DEP David Bowie

Legendary musician, actor, fashion icon, and overall beautiful man David Bowie died yesterday at the age of 69.

I knew Bowie about as much as I know the guy begging for change around the corner from my apartment, which isn’t to say that his death shouldn’t be covered as much as it has been over the past few hours. For the past forty years, Bowie’s words and music touched millions of lives; just not mine. I recognize him as a a good song and dance man and an androgynous vanguard. Other than that, he’s no more real to me than any other stranger in the obituaries.

When Lou Reed died in the fall of 2013, I discussed with some friends the nature of celebrity deaths. To us, Lou Reed was another good song and dance man, maybe the coolest one ever, and nothing more. And when we received the news of his passing, a friend of mine commented that she was no more shaken up over Lou Reed’s death than she was over the death of Remus Lupin, a character from the Harry Potter universe. I initially found this disrespectful, what with Reed and his heartbeat and family and place as a sentient being in our physical world, and Lupin as the fictional manifestation of a few pen strokes on J.K. Rowling’s napkin. But she was right. We mourn celebrity deaths like we mourn any beloved dying character on The Wire or Game of Thrones : with ample grief and little personal connection.

With that said, my family did have a personal connection with David Bowie, albeit a fleeting one. My father tells me that Bowie once approached my grandfather at John F. Kennedy International Airport some time in the mid-to-late 70s asking for a light. My grandfather lit his cigarette, Bowie thanked him, and they split. My father, witnessing this from afar, ran up to my grandfather after Bowie left and asked him if he knew who that was.

“No,” my grandfather told him.

“That’s David Bowie!” my dad said.

“I don’t give a fuck!” my grandfather reportedly said.

I wasn’t there, and neither my grandfather nor Bowie is alive to confirm this story. For all I know, it’s as real to me as Ziggy Stardust, but sometimes that’s enough to keep the story alive. May David Bowie, the sexiest man on the planet until his final day, rest in peace amongst the stars and the weird people who passed before him.

 

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1 Comment

  1. Yes, my Father did meet David Bowie and his response was as you noted in the article. It happened in August or September of 1980 at LAX just before both were to board a flight to New york City. My Father was returning from having driven me across the country to attend USC and Bowie had just finished an appearance on The Tonight Show. Bowie actually asked my Father for a cigarette and my he lighted it for him.


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