Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hair and ancients plug

From left: Elizabeth, Kes' Karl, Ancients' Jon and Clare's Dave. As much as I love all these people I am really only posting this photo for Elizabeth's hair. I review Ancients 2 here at the renovated 10th Chaffinch.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Flaubertian Christmas

Christmas on the ranch was one of the livelier events in recent memory.

Stew donned a kilt with matching tartan tie. This is after a few champagnes and a shower. He wore a buttoned-up shirt from a clothing line produced by country singer George strait. He mentioned this when his rancher neighbor Jason said he got one of his CDs for Christmas. I said they've been giving them away with a minimum purchase of western wear at boot barn, according to an ad I saw. They asked if I got a job there because at Thanksgiving I said I was going to try after I saw a sign on their window that said seasonal help needed, but I never followed it up and that was the end of them inquiring about me getting them discount boots at the Boot Barn, which they had already done previously.

Drinking a wide array of specialty drinks at the ranch added to the fun. Egg nog and kahlua was a good one. Next was a delicious red and white wine concoction with diced apple and orange zest, a sangria kind of doodah. Annah brought a chardonnay from LA in route to Philly that I liked a lot. "It's a good cupcake," she said. I took it as some curious LA parlance when that's the actual name of the winery: Cupcake. Look out for it, if you like a buttery chard.

Jen and Stew's daughters wore matching outfits outshining their Dad. They had a good time on the alligator seesaw that Jen's Mother brought for them.

We listened to the life-changing Orange Juice box set that Stew got for his birthday recently. A jalapeno goat's cheese pre-funk with Jameson's whisky, a Jen party staple - that was good too.

Christmas goose for dinner was tubular. Purple cabbage with garlic and anchovies, how did Stewart do it, we all wondered. Couldn't get the gravy to work, we all had a hand in trying. I, for one, found the flour. I turned to the beautiful Hollywood actress who kindly dished me up and said how historical this meal seemed to be. Like Christmas dinner at the Flaubert's circa 1875. I then looked at her plate and couldn't help but notice how artfully arranged her yams, cabbage, candied walnuts, foie gras and homegrown ham was compared to the chaos she made of my plate. Still I appreciated the dishing up effort even if it was slightly less inspired.

A day of mainly cloud cover for a solar house meant that by six we were lighting candles and losing power. By 6.15 the CD player stopped right before it got to the last song on the XMAS mix I brought over of songs that have nothing to do with Christmas, Corn Chips by the Cannanes, which is too bad. I forgot to mention the orgasmic bread and butter pudding. Make up for it next year.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Holiday book pile

H on what I got him for his birthday and what's next on the pile:

"I just finished the Leonard Michaels collection. The first set of stories made me feel like someone was sitting on my chest and gutturally dictating their descent into hell (Obvious Celine influence with the cadence). Damn you Henry, Phillip & Marjorie! The next set of stories was a Borges/Nabokavian head scratching puns bookended by two of his best short stories. The third section was also tremendous. The over the top Hemingway homage "Tropicana" being a highlight along with the handball one. I wasn't as impressed with the Nachman stories. What impressed me most about Michaels is that each collection sounds like it was written by a different author. I also finished Vital Parts and loved it (Splendor Manwaring buy his parents old house). For Christmas I will be alternating between "Bats Out Of Hell" and Ann Beattie's just released "New Yorker Stories". Seems appropriate. Happy holidays fuck face."

Wanted: cathartic haircut

I'm drinking a hazelnut coffee and contemplating a haircut. I am what is known in this town as a longhair. I'm very nervous last haircut was a sweaty nightmare I couldn't get out of there quick enough. She left my sides uneven and wore a scowl of disgust throughout the graceless procedure. I suppose the lustrousness intimidated her, but why, it's just sui generis atomic particles. Anyhow it was my mistake. Avoid Supercuts with a passionate intensity. I'm going to test out Alleycat Salon this time instead and then I'm going to use my five dollar voucher at Macy's Coffee and finish Driving on the Rim, which is building to a fine conclusion. I would have held out on having a coffee prior to the Macy's experience, but I figured I needed total neuron control in order to elucidate any special trimming technicalities.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Last day of school

A number of hardships accompanied finals week.

I misplaced my keys and dismantled my bedroom. Books and important papers were flung around, pages crumpled from lashings of aggravation. A good hour of fury I subjected myself to when all along the keys were under my assignment on the kitchen table. The next day I couldn't find my blue folder that contained all my notes for my research paper, and took my derangement out on my housemates who I suspected of deliberately disposing of it to watch me squirm. It wasn't until I was on my way to school that it occurred to me that I had done some photocopying at Raven Printing after finding my keys the day before, so I dropped by. Boss Raven happened to be serving a customer, so I used my spare time filling my pockets full of tootsie rolls, compliments of Raven Printing.

Boss would have recognized me because it was my fourth Raven transaction. "What can I do for you?" he said, though I can't promise those were the exact words he used.

"Did someone leave a blue folder here yesterday?"
"Sure did!" he said and went and fetched it out of the lost and found. I was effusively over-the-top in my gratitude. "The lady described to me who it was that had left it and it wasn't the description that I would have used." I didn't know how to take a comment like that, but I was glad to get my blue folder back.

It's snowing heavily and I'm staring at empty stockings hanging from the fireplace and wondering when I will be able to leave the house and fill them when Doris is leaving for Austria by noon tomorrow.

I arose at 6.30am this morning to do yoga but it was already snowing and my shoes didn't have the best grip, so I made a coffee and worked on some revisions for a good solid hour or two, or at least for the 52 song duration of Sebadoh's The Freed Man. Then I walked to campus to return books. On my way home I decided to stop for a biscuit and gravy at the Railway Cafe.

I saw Kelly from class and met her boyfriend. They were trying to find her a thesis for a Shakespeare course she's taking. Best believe that by the end of breakfast they found it. Kelly's from a Scandinavian wing of Minnesota, therefore she's besotted with my Norwegian sweaters. Best believe that!

I looked at my bill and saw that they charged me $3.39 for one biscuit, then remembered that two were $3.99 so I ordered another. The cheerful owner guy looked out the window at the steady-falling snow, then said to the group at the big booth, "48 hours ago I was washing my car. I did the white walls. I had music on..."

I think the biscuits had MSG in them because then I became quite ill. I bought some milk and walked home without an umbrella because it snapped in half as I was passing the Walmart parking lot.

Pithy critique of zany caper

Nick's summary of my second submission for workshop always amused me:

"This is the continuing saga of Peabody, his sister Dolores, and his '78 grape Camaro, who go to Dunbar's hovel to get some things. Peabody is shot by a blowdart by Dunbar, sprayed by a lady skunk. He uncovers Dunbar's cats as pets for apes scheme, and takes a bath in Bloody Mary mix."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Did Anyone Bring Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out?

Mia Schoen, 2010

Feeling New Estate, a Retrospective
Tour Diary, 2004


Trampling the old highway in a gunmetal grey station wagon; heading north to better weather and cleaner air. Fifty-five minutes out of Melbourne — Lou Reed on the box, masturbatory as all get out — we learn Brad Cosier has needs too. "Gotta use the toilet". We pull off at Euroa, a sleepy town that in 1878 got taken for 2,000 pounds by the Ned Kelly Gang. While Brad takes his business elsewhere, we step outside. Joining me are three outright rockers for which denim and velour continually adorn. They are Mia Schoen, Marc Antonio Regueiro-McKelvie and Larry Cervantes Gorman. Along with Brad, they form New Estate, a Melbourne band that brews a recipe of classic rock amenable to modern ideas of melody, distortion, happiness and pain. Last year a debut LP entitled …Considering turned some heads. But now, after 18 months jamming in clubs and with the addition of a Jack Bruce-clone on bass, the heat has intensified. Blinding sonic freakouts melt into urgent psychedelia, while heart-searing rock ballads fade into tender pop moments of the desperate kind — ten new songs poised to trample an already classic debut. Here we find a band more explosive than ever embarking on its first tour of the Eastern States. Three shows line the horizon— one in Sydney tomorrow and two in Brisbane on Saturday. Sure as heck, the band is mad keen on electrifying some interstate barflies. We shall see.

When Brad finally returns, the hop in his step is beatifically re-established. It appears he has visited a canteen of some description because in his arms he cradles snacks. Could he be carrying peaches, one muses hopefully? I snoop on said snacks and lament. There is no fruit on Brad's person.

Back on the road with Lou Reed behaving badly. Behind the wheel, Mia has complete control. Mia likes control, occasionally gets out of it. Mia paints pictures, writes songs, sings them and plays guitar, often in that order. Her latest series of paintings illustrate a new housing estate overtaken by an electrical storm. Mia, it should be noted, has sensitivity to natural energies produced by electrical forces.

"Did anyone bring Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out?" wails Larry, with a mouthful of fruit-flavoured Mentos. A salted wad of silvery hair sits over a sweet, sad face and a smoky moustache. When his request goes unreciprocated, he dispenses a long, dyspeptic moan similar in length to an extraneous Lou Reed guitar solo from 1973. He then regales us with a shaggy reminisce. "I was in the city once with it playing on my headphones. I saw this old woman collapse right in time to it. I don't why, but she did and it was amazing."

