journalist Mary Finnigan, eight years his senior, and moved into her flat in Foxgrove Road, Beckenham, where she lived with her two children from an early marriage.

They became lovers and launched a successful folk club which became the iconic Beckenham Arts Lab at The Three Tuns pub (now a Zizzi restaurant) on the High Street. Mary’s new book, Psychedelic Suburbia, offers new insights about Bowie in 1969, the year in which his first single Space Oddity reached the pop charts. Today The Independent runs a fabulously revealing extract:

We do not observe landlady-lodger conventions. I am happy with this arrangement – we share tincture of cannabis and Lucy’s deliveries of high-quality hashish. We share the space, cook and eat together. And a few days after he moves in, David and I sleep together.

The seduction is a work of art and takes me totally by surprise, when I come home one Saturday evening after a shift at The Sunday Times (edited in those days by my friend and journalistic mentor, Harry Evans). Usually I return to a messy kitchen and a sink full of dishes, showing evidence of baked beans, fried egg and tomato ketchup. But on this occasion, interesting cooking smells greet my arrival, the kitchen is clean and tidy, with the table laid for two plus flowers, candles and incense. The kids are fed, washed and tucked up in bed.

After a spliff and a nice dinner, David creates a nest of cushions on the floor of his room. He settles me into it and places speakers close to my ears on each side. Then he plays me a selection of his current favourite musical influences. Some are obscure, others well known – Jacques Brel, for example, and mind-blowing stereo phasing from Jimi Hendrix. . . / Continued at The Independent online

David Bowie , Mary Finnigan, book, pop music, biography, Psychedelic Suburbia, 1969, Space Oddity, Beckenham Arts Lab,

Friend, lover and landlady: Mary Finnigan and her personal new book about living with Bowie

“ Living from hand to mouth, David also does
casual shifts from time to time at Legastat, a copying office in central London ”
– Bowie as a Brook Street temp ?!?!

David Bowie , Mary Finnigan, book, pop music, biography, Psychedelic Suburbia, 1969, Space Oddity, Beckenham Arts Lab,
➢ Psychedelic Suburbia: David Bowie and the Beckenham Arts Lab by Mary Finnigan (£14.95, Jorvik Press) out now

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: Weird and wonderful new Bowie – his Blackstar man is set to blow our minds, this Thursday

FRONT PAGE

➤ Lovey-dovey Shia LaBeouf says: Ring me today and touch my soul

LaBeouf Rönkkö Turner, performance, art, Liverpool, FACT gallery, streaming, telephone, #touchmysoul

LaBeouf, Rönkkö and Turner taking your calls: Click on this pic to open the live stream at touchmysoul.net in a new window

◼ SHIA LABEOUF INVITES YOU TO RING HIM AND TO #TOUCHMYSOUL – the art collective LaBeouf, Rönkkö and Turner are standing by, waiting for your calls as part of a new project at Liverpool’s FACT gallery, 11am–6pm GMT from Dec 10–13. Telephone +44 (0)151 808 0771. Or view the live stream. Or visit the gallery in person.

➢ LaBeouf’s artworks have been dismissed as stunts but the Hollywood star and his collective tell The Guardian why they’re in Britain today taking calls from the public:

LaBeouf Rönkkö Turner, performance, art, Liverpool, FACT gallery, streaming, telephone, #touchmysoul

Shia on the line: “Can you touch my soul?”

Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkkö, it’s safe to say, don’t quite have the same growly charisma as Shia LaBeouf, a world-famous Hollywood actor turned performance artist. Indeed, they look as if they’ve won a competition to hang out with him. But the unlikely trio are adamant that they are an artistic collective, each on an equal footing. Turner wags a metaphorical finger at journalists who have failed to understand this.

“If it’s a positive article, it’s a work by the art collective,” he says. “If it’s negative, it’s by ‘actor Shia LaBeouf’.” He frowns. “It’s very peculiar to write about a work without saying who it’s by.”

But aren’t they like a band, where people are only interested in the singer? “Well,” says Turner, “you don’t say, ‘John Lennon has released his album.’ It’s the Beatles. I’m not comparing us to the Beatles, by the way.”

Since the beginning of 2014 – when LaBeouf heralded his new career by attending the premiere of Nymphomaniac with a paper bag over his head, scrawled with the words “I am not famous any more” – the three have dreamed up projects that have involved LaBeouf interacting directly with the public. “Why does a goat jump?” asks LaBeouf. “There’s an animalistic urge to express love that I can’t express in film”. . . / Continued at Guardian Online

Read transcripts of the live stream:

#touchmysoul
❏ Luke Turner tells us what we’re seeing beneath the live video stream: “It’s the three of us typing the fragments of conversation together as there’s only one phone line, so we’re all on it together. Colours just separate the ideas/threads of thought or conversation.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


➢ For four days from 10 Dec 2015 #TOUCHMYSOUL is being streamed live from FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), 88 Wood Street, Liverpool L1 4DQ, as part of the group exhibition Follow, open 11 Dec 2015–21 Feb 2016 (admission free)

UPDATE 15 DECEMBER:

➢ At Dazed Digital: After four days of taking calls, Shia LaBeouf, Nastja Säde Rönkkö and Luke Turner reveal exactly what and who connected with them

❏ Except that the performers didn’t reveal any such thing. It was an impossible and ambiguous invitation – “Can you touch my soul?” – since some people insist there’s no such thing as the soul, and whatever it is, a soul is intangible or immaterial and cannot be touched anyway. The OED offers three definitions: “1, The spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal. 2, A person’s moral or emotional nature or sense of identity. 3, Emotional or intellectual energy or intensity, especially as revealed in a work of art or an artistic performance.”

