No but seriously, the greatest bookstore in the world.

The entire second floor was a literal labyrinth of books, each priced for only $1. They had shopping bins that you could use to carry your finds.

There was a book tunnel and book-art and everything smelled good. I want to go back and live there.


Posters for an invitational exhibition of revisited film posters for Afrofuturism classics that is tentatively scheduled for October 2015. They are designed to be 27″ X 40″.  I tried my best to reflect the movies well in both content and aesthetic.

For “Cosmic Slop”, I referenced the Parliament Funkadelic’s aesthetic while using imagery from the three short films included in the HBO spot. George Clinton’s floating head appears between films and the Parliament Funkadelic has a album titled “Cosmic Slop.” 

For “The Brother From Another Planet”, I chose to reference the main character’s constant use of the “thumbs up” to explain where he is from (outer space) to New Yorkers. It’s a very unusual way to point as well as a gesture fitting to the good-natured alien protagonist.

For “PUMZI”, I decided to use high contrasted minimal imagery to reference the contrast between the rugged radioactive landscape and clean minimal architecture inside. The word “pumzi” translates as “breath” in Swahili and the film is partially about finding fertile soil in a post-apocalyptic radioactive world so the use of plant life for lungs seemed to be a good fit.  


For my second of three thoughts today, I move into speculation. Pure and simple. We may never know the full particulars; I am content with not knowing. But I ask you to consider what we now know on the public face of it to be the last year and a half of David Bowie’s life, and what he chose to do and achieve. The photos here serve as illustration. We have been, I think, looking too closely at Blackstar’s release as ‘the final act,’ and if the timeline seems either obsessive or nitpicky, I ask you, simply, to consider the stakes, and what resulted.

Rumors had been floated about his health during his long public absence, of course. And in retrospect, some of the darker, or simply more contemplative, lyrical elements or visual presentations for The Next Day could reflect this. Again, we do not know for sure, especially now that we know for certain exactly how private he chose to keep news of his health in general from wider knowledge. Therefore, I will stick to the timeline as stated in the formal announcement via Twitter and Facebook and his website, that he passed after being diagnosed eighteen months prior – essentially, July 2014.

Bowie and Tony Visconti had already contacted Maria Schneider in May 2014 about a collaboration, which later resulted in “Sue (Or a Season of Choice),” released as a stand-alone Black Friday single later than November. What or how far in advance anything had been planned in May is utterly unclear; the recording took place that summer, backed with the original version of “'Tis a Pity She’s a Whore,” both of which would return, rerecorded, on .

Per Bowie’s official site, though: first formal word of anything came out on the 9th of September, 2014, when the career-spanning Nothing Has Changed was announced in concert with the single. We do not know specifically what the circumstances were either regarding the exact origin of the compilation or how Bowie chose to assemble it. But it was extremely notable for a very specific reason: it was the first formal compilation and overview of Bowie’s work from, quite literally, his first ever single, “Liza Jane,” through to “Sue (Or a Season of Choice)” ever issued, a formal fifty-year sweep. Its presentation, with multiple covers and tracklistings – some chronological, some in reverse – bespeaks questions of time and perception, and not a little history, as the younger Bowie contemplates himself in a mirror, the older Bowie does in turn. It is issued, along with the single and a video for it in turn.

But the clock is ticking. Potentially. We know nothing of Bowie’s exact diagnosis or health or any potential care schedule. We should not expect to know it. But it has to be hanging over the inner circle, with Visconti included at some point, who as he had for The Next Day now speaks on Bowie’s behalf, essentially becoming his de facto representative from here on in. He cannot break cover at all from a certain point. This speaks to a remarkable, deeply felt trust and friendship I do not feel I have the words to describe.

Per the Rolling Stone story on done with Visconti’s help as well as Sasha Frere-Jones’ interview with him that ran earlier this week but was conducted before Bowie’s passing, we know this: in the late spring of 2014, Bowie had already seen Donny McCaslin’s band perform in NYC after a tip from Schneider and asked McCaslin and his drummer to contribute to “Sue.” Formal demos for what would become began in 'mid-2014,’ and then to quote the story: “Then Bowie disappeared for five months to work on the new material at his house. "He’s got a little setup there,” says Visconti. “And there was no clear communication from him until December. That’s when he told me he was ready to make the album.”“ We can now read into this what we choose.

The recording sessions for occurred in a string of sessions from January to April of last year, with occasional participation from James Murphy and guitarist Ben Monder along with McCaslin’s band. [UPDATE: in a further interview in Rolling Stone, Visconti added: "He just came fresh from a chemo session, and he had no eyebrows, and he had no hair on his head….and there was no way he could keep it a secret from the band. But he told me privately, and I really got choked up when we sat face to face talking about it.”]  McCaslin has said in an interview earlier this week that the sessions were excellent and described Bowie as “totally engaged,” with a “great attitude.” Bassist Tim LeFebvre, in his own interview this week, “I knew that David was ill, but not to this point. He made us understand that he was frail. We didn’t realize. When he sang, when he played, he had strength and a real punch.” McCaslin also told Frere-Jones, “He was totally engaged. He came into the main room with us and sang while we played. We’d take a break, come back a few days later, and it would be clear that he and Tony had been listening really closely to the recordings.” So keep in mind the combination of drive, mental energy and background condition at play here.

