Monday, 30 November 2009

Pump the brakes bitch

Waking up with a mouth full of half-chewed liquorice pieces at 3 in the morning was not my finest moment. I was still wearing my dress but I had mercifully kicked off my shoes before laying down on top of the covers. I think I undertook one of those weaving walks home where I was throwing one foot out in front of the other with a casual disregard for boundaries such as straight lines or footpaths. It was just me and the cockroaches on Enmore Rd. I used to cringe at the sight of the fat black things scuttling audibly everywhere I went but like the aeroplanes and the out of town visitors it's now just one of those Newtown facts sliding through my brain like GPS.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Turn your snare off

If it's a clay shape then I don't want it, not even if you pushed it into being with aching fingers. Hold out your hands for the cold and moist lump, fold your fingers around the heavy weight and walk silently away.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Better run through the jungle

Today the idea of him has the hit and stick of napalm but tomorrow I plan on wearing a fireproof suit.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

A blanket pinned up across a window will come down in a heavy grey fold if you let slip just one of those pins

I suppose I was seven or eight years old when he told he was a blackberry. I was confused but pleased that he was playing one of his silly jokes with me. I laughed at him and said 'don't be silly you can't be a blackberry because you are a person'. I don't remember how old I was when I found out that he had said Black Beret and not blackberry.


He died last Wednesday, curled up and snuffed out but it wasn't entirely unexpected. I didn't see him crawling towards the long night like some of the others did but I heard the change in the light some years ago. Everybody supposed that she would nurse him down gently until the breathing stopped. Everybody supposed she would pack a small suitcase and be driven across the horizon to the farm but she stayed where she was with that salt wind at her place where she watches the kangaroos graze by the sea. She said she never sees them hop on the sand, they stay clear of the sand like she does.

On Monday there'll be three of them standing hot on the inland blustering dust at the side of his open grave. They'll wear black and swat flies with their funeral programs. The middle child will sob the hardest, shaking her shoulders and frightening her children. The oldest son will be the star of the speeches and the youngest will evoke sympathy with the silent grit-tooth bowing of his head. Three hours north of where she'll be sitting by her sea I'll be swallowed in a building and thinking of her.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Ye gods and far out I was sitting next to a former Rolling Stones tour manager

I was having a relatively normal conversation with the excellent Mr Fenton when I noticed that his shoes were quite shiny. I had a scope around and confirmed that his were the shiniest shoes in the outside area at The Annandale so I asked him if he shined his shoes. You should have seen the look Spencer gave me. Mr Fenton was drinking a beer and looking at me in that quiet and quizzical way he has then gently shook his head. He'd just come offstage after playing a Billy Thorpe tribute for a book launch* where I was plagued by ghosts from the literary set but soothed, after a fashion, by live music. Mr Fenton said his shoes were shiny from use, beer swill and dropped cigarette ash. When I think about it that is the most rock'n'roll way to shine your shoes.




*"Billy Thorpe's Time On Earth" by Jason Walker

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Change your own light bulb

It is clear to me that he desires very strongly to live. The way he watched people dancing is enough to fold you to the floor but people don't seem to watch him properly. Their eyes slide over him slowly taking measurements for memory.

I suppose he is my polar opposite. I am plagued with rude health and stubborn life yet I feel I would throw off the shackles of this life if I could, just shrug out of it like an unwanted cardigan. A situation like this is enough to make me want to change my own light bulb.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Bogans love You Am I

I suppose I am quite lucky that the first time I ever laid eyes on Tim Rogers was upstairs in the band room at The Annandale. He was walking around doing vocal warm up exercises then unexpectedly broke into a fair rendition of  I Will Always Love You. I was sitting on one of those Fender stools that allow you to rotate all the way around quite rapidly. Spencer was standing behind the bar fishing beer out of the ice bucket. I don't know why they have to put beer in an ice bucket when there is a perfectly good fridge. Tim Rogers is taller than me, I always thought he was a very short man but as it turns out he is not. Also his guitar tech smells like coconut and his tour manager has a tendency towards rudeness but then offers copious apologies after the rudeness has occurred. I believe she would benefit from swallowing the Little Book of Calm.

The Annandale is a bit shit really, the floor is never not sticky, the back stairs up to the band room are strange and I always run my arm across the exposed hot water pipe and jump at the shock. The sound tonight was, in places, shocking. I'm going to recommend they stop enticing the Sydney Morning Herald to write stupid articles about their fight with local council and start worrying about being a good venue again.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Flapping at my kitchen wall

I thought if this lament is unending then lord let us cry. I was curled like an old plastic chip packet heated in the oven, inelegantly wetting the front of my shirt with an unrelenting flow of tears when a crow hit The Peach windows with a powerful thud and crumpling of feathers. Some days are wet with soup, tea and tears. Some days demand you walk up and down the hallway or follow the movement of light across the floor. This day I needed nothing more than to have freedom enough to feel.

