Tuesday, March 29, 2011

6 Reasons to love Billy Bragg:

No list relating to Billy Bragg can possibly be made without referring to and checking in with Dr Classic. ‘Who is she?’ I hear you ask …. Who is Dr Classic? Well, she is only one of Melbournes great multi-instrumentalist (Drums, bass, guitar, keys, violin etc). Aside from being a one-person band, she can play any style of musice (from Classical, bluegrass, rock and beyond!) and.. yes there is more.. She is also Multidisciplinary artist  (Canvas, photography etc..) but most importantly, Dr Classic is the person who not only introduced me to Billy Bragg, but did so by way of a cassette dub of  the ‘workers playtime’ LP !
Say no more!
So… here is the Dr Classic approved, Six reasons to love Billy Bragg.

1: Levi Stubbs tears.
This tune has it all; story, simple but great guitar part, Billy (of course), 
a French horn and a great opening line-
‘With the money from her accident she brought herself a mobile home…..

2: The great leap forward.
This tune is brilliant and inspiring… sing it loud and proud.. 
‘you can be active with the activist or sleep in with sleepers while you waiting
 for the great leap forwards…’...‘Here comes the future and you can’t run from it, 
you’ve got a black list, I want to be on it!!’.. 
Originally off the ‘Workers Playtime’ LP, Billy is known to update his lyrics and make 
them more politically relevant, as he does in this great live version with Ian Mclagan 
(from the ‘Small Faces’) on keys!!!
The sound and picture Quality aren’t ideal, but it is well worth a view!

3: Greetings to the new brunette

How can you not sing a long? “Shirley!!!!”. 
Also full of brilliant lines like ‘I’m celebrating my love for you with a pint of beer 
and a new tattoo’…  Brilliant! 

4: Valentines day is over. (Peel Sessions)
This version is live on the late great John Peel’s radio show. Just Billy, a guitar 
and a lot of great lines like; 
‘Don’t come around reminding me again how brittle bone is’ and 
'That brutality and the economy are related now, I understand’.

5:  New England.

The opening line of this was borrowed from Paul Simon’s ‘The leaves that are green’,
 I read somewhere that he wrote away and obtained permission…
 which makes me love and respect them both even more!!.. anyway.. The rest of the 
lyrics are all Billy… 
“I saw two shooting stars last night and wished on them, but they were only satellites, 
is it wrong to wish on space hardware? I wish, I wish, I wish you’d care…” 

6: Accident waiting to happen. (live on ‘Tonight live with Steve Vizard’)

This clip was recorded live on Melbourne’s now defunct ‘Tonight live with Steve Vizard’!! 
At least something good came out of the program!!
Sing along loudly!! “Your life has lost it’s dignity, beauty and it’s passion!!!”… 
‘You’re a dedicated swallow of fascism!’

There you have 6 great reasons to love Billy Bragg !! 
I did want to include the brilliant B side 'sulk' (off the single ‘accident waiting to happen’) 
but I could not find a clip on You tube.

As a huge thank you to the good Dr Classic for her guidance and her time. 
I wanted to include two bonus Billy Bragg tunes, selected by the wise Dr herself, 
so you know these are going to be QUALITY! 
This first one is “The unwelcome guest”. It is off the Billy Bragg and Wilco collaboration 
“Mermaid Avenue” in which they wrote music to unheard lyrics by Woody Guthrie. 

The next Bonus Dr Classic tune is “The Marriage”. 
This is off the great LP ‘Talking with the taxman about poetry’.

 If you aren’t a convert by now, have no fear comrade, 
‘if no one out there understands, start your own revolution and cut out the middle man’.
 After all, in our own way we’re all waiting for the great leap forward.

Friday, March 25, 2011

What is it with…Cute equals yummy (I want to eat you)?

What is it with people equating cute with yummy? A friend of mine is always talking about how her son is soooo adorable that she just wants to eat him! (I am not sure if she is from some long lost forgotten tribe of Chinese cannibals).
Another friend of mine similarly mentioned that she just finds her nephew so cute that she wants to eat him when she is with him... she gets so worked up that she can’t help but bite his feet. This friend of mine also has a couple of new kittens and talked about how they are so adorable that she wants to… yes you guessed it… ‘eat them’. I happened to mention how I had this mental picture of one of her cute fluffy kittens sandwiched between two slices of bread…and that made me hungry!! Mmmm fluffy kitten sandwich!!! Tasty and cute, hey!..adorable even!! Apparently this was a sick thing to say and I am a bit weird…. Maybe my friend is on a no-carb diet (isn’t everyone??) and it was the mention of the slices of bread that offended her? I am sure that if I had just mentioned the tasty kittens- 'oh they are so cute I could just gobble them up!', this would have been acceptable, encouraged even. Hey, we probably would have been fighting over who gets first bite!

