Thursday, October 30, 2008

HbA1c 7.3

*grumble grumble*

Wednesday morning, 29 October, D-Centre at Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, Sydney. It's drizzling and I hadn't bothered taking an umbrella with me.

My latest results from the d-clinic are of legitimate concern to me. My *HbA1c measured 7.3, that being a 15-point jump since the last time this score was measured, back in July 2007 where the figure was a relatively healthy 5.8. 7.3 is not critical, but it does suggest that over the past three months some sort of spike in my sugars has occured, at least since 2007. Maintaining this level of sugar in my blood is not healthy. I need to take action, and fast.

My fasting score was 8.8, that's fucking bad. I need to keep it around 6-ish, or under.

There was a time when I'd reversed this thing so well I'd got my fasting scores down to 4.5 and my HbA1c down to 5.0. 5.0 is a miracle score considering that two years previous my sugars were dwelling hideously in the nullifying stratsophere of 31 fasting. How I didn't just fucking collapse I have the Lord to thank for that. From about 2005-7 my sugars were averaging 5.7 & 5.8 HbA1c which are perfectly acceptable results. With an HbA1c of 7.3 it appears the diabetic genie is beginning to release its puerile vapours from the bottle that I'd hoped to seal for good.

The average score for HbA1c for a non-diabetic person is in the range of 4.0-6.0.

I suspect it'll be a pressing task to get that fucking genie back into the bottle and sealed up squarely without the help of medication. I don't have quite the same wide-eyed clarity or determination I had some years before where I'd quite performed the miraculous and bottled this disease. But I'm gonna have to do it as I so do not wish to have to stare down the face of medication and all of its side-effects and complications.

The clinician wanted me to go on to tablets. I said no. I'd been down that avenue before. Give me three months, I asked, resolutely. They complied. I'm due back to the clinic in February 2009, I hope I can get back to 5.8, or, realistically, 6-ish.

I'd already caused a bit of consternation with the secretaries that morning at the clinic as I hadn't taken in my doctor's referral letter. Honestly I couldn't be bottled fronting up to my doc, who doesn't actually take the time to care for the complexities of my dreaded-d, and ask him for a letter. Better just to deal with this myself I think. I realise as clear as mushroom I need to seek a new doctor and preferably one who is naturopathically inclined.

I suspect that a large measure of d-control is in having a natural therapist at your service, to keep you grounded, prevent you straying, and keep you focussed on the incessant, constant mission of d-control, including jabbing your fingers for blood glucose measurements. I had a naturopath/homeopath for a while and that was good. I need to get back into the loop again.

I don't care how much money this costs, health is the number one priority. I'm going to have to get back into the habit of doing those fucking jabs on my fingers again, 3-4 times a week, a practice that I loathe but is nonetheless necessary to ground me back into an awareness that I am a 'd', and to help monitor and therefore regulate my actions & diet accordingly.

Good news is my cholesterol, kidney function etal results were all very good. Only the sugar stuff, is problematic. I'm taking an additional liver test with my next lot of blood-letting in February as I've had past problems with hight bilirubin levels, but with a daily intake of herbal liver tablets, and a mug of dandelion tea each day, I'm hoping that sorts itself out.

I can't do too much more as far as exercise or diet are concerned. It could well help to become that bit more holistic however. Bikram yoga is on the cards, maybe acupuncture. My friend can give me chiro. I should meditate more. Ideally get away from this fucking bejewelled city of evil distractions and wayward diamonds. Live with folliage, fresh air, glistening leaves & trees, hills, cottage, chooks, birds, dogs, ... For food I remain happy to be chomping on salad all day. I'm not interested in the junky, cakey, chocolately pastry stuff. My only vice is coffee, and that I do not wish to forsake. And golly I do enjoy a beer and/or wine at the appropriate times. For me it's strictly a moderation only thing, but sometimes on those odd occasions I do think life is too short...

When I left the clinic that Wednesday morning the drizzle had strengthened to horizontal, windswept rain. I was drenched by the time I made it to my car. Funny how the exterior circumstance can often reflect the inner mood.

*HbA1c is the measurement of sugar in the haemoglobin and represents an overall assessment or average level of glucose in the blood for the previous 10-12 weeks to the day the blood sample was taken.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Paul the Prince

Why do I love Paul Weller so much?? Well here's but one stirling example..



Broken Stones performed on the Jools Holland show in 1995. The song appears on 1995's Stanley Road, perhaps the album that is most indicative of Weller at the apogee of his powers (although the man has hit many peaks with great albums scattered throughout 30 years of record-making).

Weller's Broken Stones is up there with any of his finest songs. This is classic songwriting that mixes toe-tappin' soul with Otis Redding vocal stylings. Weller looks great, plays the piano great, sings great, is utterly fluid and in the groove with his music. Great hair, great jacket, fantastic cravat!!

