Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Year in Reading

Books I’ve read in sequence, and in brackets, how I’d rank them. Below that is a short spiel on each.

Hey Jack by Barry Hannah (20)
Fargo Rock City by Chuck Klosterman (26)
Armies of the Night by Norman Mailer (1)
Norwood by Charles Portis (6)
Panama by Thomas McGuane (13)
Reinhardt in Love by Thomas Berger (2)
The Smoking Diaries by Simon Gray (26)
Laughter in the Dark by Vladimir Nabokov (11)
The Loved One by Ev Waugh (29)
Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis (10)
Mao II by Don Delillo (28)
Couple of Comedians by Don Carpenter (14)
Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail by Hunter S Thompson (16)
Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S Thompson (17)
Anagrams by Lorrie Moore (5)
Like Life by Lorrie Moore (18)
A Cool Million by Nathanael West (20)
CATCH 22 by Joseph Heller (22)
Ask the Dust by John Fante (12)
Born Standing Up by Steve Martin (24)
Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (4)
Ninety in the Shade by Thomas McGuane (3)
Josh Hartnett Definitely Wants to do This by Bruce Beresford (25)
Gulcher by Richard Meltzer (15)
Professor of Desire by Philip Roth (30)
The Summer he Didn’t Die by Jim Harrison (7)
The Boat by Nam Le (27)
This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff (8)
Keep the Change by Thomas McGuane (9)
Black Postcards by Dean Wareham (23)
A Good Day to Die by Jim Harrison (19)

Hey Jack by Barry Hannah
Very good novella about a doctor of questionable repute. Full of the trademark Hannah razzle-dazzle.

Fargo Rock City by Chuck Klosterman
Didn’t finish it. Hell I lived it when I was 12.

Armies of the Night by Norman Mailer
Mailer, in incendiary 3rd person, takes in a Vietnam war demonstration. Causes a ruckus. Thrown in the slammer. Even more than Hunter S Thompson, Mailer dishes verbs like fists, and his furious prose cuts through diamonds. Exudes a heavyweight literary scholarship that doesn’t seem to exist anymore.

Norwood by Charles Portis
Angel of a book with a knucklehead charm.

Panama by Thomas McGuane
The crawling out of the ass of frozen elephants now behind him, ex punk star Chet Pomeroy retires to Key West with a coke-affected brain that forgets simple things like what his dog’s name is and whether or not his Daddy perished in a Michigan fire. Wasn’t as good the third time through; still a fav though.

Reinhardt in Love by Thomas Berger
Comic immortality, set in Cincinnati, among the bureaucrats, thieves, plagiarists and Black Panthers, a town Mark Twain said he’d like to be when the world ends because it’s twenty years behind. Standing heroically amongst it all: Carlo Reinhardt.

The Smoking Diaries by Simon Gray
Fascinating perspectives on life and art and getting old from the pen of the late playwright.

Laughter in the Dark by Vladimir Nabokov
Slim and spellbinding. As I recall, the final scene in the dark is extraordinarily vivid and suspenseful.

The Loved One by Ev Waugh
Regrettable, as California must have been for Waugh.

Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis
Biblical in its delicious spearing of celebrity culture. Loved it.

Mao II by Don Delillo
Didn’t work for me at all.

Couple of Comedians by Don Carpenter
Funny borderline psychotic world of a platinum-selling comedy/singing duo. Narrator is the deadpan and his partner is the genius. Carraway to his Gatsby.

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’71 by Hunter S Thompson
Thompson’s last great book. Mighty.

Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S Thompson
Oral biography using Plimpton’s Paris Review technique (see also definitive books on Truman and Edie).

Anagrams by Lorrie Moore
Lorrie writes the best brainiest, wittiest single women around. This one shall we say has an active imagination. Tells a lot of elaborate jokes ad the strike rate is damn near 100 per cent. Has drawn comparisons to Sally Bowles and I can see that.

Like Life by Lorrie Moore
More stories about bracing wit as tonic for life’s eternal disappointments

A Cool Million by Nathanael West
Inventive whimsy of misfortune befalls main character in his quest for bourgeois respectability

CATCH 22 by Joseph Heller
A reader-friendly Gravity’s Rainbow

Ask the Dust by John Fante
Starving for literary prestige in Thirties L.A.

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
Starving for stardom in Sixties L.A.

Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Devil descends or rather ascends on Moscow in early Twentieth Century, terrorising literary mag editors, theatregoers, and accountants with elements of the dark supernatural. Accompanied by a seven foot jockey and an enormously fat cat with a cold black heart made of shit. On the ‘Amazing Race’ a few weeks ago contestants went to Bulgakov’s apartment as part of their scavenger hunt.

Ninety in the Shade by Thomas McGuane
A second read of this ensured its entry into the echelon of my favourite books. Never would I have thought a novel about fishing guides could be so essential.

Josh Hartnett Definitely Wants to do This by Bruce Beresford
Reading this, I recall being struck by its similarity in style and thought to the Simon Gray diaries, only to discover, in these pages, that Beresford read it and hated it! Curiously indirect bit of self-loathing perhaps? This book is a classic.

Gulcher by Richard Meltzer
Series of short, random essays from one of my writing heroes.

Professor of Desire by Philip Roth
I hated this book!

The Summer He Didn’t Die by Jim Harrison
I loved this book!

The Boat by Nam Le
Auspicious debut. First story is the piece de resistance, though I’ve yet to finish the rest.

This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff
Seriously great.

Keep the Change by Thomas McGuane
Wonderful book. The scene where Joe shows up to meet the lawyer covered in cologne samples and the reaction he gets is so priceless it had me laughing out loud on the tram. You really can’t ask for more than that first thing in the morning.

Black Postcards by Dean Wareham.
Like I needed an excuse to pull out my Galaxie 500 and Luna albums. As good as the Steve Martin book (another honest book about the implications of being an urbane artist), or any of Dean’s musical achievements.

A Good Day to Die by Jim Harrison
Hillbilly rewrite of Jules & Jim. Narrated by cultured, reckless feller. Disturbing and heartbreaking.

4 Days and 4 Nights in Daylesford

photos by de campo

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Year in Music

Albums I reviewed for Plan B this year, in order of preference, accompanied by tantalising review extract.

CCR reissues
“Creedence is Creedence is Creedence, Man! Shall I continue? Sure!” (And by golly he did..)

Softboiled Eggies, Try it Again
“Floating on a galaxy of warm, downbeat poly-rhythms, crush-worthy singer Janet does Mari Elliot dub reggae, Raincoats’ covers and tears up future dance parties with a triumph called Can You Send Blame? “

Flavour Crystals, Ambergris
“At first I wanted the songs to slide off the rails a bit, but not anymore. I’m cold. I don’t want to be surprised. Just soothed.”

Yellow Moon Band, Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World
“Needs a sticker on it that says, ‘Now you’re jammin’!”

Inner Space Soundtrack, Sven Libaek
“Wes Anderson plucked this rare pearl from the clamshell of soundtrack obscurity and plugged a few cuts into his Steve Zissou picture where they fit like an old pair of flippers.”

Destroyer, Trouble in Dreams
“The mood is caterwaul casual and the message is the world is fucked.”

“Pronounce Bitches like a louche Mexican and there you have it: Beaches, a stone-cold classic.”

Atlas Sound, Let the blind lead those who can see but cannot feel
“The tall, skinny deer caught in the strobe lights of Deerhunter’s dazzling art-rock, singer Bradford Cox brings seven layers of stoned noise to this, his official debut under Atlas Sound (a name he’s recorded with since he was 12).”

Boyracer, Flickering B+W
“Like the motto stencilled on Charley Varrick’s van, Boyracer are one of ‘the last of the independents’.”

Pivot, O Soundtrack my Heart
“A stunning assault on the John Carpenter precinct of electronic rock...minimalism so absolute they named a vodka after it.”

The Lord Dog Bird, The Lord Dog Bird
“When done this well, 4-tracks speak truer to our messed-up existence than any other method — additional tracks just seem superfluous.”

Taman Shud, Goolutionites and the Real People
“Give some top grade acid to an environmentally-conscious hard rock band whose name means ‘The Ultimate End’ and suddenly all they want to do is save trees.”

Castanets, In the Vines
“Ringing guitar tones hang in the air like vultures in some weird burrito western.”

Part Wild Horses Mane on Both Sides, Bataille de Battle
“The ‘War and Peace’ of scorching flute skronks.”

Gable, 7 Guitars with a Cloud of Milk (Loaf)
“Attention Deficit Twee (ADT) from Paree, sporting a deadpan melancholee.”

Spectrum, Milesago
“You won't find any Neu-inflected space trance here, only an earthy Mike Rudd imploring you to 'Do the Crab' (from the ten-minute, four part 'Sideways Saga') with a humour that’s hard to decode.”

KES Band
“It's like Raymond Carver without Gordon Lish. He needs an editor.”

Star Spangled Banger
“Often likened to Bonzo Dog Band, who, if I’m not mistaken, are today’s musical equivalent of a stop sign no one pays any attention to.”

“She said it sounds like The Blow on a bad day, I said it's not that good.”

Grand Salvo, Death
“A neat concept from Down Under about a bear, a bird, a rat, a rabbit and a hunter. Still it’s hard to care about a dying rat. And why no marsupials?”

