Tuesday, September 30, 2008

taxing times

Here I sit to write up another blog knowing all too well I’m merely procrastinating…

I really have to get on with doing up my tax.

I have to sort the papers, write down the figures onto designated downloadable forms, and send the lot down to my accountancy firm, EntArt.

I still have a little time remaining yet I find my easiest habit is simply to procrastinate until the very last moment. That’s how I always used to study and do assignments too…and pass with flying, sometimes tattered, colours.

I don’t know why I dread tax-time so much. I’m a small bean in a hard world, I don’t have too many complexities with it, it’s just that it delves into stuff I’d rather leave be. It is the past, gone, finished, numbers, figures, even if I am owed a few pittances. Filling in tax details is undoubtedly the most boring exercise I undertake each year. I suppose it’s because I feel the people behind all of this are a bunch of bastards who I want nothing to do with and I want them to have nothing to do with my financial-not affairs. This year they owe me. So I’ll just do it. And when I get around to it finally – there is always ‘tomorrow’ I keep telling myself – it’ll be alright as always.

For the past month or so I awake in the morning eager to see hear or read the daily news headlines. I’m amazed and a little transfixed by this high-speed ferris-wheel of our wildly-fluctuating share market and crude oil prices. A decade ago oil sat around $10-$20US per barrel and the market was doing its easy climb prior to accelerating with the dotcom boom. Over the past month the whole thing has been a daily zig-zag of extreme proportion, one day stocks are riding to the sun, the next day (today, for example) they flunk into hellpit by dropping on average 9%. The price of Crude Oil does not seem to want to take the laid-back approach either. Mixed with increasing worldly topographical & atmospheric variations due to what is apparently, undoubtedly, accelerated climate change, and we march hesitatingly into an era of uncharted ground. Let’s hope it is to be a “soft landing” as it is often said.

It’s a familiar newspaper image, the man either inside or outside the tally room hanging his head in his hands, as if his head has suddenly weighed the moon. I don’t understand it. What do people expect?? I can only recall Bob Dylan and his song ‘4th time around’ from the towering Blonde on Blonde album, where he sings with that mocking heaving style that was indicative of his singing back then…

“everybody must give something back for something they get”

Bob is right. Only thing is, we’ve been accustomed – seduced - to believe the share market will spiral onwards and upwards into a glorious infinity, into a heavenly dreamworld where sunshine, houses, condos, boats and cars remain eternally offset by soaring share-values. That is the dream of course. The reality, so simple it makes you weep, is that what goes up….we know the rest.

Practically it is sad for those who are about to retire. Their nest egg will merely be that, a nest egg, and not a golden one at that either. And for all of us investors who go for “ethics” and “sustainability”, which I do, these are merely noble-sounding words that unfortunately hold no truck to the ravages of the Dow getting ripped and slashed to the tune of trillions, as it did today.

What’s happened?? The great depression that followed on from the October stock market crash on 1929 was not caused by lack of produce, or lack of labour. These were in abundance. It was caused by lack of money. Money suddenly disappeared because its value had inflated far and away beyond its real worth via the evils of rampant credit and speculation. Real wages were falling throughout the late 20’s as speculation and credit conversely reached manic heights. In a more modern context, this roughly is what’s happened throughout the devilish naughties. One of the differences now, compared to 20’s & 30’s, is that the American fed are keen to prop up the economy with liquidity, funds, cash. This rears the possibility of the sickeningly ugly head of hyperinflation stalking our streets and skyways. At the advent of the stock market crash in 1929 banks and governments went into defensive mode. Liquidity dried up. The bottom literally fell out. The place went flat broke.

…it’s so horrifically stupid when you look at it. Paper value. Paperdebt. Astronomical figures and astronomical divides between the wealthy and those who have (had) zilcho. Money should have been a simple barter, a medium of exchange to benefit and help provide for all. But no, the money market is mere mayhem beyond any reasonable cognition for sane, reasonable and kind, giving people. And you get the feeling no-one, absolutely NO-ONE on this planet, our planet, ie economists & politicians, really know what to do to contain this monster, this Frankenstein generated by obsessive, robotic greed. Today’s events have numbed authorities and so-called leading figures into quivering ashen-faced rubber-duckies.

