Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Wonderfully ill

When the doctor said I was in fact ill and I would feel better in three weeks I nearly fainted with joy. There is nothing better than finding out that you are not crap at operating as a human and failing at the task of approaching each day with energy but are just a bit sick. Am wonderfully ill.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

SLAMMATOWN - Any type of happiness will do

Any type of happiness will do, even the synthetic kind caused by Mexican stairwells and an old white car. The drum kit was a surprise. I'll admit it was the last thing I was expecting to see as the door opened and the light switched on but there it sat tom upon tom like it had always been purple and covered in polka dots. I declare drums to be the very best surprise present ever. My housemates have declared my drum kit to be the very worst thing ever but what would they know, they have no idea how it feels to crawl inside the spine of music.

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Tuesday, 20 July 2010

In a trap there were three things, me, my regret and my poverty or Newtown, the gossamer trap, cuts both ways just like a knife

This morning I find myself sitting square in the centre of a Newtown Trap. I should have gone to bed early to make rising at 6am less painful, but I didn't. I stayed up late performing a series of stupid tasks, reading a short story, watching the last hour of a film, piling jumpers onto an armchair, designing a hovering cat basket, deciding which pantone represented my favourite kind of winter sky. When I turned towards bed something small flipped in my stomach and I became determined to rebel.

Here's how it went this morning; my alarm sounded, I woke and lay there wondering which clothes to wear now, and then nothing. Nothing until Grizelda poked her head in the door at 8am because on a suspicion that I was still asleep instead of at work. She was right. First I got up out of bed and then I got angry, with myself, if there's one place I don't want to be it's here, right now, with a whole day off. This day right here is a beginning symptom of The Newtown Trap.

Yesterday I was talking to a friend about a mutual friend. He said 'we're thinking about extricating him from the Newtown Trap'. I knew exactly what he meant, ever since this guy moved to Newtown he's gone from being witty and slyly rebellious to full-out slacker with little to show for all his 'hard work'.

This is how it begins. Unintentional late nights, accidental sleep-ins, next week's wages are reduced because of the day missed, resentment increases, rebellion intensifies until suddenly all discipline falls out of life and art and all that is left is the talking about or the buried but silent delusion that they are working hard to earn money and working productively on their art when it is obvious to everyone else that they are not. They are free-ranging but broke, full of talk and wonder and anecdote but this is all they consist of. This is the commonest form of the Newtown trap, lack of self-discipline and a failure to manage the basic aspects of life, earning vs spending, sleep/wake cycle and eating vegetables, masquerades as true freedom. It's a bit shit really.

I bounce in and out of my own personal Newtown Trap, the odd late late one, the odd set of unexpected days off. It's more than a person should but less than your standard permanent Newtown-Trap-dwelling citizen does. Tomorrow is my scheduled day off but come Thursday morning I'll be leaving The Peach at an ungodly hour with combed hair, clean clothes on and lunch in my handbag. Not because I want to, not because I like going to work but to stay well clear of The Newtown Trap where all is not what it seems.

Monday, 19 July 2010

The Boring Group

The Beautiful Girls make music for tanned people. I say take it to the beach and leave it there. Some things need to be shat on by seagulls.

Never before have I felt the urge to scream the name of a record label but I have tell you, ‘Die!Boredom’ was definitely on my mind. When frontman Mat McHugh started singing My Mind is an Echo Chamber, I thought what a coincidence, so is mine, this is the effect you are having on me. The complete absence of engaging music provided me with ample opportunity to focus on other things, like the large number of pork pie hats perched on audience members and how DJ Dizzy D has lovely bouncing hair that ripples like a field of barley when he dances.

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Sunday, 18 July 2010

Not really anything at all due to a genuine sensation of tiredness

The very best state in which to receive a fierce and well thought out critique of your magazine is hungover and sleep deprived to the point of a new kind of clarity. You'll probably just have to take my word for it.

Friday, 16 July 2010


Finally violence has made a comeback in the Inner West! I was beginning to think we had all been gentrified into a state of polite distaste. There have been three acts of violence in Slammatown this week. One friend was bopped in the head during a poker match for making a thoughtless remark, another attacked inside a kebab shop for no reason whatsoever and one stranger was thumped in the head quite forcefully by a passing homeless woman outside of The Duke. I welcome these acts of violence. Hang on a minute while I try and qualify that remark.

Turns out I don't welcome those acts of violence after all, particularly not the random attacking of my friend who was nothing more than drunk and hungry and waiting for a kebab. The thoughtless remark in a tense situation and the disordered mind of the homeless woman are at least a way into determining, not excusing, possible causes for the physical acts that followed.

What I do welcome is violence of thought. We need a bit more of that around this joint which is why I am developing my own miniature, contemporary and hypothetical Baader-Meinhof complex. I will escalate and bind my thoughts as grenades.

Monday, 12 July 2010

SLAMMATOWN - now an actual thing outside of my head and on someone else's website or hello RHUM

I have a column. I am allowing myself exactly half an hour to be excited by this followed by precisely two hours of fervent hoping that Sonia Zadro will never read it.

