Thursday, December 28, 2006

Haunted Places

The other day De Campo and I caught the 12.15pm train to the country. We were heading to a family gathering to celebrate her sister’s birthday. The destination was Riddell’s Creek, but I wasn’t really paying attention. Twenty minutes into our journey, the train made its first stop. With my nose stuck into the great escapism of Paul Auster’s ‘Moon Palace’, I wasn’t really paying attention until I heard De Campo scream “We gotta get off!” She then proceeded to trample my legs gunning for the exit. I looked outside and saw that the station said Diggers Rest and quickly trailed her. We were so late getting to the exit that the train conductor had to phone the driver on his walkie talkie and request a Code Red to get the doors to open. It wasn’t until the train had departed the station that we realised we had gotten off at the wrong stop. Three stops too soon.

When De Campo rang her Dad he was waiting at Riddell’s Creek station with her mother drinking a latte in the good air. He was on the phone long enough to hear the bad news and then the battery on his phone died. De Campo’s brother-in-law called to say that they had got in touch with the parents and that the parents were on their way. Digger’s Rest was too cold for the t-shirt I was wearing, so I put my hand inside the bag De Campo was carrying with her sister’s present in it and pulled out a brown and grey vest that De Campo said she despised. I wore that and it felt good on my back. The green bus shelter we huddled in was missing a window to the east the same direction the wind was coming from, so we removed our clothes and cuddled because I’m told that’s what you’re supposed to do when you’re freezing your ass off these days.

Thirty minutes later her parents collected us. We told them we were sorry and they drove us through the dry hills of Sunbury like hell for leather. So many derelict 70s houses with Range Rovers parked in the driveway. The second we arrived we had three minutes to order food before the kitchen closed. I had a seafood salad with watermelon salsa and a beer.

Just so you know, there are some incredible pubs in the area. Down the highway in Clarkefield there’s The Coach and Horses Inn, formerly The Clarkefield. It’s a big bluestone mansion built in the mid-1800s when gold mining was the thing to do and Clarkefield was a handy rest stop between Melbourne and Bendigo.

De Campo’s Mum met a lady at the chiropractic office where she works who said she knew the new owners of the Inn. The owners took some photos of the stairs and when they had them developed a 13 year-old girl in a taffeta dress was standing there. She wasn’t there when they took the photo. Turns out the place has been haunted for years.

Once a maintenance person was cleaning the windows outside and a hideous face inside came towards him. Window cleaner tried to lift the window (why I do not know), but window is shut-tight whereas a few minutes ago, window seemed to open fine. Hideous face receded into the darkness. Window cleaner tried the window again and guess what? Window opened!

Journalist with a death wish stays the night looking for some spectral action. No occurrences whatsoever. The next morning he notices the pump at the well is dryer as can be. Notes the observation in his log. Seconds later, pump starts to gush!

De Campo’s sister handed me a book called the Ghosts of Australia and it was there that I located a ghost house in my old neck of the woods – on Church Street in Richmond. I used to walk by the place and say Trent Reznor must live here. Chilling in a ‘I dabble with the darkside’ kind of way. Once owned by a one-armed mining lobbyist apparently. He died in bed and his kids jumped off the balcony to their deaths sometime after and to this day people can sometimes see the kids hanging out on the balcony looking gaunt and dejected.

Once a guy felt a hand grab his ankle and his conclusion was that the only reason he felt one hand was the person must have been missing the other!

We barely caught the last train at Clarkefield Station (of which the pub is right there), otherwise De Campo's parents said we would've had to spend the night!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Meredith Music Festival: Sunday 10 December 2006

After an ice coffee and a egg tortilla stuffed with hot yummy bacon, our posse gathers at the Pink Flamingo for one last hurrah. I’m the only one with the gall to get stuck into the Bloody Merediths, but why, they’re bloody good dammit (though not as good as last years). TNT (Tex N Tim, geddit, Orville?) are basically two megalomaniacs out to have a good time. They’re on stage with their shirts unbuttoned all the way grinning behind mirrored sunglasses. I remove my mirrored sunglasses and I’m like, staring into the lenses, ‘how could you do this?’ The act’s profoundly complacent, worthwhile only when it degenerates into corn like these kernels from Tex Perkins: “Fridays for funerals/Saturdays for brides/ I guess that leaves Sundays ARE MINE.” (CAPS indicate GROWL). “On weekends I perform miracles/ I turn whole paychecks INTO WINE.” With this tune firmly lodged in Toby's brain, he's dangerously funny, but mostly it’s Snoozefest ‘06, an invaluable addition to the Sunday lineup. “Sounds like ten minutes went into the songwriting process,” snorts De Campo. Most everyone goes home.

Before The Gift is run, Edan runs things. It’s a rap attack. “This goes out to all the heartbreaking ladies out there, what you do to us guys is fucked up,” he says over a sample of ‘Femme Fatale’. He then gets into a rhyme duel with his partner in crime and it’s glorious. He uses some obscure 60s soul samples, plays a little guitar, bends noise on a theremin, toots a kazoo and manipulates the bass by remote control. He closes the set with a short speech. “I have self-confidence and sensitivity, I am so secure I can take it out on some pretty shit,” he says. He then proceeds to play the biggest, noisiest, wildest, party track of the day.

The reason we’re still here is not to see fifty guys run naked through the dirt. Honest. Sometimes they trip up and sever their equipment. It’s difficult to watch. There are four heats. De Campo films three of them. “For posterity,” she asserts (probably would have done a fourth but the battery died).

Like the Sand Pebbles kicking it off, Spencer P. Jones and the Escape Committee took us out in style. They rubbed us raw! Now that’s what I call music!

Final thought: the toilet situation was totally fine this year. I really can’t tell you why. Perhaps a lot people were tormented by previous experience and became too scared and abstained. Bought a bottle of prune juice when they got back to Melbourne or wherever they called from.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Meredith Music Festival: Saturday 9 December 2006

Arise around 10.30am feeling like The Silver Jews' song that goes “the the the death death death”. A line from Lucky Jim also seems fitting: “His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum.” The hills are hazy and the sun is a little pink dot in the sky. Bushfire alert is on.

Waiting outside the toilet, I overhear some guy in a black singlet and skinny black jeans say to two guys walking past carrying slices of pizza: “Fucken Donuts.”

Tapes ‘N Tapes, four oversized Goonies with better chemistry than an outer suburban meth lab, cure one of the vilest hangovers of my entire life, delivering the rock show of my secret fantasies and enabling me to shake the devils out and my tail around ever so stupidly. De Campo bets me a Pink Flamingo that a drum solo is forthcoming, she nails it (first song even!). Goodness this is exciting. I move to plant her one, teeth collide, she chips her tooth. She looks horrified and stifles a scream. Suzie and her friend Ness bet that the drummer gets the most girls, even though he looks criminally pre-pubescent (he’s 20). Dust is everywhere. It's up my nose. I pick my nose with great hostility.

For Midlake, we are joined by Blake Menzies and his senorita, who we thought we'd never find. The two of them have the charisma that Midlake lacks. The keyboardist has excessively hairy arms. Between songs, I announce that the next song will be about the singer’s gangrenous foot, referring not so much to the gruesome warning on my cigarette packet but to his uncomfortable presence. Despite my howling, drunken demands, Midlake’s set doesn’t end with a Saints cover. Bastards! Their best songs end up being the ones with guitar solos.

“Postmodern blues!” barks Gabriel Piras, wooshing up to me during The Drones’ set. I was completely haggard by this point and I turned to him and said as much. He then replied “you think you’ve lost it, take a look at that guy.” I turned to my right and there’s a guy wearing nothing but a purple sequined g-string, dumping a VB down his neck. My inertia lifts. I join De Campo off-stage and polish off a red curry wrap.

De Campo and I bump into Julian Tovey and his girlfriend Kate. Like most everyone, they look overheated. The sonofabitch is drinking a Gordon Gin and Tonic in a can! What?! Where did you get that? we ask, explaining how we searched all over town for them. “I got the last batch,” he says. “Apparently they were all recalled after someone found metal shards in them.” Back at the camp we bless the inferior Smirnoff. Bren, Susie’s brother, vomits a biscuit he didn’t want in the first place. ‘I’ll try that with a biscuit’ becomes a new catchphrase.

We stumble back to see The Cornelius Sensuous Showcase live up to its title. Saturday night at Meredith is severely hedonistic. Guys chase around the spotlight on our flashlight like depraved members of the canine species. We're too tired for this. We share a quesadilla and a plate of revolting nachos, while some guy entertains a group of teenagers nearby with the creepiest puppet imaginable. At midnight, De Campo and I retreat to the cinema to watch ‘Faster Pussycat Kill Kill’. She is quickly snoring, while I go in and out of consciousness imagining earwigs wiggling their way into my loose clothes.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Meredith Music Festival: Friday 8 December 2006

Collected by Toby, co-conspirator, dude, hell of a musician (plays in Flywheel), looks a bit like a young Boris Karloff, and his fiancé named after the actress Susan Hayward, who received (deservedly) an Academy Award in 1958 for ‘I Want to Live!’, a prison movie. Incidentally I texted Suzie, as she likes to be called, the other night after I got a bad reaction to cream cheese spread. “I Want to Live!” I wrote. Suzie enjoys a good Susan Hayward reference.

No Gordon Gin & Tonic cans anywhere in Melbourne. We leave town empty-handed. It’s very upsetting. We arrive in Meredith around 2pm carting a bunch of those inferior Smirnoff tins and a lot of beer. It’s stinking hot. We set up camp amongst some trees on a slope in an area that has the prestige of Melbourne’s Eastern suburbs. We camp near some dudes who took bad acid last year. They hope to maintain good vibes all weekend, so they are really nice to us. They offer us beers and turn their country music down, so we can hear our dire little unit pump out stuff like The Decemberists.

