Bowie Bows Out Gracefully

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david bowie heroes

 

David Bowie has left the building. And what a legacy he has bequeathed the world in his wake!

I am not about to dissect his massive career trajectory or analyse this complex personality that few people ever really knew. Of course he had an impact on numerous genres of music, including electronica. But I shan’t go into that here. Instead I will share how I have experienced him over the years.

I first became aware of who David Bowie was in the 80’s when “Let’s Dance” burned up the airwaves. It was catchy and oh so very different from anything I’d ever heard. My innocent ears were hooked right from the doo wop intro. And David’s richly textured voice and haunting lyrics mesmerized the hell out of my imagination. I actually thought “Let’s Dance” was a love song. It was not until many years later I saw the video, paid attention to the lyrics and realized he was making a heavy statement about the effects of post-colonialism on Aboriginal culture.

Bowie understood how to deliver quite an effective statement using dramatic irony through music. It didn’t matter that I got it 30 something years later. The strength of the song was such that like a mysterious golden thread one finds in a forest, I was compelled to follow its trail to the source. Little did I suspect how deeply it would go or how often it would wind mysteriously.

“Let’s Dance,” the album, introduced David Bowie to my generation. His collaboration with musical alchemist, Chic’s Nile Rodgers as co-producer, cemented this subsequent chapter of continued success.

I need not say how unusual it is for a musician to have such longevity in an industry that regularly chews up talent and spits them out for breakfast. 10 years later, you might catch a former A-lister performing at half-time in the NBA. David’s career spans 50 years. That is longer than I have been alive.

Putting Out Fire, his closing song for “Cat People” (1982) was a strangely soothing finale for a rather frightening film. Veering into adolescence, I found the mix of mysticism, eroticism and violence confusing yet fascinating (hint: my parents should never have let me watch this film!). Nonetheless, I thought this composition captured the essence of what Cat People was about.

And who can ever forget David’s turn as The Goblin King in Labyrinth? I’m sure millions of girls wanted to marry Jareth, even if it meant putting up with his loathsome, smelly minions. A very clever casting decision indeed. Thank God Mick Jagger didn’t get the role! Obviously someone noticed Bowie’s penchant for playing enigmatic characters. Overall, Jareth was a rather ambiguous personality. I knew he was supposed to be bad because he was a goblin and he stole a baby. However, he was also handsome, fun and full of magic. And he could sing! How could The Goblin King be truly evil if he could sing?

I grew up and David Bowie disappeared from my  radar, only to emerge years later with his  marriage to African supermodel Iman. I admired them both, but I was especially intrigued by the interracial element of their union, which was not particularly widespread at David’s level. I thought, “Here is a man with heart and integrity. He doesn’t care what people think.”

Iman-and-husband-David-Bowie

From then on, I occasionally caught glimpses of David when his music was sampled or when he popped up in the news. Generally speaking, I never really heard or saw much of him until the advent of The Prestige (2006), one of the most brilliant films I have ever seen. Directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Michael Caine, Christopher Bale and Hugh Jackman, it is a mindbending masterpiece. Bowie’s interpretation of Nikola Tesla is absolutely stunning. His onscreen charisma is virtually unmatched by any other actor except Marlon Brando in Guys and Dolls. For a long time afterwards, I thought how surprising David was. As a singer/musician, he managed to accomplish a successful acting career, an extremely rare feat. I recognized then that he was a force to be reckoned with.

In 2013, I saw the critically acclaimed exhibit, David Bowie Is while working at The Art Gallery of Ontario. Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei’s show was running simultaneously and it was the craziest, busiest time in the gallery’s history. That experience was a game changer. It was then I discovered the fantastic, versatile, genre bending world of David Bowie. I was surprised to learn that he was making music since the 60’s. Touched that he acknowledged Little Richard as one of his influences. And Jones was his actual surname, not Bowie! His various modalities encompassed theatre, pantomime, commercials, fashion design, computer programming, visual art and more. There were costumes, props, film clips, soundbites, paintings, lyric notes, sketches, storyboards, album covers, a mugshot and a coke spoon. It was mindblowing. I saw it again until I’d had enough. David went over the edge so many times yet somehow, he managed to survive and produce such an amazing treasure trove of art.

I was delighted to discover that Bowie was responsible for a song that I used to hear on the radio during childhood without knowing who the artist was. For the first time, I saw the video for “Blue Jean.” His androgynous, stylish alter-ego captivated me. The way he moved was perfect. I even empathized with his loser nice guy persona trying to impress his gorgeous date. Behind me, the Middle Eastern inspired costume he wore was on display. Security was not around. I caressed the flashy pants and touched the pointy shoes, knowing that David’s fingers once touched them. This was as close as I would ever get to him physically and I was content with that knowledge.

