Bowie/John Lennon, from Dylan Jones’s “David Bowie: A Life”

From the very recently published “David Bowie: A Life” by Dylan Jones:

AVA CHERRY: I was there the day David brought John Lennon into the studio. He actually wrote a diary entry that day where he says, “January 30th, introduced Ava to a Beatle.” We were going in that day to record “Fame,” and before the session David was freaking out because he was so nervous. He really admired John Lennon, and that day David was like a little kid. And then John comes in the door and John had those granny glasses on, right? And David looks and me and says, “He really does wear those granny glasses!” He really liked the fact that Lennon had the whole Lennon look. What you imagine John to be is exactly how he was: charming, funny, and they both hit it off immediately. They became really, really good friends. It was only me, Carlos, John, and David in the studio—and I think Geoffrey [MacCormack] might have been there. Yoko came and brought us some sushi and then she left. She was very sweet. I liked her. She was not how I imagined her and how the Beatles said she was. John was sitting there at one point with his twelve-string getting ready to play “Across the Universe,” and he looks up and says, “Are we having a good time?” We were all so happy that John Lennon was so relaxed. David was just over the moon. He drew David a caricature of himself. And David put it in this solid gold frame. He really loved it. I didn’t think “Fame” would turn out the way it did. I thought because John Lennon was on it that he was going to get lots of critical acclaim, but it was just a James Brown groove at one point.

DAVID BOWIE: I spent quite a lot of time getting to know Lennon, and I do remember we went to a lot of bars together. We spent hours and hours discussing fame, and what you had to do to get it, to get there. If I’m honest it was his fame we were discussing, because he was so much more famous than anyone who had been before. I remember that Carlos and I were working on this riff, and I remember than it was John who started riffing on “Fame,” screaming at the top of his voice in the studio. He was screaming, I was writing the lyrics, and Carlos was crashing through the riff. It all came together so quickly and so brilliantly. It was an incredibly intoxicating time and I can’t quite believe that we didn’t try and write more things together, because just being around him was breathtaking. He had all this energy, which I suppose I didn’t expect when I first met him.

JOHN LENNON (BEATLE): [Rolling Stone said I was “playing second fiddle…” but] that’s garbage. What second fiddle? I’m not playing second fiddle to Ringo when I play rhythm guitar. It’s all right for me to play rhythm guitar in back of Ringo’s record, but if I play rhythm guitar in back of Elton’s record, or in back of David Bowie’s somehow I’m lowering myself….I think they are good artists. And they are friends of mine, and they asked me to go and play. It’s like in the old days. Like Brian Jones is on a track of the Beatles years ago. And he played saxophone. In those days you weren’t allowed to say, the record companies wouldn’t allow it. So it was never mentioned. Everybody used to play on each other’s sessions, but nobody ever said anything. Nowadays it’s always said. And Elton asked me to play on “Lucy.” He said, “I’m gonna do this song. I’d love it if you came and played.” He was too shy to ask me. He got a friend that we both have to ask me…and I said, “Sure I’ll come.” So I went to play and sang chorus or some garbage. Why is it not belittling for Mick Jagger to sing in back of Carly Simon? Why am I some kind of god that isn’t allowed to do anything?? It’s bullshit.

DAVID BOWIE: I guess he [John Lennon] defined for me, at any rate, how one could twist and turn the fabric of pop and imbue it with elements from other art forms, often producing something extremely beautiful, very powerful, and imbued with strangeness. Also, uninvited, John would wax on endlessly about any topic under the sun and was over-endowed with opinions. I immediately felt empathy with that. The seductive thing about John was his sense of humor. Surrealistically enough, we were first introduced in about 1974 by Elizabeth Taylor. Miss Taylor had been trying to get me to make a movie with her. It involved going to Russia and wearing something red, gold, and diaphanous. Not terribly encouraging, really. I can’t remember what it was called—it wasn’t On the Waterfront anyway, I know that. We were in L.A., and one night she had a party to which both John and I had been invited. I think we were polite with each other, in that kind of older-younger way. Although there were only a few years between us, in rock and roll that’s a generation, you know? Oh boy, is it ever.

So John was sort of [in Liverpool accent], “Oh, here comes another new one.” And I was sort of, “It’s John Lennon! I don’t know what to say. Don’t mention the Beatles, you’ll look really stupid.” And he said, “Hello, Dave.” And I said, “I’ve got everything you’ve made—except the Beatles.” A couple of nights later we found ourselves backstage at the Grammys where I had to present “the thing” to Aretha Franklin. Before the show I’d been telling John that I didn’t think America really got what I did, that I was misunderstood. Remember that I was in my twenties and out of my head. So the big moment came and I ripped open the envelope and announced, “The winner is Aretha Franklin.” Aretha steps forward, and with not so much as a glance in my direction, snatches the trophy out of my hands and says, “Thank you everybody. I’m so happy I could even kiss David Bowie.” Which she didn’t! And she promptly spun around and swanned off, stage right. So I slunk off, stage left. And John bounds over and gives me a theatrical kiss and a hug and says, “See, Dave. America loves ya.” We pretty much got on like a house on fire after that.

