By Davie Jones
This is to inform you of the existence of
DAVIE JONES and THE LOWER THIRD
Reputation-wise, Davie has a spotless chart. Having picked up the gauntlet in the now legendary ''Banned Hair'' tale, he stormed into B.B.C.2's ''Gadzooks'', leaving such an impression that he has been contacted for yet another appearance this month.
THE LOWER THIRD
THE group to watch this year. Gaze on, as their record, BORN OF THE NIGHT (released shortly), rushes up the charts. Stand astounded at their brilliant backings for Davie.
TEA-CUP on lead
DEATH on bass
LES on drums
How does a three piece sound like a twelve piece?
All this, plus Davie's earthly vocals, Tenor/Alto Sax and Harp work, adds up to the most exciting evening of R&B that you've ever experienced.
A VERY FAIR SHOW FOR A VERY FAIR PRICE
P.S. Your audience might like it too!
By Davie Jones
AFTER playing a South Coast club we confidently anticipated a week's residency, if we reached the mark.
We soared above this mark. Then the promoter unblushingly told us we were "too good".
As a four piece, we keep our price low. After our week the promoter was afraid that he would have to pay far higher to get a group of our standard.
Prestige is all very well, but must we spend hours rehearsing, just to be told to lower our standards? - DAVIE JONES, The Lower Third, Bromley, Kent.
DAVID'S OWN NOTES ON 'HUNKY DORY'
By David Bowie
Changes - This album is full of my changes and those of some of my friends.
Pretty - The reaction of me to my wife being pregnant was archetypal daddy - Oh he's gonna be another Elvis. This song is all that plus a dash of sci-fi.
Eight - The city is a kind of high-life wart on the backside of the prairie.
Life On Mars - This is a sensitive young girls reaction to the media.
Kooks - The baby was born and it looked like me and it looked like Angie and the song came out like - if you're gonna stay with us you're gonna grow up Bananas.
Quicksand - The chain reaction of moving around through out the bliss and then the calamity of America produced this epic of confusion - Anyway, with my esoteric problems I could have written it in Plainview - or Dulwich.
There is a time and space level just before you go to sleep when all about you are losing theirs and whoosh void gets you with its cacopfony of thought - that's when I like to write my songs.
Fill - Biff Rose song.
Andy - A man of media and anti-message, with a kind of cute style.
Bob - This is how some see B.D.
Queen - A song on a Velvet Underground-Lou Reed framework s'about London sometimes.
Bewlay - Another in the series of David Bowie confessions - Star-Trek in a leather jacket.
THE BUDDHA OF SUBURBIA
By David Bowie
This collection of music bears little resemblance to the small instrumentation of the BBC play of "Buddha". That project was manoeuvred and focused primarily by Roger Mitchell the Director, who guided me around the usual pitfalls of over arranging against small ensemble theatre.
However, left to my own devices these same pieces just took on a life of their own in the studio, the narrative and 70's memories providing a textural backdrop in my imagination that manifested as a truly exciting work situation. In short, I took the TV play motifs and restructured them completely except, that is, for the theme song.
Overall the pace of work was frenetic, taking only six days to write and record 'though a full fifteen days to mix, owing in part to some technical breakdowns - nothing serious but enough to put our team out by five or six days.
I'll tell a little of the working methods: I took each theme or motif from the play and initially stretched or lengthened it to a five or six minute duration. By means of time-code I experimented with various rhythmic elements, drums, percussion, temple blocks, et al until I found a sense of companionship to the primary motif. Then, having noted which musical key I was in and having counted the number of bars, I would often pull down the faders leaving just the percussive element with no harmonic informations to refer to. Working in layers I would then build up reinforcements in the key of the composition totally blind so to speak. When all faders were pushed up again a number of clashes would make themselves evident. The more dangerous or attractive ones would then be isolated and repeated at varying intervals so giving the impression of forethought.
On two pieces, "The Mysteries" and "Ian Fish", the original tape was slowed down, opening up the thick texture dramatically and then Erdal would play the thematic information against it.
On my favourite piece, "South Horizon", all elements, from lead instrumentation to texture, were played both forwards and backwards. The resulting extracts were then intercut arbitrarily giving Mike Garson a splendidly eccentric backdrop upon which to improvise. I personally think Mike gives one of his best-ever performances on this piece and it thrills on every listening, confirming to me at least, that he is still one of the most extraordinary pianists playing today.
My personal brief for this collection was to marry my present way of writing and playing with the stockpile of residue from the 1970's.
Here is a partial list:
Free association lyrics
Unter den Linden
Friends of the Krays
Prostitutes & Soho
Ronnie Scott's club
Travels thru Russia
Philip Glass in
New York clubs
The list is actually endless but the above initially springs to mind.
Fifty percent of the lyrical content is used merely semiotically, the rest either with implied abstruse connotation or just because I like the sound of the word.
There has always been a hazy rootlessness to my writing. I put it down to an overwhelming sense of transience, or is it a case of imagination being memory rearranged? This leads me often to re-complicate much of my composition writing, something I'm working earnestly away from.
I should make it clear that many of my working forms are taken in whole or in part from my collaborations with Brian Eno, who in my humble opinion occupies the position in late 20th century popular music that Clement Greenberg had to art in the 40's or Richard Hamilton in the 60's.
In general, Brian's perceptions on form or purpose within culture leave most critics tap-dancing on the edge of the abyss spouting virtually nothing but fashionable blathering.
With a little coercion they will happily swan-dive into the vortex of their own making.
However, Brian 'he singe lik a litul gerl ha ha all mixd down and dubul-trak' so I'm one up on him there.
A major chief obstacle to the evolution of music has been the almost redundant narrative form. To rely upon this old war-horse can only continue the spiral into the British constraint of insularity. Maybe we could finally relegate the straightforward narrative to the past.
On the other hand, modern circumstances having had a dysfunctioning capacity upon pure chronological perspective, my writing has often relied too arbitrarily on violence and chaos as a soft option to acknowledging spiritual and emotional starvation. I know I'm not alone with his dilemma.
On yet another hand, chaos itself has been expressed intelligently, contextually, virulently and in vital ways by Pixies, Sonic Youth, The Fall, Glen Branca, Television, Suicide, to name but a few. Now this chaos, chthonic and Apollonian mush, harnessed and ordered, can work for us. It could be reordered within a formal harmony to recreate focus and, to some degree, rebalance the often loutish nadir into which we have blundered.
Our prodigious British talent is more than able to reveal the real gems submerged under this swaggering, violent and ignorant millennium.
We have been parading a numbed, self-degrading affair over this last decade, requiring of our art no more than, to quote Paul Valéry, "the sensation without the boredom of the conveyance."
I am constantly bewitched by the actualization of form, to use rhythmic element as an armature of sorts, placing, rather like decorations on a Christmas tree, blobs or arcane information.
The real discipline is then to pare down all superfluous elements, in a reductive fashion, leaving as near as possible a deconstructed or so called 'significant form', to use a 30's terminology. The irony, of course, is which is the most captivating - psychologically provocative form or mere aridity?
Having said that, I am completely guilty of loading in great dollops of pastiche and quasi-narrative into this present work at every opportunity.
By virtue of its subject matter this collection is in danger of being regionalist even parochial, a criticism levelled at nearly all British work this century.
Maybe because of our inherent love of the narrative form we anchor ourselves a little too firmly to our arcadian self-image. It seems to me a deeper evaluation of the international position of British artists (I include all the arts here) is currently gathering momentum as we approach the year 2000. A jolly good thing too.
It isn't all Pollack, Springsteen, Warhol and Nirvana. As with most craft to which we turn our hand we are extraordinarily inventive, 'though quirky, raising the stakes, but, alas, incapable of following through in pure hard sell. As of writing there are but five British artists in the US Top fifty, and a demoralizing TWO British albums in London's Virgin Megastores' "50 Essential Albums" rack.
This is not as it should be, and could be rectified by our insistent proselytizing that what we accomplish is as important internationally as it so obviously is nationally. We have so much un-nurtured talent in this country that it borders on criminal.
No other country, least of all the States, has been able to smoothly incorporate unpatronizingly so many diverse cultural elements into a cohesive and socially stable music form as we have on this isle.
In America modern popular music has never been more divisive, both racially and socially. The great danger over the next few years is the further escalation of the Great American Cultural Blanket. From within its homogenous threat emanates the mock adoption of grievance against a short-lived and out-moded emphasis on productivity and material success over and above any speculative interest in the deeper mysteries of our beingness.
