Tuesday, 30 December 2008

painkiller gig 22 dec

Painkiller gig last Monday night, 22 Dec 2008, Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst.

I went along to the gig with the same friend I first went to see the Church with in Dec 1987, exactly 21 years ago, when Under the Milky Way was first performed. What has happened to us in 21 years?? Well, he has two children and a business that keeps him mightily busy while I'm childless and footloose and work in a library and make music in my spare time.

...I really don't wish to give up my music. I attribute my latter-day confidence and sanity to music, and the relationship that music has had with me over all of these years.

This was Steve Kilbey's 2nd Painkiller gig, the first gig having been at the same venue on 10 September this year. On 10 September I came in on my own at around 10pm and was upset because a close friend had been crying on the phone to me. Hearing those songs for the first time in the delicate state I was in had a seismic effect on me, I latched onto the sound and power of the Painkiller set instantly and walked out of the venue a changed man, inspired, raw and opened up within.

I had the advantage of being fully familiar with the songs by the time of the Dec 22 gig. It appeared that there were a few less people in the audience this time. Unfortunately I didn't speak to any of the bloggers but I now know who a few more of them are via Steve Kilbey's blog and facebook so next time I will definitely say hello to a few people. The girl doing the merch told me to hang around for Steve to sign the book I bought. I didn't feel like hanging around so I left but I hope I can tail Steve somewhere before he goes off to Melbourne so that he can sign my book. I haven't commenced reading it. I'm determined to finish Jim Sharman's autobiography before I touch anything else.

The Painkiller set was classic Kilbey rock. The band sound was full and exquisite. My eyes, as I was dancing away, were fixated on Kilbey and his bass. I was aurally transfixed by Kilbey's lyrics and his melodies juxtaposed to the bass riffs. Steve Kilbey is a master of composition, not utterly dissimillar to J S Bach who was a genius of counterpoint, the way the melody and bass groove together in such a bedrock yet inspired fashion. The bass-playing of Kilbey's takes me in to a very deep place, and god I love that.

Not to take anything away from the other fine musicians. Rick Maymi provided a wonderful wall of sound and glided his way through inventive chordal shapes and picked notes throughout the entire set so that, along with the rhythm guitar and keyboard programmer, the band imparted to these songs a colossal mix that made for a magnificent live sound. There's an idiot on Kilbey's blog who's causing a stir in attempting to diss Maymi's guitar playing, failing in his ignorance to acknowledge that Maymi is a brilliant musician. Be at the gig, watch him play, listen to him play, and then you know. Some people however can't know that, it's beyond their ken, so they diss. Maymi was brilliant.

Kilbey's bass was out of tune at the beginning but I didn't pick up on that and neither did my friend who has razor-sharp ears. The backdrop slide-show was awesome and enhanced the impact of these powerful songs. Kilbey appeared a touch more laid-back than he did at the September gig where he evinced a one-pointed resoluteness in performing these songs live for the first time. The band looked like they may have shared a smoke or drink or two but in no way did that detract from the performance, the music was perhaps made all the more sensual and pungent for it.

A brilliant gig and night. I wish Steve wasn't moving out of Sydney. It's been great having him here all these years and attending these fantastic gigs year after year, whether it be solo, the Church, or now Painkiller. But life moves on. I may be outta here before long, too.

Friday, 26 December 2008

harold pinter died today...

harold pinter died today. i was saddened by the news as i am when any playwright dies. at work we always put up a display when a playwright passes away. we do the same with famous actors though i'm more intrigued by the playwrights. i often stare at the displayed dates of birth and death and think about their lives and feel how sad it is they have died after all the creative effort and work they've put into making theatre that is immensely satisfying to them and to their audience.

i haven't seen a pinter play. there was 1 or 2 put on at drama school in my time but i didn't go for whatever reason. i read a recent pinter treatise on propaganda and the iraq war. i was impressed by the power of reason, the persuasive language and authority and passion the man poured through his pen onto paper (or keypad onto screen). i'd like to see a pinter play now the man has passed. all those classics with titles like the caretaker, or the birthday party. i like that, the birthday party. probably lots of vodkas and tails.

pinter seemed like the kind of person who could live on forever. his was a towering vibe, not a meek or angled one. there was presence and force about him. i only know that from the photos so really i don't know.

pinter's plays will likely live on. we have many authors & playscripts in our library whose work gathers dust. all these old samuel french editions of british playwrights from the turn of the century onward, left to lie dustily on our shelves with no interest taken by anyone. those men and women who wrote those plays, enjoying their writing, fervourous to create theatre, writing with their british know-how and mirth and empirical confidence and not acknowledging that in 80 years time no one will care just as no one will definitely be caring about what i'm writing about now in how ever many years time (count that on one hand lol)

i can't handle that people die. it sucks. i love you all and i want to be with you forever.