"Play this," says Marc Antonio, handing me a CD. It's some 80s guitar band from New Zealand, pilloried by putrid guitars masking ace melodies. It's really great. At our sides, the nature scene — riven ash-coloured from long stretches without rain — perishes. We watch thirsty gum trees sway as we zip by. New South Wales passes under our wheels rather gracefully. We pull into a grey town glutted with grilled chicken shacks. Behind clear plastic door strips, at a plastic table with plastic chairs, we consume a modest coop. A baby blue cotton fleece, worn by the lady who dishes us up, features conjoined teddy bears in a state of gymnastic arousal, working hard on one objective: to form the words W-O-D-O-N-G-A. It reminds us where we are because something has to.

As any major dude will tell you, a rock tour requires ample boozing, so after a day in the car, it's now eight o' clock, we're four hours south of Sydney and certain we've worked up a hearty appetite for piss. We check into a dirtcheap hotel that has it's own bar. Before long, the jugs are going down and livers are giving out. Mia tells us about the time a guitar she got off a private detective was plugged in to an amp at an unearthed house. High-voltage shockwaves electrocuted her clenched frame, finally expelling out her foot. "The last thing I remember is playing these two amazing chords and then feeling the most incredible pain". At the hospital, medical specialists hooked her heart to a monitor, where for the next two hours, she desperately watched the green line twitch, fearful of flatline disturbances. But Mia — think Iris in Taxi Driver had she grown up in a Perth suburb behind a piano, daughter of Dutch lover of Italian autos — never came close to flatlining and today she is more highly charged than ever.

A bad jukebox invariably leads to dismal arguments about inferior rock songs and here it's no different. After far too many, Marc makes a blighted case for AC/DC's Thunderstruck practically ruining everyone's night. We retire upstairs to a TV and while Brad karaokes the weather report in an appalling American accent, Larry pings me in the eye with his shoe. I consider immediate retaliation, but I stumble away instead. Along the wall of the corridor, I take in a series of photographs, all but one being tobacco-toned clips of early town life. The one exception depicts a miner beaming from the mouth of a flesh-coloured cave. I wonder if this miner, at moment of triumph, knew enough to retreat from whence he came, back into the safe confines of a magnificent vagina reconstruction. At some time between 1.30 and 2am, I too reconsidered the womb.


A beam of light shoots through the clouds with such force it resembles the light you're supposed to see when you die. The sky is blinding, the coffee is lousy and Larry scalds his tongue. A whammy bar, paramount to Marc's eruptive approach to the New Estate experience, is collected from a pig-headed chap at the local guitar shop around the same time Mia appears jangling car keys. Not much else is remembered about the road that morning. Did see a stiff wombat on the roadside, arms outstretched, needing a hug. It was just another damning reminder that the road can be harsh and merciless.

"I've got a very good feeling about this trip, guys," says Larry, as we approach Sydney, his tongue on the mend, sky going from white to blue. A moment later, he turns fickle. "I've got such a bad feeling about this trip. We shouldn't have done this. I mean I could be home in bed asleep with my animals". Larry mothers ten cats (Arky, Bella, Captain Milo, Tiger, BJ, Bootsie, Billy, Satan, Lucifer and Beelzebub) and fathers nine rabbits (Larry, Jimmy, Donut, Pepsi, Oscar, Peppy, Marvin, Breznev and Lucy). Larry the rabbit is his pride and joy and half the reason he changed his name from Chris to Larry. Big L hopes to get Little L on Australia's Funniest Home videos because the way Big L tells it, Little L has a repertory for family entertainment that's easily digestible.

Entering Sydney can be an eyeful. Pristine pleasures abound in this icy, glamorous town. After scuttling through a few salubrious enclaves, we find ourselves ascending a Hollywood staircase in a 1930s art deco block overlooking palm-laden Coogee Bay. Inside a well-lighted flat with blue carpet, flavoursome antiques, ocean views and paintings and postcards from Paris on the wall. A provocative blast of sea air promises limitless holiday shenanigans. A recurring visual motif is Mick Jagger or guys who look like Mick plastered all over the living room and kitchen. After carting the gear up (New Estate travels light: three guitars and a snare, amps and drums to be borrowed) and snooping around, the front door swings open and a loud huff is heard. The owner has arrived. She appears monumentally frazzled. Her long dark hair partly disguises her eyes, which are mottled like two malevolent, steaming meatballs. She disappears into the kitchen to fumble around with the margarita mix.

Her name is Annabel Bleach and she has had a difficult day. Annabel is something of a rock and roll institution. She made history in 1984, founding The Cannanes with Mia's husband David Nichols. After one EP, Bored, Angry and Jealous, which earned mad raves ("I'm in love with the girl singer's bittersweet intonations…I'm in love with the goddam WHOLE!" blurted The Legend in Melody Maker, proclaiming it Single of the Year), she went to the beach and never returned. Nevertheless, Annabel made history then and she makes it now, bringing a Rosalind Russell-like flair to the media department at the local government she works.

For a pre-show dinner, we scarf meatballs. Larry and Annabel bond over Woody Allen movies starring Alan Alda. I try to interject but am reprimanded by Annabel's acid tongue. "Goodness, if you are not prepared to listen then don't interrupt. We are talking about Crime and Misdemeanours not Manhattan Murder Mystery." She puts on Goat's Head Soup and stomps around like she's putting a fire out.
"Do you have Some Girls?" Brad asks. Annabel leaps to the task, demonstrating a spryness that belies her congenitally weak ankles. During Miss You, Annabel puts the kybosh on the Stone's tunes. She wants to watch Neighbours instead. She bolts to the kitchen to modify her margarita and misses a crucial snatch of dialogue. "What'd he say?" she barks from the kitchen. "She just said that she doesn't love him as much as he loves himself," replies Mia, as Annabel waltzes back in.
"This margarita is magnificent," Larry says.
"Well don't say I wasn't gracious. I am f*cking gracious!" After another drink, we call a cab, load the gear and traverse. In front of The Gaelic Club, the driver unloads the rear hatch. Like most large carriers, this shuttle van has a wheelchair ramp. "What the heck is that thing for?" asks Marc Antonio, pointing at the ramp.
"It's for wheelchairs," replies the cab driver.
"But then why do we need it, we don't have a wheelchair?" The driver refuses to dignify Marc's question with a response.

The Gaelic Club is a spotless balconied venue with polished floorboards, an unnerving echo and bartenders who serve beer in plastic cups. During soundcheck, Mia blows the amp she borrowed. "I only had it on 4," she pleads. The owner, a hirsute, diminutive chap in a baseball cap, thinks he's Serpico. He shakes his head. For New Estate to play, they will need to use the head liners equipment. "You can ask him," intones Serpico, "but I'm pretty sure he's not going to let you use it. Just make sure you tell him that you blew my amp, so he doesn’t think I am tricking him".

After all that, the band plays and leaves the stage with their panties in a bunch. Meanwhile, the second act rears its scarf-wrapped heads on stage. The singer appears to have stiffness in his lower extremities. "Do you think he has a prosthetic leg?" a concerned Annabel asks sincerely.

At the next table Marc Antonio feels maltreated by those dicks on stage and expresses himself with jittery body language. "Looks like Marc is having a stereotypical bitch at the office," says Annabel.
"Yeah, he'll be fine, once he lets off some steam," says Mia.
"I don't know, Marc doesn't look like the type of person who lets things go," replies Annabel.
"It's like they went to rock school," Marc says looking at the band’s lead singer, who pets his scarf like a ferret as he sings. "They remind me of the Goo Goo Dolls." (a telling description of Sydney’s current music situation).
"Your music makes me want to dance, I can't pay a higher compliment," says Annabel.
"When I hit that drum break on ‘Please Leave’, I knew we were the best band in the world," says Larry.

We return to Annabel's where she receives an epiphany listening to the Velvet Underground's Max's Kansas City. She somehow manages to steer the conversation back to Mick. "I don't always talk about Mick," she instructs.


The next morning, Mia and I, under Annabel's tutelage, stroll around splendid Coogee Bay on a sightseeing tour. "Mick brought his children here when they were last on tour. My friend who lives nearby told me". We make it halfway up a hillside when Annabel points down to a shady cove. "That's where I saw a carpet shark. Yeah, the pervert who later showed us his penis was swimming around it." She gulps sea air and sighs reverently. "The coast in winter has such a romantic edge."

On the way back, Mia proves herself an acute observer of nature's delights, spotting two, rare white whales larking about the bay.

Later that day, just before dinner, I produce a bottle of white wine, hoping its 'gentle creamy complexity' will excite our host, but I am mistaken. "Just because it says it's creamy doesn't mean shit because that's not how I discern my palate!"

We eat fishpie; it compliments copious booze. Soon there were just three: Marc, Larry and I. Every one else has retired. We are advised not to watch a DVD collection of New Zealand 80s pop videos, but we disobey these orders, boosting the sound up a few notches (what do you expect, we are feral and our senses have died). Brad ventures out cursing vigorously, but we disobey him too, via a gratuitous roar from Larry's gut. Annabel, who has to work the next day comes out and scolds us. We of course feel rather rude.