It appears as though we (or they) have swallowed the last remaining cocktails of a great party that perhaps has carried on a bit too long. In 1929 the bottom fell out. It’s happening now. And it will trickle throughout the economy. In a worst case scenario the “trickle” will be a tsunami.
Like I said…I just hope it’s a soft landing. Taxing times indeed.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

September stands unstill


Today through blistering hot desert winds that caked the city in awful dry heat I silently strolled into the superficial sanctity of my local shopping plaza. After about 15 minutes of picking up some fruit & veg and a few paper towels I walked out where the temperature had plummeted some 15ºC, at least. It was that mini-heatwave that dissuaded me from doing anything more adventurous this afternoon, such as heading to the TAP gallery to check out some rock-musician paintings. Instead I went back home, and lay down. I had a pleasant mini-siesta with it, the kind where you don’t fully dive into sleep, but instead be overcome by that soothing numbness, the sort that proves the universe of being and feeling is within and not in the external world. Earlier I was finishing off Bob Dylan’s chronicles. After darting his narrative from about 1962, to 1960, up to 1968, to 1989, 1959, and around to the beginning where he was signing his first record deal in John Hammond’s office, he ends his piece with some clues on where his mojo for songwriting had been influenced, and directed. It seemed like Dylan imbibed Woody Guthrie, Robert Johnston, and even Kurt Weill musicals with a passion, using ultra-ordinary aspects of each artist to draw on creating something quite vivid and new in the realm of folk music. That Dylan achieved this, particularly as he reached his apogee of startling creativity within the mid-sixties, is testament to his total dedication to his art, his one-pointed vision.

As I was reading this I almost lamented not having any sort of, um, one-pointed vision in my life as it were. There’ve obviously been periods in my life where I’ve been struck with inspiration, driven into gear to achieve something new. Usually these have been musical inspirations. The most recent ‘big’ inspiration for me was to discover Eva Cassidy and subsequently nut out her guitar-playing. This enterprise bore fruit for me as I go out and play Eva songs at cafes, and that I still enjoy. Music is another anomaly for me. Perhaps it’s too familiar generally. I almost feel an existential languor over everything I do, and in fact I’ve had this all of my life. This is why I’ve never been a big achiever, or hungry for anything. I’m just content to plod along in my own quiet way, enjoying the blue sky and the trees, and to occasionally be hooked internally by a Beethoven-esque inspirational fist-wave along the way.
Yet this is something new, writing in the blog. The purpose for this is to expand my creative thinking and improve my writing. Funnily enough I don’t like to be thought of as a ‘writer’, ‘musician I’m comfortable with, but hopefully I’m more of a ‘righter’, than a “wronger”, when it comes to writing!

Last night we did a gig at the Artichoke café in Manly. That was fun, but I don’t know, this is a strange time of year for me. I begin to feel these frequent blotches of torpor, reaching their peak in October, the nadir of my year. More to the point, these are stabs of depression smudging their ugly vapours from my stomach region. They appear, as they have this weekend for example, and vanish as soon as they come. I know not to give them credence or attention, just pure awareness. That tends to mitigate their power though in the past that had been a struggle of sorts. I’m a much clearer person now.

I’m almost feeling a sense of trepidation about world-wide events. I wonder what’s the point of our day-to-day lives in juxtaposition to the complexities and strains that westernised civilisation has brought to bear on the vast divisions of worldly wealth and power, and with that, the stark possibility of financial collapse and severe economic downturn. Energy depletion and accelerated climate change are other huge monsters bearing down on us from some dark pit in the ground, and the sky. I believe now is the time for me to take a permanent holiday. Back my bags and drive to Cairns and live the tropical life, and shedding the topical life in return. The library is nice, but I come to the time of year where I have to do audits for overdue fines and the like, the sort of thing I really do not like to do at all! One thing is nice and that is play-season, commencing now. And I’ll be seeing all of them. Arnold Wesker’s ‘The Kitchen’ tomorrow night. And a review is forthcoming! ;)

Sydney looks nice on photo but this southern hemisphere metropolis is one of many worldly macrocosms of westernisation in full swing, and force. Sometimes being a bit-player within this giant swirling jigsaw of a city does become somewhat overbearing to deal with. Therein lies the answer to my non-questions that allude to disheartened complexities…fresh air, trees, cottages, sunshine, highlands, nature. That really, is the life!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Alan Meadows 40th anniversary in Oz party

My brother-in-law, Alan Meadows, flew in from Hobart last week with my sister Elida to host his '40th year in Australia' party! Alan, 61, came to Australia from London England in September 1968, and save for two trips back home in the intervening years he has comfortably made Australia his home. At 21 years of age and having landed himself in Bondi, Alan was an aspiring musician. With a great love of jug and blues he mastered mandolin & harmonica and has worked as a pro and semi-pro musician for most of his adult life here.

