Tuesday, January 12, 2016

David Bowie 1947-2016

Yesterday morning, I found out that a very large part of my academic formation and work, died. David Bowie was 69 years old. No one lives forever, but we don't always think of our celebrities as real people. We see them mediated, outside of the normal stream of time. As I write this, I'm listening to Bowie's voice, back from the grave: "Ain't it just like me," he sings.

Back around 1993, I remember hearing the first strains of _Black Tie White Noise_ in an Ottawa CD store, and I walked out with that album. "You've Been Around" was the catalyst that began my academic pursuits, I think. Once _Outside_ came out in 1995, I was hooked. I remember talking to one of my music profs about the music on that album, about what was going on there, the "problem" that needed to be "solved."

Bowie became the subject matter of my Master's thesis. Antonella Bilich Greco and I listened to Bowie constantly during that time, in the TA office at McMaster.

When we saw Bowie in concert in Montreal in 2004, we were told to sit down by those sitting behind us, who seemingly were only there for the hits. And we did.

When I had the opportunity to revisit some of my earlier scholarship for the book, I happily did so, (re)discovering that Bowie was still the "problem" that needed to be "solved," and a delightful one at that.

Yesterday was a whirlwind, with something like eight media interviews throughout the day, not to mention a blurb for a Greek daily newspaper. And then a first class.

We don't know these celebrities, but we feel like we do. Yesterday, my friends and colleagues sent messages of condolence and stopped by my office. And I thank them for that.

And I thank David Bowie for his music. If it wasn't for him, I'm pretty confident to say that I wouldn't be the scholar--or the person--I am today.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Happy New Year!

Well, now I'm 42 (my birthday was on December 27) and 2015 is history. I wish I would have finished Smith's book on desire and culture, but the busy-ness of the school term got the best of me. I thought I'd post a quick note at the start of the new year.

What is on my horizon in 2016? Academically, there are a few things: I hope to present at the Popular Culture Association of Canada annual conference (in collaboration with the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada) in Montreal in May; at the end of May, I'm planning to attend the International Association for the Study of Popular Music joint conference of the Canadian and American branches in Calgary (taking place during Congress); and finally, I am hoping to hear from a publisher about moving forward on a major study of U2 and cosmopolitanism.

I'm teaching three courses, starting in a week: Popular Music and Culture, Media in Crisis: Print and Radio, and Principles of Journalism. I am looking forward to teaching Popular Music. I've never taught this one alone, but it is sort of my specialty (at least on paper).

As for personally, I don't really have many wants. I'd love to buy myself an "expensive" watch (a Seiko SARB065 "Cocktail Time - Cool" to be exact). Even $500 seems a really crazy price for a watch, but it's so nice looking! I'd like to buy myself a big comfy chair from IKEA, but there is no room for it in our house or in my office at school. Probably, we'll have to buy a new home computer, and we'll be travelling to Ontario to visit family around the conferences in May. No vacations this summer, but maybe we'll begin planning for Summer 2017 and WDW.

Here's to 2016: may it bring hope and happiness and hearts' desires.