So what counts as a soul being touched? The TMS artists did not specify, neither before the four-day performance, nor after. The trio gave a post-event interview to Dazed Digital in which they still did not answer these questions. They talked about phoning and listening. The words meaningful and connection and rewarding experience recurred. All are intensely subjective, so how can we or they evaluate the outcome?

Luke Turner said that they wanted to “be receptive to whatever feelings might travel down the phone lines to us over those four days”. Do feelings touch a soul?

Nastja Säde Rönkkö said: “Some people moved us with their sweet energy, laughter, singing, silence, life stories, emotions.” Does all this mean touching a soul?

Shia LaBeouf spoke mostly in blank verse, very little of which made sense: “Connection is to be lived / And the internet is not any less alive.” Hm.

A curator said: “It’s about the framework of the show: what do you think is a real experience?” Ah, good old reality. There you go.

The event seemed to conclude with LaBeouf being tattooed with the words: “You. Now. Wow.” We were shown him being touched by the tattooist’s needle.

A project that doesn’t set out its brief beforehand risks missing its mark. It’s hard for callers to know what they’re expected to do or to evaluate any subsequent touching. The result was yards of telephone transcripts which are available to read online at touchmysoul – mainly touchy-feely, hippy-dippy psycho-babble and precious little enlightenment.

Jerry Springer’s Final Thought:

“I play a crazy talk-show host, but that’s not me. It’s like an actor playing a role.”

FRONT PAGE

➤ Who’s that man in the black jumper and spectacles? Wowie, it’s Bowie

David Bowie, Lazarus, theatre, musicals, New York Theatre Workshop

David Bowie at rehearsals for Lazarus: wearing a feather embroidered wool-silk V-neck sweater by Alexander McQueen, plus the latest self-winding Louis Vuitton Tambour eVolution Chrono GMT watch in stainless steel. Facebook fans comment: “Back to blond!”. . . “Is that his John Shuttleworth impression?” … “Almost unbelievable that a man approaching 70 can cause such media interest”. . . “The watch is the Vuitton one he got for free when shooting in Venice [wink]” [Wrong!]. . . “Still not wearing his wedding ring though – it disappeared from his finger when he returned with The Next Day”. . . And a female: “Really the spit of his Dad there!”


◼ SOMETHING IS IN THE AIR. Bowie as you’ve never seen him before. Nothing new about that. But here he is with black spectacles and short-back-and-sides (plus a hint of moustache or mere cool stubble?) coming and going while his new show Lazarus is in rehearsals in New York, modestly and without fuss, sitting in the auditorium for previews alongside its director Ivo van Hove. “No one saw him sat there! ‘I can behave very well so nobody sees I’m there,’ he would say.” And before an enthusiastic first-night audience on Monday, Bowie appeared unshowily on stage to take a bow along with the cast. In fact, he looked inwardly chuffed.

The multimedia production is co-written with Enda Walsh and presented off-Broadway at the 200-seat New York Theatre Workshop. It is Bowie’s surreal live stage re-imagining of The Man Who Fell To Earth, according to the entertainment site ShockTillYouDrop. “This is a Bowie show. Lazarus takes pieces from Bowie’s music, album covers, music videos, and more, to belie a virtual scrapbook of the artist’s career and ideas new, used and unused.”

The New York Times decides it’s a “great-looking and mind-numbing new musical built around songs by David Bowie”, four of them new (Lazarus, No Plan, Killing a Little Time and When I Met You). Some songs “are rhapsodies of alienation; cries of solitary pain turn into our collective pleasure”.

Click any pic below to view bigger:

David Bowie, Ivo van Hove, Lazarus, theatre, musicals, New York Theatre Workshop,

Bowie and director Ivo van Hove at Lazarus rehearsals


Under the headline “Bowie’s weirdly brilliant off-Broadway masterpiece”, The Daily Beast says: “Lazarus contains its own surreal logic, but at its heart seems to be about love and connection, and the forces that can make or violently break such connections.”

Rolling Stone declares it a “Surrealistic tour de force: Impromptu kabuki actors invade the stage. And through it all, the humanoid Thomas Newton [The Man Who Fell to Earth] — played by golden-throated Michael C. Hall, who is best known for his roles on Dexter and Six Feet Under but whose theatrical credits include big roles in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Cabaret and Chicago — mostly remains stoic, lonely, yearning. At its core, Lazarus is a two-hour meditation on grief and lost hope (with no intermission), but it takes so many wild, fantastical, eye-popping turns that it never drags.”

In a nutshell, The Wrap media website raves: “It’s the best jukebox musical ever. That may not sound like much of a compliment, but when you put David Bowie’s musical catalogue at the service of book writers Bowie and Enda Walsh and director Ivo van Hove, the result is more than unique. It’s terrific must-see theater.”

Meanwhile in little ole London, look what has appeared on a billboard at Olympia – a stylish poster counting down to the January launch of Bowie’s new album, ★. And a Bowie New Year to us all!

Blackstar , poster, David Bowie, album,

Ta-daaa! Jonathan Barnbrook’s ★ billboard at Olympia

➢ The V&A touring exhibition David Bowie is. . .
opens 11 Dec at the Groninger Museum in Holland, running until 13 March…

➢ Plan your channel-hop with The Man in Seat 61

FRONT PAGE