He once famously described glam rock as just rock and roll with lipstick on. He was wrong of course, but it was very funny. Towards the end of the ’70s, a group of us went off to Hong Kong on a holiday and John was in, sort of, house-husband mode and wanted to show Sean the world. And during one of our expeditions on the back streets a kid comes running up to him and says, “Are you John Lennon?” And he said, “No, but I wish I had his money.” Which I promptly stole for myself. It’s brilliant. It was such a wonderful thing to say. The kid said, “Oh, sorry. Of course you aren’t,” and ran off. I thought, “This is the most effective device I’ve heard.” I was back in New York a couple of months later in Soho, downtown, and a voice pipes up in my ear, “Are you David Bowie?” And I said, “No, but I wish I had his money.” “You lying bastard. You wish you had my money.” It was John Lennon.

JOHN LENNON: [How do I feel about people like Elton and Bowie doing covers of all those old Beatles songs?] I love it. I was thrilled he [Elton] was doing it. People are afraid of Beatle music. They are still afraid of my songs. Because they got that big image thing: You can’t do a Beatle number….You can’t touch a Lennon song; only Lennon can do it….It’s garbage! Anybody can do anything.

DAVID BOWIE: I was in Hong Kong on holiday with John Lennon in the late ’70s. We’d been drinking and we were trying to find a place to eat monkeys’ brains. We actually found a place, but fortunately it was closed. However, we saw the tables with the holes in them—they put the monkey through the hole, whip its skull off, and eat it like an egg. But we both lingered and a couple of guys recognized Lennon. They took him in a back room, and he came out and said, “God, I’m high as a kite.” They’d made him drink the blood of a snake. I guess it was a Triad thing, but it made him very stoned. Anyway, he went off and then came rushing down the road a few minutes later saying, “Open your mouth!” And he shoved this thing in my mouth—it was ghastly. I asked him what it was and he said, “Swallow it.” So I did. And he said, “That’s a thousand-day-old egg cooked in horse piss.” I said, “You bastard!” They cook it in horse urine, then cover it in layers of different kinds of manures, and bury it in the ground. I think they probably bury it only for a few days, but they call it a thousand-day-old egg. They dig it up again and then you eat it. It was horrible.

Most people think that Lennon was trapped in America during that time, but it’s not true. He used to carry a briefcase with just his wallet and a T-shirt in it, and he used to travel like that all the time. When he got to a new place and his T-shirt needed washing, he’d give it to the waiter or the bellboy. He’d sign it for them and then buy another one on the street. He’d get everything else from the hotel—a razor or whatever he needed. He would say, “That’s how you travel.” I suppose the period when he was going abroad a bit was when he had that strange thing going, when he wasn’t really with Yoko. But his son Sean was with him. He took a nanny with him as well, but John was with Sean an awful lot in Hong Kong—except we used to go out at night and get raving drunk. One time we ended up at a strip club where beers were served at a round table, with a naked girl sitting in the middle of it and spinning around slowly. John was getting quite verbose because he had really put away quite a few, and the owner of the club asked us to leave. So we were thrown out by these, presumably, lesser Triad members.

We’re on the sidewalk, and John is frothing at the mouth and shouting, “Let us back in! We’ve paid our money, we want to come in and finish our drinks!” And they said, “No, you fuck off.” And he said, “Do you know who I am? I’m a fucking Beatle!” I said, “I don’t believe that. Say it again.” He said, “I’m a fucking Beatle. I’m a fucking Beatle!” and we started laughing. We were just on the floor, it was so funny. And then we went to a street market and they were selling Beatle jackets, and I got him to put one on. I took a little Polaroid. It’s so lovely. Just John and his Beatle jacket. “I’m a fucking Beatle!”

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Movies I've watched recently:

  • Death Note (2017) - IMDb 2/10

    2017-08-28 08:20
    * *

    This remake of a near-perfect manga series, which has in turn spawned films, is now here and presented by Netflix. It starts out like a teen-angst emo trip, paired with death. Ryuk, a much-beloved character in the manga, is a Death God, who drops a notebook onto Earth. The book allows its owner to write the name of somebody and the person subsequently dies. However, there are loads of rules and caveats surrounding its use. This version is quite like "Hunger Games" was a version of "Battle Royale"; I can recall somebody saying that "Hunger Games" was "Battle Royale with cheese", which is an apt description for this version of "Death Note" as well. While the manga and prior films both contained elements that made the Sherlock Holmes short stories and novels successful through thinking and wondrous twists and turns, this film does not contain anything in the least good, apart from how the film makers opted to not display the character Ryuk much, other than in shadows. Lakeith Stanfield's acting is the only saving grace in this film, albeit short and boxed within its severe constraints (as it should be, I think). All in all: expect a high-school special without intelligence, and you will be alright.