yes.... you.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

First Time Ever I Saw The Church

First time ever I saw the Church
was back in December of 1987
21 years ago or so today
at the Tivoli in Sydney
I was 17
in October 1987
i finished my last exam for school
and took to bed for a month
when I awoke I tumbled out of bed
i turned on the tv
it was 1987 = MTV
as I was rubbing my eyes onto a brave new world
this song came on
captivating chords and lyrics
i was hooked immediately
it was from a band i liked very much
a band i would in time grow to love and adore
the film clip was shot in NYC
and not the usual forests around canberra
or unused lots around sydney
the song opened up a whole new world for me
and continues to do so
for after having walked from the narrow confines of school life
this song symbolised new dimensions
new experiences
and a totally new direction
and it continues to do so
to this very day

at the Tivoli
the church were resplendent in classic 80's format
ploogy was on drums
the band appeared young and freshfaced
I stood near to the front on Marty's side
they started with 'when you were mine'
the signal coming through the foh speakers was too strong
half-way through the first song the speakers clipped harshly
making a horrible cacophany
and kilbey started a pace or so backwards
kilbey was in sensitive vegetarian mode
saying thank you after each song
in a kind, soft voice
that was different to what i'd been accustomed to
on tracks such as almost with you
or freulein
where the man's voice was deep and almost gravelly
towards the end of one song
as marty was swirling off the rickenbacker tones
in circular motion
some aussie git in front of me musta yelled out something nutso clever to marty
Marty yelled 'Shut Up'
and proceeded to swill off his can of VB (aka, aussie mens beer)
sitting atop his amp

they played that song
perhaps for the very first time
the friend I went along with hadn't yet heard the song
hadn't been watching mtv
the song received a rapturous applause
almost unusual for something so new
the band looked obviously pleased
my friend turned to me after the song had finished
and with a light in both eyes
"that was good"
it was the beginning of a new era for the band
they indeed had cracked something truly special
and i carry a love affair for that song
as anyone who knows me well and truly knows

sum school mates were there
yeah, in December 1987
geordie mcbain and stephen frosoni
they played in a band together
and still do
more garage & lounge rock stuff than is my usual schtik
geordie was a maths genius
who got kicked outta school for colouring his hair green
stephen was usually a sort of friendly kinda chapp
they were outtavit so didn't talk to us

the outstanding memory from seeing the Church for the first time
was Ploogy behind the drums
he was almost like a lead player
a lead drummer
his drive and energy were pushing the band from the backline
along with
his talent and artistry
his brilliant drumming
it's kind of sad that he fell away from it all
i saw him play in PK's band the Well
in 1990/91 at the Empire Hotel Annandale
ploogy was gregarious and even somewhat audacious
pushing the band from the backline
a geniunely fine talent was ploogy
i was pleased to see the Church
at least for that one time
with Ploog on drums
those were good times

I didn't bother with the Church
in the 1990 tour
Gold Afternoon was not my Fix
instead i returned to the band
for their 'final' concert
at the Enmore theatre
in October 1992
i can't recall too much about that concert
other than the electricity in the air
the musical intensity
the sublime rush and pass of a church concert
where the band knew it was the end of an era
it was possibly the best concert i'd ever been to
Peter Koppes was leaving the band
he had a mouth a mile-wide
with the corners creased into a noticeable downturn
unhappiness personified in face
and he kept this mask for the duration of the concert
Marty played with vigour and resoluteness
the drummer, perhaps jd, was a powerhouse of sound
kilbey was stoney and resolute
not really speaking
other that to say - what can i say this is the end !
a magnificent gig
rock at its searing sublime best

switch to 1994/5
i saw the church in duo format
SK & MWP both playing acoustic 12-string guitars
at the Metro in sydney
i remember that gig
(funnily enough)
as a picnic
like there was a blanket spread on the ground
and we were having a picnic in the black
while watching killa & co
sing their songs
and we were about level with them
in truth it was a good gig
kilbey again didn't do much talking
allowing his 12-string do that for him
except for his rock star impersonations
his elvis impersonations
that got the metro laughing

i liked 'Magician amongst the spirits' very much
it came at a good point in my life
by this point Koppes was back
and I'd go see the Church on many occasions from now
usually at the Metro
once at the Basement
though not at the Opera House or State Theatre
which i kinda regret now
the box the birds tour of 2000
also represented 20 years of the Church
in March 2000 at the Metro
the church faced a rougher crowd than usual
there were a few drunk idiots around me
Steve's wire was crossed
and fused
some hack yelled out to him "you're fucking brilliant"
"I'd agree with that" seth Kilbey quick as a dart through the mike
pointing to the pimple himself
the church remained in an indignant mood
which kinda spoilt it for the nice(r) people in the audience
i noticed marty was drinking heineken
obviously having graduated from the gutteral VB
that i'd observed him drink on stage some 13 years prior

possibly my favourite church gig
was a freebie at the market square
in November 2004
it was the perfect spring evening
with light-warm fresh breeze
and a glowing radiant sunset
i was waiting for my date at the manly ferry so as to hop across to the rocks
one of us didn't have our cellphones with us
likely me
she didn't turn up
20 minutes into the concert i had to go off on my own
she told me later she couldn't find the manly ferry wharf
i didn't believe her
everybody knows manly ferry wharf
just as everyone knows
the taj mahal
or sphinx
or coliseum
if you gotta meet outside those places...
and after having followed miss w to see her favourite band
like 3 times
a band i'm not particularly struck by
it was obvious this dalliance was to fall apart...
and so i took off to the gig on my own
as i arrived Marty was singing one of my favourite songs
something i'm intimate with
Kilbey was in a happy state
playing songs from the Blurred Crusade
such as "An Interlude"
announced as having been written at Rozelle Writers Centre
I was in heaven
and...they performed "you took" from the aforementioned BCrusade
hearing that bassline had me shivering very gladly
a group near the front began a big dance
i surged to the front
and joined in
this was musical heaven
if only every night was like this
after the concert
on my ownsome
i clouded through the crowd all glazed and churched-out and happy
i run into Stephen Frosoni & Geordie McBain again
plus a couple of others i knew
i join them at the pub for a couple of drinks
and we discuss the music and a bit about the old times
it was a nice moment

