29 December, 2007

Tilting At Windmills? Let's Hope Not

You might have seen the article in this morning’s Age by now. It’s about a group called unChain St Kilda trying to prevent the destruction of the Palais Theatre in a proposed redevelopment of the St Kilda Triangle.

The hook for the article is the $5000 pledged to the preservation of the Palais by the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen and verified by spokesmen from Sony BMG and Paul Dainty respectively.

I’ve only seen two concerts at the Palais: Joe Cocker in 1977 and Rory Gallagher in 1980. Both were excellent concerts and I remember the comfort, atmosphere and sound quality at the venue as being pretty high. Certainly higher than Festival Hall or the Tennis Centre.

You’d reckon a decent developer would be able to come up with something to include the Palais, wouldn’t you? Not so Citta Properties, a Sydney-based firm. Let’s hope the unChain group are successful in their efforts.

Actor Rachel Griffiths and artist Mirka Mora, among others, have also lent their support to the group. I don’t know Mirka at all, but my family does have a somewhat tenuous connection to her.

Mirka and Me:
We’d been invited to visit my dad’s uncle out in Nth Balwyn. I must have been about three and a bit because I can remember my younger brother being a baby. Uncle Jack was pretty well-to-do. He’d made a decent living running black coal mines near Wonthaggi but was in his 60s and retired by this time. He might even have been one of the bad guys in Richard Lowenstein’s film Strikebound (1984), which depicts a long and bitter industrial dispute in the mines. I’ve got some research to do, I know.

But as we entered Uncle Jack’s house, the first thing we saw was a painting on his lounge room wall. It was of a rooftop landscape, crowded with attic-style windows. Uncle Jack had only recently purchased it and wasn’t too impressed.

My older brother saw it differently and said so. He thought it was pretty good. The rest of the visit passed pleasantly as I remember it. I spent most of the afternoon in the backyard having a conversation with Uncle Jack’s cockatoo. And it worked. I spent the next few days saying "Hello Cocky" and little else.

About a week later, we were surprised by a delivery. Uncle Jack had shipped the painting over to my older brother as a gift. These days, it’d be what you might call a win-win situation.

My brother told me later it was called The Tenements of Paris, and had been painted by Mirka Mora in 1957. Mirka ’57 was her signature at the bottom of the painting. I’ve been unable to find any reference to the work under that title on the web.

The painting hung in his room and the family lounge room for many years. About five years ago, I saw a copy of Mirka’s autobiography in the local library. No mention of the painting, so it’s safe to assume it wasn’t a long-lost masterwork.

I mentioned it to my brother and asked of the painting, but he’d been short of cash about five or six years previously and had sold it to William Mora’s Gallery. I was a bit saddened to think that a painting by such a prominent artist was no longer in the family. But it seemed to have gone to the right place.

26 December, 2007

Desktop Image Meme

Go over to Honey Smack to view the image she has on her PC desktop. It's a lovely shot of her and her daughter.

My desktop image is below. It's an image of the covers of all of the Rolling Stones albums released between 1964 and 1981. I've had this as my desktop image since about 1999.When a colleague saw it she said "Wow!"

"Hmm, another Stones fan," I thought immediately. "Yeah, I downloaded the album covers from Amazon, pasted them into MS-Paint and then re-pasted the lot into MS-Photo Editor to convert to a jpeg and there it is," beaming proudly.

"Now there's a bloke with a lot of time on his hands".

But thank heavens for memes. I've got about five major posts in various stages of development waiting to be finalized. Waiting for me to get off my bum and finish them, I mean. So I don't mind memes. They provide a quick and painless no-post remedy. Besides, I like variations on a theme and other bloggers viewpoints on the same topic always make interesting reading.

24 December, 2007

Carols In The Domain

Why the fuck would I do a post about Saturday night’s Carols In The Domain?

I was only half watching it while trying to finish up the previous 8 Things Meme post. Moe was lying on the couch letting it flow over him and I was annoying him by asking “Is that Delta Goodrem?” of every female singer. When he became a little weary of the game I said, “Well, they all look alike. How am I supposed to tell them apart?”

“I think The Beatles and the Rolling Stones might have looked a bit alike, Dad.”

That shut me up good and proper.

But then Leo Sayer came on. Wearing a white suit. Singing White Christmas.
I was telling Moe how he actually had considerable credibility back in the mid-70s. Just A Boy was a great album and justifiably huge commercially. Then he went disco. Then he went cabaret. Then he came to live in Australia.

But at Carols In The Domain, singing White Christmas, what does he do? He pulls out a harmonica and does a melodic, blues-wailing solo!