Now – according to an NY Times story published this past November, producer Robert Fox approached playwright Enda Walsh 'last spring’ about Bowie’s desire to write for the stage. James Nicola, artistic director of the New York Theater Workshop, said last year in April that a project had been 'secretly in development for some years,’ without giving details. This was of course ultimately the genesis of Lazarus, which included songs from those sessions, including of course the title track. Per the NY Times story, Walsh and Bowie took new songs Bowie provided plus others from his catalogue and started working on a script. Plans progressed from there with Belgian director Ivo Van Hove approached following a “first draft” and accepting following a formal script. With new songs from the Blackstar sessions eventually forming part of the production, Lazarus was formally announced to the world on April 2 – implying that a lot of final initial work had happened even while sessions were in fact continuing.   vocal tracking sessions occurred after the band was done in March, with Visconti indicating most of the vocals had been recut.

It’s now June 2015, and on June 22nd, there is another announcement: a new box set in September from Bowie, Five Years. It covers what’s still possibly the most generally famous-over-time stretch of his recording career, from Space Oddity to Aladdin Sane/Pin-Ups, the formal full launch of Bowie from inspired if generally unsuccessful singer and songwriter on the go into someone first famous at home and then increasingly so overseas. While Bowie does not contribute to any of the new liner notes or information – the honors go to original producers Visconti and Ken Scott, along with the Kinks’ Ray Davies – he almost certainly has a very, very careful eye on this presentation throughout, including its scope and range. Further, the press announcement indicates that this is the “first in a series” of such sets – a plan, following the release of Nothing Has Changed just eight months before, is unfolding. Then, two days later, Michael C. Hall is announced as the head of the Lazarus cast.

Keep in mind this has been a year since the formal cancer diagnosis, per the formal message of his passing, and that we do not know how much treatment he has to go through, nor how much time he can realistically spend, or wants to spend, on all these projects.

Casting and rehearsals for Lazarus fully begin from there, with Bowie participating to some degree, but not on a regular one. In radio interviews that took place this week, Van Hove spoke frankly about how that went, borrowing from a rough translation online: “…he told me over a year and 3-4 months ago, after we had been working for a few months on the musical Lazarus. And then he said in confidence that he was badly ill. That he should know this, if Bowie wouldn’t show up he’d know why. I didn’t even tell my partner, who is also working on the musical.” He went on to say that Bowie “truly did not want to die…he really fought like a lion,” but that he fully respected Bowie’s privacy and did not pry any further. Bowie appeared in photographs attending some workshops and rehearsals in New York magazine in December, but otherwise, as per his recording work, offered no further public comment. Fuller cast details are given out in mid-September.

While this is going on, continues being prepared for release. (not to mention more in what’s been a continuing series of limited edition vinyl releases for both past albums and singles throughout the world all this time). On September 22, after the formal release of Five Years has happened, it’s announced that a separate new Bowie song, “The Last Panthers” (to my knowledge, no formal recording details of this are available) will appear on a miniseries of the same name directed by Johan Renck, after Renck’s assistant reached out to Bowie “on a whim,” to quote an interview with Renck in Noisey in November. According to a separate Rolling Stone story that month, filming Bowie’s scenes for the “Blackstar” video occurred in July. Again, to my knowledge, no formal word about when the “Lazarus” video was made has emerged, but it could make sense given elements such as the shared eye-dressing and their own respective schedules that it was filmed at around the same time. After some initial rumors, is formally announced on October 25, with “Blackstar”’s single and video following a month later.

Lazarus previews begin on November 18th, “Blackstar” appears on the 19th. Lazarus opened on December 7th, with Bowie in attendance taking a bow. Van Hove in a radio interview: “We were on stage, receiving applause and in "De Volkskrant” (a Dutch paper) in the Netherlands we read that
he was standing there in good health with great energy. But we weren’t even down the stairs of the stage and he collapsed. Together with Enda Walsh we have talked for about 15 minutes. And then I knew, that evening, when he walked out of the door into his car that this would likely be the last time we’d see each other. And this turned out to be so.“

The rest, we know about, as much as we do – which at this point is next to nothing. I believe it should stay that way, and I have a strong hunch it will. The artistic collaborators have now spoken more frankly, and they will say more. [UPDATE: and they have.  A just published interview with Tony Visconti indicates that in his final weeks “Bowie wrote and demo-ed five fresh songs, and was anxious to return to the studio one last time" though he had received word his cancer was terminal in November, and that he had gone into temporary remission in summer.] The tight circle of Duncan Jones, Iman, Alexandria and Coco Schwab have offered nothing further.

But I look back over these last eighteen months, all that was said and done that we now know about. There was much stock-taking, a wrapping up, a plan for the future for the 'archive,’ in musical terms at least, a last ambition filled. But my sense is simply that he was pushing as he could. There might always be one new project, one last film, one last song. But more importantly, to underscore strong comments Van Hove made repeatedly: ”….meeting him multiple times, in that very difficult year in which he truly did not want to die. He still has a very young child, a daughter aged 13,14. He truly is a family man, he is really somebody who likes to be at home….He made a new album, worked at the musical. I had an immense respect for him, but with tears in my eyes….I do think he liked that that I didn’t try to get to know stuff about his private life. When he talked about it, I let him and i never… I felt that he didn’t want to talk about that. We did talk in great length about other things, even those last days.“

I stand in quiet awe.