I last saw the Church supporting the Divinyls at the Enmore theatre
precisely one year ago in Dec 2007
I was asked if i was interested in seeing the divinyls
and because my favourite band were supporting
it was a no-brainer
the divinyls were quite enjoyable actually
i got into them
they had a great sound
great amps
very nice guitars
difference between they and the support act
is that the main act played all their hits
the support act played much recent material
eschewing the need to play songs from 1981
but they did play that song
from 1987/88...
Kilbey perhaps could see the irony of it all
at the end of the concert he imparted almost teasingly
through his microphone
"you've been a wonderful audience...
a curiously, charismatic audience"
these words carried in waves
and reverberated throughout every being in the theatre
the room was silent for that moment
and in a flash as i looked around
everyone's heads were like small shimmering pumpkins
all eyes bulged toward the singer
divinyls fans may have well wondered
who is this powerful, intriguing, and mesmerising man?

Long live the Church.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Don Walker's Blues

(posted on myspace)
I've posted a new song on MySpace...well, the song's not so new but it's a new addition for the 'space' anyway. Don Walker's Blues recorded by the band some five years ago. I play piano and sing lead vocal. Gav plays electric lead guitar, Mark w. plays bass and Pete Thompson's on drums. I've aped the style of Don Walker for this pithy dedication, Don being one of my biggest musical influences. The song came to my head one winter's night in 1993 as I was waiting for a connecting bus at Central. The song was completed soon after. I gave a copy to Don on tape after a Catfish concert. Don was also pleased by a very, very complimentary retrospective review I did of Cold Chisel's first album back in 1999. This is what he emailed to his publishers:

">Dear Jimi, Could you let Ross B_______ know that Bob Aird, the head of Rondor Music who publish my songs, sent me a copy of his retrospective review of the first CC album. It was very very complimentary. I look forward to hearing something called "Don Walker's Blues", but assure him that in all honesty I don't have much to whinge about. In the late seventies we used to know a very good guitar player from up towards Newcastle called B_______. Ask him if he's related.

Best Regards, Don."
Well I was chuffed, to say the least! Don Walker's the coolest guy on Earth. Kick-arse piano player, genius songwriter and quite likely, going by his honours degree, a genius physicist & mathematician. It's a cute song. I like the music. If the singing is cringeworthy at least enjoy the groove.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

fly me to the mac (aka, the dark side of the dell)

Monday night, 8 Dec

As a carry-on to last week’s spiritual spumante I am reminded of one spiritual precept that’s kind-of applicable to me right now. Any true spiritual precept or “rule” – there are rules but there are no rules – can only be true or real if it is the truth in one’s own experience, otherwise, it remains meaningless, and not true. This precept that I’m now about to dish out I believe to be relatively true, simply because it appears to be the truth in my experience. Here it is:

Any spiritual insights that have been truly realised, ie, movements into the body and the purity of consciousness within, the further deepening of true consciousness or insight into the vastness of things, produces the after-effect of loosening up the stored, past energies in the body to create circumstances that appear to “test” the newfound discoveries into the inner-realms of being.

“Tests” is sometimes said to be a misguided word, and is perhaps truer to suggest that the ‘past’ reveals itself in circumstances to allow one to have the opportunity to move through them with the valour and fortitude that is present now, and perhaps was not so present a week or so ago.

Some crazy shit’s been happening.

Perhaps it’s in the stars but I’ve had four instances over the past 2 weeks of rotten customer service. One of these instances is astoundingly bad. How’s this. On Sunday 30 November 2008 I walk into the Westfield shopping complex in Bondi Junction and visit the Dell computer kiosk. I’d decided to purchase a Dell desktop PC after much to-ing and fro-ing and not being really sure if it was a desktop or laptop I was really after. I made a tentative decision to go desktop and buy. The moment of purchase is mucked up because the guy didn’t know how to conduct a direct transfer from my bank account online. Ok I tell him, why don’t I pay by credit card. Sure says the salesboy. I go back to the online bank and into my c/c and clear that account fully so as to afford the new p/c. Then the salesguy tells me that the order has been sent and confirmed as a “direct deposit” purchase. What difference does it make I ask, wishing he’d let me know beforehand. The guy looks consternated and decides to email my c/c details avec explanation to the head office in Sydney; emailing c/c details is always a risky business but I let him do it. I made him remove the email afterward.

The underlying problem was that the salesmen’s English was not all that clear – I don’t usually mind that at all – but coupled with a busy mall where the volume of the shopping crowds tends to interfere with serious conversations with the vendor, problems and misunderstandings are bound to ensue. The salesguys were nice and helpful, no problems there.

