Culture Re-View: The death of a Starman, Caesar inadvertently invents an idiom, and TV mobsters

Tributes lie beneath a mural of singer David Bowie by artist Jimmy C in Brixton, south London.
Tributes lie beneath a mural of singer David Bowie by artist Jimmy C in Brixton, south London.   -   Copyright  Matt Dunham/Copyright 2016 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Jonny Walfisz

10 January 2016: David Bowie, English singer-songwriter and actor, died on this day.

2016 went down in many people’s memory as a year of tragic shifts. The UK voted to leave the EU. The US voted in Donald Trump as president, and a notable trend of beloved celebrities shifted off this mortal coil.

But before any of that happened, the first star to pass may have been the brightest.

Born David Robert Jones in 1947, Bowie would become one of the most iconic parts of the British music industry. It all kicked off with his 1969 single ‘Space Oddity’ released days before the Apollo 11 moon landing, it was the earliest example of Bowie capturing the zeitgeist and driving culture.

His varied career was that rarest of things, a chameleonic artist with a genre-bending catalogue of critical and commercial successes. He braved the stage in gender non-conforming costume and brought characters like his Martian rockstar Ziggy Stardust to life.

John Glanvill/AP
British rock singer, David Bowie, poses beside his veteran Rolls Royce car before leaving for the start of a British tour, on May 15, 1973.John Glanvill/AP

A true original, he was releasing music right up till the very end with his final album, the moribund ‘Blackstar’ coming out on his 69th birthday, just two days before he died.

No one will ever come close to his incredible mix of enigmatic gravitas and musical prowess. This year’s ‘Moonage Daydream’ documentary does an excellent job of capturing just a touch of his luminescence.

Julius Caesar invents a go-to phrase

This one’s older than we usually go for.

In 49 BC, took the grave decision to bring his troops over the Rubicon river and enter Italy. This meant the beginning of a civil war that would place Caesar on the throne as Roman Dictator for life.

Canva
The Roman Emperor Gaius Julius Caesar Statue in Rome, Italy.Canva

These events led to ‘Caesar’ becoming the byword for emperor or tsar. But it’s also the decision that coined the English idiom ‘crossing the Rubicon’. Referring to passing the point of no return, almost every political book has at some point used the phrase since.

The Mob comes to HBO

More recently, 10 January also signified the start of some epic television. In 1999, today was the premiere of the first episode of ‘The Sopranos’.

Widely regarded as one of the best and most influential TV series, ‘The Sopranos’ is sometimes considered a major catalyst in turning television into a prestige format alongside HBO show ‘The Wire’.

HBO
The SopranosHBO

The story of Tony Soprano, played by James Gandolfini as a New Jersey Italian-American mobster who’s trying to overcome his problems with a therapist was an instant success and over its six series run won the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series in every year it was eligible.