The party was held at the Balmain Rowers Club, right at the edge of the shore overlooking the waters from Balmain Cove, on Sunday 21 September. I provided the p/a and did the sound duties.
Alan jamming with Greg's blues band. He still plays a mean mandolin. Balmain, Sydney. Windy streets, Victorian terraces, charming cobblestone & weatherboard cottages of all shapes and sizes, located on a peninsula on Sydney's inner-west overlooking the harbour on its eastern side, the north-shore and Birkenhead point on northern side and Pyrmont & Darling Harbour on the southern side. By the late 1960s the suburb had begun to divest itself of its rough, working-class reputation so that by the 1980s Balmain was quickly attracting new money and yuppie gentrification, replete with new restaurants, the refurbishment of many pubs and conversion of old factories into spivvy residential dwellings, a process that continues to this day. In those glorious years between, during the heyday of the 1970s, Balmain was a vibrant and creative hub for artists, writers and musicians. Balmain village thrived on a burgeoning blues scene and pub blues, folk & rock was to be found everywhere. It was in Balmain/Rozelle that Alan lived throughout the 70s and 80s. His best band was the Hokum Ensemble who produced an EP in 1979 that is a bone-fide classic!! I'm urging Alan to digitise the thing quickly quickly! The band were doing well and if it wasn't for one loosely-minded member stuffing things up for them (always the way!) they would have gone places. There is one song on that EP called 'Doreen in the Nude', sung by Alan and written by Al Ward (also in the band) that I believe to be one of the greatest Australian songs ever written. Al Ward actually performed the song on his acoustic guitar on the day of the party and I was fortunate enough to film it, to be posted soon. Al, the writer, performed a sonorous laid-back acoustic-guitar version of his jug-blues gem whereas Alan's 1979 EP-take was a masterpiece of comic theatricality. I can't wait to get my ears on a copy of this music again!!
Alan's son Charlie, a professional jazz guitarist, vamps with the boys. Cooking up some jazz vibe and warm, musical atmosphere.

Alan Meadows, Charlie Meadows, and my sister Elida.
Alan & Elida (right) with some boys from the current blues band.
My nephew Rafael and his dad, my theatrical big bro.

On the deck of the Rowers Club.

Mick Conway playing a saw and Phil Donnison playing the ukulele. I'm a bit of a fan of the ukie myself.

Alan is presented with a gift from, um, Dame Edna Everage??
Alan vamping on harp with the blues band.

Brigette sings Orange Colored Sky with me on acoustic guitar.

A lovely portrait of Alan Meadows and Charlie Meadows. Two brilliant men.
Alan, I imagine that coming to Australia and particularly Balmain was one of the highlights of your life. You have met many great people (including my sis! ;), and have made some sterling musical connections, and music of tremendous heart & flavour. Good on you Al!!
Too bad we had to cut the party off by 6pm. This soiree should have continued into the wee hours!! Oh well, next time! When you move back to the mainland Alan & Elida we'll do this again...every f***ing day!!!!

This is the life...!
Until next time, r.

Friday, September 19, 2008

equatorial shield-swording


spring equinox carries with it
its own tight set of demands
the sun is now crossing the hemispheric border
on its daily jog around the earth
staring me straight in the face
and slappin' me around with her karmic fingerpointin'
as the pollens & pressure
intensify in the southern air we breathe
i feel more that bit more jarred
sensitive
reactive to vibes
and situations
that remain a continual circus around me
friends and fiends and acquaintances and strangers
well & unwell, annoyed & pleased
my own house-mind paranoia
attracting smashed fences as a result
a disconcerting work situation today
of what is usually a happy little saturday-shift
got me realising
Life ain't gonna prop me up artificially
or hand me no falsifying toothpaste confidence
non
my karmah is tight
i know the answer
be in my body
be my own power
always
be vigilant
yet be easy
be true
in following this
i won't feel so much like a ping-pong ball
during a landlocked frenzied game
i used to feel this way a lot
now...minimally
not good enough
i'm thirty-eight
i sense the majesty of nobility within this body
there it is!
be it
sensate it
love it
feel that sword slice through the shit that's flyin' off the fan
with the sheild that comes naturally
protecting me with effortless grace
from reactions of others
who in truth were motivated
by my sluggishness and lack of straightness
my sometime kooky feeling of aloneness & disconnectedness
wake up Rosscoe!!
be up'n'true
just that...
this september headiness
makes me just wanna be on another galaxy
yet earthly circumstances await me
await my authority and my poised decision-making
and the sun ain't be stoppin' at the equator...

tales of a sweet dreamer

‘sweet dreams’, ‘tis often said
and this morning I awoke to a particularly sweet dream
…dreams are funny as to who makes their appearance in them
random people from the past
cast to play a leading role
where in the conscious waking mind they are merely a backdrop
to today’s play
and often always were

i was with a friend
she was telling me she liked me
so i kissed her
gently
on the lips
and neck
i felt conscious that i hadn’t showered that morning
so i wanted to leave it at that
she silently understood
and we were both happy in the knowledge
that somethin’ was starting
*switch* scene 2
she was telling someone
(i couldn’t tell who it was)
what she thought of me all those years ago
and how she’s come to like/love me now


i awoke with a *ping* this morning
not knowing which day it was
streams of happy sunlight burst through my window
savouring the taste of my sweet dream
my co-star is someone who finished at drama school
11 years ago
she’s since moved into the singer-songwriter field
and we’re connected on myspace
why did she make an appearance in my dream??

