Sunday, January 17, 2016


It's been one surreal and sad week that started with a 6 AM Monday morning newscast on our classical radio station announcing David Bowie's death from cancer. The classical station announcing Bowie's passing was something I never imagined would happen as I did not imagine the loss of Alan Rickman a few days later.

So on a drizzly Saturday morning I found myself at the computer to write this post after the boys (Orphée and Handsome) had breakfast and while the girls (Annie and Belle) were still sleeping. 8 Paws and 2 Tails is a pet-related blog but on that dreary morning I felt the need to depart from my standard format to write about two men I admire who in the words of Shakespeare's Hamlet, shuffled off this mortal coil.

As a New Yorker with relatives in the music industry, a career in publishing and a life-long love of the theater, I was shocked and saddened by the deaths of David Bowie and Alan Rickman. I've been a 'fan' of both for as long as I can remember.

What can I say about David Bowie that hasn't been already said? I worked in Soho for as many years as Bowie lived there, my place of business and his residence separated by 3 short blocks. We both shopped in Dean and DeLuca's but to my misfortune in all that time our paths never crossed. I was fortunate to see him when he brought his Sound and Vision tour to Giants Stadium and before that on Broadway in The Elephant Man.

I love his music, enjoy his films and I sense he was a down-to-earth guy even though his creations were out-of-this-world. I can't imagine life without Bowie in it.

Alan Rickman has always had a special place in my heart for several reasons - his delicious portrayal of villains most notably Hans Gruber from Die Hard, his wonderful take on a classically trained actor caught in the fan frenzy of a wildly successful science fiction TV series in Galaxy Quest but mostly for his multi-layered portrayal of Professor Snape in the Harry Potter movies.

As Snape, Alan Rickman was an integral part of the Harry Potter phenomenon which I was proud to be associated with as well. For over a decade I worked in children's publishing at J.K. Rowling's American publisher experiencing the excitement associated with the publication of each book as well as the release of every film. Most in-house readers were not fans of Snape but I always felt there was more to the sinister, black-haired professor in severe black robes than surface appearances suggested as the latter books of the series proved.

I especially reveled in Mr. Rickman's well-crafted portrayal often wondering how he managed to keep a straight face while dishing out Snape's patented brand of teacher-terror. Sadly I never had the opportunity to see him 'tread the boards' in any of his state-side theater appearances. In interviews he was happy, fun and thoroughly upbeat, light-years apart from his well-known screen roles. I will miss your genius.

While I prepared for Annie's Sunday morning walk almost a week from that Monday-morning news announcement, I realized the classical station was playing Bowie's narration of Prokofiev's symphony for children, Peter and the Wolf. Later while checking emails I found one from Facebook announcing King's Cross Station was trending. Following the link I read that a makeshift memorial was put up at the site of the imaginary platform 9 3/4 where the express leaves for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

To both artists who touched us with their unique talents:
Good night sweet prince and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest! (Hamlet Act 5 Scene 2)