Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Lives of Others

Left the house twice over the weekend. The first was to buy a juice, taco mix and some clearance shorts, the second time was to witness movie mastery. The film was The Lives of Others. De Campo and I loved the hell out of it. More than Le Grand Illusion, for moi. She dug it harder than Chinatown.

Initially tipped off by The New Yorker, after reading a stunning rave review by Anthony Lane, who’s basically your average cinephile trapped in the body of one of the most lissom and stylish prose writers around.

Written and directed by a 33 year-old stallion named Florian Henckel vons Dommersmark, in his debut, the movie is set in frigging, mid-80s Berlin, and it’s about the goddamn government placing a dashing playwright under surveillance (wiretaps, cameras, stake-outs, etc) for possible subversion. Stupendously great drama ensues.

The Lives of Others has something profound to say about all kinds of interesting things: big-city loneliness, lovelessness, paranoia (is it still paranoia if it’s warranted, or is that simply fear?), creating art in a torturous society governed by absolute power-trippers (creative compromise), not to mention comradeship, good will and straight-up, huge-hearted humanity.

Here’s a link to an amazing article about von Dommersmarck, giving excellent insight into his impressive outsized ambitions. I mean just look at the guy, his head is the size of a watermelon. He looks like Vincent D’Onofrio as a young Orson Welles.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Lulabelle & Brock

The woman on the left is 47 year-old Lula belle Wolverton-Shagpile. A former drinker, she gave her life to the flight industry and has since seen forty-one continents! She wrote a controversial high-flyin’ romp during the Me Decade called ‘Peanuts and Perfume Over Peru’ that went on to star Jacqueline Bissett and Gil Gerard (ABC Movie of the Week, September 9th 1980). She’s famous for saying ‘Don’t you go there!’

The fellow to her right is none other than Lula’s fourth husband, strongman Brock Womack. Brock is a retired stuntman and the occasional catalogue model for colourful cotton shirts. Born and bred on Cannery Row, Brock played Burt Reynolds’ double in several films, including Hooper, where he kicked Jan Michael Vincent’s ass! Brock once spent a week with Richard Harris in Southeast Asia that neither of them can remember. He occasionally experiences semi-serious flashbacks involving Harris in a tutu running wild on the streets of Hanoi, but Brock is perfectly untroubled by it and deeply smitten with his one and only Shagster.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Updike's Rabbit at Rest

I closed the book on Rabbit at Rest yesterday morning, holding back the tears like Mick Hucknall holding back the years. The book cut me up real bad and bravo to a review written by Martin Amis that I read subsequently, page after page you are acutely aware of your own heart, the odd murmur and strange palpitations, as John Updike opens Rabbit up and describes in astonishing, humourous detail the effect of bacon-wrapped scallops and cakes on Rabbit’s ailing ticker.

The four masterful Rabbit novels represent the four decades in which they were written, interpret that however you want, I can't be bothered, 1,500 pages total and concluding in 1990 where it began, thirty years earlier, on the basketball court, this time the 55 year-old squaring off against a sleek cat named Tiger, the first to 21 in the Florida sun. And to think Rabbit hadn’t even digested his breakfast bear claw…

If I had been in a private setting, and not on a tram concussed by a bevy of crass schoolgirls, I most certainly would have been on the floor howling. But as it was, only a few teardrops fell. It is quite some book. For an opportunity to win my copy of Rabbit at Rest simply tell me in the comments box what was the last book that made me cry and I will send it to you, dog-ears, pear stains (don’t ask) and all.

From the Dept. of Alarming Developments

It’s Moritz not Mortitz. One tee not two. I kindly thank you and appreciate your support.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tunes, Inc.

Probably a rambling post because I feel like doing some shit and don’t have a coherent thing to hang it on. Whores were mad radical on Saturday night at Exile. Shame if you missed them. I took a very good photo on Sunday afternoon back at the same joint of my wonderful friend Mia, but you can’t see it I won’t let you. The light was frigging perfect too. Eastern sunlight, au naturel at 5.55pm or thereabouts.

Mia was accompanied by a flock of birds on tape, to which she sang along to her pretty little heart’s content, ‘whilst’ strumming a dwarfish Hawaiian guitar. Mia’s so tuneful she’s Tunes, Inc. After her set we dished up some crazy ass BBQ. I had three pints of German lager. I am a beer enthusiast with various areas available for functions.

Saturday morning De Campo and I pedalled to Queen Vic Market and went via the Townhall Hotel. There we ordered breakfast. For an extra four dollars I could have supplemented my American Breakfast with a shot of bourbon, but no. After two yellow jackets joined us outside, we moved inside where good music was being played. At the market we loaded up on lambchops and sausages, Bacardi, produce, champagne and Rose`. We had a barbeque later on and lots of people showed up it was gnarly.