The Sand Pebbles open the show and class it up with an eleven piece band including Dave Graney, a turbaned snake charmer, a gypsy wearing black braces and beefy pants and two Chartreused chanteuses singing back-up. Subsequently I skedaddle up to the Pink Flamingo Bar and knock back three Pink Flamingos (Pink Lemonade and Vodka) waiting for Wolf and Cub to start. The Pink Flamingo is located above the stage on a hill. The sound is still pretty good from up here, but the further away you get the worse it is, sometimes worse than imaginable (Macromantics=Sir Mix-A-Lot; Dallas Crane=Dallas Crane). Wolf and Cub’s first song sounded better than the smell of a Magic Marker, but their grunge act turns stale the minute they bring out the smoke machine. I head back to camp and get loaded as night falls and come back for Band of Horses, who are overwhelming. They play my two favourite songs, Great Salt Lake, Weed Party straightaway, which allow me to peak far too early in the set. The crowd is tight near the front where we stand. Some guy passes by and steps on my Eski. He looks down indignantly. “You brought your own Eski?” He then asks me where I intend to piss, which so happens, I am relieving myself on his shoe. Band of Horses cover Otis Redding and the detuned guitars ring like Pavement. The singer’s voice is Grand Canyon-esque. He is very charming. He streaks twice during the New Pornographers’ set. We return to camp and play tunes from a small portable unit, loud enough to attract visitors from camps nearby. “Isn’t one David Bowie enough?” a female visitor asks, during a Stephen Malkmus song. A Motley Crue number attracts a fine fellow named Mick, who takes to saying outlandish things just to be provocative. Mick looks a bit like this guy. We drag him to watch The Presets and I have never had so much fun. The Presets are perfectly awesome given the curious state I was in and the laser light show was outstanding. I also admire the number of people Mick insulted in a very short time.

We lose Mick and hit the Pink Flamingo for another drink. The bar is nearly empty. Meredith is really splendid in the wee hours we find. We bump into a couple friends and shoot the breeze until daybreak. My final activity is using the men’s in absolute quietude at 6.30am (the program is a fine read). Sleep proves to be a disastrous proposition. The heat is unpleasant and disgusting and it hasn’t cooled down nearly enough.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Lilys Interview: Part Four (The Conclusion)

What’s your favourite song on the album?
Um, I think the one that makes me consciously smile and giggle is probably Scott-Free by David Rappaport and I’m not saying that the ones I wrote or the ones that I was more in charge of are not as good, but there’s something kind of timeless about it.”
It’s lovely.
“That’s it, it’s just fucking lovely. David Rappaport did a fan-fucking-tastic job. He wrote it, he recorded it on a four track in ‘99, he changed it when he recorded it in the studio and he did a cover of the 4 track version that’s actually sampled from the cassette tape.
How many singers are there?
Well I sing predominantly the lead vocal. If you can call it that. I sing the head or the melody. Michael Johnson sings the kind of beauty school dropout, the Queen or Grease vocal, he’s doing a total Todd Rundgren thing a mile wide and once again, I always find my self learning more from what we didn’t do, and the energy we could have put in…”
Your songs are very economical though.
“Yes absolutely. Well it’s not about ELO anymore. That’s what makes it sad about the early 90s because everything was becoming a joke.
I was into rap then. Talk about your economical songs.
“Yes, I was going to say, once again, I turned pretty exclusively to R&B and hip-hop and really it’s only been in the last 3-5 years watching the Gorillaz rise up with Demon Days and Kanye West…
See I don’t know if I like them all that much.
“I’m not talking about liking. I’m talking about the unit shifters. Those with multiple publicists, multiple stylists. They have tour staff of upwards of 25 people and two tour buses and an 18-wheeler bus and they are not even the booshy boosh-country superstars like Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, who have eight buses and twenty tractor trailers! See where I’m going?”
It’s ridiculous.
It could shift people’s awareness of the history of music and their earned lineage. We are at the threshold. Either there will be misinformation about how music is done or the current winners will rewrite this is how reggae always has been played uh you know Faith Hill will do a reggae version of ‘Take Another Piece of my Heart’ by Big Brother Holding Company. (Kurt gets distracted. There is noise in the background). “Baby Mama just said, communication is truly my occupation.”
You guys coming to Australia, or what?
“We’re on our way, that is, I’m just hoping a political party or a corporate entity finds value in bringing us over there, because it really is such a turning point in both our careers and I think we’re looking outside of how bands have toured before. I probably will have to give a media psychology lecture to be able to underwrite this or Australia might have a task, as they might say, a janitorial service, a toilet that might need scrubbing, someone’s got to get this shit out of here, oh and Kurt Heasley’s the man for the job. Figuratively speaking.”

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Lilys Interview: Part Three

Did you grow up in Philadelphia?
“I grew up in Washington DC.”
My sister and her family live in Arnold. It’s near Annapolis.
“Yes Arnold, Maryland. I lived directly below in the Fairfax County. In Lord Fairfax’s county, yes, her majesty”.
Oh so you would have been influenced by Unrest, Mark Robinson’s band.
“Mark? Influenced? I know Mark. I mean he was maybe 17 when I was 15. He’s not that much older than me. He was still doing punk rock when I was doing pop. He started doing pop music a little later on. What really transformed the band Unrest into what you know as ‘Isobel’ was when our guitar player Archie Moore from our first album ‘In the presence of nothing’ was in a band called ‘Velocity Girl’. The singer Bridget Cross left music altogether because of her boyfriend who wanted to spend more time with her, so she stopped touring, she...
Who’s that guy?
“Exactly! You don’t know his name because he doesn’t exist anymore. Mark saw Bridget at a show and said, 'why don’t you come in play bass chords on any song, so they started to play. She wrote a series of songs, he then countered and with Wharton Tiers, recorded ‘f.f.r.r.’', which is where people think Unrest began. That’s like Mark’s 27th record or whatever”. Adopts sarcastic tone: “I’ve only done seven so I’ve got twenty more until I find my identity! In the world of Mark Robinson, you know. But yeah, he’s, he’s, I mean I love him. But he wasn’t always doing pop music. I think Fugazi had as much songcraft as anyone, if not more, than a lot of my contemporaries today. And it makes me sad that he and Ian and…they’re all incredibly activated people and yes, I grew up with that self-actualisation and that element of personal sovereignty that I’m only going to be the person I am and the person that you wake up as is the person you’re going to be and you use experience and experiment to prove what you believe to be true because if you believe something to be true in the province of the mind, it is true, until you’re able…I mean this is where you know, religious dogma, and you know, fear-based, sex and negative body image, advanced marketing techniques that do not encourage development of human potential are based. They are preying on the vulnerable and it is part of, I have only said no to two jobs and I won’t go into what those two jobs are, but they are saying, you couldn’t get more aggressive company into uh, outsourcing as Nike. I’ll admit I am wearing a pair of solid rubber Birkenstocks gardening clogs right now...

Monday, December 11, 2006

Lilys Interview: Part Two

Pardon me for the gap in follow-ups. Been out of town is my excuse, shaking it around in Golden Plains Shire for the past few days. But more on that later. Here’s another dose of Kurt for your reading pleasure.


Prescott-Bush (President Bush’s grandfather), he of course was a tire salesman until he was married, that was when his father-in-law gave him a job in his bank and later he went on to start Union Bank with Averell Harriman. Now Union Bank of course is one of America’s first and most staunch supporters of, ironically enough, speaking of terror and fear mongering: The Third Reich. They put about 40 million dollars into the Nazi Party in 1930, but I’m not saying it wasn’t…I mean Communism was horrible, horrible, but you know what, the same people, the same exclusive rich, you know rich beyond…rich to the point where governments need them to fight wars-rich. I asked him (not sure who he means, the Australian lawyer, perhaps) do you know how many towers fell on September 11, 2001 in New York City and he was like two? And I was like, this is where I am going to say it’s misinformation not disinformation; only because three towers fell that day, tower north, tower south and tower seven. Now this is very true. The owner of the World Trade Centre said, in an interview, yes um the building was just so damaged we decided to pull it at 5 that night.”

I read somewhere that the security advisor was related to the Bush family.
“Oh it’s the President’s brother, but his contract was actually over September 11, ironically enough. They insured the World Trade Center for 3.5 billion, over 200 percent what it was worth and remember the World Trade Center was an asbestos nightmare. Unfixable. Yes, so you must be speaking of its owner, Silverman, yes Mr. Silverman, good guy if you’re into that. I mean if you’re into that kind of stuff.”
What do you mean?
“I don’t know. I don’t know, I don’t know what I mean by that.
“It seems a bit…it seems like there’s a lot…I mean, I have a friend who was the actual litigator for the Victims Compensation Fund —name was James McGarry. Partner in the law firm Barasch McGarry, who for twelve years before, were the legal representation and council for the fire department of New York City and when September 11 happened, now remember, he was also managing bands on Astralwerks, he was putting out records by Lilys. In 2003, James L. McGarry was lead council for the VCF. He doesn’t even live in this country anymore really, he comes back to New York every once and awhile, but mostly he just travels.”
So he was doing something good then?
“Yeah, but that’s not what they wanted. They wanted to go to war. They wanted a reason to go to war.”
He was looking after the victim’s families.
“People who had put out every single fire in a building and then all of a sudden the building implodes on them, OK?
What spins me out is all this talk of a controlled demolition and then Oliver Stone goes and makes this sentimental Hollywood pap I mean isn’t he supposed to be this huge, subversive guy?
“Why is Michael Moore fat.”
No, no, you can’t be as blunt as that.
“Hey I was someone who at the point in my life when I felt the most cornered, put on 78 pounds in three and a half months. I went from 200 pounds to 280 pounds. “
You would have been a beast.
“Oh I was”.
Did you play basketball?
“I only play for fun. I play clean. I like the old school. I don’t need money for sports you know?”
Oh God, I didn’t mean that.
“Oh well some people play, you know, not for…and there are some dudes who play for the love of the game and that’s beautiful and they have the psychology of it. They have like the Carl Jung approach too, they suddenly realise they are only playing to make their mother cry”. He starts trash-talking: “Their mother’s weeping! She’s can’t believe she went to good titty time on you! Bitch! She look like a bitch and you are going out, bitch, yeah! Carl Jung fuelled basketball court psychology. I’ll abide by that.”