The Bronx, The Bronx
“Angus Youngish riffs, but more relentless than AC/DC ever were. Gives me a reason to be unhappy about a lot of stuff I should care a lot less about.”

The Condors, Wait for it
“That band from that seaside bar who you kept begging to play Two Tickets to Paradise the night you got totally shitfaced and busy with the Mother of your ex-girlfriend's fiancĂ©, who walked in and saw you all over Mother with a bottle of beer foaming in your hand.”

The All New Adventures of Us, Best Loved Goodnight Tales
“Northampton’s very own Friends. The Ross of the group mourns a world gone sad (“Does anyone remember laughter?”) and makes dreadful admissions (“I know a girl with two grazed knees and I like her”), while the others marshal a fearlessly militant twee.”

Alberta Cross, The Thief & The Heartbreaker
“My advice is dump those shitty Ryan Adams’ records in the river and try on some Tom Petty (but don’t whiten your teeth!).”

Friday, December 12, 2008

I’m listening to New Order with my shirt on backwards!

Only I don’t know it yet. When I go outside for a walk I will attempt to put my iPOD in my breast pocket and I will discover there’s no breast pocket nor is there an alligator insignia down the front. That is when I will realise that my shirt is on backwards. I will quickly duck down a secluded side street and remedy the situation. Then I’ll ask myself why not one person had alerted me to this fact. I will wonder, am I that unworthy of people’s attention. A solitary tear will drop from my eye.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Define twee

Literary-minded, musically-spineless and the singers are usually these awfully tedious people who feel superior because they’ve read all of F Scott Fitzgerald’s books. Oscar Wilde said people are either charming or tedious. So basically what I’m saying is you have Jarvis Cocker at one end and some wispy dude in spectacles with a trenchant head cold giving cardigans a band name on the other. Their fans are interchangeable so a night out can be a humourless soul-sucking disaster. I imagine them to be very good at trivia. Twee has become a pejorative for mediocre bands of a certain style that royally suck. Probably the best example of twee is a Melbourne band named after a seasonal mammal.

not twee

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Guest Playlist 18th November Night of the Assassins 3CR (The Moritza Midnight Special)

Freeway - Beaches
Everything with You- The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Song for Tiki- Lindsay Low Hand
Kindling for the Master (Polmo Polvo Remix)- Stephen Malkmus
Operation- Deerhunter
Alchemy- Richard Lloyd
Hey! Little Child- Alex Chilton
What's Going On - Jungle Brothers
Strange Victory, Strange Defeat- Silver Jews
Let's Hang On- The Four Seasons
Life in Suburbs- New Estate
Place in the Sun- Triffids
Elevation- Television
When a Whiskey Buys a Whiskey- Craven Fops
Fuck Books- Times New Viking
Minimum Amount of Fuss- Flywheel
Agoraphobia- Deerhunter
Ooga- Ooga Boogas
Bad Sneakers- Steely Dan Katy Lied
The Analog Kid- Rush
Be Careful, Baby, Be very Careful- Dory Previn
Viaduct- The Pastels

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Saturday between 11.30am and five o' clock

Got on my bike and took Mia’s birthday gift back to the shop where I bought it from (she already had the gift apparently, at least that’s what her husband said even though he thinks I don’t trust him, but I do) asked the clerk if they had the new deerhunter in, not for Mia, for me (for my forthcoming bike ride to Suzy’s school fair) they didn’t, so I tried somewhere else, they didn’t have it there either, so I bought Mia something from somewhere else and thought screw it, I wanted deerhunter, I needed it and got on my bike and went to Polyester Records, sun on my face, wind at my rear (note I said “at” not “out”) and they had it by George, they had it. Went home and loaded it on iTunes, put a bloody mary in me, conversed with Zelda Fitzgerald, Noel Coward and Chuck Paulahnik, the drink was multi-faceted with a lot of different types of quality in it, I appreciated the effort that went into making it and said as much, hopped back on my bike, strapped with an updated iPOD, the music was so warm and nice in my ears, the tunes lightening my lobe, the bike path led me right to Suzy’s school, though Toby had to wave me down as I actually shot past it, came back, parked it, walked out on the artificial grass where stalls were assembled, Suzy’s friend Shay was there, toby, her and I went and ordered a bottle of champagne, it was the only option really, beer would have been better but the person manning the booze tent organised a bunch of winter beer that’s best to sip, thinking about it now makes me thirsty, gee, my writing is awfully sensual, Toby handed me a birthday gift in the form of The Ultramagnetic MC’s Critical Beatdown on vinyl, my goodness, an erudite selection, thank you Toby, Dave Reeder then walked up, he had his shades on you could tell he’d been dealt a crazy blow the night previous and it turns out Go Genre Everything and copious booze were behind it, Mia and her husband, plus Sadie and her followers turned up after that, I exchanged pleasantries with them all, informed Mia I did not have her present with me even though I bought it less than an hour earlier (left it at home), and then I had to jet, bid farewell while Mia was singing a couple of numbers, headed back, lost my bearings in Clifton Hill, retrieved them on wellington street, took a right at the Tote, turned left on Smith Street, parked my bike there and walked to Mario’s Pizza parlour, my final destination, people were outside caning beers, inside Jane Dust was belting her lungs out in her own big-hearted way, her shiny Charlie’s Angels hair, wavy and terrific, pearls in her ears, by the time I squeezed myself up front and said hello to her sissy, who hugged me and asked why I was sweaty, her last song finished, ugh, went up and chatted to Clare Moore, who was there with Kaye Patterson, apparently a smashing singer, the word on the street is they have formed an act called Patterson and Moore, they expressed concern the name might sound too much like an accounting firm and they’re right but I didn’t say anything, at the end of the day the music will be what matters I looked down my shoulder and wouldn’t you believe I was standing next to a table full of free pizza, so I used my position to an advantage and had a slice! It was good pizza, Phillippa who was standing next to the pizza too, said that she used to order the Volcano when she worked at the Tote and I could understand why she did when that one came out because that one was particularly tasty with hot salami and capers, I was eyeing the merchandise next to the pizza, some nice gatefold vinyl of the ooga boogas who were launching their album with Jane Dust, a personal friend of mine as support and plenty of free pizza. I had my eyes more on the pizza than the music, but the pizza was too hot so I talked to the merch girl about the merch and she was from Virginia but I didn’t figure that at all, until she said so and I said I’d liked to hear the music first before I buy the album and then the Ooga boogas started playing and the pizza was no longer hot, but the music sure was and I turned to Elizabeth, my fingers covered in grease and said this is the kind of show where they don’t give you any serviettes and you just wipe your hands on your face. She said that good, huh? I nodded with a big ole grin. Bought the vinyl, but I think I’ll give it to Mia and take back the other thing I bought her.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Me circa 11am tomorrow


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Boogie Down Productions

Phone rings amidst subtle synthesiser interference. Receiver lifted: “Yo Kris I really knocked the boots on these two big butt females last night…Yeesh. I’m on my way to Latin Quarter to find two more freaks…WORD…”

That’s the late Scott La Rock relaying a tawdry message to his proud partner KRS-One at the intro of Boogie Down Productions’ Super Hoe, Kris then goes on to rave about his partner’s prurient, panther-like prowess for the next four minutes.

I first heard the South Bronx pair on Portland Community Radio. KBOO had a monster reggae hour, dishing crackly 60s echo chamber dub straight into my earhole with good, old-fashioned alacrity. My interest in reggae stemmed from an interest in the Patrick Ewing, dominant Georgetown Hoya center. I learned he liked reggae because he played a lot of it when he guest hosted MTV, an episode I taped and watched over and over again (He was also from Jamaica, which might have helped). He played a version of Bob Marley’s Jammin’ intercut with footage of him slam-dunking the basketball. I pictured myself making rum and running guns in the Caribbean with some disgusting renegades. It was kind of funky.

Reggae was a gateway into rap, which would prove to have an even greater affect on my quality of life. The KBOO rap show was on after midnight on school nights. When I remembered to set my alarm, I woke up and recorded it. Damn it was so good. The show introduced me to some of the mid-80s greats: Just-Ice, King Tee, Gigolo Tony, TLA Rock, Mantronix (my hero) and Audio Two, to name a few. Boogie Down Productions’ Criminal Minded wasn’t the first rap tape I ever bought, but it proved to be the most formative in expanding my ever-widening hardcore gangster persona.

I picked it up from 2nd Avenue Records in downtown Portland on my 14th birthday. It was me Mike, Ben, Jimbo and damn if I can remember who else, chaperoned around by my Mother. We were inside McDonalds eating lunch when we saw her fall down in the middle of the street. We collapsed from laughter our mouths crammed full of cheeseburger. Certainly a low-point in this teenager’s life.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ramblin' Man

The laksa available from Blue Chillies lunch special might be a tad too coconutty, but the trick is to not slurp the whole soup (which I’ve done regrettably and got a hiding by my internals), but merely gorge on the solids. Chomp down hard on the spongy tofu and the spicy coconut flavour explodes in your mouth with bombastic aplomb. After lunch, we were lucky to find one of those trendy shops on Gertrude Street giving away stuff for almost nothing. I came away with a t-shirt and de campo a dress, this gave us plenty of momentum, then we bought a clock, four trucker caps ($4), some mosquito repellent in the form of a low-frequency sonar device (50% off) we were on a roll! Picked up a six-pack of beer ($13.95), then I made pizza dough, the outcome was okay but there were a few false starts. Watched Wolf Creek, which is not a disgrace, nor is it anything special either. Certainly rubbish compared to America’s Next Top Model.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


If I was McCain's campaign manager (arguably the most loathsome job in America), I would have instructed him to pull his sport coat over his face anytime Obama was speaking. Although this may cast the image of unnerving pervy guilt, it would probabaly have played better in Columbus, Ohio than the maniacal face gestures, eye rolling, and tongue lolling antics that Mccain subjected us to. You would think after three debates some might have told him how he comes off in a split screen image.

