Monday, January 11, 2016

David Bowie's passing

I added to this gradually through Monday and Tuesday. It's not so much about David Bowie's passing as about people's responses to me on on those two days.


I wake up at 6:30 these days, to take Devyn to school. My phone is my alarm clock, so with that in hand I saw that I had a message from Kirby that started Sad times, figured you should see it here before...

I was blurry-eyed and wanted to come to the computer so I could read better, and respond.

The first thing I saw was someone having posted "Just learned that Sandra was officially Bowie's first US fan heart emoticon Still shocked at the thought of him gone."

Kirby's full message was
"Sad times, figured you should see it here before some less tasteful page announces the news:"
It linked to a BBC news announcement.

Fifteen minutes later, Melissa Chan called me from TIME magazine and spoke with me for quite a long time. Then we had an e-mail exchange. They already had an article up, and it hadn't been updated with anything from me when I looked at 7:45.

Melissa wrote a separate piece after she spoke with me. Most of it, especially at the beginning, is exactly what I said. Later it gets a little muddly. David Bowie’s ‘First American Fan’ Looks Back on Singer’s Touching Letter
The title of the article is lame (David Bowie’s Letter to 14-Year-Old Fan Resurfaces After Singer’s Death), and it wasn't a gift from my uncle. It was a reject from the station for being rock'n'roll and not country. My uncle used to give my cousin, Debbie, all the rock albums. Debbie went through a pile and took what she wanted, and brought the rest to give to Nada, when she stayed with us that summer of 1967. Nada went through the pile, took what she wanted, and gave me the rest. So it was rejected three times before I got it.

The letter didn't "resurface," as it was never lost.

Helen Whitehouse of the Daily Star corresponded with me by messenger, asking interesting questions, and will have something on their website at 9:00 UK time (2:00 pm here).

Janine Davies:

This interview of Sandra for the Daily Star yesterday is really lovely.

Two young people connecting so sweetly, and then both going on to inspire so many in their different fields.

It took the edge off yesterday a bit to read and share this wonderful story.

Stephanie Beth Currier:
Very sweet story of letter exchange between Bowie and a then young girl whose own life and writing would inspire many to take off-road adventures.

Except for a couple of times when I sound more British than I could ever be, I think it's wonderfully well done.

Kirby sent me a great comment:
Actor Simon Pegg wrote on Instagram: "If you're sad today, just remember the world is over 4 billion years old and you somehow managed to exist at the same time as David Bowie."
I put this on my facebook page:
September 15, 1967, The Chelsea News published and interview and an article about David Bowie. I know, because he sent me the newspaper. The end of it says this:

I might transcribe that whole interview and article, from that paper, when I get a chance. The scans aren't easy to read.

An unschooling mom wrote:
Thought of you this morning when I learned of David Bowie's passing.

I think of you often- at least from time to time- usually it's some nugget of wisdom that has changed the way we 'family'... blessed & changed the way i parent: i am a more fun, more thoughtful, more responsible mama thanks to the ways your work has touched my life... hmmn.

ANYway... funny how the mind works & what brings someone to mind. This morning I think of you. And Mr. Bowie. With heartfelt thanks & much Honor to you both for the contributions you have made to my life. To so many lives. Thanks Both.
I wish you peace.
Another wrote:
Like many today, I've shared your "letter of note" from David Bowie. Thank you for sharing your letter with the world. It's an incredible glimpse that only you could give us. I'm so glad you saved it.
Part of a longer discussion:
It seems obvious to me, now, that you would write his first American fan letter and he would respond in length and with much cleverness, to you. Two originals brought together through music. Very apropos.
Some of what I'm going to add here I will have cut and pasted from comments on facebook or messages, so I don't have to write it again.

Although one article says so, the letter did NOT make me "the envy of my friends" because they had never heard of David Bowie. I told a TIME magazine reporter this morning something I hadn't thought of so clearly before. I had the opportunity to listen to that album without any prior knowledge of him. Few others in the world, ever, had that chance.

Someone linked me in a post with a video interview from 1979 in which he told the reporter he had liked New Mexico. I wrote
When he was filming The Man who Fell to Earth in Madrid, New Mexico, a friend of mine said "Isn't that they guy who wrote to you?"

Yes, I said. The friend was really pressing me to GO there to the film site and introduce myself. I said no. I had no interest.

Others have asked since, but I had already written what I had wanted to say to him. I wasn't being giddy fan-girl. I had been impressed by his songs, and by his writing, and I had already communicated that and he had been generous to share that packet of stuff with me. I didn't want to invade his privacy, and film sets don't let just anyone on. The friend said "Take the letter, and they'll let you in."

Really, I didn't want to do that.

But I'm glad to hear he liked New Mexico, because I think it's the first part of the U.S. he saw, making that film
There was another time, when the letter was published in Letters of Note, that someone from New York City contacted me insistently, that I should meet up with David Bowie and if I wanted to, he could arrange it. I politely declined. He was insistent, nearly to the point of being insulting. I said I had no interest in invading anyone's privacy. Probably this agent-of-meeting guy was hoping for the excuse to meet David Bowie himself. I didn't want to assist anyone else to bother him, either.