i barely knew her back then
i feel now that i like her
i’ll go to one of her gigs
for me the dreamer
the sometime realiser of dreams
i was charged with the delicacies of love
and sensuous touch
i long again to kiss the lips
of a lovely, beautiful woman
softly kiss around the neck as in my dream
the dream is a good omen
and a good sign
thank you, land of dreams
i have awoken this morning
with the fragrance of love
beaming gently around me
in sunny, happy rays

I read in today’s newspapers
headlines of falling stock markets
local authorities were telling investors
to not pannyck
the stockmarket performs like the weather here really
spring is a seasonal rollercoaster
a-cuppla nice days
getting hot for another
then the southerly buster
bringing miserly murky yucky weather
until it clears up again
and the stockmarket is behaving wildly erratically
why do people panic??
what was it that Dylan sang in ‘Blonde on Blonde’ album
‘..everybody must give something back for something they get…”
it’s human nature to throw money into the market
expecting double-digit returns into infinity
but sometimes things come-a crashin’
last november i banked the bulk of my savings
into a new (locally) managed fund
Global Generation Sustainability
Generation were launched in 2004

in London & Washington
they focus on long-term sustainable investing
and although their shares haven’t zeppelined like banking or mortgage sector stocks
they’re nonetheless dragged by their heels into the muddy quicksands of yearly capital losses

like the remainder of international public companies
i remain remarkably ambivalent
almost happy, even
it's as if i don’t care
it’s only money
the likelihood is these kind-a stocks will be the boomers of the next generation
mostly I realise that what goes up must come down
it applies to pretty much everything
it’s the law of equilibrium, balance, karma
having money in the safety net of a bank account or term deposit
is no guarantee of safety if the entire international banking system collapses onto itself
time will tell what transpires with all of this stuff
it’s just that
time seems to be hastening fast…

money is only money
it’s as ephemeral as paper flying in the wind
which is what it is actually
if we have enough to feed clothe shelter ourselves and our loved ones
and we have a little more to spare

or a lot more to spare
we are doing very well

Love is eternal
Love is the drive that keeps us inspired
happy and fulfilled
money can never buy Love
and never has yet
Love is why we are here
to learn to love
to learn to give of our being
to learn
Love
and today I am as inspired by love
sweet dreams
Fri-day’s warmth and copious sunshine
the hustle & bustle of students on campus
painkiller on my stereo
flowers in bloom
my cool students
as I remain untouched by international moneymatters
there is no comparison
Love remains the eternal winner

when we cast off our bodies
the money stays behind
our love...
...love that unites us all...
...we take with us to the next gig

the newagers were/are correct...
Love is All

I Sing Secrets



Cat'n'Fiddle Hotel, Balmain, Tues 16 September. I was in a boisterous mood. This song could have been delivered with more subtelty, more space, more groove and less attack. I'll learn for next time. The song is called "Secrets". Pete Thompson is playing djembe.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Russell Neal sings the L-word



Hiya! I'm not particularly in the mood to be writin' much at the moment, or more to the point, thinkin' about writin'. So here's a new hobby, videoing on my fujifilm camera and uploading the videos onto youtube!! I do this from work (a/hours!) as the connection there is super-fast. I'm currently investigating broadband options for home connection, I hope to move onto BB by Christmas.

This vid was shot last night at the Cat'n'Fiddle Hotel in Darling Street Balmain. It features singer/songwriter Russell Neal singing an engaging, singalong comic ditty called "The L-Word". I asked Russell to video me so in return I videoed him. I uploaded this video onto U-tube today. Russell was pleased. Russell's a good guy, he's very pro-active and organises a lot of nights. He's a quite good musician too, plays mandolin & dobro & slide guitar. And it's good to have this song captured on video.

I find the best way to network is to be pro-active, and to help out with things. This comes naturally to me anyway, I love to review, help & organise gigs, set up the p/a, take photos, and now, shoot mini-vids for people; in short, helping people. I enjoy it, makes me feel good, fulfilled. I'm great at promoting other people, hopeless at promoting myself. Yet I never wanted much, never enjoyed being the centre of attention. These days I just want to gig, perform, play lots of music, and different styles of it too. Life cooks for me when I'm out there soiree-ing.

