Saturday, October 18, 2014

Five Years

Ziggy Stardust (re-imaged)

"While I share many of Burroughs' attitudes and literary inclinations, I'm less certain why I feel a commonality with Bowie. Maybe because of his performance in "The Man Who Fell To Earth"; I feel an instinctual rapport with "aliens" of all sorts. It may be that Bowie is the closest thing to a genuine extraterrestrial that I'm likely to meet in this lifetime."

- Mac Tonnies via a 2006 Posthuman Blues post

"Burroughs occupied a central place in the underground pantheon. Both gay and a drug addict, he explored these aspects of himself through some of the most challenging and disturbing novels written in English. Bowie was his Gemini twin, a wrecker of mores who was reaping fame and fortune as the deranged but beautiful creature of pop music. Burroughs might have been looking for a way into the mainstream, and might have believed rubbing elbows with Bowie would get him closer. During their talk, Bowie describes the full mythos behind Ziggy, describing a race of alien superbeings called the "infinites", living black holes that use Ziggy as a vessel to give themselves a form people could comprehend. Burroughs countered with his own vision to create an institute to help people achieve greater awareness so humanity will be ready when we make eventual contact with alien life forms."

- Excerpt from: Peter Bebergal's Season of the Witch - How the Occult Saved Rock & Roll found, along with an interview with the author, in this (November 12, 2014) Quietus article.
(Hat-tip to Grail-seeker!)

"I heard telephones, opera house, favorite melodies
I saw boys, toys electric irons and T.V.'s
My brain hurt like a warehouse, it had no room to spare
I had to cram so many things to store everything in there
And all the fat-skinny people, and all the tall-short people
And all the nobody people, and all the somebody people
I never thought I'd need so many people"

- Lyrics from "Five Years" - released w/ The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, 1972David Bowie

It was no secret that Mac was a fan of David Bowie (although not necessarily as Ziggy Stardust), and that "The Man Who Fell to Earth" - both the film and the original Walter Tevus novel - made a lasting impression on him. I once posted a clip of the movie on this blog, and another post featuring a fave Bowie tune of Mac's (and mine): Ashes to Ashes (1980). Both videos were swallowed by trolls, however, and the posts removed.

One could argue that the extreme memes planted by David Bowie in the early 1970s - in the persona of Ziggy Stardust, the gender-bending alien rock god with the mismatched set of eyes - didn't merely predict the eventual popularity of UFOs, extraterrestrial life, Mars, and science fiction, but spawned it. Seriously. I could say "you had to be there" but, this isn't actually true. Case in point, Mac wasn't even born until several years after Ziggy first took the stage - and, by 1975 - Bowie had already morphed into the Thin White Duke. It's significant though that while Bowie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, he entered the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame (founded in Kansas City, no less) in 2013, along with J. R. R. Tolkien and H. R. Giger. And, judging by the full list of sci-fi luminaries, Bowie appears to be the only rock musician inducted.

As for the gender-bending... well, I'm not saying that Ziggy spawned the eventual societal acceptance of same-sex marriages, but I'm betting he inspired quite a few boys (and girls) to question which team they were, in fact, really playing for. (And, judging by the pretty thing in the video featured at the end of the post... well, yes, we see.)

Then again, maybe it's just that sort of synchronicity in which a series of oddly-related phenomena tend to arise at the same time, but, I'll let historians work that one out. My goal was to remember Mac on the 5th anniversary of his passing, which is, in fact, today...

Five years... it hardly seems possible, but judging by the irrefutable evidence presented by the date stamps posted on this blog, I guess it's true. And, while Bowie's song, Five Years, is an element of a dystopian scenario, and not related, thematically, to this day, it still seems somehow right for this post.

"Five years... my brain hurts a lot... five years, that's all we've got."

Then again, in a mildly synchronistic way, I had already begun the post-draft process, when Nicholas Roeg's "The Man Who Fell to Earth" was broadcast on the tube in the New Mexican hotel room I'm currently inhabiting - and this was kind of a thrill. It was also sort of fitting as I, too, feel like I've essentially "fallen" to earth, here in New Mexico, where, as it so happens - and I had forgotten - much of the film was shot to begin with. Little exists on YouTube apart from 2 trailers. I've posted the 35th Anniversary trailer directly below, but the original can be found here.

I drove across the country to get here, arriving exactly one week ago during an electrical storm; but, not to worry, this isn't a travelogue. I do want to mention one bit, however - and this was the high-point of my journey and should be noted here - in that my route just happened to guide me through Missouri... Kansas City specifically, which, as we know, is Mac's old home town. And, yes, there - in the very place Mac grew up - I was fortunate enough to meet Bob and Dana Tonnies!

I think the greatest thing about meeting Dana & Bob - apart from Dana's fabulous French Toast & extensive Halloween collection (!) - was that it wasn't strange at all. It's like we knew each other for years. Well, virtually, I suppose we had, but, the connection felt more vital than one would expect. What's more, they were kind enough to take me on a tour of the Plaza where Mac lived... and even Kauffman Garden (which is just as pretty as it appears in the photos found here). Note: the Plaza area in Kansas City is, without exaggeration, the most beautiful part of any city I've ever seen (Dana tells me especially at Christmas). The only difference being - from the days when Mac lived there - is that LatteLand no longer exists... it has become, as of this writing, Kaldi's Coffee.

But then again, it has been five years... nothing much seems to have a longer shelf-life than that these days. Well, apart from memories. And, to that end, I'm posting a Ziggy Stardust clip below and another (Space Oddity) on the side-bar, along with this (pre-Ziggy) version of "Five Years" (Note: the latter is now posted below). Mac would've enjoyed them...  and although you may be too young to remember Ziggy... well, allow me to file him in your memory-banks now. They just don't make rock superstars like Bowie anymore. Well, okay, "they" only make rock stars like David Bowie - and, Forteans (and/or fearless Futurists) like Mac Tonnies - once.

(Note: I spent hours searching for Ziggy performing "Ziggy Stardust" - and Ziggy videos in general - but, the best I could come up with was this fuzzy clip. As for the video above, here's a companion interview which is fun to watch.)


Previous October 18 Anniversary posts:

Remembering Mac

Posthuman Blues archive series:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

Wish You Were Here

More Than the Sum of Our Parts
The Ka Door


Re: the disappearance of (referred to on the sidebar of this blog): I can't imagine what sort of freak would sabotage the website of a man who passed away and can no longer defend himself and/or his work, but I suppose this should come as no great surprise considering the cyber-creeps who continue to spam the Posthuman Blues blogspot's comment section. Happily, Mark Plattner archived PHB, and, from this date on, the link to the .com version of Mac's blog is the only one which will appear here. As for Mac's website, as of this writing, I honestly don't know if it can be saved.

UPDATE, October 24, 2014: Sadly, Mac's Twitpics are gone. Twitter jumped the gun and obliterated all user's files a day in advance. I'm hoping that most of them wound up in his Flickr files. I saw the notice on boingboing today, but, alas, it was already too late. (See notice on side-bar of this blog).

Update, November 1, 2014: As I removed "Five Years" from the side bar, I've reposted the clip below.

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