The tension in the air is as thick as a brick. In a very short time, our tale of fun has become a tale of woe, set to test the adhesiveness of friendships. Brad clams up quite severely, limiting his vocabulary to plurals that begin in 'p' and rhyme with 'tricks'. As a peace offering, Marc leaves Annabel his copy of VU's Max's Kansas City. A damn fine host she was. As we catch our last glimpse of Coogee, we could almost hear her chime in that brassy way of hers: "Well don't say I wasn't gracious. I am f*cking gracious!" Mid-afternoon, we’re at the airport checking in. Incredibly, Larry is allowed on board, even though he has no photo I.D. and ably serves as the poster child for dishevelment. Some time later, the aircraft touches down in an uneven fashion. On the warm Brisbane tarmac, we make our way. To curb his anxiety, Marc stuffs a cigarette into his mouth and digs for his lighter with his free hand. Seconds before lighting up, a blonde in a reflective green jacket leaps over some tape and storms up to Marc's face, gesticulating wildly. "Please don't light that! It's like a giant petrol station out here!" Marc shrugs, nonplussed. It's easy to imagine that once she turns her back, Marc lights up, takes a couple hard drags, then flicks the cigarette over his shoulder and walks ahead unmoved while behind him, a trail of fire sends the entire airport up in flames.

We find some accommodation a short distance from where the gigs are at. Opening the door to Room 56, Mia freezes cold. "Oh, I'm sorry, I must have the wrong room," she says to someone or something inside. She fumbles with the lock to Room 57 and then finally rushes in. On bed quivering in horror she takes a few hard breaths, but they don't seem to get where they need to go, so she takes a few more.
“What on earth happened?” asks Brad.
"It was like, there was this guy and his head…well, he was all bandaged up and he was in bed drinking from a straw. Then there was this woman at the door with a handful of pills filling up a glass of water. His eyes were red and he looked really sad. Man it was freaky".
"But how did those keys open the door to that room?" asks Brad.
"I've no idea."
Mia turns her attention to her travel bag and the effort required to rescue its contents after the accidental explosion of a shampoo bottle during flight QA 247. Marc nods in sympathy. "That happened to me once," he says. "But they were curries and pastries."
"Yeah?” asks Larry. “You should have saved them. They could have been kept as souvenirs at Hard Rock Café".

Later Mia, still troubled by the mummy encounter, walks outside for a recovery session on the ferny veranda. We follow her. Joining us is local underground legend Pat Ridgewell. Pat is one of Australia's most mesmerising musical talents. He has delicate, shapely hands that deserve special recognition. He uses them to peel fruit and potatoes and play unorthodox guitar chords for Small World Experience. He is a private, enigmatic person, occasionally wandering into Nietzchean forests on mental treks. He is also an utter joy. We knock back some dry ciders together, before grabbing a meal at a Chinese restaurant in Fortitude Valley. The night ends with a long session at a bar. "Is it real?" squeaks a drunken lass from the sidewalk, yanking Larry's hair through bi-fold windows. “Is it not a toupee?”


I wake up clasping Larry, my nose in his leather jacket. It smells approximately like the rabbits he keeps. We get dressed to go shopping for mainly soul records. At the bus stop, a young girl removes a samurai sword from its sheath and looks to her boyfriend for acknowledgment. "Did I do well?" It confirms suspicions that Brisbane glimmers weirdness. On the way back to the hotel, Marc spots a crippled dog hobbling across the road.
"Hey what does that dog have gaffe tape on its leg for?"
"To hold it up," replies Mia.
"What to hold its leg up?" he shrieks.

Back to the hotel for a rest and then into the city by four o' clock to shake some ass, as New Estate rock the afternoon slot at Ric's Café. The band arrive wearing spiky, studded armbands. Marc's bracelet — with its long, metal spikes — are especially worrisome. How he will manage in the bathroom one shudders to think. The band has to play a little quieter for this gig and they deliver a serene set of calm beauty.

After the show, we head straight to The Jubilee Hotel, a 10-minute walk up the road where the tables are shaped like capsules. After delicious fish and chips, we move upstairs. Here we gather around a table on the balcony to drink beer. Here too, a flannel-clad local pretends to throw up on the throng walking to Sonic Youth, who are in town and performing down the road. Then the guy did it for real in the corner of the balcony. Then he sat down and did it in his lap. His friend, who resembled a dreadlocked Gary Oldman, seems to have seen it all before — he yawns into his beer. After assuring us he would not perform, Pat picks up an acoustic guitar and wanders through a lovely set of tunes. Up next, the glorious Pits give us sunny folk rock gripped by dark undercurrents. Led by a lordly little fellow, Peter Pits, exuberantly gay, unassumingly rock, it was like watching Buck Henry front the Velvets, circa ‘69.

The noise New Estate make at the Jubilee Hotel is unearthly loud and the approach is one of musical rebellion. Larry is the engine room and the conductor. As usual, he is operating beyond the clutches of vanity. His belly pops out of his shirt, making it available for audience perusal. He flashes a shit-eating grin to the others like Levon Helm in The Last Waltz. ‘Defences Down’, Larry's falsetto-driven tour de force love ballad, finds him taming his inner Shelly Winters, while Mia and Marc duel Marquee Moon-like guitar elegies. Next Mia sings a devastating rock ballad called New Start that's punctuated by soaring Echo and Bunnymen guitars. Mia has an ear for a tune like no other, and can dash off a gem with stunning caprice. Marc Antonio sings and plays guitar too, except Marc does it like he's got the weight of the world impaled on the neck of his guitar, which most of the time he does. Marc dresses songs about life's ongoing mysteries with blazing rock and roll melodies. During his new one, ‘Wasting Time’, I totally see what Brad would later claim, over a round of rum and cokes, as being Marc's gift, an instrumental prowess that puts him next in line to the throne of Ed Kuepper or Beethoven. The band blows into his tune with messy modern rock elegance, while Marc supplies a weird kind of ferocious country strut that knocks drunks into greater stupors. Brad plucks his bass eagerly, his square-jaw tense, determined, his hair gleaming moodily like a Tasmanian pinot. The Cosier-penned ‘After it's all over’ is an instant soul classic, abetted as it is by a double platinum Reguiero riff. Their next LP is really going to kill. Larry and Marc Antonio swap instruments as the night degenerates into a crazed psych-out. As I watch Larry bang away exuberantly on one meaty chord and howl, time shifts forward and suddenly we're back in Melbourne, and here is Larry, stale from a Brisbane flight, heading to his front door minus his corrective foot insoles. He is hobbling and looking slain.

"He will go to bed in an hour and sleep for five days,” observes Mia from the passenger side window.
"Well does he have to be anywhere anytime soon?" asks her husband.
"Yeah, we're recording on Saturday."
© 2004 Shane Moritz

Monday, December 06, 2010

Dream bill

I drank a heady double scotch that left me heady heady heady, which made me think of three bands I'd like to see on a bill sometime, one of which actually exists: Scotch and the double headzonks followed by suave spew, Tut Tut Kyngs headliner. Speaking of bands that are unreal, I was so convinced of this one I checked to see if I was spelling it right: Yahtzee Germany. I think Yazi Germany is better though. This next week is going to be insane.

I'm listening to Nuggets and no it's not becuz of the TUT TUT KYNGS, well maybe it is today, but only because Toby Tut sent me these most amazing photos from their debut performance (that's Toby Tut there with the cobra helmet). Hey how about a set list, T TUT?! Or answer me this, did you cover Chocy Watchband. Check it:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Steely Dan

Pretzel Logic is my favorite album of theirs right at this moment. The album featured Jeff Baxter on guitar, but not in the picture.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Curious lasagne, sun and marsupials

It's the twenty first day of the eleventh month at a quarter to two in the afternoon two thousand and ten. I am barely thirty eight.

House party for a couple of november gurls in the english department last night and a november boy and that boy was me. I was hardly celebrated. My sweater was insulted once. Compliments outweighed the insults, still those hurtful sweater comments do linger. I took an Anvil-strength Advil this morning that has seemed to knock the Macallans 12 I imbibed last night out of the park of my headache. I can actually move my mind around a little. The English dept has rather impressive taste in booze and they all love scotch which is wonderful.

I just wrote a letter of complaint to an on-line bookseller who jacked me on a free shipping offer. The complaint is so grammatically neanderthal I'm sure they won't take any notice, but I cant put any mental energy into complaints because I feel my talents are better served elsewhere. You're probably wondering why write the complaint at all and it's a fair point, but I do feel better having done it.

After carrying on at Doug and Cindy's, I came home addicted to peanut butter and honey. This is after the enchiladas at Doug and Cindy's. My tastebuds were kind of on vacation, why else would I think it was curious lasagna with a Szechuan tincture.

I have forty pages to go with Kangaroo.