For Halloween, I am going as "FrankenMcCain". I have got a McCain mask, bolts for the neck, green make-up and a sash that calls me "FrankenMcCain an erratic monster". Elizah will be wearing a "Miss Alaska" sash (or an Idaho journalism major sash. The jury is still out). The only mechanical question, is how do I pull off drinking my Makers, considering that I can't lift my arms above my belt? Long Twizzle straws.

- email from H

Check out my new watch

It’s flipping fabulous. Just don’t ask me what time it is.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Deerhunter, Microcastle

I have had Deerhunter's Microcastle downloaded for over a month now. A new genre has been born, "Prurient Power Pop". Lilting melodies and great rave-ups often obscure the fact of how creepy Bradford's lyrics can be. Kind of like that inscrutable van parked ominously down the block. It can either a guy in a clown suit handing out candy to kids ... or even worse, the government ala "Burn After Reading" staking you out.
By all accounts, Deerhunter tore up NXNW. Someone in the crowd asked how much Bradford weighed, violence almost broke out, the cool younger Benicio del Toro-esque guitarist puked behind the amplifier, continued to swig Makers and then they tore the roof off of Holocene with their set.

- email from H

Thursday, October 02, 2008

My Dad Falls Down, My Old Leather Jacket Turns Me into a Tosser, Ashton Kutcher Plays Himself and a Horse Gets Overly Friendly Before Bedtime

Two dreams I experienced lying down last night, they may have been the same dream but I doubt it, the only constant was the presence of my dear old Dad, and there’s also the issue that one took place during the day and the other at night, so since day comes before night I’ll tell you that one first, I’m standing in the bedroom I grew up in and Dad comes in stinking drunk and sunburned from playing golf, he falls into my wardrobe and is laying there in a heap cackling and I get a little worried because I know his knees aren’t the best.

I leave the room in a huff not because of Dad’s behaviour but because I’m a jerk and I’m depressed as hell and I’m a serious artist living with my parents in the suburbs and Ashton Kutcher is in the dining room and he’s in my face all ebullient and he’s trying to get my attention and it takes awhile to register just who this annoying jackass is, and even when I do, I do not acknowledge him in any way, I snub him because I am an arrogant jackass and I got so much angst to burn and I’m wearing the leather jacket I bought in London in ’96 on Portobello Road that I ended up leaving there because it was deadweight and I guess I kind of miss it and it’s fitting me here more comfortably than it ever has and I’ve got my anti-nuclear power t-shirt on and I’m brooding my way through the kitchen and there’s Ashton’s Dad Gary, my Dad’s golf partner, who was a bearded guy I actually knew back in high school and he worked for the Portland Police Department and he’s all giddy, I don’t acknowledge him either as I move through the kitchen and into the family room where I sit down on the couch in a heap staring at my crotch with an overwhelming sense of numbness to it all.

Next I’m in an anonymous barn on the top floor and it’s dark and I’m laying down among the stacks of hay and Dad is with me and he’s really impressed that my horse (colour:brown) is such a friendly feller, sleeping next to me and licking my face like a dog and I’m thinking horses are just the most affectionate creatures in the world and then the big fella, who has most of his weight on me, which surprisingly doesn’t hurt, has to get up and relieve himself like we all do at night sometimes but this guy he really has to go and he goes all over the side wall and Dad and I look at each other like oh man and then the big feller lies back down beside me and together we fall fast asleep.


Monday, September 15, 2008

The Mother and The Whore and an Orphan Named Chuong

“That portrait is so bleak I feel obliged to disapprove of, even to despise it. But its power over me is such that I can’t despise it without despising myself in the bargain.”

— Jonathan Rosenbaum, writing about Jean Eustache’s The Mother and The Whore (1973)

My thoughts exactly Mr. Rosenbaum, I too, found this wildly hard-hitting film very confronting. Thinking about it now saddens me immensely, which is crazy because leaving the theatre the other night I couldn’t help thinking about how its characters were so overwrought, drunkenly poetic and frankly nuts that my only response to this 215 minute film was my, what audacity! The film will be forever marked by tragedy (the suicide of the director and one of the lead actresses) that illustrates the futility with what the movie was trying to say artistically. Now David Foster Wallace has taken his own life over similar frustrations. Must take a minute silence and vow to be less intimidated by DFW's Infinite Jest, a big, brainy, baggy, bloated book I’ve stopped and started at least three times.

and now for something way different, almost wacky...

On a hot morning sometime in August, I was at Dha Nang airport feeling impressively seedy. A tall European couple stood in front of the communal TV, preventing me and my interesting lady friend from watching an Olympic event involving mayhem in the pool, there was no swimming involved but there was treading in the water and the men were armed with spearguns and I think I saw a young manatee floating within the bloody melee, I persisted to watch this asinine spectacle, reading was simply not an option physiologically, I was having a hard enough time keeping the beef noodle soup and four cups of coffee down. So as I was saying, these awful, awfully inconsiderate people blocking the TV happened to be embalmed in various types of plastic surgery spanning the cosmetic rulebook from routine augmentations to more radical procedures involving sow ears and advances in decompressed fish oils, our making funny of them kept us in a buoyant mood. De Camponator’s boarding pass said Jolee for Joleen, her middle name, minus the ‘N’. A lot like Jolie, if you ask me.

I tell her instead of getting a refreshing towellette like everyone else does — you get a Cambodian boy named Chuong! This provided further amusement until the airline announced it was time to board and we dragged ourselves into the cockpit and got us there.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Hoi An

Hanoi, it was the best of times, it was the occasional mountain of despair. Maybe the infernal temperatures made everyone a bit tetchy under their silk. Our unwillingness to cooperate with thieves was probably underestimated by them a little bit. The results were often upsetting for both parties in different ways.

On to Hoi An, Hanoi’s anagrammatic cute kid sister. The Lorrie Moore to Wendy O. Williams’ Hanoi (terrible analogy). Incidentally, De Campi (rhymes with shrimp scampi) was reading Moore’s 'Anagrams' at the time. If only I had been listening to The Plasmatics huh? Not really, however I am deeply familiar with her film Reform School Girls. We had lots of fun talking about that book Anagrams, De Campo and I, these conversations were impossible to ignore and should be anthologised. It’s a shame more people couldn't hear them.

First day we made it one block on our bikes, before we got hot and had beer. We were then bombarded by a girl, who was annoying at first, but ultimately charmed our pants off. We gladly accompanied her to her house down a cosy village street where her Mother served us noodle soup and her sister took down our measurements. I had two serves, De Campi one. We got on the back of their motorbikes later and went to karaoke in a lush outdoor setting decorated in Christmas lights where we were the only Whiteys.

Singers sang songs that they knew all the words to, they didn’t need teleprompters — good thing because there weren’t any! Guy on stage played lounge keyb. Everyone drank hot beers in cold glasses filled with ice. De Campo and I drank em warm. Just throw your empties under the table was the etiquette. De Campo watched singers closely and commented: “Great mic control,” she said. The fella wore a ‘under the ineluence’ t-shirt. (Don’t think there are ‘f’s’ in Vietnam alphabet, or else it might say ‘effluence’). She continued: “Now you see, when he has those really big notes he pulls the MIC away.“ One tune by a singer named Carthy did more for complex melodies than Elvis Costello. Another song sounded like the Arthur theme. Music was good, far too many ballads though.

The night ended in an alleyway on a plastic stool sitting in a circle with some old guys eating noodles. We devoured these great noodles, while giant rats darted between our legs. A few days later the family presented us with some new nice fitting clothing.

The second day in Hoi An, I genuinely figured De Campo had been kidnapped when we lost each other at a busy intersection. I freaked out and started imagining terrible things. Her mashed head poking out of Pepsi trucks cruising by, a bruised, mangled hand creeping over the side of a dumpster, or screaming from the open shutters of a setback house. I even saw a bike that looked like the one she was riding on the side of the road nearby.

What could I do?

I went back to the hotel room and put on more sunscreen. I didn’t want to get sunburned. I returned to where I lost her. I developed another movie treatment for Judge Reinhold as I sat at the lights. American Aussie expat going on a rescue rampage to stop a group of angry fundamentalists from holding his girl for ransom. Not Without my Girlfriend, it would be called.

It was pretty exciting when we ran into each other on a side street. We hit a bar and had a rejuvenating tequila shot.

There was Big American Randy who ran Randy’s books, we had a browse of his shelves, he watched us hawklike from a comfy chair under lamplight in the corner, eating some dish that smelled meaty that he had heated up in the microwave. We said goodbye to good old Randy without buying anything and Randy said “All these books and you didn’t find anything you liked?” That’s right Randy your books are shit. Enjoy your bean burrito!

