Of Hitchhikers and Stardust   Leave a comment

Alan Marvin

Marvin has joined…

 

 

Astro David

Major Tom in space (credit: Tom Colbie)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I thought it ironic that two iconic British souls left this world for the one yet to be explored last week. Neither was a stranger to space and its oddities and both made significant contributions to the world of sci-fi and fantasy. I’d thought I’d compose a few words about both. It’s a given their talents are unique and rare, so I’ll just stick to the anecdote sides of things and save the lauding for others to trumpet.

David Bowie’s music played in the background of my youth and influenced my tastes. He seemed to be a bit left of whatever else anyone had to offer. One afternoon, my parents took me to Philadelphia (I grew up between NYC and Philly, so we visited both cities often) and “Diamond Dogs” just hit the airwaves. A truck towing a Mack truck-sized album cover of “DD” caught my attention. David Bowie, his head intact but his body transformed into a muscular dog, seemed oddly interesting to me. Those sort of things didn’t roll past our house, especially that huge, so I kept watching the truck jockeying for space in the Center City traffic. A few days later, I’d seen the album cover in the window of a record shop. I didn’t have enough money to buy it, but I heard the title song on WMMR, the progressive radio station out of Philadelphia. Somehow the music, in my mind at least, didn’t match up to the picture I’d seen traveling through town. It didn’t matter, though. I loved it.

My friend Anthony adored Bowie and remains an ardent fan to this day. On one occasion, either my birthday or just because, he handed me a poster that I still own.  It’s a depiction of his Berlin era, walking through the streets with Bowie walking past posted bills of him on a decrepit wooden fence. I have it tucked away someplace safe and now might be a good time to find it a suitable frame.

Another friend, Ken (quite an excellent artist) painted a portrait of Bowie. I still have that, too. It was on the occasion of my 22nd birthday and it rivals any other artwork anyone else could have painted of him. This portrait shows Bowie emerging from a dark background, a thoughtful gaze on his face. Makes you wonder what thoughts Ken might have channelled from Bowie as the brush stroked the canvas.

Not all that long ago, my husband Andrew and I watched “The Man Who Fell to Earth.” I’m sure I’m not the first one who considered the film strange. I’m in total agreement that he’s the only person who could have played the alien.

And speaking of aliens, Alan Rickman and David Bowie intersect professionally. Ironically, Rickman played the part of Dr. Lazarus in “Galaxy Quest,” while David Bowie’s theatrical work, “Lazarus” plays at the New York Theatre Workshop. In the song, “Lazarus,” Bowie hints at death while Rickman’s Dr. Lazarus tries not to die. Okay, I know this is a stretch but I thought it’s just one of those strange peculiarities worth noting.

Years ago, Andrew and I saw Alan Rickman on Broadway in “Private Lives.” Playing the male lead as Elyot Chase, he starred opposite Lindsey Duncan in the part of Amanda Prynne, Chase’s ex-wife. During the first act, Rickman was as stiff as a board, but must have had a drink or something during intermission, as he perked up considerably. During the second act, the Alan Rickman we all love appeared and any missteps he might have experienced during the first act were instantly forgotten. The play was in previews at that point, so he might have been stumbling with the lines. Who knows?

Yes, everyone knows that he played Snape and who can possibly forget his Hans Gruber in “Die Hard.” As Dr. Lazarus, though, he was a riot. Underneath his deadpan exterior lie a chicken-ish man who really feared dying on a spaceship that was supposed to be part of a television series set. That’s what I loved about Rickman’s film roles – he understated his roles with dry wit and a hint of terror, leaving the audience member never quite sure what his intentions might be. That’s really good acting, and Rickman had that talent in spades.

Now regrettably, both have left our planet for distant shores, hitchhiking along the universe, leaving a trail in the stardust for us to remember them by. Perhaps by some mystical force, both Rickman and Bowie will rise again, as the biblical Lazarus did.

 

 

 

 

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