As they say, a generation with no sense or interest in its past will surely eat itself.
Rarely now do we artists tell us much of ourselves. We are without history, interest or spiritual life. Our thoughts are often scattered and banal. Those occasional strands that have some merit are often stunted if not still-born.
Although I get the sense that all art is somewhat autobiographical it seems increasingly hard for the artist to relinquish his solipsistic subjectivity.
My own personal ambition is to create a music form that captures a mixture of sadness and grandeur on the one hand, expectancy and the organization of chaos on the other. A music that relinquishes its hold upon the 20th century yet searches-out that which was stimulating and productive as a basis from which to work in the 21st century.
This collection has brought me immense pleasure as a project and I cannot thank Hanif Kureishi and Alan Yentob enough for asking for my participation in such a dynamic and irreverent drama.
Also thanks to Kevin Loader and Roger Mitchell for their good sense and guidance to my approach to my first attempt at soundtrack.
David Richards, a 'silent' producer for far too long, along with multi-instrumentalist and longtime friend Erdal Kizilcay, make their mark as more than inventive in their individual capacities.
Happy Xmas and Manifesto returns to you all.
THOUGHTS ON THE NEW DECADE
By David Bowie
All clear 1980
Personal - eyes only
Complete lack of
To be 67 by 1990
To win a revolution
By ignoring everything
Else out of existence
To own personal copy of 'Eraserhead'.
FASHION: TURN TO THE LEFT.
FASHION: TURN TO THE RIGHT.
Interview By David Bowie
British Designer of the Year ALEXANDER McQUEEN in conversation
with DAVID BOWIE.
This conversation took place on the phone, as is always the case with my conversations with Alex. We have worked together for over a year on various projects and never once met. It's a beautiful Sunday afternoon and he is in the verdant green hills of Gloucestershire visiting at the house of his friend, Isabella Blow. Ring ring. Ring ring. Ring ring.
David Bowie: Are you gay and do you take drugs? (laughter)
Alexander McQueen: Yes, to both of them. (more laughter)
DB: So what are your drugs of choice?
AM: A man called Charlie!
DB: Do you find that it affects the way you approach your designing?
AM: Yeah, it makes it more erratic. That's why you get my head blow up shot. (In reference to a Nick Knight photograph at the Florence Biennale.)
DB: Well I once asked you to make me a specific jacket in a certain colour and you sent me something entirely different in a tapestry fabric, quite beautiful I might add, but how would you cope in the more corporate world?
AM: I wouldn't be in a corporate world.
DB: Even if you're going to be working for a rather large fashion house like Givenchy?
DB: So how are you going to work in these circumstances? Do you feel as though you're going to have rules and parameters placed on you, or what?
AM: Well, yeah, but you know I can only do it the way I do it. That's why they chose me and if they can't accept that, they'll have to get someone else. They're going to have no choice at the end of the day because I work to my own laws and requirements, not anyone's else's. I sound a bit like yourself!
DB: Unlike most designers, your sense of wear seems to derive from forms other than fashion history. You take or steal quite arbitrarily from, say the neo Catholic macabre photographs of Joel Peter Witkin, to rave culture. Do you think fashion is art?
AM: No I don't. But, I like to break down barriers. It's not a specific way of thinking, it's just what's in my mind at the time. It could be anything - it could be a man walking down the street or a nuclear bomb going off - it could be anything that triggers some sort of emotion in my mind. I mean, I see everything in a world of art in one way or another. How people do things. The way people kiss.
DB: Who or what are your present influences?
AM: Let me think. I don't know. I think that's a really hard question because in one way, one side of me is kind of really sombre and the other side of my brain is very erratic and it's always this fight against the other and I chose so many different things. This is why my shows always throw people completely: one minute I see a lovely chiffon dress and the next minute I see a girl in this cage that makes her walk like a puppet and, you know, they can't understand where it's coming from because there are so many sides of me in conflict. But influences are really from my own imagination and not many come from direct sources. They usually come from a lone force of say, the way I want to perform sex or the way I want people to perform sex or the way I want to see people act, or what would happen if a person was like that. You know what I mean? It's not from direct sources. It's just sort of from a big subconscious or the perverse. I don't think like the average person on the street. I think quite perversely sometimes in my own mind.
DB: Yeah, I would say, from just looking at the way you work, that sexuality plays a very important part in the way that you design.
AM:: Well, because I think it's the worst mental attitude. Sexuality in a person confines you to such a small space and, anyway, it's such a scary process trying to define one's sexuality. Finding which way you sway or what shocks you in other people and who accepts you at the end of the day when you're looking for love. You have to go through these corridors and it can be kind of mind-blowing sometimes.
DB: There's something a lot more pagan about your work compared, say, to Gaultier. Your things work at a more organic level.
AM: Possibly. I gather some influence from the Marquis de Sade because I actually think of him as a great philosopher and a man of his time, where people found him just a pervert. (laughs) I find him sort of influential in the way he provokes people's thoughts. It kind of scares me. That's the way I think but, at the end of the day, that's the way my entity has grown and, all in all, in my life, it's the way I am.
DB: Do you think of clothes themselves as being a way of torturing society?
AM: I don't put such an importance on clothes, anyway. I mean at the end of the day they are, after all, just clothes and I can't cure the world of illness with clothes. I just try to make the person that's wearing them feel more confident in themselves because I am so unconfident. I'm really insecure in a lot of ways and I suppose my confidence comes out in the clothes I design anyway. I'm very insecure as a person.
DB: Aren't we all? Could you design a car?
AM: Could I? It would be as flat as an envelope if I designed a car.
DB: Could you design a house?
AM: Yes, very easily, very easily.
DB: Do you paint or sculpt?
AM: No. I buy sculptures. I don't do it, I buy it. I buy lots of sculptures.
DB: Do you ever work in the visual arts?
AM: No, but I just did a show the other day. I don't know if you heard, but we did this show, it was on water and we did this kind of cocoon for this girl made of steel rods and it was in the form of a three dimensional star and it was covered in this glass fabric so you could see through it and this girl was inside it, but we had all these butterflies flying around her inside it. So she was picking them out of the air and they were landing on her hand. It was just about the girl's own environment. So I was thinking about the new millennium in the future thinking you would carry around with you your home like a snail would. She was walking along in the water with a massive star covered in glass and the butterflies and death-faced moths were flying around her and landing on her hand and she was looking at them. It was really beautiful. It threw a lot of people completely sideways.
DB: It's interesting how what you're talking about, is somewhere between theatre and installation.
AM: Well, I hate the theatre, I hate it. I used to work in the theatre. I used to make costumes for them and films, and it's one thing I've always detested - the theatre. I hate going to the theatre, it bores me shitless.
DB: Well, I'm not talking about a play.
AM: I know, but I just wanted to tell you that anyway! (laughs)
DB: All right, change the word to ritual.
AM: Yeah, that's better. I like ritual... (laughs)
DB: Armani says, 'Fashion is dead'.
AM: Oh, so is he... I mean, God...
DB: Now you sound like Versace...
AM: He's close to dead. I mean, no one wants to wear a floppy suit in a nice wool - the man was a bloody window dresser. What does he know?
DB: Do you think that what he's really saying is that maybe...
AM: He's lost it...
DB: He might still be making an observation in as much as the boundaries are coming down...
DB: The way fashion is presented these days is a quantum leap from how it was presented say, five years to ten years ago. It's become almost a new form, hasn't it?
AM: Yeah, but you know you can't depend on fashion designers to predict the future of society, you know, at the end of the day they're only clothes and that never strays from my mind for one minute.
DB: Is the British renaissance a reality or a hype do you think? The world is being told that it's so. Through all strata of British life and from fashion to visual arts, music, obviously, architecture, I mean there's not one aspect of culture where Brits haven't got some pretty fair leaders, English designers in French houses, you know what I mean? It's like were pervading the whole zeitgeist at the moment.
AM: Being British yourself, I think you understand that Britain always led the way in every field possible in the world from art to pop music. Even from the days of Henry VIII. It's a nation where people come and gloat at what we have as a valuable heritage, be it some good, some bad, but there's no place like it on earth.
DB: But why is it we can't follow through once we've initially created something? We're far better innovators than we are manufacturers.
AM: Yeah, exactly. But I think that's a good thing. I don't think that's a bad thing. It makes you holy, it makes you quite respectable about what you do and the actual moneymaking part of it is for the greedy.
