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SIRIUS MOONLIGHT (Resurrection stone)

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Returning from the office yesterday evening, I couldn't help but notice the book the babysitter was reading: Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix.

A great novel (probably my favorite) and the fifth in the Harry Potter series. This is the one where Harry is introduced to the secret society - The Order of the Phoenix - which was formed by Dumbledore and other wizards in hopes of defeating Lord Voldemort.

Noting this this morning, my younger son was discussing the intricacies of the Harry Potter universe. He then proceeds to discuss Sirius Black, played by iconic British actor Gary Oldman, who is also Harry's godfather. He's a good wizard who was framed and is trying to help Harry and his friends put a stop to Voldemort. He also is an animagus who is able to transform into a black dog (Sirius being the "dog star"). 

It was at the very moment he said “Sirius Black” that I was thinking about David Bowie’s Blackstar. The proverbial light went on over my head.

Sirius Black = Blackstar.

SHAPE SHIFTERS: (Above) Sirius Black transforms into the black dog "Padfoot" in the Harry Potter series. (Below) David Bowie as part human part dog on the 1974 album cover for Diamond Dogs.

It struck me that there is a canine connection between David Bowie and Gary Oldman. Also, it is interesting to note that Sirius Black enters Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in 1971, and sorted into Gryffindor house, rather than Slytherin house, as was the tradition for the Black family. Already, Sirius Black is proving to be a different wizard altogether, embracing half-blood wizards and witches, counter to the "pure-blood" obsessions of the rest of the Black family and, of course, Voldemort.

We should note that as Sirius Black enters Gryffindor in his first year, Muggle David Bowie is putting the finishing touches on what is considered his best (and breakthrough) album: Hunky Dory, released in November 1971. The key single, and Bowie's signature song "Changes," released in January 1972, indicated that changes would be afoot heading into the heart of the 1970's and beyond.

"And these children that you spit on / As they try to change their worlds / Are immune to your consultations / They're quite aware of twhat they're going through ..." ("Changes" by David Bowie).

The culture was changing for these young people, mirroring the Muggle culture which was experiencing some serious/Sirius(?) changes regarding race, gender and politics. And Bowie was the leader for our Muggle world. Certainly Sirius Black (who hung up posters of Muggle girls in bikinis on his walls (much to the shock of his family) and was a young rebel, rebel at Hogwarts.

Tom Riddle-turned-Voldemort - represented the Old Order (purebloods) and its desire to maintain the status quo, even if it meant taking a dark path and instilling complete control. Sirius and his friends James Potter and Lily Evans (Harry's parents) would reject this and pay with their lives and leaving an infant Harry with an Aladdin Sane-esque scar.

AUTO-PILATE

It’s also said that you do miracles. Is this good magic or bad magic?David Bowie as Pontius Pilate, questioning Jesus Christ (Willem Dafoe) in Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ. That film was on the marquee – along with The Evil Dead, in Richard Kelly’s 2001 masterpiece Donnie Darko. I see syncs between Bowie and Donnie Darko, which I hope to address in another post.

Note the similar typefacce (Hebrew for Bowie's 1999 album hours... And more Arabic for Donnie Darko.

I note the above quote because while Bowie played Pontius Pilate, Gary Oldman also played the role of Pontius Pilate in the 1999 film Jesus.

Made damn sure that Pilate / Washed his hands and sealed his fate” – “Sympathy for the Devil” by The Rolling Stones (1969), as sung by Scorsese’s good friend Mick Jagger.

Interviewed on the set of Jesus, Oldman tells the interviewer that he is a “spiritual” and not religious person who believes he would have been impressed by Jesus’s “power and energy.”  

Adds Oldman: “In an abstract way, I have met with (Jesus).

We’ve all been touched by great people. Ghandi, Kennedy, Martin Luther King. And they were all great people who represented … who wanted to instigate change. And we’re terrified of change. We don’t like the unknown.” 

I think major change is just around the corner. A society crumbling in on itself. The "walls come tumblin' down" (An astronaut. A white rabbit) as "David" the dead astronaut (sync "Blackstar") communicated to me on New Year's Eve 2015. Bowie knew 2016 would be rough.

THE YEAR OF THE SCAVENGER, THE SEASON OF THE BITCH

Earlier today, before getting to the office, I was listening to Bowie's song "Diamond Dogs" in the car. It's got a very gritty, Stonesy vibe while offering up some weird lyrics, kicking off with the line: "This ain't rock n' roll. This is genocide!"

"With your silicone hump and your ten inch stump / Dressed like a priest you was / Tod Browning's freak you was."

