"I can do it for David Bowie's next album. No rush." I thought. Turns out, I was wrong. David Bowie passed away at 69, as we learned today... After showing this piece to a few friends today, I decided to put it up as my tribute to the life of this great man. I 'm leaving it as it is, even the unintentional anachronisms. David Bowie meant a lot to us here at 10kd, if you couldn't tell from Graelyn holding a private dance party to his song "Miracle Goodnight" or teaching "God Bless the Girl" to Lizette. We hope this means something to you today.
"Oh I'll be free, just like that bluebird, oh I'll be free, ain't that just like me?" -Bowie
-Love, Jim and the 10kd Crew.
You can hear the song this story references here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kszLwBaC4Sw
And a Star Spun Dark
Out of a carboard sleeve, and a thin paper one inside that, Graelyn pulled out a black disk.
“What is that?” Arch asked.
“It’s a Vinyl record.” Graelyn replied, “Specifically David Bowie’s album Blackstar.”
“Do you like it?”
“Well, his next one was better.”
The prison didn’t let the prisoners have digital music devices, as more than one person had managed to use the components to cause havoc or attempt a breakout, notably one hacker who’d set all the intercoms to play the famous ballad “Never Gunna Give You Up” for ten hours. Instead, they had a library of Vinyl records, complete with a turntable that was as analog as they could make it. Graelyn flipped the disk around in her fingers, and set it on the spindle.
“Did you ever listen to Bowie, Arch?” He shook his head.
“Not till I met you.” She picked up the needle, and put it down on the groove.
“Do you think they named dancing along to music ‘groove’ first, or the notch in a record?”
“What’s a record groove?”
“It’s the thingy that the needle moves across to create the sound on the record.” She held the record up to him. “Take a scan of it, I’m sure your brain can figure it out.” His eye flitted over it, measuring the depth of each groove. His processors went into motion, and his speaker started playing the first notes of the song.
“Shh! I’m about to play it.”
The record started.
“Wait, what is a Blackstar?” Arch cut in, after the first track ran for 10 minutes. Graelyn stopped the record.
“Well, what do you think it is?”
“I mean, that’s like a classroom teacher question.”
“I’m great with kids.”
“That is literally the opposite of what you have told me literally every other time I have brought that up.” She rolled her eyes, and leaned on the wall next to the record player.
“Fine, I’m a bad teacher. But my annoying question still stands.” She crossed her arms and raised her eyebrows.
“Well, Bowie certainly lists off a lot of things he is not, while still being a Blackstar.”
“See, context clues!”
“Fine.” She picked up the album cover, looking into the star on its front.
“David Bowie was a huge star, I mean, they even founded a religion about him on the Rim and on Mars, if you can believe that. “ Arch tapped his head.
“I can believe a lot. People are weird. Especially you skin-showing folk.”
“That’s still most people Arch.” He shrugged.
“Anyways, he did it by being different. He broke the norms, he was bisexual when being that meant it lowered his opportunities.”
“Didn’t they pass laws against that in this alternate reality?”
“Well yeah, but they also had a communist revolution here, so…”
“Ah, well, continue then.” Graelyn held up the star to Arch.
“He wasn’t like other stars. He shone in a way he wasn’t supposed to, but he still shone, and he gave people hope who were hidden. A star that shone into the murkiest depths, of hidden identities, of ways of just being alive deemed horrors by the bigoted. And he did it through rock and roll. That’s pretty nifty.”
“You just used the word nifty to describe a guy you said they have a religion based on him on Mars.”
“I apologize for nothing.”
The cell, despite the best intentions of a benevolent alternate reality revolutionary communist government, was really cold. Graelyn curled her toes up, and then her knees up to her chest, pulling her blanket around her tight. Still, she shivered. That was when she heard the noise. She bolted up, reaching in the dark for something to threaten the breathing coming from inside her cell that wasn’t her own. All she had was a hard rubber spoon, so she used that, while fishing for her glasses with the other hand. As her eyes actually gained the ability to focus, she made out the figure in the darkness. He wore a black frock coat, and his white sleeves popped out from the edges. The hands attached to them moved rhythmically on the walls, as though searching for a hole in them. His hair was sticking up with gel. He looked old. His eyes were covered with a rag, buttons sewn over the eyes.
“How did you get in here?” She said loudly.
“Baby girl, you’re dreaming.” He said, stroking the wall.
“Who are you?” She got up, the blanket wrapped around her like a cloak.
“The name is the greatest pop star in the history of the universe.” Graelyn lowered her spoon.
“Wait, David Bowie? You’re like… Well, you died several centuries ago. I wasn’t expecting to see you here.” He turned around, his hands clenching the wall.”
“Like I said, its all a dream. Just like the movie makers when they run out of plot threads.”
Graelyn examined him closely, “Wait! You’re Blackstar era Bowie! With the button eyes, and the….” She mimicked his weird movements, “you know the thing you do with the stuff. I mean, I liked your next album better, but still.”
“You’re very articulate.”
“I’m a scientist not a songwriter.” Bowie nodded, and flashed his teeth. “So, what gives me the honor of a dream visit from a rock god turned weird Martian/Rimward pseudo diety?”
“Just a reminder for you babe, that you’re not what they make of you, you’re what you are.”
“Does that mean something?”
“You’re a Blackstar.” She sat back down on the bed, pondering with the spoon pressed to her chin.
“They want to execute me here, you know, for being myself.
“Their loss.” He threw up his hands as if in hallelujah, “Minding the minds, when they couldn’t mind at all, taking control when you were always who you are.”
“I’m a Blackstar.”
“You’re a Blackstar.”
“But what does that mean? I could die here, just explain it.” Bowie sat down next to her, crossing his legs and looking into her eyes with his buttons.
“I died to you know. I was no god, just flesh and blood.”
“Yeah, but you were a flesh and blood marvel!”
“That’s the joke, moonbeam, you’re just a flesh and blood marvel to.”
Graelyn was delivered her clothes for the trial. She’d picked them out before hand from a giant selection Manuel had given her. She had to have a guard there when she got changed, so Shona, from Songbird’s squad, stood in the room with her, awkwardly looking at the room’s upper Northwest corner as she got out of her clothes. Hesitating, Graelyn walked over to the record player, and put the needle back on, blowing a bit of dust off it.
“Music?” Shona asked oddly.
“It helps me relax. Helps give me a reminder.”
“What kind of reminder?” Graelyn smiled.
“That I’m a Blackstar. I’m not a gangster.” Shona gave her a weird look, and then looked back up at the corner embarrassed.
“Still not sure I get the whole Bowie thing.”
“Its like turning on an old friend.”
“An old friend? You never met him and he’s been dead for centuries.”
“He’s keeping us company long after he turned to dust, what more could you ask of a friend?”
"Something happened on the day he died
the spirit rose a meter, then stepped aside.
Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried:
'I'm a Blackstar! I'm a Blackstar!" -David Bowie, Blackstar