DB: So you're not greedy, Alex?
AM: I'm afraid I'm not. Money's never been a big object. Well, I mean I like to live comfortably, but I've been asked by this French fashion house how would I put on a show and I said, well, the sort of money these people buy these clothes for in this day and age, you don't want to flaunt your wealth in front of the average Joe Public because it's bad taste and with all the troubles in the world today, it's not a good thing to do anyway. I'm sure these people that have this sort of money don't feel like showing their face on camera, so I said it would be more of a personal show and people with this sort of money who do appreciate good art and good quality clothes and have these one-off pieces made just respect the ideal, not the actual chucking money around. They can do that anywhere.
DB: So when you are affluent, which I'm afraid is probably on the cards for you, how are you going to deal with that?
AM: I'd like to buy Le Corbusier's house in France... (sniggers)
DB: Here's a nice thing. What was the first thing you designed ever? Like when you were little or a kid or something?
AM: Oh. I can't think that far back, but for my own professional career, it was the bumsters. The ones that Gail, your bass player, wears.
DB: Was there a point when you were sort of playing around with stuff, and when you used to dress up and go to clubs when you were a kid, and all that, where you would do original things?
AM: Actually, yeah. I would wear my sister's clothes and people wouldn't recognise it because I'd wear them in a male way. I did go round my street once in my sister's bra when I was about 12 years old and the neighbours thought I was a freaky kid, got dirty looks and all that... and you're talking about Stepney here.
DB: My father used to work in Stepney.
DB: What age were you when you left home?
DB: Did it give you an incredible feeling of freedom? Or did you suddenly feel even more vulnerable?
AM: I felt really vulnerable actually. Because I was the youngest and I was always mollycoddled by my mother, so that's why I turned out to be a fag probably. (laughter)
DB: (laughing) Was it a clear choice?
AM: I fancied boys when I went to Pontins at three years old!
DB: Did you ever go on holiday to Butlins or Bognor Regis or Great Yarmouth?
AM: No, I went to Pontins in Cambersands.
DB: Cambersands?!! I used to go there too!
AM: Oh my God!
DB: They had a trailer park with caravans...
DB: ...and next door to us we had a, at the time, very well known comedian, Arthur Haynes, who was sort of like a bit of a wide boy; that was his bit on stage, you know, and I used to go over and try and get his autograph. I went three mornings running and he told me to fuck off every day. (laughing) That was my first time I met a celebrity and I was so let down. I felt if that's what it's all about... they're just real people.
AM: Two memories on Pontins - one, was coming round the corner and seeing my two sisters getting off with two men. (laughter) I thought they were getting raped and I went screaming back to my Mum and I wound up getting beat up by my two sisters! The other one was turning up in Pontins when we first got there and looking out the cab window 'cos my family was, like, full of cabbies; it was like a gypsy caravan-load to go to these places, and I looked out the window when I got there and there were these two men with these scary masked faces on and I shit myself there and then in the cab! I literally just shit my pants! (laughter)
DB: Which comes to... who is the shittiest designer?
AM: Oh my God...
DB: Who is the worst designer?
AM: In my eyes?
DB: Yeah, in your eyes.
AM: Oh God, I'm open for libel here now, David...
DB: Do you think there's more than one?
AM: I think you've got to blame the public that buy the clothes of these people, not the designers themselves because it turns out they haven't got much idea about, you know, design itself. It's the people that buy the stuff. My favourite designer, though, is Rei Kawakubo. She's the only one I buy, the only clothes I buy ever for myself as a designer are Comme des Garçons. I spent about a thousand pounds last year (I shouldn't say that) on Comme des Garçons menswear...
DB: I've never paid, Alex! (laughs) Until...
AM: Until you met me! (more laughter)
DB: Until I met you! Yes, but I knew that you needed it!
AM: I did at the time! But I tell you what I did do when you paid me, I paid the people that actually made the coat!
DB: No, listen, you were so kind about the couple of things that I didn't need that you actually gave me. I thought that was very sweet of you. You work very well in a collaborative way as well. I thought the stuff...
AM: I still haven't bloody met you yet! (laughs)
DB: I know, I think it's quite extraordinary that we've done so well with the stage things that we put together. Do you enjoy collaboration?
AM: I do, but the one thing you have to do when you collaborate is actually respect the people that you work with: and people have phoned me up and asked me to collaborate with them before and I've usually turned them down.
DB: Do your clients really know what they want and what is right for them, or do you usually have to dress them from the floor up?
AM: It can work either way and I don't resent either because, at the end of the day, I'm the clothes designer and they are the public. If you want a house built you're not expected to build it yourself.
DB: Here's a fan question. Who would you like to dress more than anyone else in the world and why?
AM: There's no-one I'd like to dress more than anyone else in the world, I'm afraid. I can't think of anyone who deserves such a privilege! (laughs)
DB: The sub-headline there! (laughs)
AM: Oh my God no, 'cos I'm an atheist and an anti-royalist, so why would I put anyone on a pedestal?
DB: Well it does draw one's attention back to your clothes and what you do is actually more important than anything else.
AM: Well, I think it would limit your lifestyle somewhat if you said your music is just for that person down the road.
DB: You just sort of hope there's someone out there that might like what you do.
AM: And there's always someone, I mean the world is such a big place.
DB: Yeah. Prodigy or Oasis?
AM: Prodigy. I think they're brilliant.
DB: Well, you haven't answered this one. I have to drag you out on this one. Armani or Versace? (laughs)
AM: Marks and Spencer. I'm sorry. I don't see the relevance of the two of them put together. Actually, they should have amalgamated and sort of formed one company out of both. If you can imagine the rhinestones on one of them deconstructed suits...
DB: What do you eat?
AM: What do I eat?
AM: Well, I've just had a guinea fowl today... it was quite an occasion to come here... It's such a lovely place and I love to come here. Bryan Ferry comes here a lot. It's an amazing place and it was built in the Arts and Crafts Movement by Isabella's husband's grandfather. It's on a hill in Gloucestershire and it overlooks Wales and everything. And my bedroom is decorated with Burne-Jones' Primavera tapestry - I always come here to get away.
DB: So this is your sanctuary is it?
AM: Yes, it is. Very much so.
DB: Did you ever have an affair with anyone famous?
AM: Not famous, but from a very rich family. Very rich Parisian family.
DB: Did you find it an easy relationship, or was it filled with conflicts?
AM: No, it: he was the most wonderful person I have ever met and I was completely honest with him. Never hushed my background or where I came from, and this was when I was only 19 or 20, I went out with him and I said to him whatever we do, we do it Dutch and he didn't understand what I said. He thought it was a form of sexual technique! Going Dutch!! (laughs) I said it means paying for each of us separately. He thought it that was great, but he gave the best blow job ever! (laughter)
DB: How royal! Was it old money or was it industrial wealth?
AM: Long time industrial aristocractic wealth.
DB: Do you go abroad very much? I mean just for yourself, not for work?
AM: No, not really.
DB: So you really are happy in your home grown environment?
AM: I like London, but I love Scotland! I'd never been to Aberdeen before and I went to see Murray's friends in Aberdeen for the first time and it was unreal because I stepped off the plane and I just felt like I belonged there. It's very rare that I do that because I have been to most places in the world, like most capital cities in Japan and America, and you feel very hostile when you step off the plane in these places. I stepped off the plane in Aberdeen and I felt like I've lived there all my life. And it's a really weird sensation. I like more of the Highlands. My family originated from Skye.
DB: Are you a good friend, a stand up guy, or a flake?
AM: I'm afraid I have very few friends and I think that all of the friends I have, I can depend on and they can depend on me. I don't have hangers-on, and I'm very aggressive to people that if I read through 'em in a second, they've usually found the wrong person to deal with. So if you have got me as a friend, you've got me for life. And I'd do anything for them, but I don't really have associates that use me or abuse me, unless I ask them to! (laughs)
DB: Are you excited about taking over at Givenchy?
AM: I am and I'm not. To me, I'm sort of saving a sinking ship and not because of John Galliano, but because of the house. It doesn't really seem to know where it's going at the moment and, at the end of the day, they've got to depend on great clothes, not the great name.
DB: Have you already formulated a kind of direction you want to take them?
AM: Yeah, I have.
DB: Is it exciting?
AM: Yeah, it is, because the philosophy is mainly based on someone I really respected in fashion. There's a certain way fashion should go for a house of that stature, not McQueen bumsters, I'm afraid.