But I need to rest. I'm very tired tonight. I do have a day-job that actually I quite enjoy, for the most part. But I don't want to burn myself out with too much night-life. Tonight I'll lay my head down to sleep at a relatively early hour.

Wishing you well, wherever you are.

Much "L", from me! ;)

Monday, September 15, 2008

EGJW 2 BMF live @ Kellys on King, Newtown



Ah, my first foray into youTube! I'd just registered onto this ubiquitous website this evening, through my work computer (after hours, of course!;), and posted my own video filmed last night on my fujifilm camera at a gig at Kellys on King Street in Newtown. Thanks Gav for filming a song for me!

That's Pete Thompson on djembe, a gentle giant, fine drummer, Master Chiropractor. The song? 'Every Girl Just Wants To Be My Friend' written back in 2002. It was written very quickly, coming to me utterly spontaneously during a bout of classical piano practice. Is it autobiographical?? Fundamentally, No!! ;) Some of the sentiments however, particularly in the middle eight of the song, continue to hold some resonance for me.

It's not the most perfect performance of the song but the energy and spirit was good, and we got the crowd rollicking and buzzing with it. The guitar could have been eq'd better. ..ah what the heck...it's merely a corny country song anyway!!

The guitar is my Maton EM325C featuring all-Australian woods: Queensland Walnut (laminate) back & sides, Queensland Maple neck, & solid Bunya Pine top.

Enjoy!! ..And here are my lyrics!..


Every Girl Just Wants to be My Friend

© ross b 2006

I gotta life that flows against the stream
it's like a salmon that’s flailing around the seam
but I was made for lovin'
but I’ve become some comic figure
every Girl Just Wants to be My Friend

I gotta load, of good intention yeah
I got my vices but that’s anybody’s fare
so I prepare for the showdown
but all I got is an itchy trigger
every Girl Just Wants to be My Friend

I’ve yearned for times we passed on by
This ripe old world had yet been fried
Our innocence is all we had
And still this baby cries

I’m pretty good at conversation, yeah
and the photos are judged as good catch fare
but when it comes to the lowdown
I become some scary monster
every Girl Just Wants to be My Friend

Friday, September 12, 2008

Painkiller gig @ Oxford Art Factory


Wednesday night, 10 September, I went along to the Painkiller gig at the Oxford Art Factory situated at the Hyde Park end of Oxford Street, Darlinghurst.

I almost didn’t go. I was heavy-hearted and burdened with a friend’s unhappiness. The anticipation of witnessing and involving my senses in Steve Kilbey’s new line-up and music washed over me. I felt cotton-wooled, numbed and nonchalant about leaving the door. Conversely I knew perfectly well I couldn’t miss this. So, after a (small) glass of red, I hopped into my car and drove the 15 minute drive to Oxford Street.

I parked at Oxford Street Paddington and walked briskly towards the Darlinghurst end of things. It was a crisp, fresh evening with a dry icy breeze that served to awaken and straighten my senses. Activity around Taylor Square and Darlinghurst seemed relatively subdued, even for a Wednesday night. Perhaps because it was such a crisp night, or there was some sports game featured on the tele, that people avoided what is usually a 24-hour bustle. It was the kind of night that made you feel a sense of joy about hopping into bed early. I walked fast to my destination and was pleased to find tickets were still available.

I got there with little time to spare prior to the main act coming on. The OAF is underground, a large cavernous room with a fine stage and moshpit and elevated section toward the back of the room. I bought myself a beer, a mid-strength Coopers Light Ale, and guzzled it pleasingly as I observed the throng in eager anticipation of their hero, and the music that was about to be divined & delivered for the first time on a universal stage. I felt very alone, but not lonely. I really wasn’t in the mood to be talking to people anyway, but that’s probably because I wasn’t talking to people. I wondered who the bloggers were. Apparently two Go-Betweens showed up. I didn’t recognise them; they are a band I’ve officially gotten into since…last Saturday.

By the time the band came on I bought myself another of those delectable malty mid-strengths and wormed my way toward the centre of the pit although I didn’t quite make it. I was conscious of not wanting to stand in anyone’s way even though I’m of about average height. Tim Powles, Steve Kilbey, two guitarists including one from the Brian Jonestown Massacre, and a sound programmer/keyboardist herded the stage to our rapture and delight. Kilbey’s countenance differed to what I’d encountered on the numerous times I’ve seen him take the stage. He seemed serious, resolute, dead-keen to dive into some unknown and unexplored territory with this new line-up of musicians to perform an album recorded yet not performed up until now. A man on a mission, in other words.

