David Bowie Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
By Camilla Webster

In New York, we share our lives with the most incredible people. We often never meet them, but somehow we feel like our lives were richer for sharing the same square miles anonymously. We are somehow a part of them, woven into the fabric of their magnificence, and that’s often why we stay.

Leaving makes us see we might have to face how simple and in-extraordinary we might be. Here, we too, are stardust.

My personal and very visual reaction to Bowie — Ziggy Stardust — was transformational. I was so attracted to his beauty it was mesmerizing, ethereal, intimate, and so fascinating that he also looked like a woman. He was a being; I never really experienced mankind the same way again. At a tender age, I had a new sense that man and woman could be many things and illicit many reactions from the deepest points of our souls. And I loved his music…just loved.

I also always liked that he lived in New York. Bowie shared that his three favorite places in New York were Washington Square, the Strand bookshop, and Julian Schnabel’s house. I’d still like to go to Julian Schnabel’s house, another great New York artist. I’ve seen pictures because another New York friend goes there often.

I tried to recall if I had ever met David Bowie, or seen him in person, or on the streets of the City. I don’t think so. You live in New York a long time, and you find yourself running into the most extraordinary people — so many people who change the world — who have even changed your direct experience of life. Like Warhol, he was regularly at my local Gristedes filled with Campbell Soup by the way. Paul Newman at my old deli. He bought me an ice cream when I was short on change as a kid. Woody Allen waited a while by a moving truck as I waited for someone else.

As the years pass, I ask was it a dream or just a strange life?

Artists are everywhere here, thank God. It’s one of the many things that makes this City magic and I am sad to lose one of its most interesting and wonderful inhabitants.

Artists like David Bowie do something as huge as change a global generation’s interpretation of the world, and yet in New York we are suddenly riding the subway together, sharing a latte, hailing a cab, or if we’re very, very lucky, working on a project together. New York allows that sort of thing to happen, like it’s normal — exciting — but actually normal. And of course it isn’t.

I have held a belief it seems that the magic, the energy, the prowess of artists like Bowie dusts off on me by virtue of walking the same island. They are a lucky charm in the attainment of my goals and in the service of my identity, and it has actually unconsciously been giving me a deep sense of security my whole life. Now, it just might be true. Maybe we all keep going in New York thanks to that stardust sprinkled around. Maybe not, but for now, I thank David Bowie for sharing his.

Thank you.