Yesterday, my old chum Candace, whom I haven’t seen since high school, came out of the woodwork to post a condolence on my Facebook wall: I heard the news about Bowie this morning, and immediately thought of you…:-(

When I heard the news, I thought of Candace too. And Jean, Ka-Kei, Rita, Anneliese, Erin and all the young women in our Catholic school who spent their formative years in the thrall of Bowie’s ever-changing moods.


As an artist, David Bowie represented the spectrum of humanity. If such possibilities could co-exist in one person, why couldn’t they co-exist in the world? In using music, drama and fashion to explore his own identity, he sent us on a quest to find our own. Although it was the eighties, we looked to the Golden Years (aka the seventies) for inspiration and discontent. In the face of sequin pantsuits, elevator shoes, and silk scarves, it was our polyester tunics, second-hand Wallabees, and cotton bloomers that seemed unholy. And it was Bowie, louche and androgynous, who made us rethink the value of judging a potential grad date by his watch, haircut and shoes.

Steeped in Stardust and Spiders and Monsters, we absorbed Bowie with the heady, single-minded intensity unique to teenaged girls. And yet, when I read the news online, the air left my body. My stomach lurched. Exactly the way it would have had he died 25 years ago.

David Bowie in a mustard suit

Every time an icon like Bowie bites the dust, the generation of people whose lives they helped define lose a little bit of themselves. It’s an unnerving reminder that the passing of an icon isn’t just about the artist. It’s a cathartic exercise in grappling with the passage of time. If a shape-shifting space alien/vampire can’t be forever young, what hope do the rest of us have? We now live in a world where we measure an artist’s worth by the number of social media postings they generate. This week, Social Media is Bowie Media. And the hits keep coming.