I was struck with Kilbey’s incessant bass-riffs. The bass, the fender custom 60's jazz bass, sounded tremendous. Warm, rich, creamy, deep. I felt Kilbey was in the deliberate process of channelling as much power and mojo from his bass than ever before. The man and his instrument were one. He had the freedom. His aura shimmered. The familiarity of expectation that comes with a famous tried-and-true line-up was cast aside so that essentially, this gig was almost a Kilbey solo gig, the star being the man and his bass. The surrounding musicians unleashed much sonic glory and magnificence, yet the core of this sonic tour-de-force was primarily focussed on the singer and his bass guitar.

I tend to listen to bass more than other instruments, always have, so perhaps I’m biased.

There was one song that struck a familiar chord with me, ’Wolfe’ which I’ve seen Kilbey perform solo at a couple of shows this year. And along with the remainder of the gig, it was magnificent. The music was primal, seismic, almost volcanic in its underlying intensity and sonic visionariness. Kilbey seemed set to explore uncharted territory in rock on a visceral level, to uncover majesties that travel deep beneath the earth’s crust, revealing themselves sonically in shades and sparks of multi-dimensional colour, feeling, and fury. He wanted to go higher than Everest, transcend the speed of light, and with his band, he actually did. They achieved something mighty special that night. Kilbey is an astonishingly magnificent man, I always see him as a deep well of unbounded creative intelligence. On this night I feel that he dived further into this well as the earth rumbled around us all.

People around me had their cameras out, taking photos, sizing up the band members, shooting mini-videos. For one fleeting moment I wondered if I’d best brought my camera but dismissed the notion immediately, refocussing my total awareness again on this sonic journey into hitherto uncharted psycho-musical territory.


My heart remains heavy for a good friend’s predicament. I am sending much love into the universe. Painkiller is what we need, or what most of us need. Musically I felt the earth move under my feet. Is the earth about to move under our feet? Time will tell. Until then there is the album to listen to, Painkiller.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

16 Lovers Lane


“there’s a cat in my alleyway
dreaming of birds that are blue
sometimes girl when I’m lonely
this is how I think about you”


- Grant McLennan at his beguiling best, from ‘Love Goes On’

I'm a funny chap, y'know, ...it often takes me about 20 years after a band's finest moment to start taking interest in them! In this instance it's the Go-Betweens.

Last Saturday night there was this fantastic documentary on the band as part of the 'Great Australian Album' series. The album featured was the Go-Between's 16 Lovers Lane, from 1988. The album was recorded during the the first few months of 1988 and was to be the band's final album with their generic 80's line-up. The main songwriters, Robert Forster and Grant McLennan, re-grouped in 2000.

The documentary reminded me heavily of a similar feature of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours. I almost feel in some ways the Go-Between are Australian's answer to Fleetwood Mac, both being cross-gender bands with paired relationships and multiple songwriters. Mind you the Go-Betweens were far cleaner, no stories of boozing or coking coming through in this documentary. The only touring pastime revealed by Amanda Brown is high-brow literature.

I'd never heard of 16 Lovers Lane to be honest. I kind of ignored the Go-Betweens when they were contemporary in their 80's heyday. They seemed a bit too, well, twee, and lacked a bit of bite that I tended to like at the time. I found songs like 'Cattle and Cain' to be almost obtuse and unlistenable. In viewing the documentary however I've taken to liking every Go-Between member tremendously and with that, I'm taking a newly-found interest in their earlier material.

Before the weekend there was only one song off 16 Lovers Lane that I've encountered, the scintillating opening track 'Love Goes On'. It's a song that I've performed & played with someone, at their recommendation. This friend also burnt me a CD of 16 Lovers Lane which of course, I hadn't listened to. Now, I can't get it off my playlist, and soon I plan to buy the proper copy of the disc, with all those inclusive bonus tracks and videos etal.

I was feeling quite emotional watching this documentary. Firstly I was swooning over multi-instrumentalist Amanda Brown, I mean, she's so pretty and she had this light of sensitivity shining through her soft, moist eyes, and still does. Her clothes and hairstyle of the Go-Betweens period were very of their time and this got me feeling sentimental. She plays many instruments, and I found her tremendously appealing.

And I loved the songs. Most of all I loved the video footage taken complimenting the album, most of which was shot around Woolloomooloo, Sydney Harbour, and Bondi & Tamarama Beach. It all took me back. As the band members had discussed, they'd been living in London for the past few years and 16 Lovers Lane represented their return to Sydney. There are many facets to the album's production that were indicative of the era, the echoey drums, the brightness, the washy-reverb running through the mix. Bright sounding Ovation acoustic guitars. Shiny great song followed by another, and yet another. 16 Lovers Lane is an album that captures a place and time in one of it's high, glistening moments. I recall how Sydney throughout 1988/89 was a booming, happy town. You could feel it in the air. And it's captured in the Go-Betweens 16 Lovers Lane. And Catfish's Unlimited Address, even Crowded House's Temple of Low Men.