DB: My last question. Will you have time to be making my clothes for next year's tour? (laughs)
AM: Yeah, I will. We should get together. I mean, I want to see you this time. (laughs)
DB: We could put this on the record right now... are you going to make it over here for the VH-1 Fashion Awards? I can't remember.
AM: When it is?
DB: October 24th or something...
AM: My fashion show is on the 22nd.
DB: So you're probably not going to make it. 'Cos you know I am wearing the Union jacket on that. Because millions of people deserve to see it.
AM: You've got to say, 'This is by McQueen'! (laughs)
DB: Gail will be wearing all her clobber as well.
AM: Oh, she's fab!
DB: Oh, she wears it so well.
AM: I'd love to do your tour clothes for you again.
DB: Oh, well that's great. I can't wait to be properly fitted up this time!
AM: Yeah, definitely. But I've got to see you. I don't want wrist measurements over the phone, 'cos I'm sure you lie about your waist measurements as well! (laughs)
DB: No, not at all...
AM: 'cos you know some people lie about their length! (laughs)
DB: I just said I'd never lie about the inside leg measurement.
AM: What side do you dress David, left or right? (laughs)
AM: Yeah, right.
DB: No. Yes. Well, maybe.
THE RETURN OF THE THIN WHITE DUKE
An Autobiography By David Bowie
Vince was American and came to England, then went to France and became a star of dirge.
But then he came back to England and we spoke of our Findings. He wore a white robe and sandals and we sat in the busy London street with a map of the world and tried to find the people who were passing by and scowling at us. They were nowhere on the map.
Vince went back to France, then I heard about the famous show where he had told his band to go home and appeared in front of the curtains in that old white robe and sandals telling the French people about the comings and goings due upon us. He was banned from performing.
My records were selling and I was being a man in demand. I thought of Vince and wrote "Ziggy Stardust". I thought of my brother and wrote "Five Years". Then my friend came to mind, standing the way we stood in Bewlay Bros. and I wrote "Moonage Daydream".
"You Don't Wanna Be Painting
Your Face Like That..."
Or, The Beautiful, It Won't Rap, She Won't Dance, Very Tricky Piece*
Hey! When you commission David Bowie to go see, maybe talk to, trip hop ingénu Tricky, you don't expect the standard Q piece. You expect a bizarre, semi-poetic fantasy written in Burgess-like futurespeak in which the Dame and the Trickster, erm, climb up the side of a tall building... don't you? Don't you? Strap yourself in, then: protein pill and helmet combination once again essential. Invoice to the usual address, Dave...
By David Bowie
*Spelling and punctuation: author's own.
Oh Martina, you're soft spoken about what was sold. As safe as safe in Broadmoor sitting high on the make-up table, piecing together the four-piece empire of trip. And down the back-stage, the glow of those tragic soft faces, for tonight is all that is left alive. All that the Auctioneer could rustle up for the party from the backtown market of red doors and corridors.
It gets loud. It gets a Bristol-blues bruising buffered by the pace of dub. The pace of dub where Karmacoma shouts: "We don't look for music, it just hangs there". His stand, it's just like Tricky Thaws to say that. In vague memory of the slow-simmering garden wall where you, Martina, sang me down, under the turf. Fighting for air I was. I stole away into the yellow nether regions round the corner. All the the other sounds had been farmed-out and cut-up. So get cut thought I. Get cut and rough and raw like the end of the world. Escape this jonbarry of a British Isle hell. Escape this heat-death diving into a gene-pool, just for a laugh, like Tricky and Martina. I was the Original Mesmer and they were just the clubbers, so I waited and watched the fat-tracks slither across the stage like slimey steam assassins. Eating all they slid over. Into those front-row mouths they squirmed, trails of mucus on well-trained pink-chinned limeys. But, oh, Martina, but we were so limey with the nod of "Yes" to Tricky's STOP, STOP, STOPPIT, STOPPIT, STOP. A No-Bunch in what was an exercise in remembering America. Don't hide the fragments. They're all we've got left. But you Martina, just following the night you'll be making some money. Follow the blue lines and you'll make-up the future as you go along.
Don't look for the music, it will look for you. But meanwhile the quiet English faces on the front row, in what could have been the glow of shepherds' fire-baskets, nodded out their fleeting thoughts as they were Overcome. So is this the slow shimmering speed that loaned a few moments of the future to us all? A heartbeat pounds and clutches to the edge of the world. So is this just for the laugh, the crack? Good. It needs to be. Your soft spoken money-making glow of words cuts me up beautiful. The outlands are urgently required. For your mother Tricky Thaws. Do this thing for the boxers. Remember the Auctioneer in his dub-black tall hat and his blood stained white glows, glowering over the new find, selling to the future. For the price is high but not high enough that's for sure. Oh but the night is young. It's not even on meat yet but that comes, in time it comes. The teeth clamp down and pull brutal at the flesh, ripping reality asunder, all our yesturdays spilling out as a gooey flood down the nice white front. Ribbons of meat and only the memory lingers on.
"Dog? Right, right, write down dog. Big D. Dog, but the first hundred years are the toughest. Don't forget to write that".
BACK IN AMERICA DO YOU REMEMBER so wound up in their immeasurable self-hurt aching and griping. They didn't understand your loss. It was in parade form all aglow with sex and bass.
Back then Tricky was the tough guy staggering across the ballroom floor shooting wicked looks at the plumbs and peaches. He carried blue steel and wrote black lines. The edgy conspiracy theories that grew up around him.
"Men are very instant" he'd say. "You fuck with a man, he's raging weak. You suffer a woman and two years later she makes you ruthless".
I'D BEEN CHASING TRICKY FOR A number of weeks, diving down into the low bars of Bristol. "He don't live here no more," I'd be told. "He went to America". I wasn't going to buy that. He'd been spied by the Magpie girl only last Thursday, slipping in and out of the shadows down by the quay, drawing black lines on his own posters drenched in salty-sea splash, grinning synergy and singing swatches of malodorous song.
The dark wisps of rumour trailed him like tow-ropes and now I was reeling him in. I didn't know what to expect. The phantom was known to move as a group of one. Never took prisoners. You'd never catch him snorting vodka at the bar. You'd never catch him period, I'd been told. A shaman who'd never slept with the Others, he was still pure, his spells unblemished. "Maxinquaye," he would intone, his eyes rolled back into his head, the beads of sweat, jewel-like, rushing upwards over his skin, an eerie light, green and mouldy, circling his feet.
"Hurry up and be cool", I heard him intoning from four blocks away. "Control me", his voice sneered. The dark bassline moved me along to the shrieking doors. Door number two. That would be it. One on earth and one in heaven.
"We're climbing tonight", I yell as I foot the latch and the mauve paint splinters off from the door panels. "Oh, there you go", Tricky accepts. "I'm tired a bit, soccer's no game for a man. I bin playin' all afternoon and I'm a sore man. But I can climb. Is it quiet out there?"
"Yes, it's sleepily lullish, "I confirm. "We may need coiling ambience of a narcotic".
The building we picked is towering and uninformed. It's warm outside and very, very cold! Be less than upright and we fall.
We stood there in the wound of the little house, winding bandages around our hands and strapping on the little paraballoons that would float us down safely from the heights of the climb.
"Don't touch the stars", says Tricky pulling on a deeply purple ski-mask, "they're mine". The plain concrete of the inner town looked faintly pretty in the flickering negative-lights. Even along to the foot of the 'Breaker', the 97 floor explosives depository that separates Ground Street from Little Breaker Road. Standing at its base we crane our necks and stare up through the watery moonlight to the ever so high, high topness of it.
"Ready"? I ask him.
"Groove-up", he insists. I no longer understand - I overstand. I do this because we're at about floor 77 and very cold it is too. My fingers are frozen and sore, the middle and the thumb bleeding from tearing desperately at the cornice of a passing window when I slipped an hour or so ago. As I locked myself back in place my head slammed into the concrete. The sky whirls and the street below seem to beat back and zoom foreward in quick succession.
When my head clears I find Tricky's quizzical mug furrowed into mine. His mouth moves. I hear nothing. Then I hear something. A swish of metal narrowly misses my head.
"Keep statue-like", mouths Tricky. "It's a culture-jacker".
Sure enough, round the corner of the building disappears a guy called Gerald. Well known and well done on the skyjack circuit, Gerald made headlines by jumping from three buildings in two nights.
"Clever kid" grins my companion. "Never misses a trick".
"When do we jump?" I ask. "When do we see what's what?"