You're the prince, Paul!

Monday, October 27, 2008

bad food...

Ever dined out and found that the food you ordered was so bad that you couldn't help but exclaim the words most of us have used or thought through at one time or another?


"This tastes like shit!!"

Well, chances are, that's what you could well be eating. Check out this story.



This is abhorrent, base, and disgusting in the extreme. That revolting f*** who is responsible for this dreadful deed should be speared into the ocean. Are people that pissed off with themselves, with their jobs, that they have to resort to this?? To impose their sick ways on others??

This is like a bad-dream, a sci-fi horror scenario, something that lurks in the mouldy corner of our minds like an anxiety dream that can only be made realised in some murky underworld. And yet, it has happened, come true to life, in a major hotel just down the road from me.

It reminds one of a simple truth, never piss off a waiter or caterer or anyone responsible for serving your food for that matter. They have the power, and there is no limit to how low they will stoop to enact some sort of revenge on demanding customers, quite obviously.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Advice on diabetes control, and, the supplements I take


Last weekend I had a friend of a friend ask me to send him information of all the supplements I take to help control my type 2 diabetes; he’d been given a rundown of my golden report card from our mutual friend. Instead of emailing you, Wayne, I’m blogging this episode (as I’d had in mind to for some months now), so hello to you!

First things first, diet and exercise are the key determinants to maintaining satisfactory blood sugar levels. Your unswerving determination in maintaining a regular diet and exercise plan is crucial to reversing diabetes and to preserve your overall long-term health. You must remain resolute and steadfast at all times. You don’t have to be conscious of your condition as something that takes over your every waking hour, instead you keep your background awareness locked in to the pursuit of diabetes management at all times. This will guide you to the right foods, the right exercise, the right supplements, etc.

Diet:

"The closer you are to nature the better off you'll be...hunters & gatherers is what we are". These are the words from a blunt dietician I visited at the D-clinic when I was first diagnosed. This takes you to what you should eat, you're intake should consist largely of free vegetables with about half of that comprising of raw salads. By "free" you keep your intake of starch-rich veges like potatoes to an absolute minimum. (Sweet potatoes, the orange ones, are fine though.) You must acquaint your taste-buds to the vibrancy and delicacy of fresh, enzyme-rich salads and vegetables. This is an absolute MUST if you wish to have any success with this venture.

If you eat meat or chicken then keep that to a reasonable minimum and make sure you serve yourself lean cuts only. Nonetheless the intake protein is important with every meal. I prefer tuna and vegetarian options such as chick peas, soy etc.

For breakfast I eat raw muesli in soy milk and add dark berries & yoghurt.

Snacks - here's the killer! You MUST get out of the habit of craving & consuming junk foods. These include biscuits, cakes, chocolate etc. This is not to say that these foods are absolutely forbidden, but to maintain diabetes control these foods must stay clear out of your daily habitual intake. Reserve cake for special events only, and only have a very fine sliver. Or have a full-piece if the cake is low fat & low sugar. Chocolate is very high in saturated fat and should only be consumed rarely and minusculey. My advice is to go for the dark, cocoa-rich varieties.

I recommend you get into the habit of snacking on fruit. The sugars in fruit are blended with dietary fibre and are rich in nutrients. Most fruits are low-glycaemic, meaning that it takes an extended about of time for the glucose to be absorbed into the bloodstream. Therefore 2-3 pieces of fruit per day are fine. Apples and other cool-climate fruits remain the best option although citrus is good. You just need to be a little careful of tropical fruits as these are relatively sugary and high-glycaemic.

Other snacks I like to nibble on are goji-berries (these are antioxidant-intensive), and raw nibble mixes. Raw nibble mixes include raw nuts, raw sunflower seeds and some sultanas and are available at health-food shops. ALWAYS choose the "raw" option. Remember, the closer you are to nature the better off you'll be.
There are biscuits available that are low-glycaemic and with that (and most pertinently) are low in fats and refined sugars. If you eat biscuits, hunt these ones out at your store.

Carbohydrates:

Carbohydrate-rich foods are fine in moderation. Remember that veges & salad should make up the bulk - roughly half - of your intake. Always choose low or mid-glycaemic options of bread, rice & pasta. Avoid white bread if you can, particularly the sliced loaf variety. (Italian style bread is a little better - in moderation this is ok). Ideally go for low glycaemic breads with the seeds etc. Most breads have labels on their packets, always go for the low-GI variety. Remember to keep your bread intake moderate.

The same applies to rice. Most strands of rice are glucose-intensive and like potatoes, these travel into your bloodstream as glucose faster than table-sugar! That they are a little more nutritional that table-sugar make them the more viable option however. With rice try and stick to Basmati or Doongara at all times. And do not eat any more rice than you absolutely need to.

