Satori tribute to David Bowie

Brian Cohen of The Gate blog and I talked over breakfast last month at the Washington Hilton and he asked me why my FlyerTalk name is ‘satori’? In short, my FlyerTalk handle ‘satori’ was my 1999 tribute to the influence of David Bowie’s music in my young life.

Satori FlyerTalk

David Bowie died yesterday, two days after the release of his final album on his 69th birthday. I turned 56 last week. My relationship with David Bowie goes back to 1972. I was 12 and Bowie was 25. One of the hits on radio in 1972 was a re-released version of Space Oddity with the tale of Major Tom.

I remember the post exchange store at Ft. Eustis, Virginia in 1972 where I purchased the two David Bowie albums Space Oddity and The Man Who Sold the World at the same time. Personally significant is the fact that these two albums were among the first musical purchases I made that transcended the direct influence of my older sister in high school, the pivotal factor for my rock music exposure during my preteen years. I recall how the RCA albums were the lightest, thinnest vinyl records I had felt to that time. Bowie’s lyrics in each song created mental movies from the stories told while listening to the Space Oddity album beginning to end.

Space Oddity still has a a place on a shelf in my house as one of the fundamental albums of my childhood. David Bowie’s musical development veered away from my tastes in the late 70s, but his influence had already been deeply felt.

Satori and World Wide Web 1995

Fast forward to 1995 and my introduction to the world wide web at the University of Maine Orono library. I had to create usernames for email and website accounts. My primary username for accounts was ‘satori’.

One of the primary pursuits I followed when I first found the web was to seek out information about musical artists I had listened to during my life and learn more about their music and careers.

Here is the story for how David Bowie influenced my social media presence these past two decades as satori.

Memory of a Free Festival

Memory of a Free Festival (YouTube) is the last track of the Space Oddity album, a seven minute piece with a lyrically poetic first half and a Hey Jude like chorus closing out the song and album.

The first section of the song has these lyrics:

Memory of a Free Festival

The Children of the summer’s end
Gathered in the dampened grass,
We played Our songs and felt the London sky
Resting on our hands.
It was God’s land.
It was ragged and naive.
It was Heaven.

Touch, We touched the very soul
Of holding each and every life.
We claimed the very source of joy ran through.
It didn’t, but it seemed that way.
I kissed a lot of people that day.

Oh, to capture just one drop of all the ecstasy that swept
that afternoon,
To paint that love upon a white balloon,
And fly it from the topest top of all the tops that man has
pushed beyond his brain.
Satori must be something just the same.

We scanned the skies with rainbow eyes and saw
machines of every shape and size.
We talked with tall Venusians passing through.
And Peter tried to climb aboard but the Captain shook
his head
And away they soared,
Climbing through the ivory vibrant cloud.
Someone passed some bliss among the crowd.
And We walked back to the road, unchained.


David Bowie led me on a search with this song that took a couple of years in to resolve. Amazing to me was my inability to learn the meaning of the word satori in any dictionary I searched at libraries in Virginia or California or Germany or in bookstores.

How could a word used in a David Bowie lyric not be in any dictionary I checked at many libraries in many places?

I did not learn the meaning of satori until two or three years later when I finally found a definition.

These days the internet makes words and ideas easily accessible. 


Satori on LatinPass Million Miles Mileage Run

Another story related to my Flyertalk handle being ‘satori’ happened while sitting in an airport in Lima, Peru in May 2000. I was waiting to board a flight to Cuzco. I had not slept much in the previous day.

Police at Quito airport in Ecuador had detained me in the airport the night before, questioning why I was boarding a flight to Lima after having started the day in Quito, flown to Lima, then back to Quito and now I was in line to fly back to Lima again for the second time that same day.

The Spanish-English language barrier was challenging, even with a color printed magazine-quality brochure explaining in English and Spanish the January to June 30, 2000 LatinPass promotion and requirements to earn 1,000,000 bonus miles in the frequent flyer program. A couple of young bilingual Americans tried to assist me with translation, but they abandoned me as our fight to Lima boarded. The police were my problem. At the last minute the police allowed me to board the flight just before takeoff.

While waiting in Lima, Peru for an early morning flight to Cuzco, I met a Japanese man. We were both flying around South America to earn the LatinPass 1,000,000 mile bonus. Cuzco was my final flight segment needed to complete ten LatinPass member flights as the primary component of the million mile bonus tasks. There were also hotel stays, car rentals and partner flight requirements to earn the LatinPass 1,000,000 miles bonus.

The Japanese man told me I was familiar to the frequent flyer community in Japan due to my username ‘satori’. They assumed I was Japanese-American.

No, I am not Asian. I was simply a Bowie-influenced young American.

“The Sun Machine is Coming Down, and We’re Gonna
Have a Party.”
“The Sun Machine is Coming Down, and We’re Gonna
Have a Party.”
“The Sun Machine is Coming Down, and We’re Gonna
Have a Party.”
“The Sun Machine is Coming Down, and We’re Gonna
Have a Party.”
“The Sun Machine is Coming Down, and We’re Gonna
Have a Party.”

Memory of a Free Festival

Thanks for the memories David.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »



  1. Ric, Great tribute to David Bowie and was wondering myself about Satori as well, thanks for the explanation.
    Happy New Year and safe travels.

  2. Cool, I had always wondered about your FT handle, as well. Bowie was one of a kind and will be missed.

  3. Beyond sad. I grew up with his music.
    I first saw him on the Ziggy tour, one of my 1st concerts….a fantastic performance with another hero, Mick Ronson (RIP) on guitar. The last Ziggy show @ the Hammersmith Odeon filmed for posterity. Still untouchable for power and intensity.
    The road gets narrower, the years pass faster…. safe journey, you are truly mourned.

  4. Not a fan early (and the incessant playing of “Suffragette City” at every college party made me a bit anti-Bowie) until I saw his performance in “The Man Who Fell to Earth” in a film class – iincredible work for a novice film actor. With his passing, hopefully more people will be exposed to all his performances.

Comments are closed.