« More People Saying Dumb Things | Main | Joining the Ranks of the Undead-Americans »

June 12, 2007

Tonight's Question of Immense Cultural Signficance


At what age -- if ever -- will David Bowie stop being just so damn cool?

While you're thinking about it, a video.

Posted by john at June 12, 2007 07:00 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Eric J | June 12, 2007 07:18 PM

I was going to say 6 years after he's dead, but rock stars mostly get cooler after death anyway.

So never.

T.M. Wagner | June 12, 2007 07:26 PM

Well, he went through this temporary uncool period from about 1984-88, when, by his own admission, he just got lazy and sold out. (The "Glass Spider" Tour was kind of a Bowie low-light.) But he's recovered nicely and has his coolness polished to a spit shine. I saw him three years ago on the Reality Tour, and it had to be the coolest gig I'd ever seen from a 57-year-old. In fact, many gigs I've seen from 20, 27, 37, or 47-year-olds couldn't outcool it if they'd shown up on stage doused in dry ice and liquid nitrogen. I could think of many, many less cool things in the world than to be David Bowie.

Espana Sheriff | June 12, 2007 07:31 PM

Ain't. gonna. happen.

Skip | June 12, 2007 07:37 PM

You just wanted to remind people of the Poison cover of Suffragette City with this post, didn't you?

R | June 12, 2007 07:45 PM

I agree with the Sheriff - never can that man become Uncool... although there is one album I dislike I just choose to believe that it exisits... you all know the one I mean I am sure...
Poison did a cover ??? Man I have to hear that - is it as bad as Marilyn Mansons AC/DC cover?? (shudder)

Gina Black | June 12, 2007 07:50 PM

David Bowie IS cool. Will always be.

Major cool that I just got an email saying the Traveling Wilburys are now available at iTunes. This means I can turn on the offspring (got to raise them right).

Craig M | June 12, 2007 07:51 PM

Some performers are born cool, some have coolness thrust upon them ....
Much better actor than Mick Jagger. When he appeared as Tesla in The Prestige movie, I was like, hey I know that dude!

Espana Sheriff | June 12, 2007 07:56 PM

I enjoyed seeing him as Tesla, but I loved his cameo in Zoolander even more.

chang, myspacier than ever! | June 12, 2007 07:56 PM

He is the shizznitt eternal. You kin quote me.

I was at the Ritz in NYC seeing the Sugarcubes in '89, I think. We're standing ion the staircase when suddenly like a herd of buffalo comes five burly bodyguards (I am 6'7", 270LbS + so they was big!) roaring down the stairs. Seconds later my friend turns to me and says,"That was David Bowie inside that phalanx of knucvkle draggers."

Mel | June 12, 2007 08:02 PM

If I had only one 'never' to use in my whole life I would use it to answer this question.

David Bowie uncool? Never.Ever.

Carol Elaine | June 12, 2007 08:05 PM

Bowie wears cool like a first skin, so I'm pretty sure that Never will be when he becomes uncool.

Angelle | June 12, 2007 08:11 PM

Leesten to Iman . . .

His cool-o-meter is unchanging. The Thin White Duke Rules forever (or never did, depending on ones point of view)

coyote | June 12, 2007 08:22 PM

Bowie's awesome. Kudos to Annie Lennox for holding her own on stage with him, though what is it with the makeup from Bladerunner?

Kate | June 12, 2007 08:46 PM

Sorry, my crush stems from when he appeared in the Jim Henson movie "Labyrinth". Big hair, skin tight evil overlord outfit. Songs. Rawr.

"You remind me of the babe...."

PixelFish | June 12, 2007 08:59 PM

Count me in among those whose David Bowie crush-imprints occured during the vital prepubescent years when I saw Labyrinth for the first time.

David Bowie will probably never be uncool.

He is so cool, his being referenced in the Venture Brothers makes that show six times cooler just for the references.

Oh, and here's a friend's version of the Thin White Duke....as a My Little Pony.

Justme | June 12, 2007 09:02 PM

Trick question.

Bowie is cool. And Lemmy is god.

