What has two thumbs, toes that bend all the way back due to a tragic clog dancing mishap, and absolutely no sense of timing?
You guessed it, sir. THIS guy.
Here’s the thing. We didn’t really think you were human. That’s what it all comes down to, I think. You didn’t look human, you didn’t sound human, you didn’t act human, and you didn’t live a life relatable to 99.9% of regular-ass human beings. You seemed gloriously otherworldly. That more than anything is what has led me in particular to writing this and the situation I find myself in at the moment.
About a year ago I sat down to write a book, it was to be the second in a new series of books I’m writing. In these books a catering company in New York City plans events for supernatural beings of varying type. They’re funny books. Serious things happen in them, but they’re meant to be funny, out there books that entertain people with unexpected characters and events.
That book is called Lustlocked, it’s coming out tomorrow, and you’re in it.
Like I said, no sense of timing whatsoever.
You see, when I think “goblin” I don’t think Lord of the Rings or Spider-man or Gremlins, I think of you. Instantly. First image that crops up. Labyrinth is better then The Dark Crystal. We all know it. The Dark Crystal, for all its genuine merit and craft, is like Citizen Kane, critically fellated, but show me the person really bubbling to watch it more than once, if that. Labyrinth was the puppetry-driven fantasy film I watched a million times, and it opened up my gestating writer’s imagination in a million different ways. You were a huge part of that. I remember somebody, my mother maybe, explaining to me that you were the bad guy, and I distinctly remember saying, “No, he’s not!” You were the one teaching me all the lessons. Everyone else was just learning from you.
Even then, I knew you were the real puppet master of that story.
Decades later, when I sat down to write Lustlocked, my new book, I decided quite arbitrarily the event in it would be a goblin wedding. No real reason. I just liked the sound of it. “Goblin wedding.” In the first book the event was a demon banquet. I did that because that sounded cool, too. Everything else sprang from it. Then the thought occurred to me it should be a royal goblin wedding to give it grandeur and up the stakes narratively. Which meant there would be a Goblin King.
When I think of the Goblin King, when most people think of the Goblin King, we think of you. That gave me another idea. What if Goblins weren’t Tolkien-esque monsters? What if they were the most beautiful of God’s creature, and humans, jealous of their perfection, started a dark age smear campaign to paint them as monsters. Flash forward to modern day, and what made the most sense to me is Goblins would actually be the hottest celebrities and models and general beauty royalty of our time. They’d own the entertainment industry, and secretly they’d have their own hierarchy.
I knew I wouldn’t name you, for various aesthetic and legal reasons. But I knew it had to be you, and I knew people would get it.
I thought that was very funny, but more than that I thought, on so many different levels, it was wholly appropriate.
I didn’t, however, know you were sick. I thought, like a lot of people I expect, you’d live forever. Because you were never a human being to me. You were something bigger and finer than that.
You certainly weren’t mortal.
Except you were. We all are, no matter how far out we go from the norm or how intergalactically we live our very mortal lives. We all die. And that sucks.
It’ll be weird for folks, reading me writing this to you now instead of three weeks ago. We live and function in a world of the instantaneous. It seemed like, the day you died, I went from hearing the news to seeing a million tributes, obits, laments, and memories of you within five minutes. Everyone I follow on Twitter seemed to be tweeting about it, and rightfully so. But on that day I didn’t write a word about you. I couldn’t. I was too gobsmacked. And I felt…guilty. I really did. Because I had this book coming out, and I’d written about you without naming you, and I felt like anything I said about it, whether I mentioned the book or not, folks would just know. Then I’d become the guy profiteering off this beloved figure’s death, and that thought was and is so utterly abhorrent to me in so many ways.
But I wanted to write to you before the book drops, and I hope you know and everyone who reads it knows there’s nothing exploitive intended. It came from a good and pure and fun place that I think you’d appreciate.
Not that this kind of thing would ever matter to you. On the Bowie scale I doubt it gets more insignificant than my little yarn. It matters to me. I know that. But it actually matters quite a lot to me, is the thing.
I’m already catching static for it, and I imagine there’ll be more. Because people, especially on the internet, are a might reactionary. I read an early review that said the timing made the references to you “ugly.”
Man, that pissed me off. Like, a lot. A lot. And I don’t get tweaked by shitty reviews, generally. I guess I got so worked up because I wasn’t expecting it yet, but also because it’s just plain…I understand we’re all raw about your passing, and I get the timing of my book is unfortunate for a lot of folks, but damn…projecting those very understandable feelings onto what I wrote and coloring it nasty, that seemed ugly to me.
I think that word is what did it. “Ugly” is the anti-Bowie word. You weren’t about ugly. You were about beauty in what most of society deems ugly. You were about revealing “ugly” to be beauty undiscovered by small minds.
I get that, and I wouldn’t write from any other perspective than that.
Lustlocked isn’t a big book, literally or figuratively. It’s just a little story that will be read by a relatively small group of people. I’m in no way laying claim to being the eternal keeper of your spirit or any of that crap. But it makes me happy. It makes me happy I’ve made this little fictional universe in which the public Bowie may die, but Bowie the otherworldly Goblin King, ruler of the beautiful immortals, will live forever, be with his wife forever, be with his children and friends forever.
I hope you don’t mind existing in it that way, and I hope those who loved and admired you who happen to read my little story don’t mind either. In fact, I hope it serves you and them well. I hope, even and especially now, they draw some tiny amount of comfort or at least warm amusement from that.
And hey, if your reality-hopping schedule isn’t too jammed in the endless nether realms now that you’ve shaken loose your flesh cocoon, feel free to stop by and live the role for a bit. The food is great.