Needless to say a hiccup ensued. I was not to know until eight days after I created this order for a new Dell PC that the credit card number bounced due to a faulty digit or something (strange because I triple-checked every detail on that original email). By Tuesday last week I’d begun to be concerned that my c/c was not charged. On Wednesday I call back the kiosk and spoke to someone else. They check my IRN (which I’d been doing anyway) and tell me that the order had been “received” (as opposed to “confirmed” which is the next step). I knew my order had been received so I emailed Dell via their automated email thingy with all the boxes you fill in etc.

By Thursday night my gut-feelings of concern intensified and I call email Dell for the second time. Again, no reply. By Friday morning I’m on the phone to the Dell help desk and talk to a charming woman who is sitting on the phone in some hot city located somewhere between Hong Kong and Constantinople. She reassures me that my order is “received” and that it takes a few days for the credit card to charge.

By Monday morning I’m on the phone to the kiosk again DEMANDING they call head office and sort this out for me, and to call me back with answers. He didn’t call me back, I called him again. He told me that the credit card number bounced because one number was unauthorised and that an email was sent back to head office. Ok, mistakes happen and the whole exercise has been a schmozzle from the very start – BUT WHY DIDN’T THEY CONTACT ME IMMEDIATELY???! The salesguy on the phone solemnly agreed that this was poor behaviour on Dell’s part. AND WHY WEREN’T MY EMAILS ANSWERED AND MY PHONE CALLS FOBBED OFF WITH PHONY REASSURANCE THAT MY ORDER WAS “RECEIVED”? The salesguy was a little warm under the collar. I was nice to him, thanked him for his assistance and asked him to email my complaint to Dell. He said he would. I told him I’d have to think about cancelling my order. Later I rang back and asked if he sent that email. He told me he “cancelled my order” – nothing said about the email. Oh, this is his way of sweeping everything under the carpet.

Well, Dell won’t get away with this too easily. I’ll email this around the Dell people to make sure that this is KNOWN about. Yes mistakes happen, that’s life, but this kind of dart-around negligence is deplorable. Only at my 5th attempt at follow-up where I had the guy by the phone-line throat any kind of real action taken. I can’t understand it, does not Dell want my grabby-booty-looty?? Do not vendors wish to rectify c/c processing errors IMMEDIATELY?? It’s money after all, livelihood, bread on the table, moet by the swimming pool. Obviously not. And Dell are never EVER going to get it for an eternity from my hands.

Dell should call their customer service line “Krapp Kustomer Kareline”.

So I’m probably gonna go and buy an I-Mac instead. Huh!

It didn’t end there. Immediately after not-purchasing my Dell computer I walked over to the kiosk next to Dell’s that happened to be my ISP who’ve happily provided me with diaper for 5 years at $17 per month. I ask the girl at the counter about cancelling my dialup to move to broadbean, if I receive a refund for unused diaper, if I can stall my connection until my new computer arrives. The girl looked perplexed. She told me I have to speak to the “TPG guys” but understands that dialup & broadbean are two separate services and it would be worth my while getting onto broadbean straight away. I decided to take her advice, even though she trailed off her advice with a crusty, stale smile.

Service with a snarl indeed.

Why did I bother asking those questions? For further validation? I’d emailed TPG sometime ago to receive that answer that the dialup is refunded when broadbean is activated. There was no need to ask again.

I decide to activate broadbean immediately, to get the show on the road as it were. On Sunday night, 30 November I’d sent my application over to TPG via internet.

In three days time my diaper is cancelled and I receive a modem in the mail that I can’t use with my current computer that has no Ethernet connector.

Again I suffer the frustrating knowledge that someone was paid to dish out wrong advice that sort of put me out a bit. To top that off I’m now almost rueful about my broadbean contract. I signed an 18-month contract. Am I crazy? Am I going to stay in this abode for the next 18 months? My instincts told and tell me “no”. I shoulda gotta laptop and gone wireless, but wireless makes me feel my head’s getting clamped by unknown alien forces, so I’d rather be choked by wires and breath the air around me.

Decision-making and its ensuing consequences can be so capricious. This suggests the possibility that that which is capricious in life isn’t fundamentally important after all. I feel this whole enterprise of researching into buying a new computer & broadbean connection has been a studied exercise in pissing up high against the wind. I’ve never been at ease with techno stuff and that shows. It’s always like, yeah ‘whatever’ for me, as long as it works.

God how I yearn for the simple life sometimes.

It often interests me how it is that people come into your life. You first notice them at the very edge of your circle. Slowly and imperceptively they circle the maze that brings them closer to you with each lap of the circumference. You begin to notice them more. At some point they cease circling and flash some colour of recognition. Then, like a dart, they zoom straight into your current field of awareness and into your solar plexus.

New life chapters flap their pages across the breeze..

Tuesday, 9 Dec, at work

Postlude to the above. In attempting to save the current document as it stands above onto my flash drive my computer died. I could only get the thing working by holding up the video card as it was operating and doing what I needed to do in a terribly twisted position by the floor. After many stops and starts, it was done.

This morning I looked at some macs. I don’t know, I’m not impressed by anything. I just need a computer that’ll work and that’s that. The buying is so difficult, the using of the machine should be fine.

