Tag Archives: Nostalgia

David Bowie Sadness

I found out this morning that David Bowie passed away. It’s been bothering me all day. I’m not even sure why. Celebrities die all the time, and I should be used to it by now. In a workplace full of people half my age, nobody seemed particularly devastated. A couple of people seemed suitably bummed, but not to the level I was looking for. So I did what anybody would do in this situation and logged into Twitter. This was better. People falling all over themselves to pay respects to David Bowie. One tribute more eloquent than the next. Re-tweets of celebrities and die-hard fans pouring out their hearts. I’m neither, but I felt like I would like to be one of the people who said something beautiful about David Bowie. It would probably get read by 3 or 4 people, and get heaped onto the magical invisible ‘I don’t give a shit’ pile in their minds, only to be soon erased. So I came home and went through my typical evening routine, cooking some dinner, and getting the boy to bed before probably falling asleep on the couch. Maybe I drink one of those kick ass Belgium beers in the fridge. The last of an epic sampler pack, but can I stay awake to drink it? Then I remember that I have a David Bowie concert DVD. I don’t even think I’ve ever watched it before. When it comes to music, sometimes I just buy stuff just to have it. The price was probably right, and I’d heard he was a hell of a live performer. Tonight would be the perfect night for a cold beer, warm sweater, and some David Bowie sadness.

Just as I start to relax a bit, I find myself totally captivated by this concert. I LOVE music, but I only LIKE David Bowie. I want to say I love David Bowie because he’s super cool to me, and he aged so incredibly well, and he’s such an innovative ground breaking artist, and I’ve never heard anybody say anything bad about him. If I said I loved David Bowie, then you would demand to know how many of his albums I have, and I’d have to answer none. Just the 2 disc greatest hits collection, and a 45 single of ‘Modern Love’ on vinyl from back in the day. That’s better than nothing, but it’s not love. He was good. I’ve talked to very knowledgeable music people who say he’s the best ever. At some point in the future I would probably go through a David Bowie phase and listen or purchase all of his music, but I haven’t yet. My connection with David Bowie doesn’t have to do with me being his biggest fan, but more to do with him being my first!

When I was 7 years old I found my way into current pop music. Before that what do we listen to? Whatever our parents have around the house? Kid music? Who knows? None of that matters. What matters is that when I became first aware, and then quickly lifelong obsessed with music, David Bowie had a song (and an album) called ‘Let’s Dance’. You only had to see this dude in his white outfit playing a guitar in a Mexican restaurant to know he was the guy. Or just to look at him on the album cover, shirtless with his 1920’s boxing gloves on. He was my first favourite singer. I wanted his album. Birthday present? Christmas? I think my parents probably shied away from that, possibly because they were aware of such freaky things as Ziggy Stardust, and I wasn’t. Yet they were totally cool with Boy George which was odd to me. David Bowie in 1982 was as clean-cut as they came, and I thought that would be totally suitable for a kid to own that album. They must have relented in time for me to get the ‘Modern Love’ single.

That was kind of it for David Bowie for me for a while. I didn’t know at the time that there was a lot more substance to David Bowie’s music that would allow me to partially rediscover it as I got older. As I sit here and watch his concert DVD, it almost feels like I’ve come full circle. Am I sad because a legend has passed away? Yes, but he did leave us with 25 albums, and I’m sure I’ll spend the next several years discovering a lot of his music for the first time. Am I sad because I’m closer to the age in which he passed away (69) than I am to the age in which I discovered David Bowie for the first time? Certainly. I will say this though. While watching the concert I felt like there were times where his music was reaching into my body and touching my soul. Not all musicians have that power, but I’m grateful that David Bowie did, because it’s one of my favourite parts of the human experience.

Thus concludes my odd little story about David Bowie sadness. Turn and face the strange!

Where’s My Corner Store?

True Story….

The other day I drove through the old neighborhood where I grew up, looking for my barber who had mysteriously changed locations or retired or who knows? I know the last time I went, the barber shop was closed and there was a strange note on the door signed by someone other than him with an address that wasn’t too far away. When I had checked out the new address, and it appeared to be a beauty salon, but it was still being renovated, and not yet open for business. I couldn’t imagine my barber (who has been cutting my hair, almost exclusively since I was old enough to pay for my own haircuts), working out of a beauty salon. He’s not the type. His barber shop was incredibly old school, and BARELY changed in the last 20 years. The prices were good, and he was reliable and good at his craft. This time when I went, I decided to drive past that beauty salon again. It was open for business, but I couldn’t see in the window. I know this seems weird, but even after driving all that way, I didn’t want to walk into a beauty salon and ask about my barber. Out of respect for him in a way. So I drove back to the original location to see if there was any more information available. When I got to the strip plaza in my old neighborhood, it was fenced in by a construction company and just about the whole thing had already been gutted.