Patience, older guy, let me tell you why we even stick to the wall. Let me tell you stories. I'm like Jesus. I have an argument with the cloying mass of this town. The petty. The posse I left behind. I think of them. Did you know that cars can fuck you up through your body. It's the energy, and 15 year old kid can tell you this. I get rude, knocking crockery, but I'm not the kid anymore. I graduated. I'm no more the hard affair.
"I'm like Jesus. I see the first overripe thing, all slowed down. It's a saddness and it does big changes. Bad ones. And you smoke too much. Here we go calling notorious the young townies. This means you have to learn the young kids' peace. Learn them peace. Beware that you don't run into personality. The warehouse, the homewares, the rampage crime against yelling out loud. You look at a young one and he's breaking into a cancer. He should have a going at home woman but he's become a Knowle-West disease, using the town badly.
"I suppose it's got an off-beat kick to it, all sinister, dark and distorted. It pisses me off that you talk and get arrested. They give you time and trippy delusions of what it's like to be demented. I've learnt though, I've gone through big changes with a load and a hard".
"What about your enemies?" I ask.
"He's fucked-up, ole what'sisname. I thought I was unknown but I was robbed. It's a bad thing, stealing names like that. I stayed in my area, laying low, like. What to do, I thought, now there's a war on? So I grabbed a song, seeing through and watching the machine stealing.
"What'sisname gave me some scary look, mouthing off and all that. But you learn when you're raised all dark and distorted. You run into a little black and things get high in the pulse department. I get rude but look..."
He points into the glass next to our faces. A bang of YWCA-rinsed ladies are pulling some powerful stuff from their bottles. Eyes expectant with the raising of an affair. they catch sight of our two faces, white and black, on the night and run screaming to the office door. You've never heard such sobbing pursued by clattering billows of exits ringing in the air.
"I'm running solo myself", chants my small griot, chanting as he is, to the chimes of loneliness and far distant traffic.
The mists of the '90s surround us, permeating every pore with their grey clammy fingers. should be on the jump any time soon.
I LOOK SIDEWAYS AT THE TRICKY AND watch his flattened cheek scruff at the brick, so hard as it pressed that I swear he's listening to the heartbeat of the building. With his eyes slowly closing and his lips moving, I sense his breath as a broken circle of vapour hits the pane.
A missile of babble rises through the night. I look down. Word is out that there will be a jump tonight. A quite large crowd of urban jollies have gathered at the base of our mountain. Frying thoughts, I suppose, passing round the warm epithets and bon mots no doubt. The fires are lit and I spy a news team. Their lights strike up the face of our man-mountain with speed of lizards. I'm caught in a bright-beam and I can't see.
"Don't look down", says the voice. "Look up. It's the only place.
"You know something" he continues, "only the kids shoot each other off. The children-to-be. The baby-guns. Don't you just thrive on this behaviour? It's the haunting '90s, man. It suddenly turns out we've never heard of it. They've been here before, y'know. The '90s, I mean. I remember them. Long, long ago they brooded on the side-lines when Christ was crucified, and then again the rats brought the plague to Europe in the dark-time. They keep cropping-up, these intolerable '90s Heh heh heh.
"Just don't look down. We're gonna jump in a minute. But first I want you to think back. It's a Saturday. You're tweeny-little, just a speck of a spindly-stick. You're deprived of gaggles. No friends to speak of. Pleasure starts slowly from that place. It raises itself up like a crimson monster, hauling its huge limbs with an ever increasing strength. Huffing and puffing its nature into your heart. Weaving little deeds to inspire the smartest hooligan out of you."
By the time you're a teen, you're in your renegade-chapter, carrying on and off with the pick'n'mix, selling and stealing, shooting the others and sobbing at home. To protect yourself, to not let your sadness contaminate, you dream of the smartest moves, ringing the sexual sponge dry, crimes against a tricky kid. You're soon on tour. What pleasures will be lurking by those shopping-mall escalators? The first carry-on despicable crime. Very nice. You're now a known associate. You're soon to tour but can already contaminate the dead.
"I was like Jesus. 15 and spinning. Breaking into the Saturday afternoon Knowle-West perils, using sex as a threat. They swarmed all over me, brooding and grabbing and threatening. Hard life innit? The smartest go to war, deprived, so they tell me. No longer guardians they let the hollow nausea of failure drip out of their blown out stomachs. They go off with a bang. Not for me though. That's powerful stuff that is.
"Going out and hunting down death on some wretched field in god-knows where. Deluded, some men are. Pisses me off, do-good-ers lying on the greasy paving slabs, it's petty. Deluded they are. I'm just gonna press the alarm button, so don't be alarmed".
A BLUR OF LEATHER WHIPS OUT AND his boot cracks me on the arm. My fingers straighten in panic and I'm free-falling, pitched into the bad light and murk which rushes at me like a foul memory. The little group of gawpers enlarge with the perversity of a colony of maggots.
"Now I'll show you something" he yells, sticking papers to an already massive spliff, "This drop will go on for hours, maybe eternity. I cut our paraballoons. They're not gonna function so we may never land".
The rinsed-ladies wave, the stars twinkle. I hear the rachets of fun from a distant games-machine. I smoke. My little white hard life looks up at me and forms the shape of all my hopes and desires. This must be sex as death. The peril of music. This album is over. It was the best of chimes. It was the hearse of chimes. Here come the horses to drag me to bed. Here come the Tricky to fuck up my head.
© D. Bowie 1995
The World Tour Book Introduction
By David Bowie
When Doubleday, the publishers of this book, asked for my own feelings on the Serious Moonlight Tour '83, my mind panicked. My thoughts shuttled back and forth through a plethora of emotions: American ecstasy and depressions. European familiarity and isolation. Eastern promise and suspicion. How on earth could I compress such an abundance of images and impressions onto a few pages? The old diary trick! That should do it. Let instant thoughts and sensations summarize it all. Describe one day and hope that would provide a partial idea of touring in 1983.
Whenever the faces of stewardesses blanch gray-white with fear, and the overhead cupboards open and spill their contents, I hold my little metal Buddha tight and press the crucifix to my chest and tell myself it's just another airplane landing. As near-hurricane winds knock about the inevitable D.C. 10 and pea-soup clouds annihilate even a fantasy of visibility, I hold back the urge to scream, and I remember how bad driving in New York can be these days. But then, even before I have formulated these thoughts into pure terror, the clouds are sucked upward and away, and we are two and a half inches above the waters of Singapore.
For me the Eastern leg of a tour is always the carrot. For the rest, however magical the chemistry of the performance, they day-to-day mechanics of getting from city to city are draining and monumentally boring. That's the stick.
During the cab ride to the Ming Court Hotel, I direct a string of unrelenting tourist questions at the driver. Where's the old part of town? Is this the Arab or Chinese or Malay section? Why are they pulling down all the picturesque stuff? He lets know in no uncertain terms that the new apartment blocks with their bathrooms and air conditioning are far more in favor with families of five or six than are the rat- and cockroach-infested unsanitary slums that I take as local color. I'm crushed. He then goes on to tell me about the recent drug-related hangings. "Many people hang one day. Fourteen years old up to seventy. Death just for smoking the hashish. We clean up town."
The driver also lets slip how hard it is for him to keep up the relentless upward spiralling cost of living. He hasn't ever had a holiday and thinks he may have taken a dew days off work about four years ago. "But everybody works," he says. "Singapore will be next Hong Kong."
When I move into my suite at the Ming Court Hotel, the little Malay porter indicates the three-tone carpet, the ten-channel T.V. He is bursting with pride about the bathrooms but is visually awed by the three hundred square feet of personal freedom. He paces the room from wall to wall. "So much space," he sighs.
The Singapore authorities are not friendly toward rock & roll. Two of my songs, "China Girl" and "Modern Love", were banned from radio play. "Restricted," as they say. Our wonderful and fearless promoter, Dr. Goh Pohseng, risked his livelihood, bank balance, and even his freedom to get me and my band into his country. When the authorities heard I was going to an impromptu guest appearance at this youth club two days before our major gig, they busted it, banned the resident band for indecent performance, and threatened Dr. Pohseng with imprisonment if a guest of the club - (me) - should get up on stage and sing. He also faced incredible local resistance in getting the staging and lights together. When he asked for three yards of cable, local supplier - knowing it was for rock & roll - would only sell him a 100-yard drum. No one would lease him timber for the stage, so he ended up buying an architect-designed permanent structure at ten times the cost... and so it went, over and over.