Table sugar and sugars in general - keep to an absolute minimum although it's not the end of the world if you swallow a bit of the stuff. Train your taste buds to do away with sugar and sugar-substitutes in your coffee and tea. I'd only recommend natural sugar-substitutes such as stevia & xylitol. By and large your tastebuds will become sensitive to sugar when you begin to avoid it and you won't be craving sugar in your drinks any longer.

Avoid soft-drink!

Alcohol - a double-edged sword here. Alcohol has the short-term effect of lowering your blood sugar because, in a nutshell, the liver is too busy dealing with the turps to have to deal with its other functions such as converting glycogen into glucose. For those who take medication or insulin, care needs to be taken when consuming alcohol as the frequent risk is going hypo, ie, going too low in blood sugar levels. The problem is that alcohol is high in calories and converts to fat very easily. Overweightness with diabetes is anathema as overweightness blunts insulin sensitivity and therefore creates higher blood-sugar. Alcohol is also damaging to the body and particularly the endocrine system, and as diabetes is a form of compromised endocrine function, you don't want to exacerbate this by boozing. Remember too that the liver plays a highly important role in diabetes management, second only to the pancreas in fact.

Nonetheless alcohol is fine in moderation if you have every other aspect of diabetes control in check. The better options are red wine & beer as these have some nutritional and therapeutic value. They also contain chromium too which is an important mineral for blood sugar regulation.

Fats:

Avoid crappy fats like you'd avoid the plague, particularly man-made trans-fats. Trans-fats are often cited as causal to glucose-resistance which is a major track leading to diabetes. Evidence shows that trans-fats harden the lining of the cells. With diabetes you need to keep your cells as open and supple as possible. Therefore - avoid take-away foods that include pastries, margarines etc. Check the labels on foods you buy. You don't go where trans-fats are, as much as you can help it.

Keep saturated-fats to a minimum. Keep processed foods that are high in saturated-fat to the absolute minimum, in fact avoid these altogether. Some saturated fat will be found in animal foods. Other poly or monounsaturated fats will be found in natural foods such as avocados, nuts, fish etc. These are ok, as are natural oils such as olive oil, uncooked. Keep frying to a minimum. Just avoid the processed junk-fats and you're halfway there to overcoming the big D2.

If you like pizza choose the vegetarian options (or tandoori chicken if you like that), with minimal cheese and a flat base. No pan-fried options!!!! (full of crap fats).
Cheese is perfectly acceptable in moderation.
Fats do not raise blood-sugar levels in themselves. Excess, refined fats however cause cellular resistance to insulin. With diabetes you need to hone your body to be as insulin sensitive as can possibly be.

Exercise:

You must exercise. At least 45 minutes a day preferably. If you enjoy brisk walking try and make sure you walk some inclines, hills etc. This will stimulate your muscle mass in your legs more. Muscle is very sensitive to glucose and when stimulated will take in blood sugar faster than when you are sedentary. Do push-ups, swim, get your blood pumping, circulation racing. You’ll sensitise your body to insulin in the long run and you’ll be burning off excess blood sugar in the process.

If you’ve done everything I’ve said you’ll have done much to reverse diabetes. Diabetes type 2 is reversible, meaning, that it’s a relative form of cure, but in my opinion it is not absolutely curable. No matter how well you’re doing, if you go to watch a game one afternoon and eat a hot dog, hot chips and sink a few beers, you’ll have ruined it. You can never go back there again, to the crap-eating days, if you were there to begin with (I wasn’t).
Be determined, be purposeful, be happy, be forward, love life, love your body. Enjoy your body in action as it walks, swims, makes love, delights in the sunlight. Meditation and yoga can be highly beneficial. Drink lots of water, avoid stress, and most of all, remain grateful for your life.

Ok, here’s my regimen of supplements. There are others worthy to explore such as Ginko, American Ginseng etc. Consult your naturopath and formulate a plan with them. In my opinion, CoEnzyme Q10, Chromium, and Gymnema & Bitter Melon are the primary supplemental necessities for diabetes control….and then you have magnesium, zinc etc. I wish you well on your journey!

Morning, upon awakening.

Glass of sparkling mineral water mixed in a teaspoon of wheatgrass powder, a half-teaspoon of calcium ascorbate, and a pinch of oj to taste.

Breakfast: usually raw muesli with sprikles of psyllium & amaranth, blueberries & yoghurt. Coffee. Dandelion tea. Ceylon tea.

