My current Youtube addiction has allowed me to explore more fully the image-shapers of my youth, now preserved on blurry bits of semi-legally uploaded video. Among them, of course, is the quixotic Adam Ant, featured in my previous post. Born Stuart Leslie Goddard, “Adam” will be 52 this Fall, but to his fans will remain a hyper-energetic, weirdly talented and astoundingly handsome 20-something, unexplainably bedecked in a mish-mash of Plains Indian and early 19th century pirating garb.

But Adam is given space in this blog because of his curious story. Despite being an icon of weird 80s Brit-pop, Adam Ant was nonetheless central in the late 70s hardcore punk scene, along with Siouxie Sioux and the Sex Pistols. In fact, he can be seen in Pistols concert footage of that era, though probably not an “official” member of the Bromley Contingent. The tragicomic thing about Adam, though, is that he was given everything sought by mortal men –honourable money, properly earned fame, unique talent, preternatural looks and a niche in musical history– yet, like so many with such gifts, could not easily find happiness. Adam, you see, is mentally ill and suffers from bipolar syndrome.

The consequences of his illness are brought to the fore in his last (and likely final) hit, “Wonderful”, seen in the strangely moving video below. Seems it’s about his mental health in the wake of his break-up with actress Heather Graham:

The life of Adam Ant is a cautionary tale for us to never envy those we perceive to “have it all.” Things ain’t always as rosy as they may seem. Time has not been kind to Herr Ant, as the photos in this story attest, as will this spread.

Enough of Ant news. Rondi has struck me with something called a “tag”, which means I have to answer a series of questions in my blog. Luckily, these questions pertain to books. So here goes:

A book that changed my life: Not to be overly dramatic, but pretty much every book changes your life to some degree, if you’ve paid attention in any small way to what you’ve been reading. Okay, I will go with The Illuminatus! Trilogy ’cause it introduced me to 60s-style (though it was written in the 80s) drug-driven paranoid proto-fiction. The book came at a good time for my depressive teenaged self, who, like all good adolescents, needed something otherworldly to convince himself that the universe was worth living in.

A book I’ve read more than once: As a rule, I don’t like to read books twice. In one short lifetime, I will only get to read a finite number of books, so why double dip? But I’ve made an exception twice: Isaac Asimov’s Pebble In The Sky and Niven and Pournelle’s The Gripping Hand. The first was because I was a little surprised to see the book being included in Asimov’s grand Foundation universe, and had to go back and make sure I hadn’t read incorrectly. The second was because the first time I’d read this sequel to the sci-fi classic, The Mote In God’s Eye, I was like a virgin faced with his first sexual experience: so excited and eager that it was over before I’d realized what I’d done; so, years later, I enjoyed a longer and languished re-read.

A book I would take with me if I were stuck on a desert island: The SAS Survival Handbook. Nuh. (Unless there’s a book out there that is either inflatable into a raft or is edible.)

A book that made me laugh: You know, I can’t recall being made to laugh out loud by a book. But let’s go with Jerry Seinfeld’s Sein Langauge just because I can’t think of anything else.

A book that made me cry: God, I’m such a sissy. Too many to mention. I’ll give you two examples: Clarke and Lee’s Rama Revealed, ’cause the ending was quite touching. And Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass, ’cause, once again, the ending was just downright unfair.

A book I wish had been written: Um, How Raywat Deonandan Became The First Man on Mars and Returned A Perfectly Adjusted and Content Billionaire.

A book I wish had never been written: The Da Vinci Code. I like that people are excited by a book. But why couldn’t have been a better written book? I wanted to like it, I really did! But I couldn’t get past the first chapter: it’s that badly written. I actually felt myself getting dumber the more of it I read.

A book I’m currently reading: Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Seriously.

A book I’ve been meaning to read: Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Seriously.

What turned me onto fiction: This is a dumb one. The moment your mama tells you a story in the crib, you are “turned on” to fiction.

Who do I tag: No one! This ends here!