Friday, 26 November 2010

Sings pretty good for a dead man

Just in case you don’t already know, Damo Suzuki is a living legend. 
The Holy Soul have recorded a live album with him thanks to Repressed Records. 

You should read my review on RHUM.

Get your hand off my imaginary box

I just had an almost argument with a colleague from RHUM, whom I've never met, on Fspazbook.  He was getting all gloaty about a positive review I wrote about an album. He even put in a 'told you so'. Naturally I told him to fuck off and then he appeared to genuinely engage and try to resolve the issue, which mysteriously annoyed me further.

I'm trying to pinpoint the exact reason why I became immediately and completely infuriated with him. I think the best way to proceed might be to write a little list.

A little list:
- He did not at any point either before or during the reviewing process tell me that I would like the album.
- I did not at any point either before or during the reviewing process indicate that I did not like the album.
- I actually requested the album to review from a list of albums that desperately need reviewing due to time constraints.
- I began to suspect that the man in question had made a decision about the kinds of things I did and did not like, which is stupid and also impossible as nobody knows what I do and don't like.
- I had just walked from The Lansdowne to The Peach and was overly warm.
- My left ankle hurts.
- I began to suspect the man in question had built an imaginary box around my presumed tastes.
- I began to imagine the box was large, made of reinforced glass and visible to a large number of strangers.
- The box began to suffocate me.
- I hate the imaginary box.
- I forgot to buy cat food and will need to defrost a sausage to feed the cat something for breakfast.
- I like to say 'fuck off' to people I do not know and sometimes to people I do know, like Spencer or a distant relative.

It might be best to admit that sometimes a list is not helpful or even interesting.

The argument seems to have been resolved. The man in question apologised despite being baffled, I made a peace offering of 'I Hate You' by The Monks, because it is a good song. 'Bla Bla Bla'  by Toots and the Maytals was posted on my Fspazbook wall in return. It was a strange encounter but there is a lesson to be drawn from this, I hope. Let me know if you figure out what it is.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

All in a golden afternoon

I’ve been going to see Caitlin play gigs for years. I go for one reason, her music. I am never disappointed. I remember seeing her for the first time. I was just walking through the room to get to the bar. She was about fourteen years old, standing on stage with a huge guitar slung high and her right shoulder raised towards her ear. She was playing a Paul McCartney cover, it stopped me dead in my tracks. Ever since that first minute I’ve been listening to Caitlin Harnett every chance I get.
Her sound is earnest and wonderfully simple, like a straight answer in a sea of bullshit. It is post-dreamy and threaded through with the good elements of country. If I had to choose one reason to listen to her it would be this, when she lifts you follow.

EP available now through itunes and on Caitlin's Big Cartel.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Gilded carnival chariots, six lanes of traffic, an intimate drunken embrace and Algeria

On the bus I was momentarily overtaken by the memory a gilded carnival chariot. I was reading Camus, The American Journals. My remembered giant cart was nightly towed around the festival grounds at Woodford, by the Hari Krishnas I think. One clear memory of unfettered delight. It was a heavy thing, decorated wildly in a style from last century, towed with great braided ropes by clamorous groups heaving through the thick air. A heavy air made tolerable only by the setting of the sun. I think of it as painted shining and white, several stories high with no practical purpose. A machine built for joy.

Camus slapped me with his spare prose. Every clean sentence the tip of an iceberg. I should always return to books like these, writers' notebooks of observations and ideas, like a  dancer returns to the barre.

It has been about a month since I last saw Leif. I think I call him Leif here, or Leaf or Tree or River or some such name but there he was at Central Station striding towards me to wait for the same train. His beard seems incredulously long. He wasn't staggering or ginger of stride but his immediate confession, as he fell into one of his intimate embraces, was that he was quite probably still drunk from last night and running hideously late for work.

I have now the urge to leave the cafe where I sit to cross the road and be tattooed with something ill-advised. This is the same urge to write. Make visible marks representing an interior feeling.

