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Where is he now? Should have stayed there …

David Bowie Pin UpsI used to be a big David Bowie fan in my teenage years.  A favourite album, featuring a young Twiggy with David on the album cover, was Pin Ups.

The story goes that her then boyfriend, Justin de Villeneuve, heard Twiggy’s name come up in the song “Drive in Saturday” (Bowie mentions her as “Twig the Wonderkid” in the song), and arranged a photo shoot.  He’d originally offered the picture to Vogue Magazine but on realising that Bowie had access to millions via his records and Vogue’s circulation was in the region of 80,000, he gave the photo to David, and the rest, as they say, is history.

In my opinion, the 70’s were when Bowie was at his best, although some of his later stuff is also pretty darn good!  It was with a fair amount of anticipation, therefore, that I heard rumours that he was releasing something new, for the first time in 10 years.   Unfortunately, the song released this week “Where Are We Now”, coinciding with his 66th birthday, is quite simply awful, dark, depressing and makes no sense whatsoever – and the video that accompanies it is not any better.  I actually think he would have been better not bothering and just taking the royalties from the good stuff from way back!

Don’t just take my word for it, have a listen here and make up your own minds!

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The Man who fell to Earth

Back in 1996 there was a film released starring David Bowie called “The Man who fell to Earth”.  Bowie played the part of Thomas Jerome Newton who was a humanoid alien who came to Earth to get water for his dying planet. He starts a high technology company to get the billions of dollars he needs to build a return spacecraft, and meets Mary-Lou, a girl who falls in love with him [obviously!]. He does not count on the greed and ruthlessness of business here on Earth, however.  But that was just a film … it wasn’t real … but could it be?

Fast forward 16 years and this weekend we saw Austrian Skydiver Felix Baumgartner become the first man to literally fall to earth by jumping out of a balloon 128,100ft (24 miles; 39km) above New Mexico.  This somewhat lunatic activity making him the first skydiver to go faster than the speed of sound, reaching a maximum velocity of 833.9mph and also smashing the record for the highest ever freefall.

In addition, another record has reportedly been broken.  Unofficial figures show that the live stream of Baumgartner’s jump received over 7.1 million views surpassing the 500,000 YouTube live stream views record for the London Summer Olympics.

But why would he want to do this?  At Sunday’s jump altitude, the air pressure is less than 2% of what it is at sea level, and it is impossible to breathe without an oxygen supply.  Others who have tried to break the records have lost their lives in the process.

Well the researchers on the Red Bull Stratos project say it has already provided invaluable data for the development of high-performance, high-altitude parachute systems, and that the lessons learned will inform the development of new ideas for emergency evacuation from vehicles, such as spacecraft, passing through the stratosphere and indeed NASA and its spacecraft manufacturers have asked to be kept informed.

He says he is motivated in part by scientific endeavour, the desire to see what the human body can achieve. But Baumgartner is also spurred on by the desire to see what no-one else has seen, to be alone at the highest reaches of the skies.

He has built up to this latest stunt by undertaking various other dangerous activities such as in 1999 when he set the world record for the highest parachute jump from a building when he jumped from the Petronas Towers in a Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  The twin skyscrapers were the tallest buildings in the world at the time, only overtaken by the Taipei 101 in 2004. Naturally, in 2007, he also jumped off the Taipei 101.   He then went to the opposite end of the scale, completing the world’s lowest ever base jump from the 30m-high arm of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.    He followed this in 2003 by becoming the first person to literally fly across the English Channel.  Using a pair of specially made carbon fibre wings, Baumgartner leapt from a plane above Dover, landing 22 miles (35km) away in Cap Blanc-Nez near Calais just 14 minutes later.

I can’t help but worry about what he might do next, and will it be the last thing he ever does.  It would appear that his need for danger is addictive and each time he does something it is bigger and more dangerous than the last.  I just hope that this doesn’t end up as life imitating art.  After all, throughout the film of “The Man who fell to Earth” there are brief sequences of Newton’s wife and children back on his home planet, slowly dying, and by the end of the film they are dead and Newton is stuck on Earth, broken, alcoholic, and alone.

This time Red Bull “gave him wings”.  I just hope they are still there to help him fly the next time, whatever or whenever that might be!

Celebrity baby names

OK, I understand that “celebrities” live on an entirely different planet from the rest of us mere mortals but it never ceases to amaze me that these people feel the need to give their offspring such ridiculous names that they will surely hate their parents for when they’re old enough to understand the ridicule!

This is not a recent trend.  In the 60’s Frank Zappa called his eldest daughter Moon Unit and, strangely, she is still known by this name today, whereas Zowie Bowie, son of David Bowie, changed his name unofficially at the age of 12 to the more normal “Joey” and around the age of 18 officially to Duncan Jones.

Oh, and don’t get me started on the Geldorf offspring of Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches Honeyblossom and Little Pixie, though these names may have had more to do with their mother, the late Paula Yates, who went on to have another daughter by the late Michael Hutchence and called that poor mite Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily!

So it comes as no surprise that Robbie Williams and his wife Ayda have decided to call their new daughter by the name of Theodora Rose, to be known “affectionately” as Teddy apparently.  This after saying recently that they weren’t going to go for an “Apple-esque” celebrity name.

I wish people would remember that these cute little babies are going to grow up and will have to live with these names until they’re old enough to change them and a lot more thought could go into their choices.  I can’t help but wonder that if Robbie’s next child is a boy then he may just call him “Train Set” or “Football” to keep the theme going.  Those poor kids!!!

Gawd Bless You Ma’am!

This is the first and last of my posts about the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. After 5 full days of TV coverage I just wanted to mention the new portrait that appeared over the weekend in Bristol that was widely reported as being by the enigmatic street artist Banksy.

This latest work shows an image based on a 1950’s Queen Elizabeth. In the mural the Queen is shown wearing a tiara and a David Bowie “Aladdin Sane” style lightening-bolt drawn on her face. After careful research, however, this picture has now been discovered to be by another artist called Incwel and is featured on the Street Art website.

Banksy’s work usually includes a satirical social and political commentary. We do know that in the last month Banksy has been busy at work creating at least six new pieces in the UK. The first to appear was a portrait of a child worker sewing a string of Union Jack bunting for the Jubilee. It was painted on the side of a Poundland shop, a place where cheap goods, often using child-labour are sold.

In another “dig” at the Jubilee celebrations, Banksy has also decided to give away his piece titled, “Er…”. It’s a downloadable print, of course, and you’re encouraged to grab it for free, print it on anything you want (for personal use, not resale). Cheeky chappie!!!

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