When I Met David Bowie

I was working on a project with Iman, Bowie’s wife. They were living at the time on Central Park South, a hotel-style apartment overlooking Central Park that they would soon abandon for digs in SoHo. We sat in the living room, had something to drink. I told David how much his “Ziggy Stardust” album had meant to me as a kid growing up in a small, Great Plains town. He nodded. How many million times had he heard the same from grown-up children around the world? Mostly, however, we talked about books we were reading. It was one of those moments when you realize that the celebrity you have been worshipping your whole life is quite different from the person sitting in front of you. I had a copy of Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry in my backpack, which I gave to him. (He had heard of her but had never read her work.) In exchange, he gave me a book by John Cleese and Robin Skynner called “Families and How To Survive Them.” It was a much more psychological tome than I would have expected of Bowie. But in that hour-long conversation with him and Iman I came to realize that nothing he could do should have surprised me. And in that encounter he was very, very witty. As I said today on social media: he was witty right up until the end: he died at the age of 69.

Leave a Comment