27 August, 2007

On Drugs: An Occasional Series

In this latest occasional series, I’ll be going through my experiences with a variety of drugs. I’ll be doing it in order too, from most recently-used to first-used.

Why drugs? Well, why not? They’re all around us and I’m hoping to add to the store of human knowledge, debunk some urban myths and maybe even provide something of a Frommer’s or Lonely Planet-type Guide. It won’t be encyclopaedic because my experiences don’t run the whole gamut. But you might find it interesting.

I’m expecting there to be some spirited commenting on the back end of all of this too. Lift up your voices!

18 August, 2007

How Does It Feel?

A good mate had an article on Bob Dylan published in the Age on Monday. The A-Z of Bob and Other Weird Stuff. Give the kid a break and check it out.


17 August, 2007

The Ballad of Lad Litter and TLOML VII: Against All Odds – Lad Litter’s Guide To Winning A Woman™

Here it is folks: How To Find A Woman Despite Total Incompetence: Based On What I Did In The Previous Posts On This Matter. It’s a longish set of sub-titles but conveys fairly precise meaning, don’t you think? Perhaps not.

Just a couple of disclaimers first: this is a very complex area; my expertise is limited; any advice given here is not in any order of priority; and said advice probably won’t work.

1) Well, you do have to make an effort. I really wanted to say that doing nothing and waiting for something to just fall right into your lap was the way to go, but the evidence simply doesn’t bear this out. Even though it felt that way to me at the time. And it would’ve been nice to be able to directly contradict every single smug self-help bullshit artist on the planet. Fuck it. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

You have to show interest. Not too much: if your eyes bug out with an accompanying klaxon sound when you see her and your jaw drops to the floor allowing your tongue to roll along after it, you’re overdoing it.

But not too little either: You can’t rely on her showing interest if you don’t. I know women sometimes do make the first move, but believe me, this is rare. And if you’re the sort of bloke who reads blogs like this one, then chances are you’re not beating chicks off with a baseball bat.

So, pay attention to her. Listen carefully to what she says and if you can, slip in some of the funny stuff, making sure it’s supportive of what she’s saying. Because if the two of you can do a bit of laughing together, even better. So if you get the impression she’s just said something funny, laugh with her. You may miss the cues for her gags if you’re mentally undressing her. Watch out for that.

2) The eternal dilemma: do you be yourself, and risk saying or doing something stupid? Or be guarded and chance having her think you’re a cold fish? Well, the answer in most cases would appear to be striking a delicate balance between the two.

You need to be on something approaching your best behaviour, but with a bit of your true self on display there too. Be gentlemanly, but not foppishly or grandly so. Be casual, but not so at ease that you go into the toilet and continue the conversation with the door open.

3) For chrissakes get sick. This is very important. Hurry! Before you fuck things up and she dumps you. It’s no good getting sick after the dumping. She’ll be more likely to think you’re faking it then. Especially if you are.

4) Act like you belong in a relationship, even if it feels a bit funny. So when in a social gathering among friends, don’t grin broadly and nod your head in the direction of your date with a “Golly, look what I got,” expression.

You need to be casual and natural about the new and exciting presence of a girlfriend. So be attentive without smothering or dominating her. But don’t just leave her and go off to chat with your mates. This is a really hard one. I STILL fuck this one up.

In fact, I still fuck a lot of it up, and we’ve been married for 18 years.

15 August, 2007

There's A Sign On The Wall But She Wants To Be Sure...

We were off to a 17th birthday party for TLOML's niece so we drove down King St on the way to Big Sister's in Melbourne's south-eastern suburbs. We were stopped in traffic, which gave TLOML and I a chance to browse some of the signs outside King St's strip clubs.

One sign immediately grabbed our attention. It read something like this: Interactive All-Male Revue.

TLOML looked at me with a raised eyebrow. The traffic cleared and we drove on.

Later when we were away from the radar-like ears of Moe; Larry; and Curly, she asked knowingly:

"What would interactive mean in the context of a strip show, I wonder?"
"It might represent the appropriation of a term most closely associated with computer programs," I explained. "Interactive means you can influence the way the application runs, and the application will, um, respond to what you do. Hands on is a synonym for interactive."

"And in the context of An All-Male Revue?"

"Well, remember when Johnno had that job at Crystal T's ages ago? He told me in some detail how those shows used to get very hands on."

"I think I understand. But you've never mentioned Johnno having a job at Crystal T's before. What sorts of things went on?"

"Well, this is only hearsay you understand, but...I'll have to ring Johnno tomorrow to get precise details. Can you wait?"


And I hope you can too.

05 August, 2007

Great Gigs I: John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers; the Chevron; 1982

When I first heard late in 1981 that a reformed John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers lineup were about to tour Australia, I was absolutely rapt. A visit by one of the key influences on the British blues scene of the 60s was no small matter.

For non-aficionados, the Bluesbreakers were a proving-ground for a host of brilliant players who would establish ironclad blues credentials in the Bluesbreakers and then go on to greater fame in other groups: guitar players Eric Clapton; Peter Green; and Mick Taylor; bass players Jack Bruce; and John McVie; drummers Aynsley Dunbar and Colin Allen.