The lights were flown in from all over Malaysia. Many arrived broken, and those intact not much more powerful than a bedroom lamp. But, good lord, he tried.
I am supposed to say something to the children in the Singapore audience. These children who are doomed to ride the up escalator forever. These American-designed fiber glass light-conducting interested-inscrutable faces. I stand on a beautifully improvised high-tech kitchen-unit stage, and I am shocked at how loose-eyed and shoddy my songs seem in the face of the fact that these green- and red-streaked kids represent a thousand-year-old culture. As if in agreement with the cultural difference, the local authorities have separated me from the kids with a 65-foot ramp between the first row and stage. I do mean kids and I do mean separated!
I rip through a welcome and an introduction to the band in Chinese. It is received with dutiful sympathy by the crowd as my pronunciation is so dreadful that not one word is understood. The audience end of the ramp is so far away from the band that I am singing half a beat behind them. I look back and see a tiny, jumping Carlos Alomar leading a badly lit rock & roll group. I peer out and see paramilitary cops at the ratio of about one to two with the first row. They finger their billy clubs, their hands on their guns. My jacked style is designer Tokyo - skyscrapers and diamante searchlights. There is so much lacquer in my hair that a hurricane couldn't move it. My shirt is held into my pants by elastic thongs round my legs. I have two pairs of socks on because over oversized shoes. I am imploring the crowd, "put on your red shoes"... there is a scream of recognition - 15,000 strong. A tiger-print-clad girl is slapped back over the security boundary by a ferocious swing of a billy club.
In a city where you can be arrested for chewing gum, a demand to put on red shoes is deemed unhealthy.
The warm night air bathes our bodies, and the scents and smells of the East grown stronger as the evening grows longer. For a moment I feel I am playing to the tiger-infested jungle that existed here until the arrival of concrete a few short decades ago. There is an audible breakdown of reserve as curious uplifting faces recognize this song, then that one. They are singing along. It is an overwhelming experience for me and for any artist, I suppose, to see an audience of a culture ostensibly so far removed from one's own, singing along. It may not should like a big deal, but for one night it can mean everything.
Now we are all dancing and loving each other and having the greatest of times. We are back for an encore, and the crowds swell up over the ramp. We touch hands and inspire each other on. All at once my songs sound very good, and I get another elusive glimpse of how lucky I am to be doing what I do. I think I my tour again.
So now I pass from my notebook to the writing of Chet Flippo and the camera work of Denis O'Regan as they give you their own impressions of a rock & roll tour of the world in 1983.
It's Art, Jim, but as We Know It
David Bowie with Tracey Emin
She came to Dublin did Tracey Emin. We walked around the library at Trinity and loved the smell of old leather. We lined up with ten thousand others to get a ten-second squint at the Book of Kells. A handful of patients from a nearby psychiatric hospital helped create an atmosphere of benign hysteria. One tall skinny gentleman stood by a fifteenth-century harp, alternatively rocking backwards and forwards then revolving slowly all the while intoning his mantra of 'NAAW-peer-NAAW'.
She came to the gig at the Olympia did Tracey. She rocked backwards and forwards and shimmied like a disco-queen (which she nearly was once). Possibly screaming her manta 'Write this, Draw this'. If she wanted, she could travel the length and breadth of the land with me and my band. Everyone from stage hands to musicians immediately fall in love with her. She's so charismatic, she sends off sparks.
We stay at the U2-owned Clarence Hotel on the River Liffey. Iman takes some photos of us looking out to the far side of the water and two small girls throw themselves into the shot.
'Are you a model?', asks the smaller one, of Tracey. Tracey laughs. 'Make your mouth do this', orders the girl and makes a grimace. Tracey obliges. 'Naw, you're no model. Now send me copies of them pictures to me house will ya', and they nonchalantly wander off picking up their previous conversation. Back inside the hotel, Tracey and I talk.
There is a childlike excitement that at last people will show, in a gallery, all the nooks, crannies and fag-ends of her life. I never knew her before this year, but who I see in front of me now is someone highly charged with solipsistic overdrive. Within 30 minutes of meeting her I have a full run-down on her newest intimate relationships, her hopes and dreams for her personal life as well as proffered opinions on Balthus ('a dirty old man, a pervert'), my interviews with Damien Hirst (You're obsessed by him') and her sponsorship contract with a rather exotic alcohol brand. The latter it seems is extremely important to her as booze is a 24-hour companion to her life.
I love her fractured energy and could sit and listen to her for hours. Although her viewpoints, tastes and interests are standard and unvaryingly those of any eighteen-year-old art student, it slowly dawns on me that she is in fact a 34-year-old woman. Her natural youthfulness is exhilarating. She is also extraordinarily sexy. The elastic lips, famous broken teeth and half-closed eyes, deliver one of the more seductively interesting faces in British art. I think I can look at her face for even longer than I can listen to her talk.
She wants very much to be firmly identified in this modern world, but time and again she reveals a deep fascination with passions from another time - Munch, Schiele, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Gioto, narrative painting.
She says her work has been compared to Joseph Beuys and Andy Warhol. I don't buy into this at all. If anyone springs to mind it's William Blake as a woman, written by Mike Leigh. There is little sarcasm, cynicism or even intended irony in her work. It has little of the mystic hippiness of Kiki Smith or the Fuck You diffidence of her best friend Sarah Lucas. It has more of the construct of the self. The dawning of late-eighteen-century self-conciousness, that first realisation of self you find in early nineteenth-century self-portraits. Or maybe, even, a Mary Shelley of Margate.
There's also the smashed glass-splinter effect echoing the deeply dysfunctional work found at Gugging Hospital in Vienna, the bastion of working 'Outside' artists, or at L'art Brut, Lausanne, the Vatican of fringe.
Her little museum in Waterloo is not so much a '90s absurdity, but more an updated reflection of the nineteenth century, 'I am' reverberations of the John Soane house and museum.
A few others, but only a few, also have an ambivalence toward her work. Charles Saatchi, in curating his upcoming 'Masterworks at the RA', belatedly acquired a single 1995 Emin piece, her tent with lovers' names, only a few weeks ago. This doesn't seem to imply a passion for her work, but rather a need to make up for a full set of Mod-Brit Artists. Amusingly, this piece having acquired an almost iconic status set Charles back considerably more than he is used to shelling out.
Having said all that, there is an earnest and serious folk-story telling quality to her work, that pulls an audience in completely. When I saw a recent show of hers in Toronto, two girls in their early twenties were sitting mesmerised in front of one of Tracey's video monologues. There were tears running down their cheeks. Now that's art, Jim, but as we know it.
Painting and Sculpture - David Bowie
New Afro/Pagan and Work 1975-1995
By David Bowie
In neither music nor art have I a real style, craft or technique. I just plummet through, on either a wave of euphoria or mind-splintering dejection. This can often all be held together by a bloody-minded determination to create something that was not there before.
It probably comes from the need to have seen it all.
Head Of S.C.
66cm x 54cm Charcoal on Rag 1994
Head Of S.C.
30" x 23" Charcoal and Chalk on Rag 1994
The Voyeur Of Utter Destruction As Beauty
42" x 28" Computer Print 1995
40" x 25" Charcoal and Chalk on Computer Print 1994
42" x 28" Computer Print 1995
42" x 28" Computer Print 1995
42" x 30" Computer Print 1995
30" x 22" Charcoal and Pastel on Paper 1994
30" x 23" Charcoal and Pastel on Paper 1994
Double Head Of D.B.
16" x 28" Acrylic on Canvas 1994
Head Of D.B.
19" x 26" Charcoal and Pastel 1994
Head Of J.O.
25" x 20" Acrylic 1976
The Crowd Pleasers
39" x 31" Acrylic on Canvas 1978
Head Of R.G.
30" x 23" Charcoal on Rag 1994
Head Of M.G.
30" x 23" Charcoal on Rag 1994
8" x 10" Acrylic on Canvas 1993
16" x 30" Acrylic on Canvas 1993
15" x 18" Acrylic on Canvas 1993
Ramona A. Stone
Computer Print 1995
A Small Plot Of Land
Computer Print 1995
Proto-type for the "The Remember" Series
24" high Chrome Plated Bronze 1995
Hearth And The Black Coat
68" x 53" Acrylic on Canvas 1993
My sincere thanks to my studio assistants, Alex Hamilton and Andy Spray, for their hard work and enthusiasm.
This brochure was created and typeset using Apple Macintosh computers and Adobe Photoshop.