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Lilys Interview: Part One

The first I’d heard of Lilys, a pop group from Philadelphia, was their ‘Everything Wrong is Imaginary’ CD released earlier in the year. To my surprise it was their seventh! Gosh, I thought, if their back catalog was half as good as this, and I had a sneaky feeling it probably was, then I am falling over and laughing because ‘Everything Wrong…’ has sweetly slayed me for daze.

I was fortunate to interview their enigmatic frontman Kurt Heasley for a Melbourne weekly recently. My assignment was a piece considerably shorter than the 2,500 words I ended up with. Kurt rambled on for ages, totally off-topic, which is a rare thrill if you can find it. What Kurt was saying really tickled me and it compelled me to continue transcribing. The process was an arduous one and I often felt like I was typing out the manuscript to ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ – searing insight amidst profound tidal waves of nonsense sweeping over me.

Kurt is tall (6’6”), psychedelic, loquacious and something of a mystical shamanistic dude. The pantleg part of his trousers has more talent than that jackass from Brian Jonestown Massacre’s entire body (and to think they made a movie about that guy). Kurt’s unyielding brain activity and blitzkrieg verbiage belies his spare pop songs, and in conversation his dogma is delivered in a hilariously grandstanding oratorical style that recalls Gore Vidal at his most didactic and highfalutin. There is no order, no pause in a Kurt Heasley interview, just a cursory mention of lunch and suddenly we’re cast-off into the otherworldly world of Kurt Heasley. This is the first of, I don't know, ten or so parts.

“So what are you going to have for lunch today?” he asks. I was thinking of picking up some Japanese. “A sushi roll?” Yeah, would you approve of that? “I would.” What are you going to have? “Well it’s 11.18pm and I’ve already had two or three different dinners and the uh, no, know someone just asked me if there was someone downstairs and I’m like no, that would imply that the door is unlocked and there is way of getting in a locked door unless they smash a four and a half foot piece of glass, eighteen inches wide and you would hear that, you would hear that, probably long before you would hear anyone foot-stepping around know I was having a dialogue with a former lawyer, also Australian. We were talking about guilt through omission, misinformation versus disinformation. I think it is implied that misinformation could say I was incorrectly informed or I read the briefing wrong. Disinformation means there are three blue dots in the line and four red dots and saying there are two blue dots and one red dot...

"So I asked him because we are coming up on our senate and congressional election. Very important. I’m not particularly of the democratic or republican view but more of ‘where are our voices of reason?' We have all these wonderfully eloquent extremists that can give hellhouse scenarios and really get people excited about the worst possible change of events, and fear mongering is valid, it worked for the Third Reich, several political machines have used it to fantastic success. We have a government and a media that is completely at ends with each other and this is why it’s very, very… but if one thing ties them all in together, they were born into a ruling family elite. I am talking about the exclusive. And I’m not saying that new money and new blood and new ideas are not coming out, they are coming out, people are rising to the top, new philanthropy is out there, people, you can’t really stop someone from finding it out but you don’t have to tell them where it all is."

to be continued...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Mike Slope, Author, Friend, Dead

Mike Slope died yesterday.

I phoned him this morning, hoping to meet him for carrot cake, but his sister said he had died. It didn’t come as too great a surprise seeing his condition had been deteriorating rapidly since August.

When I first met him, at Launceston’s Happy Chef Restaurant in 2000, Mike was a smooth waiter, magnanimous in the face of my dramatic rejection of (count ‘em) three bottles of Gewürztraminer for their disputed corked-ness. We fast became friends, bonding over Judy Blume and blueberry blue brie.

Mike was a teen fiction writer who had lost his acne-blunted mojo. When 'The Adventures of Bucky Todd' came out in 1967 it was one of the five best debuts in the Christmas edition of Chap and a Half ; it was an unusually rich, blue-chip crop of teen fiction authors that year, new voices that today are so engrained in the contemporary consciousness that is impossible to imagine the genre without them. They are the giants: Tick Bugler (nominated that year for 'Becky Can’t Dance'), Amanda Railsback (for 'Spent'), Nancy Pendleton ('Capsicum, Lasagna and Peas') and Fiscus Chamberlain for 'The Atomic Chewing Gum'. These authors have together sold more than 14 million copies between them. The only name left off the list is that of the long-forgotten author of 'Bucky Todd', Mike Slope. The number of books Mr. Slope sold pales in comparison to his luminous counterparts. Intended for a long and fruitful series, ‘The Adventures of Bucky Todd’ didn’t make it. A popular read with young people in 1967 it was out of print by decade’s end.

Loosely based on a deprivation experiment that took place at Casanova High School in the 1950s, this odd, little detective story concerns itself with the culprit of several misdeeds involving soap. “It’s almost inconceivable to comprehend the interest kids had in this story and honestly it’s the last thing anyone’s ever thought about for a very long time,” said book critic Casper Gently in 1983. As the story goes, Bucky (‘the droll quoll”) takes to campus like a mouse does cheese and begins asking questions. Off the clock, he moonlights as a disc jockey, spinning reggae exclusively during Casanova’s variety hour, earning something of a reputation as a maverick and developing more than a friendship with a shy Jamaican exchange student named Theresa. The mystery unravels when Bucky discovers a stash of soap in the faculty broom closet. A finale involving a heap of suds takes place during a peace summit in the auditorium.

After the book failed, Slope got a job as a busboy, distributing quail eggs to work stations. He was promoted to waiter and held positions at upscale restaurants throughout the Tamar Valley. He moved to Victoria last year to be near his sister. In the last 12 months, Mike developed a perverse sense of time and it progressively made him insane. At first he would forget what hour it was. Then he lost track of the day and soon after that he was a month behind. He died anticipating autumn in the springtime.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


For reasons peculiar, I can remember the exact song my parents were listening to when I was conceived inside a musty Best Western hotel room with dusty drapes on the outskirts of San Francisco in early ‘72. The author of the song was George Harrison and the name of the song was ‘Something’ and it was by a group of Liverpudlians known as The Beetles. I’m Casey Kasem...

There are no songs accounted for between the ages of 2-5. I’m something of a blank, perhaps some Wings in the women’s department at the JC Penney in my hometown, me confusing another woman for my mother due to the similarity of terrycloth blouse, as the horrific Live and Let Die crescendos over the company loud speaker. Anyway, without further adieu, the songs in my life, the songs I have loved hard, the songs that have loved me back even harder, starting at age 6.

Age 6, Wooly Bully, Sam the Sham
Age 7, Calling Dr. Love, Kiss
Age 8, Eruption, Van Halen
Age, 9, Blackout, The Scorpions
Age 10, Living after Midnight, Judas Priest
Age 11, We’re not Gonna Take it, Twisted Sister
Age 12, Everybody Wants to Rule the World, Tears for Fears
Age 13, Rocky Raccoon, The Beatles
Age 14, Legalise It, Peter Tosh
Age 15, Cold Gettin’ Dumb, Just-Ice tied with Super-Hoe, Boogie Down Productions
Age 16, Just Watch by the Untouchable Force Organisation (U.T.F.O.)
Age 17, Listen to the Bass, Mantronix
Age 18, Soul in the Hole, 3rd Bass, Goodbye Stranger, Supertramp
Age 19, Miracle Man, Elvis Costello
Age 20, Dreams, Fleetwood Mac
Age 21, Any Major Dude, Steely Dan
Age 22, Freedom of ’76, Ween
Age 23, 6’ 1”, Liz Phair
Age 24, Sister Ray, Velvet Underground
Age 25, Misunderstood, Wilco
Age 26, Grave Architecture, Pavement
Age 27, Point that Thing Somewhere Else, The Clean
Age 28, Wrong, Archers of Loaf
Age 29, Modern Age, The Strokes
Age 30, Grounded, Huon
Age 31, Dream Planner, New Estate
Age 32, Jelly Bones, Unicorns
Age 33, Twin Killers, Deerhoof
Age 34, European Oils, Destroyer

Thursday, October 26, 2006

All About My Mommy

My Mother is number three in a line of four extremely bodacious girls born to a boisterous publican dame and an ornery Native American stud, who slicked an unconscionable amount of pomade through his quiff, before disappearing into the wilds for days at a time.

Childhood was grim and dysfunctional, but laughably so, the sisters say, who nowadays nip out to the local Indian reservation for a spot of conservative gambling and a prime rib dinner at the buffet.

My Mother liked the Big Bopper best and her spastic dances with her sister Sally to Chantilly Lace are remembered wincingly.

After a year on the wharf as a young adult, my Mother came to love the Oregon Coast and the harmonies of the ocean and the betwixing schlorne of neighbouring mermaids migrating from the Yucatan Peninsula. “Ecchi Wa-Quiche-Arumba.” She would answer in response to one of their obtuse queries.

Together with my father, a carpenter, obscure airplane enthusiast and later, club golfer, they produced three, fine upstanding citizens. I came last in the litter. My sister was eleven when I was born. My brother was eight. Basically I was a complete afterthought.

An addiction to clam chowder left my Mother strung out and feverish, hospitalised in a rehabilitation centre forcing my sister to raise me through my stark infancy (I later learned my mother simply worked nights).

Happy Birthday to the woman in my life that has been, next to my sister, deeply fond of me the longest. Mom.

Sometimes I would accompany my Mother to the neighbours for ceramics night. Me, a 7 year-old boy, in a room full of suburban housewives. I was in seventh heaven. We made Christmas decorations. Two charming pieces, a glittering snowman and a raccoon, have become a bone of contention between my Mother and I as to who the true artist is, to me the craftsmanship is obvious, eventually forcing me to move to Australia when she refused to admit that I was the responsible party.

The neat thing about my mother is that she is considerably older than me but she actually looks a few years younger (I am sure Paul Auster would have a field day with this one).

