David Blue Sky, the best of the boulevardiers

david clit

Abstract of a clitoris

David Blue Sky Brannon eventually grew tired of explaining his poetic name. He was Black Irish, not a faux American-Indian, and, no, he was not another burned-out ex-roadie for the Allman Brothers. He had given himself that moniker, which was not supposed to be set off with cutesy air quotes, to express a certain world-view, and people could just wonder about it all they wanted.
Blue Sky was an Artist, capital “A” — fearless, principled, and coruscating in his originality. Before moving to Macon, he had been one of Atlanta’s hotshots, commissioned to create large-scale installation art all over downtown, and lending his bristling ideas to the alternative newspaper, The Great Speckled Bird.
His work loosely could be described as abstract expressionist: sprawling, vibrant “sculpture paintings” on heavy wood — difficult to hang on cheap plaster walls and never crafted to complement some middlebrow dilettante’s furniture. “Sofa paintings,” as he called them, brought out the ornery cuss in him.
The Jungian symbolism was there if you knew where to look. One of his pieces, which he let me purchase on an installment plan, as was his custom with strapped friends, is a symbolic representation of a clitoris — a silver sphere the size of a bowling ball nestled in textured wisps of pink. To his amusement, my guy friends would puzzle over it and sigh, “I still can’t find it.”
Crowned with a beret, Blue Sky reigned as imperious king of Middle Georgia’s bohemia throughout the 1990s, presiding over loft “soirees” that juxtaposed every demographic of oddball. He dubbed himself a “boulevardier” — a man-about-town on the boulevards, where he always could be seen nursing a beer and holding court, cosseted by peachy cocktail waitresses and a worshipful, wastrel musician or two who envied his effortless mojo with the ladies.
“How do you do it, man?” a hung-over drummer once asked him.
“I just say, ‘Hello, darlin’,” Blue Sky answered. But his sonorous voice held a world of knowing, and his cheekbones were indelibly etched with a lifetime of go-for-broke experience. It was the sort of shamanic face that appears on ancient totem poles, or, on Saturday nights, it could have peered slyly from a Mount Rushmore of weathered hedonists, side by side with Keith Richards and Willie Nelson. “I ain’t as pretty as I used to be, but I get more mileage out of this old face than I used to,” Blue Sky would say with a laugh.
Still, it was his oceanic humanity that drew all of us, the “pagan babies,” as he called his cultish hangers-on. I wince now to recall all the tearful break-ups I poured into his ear, but just hearing him say, “I’ve been there, baby, and survived, and you will, too,” somehow balmed the wounds when nothing else would.
He died October 9, a few days shy of his 72nd birthday. Reportedly, in those final hours, he looked out the window and commented on the sky, and he jokingly flirted with his hospice nurse, telling her she should have seen him when he was “pretty.”
“Women understand what is truly important in this world,” he used to observe.
So did you, Blue Sky.

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5 thoughts on “David Blue Sky, the best of the boulevardiers

  1. paigewms says:

    Why am I only just now finding out about your website? This is terrific!! Regular Candice missives = an enriched life.

  2. Butch says:

    Well said, Candice.

    I first crossed paths with David in the early ’70s at the Stein Club in Atlanta. We were both enjoying all that the Atlanta art and music scene had to offer in those days, it was a truly wonderful time.

    Independently, we both wound up in Macon and his presence improved the quality of my life here more than he could ever know. Too many times, visiting with Bluesky at lunch at the Rookery was the high point of my day.

    For the last several years, David’s health seemed to be on a roller coaster. He was hospitalized a couple years ago, and I feared the worst for him, but six months later, he looked better than he had in years. Quitting cigarettes, eating better and moderating other parts of his lifestyle seemed to work wonders. But last year, in August or September, he hit a rough patch and again I feared for my friend. This time there would be no dramatic turnaround.

    • Thanks for your feedback. I’m not one for gurus, but if I were, David would have been mine. I used to work a night shift at the Macon Telegraph. I would get up, shower, caffeinate, and then head over to the Rookery for a ritual debriefing with David. Even if I just talked with him for 10 or 15 minutes, it helped “center” me enough, somehow, to face the day. Even though I haven’t lived in Macon for awhile, I feel unmoored without him around. He enriched me and everyone in his vicinity immeasurably. Always glad to hear how he touched the lives of others…

  3. Phil Comer says:

    A lovely remembrance of Blue Sky, thanks for reposting. I remember him well, and his iconoclastic loft with artistic offerings, his totems to this earth upon which we visit. He did define our place and times. He was uniquely Macon. So many don’t understand the magic of this place! Candy, Darlin’, no one captures such better than you do, My Pretty. Thanks.

  4. Bobby Reece says:

    I wasn’t fortunate enough to have known David, but reading your article makes me feel as if I did. That’s the beauty of your writing. There can be no greater compliment. I would loved to have seen David hold court. Something about him reminds me of Donnie McCormick, also an artist and musician.

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