There's a charming description of a kookaburra. Then there's this recent passage, after RL bites into a custard apple:

“The warm sun, the big, blue harbour with its hidden bays, the palm trees, the ferry streamers sliding flatly, the perky birds, the inevitable shabby-looking, loafing sort of men strolling across the green slopes, past the red poinsetta bush, under the big flame-tree, under the blue, blue sky — Australian Sydney, with magic-like sleep, like sweet, soft sleep — a vast endless, sun-hot afternoon sleep with the world a mirage. He could taste it all in the soft sweet, creamy custard apple. A wonderful sweet place to drift in. But surely, a place that will some day wake terribly from this sleep.
Yet why should it? Why should it not drift marvelously for ever, with its sun and its marsupials?”

It is snowing right now. I feel some inspiration coming on and there it goes, lost in the snow-covered trees.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wild Zero

Busy couple of days they have been, or have they?

I bludgeoned my thumb spraying the cat. Whenever it gets into something it shouldn't be getting into, it gets a spray from the water bottle. The problem is my technique is one-handed and really eager, when I depress the squirter, I do it aggressively and the trigger pinches the knuckle on my thumb and it causes a lot of bloodshed. The silly thing is I just worked out the source of this injury last night. I have been wearing band-aids for a couple weeks now.
I “performed” a reading Saturday night at an event, I say “performed” because there was some whisky spillage down my sweater prior to oration and many thought it was part of the act. A groove was lacking story-wise, but it did have its moments. Six people fixed stage-front were able to hear me and make noise over the noise of the bar. The school has been screening a lot of movies and I have been attending them. On Tuesday I saw Bergman's Persona. Not my fav of his, but still uncomfortably touched by genius, is it not? His avant-destructiveness is smooth and visceral.
On Thursday I saw Milos Forman's Firemen's Ball, a charming satire about not altogether uncharmless bureaucrats. Friday there was a zombie bonanza featuring Wild Zero, a masterpiece from Japan, starring the rock band Guitar Wolf. See this as soon as you want to. I wrote part of this while someone in class read an essay they had wrote about Julian Barnes, an execrable writer. I'm less than a quarter into reading Kangaroo by DH Lawrence. Does everyone feel the same way I do about this that it is excellent (at least up to where I've got)?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Vigorously contemplating everything at once

You probably think I spend more time with Doris' cat than I do this blog, but not after the cat shit in the corner of my bedroom last Saturday, wasn't that a day to remember.

Had a nice visit with the folks, who took me to the Grand Canyon last week. Dad drove and Mom let me ride shotgun. We got rained on, but seeing the canyon floating in the blue bursting clouds like some eternal sky fortress is a never-ending visual pleasure under any meteorological circumstances, I bet. Go there when its snowing, someone said. Okay!

There's pretty authentic looking skeletons on porches smoking corn-cob pipes and skeletons in front yards half-buried in fresh dirt. Neighbors taking Halloween so serious they're stealing last year's cadavers from the mausoleum.

I didn't subject my parents to music that would give them headaches like I did the time we drove New Zealand's South Island listening to Television's blow-up on scratchy cassette. Music fit right into the landscape this time: Look Blue Go Purple, lots of Mum Smokes and Dungen 4. We had a really good time together. I wish they'd visit more often and not just because they bought me groceries either.

Been eating Mom's tortellini soup recipe. Though I think I overcooked the sausage a little. I had it again last night, been alternating between that and salads. I whipped up some salmon spread too. I should go buy a thing of pickles.

Been listening to the Ancients 2 and White Woods on repeat all day. Thanks to Steve from Sensory Projects for sending them over.

Made commitments with three beers and then been cheating on the one beer with the other two and then rotating and repeating the pattern: Kiltlifter, Trout Stout and the Marzen that is Beaver St Brewery's Oktoberfest beer. I better get down there, there's only a few more days left of that tasty sucker.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Great stuff McGuane


One of the legends that grew out of your work on The Missouri Breaks was that you wrote the script and then Marlon Brando showed up wanting to change everything. Supposedly you two holed up for a week in a motel to thrash things out. Any truth to that story?


None. The closest thing there was to that story is that Brando did have ways he wanted to do that film: he wanted to be an Indian and he had two pet wolves that he wanted to be in the movie; moreover, he wanted these wolves to kill the girl’s father, wanted them to jump up on the girl’s father’s horse and eat him. So I was told to go out to Los Angeles and see Brando and get the wolf stuff stopped. I went out there and Brando was at home and I spent a couple of days with him. I had a wonderful time but we never talked about the movie at all. We just talked about literature. You know, he’s a very erudite guy and really smart, a kind of crazy-connections smart. At the time he was reading a history of the Jesuits in Minnesota and a book about Louis Leakey’s skulls and the prehominids in Africa. He’d get up in the morning and dress, gather all of his books together, and then get back in bed with his clothes on and read all day. He’s on the verge of being downright scholarly. So that’s what we did there, and when he eventually went off and did the movie he wasn’t an Indian. I still don’t know what he was. He was this kind of tubby Irish killer. I know many people hated that goofy, wild humor he injected into the movie but I appreciated it.

read the whole interview here

Saturday, October 09, 2010

I Love Fiction

Three chapters submitted, generally well-received, sometimes bemusedly, as in this example:

“While I really enjoyed your writing my main critique is that I didn't really know what was going on. I sort of feel like someone who goes to class and doesn't comprehend a word the professor is saying but then leaves and goes, “I like that teacher's voice! It sounds nice! Also, the teacher is wearing a nice sweater!”

Today I'm off to the computer lab to make sure undergrads don't steal anything. That's my job. I'll take along some Keats and make some comparisons to the band Deerhoof. After that I will attend a grad organization meeting and get some tips on how to get Thomas McGuane here to talk.

Later still I will go to Beaver St Brewery, order hummus and drink my fill of happy hour caramel-hinted Oktoberfest ltd. ed. My fill is two, as past experience has proven that three is me repugnantly going overboard.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Biscuits & Gravy

My only sister who is also my favorite one incidentally said “biscuits and gravy don't make much sense to me after yoga! Did it happen?” Yes I told her, it did happen, I am a man of my word. I had two big ones, they came right out of the oven and were put on a large plate. The bowl of gravy was separate and I had a side egg overeasy and a sausage patty and a link combo besides. These were all washed down with several cups of diner coffee. My belly ached by the time I had cleaned my plate. All in all a good diner (off Milton before you hit the underpass, next to the Antiques and Collectables where I found a first edition True Grit last week). I was doing my homework while eating so it's all a good thing. In other news, Jesse found a photo of me kneeling beside a pigpen in a Richard Meltzer book I gave him. What a guy.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What it's like (formerly What I do)

A coyote crossed my path the other day. A big one with tall pointy ears and a mouth that dripped a lot of tongue. I braked and watched it run over the hill into deepest wilderness. As a relative of the wild dog, I never felt the fears that could get an ordinary mortal horribly ravaged. I like to ride the urban trail. Once I found myself inside a military compound where they take archery practice. My writing teacher had a knife thrown at her by the writer that I brought into class as an example of good writing. I practice yoga twice a week and I study hard at home. I watched part of Mad Max II on the tube tonight but otherwise I listen to music. Tonight it was The Chills, Ariel Pink, Ashtray Boy, Songs for Nao. Normally me and my housemate Udo (I say this because he's a dead ringer for the fab German actor Kier) listen to the Velvet Underground, Kath Bloom and the Grateful Dead. In my room, I play the Vivian Girls Everything goes wrong. The weather has been ill-conducive for reading, but I do it anyway. Tomorrow's forecast is more sunny weather.

Monday, September 13, 2010

My new best friend

Jane Dust - Summertime from Carbie Warbie on Vimeo.

What's your take on Norwood?

I'm a little deprived of Portis here. I find that deadpan style so fetching. What are you gonna name your daughter? Not Norwood I hope.

H: Norwood was fine. A quick diversion. I just think that Portis is McGuane lite. He's not laugh out loud funny and the pathos is missing. I never feel like anything bad is going to happen to his characters. I don't think I will read True Grit. On a Pitchforkian scale I give Portis a 7.2.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I rode my bike out to Buffalo Park, in what's become a regular circuit. It's a faux-training facility, which means there are lot of people there looking silly in loud expensive nylon. They choose a number of different tracks depending on what kind of workout they want. I usually just turn around once I'm there. Sometimes I don't have a choice. Last week there was a race on and the time before that I stripped my crank arm and my pedal fell off.

Instead of going home I acted like I was going to the Grand Canyon (74 mi) and hit the museum a few miles down. I'm now at a family-run corner eatery eating a jalapeno burger, staring at Humphrey's Peak. I thought if I moved outside there'd be fewer flies and I was right. I'm glad the proggy classic rock that I heard indoors is still thumping and wailing away out here from some wire and speaker deal. I'm writing with an Eraser Mate. Fuck don't buy an eraser mate. They can't write with a darn and they cost a pretty penny.