I was on my way to a job interview when I ran into Leif. He has been having difficulty securing a lease on somewhere new to live. He said he is good on paper, same good job for years and years, steady rental history. I should have remarked that he is good off-paper as well. Though he is sometimes petulant the source is always love. I often suppress the urge to build a good fence around him, not to contain him but to provide him with an impenetrable place of safety. Most people build their own borders but either he does not know how or he is so used to being invaded he has discarded any notions of sovereignty.

He was a companionable distraction on what might have been an anxious journey. I briefly became lost on the way to the office but in a fit of calm adulthood I telephoned for directions. I was violently reminded about the land of cars as I walked around the business park in North Ryde. Six lane roads and not a fellow pedestrian in sight. As I made note of the directions I was desperately hoping not to be sucked out of the poor shade a of a young eucalypt and into the screaming traffic by the jet wash of a passing truck.

I know almost nothing about Algeria. Some places I imagine dusty and hot. I am content with a vague notion of white walls and outside, in sparse shade, some scratching chickens.

The man who interviewed me was undoubtedly delectable. He shifted between consciously projecting a businesslike charm and inadvertently revealing something of his true nature. I imagine his childhood home was solid and well-furnished. The same good curtains hanging in windows for most of his life. He has a steadiness about him, whether recently constructed or an innate feature of his person I have no idea. I have developed a curiosity about him. It itches at me to be left with only the imaginary texture of his life.

Well that was unfortunately psychedelic

I had no intention of ingesting psychedelics, I only wanted to have the tiniest taste of the frozen fruit smoothie concoction they kept going on and on about. I thought surely, just one capful of the stuff won't have any effect. The average 'dose' of psychedelic mushrooms is one gram. One gram of dried mushrooms would be an enormous amount surely, like a whole heaped handful. I've measured plenty of ground spices when I'm cooking curries so I was fairly confident that if I took one tiny sip to taste the stupid drink that I would in no way be approaching the amount necessary to have a psychedelic experience.

I was wrong.

Friday, 19 November 2010

SLAMMATOWN - I'm a spy

After staking out the back entrance to the caterer’s kitchen for ten minutes I discovered a regularity of flow in extremely large trolleys going in and out of the doors. All those hours of double jump with the skipping ropes in primary school finally paid off when I launched a perfectly timed jump from behind a door to the hidden side of a fast moving trolley. Crouching like a commando I ran undetected alongside the trolley until I reached the entrance to the VIP area.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Farewell to the floral stink source, I want to see my mother, we welcome you mighty Peach Deck the Second or The Arizona branch of the Taliban may be plotting to capture or kill my family

The IGA supermarket on Enmore Rd is microscopic. One person traveling at half the normal shopping speed will still be traveling too quickly to negotiate the towering and over-crowded aisles, all five of them. I was talking to my mother on the telephone when I entered the IGA. Ordinarily I might wind a conversation up so that I could devote my much-needed attention to navigating around, under, over and through shelves, baskets and people but today I kept on talking.

I want to see my mother, I don't know why but I do. It's not a feeling of obligation, more like a biological urge. I'm not sure why this need has developed but I can isolate its first appearance to precisely the moment The Peachettes and I slid the stinky floral sofa that used to be in the library down the front steps and onto the street. It is unfortunate that I won't have an opportunity to see her before she travels to the USA where she will be capture or killed by The Taliban because the central heating in her house broke and they charge a flat fee of $250 to come out and have a look, not including parts or labour.

I don't how to describe my mother. It is not that she is awful, or especially kind, she is the usual amount of annoying and tender, for a parent, I think. I can say my mother is never dull. Not for one second in all the years of her life has she ever been dull. Like all people she is contradictory and puzzling but unlike most people she will express all of these contradictions articulately. Though perhaps sometimes, like today, she is more puzzling than articulate.