Maybe it’s just me, but if I was you I would hide your children and kittens from my friends. It is probably telling that a good mate of mine, when asked if he likes children, responds with “oh yes, but I couldn’t eat a whole one”.

One of the friends that inspired this post sent me this funny clip and thought I might be onto something!!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue: March 2011

Something old:

The Dave Brubeck Quartet - "Take Five" 

I have been listening to this in the car with the windows down and the volume turned way up! There is something very cool about this ageless tune! This version is live and from 1961!

Something(s) new:

Peter, Bjorn and John - "Breaker, Breaker"
I love them and any tune that can say it all in 1.38 !

Because that was such a short tune, I feel I can sneak in another!!!

Gil Scott-Heron - 'Me And The Devil'

I have just picked up Gil Scot-Heron’s Lp ‘I’m new here’ on vinyl and I love it!! You need to hear this record !!  ‘Me and the Devil’ is an adaptation of Robert Johnson's "Me and the Devil Blues" from 1937.

Something  borrowed: 

Nat King Cole - "Autumn Leaves" 

Just because it’s Autumn and just because Nat King Cole has one of the loveliest voices in the history of music! This reminds me of being a kid and my parents playing his '20 greatest hits' LP on the turntable at home . This clip is an excerpt from the October 29th, 1957 episode of The Nat King Cole Show.

Something blue:

From Blue Note records, Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers: ‘Moanin'.

Another Jazz tune that has been seeing some action on the turntable at home of late!  This is music!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Melbourne Queer Film Festival (MQFF) 2011

This year I have decided to make time to see a few films as part of the MQFF. 
Broderskab (a.k.a ‘Brotherhood’) was a Danish film I saw on Friday night at the Queer Film Festival. It was the first session in this year’s program (the festivals 21st birthday!!). The festival director apologised upfront wondering if they should have started the festival with a more ‘upbeat’ film. After watching it, I can see what she meant. This film was dark and intense. In 2009 it won ‘Best Film’ at the Rome Film Festival. When the film was over I was left a little stunned and feeling like I needed some time to digest what has happened.  Neo-Nazis, racism, homophobia, love & consequences are words that spring to mind. An interesting film, that I am glad I saw and was still thinking about the next day.
Here is a review from the New York Times.

Saturday night, I saw 2 films back to back (people do the craziest things at film festivals…one person I spoke with was seeing 6 films in one day!!). The two I saw were ‘Sasha’ and ‘La Mission’. Interestingly both films had fathers who found it difficult to deal with their son’s homosexuality.

Sasha: This was a cute German film from 2010 about the son of a family from Bosnia/Montenegro who deals with issues around his sexuality and his mother’s expectations of his future. It had a nice balance of humour and seriousness. 

La Mission was a similar story (ie. son dealing with issues), but this was not a light film. It was a really interesting glimpse into a minority group and the laws that apply to this group. The use of violence (and the treat of violence), the image you portray (and how), sense of community, language used (a mix of boasting, threats and vagueness. e.g.  phrases such as ‘you know’, ‘and shit.’ being used instead of the specifics), highlighted the difference between someone from La Mission and someone such as myself. While these elements are universal, the way we live our lives is not. Life in the Mission District is tough, you need to be tougher. Violence and death are but a moment away. Respect is earned and can be quickly lost if you don't adhere to the groups' rules. The richness of the culture (of the migrants from The Mission district), their cultures long history, as well as the importance of family, all gave this drama depth and substance. A film that I felt was a little too long, not brilliant, but still of interest.
A side note on this film is that a dear friend that I saw it with, commented on how many, many years ago, he and his partner whilst holiday on San Francisco accidentally stumbled upon the Mission District. A concerned police officer noticed their lily-white, middle-class, gay, Aussie asses and advised them promptly on the quickest and safest way out of the district.

So, MQFF 2011.

All in all, this year’s MQFF has been interesting. I have bumped into familiar faces, had some nice conversations but, so far I have yet to see any heart warming films (heart warming for me, that is). This may change though as next week I am off to see my last film for the festival, one which I fear may be awful (it at least sounds terrible) - It’s about a fag-hag who distances herself from her gay friends so that she can finally meet a man. Sound terrible to you? But that’s the thing about these festivals, you go with friends, see things that you wouldn’t normally see and enjoy the moment, regardless of how bad the film is, it’s about the company and the experience… anyway.. this film might be just be my heart warmer!! If not, there is the festival bar afterwards and conversations to be had with familiar faces!  

