Friday, 26 February 2010

Pass me my safari slippers I'm feeling zoological

There was definitely a looming sense of pressure to feel moved and come up with something profound to say when coming face to face with all the animals of the world but I think I'd rather hit it from a different angle. Visiting Taronga Zoological Park has confirmed my long held suspicion that I would be an excellent person for a jungle safari scientist to marry.

In the day he would go off in a jeep to shoot lions, tigers or gorillas with dart guns. In the morning I would ride my horse across the plains. After lunch I would retire to our library to work on my manuscript. We would wire messages to each in morse code. In the evenings we would listen to jungle noises and drink gin with tonic. Tomorrow I will write to Taronga Zoological Park and ask them to add this information to their guide books.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

I want you, we want you, they want you, so why don't you?

PAN magazine wants your submissions of poetry, short fiction or essays for issue #2.

More information on the PAN website.

Take me down to testosterone city

If there is a god he was man-shaped and multiple and standing at the bar. The Duke of Edinburgh is a tidal pub towed by the almighty whim of the Enmore Theatre booker. Tonight it was Jane's Addiction, I didn't have a ticket, I wasn't the least interested in that band until I ran smack bang into the wall-to-wall testosterone factory filling every inch of space at The Duke.

The joint was crammed with men, real men. Craggity rock'n'roll semi-drunk testosterone-fueled men. Hallelujah. There was so much testosterone in there I think I got an erection, I certainly had the urge to wee standing up on a fence post before making rough Cowboy punch-love.

My friend, let's call her K2, didn't seem at all impresed, if anything she showed regulation level annoyance at our local once again being disturbed by a one-night-only fan crowd but I think she was just showing her age. K2 is young, young enough to follow an indie boy across a room with one secretly interested eye. I couldn't care less about indie boys, for a start they're boys and all they care about is their hair. I don't know when this Peter Pan fad became de rigueur for all male humans under thirty but I am the fuck sick of it. Grow up, organise your shelves, invest in cologne for occasional use and for goodness sake get a tea pot and learn how to provide for yourself. Growing tomatoes in pots and thinking about what you might cook to take to Christmas lunch could also help.

I still don't like Jane's Addiction but I just might become a fan of their fans because like I said, if there is a god he was man-shaped and multiple and standing at the bar.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Everyone needs a hero

My big wet writers' crush on Mark Mordue continues. I'd like to have a drink with this man. I'd like to pour whiskey down my throat and just listen to him for a while. Mordue's essay 'Towards Love: another vision of The Road' needs to be read, now.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

It's on

And so it has begun. David Young and I will both be reviewing The Drones at The Annandale in a grudge match gig review challenge.

Thursday, 18 February 2010


Oh why don't you just bore me until I am dead. The boring thing I am talking about here is a review of The Holy Soul and The Kill Devil Hills. 'Respectful applause', I mean is that really something you want to read in a gig review?

Here's the part where I start making sense. The reviewer, David Young, clearly knows how to put a sentence together. He has a fluid journalistic style but his review is boring to read. Boring. Come on David Young this music is wild, this gig was transcendent in places and raucous in others. I walked around pretending to be a gunslinger for three full days after this gig, surely you can do better than 'respectful applause'.

The reason that music journalism has gone to hell in this country is because music journalists need to lift their game, I'm not excluding myself from this. Consider this a challenge. David Young if you happen upon this post contact me. I've got a proposition for you and it goes a little something like this. Let's coordinate reviewing the same gig. I challenge you to a 'review off'.

Sandwich yelling gives way to more generalised slouching or let me explain about Radio Man

Radio Man happened upon Spencer and I sitting in one of our usual cafes drinking our usual coffees. I didn't notice that he was drunk until he had stopped for a quick chat, left and then come back again saying that he wanted to explain. His explanation was that his band went to Japan this morning, for a gig. I was trying to work out if that was possible given that it was still morning. I was developing a theory about the possibility of time travel as a freak occurrence when he said he'd been in the lounge and not heard the boarding announcement. He missed the flight. Tomorrow morning he's headed back to the airport for take two. He will land just in time to make the gig but in the meantime instead of drinking on a plane he's going to be drinking at home and pretending that he's on a plane. Seems like a fine plan to me. Maybe tomorrow I'm going to pretend to be on a plane.

Monday, 15 February 2010

And now for my newest genre - album review revenge

If I have to write album reviews then I am going to use them for revenge. Payback's a bitch. Sure they could say the review is poorly written and critically nonsensical but, you know, that's kind of how I roll.

Saturday - Ocean Colour Scene

Critically, you could say Ocean Colour Scene are not obviously doing anything musically wrong, it’s just that they have no taste or respect for genuine artistic endeavours. I do not like any part of this album. I don’t ever want to hear it again. I will never go and see this band play live, I will never recommend them for anything other than being shot into space and I sincerely wish they would stop stealing melodies.

