Secret Pop

Feb 4, 2004

"Baby, when I see you, I'm gonna love you all over the place."

Macy Gray opened for David Bowie tonight at the Wiltern. I had been looking forward to the David Bowie portion of the show for so long that I had stopped looking forward to it and begun to dread it. As happens when the tumult of anticipation becomes so exhausting that I can only quiet it with disdain. I have never really been a fan of Macy's. I don't hate her music, but it didn't rile me or bowl me over in any way, and I found her speaking self to be nearly intolerable, so somehow an opinion was formed with less than typical basis, and I let it go at that. But she put on such a great show. I was glad to be wearing my dancing pants. And one of her back-up singers was just a dish and a half of sex and swiveling hips. It made my hips go round just watching her.

"Baby, when I see you, I'm gonna kiss you all over your face."

"Is it any wonder I reject you first?"

The man who sold the world had that same world on a string tonight. So continues my long love affair with the Thin White Duke. I never dreamed I would see him singing only tens of feet from my scream-choked gullet. Nor that I might see him perform so many of the songs that made him legend in my brain and in my notebook. He's still a hot ticket. Still a confusingly beautiful and sexual creature. Still a fashionista, whose outerwear tonight occasionally looked as if he bought it at Anthropologie, where I regularly shop. I and other GIRLS. Confusing, see?

"My little china girl, you shouldn't mess with me. I'll ruin everything you are."

I can pretend David Bowie wrote China Girl for me, can't I? Why not? I've said, "Shhh," before. Anyway, it doesn't matter. What you believe has nothing to do with me and my version of the truth.

"Why can't we give love one more chance?"

There was a stunning rendition of Under Pressure, with Gail Ann Dorsey, his bald chick bass player, singing Freddie Mercury's part in uncanny simulacrum, and I mean that in the most admiring fashion, despite it being the least flattering word I could have chosen, I suppose. It wasn't Freddie, but it couldn't have been, so it's nice that it was so nearly him and that it was not in any way Vanilla Ice. And "simulacrum" is a cool word. So I may have forced it a bit. The way you do when the shoe you love only comes in a size seven and a half.

I also loved hearing this:

I think I saw you in an ice-cream parlour, drinking milk shakes cold and long
Smiling and waving and looking so fine, don't think
You knew you were in this song
And it was cold and it rained so I felt like an actor
And I thought of Ma and I wanted to get back there
Your face, your race, the way that you talk
I kiss you, you're beautiful, I want you to walk

Good God, I can't believe how amazing his voice sounded. Granted, the Wiltern is nearly the best possible place to see live music in these parts, but he just sounded amazing. I remember admiring him so much a couple of years ago after seeing the first installment of Sound + Vision at the Museum of Television and Radio, and I saw him acutely for the musician and performer he was, not just the baffling sex object I had known him to be and the singer of so many great songs. A really great musician. An instrumentalist and songwriter. In addition to having that rare gift for self-promotion and stirring the froth of the masses. But I was still asking myself, "Do I think he's hot because he's a guy or do I think he's hot because he's a girl? And does it matter?" It was a pleasure to be so unsure.

In the aftermath at Pink's, the younger server smiled at me and said, "You've been here before, right?" I said, yes, and he said, "I remembered you because of your beautiful face." And that was a very nice thing to hear. When I was leaving, he said, "See you tomorrow!" Which wasn't so nice to hear. I mean, I haven't been there since last summer. He makes it sound as if I'm a regular there with polish dogs coming out of my pockets. Hang my picture up if you want to, but don't make the people in line think I'm a fatso. I might need their votes someday. This isn't true. I'm not running for anything. My friend Scott Wiener is though. If you're registered in the 13th Assembly District in San Francisco, you should vote for him. I can vouch for the fact that he is a good egg. A good egg with progressive ideas and an admirable record. And a rather slapdash web site put together for him by me.

So looking over this post, it occurs to me that David Bowie sang with John Lennon, and then he died. And he sang with Freddie Mercury, and then he died. And he sang with Bing Crosby, and then he died. I think the lesson here is don't sing with David Bowie. You might die. Did Gandhi ever sing with David Bowie? The fact that we're not sure only gives weight to my hypothesis.

Don't sing with him. But do listen to him. And often. Some of the songs on this new Reality album are quite wonderful. And see him live if you can. I don't like to buy into this whole once-in-a-lifetime-chance poppycock, but then, in a way, everything you do is just for that moment. It's all once in a lifetime. So even if you've seen David Bowie before, see him again, for this once. Your lifetime will be better for it. And you will have a better contextual basis for appreciating what I have written.

On the lesser topic of me, I have a combination of a bunch of pictures to post and a lazy, uninterested lack of desire to post them. This duel will shake out eventually, but the winner cannot be foretold. Not even by the elves, whose prescience was shoddy at best on the whole topic of the quest claiming Frodo's life and all. You will never see all of the pictures. And at times I wonder if I'm doing you any great favor by letting you see any of them. Until this matter has been basted with more time and distraction and something other than displeasure over the look on my face, enjoy these words. They are worth more than a thousand pictures, I assure you.

I am also at long last effecting my revival (read: rip-off) of Ray Johnson and the New York Correspondence School. I don't expect it to go anywhere or turn into anything, but friends of mine have already begun receiving letters and artwork and oddities by way of the mails. And if anything I send out is someday worth a bundle on account of my tragic death, I will only be too pleased. In the absence of that promise, I have just been enjoying writing by hand and putting stickers on envelopes and anticipating the surprise and delight of the acquaintances for whom I have mailing addresses. If you have a mailing address and would like to receive my "art" at it, you can send it to me. I don't promise you will get anything. But I don't guarantee you won't.

Also, I enjoy remembering Douglas Adams.

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