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Change is in the air.

It’s funny, I have been waking up of late feeling this need to have more colour in my life. I awake and find myself thinking that I need, hmmm no more like ‘I must’ buy a new colourful doona/quilt cover. The ones I have are all dark blue, black or brown. I have this drive, this desire for change, for more brightness, lightness and colour in my life. I have been off work sick, but even so, I have been compelled to get in the car and buy colour. I think that for so long I hid away in the darkness. Tried not to wear too much colour least I be noticed. Sure sometimes I would feel cheeky and buoyant, so would wear a shirt with bright pink in it, but I would hide that under a grey jumper, so all that was seen was a hint of colour at the collar and cuff... but I don't want for that anymore.

Now I want to walk the streets wearing my pink shirt without a jumper or jacket covering it (sadly said pink shirt does not fit me any more…but this presents another good reason to do more shopping!). Who cares what the observers observe? Though I am by birth right a Melbournian, and we are meant to dress in black or dark colours. Fuck that. I am more than that. I am so many things and above all, I am me.

I can’t help but draw a parallel to the recent change in seasons. Though we are now moving to Autumn here, a season I love, along with Spring. I am on a different cycle. I have been in winter for so long, then late winter, edging closer to spring, where growth peeked above the ground and the bloom was not quite ready……but now it is the time for my spring. For me to bloom and be magnificent. For lightness to fill my life and for me to smile more. For me not to hide away, awkward and feeling less than anyone else, not as worthy or as beautiful. When I was the focus of attention, I was always scared that it would be uncovered in mere moments (if it wasn’t already uncovered and known) that I am not as interesting a person as people think I am, a fraud… This is the old me, these are the old thoughts. Now I think I am finally coming into my own. More assured of me. More comfortable with my qualities and magnificence. This has been a long time coming. As for me wearing more colour, don’t expect to see me looking like I just came from the set of a Bollywood movie. But do expect to see more lightness and colour than has been previously seen. And when I say lightness, I also mean it in an emotional sense…for I have been serious for too long. Life is for living.

A dear friend in the United States sent me an email response to this posting, aside from kindly welcoming me to the northern hemisphere celebration of Spring, he sent me some clips in response to the blog. I will share 2 of these with you:

'Think Pink' from the Film 'Funny Face'

and this clip of Stephen Fry on 'how to be gorgeous'

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did. Many thanks to 'J' all the way in the U.S. of A. for the emailed clips!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The good, the bad and the ugly- March 2011

The Good:

Graffiti/street art, call it what you like… people either love it or hate it.. I have a soft spot for some forms of public expression (at this point I am sure people are thinking- I am sure you do…except when it’s on your house etc.. and that’s probably true)..anyway… I was walking the neighborhood and came across this piece of ‘public expression’ (as I’ll refer to it) and it made me stop and think.

“Don’t be afraid of the sadness that will set you free”.

Brilliant stuff!

Next up is an older one that has since been painted over:


“If you look hard enough…the buildings could almost be trees”.

To my humble self, what makes good ‘public expression’ 'good', is that it makes you think or consider its message.

The Bad:

Not listening to that little voice in our head.

You know that voice in your head that speaks the truth, no… not the voice that keeps telling us to do bad things, but the other one. The one that says ‘STOP! If you continue, then ‘this’ will happen. And then you are shown. The future is mapped out in front of you.. and then you ignore it, thinking.. ‘nah!’, it’ll be alright.. and it isn’t. Here are two recent experiences of that voice and I.

The Garden:

Recently I was doing some gardening and while trying to pull some well-established weeds out of the garden, my voice warned me. It said ‘STOP! Your right next to a dead tree, with a million dead branches and twigs sticking out, you’re wearing a short sleeve shirt, and you are weight is not distributed evenly… the weed will break in your hands and you will easily topple over…. I paused and then it was all shown to me, like a movie inside my head…. And I went wow!!! Thanks.. but .. Nah!! I’ll be ok….. and guess what happened next.

A weed I was struggling to pull out, snapped and sent me tumbling backwards, onto a million branches of varying size and sharpness. They ripped across one of my muscle-less child-like upper arms. My poor gun-less guns that are as delicate and soft as a baby’s bottom, lily white and as fragile as fine porcelain.. now one of them has a huge bleeding and painful gash, which scars their untouched beauty (well untouched by a gym that is…).

The Sneeze:

You know when a big sneeze is coming, I'm not talking about those 'why bother' sneezes, no, I'm talking about those BIG ones.. and when they are coming you prepare yourself for the temporary blindness (I was once told that the reason we automatically close our eyes when we sneeze is to stop our eyeballs from being blown out!!), once your eyes close, your head is violently being thrown about, you sneeze and your body goes into a wracking spasm.