The exhibit made quite an impact on me. Bowie was obviously ahead of his time, yet on point in ushering new trends into the world. Music history is filled with artists that were ahead of their time and died without gaining true recognition. David Bowie is not one of them.

It also occurred to me that now I was getting close to the source of that golden thread I found in the forest. I began to discover that  Bowie sang an astonishing number of songs that I loved over the years, but being so young, I could not make an association then. There is a magic and a mystery to how this enigma unfolded. To this day, I am convinced that I was placed at the AGO specifically so I could learn about David’s legacy. The depth of what I discovered cannot be conveyed so easily, neither is everyone ready to accept it. Not like I care. And David did not care either.

Bowie has left the world so many clues as to what he really was. Yet the majority prefer to remain blissfully unaware.

Last summer, I took my recorder into the forest. After seating myself on a grassy knoll, I played Blue Jean. The atmosphere was peaceful, pensive, perfect. I had an appreciative, yet largely invisible audience. My search for the golden ball of thread had come full circle.

I saw the Blackstar video the day it dropped. It was profound. It shook me up. I did not know he was dying, but I recognized great mysteries were being revealed. I found it remarkable that a man in his 60’s remained absolutely relevant in the music industry, nevermind a society that often invalidates senior citizens. My admiration stepped up a notch.

David Bowie left this world 3 days after he released Blackstar, his 25th album. Much has been made about the timing of these events. All I will say is that his exit was orchestrated through mastery. Part of his message was the transcendence of suffering. In suffering there is always a gift. Instead of throwing a pity party and accepting death as inevitable defeat, he chose to give the best of himself. Definitely something the rest of humanity can learn a lot from.

Not to mention, Blackstar’s got some wicked bass stabs. Nuff said!

Copyright © 2016 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

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2015 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Happy 4th Frankenräver!

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Well it’s that time of year again. I am honestly surprised that I am still writing for this blog, especially since I haven’t partied much as of late. Where Frankenräver’s gonna be within a year is anybody’s guess but I’m hoping it will remain interesting. And relevant. And fun!

With the laughable (to ravers) but much lauded (to big pharma) discovery that ketamine has medical benefit for treating depression, it seems that we’ve taken one small step closer to ending prohibition on certain psychoactives. Though it might be a cold day in hell before anyone can legally buy magic mushrooms in a North American head shop, attitudes seem to be shifting. Slowly.

Now that we have a part-time pot smoker for PM, it will be interesting to see what new legislation will be enacted to give Canadians a bigger piece of the pie. Especially seeing how the cousins down south have gotten their fingers all up in the green, turning marijuana regulation into a legal billion dollar industry while Canada quibbles over licensing the miracle herb for medicinal use. Hmmm…we all know what happened to basketball, the great Canadian invention. The Americans took it over and now we have the NBA! And no, Raptors will not make it to the finals. Again. I rest my case.

Thanks to readers worldwide for checking out my blog. France, Serbia, America, Emirates, Benin – and 90 something other countries –  I am happy to know that stuff I wrote 2 years ago still gets some appreciation! With any luck, there will be more to come. Stay tuned!

Cheers,
Frankenräver

Copyright © 2015 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

CODA: REUNION or “There Comes a Time in Every Raver’s Life…”

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L. to r. Jeff, Ed and Frankenräver

L. to r: Jeff, Ed and Frankenräver

It was great seeing my former rave champion bud Ed after an 8 year absence. And the ol skool crew: Uncle Steve, Jeff and Turtle. The reunion took place at CODA, 1 of Toronto’s few remaining nightclubs. Guy Gerber headlined alongside Jeff Button, Gera and Jonathan Rosa. Only the prospect of seeing Ed could convince me to part with $35 for the “reduced guestlist” – a feat I don’t plan to repeat. Come to think of it, 3 + 5 = 8; looks like I was destined to be overcharged! Fortunately, Fate sent Frankenräver a hefty rebate in the form of money bills scattered on the floor in random places.

I could complain about the ridiculous overuse of dry ice but when the Universe gifts you crisp, beautiful moola, why bother?