I still unsure as to what to do, but I’m currently left with no computer.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Bernie Prior in Sydney

Tonight I walked over to the Living Essence Centre on Victoria Road in Bellevue Hill to attend a meeting with Bernie Prior. It was a lush early summer's night with warm air and healthy seabreeze. Here is a blurb on Bernie, and it very much worth checking out the website:

"Bernie Prior is a self-realised contemporary Master who is widely recognised as a true spiritual seer and powerful transformer of evolutionary consciousness in humanity.

He travels extensively urging audiences world-wide to “wake-up” to their true nature and purpose of evolving from the misperception of separation, toward an understanding and embodied experience of oneness and infinite expression."

Bernie's teaching is comprehensive and takes in tantra, ie, divine love and union between the male and female principles on Earth.

Bernie is pretty much what you'd call a Western Spiritual Master. He does not use Eastern terminology, he does not dress elaborately (quite casually in fact) and he addresses us to take full and utter responsibility for living the truth through these bodies, as individuals. Behind his sweet, playful & dapper manner, Bernie's energy is searing and extraordinary. He is uncompromising in his one-pointed love when addressing us, either collectively or individually, to rid ourselves of the false, or the untrue, and be totally in the new, the unknown, where the first principle of life that creates our bodies and the universe we know and cognize around us, resides. Yet there is never any judgement placed on the untrue, for what is, is.

We are the One Consciousness, individuated in multiple bodies.

The late Barry Long (1926-2003) was a pioneering Western spiritual master. He urged all listeners to "not believe me unless it is the truth in your experience". He too, taught men and women of divine lovemaking, and comprehensively of love, life, truth, death & god.
As a young spiritual inquirer in Sydney during the late 50's, Barry Long was by his own account 'influenced' or directed by the work of J.Krishnamurti (1895-1986). Krishnamurti pioneered this modern form of spirituality that was subsequently taken on by Barry Long and more recently by others such as Bernie Prior and Eckhardt Tolle; this spirituality being utterly non-demonational and relating to a purity that is constantly new and renewing itself every moment....this precept of course, represents a beginning and certainly not an end. Divine consciousness is forever, always deeper, never ending.
Bernie was born in England and currently lives in New Zealand but travels the world for meetings and retreats. Tonight he announced he's moving to Sydney. This hit me as an arrow does, straight to the stomach. I awakened immediately. Wow, I thought, consciousness as represented by Bernie is moving into my vicinity. Bernie is looking to set up an abode somewhere between Bondi and Bronte as he senses this area represents the "eternal mother". That's fair enough I thought, I believe Brighton & Cronulla beaches on the southern suburbs of Sydney represent "Eva Cassidy territory". And one of my very favourite artistes, mr sk, lives in North Bondi. I realised there's some great energy simmering pretty much from under my feet, upon the ground I stroll and wheel along.
I realised Barry Long was born and bred in Sydney (he moved to England in 1964 where he lived for 22 years before returning to Australia to live his remaining life in the Tambourine Mountains & Northern NSW). What is it about this place that attracts the spiritualists? Mine is not to question. Despite my grumbling of how much I want to get out of the city I suddenly felt thankful for being here and am delighted that Bernie is moving to Sydney. The shift in consciousness within me, I'm certain, will continue to accelerate. What a gift this is! Of course, this is not done for "me", the self, but for the consciousness we all share.
I am likely to attend Friday evening's meeting in Crows Nest, and perhaps the day workshop on Saturday. I tend to attend Bernie's meetings/workshops in Sydney at least twice a year.
Where it really counts, right now, within, is good. Pure and simply good. God bless us all.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

December descends

This morning's journey took me through a different route to that which I'm normally accustomed. I attended a Library software users meeting in the southern suburb of Kogarah. The meeting commenced at 10am and I arrived in the door at 10:10 with the casually-dressed and not too time-stressed delegates all chinned-up and chatting amiably with each other about their libraries. I'd parked my car in the next suburb, only because that was the nearest parking spot I could find with no parking restriction signposts.
I walked briskly to my destination, walking around in circles hoping to locate the venue, that it'll simply land in front of my feet. I'm not very good with maps, I usually just take a quick glance at them and hope for the best. I walk into a large bank to ask for directions. Finally as I raced into my meeting at 10:10 I darted immediately to the refreshment table where I replenished myself with cool water, following that with about about 3 or 4 cups of an average blend of filtered plunger coffee that was plentifully supplied. The allure of available coffee at a function or event is the one beverage - or form of calorie (and caffiene) intake - I find impossible to resist.