So yeah, Happy Birthday Mommy (from eight days ago). I am a piece of shit. Mom, I love you. . I can’t sing it strong enough. The Pavement Wowee Zowee re-release should be arriving in your mailbox shortly. Fight this Generation… Fight this Generation… Sing it Mom: Fight this Generation! Who loves ya baby

Monday, October 16, 2006

Ballbreaker (or Kid Rock ain't got nothing on me)

Gazing into the mirror earlier I couldn’t help but notice how well my follicles were in order. Upon closer inspection however, I spotted a moist beige swathe, the consistency of mudmask, glazing my fringe. I sniffed the substance that was now present on my fingers. I was relieved to discover that the substance was odourless and according to my way of thinking eliminated the possibility of birdshit in my hair. Chances are it was the hummus that I had for lunch, but I still don’t know for sure, nor do I know how it got there, but I am yet to wash my hair or inform De Campo, so it’s of little concern to me now.

The Evelyn, normally a place of rancid comings and goings was strangely beautiful on Friday night. During the Ramps ripping set, I drifted off into a reverie of which there were many cinnamon rolls, golden chariots and bluebirds. I returned to the present right as Joe leaped off the stage like ‘The Superfly’ to take me out. Later I lost my balance on the dance floor and lay there writhing in a puddle of my own effluvium.

The after party back here was extraordinarily debauched. It was like Studio 54 all over again. Toby and Suze had just returned from the UK. They were straight hitched and we were missing them loads and feeling super hot and we celebrated like heck. They partook in the journey to the end of the night and so on and so forth. We played basketball at 9.30am. Then we got hot and consequently got thirsty. Armed with supplies back at the gaffe, the cork was popped in doors on accident. It was that kind of morning.

I played vinyl like it was no tomorrow and truly there wasn’t. Kirsty and Fiona paid us an awesomely fun visit and we swooned in the sun. Fiona I called at 10am urging her to come over and drink champers with us. She said she would love to, but she shouldn't - she's pregnant. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. What news! Well it turns out it was Olivia's sister who happens to have the same name and who's number is listed right below the other Fiona on the same sheet next to the telephone.

Sobriety has been very rewarding ever since, even more so than Little Miss Sunshine, which we saw yesterday. It was OK.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

And forever the deer shall run

As a boy, I would often join my parents on excursions to the Oregon Coast. Since the only way to get there was over a mountain, we would sometimes see wildlife ducking into the pines from the window of our van. Once my mother thought she saw an injured deer in a distant field. Dad pulled over, we got out and walked to the edge of the field. There the deer lie on its back, its right leg mangled, a compound fracture exposing the anklebone somehow leaving the hoof just hanging there. Dad said on account of there being no flies the deer hadn’t been dead long. For years the cruel sight of the dangling hoof haunted me, but in 2004, my memory changed, the hoof healed better than before and the deer's splendid stride was fully restored thanks to the thousand beautiful tones and bionic hip-shattering rhythms emanating from Deerhoof’s The Runner Four, a CD capturing a band prophylactically penetrated by jazz and perverted by pop with a sweetly poised, profoundly absurd Japanese girl getting her quips stalked and mimicked by guitars spicier than Wasabi, Runners Four was like a Kinks’ allergy administered with an explosive dose of NOW heaven. A true force of nature, it remains the most mind-blowing guitar album I have heard this century.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Searing stuff

I believe I was the only person wearing shorts at the birthday party on Saturday. No disrespect, Frances. The beer garden at the Standard gets really crowded, especially on bright, sunny days. It was a bright, sunny day and I wore shorts so sue me.

Delightful to see people like James and Miranda, who I haven’t seen since Pookie T. I copped a feel of Miranda’s belly the current home of a happy lil’ person, who’s lease is up in like 10 days. The firmness of Miranda’s area is quite foreign to me and thumbing through my history of touch, perhaps it most closely resembles the rear cartilage of a wombat.

A peculiar game called I Spy was played and I am not even sure if it qualifies as a game — more like a gam or a ga. How it works is someone thinks of an object and your only hint is its first letter and the fact it is located within the visual vicinity. I was a naturally good player, quite gifted really. Gavin and Jane’s two young daughters, despite their extensive experience playing I Spy did not control the game nearly as much as everyone expected. There were regarded as early favourites but there was some disappointment when they did not live up to their expectations.

Polly and I had Flywheel t-shirts on, although I came wearing mine, it’s yellow; and hers’ she had in her bag, which she put on, a green one, in an attempt to show me up. A vote on what colour t-shirt was better went to me hands-down. I did not feel good about winning the vote so unanimously, but the truth hurts sometimes, just like love does, as the Nazareth song goes.

David and Annabel were dressed as Robert De Niro and JoBeth Williams in the Deer Hunter. Searing stuff.

Later that night, a contingent of painters, writers and rockers led by F to the J to the G came over and offered gardening advice and irreverent humour. Stephen had a premonition he had been in our house before with the guy from the Pansy Division. It left him in the grips of a very interesting séance that was intense viewing for all.

De Campo is effusive in the praise for the burgers I barbequed last night. I think she likes me. They tasted to me like someone else had made them that’s how good they were. I managed to fire the barbeque up, cook and round-up condiments in the time it takes to play Pavement’s Brighten the Corners in its entirety.

There was a quite gust out there so I put on a lightweight jacket; the sun was shining and while the burgers fried I read a story on Diane von Furstenberg, interesting at first and then growing impatient and skipping to read all the dish about her flings of legend. Would you believe Ryan O’ Neal, circa Love Story? Seriously who didn’t he do it too.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


I lost the plot mid-way through when Henry’s head pops off (incidentally replaced by alien boy head, his kid, a strange creature his equally strange, yet normal-looking girlfriend gave birth to although that’s neither here nor there. Sitting next to Jesse James Shepherd at the time, the smooth operator in the vivid synth outfit Sir, who then said “good message for birth control” to which I giggled lightly), drops from a second-storey window, hits the street, retrieved by Mexican boy who smuggles head in his arms (much to the unspecific chagrin of a toothless weathered wino, gasping from a nearby bench) and after a brisk walk through a much deserted streetscape, delivered to a hairy hotel concierge who sneaks boy and said head into a dark, mechanical room where a Harry Dean Stanton-type, working on some ominous piece of machinery, takes head in hand and armed with hand drill begins putting hole in head, the contents of which gradually revealed in a slim, cylindrical object that is inserted into the sinister machine and turned on — once in motion machine shows assembly line of #2 pencils, a concept of which made absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. So I’m thinking head of lead, Lead Head, what’s the expression…I didn’t know. My brain had long departed the scene.

When the movie ended I explained how the scene lost me and Jesse exclaimed, “Eraserhead!”

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Lost Highway

If you don’t go to The Tote tonight, you’re a poor excuse for a man, you are a non-entity. Sub-human scum.

I’m going to the David Lynch Retrospective at Cinemateque. Should be fun. They’re showing Eraserhead and Lost Highway. I saw the former many years ago at Cinema 21 in NW Portland. I went with this guy who once exuberantly declared I was the devil during a despicable teenage drunk. The movie was one of the last times we ever spoke to each other. Not that words were exchanged afterwards – our tongues were tied. He probably walked me to my car and said Goodbye Satan.

Lost Highway was a recent anniversary gift from someone who feels strongly enough about me to get me Lost Highway as a gift for our anniversary. I haven’t watched it yet, I actually got in trouble for not watching it the other night and I told her I have been saving myself until I am married. A little joke. Tonight I will be deflowered by a thirty foot tall Bill Pullman. I have been waiting for this moment for quite some time. Meanwhile she'll be at The Tote.

Today is hump day and it’s out of control. The dance card is chock full. Shooting at Unarmed Men are playing for five measly dollars. I think they make real head-banger music that belies their shorthair and bubbly personalities.

De Campo works downtown and therefore has interesting lunch experiences. About the most exotic detail I can think of is the bain-marie, which I have referenced to death (most recent: September 29) or the fact the sausage rolls have doubled in size at the Tramline Cafe. I get the worst service there. The guy in leather sandals calls me mate flagrantly and I am ready to say why don’t you cut your toenails. The sausage rolls are so hot that by the time I get them back to work and let them cool they are soggy as all get out and barely edible, so it’s not pleasant and I am $2.50 out of pocket. Meanwhile at the back of some laneway in the city de Campo’s drinking Thai lager and stuffing hot beef into her voluptuous gob!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Informer

I’ve got ‘That 70s Show’ hair. I don’t why it has happened to me and not someone who desires it more sensuously. The worst thing about it is it looks ironic and not even I’m that stupid. However I think I’ll suffer it until after the rock concert on Wednesday, perhaps Ariel Pink will mistake me for Hall & Oates’ soundman and we will share an unexpected moment of personal enrichment. That would be dope. I actually can’t wait for that (grins goofily).

The weekend was pretty dull and uninspired all things considered. I didn’t write a word, so I was pretty grouchy. De Campo and I went to the casino Saturday morning and saw the hilarious new Will Ferrell movie. A thin squirt of one percent milk comes out of my nose just thinking about it. The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. See it now or wait for it to come out on video or don’t see it at all, I don’t care.

Later that day we sauntered up to the schoolyard to shoot some hoops, something I haven’t done for a couple years, odd considering this was all I used to do as I kid when I wasn’t beat-boxing. It’s worth noting that I often did both at the same time, which was pretty funky. De Campo made shots from all over the court. She’s a national icon. She might like to know however that we were playing with a deflated basketball and once we are able to pump it up she may encounter difficulty getting some of those shots to fall. I tried to intimidate her by screaming and throwing my elongated torso into her grill. I’ve never seen someone so unruffled on the court. She reminds me of Larry Bird.

De Campo and I addictively watched Six Feet Under like we were taking crack. It makes us sick and it’s destroying our lives, but we persist and the hole just gets deeper and deeper. I flinch one minute, laugh the next and then suddenly I’m wetting my pants, which as it turns out has nothing to do with the show (I was born with the bladder of a nutria). I yelped several times at the Season 4 finale. It’s a real actor’s showcase, the characters are so real it hurts. Also it’s not a melodrama. It could be if the nightmare sequences were real; albeit one with a high-calibre slug of surrealism, but it’s not I’ve had enough of this I’m leaving this paragraph (I don’t know what I am talking about it anyways). It took two days to recover from the five episodes we watched. Today I feel great.

