Monday, January 11, 2016

Au Revoir, David Bowie - GIFs

David Bowie went out a champion. He buckled down and did what he always did: made some good music from his heart. Someone on one of my social-media timelines had recently posted this video of his first television appearance, performing Space Oddity, looking good in a flowery shirt and very flared trousers.

And linking to that was his Lazarus video, which I'll link to rather than embed here since it's too sad to watch today. Anyway, yesterday I thought I should watch some of the new Bowie videos. They were deemed "creepy" by the media when they first came out, so I had avoided them for a few weeks, not being in the mood for creepy Bowie. But I buckled down and gave them a listen, walking around my small office/art space, puttering, organizing things, blowing dust around, thinking: these songs are about death, particularly Bowie's death. And they're very disturbing, facing a destruction none of us personally want to contemplate.

I'm going to be 52 this year. I'm on the other side of the hill, so to speak. Death's closer to me, rather than farther, at least in theory. Bowie's dealing with all that, I thought—like he's always dealt with everything he's going through—composing it in a pop milieu. Good for him! That's brave, I thought.

And now it's today and he's gone.

But he was always brave. He came out as bisexual early in his career (it took him a little longer to gain success compared to many of his young compatriots, giving him time to take on and succeed in the nearly impossible long form of pop culture), he dressed in drag, kind of ironically but with bold, fierce irony, pointing the finger at us, pointing the finger at homophobic society.

And letting his inner alienated spacenaut out, which in turn let his young fans know it's possible to turn alienation into an art form. It helps to be supremely musically talented and photogenic, but Bowie was so busy messing with his good looks in theatrical and startling ways, that his gifts seemed beside his point. "I'm a weirdo and I'm not ashamed," was his credo. It was dark but very refreshing in the conformist U.S. I don't know how Great Britain took it all in initially—that's always been a land of creative eccentrics. But here in the U.S.A.,  my brother-in-law's otherwise "cool" middle-school teacher editorialized a news story about Bowie with, "He's a FAG!" Bowie was very liberating from that way of thinking, for a lot of us.

He also called out MTV on their racist playlist in 1983. You could say, well, any white celebrity could have done that—big deal. But the fact was, he was the only white celebrity I can recall who did. And did it well. He marched forward in a thoughtful, artistic way, always. And for such a visually minded person he was supremely musical—a modern-day genius on several levels.

A beautiful body of work. That's all we can hope to leave behind.

Not a Bowie original, but like all great singers, he made it his own. Wild is the Wind (1976).

GIFs—they've been sitting in a folder on my computer for a long time. Here you go.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Time May Change Me illustration by Helen Green.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Women dancing seductively in 60s' films while on LSD

There's nothing like a good ol' fashioned 60s-era druggie exploitation flick. They just don't mix up batches of that special LSD that made scantily clad women dance sensuously anymore. You know the kind of LSD I'm talking about—the kind that made the ladies make love to the camera and take off their clothes. I guess the men in these films took the other LSD—the manly variety, because they seemed to keep their clothes on and there was no seductive dancing whatsoever. Just an occasional violent freak out.

In celebration of the new year, let's revisit some classic sensual LSD-laced dance scenes from yesteryear. None were destined to make MGM's "That's Entertainment!" reel, but it's a lost NSFW art-form that could use a little appreciation.

Bibi (Pamela Rodgers) from The Big Cube (1969) is always looking for attention. I can't help but adore her rascally antics. If I was a drag queen, I'd model myself after Bibi—great 60s-wear, big hair, massively exaggerated line delivery, always. Here, she's got a little male competition but nips it in the bud because it's all about her. He must have taken some of that lady acid.

I've never seen Riot on Sunset Strip (1967) in its entirety but perhaps that's unnecessary—this LSD-fueled dance by Andy (Mimsy Farmer) encapsulates its exploitative schlock-factor for nearly eight minutes so well. In a piece-of-crap film like this, it's surprising how much Farmer throws herself into the moment here, during two song cycles before being ravished off-screen by a drug-dealing goon. The second half of her choreography is especially crazed—nearly transcendent. A modern-dance company worth its salt could certainly do justice to her interpretation. Or a drag-queen revue. I would pay to see either.

In an otherwise deadly dull look at LSD culture, here's Peter Fonda in The Trip (1967), about to take a headlong voyage to the bottom of a basement club full of dancing freaks, including a naked body-painted lady doing her hippie groove thang.

I'd be remiss not to include the "The LSD Story" from season 1 of Dragnet. Sure, it's television, but producers managed to sneak in a few moments of sensual-LSD dance during the brief-but-memorable party scene "up in the hills somewhere" in Los Angeles. Sergeant Joe Friday and his partner Bill are here to break up all the fun, as usual (starting around the 4-minute mark), which includes not only the family-friendly sexy dancing, but actual climbing-the-wall dancing. The party boys get more active roles, playing (and rewinding) tunes, eating paint and being mouthy. The girls merely look perplexed and pouty, yelling, "Merry Christmas!" during the drug bust like a bunch of acid-tripping dum-dums. It's an LSD-party glass ceiling is what it is.

Now it's your turn! Make up your own sensual LSD dance. Here's the Strawberry Alarm Clock in Psych-Out (1968) to get you started (young Jack Nicholson sitting in on poseur guitar). Remember to seduce the imaginary camera (male gaze). Clothing removal is optional but in keeping with the hippie ethos. Use all-organic ingredients for your body paint—skin is our largest organ, after all.