Glass of sparkling mineral water with 1 heaped teaspoon of Olive Leaf Extract (immunity & well-being), & half a teaspoon of Bitter Melon powder (blood sugar), some Tumeric powder sprinkled on top, taken with:
- - 1 capsule of Astragalus (immunity)
- - 1 capsule of Ginger (immunity & well-being)
- - 1 capsule of Gymnema (blood sugar), 4grams
- - 1 capsule of CoEnzyme Q10 (cellular energy production & well-being), 50mg
o o I take Blooms brand of CoEnzyme…it includes Salmon oil & Vitamin E for effective assimilation.
- - 1 capsule of Liver Tonic, containing St Marys Thistle etal, usually ‘Natures Own’ brand.

after Lunch:
- - 1 capsule of full dose Men’s Ultivite Swisse brand, multi-vitamin/mineral/herb compound
- - 1 capsule of CoEnzyme Q10, 50mg (this substance is supplementary to that which is naturally occuring in the body).

after Dinner:
Glass of sparkling mineral water with a heaped teaspoon of Olive Leaf Extract, taken with:
- - 1 SucroBalance tab, ‘Natures Own’ brand although there are viable equivalents. This contains:
o o 50mcg of Chromium (blood sugar)
o o 2g of Gymnema
o o 1g of Grapeseed extract (?...something good!)
o o Magnesium
o o Zinc
o o Etal
- - 2 capsules of Pao D’Arco (immunity & well-being)
- - 2 capsules of Fenugreek (immunity, colds & flu, blood sugar)
- - 2 capsules of Lecithin (liver)
- - 1 capsule of odourless Arizona Garlic (immunity, colds & flu, blood sugar)
- - 1 capsule of Gymnema (*optional extra*)
- - ½ teaspoon of Bitter Melon mixed with the mineral water (*optional extra*)
Finally, sprinkle CINNAMON on your coffee!!! Cinnamon regulates blood glucose very well. Cinnamon cappucinos for you, from here on.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

the blood test

"...to be free, you must be a car or motor vehicle in good health."
- Peter Carey, 1974.

Tomorrow morning I shall be getting out of bed early. I'll be donning my crappy jeans, a pullover and my shoes and socks in a resolute half-state of awareness. I'll scrape up my keys and my medical papers and drive to the hospital. I am due for my annual fasting blood test, no food or water to be consumed beforehand. Upon getting out of bed my ritual is to always mix a glass of sparkling mineral water with a teaspoon of wheatgrass powder and half-teaspoon of calcium ascorbate, with a dash of juice to level out the taste. I shan't be having my morning's burst of invigoration until I'm arrived home after having needles pierced into me and four vials of blood taken. I'll be sour in mouth and mood. I won't be having a coffee at the hospital after my jabs as that will merely make me nauseous and give me a headache on a rushed, empty stomach. And I'll have to ask for the plastic jar in the clinic for providence of my yellow specimen.

The main indicators will be my blood glucose fasting score, kidney function, and my HbA1c. I'm expecting my HbA1c to be at the top end of the 'normal' range. At one point, 4 years ago, I had it down to a miraculous figure of 5.0 (normal is 4.0-6.0). I say "miraculous" because in 2002 when my diagnosis came through my score was something quite obscene, like 14. That this frightful condition didn't send me into an everlasting coma, or that my kidneys and nerves and blood vessels did not simultaneously explode, instead remaining healthily intact, I have very much to be thankful for. And that my body and health are performing optimally I grant to the power of love, grace, providence, and kick-arse southern-Italian determination and 'testa dura'!

I rarely bother testing my glucose levels anymore, that unpleasant constant interlude of taking out the little machine and jabbing your finger with a little pistol and drawing blood, smearing that on a disposable measuring swipe, and waiting for some LED numerical figure to finally crystalise that will either make or break your day. I know what to do, what needs to be done. Diet & exercise are the key contributors to normalising blood glucose levels. Lack of stress, too. That, and a plethora of supplements. Supplements and herbal remedies that have literally saved me from pharmecuetical slavery. These babies have improved my well-being and general health no-end, Coenzyme Q10, Olive Leaf extract, Gymnema, Pau-D'arco, Bitter Melon, Chromium, Magnesium, St Marys Thistle etc. Coming to the cliff of alarmingly dangerous blood sugar levels has resulted in a set of circumstances that have improved my life and well-being no-end. I am fit, healthy, and happy, and it shows on my face.

I shouldn't really be speaking too soon however. I have an appointment with the D-clinic next Wednesday morning. I'm hoping it's quick and easy and I can just get the hell out of there. If the score is too high then they'll want me to see the doctor. But I won't. I'll remedy myself, and if I need help I'll visit a naturopath again. It was a naturopath that put me onto the aforementioned substances that have cured me. Pharmecuetical medication is not about to do any long-term cures for me. The pharmecuets whip certain parts of your body into forced action causing mid-term depletion, they are not holistic.

...but, initially, those pharmecueticals saved my life, and I acknowledge that, and remain grateful to them.

Crabs, the central character in Peter Carey's classic short story of the same name, has the perfect edict on how to live one's life with this condition. To be free one must be a car or motor vehicle in good health. This is something I live by 24/7. It's the only way to be free, or free-er, of the sugar problem.