Not much else was got up to on the weekend. De Campo’s dieting. I made some mix-tapes for a friend I used to get in trouble with back in college. I made CD covers from an old Glamour Magazine De Campo used to understand the profundity of a coordinated outfit. She asked what Lance was like and I said one of Ricky Bobby’s pit crew. Lance lives in Idaho selling real estate.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Hot Fries

Have you heard of a newsletter called Pest Pathways? a colleague asked me today and I was only to happy to respond with a why no, I haven’t. Hmmm. My apologies I am totally exhausted by this already.

Stuff it, here's some cool song lyrics:

Hot Fries by The Hold Steady

all your favorite movies. they ain't all that funny. if you ain't that high. and i ain't that high. all your favorite books. they wouldn't seem so well written if you were just a little bit more well read. jack kerouac is dead. he drank himself to death. i just ain't that high. all your favorite songs wouldn't seem so sad. if you weren't so depressed. elliott smith seems like a mess to me. and you cry way too easily.

the things that make you high will make you die.

i went to your party and your party was got clever. i put a milkcrate on my head and surrendered in the corner. some borderline whore asked me how i'm liking california. i just cried. i saw you making eyes at some quote/unquote gorgeous guy. look a little closer because he's covered in flies. you're hot. but you're fried. you're cool. but you're iced out. you know exactly what i'm talking about.

the crack has got you slipping through the cushions of the couch. dilaudids got your head like a howling haunted house. she said it's my party and i'll die if i want to. you would too if it happened to you.

Pretty much sums up how I feel a lot of the time

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

NY Primary

A multi-million dollar campaign fund and where it got Hillary Clinton’s opponent:

“I got a taped phone call from Susan Sarandon urging support for Tasini, but that’s all I really heard about him,” said Ken Sherrill, a political scientist at Hunter College.

—quoted in NYTimes

Harry and Me

We bought like every great TV show on DVD in Thailand. Which brings me to Season Five of Will and Grace.

I winced when I saw Harry Connick Jr. rescue Grace on a white horse in Central Park after she hit her head on that pole.

Being a big fan of his Dad’s work…who am I kidding. I don’t know the Dad and I don't much care for the son. You know Harry Jr. endorses Connex trains down here in Melbourne. One of the wittier campaigns I’ve come across.

I don’t like him. Even hearing his name used to make me reach for the bucket and don't start me on that gumbo jazz thing of his, I think I am about to be sick, but getting past that I have to admit, seeing him on Will and Grace, it's like I'm watching a version of the man I thought I was going to be, before I became the man I was, who is me, a charming man – usually takes a few dozen oysters and even then it’s not guaranteed.

I am probably owed royalties and all that.

Now I am not here to tell you what I am all about, I won’t do that, I couldn't do that if i tried and I’m not so solipsistic (yes I am) to think everything’s about me, but I’ve definitely picked up some eerie behavioural similarities between Harry and me.

For instance the way Harry works a crowd. Like myself, Harry will say something for everyone and then someone, Will most likely, will say something rude and Harry, like me, will diffuse the situation by pretending what was said about him doesn’t really hurt him too much. He might even sing a few bars.

“I like to eat my pie before my meal
Make a snake with an orange peel”

Good ‘ol Harry.

To be honest I thought that there was a lot more to me than this.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Massive Nights

I knew last weekend’s hangover was behind me when I stared mulling over the pitcher of Bloody Marys I was going to bring to Suzie’s garage sale on Saturday. This was on Thursday. I was on a tram. I was heading to work. I was finishing Jay McInerney’s Brightness Falls, which contains the adverb archly numerous times. I was about to start The Good Life, his follow-up, a De Campo recommendation. I was feeling good. I was listening to Ariel Pink, Hollywood man, he who has struck the raddest chord with me and everything I adore about pop music, the dude is a prince and he speaks to me on a rarefied level shared by only two others, Destroyer Dan and Stephen Malkmus. The pop artist as the great anti-depressant. No wonder I was feeling fine.

Gyna at work continues to terrorise me. She always drinks the coffee I brew. I have solved the puzzle that is the coffee plunger. I can make it taste like a proper espresso. No wonder she likes it. The last time I went into the kitchen at work to check on my coffee the plunger was empty. I told Regyna thanks a lot. She tried to make an excuse with coffee in her mouth at the same time and she spit up all over herself.

It took me until Thursday to start thinking about making bloody marys because I had too much fun last weekend and felt pretty rotten most the week.

It all began on Saturday with the Shooting at Unarmed Men photo shoot. De Campo’s friend Julian and Coops are the OZ rhythm section for Jon Chapple, who moved here a few months ago from Wales. The band arrived at 2pm and we immediately started drinking Mandarin and Tonics. Jon and I argued about Smog’s last album (I liked it; he didn’t) and Nathan Barley (he liked it; I didn’t). Then we all went for a walk around Fitzroy and Collingwood taking pictures. The sun was out. Jon said he was interested in an album cover featuring just their dicks. De Campo didn’t think much of that idea. I assured her he wasn’t serious, even though I knew he was. We all ended up at the Tote and luckily caught some of Penny Ikinger’s set, doing her 5pm Saturday residency during the month of September. Her voice is a big hit of morphine and her guitar is a snake. She is terrific.

Jon was still around, but he needed to be somewhere and so did we: Little Rebel, rock and roll burger joint on Gertrude and after that home because we were expecting company. De Campo took down his details and said she’d call him later from the bar we were going to. We met Marc and Debbie at Little Rebel. Debbie was doing a puppet show up the road but not until later, so Marc and her were just killing time. We ordered burgers and they were fantastic, mine sat there in my stomach soaking up the alcohol, I began to worry that it was affecting my buzz, it had certainly diminished my pizzazz. Mia was at our place when we got home and Carla and two Andrews (one a shoe salesmen, the other a museum curator) dropped in a few minutes later. We drank vodka tonics, listened to indie rock and hit the Rob Roy at 9.15pm. Actor/Model were playing and they were magnificent. My only comparison is Dinosaur Jr with keyboards, so less metal and more pop. Guitarist Ricky French is a big-time groove guitarist playing epic, autobahn-friendly riffs. After the show I told Ricky he is a guitar sorcerer and he looked at me like that was the stupidest thing he’s ever heard. I told Andrew how much I love his drumming and emphasised the fact I knew his name by saying Andrew over and over again to make him feel special (his name is Phil). I was in a bizarre mood. I had at least two other three-way conversations where at least one of the persons walked off.

Jon showed up in time for Baseball, the next act and was very impressed with their sound which reminds me a bit of Les Savy Fav. The rhythm section was female - always a good sign. The singer plays violin and shouts. He lacks the grace of Dirty Three’s Warren Ellis, but still, he has charisma and like Ellis makes the instrument look kind of sexy and more than a little punk.

The headliner was rubbish, so we said goodbye to Andrew, the museum curator, and went to the Old Bar. It was now after midnight. There was a cover charge, so we went to the Laundry instead. Carla, Olivia, Jon, Andrew and myself. Jon told a Steve Albini anecdote and Andrew was like, what, you know Steve Albini? Jon told him Steve had recorded his former band. Andrew said who, Jon said Mclusky and Andrew dropped to his knees in worship. Andrew thinking that Shooting at Unarmed Men is someone else’s band then said what’s up with them they’re shit!

Jon handled the embarrassment with complete dignity. Andrew not so well. However I think it’s the start of a beautiful friendship. We talked about other stuff I have no recollection of and then went to the Old Bar to see Spencer P. Jones. There the bouncer this lovely guy with a tattoo on his face and dreadlocks, saw us staggering up and softly said he didn’t want any trouble from us. We chuckled. He is a laugh.

Later Spencer swooned over De Campo and I supplied him with a pint of Guinness. No idea what had happened to Jon, Andrew and Carla, the three of us then went to a party down the road. Ended up at takeaway shop at four in the morning ordering lamb. De Campo and I woke up on the couch at 8.30 the next morning. Chilli sauce on my shoes and all over my water buffalo t-shirt from Bangkok. Fuck!

We saw Spencer two nights later at the Cherry Bar. He still parties like it’s 1999. He did a song for Steve Irwin. I took some hilarious notes that are around here somewhere. So that brings us to Tuesday. Flash-forward two days and we’re back where we started— thinking about bringing bloody marys to suzie’s garage sale.

On Friday, DJ Unstoppable Forces debuted at the Aleks and the Ramps show. Every song we played was mind-blowing. Here’s a smattering:

Swingers, Certain Sound
Lively up Yourself, Byron Lee and the Dragonnaires
Send in the Clouds, Silver Jews
Keep our Chains, Subway Sect
West Coast Calamities, Ariel Pink
One Million Miles, The Bites
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Sea of Tears), Destroyer
Dynamic Calories, The Jicks
Germfree Adolescents, X-Ray Spex
Metal Detector, Spoon

Missed Suzie’s garage sale on Saturday after all. Did partake in a Bloody Mary, best in town at Madame Sou Sou’s. We went there to celebrate our anniversary. Marking two years and so many massive nights.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Pants 1, Irwin 0

A recent email exchange:

Me: Picked up my pants from the drycleaners. I shall throw them on shortly.
Did you hear Steve Irwin died?

De Campo: Woo hoo! Pants are the best, baby!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Dear Frances Gibson

OK well, I would wake up most days and tell De Campo there isn’t a cloud in the sky and she would say yes there are, just look over there and to the West there would be lots of them. Holding hands in the ocean on our last day, I said look honey, it’s just you and me out here and five seconds later, she was covered in jellyfish stings. Luckily we met some heart of gold locals who ran a bar up the road and helped De Campo get well medicated. We tried most of their booze and got beautifully drunk. They cooked us a dinner of prawns and delicious red curry. After dinner we went inside a straw-hut, style bar played pool, listened to ZZ Top and met a little puppy named Poo-Poo, who was busy torturing a frog.