I'm never totally at ease at these events, partly because I feel somewhat removed from librarians and their seeming dedication to their jobs. Don't get me wrong, I'm good and I'm dedicated, but I'm thus so primarily in the moment of service or action. I'm an organic librarian, if that makes sense. It's just that, I don't find it too stimulating to chat to fellow librarians about the ins and outs of their libraries, the library I work at, or the rigmarole and day-to-day activity that transpires in such work. I just do my job, do it well often enough, love my clients (mostly students), and that's about it.
Librarians too, both male and female, I find exude a certain...you could say, saccharin feline-ness, most notably when grouped together. There's like this snug untouchability I can't put my finger on, and yes, I'm very likely to possess saccharin feline-ness and snug untouchability in spades, but I sure come across differently to pretty much everyone else.
When it was my turn to speak I asked the sales rep about software upgrades. He told me of a couple of options, none too convincingly. I ask, somewhat forthrightly and bluntly, "Well what do YOU recommend??". Everyone laughed, and the sales rep looked a little taken aback although smilingly so. It wasn't my intention to be blunt or forthright, it's just that, well, perhaps I'm a little rougher than everyone else in a small way. My bluntness is an in-the-moment-bluntness. It's quite obvious I'm quirky in my manner and obtuse in my intentions. And I suppose I just don't go along with the librarian-style saccharin-feline humour that tends to bounce around like fur balls at these round-table meetings.
As individuals they are, pretty much, all nice people. There is a great deal to be said for that. It was very good to chat to a couple of fellow delegates afterward, while nibbling on sandwiches.
I suppose in my library the small body of staff differ enormously from each other in personality and character, and from librarians in general. You sort of have to be, to work in a theatrical environment. I'm glad I work where I do. My reason for going into libraries has fulfilled its purpose. I like libraries, I enjoy them, and they allow me the opportunity follow my own creative pursuits outside of working hours. It's a lifestyle job, more or less.
If I was to leave the job today I wouldn't look back on any of it (well, maybe a little bit!), and that's the difference between myself and your usual dedicated librarian.
If I was to become a library manager somewhere, well, that may well change. I may well glue my manager's seat into infinity.
I noticed - smelt - how glazing and white the light was at 1pm as I drove back up the Princes Highway, and onto Gardeners Road, and finally into Anzac Parade where I work. I recognised that glazing white light, a signal of recognition, the familiar sense that summer was here.
December, with the hazy-glazy white heat and light refracting off the cars, the bitumen, the trucks and lorries on major arteries in semi-industrial areas. Yeah, that's pre-Christmas, down-under style. I hope there's time for some of the good stuff!
There be time, I'll make time.
In two weeks I'm on leave, there's the time! ;)

Saturday, 29 November 2008

'Emergency' 2008

I've been to the theatre for a couple of nights this past week. The directing students have put on their showcases within two separate programs that run concurrently in different spaces. At the same time I'm responsible for making sure all leaving students are 'clear' as far as matters pertaining to my department are concerned - I can't say I'm entirely free from stress at the moment..

We were treated to two Tennessee Williams pieces. I must say I was impressed by the quality of his writing, it's fresh, fragrant, easy to understand. There is a vibrancy to his work too, he instinctively understands theatrical dialogue, his narratives are captivating and enjoyable, perhaps this is why he's known as one of America's greatest playwrights? The two pieces, 'And tell sad stories of the deaths of Queens' and 'This Property is condemned', were quite contrasting in direction, story and flavour. It was the zinginess of the language that united them. Wonderful stuff.

'In the solitude of cotton fields' was intensely cerebral yet superbly choreographed and acted. This piece by the late Bernard-Marie Koltes was a primal, semi-disturbing take at mankind's quest for survival via the modern means of commerce, buying, selling, dealer, client. This piece, utilising two actors, dates well; it seems to hit the spot for the place and times we, as the West, are at, 2008 and beyond.

'The Bald soprano' by Eugene Ionesco and translated by Tina Howe, was comic absurdism at its finest. Excellently cast and directed, this piece had the audience laughing and guffawing the whole way through. Absurdism has its moments, I love it, and I can't help but find that most things I stumble into (including myself) are dosed with healthy (or otherwise) sprinkles of absurdism.

John Herbert's 'Fortune and men's eyes' is one of the more intriguing pieces of this set of plays. It seemed ultra-contemporary (perhaps that was the set) but doubtless this Canadian play would have sent shock-waves throughout the theatre community back in 1967 with its graphic depictions of violence, criminal allegiances and forced gay sex within the confines of a prison cell. This piece was well directed, particularly the movement aspects, and was a riveting and enjoyable piece of theatre.

Paul Vogel's 'How I learned to drive' was dealt with uncle-to-niece incest and family relations in small-town America. This was a poignant look into family relations in small-town America that somehow broadened into wider themes of lack of love, lack of connection between the generations, and the individuals incased in it, each playing their supposed roles. I found this piece personally moving and loved the acting and the script.

That's it now. No more theatre for me for '08. It will be work, rest and play for December, in that particular order, and in equal amounts.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

fighting the bullfighters

It's said you learn something new everyday. Well, sure as hell I learnt something new last week, and that's all about the ins-&-outs of bullfighting.

I always turned a blind-eye to this thing called "bull-fighting" (an ultimate form of bullshit it is, really), taking in more of its general comic aspects such as the matador and his red cape, with the bull charging through while the matador lifts the cape just the bull is charging toward the cape and about to rip shreds off it with his horns.

That's the sort of thing I'd seen of TV, etc, and I kind of thought that was all there was to it. I had no idea of the carnage and brutality involved with this event until I read Steve Kilbey's post titled the horror show last Monday morning.

The short of it is that Steve was performing at the Adelaide Vegan Festival last weekend and in between sets he sat down at a video room to watch a load of rather upsetting and disturbing footage, his blog is a recount of what he saw.

