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LOVING THE ALIEN: Yet another personalized incarnation of a Bowie obituary

Louis Fowler / Red Dirt Report
My 6th grade attempt to write a screenplay based on Ziggy Stardust, still as relevant as ever.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – He’s the man who went to space and then fell to the Earth. The Thin White Duke, the Diamond Dog, the Glass Spider, the Man Who Sold the World, the King Who Stole the Babe (what babe?). Bowie wasn’t meant to die. He wasn’t no rock and roll suicide, even when they said jump.

Yeah, Bowie wasn’t meant to die. Especially not of such an earthbound thing like cancer. He was the eternally young American sitting at the al fresco table, sipping his gin well into the golden years as a well-placed fedora obscured his view of a world that was engulfed in five years of flames around him, flames he kept fanning with gasoline. He was an alien.

I remember the alien.

Remember Video Jukebox? The video show HBO used as filler in-between screenings? That’s when I first saw the video for “Let’s Dance.” With its Outback setting, my five-year-old mind lumped it in with all of the current Third World-set clips of the day (Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf” or the Rolling Stones’ “Undercover of the Night” for example). Videos of “Blue Jean” and “Modern Love” were in regular MTV rotation and the vampire flick The Hunger was always a must-watch for this unsupervised tyke.

As far as I knew, David Bowie was an actor who just happened to sing and always had been. I would take my mom’s old cassette recorder and make my own soundtracks by recording directly off the TV. That’s when Labyrinth and Absolute Beginners came into my life and turned Bowie into a bonafied space invader I kept my electric eye on. I must’ve listened to those cheap Maxell-60 cassettes 100 times before they finally stretched and snapped.

I was a fan of the alien, even if I had no idea how long he had walked among us.

Sometime in the early 90s, when I was in 5th or 6th grade, I managed to find vinyl copies of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and ChangesOneBowie at a garage sale for a quarter each. Putting that needle to the dusty vinyl, I can say that my life (and my brother’s for that matter, as he was forced to listen to whatever I was spinning) was sonically changed as a Starman who was waiting in the sky came down and anointed my head, telling me to spread the Gospel of Boogie.

Like a messenger touched by the Divine, I started work on a musical based on the storyline I perceived Ziggy to be about: a five-year rapture initiated by an Anti-Christ Martian that ended with world burn burn burning. There I was, a sixth grader, ignoring my math and geography classes to scribble one religiously insane idea after another in this blue notebook paired with the album’s lyric-riddled inner-sleeve.

When my father would go into one of his rages, he would often kick my bedroom door open and start tearing down my posters, ripping up my comics and trashing my writings. I lost so much work from about 13 to 18. But the one thing I kept hidden was my half-finished screenplay for Ziggy Stardust. Sometimes I dig it out and flip through it again, marveling at how good it is. And how I should finish it. Should I now?

Day-in, day-out.

I don’t think a week has gone by in the past 25 or so years when I haven’t listened to a Bowie album, with my tastes veering towards his underrated (and morally complicated) 80s output, ranging from Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) on up to about Tin Machine II. Was it the bravest, boldest era of the alien? No, but it was the timeframe wherein I grew to love the alien. I’m an emotional purist that way, and it’s never let me down. It gets me to the church on time.

Whoever expected to wake up and hear the words “Bowie is dead”? He was a heathen changeling, an otherworldly force who was kept alive by slipping into one new persona after another, never resting, never aging, never sticking around long enough to become a dead man walking.

I can only surmise that only the body is dead, ready to be dissected for generations of armchair autopsists to come. But that soul, that plastic soul, that Philly soul, that alien soul, is still alive and will be for mysterious years to come, roaming the ethereal earth with a sax in one hand and a crystal sphere in the other.

Bowie taught me to believe in the strangest things.

Bowie taught me to love the alien.

-In tribute to Bowie’s eccentric film career, Louis Fowler will host a special DAMAGED Viewing David Bowie Double Feature at 7 p.m. on January 19th at District House, 1755 NW 16th. Admission is free. For more info, click here:

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About the Author

Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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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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