Sugar sugar lend me your velvet touch

lacerate me with your scalpel

I've got the glucose rush

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Showtime: sex art war & the main man


Showtime
hang a guitar on my shoulder
check the vacant drooling faces around the room
another heartbreak battle
and I'm only getting older
Jesus help me when I say
I'll give this all up pretty soon
Daytime
time to fight the morning's headache
gulp an aspirin bang together one more song
inspiration cauterised by years of useless heartache
every shallow night's reaction
sounding twisted up and wrong
these last years
years gone down to the showtime...
- by Don Walker from the song 'Showtime' from the Cold Chisel album Breakfast at Sweetwearts 1979.
It's been a busy fortnight for me just passed. Much live theatre, live music and a couple of live performances over the past week. Tonight being Sunday is my first night in since the week before last when I was dogsitting, and I'm now feeling the wearying effects of not having enough rest or sleep.


Drama School have executed a brilliant season of graduate plays carrying the theme "Sex Art War". Roy Williams's Days of Significance was a modern, pertinent expose on disenfranchised British youth. From what appeared at the outset to be a typical Brit-punk piece of schoolboy/class-war theatre in the likes of Nigel Williams's Class Enemy, Days brought in the element of the boys going off to fight the war in Iraq. The play melds around the life of these boys and the stay-at-home girls who feebly attempt to come to grips with these mighty war issues they do not fully comprehend and are not permitted to have an educated understanding of, thus they take their confusion and uninformed zealousness out on each other. Not much fun to be had, but gripping theatre and performances nonetheless.

Brad Fraser's Unidentified Human Remains and the True nature of love is something of a masterpiece of modern theatre. It's very of its time, late-80s/early-90s, very north American ala Toronto/New York. The characters delve into their amoral, hedonistic sexual obsessions and come through it all in confusion, loneliness and fear, even pyschosis and sadism. Amidst the panoramic set design that made the stage appear a lot larger than it was, the play was directed with a pace and precision that gripped Fraser's terrific script into a most enjoyable night at the theatre. Unidentified Human Remains is essentially a most well-written play. Concise yet weaving with a tight narrative flow and wonderful imaginative flourishes, Fraser really melds into the psyche of his characters and situations. No wonder this play has been a great success for him ever since its first production some 18 years ago.

Neil LaBute has been a rising star in American playwriting & scriptwriting over the past decade. He goes places no others have quite dared to. The Shape of Things is a four-hander, a dark comedy with many laughs to be had. Underneath LaBute's brittle humour is his devastating expose of ruthlessness in the realm of love and relationships. One only has to see the film In the Company of Men to witness how uncomprisingly brutal LaBute allows his characters to be, puncturing the expectations of love with cold, sharp ruthlessness. The Shape of Things centres on an art student and her relationship with an English-lit student. Throughout the course of their relationship he allowed her to influence him to change his hairstyle, lose weight, shed the glasses, don a sportier jacket, have a nose-job, drop his friends and even videotape their sex. All this to discover by the end of the play that she was using him for her art project with their relationship and its before & after photos, its garments, and videotapes, all on display. What is art, and what is love? These were the questions left wafting at the close of this classic LaButian play.
Last Saturday night 11 Oct Brig & I did a nice gig at a classy inner-city venue. Pennie & Bruno made an impromptu appearance and hung around to watch a set which was nice. (Always great to see Pennie & Bruno). I'd warily noticed there were loads of kids sitting on the street as I was packing up and loading the gear. These kids weren't causing much drama except to themselves, loads of beer & cheap wine guzzling with flurries of aggressive language being thrown about wantonly. I didn't like the vibe at all so I pulled up a flurried exit mit haste smoke & fume.


I played on Thursday night at the Raglan which turned out to be a very pleasant, soothing night of reciprical performance and listening to others get up and play. There was even a bit of money to be had, $20 which kindly paid itself for the salad and drinks I bought on the night. The Raglan in Alexandria is the sort of place where, for its apparently non-descript surroundings, you can genuinely relax and lie back as you take in the music and the constant supple sips of red wine.
This afternoon I did a set down at the Kauri in Glebe. The photo above is taken from one of the pub's windows. It was ok, a pleasant afternoon out all in all. In a fortnight I'll be providing the p/a and wearing my mr. soundguy hat. This should imply a few extra bob in hand for me, depending of course on how many beers are pulled during the course of the afternoon. And being the fastidious bastard I am I'll probably take along my whip. I can't stand lackadaisical pick-yer'nose performer types!!!