Chang, for rizzle. | June 12, 2007 09:07 PM

I was just telling my yoga class tonight how I wanted to be Bowie when I was younger. But I was a foot and a half too tall and not British. Sigh...

Lemmy is cool in another way.

Jeff Zugale | June 12, 2007 09:13 PM

David Bowie will be cool until the heat death of the Universe. Which is when the Universe will finally be as cool as David Bowie.

Lemmy... well, for some reason he's been at the Rainbow like every weekend for at least a month, sitting at the far end of the bar playing the video game unit. Is that godlike and cool?

He does look pretty badass though. :)

JH | June 12, 2007 09:57 PM

David Bowie would only stop being cool if he stopped being David Bowie.

And even then, only maybe.

Jim Wright | June 12, 2007 10:18 PM

I am 6'7", 270LbS and you post naked!? Jeeezus H. Christ, Chang, you're a freak! An enormous naked cat-loving freak! (Notice I'm saying this as far from Maine as you can get and still be on the same continent)

Bowie, uncool? Well, there was the unfortunate The Man who Fell to Earth. But, in general, never. Bowie is the man. And now I have to go listen to Space Oddity.

Will Entrekin | June 12, 2007 10:22 PM

If Labyrinth hadn't ensured that he will never become uncool, "I'm Afraid of Americans" would have.

Beth Meacham | June 12, 2007 10:34 PM


This has been another edition of simple answers to silly questions.

Steve Buchheit | June 12, 2007 10:41 PM

Bowie will make those Hugo roller-walkers and drinking Ensure look cool.

joe | June 12, 2007 11:15 PM

People, I guarantee you that the "Dancing in the Streets" video with Mick Jagger is somewhere on YouTube. Please refrain from saying that the man can never become uncool.

John E. | June 13, 2007 12:04 AM

Very obvious--Bowie is totally the coolness, always. Besides all the great music, his "Extras" cameo alone seals it: "Pathetic little fat man/No one's bloody laughing..."

cherie priest | June 13, 2007 12:10 AM

What I object to here is the implication that it is hypothetically POSSIBLE for David Bowie to diminish in coolness.

It is, at most, the sort of situation where you can play rhetorical games with Bowie and Cool, i.e., "Is David Bowie so cool that he could successfully declare himself uncool?" But that's like asking if God could create a rock so big that He couldn't pick it up, and so I reject the entire premise.

Tania | June 13, 2007 12:31 AM

c'est impossible

CaseyL | June 13, 2007 12:45 AM

Many years ago - it might have been during the period T. M. Wagner mentioned, when Bowie was kind of taking a breather from music and doing other things - 60 Minutes did a story on Bowie. About what Bowie does when he's not being a rock star.

He paints. As in, art on canvas. I don't remember what the paintings looked like, but I remember being impressed with them: they were, IIRC, representational and disciplined rather than self-indulgent abstractive squiggles and splots; really fine. So he and the interviewer talked about his painting.

Everyone knows he's smart, right? Intelligent, well-read, thinks coherently about things smart? He spoke very intelligently about his art, why he did it, why he chose the medium and the style, what he hoped it conveyed; the history, meaning, purpose of various genres. He wasn't in Ziggy Stardust or White Duke mode: he was casually dressed, hair shortish and neat, eyes clear. And he didn't slur or giggle when he talked; he didn't go in for the nearly-incomprehensible, thickly-accented, rambling sentences (that, for example, Jagger affects). If you hadn't known he was a rock star, you'd've thought he was an established, well-respected painter and art scholar.

It was a fascinating look at a side of Bowie I wouldn't have dreamed existed.

Chris Onymous | June 13, 2007 01:13 AM

At what age -- if ever -- will David Bowie stop being just so damn cool?

A: About sixty years after all who remember him
are feeding worms. As to Mr. B. himself, he
might well outlive -- as well as out-cool --
the lot of us.

(Anyone else remember _The Hunger_ from back
when? Bowie looked better as a multicentury
corpse than I'll ever manage while breathing
and semi-intact.)

Cartoon Coyote | June 13, 2007 02:52 AM

Hey--I LIKED the 'Glass Spider' tour! It was the first time I saw him, after all (I had just turned 18 a few days previous).

