Sunday, April 29, 2007

april 27-28 debrief pt 3

So here are a few bits and pieces from what I got. The Red Onions album (top) was my most expensive purchase, $25 which didn't seem absurd and though I only played two or three tracks before Mia wanted to watch the news I think it was a good buy. Pretty sure that's Geoff from the Crayon Fields' dad in front of the washboard thar. Dave Warner's last album for Mushroom, Correct Weight, much better than I expected for what the $1 price tag suggested. Air Supply I am not yet sure about. The 3 Little Pigs record pretty much one of those artefacts that seems worth the 20c asked for its status as a curio. The cover claims it is a 'Sambo' record, the label that it is a 'Kiddidisc' product. It would appear that this release captures the company in transition. Early to mid 70s I would say. From NZ.

april 27-28 debrief pt 2

On Sunday morning we had breakfast with Jane at Kin, the new place in Lygon St near her home. Our host was very attentive and insisted (we needed no argument) we try their brioche with granita for dipping. I was inept at actually dipping, had to use a spoon, but the result was exceptional. The granitas were coffee, strawberry, and almond, and the first two had cream. I have to admit some primal kneejerk response came forth in my mind when this idea was first suggested (whoah! I wasn't ready for this!) but I adapted and was glad. I wish I had some now.

After this I went to the Essendon record fair. Made many purchases, largely in the interests of research. A lot of $1 and $2 LPs, a few 20c singles, etc. I scored a copy of Clive Dunn's 'Grandad' for my sister (who was grateful).

The Essendon record fair takes place in the Ukrainian Hall, which was obviously once a theatre, or maybe just a hall, though the balconies look theatrey. The difference in estimated value between certain artefacts is great, presumably due to intangibles (how 'good' a record is), tangibles (condition) and the mood of the vendor while pricing (yeah, some suckah will pay $100 for thissss!!!). Highly priced items include first Bee Gees LP; 1st Sunbury album on which half an LP side features SCRA doing 'Roly Poly' (of course I was tempted); Ariel's Rock n Roll Scars which I actually went back for but it appeared to have been purchased.

april 28-29 debrief part 1

Last night there was a party in Richmond. These pictures are a social documentary of it. New Estate played at it. It rained. Aftwerwards, The Tranquilizers at the Old Bar.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Judy died

Or rather, she was put to death, which is the realistic way of saying put to sleep, but it would seem (I wasn't there: it was an emergency act) that she was pretty close to dying anyway, as she'd suffered kidney failure and hadn't eaten for days.

Judy was a fairly impulse purchase: I had been aiming to get a dog for some time, as part of rewriting my life script (read the four to six words before the parentheses as though they were in Lucida Handwriting font) and wanted a small one for the sake of the smallness of housing in Newtown, where I was living. I was working in Broadway (for some reason, there are about six blocks to the north of Broadway called 'Broadway') and she was in the Grace Brothers pet department, on Broadway; the whole of Grace Brothers on Broadway was about to close down, so that dates the moment pretty well, if only I knew when the date was (Wikipedia says 1992). I thought Judy showed interesting character by the way she was gnawing at the bars of her small cage. This should have been a warning.

I acknowledge I had no idea how to bring up a dog, having never owned one and being unaware anyway that there was a process. At the time I felt that everything was haywire shortly after Judy anyway because we were given a new boss at work, after not having one at all, and this person was a ridiculous arse with many useless demands. So Judy spent a lot of time on her own.

From the outset she was a very needy and vocal dog. Silky terriers look much sweeter than they are, in my experience. She was admittedly extremely loyal, which is delightful, but she was also likely to erupt in a fit of uncontrollable barking at any moment, which was excruciating. Worse than that, in the first ten years of her life, she was prone to fits. Early on these could come on at any time - as though she was having a vision - later they were just night time problems (a vet surmised perhaps epilepsy, but if so, she grew out of it). She would growl menacingly and it took a lot to snap out of it (after which time she was her usual happy, demanding self). This was a worry, but typically for me, I did nothing about it (I found that vets, as much as anyone, were disbelieving that such a ball of fluff could be so scarey at times; I remember that one vet wrote in some notes I read upside down over a desk that the recommendation of giving Judy bones to gnaw on was ignored because 'owner believes these make dog aggressive'). She was very particular about who she did and didn't like. For instance, she really liked my brother for some reason (I mean, he didn't care much for her); he was about the third or fourth person I introduced her to.