David Bowie would like to thank Laura Ashley Ltd. for providing its expertise and help in printing the British Conflict Series and Minotaur wallcoverings for this exhibition and for providing an original Laura Ashley design as an underlay for this purpose.
By David Bowie
By now I'm sure you may have seen the film Merry Xmas Mr. Lawrence. Working with Mr. Oshima was one of the highlights of my artistic life. The exuberance and enthusiasm generated by this great artist spread quickly throughout the cast and crew so that we were all caught up in his vision.
Right now I am starting a world tour for my new album "Let's Dance". We start in Europe in May then go on to America and finish the tour in Japan and Australia.
I look forward to coming back to Japan, one of my favourite places and seeing my friends and fans once again.
By David Bowie
David Bowie responds to the life and art of Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Black Magic Marker
'Nothing to be gained here'
Waking up every day to a world of pieces and bits we spend the remaining hours putting it into some kind of form we can deal with. No order, no function. Basquiat takes a cursive swipe and re-establishes the disorder that is reality. The pure joyful chaotic miasma of it all. Goo-goo-ga-joo. Refracting fact fractions facting refact. He's milking the diction-dairy, wiping up the puddles of Anglo detritus and scoffing the lot. He's stealing us limb by word.
'Denies ever seeing'
Jean-Michel Basquiat: 'I have a painting where somebody's holding a chicken, and underneath the chicken is somebody's head'.
All young black men in white worlds know more about white than white know about black. For hundreds of years they have been subjected to histories, posters, lectures, cartoons, dinner conversations, listened to in silence from the shadowy corners, pontifications on how white speak - sit - think - walk - talk that talk.
Then film, tv, advertising, media, everything white - it's all there - anger, manipulation, generosity, rationality, jealously, love, hostility, each and every nuance that, brick by brick, builds the bridge to the Caucasian fields. Meanwhile, on the other trackside, stereotype black dance-sing-disgruntled, not satisfied-with-their-lot above their station or happy-loyal-where-would-I-be-without-Massa subservience. Until developments of the past few decades, this was the white-invented form we imposed on the West-world black. When the black artist refuses to be harnessed by the form and content of a patronising art-world, he creates a raging maelstrom into which all the carefully propped-up relics of cultural conditions are sucked and crushed. All revealed, the bars of the captor's prison are bent, twisted and gleefully reshaped into the budding flower of emergence. Bruised, bashed and battered, finally unmasked, the grin sneers at the bigotry and idiocy lying wasted on the Roman cobbles; from the flat white-walled cubes the lips whisper, 'I caught you smilin' again'. Blushing and irritated, the white viewer quickens his pace while the screaming fills his ears: 'I'm gonna Fuck You Up'.
March Out Backwards, Sideways, Down
What makes Basquiat's work so powerful is his transcendence of the black-white posturing and the truly dignified indifference of the existentialist... I feel the very moment of his brush or crayon touching the canvas. There is a burning immediacy to his ever evaporating decisions that fires the imagination ten or fifteen years on, as freshly molten as the day they were poured onto the canvas. But, unlike Graham Greene, say, who in his youth would steal his father's army pistol, sit quietly in the woods near home and click off a solipsistic game of Russian Roulette to give his young life an edge, Basquiat had no choice but to grasp at the minimal options open to him on the streets of New York, hold on like hell while the meteor of fame dragged him up to its full ascendancy, eventually to deaden the pain of the burns and welts of jealousy with heroin.
In between times, he borrowed or crafted life for himself. His background history would change with every telling.
Although he managed to put most people off the scent, his reality must have been something like this.
He was brought up in Park Slope, Brooklyn, the eldest of three children. Two sisters, Lisanne and Jeanine. His Haitian-born father, an accountant, secured a good middle-class salary; young Jean-Michel went to private school. His mother, a Puerto Rican, encouraged his obsession for art, introducing him to various pictures and styles through their visits to museums and galleries. They were close, and her temporary institutionalisation for treatment of a mental illness veiled Jean-Michel with a certain sadness.
At around eight years old, a car accident put him in hospital for an unspecified period, probably months, cutting him off from friends and familiar places. Matilde, his mother, brought him a copy of Gray's Anatomy, possibly to explain the ins and outs of the operation to remove his spleen. The skeletons and skulls that frequent his work may well have been triggered by this illustrated tome.
Around ten years of age, his mother and father parted, dad taking the kids with him to live with a white English woman. From his first days as a tag or graffiti artist, his efforts at making good relationships were thwarted by his own singular sense of drift.
Irony is, of course, that this sense of not belonging is one of the great strengths of his STUFF. He knew as much as he needed about art and probably a whole lot more than his contemporaries, and there is no great shrieking voice of proven Blackness here. As he himself would insist, when asked, 'I am not a Black artist, I am an artist'.
It comes as no surprise to learn that he had a not-so-hidden ambition to be a rock musician, as his work relates to rock in ways that very few other visual artists get near. He seemed to digest the frenetic flow of passing image and experience, put them through some kind of internal reorganisation and dress the canvas with this resultant network of chance. Word ensnared by colour. Shape qualified by phrase.
The wave he would have liked us to see was the surf-wave of free-association, uninhibited and loaded with a new fractured language, a street-map for a city not yet designed, a dialogue with our sub-present.
His STUFF is the continually dividing cell of our future-past. Embryos with all the cross-referenced features in place. But the stash was terminated before maturity. I should like to have seen it all grown-up.
THE DIARY OF NATHAN ADLER
The Art-Ritual Murder Of Baby Grace Blue
A non-linear Gothic Drama Hyper-cycle
It was at precisely 5.47am on the morning of Friday 31 of December 1999 that a dark spirited pluralist began the dissection of 14-year-old '''Baby Grace''. The arms of the victim were pin-cushioned with 16 hypodermic needles, pumping in four major preservatives, colouring agents, memory information transport fluids and some kind of green stuff. From the last and 17th, all blood and liquid was extracted. The stomach area was carefully flapped open and the intestines removed, disentangled and re-knitted as it were, into a small net or web and hung between the pillars of the murder-location, the grand damp doorway of Oxford Town Museum of Modern Parts, New Jersey. The limbs of Baby were then severed from the torso. Each limb was implanted with a small, highly sophisticated, binary-code translator which in turn was connected to small speakers attached to far ends of each limb. The self-contained mini amplifiers were then activated, amplifying the decoded memory info-transport substances, revealing themselves as little clue haikus, small verses detailing memories of other brutal acts, well-documented by the ROMbloids. The limbs and their components were then hung upon the splayed web, slug-like prey of some unimaginable creature. The torso, by means of its bottom-most orifice, had been placed on a small support fastened to a marble base. It was shown to varying degrees of success depending upon where one stood from behind the web but in front of the Museum door itself, acting as both signifier and guardian to the act. It was definitely murder - but was it art? All this was to be the lead-up to the most provocative event in the whole sequence of serial-events that had started around November of that same year, plunging me into the most portentous chaos-abyss that a quiet lone-hacker like myself could comprehend. My name is Nathan Adler, or Detective Professor Adler in my circuit. I'm attached to the division of Art-Crime Inc., the recently instigated corporation funded by an endowment from the Arts Protectorate of London, it being felt that the investigation of art-crimes was in itself inseparable from other forms of expression and therefore worthy of support from this significant body. Nicholas Serota himself had deemed us, the small-fry of the division, worthy of an exhibit at last year's Biennial in Venice, three rooms of evidence and comparative study work which conclusively proved that the cow in Mark Tansey's "The Innocent Eye Test" could not differentiate between Paulus Potter's "The Young Bull" of 1647 (exactly 300 years before I was born, incidentally) and one of Monet's grain stack paintings of the 1890's. The traditional art press deemed this extrapolation "bullshit" and removed itself to study the more formal ideas contained in Damien Hirst's "Sheep In A Box". Art's a farmyard. It's my job to pick thru' the manure heap looking for peppercorns.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 31, 1999, 10.15AM