Hoi An was so great. At one point, I smacked a huge cockroach that was on the wall with de campo’s thong and it ricocheted off the curtain and into her stocking. That was like the most serious run-in we had in Hoi An. Night before we flew the coop, we drank vodka and since we couldn’t close the cap properly we drank the whole bottle and sat on the balcony watching rats sneaking into garbage bags on the streets below. Back to our roots!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Hanoi Day 3: Journeying

Last night I met Journey’s Steve Perry and Neil Schon in my dreams. I was singing them the words to their hit song Firewater (the lyrics consist of one word screeched operatically: Firewater). They really don’t have a song called Firewater and probably for that reason they didn’t seem too amused, however I was assured by a young lady afterwards that they were so I woke up feeling rather confident starting my day.

I'm rather surprised by the mildness of that dream considering what I discovered in the bathroom prior to going to bed. Behind the medicine cabinet was a frightening view into the wall cavity — a portal to a netherworld, large enough for a person to sneak through (I even looked behind the mirror to make sure it wasn't too way). Anyway I went to bed scared as hell and dreamt about Journey. I began to consider that that and the Traffic Lights could produce a supernatural short story set in Hanoi with some degree of weird potential about "Journeying" through time and space.

We had to be up early to get the bus to the bay for our overnight cruise.

There was a guy on the bus that we nicknamed Brian after one of Gavin’s characters in his novel. Brian kept saying stupid things to the tour guide and the four of us were snickering in the back of the bus like the cool kids in class. Industry: “What brand of scooter do they make the most of here?” Cultural differences in law enforcement: “In Australia police flash their lights.”

The boat was like a nicer version of a pirate ship and made of dark rose-coloured timbers. The food was fresh seafood and excellent. The cruise director was a bit of a scamp and a boor. He made a series of calculating moves regarding money and the completion of evaluation surveys that bugged me.

The views were nice and samey. The water was calm like our moods. We saw caves and went kayaking. I flipped the kayak and put De Campo in the drink. Blake and Contessa saw a giant water millipede. Contessa slipped on my wet footprint and broke three toes trying to get into the boat. I cited bad karma over the spring roll incident. We kicked back in the ship’s bowels and had some rejuvenating tequila shots.

At midnight we imbibed a warm bottle of sparkling rose to celebrate Blake’s birthday. It was a subdued moment.

Contessa didn’t go to the doctor. She would wait until the following night in Bangkok. Furthermore I had to get to Hanoi and collect my card from the bank before it closed on Friday!

We farewelled Blake and Contessa with tapas at La Salsa near the Cathedral in Hanoi. It was sultry. We sat on the balcony in the awesome heat, drizzling sweat, eating goast and blue cheese as the sun set and cheered a good forty-seven times (not Blake's age). My face gleamed like a perverted maniac covered in petroleum jelly.

My search for St John’s Wort, a natural anxiety fix continued fruitlessly, perhaps owing to the constantly agitated state this town is running on - they don’t have the time to be depressed. Their synapses are too wired for ambiguous soul-sucking fears. They’re too concerned about the next three seconds than anything else. This town MOVES!

Later, we perused the night market, De Campo and I. Knife-wielding maniacs on mopeds slashed open her bag at a busy intersection and her eyeglasses fell out. Meanwhile I bought three Lacoste shirts that fit perfectly. Score!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Postscript Day 2: Hanoi

Forgot to tell you why Blake and Contessa weren’t at their hotel the morning we were set to go to Ho Chi Minh’s together. Their hotel room stunk so bad of mould they had to leave in the middle of the night, Blake banging his suitcase violently down the stairs, waking the staff in sleeping bags in front of the desk (pretty common place for them to sleep).

When they tried to leave, the staff put their biggest crew guy (5’3”) in front of the door. Tensions mounted when Contessa sat on their Buddha shrine. “I thought it was a box. I was tired!!” They paid the hotel who overcharged them then paid a taxi driver who overcharged them to pay for a hotel who overcharged them.

Also, I neglected to mention what we did after catching up and sharing war stories at the Parisian cafe — we visited the Temple of Literature, a place of learning since 1070. “Just think people have been bored here for a thousand years,” cracked Blake, an architect transforming the high-roller’s room of a Macao casino.

We had a good look around and then we saw an alluring balcony across the street and thought how refreshing it would be to have a drink there. This was Koto’s, a happening place designed by benevolent sorts to get aimless cretins or disadvantaged punks off the street and into the mindset of a hot shit chef or bartender. The cocktails they made there were incendiary. Blake and I imbibed chilli-infused concoctions and began singing Bad Company’s Feel Like Making Love involuntarily. We also discussed Toto, but I am pretty sure that’s because Toto rhymes with Koto. I saved a couple slices of chilli from my drink to have with one of the spring rolls that were included in the Koto sampler plate we ordered, but never had the chance to use them as Contessa ate the last spring roll with utter disregard for my feelings!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Day 2: Hanoi Pt II

Don't get me wrong there's still some absolute assholes in Vietnam like the taxi driver who slammed the car door on De Campo and pulled a billy club out of his trunk and threatened to beat me with it when we said he was an absolute asshole for trying to rip us off on cab fare coming back from Ho Chi Minh's place.

De Campo, teary and shaken, took his number down, he sped off, a shopkeeper notified the police, we ran into our travel companions outside a Parisian cafe on the way to the police station, filed a report, then had a rejuvenating shot of tequila and a beer chaser back at the aforementioned cafe with our friends. Whew.

It was 11.45am.

Man that guy was a demonic dickhead.

Perhaps my pink polo shirt and baby blue fanny pack made me look too vulnerable and fatalistic like Judge Reinhold playing Harvey Keitel's pimp in Taxi Driver.

I told Blake and Contessa about my ironic Brando dream the night before and Blake said he'd 'been trying to get a booking with Brando for weeks and weeks and nothing.'That raised my spirits if not my fortunes. Heading to dinner the ATM ate my bank card. Got to the restaurant and had more rejuvenating tequila shots.

Da ting about extremely chaotic cities like dis is that the highs are galvanising and ecstatic and the lows call for rejuvenating tequila shots.

Day 2: Hanoi Pt I

I had a fitful sleep dreaming that I met Marlon Brando and his accountant, a young James Caan, at a corporate conference, and exuberantly, almost obnoxiously, laid on the charm. Brando was unamused, or if he was amused he did not show it, however I was assured by a young lady afterwards that he was so I woke up feeling rather confident to start the day.

Our travel companions weren't in their hotel so we went to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum by ourselves. Prior to his death in 1969 Ho Chi - Uncle Ho to his people ('you ever notice how Ho Chi Minh and Col. Sanders are never seen in the same place?' Blake asked and I said 'well he's been dead for almost forty years...')- requested his ashes be spread equally throughout North and South Vietnam. Instead he was placed in a glass case in a freezing cold room surrounded by stone-faced guards, accessible to visitors at fifty cents a pop (A distasteful joke about Ho Chi Minh's head in a jar of rice liqueur was inevitable). Keep quiet though. De Campo said "He's trapped in a glass case of emotion!" and nearly got jabbed with a bayonet by one of the guards.

I have a hard time detecting flaws in Ho Chi Minh's politics/ideologies. He lived in France for thirty years under a different name and was there during World War II when Germany occupied France and France occupied Vietnam, so there's no doubt what side of the fence he was on then. Though I'm pretty sure Fascism appalled him.

According to the guidebooks, Communism best suited Ho Chi Minh's anti-colonialism.
He seemed like a freedom fighter and Communism was probably the best way to rally large numbers of people. The costs of being Communist was huge. The US specialised in sending messages to the big people (Russia and China) by crushing the little people (Vietnam). After years of funding France's ultimately failed attempt to take Vietnam, the US stepped in and it was awful. Just awful.

Ho Chi Minh lived an admirable life in a home of modest means with an unexciting Peugeot that's still in the garage. If this is a smokescreen to cover up a life of cocaine bars and loose women, please correct me, but Ho Chi seems an altrusitic chap who gave his all the the people. I wonder if Bruce Springsteen has Uncle Ho's head embroidered on the buttcheeks of his jeans.

Day 1: Hanoi

Compliments on my fanny pack continued in Hanoi. Our travel companions were aglow, abuzzed and agush over its strange aesthetic powers.

I had fun riding bikes around the Old Quarter with Blake the next morning. He maintained his composure and his hair ended up pretty much the same way it started. Dukovny-esque.

It was pretty trippy dodging the high-paced throngs. Old guys pulling carts of mangoes suddenly apearing from out of the blue, lots of women in pointy straw hats carting avocados and bananas hanging from baskets at the end of bamboo poles they had balanced on their shoulders, mopeds up the ying-yang tooting their horns, greyhounds swivelling on spits in a giggle of yelping blazes...

Across the street from the Quilt Society where Blake and Contessa were finalising the purcase of an exquisite bed spread, De Campo and I were shooting through the saloon doors of Highway 4 and sauntering in like a couple of shit-eating cowpokes hankering for a thirst.