I lived alone when I first got Judy but when I returned to tertiary education I had to move into share houses. She came with me to Erskineville, Annandale, then to Sandy Bay (Hobart), then to Carlton and Richmond and then for reasons that escape me but for which I am very grateful, she elected to go and live with my mother, Jane. Jane and Judy were a formidable pair and the ten years that Judy lived with Jane were surely her most successful. Though she continued to lash out on occasion, a combination of the wisdom of age and some late but not too late training made a big difference to her behaviour. She was a very clever dog, and knew which side her bread was buttered on, though for the record, she had no time for bread itself, or butter, or for raw meat or water, for most of her life. She wasn't that into eating except, curiously, towards the end of her life when she appeared to have become pretty much completely blind and deaf - perhaps this opened her up to other sensory experiences. She also didn't like other dogs (who, as far as she was concerned, simply didn't exist), or children, generally, or vets. If she was walking off the lead in any street where she had either had a bad experience with a dog, or if she had to walk past the vet's, she would simply walk out into the middle of the road and continue in the same general direction but with a ten metre berth. She also didn't like baths or having her hair cut.

We knew the end was coming and in the last week or so, I am glad to say, I did get to spend some quality time with Judy, including having her sleep in my lap for short periods (she mainly just slept, in the last couple of years).

She never seemed to hold it against me that I came to own other dogs, and never accused me of farming her out to grandma like Jack Nicholson's mother did. But certainly kudos must go to Jane for taking on the heavy responsibility of Judy and her grim outlook on the world. Also, a heads up (I don't really know what that means but it's positive) to everyone who put up with Judy in various ways in various periods of their probably otherwise contented lives: too many names to list. Pics may follow.

(PS If I seem flippant, it's probably because I see Judy's life as a dream run, for her. She lived a long and interested existence getting her way most of the time and was very comfortable and content generally speaking. I was fond of Judy and we had many good times together, though a lot of those were anxious times for me because I was never sure who she was going to snarl and snap at next, i.e. every dog that sniffed her apparently interesting bottom, and she also hated people who walked funny eg a man in Newtown with one leg who said 'yes, some dogs hate the way I walk... some don't mind it though...'. Thank you for your understandingness, sir.)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

getting away for a while

I am embarrassed to say that work, as of NOW, is getting me down and I really need a break. I am looking at dog friendly accommodation in either west or east victoria and it's going to be great. Expensive but great. I can write my book and Mia can do plein air paintings.

Meanwhile tonight we are going to see the Monks film. Maybe see you there.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

next fumetti

Any requests? I keep thinking Bohemian Rhapsody would be ideal but I don't want to, you know, just act it out.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

42nd treat

So on my birthday what better event could possibly have been chosen than to go and see Keating the Musical. It was Fran's idea for which I thank her and Stephen. I don't recall ever having gone to see a musical before but I imagine usually they are not about Australian politics in the 1990s, which is probably why. It was hilarious and brilliant and, of course, sad. I guess if I have a critical criticism, it is that almost complete lack of dialogue meant that the story progressed a little jerkily, especially at the beginning of the second half. But on the whole I cannot fault it. The cast were sensational as were the band.


Then to I Carusi (always spell that wrong, this time probably no exception) for a surfeit of pizza and then home for some whiskey, side one of Mackenzie Theory's Bon Voyage which we all danced to, and a big stick of incense. So as you can imagine all in all a pretty fine time.

This morning I made pancakes that were very much like newspaper fried in oil. I hope I have not been cursed by a wicked witch.

Also earlier in the evening I had a brandy with Kathryn Clarke, always a pleasure, and I am fond of Kathryn too, and earlier in the day luncheon with my only father and one of my multitude of sisters, the one who deserves to have packets of sugar thrown at her and who is not going to class.

Friday, April 20, 2007

mia's dream

A few days ago - I think when she was finishing her magnum opus or maybe the 'making of' film (I'm not joking), Mia went to bed at the time I was getting up, like 6am-ish. About an hour later I was going to work so I came in to say goodbye, and this transpired:

M: It's all flat and rocky.
D (more and more like an old man who wants to describe everything around him so people know he's sentient): I think you must be dreaming.
M: No, it's happening now.
D: Do you mind if I blog that?
M: [mumbles]

Later on she agreed she didn't mind.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

i'm coming out

Very soon, I shall reveal myself to you to be a 42 year old person. I have known since I was 8 that this was my destiny - not the revelation but the fact.

It will also be the year in which I embrace my inner Korean. I have enrolled in Korean lessons at the CAE and to aid in my learning of Korean, I have purchased a Korean drama series on DVD, entitled Hot Buns. I was pleased to discover that the buns in question are literal. I was also happy to note that the series comes with English (my birth language) subtitles.

