One cold night in 1974, my mother and I made a point of watching the Dick Cavett show. I watched because I was a borderline obsessive fan of the guest, David Bowie. Mom watched because she was up late and wanted to try to understand the guy behind the music that continually blasted from my stereo in the basement of our house.
Mom had learned to dislike the repetitious blues riff that characterized “Jean Genie,” arguably the signature song of Bowie’s Aladdin Sane album. But more than anything, she was amused that her mostly-normal teenage boy was drawn to this androgynous British weirdo. So we settled in and watched. It was the first extended interview I’d ever seen Bowie do.
To my surprise, Bowie had temporarily ditched rock n roll and had morphed into a coke-addled Philly soul singer, pushing a record he was about to release called Young Americans. His fidgety, semi-responsive answers to Cavett’s questions were mostly puzzling and not the genius I’d expected. He was a bit horrifying. Mom found him utterly laughable.
And I thought: When I’m in my fifties, I’m gonna march in a parade dressed as that guy.
Fast forward to October 19, 2013. If you’re among the thousands of folks watching Atlanta’s most amusing annual parade, you’ll see this reporter in the Little 5 Points Halloween parade. I’ll be dressed as David Bowie. To the extent that the readership of this blog intersects with those attending the L5P Halloween festival, this is your heads up to come heckle me.
The hope is that you won’t be able to ID me, because I’ll be among an entire contingent of Bowies marching in the Stomp and Stammer float. If you don’t know, Stomp and Stammer is the resilient local music magazine published and distributed monthly by Jeff Clark. While the AJC and Creative Loafing have had issues that threatened their survival, S&S has kept delivering its modest, free monthly with no bankruptcy (to my knowledge) or layoffs (it’s Clark and some freelancers, best I can tell) or any moaning about how the internet has undermined print. Despite the fact that I’ve never heard of most of the acts described in S&S, I read it every month just because it’s so damned amusing — and relentlessly upbeat and local.
Even when he’s clobbering an artist, Clark finds a bright side:
- Wesley Cook must rank among the most unappetizing wussboy singer-songwriters I’ve heard in a while, like some diabolical combination of every college town frat bar scruffy-but-cute-dude-with-acoustic-guitar cliché on the planet. Heavy is the guy’s new six-song CD, and if you have a nice 19-year-old niece that’s outgrown the boy bands but finds actual rock ‘n’ roll too icky and unpleasant, here’s her fall semester orientation kit. He’s soooo deep and dreamy…but sensitive and approachable, too!
Another reason to love Stomp and Stammer: For the past six years or so, Clark has assembled a float of his friends and other hangers-on to participate in the parade, more-or-less identically dressed. First, it was the Ramones. One year, it was Devo. Another year, it was Angus Young, the shorts-and-tie wearing guitarist for AC/DC.
This year, Clark put out a call for a team of Bowies.
Bowie had many personae. It would make sense, of course, for me to dress as the elderly 66-year old Bowie, but that wouldn’t be any fun. The Labyrinth Bowie, I suspect will be a popular choice. I’ll be a classic red-mullet glam Bowie — doughy and jowly, of course, which I’m carefully building into the costume for comic effect.
Nearly forty years since that Dick Cavett interview, and I still listen to Bowie. (I’m married to a woman who maintains that he actually produced relevant music since his Scary Monsters record in 1980. She too will march Saturday.) Mom still makes fun of Bowie — and who can blame her? It’s easy to do.
See you Saturday. Unless it’s raining, then forget it. I’m too old for that shit.