Recall that Bowie, starting in 1973, had wanted to make a musical based on George Orwell's dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. (Synchromystically speaking, my assistant - quite out of the blue - said she had gone to the bookstore this weekend and purchased Orwell's classic, just because ... I think people are sensing rough seas ahead).

Bowie's idea for a stage version of Nineteen Eighty-Four was rejected by Orwell's wife and it never took place. But Bowie held onto some of those ideas with the 1974 Diamond Dogs album and the song "1984." Bowie was a visionary. Albeit through the lens of the troubled 1970's, he saw a grim future. The dogs of war and ruin. Corruption everywhere. No leaders. A society adrift, frightened and alone on a rock in an obscure corner of the universe. 

Thinking about that line "Dressed like a priest you was," I think on Bowie's comeback album The Next Day from 2013 and the title track video, which featured Oldman dressed as a corrupt and debauched Catholic priest in a visually -disturbing video that probably drove the right-wing Catholic League insane. Lots of violence, blood, religious iconography and Bowie dressed as Jesus, who is playing the song "The Next Day' in a bar. (I should note that Oldman and Bowie performed a vocal duet on the Reeves Gabrels' album The Sacred Squall of Now, a song called "You've Been Around." Very weird.)

STIGMATA: David Bowie, Marion Cotillard and Gary Oldman in a still from "The Next Day" video. (Erik Hausch)

At the end of the music video, Bowie is standing there, serene and surrounded by the actors in the video. Bowie thanks "Gary" and "Marion" - using theactual names of the actors - and then he "disappears" as he is bathed in a heavenly light. Ascended into heaven. perhaps?

Although this video was created prior to his cancer diagnosis, perhaps he knew something. (Read more about "The Next Day" video analysis here).

Religious imagery has played a role in Bowie's work for years. Note "Sex and the Church" from 1993's The Buddha of Suburbia and others along the way.

Today, as David Bowie's Blackstar album is number one on the charts - his first - we note the current single, "Lazarus," which also features ain incredibly powerful video that has struck me to the core, as it has many other people, just as the "Blackstar" video did.

"Look up here, I'm in heaven, I've got scars that can't be seen, I've got drama, can't be stolen, everybody knows me now." "Lazarus" ends with: "Just like that bluebird. Oh, I'll be free. Ain't that just like me?"

Back in the Harry Potter universe, in The Order of the Phoenix, a very brave Sirius Black (coming of age during Bowie's "golden years" is killed in 1996's "Battle of the Department of Mysteries" fighting the Death Eaters and Voldemort. This is the same year, 1996, that the film Basquiat is released, which features both Bowie (as Andy Warhol) and Oldman both (note my Dust Devil Dreams piece "And babies ...") Sirius Black - the Blackstar - is a hero among "heroes."

But in 1998, Harry is comforted - via the Deathly Hallow known as the "Resurrection Stone" - by the "appearance" of his parents and Sirius Black. Seeing them gives him the courage to continue on his Campbell-esque hero's journey to the final showdown against the reactionary forces of darkness.

Just days after Bowie's death, we learn of the death of actor Alan Rickman, who famously played Prof. Severus Snape.

Snape, in Harry Potter, was initially a Death Eater, but switched sides and became a secret member of the Order of the Phoenix, later agreeing to kill Albus Dumbledore at his request. Snape promised Dumbledore to protect the students at Hogwarts during the upcoming battle. Voldemort would kill Snape, however. And Snape would be viewed as a hero for his role in protecting the school and the children against Voldemort.

Snape's name would live on in the wizarding world, long after his physical body is gone. A hero, despite Harry's difference with Snape. The same with Sirius Black. Both Sirius and Snape will be honored by Harry Potter by using their names for his own children - James Sirius Potter and Albus Severus Potter. Harry realizes they are never really gone. They are always with us.

And just as Bowie's name will live on in our world. A legend is becoming a myth. Bowie's name will be known hundreds of years from now.

Bowie is always with us.

I must admit that the death of David Bowie has had a profound effect on me (the "Blackstar" video blew me away upon first seeing it in November). And seeing him scribble intensely in the "Lazarus" video, one gets the impression that Bowie knew time was against him and that he had to get those remaining ideas out there as soon as possible. His creativity in the face of death - more than inspiring. I can't even articulate how it makes me feel. 

I want to thank him for giving us this amazing gift of Blackstar (which is playing here in the office at the moment and features album art which appears to show the star Sirius, incredibly enough!).

I hope to have a proper review of Blackstar in coming days. 

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About the Author

Andrew W. Griffin

Editor & Owner.

Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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