Otherwise, I could not really give the proverbial loose root about my birthday. On the day itself Mia and I are going to see Keating the Musical with Fran and Stephen the mere anticipation of which is a year's highlight, but I'd be up for that anytime, and the birthday aspect is not going to take or add to it. I have reached birthdayvana.

This week I have been reading of:

James Hamilton-Paterson: Amazing disgrace
James Freud: I am the voice left from rehab
Ian McHarg: Design with nature
Old issues of Juke 1982 and 1984
Gippsland Times 1953
The New Yorker, April 2007
The bible (nah, just put that in 'cos it looks posh).

Current mood: crumbly
Listening to: Scritti Politti White bread black beer... agennn!!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

one thousand songs you must hear before you die

Love is like a cloudy day

Doug Parkinson’s single Love is like a cloudy day, written and produced for him by Vanda and Young, is one of those songs. Why it wasn’t a monster hit when released (whereas ‘Let’s hear it for the boy’ and the works of Meatloaf, to name just two varieties of music I thoroughly disapprove of, were) is a thorough and complete locked and sealed box of a mystery. The song has everything and a little bit more. It has, firstly, Doug Parkinson which is not always enough, but it’s pretty great, and he belts the fucker out. It has a ridiculously catchy singalong chorus that your grandma would love (and she possibly did, since she was 14 when it came out). It has a hot drummer who does the most fabulous fluttery fill just before the chorus as well as being rock-solid in the bulk of the song. It has horns perfectly tuned to the aura of Doug Parkinson. It has, probably, Vanda and Young doing backup. It has piano played by a gorilla in a gorilla suit, using large concrete bananas to hit the keys. It has a gospelish bridge and fabulous wheedley but not inconsequential guitar as well. It has the dumbarsest central concept. ‘Love is like a cloudy day, it comes and goes and that’s the way… someone soon will blow those clouds away.’ What is possibly, probably really meant is that ‘LACK OF love is like a cloudy day, if love be like a sunny day’.

Shoop shoop diddy etc

Monte Video and the Cassettes’ Shoop Shoop Diddy Waka waka etc’ is a lost classic, with Monte Video as a cross between Jona Lewie and Sid James (with a big ostentatious nod to Eric Idle’s ‘Nudge, nudge’ character). It is also, surely accidentally, is quite gender-transgressive, in ways that Jona Lewie and Sid James tended not to be, if you ask me. Not because it is primarily about an interaction between a horny feller at a ‘little party, nothing formal’ and a girl who ‘looked like normal’ but turns out to have unexpected sexual tastes which affront, yet do not ultimately put him off. No, the gender transgression is as the song fades out, and Monte asks ‘what kind of girl do you think I am?’ That throws me completely into confusion. Are Monte and the girl both girls? He certainly sounds like a bloke. In fact the tail-out lines are: ‘What sort of a girl do you think I am? Well, alright. Now you’ll think I’m awful! Got a light?’

18 with a bullet

Pete Wingfield’s 18 with a bullet might well be the best record ever made by anyone ever. I mean, there are surely other contenders, I know Friday on my mind has a strong case, and Micro-chips and fish by the Red Crayola, and The Flood by the Blue Orchids. But 18 with a bullet has something those three songs don’t, which is an absolutely impeccable combination of crushed, fucked metaphor that doesn’t make sense, and totally perfect metaphor that is funny and witty. Is that throwaway? Maybe; I tend to see it as the genius of Wingfield peering through the cracks of his own conceit, showing us he knows how fragile it is, and yet making something more heartfelt out of his theatrical frippery.

The song is riddled with joke references to the charts. The title, obviously, which is also the first line, though the second line is the first poke (‘got my finger on the trigger – I’m gonna pull it). ‘I’m picked to click now’ is a bit of jive speak which might have come from some bad DJ; then ‘I’m the son of a gun’, which goes back to the gun reference and delightfully doesn’t make no sense. ‘I may be an oldie but I’m a goodie too’ says Wingfield (but he’s only 18; how old is that?). ‘I’m a super soul sure shot – a national breakout’, then he wants to ‘check your playlist momma’ – what’s that mean?

This is when the song totally freaks out, with a blissful soaring chorus-like element and the sensational line, ‘we got a smash double header if we only stay together’ and a grouse sax solo. Wingfield gets cute when he says that ‘Right now I’m a-single, but pretty soon you’ll see…’; he advocates ‘raising a whole LP’ with his beloved and then tells her the house is too small. This is when you realise and appreciate what Wingfield is doing. It’s not some guy making cracks about the charts. It’s a SONG singing to a SONG, using SONG. It’s pop seducing itself. How could anything be more wonderful to listen to? It’s a peacock display. I mean, Dave Graney can sing about being deep inside a song, or about being a star pretending to be an imitator of that same star, and so on. But Wingfield goes beyond reflexive and has created a record with needs and wants. I’d love to know what record ’18 with a bullet’ had his eye on. I suspect it might be Sylvia’s ‘Pillow Talk’ (which, by the way, Graney used to cover).