This is a really good burger. The girl serving me sure is glum. I wonder if she's always like that or if something terrible happened to make her act that way. The other possibility is that it's Saturday and she's inside on a beautiful day serving half pound burgers and she's vegetarian and her chihauhau just got taken by a hawk. The call came through just before I showed up. I was feeling glum too until I went through the Ed Mell show at the museum of northern Arizona. That perked me up. Ed Mell does these cubist clouds and rocks capturing the impossibly weird depth perception of these one-of-a-kind landscapes. His cloudburst visions are heavenly. This infernal one is called Surrounding storm and it's a beaut. I wish Mia was here with me to see it

Maynard Dixon's a big influence on Mell. Funnily I was just reading about Dixon yesterday. Thomas McGuane had this to say:

"To me, no painter has ever quite understood the light, the distances, the aboriginal ghostliness of the American West as well as Maynard Dixon. The great mood of his work is solitude, the effect of land and space on people. While his work stands perfectly well on its claims to beauty, it offers a spiritual view of the West indispensable to anyone who would understand it."

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Shia Laboof

I had fun watching Disturbia, a taut rewrite of Rear Window set in Disturbia, the disturbing burbs. Shia Laboof plays a disturbed teenager who throttles his Spanish teacher because he's angry about this whole bereavement thing (the least convincing part of the entire production), and gets a bracelet strapped to his ankle that will beep if he crosses the property threshold and he don't want that particularly with the Spanish teacher's cuisine working the case. He's an ass and will rough him up, if necessary, and does because there's events that force Shia to leave the house like the kids who light dog doogie on fire and leave it on his doorstep. Shia finds out too late what it is; he's already stomped the flame. Setting off down the street after them he gets to flaunt his running form and that should be a integral competent of any Laboof cinematic characterization. The housebound voyeur turns super-sleuth because it's exciting and he has nothing else to do since he Mom disconnected his gameboy and canceled his iTunes (it would have been a different movie if he had his iTues). If he calls the police, they might just solve the case and then he'd be bored again, plus he doesn't like cops for what they put on his leg. Furthermore we wouldn't have this movie. In a supporting role, David Morse owes something to Terry O' Quinn's Stepfather but really it's a great individual performance and he is very convincing. An uptown girl moves next door, who is Laboof's age and she adequately update's Grace's role.

Shila's Mom looks just like Royal Chord's Eliza Hiscox, always a good thing when Mom's look like those girls, I reckon.

Laboof underplays the whole thing rather well.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

We Have a Skunk

I'm listening to Prairie Home Companion on the radio and eating a Red Baron Supreme with a Riesling from Washington State. The frozen pizza was left behind by recently departed housemate. I have practically eaten the whole goddamn thing. The wine is mine, I opened it four days ago.

Yesterday morning after yoga I sat at a window seat at Rendezvous cafe facing Mountain Sports formerly Mission Ice Cream (See view from Mountain Sports formerly MIssion Ice Cream).

Yoga was tough, newcomers like me get to do it for free, breathing was tough too, high altitude and whatnot, I was hyperventilating like a frightened rabbit. The neat thing about going to Rendezvous Cafe afterwards was that I was fantasizing about going there during some grueling routines and now there I was there!!! Chair was hard on my tush, but the coffee was nice and they were playing some attention-grabbing drone rock I just had to ask the lady who it was.

Soon after there came a yell from across the bar, "Smashing Pumpkins!" Looking back I think I'll stop asking waitresses what music they're playing because every time it's something embarrassing that I end up regretting. I should have yelled back "never heard of them!" and hunched over my bagel like a creepy weird guy. It was Cheers compared to the joint I went to after my English Department orientation. Got treated by a second-class citizen by the bartender even though the place was empty. Arrogant bastard. Tellingly, that's what I had ordered, an arrogant bastard ale and thankfully it was delicious.

Eng Dept orientation went well. All my professors are mad about Australia and my Aussie accent, curiously enough. I've decided to go full Aussie like Kirk in Tropic Thunder goes full retard. Said goodbye to one of my professors, a doctor, whilst I discussed Ivy Compton-Burnett with a Brit Lit major and then I lost my train of thought talking to the Lit major wondering whether that was a cross look the professor gave me for calling her by her first name.

I stepped in what I'm pretty sure is skunk guano earlier today. There was a big mess of it in the driveway. You probably think it smells worse than any other kind out there on account of it being from le skunky pew. I'm here to tell you that it is not that bad (closer to tar seemingly), but even so, you don't want to be dragging it into your room like I did.

The skunk nearly opened its odious glands on Doris' cat Laurie last Saturday night. Out on the balcony, I saw its fluffy white plumage sprouting amongst the bushweeds. Knowing Laurie was out there, I panicked a little. Doris was in Tucson. What if the cat showed up at the back door covered in awful goo, barfing. I would have to call Doris and tell her that I had disowned the revolting creature. She's an inquisitive cat. A confrontation was inevitable. The skunk waddled over to a small pine tree, Laurie launched herself at the white and black stink machine and the skunk hissed back, the cat sauntered off. That was one discrete deployer of its own stink. If I was a skunk I'd stain the suburb in rancid funk for simply something to du.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Moods of Flagstaff

I'm presently deprived of a certain level of urbanity that Susan (Hepburn's character) brings to Bringing Up Baby. Puts me in a funny mood. I like it. It's on TV.

Today third day in Flagstaff and attacked by more mood swings. Sent the department a terse email about desperately needing financial help, probably not the most tactful, but I was getting weirded out about getting severely in the hole. Read Knut Hamsun's Mysteries as a distraction. Brilliant.

I shipped boxes and flew Alaska, which is quicker than driving. Boxes arrived before I did, which makes sense when you learn I left five days after the boxes did. Opened the box that my stereo was in and it was crushed, not the box, but the stereo. Complained to Greyhound, who expressed no sympathy, they faxed the form to the claims manager who is yet to get in touch.

House is roomy and quiet when I'm not playing tunes. Housemate Doris knows Swedish interprets Dungen lyrics and enjoyed the Chills' Kaleidoscope World when I played it earlier. Other housemate works at a bank and drinks Muscle Milk. Drives a Pontiac sports car, a contemporary Fiero, I presume. He said he'll take me for a spin when he gets back from Palm Springs next week. He had nothing to do with me moving in.

The open-plan living area is kind of angular, ceilings vaulted with pueblo-like curved render and a fancy corner fireplace that will be a treat in winter when there's snow up to our eyelashes. The neighborhood and surrounding village are alarmingly suburban, but perhaps useful for perverse prose ideas. Technically two miles from campus, but there's a raw psychological distance that's presently unnerving, but won't be for long once bike is operational.

Still acquiring home essentials: bought and assembled a bed today, bought and tapped a half gallon of dry gin ($14.97), picked up a reading lamp, two white storage cubes from Target, 500 q-tips, a scroll of bog-standard dental floss, a butterscotch plastic crate, one quart of tonic water. Bike arrived in its box today from HIllsboro (appears undamaged) and I put that together too (tire needs air and the chain is still off).

Some of you will be pleased to know I have expanded my diet beyond zucchini bread and hardboiled eggs. A local salmonella outbreak has people literally walking on eggshells made of scrambled tofu. Me and the Pontiac-driving housemate bbq'd some sirloin last night. He ragged on the jalapeno relish I bought and deservedly so, as it was a tad underwhelming. After a few beers, he read out a ten page paper he wrote on gender bias in the workplace.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Animal Magnetism

I left the house on foot which is an interesting story in itself because mostly I take my bike. But due to complications for the life of me I am unable to articulate at this time, I walked down sunny Airport Road (named that because if you keep going you'll get the next flight to Des Moines). Thought to myself, it's good to get out of the house every once in a while.

Immediately came in contact with a squirrel who asked for whatever snacks I was carrying. When I said I didn't carry any snacks, he dashed. Moving on, I wondered why my parents never moved to the country. Dad needs his golf and I understand the country has plenty of those, but he also needs a more diverse social network, of which we all know the beach (where they spend most weekends) only has one and its transient and full of bums. Country likely to drive them equally insane. Meanwhile Mom, she shops till she drops. Impulsively too. She sprang up and bolted for Home Depot at quarter to nine last night. Dad had no idea where she went. She came home later and boasted of six rolls of packing tape for twelve bucks. Rocking the suburbs.

I myself like the excellent reserve located opposite Costco where I consider it good luck if I spot a red-winged blackbird or a great blue heron. Lately I've been bickering to myself about the dearth of lucky sightings, only had one this summer. With this occupying my mind, I saw a deer coming out of Costco and entering the glade on the right.

I sat cross-legged under the canopy of a big pine tree and observed the youngster. The deer, perhaps a teen, with velvet knobs protruding from its head, was relaxed enough to munch on some weeds, while I sat astonished that the venison backstrap I had eaten over at Dirk's the night before didn't morally outrage my tum-tum and cause me to quiver. Curious, the deer started towards me. It came within fifteen feet. I made a note. “I can't tell you how immensely curious this creature is. Can't say it's operating with a full deck. It's just so damned inquisitive, a characteristic I didn't think deers could afford to have. Fans from an industrial plant whir in the forefront.” The doe ran back to Costco when I tried to feed her some blackberries I had picked especially for her. Hungry for another cheese and wienie sampler, I presumed. A bit breathless I sat down at a park bench inside the reserve, while a vulture and a helicopter competed for airspace above. I thought a lot about my animal magnetism after this deer almost jumped me.