De Campo was curious whether I differentiated between going to the grocery store or the Market. Other than the fact the food is better and cheaper, I really couldn’t. The radicalness of this thought really diminishes on paper.

She bought a cigarette case at the Market for ten bucks and had it engraved for free. “What do you want it to say?” the guy asks. “De Campo,” she said. “I was hoping it was going to be something easy like Mandy.”

Perhaps it took some daring for a Monday, but last night, for pure pleasure I listened to a whole swag of Go Genre Everything material I had amassed over the weekend. Their shows severely screw with people. On Saturday night, suitably bent, I finally peered into the band’s eye and it was like finding the essence of one of John Ashberry’s more abstract offerings. Tremendous!

Guy Blackman followed Mia on Sunday. Guy plays piano pop and he’s openly gay about it and can be quite charming. I told De Campo who wasn’t coping very well to stick around, Guy’s set will be really uplifting. Sadly his first song was a certified slog entitled Marriage, where his lugubrious vocals ponder who would dispose of his body and handle the paperwork should he get hit by a bus. Luckily the set unfolded marvellously, getting better by the song and accumulating players at an equal rate (bass, cello, lead, drums). By the end of his set the music was so fully-formed and unreal it was like we were floating on air when we were merely sitting having just had sausages and macaroni salad. Impressive result!

Down to the last fifty pages of Rabbit at Rest. His family is disgusted with him, the mood is stark and he’s on a midnight drive to Florida. Yeehaw.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Tales of the Unexpected (Golden Stains)

Toby and Suze usually accompany De Campo and I to our bush rock festivals, but no, not this time, not for Golden Plains. No big deal, right? Well I didn’t think it was, but their absence proved to have a deeply profound effect on the Unstoppable Forces psyche. We cried some. Squealed a bit. We came to the conclusion that without Tobe and Suze, all Golden Plains is, is dust in the wind. All it is, is dust in the wind (it is very windy there by the way and dusty too). We’ll probably go back.

Mentally I was a bit mental. My cynical attitude didn’t wash at all. Nor did my tolerance for freaks constantly jutting into my grill and staying there. The festering festival crowd seemed overly crowded to me this time even though it was significantly leaner than Merediths of yore. Somehow, everywhere I went, some obnoxious dildo was eating up my space, obliviously rubbing his legs next to mine on a picnic blanket, for inst, while piggishly making out with some girl, burying her face with his vulgar technique. The fact that you’re a shit in a burgundy velvet bathrobe is embarrassing to me. Please get out of my face. You are wearing a cocktail dress over a pair of jeans and you have a beard. Please move away from my vicinity urgently.

My cynicism did not suffer fools lightly. I was a magnet for acid-bent dildos and it continually harshened my marshmallow mellow. I really wasn’t prepared for this event. Just couldn’t get it together. I guess I am one of those Golden Plains’ casualties. Normally I am a bouncing ball, very energetic, I don’t know what happened I was completely flat all weekend. Maybe I was in the throes of some existential crisis. But really, who cares?

A week of carousing didn’t help. Tuesday night was Yo La Tengo, which was so good I got drunk. Thursday night we went and saw David Kilgour w Crayon Fields and Panel of Judges. It was electrifying and David’s band played ‘Point that Thing Somewhere Else’, which is like the Mt Everest of velvety guitar pop. I packed four days of work into four days, which was strenuous and harsh. My 33 1/3 Wowee Zowee proposal got rejected. Not that that hurt so much. Truth is my submission was very puerile, but it was an attempt to write something structured, which is new to me and so for the opportunity to do that, I am grateful.

To be fair the music at Golden Plains was generally awful. I don’t blame Yo La Tengo nor Eddy Current Suppression Ring. Those cats rule, as do a few others, but overall the line-up was a horrendous doggie-pile of genres that would require significant re-jig to make work more effectively. Lack of guitar pop was devastating and overwhelming influx of World Beat was jagged, jolting and buzz-killingly dire.

So we were held captive by Golden Plains all weekend. We could have never expected such an oppressive environment, but our tent did almost blow away! As the song goes life is a tale of unexpectedness (it doesn’t actually go like that, but it is a song by Toby Dutton. Man I’m looking forward to some live sets by Flywheel).