The band broke up at the end of a world tour, December 1989. 1990 was when recession hit and somehow everything seemed darker, at least that's how I remember it. Interestingly I felt Robert Forster made a insightful remark by saying that "Sydney lost the vibe of 16 Lovers Lane..." in discussing the reasons for the band's break-up.

I almost felt anguished watching this documentary. I wanted to crank that time-dial counter-clockwise and turn the clock back to 1988. Wrench it so we could enjoy and delight in this era again, forget and discard the toils and burdens of the present age. But, Ross, this is pure fantasy, and a constant and obsessional one at that. Those days have irretrievably passed us by, with one member, the great Grant McLennan passing away in 2006. I suppose what we're left with is remastered sonic memories of time and places passed and gone, never to return to us in any way, shape or form.

The bright side of things is that I've made a new friend, the Go-Betweens album 16 Lovers Lane! :)

As a footnote, the TV program leading into the documentary was 'Rockwiz' featuring celebrity guests Sophie Koh & Steve Kilbey. The performed a beguiling and heartfelt rendition of 'Streets of your town', one of the standout tracks from 16 Lovers Lane.

"...and as I gazed out on the water like a mouth, a bed, a sister, I thought how, my God, I love this city, horrible though it may be, and never want to leave it, come what it may send me. Because it seems so untidy, and so casual, and so keep-your-distance-from-me, if you can get to know this city well enough to twist it round your finger, and if you're its son, it's always on your side, supporting you.."

- Colin Macinnes, from the novel Absolute Beginners.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

the attraction of anxious intent

These previous two weeks have followed a bizarre pattern of circumstances, those relating to myself, and those relating to personal friends, my mum, and even people I met on the blog who live the entire pacific ocean away. Somehow to me it all seems intertwined.

On Tuesday night my brother took my mum into hospital as she was coming down with a severe infection. We were concerned it was pneumonia. I went to the hospital straight after work and met her and my brother in casualty. My brother left and I decided to go home, put on a change of clothes and grab a bite, pick up my car and come back. My work, the hospital, and my current housemind place of abode all exist within a seemingly comfortable triangle of geography. The hospital at Randwick is a walk up the hill from Anzac Pde Kensington, and home is a 25 minute walk down to north Maroubra.

So with all the flurry of mum's illness I arrived home to discover that the street sign at the very corner - it is a corner house - had been uprooted and smashed through the picket fence at the very corner of the property. The fence was broken at that point and some of the pickets themselves around that area had fallen off. There was a note on the door, basically - sorry, i smashed your fence...name...phone number... . I called my friend whose parents' house I'm minding and forwarded the information. I found out from him later that the man's brakes had failed as he plunged into the street-sign pole that in turned smashed into the picket fence of my friend's parents' house. The man's insurance will cover it, no problem. And later back at the hospital mum was discharged, so all is good there.

I didn't clean up the debris & rocks on the path until Wednesday night. I got home to find a standard postal delivered letter lying beneath the post box rather than inside...I realised that was the postman's way of telling me to pick up the mess. Which I'd planned to do anyway that night, and I did, but I had that disconcerted sense that the postman almost had an accident on his scooter in manoeuvring around the rocks and debris, I noticed fresh skid marks in that area of the footpath after sweeping up. I felt a little paranoid and concerned that I'd be sued for millions, but I don't think that's about to happen.

Ok, here's the crunch. On the night before this accident, Monday night, I took out the garbage bins as is par for Monday night's course. As I was settling the bins on the footpath in front of the garage I felt an ever-so-slightly nervous compulsion to glance askew at the picket fence. I noticed something not 100% right, not %100 symmetrical. I walked closer to investigate to discover one of the pickets had come loose at the top attachment to the horizontal wood platform, the bottom attachment was fine. And so, I went into the garage, found some glue and string and set it up so that it would mend.

The thing is, from the moment I discovered the loose picket to the moment I went inside I was fettered with sparkly sensations of undue paranoia. I was worried that someone had come along and attempted to prise the picket...more to the point I felt that the house was being watched by someone, or some unknown force, that attention was being focused on the property and it wasn't me. It is a relatively safe neighbourhood. It's quiet though some of the younger adult boys like their fast cars and hooning etc. That's very noticeable on weekend nights. All I can say is that I felt this sensation with a certain, "full", static-electricity feeling, consuming, and sparkly.

Perhaps I'm also a little paranoid of which I can be from time-to-time, in very small doses. But when September 11 2001 happened I recall not sleeping well that night, and this was before I found out about it. The incident happened in NYC at around 8:30am which is around our bedtime, I recall that 'static electricity' sensation too, the feeling that around me and on the street(s) there was this silent screaming going on. Next morning, our Sep 12, I found out about what had happened in NYC, a bit later than most.