There's a letter in this month's Vanity Fair responding to an article by Christopher Hitchen's entitled Martin, Margaret and Me. The Martin of course is Mr. Amis. Yet to investigate who this Margaret is; at a guess I'd say Mitchell who authored Gone with the Wind. Not actually sure if the reader read the article because all she mentioned was the photo spread, Amis' gaze, his animal magnetism. His gaze is just like Byron's, she writes, as if she went to school with Byron or something. I once remarked at a party with a cat on my lap that lately cat's have been curiously drawn to me. I said this with utmost sincerity, of course, and of course one of Sean's friends dismissed it as a sly pick-up line because I'm a sensitive guy.

Normally I take my iPOD on these critter-watching expeditions; a half-arsed foray if there ever was one. Imagine Jim Harrison, whose brilliant memoir Off to the Side I just finished, taking his iPOD with him on a hunt. It'd never happen. Harrison loves the sound of the wild and so do I, to a certain degree, but sooner or later, I'd want to pump Pavement through the Sequoias at full volume. I suppose this fact makes me a city boy. I must say I rather liked visiting the reserve without my iPOD. I had it in my pocket but never played it.

In addition to the blackbirds and heron, I'm also fond of an ugly white carp with a peachy face who feeds on the pond's bottom. I rarely see it; been tracking the ole boy for weeks now, the time I did see it, he followed me around the pond magnetically.

After the deer run-in, I walked to the pond and came down to a sunny opening between the reeds and looked to my left, and lo and behold, the magnificent black splotches and white silvery scales of the elusive carp! What a vision! At the same time rather chilling too. Did Melville have this palate in mind? I watched it for twenty minutes slithering through the mossy caverns, disappearing and then its silver body would become visible through the dirty brown weeds once again. It followed me around the pond, probably not enough for me to say I was truly magnetic, but there was something pretty special going on there between us for at least ten feet or so.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Letter to the Editor

Thanks to Seaside police

A public thank you to the Seaside Police Department. I was digging clams on the beach when I lost my hearing aid. I thought that was the end of that and would have to replace it.

We returned home Wednesday and my wife received a call from the Seaside Police Department and was told a gentleman found it on the beach and turned it in. Dispatcher Andrea Toombs went out of her way to contact the manufacturer of the aid, learned my identity through the serial number, contacted the retailer to find my address and mailed the hearing aid to me!

I received it today and it works fine. Andrea is truly a credit to the Seaside Police Department and a fine reflection of the community of seaside.

Richard D
Lake Oswego, Ore.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hanging w Dirk

My brother Dirk likes it when we're hanging out and I start diligently scribbling away in my notepad. He's always striving to do something worthy of record. I was over at his place the other morning making notes – something about Thomas Berger, who on one hand is an awesome genius, yet on the other, is his syrupy slapstick too addictive in large doses? (No). For all his finesse there's also a latent maleness that overwhelms (everything about his style is too much, even the nuances). So anyway I'm transcribing these ordinary thoughts just moments after Dirk had stumbled into the room and overturned a cup of coffee on his tank top and shorts and all over the carpet. He handed me a couple rashers of perfectly cooked bacon he kept in his spare hand and went to the kitchen to get a rag.

When he came back into the room he saw me munching on the bacon and scribbling away and immediately thought I was documenting his blunders. He acknowledged me as one does an asshole.“You writing about this?” I told him I wasn't but he seemed far from reassured. My brother thinks I will do anything to discredit his person.

Dirk recommended Year One and it was a good Mel Brooks-style comedy full of all kinds of good performances. I'd happily sit through that again. I'd also sit through Blue Oyster Cult again and I would probably have to because I almost got my ass kicked for standing.

We were at their show on Friday night at Chinook winds, a casino retreat on the coast and stood up when they busted out a blazing Burnin' for You. I was bopping along there when something hit me What felt like ice. It happens again and I see a gray-haired doofus, quite tall, in a tie-dye t-shirt straighten up and yell at my face for blocking the view. I yell back at him for not being polite about it and then I call him a human embarrassment. Security came over and after several heated exchanges, we get away.

For some ungodly reason Foghat headlined and they royally sucked. Best thing about Foghat was their well-stocked merch desk. Dirk was less than impressed. “Hats should just say Fog. They're already a HAT!” He was right of course.

We ate brekkie at Sambo's the next morning. Their portions are much too large for mere mortals. Exiting the restaurant, there's an amputee in a fluro vest directing cars but the cars aren't paying attention. The lot doesn't seem full enough to require it.. How was everything, he asked Dirk and Dirk screamed “what do they expect me to eat 4 pigs in a blanket!” and the amputee replied “hey you go to pig n pancake up the road, they don't give you enough!”

A discussion regarding the immensity of those servings continued on the way home. My view: “If Sambo started serving smaller portions there'd be protesters outside boycotting them until they reinstated the number of pigs in a blanket from three to four.”

Dirk took me to a pig roast/kegger later that day at his neighbor's house way up in the hills on this brilliant wilderness acreage with ponds and shifting elevations and dense foliage and giant trees. It was full of real woodsmen-like eccentrics. They regaled me with near-mythological tales of Northwest anti-heroes from the 70s. I hung on to their words riveted. Denis Johnson would have been tumescent.

The next morning we watched Touch of Evil. I had forgotten how devastating Quinlan's relationship to Pete Menzies' was and by the end of it I was in tears that I had to hide from Dirk or else he think his little bro a big pussy.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Leonard Michaels could take his short stories anywhere he wanted and he did, and he never needed to buy them a chocolate finger afterwards although that probably would have been nice. The New Yorkers populating his stories observe hilarious pretensions, smoke cigars and wear nice jackets. I may do one of those things very well. They are self-loathing sartorialists, which is great because it's a phase I went through the other day momentarily when all of a sudden I found myself in the chinos section at Ross-Dress-for-Less and a pair of delectable CK slacks were opening their pantlegs for me (snagged the last pair too).

Michaels' characters go to orgiastic parties where ecstasy and death are interchangeable. I probably wouldn't go to a party where ecstasy and death was interchangeable, nor would that description pique my interest; in fact I would go so far as to say that is the most unflattering description I have ever heard, but having said all that and knowing what I now know, I would go to a party where ecstasy and death were interchangeable in order to read a book where ecstasy and death were interchangeable at parties.

Given the sophisticated milieu Michaels is mining, I find it refreshing the number of times people puke in his stories. Also the heart attacks are the most accurately described I've encountered in contemporary America. But to be honest, as besotted as I am with Mr. Michaels, I can't help but feel that I would be a little letdown if he was Al Pacino's size.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Me, Tim, Mac & Cheese, H & Matt and Malkmus at Ariel Pink

Nine dollar mac and cheese at Doug Fir Lounge with unlimited bread for $9.95. Beer cost barely anything but seeing that Tim had some in his Jeep down a side street we got in there and finished them. H joined us. I was meant to put Tim's sunglasses in there and I believe I did, but I couldn't find them the next day. We sat in there listening to a break-up song by Ween called I don't want it from the album Quebec featuring a spine-tingling psychedelic guitar solo from Dean. Tim then told me he's divorcing his wife. My phone rang, it was my future housemate in Flagstaff calling to tell me that the woman we were going to share a house with has reneged on the deal. This really threw me off center. I pounded the seat and cursed (two days later my future housemate would find his own place, stranding me like Brisbane did the Saints).

Back inside the Doug Fir, we found Matt Neff who was pissed we hadn't called him. I said we got our wires crossed and told him twice in the space of three minutes that I lost the Flagstaff house and then caught myself repeating myself. Frazzled. Popped outside. H came out and said, "Malkmus is in there with his wife sitting on the left!” I went in there to see if I could find them, but I was looking on the right.

Opening acts didn't move me one iota.

Ordered a whisky at the bar and saw Malkmus and his wife walking by, so I lunged and got his shoulder. I was so drunk probably didn't leave the best impression. Introduced him to Tim, who hi-fived him. Kept all of my charm on reserve until after they left. I kept asking him if Pavement were touring Arizona and refused to take no for an answer.

Pink's Haunted Graffiti electrified our ear canals with pleasure. I saw Malkmus smiling at the band next to H. He had a foodstain on his shoulder – I figured his kids must have did that.

Hungry afterwards, Tim and I went to Galaxy for karaoke and delicious Chinese appetizers presented in a three-tiered platter. We waited an hour to sing Spandau Ballett, then left. Woke up on the floor of his place. He got up and said what's that smell? I said I smell it too, it's really disgusting. He went to the kitchen and came back. “I've been slow-roasting hot dogs all night!” One had jumped from the pan and made it halfway up the carpeted stairs, before petering out. We both sat there trying to figure out what this lone sausage's ultimate objective was.

Actual performance discussed here

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Hillsboro market

Went with my parents to the Hillsboro market after riding my bike to Freddy's through a heatwave for the new New Yorker - the one with the twenty best fictioners under 40 inside. Freddy's didn't have it, but I did notice that if you go on-line you can read grueling stuff about each of them on how they got to be where they are today. Lots of uncertainty and mental anguish. Personally I'll be surprised if one or two make it to 40.

