The Rushmore Series: Dreaming on Mars

Perhaps the biggest lie rock and roll ever told us was that we were going to live forever. We never bothered to read the fine print on all those interplanetary fever dreams we were getting high on back in the eighties, because they were prescribed by modern day Gods whose mortality was a matter of personal irresponsibility. The way we saw it, as long as we didn’t veer too far outside the lines, the music was going to save us in the end.

Alan, the mysteriously private high school senior who lived three floors up from us in Howard Beach was testament to this. A studious kid, he always had a curious grimace that made him look as if he were trying to refute Einstein’s theory of relativity. He never engaged in small talk because he didn’t follow sports or listen to music. At all. Alan stood out, even in a neighborhood like mine. All those whispers went loud after Alan walked up to the roof one day in the middle of winter, balanced himself on the ledge, and jumped.

“I knew something was wrong with that guy . . ” Said my friend Danny. ” . . he didn’t even know who Van Halen was,”

Life could be a tragic fucking picture, so thank God there was Bowie. Because while I wasn’t aware that he wore those funky costumes because he was painfully shy, I knew it spoke to vulnerabilities. I related to the meaning of lyrics I didn’t fully understand yet because all that really mattered was the soul he shared.

Bowie scored all his number one hits within a ten year period from the mid seventies through the mid eighties. But his music career, which spanned six decades, possessed a reach well beyond those framed vinyl prizes. He provided rocket boosters to the punk music era and delivered up transcendent brilliance from his earliest days to his final ones.

By the mid eighties, I was under this influence and Forest Hills was a place I was getting to know a little more intimately thanks to a girl who was out of my league. If you lived in Howard Beach, there was a good chance your father worked in sanitation or construction, that luxury home was underwritten by nefarious means and he had a lawyer on retainer. If you lived in Forest Hills, there was a good chance your father worked in lower Manhattan, that luxury home was underwritten by nefarious means and he was that lawyer.

So when the girl from Forest Hills kicked me to the curb, I drove home in the middle of the night to lick my wounds. Which meant a bottle of something friendly, a pack of smokes and Bowie. My parents had gone to the shore with my little sister, so I fired up my turntable, stuck the needle in Hunky DoryΒ and I pumped up the volume. And then I let the words deliver me to somewhere else.

I awoke at the crack of noon to the rotary phone kicking up a storm.

“It’s about fucking time you answered your phone. Come pick me up, I gotta get outta the house or I’m gonna kill my fatha!”

Shereen stood all of five foot two, with enough hairspray in her platinum blond hair to lay waste to the ozone. Every other word out of her mouth was fuck, and the other words . . not so great either.

“Bring that bottle I gave you . . .”

“I drank it,” I confessed.

“What the fuck? Well you’re getting me more, and I need cigarettes too. And do you mind if I hang out there tonight?”

As far as my love life was concerned, class was out of session and madness was prevailing upon me as she ministered to my angst most abundantly with words that shouted away my darkness. And when I read between her lines, it promised moonlight.

Serious moonlight.

(The femme side of Rushmore is getting unveiled over at A Dalectable Life, so do yourself a favor and go read up on that flava.)


98 thoughts on “The Rushmore Series: Dreaming on Mars

  1. B,

    Music does save us in some way or another, depending on the situation.

    Reading your prose is such a delight. I love that you incorporate what you were living at the time you got to know Bowie. Music is such a big part of memories for most of us.

    Of course when you live through something such as a kid in your school taking a dive off the roof of a building, that would help to put things into perspective. Danny’s response is such a response! Truly, what else can a kid say when he learns of such a thing?

    And yeah, life ain’t no picnic so thank God for music. Bowie was always just out of my reach. I loved his music without taking the time to understand it. Not back then, anyway.

    Playing music LOUD (with the addition of smokes and booze) was (is?) the great big comfort blanket when woes strike. Turn off the lights for that extra bit.

    I can just picture Shereen… I never did get into that look, myself. I was more of the “freak” kind in the jeans and plaid shirts…

    An excellent addition to the Mount, B! Love your choice of song because it was no where near what I thought you would choose!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Q

      It brings us back to shore. And while it may not save us in the end, it keeps us going while we’re getting there. And yanno, that’s enough.