The next day we flew to Bangkok. The marketplace was profoundly exotic and pestilent. Miniature turtles for fifty cents and baby vultures at huge discounts. We bought four of each (with the intention of cross-breeding them) plus a fruit bowl, some salad forks, a pepper grinder and some brilliant three dollar t-shirts.

I returned to work yesterday to find out my ‘out of office assistant’ was out of its head: “I am away from 14 August - 28 August. I will be back in the office answering messages on March 6.” HA, I wish.

On my way to work this morning, thinking about how gruelling it is to be back there, I caught an amusingly hostile cab exit as I transferred trams at the corner of Collins and Spring. The cab was on a slope and at an awkward angle causing the door to heavily swing back into the passenger, a horrid young lady, who repeatedly kicked the door causing it to swing back nailing her harder and infuriating her more each time. Forced down she held out her foot to steady the door and once under control, she clumsily staggered to her feet. Eager to get the last word, she kicked the door several more times, and to the joy of everyone watching this rude display the door responding by giving her a most forceful bash, knocking her back into the seat. I felt sorry for the cab driver who at this point probably thought he was stuck with this revolting creature. After I heard her scream in agonising defeat, I turned the heavenly Camera Obscura up on my IPOD and scooted away in a fit of giggles at such welcome suffering.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Greetings from Thailand

I tried to fly from Melbourne to Bangkok with an expired passport, a crime punishable by international aviation law. The next day I went to the US Consulate and finagled a new one (the pitiful look on my new passport photo could only mean one thing: I auditioned for Everybody Loves Raymond and lost out to the turd who plays his brother) while De Campo drank to much coffee and revised the flight itinerary.

We flew to Bangkok later that night. The flight was terrible. The legroom we scored with emergency exit seats were occupied by a continuous flow of filthy, abusive drunks and lumbering, mad mothers burping their beastly little beauty pageant hopefuls.

It was then that it occured to me I have unwittingly opted for a path not dissimilar to the suspected murderer of Jon Benet Ramsay.

Our secluded resort is located on a mountain on the Island of Phuket overlooking Kamala Beach, a quiet village ten kilometers away from the buzzing markets and nightlife of Patong. We taxi around in buggies that look like oversized dog kennels. We visit Patong often to try on pants we're having made in cashmere for dirt cheap or dine on roast duck curry as the sun goes down. At night the streets of Patong are inhabited by transsexuals who climb upon tables inside open air bars and try to sell you imitaion watches.

I spent the first couple of days in bed trembling feverishly and subsisting on Robitussin and the odd kernel of popcorn.

There are literally no flies here whatsoever. Every attempt on my part to befriend a family of frogs who live in the pond outside the palatial living quarters has been met with a croak of indifference.

Locals are loquacious, hospitable; hostile if they're trying to sell you something and they can't make drinks worth a damn. An afternoon devoted to the swim up bar exposed the pool boys total incompetence at making five dollar cocktails. A piss poor Margarita was the final straw. "More salt?" Wilmer Valderrama asked cluelessly.

Restauranteurs seem to have bottled the Tsunami that hit here in December of 2004 and then implanted our meals with it because invariably five hours after eating, the turmoil begins.

There is also ample romance over and above the indigestion.

Your fragile foreign correspondent,

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Dining out in Richmond the other night, Nick Lachey brushed past just as I was savouring an ultra-crispy salt and pepper squid ring with part of it hanging out of my mouth like a Neanderthal. Carnie, a work colleague in leotards, was just in the middle of telling me about the modern dance routine she was teaching later to a J-LO CD when I saw her face turn white and her jaw drop like a stone. An entourage followed, which included a bodyguard who looked like this! For those unaware, Nick was married to this goofy pop singer who upon discovering she was pregnant with his baby said “he put his purple-headed yogurt slinger in my fuzzy taco and now there’s, like, a baby in my tummy tum tum tum.”

Due to the lack of strippers and body shots on the premises, they ordered squid and generally behaved themselves.

Monday, August 07, 2006

in The Case of The Polka-Dot Scarf

Ever ransacked the house for your girlfriend’s silk scarf only to have it turn up in the vacuum bag months later? TOTALLY!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

TV Eye on Entourage

Jeremy Piven is the greatest character actor of our generation. My Bill Walton-esque over the top comment has merit. For the most part of his career, he has been typecast as the nebbishly nefarious Dean of fictious universities from roles in "PCU" all the way up to "Old School". Tirelessly attempting to get are wanton stars expelled for infantile indiscrestions. Name another actor who has played the dean of another fictious university? You can't. The only actor who has been so callously typecast would be Ray Liotta as "Shoeless" Joe Jackson. I believe he played him in "Eight Men Out" and "Field Of Dreams". Ahh.. "Field Of Dreams" where Kevin Costner immortally uttered the words 'What do you mean I can't play? It's my corn!'. Back to Piven. He has shed his schlub mode. His acting transformation has gone from stints playing George Costanza in the Seinfeld within a Seinfeld, grey sweatpants and all, to the most power hungry demonically cool Republican (my oxymoron du juor) since Chuck Sheen and Michael Douglas decided to see how many yachts they could water-ski behind while simultaneously wooing Daryl Hannah (circa when she was dating John-John Kennedy as opposed to her recent bizarre tree climbing incident). 'Hug it out bitch' is now a national catch phrase due to Piven.

Mark Wahlberg is the executive producer of HBO's "Entourage". The show is based on him and his posse coming up in Hollywood, presumably this is after the fall of the Funky Bunch. Kevin Dillon plays the role of Johnny "Drama" Chase in what I assume is based on Donnie Wahlberg (brillant as always in "Saw II"). If it weren't for Piven, Dillon would steal every scene. I have come to the conclusion that Matt Dillon is the black sheep of the family, I don't care if he was nominated for an oscar in the contrived "Crash". With Kevin Dillon, I actually care if he gets calf implants.

The numerous cameos of Hollywood stars playing themselves is the most brillant aspect of "Entourage". Highlights include: James Woods, playing a visibly toned down version of himself, smashing in the security surveillance camera in order to procur tickets for the James Cameron directed Aquaman premier. Gary Busey, at his own museum curated art exhibit, chasing down entourage member Turtle for 50k for an art installation that he accidently knocked over. The fact can be argued that Busey is not cognizant of the fact that he is on the set of a TV show as opposed to actually be at MOMA. This begs the question, putting acting talent aside, is Gary Busey Nick Nolte's alter Ego, or is Nick Nolte Gary Busey's alter ego? Slip yourself some Rophynol and trip on that for awhile. My favorite cameo has to be the venerable Bob Saget lugubriously laying around the pool with hookers and offering 100k to sleep with the Heidi Fleiss like madame and being rebuffed on his proposition. With this role and his joke telling on the "Aristocrats", Robert Saget has endearingly embraced a new pery persona. It fits. I am now actually anticipating his "Full House" reunion show with the barely legal Olsen twins. How many knowing furtive fondles will Saget cop on the Thanksgiving reunion show? Entourage is easliy the best show on TV thet does not star Scott Baio.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

An island of great complexity

"Why would anyone want to name a song 'Pink Cookies in a Plastic Bag Getting Crushed by Buildings?'"

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Pre-Funk Mailout by Olivia De Campo: #2 in an occasional series

Oh, Saturday Saturday, wherefore art thou Saturday?

Cannot wait for this week to be left like the blithering pile of shaken shit it certainly is!

Hope the week is treating you all well, long live Marissa Cooper.

Once again in this fantabulous town there is more on than one person could possibly hope to do in the one day with only one body to call your own...
I've narrowed it down to the following events in hope you can come along for the merry journey through the seedy and not so seedy sides of a Saturday in the inner north!

The kick off point for the day festivities shall be The Spanish Club for they are hosting the first ever Rock and Roll Garage Sale! It's happening from 11-5 with free entry, bundles off stalls promising buck spending goodness as well as tapas and Bloody Marys! Lordy!

Long before the awesome folk that equal the radness that is Popolice, the total brain melt that is aleks and the ramps and the gorgeous splendour that is Flywheel even set eyes upon a sign reading Scotchmer Street, The Cheats will be taking over the Tote front bar for one final performance! They kick off the first of two rock and roll crammed sets at 5pm, so come down and check them out! Remember it's FREE! As always some very special guests will be joining the duo in kicking out some heart pounding originals and choice covers.

And finally, getting to the heart of the evening... what do you say we get to the Empress early and enjoy one of their delicious hearty meals before the nights festivities take Saturday to an entirely other level?

If not before, here's hoping to see you about 8pm for some nourishing fare!

Until then...

de Campo XX

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Pre-Funk Mailout by Olivia De Campo: #1 in an occasional series

Second last chance to get frisky in The Tote front bar!

It's been freaking ages!!

So, this Saturday it's The Cheats second last fiery front bar show! 5pm kick off, FREE, so come on down!

After The Cheats have packed away their amps and the ear plugs have been pocketed (man, it is LOUD!) and it just ain't time to hit the Old Bar yet, we'll be heading back to the homestead with the fundamental intention of some totally rad and vastly overdue PRE-FUNKING! Oh yeah! Perhaps even thrown a Napier or Raffles meal in there for good measure.

Whatever! Come on! Let's kick this one in the nuts!

See you Saturday! Somewhere, sometime!

de Campo XX

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Dr Fock

Weekend just gone was my first with the new haircut. I'm also still reeling over the fact Matt Friedberger and I use the same shampoo (a tea tree-infused liquid oil). Taste the radness, as De Campo says.