Recently I was using a toilet not my own (yes, very brave of me… it’s part of my immersion therapy), and whilst in mid pee (we men generally stand to pee).. I felt a strong sneeze coming on. That voice in my head said, ‘STOP PEEING !!!!!’.. and showed me what might be…. And I went ‘nah! Thanks but I’ll be ok…’

I have no idea what would have possibly made me think I could still aim correctly, whilst having my eyes closed, my head being violently thrown about and going through a bodily convulsion!  Fortunately, at least this time, my delicate muscle-less baby-like upper arms escaped unscathed.   

I hope that these recent experiences teach me to listen to that voice in head… having said that.. This isn't the first time I have hoped that next time I listen to that voice.

The Ugly:


I am not on facebook and have no desire to go on it, despite the regular requests and ‘Spanish inquisition’ like grilling I get by friends and colleagues. You see, I am always coming across reasons why people shouldn’t be on facebook. Recently whilst out having coffee with friends, one of them shared a horrifying story. After which I made yet another a mental note of yet another reason for me not to have a facebook page.

The story, in a nutshell (and yes I have their permission to share), was that this lady's friend posted something on her wall (I think that is what the kids call it). Apparently it was all posted innocently, but still. The comment went a little like this:

 “You know how you’re always getting cold sores, what’s the name of those tablets you take?”

 Well after this very public sharing of a very personal and embarrassing nature, the person was apparently blocked from being able to post any more comments. But this didn’t stop them from doing something as stupid and alarming. My friend, who lives alone, had organised to go and visit this person late one night, late being 10.30pm on a Sunday. Apparently an update was posted on the other persons facebook page that went a little bit like this- ‘waiting for (my friends FULL NAME) to come over and visit me, due at 10.30pm Sunday’. 

Yes..we (‘we’ meaning the visiting party) would want everyone to know what we are doing and where we are doing it. This person might want to think about posting an end time for the visit as well, just to make it that little bit easier for burglars. Why not?, I know that I  greatly appreciate it in my line of work when someone makes my job that little bit easier, I am sure that burglars aren't any different.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

New records- March 2011

I recently I have come across some new LP's and am in vinyl heaven....Let me share them with you:

Wire- “Chairs Missing”.

I found a new sealed heavily discounted copy of this 1978 Classic Lp !!! I guess the kids are too busy saving up for the new Lady Gaga release…
This has to be one of the coolest tunes ever-

‘I am the Fly’

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy- “The letting go”.

Such a sublime and simple record, the strings really compliment his mood. Recorded in Iceland with Valgeir SigurĂ°sson, who is probably more well known for his engineering and programming work on Bjork’s LP’s. Here both Valgeir and Iceland itself, seem to have brought out the best in Americana and the bonnie prince.

‘Cursed love’. In this clip, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy (Will Oldham), Plays the ‘bird like’ character.

Sonic Youth- ‘Hits are for Squares’.

I came across this LP which was released few years ago and picked it up because, well.. though I have the‘Goo’ LP on vinyl.. but I don’t have the awesome tracks; 100%, Bull in the Heather, Superstar and Teenage riot on Vinyl.. well that is, I didn’t until now!!   It would have been better if the album also included; Diamond Sea, Sunday, Drunken Butterfly and Free City Rhymes on it, but alas..
Anyway, here is their splendid cover of the Carpenters tune ‘Superstar’.

Next is Simon and Garfunkel. I came across two of their Lp’s in great condition at a second hand store near my work, whilst popping out to get a take away coffee.

‘Sounds of Silence’ and ‘Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme’.

Nothing really needs to be said about these brilliant LP’s.

From ‘Sounds of Silence’- Leaves that are green.

From ‘Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme’- The Dangling Conversation.

Finally, The Beastie Boys – ‘Ill' Communication’.

If you think of them as just 3 white guys from New York who rap.. think again, they can play instruments and can create music that ranges from Punk to jazz/ funk tinged sounds. Here is what I mean:


and .. how can I resist a chance to share the adrenaline charged tune ‘Sabotage’ – the best DIY/rock-punk/white rap tune NYC has to offer! And one of the coolest clips of all time!!.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The end of carb fury.

It ended with a hand-cut deep fried chip smothered in mashed potato. The taste was divine. My tastebuds celebrated the return of the prodigal son. My hunger and my anger subsided. I was once more one with the carb, and one with humanity. I was peaceful, I was content. Rage and anger were forgotten.

