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Ziggy reunites with Martian Spiders

Thursday, January 14, 2016

There I was macoing my own business, retreating from retreat in Grande Riviere. For two nights I’d lain listening to the erratic boombox of Atlantic breakers walloping the beach in front of my temporary boudoir. 

Blinking my way onto the gallery I resumed my vigil of the waves, ozone stirring coffee cravings. Baby Ben was still dreaming of his new-found friend for life, Stark the dog, who’d managed with four feet and one tail what no two footer has been able to accomplish—elicit his first word—Star. 

His sister was (thankfully) still sleeping off the after effects of guzzling down too much chocolate and hastily regurgitating it, mostly over yours truly. 

Amid such bliss a little sourness is bound to drop but when it did I felt as though I’d been tumbled under a rip tide, spinning uncontrollably, dragged out into the deep of no returns.

Cinnamon Girl looked up from her smart phone, in much the same way someone might have looked up from a broadsheet newspaper back in the daze (sic) pausing before imparting a snippet of salacious trivia. “Bowie’s dead,” she dropped it with no frills. “Iz wot?” I mumbled still more at sea than land. “Yup, the slim White Duke gone through—lung cancer.” 

My first reaction was to reach for a gorilla, as my dear old Dad might have put it—not a hairy one but a slim white Broadway. Then I double checked, because you can’t always believe the testimony of your ears and I really didn’t want the morning idyll to crash land so catastrophically. “You mean Ziggy Stardust, my boy Alladin inSane?” I translated the ensuing silence as affirmative and shook my head.

First Raf Robertson, then Jit Samaroo and now David Bowie; it’s starting to look like open season on musicians. 

Now I realise that the Man Who Fell to Earth while applying layers of face make up liberally sprinkled with stardust and playing hide and seek with his gender, may not be as big in T&T as Jit or Raf but for quite some while the boy born David Jones in Brixton sarf London, led the Rock world by its nose. 

Not a mean feat for someone who disliked performing and started out with the ambition of “writing for theatre.” Theatricality—if such a word exists—is probably what defined Bowie more than anything else and his chameleon changes of persona, his actor’s penchant for re-inventing himself, were more liberating for the post-hippy generation of the 1970s than Mao’s little red book or a sackful of Nepalese temple balls.

I don’t know if Bowie (self-rechristened after the Jim who invented the eponymous hunting knife which saw service in the Alamo) ever visited Trinidad. 

Other rock aristos like Mick Jagger have been glimpsed chipping the street fantastic or gracing the Members’ stand at the Queen’s Park Oval but if Ziggy Stardust had put in an appearance on a Carnival Tuesday, he might well have won an award for Best Individual Mas. In fact he could have played King of a band called the Tarantulas from Tompire. 

I can see it now, designed by Peter Minshall with Bowie singing on top a big truck. Maybe I can persuade my partner Yao to make a surrealistic retro tropico-gothic feature—The Return of Alladin Sane. 

Sic transit Gloria mundi…another one of those improbable heroes who defies and redefines norms has left us, but even in his passing he left a parting shot. 

His latest album Black Star is being hailed as a parting gift, and more specifically the video of the track Lazarus features him lying on a hospital bed: “Look at me I’m in heaven; I’ve got scars that can’t be seen…” The video for the title track begins with an image of a dead spaceman, prompting one grief-stricken critic to comment: “Even his death was a work of art.” 

Major Tom knew he was on his way; he’d been receiving treatment for lung cancer for the past 18 months and his 25th and final album Black Star was released on his January 8 birthday. 

Although he’d given up touring (because uncharacteristically for a rock n roller he got bored on the road) and kept himself out of the public eye, preferring the privacy of his Soho Village apartment in New York and the pleasures of family life (like dropping his daughter to school) the artist in him obviously wanted to make a final statement. 

He went down, or should that be up, singing. There are many of us who will join in his final chorus.


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