The bird flew away but I was left stunned with my hands on the kitchen sink, immobile and staring at the place where the bird collided with my glass wall. The phone rang, it was Artboy, I made a silent dash and scramble to pause The Way We Were and shake off my crow-weirdness. Hubbell stood frozen at the end of Katie's hospital bed staring at her as his wife for the last time. I don't know how she stood it. I can see why everybody was going crazy for Barbara Streisand, her hands are entirely elegant and there is something about the way she stands and delivers a line. I talked to Artboy for  hours while I stared at the frozen Hubbell in his Hollywood jacket and Cobra Kai haircut. I suppose the bad man from The Karate Kid was trying to look like Robert Redford but it took until today to work that out. I've never seen The Way We Were before.

A submerged and profound grief rolled in me like a whale in a pool as I spoke to Artboy today.  Talking to anyone else feels like a waste of words but then I catch myself and remember I have my own life now. I have this freedom and joy. I have a house in the city and a media pass. I have friends and a magazine and a small but respectable stack of published work. I have my cat and my desk and I can tell people at parties that I am a Rock Journalist and it is not a lie. I told Artboy nobody ever thinks of Ted Hughes, what it must have been like to live with Sylvia Plath as her illness consumed every corner of his life. I don't know how he stood it.

After Artboy and the close of one of those conversations that jump syllable to syllable like synapses I finished The Way We Were and moved on Into The Wild. It was one of those stories that Loene Carmen sums up best by saying 'trying to romanticise what a cunt you are'.* He had a kind of Superman syndrome where he took the ordinary troubles of life and wound them so tight around his heart and fists that he was punching everyone, including himself, without feeling the blows. Stopped the beat of his heart because he thought he was only one who heard the noise of it. I didn't notice this about Superman until it was too late and I was interstate and trapped inside a house with his family's Christmas leftovers.

I didn't weep for the man who fled like a child into the wild but I did weep. I wept great heaving soundless sobs while I knelt down to choose movies, I wept as I washed dishes in the sink, spread marmalade on my toast, poured tea from the pot. There was no great sorrow, my mind was on ordinary matters much as it always is. I formatted my new hard drive sitting on the lounge room floor taking care not to tip tears into the keyboard of my laptop. My need for unfettered expression was profound, solid as the foundations of the earth. I suppose it as simple as this, monsoons sometimes happen as far south as Sydney.




* From the album Rock'n'Roll Tears - listen to it.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Soundcheck City

Everyone was checking sound this afternoon as I walked home to The Peach. Notes, the Greek restaurant with surprising concrete walls and the unnaturally shiny counter, were broadcasting broken horn lines and and an arrhythmic sequential tapping of drums. Buskers were unfolding themselves from hardcases, tuning up their old guitars and getting ready for the public disappearance of self into the appearance of sound. The Enmore emitted the classic 'one two tchoo two tchoo' and lost another battle in it's fifty year war to reach the number three.

I was laughing about the preparation of noise as I collected my drumsticks and began another assault on rhythm coordination and purpose. I was thinking of Spencer and how he can make music without notice, music enough to kickstart your heart or bend your neck in rememberance of something you haven't lived through yet. I was laughing at preparation with my joyful anarchic heart until I decided to water the front garden and the door knob came off in my hand. I am trapped in The Peach.

The Peachettes are out of town this weekend. Spencer has gone on tour and just about everybody I know is somewhere else today. I thought about panicking but instead I attended an interstate party at The Hive by telephone. I was passed around the guests like a favour and I believe that I had a grand old time. Gemma was lamenting her yesterdays' drinking as she cooked for the party tonight. Retro was feeling drunk and generous and the whole thing sounded all right.

I was tempted to panic but instead I persisted in telephoning Madam Squeeze. Luckily for me Madam Squeeze decided to sit this leg of the tour out and I knew if I kept calling that I'd eventually catch her between songs in her busking set on King St tonight. She's on her way now to rescue me and I suppose this fact has put one more fear to rest. It seems that when I am locked and alone in my house I will not die and be eaten very slowly by the cat but attend interstate parties by telephone and make pots of peppermint tea.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Screw you German Idealist architecture

I've just washed the last of the dull silver and gold smears from the end of my fingers. I was talking to a person or two while I ran my fingers along the circuit lines. Anne Finnegan grinned at me as my left ring finger made enough noise to pause a gallery's worth of conversation. I don't  know how Joyce Hinterding did it but her drawings were circuit boards that made sound when you touched them.

I've been largely avoiding galleries smaller than the MCA for the last few years. I think it's time the stupid art world got ready for me to make a come back.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Aleksandr Hearst is an interesting young man

I happen to agree with him on this issue though of course I might word it a little differently. I've said it before and I'll say it again:

'This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast and if you cut them down d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?'


Yes Robert Bolt said it first. I am aware of that.