For what seemed forever ago, I had been separated from my twin. Like East and West Germany we pined for reunification. A grey wall of stony-faced bureaucracy passed down rules that made no sense and forced me to watch my every mouthful, as others watched me and I them.  We became Stasi informants, ever watching and ever reporting. Ensuring the rules of the carb free diet were adhered to. Daring not take a bite least we ourselves be reported. Life was lived in fear. But now, now the walls of grey tastelessness have come down. Now that which is my other half- Carbohydrate and I are joined once more. Tears of joy run down my face as life is lived fearlessly and the tastiness of freedom fills my mouth.

I have not lost the weight I was hoping for, in fact I don’t think I lost any weight… But to live life counting and worrying about every mouthful is to live life a prisoner.. and I refuse this.. To live life craving and hungry, yearning for that which you are not ‘allowed’ to have is a life of misery. I walked about angry, full of carb rage and fury, but no more. I may be chunky, but so what! For I am happy! I am calm and I am at peace. If I meet some cute man who rejects me because of my chunky frame... then he is not my ideal partner. For this is me, content chunky carb lover!!! Bring on the mashed potato smothered hand cut potato chips!!! In fact, bring me two serves!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Matthew Schiavello – Friend to the lesbians

Larry David once stood up and said that he was a friend O’ the lesbians… and now I am here to say that I, Matthew Schiavello am a friend to the Lesbians! Yes, I am a friend to the ladies who love ladies, our Sapphic sisters, dykes, lesbians, and whatever other names these ladies and grrrls whom I love are known by! 

In a survey done in the Melbourne suburb of Thornbury on 28 unsuspecting lesbian looking women, 1 in 30 felt the name ‘Matthew Schiavello’ sounded vaguely familiar. 1 in 30 is pretty good !!!!  and while the maths may not add up, the proof is in the pudding!! (don’t worry I am as confused as you are).

Ahh… The ladies who love ladies… they have blessed my life! From their camaraderie to the free tips on fixing my plumbing problems, rotting windows and much much more! My Sapphic sisters have inspired, supported and loved me!! They have practically held me to their sweet bosom (ok.. it hasn’t gone that far!... which would be too far, as far as this gay man is concerned! (not that I have intimacy issues!)), the point is- how can anyone not love my Sapphic sisters?

I have male friends who for some insane reason hate lesbians. Dear sweet Jesus am I in some crazy bizarre mixed up world??!! How can that be?.. It defies all reason.. Don’t hate lesbians!, the next time you see one, go up and hug them! Oh !..and pass on my regards.

To my gay brothers out there who may ‘hate’, all I ask is ‘why?’. It is not like our sisters are competing for resources ( ie men), trying to steal he whom you had your eye on first. My dyke mates are my extra eyes and ears, and have suggested many a man for me (yes I am still single…but it’s not that my sisters aren’t working hard enough for me,  I think it’s more so that the poor dears have no idea as to ‘what makes a good male partner for a man’.. which is unsurprising given that it’s not a survival skill they need to hone!)… Can I also add that when I have met some man of interest whilst out with my Sapphic sisters, if for example, I have needed to visit the powder room, I have never felt safer leaving this man and his virtue alone than with these ladies who love ladies (not that I am inferring that my gay male friends would do anything…but… )

Wherever I have been, lesbians have embraced me…the tired stereotype of them being man haters, please!! I don’t know a single lesbian that hates me and I am a man!! If anything, us fella’s are our probably own worst enemy. Anyway, if a few of our ‘sisters who love sisters’ have a dislike towards men and think of men as being selfish, well…try being me!!  (yes it is all about me…) Dear sisters, if you think you have a problem with men being selfish ‘out there’ in the ‘world’...believe me that (as impossible as it sounds), more of them are selfish in the bedroom!! Imagine how much worse life would be as me- cursed with being attracted to and loving these selfish buggers!!

And regardless if the lady loves ladies or not…Who hates women? What’s not to love? Sure I mean it in a platonic way... Because I can think of a couple of female body parts that I don’t ‘love’ as such, but as a whole, women are simply divine!

I mean… have you met my mother, or any of my many aunties???  How can you spend time with them and not love?.. (again in a platonic way.. please don’t spend time with my mother or aunties and think ‘non-platonic’ thoughts.. that’s just wrong!!)

So remember men, the next time you see a dyke, don’t hate, hug!!

Yes, to harp on the point, the next time you see a lady who loves ladies, go up, wrap your arms around her, hug her like you mean it and tell her that I said hi… they all know me.. Matthew Schiavello- friend to the lesbians!! (Well… technically it’s Matthew Schiavello- vaguely familiar to 1. However, in my defence it was a small sample group and let’s not let technicalities get in the way, especially of a hug!)