A conversation between Dale and her mother on the telephone in the IGA on Enmore Rd - an excerpt:

DS: I'm just not sure I want to go to the second interview for this job.
M: You should earn more money. Money gives you choices:
DS: But it also takes them away. I don't want to wake up every morning with the urge to stab myself through the heart.
M: You should use a calculator to see if it would be more money.
DS: You are just like John Howard, always putting money first. What about my happiness?
M: I have all this money now because I worked very hard to earn it. You have time now but your choices are limited because you can't afford anything. What will happen when you retire?
DS: You worked very hard but were you happy?
M: Not for the last five years that I worked but before that I don't know. It is the mindset everybody had, work hard, be an example, provide for your family. What size of jeans do you want from America?
DS: I don't know. I 'll have to look up a size conversion chart. Did you enjoy your work?
M: I did like what I was doing. I've left you the River House in my will but I sold it.
DS: What? Why are you telling me this now?
M: My will is with my solicitor.
DS: I thought he was dead.
M: Not quite yet but soon. I also left you my super. Is it Navajo jewellery you prefer?
DS: I quite liked that necklace you got me the time before last. When are you planning on dying?
M: I'm going to visit B. in America on Monday.
DS: Are you going to drop dead in America?
M: I'm more worried about The Taliban.
DS: In Arizona?
M: Well the central heating broke this week, you never know what might happen. They charge a flat $250 for a call out fee. I have another house in the mountains you can have instead of the River House. You should rent it out to someone who has a job.
DS: I might but you have to die first. I'm no longer going to plunge to my death because Mr Oddweird repaired the Peach Deck.
M: What do you want duty free?
DS: I'm not sure, let me think.
M: Your brother sucked all my spending money into a trombone.
DS: I suppose that's not unusual. Should I buy the recycled toilet paper? I can give you money for some duty free perfume.
M: No you can't, you're too poor. The Money Fairy doesn't approve. My brother once bought the most  dyed toilet paper because he doesn't like fish.
DS: Maybe the Birthday Fairy could buy the perfume, unless she has also been sucked into a trombone.
M: It is important to note that I do not plan on dropping dead in America but there is a possibility I might.
DS: Consider it noted. You should note that unlike my uncle I like fish.
M: Noted.

Monday, 15 November 2010

The unending number of cat-food-mission related surprises or Going to New York

I ran into a friend of mine today as I walked down the road on a mission to buy cat food in the pouring rain. He's been smiling a lot lately, almost too much, as though he had saved all his happiness in a box under his bed and only recently thought to open it. He's written a screen play and is going to New York, to try his luck at walking streets with words in mind.

My friend's joy was overwhelming. I think he'd stuffed all his pockets with thought-propelling possibilities. I told the cat all about it, our thoughts were unusually united, this is only one surprise in the unending number of cat-food-mission related surprises.

Terrible by accident on purpose

I locked myself in my wardrobe last night. That's more difficult than it sounds, it has sliding doors. It was, of course an accident, one in a long list of accidents. I threw a garbage bag containing a king size doona onto my head, dropped two fans on my feet and trapped the cat in the shower. I was having one of those uncoordinated days when my ordinary flesh turns into an irresistible disaster-attracting magnet but it was better than the day before when I had to fake something similar.

Spencer said he was having some friends around to have a jam in his band room. I came along to take notes for something I'm working on but ended up happily but ineffectively bashing away at the drums. Something got into Spencer's head and he kept calling out for everybody to swap instruments, which is fine for him because he can just about get away with playing anything, less good for the some of the rest of us, particularly me. I can't play guitar, not at all. I don't want to learn either. I have about as much interest in playing guitar as I do in dropping my hands into a vat of boiling oil. I made some loud electric noises of the atonal variety and didn't really mind not being able to play but then Spencer yelled for another swap and somebody handed me a bass.

I can play bass guitar, but I didn't want to. I haven't wanted to play for twenty years and even before that I wasn't really having a good time with the stupid thing. I used to plod along with one dire band or another, picking out the right notes and following the drummer through rhythm and the guitars through keys but I never liked it. I remember the precise day when I shut my old bass into its case and swore never again.