Ironcially, CODA was memorable as an interesting exercise in the evolutionary curve of a raver’s life. Back in the 90’s, most of the crew were single and living at home with a fair amount of disposable income to burn. We would party every weekend at the drop of a dime. Peeps would bring their boyfriends and girlfriends. As ravers mature, priorities shift. Decadent party life becomes a thing of the past, something to wax nostalgic over a glass of wine or a YouTube playlist. People establish careers (hopefully), get married, have kids, divorce (often), and grow disenchanted, relegating all remnants of Rave to the back of the broom closet.

The couple that plays together stays together. Ricky and Lisa

The couple that plays together stays together. Ricky and Lisa

Some manage to retain a certain spark with the knowledge that life is different but not in a bad way. Now you party with people’s spouses. Someone’s wife is expecting a baby yet she is there on the dancefloor. Pretty impressive. You notice stuff…folks have gained weight, lost some, acquired a few laugh lines here and there. It’s a mental readjustment but thankfully, one that’s not too painful to make. All that’s required is a good dose of common sense (hi-5ives are OK, impromptu massages on your married friends DEFINITELY NOT!).

Mandy, Ed's wife bought me a drink. “Ed's friend is my friend,” she said. Respect!

Mandy, Ed’s wife bought me a drink. “Ed’s friend is my friend,” she said. Respect!

For others, it can be tough letting go of the past. As you age, your once nubile body can no longer tolerate the abuse you dished out week after week, ingesting all manner of pharmaceuticals, intoxicants and combinations thereof outlandish and simultaneously reckless. The urge to recapture those fleeting carefree days of yore can prove to be an irresistible temptation. It comes at a price not just to one’s physical health. In the push to prolong an experience that cannot be relived, some mature ravers can put themselves in danger of a dysfunctional life, stuck in limbo between a tenuous yesterday and a precarious now. The only way to strike a healthy balance is to accept the 90’s are gone and focus on building a healthy productive life. Be kind to your body but above all, be kind to yourself! Aging is a part of the human experience; it is what you make of it, nothing more. You will need to either reduce recreational drug use, cut it out altogether or find a more body friendly alternative. That is, if you wish to avoid looking haggard and bloated by the time you hit 40. Party when you need to. Celebrate your friends and cherish every moment shared, even on Facebook. Start a blog, write a book (does any of this sound familiar?

Turtle gains perspective in a sea of dry ice

Turtle gains some perspective in a sea of dry ice

Ok, enough of the generalisms. This is where I stand. I’m meeting my friend and his wife with my single self. That means I need to forget about wearing that neon fishnet navelbreaker or risk looking like a tramp to raver wives. Skip G and stick with booze or potentially wind up twitching on a sofa like my fellow mature raver. Last but not least, marriage life ain’t so bad, judging from the happy couples at CODA. Just hook up with a like-minded, positively attuned party lover and everything should be fine.

Ed, it was a pleasure seeing you again! And meeting your adorable wife. Hang in there bud, we’re going to Ibiza! One day. By the way, did you notice that pot-bellied juicemonkey who looked like he was wondering where the fuck the party went? Down south most likely.

Still a long way from the retirement home

Still a long way from the retirement home!

Copyright © 2015 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Life After Clubland

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Veteran local DJ and author Denise Benson dishes on the state of Toronto’s nightlife in this article for MetroNews dated September 24th 2015. The famed “Clubland” district on Richmond and Adelaide streets is now a bland, sanitized smorgasbord with no hint of its semi-seedy past. It’s a crying shame, one that for all intents and purposes Toronto is proudly living up to. Benson is bang on when she states, “The closing of a number of venues in the early to mid-2000s, to me, signals a serious change that we haven’t entirely recovered from.” Well, that’s putting it nicely!

Actually, the death knell for the city’s clubscene has been sounding for quite some time, most notably in a revealing article by TorStar journalist Shawn Micallef in 2013. Gone is the bleeding ear dynamics of System Soundbar (I was there on opening night). Or giggling when you find out Jerry got kicked out of The Guvernment for doing coke in the bathroom. Or developing a mild crush on a jet-lagged Joey Beltram spinning at Turbo. What gives? Like I said before in a previous article, it’s time for suburbia to open up a can of kickass. Heck, even other provinces can pony up a slice of dance music pie – it’s up for grabs really. If pow wow step as popularized by A Tribe Called Red can come out of Ottawa, who knows what could emerge from Kingston? Foxstep maybe. Or reverbia in Cornwall. How about rattlecore from Rexdale? Only time will tell.

Copyright © 2015 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

A Tribe Called Red Stirs Things Up

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For many years, the Indigenous people of (the stolen land known as) Canada remained under the mainstream cultural radar. They simply didn’t seem to exist anywhere; in magazines, radio, newsprint or television. They were spoken of in whispers and when I did see them, they kept very much to themselves. In the back of my mind I found this disparity rather disquieting but had no idea what was wrong. I had yet to know anything about the horrific legacy of residential schools and the effects of post-colonialism.

