Category Archives: LGBTQ et al

“Became the Special Man”: Ziggy at Forty

Catching up last night on my Internet reading after a long week, I was pleased to find out that this wonderful thing exists: a montage of David Bowie performing “Ziggy Stardust” over four decades, set to the original.

I would have been thirteen or fourteen, I think, when I had my first serious encounter with Bowie,1 and it was as he was in the Ziggy years: fey and glam and ambiguously queer, the messianic spaceman who’d happily fuck you and your girlfriend and leave you begging for another taste. Bowie himself had long moved on from that image – this was the mid-late ’80s – but that hardly mattered; it was his incarnation as Ziggy Stardust that I fell in love with, and that’s the mask of his I probably still adore the most, a quarter-century on.

I have a future post in mind where I mean to explore a little further the impact Bowie-as-Ziggy had on me, musically and otherwise. For now, though, it’s fascinating to see how this song has threaded through Bowie’s protean career, and how he’s kept it as part of his repertoire despite leaving behind nearly everything else about that persona. I’m not sure I could articulate what it is about “Ziggy Stardust” as a musical work that makes it so enduring – but it clearly is, and still resonates forty years later, when so much else of the decade it heralded has gone to glittery dust. Everyone who makes art should be so lucky as to create something as lasting.

(For more exploration of “Ziggy Stardust” as a song, see its entry on Pushing Ahead of the Dame, a smart and ambitious blog that’s in the process of dissecting Bowie’s entire ouvre one song at a time.)

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1 As a musician, that is. Labyrinth came out in the summer of my twelfth year, and made an impression that was nearly as significant, but of a different sort – though fey and glam and ambiguous were certainly in play there too, come to think of it.

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Back to Riverside: Some thoughts on Swordspoint

My book group‘s selection of the month, which we’ll be discussing later this week, is Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint – a book that was one of the best things to happen to me twenty years ago or so. This isn’t the only time I’ve picked it up since it first rearranged my head back in the ’90s, but it’s been a while.

Returning to an old favorite, especially one from your teenage years, is a dodgy prospect; you’re never quite sure if the Suck Fairy‘s been at your toys while you were away. In this case, I needn’t have worried. If anything, it’s a book I find more to love about now, if only because twenty-plus years of thinking about stories and language and fantasy have given me a better appreciation for all the things Kushner does right.

(Beyond the cut: prose, plotting, incluing, interstiality, subtext, switch-hitting heroes, and mild spoilers)