Wednesday, August 31, 2011

neighbourhood walk- Late August 2011

There is one particular area in  my neighbourhood where residential meets industrial. I love that when you look down someones driveway you can see where one world ends and another begins.

The industrial side of the street:

On the wall of a construction site..soon to be demolished I sadly suspect

A few streets away I saw this:

And now for something completely different-
Nothing like a walk through the local cemetery:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The good, the bad and the ugly August 2011

The Good: 'The Guard':

Thursday night  I had the great pleasure of watching an Irish film called ‘The Guard’.  Billed as a comedy/thriller, It starred Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle and in a word was brilliant! I highly recommend it and in fact would watch it again myself. The film is filled with great acting. You know the kind, where body language and facial expressions speak volumes?  Brendan Gleeson is simply marvellous! My god I am raving about this film and why not? It is visually pleasing, is filled with great dialogue and has many funny lines which had me laughing aloud. Yes there are a few minor quibbles to be had, a few clichéd lines from the bad guys. But this film is rich in humanness and the characters have emotional depth to them. The film carries both a sense of realism as well as an air of the fantastic. Just like real life, morality is ambiguous and one good act does not necessarily lead to another. A film with a lot of heart and a lot of laughs.   


The bad: ‘After you died parts I – X’

The 'bad' generally refers to my poetry. During my stay in Hobart this July, I wrote a  poem in ten parts called something like 'winter is colder since you died'. After that I wrote a series of shorter pieces like this one, where the idea of 'ten parts or sections' was in used in a different way.

‘After you died, parts I – X’

Everything I write,
is a cliché.
Everything I write,
seems fake, 
Like I’m trying to whitewash it all.

The truth is
You’re dead.

The truth is
I love you,
I miss you

like hell.

The truth is,
neither of us were perfect.

The ugly: ‘Hey narcissist! Who me?, yes you!’  

I am always bringing things back to me, this blog, my life, events around me. Ok, not always, but often and yeah It is normal to make your life and your own things about you. However, recently I was talking to a friend about someone who was facing a lot of issues around their substance use and the violence they were perpetrating in their relationship, and I ended by reflecting back to my friend ‘how does this person have a partner and I am still single?’. My mate responded that I was being narcissistic. Maybe. Definitely. Though, perhaps I was more puzzled over the state of things. Mind you, while all things point to this person being in a pretty dysfunctional relationship…it is still a relationship and I have been without one for what seems an eternity. So this months ‘ugly’ is for me, and the narcissist within, or is that the reflectiveness of a single person within? Or am I just looking for some kind of justification? I might need to talk this through with my friend who will undoubtedly set me straight. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Weeds: Life in the margins.

Weeds, we rarely notice them, except as an ugly reminder that our pristine lives are being invaded. That we are losing control over our front or back yards. I know I am guilty of often overlooking their beauty, cursing them to others and trying to get rid of them.

I am reminded that on their 2001 Lp ‘We love life’, Pulp had two songs called  ‘Weeds’ and ‘Weeds II (The origin of the species)’.  Singer Jarvis Cocker used the weeds as an analogy of us humans. Jarvis sang and spoke about us moving about into new areas, taking over, multiplying and displacing the native vegetation. He refers to 'smelly refugees' and I am left wondering if that is how we see refuges, as unwanted weeds spoiling our pristine gardens/land?

As Jarvis Cocker of Pulp said – ‘Bring your camera, take a photo of life on the margins’. As someone else said 'celebrate the beauty of diversity'.

Here is the beauty I noticed as I walked to a friends house for coffee late Friday afternoon: 



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue - August 2011

Something old.

From the 1994 LP 'Bakesale' (on the then cooler than cool 'Subpop' label), here is Sebadoh and "Skull"... I am singing along even now, 'and I don't know who you are, But I know what I would like you to be".
Sebadoh- 'Skull'

Going back further, well four years earlier, Ride released their debut lp called 'Nowhere'. I fell in love with the shoegazing jangly guitars and dream like vocals. It made me want to pick up the guitar and make music, in particular the track 'Vapour Trail'. "First you look so strong, then you fade away...' be 18 again (err maybe not, acne, insecurity and wondering what I wanted to do with my life, whilst trying to discover who I was, then again, how different is that to now???)

