Oh, I found this is my ‘blog drafts’. Never published it, so here it is.
Don’t know if an extended reflection posted on Facebook means anything, but it’s my #1 broadcast network where I can shove my opinions in people’s faces. At any rate, outside of posting on my blog, which sees an entry once in a purple moon, FB is the medium of choice.
OK, the niceties are out of the way. Seems to be a good time to put Prince’s death in perspective. since I’ve personally reached the acceptance stage of grief.
My generation grew up in the shadow of the 60s, a time in the US of great social upheaval, uncertainty, and horrible political assassinations from the Kennedys to King and Malcolm X. I ended up in the early 80s at UCLA, Los Angeles, which at the time was arguably the most important culturally alive place in the country, and at the dawn of the Reagan Era (that’s as political this posting will get – PROMISE!). I’m especially talking about the Punk Rock / New Wave / Ska scene, my circle of friends, and the stuff we did for fun. I feel ridiculously lucky to have been there at that time. I found and lost love. I found a solid set of friends. I found some cultural and artistic anchors in music connected in many ways to Punk.
At this moment, I actually have the longest head of hair (excepting the little bald spot on top, and the grey of course) I’ve ever had, but the second longest head of hair ended up in Jonathan Hodges’ 1970s Cadillac, the two of us driving down Santa Monica boulevard in that hideously large vomit green boat, with an 8 track of Prince’s first album blasting loudly “I wanna be your lover”. We were more than likely headed to downtown for some night drinks or eclectic food. Downtown LA was starting to develop an alternative night life scene, so naturally we were drawn to it. A lot of you remember the days at 850 Milwood (The apex of “The Toxins” era), or more especially 417 Pacific (and the days of the immortal “Sports/Leisure Den” where we all watched the Bears crush the Patriots in SuperBowl XX). That, and a host of other events in that house shaped many our lives, and again cemented some lifelong friendships. The music that drove us was led by Prince, Bowie, Roxy Music, Talking Heads, X, Dead Kennedys, the Minutemen (still in the denial stage for d boon btw)…and a ton of other bands (of course I’m listing my favs…sorry folks). In short, we came of age. We passed into this nuthouse called adulthood with great expectations, anticipation, and the thrill of independence and setting our paths. The art we took with us was seeded deep into our collective souls. What connected this art was knowing that our awkwardness was actually perfectly normal…that we weren’t really different or apart from the herd we thought we wanted to be in. I don’t know if this is too cliche or not, but these musicians were reassuring in that the points-of-view we were developing about the world…well, they saw it too. So, our musicians had affirmed what we were seeing, and could articulate it in ways unexpected and heretofore unimaginable. Damn it was exciting to experience. We could actually be OURSELVES!
So, on we trotted with life, assured that we were never going to die, and we’d take all this wisdom with us into forever. I read somewhere in the past week that the reason so many famous people are dying this year is because there are simply many more famous people in the world now, especially with how much more we are connected. So there’s that. But Bowie and Prince? Within four months of each other? While I can’t empathise with people who lose family members very close to each other (though my dad and his only brother died within three months of each other), the shock we’ve been through (or should I speak for myself) is just another reminder of fixing our values away from the material, and more toward our ridiculously humble relationship with each other, those who we know and love, and the universe itself, and this teeny tiny blue ball that 7 billion of us and counting call our home. I guess the best metaphor is that two walls protecting us from our own mortality have been breached this year, and we realize that, well, ok, we ARE mortal after all, so there’s that. It’s a thing. That thing is here and now, and is happening not just to the artists we love, but our parents, sometimes our siblings, sometimes our old school mates. We hate the fuck out of cancer, rightfully so.
But with each passing – celebrity or closer, life becomes surprisingly sweeter and more precious. We’ve hit the age where we understand it’s about doing what we love despite the circumstances, and realizing the power of the positive. Being thankful, being grateful, dancing when there’s no music, and looking at the world each day with intense awe, because, you know, it’s fucking awesome! “Because the world is round, it turns me on.” is still a good 1960s sentiment that has transcended generations. Facebook is addictive because, for our generation at least, it’s a huge daily reunion and celebration of who we are, and where we’ve decided to be on this roundly round Earth. We develop an even deeper appreciation of the art that informed us, and formed us, and we come to cherish all the moments we pass through.
It’s been a year of grief so far, music-wise, but also a year for us to recall what got us through those tough young high school and college times and made us who we are today. So, screw grief. Bowie and Prince and George Martin and Maurice White…and and and and…haven’t stopped us from being who we are. They’ll continue to assure us that we are damn near perfect who we are right now right up until it’s our turn to move on and rejoin the universe.
“And you may ask yourself Am I right?...Am I wrong? And you may tell yourself MY GOD!...WHAT HAVE I DONE?” - David Byrne (note: David’s not dead yet)
“U’re so good Baby there ain't nobody better (Ain't nobody better) So u should Never, ever go by the letter (Never ever) U're so cool (Cool) Everything u do is success Make the rules (Rules) Then break them all cuz u are the best” - Prince (Rest in Peace / Purple / Power / Partylikeits1999)