You see, blues was so all-pervasive in Britain in the 60s that no musician could afford to ignore it. No blues licks, far fewer bands you can join.

Even Tom Jones fronted a bluesy outfit (Tommy Scott and The Senators) around 1964 before he made it big as a crooner.

Anyway, it made my night and I’ll have a softer spot for Leo Sayer from now on.

I hope your Christmas is full of pleasant surprises.

22 December, 2007

8 Things Meme

This is a long response to the meme. But it made me think. And post. Thanks to Eleanor Bloom, who tagged me.

Eight Things I'm Passionate About:
I think about her often. How to chat her up, make her laugh, win her, make her love me. We’ve been married for 18 years. It’s fun. I think it might even be fun for her too.
2) Moe; Larry; & Curly:
My three sons, but I'm not exactly Fred McMurray. They'd cack themselves if they knew they were my sporting heroes.
3) Cricket:
This is a good thing that was formerly a bad thing. It’s now okay for me to be involved up to my eyeballs with the local cricket club because we have three young players in the household.
4) Music:
I’m a reformed rock snob. These days, I even appreciate good pop music outside the narrow confines of my taste. So there’s a lot more tolerance about. But not for you, Johnny Farnham. Get the fuck off my radio with your overproduced cabaret mock-rock for complete morons. Maybe not totally reformed.
5) Movies:
I used to be able to watch anything just for the experience. Now it has to be good.
6) Mates:
Lucky to have them. Enjoy spending easy, relaxed time with them.
7) Dope:
Enjoy this too. Still of the view that things go better with...
8) Football:
Essendon: how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. We shall rise again and wreak a terrible vengeance on all those who have scorned us over the past few years. Which means just about everyone.

Eight Things I Want To Do Before I Die:
1) Play In Another Cricket Premiership:
I was 18, batted last, didn’t bowl and fielded behind the tree when I played in my only flag. The only other Grand Final appearance came seven years later but we lost. We might even do it this year with a late charge at the finals.
2) See The Bombers Win Another Flag:
I’ve seen four of them but want more. Nothing quite like seeing your own mob win one instead of watching a whole heap of nobodies bask in glory.
3) Write A Film Script:
I have an idea that I think is a pretty good one. So does everyone I’ve pitched it to. Just at the outline stage so far. An Australian science-fiction film. Not too many of those about. Should be able to paper at least one wall of the study with rejection letters.
4) Get My Band Back Together:
I’d like to play at my 50th, just two years away. Get the ol’ 60s covers thing happening again. I reckon the blokes would be in it. Might be a bit harder to convince them we’ll need to rehearse! And more than just 12 songs like at my 40th.
5) The Other Four Things:
Can wait until after I die.

Eight Things I Say Often:
1) Alright:
The complete all-purpose word. It’s alright.
2) Dichotomy:
Describes a split without apportioning blame. Handy when you’re trying not to inflame a situation.
3) Running around like a headless chook:
Aptly describes confusion or incompetence and usually gets a laugh so you’re not immediately into a confrontation.
4) Carrying on like a two-bob watch:
Similar to above.
5) You beauty:
Use of this has passed in and out of ironic so many times I forget which is which.
6) Can you NOT do that?
When hints fail.
7) Sorry about that, Chief:
A useful catch-phrase from the Get Smart TV show that doesn’t mean much to post baby boomers.
8) I’ve got the hots for you, big time:
Only to TLOML.

Eight Books I've Read Recently:
1) Caesar’s Legacy: Josiah Osgood
Describes from primary sources the fifteen years of terror that followed Julius Caesar’s assassination in 43BC while Octavian and Antony struggled to seize total power.
2) The First of the Few: Denis Winter
This book about WWI fighter pilots is absolutely brilliant, and I’m not given to superlatives. Accurately describes the open cockpit conditions they experienced, making use of letters, diaries and manuals.
3) Stone Alone: Bill Wyman
He only got invited to join the Rolling Stones because he owned two good amps. His point of view on the band is unique and incisive. Especially about the Jagger-Richard monopoly on song-writing credits.
4) History of Australian Cricket: Jack Pollard
Okay, he got Essex left-armer John Lever mixed up with Lancashire’s right-arm fast bowler Peter Lever but it’s still a good read. All four volumes.
5) Miller’s Luck: Roland Perry
Comprehensive, well-written biography of Keith Miller. A great cricketer who is revealed as not quite the great bloke his eulogists would have had us believe.
6) Slaughterhouse Five: Kurt Vonnegut
A funny book that really resonated with so many. Vonnegut was still turning away pilgrims to his genius even just before his death earlier this year.
7) Players: Tony Wilson
Opens a window into the footy media industry. You’ll have no trouble spotting who’s who. And plenty of laughs.
8) Porno: Irvine Welsh
A sequel of sorts to Trainspotting. I just love the shifting first-person narrative and the way Welsh speaks the Leith idiom making no allowances for the uninitiated. You have to work out what a schemie is for yourselves. Go on. Work it out. Brave and bold writing.