On Tuesday night I slunk off across town to see the main man play at the Annandale. Now this was a solo gig which is a curious anomaly considering that the Annandale is suited far more to alternative bands weekend grunge gigs. It's a fine live venue housing a large dark, dank room and is not so suited to acoustic singer-songwriters, particularly mid-week. Tuesday was cool and wet and the sort of night you'd just love staying home and being poised within your shelter and blankets. But because I love the main man and try and support him and his blessed music as often as I can, I drove myself over across town to the Annandale.

Parking near the venue was a forboding experience. The place had that empty vibe about it, resembling a bat cave that discouraged probing, attention. No inviting atmosphere to speak of at all. I walked in and spoke to the kid at the door. The main man was scheduled to commence his set at 9:50. It was 9:35. I'm hear the tinny, earnest sounds of young-guy rock penetrating through the drab'n'darkness. I smiled and said I'd be back in 15 minutes. I took off into the street and walked up Parramatta Road, strolling past and window shopping at all those guitar shops. In particular there's a new store called 'Bass People' that specialise in quality bass guitars. The two guitars on window display were an Alembic and a custom Warwick Streamer. I couldn't help but notice the 4-star showroom price tags, was this a spivvy sports-car dealership or a bass shop? The Alembic and the custom Warwick Streamer are the best of the best admittedly, when you're talking bottom end.

I walk around the block, purposefully and briskly. I walk past no one. It is drizzling. The cars whurr through on Parramatta Road in both directions, driven by people eager to be arrived at their destinations of settlement. I finally hurry back into the Anny to pay my twelver and go into the gigroom. The main man is tuning up. I see someone I know and we share a polite chat and I buy him a beer. He's there to see the support act but seeing the main man he tells me, 'is a bonus'.

I loved the set but it was obvious the main man was not enjoying it. Truthfully, it was an inconsonant time and place for this sort of thing. All of us would better off be home that night - that's what was in the air, perhaps to be transported to another venue on another night...the Manly Boatshed for instance which purportedly, I gather from the words of the main man's blog, was a much better gig.

Nonetheless the main man is a magic musician and I felt better and stirred and inspired for hearing those wonderful songs on a rainy Tuesday night. In particular the 'main song' was performed with more of a stark, almost pained, poignancy than I'd ever heard it. Long may the main man keep strummin' that 12-string! Thank you killa, for your gift, and your tremendous music.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Retriever



I've spent the past week minding Holly, the golden retriever! It's been great fun. It's the second time I've had the pleasure of looking after Holly, this time around I really didn't want to let go. I miss her so, a loving, magnificent dog is she.

I took her for long walks around the hilly streets of Clovelly morning and night. I maintained her on a lead. I cleaned up after her baggage at every dropping, disposing of the bagful of dogpound at each nearest public receptacle. It was so good to be with her. She's so loving and loyal, so friendly and gentle, yet so playful and energetic, naughty even. She totally loved being patted and stroked around the ears neck and belly. She enjoyed her food, her bones, and her water. And just being with me.

I greatly admired Holly's intelligence. She is highly intelligent where she needs to be. She doesn't need to care about stock markets or driving or jobbing or moneying or peopleing or boozing, demands deadlines or obligations, the existential realities of timely living. We had the paper delivered at the house I was staying at you see. Holly doesn't care about all those graphs on the headlines all last week that looked like ski slopes comin' down steep 'n' fast. Neither did I as I attempted to assume the mantle of innocence and pretended I was staring blankly at mountain maps on the descent side of things, very steep and sharp mind you.

I can't help but be drawn to what's going on in this sirius playpen of our daily world. After all I've placed money into the Global Generation Sustainability Fund when the fund became open to Australian investors. I put money into this particular fund because I was drawn to the fund's ethics and mainly because I like those words...Generation Global Sustainability. I haven't checked the dice but I'm sure it's tankers. Am I gonna panic like everyone else, or show dismay?? Nah. Just let it sit. If it rises again that's good. If it doesn't the likelihood is that global finance as a whole will be stuck in an awful place. It is now actually although heads of government are making appearances & taking steps to shave (save?) it although much of the action is seemingly of dubious intent. Why do the bailout crooks remain criminally rich?? When you're continually pouring money into banks & institutions in the hope of thawing out the fiscally frozen then the potential to cook up a mightily engulfing firestorm of inflation is horrifically rife.

Saw a good play tonight at my work digs, more on this another day, but tonight's drama was Brad Fraser's 'Unidentified Human Remains & the True Nature of Love'. A modern, ultra-urbane (set in Toronto or New York) piece dealing with sexual obsession and amorality, unhappiness and loneliness. Best of all is that it's a very good piece of theatre, a very well-written play, reflected of course in its outstanding success from the time of its first major production/performance some 18 or so years ago.

