Planet Earth Is Blue And There’s Nothing I Can Do

Fans flocked to David Bowie's SoHo apartment on January11, after news of the singer's death the death before emerged, creating an impromptu shrine piled high with flowers, candles, photos, and heartfelt notes thanking the longtime music and cultural icon.  | JONATHAN ALPEYRIE

Fans flocked to David Bowie's SoHo apartment on January11, after news of the singer's death the death before emerged, creating an impromptu shrine piled high with flowers, candles, photos, and heartfelt notes thanking the longtime music and cultural icon. | JONATHAN ALPEYRIE

Still getting zilch interest in the mainstream press: From Miranda Blue of Right Wing Watch: “In yet another example of what the Religious Right’s recent focus on ‘religious liberty’ is really about, five Republican presidential candidates are scheduled to speak this weekend [January 16] at a ‘religious freedom’ event hosted by a conservative pastor who has repeatedly declared that AIDS is God’s punishment for gay people’s ‘immoral act’ and has called for a ‘class action lawsuit’ against homosexuality. Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, and Mike Huckabee are scheduled to join a ‘Free to Believe Broadcast’ on Saturday, hosted by the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins and Vision America’s Rick Scarborough, two of the most outspoken anti-gay activists in the country. Both, even while attempting to curtail the rights of LGBT people, have claimed that it is their rights that are being violated by the LGBT movement: Perkins has said that the supposed persecution of anti-gay Christians in America is inspiring ISIS, and Scarborough has declared that he is ready to burn to death in the fight against gay marriage.”

I wish him good luck and Godspeed.

Media Circus

At the risk of turning Media Circus into the “Peter Staley Says” column, I can’t resist citing Staley’s recent post on Poz.com, hilariously titled “Charlie Sheen Shits on 30 Years of AIDS Activism.” Staley’s slam came after the HIV-positive actor, who is also clinically cuckoo, “went off his meds without telling anyone and [went] to Mexico to seek a miracle cure from a scam artist even Dr. Oz hasn’t heard of,” — !!! — “a ‘Dr.’ Sam Chachoua (he’s unlicensed in the US), who is so convinced he’s cured Sheen that he supposedly injects himself with Sheen’s blood (according to Sheen, who probably thinks magicians actually saw women in half).”

Staley’s advice to Charlie: “Crawl back into your ‘babe cave,’ write a big check to amfAR, and call it a day.”

“We know Major Tom’s a junkie….” What do you mean, “we?”

Lots of people had lots to write about David Bowie after his shocking death on January 10, but Alex Frank’s lovely tribute on Pitchfork.com resonated most powerfully with me, if perversely so: “There are a million reasons to memorialize the passing of David Bowie, but none more so, at least for me, than because of his legacy as the patron saint of strange gay boys everywhere… His body was so thin and lithe that he bore the elegance of a female swan. He never even needed to actually be gay — to have sex with men — to be gay. He was one of us whether he ever really was one of us…. Through my sadness, I keep remembering that he does not have to be alive for some fresh new 16-year-old boy — or girl, or girl wanting to be a boy, or boy wanting to be a girl, or some person who in fact has no gender at all — to discover Bowie, and help whomever needs it to reimagine that not so long after that part of queer life that seems like hell, it will feel like heaven.”

The thing is, she or he has to be open to it. For me, Bowie’s persona, let alone his music, was fraught with my own scorching self-loathing. His early stardom coincided with my wretcheder-than-thine adolescence. He totally freaked me out. Bowie openly paraded everything I was desperately trying to bury. He wore makeup, for godsake. I liked Carole King.

A Bowie song on the radio literally woke me up one day: it happened to be playing when my clock radio clicked on announcing the start of yet another humdrum day of high school crucifixion. “Space Oddity.” I had no idea there were drugs involved. They might have helped. But at the time, the we in Bowie’s later “Ashes to Ashes” — “We know Major Tom’s a junkie” — didn’t include me. What broke through was “Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do.” There it was — my bleak, no-oxygen, outer-galactically helpless state of mind laid bare. The song terrified me. Deafened by the roar of self-loathing, I didn’t hear David Bowie at all. I was too fucking scared.

Not a confession — just a statement of fact: I now read news about American politics in a state of total dread. Maniacs are ascendant. I was fearful of Reagan and W. I am absolutely petrified of Trump and Cruz. It has become difficult to say anything meaningful. “The sky is falling” is beginning to make sense.

Follow @EdSikov on Twitter and Facebook.

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