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[ -- here's an article and a plug that might just make it --
   -- for its content, subvert!ng the hacker aesthetic --
   -- SUNDAYS we are streaming the SHARE NET.JAM --
   -- tune in @ HttP://www.t0.or.at/~eyescratch/share --
   -- 13:00 -04 to 21:30 -04 (that's EST) New York --
   -- we are open to collaborations with other streaming venues --
   -- as we did last week vienna/new york, lemme know -- es ]


New York Times
Arts & Leisure
June 9, 2002


David Bowie, 21st-Century Entrepreneur
By JON PARELES


IN a Manhattan rehearsal studio, Gerry Leonard seemed to be noodling 
on his guitar as the rest of David Bowie's band waited. He played 
some sustained notes and a bit of minor-key arpeggio; he worked his 
effects pedals, adding echoes. A digital stutter entered the pattern, 
and suddenly the music gelled into "Sunday," the song that opens Mr. 
Bowie's new album, "Heathen," which will be released on Tuesday.

     Chords from a phantom chorus wafted from a keyboard, and Mr. 
Bowie intoned: "It's the beginning of an end, and nothing has 
changed. Everything has changed."

     Mr. Bowie sang somberly about searching for signs of life, about 
fear and hope. At the end of the song, he shivered like someone 
coming out of a trance. "Ahhh," he said and grinned. "Good morning!" 
It was just after 11 a.m. and Mr. Bowie, 55, had already worked out 
at the gym and given an extended interview before starting the day's 
rehearsal for his summer tour.

     Lean and affable, he was wearing a skintight gray T-shirt and 
stylishly understated gray pants. His gaze, with different-colored 
eyes because of a childhood accident that paralyzed his left pupil, 
has grown less disconcerting; he laughs easily. When asked what he 
considered the central point of his work, he said, "I write about 
misery" and chuckled.

     Visions of cataclysm and professional aplomb: that's Mr. Bowie's 
life in his fourth decade as a rock star. One of rock's most astute 
conceptualists since the 1960's, he has toyed with the possibilities 
of his star persona, turned concerts into theater and fashion 
spectacles, and periodically recharged his songs with punk, 
electronics and dance rhythms. Now he has emerged as one of rock's 
smartest entrepreneurs.
     "Heathen" is the first album from Mr. Bowie's own recording 
company, Iso, which has major-label distribution through Sony. In 
1997, he sold $55 million of Bowie Bonds backed by his song 
royalties; the next year, he founded the technology company Ultrastar 
and his own Internet service provider-cum-fan club, Bowienet 
(davidbowie.com). In a nod to his art-school background, his 
bowieart.com sells promising students' work without the high 
commissions of terrestrial galleries.

     His deal with Sony is a short-term one while he gets his label 
started and watches the Internet's effect on careers. "I don't even 
know why I would want to be on a label in a few years, because I 
don't think it's going to work by labels and by distribution systems 
in the same way," he said. "The absolute transformation of everything 
that we ever thought about music will take place within 10 years, and 
nothing is going to be able to stop it. I see absolutely no point in 
pretending that it's not going to happen. I'm fully confident that 
copyright, for instance, will no longer exist in 10 years, and 
authorship and intellectual property is in for such a bashing."

     "Music itself is going to become like running water or 
electricity," he added. "So it's like, just take advantage of these 
last few years because none of this is ever going to happen again. 
You'd better be prepared for doing a lot of touring because that's 
really the only unique situation that's going to be left. It's 
terribly exciting. But on the other hand it doesn't matter if you 
think it's exciting or not; it's what's going to happen."

      With his wife, Iman, he has a 22-month-old daughter, Alexandria, 
for whom he's keeping to a minimum his time away from home in 
Manhattan. When Mr. Bowie signed on as a headliner for Moby's 
Area:Two tour this summer, he made sure the schedule allowed him to 
return home between each of the six East Coast dates. He is also 
organizing, and performing at, Meltdown, a contemporary music, film 
and visual arts festival in London. (One songwriter he booked is 
Norman Carl Odam, known as the Legendary Stardust Cowboy, from whom 
he took Ziggy Stardust's last name in the 1970's; on "Heathen," he 
sings the Cowboy's "Gemini Spacecraft," about an astronaut obsessed 
with a girl he left behind.)

      Mr. Bowie no longer expects to compete with performers in their 
20's. "I'm well past the age where I'm acceptable," he said. "You get 
to a certain age and you are forbidden access. You're not going to 
get the kind of coverage that you would like in music magazines, 
you're not going to get played on radio and you're not going to get 
played on television. I have to survive on word of mouth."

      HIS fans among musicians, including Moby and Nine Inch Nails, 
have toured with Mr. Bowie, introducing him to a younger generation.