The dog has symbolised a straightforward element of truth to me this past week. A truthfulness demonstrated by freedom from unhappinesses, being in the now, in the body, being simple and in tune with life and earth, grassy pavement pooping etal. And by reading the daily papers one realises how far all of us westerners have driven ourselves away from this, our essential beingness. If we are to drive ourselves off the cliff in a matter of decades, years, even months, this way of life will be enforced and reinforced in us again, albeit amongst bric-a-brac, rubble, smouldering structures and the strange residual air of the dense, heady living that has been before us, once revered, now cindered and ruined, to be finally forgotten once and for all.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Doreen in the nude



Doreen in the nude, as performed by Al Ward on 21 September 2008 at the Balmain Rowers Club Balmain. The song is co-written by Al Ward himself and Lee Williams. The song was recorded in 1979 by Al's band, the Hokum Ensemble, then featuring Alan Meadows, my brother-in-law, on lead vocal. I don't have a copy of this song in it's original 1979 incantation. I'm awaiting digitisation of the vinyl EP they recorded and released back then, during the wonderful Balmain-year of 1979 and I look so forward to hearing Alan Meadows singing 'Doreen in the Nude' again from that EP. He performs the song with a delightful comic theatricality, full of little adlibs. The soundtrack is replete with kazoos, mandolins, washboards. In short it has that classic, authentic jug'blues sound.

I believe Doreen in the Nude, written by Al Ward & Lee Williams, to be one of the greatest Australian songs ever written, post-European settlement.

That may not be overtly evident here. I suspect Al hadn't performed this song in a very long time yet he pulls it off suavely and admirably. It's a way more laid-back delivery of the song compared to the original, more Australiana John Williamson in style, almost country.

Notice the audience becoming more animated with their laughter as the song progresses. :) Alan Meadows chimes in with the harmony on the line '...moonlight on your knees'!

The supreme magic of the song nonetheless exudes. Doreen in the Nude is stirring and uplifiting, and will make you laugh and smile. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

dog day afternoons

I moved into another housesit today. This is a one-week housesit within the current housesit I already have. It's a long weekend and I need it, I need the Monday to settle into some kind of whole from today's scattiness & disparateness. I feel the weekend's barely begun, feeling like I'm living in 3 places at once with boxes and guitars and foodstuffs, herbstuffs and (god forbid), plastic bags flying about everywhere and lord knows where they come from. I will need those though. I'm minding a dog.

A Golden Retriever to be precise. Holly. 3 years. She's beautiful and I look forward to taking a few snaps of her. She's sitting outside on the patio now, separated from me by sliding glass doors. Soon I will slide these doors apart and let her jump on me for a while. It makes her happy, and me too.

I've looked after Holly before, July 2007. I'm in Clovelly, a suburb I blogged a couple of months ago for a seaside sydney walk tour. I'm not far from the 'bay' that is called a beach, about 3 blocks in from Clovelly park that morphs into the sweet bay of the beach. I took Holly for a walk this afternoon. This suburb is gorgeous, a paradise. I particularly enjoyed gazing at the houses that sit sleepily and comfortably in this hilly beachside suburb. And up to about the late 70's it was primarily a 'working-class' suburb. Whatever may be, Clovelly is a quiet, villagey suburban beachside paradise, set on a valley overlooked from the north by Waverley Cemetery. I look forward to early rises and long walks with the dog around the suburb and beach. One morning I'll walk Holly to Coogee Beach and back via Clovelly Beach.

The weather promises to be cool, moderate and sunny next week. The past week has been a disaster. Warm weather reaching its climacteric with ghastly vindaloo heat on Friday (where the aircon failed in the Library, ugh!), mild, cloudy and muggy Saturday & Sunday. I'm looking forward to healthy cool nights, clear days and the low humidity that has been forecast for the coming week. The weather has been a real zigzag of extremities recently, just like the stockmarket.

A couple of weeks ago there was a palaver of sorts on the main man's blog (sk) over dog poop. SK voiced his objection to the brown stuff littered in patches and blobs throughout the streets of Bondi. Some people got their feet burnt on that issue. I'm reminded of all this with my current dogsit. My conscience remains clear, I always scoop the poop!! Really, people who don't scoop after their pup's poop are obviously selfish and inconsiderate, like rude drivers who pull up in front of you without indicating. Truth is, it's much easier to scoop up dog-crap than it is to change the bird-paper. Changing the paper in a bird cage is a grizzly process. You have to be delicate so as to placate the frightened bird that doesn't understand the intrusion in its cage. It's not like you can just grab it an' bag it. The paper remains under your nose during the operation and really, it is very unpleasant...!

I'm on fast broadband here. Only thing is, it's a wireless connection. I'm feeling a bit wired and fuzzy...is this the electro-microwave radiation emanating and concentrating itself at my computer?? Not sure...hmmm.