Eight Songs I Could Listen To Over And Over:
1) Jumpin’ Jack Flash: Rolling Stones
Still sends a chill up my spine, so good is this song. Everything the Rolling Stones stood for: blues-based, open-tuned guitars, muddy sound. Many have covered it but never captured it.
2) Midnight Man: The James Gang
Brilliant electric country-rock. What else would you expect from Joe Walsh? Original recording features session singer Mary Sterpka sounding a lot like Linda Ronstadt.
3) For Your Love: The Yardbirds
Graham Gouldman, later of 10cc, wrote this 1965 hit for the London blues tyros. A great song. Eric Clapton left the band right after because it wasn’t bluesy enough.
4) Eight Miles High: The Byrds
Ushered in the psychedelic era and was then banned due to it’s drug-influenced lyrics. It was about a fucking aeroplane flight to England, you Christian fundamentalist fuckwits.
5) While My Guitar Gently Weeps: The Beatles
Harrison wrote and sang, Clapton played the solo and fill-ins. Atmospheric and poignant. Can you believe it was the B-side to O-Bla-Di O-Bla-Da?
6) Hey Joe: The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Their first single and a Joe South cover that took the original and made it something else. He would later do a similar job on Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower.
7) Tequila Sunrise: The Eagles
I don’t care how contrived it might have been, Glenn Frey really knew how to croon a sad she-done-me-wrong song. Despite being a misogynistic arsehole in real life. This one’s just beautiful.
8) High Flyin’ Bird: Jefferson Airplane
This performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival showcased an emerging band with three tremendous singers: Marty Balin; Grace Slick; and Paul Kantner.

Eight Albums That Trigger Memories:
1) After The Goldrush: Neil Young
I found this wide-ranging album with its mournful country-folk-rock ballads and stinging rockers uplifting during a summer of adolescent angst. The songs seemed so much more than just contrivances to make teenaged girls feel depressed, as I suspected The Eagles of doing.
2) Hotel California: The Eagles
Well, it was omnipresent, wasn’t it? The soundtrack to the summer of 1976-77. The whole album was just so chocka with great songs, you couldn’t not appreciate their artistry, even through any reservations you might have had about them. The first single to get airplay in Australia was New Kid In Town. What a song. Supposedly their reaction to a Bruce Springsteen gig.
3) John Wesley Harding: Bob Dylan
First Bob Dylan album I ever heard, and only because my sister’s boyfriend left his record collection at our place. I was fourteen and I felt great about “getting” Bob Dylan. I had no idea it was a controversial Dylan album due to its country flavour. I just thought it was good.
4) Let It Bleed: Rolling Stones
Another boyfriend legacy, This was the first Rolling Stones LP I’d listened to and it completely knocked me out. Right from the first notes of Jagger’s harmonica on Midnight Rambler. This album sounded cool. I thought I was cool for liking it. Around when I started to become a rock snob.
5) Every Picture Tells A Story: Rod Stewart
One of five albums purchased for just $5.95 the lot when my other sister joined the World Record Club in 1973. This was his third solo album and it’s great. Terrific production with loads of moving instrumentation, including violin and mandolin. He was only any good before 1976’s Atlantic Crossing saw him more successful, but less interesting.
6) Flight Log: Jefferson Airplane
I was eighteen when I first heard this compilation and they just knocked me out. A patchy band whose best was sensational.
7) Front Page News: Wishbone Ash
English guitar-oriented rock. My out-of-touch purist mind regarded their stuff as rock reaching its zenith in the late 70s. Everyone else my age was listening to punk, which I thought was rock’s nadir.
8) Mud Slide Slim and The Blue Horizon: James Taylor
Now described as easy-listening, Taylor was your lonesome troubadour and this album was his high point. First time I realised I liked country-influenced music.

