The Second Coming of David Bowie
I had just heard the news of Bowie's death. It was all over social media, blowing up my Twitter feed and taking over Facebook. So I decided to watch some of my favourite Bowie films. I'm not a cinephile; I don't have a big collection of movies. I torrented The Hunger. It was a street scene where I saw him.
There was Bowie, on the street, and there he was again, farther down the block, at the edge of the screen amongst other pedestrians. I only noticed because the Bowie in the crowd looked right at the camera, right at me, it felt like, but it was only for a second. The camera angle changed and he was gone. I backed up and watched the scene again, but the second Bowie wasn't there.
I had not imagined it.
I googled the film, googled "the Hunger two Bowies", "the Hunger second Bowie", "the Hunger Bowie cameo" but nothing came up. Well, lots of stuff came up--Google never leaves you hanging--but nothing about Bowie doing a cameo in the background while acting in the foreground.
But like I said, lots of other stuff came up. And as I dug through the results, on the tenth page I found a link to Bowiechan.
Bowiechan was an image messaging board. It had ten members and one post so far. The post was a grainy still from the TV show CSI, It was a shot of the police station, and in the background, there was Bowie, lighting a cigarette.
I didn't post what I had seen. It was gone now. No way to capture an image. I watched the movie two more times, pausing and stepping through that scene each time, but he wasn't there. I began to doubt what I thought I'd seen.
When I went back to Bowiechan, it had exploded. There were hundreds of sightings, hundreds of stills where Bowie appeared somewhere in the background. Sometimes he was looking at the camera. Sometimes he blended right in, and other times he didn't, like when he showed up in Madmen in his Ziggy Stardust getup.
There was an image where he appeared with the Beatles on Abbey Road, but that was easily dismissed as a fake and removed by the moderator.
I torrented the Madmen episode. I watched it. I paused at that scene and I ran through it again and again. No Bowie.
Theories abounded. He had really done all these cameos and no one had noticed. His soul was trapped. He was trying to tell us something, The Devil using Bowie's image to recruit followers because, you know, rock & roll is satanic. It was a mass hallucination caused by grief. The phenomenon even escaped the internet and made the real TV news. As a human interest story, though, not as hard news.
Weeks later I was watching The Fountain and there he was, the Thin White Duke, in all his stark, pale beauty. In the background. But he looked at the camera. He looked at me. I wasn't fast enough to get a screen capture. When I rewound, he was gone.
And then it stopped. There were no more sightings. Membership on Bowiechan dwindled and the moderator weeded out all the posts with no images, and some of the posts where the images looked photoshopped.
I keep going back to it, though. What was it he wanted to tell us? I keep watching Bowie films. I keep hoping.
RIP David Bowie, the Thin White Duke 1947-2016