      Back in 1990, Mr. Bowie tried to jettison his past. He billed an 
arena tour as the last time he would play his old hits. "I really did 
think I meant that," he said. "I got quite a way into the 90's before 
I started thinking, 'Well, if you want an audience, David, you may 
want to consider putting some songs into your sets that they've 
actually heard.' Yes, I know, I went back on my word completely and 
absolutely."

      He's now more comfortable riffling through his huge body of 
work. This week, the Museum of Television and Radio, in New York and 
Los Angeles, opened "Sound + Vision," a retrospective of Mr. Bowie on 
video that continues through Sept. 15. A restored version of "Ziggy 
Stardust and the Spiders From Mars," the D. A. Pennebaker documentary 
of the 1972 tour that defined glam-rock, will be released on July 10.

      "Heathen" was produced by Tony Visconti, who last collaborated 
with Mr. Bowie on his 1980 album, "Scary Monsters." He worked on most 
of Mr. Bowie's 1970's albums, including the celebrated Berlin trilogy 
of "Low," " '<Heroes' " and "Lodger," on which Mr. Bowie and Brian 
Eno greeted the punk upheaval with their own merger of the 
experimental and the visceral.

      On "Heathen," Mr. Bowie knowingly hints at his past. He echoes 
the song " 'Heroes' " in "Slow Burn," which wonders, "Who are we in 
times such as these?" He revives analog keyboard sounds like that of 
the Stylophone, a miniature electric organ played with a stylus that 
was heard on "Space Oddity" in 1969 and reappears in the new "Slip 
Away." When Mr. Bowie starts his tour with a show for fan-club 
members at Roseland on Tuesday, he plans to play all 12 songs on 
"Heathen," followed by all of "Low." Hearing the music 25 years later 
"makes the hairs on my arm stand up," he said.

      To make "Low," Mr. Bowie recalled: "I had brought the idea of 
having fundamentally an R & B rhythm section working against this new 
zeitgeist of electronic ambience that was happening in Germany. It 
was terribly exciting to know that one had stumbled across something 
which was truly innovative.

      "At that time, I was vacillating badly between euphoria and 
incredible depression. Berlin was at that time not the most beautiful 
city of the world, and my mental condition certainly matched it. I 
was abusing myself so badly. My subtext to the whole thing is that 
I'm so desperately unhappy, but I've got to pull through because I 
can't keep living like this. There's actually a real optimism about 
the music. In its poignancy there is, shining through under there 
somewhere, the feeling that it will be all right."

      Drug problems are long behind him, Mr. Bowie said. He now 
hesitates to take even an Advil because. "I have such an addictive 
personality," he said.

      Making "Heathen," he and Mr. Visconti were leery of nostalgia. 
"One thing we haven't tried to be is cutting edge," Mr. Bowie said. 
"The other thing we've tried not to do is to delve too far into the 
past and rely on our known strengths, our known previous work. We do 
know, between us, how to landscape a song and give it a real place, 
an identity and a character. I guess that's the vestiges of the more 
theatrical things."

      The album starts with "Sunday" and ends with its title song, 
both hushed and haunted by mortality. In "Heathen," Mr. Bowie sings, 
"Still on the skyline, sky made of glass/ Made for a real world, all 
things must pass." The album was written before Sept. 11, however, 
and the songs join a long line of Mr. Bowie's apocalyptic scenarios.

      "I hope that a writer does have these antennae that pick up on 
low-level anxiety and all those Don DeLillo resonances within our 
culture," he said. "But I don't want to say that it was in any way 
trying to suggest that it was going to happen. It's not like it's 
something new to me. These are all personal crises, I'm sure, that I 
manifest in a song format and project into physical situations. You 
make little stories up about how you feel. It's as simple as that."

      Between his own ruminations, he borrows "Gemini Spacecraft," the 
Pixies' "Cactus" and Neil Young's "I've Been Waiting for You"; in 
songs like "Afraid" and "I Would Be Your Slave," he sings about love, 
insecurity and transience.

      "I tried to make a checklist of what exactly the album is about 
and abandonment was in there, isolation," he said. "And I thought, 
well, nothing's changed much. At 55, I don't really think it's going 
to change very much. As you get older, the questions come down to 
about two or three. How long? And what do I do with the time I've got 
left?

      "When it's taken that nakedly, these are my subjects. And it's 
like, well, how many times can you do this? And I tell myself, 
actually, over and over again. The problem would be if I was too 
self-confident and actually came up with resolutions for these 
questions. But I think they're such huge unanswerable questions that 
it's just me posing them, again and again."--

   Web Site: http://davidbowie.com
   Web Site: http://bowieart.com

   Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company
   David Bowie's new album is on his own label.

-- 
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           N!C3 S!MULC4ST STR34M!!! hTTp://share.ffem.org

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