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The ramparts: A blogaversary


David Bowie’s bats could fly but not of their own volition. No, not with a flapping of the wings and a great leap up. Not with a running start like a plane on a runway.

Bats don’t work like that.

The little bats were, as it were, like all bats in that they had to fall into flight, so David Bowie built a shelf from which his bats could hang and fall. He took the shelf and he took the bats and he brought them out on tours with him, even on the “Glass Spider” Tour which was not a career peak of his by any means but hell, he was still David Bowie, even in the nineteen eighties.

On a night in Kathmandu after the show, David Bowie went back to his hotel room. He had a box in his hotel room and he reached into the box. He took out a red square and – you see, I’m trying to make this complex thing simpler for you – unfolded the red square out to make a door, then opened the door and walked through. Inside was David Bowie’s secret room which was very ornate with shiny gold frills and obscure embroideries too.

I’m guessing he’d spent most of his “Let’s Dance” money on it.

But barely had he gone in to sleep when he heard something outside the red door. Inside the hotel room. And it was a tiger. David Bowie knew the sound a silent tiger makes. This was that.

He climbed out a window and he brought the bats with him, of course. To escape. It was night out there and not just night but a Kathmandun night which is exceptionally dark in a kind of inky black-out sort of way I might write about some more sometime. Anyway the moon came out soon enough so it got brighter but David Bowie and the bats knew the tiger was coming.

Through a forest now, full up with gnarled, skeletal trees but mostly cardboard in the end, for he could spy the thin edges of the silhouettes as he passed them by. The tiger got close, then further away, up ahead, behind, playing with them almost, really, because a tiger is a fucking cat.

I’m getting to the part at the gate, it’s just taking longer than I expected. Don’t pressure me.

They saw the castle when the moon came out. Off in the distance, it stood there with towers and parapets and other castle parts like ramparts, which is a delightful word I think. Ramparts. I wish I had more occasion to use it.

David Bowie knocked at the castle gate. He said “Hello?!” and he said “Excuse me?” and he said “Is there anyone home?” A light turned on then, in the castle, I mean to say, for someone surely had heard David Bowie call out. Perhaps even recognized his voice. When someone came out, it was Marlene Dietrich and she was wearing a tuxedo and a top hat and smoking a cigarette in one of those long cigarette holder things that look so fancy they can make you forget about the cancer sometimes.

David Bowie said, “It seems my bat friends and I are being hunted by a tiger tonight. I was wondering if we might come into your castle until it passes.”

Marlene Dietrich watched the bats a long time, for so long in fact David Bowie wondered if she’d even heard his question. But she had heard his question because she said, “I’ve been wondering where Murray the tiger wandered off to.” Then walking up to her, a very formal-looking antelope approached on its hind legs balancing a silver tray on a front hoof and on the tray were two glasses of champagne.

Marlene Dietrich took one of the glasses, gave David Bowie and the bats one last look, and then she left. The antelope handed or hoofed David Bowie the other glass and followed her.

David Bowie was heartbroken because he’d wanted Marlene Dietrich to show him how to wear a tuxedo and a top hat and how to smoke from one of those long cigarette holder things and also because he didn’t want to be eaten by a tiger. He tried to drown his sorrows in the glass of champagne but it was a very small glass no good for drowning, and besides that, someone had left a laser pointer at the bottom of it.

Now armed with a laser pointer, which, really, is the very best weapon to use against a tiger because a tiger is just a fucking cat, David Bowie got the predator chasing after a red dot across a moonlit mountain range ten miles away from him. It was gone. David Bowie and the bats too raced back to the castle to maybe have another go at Marlene Dietrich. But when they got there, lo and behold, the castle was burning and Marlene Dietrich and all of her animal servants were inside, burning too.

They smelled delicious.

David Bowie went home and that’s when he recorded “Tin Machine.”