      It’s how I decided to go about this, since it was such a hilariously innocent time. So clumsy and unnatural. The music made us feel like the grown ups we most certainly were not.

      We had stabbings and the occasional rubout on the boulevard when the wise guys wanted to make a statement. Death was very matter of fact for us, we were morbidly curious punks.

      I don’t think we truly understood the genius of him then. I know I didn’t.

      And sleep! Hell, I slept like a stone back then! If only I could revisit those sleeps.

      She was uh, different, LOL.

      Nope, but it fits what I was living through at the time. And it was my favorite song on that album, a truly underrated gem.


      Liked by 1 person

      • It might not save us in the end but it sure does keep us going.

        Clumsy. Perfect word for the reaction to this situation. Plus your fabulous way of sharing things is a delight to read.

        That is something that I could never fathom. Matter-of-fact death on the streets.

        I know I should didn’t.

        Oh yes. Sleep back then was so easy.

        I bet!

        That’s what matters, I say. The underrated gems are usually the best, I find.

        Liked by 1 person

        • And that’s what counts.

          We were all just figuring it out as we went along, and not doing a very good job of it at that.

          It wasn’t glamorous or cool to us- well, not to all of us. But it was very matter of fact stuff.


          Damn it was the best. To be able to sleep solidly, for that long a time!


          Me too.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Truly.

            Who does at that age?

            Thank God it wasn’t cool to you. It’s so unfathomable to me.

            LOL… Make that I sure didn’t…

            Ah man… I watch my kids in jealousy. Mind you, even back then, I never got up past noon, very rarely by 1:00… their 4-5 pm? Nuts.

            πŸ˜‰ I used to look at the girls in my school with their hair teased up to there… I was too busy playing sports with the boys for that stuff.

            Of course.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Nobody. The idea that we “had all the answers” belied the truth of the matter, which was that we were scared as fuck and pretending.

            I had friends who wanted to become wise guys when they grew up. That was their dream job, literally. Some had fathers or relatives who were connected and some were simply fascinated with the life.

            I think it was slow going for many.

            Yeah, that I don’t relate to. For me it was usually working on the weekends, But to sleep till noon was a treat that I took advantage of whenever I could.

            The time girls took to do their hair and their faces, it’s probably why they DIDN’T sleep in! LOL

            Of course

            Liked by 1 person

          • Of course we had all the answers to what we believed was real. Growing up is terrifying.

            I’m sure they did! There is a romantic fascination, quixotic, if you will, that being a wise guy is cool.

            Yes. Because it was sophisticated writing.

            I also worked weekends at the drive-in movie theatre, which meant working nights, so sleeping in was necessary. But, like I said, rarely till noon.

            I couldn’t say. Was never that type of girl.

            Like it would be anything else.

            Liked by 1 person

          • It was easy to put on a brave face but below the surface, you wondered how you were going to make it to tomorrow.

            The movies made them Gods. But for those of us who saw first hand what happens when you cross or get crossed by one of those wise guys? It wasn’t cool.

            Sophisticated huh?

            That sounds like it would be a cool gig. I worked in a grocery store. The only cool thing about it was getting free food and beer once in a while.

            They spent days in the mirror.


            Liked by 1 person

          • I guess I had an easier time of it and didn’t worry so much about making it to tomorrow back then.

            This is true. But didn’t they see it too? Can’t imagine it being cool.

            Yes. I think so,

            It was fun. But honestly, working a cash register, whether in a grocery store or in a drive-in is pretty much similar, I should think. Only we got to watch the same part of the same movie night after night on break πŸ˜‰

            Ugh. I never did and still don’t. Maybe I should?


            Liked by 1 person

          • Some days were sunshine and rainbows and some days not so much.

            No, some people get a thrill out of it. I admit, it was intoxicating, but the dynamic was so fucking depressing and depression would’ve been redundant, LOL

            So you knew the lines by heart!