  • Manchester by the Sea (2016) - IMDb 3/10

    2017-04-16 15:28
    * * *

    Just because the film naturally carries a containment of sorrow and gloom, it does not explain its complete dreariness. It's got bits of chronological experimentation and nice views of the sea, but otherwise, this is forgettable. See Ang Lee's "The Ice Storm" instead.

  • Fifty Shades Darker (2017) - IMDb 1/10

    2017-04-15 18:28

    I actually thought this film would not be as bad as the first one, but obviously, I was wrong. This is overwrought in no sense of the word, and if it were human, it would be incarcerated indefinitely. This film actually violates basic human rights in ways the first one didn't, so I guess that's what this new version brings to viewers. In no way is this erotic, interesting, or entertaining. The people involved in this should look themselves in the mirror and not make a third film, which _will_ be made.

  • T2 Trainspotting (2017) - IMDb 6/10

    2017-02-22 22:58
    * * * * * *

    This is more a film, I think, which is about aging and repeating your past than anything else. Sure, the characters are older, but I cringe a lot as Boyle has chosen to have them repeat some of their "fave lines" from the first film, 21 years later, for no apparent reason. The slow parts move best, for example, where Renton visits his father, despite that one being sappy. The "new girl", basically a Renton, doesn't bring much to the table. However, Robbie Carlyle steals the show; where Ewen Bremner's "Spud" previously did, by being a comedic maestro with his movements and druggy cadence, he is now converted into a caricature of himself - and yes, I am aware that druggies who have been on dope for more than two decades tend to turn into caricatures in more ways than one - while Begbie offers more. A lot more. Carlyle's acting is so strong that even Begbie's most obvious characteristics - e.g. as displayed where his son stands up against him by wanting to go to college to learn hotel management instead of joining his dad in a life of crime - turn interesting. He's a tour de force. Still, while this film is interesting and entertaining, it is too much of a parody of itself to become a truly interesting introspective. And the plot turn at the end was really a bit too tell-tale and boring to me.

  • Medicinen (2014) - IMDb 1/10

    2016-12-12 19:00

    A car crash where your newborn child dies would be a less hurtful experience than watching this film. I'm kidding, but there is some truth lodged in that statement. This film is very "inspired" by "The Devil Wears Prada". By this I mean Nutley and his writer cohorts have concocted a story about an abhorrent person - played by Bergström, despite many doubts on my site as to what "playing" could be, according to herself - who starts ingesting a medicine that seems to change her life. Naturally, this medicine is a sugar pill. The medicine is also the only thing which is sweet about this film. The script is so poorly written that any, and I repeat, _any_ breathing thing - or dead - could easily excrete something which would improve and best this depressing piece of scatological experience, which all should avoid at all costs. Actually, I could go on forever about how bad everything from the direction to casting, acting, the soundtrack and segues are, but I will not. I refuse to. This is on par with Nutley-Bergström's "Angel", which also marked a new milestone in the string of eulogies to Swedish cinema that seems to be their goal. I'm angry to know the couple seem to use films as an excuse to a) go abroad and senselessly film scenes that have none or very little function for a film and b) have Bergström cry and copulate. Don't see this, even for "fun", which was why I saw it. I will never, ever see this film again, and I hope Bergström-Nutley never, ever make another film, write one nor act in one for the sake of humanity.


Bowie: coming out, from Dylan Jones’s “David Bowie: A Life”

From the very recently published “David Bowie: A Life” by Dylan Jones:

On January 22, 1972, on the cusp of fame, Bowie told Melody Maker’s Michael Watts he was “gay, and always have been.”

MICHAEL WATTS (JOURNALIST): I think he did it deliberately. He definitely felt it would be good copy. He was certainly aware of the impact it would make. I think he’d had a relationship with a man at some point in his life. I think it was something [his manager Tony Defries] encouraged. He understood the news value of something like that. I was aware of a changed mood towards gay people, not just in rock, but in culture as a whole. Bowie was very alluring. You couldn’t help but feel he had a hell of a lot of magnetism. It was a mixture of film-star and rock-star appeal—he was so much better-looking than other rock stars. We met in his publisher’s office, in Regent Street. He was dolled-up as Ziggy—skintight pantsuit; big hair; huge, red plastic boots—dazzling. Only recently had he stopped wearing a dress—“a man’s dress,” he elaborated. He was slightly flirtatious, and made me uncomfortable with myself. “Camp as a row of tents,” I wrote. Soon he was coming out to me. “I’m gay,” he said, “and always have been, even when I was David Jones.”

JOHN LYDON (SINGER): Around Ziggy Stardust, Dave Bowie was an absolute full-on “I’m a homosexual.” That was his image. And it was as challenging to the world as you could ever hope to be at this point, and that was a damn brave statement to make. And yobs, hooligans, basically working-class guys really liked him for the bravery, for the front of it. It was taking on the world, going, That’s what I am and fuck you! A very, very good thing.

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My saved links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

My saved links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

America today

David Simon is right.

The image is not doctored in any way, if you are thinking of that.

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