Comments

  1. Were you doing as much coke as 1980's Bowie when you wrote this?
    Not to be the "um actually" person, but I think we can all agree that he spent most of his “Let’s Dance” money on pleated parachute pants. Unless he had a Sears coupon.

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    1. The 1980s were hard on almost everyone, although, remembering Bowie and Jagger's "Dancing in the Streets" video, Bowie might have had it worst than most. I was 12 when that came out and I'm not sure that my opinion of Bowie ever improved entirely. I heard the Ziggy Stardust album a few years later, but that "Dancing in the Streets" video was always at the back of my mind.

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  2. You had me at Marlene Dietrich wearing a tuxedo and top hat.

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    1. Haha. It seemed completely random when I wrote it, and then last night I realized I was probably contrasting her image with Bowie, who wore dresses and makeup in the 70s.

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    1. You're going to like my next one, then. I'm going to reveal the (probably subconscious) reason I included the tiger in this one. [Spoiler: I have a new cat living in my house.]

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  4. But, but, which blogaversary is it?

    Marlene Dietrich?

    "...Hot tears flow as she recounts
    Her favorite worded token
    Forgive me please for hurting so
    Don't go away heartbroken no ..."

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9y4AHemqKA

    Peter Murphy just rescheduled his "residency" shows in SF for later in February, but I still don't think I'll be able to go, unless I can get my friend Brenda interested in it. So now it's an ethical quandary: do I remind Briana of the shows in time for her to try to convince Brenda, but likely fail and be disappointed, or just shine the whole thing on and see what happens... Which is what I actually did, to be honest, the shows were supposed to be this week before they were rescheduled, and I only just now learned that they hadn't happened yet when I looked him up to get that there link...

    -Doug in Oakland

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    1. I thought of that Peter Murphy song when I was looking for a picture or clip to go with the post. I have that album on cassette somewhere. It's the only Bauhaus-related album I own.

      I almost included a clip of William Burroughs singing Dietrich's standard, "Falling in Love Again" in German. But I was afraid this post had too much random weirdness already.

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    2. I did see Bowie on his "Serious Moonlight" tour, and I'm glad I did. He's one of those artists, like Joe Walsh, whose music is easy enough to play correctly on the guitar that every young guitar player learned it and butchered it in their first band. Now if I were just a little younger I could have been a punk and not learned to play anything correctly...
      I had the "Love and Rockets" albums on cassette tapes, but they were sort of my least favorite of that time. I liked the Chameleons quite a bit better.
      And "too much random weirdness"?
      What on Earth are you talking about?

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    3. That would have been a good time to see Bowie. I watched a documentary about him a couple years ago in which he said that tour was the one where things changed - before that, he was chasing down fans trying to expose them to his music and after that, they were coming to him without the same kind of of effort on his part.

      I figured out when I was about 12 that I could play Neil Young stuff pretty easily - he only uses a few chords and the songs, once started, march forward without much change. I've never progressed much past that level of playing.

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    4. Have you checked out Neil Young's online archive? He has most, if not all of his recorded work available for high-bitrate streaming for free (for the time being), and it does sound pretty good, and there are a lot of details and photos and stuff to go along with the music.

      https://www.neilyoungarchives.com/#/menu?_k=93sz6a

      -Doug in Oakland

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  5. When David Bowie died I had to cope with at least 3 days of non stop Bowie music. A few weeks ago when Dolores O'Riordan from the Cranberries died, I heard 2 days of their music non stop music coming from my partner's study. God help me when Bono dies. I turn up my Ice Cube to maximum volume.

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    1. I think we can all come together to hope for Bono's continued good health so that we're not subjected to endless tributes and career retrospectives. Finally, something EVERYONE can agree on.

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  6. Congrats on another wonderful year of blogging! Let the words flow for the future to come.
    ...That said, I'm not entirely sure what I just read. I never listened to Bowie much, so maybe I'm missing some crucial references here.

