David Bowie Tribute: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

KCRW's Queen of Traffic, Kajon Cermak gives her thoughts on David Bowie's passing, referencing his classic "Ziggy Stardust" album as a touchstone.

My friend died last week. Well, not really my friend friend – I mean I didn’t know him know him, but he has been with me since high school. He helped me through some really difficult times. He never made me feel bad about myself or that there was something wrong with me. On the contrary, he made me feel smart, wanted, lovable; he inspired me to want to get up and dance. He could get me out of my own head. Insisting I was special, he told me I am not alone, but most importantly what he taught me was how special we all are.

ziggy

“Oh no love! You’re not alone. No matter what or who you’ve been
No matter when or where you’ve seen. All the knives seem to lacerate your brain
I’ve had my share, I’ll help you with the pain You’re not alone”

Whenever I listened to him he helped me to see beyond. Creating a path in undefined territory he expanded my boundaries on…well, just about everything, music, fashion, sexuality, diversity. His example of inclusivity was a demonstration of how one can make peace. It is only in accepting others that we slay the dragon and find the way to accept ourselves. With that you are home free.

I did meet him once. He was performing at the Blackstone Theatre in downtown Chicago in a play. Hells bells, I couldn’t believe it! Sure he was a helluva performer when he sang, a great lyricist and musician, too. But an actor? And the lead in “The Elephant Man” no less. As Joseph Merrick he took us out of our comfort zone, questioning what is normal and made ugly beautiful. There he goes, reminding me that I don’t know everything. Again I am challenged to look deeper at what I think I see.

It is only now at this stage — this age in my life I am embracing — that I know nothing. Marc Goldstein, a friend of mine, said it best: “I can’t remember experiencing/feeling this kind of loss over anybody else’s passing, not even MJ. Everywhere you go, everyone you speak to, no matter what color, race, nationality or age. It’s massive, and the grief is so very real. I think a piece of our collective human experience died with him.”

“And all the fat-skinny people, and all the tall-short people
And all the nobody people, and all the somebody people
I never thought I’d need so many people”

At a time when a generation of children wanted to grow up to be astronauts, David Bowie took the astronaut wannabe’s into space. Then as Ziggy he brought space down to the rest of us.

 

Kajon Cermak