Along came Idle No More and changed all that. Suddenly First Nations and Aboriginals were in the spotlight, standing up for environmental issues and shaking things up. The pendulum was finally swinging in the other direction. And the time was right for A Tribe Called Red to enter the spotlight.

After the release of their eponymous album as a free download in 2012, things gained considerable momentum for the trio of DJ’s from Ottawa, namely Tim “2oolman” Hill, Bear Witness and Ian “DJ NDN” Campeau. Glowing reviews in NOW magazine tagged them as a group to watch. The plaintive tribal wail of Electric Pow Wow Drum fused with infectious dubby rhythms made millions of heads bop and take notice. Technically their music can be described as pow wow music married with electronica and hip-hop elements. On a deeper level, their aforementioned signature track is a protest song; the singers’ visceral war like cry contrasts sharply with the playfully condescending voiceover of a white American comedian making off the cuff remarks about “Indians.” In an unobtrusive manner, A Tribe Called Red brings deep seated racism to the forefront while making you shake a leg. Which is no small accomplishment, given how uncomfortable a subject matter this is for so many.

At the end of the day, their music is essentially geared to make you forget all your troubles and dance your ass off. Which they managed to do successfully during Panamania at Nathan Phillips Square on August 12th. It was immensely gratifying to see my taxpaying dollars do something useful for a change! Though at times I sensed they needed to stretch themselves artistically, (as if they’d become a wee bit bored with playing certain songs) they were a definite crowd pleaser. It was pretty dope to see the athletically gifted hoop dancer interpret a remix of A Tribe Called Quest’s “Award Tour.”

Anyone who’s ever attended a pow wow can attest to the raw power of traditional chanting with men screaming at the top of their lungs as they whack a huge drum in syncopation while dancers dressed in fine regalia move in a slow circle around the drummers. Big ups to A Tribe Called Red for bringing traditional music to the masses in an easy to digest format. It can only get better from here on out.

Copyright © 2015 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Michael Lives…in an Alternate Universe

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Copyright © 2015 Frankie Diamond

Copyright © 2015 Frankie Diamond

We live in a world without Michael Jackson. Sure we have his music, his art, his legacy but the King of Pop blew the stand 6 years ago today. Suppose Michael is alive and well in an alternate universe? If you think I’m crazy just pose this question to a quantum physicist; the answer might surprise you. Heck, it was enough to get me excited enough to create this hasty painting to honour this great entertainer. I recently had a conversation with Michael on the other side of the galaxy; here’s what he had to say.

F: Hi Michael! So good to have this opportunity to chat with you. Tell me, what’s life like on your end?

MJ: I really love it here. It’s so amazing! I’ve never felt such peace in my life.

F: Do you miss Earth?

MJ: Sometimes. I miss my children most of all and my family and all the people I’ve ever loved. But no, I don’t miss Earth. People can be so mean and cruel. Out here, there’s nothing like that; only love. This atmosphere is so blissful! I wish humans could feel more love for everything around them. That would make the world a better place.

F: Isn’t this the message that you’ve tried to relay through your music?

MJ: Yes, yes of course! I think I made a lot of people happy with my music, especially children. They are the future of planet Earth you know. All I ever wanted to do was bring joy, light and love through my artform. Some people didn’t get it but that’s okay. Maybe one day they will. If it’s not through my music, it will come in a different way.

F: Michael, I’m going to ask you a question that might make you uncomfortable. You don’t have to answer if you don’t want too. Cool?

MJ: Ok.

F: Why did you have so much plastic surgery? Some people say it’s because you hated your African features.

MJ: Well…they don’t know what they’re talking about. First of all, they have no idea what it was like to be me. The real reason why I chose to alter my features has nothing to do with me hating my blackness and everything to do with changing my outer appearance to match my inner identity.

F: Inner identity? Can you explain a little further.

MJ: I used to have these dreams where I would see myself with features like what you drew in your painting. This happened a lot when I was a child and I was confused. I couldn’t understand what it meant because when I looked in the mirror, I saw a black kid. As I got older, I began to realize that those dreams were actually memories of a past life. What a lot of people don’t know is that plastic surgery is not a modern invention. The Atlanteans and Egyptians were altering their features thousands of years ago. There is so much that modern society does not know and those that do keep a lot of it secret.