For devotees, it didn’t really matter what lineup was current, John Mayall was a fabulous multi-instrumentalist writing and arranging driving force, responsible for the core sound and feel of the group.

Like many, I’d sought out albums like: Bluesbreakers, A Hard Road; Crusade; and Blues From Laurel Canyon to get in touch with earlier influences and incarnations of those stars of the late 60s blues-rock scene.

And in doing that, I became a fan of the Bluesbreakers, not just an admirer of prominent individuals within the group.

The reformed lineup for this tour was a beauty: Mayall; ex-Rolling Stones guitar player Mick Taylor; Fleetwood Mac’s bassist John McVie; and drummer Colin Allen.

The lack of publicity and coverage for this tour by such famous names was disappointingly scant. No, they didn’t get on Countdown, and I can’t remember much press coverage beyond the odd radio grab and tiny newspaper article. Just enough to know they were here and where they were playing and that’s all.

And it’s funny to look back at how these blokes were viewed in those days. They were rock and blues veterans, old-timers. Which makes it interesting to consider their ages at the time: Mayall 49; Taylor 34; McVie 36; and Allen 39. Hardly dinosaurs by today’s standards, especially when you remember that the still-touring Stones are all in their mid-6os.

They were doing two gigs in Melbourne: the Chevron in St Kilda; and the Pier Hotel in Frankston.

The four of us were all still living at home, so we had to bong in the car on the way, pulling into side streets so the driver could have his go. Somebody had forgotten to bring water for the pipe, so we used Coke. Now, don’t get excited. Coke A COLA. I didn’t mind the fizz but my mates hated it. I started to feel paranoid. They weren’t genuine fans of the Bluesbreakers, either. Maybe they’d want to leave before the finish just to piss me off.

The mood calmed when we tried several times to stockpile the smoke in the car and then open one window so that the smoke would pour out in a stream as we drove along. It was lucky our arrival at the Chevron stopped the arguments about airflow. Then we argued about parking.

Inside the Chevron, there was a big buzz of anticipation before they took to the stage. The crowd was overwhelmingly male, and there seemed to be almost a gestalt thing happening. Like we belonged to an exclusive club who knew blues like nobody else and were about to have some hopes realized by seeing and hearing some of its greatest exponents.

Mick Taylor was very dressy in a brown silk shirt with matching cream tie, jacket and trousers. Seven years later, he was to wear the exact same outfit at the Stones induction into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. So we have one thing in common, Mick and I. We both wear clothes until they fall off us. John McVie continued in his range of homeless beachwear made famous in Fleetwood Mac; and Mayall wore a silk jacket which later came off to reveal an almost-buffed physique in a blue singlet.

The welcome they got from the crowd was loud and loving and made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck, spreading to an all over rush. Now, I thought these blokes were great. Really admired their musicianship. But I was starting to get an insight into what I thought girl fans might feel at those piss-your-pants-hysterical pop concerts.

I turned to my mate and said emphatically, “Hey I think I just had like, I dunno, a female orgasm or something.”
“Fuck off,” even more emphatically.

The set was a mix of Bluesbreakers’ old and new, the back catalogue represented mainly by songs from the 1967-69 period, roughly when Taylor, McVie and Allen were last members of the group.

They went through most of the numbers that would appear on the soon-to-be-released albums, and a couple of old timers like My Time After A While and Have You Heard.

I stood on tiptoes to get a longer view. Taylor had strapped on a red sunburst Gibson Les Paul, of which I had a cheap Ibanez copy sitting at home. His playing was all that I expected it to be: Claptonesque? Sure, but with a different kind of fluidity and his own set of blues licks. He seemed to play everything soulfully, including the now-soaring, now-stinging slide guitar passages, but with a kind of sweet aftertaste. His playing was very similar to how I remembered it from the Rolling Stones film, Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones.

John McVie played pulsing bass lines, with a nice bright sound that cut through, and gave Colin Allen plenty to work in with, and space to play around the beat with rolls and triplets.

But Mayall was the master. He played blues harp really energetically and in a range of different blues styles, quintessentially authentic, with all the wailing and chugging in the right places. And not too much repetition.

He did a stint on keyboards, a couple of songs with an acoustic guitar strapped on, and sang up a storm through it all. But he was without doubt the best band frontman I have ever seen.

You’ve got to remember that this was a crowd that had come to see British Blues’ pre-eminent elder statesman. We all expected to be impressed by his presence, but he went much further than that. He was charming, charismatic, and reached out to the audience as fellow blues devotees. Like we were all mates. You could imagine him having this effect everywhere: in London; Chicago; the Deep South; you name it.

Okay, there’s some purple prose north of here, but this was a great gig. They could have done encore after encore until daybreak as the audience didn’t stint on the appreciation. And when they finally did leave the stage, we’d all had a seminal musical experience.

There was a lot of love in the room that night.