Eight Movies I've Watched Close to Eight Times:
1) Out of the Past: (1947)
Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas tussle over the ultimate femme noir, Jane Greer: “I didn't, Jeff. Don't you believe me?” “Baby, I don’t care.”
2) The Wizard of Oz: (1939)
How many people love this film unashamedly? The reason why so many people were so sad about the way poor Judy Garland’s life turned out.
3) The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: (1962)
One of the greatest of all tributes to the genre, but not too self-consciously so. James Stewart is the hero, Lee Marvin the villain. John Wayne starts in the middle.
4) Murder My Sweet: (1944)
Best Raymond Chandler adaptation. Features terrific hallucinogenic dream sequence.
5) Shane: (1953)
The quintessential western. If I had to show someone what westerns were all about, I’d be starting with this. Pretty violent for a movie that looks like family viewing the rest of the time. Remade as Pale Rider (1983) with Clint Eastwood.
6) Citizen Kane: (1941)
Surely it can’t be THAT good? But it is.
7) Blade Runner: (1982)
At last, science-fiction met film noir! My two favourite genres in one! But I don’t like the Director’s Cut. Why the fuck would you take a voice-over out of a film noir? Also made filmmakers run to Philip K Dick novels and short stories for material. Shame he was to die soon after its release.
8) Psycho: (1960)
Alfred Hitchcock, the Master of Suspense became the master of shock with this one. Transformed the horror genre by making people scarier than monsters.

Eight Bloggers Who Should Do This Meme:
If you’ve read this far, take it on.

10 December, 2007

Avatar Makeover

I could do with a change. Couldn't we all? I'd like you to comment on the following images as a possible avatar for myself. Not a big range to choose from, you're probably thinking. Well, I'm not going to put up just any old thing.

Tell me what you think in the comments. If you don't give a fuck, don't be shy.

If you think this is a pathetic, self-indulgent, self-absorbed, look-at-me-please post you might make mention of that too. I can take it.

Why Brian Jones? I suppose there should be a really good reason, but there isn't. However, there'll be a post about this 60s archetype and original line-up Rolling Stone early in the New Year.

Fascinating character. Even if he looks about as much like my true self as the current avatar does.






**UPDATE!! Found another image that might suit.


03 December, 2007

A Tale of Two Dates III

It had all turned out very well. Exceptionally so. And we had another date lined up.

What could possibly go wrong?

I’d called Lynette to make arrangements for the Saturday night. My cricket team was playing in the afternoon so I organized for us to meet at my folks’ place just around the corner from the home ground. We’d go to the clubrooms for the Christmas break-up function, and then on to the Prince of Wales Hotel in St Kilda, where a mate’s band were playing a late gig. After that, well, we’d be closer to her place in Hawthorn than my folks’ place in Ascot Vale so we might as well head back there and spend the night. It was going to be so perfect!

That’s one of the reasons why I was pretty upbeat when I arrived at my folks’ to meet her. The other reason was my team had won and I’d done okay, getting a couple of cheap tailender wickets to finish off the match.

She was already there and getting along with my mum like a house on fire. Mum was always very nice to my lady friends as a matter of policy. Anyone silly enough to go out with her idiot son had enough to contend with and didn’t need a difficult mother to complicate matters.

We got to the function and I introduced Lynette to my brother and his then wife and my closest club mates and their partners. One of the women had been at school with Lynette’s sister, so they struck up a conversation. Everything seemed to be running pretty smoothly so I felt relaxed. Laid back enough to join in a shout that involved a group of blokes who were much more seasoned drinkers than I was.

After the first couple of beers, I felt great. And after four beers I felt a little tipsy, merry even. About ready to stop drinking in case I got really drunk. But this was a serious, high-rotation shout I was in. And the beers just kept coming. Destination: near-oblivion; and I’d booked a first-class ticket. Well, so what? Lynette seemed to like me, I drunkenly reasoned. I mean, I’d fucked her for God’s sake, so it wouldn’t hurt if I did a bit of drinking and we had a good time before the guaranteed, ironclad prospect of follow-up sex back at her place. She was driving, so what harm could it do?

Now, this is where the downward spiral begins, because up until then everything had been fine. Lynette had chatted comfortably with the other women there and I'd engaged in blokey conversation with the guys around me. Now and then there'd even been cross-gender exchanges. Everyone seemed happy with the situation. Lynette and I were talking and touching, leaning close to hear each other because there was a band playing. I felt good that she was okay with us being close in public.

And then I swallowed the Absorbo Pill. I was stinko; schickered; wasted; whacked; hammered; plastered; sloshed. You name it. I was F Scott Fitzgerald, only talentless and unattractive . And I talked. The greatest load of rubbish you’ve ever heard. Firstly, mingling with the blokes from my cricket side. Earnest, emotional stream-of consciousness crap. About the team and what I thought we needed to do to win the flag. I got pretty absorbed in it. And I went on, and on, and on. The blokes just put up with it and manfully hid their annoyance. The tolerance of friends. Never take it for granted.