F: Interesting. But don’t you think you went a bit overboard? For me personally, after Thriller you could have stopped; your face was so beautiful then. And still recognizably Michael to many.

MJ: There were days when I looked in the mirror and cried at what I did to myself. Yes, sometimes I thought I went too far. But there was nothing I could do to reverse the damage. I just had to accept it and keep living, day by day. The one thing I learned from that experience was you can never be physically perfect in this world, no matter how you try. The only perfect thing in this world is pure love that comes from a mother and especially children and animals. They don’t judge you, they don’t expect anything from you except love. And that helped to keep me alive through so many challenges and unbelievable difficulties that I would not wish on my worst enemy.

F: Do you feel that your work on Earth is finished? Do you see yourself coming back here at some point?

MJ: Hmmm…well, I think the Earth is so beautiful. I had so many amazing experiences there and in spite of all the pain, I know I’m truly blessed. I came into this world, knowing what my purpose was, having all this amazing support and opportunities to grow into what I came to be. I’ve been travelling all across the universe as a messenger of love bringing healing to other beings through light, color and sound for a very long time. As much as I love Earth, I shall not be returning. I will continue to spread my message in other worlds, for this universe is so vast. Humans need to learn more about being in their hearts before they can even begin to have friendly relations with extra-terrestrials.

F: How does the Earth situation look from where you are?

MJ: Right now, it’s very serious. Humans are in a lot of trouble, more than they realize. If they continue to hurt each other and pollute the environment, then they are not only endangering other lifeforms on the planet, they are also endangering themselves. Many extra-terrestrials are actually not impressed with humans and don’t want to make contact with them, and there are others that do. So if people want to see change for the better, they have to start with themselves.

F: That’s the whole point of “Man In The Mirror.”

MJ: Exactly. That’s the message I was trying to get across.

F: I think a lot of people got it. So there is still hope for humans after all.

MJ: There is always hope. Keep hope alive.

F: Thanks Michael. I’d love to swing by your hood sometime.

MJ: Frankie, you’re always welcome to drop by.

F: I love you Michael.

MJ: I love you too Frankie.

Copyright © 2015 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

3 Years of Frankenräver

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Today marks the 3 year anniversary of Frankenräver. At that age, I was a screaming mass of raw energy; temperamental, curious and testing the boundaries of my parent’s patience. Although I haven’t posted anything in months, it doesn’t mean that I’ve given up. Au contraire, I’ve been quietly, constantly evolving and so my point of view on a number of subjects has shifted drastically.

After much consideration, I’ve concluded that there’s nothing about Toronto’s party scene that holds much appeal for me anymore. Raving as I knew it in the 90’s is dead, done over – ain’t never coming back. Tough shit. Sorry to dash the hopes of all you ol skoolers still striving to “bring back” that flavour with your sentimental little bashes. The truth is, many are far too self-centred, distracted, emotionally obtuse in this society to invoke the spirit of PLUR on a grand scale, but that’s not to say it’s still not happening. Just not in Toronto.

Call it maturity (or even ennuie), but I feel the energy calling me somewhere else. I can’t say much right now, except to say that I’m pretty excited about it. Instead of clinging to the past and false hopes of long lost glory, I’ve opened myself to new horizons, broadening my scope on a fantastic scene that has spread around the globe. In 2013, Frankenräver garnered hits from 114 countries from some pretty surprising places including Qatar, Benin, Hungary, Kyrgyzstan, Thailand, Algeria, Venezuela, Estonia, Peru, Vietnam and Egypt. I’m happy to know that rave culture has touched so many lives on this planet and will continue to do so for many years to come.

Thanks to all of you for your support and readership. Stay tuned for new and interesting developments to come in the near future.

Raving is like a retrovirus. It never truly left me and I don’t think it ever will. Beats herpes anyday!

PLUR,
Frankenräver

😀

Copyright © 2014 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

I guess we are all searching for…somethig?!

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From research done by real estate site Estately. (I am disturbed….deeply disturbed)

America’s fifty states have a lot in common, but if their internet search histories are any indication they also have significant differences. Estately ran hundreds of search queries through Google Trends to determine which words, terms, and questions each state was searching for more than any other. The results ranged from mildly amusing to completely disturbing. No doubt this information will come in handy for anyone trying to decide which state they want to buy a home in, especially for those curious how their potential neighbors spend their time online. The results on the map above are just the tip of the online search iceberg. Check out what other search queries each state performed more of than any other in the list below…

ALABAMA: FOX News / God / Impeach Obama / Jesus / Jessica Simpson /…

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