Highway 4 specialised in rice liqueurs. Big jars like the kind scientists keep fetuses in were collected around the bar and full of the stuff. The most interesting ones contained geckos and honeybees. The English guy who ran the place was sitting nearby. He had Steven Seagal karate hair and porkchop sideburns. He pointed at the rice liqueurs menu and suggested we stick to the fruity ones. Blake had a White Ginseng called One Night, Five times. The Great Contessa's tasted like floor varnish. De Campo's were the tastiest if the least adventurous. I had Traffic Lights, a tricoloured cocktail (red= Mulberry liquer; amber=orange juice; and green=creme de yum) that turned me into a clairvoyant. I was suddenly nine minutes ahead of everyone as I sped through the red light and quickly approached the yellow. 'What Traffic Lights?' quipped Blake.

My stomach ached for food and the wild horse pie, grlled dogmeat and crickets on the menu had me twisted up in nervous knots. Who would have known, not even my psychic drink could have foresaw this, me sticking a roasted sparrow into my hungry maw a few hours later, but that's what I did and you know what, it was good, but not as good as the corndog shrimp or the crabmeat and at least I didn't eat the head however I will say this: the talons were fantastic!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

No One Gets Out of Here Alive (or Linda Hunt call your lawyer)

The apocalyptic cab ride from the airport to Hanoi's old quarter was like a scene from a weird movie: Escape from New York or the Year of Living Dangerously, except the cab driver wasn't the bodacious Adrienne Barbeau and I am no Linda Hunt (though my uncharacteristic emotive performance forthcoming should earn me an award in the academy of life if there ever was one).

It took us a little over a half an hour to cross over the street to get to the Hanoi queen II, our hotel, by which time at least a thousand scooters zipped by full-throttle. I already hate the motor maniacs. The rule of the road is there is no rule of the road so run like buggery, be assertive and pray they brake!

No wonder these kids are so adept at videogames their moped hand-eye is startling.

Please kill me.

The acne-complected teenage desk clerk had bad news. The family in the room we booked were apparently very sick. Sensing mischief in the impish cock of the desk clerks pimply brow we called bullshit - the turd nonetheless relocated us to the Queenstar, a hotel that smelled of mice with louvred windows peering into a ventilation shaft festering with a great deal of mould. I drove a beer into my stomach to take the edge off and grabbed the phone (it didn't work of course had to call the desk dill in to work a turn key), checking the recommendations in our rough guide. We found a vacancy near the cathedral.

As we departed the queenstar lobby, I was handed the phone. It was the unscrupulous desk clerk of a ratbag at the Hanoi Queen II. A terse argument ensued. I endeavoured to eviscerate his corrupt soul. I took him apart with a flurry of hard nouns he would have gotten the gist of because the next thing I knew he had lost his cool, raised his voice and effectively snapped. He shouted in my ear and then he hung up the phone. Linda Hunt eat your heart out. Unbeknownst to me, he had whispered dark voodoo vengeance upon my vacation experiences. I would pay.

The next hotel was clean with balcony and our holiday companions, Blake Menzies and the Great Contessa, over from Macao, were right around the corner from us. We walked over and raided their fridge. They were watching Indochine on the laptop and never looked some goddamn life-affirming. We needed them more than they needed us to be sure and they would deliver by God...

*the remaining manuscript has been lost*

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dead Fish Bar/Restaurant, Siem Reap, an emotional watershed

We had some time to kill before the glorious night market opened so we took refuge inside this bar and restaurant called the Deadfish. Don't know what compelled us inside as it had a really dilapidated facade and building materials cluttering the entry (we both agreed later that it had an amenable ring of familiarity like it had been written up in the hotel guidebook or something).

Constructed from reclaimed timbers, sheathed in corrugated iron, sat on slabs of concrete, the Deadfish is a tall, dark A-frame with four floating mezzanine floors (vertiginous dining areas). A neat trick I never considered for expediting snacks are these trays fixed to diagonal beams delivering drinks from the bar to levels 2-4 via a system of pulleys (the kitchen has its own food lift).

Architecturally Deadfish recalled one of those optical illusion prints by Escher (as in you turn the building inside out and shake it and it's not too different) that are popular with 19 year-olds who are into crystals and Frank Black solo records. The darkness and use of timbers give it a more rustic, log cabin feel as opposed to some airy-fairy print. We were super stoked.

Now whoever said Angkor draft was no fun needs to have their esophagus keg-tested by Deadfish inc. The two pints I drained were effervescent, full-bodied, luscious, thirst-quenching, drippy, runny and damn tasty.

After a couple of those, I had a look around and in one section I noticed a creepy amphibian trawling the shallow waters for lichen under the sub-floor of the guesthouse of which there are rooms for rent at reasonable rates. We were warned not to get too close to the fucker because they'll rip your arm off. A one metre gap of dryland between the creature and the short fence stood a statue of a miniature croc. Some stairs nearby led to a toilet were I had an agreeable number one and returned to the landing near the stairs.

It's a little hard to describe on an emotional level what happened next but needless to say on the far wall what I thought was a concrete crocodile was a real one and I was certain of this once it winked at me. De Campo exited the loo too and nearly crapped herself when it yawned in her personal vicinity. Only a short knee high fence separated us from this magnificent survivor of yesteryear. Five emerged from the depths of the sub-floor when plates of fish were brandished. We ended up feeding them two plates of guppies. It was a lot like feeding dogs, but more fun. Evidently these dudes live under the guesthouse, which was built on a crocodile farm. They have to keep them there or else they'll be turned into wallets.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Siem Reap

We have cable in our hotel room. Been watching some exciting kickboxing. Real nail biters. Russia responds violently to the genocide in Georgia. There is civilian atrocity all over CNN. Jurassic Park dubbed in Cambodian is arguably a better film though the Laura Dern voice is all wrong. However the Goldblum character nails the louche smoothness just fine.

The flight over was even smoother than Cambodia's Goldblum. Clouds like cotton candy and big foamy bubble baths, I snoozed a lot of the way. I don't think it was a coincidence when I awoke the second time an air hostess stood before me with a refreshing towellette - I had drool connecting my chin to my grey fleece.

A massage and a mind-altering pizza coupled with a trip to Angkor wat, an extraordinary temple, led to a weird spell of dehydration that caused me to think aloud while watching Cameron Crowe's elizabethtown back at the room. Orlando Bloom is a designer of some bullshit shoe that looks like crap. He talks on his cellphone way too goddamn much, the superficial jerk. Kirsten Dunst is sickly as the stewardess sent from God. This veiled Christian rock movie totally sucks, but it's kind of fun to sit there and bag it out after a day visiting temples and consider how much more meaningful your life is compared to these douchebags.

Beers are seventy-five cents and deodorant is three dollars fifty. We are drunk all the time and we smell. When the cocktail lounge at the pool picks up, the whole place turns into a pastel party headlined by Sergio Mendes in the back of your mind. I read Chapter Ten of Gavin's side-splittingly witty novel and Catch 22 submerged from the neckdown. Construction noise pretty pervasive. Stacks of 2x4s fall off trucks next door, jackhammers fart aggressively into the street. There's always this guy swinging a sledgehammer into a tin sheet. What's up with that. Angle grinders, motorbikes, young children playing and squeeze toys that sound like monkeys going at it fill the air. You get used to it after awhile. The air is ultra thick with humidity. Mostly cloudy, a mixed blessing as it dimishes the sun's blistering intensity, but diminishes colour possibilities when checking out the temples. Our hotel earns four stars (would be five if it had a fridge).

I sure thought Siem Reap was total chaos the day we arrived - now I'm totally digging it and I've made it 24 hours without an epic struggle on the toilet.

Shoutout to Sunsense, innovators in sunscreen Technology. I tend to avoid protecting my legs from the sun. My leghair is a type of screen made of hair, requiring vast amounts of ultra-violet to perforate the epidermis.

On the third day, I woke up without diarrhea and a curious compunction to spend money, so I procured a somewhat wacky-looking fanny pack and have it strapped to myself in all situations including those involving pre-marital relations.

The seafood salads here are the best in the world ever. De Campo rates the rice paper rolls even higher and she is not wrong. We had a gorgeous lunch inside a butterfly sanctuary. The restaurant pays poor people from the country good money to catch them. Behind my chair a gigantic neon-brite butterfly that looked like a crawdaddy with the wings of a bat, a very unwieldy flyer, grounded itself and I played an indirect part in the rescue of the big creature as it proceeded to get covered in small ants.

Our first morning my mirrored sunglasses came apart in my hands and I replaced them with rose-tinted Ray Bans for the meagre sum of $4. Just to give you an idea of the cost of things.

I've never seen so many bananas attached to one scooter.

I tried the Cambodian specialty, the Amok, on a degustation plate, and found it to next to awful. I kindly informed an English couple who had sidled up next to us at the balcony of this restaurant that the salads were good, the Amok bad. The English fella, who had a spectacular tan and a muscular build in the mold of Lorenzo lamas, kindly informed me that he was willing to give the Amok a try and that he would disregard my other recommendation about the salad also. I think he was practicing some form of reverse discrimination as I was not a man of colour.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Attention Pockets!!

I’ve got it really bad for the new Silver Jews album. I’m singing the songs even when they’re not being sung to me. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted from a floppy disk and and more.

“We’re coming out of the black patch/we’re coming out of the pockets!”

When a song about squirrels sums up your place in the world, even though that place was never a place you've been known to frequent or come out of no less you’ve got no choice but to GIVE IN.

