I searched for my old blog on the Wayback Machine … and low and behold this was the first post that seemed to be saved. Fitting. Timely. Inspirational. I wrote this post the day after David Bowie died. I needed to read it again … and again … and again. I needed to remember. I needed a mirror.
I heard the news first thing yesterday morning. Ed told me as he desperately tried to hold back the tears. He didn’t want me to find out reading my Facebook feed. He knew that this was personal news, and he was right. I’ve been crying since.
The news media says, that after 69 years here on Earth, you died on Sunday. How can you die? You’re immortal. Maybe they got the message wrong? That’s it — they got the message wrong. You just returned back to your home planet, or transformed into the pure stardust of which we knew you were made. But death? It can’t be.
Yes, Starman. You blew my mind, just like you thought you would. You also saved my little weird and freaky life from years of pain because you showed me that they are the ones who are wrong. That it is ok and good and artful to be who I truly am: weird, wonderful, artsy, ever-changing, experimental, courageous, and intelligent. You were the beacon for all of us weird kids in a world that desperately tried — and still tries — to demand that we be “normal” … that we wear some kind of uniform … that we find a tribe and fit in. Starman, I never fit in. I was too weird and smart for the Normal Kids, and too “ME” for the Cool, Weird Kids. You know the type. But I was never sad about it because you were with me. You showed me the way. You taught me how to wave my freak flag in front of the firing squad of adversity, and survive.
You’ve taught me so much, Starman. You taught me about who I am as an artist. You taught me that art is everything: what you produce, what you wear, and who you are. Art and person can not be separated. Once an artist stops creating, once they stop being art, once they stop living art, it’s all over. Isn’t it? We die inside when we go grey. I forgot this lesson, Starman. I got stuck doing one thing and being one thing. I got trapped … until yesterday when I heard the news. See, I knew it. You are immortal. Perhaps we need to wait for the third day for your glorious resurrection? Or maybe it already happened and you went out like a damned supernova? In death we are saved. Is there truth to this, Starman?
I was always in awe of your ability to transform yourself, to change, to EVOLVE. You shunned the uniform. You taught me not to be afraid of change, that it’s ok to constantly transform and experiment. After all, fashion and person are art and we are all the master artists of ourselves. You taught me how to hate uniforms … all uniforms. Move forward. Create. Don’t get stuck. THINK. You taught me that there is no such thing as gender and that we can make and remake ourselves at will. I remember my first time playing with androgyny. I cut off all of my beautiful blonde hair and dressed in baggy t-shirts, black ripped up cargo pants, and Converse. I wore little makeup, save dark lipstick. There were beautiful moments when I moved through the streets of NYC as a boy. I felt free and strong. You taught Ed that boys are beautiful in makeup. You’d be proud of Ed. He wore electric blue lipstick like no one else I knew. What freedom you’ve given us! What delicious freedom to be our true selves without fear. You taught us how to live in an ever-changing, divine, slippery, messy, artistic life with courage and with abandon.
And yet, I’m embarrassed to say, in the last two decades I’ve wholeheartedly accepted a uniform. Sure, I rebelled against that uniform, but found myself there again because it was comfortable. I lost my way as an artist. I knew it when I saw you at Madison Square Garden. I knew it again when I saw you at the Garden State Art Center. You said to make art. I didn’t listen. I didn’t make art. I wasn’t art.
Other humans don’t know that I hate my uniform, just like I hated the Catholic school uniform. Conformity gives me hives, and I have a bad, bad case of them right now. Yes, I remember now … never trust anyone who only does one thing … or is one thing. If it doesn’t work, or if it’s stale, or if it doesn’t work with your present … then change it. Change. Move forward. EVOLVE. MAKE ART. BE ART. I remember. I remember now, Starman.
I’ll always remember. Safe travels, Starman. When I look up at the night sky I’ll try to find you. I’ll wave hello and remember everything you did for me and all of the other freaky, weird kids.