Two days ago in Spencer's band room I was stranded in the middle of a stupid jam with a damn bass strapped around my neck. Spencer was playing drums like he was falling down stairs, some others were having a go at electric guitar. I thought about it for a second, ran my left hand down the fret board and felt the strings bite at my fingertips but then something took over. I don't even remember making the decision not to play. It was easier than I thought, I half-heartedly plonked out a few tones, out of order, out of rhythm. Muscle memory was screaming at me 'you're doing it wrong, stop doing it wrong', but the more I persisted in not playing the easier it got. I tapped out some random nothings, played non-existent chords, jammed my foot down on a pedal to muddy things up even further and just sat there, making hideous non-rhythmic noises until it was time to swap again.

I can't quite remember what led to the momentous day when I declared, with god as my witness, I will never play the bass again but I do remember the feeling of uncomplicated relief. I suspect it has something to do with writing. There came a point when rehearsals, sound checks, riding stuffed like a sardine from shit town to shit town in the back of someone's borrowed car and playing to people who didn't really give a shit shifted from being kind of fun to nothing more than stolen hours. I just wanted to stay home and write. I know that music isn't my first language like it is for others. I can play some instruments, I can sight read music like a pro, thanks to never practicing enough between piano lessons and wishing to avoid getting yelled at. I can listen to music like most people can't, inhabit it, wear it right in the face, I can sit without embarrassment right in front of a rehearsing beginner or a world class concert pianist but what I can't do is build within myself an innate sense of musicality. You've either got it or you don't. I don't got it and for that I remain truly grateful. I have enough to do here with words.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Toothless and calm

I wish I knew what those clangy metal ball things are called. They are smallish, just small enough to roll two around in one hand at a time. They usually come in small ornamental boxes and make a soothing sort of dull thumpish-clang as they move.

I have the feeling that sorrows can harden into pointed objects that rub, pierce and intrude on everyday moments like sleep, eat, breathe, walk and think. This morning, for the first time, I got the feeling that sometimes a hardened sorrow can become rounded and river-washed, sit tucked up as neat as a bird's feet in midflight.

I took to walking up the road on my way to nowhere in particular except breakfast. I had a good book under my left arm and a new pouch of tobacco in my pocket. I neither desired nor required any company. I walked right underneath a man I once fancied myself besotted with, he had climbed up a ladder and was scooping armfuls of jacaranda petals out of the gutter of a house. I suppose he lives there now, in the house near The Peach where he sometimes climbs to the roof and showers me with petals as I walk beneath his feet. Any reaction but the dread plunging drop in my stomach would have been impossible for such a scenario, last year, but this year I barely thought of him at all, I just laughed in the midst of my delicate purple shower. I neither looked up towards him or deliberately kept my gaze cast down. I found my merry stride unbroken as I heard the first dull thumpish clang.

I wish I knew what those metal balls are called because this morning it occurred to me that I might have some lodged in the middle parts of me, right under the ribcage somewhere between heart and stomach. Don't come racing over with your x-ray machines. I don't think its important to conduct tests to determine whether they are real or imagined. I am quite sure it is just the dull and soothing clang of old sorrows gone toothless and calm.

SLAMMATOWN - New Dress Syndrome

My new dress is better than amazing. I keep looking at it and thinking ‘oh shit’. More like ‘ooohhhhh shhiiiiiit!’. That’s just how awesome I am in my new dress. I love this dress more than marching bands, teapots and machine guns combined. I want to wear it all the time. Everywhere. So far I have worn it to Annual Goth Day, the dentist, my stupid job, the pub, to bed and in the shower. The bed/shower combination was of course one of those little accidents, could have happened to anyone really.

My dress and I have caught one train, three buses and one taxi cab. We’ve made telephone calls, typed letters, read a book, fed the cat, met seven new people, seen three bands, staggered home late at night, made nine pots of tea and telephoned my mother. Did I mention that I bought the dress three days ago?

Continue reading on RHUM...