Like I said, I actually don’t know if I’ve ever come out of either of those places, but nevertheless I still see if strangers have an acorn or two to spare in their pockets. It's not very often that they do, but we all need a reason to get up in the morning now don't we

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Baby Rattle #72

Finished Hunter’s Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail the other day. Suppose I was curious about the volatile political circumstances surrounding my childbirth.

The period documented in the book parallels my time in the womb. You might even say the placenta looked eerily like Hubert Humphrey by the third trimester.

Richard Nixon was re-elected, my Mother relaxed and I catapulted into the arms of Venus Di Milo! (cue Television guitars) two days later. Actually she voted for McGovern. Nixon would get 86’ed a couple years later and Hunter never would reclaim the balls-out mastery and endurance that produced this 500 page marvel.

As my Mother would say about my childbirth, I now say about this excellent piece of reporting: it’s a serious rollercoaster ride. As explosively lucid an explanation as you’re likely to find about voting, campaigning, strategizing, subterfuge, intrigue, now I am just making words up, I still scratch my head over electoral votes and delegates. Campaigns are a terrible confusion. Felt like I was lost in a woman’s department store full of women impersonating my Mother. If someone would pay me for it I would write an entertaining story about being born then and how this year’s feetuses are as similar to me as that political contest was similar to them!

I bought two more Hunter S Thompson books yesterday to go with Gonzo, the PLimpton style bio I’m devouring at a rollercoaster rate. I picked them up at my new favourite secondhand book and records shop on Johnston Street. The guy in there has really good taste and everything is so well organised. He’s nice too like he told me that the Billy Squier record I picked up was the guiltiest of pleasures. I responded in the most lugubrious tone, it’s irrefutable genius.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Death Rattle #69

They opened a Pet World where the All-American Burger joint used to be. Now when you order a Chilli and Cheese Bull Dog, you get a Chilean Bulldog named Cheese. People on their lunchbreaks dealing with a whole different set of ramifications now. I considered standing outside the pet shop when the duped come out holding their new pets and ask them, what, didn’t you hear the pet sounds?

The neighbourhoods we used to know and love are changing before our eyes and for all the wrong reasons. The whole character of the place is departing like the soul of the dead. What we once held precious about the places we loved will soon be unrecognisable and no longer worth any of our time at all, might as well stay home watch TV, play whatever game console there is. I heard those games where you pretend that you’re a race car are pretty accurate in terms of torque, etc. There aren’t any reasons to leave the house anymore. Don’t get me wrong, once there were, but there aren’t anymore. Three years time, the most popular game will probably be one where you leave the house and go to the bank. Ten points each for not forgetting your keys or your bankbook.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tonight I'll sort of move between the study and the loungeroom in an old cardigan with a glass of whisky in my hand , recalling past triumphs and remembering those who put their trust in me before I stomped on their dreams and brutally dashed their hopes, and then I will sit down to eat a Not Dog and watch the Amazing Race it starts at 9.30pm on Channel Eight don't miss it.

Friday, June 06, 2008

To walk in a leisurely fashion

My new desk allows for an open dictionary, encouraging me to seek out definitions for words such as trundling and the like.

De Campo has turned me onto mushrooms – goddamn I swear I wouldn’t submit, then they turned up in my soup rather unexpectedly. I’ve yet to become The Soft Boys Vegetable Man, but I am appreciating vegetables more everyday. I no longer think they are poor people food.

Mistress Bel did not turn me onto Christopher Isherwood don’t believe her if she tells you she has, it was an good-looking older man who did.

I took an early lunch and raided the work fridge for butter eventually finding some on the shelf inside a plastic bag behind some rotted eggplant. I dashed to the bench and spread it on my toast as fast as I could but then I couldn’t remember how this person had tied the bag up in the first place and was forced to come clean in a office email. I received one reply and it was from my boss who had the temerity to ask why I needed the butter in the first place, before adding, actually on second thought…HAHAHA

Friday, May 30, 2008

Mambo Girl, (1957 Hong Kong)

She Mambo, he Mambo, she crazy, she make you wild, make everybody Mambo too, Daddy see Mambo girl sing, he see her dance, he see her crazy, he see genius in her front foot, magic in her face, but Daddy can’t dance, nor can Mommy, Mambo girl is the daughter of a toilet attendant in Hong Kong, mambo repeat x infinity

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Email Harpers at 11.17am: Please tell wyatt the orange black scrotum in Olt gained me as a reader
Email from Harpers 12.12pm: I will tell him.
Email from Harpers 12.26pm: I will tell him indeed.

Read it it's good

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Warrior in Smith Street Safeway

Best supermarket Sunday rush-hour track ever: The Soft Boys’ ‘I Wanna Destroy You’. My friend Suzy would probably pick ‘Where are the Prawns?’, while Toby, her husband, is a ‘Black Snake Diamond Rock’ guy all the way. See Soft Boys Underwater Moonlight for more examples. Check out Toby's new blog here.

So, what else been happening in the land of Moritzio?
Well, I heartily recommended the deep-fried flounder I had from Djakarta on Bridge Road in Richmond Friday night to most anyone I came in contact with. I was whetting Marc and Brad’s appetite at Sadie’s Party on Saturday, but maybe they were just wet. After all, it had been raining outside and they had just arrived and then to get bombarded by some guy raving about a flounder. Geeze. Marc and Brad looked as if they had come straight off the set of this video.

Later we were discussing the new movie Iron Man and Mia asked if I was going to blog about it. I said probably not, well (brightening up) maybe, if I can think of something interesting to say about it, then I rocketed into a totally killer reading of Gwyneth and RD Jr.’s dynamite chemistry and how it was likely to have been the explosion that detonated her marriage to Chris Martin (doing the wild thing off-set, I reckoned).

Actually I didn’t have a whole lot to say to people on Saturday night. It was an Egyptian-themed party and I could have discussed Tutankhamen I now realise. Miranda said do you remember telling me about the first time you saw your Dad naked? I said ‘yes, I happened upon him urinating in a forested glade while grey digger squirrel hunting, did I mention I made excellent pancakes today?’ The following day I stayed in bed until 2pm finishing Glamorama, before going to the supermarket. I am just accomplishing so little on the weekends in the way of creative enterprise. I think I need to have a baby.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Our Man in Portland

“I went to the Barack Obama rally on the Waterfront yesterday. 75,000 Portlanders showed up (go to for pictures). The Decembrists opened up for him. I missed them on the account that I was in line for 3 hours. The line started 25 blocks away from the event (you thought the Cat Power line was long¹). I based all my political votes for the Senate primary based on the music establishments picks. I voted for Steve Novick (he is 4'9 and has a hook for a right hand. I am not kidding) based on the fact that he was vetted and endorsed by Colin Meloy, Britt Daniel and Corin Tucker. Plus on his local ad², it shows him popping a beer cap off of a bottle with his hook.”

— H

¹ Last year, H, De Campo and I were denied entry to a free Cat Power show in an industrial warehouse by the river. We left it too late. The line was long.

² The Ad is here

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Boyle & Doyle

Two writers, one’s named Boyle, the other's named Doyle, together they are Boyle and Doyle.

Recent works of Fiction in The New Yorker that when read together, offer interesting counterpoints to the Deadbeat/Schlubby Dad Lit genre.

Boyle’s Dad, 26, after a night drinking margaritas with his ex-band mate, calls up work and tells his boss, Radko, his baby’s dead and then goes out for breakfast and then to the movies.

Doyle’s Dad is a 48 year-old Dubliner with several kids. The youngest is 18 and soon to leave home. You get the sense that the Dad is gonna miss the kid even though he doesn’t get the kid. They watch a movie about a womanizing dwarf and the Dad is like huh?? Dad’s local pub is two k’s from the local he grew up in. Y’see, if nothing else, Dad likes his comfort zones and he likes to get tipsy. Dad goes to Spain with his mates, also 48, gets hammered, gets in a bullring, then goes back to the rental in Valencia and pukes in the pool. Fucking genius.

The stories were so good they made me want to have kids just so I could totally get into the characters’ heads. After that of course I would have to give the kids back. It’s a really good idea. There should be somewhere you can call before you are allowed to read these stories, you know giving childless guys the opportunity to look after babies so they can get the maximum benefit from this stuff.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

“I’m a stud muffin,” I shrug. “Take a bite.”

I’m heavy into Bret Easton Ellis’ Glamorama, the Zoolander of literature, although literature might be too strong a word for what it is. Make no mistake Ellis is an amazing writer and I find his ridiculous tale of Victor Anderson, similar to, yet somehow more human than Amis’ Money, a book I was unable to finish. He doesn’t namecheck everybody, but he does namecheck Evan Dando.

Ben Stiller ripped this book off so bad. Thinking I was all insightful, I just read this on wikipedia: “Ellis has stated that he is aware of the similarities, and went on to say that he considered and attempted to take legal action."

I picked up more reading time since I (flew over the top of my handlebars and) wrecked my bike and started taking the tram again. I read Evelyn Waugh’s The Loved One, which disappointed me.

Kicking_K’s cover story in Plan B this month on disco label Italians-Do-it-Better is my favourite piece of writing in the magazine’s history. I actually felt cool reading it. How Victor Anderson is that? I don’t own any of the label’s stuff, but I think I will ask for the three-vinyl After Dark comp for my birthday. Two of the bands, Glass Candy and the Chromatics, are from Portland. Gee Portland’s changed a lot since Big Daddy Meatstraw were running things (or since I left town).