AVIS supplied the wheels for our weekend getaway. I hadn’t driven anywhere for six years. It was like I was navigating a cruise ship. We got stuck in the underground carpark for an hour trying to work out how the bloody thing operated! I got nervous and hot and the confined space made me very claustrophobic. I felt like Marcello in 8 ½ stuck in traffic in a dream. Once underway, the driving was easy. Always remember no matter what side of the road you're on, you (the driver) need to be in the middle hugging the dotted line of a two-laner. I was taught this by my ex-wife’s best friend, a Meyer shopgirl who fiendishly grew to despise me. She snubbed me on the tram once. I recall I had a ghostly pallor and I said I had glandular fever and she said well I am not surprised you look terrible.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Applecore #5

I do declare those backyard shindigs held by the Applecore gang really encapsulate what this city’s got going on: community spirit, feel for good times and rock and roll fun.

This is how it unfolded for me: Carla arrives at Unstoppable Forces Headquarters (UFHQ) at 12.30pm on Saturday. I hand her a Bloody Mary. We listen to some prog. De Campo knocks back a cranberry vodka. I pour ‘em both a refill. We listen to some more prog. Armed with Doritos and an Esky full of champagne we head out the door. We hail a cab, we buy a slab, we put the beer in the boot of the cab. We find the party. We pay our fee ($5). They hand us an apple. I fail to partake in apple goodness, but anyway, I like it here, it’s nice. Tables and chairs, an old, rusted tin shed, a stage with a gazebo, a van with Applecore sprayed across its windscreen, an outhouse and several fruit trees.

An integral part of Applecore is Ricky French, superstar, daredevil axeman for Actor/Model. Ricky works for Harry the Hirer and has delivered all the furniture, including a gazebo in a big truck. Suze, Toby, James, Miranda and Felix are here and Dane Certificate is on stage. Excitement levels are rising. A dreadlocked bassist who busts out a solo reminding me of early Nirvana even though I have no idea what that might sound like. I’m pretty sloshed by 2.30pm standards. Anyway, it’s a starter dish as good as any cup of Dooger’s Clam Chowder (Seaside Ore, est. 1981).

Aleks and the Ramps go nuts with ease and we almost die of fun. Their good spirited guitarist Simon has sideburns closing in on his nose. I suggest he shaves his moustache and goatee in order to look like Abe Lincoln (De Campo will pursue this directive and finally succeed six hours later with a blunt razor – OUCH!).

I take James and Miranda’s boy Felix onto my lap and he gets comfortable by suckling my arm. His parents reveal the hickeys he has given them. I am impressed and hand Felix back to them and go to the toilet.

Sadly I am unable to relax my urethra. They are playing Wowee Zowee between sets, merely one of several external forces that have caused me to booze excitedly. “I don’t need a minister to call me a groom.” The voice outside the john is familiar to me. Hey it’s Carla (oh my, hot, hot Steve)! So we sing a few bars together ("We call her Barbara/ Breeding like larva…Dental surf combat/ Get out those hard-hats/ And sing us some skat!!, etc. etc.) before I mosey over to Toby and Suze’s place three doors down to use their toilet in quietude. Toby is playing Sleepy Township’s Caribbean Delight and we dance like fools. Toby puts his hand through the window. Luckily De Campo is there to bandage it because I am gone.

The next three acts recall classic bands on these labels: 4AD (Pikelet), Sub Pop (Scissors for Sparrows), Kill Rock Stars (Applecross). Talkshow Boy is more of a DIY’er. "Talkshow Boy I make you fishball soup! Fishball!" is uttered by who else but the lovely De Campo, fresh from bandaging Toby's finger.

Something happens between the start of the Shooting at Unarmed Men and the end and I don’t mean it just gets dark. Everybody starts going a bit crackers. Percussion instruments are tossed into the fray and we fight over them like hyenas, celebrating in a mad, drunken manner that continues on through Actor/Model’s set. How I don’t fracture any bones I am not sure.

We leave the party singing Pavement, sing Pavement in the cab all the way to the After Dark and sing Pavement walking in the door of the bar, Outward Obtooce, Carla, Coinflow Dollar, De Campo and I, as Pikelet strums a guitar for a hundred or so hushed sitters.

The night indeed becomes very surreal, hard-to-explain by this point. I am moved in very special ways. The Kes Band unleash a jam that is completely utterly extraordinary. I feel like I am in the Scottish highlands at an obscure pub being surreally blown away by an otherworldly jam band. I love them.

Postscript: Well, I just hope the vodka tonic that overturned in my lap occurred after Kes played because I recall making a right spectacle of myself out on the dance floor. The next morning the back of my shirt was thoroughly covered in cranberry juice. Very Odd.

Stay tuned for next week’s episode of Unsolved Mysteries. Robert Stack is going to have a go at this one and its complexities could very well spell his demise.