            Its too much time and vanity kills.


            Liked by 1 person

          • I hear you.

            It had to be intoxicating to a certain extent. And no.. no need for more triggers for depression.

            Oh yeah! Big time! Learning the lines while batting away the Junebugs!

            It does and good thing I’m not vain.


            Liked by 1 person

          • We tailgated the mafia party.

            Right? THAT is pure nostalgia right there. To think there are generations of kids who never knew that kind of movie night. It’s kind of sad.

            No you’re not.


            Liked by 1 person

          • Oh, I’m afraid this next six months is going to go one of two ways. Either the world begins to see the light at the end of the tunnel, or this newest situation in India in which a couple hundred people have mysteriously gone ill leads to an even darker passage. Yay!


            Liked by 1 person

          • Because if there is going to be another virus, we might as well just go to the zombie apocalypse. It would be the same difference shit storm anyways, seeing as how we have armed militia marching on cities now!

            That compound in Montana would have to be armed to have a chance in hell of surviving.


            Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Marco,

    I’ll confess that I’m not familiar with David Bowie’s music. Well, there is Space Oddity…but for the most part, not so much. That doesn’t take away from his right to a spot on Rushmore. πŸ˜‰
    Memories are often attached to certain songs. I love it that you shared yours. Sorry you were kicked to the curb. Never fun.

    Shalom from Ground Control,


    Liked by 1 person

    • Rochelle.

      Space Oddity was a changing of the guard in music and something to which even the casual fan can look at and say “Bowie”. His was a slow burn, but when you consider the fact that up to his final songs, the man was putting out great stuff, it’s really a testament to his genius.

      I never minded the kicked to the curb moments. I think it’s what makes us understand the world is not all about us and never will be. Humility is a much needed thing.

      Shalom from Mars,


      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah – so you went with Bowie! Ice and that song was new to me
    Oh and still laughing at “with enough hairspray in her platinum blond hair to lay waste to the ozone”
    Because we sure did have some hairspray phases in the past

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great as always…going off topic as usual…my friends and I texted over the weekend. The question was…who are the best non named front person in a group. For example you can’t say Bruce because technically it’s Bruce and the E Street band, or Joan Jett and the black hearts…but you can say Mick Jagger….I might do this on my blog on Friday, but I thought it was a pretty decent time waster

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That was an interesting slice of your life to go with that funky video. I loved Bowie’s big hits in the early years, but not so much some of his later stuff. My favorite Bowie memory was when he was a guest on Bing Crosby’s Christmas show. What a contrast!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was always a fan, I just loved his music from the get and that never changed for me.

      The other night I was listening to those two rock out a Christmas song that is also one of my all time favorites.

      Thanks Eilene

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Nice write! These Mt. Rushmore ideas are very cool!
    What about every day people, like some of your heroes of the week?
    What about blog heroes… like Dale. I nominate Dale!
    So many belong up there, even if just in our hearts and minds.
    Love the song!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m digging your take on Rushmore for your second choice. My son r ally digs Bowie and it’s a trip because he’s like 12. But sometimes they find the music. I’m sorry about your classmate that’s definitely tragic and sounds of music often soothe a broken heart or a crushing angst. Promising you moonlight? Serious moonlight. Dude. No one has ever promised me that. Ever. Must have been a special night. I love that line though. Looking forward to see what your next space brings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am digging how this happened, the series. It was very much an organic thing as I had no blessed idea how I was going to tackle it. And then there it was, and the idea had legs and it started walking itself.

      I love that your son digs Bowie. You’re such a great mama.

      Those times feel like a million years ago and yet the moments, I can remember back and it’s like I am RIGHT THERE. Again. And really, thank God for the music.

      Thank you Cali.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s a time travel mechanism that turns in whenever you hear the beat drop. So cool. Plus The idea was so greatly original. Glad it’s percolating some good ideas and sweet writing. Looking forward to the finale πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

        • It really is.

          Methinks the Rushmore Series will have posts here and there throughout next year. I kind of dig it.

          Any guesses? I won’t tell you but you can still guess? LOL.


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