I myself was shaken and upset by all of it. Much of it I'd known about, but having it recounted to me in that incisive, poetic way that is truly Kilbey's hit me to the core. The bullfighting I hadn't known about and perhaps this narrative affected me the worst, partly because the event is a spectacle offered up as entertainment. It's fucking atrocious, that's what it is. Here's an extract from Kilbey's blog:

...i wandered into a booth showing films
as i walked in
there was a bullfight on the screen
a tired bull covered in blood
and losing blood copiously
stuck thru with nasty little spears
finally the matador appears
a real hero
ponced up in his stupid fucking clothes
no, he should be wearing a butchers smock
this courageous prick
eventually stabs the dying confused bull
in the head
and the poor poor thing
expires in more torrents of blood
then the whales...

And so, distressed and alarmed as I was, I commence wiki'ing & googling bullfighting to discover that it's existed since ancient times. The practice and celebration of bullfighting has been concentrated in Spain and Mexico over that past 600 or so years where it's considered to be part of the cultural tradition of these countries.

I was gladdened to read that many contemporary Spaniards oppose the practice of bullfighting. A 'tradition' it may well be but that does not disguise the fact that it is criminal savagery at its upmost and is an appalling indictment of humanity's inhumanity to its fellow living creatures. The fact that it is an "entertainment" adds that further dimension of twisted, macabre horror to this diabolical fiasco.

So there are "picadors" on horseback armed with spears, spearing the bulls. The horses too have to cop a walloping throughout this whole ridiculous process. The bull of course, this magnificent beast, forced unwillingly by man's cruel sadistic hand to partake in this sacrificial murder-game, suffers most violently and heinously.

Why pick on the bull? The bull is the symbol for the sign of Taurus. The bull symbolises (in a totemic way) virility and masculine strength. They have big balls, apparently. Is there some sort of sub-conscious degenerate drive by followers of this practice to prove man's "superior" masculinity, his goddamn machismo, by subjugating a living bull with this kind of prolonged torture?? With loads of imbeciles seated around the arena cheering on??


And every year in Spanish cities there's that fucking bullrun where people get killed and gored as they run out of the way of the charging bulls. Masses of young men involve themselves with this, I've read that it has to do with fucking machismo (again). You can be sure the bulls would rather be at home, in the pastures, with the cows and their calves. And for all those idiots who get gored and killed, and those fucking matadors too, well that's just tough shit. LEAVE THE ANIMALS BE! Matador deaths are rare apparently what with doctors and surgeons at close standby at these bullfighting events. The matadors themselves are dressed to the nines in protective gear. Geez that's a bit unfair isn't it, the bull doesn't quite get that kind of preferential treatment does it.

No. The bull is an innocent defenceless victim, prey to the viciousness of men who inflict their savagery and lack of true masculinity and nobility (in the cosmic sense of the word) on these magnificent beasts.

Bullfighting should be banned. Ideally it would be better that it weren't banned as such, but instead the populace en masse decided they weren't interested in partaking in this horror show no longer, leaving the seats and the arena airily vacant.

Love this earth, respect this earth, be cosmic! We are man and woman. What's done is done, let's progress and unite, be true, be more loving, patient and aware.

Bullfighting has had its day. Let's move on.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Balmain Ukulele Klub

I went along to the Balmain Ukulele Club tonight, at the Gladstone Bowling Club in central Balmain. It's my second visit to the club, my inaugural steps to ukuleledom were taken in April, some seven months ago. Club meetings are held on the first "teen" Monday of every month except January.

The photo above is my uke, the Cole Clark Ukulele handmade from solid Australian Blackwood. Blackwood is very similar to Hawaian Koa of which traditional Hawaian ukes are made.
The Gladstone Bowling Club is an anachronism in time and that of course accounts for its many charms.Vintage, unassailable fun! Ok, up to about 7pm we strum along with the band who are calling out the chord changes from the microphone. From 7pm-8pm we play along to songs with the chord charts having had been emailed to us the week beforehand. Tonight we had a reggae theme. We strummed along to 'I shot the Sheriff' and various others. Tony Larwood conducts the session and gives out pointers through the microphone on various strumming techniques and chord fingerings.

A room full of people with their ukuleles!!!!! The ukes in the room range from the $20 Mahalos to very expensive Hawaian-made Kamakas, plus some locally-made custom beauties and relics from the 1920s.

From 8pm onward we have solo time. About a dozen of us get up and sing a song. Some people get together in groups and dress up (see the photo a few above!) I sang 'Sloop John B' and tried to calypso it up but I couldn't get the "white" Pet Sounds aka Brian Wilson version out of my head!
I took my glasses off and kept my eyes transfixed on the mike. Next time I'll loosen up and talk a little more when I perform. The next time - hopefully next month when there shall be a Christmas party - will be my third visit and I'll be suitably relaxed by then.
I was telling someone about how people are so friendly here. They replied by saying something of the sort that "you can't put up any attitude if you're playing a ukulele!" We had a good laugh over that!

As the proceedings drew to a close I spied someone I recognised. I went up to her and indeed it was Donna with her new husband, that was a very pleasant meeting! I have not seen Donna in about five years. I noticed she was playing a Kamaka uke that they bought in Hawaii on their way home from holiday.
Donna, who once played drums, remarked underhandedly how much easier it is to carry a uke than a drumkit. Oh yes, the uke is easier to carry than just about anything!!! Which of course is one of its beauties.
I can't wait to go back. Not only was this fun, it was kind of heavenly. The ukulele is a most sweet instrument and those old sweet jazz-blues jug tunes just don't sound better on any other instrument. Geez I feel happier now!
Long live the sweet ukulele!
And all these photos were taken from my cellphone and immediately "published" onto my other blog, the cellphone camera photo dumpsite. How nifty is that!