People should give what they want to give, and not be harrassed or bothered beyond that. He gave us music, movies, lots of interviews. He sent me a letter, a newspaper, and photos. I shared them freely with others years ago (thanks to scanners and the internet), and you can see them here:

Second half of the day, waiting to be interviewed for KOAT TV. Lida Alikhani called, late morning, and will come here.
Later note: Lida was sweet and efficient. She was her own sound and film crew. Here is a longer, nicer version than appeared on the news, with text and video, and a link to the letter on my site. Read David Bowie’s sweet reply to a 1967 New Mexican fan letter

One of my kids' friends posted this on facebook (click it to go to the page she linked):

Got a call from Meredith Dunkel with a request for a radio interview tomorrow/Tuesday morning on 99.5 Magic FM (Albuquerque). Meredith says she'll try to send me a copy, and it's okay for me to put it on my site if so.

My sister linked this Huffington Post article on facebook. I especially love the title: David Bowie's Response To First US Fan Mail Shows How Truly Humble He Was

Another unschooling mom statement (and a good one for sure):
That is so freaking cool! Who could have known how big of a star he'd go on to become but she liked him then for who he was then.
And something more serious:
Sandra Dodd has had a profound and hugely positive impact on my life, especially when I experienced my first wobbly steps into the world of homeschooling, and more importantly, Unschooling. And once again she humbly shows how she is a woman far ahead of her time. As I said, you never cease to amaze me!

Continued on Tuesday:

I didn't keep the names with these quotes, because I didn't have time on Monday to ask anyone for permission (nor to eat).

Another unschooling mom wrote:
How fitting that Sandra Dodd was David Bowie's first American fan; no one could have known it at the time, but this is a letter from one groundbreaking pioneer to another.
This morning I drove do KOB's studio to do an interview for NBC London, but it will be on in Albuquerque tonight, and I don't know where all else where NBC stories are shared.
Here's what was on in Albuquerque: New Mexico woman shares letter from David Bowie

I have a request to participate in a podcast on New Mexico doings, in a couple of weeks.

Alex Polikowsky wrote:
I like what my friend wrote on my page (she has met Sandra): "It's such a sweet exchange between 2 young people with a love of words and music before they both became "famous" in their respective fields. They both went on to inspire many people.❤" Christine Snyder Hall
I really like it, too, and this from Alicia Knight:
Very exciting! How cool something you did as a teen would have reverberations today.
Commenting on a 2010 article that made the rounds again (my own comments, left elsewhere yesterday):
That article is a bit irritating. Why would I be "the envy of my friends"? He was totally unknown. Both my cousins had rejected the album, from a pile of demos from my uncles C&W station.

And the letter had been out, in photocopies in the 70's, and on my webpage from 2001. So "unearthed" is a little dramatic. :-)

BUT... Letters of Note had found it on my site, when the blog was new, and the day after he put that up, my site which usually got 1,500 hits a day, give or take, got 90,000. So it wasn't "unearthed" but it was spread around! smile emoticon

I was just interviewed, and they said that I was kind of famous now. I said I thought the letter was famous. :-)
Joyce Fetteroll wrote (I have the note in that collection now) that now my letter had fans.
I think I will end this narrative on Tuesday night. It has been a part of the celebration of the life of David Bowie—a focus on one incident in his youthful pre-fame. I'm happy to have received, and saved, that beautiful letter.

Susan Gaissert wrote something beautiful, and I accept it gratefully:
This is my friend Sandra. She wrote David Bowie his first American fan letter when she was 14 and he was 20. Because she is smart and thoughtful and always knows what's important, she saved that letter and shared it through the years, so that now, in our sadness, we all can read it and see what a gentle, sweet young man David Bowie was.
[and then she shared the NBC story]

Friday, January 08, 2016

Small world (thanks to google, and random luck!)

I was playing on the Lyrics Game group (something I set up) on Facebook. The play was "bird," or any specific bird.

I played
Little bird, little bird, in the cinnamon tree
Little bird, little bird, do you sing for me

—Man of La Mancha
Then I thought (on a Friday morning in Albuquerque) that I had never seen a cinnamon tree, and didn't even know what one looked like.

So I googled cinnamon tree, clicked on images, looked down a few rows and saw this very cool bird, and thought I should send the photo to Robbie Prieto. I clicked it so I could go to its source page, but the page was loading very slowly.

Without having read the URL above in the search bar, I looked more closely at the photo while I was waiting.
It said: "Mommy Labs / Rashmie Jaaju".

I know her! I know that blog! Rashmie Jaaju is a homeschooling mom in India.
I don't know Rashmie in person, but we've corresponded by e-mail quite a bit. She interviewed me for her blog, and they're some of the best interviews ever.

That was quite a nice coincidence, and surprising. That connects Robbie (a young friend in New Hampshire) to a girl in Goa, as dot-connecting goes.

I still don't know what kind of bird it is, but Robbie might. Or I might hear back from Rashmie. When it's late morning here, it's the middle of the night in India.

Here are the interviews of me, on that blog, with Rashmi Jaaju's graphics from those pages as links. There are other photos of me and my family there as well.