Since opening in 2000, Doctor Follicles have managed my hairdo. They were there for me through my awkward Hedi Slimane phase (envisage a quail and a kingfisher doing the wild thing atop one’s noggin)

We finally saw Hidden Sunday morning. I was very impressed, but I don’t know if I got much pleasure from it. It’s pretty torturous viewing for what is, for the most part, a non-violent movie (there are two grisly scenes). I don’t know how Haneke does it. I remember feeling sorry for Isabelle Huppert after seeing The Piano Teacher. Such actorly conviction, I wondered, is bound to linger long after the shoot ends ('How will she ever recover?'). This one is even more disturbing because its about watching and being watched and the voyeuristic aspect implicates the audience in the terror. A preternatural tension bordering on the gratuitous consumes this picture. Stillness is a crucial aspect, so of course some asshole behind us is crinkling paper the entire third act. Seeing a movie of such killer intensity at 11am Sunday morning shot our Saturday night hangovers straight into the stratosphere, which was cool.

After that, boy did I feel like shopping. Bought a pair of trousers and the Essential Blue Oyster Cult; the former for its aesthetics and comfort and the latter for Burning for You, tied with Flywheel’s Minimum Amount of Fuss as my fav all-time cut. Shooting Shark, a middle of the road 80s ballad was an unexpected treat. Choruses don’t come any bigger:

Sick of hauling your love around
Wanna run the train alone
But the engine tracks straight through your heart
And weighs me like a stone

Three times I’ve sent you back from me
Three times my bones gone dry
And three times I’ve seen the shooting shark
Lighting up the sky

Monday, July 17, 2006

Galaxies' Guide to Razor Clamming

1. State your full-name and relationship to the interviewer?
Mother (do I have to admit it?)

2. Where do clams live? How do you know when to strike?
Clams are found in the sandy shorelines (Oregon Coast) about a foot or so beneath the surface. You can dig them with a curved shovel or a clam gun made especially for clamming.

3. What’s a good time to clam dig?
You dig for clams when there is a low tide so you can get to the clam beds.

4. What do you wear to the dig?
Whatever you like depending on the weather. Just be comfortable. It is not necessarily a dirty sport unless you dig for clams in the surf with a shovel. You will need hip waders for this because you will certainly get wet.

5. What are some of the conditions that prevent clam-digging?
Stormy weather is not the best time to dig for clams unless you are willing to get cold and wet. A wild surf sometimes makes it hard to spot a clam hole. If you go clamming after dark you will need a lantern to spot the holes.

6. Describe your clam-extractor. Do you have a name for it?
It is a clam gun, a long slender cylinder with a handle across the top and a small hole for suction.

7. Size-wise, most impressive clam ever dug?
I would say ten inches.

8. Have you ever outperformed your husband?
Always (not really but I have been clamming since I was a child. He didn't learn to clam until we were married. I can still spot a hole faster.)

9. Is there anything better than clam digging?
I can think of a few things.

10. What do they taste like?
Some say a piece of rubber that smells but you have to acquire a taste for them. If cooked right they can be a delicacy.

11. What is a good recipe for clams?
They have to be cleaned, remove the shells and all of the sand and digestive system. We flour them and dip them in egg and them bread crumbs and fry them slow to a golden brown. Salt and pepper and serve.

12. Why did you torture your youngest boy with unpleasant green vegetables when he was small and defenceless?
I used other things too.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Sleater-Kinney Rd Exit 108

They named their band after an exit just outside of Olympia, WA where the used to practice, and now the world's greatest live band has decided to exit stage left. Why the break-up? Was it Corin's motherhood? The bludgeoning that they took at the hands of Dave Fridmann as they recorded their magnum opus "The Woods", or did they simply want the time off to hone their trivia skills in order to take out Stephen Malkmus and Joanna Bolme at the neighborhood watering hole? Endless battles over whether the correct answer is Moors or Moops. We will probably never know. There have been rumblings about break-ups and commitments for awhile. I believe that the band who made the term 'riot grrrrl' actually palateable, chose the perfect time to call it quits. How could they have possibly followed up the ball tightening turgid tumult of "The Woods"? By taking it up a notch? That notch would involve disemboweling Sally Struthers for a mere 88 cents a day. For the price of one cup of coffee, you can have your head bashed in by Brownstein. Words and Guitar. The only other viable option would be to release an MTV unplugged album. Instead of Meat Puppets and David Bowie covers, it would consist of Polly Styrene and Exene. Bonus tracks include: an acapello version of "Oh Bondage, Up Yours". Retirement was the only viable option. Cash the 401k in.

There will still be Sleater sightings in Portland. They will be spotted at the gigs, Powells Books and Tuesday night trivia. I will refrain from slurring insipid questions at them like I drunkenly did while Janet Weiss was in the spectral presence of Elliot Smith at a Death Cab for Cutie/Maroons show at EJ's circa '98. They will be around. They just won't play anymore. It will sink in at some point.

They have announced one more show for Portland. Tickets were impossible to get with my dial up settings. The $12 face value tickets are now going for $300 on Ebay. I will continue to check Craigs List. Too dismayed to speak, I went on a journey to Jackpot records and picked up the only Sleater product I could afford, copies of Dig Me Out (my initiation to them, obscurely enough it was a Rob Sheffield review in Details magazine that turned me on to them) and Hot Rock (my personal favorite) on vinyl.

Ten years down the road they will announce a reunion tour, and like the Pixies and Dino JR they will sell out venues that were impossible before. However, unlike the Pixies show, I will not be surrounded by douche bags in Audioslave t-shirts with old skool ball caps on backwards with their only reference point to the band being that scene in Fight Club when the buildings crumble. Words and Guitar.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Triple Stage Darkness

"What is Elvis Costello doing on the floor?" De Campo asked upon waking up, her face distorted beyond comprehension, her eyes two small coin slots. Darned if I knew. Last thing I remember I was running for the door. I had to find the passage back to the place I was before. Oh for heaven’s sake, I haven’t taken my Don Henley meds.

AnyHOO, instead of hanging on the wall like a good print, Elvis was on the floor upright a far cry from its hook. Who moved the King, goddammit? How? Why? Spooky. The picture is pretty spooky itself, Elvis leering out with big, goofy spectacles. De Campo said another print had been relocated too, from a shelf to the couch in the lounge. Two tampered prints and then I discovered a drawer in the study open and papers and books strewn all over. Triple stage spooky darkness. We mentally retraced our steps from the night before. De Campo fell asleep on the couch. I read the New Yorker in bed until about 4, some article about Mugabe that I now have no retention of, although I do remember thinking Gee frigging Wee and him should get a flat together. And before that? Well we raged with Matt and Eleanor Friedberger, The Fiery Furnaces, literally the hottest ticket in town. The Furnaces played a set of complicated emotions and pyromaniacal axe slaying and afterwards Jason Loewenstein gave me his beer, Eleanor gave me her cold and Matt gave me haircare tips. This was Sebadoh on a death wish, James Dean in a psycho-motorcar, Devo on the Highway to Hell, etc. This was rock that inexplicably rummaged through your drawers and fucked around with your prints. Meanwhile all Toby could think about were the Cannanes. Spooky Dooky.

"I feel like a Lee Marvin breakfast," I announced, post-poltergeist. “Something tells me that involves a lot of steak,” remarked De Campo. I chortled heartily, embraced her tightly and kissed her passionately. After a Bloody Mary and pancakes, I dressed up like a drunk Morman (inadvertently) and we moseyed down to the Rob Roy for sweet tunes on the rocks. Driving Past were playing their fourth show in ten years and Flywheel, who play more regularly, have a new effects pedal that was set to orgasmatron our aurals. It was an afternoon gig that was potentially as spicy as my lips, but hey you can read all about that in the next issue of Guns and Ammo.

Later, Brad dropped his pants at the Napier Hotel. "I can't believe no one noticed,” he squealed with delight. “I believe they did Brad, but no one’s ever going to believe that someone is dropping their pants at 7.45pm. “ Brad soon left.

Blake Menzies was there questioning whether the spectre, given access to otherworldly powers, would use it in such a trifling manner. Indeed. I got to hand it to you Blake, you made a really good point there, but man, your reputation took a dive when, five minutes later, you described Australian actor Jack Thompson as "enigmatic". But hey, I loved wearing your grizzly and drinking wine from your beakers back at Kerstin Thompson’s love shack. I love you like Timothy Treadwell loves Sergeant Brown.

Finally, last night I encountered a white-tail spider for the first time. A female with the disposition of Debra Winger racing across the bathroom tiles. I sprayed her with poison but she clung to my pyjama top like it was Richard Gere in The Officer and a Gentleman.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Band Of Horses at the Doug Fir in Portland, OR

Tickets sold out. I didn't get a scalped ticket.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Catcalls for "Pavement Boy" Mark Ibold

...rang out at the Roseland Theatre in Portland, OR, as Sonic Youth took the stage on Saturday night. Mark Ibold has replaced Jim O'Rourke as the 5th member of Sonic Youth's current tour. It could be worse for Ibold, he could have formed a band called Preston School of Industry. Sonic Youth then announce that they remember this venue from 8-10 years ago when they played here with Bikini Kill. I saw them in'98 at the Roseland. I don't recall Bikini Kill. Must have been 10 years ago. I digress.

Thurston barrelled into "Incinerate". Kim shimmied through "Reena" in a white silhoutted dress, showing off legs that would spasmodically send Ike Turner into syphlitic fits. They were in great spirits. Thurston bantered about the crocodile tears that were shed by Posh Spice as David Beckham and England were bounced from the World Cup. With perfect timing, they then launched into "What a Waste". Mariah Carey was spared for the night, they had found another sacrificial lamb.
Their set primarily consisted of material from Rather Ripped. With every third song being a classic from their vast cannon. The highlights for me included Thurston shamanistically chanting over the plink plink, 'Do you believe in rapture, baby?' Which could alternately be titled "Do You Believe In the Bush regime, Baby?" The biggest crowd pleaser of the night was when they launched into "Schizophrenia" from their album Sister. It still remains a timeless masterpiece.
They ripped through two encores, and bestowed upon the crowd the highest compliment, that as a collective crowd we kicked Seattle's ass. We had passed the litmus test. They probably told San francisco the same thing the following night.
It was the type of set that inspired one to grab the night by its balls, to go out on an all night tomato eating bender with Dan Asawa. Madness. I tripped over my lair of beer cups as I ambled toward the merchandise table. In euphoric indecisiveness I purchased two T-shirts and a frisbee. I don't play frisbee.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Barry Hannah’s Hot and Cool Electrics

Ever since we took out a weekend subscription, I have stopped reading the newspaper. Not sure if I am going bonkers or what. I just prefer to slow dance with De Campo after about four afternoon beers and a pot of chilli. Echo, the neighbour who gave me four dollars to use my lighter so he could burn the edges of his new carpet, I shot him in the thigh. Why I am talking like fifth-rate Barry Hannah, oh perhaps it's because I've been reading the infectious master…


Barry is a Southern poet and he knows it, tall grass and he mows it, loves his wife and he shows it, etc.