That was my neighborhood strip plaza.

I lived with my parents until I was 29. I know that sounds bad. My room was in the basement, so I had a fair amount of privacy. When I finished school and joined the workforce, they charged me a reasonable amount of rent. I wouldn’t have been able to live anywhere else for that price, and on months where I couldn’t afford to pay, they didn’t kick me out. I love my parents. I had a great relationship with them, so it wasn’t a difficult arrangement. The house we lived in was a 5 minute walk from the house we used to live in. Both houses were a 10 minute walk from my neighborhood strip mall. A 2 minute drive. 5 minute bike ride. I remember that plaza.

I remember the convenience store. The lady who owned it was Chinese, and she had a speech pattern that sounded like she was singing everything. She was delightful. I remember her husband who had the opposite speech pattern. They had a son who would work in the store once he was old enough. I could tell he liked Hip Hop because he was always reading The Source magazine. I used to like Hip Hop, and that’s where I went to buy The Source Magazine as well. I remember the girl who worked for them in the 90’s. She was Italian or Portuguese or something. We had little teenage crushes on her. She was sweet to everyone. Every guy that went in there thought they were the only one. I remember when there was a drug store on the other end of the plaza. My parents used to give me $50 when I was a kid to buy all of my Christmas presents for people. I know $50 doesn’t seem like a lot, but I was probably only 10 or 12 years old, and I guess adults thought it was really cool that they got an $8 present from me since I had to go to the store and pick it out myself. Plus inflation. It was the 80’s. I remember the Dry Cleaners who never spelled my last name right, but committed it to memory, so they never asked what it was, they just saw my face and remembered my name, but with the wrong spelling. I never bothered correcting them. I remembered the greasy spoon restaurant, and how we used to go there for fries and gravy, and maybe played the 2 arcade games that were there, until we’d get kicked out for making too much noise. I remember them renovating and getting their liquor licence, and then the same 5 people perched themselves at the bar stools for 5 hours a day, and drank cheap beers every single day. Still some of the best Pork Souvlaki around.

I remember when the Mafia place opened up. Yeah, they got all legit and started serving Gelato etc, but I never set foot in there after the first time (and that story could be its own blog). I remember when a guy was murdered in the parking lot. I remember the waitress from that establishment always bringing Espressos or Soda to my barber, and wondering how that arrangement was set up. I remember way back when there was a place where you could get schnitzel on a bun, and I took that for granted, but as time went on I realized how hard it is to find a little place like that at a small neighborhood strip plaza. I remember when my mom started a drop in day care for senior citizens suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, and had her office there for many years. I remember her having to go there every time someone set the alarm off in the middle of the night. I remember her retirement ceremony, and how being there, and hearing everyone pay tribute to all she had accomplished made us so proud.

I remember when pop was 50 cents at one store and 65 cents at the other. I remember buying Sarasoda and Twist Shandy because they had 0.5% alcohol, and we thought we were baaaaaaaad. I remember the New York Knicks having a pretty solid lead with about 30 seconds left in a playoff game against the Pacers, so I walked from my friend’s house to this store to get some chips and pop for the next game, only to find out when I got back that Reggie Miller scored 8 points in 9 seconds, and the Pacers won the game. I remember my friend being so obsessed with a certain brand of chocolate chip cookies that we made a day of looking in couch cushions and raiding coat pockets in our parent’s closets so we could go buy these damn cookies. I can’t even remember if they were good or not. I remember playing basketball for hours in the summer, and buying a 2 litre jug of peach flavored drink, and finishing all of it every time!

Seeing that building almost ripped to shreds made me sadder than I was expecting. I have 2 nieces that actually live within walking distance of the spot, but by the time they’re old enough to walk there by themselves, there will likely be condominiums there. I guess this happens to all of us eventually, and not to sound too cliché, but I definitely felt like a part of my childhood had just disappeared. Perhaps more importantly, where am I going to get my haircut?