He played London, Ontario three years ago; I scored a 6th row floor ticket on Ticketbastard the day of the show and broke the land speed record for the two-hour drive to the venue. Amazing show, made all the more amazing during the coda of 'Ashes To Ashes', when he saw me waggling my finger while singing along to "You'd better not mess with Major Tom" and waggled right back at me. I felt like a lovestruck 13 year-old girl for about ten seconds, which is noteworthy when you consider that I'm a straight, 37 year-old guy.

Bowie? Uncool? Like Michael Caine's Alfred says, "NIVAH!"

Scott | June 13, 2007 03:12 AM

I don't think it will have anything to do with age. He'll never bee too old to be cool (unlike, say, me... I was too old for cool about last year, and was too uncool for cool before that).

But you never know what the future will bring. In strange aeons to come, even death may die. (mad props to the mad prophets). The Fonze was defined as cool (admittedly, by tv-writers) but he jumped the shark (literally, giving us the idiom). Obviously, when comparing the two, the viewer had better favor Bowie strongly, but the point is... even legends get senile.

Not that senility has hurt the coolness of James Brown. (Out of the fat, old wife-beaters category, James Brown has to be the coolest.)

Anonymous | June 13, 2007 03:18 AM

37. That is, in 1984. Appropriate Orwell-wise, no?

He had a brief renaissance of cool around 1995, with the best album of his career since that fateful year, but since then he's lapsed back into Jagger/McCartney type creative coasting and half-assed trend-chasing. Still a great live performer, though.

Eddie Clark | June 13, 2007 04:39 AM

He'll stop being cool the same time Keith Richards dies - i.e. never!

Patrick | June 13, 2007 06:29 AM

You'll have to find out if the Church of Creationism has a section dedicated to David Bowie's Area.


I believe he has COOL copyrighted and it will expire 70 years after his death.

Kelly Norton | June 13, 2007 07:43 AM

I'm going to have to insert a small pause in the Bowie love fest. I'm starting to get sick.

Bowie has never been cool. Never will be cool.

(you must remember: I'm a metalhead).

Angus is god.

Steve Buchheit | June 13, 2007 07:47 AM

Kelly Norton, "Angus is god."

Oh, sure, I love steak. :)

Christian | June 13, 2007 08:23 AM

I enjoyed seeing him as Tesla, but I
loved his cameo in Zoolander even more

I thought both of those performances were pedestrian, but perhaps you can blame that on the scripts. He was really excellent in "The Hunger", and even better in a small gem called "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence". If you are a fan, Criterion will be releasing that later this summer.

Anthony Cunningham | June 13, 2007 08:23 AM

David Bowie stopped being cool when he (mistakenly) thought he could act.

Examples of the seriously uncool DB:

Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence
The Hunger
The Last Temptation of Christ

Buck | June 13, 2007 09:05 AM

This raises an ancillary question: was Bowie ever uncool?

We all go through that dorky 12-year old phase (for some of us, this lasts for decades.....). Did Bowie, or was he a cool kid, too? I'm guessing he was.

Roxanne | June 13, 2007 09:21 AM

David Bowie went through a period of Uncool in my youth, but he got over it, and now, well, isn't his picture next to the word in most dictionaries?

Chris | June 13, 2007 09:33 AM

Did you know that Bowie opened Ricky Gervais' NYC show by singing "Pathetic litttle fat man"?

Cool. So incredibly cool. Bowie is the definition of cool.

Tim Walker | June 13, 2007 09:42 AM

"He is the shizznitt eternal."

"What I object to here is the implication that it is hypothetically POSSIBLE for David Bowie to diminish in coolness."

What Chang and Cherie said. As the video shows, Bowie even *snaps his fingers* cool.

Sean | June 13, 2007 09:49 AM

Even at his most uncool he out-cools me by a factor of 20.

Julian Murdoch | June 13, 2007 10:02 AM

Am I the only one who actually got chills on that video. I can't believe how much Annie Lennox rocked the house.

andrew | June 13, 2007 10:10 AM

David is so cool it’s like he’s from the future. Case in point: there would never have been grunge without Tin Machine. For as long as he lives, David is always going to be ahead of us.