Monday, 8 November 2010


Shitballs! The ARIAs was a disjointed and discombobulating exercise in waiting around being bored, having no idea what was happening and trying to stay upright in the dense thicket of a champagne-swilling crowd of wannabes eating miniature ice cream cones.

I have no idea who won any of the awards. My night was spent scrambling through the bowels of the Opera House trying to figure out which was the correct hallway to walk down.

Continue reading on RHUM...

Miniature note about ARIAs

The only interesting thing about the ARIAs was that Lachlan, who plays with Powderfinger, had the shiniest shoes I have ever seen.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Fist City

I had some interesting information from a friend of mine tonight. Originally him and his group of friends were Artboy's classmates at uni. My friend was telling me tonight that he was glad we are friends now, he said he didn't think he would ever be a friend of mine because of what Artboy told him way back when, all those years ago. Apparently Artboy's uni friends thought I was pretty awesome when they first met me and they told Artboy so but here's the interesting part.

Artboy told his friends that he was surprised I even talked to them, that I was prepared to be polite to them but I'd never let any of them in, not really. I think its time for some rule breaking, seeing as I am The Captain of What I Do and also it is three in the morning and I have just arrived home from The Townie (no one tell my mother).

Fuck you Artboy. Retrospectively fuck you.

Just as a side note I have discovered a new way to dry my hands with those loud air-blaster thingy-whatsits they have in public toilets. A foolproof method for actual hand dry-making rather than just standing in an unpleasantly loud and gusty place for twenty seconds but leaving with wet hands despite best efforts. All things considered this evening was triumphant.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Le Noise

There are moments when Le Noise hovers, suspending a single sound apart from its song just long enough to reveal the anatomy of rock and roll. Now that’s what I call the perfect mix of science and love. Le Noise is as wide as the horizon and as intimate the inside of your underpants. It’s not brand new territory; others have been here before but perhaps none so openly as Neil. At the age of sixty-four he’s still singing straight out of that blow-hole in the centre of his chest.

Continue reading on RHUM...

Too many reviews - clearly the editors are slavedriving bastards

Swanlights - Antony & His Johnsons

Antony & The Johnsons is a sometimes-food, unless you are chronically suicidal or just have a penchant for making yourself miserable. Antony & The Johnsons are depressing, as depressing as Jandek or Townes Van Zandt, who is like Hank Williams only sadder.
Swanlights has an operatic sweep to it but can feel a little monotonous until the last three songs, when suddenly it sets like a triumphant tower of berry-studded chocolate mousse and everything begins to make sense.

Continue reading on RHUM...

He Will Have His Way: The songs of Neil and Tim Finn

I once had an argument with an alcoholic in rehab - he was in rehab not me - about which Neil was ‘The Neil’, Neil Young or Neil Finn. Nobody won. Tim is the superior Finn, Rehab Man started drinking again and I went back to listening to Neil Young albums. That little story has precisely one thing to do with He Will Have His Way: The Songs of Tim and Neil Finn but I’m not going to tell you about it

Continue reading on RHUM...

The Very Very Best of Crowded House

Crowded House sound better in your head than they do on your stereo. Inside my head Crowded House are frickin’ amazeballs. Classic melodies, good times and sunshine distilled into song. On my stereo they are insipid and boring. You can hear the years stacked between you and the day the melody was first written.

Continue reading on RHUM...

Thursday, 4 November 2010

SLAMMATOWN: Annual Goth Day

Once in a blue moon, well once a year really, the Goths of Enmore have a festival. They call it Under The Blue Moon Festival, I like to call it Annual Goth Day. This year I attended Annual Goth Day (AGD) by accident, the same way one might attend the instant death of a commuter who stood too close to the edge of a railway platform and got sucked off by a passing freight train.

Continue reading on RHUM...

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Monday, 1 November 2010

Oh shit

The ARIA awards gave me media accreditation. Now I have to come up with a way to get to Balmain to collect the pass, something to wear, a device for carrying spare pens and a grand plan. A plan grander than any other plan. So far I've got this - I am going to interview Richard Wilkins about his hair.