SLAMMATOWN: Sink a belle down a mineshaft and see what she sounds like; an excerpt with link

Sonia was crouched on a milk crate and howling through a detached gramophone horn outside Newtown station. She looked like the opposite of a bombshell, like something beautiful exploded and she walked out of the cloud of dust. Her voice sounds like a bell sunk down a mineshaft.
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Saturday, 10 July 2010

Dolly bomb

His name was Tom, still is I suppose but that's beside the point. I told him straight up I wanted a cross between Dolly Parton circa 1968 and Joan Jett anytime. He kept running his fingers through my hair and staring at me intently in the mirror. He said 'It might be useful if you offered a little bit more of an explanation'. I told him it was more about the vibe than anything else, vibe and volume, no way anyone could say there was a Dolly Parton influence without some height on the hair.

An hour later I walked out of there a whole lot happier. It is impossible to be morose when your hair is a cross between Dolly Parton circa 1968 and Joan Jett anytime which is handy because I've been morose for about a fortnight now. I got to the point where I either had to do a Brian Wilson and take to my bed properly for a number of years while house becomes overrun with bastards or I had to get the fuck out of my bedroom and go kick some stuff on the street, like garbage bins, small children and seed pods.

I was struck down by some kind virus and I was already on holidays with the specific intent of laying around and doing fuck all but still, I found continuous complete inaction was a path not to bliss but to morosetown. Fortunately I am clever enough to have made the following astonishing discovery. The only cure for virus/holiday continuous and complete inaction is a Dolly Parton/Joan Jett haircut. This is a discovery science will not soon forget.


It is much easier to be a columnist than I had initially suspected

My editor asked me to send her six columns. I hope these will do...

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Sham civilian drinks free beer with the band then writes a boring post about it or Gareth Liddiard might be something more than an ordinary man but I'm not quite sure about that yet

 Image by Chris Familton

 The other night I was sitting as a civilian at The Annandale watching bands and rubbing at the stamp on my wrist. It's been a while since I bothered to go to a gig I had to pay for. I pulled out my notebook out of habit, taking down the sentences music pushes through my head when I realised the whole rock'n'roll civilian feeling was a sham. Sure I paid like everyone else to get in to the venue but that's where the similarities ended.

I'm pretty sure most people don't make notes at gigs. I made a lap of the venue and spotted exactly no other notebooks so I gave up the sham and walked over to Gareth Liddiard to say hello. He said, "Come on Dale let's go upstairs for a durry". We were talking about taxes, new songs he's writing for his solo album and knock knock jokes when Spencer walked through the band room and out to the balcony where we were all sitting. He threw himself across a lounge. I kept hitting at the side of my head hoping to shake whatever was plaguing my ears out of my head. There was meandering and pointless conversation, free beer, I solved the mystery of The Faz* and of course there's always a photographer trying to get photos of Gareth sitting out on the balcony. Spencer is the only man I know who'll walk towards whoever is trying to take a shot to make it easier for them.

There was a formal party happening upstairs so we pushed our way down the hallway to get downstairs to watch Gareth do his solo set. I wanted to be standing right there, side of stage so I could watch to see if I could spot the moment this time. I've been trying to work out what happens when someone walks on stage and settles in front of the microphone. In between the time they turn their back on me and place one foot at the bottom of the stairs to go onstage and when they open their mouth to let the first sung syllable out something happens.  I've seen it happen to Spencer hundreds, possibly thousands of times. I used to wonder if he'd come back, if it would be my friend that descended the stairs back down to ordinary floor space or if he'd remain transformed.

I've never seen anyone more transformed than Gareth Liddiard but it's not as simple as it sounds. He'll talk, tell stories, make jokes and then drop suddenly into song as though the devil got hold of him and  every person standing in the room knows they're witnessing something more than music. I saw the moment again and again as he switched between banter and song. He was dropping in and out of his ordinary being without any hint of effort. I tried making notes, watching closer then closing my eyes but I came no closer to solving the riddle.

After the gig I was sitting over a cheeseburger with Spencer across the road from The Annandale. I could see the others still up on the balcony talking and drinking beer like nothing just happened. On reflection I suppose it's just the state of reverie made visible. This is the advantage that musicians, real ones and not just people who play music, have over the rest of us writers. It's just not very interesting to watch somebody type.

 * All night Spencer and Worrad had been talking about 'The Faz' as though he was a mystical being but they refused to tell me who he was. When Luke from The Laurels came into the room I asked him if he was The Faz and he said yes. Not very interesting to read about but still I am pleased that I managed to solve the riddle so easily.

Click here to read one of my reviews of The Drones, if you can be bothered...

Friday, 2 July 2010

Well, you know, sometimes a splash of colour is not unhelpful. The large pot of water I am boiling for pasta has most likely boiled dry by now but I'm concerned about it. I suppose the worst thing would be if The Peach burned down but I'm fairly sure that won't happen, not straight away, not without me noticing some smoke and telephoning the fire brigade first. I assume the cat would have enough sense to leave the building if it were on fire.

I'm hiding in my bedroom. I have been here all day, with the exception of short missions to forage for food in the kitchen or stand gratefully under hot jets of water in the shower. I've been trying to have a day like this all week. I kept getting sidetracked by things that needed doing or phone calls to return or yet another dreaded trip to the post office carting a box full of magazines to post but not today. Today I stayed determinedly in my Eyeore pyjamas reading a second-hand copy of The English Patient. It took six hours but I have fallen firmly in love with Michael Ondaatje. Three more days of this I might just be ready to reemerge into the world.