As in any crime, my first position is to peruse the motive-gag. The recent spate, thru' '98-'99, of concept-muggings pretty much had me pulling breath for an art-murder. It was a crime whose time was now. The precedents were all there. It had probably its beginnings in the '70s with the Viennese castrationists and the blood-rituals of Nitsch. Public revulsion put the lid on that episode, but you can't keep a good ghoul down. Spurred on by Chris Burden's having himself shot by his collaborator in a gallery. tied up in a bag, thrown on a highway and then crucified upon the top of a Volkswagen, stories circulated thru' the nasty-neon of NY night that a young Korean artist was the self-declared patient of wee-hours surgery in cut and run operations at not-so-secret locations in the city. If you found out about it, you could go and watch this guy having bits and pieces removed under anaesthetic. A finger-joint one night, a limb another. By the dawning of the '80s, rumour had it that he was down to a torso and one arm. He'd asked to be left in a cave in the Catskills, fed every so often by his acolytes. He didn't do much after that. I guess he read a lot. Maybe wrote a hole bunch. I suppose you can never tell what an artist will do once he's peaked. Round this same time, Bowie the singer remarked on a coupla goons who frequented the Berlin bars wearing dull surgery regalia: caps, aprons, rubber gloves and masks. The cutting edge. Then came Damien Hirst with the Shark-Cow-Sheep thing. No humans, palatable ritual for the worldwide public. The acceptable face of gore. Meanwhile in the US, 1994, I was in town on the night of the Athey scarifications.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 27, 1994
122 EAST VILLAGE, MANHATTAN
Ron Athey, performance artist not for the squeamish - former heroin addict-HIV positive, pushed what looks like a knitting needle repeatedly into his forehead, a crown of blood, must hurt like hell. Stream red dribble-dribble. No screams. Face moves in pain. Carried upstage and scrubbed down in his own blood. Then water. Now dresses in nice suit and tie. Now in black T-shirt and jeans, carving, with a disposable scalpel, patters, into the back of Darryl Carlton, a black man. Bloody blotted paper towels then hung on a washing line suspended over the heads of the audience Blood-prints from life. An extremely limited edition. When it was first performed back in March, "Four Scenes In A Harsh Life" exploded controversy shrapnel throughout the National Endowment For The Arts. "We have taken every precaution with our disposal systems," and Athey spokesperson said. "The towels containing the blood are immediately deposited in hazardous-waste bags. Each evening, the material will be driven to a hospital for final disposal". Athey says he is dealing with issues of self-loathing, suffering, healing and redemption.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 31, 1999, 10.30AM
MUSEUM OF MODERN PARTS
I'm drinking up the Oxford Town. New Jersey fume. Salty and acid. maybe I can get a handle on this thing back in Soho at the bureau. It used to be Rothko's studio, now the playground for all us Art-Crime folk, AC' or "the daubers" as we're dubbed. Rothko himself, in a deep-dark-drunk one night, carefully removed his clothes, folded them up neatly, placing them upon a chair, lay upon the floor in a crucified position and after several attempts, found the soft blue pump of his wrists and checked out. He'd held the razor blades between wads of tissue paper so that he wouldn't cut his fingers. Deep thinker. Always was.
"DAUBER" HQ, SOHO
The only names the Data bank can associate with Baby Grace are Leon Blank, Ramona A. Stone and Algeria Touchshriek. The rundowns are brief but not to the point:
Ramona A. Stone: Female. Caucasian. Mid-40s. Assertive maintenance interesting-drug dealer and Tyrannical Futurist. No convictions. Contacts: Leon Blank, Baby Grace Blue, Algeria Touchshriek.
Leon Blank: Male, Mixed race. 22 years. Outsider. Three convictions for petty theft, appropriation and plagiarism with license. Contacts: Baby Grace Blue, Algeria Touchshriek.
Algeria Touchshriek:Male. Caucasian. 78 years. Owner of small establishment on Rail Yard. Oxford Town, NJ. Deals in art-drugs and DNA prints. Fence for all apparitions of any medium. Harmless, lonely.
Small cog, no wheels. Not much to go on but R.A. Stone weighs heavy on my memory. No problem, it'll come back. Best thing to do now is feed all relevant pieces into the Mack-Verbasiser, the Metarandom programme that re-strings real life facts as improbable virtual-fact. I may get a lead or two from that.
Jesus Who. I hate typing. Anyhow, we've got some real interesting solvents from Mack-random. How about this! Verbasiser down-load, first block:
No convictions of assertive saints believed Caucasian way-out tyrannical evoked no images described Christian saints questions no female christian machine believed no work is caucasian assertive saints believed female described christian tyrannical questions R.A. Stone convictions martyrs and tyrannicals are evoked Female described sado-masochist questions I am suicide described the fabric machine Slashing way out saints and martyrs and thrown downstairs
Now the swirl begins. Now the image stack backs up and takes center stage. Ramona A. Stone, I remember this thickness, this treacly liquid thought. But wait, I'm ahead of myself.
JUNE 15, 1977
It's two in the morning. I can't sleep for the screaming of some poor ost-racised Turkish immigrant screaming his guts out from over the street. His hawking shriek sounds semi-stifled like he's got a pillow over his mouth. But the desperation comes through the spongy rubber like a knife. It cuts the breeze and bangs my eardrums. I take a walk past the fabric machine, turn left onto a street with no name. The caucasian suicide center, naked and grimy silhouetted by fungus yellow street lamps female slashing way-out saints for a dollar a time thrown downstairs if you can't take any more. Pure joy of retreat into death, led by the shepherdess. Anti mixed-race posters pasted upon their altar of pop-death icons party people. A zero with no name looks dull-eyed to Ms. Stone, the drone that says "in the future, everything was up to itself". Yea. I remember Ramona. She set herself up as the no-future priestess of the Caucasian Suicide Temple, vomiting out her doctrine of death-as-eternal-party into the empty vessels of Berlin youth. The top floor rooms were the gateways to giving up to the holy ghost. She must have overseen more than 30 or 40 check-outs before the local squad twigged what was going down.
OCTOBER 28, 1994
New Yorker magazine advance copy, celebrating fashion. It's a first of its kind since Tina Brown took over as editor. One look is all it took. It took the look and wrote a new book on what sophistaplites would take and bake. Guy Bourdin featured heavily in this new eDISHion. Since the advent of AIDS and the new morality, and, of course his death, his dark sexy fatal style had fallen out of Vogue. An uncompromising photographer, he had found a twisty avenue through desire and death. A white female leg sticking gloomily out of a bath of black liquid enamel. Two glued up babes covered in tiny pearls. The glue prevented their skins from breathing and they pass out. "Oh it would be beautiful," he is to have said, "to photograph them dead in bed." He was a French Guy. He had known Man Ray. Loved Lewis Carroll. His first gig was doing hats for Vogue. He'd place dead flies or bees on the faces of the models, or, female head wears hat crushed between three skinned calves heads, tongues lolling. What was this? Fine Arts? The surrealists might even think his work passé. Well, it was the '50s, that's what it was. The tight-collar '50s seen through unspeakable hostility. He wanted but he couldn't paint. So he threw globs of revengeful hatred at his nubile subjects. He would systematically pull the phone cord out of the wall. He was never to be disturbed. Disturbed. Never. Everything and everyone died around him. One shoot focusing upon a woman lying in bed was said to be a reconstruction of his estranged wife's death. Another picture has a woman in a phone booth making some frantic call. Her hand is pressed whitely against the glass. Behind her and outside are two female bodies partially covered by the autumn leaves. His dream, so he told friends, was to do shoots in the morgue, with the stiffs as mannequins. I don't know. I just read this stuff. Now is spirit was being resurrected. We're mystified by blood. It's our enemy now. We don't understand it. Can't live with it. Can't, well... y'know?
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 31, 1999, 11.30AM
After surgery and investment in a bullet-proof mask, Ramona turned up in London, Canada as owner of a string of body-parts jewellery stores. Lamb penis necklaces, goat-scrotum purses, nipple earrings, that sort of thing. The word on the street, however, suggested that it was not in the best of interests to become one of her clients as occasionally, a customer would step into her shop and not come out again. The whistle blew after a much-loved and highly respected celebrity, known for being known, failed to show for a gallery-hanging of her mirrors. Other celebrities, equally known for being known, some only to each other, thought it the most profound exhibit in years and couldn't takes their eyes off the works. All the pieces sold within an hour, many for record prices. When the critic for Tate magazine asked for an interview with the celebrity-artist, the gallery owner recalled that he hadn't seen her since earlier that day. She'd mentioned that she would be going shopping for a diamond-encrusted umbilical cord as a celebratory thing to announce her pregnancy. She would be back in an hour. Just a quick stop at the "Gallstone". 1986. That pregnancy would have produced a being that would be around 14 years of age.
If it was still alive.
To be continued at a later date...
|Created: July 1997 © Paul Kinder||Last Updated: 14/1/99|