Sunday, 16 November 2008

OzMusic Day @ Darling Harbour

OzMusic day at Darling Harbour, Saturday 15 November. A day featuring two-stages of grassroots songwriters, one stage for the solos and the other for bands. I played bass in one band and took photos here and there. I stayed back at the end to help with packing up the backline, and, possessing an overworked sense of responsibility I offered to help out with reviews for my friend's magazine. The looks on people's faces when I said I'd do so was the same for everyone, that crumpled mouth look of "ok" that masked a flicker of pleasure and relief for being absolved of responsibility.
It was a cool & cloudy day thankfully, the heat can become uncomfortable if you're staying out all day in this weather. I suppose the clould cover put a damper on things, I certainly felt like it was all business-as-usual and not particularly zingy or bouyant with that.I like the blue balloon in the above photo.

The bands performed at the Palm Grove stage although for some reason they didn't bother setting up the stage this year. Playing in the band I would've prefered that they had but it didn't matter a great deal, it's all small-fry stuff.
David Griggs at the acoustic stage. He's an English-expat who's been living in Australia for 13 years now. He is a brilliant singer-songwriter, sensitive yet strong, a little plaintive, tasteful, a fine musician and natural story-teller.
This guy is playing his dad's guitar. I sold the guitar to his dad. It's a BEAUTIFUL guitar. A Maton thinline made of American Rock Maple back & sides & neck, but Australian-made. Neck was too wide & uncomfortable to perform it with my duo. Almost regret selling now, but it's in good hands, both father's pair and son's.Beccy Fielding. Great voice and soulful feeling, uses nice jazzy chords on the guitar with cool rhythms. She attracted a strong crowd.
I enjoyed taking this photo of feet. The red shoelaces stand out!
This guy, Cameron, was a pretty schmick performer.
Megan Barnes, a great singer, showing off her new guitar, a Maton EM225c made of laminate Queensland Maple back & sides & neck, Spruce top.
It had to happen didn't it...SHOW-OFF TIME!! Russell Neal took these photos. This must have been a nice musical moment.
We only get together in this format rarely these days. We still do acoustic gigs together. It's basically bumptious blues rock, like Animals meets Creedence. Gav the guitar player writes. I just choreograph the arrangements and play the bass. We used to have more members and I played keyboards. Eventually I moved onto bass. I don't think my heart was in this gig quite, I was thinking about when to do my laundry.
I wouldn't mind joining another band. It'll have to be lighter music. I don't want to do anything too heavy these days. Something like jazz/folk/rock or something.
He plays drums and cracks backs.Birds in the sky.
So there you have it. A day out, many acts, much music, a day of festivities covered in cloud. I'm not entirely sure I wish to be involved in next year's event. I think, musically, I'll just lead where my heart takes me (like most things in life).
Afterward I drove to Curlewis Street Bondi to pick up a frame that Lady Cool had purchased at Ra Ra Superstar shop. She asked me to pick it up for her seeing as I have a car, so I did. It's sitting beside me now. I had some steamed veges for dinner and later made a walking trip to the supermarket armed with green cloth bags. The laundry will have to wait for the weather to warm up again.
Funny...you do things like gigs, and then they're over as soon as they start, and you sort of think 'what's the point?'
I suppose the same could be said of most things, something just drives us on!
It's the drive, the imperative, the life-force, the qi, that is fundamentally important, using it, harnessing it, respecting it, loving it, and being grateful for it.
As for those reviews, *sigh*, I'll just kind-of make them up!

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Struggle & Strain

all of my life
i have known
Stuggle & Strain
a pair of curmudgeon ole timers
as olde as time itself
when dawn first cracked the psychic membrane
of ancient man
who dreamt up this here moment
and the scrambled rush of four years hence
in the incredible fury of global stuggle & strain
i see my own killjoy couple
stuggle & strain chained to rb 1970-
but they're loosened off right now
they don't quite have the same hold
as they may have held
at many divergent points in my (One) life
my cobblestone career of multiple recurrences
including that of cross-carrying zealot religionist
over the past few thousand years

i may have died in many wars
i may have died in pain
i may have died on many lands
i may have drowned in rain
i may have owned a hundred castles
i may have owed the mans
i may have been a pauper's polish
i may have staked a-claim
the sun has risen in the East
and set in the West
since time began
when Julius C was butchered by Brutus
when Jesus C was nailed to a cross
when Hiroshoma was horrifically atomised
and when towers came crashing down 7 years ago
the sun rose in the East
and set in the West
perhaps nothing really changes
only we think it does...

now Nov 08
the sun days are sublime daze
they become longer
the Chinese Jasmine pour forth their fragrant perfume
the leaves are freshly green
bountiful and eager to live
Struggle & Strain may retire dutifully
i've sent them packing to the old folks home
of pannies & peeled bananas
their ancient heads will reemerge no-doubt
but never with the same virilence
as they did in 1208
or 6 AD
or 1917
i've known the pair for way too long
and now my light spring soul says simply
I've had enough.

Paul Hewson shooting star

i'm in the sunshine A mate of mine produces a monthly songwriter newsletter which goes out to a hundred or so mainly Sydney-based...