Continue reading...

End Times - Eels

I used to know a man who wanted to be this album, he turned out to be a jerk. Some albums you have to turn yourself down to listen to. Some albums have an inbuilt pointed device that silences you so the music can take over. This album does not.

Continue reading...

Sunday, 14 February 2010

I told you, don't make me walk like a gunslinger

 It's no secret I've always wanted to be a cowboy. People tell me I'll never be a cowboy wearing floral dresses and drinking cups of tea but I'm pretty sure there's more to it than outfits and refreshments...

Don't make me walk like a gunslinger

It was one of those big old country pubs, two stories high and wrapped in iron lace. Somebody thought to paint the pressed tin ceiling a pearlescent cream and I can't say the effect was unpleasant. It seems like forever since I drove South through the high scrub and all that sedimentary rock until I found the ocean in a new place. I didn't see much of the ocean last night, everything was obscured by fog and the rain that turned itself from high to low then back up again.

Spencer picked me up in his big old car, it was full of friends, with beer. We drank beer (except for Spencer), ate chocolate bars, sang along to the stereo. There's nothing quite like a road trip.

I walked in out of the rain lugging a bass guitar in a hard case. I ran straight into Brendon Humphries, the singer from The Kill Devil Hills. He held out his hand and introduced himself, it was a small conversation but I was struck by something odd. It seemed to me that he was kind and open, unguarded in a genuine sort of way. It might be ten thousand years since I have met a person who will just stand like that on the floor and hold out their hand to greet a stranger. Maybe living in the city does have its downside.

I've seen the Kill Devil Hills before, even reviewed them but this gig was by far the best. The crowd was older, more sedate, satisfied to sit at their tables taking long swallows of beer while the band stood up on the stage. For part of the show I moved outside to the long verandah. I sat on an old leather couch watching the torrential rain pour over the ocean while the sound moved through the windows behind me. I'm thinking that moment might have been ideal.

I've written about The Kill Devil Hills before, I think I said there's something of the horizon in their music and I'm not about to change my mind now. Everybody needs a bit of horizon projected by a band of hillbilly pirates once in a while. If you're in the mountains today head up to Hotel Gearin, buy yourself beer, shake the rain out of your hair and just listen. The band will do everything else.

He says that he's tired of singing this song but I don't think I'm tired of listening to him sing it. It's not fair but if I had my way drummer Steve Gibson will be singing 'Drinking Too Much' as often as possible until the day he dies.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Oh you know, just walking around a little before undressing in a surprise disco

After we got kicked out of The Duke, well politely told by Victor that the beer garden was shutting and to please move inside, I was all set to walk home but Spencer, Skywalker and The French One had other plans. As we walked past The Enmore I wanted to explain to Spencer that I was tired and drunk and needed to go home but the only thing I could manage to say was 'I am too drunk to have this block of cheese in my handbag. Do you think it will be all right?' Spencer rarely looks baffled but he was approaching something quite like it as he enquired as to why I had a block of cheese in my handbag. I wanted to explain how the aging process of cheese effects lactose levels but all I could think of was that I had bought it at the same time as black shoelaces, a box of matches and a roll-on deodorant and that  a very tall man had been in front of me in the queue for the checkout. Once I might have diligently explained all of these things but I have decided to cultivate an air of mystery.

It's been seven hours and sixteen days, since my bedroom light became possessed by a poltergeist. The light works when it wants to, flashes on and off when it wants to and sometimes doesn't work at all. I didn't really mind until I came home drunk with a block of cheese in my handbag and found myself undressing inside a surprise disco.

There were other strange parts to my day, free Grolsch at an art gallery, free review copy of Avatar, free chocolate sorbet in Newtown, spending five hours arranging and rearranging the articles for issue #1 of PAN magazine and of course being interviewed by a journalist for Cleo magazine. It can't all be just swanning around drunk with cheese.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

When you go down Dixon don't order a special wife

We ordered the Special Wife Cake because it was called Special Wife Cake. Madam Squeeze tore it carefully in half, pausing mid operation to ensure the halves were even in size. The cake was tiny, flat and round like a raised biscuit made of pastry but in the centre something was lurking. At first glance the cake appeared to be filled with reconstituted apple-flavoured squid or half-dried superglue but it tasted much worse than either of those two things combined.

We tried turning it into a game, animal, mineral or vegetable but my mouth would not decipher the taste. The pastry flaked but tasted short and emitted a malodorous vapour detectable only once mastication had commenced.  Madam Squeeze tried dipping her half in jasmine tea but claimed it did not in any way improve the flavour. I tried leaning back in my plastic chair and smoking a cigarette but that also had no effect.

I almost made it through my half of the Special Wife Cake, almost but not quite. Three bites worth of cake lay listless on the white square plate on the table between us. It felt important to me that we finish the cake because of its special and possibly mystical name. Try as I might I could not finish my half. Madam Squeeze, in an act of selfless bravery, attempted to finish my half of the cake but could not in the end stomach it.

