It’s been a month and a half since I posted my statement doubling down on Draymond and the Warriors. How’s that working out?
In terms the world will understand — that is, wins and losses — not so great. In that time the W’s are 10–10, not disastrous but hardly what you’d call encouraging. They currently occupy 12th place in the West, a game and a half out of the play-in tournament, and the conventional wisdom has written them off.
Not without reason. Above and beyond the obvious problems — a chronic inability to make baskets or to prevent opponents from doing the same — there has been something ineffably Wrong with the Dubs all season. Then a couple weeks ago an assistant coach suddenly dropped dead of a heart attack in the middle of a team dinner.
This is of course horrible but I couldn’t help seeing it as a scene in some future 30 for 30: This was where things turned around, the squad pulled together to win one for Deki (Dejan Milojević, 1977–2024, RIP), whose spectral presence on the court could be glimpsed by those with a certain kind of eyes.
Since then the Warriors have won two games and lost two, which doesn’t quite fit the narrative. But the losses have both been by one point, including a gutting double-overtime heartbreaker against the Lakers. So there is reason for optimism. Wait: There’s always reason for optimism; it’s a mindset. There’s reason for a judiciously measured spoonful of hope, I guess is what I mean. (more…)
When the Game Was War, Rich Cohen
Great Jones Street, Don DeLillo
Welcome to the Monkey House, Kurt Vonnegut
The Crow Road, Iain Banks
Ashes to Ashes, Chris O’Leary
Ringo: With a Little Help, Michael Seth Starr
I finally finished Ashes to Ashes yesterday; I’d been saving the last few pages for a rainy day, and it was rainy as fuck. I did not go out, like seemingly half the town, to try and catch a glimpse of where Paul Thomas Anderson is filming his new opus in Northtown Arcata, opting instead to maintain my dryness and dignity.
I had forgotten that the first time we heard “Blackstar” was in the trailer for a long-forgotten TV show, The Last Panthers. This is not a clip from the song we know; it’s a fragment of an alternate version created specifically for the purpose:
O’Leary says that “Visconti and Bowie took a verse from the third section of ‘Blackstar’ and added different guitar tracks and effects than on the album.” He also says that about a minute was edited out of the album version so that it could be sold as an individual track on iTunes. (more…)
“Something happened on the day he died.”
“Blackstar” is huge: longer than “Cygnet Committee,” longer than the “Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing” suite from Diamond Dogs, longer even than “Station to Station” if you edit out the fades at beginning and end. It contains multitudes. It’s elegiac, ominous, angry, funky, spooky, funny, then all of those things again in a different order.
There is a lot to say about it — O’Leary devotes the last 15 pages of Ashes to Ashes to it. But today my time is limited, as yours probably is too. So if all you have is ten minutes, spend them watching this.
If perchance you want something to read: After David died on this day back in 2016, I (eventually) wrote a hopeful thing called “Let the Thousand Bowies Bloom.” I liked it then and I like it now. This is a day to think about death… but life goes on.
There will now be a period of silence from this quarter. After posting something most days for several months, I find that I am tired of my own voice. Perhaps I am not alone in this. 2024 promises to be a weird and interesting year, and there will be things to discuss; but for now, adieu.
As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.
—Henry David Thoreau
Here I am killing time between the 8th and 10th, the two significant dates on the Bowie calendar. As luck would have it today’s song is “Killing a Little Time,” another Lazarus number that David released his version of on the No Plan EP.
It’s a minor song, I suppose. Also a noisy one, sort of jazz-metal, apparently based in part on a song by Maria Schneider (David’s collaborator on “Sue”): (more…)
David Robert Jones a.k.a. Bowie would have turned 77 today. Still not all that old, really.
Of course you have to wonder what he would have done with those extra years. especially given the creative momentum he had when death so rudely interrupted. Apparently even before the release of Blackstar he was on the phone to Tony Visconti plotting his next album.
As it happens, next up in the chronology is “I Can’t Give Everything Away,” which as the last song on the last album holds a special place in the canon. I’ve always taken that title to mean “I’m not telling you how I did it. That would ruin it for you.”
But he does tell us this:
Saying no but meaning yes
This is all I ever meant
That’s the message that I sent
David was not a sentimentalist. His first big hit was about an astronaut committing suicide. And by and large his oeuvre was pretty dark — that’s the no.
But there is affirmation in the simple act of creation. That’s the yes.
After a half-century’s work, he left behind a mystery that we will never get to the bottom of. Still there are surprises — for instance, this version of “I Can’t Give Everything Away” — it’s different from the album version, is it not?
As we all know, David shares a birthday with Elvis Aron Presley, born 1935. The King would be only 89! Also not all that old, all things considered.
This week news broke that a computer-generated Elvis hologram would be doing concerts soon. It seems inevitable that this will happen to David Bowie too. So far his estate has been pretty careful about protecting his legacy — for instance denying the use of his music to the disastrous Stardust movie — but sooner or later it seems likely to come to pass.
If done right, it could be entertaining. I’m not saying that I’ll go, but I’m not saying I won’t. I can’t give everything away.