I considered the not-too-distinct possibility of purchasing a lottery ticket during the week. I reckon Clovelly is the ace spot for a slap-me-down immediate big-cash house purchase. Heck, if I can't afford to live here, I can always visit, or mind the dogs!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

cellphone laughter

I've been living happily without a cell phone for 3 weeks. Some three weeks ago I had to return it to the cellphone shop from whence I bought it from as it needed repair. I called the shop on Thursday morning 11 September telling them my phone needed servicing. They told me I needed to bring in my contract with the phone to honour the warranty privilege. I fished around at home, found the contract, phew. I raced to the shop on my way to work. Sign on the door, 'back in 10 minutes'. Ok I thought, I'll come by after work, late night shopping no hassle. 7:30pm, sign says closed, contradicting the official opening hours posted next to the 'closed' sign, of 9pm closure.

Friday morning 12th Sep. I return. Nat is on the desk this morning. She's a young lady who's mind was on the coming weekend's clubbing. (I could tell). She takes my phone telling me she'll contact me when it's ready. I say don't you want my landline numbers seeing my cell phone's in repair?? Sure she says scribbling down the numbers as i spell them out carefully to her.

The company takes the name of a number. It used to be called 'Orange'. I like orange, I like anything with the word 'orange' in it.

Last Thursday, 2 weeks into the repair job, I call the store politely asking about the phone repair's progress. Someone I hadn't spoken to previously answered the phone. She had trouble understanding english, or my english anyway. Away from the handset she asked Nat about my phone. I heard Nat say from a safe distance that it's not ready and "we'll call him when it's ready". This was repeated to me by the salesperson in broken english. Fine I thought, I'll wait for my call and in the meantime I bask in the realisation I'm enjoying life without the blasted, blasting cell phone.

Today I called the store. It was the guy I spoke to originally who answered. Again, polite as cream puff I ask him if, perchance, has my phone been repaired?? He paused, the phone was in the store and had been for a while, he tells me. (I had a suspicion this was the case..!) I heard a muffled Nat a metre or so from the handset say "..I called him.." The man came back to the handset to tell me Nat left a message for me on my cell phone to inform me that my phone had been repaired and was now available for collection. I suddenly let out a loud hoot, I guffawed, and broke out into a belly laugh that rocked the equilibrium of a quiet library.

"My...phone...was...with...you...!!! ...being...repaired...!!!", each word chucked out along with uncontained, uncontrollable spasms of laughter. I continued laughing, cahooting, chortling. I was having myself a grand old time. The man timorously ventured to offer up an awkward-sounding explanation of appeasement amidst my unrestrained jollity that made it seem all the more comic for me, "....er....your phone is available for collection.....".

I continued laughing, and kindly thanked him, and hung up the phone still laughing away. No hard feelings, I actually don't care. It's been terrific living without one of these radioactive appendages at my beck and my call for 3 weeks. Tomorrow, Friday, I go back to the store to pick up the phone, and it'll be Nat who'll be at the desk. I may yet have another laugh in store.

Laughing is good, a laugh a day keeps the senses vibrant, the feelings happy, and the blood-pressure down. I needed that.

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Jann Wenner, legendary editor of Rolling Stone magazine, is currently in Sydney launching a new publisher, or "carrier", for the Australian version of the magazine. He looked fit & fantastic on the photo of him in the paper. Starting the magazine from a San Francisco loft in 1967 with an outlay of $7500 Jann Wenner was, as much as anyone, in the right place at the very right time.

Jann Wenner interviewed John Lennon back on 8 December 1970, eerily an exact decade prior to the day of Lennon's death, in 1980. Over the years Jann has tirelessly ridden the wave of modern rock-culture, interviewing the cream of the rock and political crop since 1967. My favourite era of Rolling Stone is the mid-seventies. My sister left me a 10-year commemerative issue dating from 1977. Too many hi-fi system adverts in it. The photos of which there are many are great. Most if not all of the stars looked washed out, grubby, and drug-fucked. Yeah that was a golden age for a great magazine.

I like golden ages. In Australia the seventies was a golden age for theatre and "permissive" television (remember Number 96 anyone??...I don't, I was too young!)

Neil Finn played at this party of Wenner's last night in Sydney. He's very quiet he is, Neil Finn. Doesn't appear to write a blog. I'm not huge on Neil, I sort of have a love/hate relationship with him and his songwriting. It would have been great if the Church performed instead or along with Mr Finn. The Church instead did a corp gig two nights ago at the site of a dilapidated gas station up in Victoria Street Darlinghurst, next to Kings Cross. I'm in need of my live Chrunch fix now. It's been too long (almost a year). Kilbey's doing some solo sets around the place over the coming month. I may mosey down and enjoy hearing the man and his 12-string guitar. Join me if you do please. There's gotta be a thing such as...travelling at the speed of light, you'll be in Sydney in a flash!!

Good night, saving my laughter for the cellphone shop tomorrow. ;)

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 ...