Paraphrasing one older rock star (that’ll be Patti Smith) to introduce another, this week, older people have the power. The Thin White Duke, David Bowie, became the oldest recipient of a Brit this week, as he was crowned best British male. Up against Jake Bugg, John Newman, Tom Odell and James Blake, the 67-year-old music veteran saw off his much younger competition.
In an age of 24/7 social media, which his younger counterparts use as standard to create a pre-emptive buzz around new releases, Bowie broke a decade’s silence last year, somewhat ironically, silently, with his comeback album, The Next Day. Bowie released the first single on the morning of his birthday, without having given a whiff of notice. No soul had leaked a word. Music editors, who are usually privy to such information, were totally in the dark. It was a carefully mastered plan, which saw the record shoot straight to number one.
“What this proves is the way Bowie engineered his comeback was a stroke of genius,” said music writer, Simon Price. “The way he sprang his single on the world without any publicity or hype and managed to keep it a secret is unheard of in the modern world...The fact he’s defeated [his younger competition] just proves that young artists these days are actually more boring than someone three times their age – and that’s a damning indictment to them.”
It wasn’t such a good week (although we’re terribly proud of her nonetheless) for 84-year-old nun, Sister Megan Rice, who has been sentenced to nearly three years in prison for breaking into a US nuclear weapons complex and defacing a bunker holding bomb-grade uranium.
Sister Rice, and her peace activist allies, were found guilty of sabotaging the plant and damaging federal property. According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, although officials claimed there was never any danger of the protesters reaching materials that could be detonated, or made into a dirty bomb, the break-in raised questions about the safekeeping at the Y-12 National Security Complex.
In her closing statement, Sister Rice (who sees her actions as imperative to raise awareness about nuclear weapons) asked the judge to sentence her to life in prison, even though sentencing guidelines called for about six years. “Please have no leniency on me,” she said. “To remain in prison for the rest of my life would be the greatest gift you could give me.”