How cool are those popsicle maracas Jeff Koons designed for Google?

Loved '400 Blows' last night. Got really sad when it ended. Was really enjoying myself in the company of Antoine Doinel.
I went home and read essays on Truffaut and reread the New Yorker ‘New Wave at Fifty’ article from a few weeks back. Critics were never as exuberant in their writing about Truffaut as he was with his movies. I'm mainly referring to Pauline Kael and David Thomson. Godard of course came to despise Truffaut's "style" of entertainment.

Guy at work just casually mentioned how he cried watching the 'Bucket List'. He said he wants to see it again, but only on DVD because he doesn’t want to go through that again’(It’s prompted me to put a photo of Godard and Jean Seberg on the wall of my new workplace, thus establishing where my cinematic allegiances lie).

My trophy for winning the first annual New St Table Tennis Championship on Saturday is proudly displayed on top of the TV set. It’s a garden gnome holding a spade that looks more like a paddle after Tobe and Suze painted it red. Since it was too wet for a barbie, Suzie made lasagne and I put so much of it away. It was really yummy. But my tummy, oh my. I won the championship with a bellyache 7-0 over Joshtown.

Been listening to The Cannanes live at Applecore bootleg I scored off Ricky. It’s a score and a half. I feel like I’m in Tutankhamen’s Tomb for the first time. The Cannanes live at Brunswick Hotel was something I participated in after the TT tourney on Saturday, down the road from tobe and suze, hitting tambourine during the encore though my timing was off, everyone seemed to love it, except James and Gavin who glared and counted every mistake (five apparently). I even stopped mid-song to part my hair. We followed this with a legendary episode of the Name Game, which lasted until 4am. They should try and make a documentary about that!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Two More from Truffaut

Mississippi Mermaid

Jean Paul Belmondo is stinking rich, running a tobacco farm on an island in the Indian ocean. Hard up, he mail-orders Catherine Deneuve, as you do, who is just ‘adorable’ as he keeps reminding her (at least she doesn’t go ‘I know!’ as most modern actresses would; Catherine appears melancholy with a touch of wonderment thus making her astronomically beautiful. Jean-Paul has no choice but to put her face on a cigarette packet). Turns out, she’s loony. They make a terrific pair. She thoroughly emasculates him, remarkable given his rarefied beefy studliness. Crimes are committed and a lovers on the run tale ensues with shades of Losey’s Gun Crazy and Hitchcock-cliches abound, as the movie shifts to Paris. It’s clunky as hell and the disjointed last act seems to have been written in one 12-hour bender where the writer, struck by an attack of the schmaltz, turns pure malevolence into a sentimental weepy that is almost as amusing as it is preposterous.

Jules et Jim

Man, bohemians are nuts. At least the irreprehensible characters didn’t die. Although the guitar troubadour lives and that guy was a slut!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Two from Truffaut

Day for Night

Movie about a movie was probably Wes Anderson’s moviemaking template. Interestingly, in the movie inside the movie, Jackie Bissett is an English girl in love with her Fiance’s Father, a relationship quandary she would revisit in the coming decade as Rob Lowe’s mummy who bangs his best friend Andrew McCarthy on a moving escalator in ‘Class’. Or was it an elevator? Maybe it was both? Even though I replayed the scenes a hundred times at the time that was a long time ago. I was 13. If only Alex Chilton had written about that.

‘Day for Night’ is more ‘Love Boat’ than ‘8 ½’ and delightful for those very reasons.

The Bride Wore Black

Jeanne Moreau is on a cursing rampage to avenge the death of her husband who was murdered on the altar steps by accidental rifle-fire from a nearby apartment where five dildos are conducting a slippery get-together. By cursing rampage, I don’t mean she curses them to smithereens, she has Strychnine and well she’s Jeanne Moreau, a terrifying fact in itself. Not sure how she found out they done it, because I fell asleep. I’ll probably never find out because I wasn't that interested in the movie to begin with. I had a bloody great snooze. Perhaps I dreamt I was in a far superior caper, scored by some immaculate Bernard Hermann rip-off.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

H from Portland's Current Reading

I just finished The Savage Detectives all 636 pages of brilliant bagginess. An absolute stunner. Captures the boho lifestyle better than any recent novel I can remember or anything that Kerouac has ever attempted. Hilarious, maddening, at times tedious but well worth it. I actually ripped thru it in 3 weeks. I can't wait for his magnum opus 2666 to be translated later this year. In the interim I'll probably read a Night In Chile.
I am currently going through my "Sweaty man lit" phase. This phrase was coined by the Village Voice regarding John Banville novels. No, I am not reading any Banville novels (although I am curious about his Benjamin Black series). This weekend I finished Revolutionary Road. Christ I need to catch my breath after that one. It reminded me of a 10 page John Cheever/ Raymond Carver short story that was stretched out to a pitch perfect 330 page novel. Not a misplaced sentence in this grimly hilarious novel. I can't believe that Leo DiCaprio & Kate Winslet are filming an adaptation of this. Another vehicle of theirs that I refuse to see.
After finishing it, I went to Powells and picked up Richard Ford's Independence Day (to continue with the sweaty man lit theme) Pynchon's V. and Panama for $2.25. Chet just nailed his hand to Catherines door.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Flannellette Funk at its Finest

What I am about to unload is so disgustingly rich in degradation that it will rock you like a hurricane and chill you to your inner Borgnines. My hair is the worst it’s been since I was 9. Similar in texture to that fake hair you find at the end of sticks that hippies wave unconvincingly in the air at badly organised outdoor festivals. I’ll probably have it cut when you see me again and be revived!

(photo pinched from here:

Modest Mouse were fiery as all hell the other night. They keep producing hit after hit. I can name a bunch of bitching tunes of theirs off the top of my head (Heart Cooks Brain, Convenient Parking, Lounge (Closing Time), Gravity Defies Everything, Third Planet, Float On, Ocean Breathes Salty, Black Cadillacs, Blame it on the Tetons, Bukowski) plus a few killer ones off their latest, which is flannellette funk at its finest (Parting of the Sensory, Missed the Boat, Dashboard, Florida). The Mouse were much better than the last time we saw them with (name-dropping alert!) thirty three and a third of The Cannanes. That was shitful. Love the Cannanes.

Speaking of whom, or rather fifty percent of that fraction of feelings, she (FJ to the G) recently introduced me to Simon Gray, who writes while he thinks (in The Smoking Diaries), whereas I have spent several hours on this sentence alone, though it is really superbly well-crafted, ye must admit. I suppose I’d be a little disappointed if Simon did revisions although I believe he does because every now and again he alerts you to the fact he’s going to leave something there as it is and if he wrote everything down that came to him in an instant, he wouldn’t be saying stuff like that.

I particularly enjoyed reading his recollections of Robert Lowell, who he once had a sardonic, drunken dinner with. Simon was mates with Ian Hamilton who I recall wrote two books that I read and adored called Searching for JD Salinger and another about the literary heavyweights of the 20s working in Hollywood. He was also Lowell’s biographer and one memorable night long ago Lowell was dropped off in Soho by a middle-aged mistress mute long after Hamilton and Gray had already eaten. Lowell then proceeded to order copious oysters which he didn’t so much as touch and mucho wine when there were already two bottles half drunk on the table. Just disgraceful.

Gray is appalled and disgusted yet impressed to see Lowell writing a cheque as he gets up to leave. Lowell hands Hamilton the check then is whisked away by his drab mistress. Hamilton shows Gray a cheque made out to the tune of six million dollars.

What amuses me most about this recollection is that in The Armies of the Night, Norman Mailer describes Lowell as a serene angel of unfathomable depth, whose intelligence and grace makes Mailer feel furiously inadequate. I don’t think Lowell was any tamer I just think that Mailer was quite severely mad. The portrait of Lowell was so touching in Mailer’s book that I bought a collection of poems in Daylesford over the Queen’s Birthday and it was with Lowell’s poems where I truly believed that I began to understand how to read poetry. Why it’s simple, I thought, you read it like prose. How I was blissfully enlightened by such a rudimentary concept befuddled me.

Gray quotes a Lowell poem in ‘The Smoking Diaries’ as the only one he has really admired called ‘Home After Nine Months Away’, so I looked it up in the collection I have (Selected Poems) and I all I found was 'Home After Three Months Away'. Gray either has it wrong or there’s another poem out there. Personally I could care less. I read the thing when I was brutally hungover on Saturday and it did not register in the slightest way whatsoever with my thick skull and I became rather pissed off you know. Began hating myself. I won’t reach for it now, but honestly it felt like everything I had worked hard for just walked out of my life for good like a wife and six kids in a trailer park that deserves a lot better than this. I'm pretty sure I'm delusional.

Friday, March 28, 2008



Olivia has left to buy a toaster.

She leaves you this exciting message

it's gawddamn great


Sunday, March 23, 2008

I Love Everything

(Jane Badler and Sir at Golden Plains)

'I Love Everything' is a song by Jane Badler and Sir. Not the theme of this entry because that would be untrue. I did love Golden Plains rock festival, but I'm not about to discuss this with you now.