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    1. Thanks. I should try and play it off and say that there's just a lot of symbolism you're not getting. The truth is, I've been writing stream of consciousness stuff lately when I don't have anything planned. With mixed results.

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    2. Ah, I know that feel. When your mind's just 2deep4your audience. Write on, as-you-go writer.

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    3. Haha. I've always thought that "It makes perfect sense - you just aren't understanding it" is a sign of a bad writer. Either way, the next post will be a bit more straightforward. Hopefully.

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  7. Hmm I read about bowie .i cant understand completely but this is one of your marvellous stories.i always love these sort of symbolic,strange,mystic stories u write.u have wrote a great story after layoff craze ,u r back to the game.i love the pic too

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    1. Arun! It's been a while!

      This took me way too long to write. I'm almost embarrassed to say how many hours I spent on it yesterday. Part of the idea was to include more detail than I normally include, but it got long really quickly and I have learned not to stretch out blog posts for more than about 800 words. So working on details in my writing will have to wait for another week.

      That's the thing about reading what i post: Hopefully, if someone doesn't like this week's post, next week's will be entirely different.

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  8. Dang...last time I came up with something weird and wonderful it was a dream about working the drive through at Tim Hortons. You have the absolute best imagination.

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    1. Thanks! I had fun writing this one even though I'm not sure it added up to anything. If I ever remembered my dreams, I'd love to mine them for ideas.

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  9. I've had silent tigers in my own dreams. Gee thanks for reminding me. "...forget about the cancer..." You never did any work for that disgusting tobacco industry did you?
    Well at least you gave me an idea if I have that tiger dream again - I'm packing a laser pointer.

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    1. I smoked for 17 years, quit for 10, and then smoked last year. I've quit again. Hopefully, this is it.

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  10. Where do the Maoists come in? You can't have a castle in Kathmandu without Maoists. There's a law.


    I've left Facebook, by the way, and asked for my accpacc to be deleted permanently, so you won't see me there any longer.

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    1. Oh, man. I always enjoyed your facebook posts - especially the ones where you were battling with someone about whether you were some kind of agent spewing official propaganda.

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    2. I am on Twitter and VK, in case you're interested. And not posting on Blogspot much because I am writing a novel.

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    3. I found you on twitter. I can't believe I hadn't looked before.

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  11. While watching the tiger at the local zoo once I wondered if they would react the same way to a laser pointer that my cats do. Great story!

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    1. My almost-entirely-uneducated guess is that they would, because, while dogs have been bred to be more people-compliant, cats apparently evolved themselves into this condition. They really do seem to have all of the same instincts that the larger varieties have.

      So in the forest, arm yourself with a lser pointer and hope the big cats aren't too hungry.

      Also, don't take my advice on protecting yourself from tigers.

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  12. Great story Harry. I had to read it a couple of times! "A lion is just a fucking cat". I don't know how you do it. You tangle everything together, and seems confusing, but comes out amazing!

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    1. Thanks, Stacy. I almost always have fun writing them, so I'll keep doing it, week after week.

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    2. Also, I switched it from a tiger to a lion halfway through and yet no one seemed to notice. I'm mad at myself and also a little mad at everyone who didn't call me on it.

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  13. From now on, I shall never plan any escapades without bringing bats.

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    1. If you're going to dress them up, make sure you give them bow ties, because long neckties would look ridiculous on a bat.

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  14. You had me at laser pointer. It strikes me as a perfect solution.

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    1. I am fairly confident it would work. I can lead the cat who lives with me out from my closet or even out of my room with one, and I believe the wiring is pretty much the same on the bigger varieties of cat.

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  15. You had me at Marlene Dietrich. I had confirmation with her great niece, way back when I still lived in Germany.

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    1. That's cool! My brother just got back from Germany for work. He promises he's going to send a ton of pictures my way and if there's any way I can work them into blog posts, I'm going to. Had he sent them earlier, I could have probably used a pic of a castle for this one.

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    ReplyDelete

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