So I encountered those sensations again and simply put, what I discovered on Tuesday night as I scurried home from Prince of Wales hospital was the logical and natural circumstantial demonstration, occurring in the real world and in my awareness, of my fears and 'sensations' from the previous night, a psychically logical and forthcoming event that seemed so 'natural' following on from Monday night.

So the questions pose, was it because of me through my intent and energy that some elderly gentleman just happened to smash into the street-sign pole just outside my house?? That his brakes just happened to fail at this quiet suburban street? Would this event have happened anyway without my psychic connivance??...ie, were those 'energies' I spoke of there to begin with ?? Am I just picking up 'tunes' from the omniverse??

It's been a strange week gone by. It seems as though the people around me have been experiencing unusually eventful circumstances and goings-on - some life-changing - over these past couple of weeks.

All is well. But I'm going to keep a close eye on things. And stay calm. Divine some love. And wish everybody well.

Blessed be.

Monday, September 1, 2008

southern spring


"I walk through this Southern Spring
I glide through the streets of my hometown
seems strange to know my way around
not always be checking maps and fares & bus timetables..."
- Penelope Swales from her song 'Southern Spring' off her album Returning on Foot (1995)

Today is, officially, the first day of our Southern Spring. This however doesn't say a great deal about the exactitude of our regimented Westernised 4-to-the-pie seasonal differentiations. You see, the indigenous peoples of the Sydney localities counted six seasons per year, and six seasons is about right in accurately determining the climactic patterns of the Sydney region. Along with obvious changes of weather patterns such as humidity, temperature, wind direction, stability & pressure systems, the aboriginies used natural indicators to predict changes in weather. From bearded dragons sitting with head pointing to sky and currawongs flying overhead to predict rain, to observing queen-wattle blooming heavily and bush ants abandoning nests for mounds of dirt predicting bushfires, the indigenous peoples really had a more natural, effective system of gauging seasonal variations, far more in tune with the earth and her systems when compared to our lumbering, high-tech scientific gadgetary and posturings.

Two of the six Aboriginal seasons would have easily fitted into our Spring, for Spring is the longest season in Sydney. Usually Spring stretches from late-August to around Christmas-time. This year however I've noticed that August has been noticably colder; June & July are usually the coldest months of the year though with this year in particular there has been much chill wind and chill morn throughout the month of August. I have read some two or three years ago that there is a trend in worldwide weather patterns whereby autumns are warming whilst springs are cooling, meaning in short that the latency periods of warming & cooling etc from the time of solstices (21 Dec & 21 June) are widening.

Early Spring is nice, like today, 1st September, I've noticed the light to be that bit more dazzling, lasting longer into the afternoon with a promising shade of warmth in the air. The smells in tree/shrub-lying areas were noticeably invigorating, the perfumed air of flowers & petals in bloom. September is good for that, the buzz of warmth & fresh bloom and flowers. The extra bit of warmth, sans cold changes of course, is most welcome for a city that rarely utilises central heating in its abodes for the winter months.

October is very patchy - I'll say more about that next month. November leads to December and by Christmas it's the height of summer, and the week-long party stretching all the way to New Years Day.

All very laid-back and civilised...it's good having the end of year build-up to the height of summer, makes you feel like you've accomplished something, even if you haven't!!! There's always the beach, or beer, or sunshine, to make you feel good about the year gone by.

90% of the Earth's population live in the northern hemisphere, and the majority of this population live in non-tropical areas so now they will be experiencing fall going into winter. On a more serious note it's worth observing events in the fall, particularly in USA where things tend to 'happen' more in the 2nd half of the year. I'm interested to see how things transpire with the banking sector, the stockmarket, the price of crude oil, and most of all, the presidential election. I've read about so many possibilities that it's hard to gauge the truth of validity of any of it except to say if there's going to be any "landing", let's just hope it's a soft one. What happens in the States that is of worldwide significance directly affects Australia too.

Yet we are moving into interesting times, perhaps more interesting than what's gone before. What I mean by "interesting" is anybody's guess, including mine. The presidential election of 2008 perhaps is symbolic of that? One thing's for sure, I would NEVER be voting for some mooseburger-munching right-winger at the clean angle of 90degrees (as right-wing as you can get!) On the surface I back B.Obama but we really don't know the machinations of the W. House, the mightily covert powers that run and back the entire machination of sovereign government of the USA.

But, I imagine it is safe here, in the growing, and glowing, warmth of this southern spring.

Al-Anon

enjoying a bevvy Awakening to the ‘good’ in our lives and to the fulfilling sense of gratitude which follows often comes to us via ...