Rock ‘n’ roll love letter

Meh, after 18 with a bullet, you just think ‘meh’ about Rock ‘n’ roll love letter, though it is still in the top 1% of genius. It’s got these lines, soon after the singer tells his parents that he loves them:

Cos I see a nascent rhythm
In a man’s genetic code
I’m gonna keep on rock ‘n’ rolling
Till my jeans explode.

That is almost certainly not what is being sung there, though it is most certainly what it most sounds like. And that is hot.

Taste ‘Tickle your fancy’

I don’t ‘get’ drummers like Virgil Donati, who seem too virtuoso for the real world, never able to play the same thing twice, Ian Wadley style, I mean always ABLE to but when was the last time either of them did it? But I gotta say on this track he nails it like jesus to a child. And the rest of Taste are totally ballsy, and the song is totally all about being a member of Taste, and playing a show and some girl is sexy and Taste want her to give it (her fancy, I imagine) to them. Buh! And there are funny lines in amongst the bluster about how the singer of Taste ‘didn’t want to meet your father’. I think this is a b-side but it should've been B+

wannabe, starting something

I had a sit-down coffee this morning before coming into the office (which much to my surprise had its door wide open, because much to my surprise a tech person was at my desk, I thought it was a porn bust, obviously requiring the planting of porn onto my hard drive, but in fact I'd logged a computer problem last Wednesday then completely forgottenabouddit), and I made a list of the publications I'd promised the world this year. Including all variations: co-writes, conference papers which won't technically be publications (the 2 conference papers I'm doing that aren't intended to see print are the outcome of research that will eventually make it to a book in a couple of years, touch wood), etc, and a co-edited book, there are 16. Sixteen! Completed to date? Well, there are two that have definitely been accepted, and two more that are at least in the 'system' and, touch wood again (there is no wood in this office, unless this desk top is wood, it's hard to tell) will eventually be published in some shape or form. The rest is all in my oversize head, bar a few unreferenced intros and abstracts. I really must...zzzzzzzzz

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Second teenagerhood

That would be actually revolting and awful if it were true, but it's true in only one sense. A daggily-named program called 'Final Vinyl' is giving me a chance to return to the wonderful days of mix tapes which for me were halcyon around 1980-1. Man, I wish I had a copy of one of those tapes now. I could easily fabricate one because I know precisely what songs I would've put on there. It was always a tape of whatever I really liked that week (and I'd revise them every week, weirdly enough). Not in a counting down order but I guess it was in the same way that Guy Morton and I used to get a copy of the 3XY chart for that week and use little symbols to indicate which songs we owned on record, liked, or wanted to get or whatever (I don't think we had one for which songs we thought sucked, but that might have been implicit). I wish I had one of those charts now too.

Anyway, Final Vinyl, riddled though it is with problems, does ultimately allow one to make a CD of great songs off vinyl, which is of course where all the great songs exist. As I write this I am listening to my Nora Bumbiere and Viktors Lapcenoks album, waiting for the amazing 'Charon's Monologue', which I am going to final vinylise. This activity is so pathetic, but unfortunately it's also very fun, making little albums out of other people's songs, it's like indie rock without the hassles (wel, aside from the copyright hassles, whatever they might be). Hey, I've done my work for the day, it wasn't that accomplished or snazzy, but I got a right. Also, I wrote a very fine blog entry then accidentally struck the two wrong keys at once and the whole thing went into stasis so what could I do. Y'know?

In the early 80s my mix tape would have included Essential Logic, I'm So Hollow, The Models, Essendon Airport, The Pretenders, Elvis Costello, The Red Crayola, Pere Ubu, Young Marble Giants, The Birthday Party, Josef K, Orange Juice, John Foxx. All the greats. I have most of these records still.

Anyway then I got a show on RRR so I had no need to make my little mix tape, but I guess my show on RRR was pretty much the same thing. Continuing my teenagerdom I also now sometimes do a show on 3CR which lies on the same Smith St route which I used to ride my bike along to get to RRR in Fitzroy. So what goes around actually doesn't come around, or even go around actually. Everything stays the same and I just blog it infrequently.

In fact I even bought the Viktors and Nora album on Smith Street. Wayne Davidson was with me. Maybe it was when Wayne lived in Otter Street. I don't know. I can't know everything.