Market was cool on hot pavement. I kind of regret not buying the dolmados the charmless Mediterranean dude was hocking, but as I said he lacked charm. Had two razeberry beers. They were good, but would not have wanted a third. Watched my mother try a newfangled health concoction and then shrug grimly like she was Alan Partridge. The vendor's perma-grin chagrined which has been a problem with toothy vendors ever since the Hillsboro market started up again.

Standing next to cousin Kenny's bbq stall was the husband of my sister-in-law's bride's maid, Liz. Bill played in the Fender benders who played at my college graduation. Bill recommended Kenny's, particularly the brisket burrito. “He's Liz's ex,” he added. I was staggered. “What, Liz once married her cousin!”

Beer and burrito made up for the disappoint of the old book shop being taken over by new owners. I had to ask where the literature section was and the girl says these here are the classics. I said so what these are all the old dead guys and she says John Steinbeck's still alive and I said Steinbeck's been dead for thirty years!

Ran into Norm and Dorothy outside. Norm has the distinction of being my high school counselor and marrying my Mom's sister Dolores. Together they had two children, Shari and Jody. When Dolores left Norm, she married Derald. Norm married Dorothy and they had a Jody themselves giving Norm two Jody's. Norm and Dorothy's Jody wasn't there that day, as opposed to the last Hillsboro Market when she was. Norm and dolores' Jody on the other hand I have never seen there, which doesn't mean she doesn't attend just that my Hillsboro Market appearances have been infrequent. Norm and Dorothy also had a son named Mark who suggested me and him get a place together around the time Jody married a hunter in their parent's backyard. That never eventuated. Derald and Dolores didn't have any kids, but Derald once caddied for Glen Campbell in Palm Springs.

Sandy and Kenny (not cousin kenny, but Kenny who ran a local tire shop for a number of years in Hillsboro before letting the son who looks just like him take over ) were also there with their antique cars and standard poodles. A haggard looking lady licking cotton candy rather extremely let the big poodle lick the extraneous bits off her face. I brought this to my Mom's attention before we went to the car because Dad was feeling grumpy.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Serious time for an interesting man

Walker Percy's Mentalist Prose

“Not in a thousand years could I explain it to Uncle Jules, but it is no small thing for me to make a trip, travel hundreds of miles across the country by night to a strange place and come out where there is a different smell in the air and people have a different way of sticking themselves into the world. It is a small thing to him, but not me...

“Me, it is my fortune and misfortune to know how the spirit presence of a strange place can enrich a man or rob a man, but never leave him alone, how if a man travels lightly to a hundred strange cities and cares nothing for the risks he takes, he may find himself No one and Nowhere.”

- The Moviegoer (1961)

title of this post borrowed from The Cannanes's utterly undetestable Beautiful Name (words D. Nichols)

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Sock it to me

8pm yesterday met Matt Neff at Rom Toms for pilsner. I needed the one they call Bayern to vacate the space in my head that was occupied with school hassle: measles vaccinations, tuition fees, classes being dropped and then reinstated, international money transfers; these all had to be dealt with handily and overcome. Hell I even went to my parents' bank and urgently opened a couple of accounts. The bank manager, an energetic Latino, probably thought I was gay.

I'm listening to the Bob Quine VU Tapes. It's 75 degrees Fahrenheit and I'm outside as per the silver Jews' song. I'm of the opinion that presently there's nothing else that matters musically than these shitty sounding Quine tapes, particularly these savory sister Rays that are easily the length of a wildlife documentary and considerably more animalistic.

After Rom Toms, I put my crumpler in Matt's bimmer and we walked to East End, a punk club on a street corner a few blocks east of the waterfront where all kinds of industrial shit goes down. Matt handed me a two dollar German lager in a tall boy can, the Wipers came on the jukebox and we went and sat down at the table where Mikey and Danny Young of Eddy Current suppression Ring were sitting. Mikey said “you look familiar did we see you in Seattle last night?” I repeated to Mikey and Danny the same thing I said to Matt. Last time I saw you (at Billboard in December), I threw my back out. Visits to the masseuse, the physio and finally the osteopath over the next three months cost me a lot. Mikey bought me a beer, I bought their CD, had the band sign it and after a real good set from local punks, Blood Beach, they tore the roof off the place. Back at Matt's place we had a real good cry to side one of derek and the dominos.

Hey twenty six minutes into this twenty eight minute Sister Ray and I'm getting a little bored with it. Wait it just picked up again. Oh yeahhh. Sock it to me Lou!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

4.30am, via Jacana

Sans deodorant for the duration of my intercontinental air transit (20+ hours). Ended up stinking rather badly.

Started in Jacana when I asked my usually accommodating driver if he could spare some roll-on and he said I could if i would but i don't so I won't. He wasn't carrying; he's not a user and it's not an issue because he smells fine, in fact I would go so far as to say he is mostly unscented.

5.45am. In the throes of final boarding for a flight to Brisbane, Sheryl Crow comes on the PA singing that song my mate Clarkey says makes her wanna hurl. I secretly adored this track up until the moment when its sentiment "If it makes you happy, why do you have to be so sad" became so goddamn appropriate it made me wanna hurl too.

On the plane sleep-deprived and deliriously Sheryl Crowed, I read Saul Bellow's Henderson the Rain King and am suddenly overcome by inspiration. I have a novel idea and it's a novel one and spend the next hour attempting to bottle it. In hindsight, the idea relies rather heavily on Henderson's considerable hiney, but it's a start. I'm besotted with Henderson's voice. I like this description of an ostrich: "How ostriches could bear to run so hard in this heat I never succeeded in understanding. I got close enough to see how round his eyes were and then he beat the earth with his feet and took off with a hot wind in his feathers, a rusty white foam behind."
Now I'm a fan of the on-demand set-up of in-flight entertainment I just wasn't impressed with the selections being offered. I watched The Ghostwriter by Roman Polanski first and got bored so fast I skipped ahead to the good parts of which there were none.

Watched a smug John Cusack in the Actor's Studio. Stopped watching it once his career dried up (circa being John Malkovich)

On Jesse's advice, I ordered cognac. The steward flew upstairs to get me it and came back exclaiming oh yummy I was smelling it the whole way! Sat down to watch Extreme Fishing in preparation for my brother's humorous tales of fishing the local waterways. The show stars a failed British actor named Gregson Robb (that's not his real name and did he fail in porn were thoughts that occurred simultaneously).

Ordered a red wine and watched a jolly good episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm with catherine O' Hara as Funkhauser's deranged sister fresh from the nuthouse.

After this I put on a disgustingly-poor doco about that Austrian guy who kept his daughter in the basement. Managed about ten minutes of that before it became intolerable.

In LA, I laid down a wad of cash just so I could arrive in Portland eight hours earlier than I was supposed to. The United bird suggested I repack one of my bags in order to make weight or cough up a $100 for checking in a bag that's overweight. I went to the side counter, got down on my knees, sore from drunken dancing, and rummaged through the contents teeming with delicates, hip-hugging undies and French auteur box sets (not mutually exclusive), stuff getting agitated as I sweated to get my suitcase ten pounds less heavy in front of a crowd of interested onlookers.

After changing my flight I phoned Mom to update her. Thankfully she was home and she hit me with a lot of impertinent questions, which I could barely hear because this cleaning lady behind me insisted on running her vacuum at the back of my heels. I told her the call was costly and the cleaning lady said okay, alright like the new estate song and then Mom said I'm bringing the kids (she's a bigwig local babysitter) and I said just warn them I stink okay.

Friday, June 11, 2010

They’re just songs by boys from two years ago

First ten songs that came on my shuffle on 2nd March 2008

Robot factory, Swell Maps
Security, The Saints
Slide, Luna
Are you old enough?, The Reels
Baby Comes Around, Ariel Pink
Postal Blowfish, GBV
Nothing Indeed, Minutemen
Sympathetic Anesthetic, Fire Engines
Cryptograms, Deerhunter
Woman and Man, Ween

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Diaphanous sand crab vs striped skink observed from a hammock during the final stretch of a great read*

If not for two dark all-seeing orbs the sand crab would be wholly diaphanous.

The lightning quick skink not quick enough on this occasion. Using its claw, the crab squeezes the life from the amphibian and then lassoes it around violently like a length of rope. The crab retreats down its hole when Dirk comes up keen to discuss alternative treatments for a scrape he received snorkeling. Apparently he was out of breath and lunged for the surface, arching his back like so and a jagged bit of coral lacerated his beehind. I pointed to the skink, he left for some paw paw.

Moments elapse, before the crab deems the coast clear and returns to collect lifeless skink. Skink arises and in a last gasp tries to escape, but the diminutive beach beast coolly collects him in his claw tightens his grip like a vice. Back-up arrives in the form of three neighbouring crabs, scuttling near. Crab with claw-toting skink does not appreciate this — having back-up — and begins dancing angrily in the sand. The three crabs exchange sneaky glances. Should they at least go for the tail the skink shed in fright a few centimetres from the hole. It's all over I reckon when the crab drags the skink into its hole, but incredibly, the skink pops its head up moments later, only to see the head pulled down as quickly as it popped up, the skink dragged down to the dungeon of its unquestionable demise.