Initially I wanted to express my adulation for the book ‘Sabbath's Theater’, which I heartily devoured recently. It’s one of the most sickeningly brilliant books ever, but the material is so distasteful and I don't know whether my mother still reads this blog; she already disapproved of the content once and the idea of me writing about Mickey Sabbath’s envelope-pushing hi-jinx in the bedroom and on his ex-lover’s grave is probably better left unexplored. Instead I will rave about Barry Hannah, who’s 119-page novel ‘Ray’, I finished more recently (8.35am Friday morning on Tram #75).

I discovered Barry Hannah in the only issue of The Believer I ever bought. I'm not proud of this it's an excellent magazine. Inside there was an interview with my idol Stephen Malkmus that quoted his friend DC Berman, who writes poetry for The Believer, but is better known as one of the best songwriters in the universe, fronting the Silver Jews. The interviewer says to the interviewee bet you’re a Barry Hannah fan and Malkmus, who dabbles in tough love and gets very coy at the best of times says, ‘ah yea, back when I was 18’ (as if today it was beneath him). The cheek! Malkmus feigning precocity like David Nichols saying he was over White Heat /White Light by age 4 (I suppose all the stars do it). Malkmus mentions how DC, a Southern dude like Mr. Hannah, made a pilgrimage once and discovered a grizzled dude in a black leather jacket riding a big motorcycle and dripping with an off-putting masculinity.

Biker chic notwithstanding my curiosity was piqued, I picked up his first novel 1976’s Geronimo Rex. I read it, slapped my thigh and said GERONIMO! proceeding to fall off the Empire State Building and into the arms of…you guessed it: Ned Beatty. But I digress.

Reading G. Rex, I instantly identified the Hannah/Malkmus literary connection during a rite of passage sequence, in which the main character, if memory serves, persuades a young lady to go down on him on the last day of high school. “Suck…CESS!” he repeats. It sounds awful, I know, but as I recall, it worked really well. On Pavement’s first album 1991's Slanted and Enchanted, Malkmus sings, “I was dressed for success, but success it never comes.” THEN on an alternate version of the song found on the S and E Redux reissue from a couple years back, Malkmus changes the phrasing, wailing: “I was dressed for SUCK!..cess it never comes…”. Voila! The connection was made.

Oh dear. I just realised this would only be of interest to my mother.

I need a nap.

An unreliable Geronimo Rex précis in 92 words: Harry Monroe excels in trumpeting and poetry. His music teacher, a wise jazzbo, is his mentor, but Harry quickly surpasses him in cool by donning a scarf ala French Romantic and brandishing a pistol. There's villainy and all kinds of suspense involving crackpot losers, a blubbery villain who has a hot wife and owns the town, plus a classic parade sequence and guff about marching bands. It’s Raise the Roofbeams, Carpenters meets Confederacy of the Dunces meets Look Homeward, Angel meets another novelist who writes in stunning poetic truths - Denis Johnson.

Stylistically, Ray reminds me of D. Johnson’s Jesus’ Son the most. Funnier, but less poignant. Screwball non sequiturs recalling early McGuane. Doctor Ray works at the hospital. He’s a boozer, a user, a sex machine, irresponsible prescriber of meds, vigilante, poet and a local legend who races around in a Corvette. He’s also easily distracted (at one point he falls into a women's privates during a routine appendectomy). People die in the township usually from a gunshot wound. Ray has a gun and he likes to use it. Ray is a complex man. I think the Village Voice, in 1980, said it best: “Ray is a song…about the electrics, cool and hot, of being alive.”

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Robert Downey Jr is my favorite Cokehead in the world

After his work in "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang", Robert Downey Jr. still tops my poll for favorite cokehead in the world. Considering that the World Cup is going on, I'll give the nod to Diego Maradona from Argentina as my second favorite cokehead in the world. Downey Jr's manic addled performance in the brilliant film noir/Hollywood send up "Kiss Kiss, Ban Bang" will keep him a top of the cokehead polls for awhile. Val Kilmer as "Gay Perry" hasn't been this good since his tour-de-force performance with Elizabeth Shue in "The Saint". No, I never did see "The Saint". Perhaps the most stupefying thing about the movie is that it was written by Shane Black. His previous writing gigs include Lethal Weapon and the Last Boy Scout. I have never watched a Lethal Weapon movie in its entirety. As far as the Last Boy Scout is concerned, I am not much of a fan of Damon Wayans. I much prefer the nuanced subtle performances from his colleague David Alan Grier. Mr Black skewers everything he did in the 90's with a huge wink and fuck you, I got paid for writing this shit. With its violent twists and staccato dialogue, "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" is easily the most entertaining film of the year not starring Steve Carell or Jeff Daniels.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Morph the Cat

I remember my sister in high school fancying herself some Fagen. Donald! she would cry before succumbing to a soul-sucking daze that would usually last until the following Spring.

‘Hey Nineteen,’ sang Donald in Steely Dan and Heidi, who was nineteen at the time, sang ‘hey’ right back. Hillsboro High School’s Most Photogenic Senior Afflicted With Scoliosis kept a vinyl talisman next to her bed at all times: Steely Dan’s Aja. She even went with a guy who years later named his daughter that. Peculiar.

When I was nineteen and armed with fake I.D., Heidi and I performed a brutal rendition of Aja’s 'Deacon Blues' that got us permanently ejected from Pudgy’s, a karaoke bar on the Oregon Coast specialising in triple-shot green cocktails. Heidi adored that tune more than any major girl ever had any right to but after that night the song was damaged goods — she would never be able to hear it the same way ever again. Meanwhile I went from strength to strength. Age 21 the essence of my insufferable style was encapsulated by two T-shirts: Jack Kerouac and Steely Dan. And my best friend was Jimbo, but I called him Deacon.

The Dan were an AM band championed by the FM dial (they still record, but it’s no scratch on their 70s heyday). They flawlessly fused rock, pop and soul music using big-time jazz chops and ‘fine Columbian’ beats. They liked their comedy the same way they liked their coffee (black) and they were whipsmart NY intellectuals. Now the Don puts out a solo record every decade or so, 'Morph the Cat' is his third and in a curious way it neatly obsesses over death, dying and such biz.

It’s a good record with a genius hook. Imagine a charismatic cat floating over NY City; a rather sophisticated feline who occasionally imbibes a latte or twelve, excreting an opiate mist upon the metropolis, prompting its inhabitants to burst into a fit of giggles. Young racketeers, teenage models and the old ladies can all feel it. Morph the Cat.

The production is smoother than a woman’s leg after a clean shave and slicker than an ice rink. Fagen often requires five guitars, a triumvirate of saxophone and (crucially) vibes to make these epic tunes rip in a hip, albeit geriatric fashion. 'What I Do', a chat with Ray Charles, is almost as smooth and sexy as the Dave Graney sound. Elsewhere, Parliament’s Mothership abducts The Dan’s Josie ('Brite Nightgown'). Two trippy cuts make my head bob: 'The Night Belongs to Mona' (a funk number about a NY babe in a funk) and 'Mary Shut the Garden Door', container of delicious, vicious vibes. The melodica solo from the Don is as textured as lacy lingerie. Heidi wouldn’t wear it if she could (not that she can’t, who am I to say, but she won’t), but she will dig it, oh yes she will.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Rather Ripped indeed

Sonic Youth's latest opus "Rather Ripped" is a spermy soaked power pop album. The perfect summer record for popping the cork on your third bottle of champagne alone in your basement.
On the opening track "Reena", Kim Gordon mellifluosly coos over syrupy guitars about lesbionic tryists while reassuring her lover that "you keep me coming home again". This is her best outing since Goo. Chuck D was not available for comment. Gone are the guttural growls that marred her past 'avant garde' performances. This is her album. She continues to shine with "Jams Run free" and "Turquoise Boy". Kim's delivery may have mellowed, but her attitude has not. She still remembers the exact dimensions of hell.
Thurston Moore, the godfather of post-punk/ proto-indie, answers her battle cry with "Incinerate" and "Do you believe in Rapture?". Rather Ripped is like the anti-Ira Kaplan/Georgia Hubley (the other NY/NJ power couple) album. RR delves into the mind fucks that are perpetuated by couples in love/lust/ or just settling for you right now mode. With doe eyed abandon Thurston asks 'Do you believe in rapture' as the guitars gurgle below the surface. They never explode into the crescendo that has been expected since "Murray Street". Coitus interruptus. Stop fucking like a rabbit. Pull out and pray you poor bastard, her parents are home. By all accounts I usually enjoy the masturbatory guitar histrionics that usually mark the end of a SY song. With Rather Ripped I found myself enjoying the tension and lack of release. Very tantric.
Lee Renaldo has his usual standout wah-wah track with "Rats". His contributions are always the rug that ties the room together. Fill in your favorite Big Lebowski quote here. Mine is "We are Nihilists. We believe in nothing."
Rather Ripped is a non-saccharine filled "Pop" album. instead of the ohh-laa-laa bullshit, we are given pseudophederine fuelled guitars that gradually melt your face away. It is a pop album that I can embrace. Usually the only pop that I want on a summery Sunday afternoon is the sound of a champagne cork rattling around my basement.