I'm not sure that I want to be anyone's special wife but as I walked away that minuscule piece of cake taunted me, saying 'This will be the reason you rattle through the world alone'. Madam Squeeze asked me 'Who do you want to believe, rational thought or the imagined voice of an undelicious cake?' I said 'rational thought' but I was thinking 'cake'.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

I will fight you on the beaches

In 2007 I performed a Home Hitler Self-Test by attempting to grow a moustache and burn books in the fireplace in the library. Tomorrow I will perform a Home Churchill Self-Test by eating breakfast in bed, running the nation's war efforts from the bathtub, taking a nice walk, drinking cocktails before, during and after dinner before retiring to bed chamber by 11pm. Wish me luck.

Some days are like houses

Some projects are long term, the kind that unfold as you age and become as essential as breathing. This project, my Safe As Houses project is like that. It us unhurried but permanent. Two days ago I remembered a house I once tried to forget, except for the part where Elliot and I got a horse truck stuck on the front lawn. We climbed things holding six-foot crowbars, we were sure this would help.

Two days ago Ben Rumble had a story about this house published in THE GROUP online magazine and I remembered that it is not easy to forget.

Friday, 5 February 2010

And now back to the studio

Well I don't suppose it's everyday you get to run off into studio 2 at Albert's and play Harry Vanda's guitar whilst drinking one of Daniel Johnston's mountain dews. Words about this, to come later, for now please enjoy my terrible photography.

Above is Daniel Johnston and Old Man River doing live recording thinger in next studio. Think was being filmed by JJJ.

Above is Spence recording guitar for Belle Phoenix. Didn't want to turn on the flash and distract him.

Above is Daniel Johnston and Belle Phoenix with Spencer in background.

 Above is me playing Harry Vanda's guitar with Madam Squeeze having a nice cup of tea. Harry Vanda, from The Easy Beats, donated the guitar to the studio.
Spencer recording some more.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Let's get drunk and drive or The Holy Soul's narrow escape from a suicide ride

There’s no turning back on a suicide ride. David Thomas is an arsehole and a genius. Sydney band The Holy Soul already knew this. Bassist Sam Worrad has been hassling the Sydney Festival for years to invite David Thomas to perform, this year it finally happened. The Holy Soul saw their chance and offered to be Thomas’s backing band in a side show.

The Holy Soul are either monumentally brave or recklessly suicidal.

Thomas has been terrifying audiences, musicians and readers with his band Pere Ubu since 1975. Last night he terrified me, petrified me to the point of unbearable tension. I wanted to flee but I was pinned like a butterfly in a point of light. Thomas berated The Holy Soul, stopped the song ‘Vacuum In My Head’ three times before abandoning it, made them play ‘Clouds Of You’ all the way through, twice and stared so menacingly at Worrad during ‘Perfume’ that I thought he might cry, or spontaneously combust. Thomas was so fierce that even I, sitting in the upstairs gallery, was coursing with unwanted adrenalin.

Control, in the hands of a genius, yields magnificent results. The Holy Soul were electric, all molecules in their beings irreversibly honed on Thomas’s every sound, look and gesture. I have never witnessed four people focus with such intensity. Thomas picked up his miniature accordion for ‘Bus Called Happiness’, sound pulsed through the air as though the universe hung, note for note, suspended on this song and the will of one man. This performance was memorable not only for the terror but the beauty.

Pere Ubu, Thomas’s band, have been described as avant garage and the ‘world’s only expressionist Rock’n’Roll band’, but that was by Thomas himself.  Sure it sounds like Rock’n’Roll but there is more to it than that. Calling Pere Ubu Rock’n’Roll is like calling the sun a bit warm.

Last year The Holy Soul’s second album Damn You, Ra was released to critical acclaim. Dropping their whole sound and repertoire to work with Thomas is one of the things that makes this band great, and brave, but it wasn’t the first time. As well as working with David Thomas they have previously shed their songs to improvise with the legendary Damo Suzuki. Thomas understood the power and genius of his backing band. He released their full might in ‘30 Seconds Over Tokyo’, he stepped away from the mic as The Holy Soul let fly. He stood there motionless, with his head bowed and his right arm paused half way through lifting a glass to his lips, just this once relinquishing control as the noise unfolded around him.

Intense was the word of the night, after it was done the audience staggered out onto Enmore Rd. They looked like newly released hostages. They shuffled in silence forming small circles for safety and then it began. It was the kind of debriefing I’d expect after the apocalypse or the funeral of a person on the cusp of adulthood. One woman, with her hand on her heart said, ‘It was gruesome and beautiful but it was also so human. He spoke some kind of truth up there but I don’t think I could have taken any more.’ And we all agreed that it was magnificent but we were glad it was over.

Photo by Lyndal Irons © 2010

Review also appears in RHUM.