Sam Taylor | June 13, 2007 11:23 AM

The unanimity of Teh Thin One's (sic) coolness astounds me. I thought we'd see a few detractors.

Rule on, Duke!

Jp | June 13, 2007 11:24 AM

David Bowie's terrifying uncoolness dates from 1967. Every cool-positive action he has completed since is simply karma police-ordered restitution.


DM | June 13, 2007 11:26 AM

The answer is most certainly "never". The stars will supernova, the human race will be wiped off the face of the earth, the planet will be a dessicated husk...

... and somewhere amidst the floating sea of space debris, the molecules that used to be David Bowie will still be cool.

Yeah, I know all about his 80's period, Labyrinth and "Dancing in the Streets". My opinion is unchanged. I don't agree that the man is coasting. He had his period of weakness in the mid to late 80's, snapped back out of it with Tin Machine (regardless of what you may think of the group, it was clear Bowie was doing what he wanted and didn't give a damn about what people thought or how commercially successful it was) and he's still testing new things all the time.

No two albums sound alike, his style is continually evolving. I don't think the same can be said of most rockers of his generation.

John H | June 13, 2007 11:29 AM

At what age -- if ever -- will David Bowie stop being just so damn cool?

When he comes out with his homage to Burl Ives...

When he starts doing Ronco infomercials...

When he makes Labyrinth II: Return of the Goblin King...

When he becomes born again and starts asking people if they've accepted Jesus as their lord and savior...

Probably never.

Andrew | June 13, 2007 12:21 PM

I am of the belief that David Bowie is cool; always has been and with one proviso always will be.

I don't know whether he still smokes but every time I see a picture or video of Bowie not performing he has a cigarette. That tells me he smokes quite heavily. I am O.K. with that; it is his life.

However smoking can cause Lung Cancer which is a nasty way to go. If Lung Cancer kills Bowie that has potential to make him uncool.

Of course he could get it all back by doing a PSA similar to Yul Bryner's anti-smoking ad. You know the one that started with "By the time you see this ad I will be dead".


critter42 | June 13, 2007 12:33 PM

Wow - that was excellent. Was that from the Freddie Mercury tribute concert?

Jim Wright | June 13, 2007 01:19 PM

I felt like a lovestruck 13 year-old girl for about ten seconds, which is noteworthy when you consider that I'm a straight, 37 year-old guy.

The really cool thing, Cartoon Coyote, is that on teh Intertoobs, you can be a 13 year-old girl. Just saying.

Chryss | June 13, 2007 02:14 PM

Well, he wasn't very cool when he gave the Nazi salute at Victoria Station (if that's what it was, it remains hotly debated, but Bowie was obsessed with Hitler and Fascism for a while). But he got off the drugs, apologized, and never looked back or repeated something so odious.


Anyone else like the movie The Linguini Incident? I love that movie.

DM | June 13, 2007 02:36 PM


Bowie was a heavy smoker until until a 2002-2003 or thereabouts. He quit around the time his daughter was born, citing that he could no longer smoke in the house and standing outside in New York in the middle of winter was too damn cold!

I agree, it's better for him and I'm sure his family is glad he's quit. I hear it's helped him gain back some of his upper vocal range as well.

DavidH | June 13, 2007 07:55 PM

Just a few weeks ago I bought Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust, and Diamond Dogs on CD for my daughter. She's impressed. Not only will Bowie always be cool, he's even cool retrospectively.

joe | June 13, 2007 11:49 PM

OK, y'all asked for it.


Michelle | June 14, 2007 02:02 PM

The answer is never.

Bowie is, has and always will be cool.

His paintings have appeared on several of his album covers. you can see some on his website.

Post a comment.

Comments are moderated to stop spam; if your comment goes into moderation, it may take a couple of hours to be released. Please read this for my comment moderation policies.
Preview will not show paragraph breaks. Trust me, they're there.
The proprietor generally responds to commenters in kind. If you're polite, he'll be polite. If you're a jackass, he'll be a jackass. If you are ignorant, he may correct you.
When in doubt, read the comment thread rules.

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)