Trop de gens, pas assez d’amour…

Bonjour cosmonaute! Bowiemania is gripping the British Isles, and while it might be astonishing that this 66-year-old man has captured everyone’s imagination once again, it’s not entirely unexpected. With a dearth of music being made with anything resembling direction or exuding such effortless grace contemporarily, it’s perhaps understandable people are seduced one more time by the old master of reinvention. Having bought more Bowie albums with my own money than the Thin White Duke might have eaten hot dinners, you’d probably think I’d give my heterochromic left eye to see the new exhibition at the V&A. Not so, although should you have a spare ticket then I could be persuaded.

Surely the best place to have seen Bowie flouncing around in his Ziggy suits would have been live incarnate, and given that I wasn’t yet salient or solvent enough to see him at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1973, my Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars DVD will have to do. I did manage to catch some of those costumes trussed up on mannequins at the Rock Style exhibition at the Barbican in 2000, or at least I thought I had, though having just researched it on the internet it would appear those catsuits and fat suits were not actually there at all (I swear I’d seen the one with the bulgy legs). I’m not surprised, I was high at the time and remember plotting to make off with Tina Turner’s wig until my girlfriend at the time stopped me.  Anyway, having just discovered I’ve not seen stuff I believed I’d seen for over a decade, I’m still not that arsed, and the main reason is the sheer volume of people traipsing around at any given time between now and August when David Bowie Is buggers off again. (cont’d…)

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Last week we went along to the Salvador Dali exhibition at the Pompidou, and having queued for what seemed like weeks despite having paid for tickets, it was always going to be a let down for a number of reasons. Firstly I’m not the biggest Dali fan given the association I’m unable to break between melting clocks and Bob Marley smoking a bifta, two mandatory prints for anyone staying in university accommodation during the 90s (and it might still be the case). Having been short of something to do in St Petersburg, Florida a few years ago, I went along to the Dali Museum there and my ambivalence thawed a little when coming face to face with some of his masterpieces; I feel like I could have conceived paranoiac-critical method whilst bunking off double Judaism to pick magic mushrooms, though his pure natural ability is mesmerising up close. Given it was in Florida, the experience was made even better by the fact the fat Americans were eating rare steak in nearby restaurants and not inside trying to photograph Dali’s work, which was the case in Paris. Viewing art with too many bodies in the same room of whatever nationality is not a pleasurable experience, but it’s especially galling if they reckon Notre Dame “must be at least 200 years old!”

This next point is a fairly obvious one, but they don’t half like their art in Paris. There seem to be a lack of people pointing and saying “it’s just bricks” or “it’s just a bed” or whatever, and they’re more likely to go en masse to see a work of art instead of condemning it in their houses without having seen it with their own eyes because the paper they read tells them it’s bad. But because of all this interest, it means you’ve either got to get to popular exhibitions when nobody else is there or you’ve got to get into some serious outsider art. I love Bowie as much as I’m indifferent to Dali, but I know there’s a universe of esoteric delights I’d much rather visit than either of them if it means other people won’t be under my feet.

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5 Responses to Trop de gens, pas assez d’amour…

  1. loudprincess says:

    *sigh* Another Allen brother with wisecracks to make about Americans’ inability to wrap their minds around what is actually “old.”
    I didn’t get, really, until going through Canterbury Cathedral in ’95. Here, a building might be put on the National Register of Historic Places if It’s 150 years old. Before visiting England, I couldn’t fathom. How there could structures 1000 years old. But in our defense, not all Yanks are world travelers, and are routinely taught that something is “really old” if its 100+ years. The only things we have here to remotely compare to the timeline you guys operate on is the era of Native Americans, and to a school kid, you may as well be explaining the days of cave people. So…you know…cut us some slack, will ya?

    • jeres says:

      Sorry, cheap I know, although it still makes me laugh (and I’ve heard Americans with my own ears stand outside Noter Daaaame and say that). It’s interesting that Australians don’t do it despite their country being even younger- I guess they’ve got full history books thanks to colonial oppression !

      • loudprincess says:

        You’re hilarious. I know all about the dumb things we Americans do/say, trust me. Like the nursing students in our group who didn’t know who Florence Nightingale was and refused to try any English food while we were there. Or the ones who took flash pictures at every stop, despite the pictograms politely instructing us not to. By the time we left, I was positive that the whole UK thought Americans were all mildly retarded.
        I have to say it amuses me, though, that you guys get so indignant when we do make such gaffes, like you personally remember Richard III being a ruthless prick, or were there for Thomas Becket’s murder.
        P.S. – Most of us are aware that not all English people sound like Dick Van Duke in Mary Poppins, so there’s a step forward, I guess. 😉

  2. Gaelle says:

    The first time I heard Sound and Vision, I was 18 and it hit me like a slap in the face. I also happened to be sitting in your living room in Highgate. Aren’t you pleased you played your part in my Bowie education?
    I did see the exhibition. I can’t deny I was in awe.
    But it did make me resent people, without a doubt (particularly the ones who were walking around singing along…)


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