I kept looking over at Lynette and thinking, “Shit. I should be over there talking to her. In a minute. She’ll be okay.”

Next time I glanced over, she appeared to be looking a little neglected. “I’d better get over there,” I thought. But I was apprehensive and hesitant. How could I put things right? I’ll have a think about that while I’m chatting just a little bit more with these great blokes.

I think it was someone’s girlfriend who came over and suggested I rejoin Lynette. I complied, but I was beyond making sense at this point. We got up to dance and about halfway through the first song, I overbalanced and fell against her. That’s about as much as I can remember clearly from the part of the evening spent at the cricket club.

The rest is just a blur: of lights; noise; Lynette dancing with one of the blokes from the First XI; Lynette writing something on a piece of paper and handing it to him; me not being game to ask her what that was all about. But asking her if she wanted to get going. She didn’t. Going to the toilet and having one of our more outspoken players tell me Lynette was a good sort and half-jokingly mention that he thought she was wasted on me.

We must have left eventually. Because the next thing I remember we were in her car arguing about where we were going next. She was adamant that I hadn’t mentioned anything about going to see a band at the Prince of Wales. I was insistent that I had clearly told her about it. She was probably right. Sometimes I make plans in my mind that seem settled. My thought processes then turn to self-congratulation and I forget all about informing affected parties about said plans. I don’t have to be drunk to do this. I also don’t have to be drunk to prolong an argument when I think I’m right. This applies especially when I am in actual fact wrong.

She wanted to call it a night. Seemed to be doing a lot of sighing. But I stupidly thought the situation was salvageable so started pathetically pleading a case for going back to her place. She said she wanted to drop me home at my folks’.

She must have agreed just to shut me the fuck up because the next flash of memory is of driving up Johnston St towards Hawthorn. I fumblingly tried to apologise. She made one of those tongue-clicking noises and exasperated groaning-type sounds. She was past wanting to hear anything from me. I didn’t take the hint. I started talking about that day’s cricket match. She wasn’t interested. In cricket or me. I persisted with clumsy, slurred attempts at conversation.

She must have helped me out of the car and onto the couch. But when I woke up what must have been a short time later it was straight into the bedroom and under the covers alongside her. I fumbled with her until she shook me off. Then I think I might have kept fumbling with her for a little while longer. Only about an hour. Maybe more than an hour. And then I must have fallen asleep.

Early morning and I needed to go to the toilet. Quickly. I remembered where it was from our first date: out the back. So I walked down the passageway, bumping into walls on either side until I arrived at the back door. The key wouldn’t turn. My bladder was bursting. I could feel urine starting to rise up inside my penis. Try the front door and piss in the front yard! A run back down the passage to find the front door deadlocked. Shit. Only seconds left: her bedroom bay windows and pissing out onto the front veranda my last hope.

I pulled the curtains back noisily in the dark, and rattled the casement windows to no avail. Release. I found myself pissing against her bedroom wall under the windows. It was a long piss too. I had the decency to hold back the usual accompanying fart.

“What are you doing?”
Panic. “Oh Lynette, you’re awake. I couldn’t get the back door unlocked. The key wouldn’t turn and then the front door was deadlocked so I tried the windows here.” Still pissing.
“You didn’t need to turn the key. I left the back door unlocked for you in case you needed to go. But what are you doing?”
“Oh look, I’m sorry Lynette but I’ve just gone to the toilet in here….” Should have used present tense there. I was still pissing.
“What!!! Oh Jesus Christ.”
Finished, I politely kept my back turned while I shook the drops off.

She went to get paper towels and disinfectant and I offered to help but she told me to get out of her way. I returned sheepishly to bed. She didn’t. She went to sleep on the couch.

I caught a taxi home the next morning. But only after vainly trying to get her to come back to bed. And then joining her uncomfortably on the couch. For poor Lynette, it was so much more than just a bad date.

I stupidly rang her a couple of days later but her housemate told me she was staying at her folks’ for Christmas. Even more stupidly, I rang her there. There was no exchange of pleasantries. She just wanted to know how I’d got the number, so I assured her that her housemates hadn’t told me, I’d just looked her folks up in the phone book. I asked her if she wanted to do something New Years’ Eve. She didn’t think so.

I spent a couple of days thinking about whether I should call her back again or not. You never know, she might have changed her mind. Jesus Christ, the first date had gone alright.

And then, thankfully for all concerned, I decided not to.