I told Mom what had happened and she got pretty upset. "That's sick," she said, to which Dirk, lathered in a treatment that would cause an unpleasantly stingy reaction virtually unending, replied, "no Mom, that's life and death on the beach!"

*the reading material in question, Thomas Berger's Vital Parts, revisits the strangely enriching misadventures of Carl O. Reinhart, who, at age 44, is hitting all kinds of incendiary comic pinnacles. I would loan the book to my dear sister-in-law who would just as quickly hand it back to me and in her gruff voice protest: "he's a pervert, right?"

"He's man treating desire simply at its most base level, Pam."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Boy makes a frivolous delivery

collecting parcels from here next year

I haven't been doing much. Mostly a lot of reading. I saw Shutter Island, arguably Martin Scorsese’s most insufferable film. There was a lot of personal anxiety I had to neutralise in order to get through it. Michelle Williams is very good, though in it only briefly and Dicaprio gets an A for Effort, D for delivery.

They showed a trailer for Prince of Persia beforehand. I was more in the mood for that one and I’m never in the mood for crap like that. Every utterance from Jake Gyllenhall’s mouth was so deliciously unironic it totally became the opposite of that. But as my new Irish poet friend Sean says irony is always there like city streets and he points outside the shop front and sure enough the streets are still there. I took Jesse to this great Pho restaurant on Victoria St before the movie. I don’t know it’s name, I only know it by sight, it does have Pho in the title. Eight dollars for a big regular with rare beef and chili, lemon, mint and sprouts on the side.

There is a concerning gap between the quality of books I am reading and the quality of sentences that I am writing. Still the man of letters in me must persist.

Barry Hannah’s Airships is so mind-blowing I have added it to my list of fav books. I’m giving it to my new poet friend who I met yesterday at the book shop down from where I had breakfast. I don’t know the name of it, but the café is the Ginger Lee and that’s what I et, the Ginger Lee signature dish: poached eggs, bacon, toast and red dipping sauce. Sean witnessed some marriage documents and I turned him on to Thomas Berger. I stayed through the entirety of the Mercury Rev album chatting to him. He introduced me to Al Purdy, this Canadian poet and I wrote my email on the back of a poem that he wrote on Saturday after being up all night. I’m going to go back in there on Saturday. You should drop in too if you’re around, Sean’s gonna be there all day.

More books I’ve read:

by Charles Portis. I finished this upon arrival in Bendigo. Like all Portis novels, it’s very pleasurable. He’s top 5 funny fucker when it comes to smoothly capturing goofy American naivete. Like McGuane his novels are all kind of similar. Thomas Berger on the other hand, whiz-bang funny man, explodes genres for beer and skittles. I just read The Feud which surprised me how perfect it was. You know what’s far from perfect: Lorrie Moore’s Gate at the Stairs. It misfires a lot. She writes well on grief, but there’s almost an overdose of Lorrie going on here. All the characters make Lorrie Moore jokes even the Arab. It’s like Jerry Seinfeld playing every character on Heroes or something. The jokes continue to fly even when the story turns unbearably grim and that’s one bus you either get on or run from.

In Bendigo, we ate porterhouse and drank local varietals. Frances and Stephen, my splendiferous hosts, didn’t seem to mind me talking about my problems and they were only too happy I play them hirsute rock music from Sweden as long as I discussed my recent encounters with celebrity (true).

Poor Frances was trying to sleep and Stephen and I were banging things to the primitive sounds of Beat Happening. She made her point by locking me out of the house, apologising subsequently (an honest mistake). I prepared vegetables for a roast the next day, while her and Stephen went to the shop for a chicken.

We ate chicken and vegetables and watched Moon the movie made by David Bowie’s son and starring Sam Rockwell, who is fun to watch. It’s a heckuva movie but for chrissakes don’t watch the extras, it’s a half hour of your life you will bitterly want back. I went to bed after that and read some more of the Robert Lowell biography by Ian Hamilton.

The next day Fran and Steve took me to the Bendigo Art Gallery, which is something to see. I liked the pottery dogs, Frances liked the fridge. Not sure what Steve liked but it wasn’t the Whitely’s that I know because he said as much.

Anyone reading this wants the Robert Lowell bio let me know because I’m selling it back to the bookshop on Lygon st. this Saturday. It’s mostly heartbreaking, but gee I’m glad I read it. And it’s scholarship is immense.

I watched that movie Stepbrothers about these two guys with bigheads and bad attitudes. Poor Mary Steenburgen. She seems happy with that face made of leather.

I applied for the Creative Writing program at a few places, most of whom regret to inform me they didn’t like me that much, they didn’t say whether they liked me even a little. Anyways Northern Arizona did and I’m starting there in the Fall.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

You can't have him

Was just listening to sister Lovers/third on my way to work this morning because I do that when I’m sad not knowing the immortal alex Chilton had actually died. RIP AC I felt like you and me were tight. His music had so much goddamn life in it and that’s why I always turned to it because in those times I obviously needed it. He gave me life.

Monday, March 15, 2010


I have two friends both called Tristan. One is very slight of build and the other is something of a tank. The bigger fella I’m not as close to, but he got last night’s setlist and that’s why I’m bringing it up: 27 mind-blowing cuts to stroke the ear. Their arsenal of song is astounding.

At one point in the show I heard an indignant guy yell out: this ain't heavy metal!

Well it's the closest I've come to heaven. I really don’t know how I physically existentially managed to see Malkmus on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (life presently in disarray), but I did and I did it with a fervour usually reserved for bundles of dynamite. Dreams came true all over the place.

The band couldn’t stop smiling. They sounded incredibly special and loud enough to drown out my furious belting of their tunes. Get these five guys in a big room with their toys and as stupid as it sounds, magic happens.

I took some notes in an attempt to explain their charms to myself and to an audience on the radio earlier in the week.

Can we start with Stephen’s voice and what comes out of it?

* I find it very stimulating. Couldn’t do an entire album of Steve a capella — no I need the rest of it.

* The first song I ever heard was Half a Canyon off Wowee Zowee, the opening yelp perfectly encapsulating how I felt at the time. I was 24 and a mite bit angsty.

* The lyrics have a literary-bent. Discuss the appeal of riddle-speak and a bands' charms partly these inscrutable secrets.

* A pose that is ironic in the sense that he’s not self-important enough to think that his words can feed Africa. Doubly ironic is that his words are vastly more quotable than Bono’s. Triply ironic is whether Bono gives a shit when he’s on the golden toilet in his jet and no he does not.

Malkmus seems to pretend he doesn’t care and there’s something alluring about that, but the fact of the matter is, he cares more than you would ever know, except he doesn’t care much about the videos Pavement made otherwise they wouldn’t all stink. They’re okay I guess (the vids), pretty corny and fail to reflect the art-damaged aesthetic of their sleeves, and that’s what bribles.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Pip Proud

Pip died. David has more information on his blog. Mia says he’s in a better place hanging with Bach and Mozart. Perhaps he’s having a beer with Barry Hannah as we speak.

Here’s a review I wrote a few years back about Pip's first gig in forty years. Thanks to Ariel Pink for recognizing a true outsider and making it happen. If this performance was any indication, Pip's poetic fires raged undiminished until the end. You can’t ask more from a life than that.

Ariel Pink, Pip Proud, East Brunswick Hotel, Melbourne

Could Pip slip? Don’t know, but our nerves sure shake. Last time Pip played was pre-Woodstock, for goodness sake. Since then, the far-out Oz folksinger’s been speaking to angels and literally blinded by love - a 37-year hiatus. Our faith is restored the moment he starts singing about ‘dueling dildos’ – with suction sounds added for shits and giggles.

Fronting an unfathomable rhythm — sitar moans, eerie keyboard drones and the like — Pip and the guitar girl duet: “Will you tell me about Los Angeleeeze? Where they stripteeeze all day and all night, will you tell me?”
“You don’t want to know!” she cautions, while drummer David Nichols hypnotises us into believing he’s Mo Tucker.
“Tell me, you bitch,” Pip pleads and so on. It’s really something else.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

RIP Barry Hannah

“The canned dream of the South is something I’ve resisted my entire career; it disgusts me,” Hannah said. “And being Southern isn’t always a graceful adjective; it’ll kill you sometimes. Often, it’s shorthand for ‘Don’t bother reading this because it’s just gonna be a lot of porches and banjos.’”

more from a profile written by Wells Tower in 2008

When I came in to work this morning after being out all night with my barber there was an email from H telling me Barry Hannah had died. Barry was 67 – my number in third grade basketball. I had my own trading card and everything. I was four foot ten and eighty five pounds. I was a natural blonde. I wanted to be a coal miner. But enough about me. Barry was a strange writer and a true love of mine (different from being lovers) and like most things in life that I love I have trouble describing why it is that I love it more than the next thing. Often with me it comes down to a writer of special sentences and Barry was one. He didn’t write non sequiturs per say, but his sentences would take you to unexpected places and that blazing talent of his was enchanting to me and a constant reminder of why reading is such an unearthly delight.