Sidney Lumet’s ‘Before the Devil Knows Your Dead’ conveys how much it would suck to have a loved one murdered by accident. It sucks so bad you kind of wish you were the one dead, but you don’t because you’re a deadbeat.

The movie is acted with real balls by Philip Seymour Hoffmann and Ethan Hawke. If I was an actor I would not do the film but these guys are ballsy. They are successfully unenjoyable as characters throughout. Ethan has one great scene, that’s not enough and it never is, also it was the final scene.

I walked down to the toilet after the show and there was this mean-looking Samoan at the mirror picking something out of his teeth. My feeling was that he was going to pull a gun out and shoot me with it.

If there’s one positive to come out of this movie it’s that US movies take murder too flippantly and finally here’s a gruelling picture that shakes you to your core with death. Still I thought I would be murdered afterwards. I cannot recommend this movie highly enough.

We rode our bikes back home and there were cop cars parked at the Rainbow Hotel. This was right around the time that Spencer P. Jones was meant to take the stage.

I watched Beaches the night before last. Five girls who rock harder than any band full-stop. Beaches are indie rock. Poppy with classy, ass-shaking riff-mongering. The fact that they are my new favourite band is quite irrelevant. I really don’t buy anyone’s opinion of them not being their favourite band so don’t discuss it with me. I don’t even want to talk about it if they are. I don’t even find this discussion worthy of pursuing any longer, but I'll see you at their next show.

More GP Photos...

De Campee, Andrew and Gemma

Alex always grimaces when I'm within three feet of him

Jesse Shepherd in the art of the unwind

There’s only a few other things I would like to say at this point and one of them is that my outfits lately have been quite remarkable.

I am off to lay on the floor and listen to the Grateful Dead and read Thomas Berger’s ‘Reinhart in Love’. Read this book before you die.

Oh yeah I saw the ‘Russian Ark’ the other night. My response could be summed up in a text message I sent directly afterwards. ‘What a bag of Russian shit. Best part about were the end credits and even they were tedious.’ That may not be the actual text msg because I deleted my sent items the other night and my girlfriend deleted the msg because apparently, ‘it was of no significance.’

Monday, March 17, 2008

Ween, Forum

Cigarette packets and fortune cookies sat atop their amps. Like Bananas and Blow it was a typical Ween incongruity that made perfect sense. Deaner riffed a lot and made faces like he’s pounding his girlfriend unhappily. The intensity with which he flailed his guitar, we too felt on the receiving end of those copulant thrusts, his expression contorting within an inch of a Nixon mask, sweat gleaming through a wash of coloured lights, droplets raining down from his not-insignificant nose and chin. It was a bit heavy in there. Not up his nostril, but inside the Forum

Exactly where I’m at was a corking fuse to light up with. HIV/AIDS was a dance celebration, a very grim one. Voodoo Lady’s guitar solo was so dredged in classic sounds it warped back to the 60s and gave birth to a psychedelic chicken that laid an egg that hatched Lobby Lloyd! Jokey tunes enacted by a louche Gene doing the sleaze lounge get-up ala the Ramada Inn at noon on a weekday were particularly unpleasant — Piss up a rope being a high water mark, no pun intended. Gene then lit a ciggie, picked something gross off his face (seriously what was that?) and threw it down on the ground with impunity. From there, the band lobbied a sax-less, yet sexy Your Party. Good times.

"See ol' Jimmy Wilson dance, give that boy a dime and you don't stand a chance, oh see ol' Jimmy Wilson dance," Ween sang during Waving my Dick in the Wind and my girlfriend yelled out that it reminded her of Charles Portis' Dog of the South. I looked at her strange. "You're in that hotel foyer", she said. “And you my cuteness are on Planet Jupiter”.

The Stallion was good, to which an encyclopaedic fan nearby noted pedantically over the din, “ITS PART 5, THE FINALE IN THE STALLION SERIES!!”

Someone said the ex-Blood, Sweat and Tears keyboardist was the ex-keyboardist from Earth, Wind and Fire, but I thought those dudes were all brothers and this dude was white — anyway he played a fantastic synthesiser solo at the tail end of Zoloft, or at least that was what my notes said, but those things were unbelievable, not unbelievable like wow, but unbelievable like they should not be trusted.

The sounds and the smoke machine made everybody light up doobs despite the no smoking policy; this swarthy dude beside me was toking crazily. The guy to the other side of him asked him for a drag, and Richard Smoker started whingeing about how if he gave him some then he would have to give some to everybody and then he wouldn’t have any left and then the guy told him he was going to blackmail him and he would probably end up in prison new best mates with a seven footer named Bubba.

Friday, March 07, 2008

In Praise of Royalchord’s Car

They’re more fun than an action park full of Frisbee and a laughter and a scream and will be missed even though we hardly ever saw them (Berlin and Belgium bound and that’s indefinite). They popped over at the tail end of an impromptu BBQ we had last Saturday cause they operate on their own clock and are anything but predictable. Bless ‘em. Tammy busts out a horselaugh if you do something funny and Eliza is game for living a life that’s full of surprises. I’d listen to their music if only I had it on my person (I actually had this thought while at work. I’m at home now and can easily access their LP Nights on the Town from the next room, so all's okay).

We got in their car and they took us to a rooftop show in Carlton attended by a exquisitely bored cross-section of Melbourne’s art-damaged denizens, who Panel of Judges are kind of like the flagship of, though it must be said, Panel are legends and their performance here was one of the best I have ever seen probably up there with the best of The Clean and I don’t think it was because of the excellent views of the city and housing estates from Rathdowne Street though they were something else too.

Getting back to what I was talking about, it wasn’t an extensive trip in the Royalchord car, no longer than five minutes duration, but those five were five good ones. The girl’s have great taste in music, so of course the jams were pumping. The second we got in we were treated to ‘Fiesta’, that partystarter off the sweet new Ween album*. Last year at a party in a St Kilda backyard (punctuated by a sizzling Jon Langford performance) we caught a lift with them back to town and it was a real magical moment (photo taken by Campee in the backyard prior to the lift). A cross between Pulp Fiction, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, American Graffiti, Easy Rider and Corvette Summer it was. Can’t remember what we were listening to at the time but whatever it was we toasted it with a champagne. If this were the 70s, Royalchord would be driving a van with carpeted interior and there would be no funny business just oodles and oodles of good vibrations. They’re the Frank Whaley of motor-hospitality in this town, and now they’re gone. When the night ended De Campee hugged Tammy so enthusiastically her two feet left the ground!

*Ween kicked a lot of ass and produced much flavour last night at the Forum

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Spanking the Monkey

Done some good writing today. Man you're only as good as what you write next. That's a pretty tough way to live. I feel like Ratso Rizzo in Midnight Cowboy. Looking between the radiator pipes for a sandwich.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Oscars last night

Jon Stewart made me laugh as much as Ellen what’s-her-name did, so that was good. Best picture, whatever, the Coen Bros are such smarmy dills. I wanted to poke the little brother hard in the gums (and I’m non-violent) because he did the same gag twice. The taller brother I found to be quite handsome. The little brother showed a lot of gum when he opened his mouth (probably a good idea he didn’t speak).

Daniel-Day Lewis would come away a winner regardless. He kissed george Clooney on the way to the podium that will count against him. Every time they mentioned best actor I get disgusted because I missed seeing Viggo in that Russian mob movie.

I love Laura Linney almost as much as my sister. They are pretty much the same person (in so much as my brother is Mark Ruffalo, except my sis watch too much tv). Ellen Page = barf.

Jen Garner looks better to my eyes everyday, yet has she inflated her lips several pounds? Nicole’s surgeon meanwhile is turning her into a winter weasel.

Javier Bardem looked like he came straight from a bar fight. Actors today so physical. Remember when it was just Russell crowe and David Hyde-Pierce? As Fred willard’s Mike LaFontaine might spout: wha happened? Some neat actors in supporting men’s category. Hal Holbrook from Creepshow. Tilda’s acceptance speech bugged me for some reason. I think I need to watch The Deep End again just to cleanse myself of what I saw her do last night.

Amy Adams (pictured) sang and looked pretty. De Campo and I then talk about eating breakfast next to her at Cheebos on Sunset Boulevard back in 2007. Man, those were different times.

Deakins got two nods for cinematography but no dice. Never forget Dave Kehr saying that Deakins probably knows more about light than anyone else on the planet. Interesting!

Watching Atonement collect nominations like costume design made me want to puke. The whole look of the thing is execrable.

I swear there were more animation movies from this year than three. Ratotuille looks good, although I’m plenty sick of the way middle-age actors whinge like babies in these movies; their voices are excruciatingly painful! Peter & the wolf looks good. I once re-enacted that story for one of my classes in high school. Special voices for the animals (Stanislavski-influenced) leaving a positive impression.

What’s Sound Editing? That actually makes no sense. Do they mean sound dubbing? Bourne Ultimatum won it, well deserved, the movie's technically brilliant, anyone who argues over that is an idiot. Same goes for Transformers. God I would never see that crap. Anyone who says otherwise should be taken out and eradicated.

Owen Wilson didn’t make any jokes nor did he attempt any, admirable. Seth Rogen and his sleazy fat friend have become so greatly insufferable. It’s sad downfall time for those boys and I dare say it is their own bloody fault. Cormac McCArthy gave the Coen brothers a standing ovation because his books stand to make a million from all the publicity.