Ride- 'Vapour Trail'. 

Something new.

This track seems to be everywhere at the minute. Triple J have made his New Lp, Album of the week!!!! Gotye has worked his butt off for years now (like many local musos) so I wish him all the best and hope this all translates into some cash for him!
Goyte featuring Kimbra- 'Somebody I used to know'.

Currently considered cool by the 'kids' is Swedish band Little Dragon (with their Japanese-Swedish front woman Yukimi Nagano). They have released a new LP called 'Ritual Union'. Here is the title track live and amazing! Go Synths Go!!!!
'Little Dragon- 'Ritual Union'

Something borrowed.

Maxence Cyrin and an interesting version of Beyonce's 'Crazy in love'. The fan made clip uses (or borrows) scenes from the visually sumptuous 1961 French Film L'Année dernière à Marienbad.
Maxence Cyrin - 'Crazy in love'

Something blue.

From their 1995 Lp 'Tomorrow the green grass',here are the Jayhawks and the gorgeous tune 'Blue'. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Bris that never happened.

I think it was Mel Brooks as Moses who said it best when he said 

“The Lord, the Lord Jehovah has given unto you these fifteen...
[drops one of the tablets]
Oy! Ten! Ten commandments for all to obey!”

I have no idea what is it with Jewish humour that I get and love so much, but this scene from the Mel Brook’s film ‘History of the world, Part 1’, makes me laugh and also realise that sometimes you just have to do the best with what you’ve got.  This thought casts my mind back to when I was freshly born and I asked my Gentile mother to make me a Jew, well to at least start the process. I remember looking up at her when I was just days old and saying ‘Mohel, Mohel’, Ma was kvelling (or Schlepping naches? I was never sure), partly because she thought I was saying ‘Ma, Ma’ (can you blame her?, do you know how hard it is enunciating at such a young age and try enunciating a two syllable word!). The point is, you don’t need to be Jewish to know that soon I would be 8 days old and the Brit Milah (Bris) needed to take place! Have you tried booking a Mohel these days??? The waiting list for a good one is crazy! And then when you get one, you better hope they aren’t called away on an emergency…because then you have to rebook!! Oh the drama, I have a headache already. Anyway, Ma being so caught up in the joy of childbirth and also caught up being Agnostic (or Atheist, she never would tell me... I mean what do these people even do at church? I don’t get it!), she couldn’t be bothered with all the “religious shenanigans” (her Irish roots were coming out that day, sometimes her Asian roots come out or any other culture she feels that she has some ancestral connection with), and told me to stop already with the meshugas! Oy! Anyway after much noodging from me, Ma finally compromised for a circumcision and a blintz (I was a little peckish, It was hard to resist).

So here I am, thinking about the bris that never happened and feeling like it could have been worse. You know Moses may have parted the Red Sea, but he never had to contend with my mother (plus he did kinda drop one of those tablets).

Many thanks to Ros for her Yiddish assistance, or should that read 'for her assistance with the Yiddish'?  For the gentiles who may need some help with the Yiddish and don't have a Ros in their lives try:

And for info on the all important 'bris' click here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

walking the neighbourhood

I had an unexpected day off this week and what better way to spend it, then walking the neighbourhood? I love that during this last month of Winter, you stumble upon plants blossoming, while nearby others lay bare waiting for spring.

Some Natives:

 More pretty in pink blossom:

Bless my European neighbours with front yards filled with veggies and fruit/olive trees!
No idea what these are, but I like them anyway:

A couple of pics from other recent local walks:
I find large trees so majestic and captivating.
Nth Fitzroy.


Nth Fitzroy.

I love walking the neighbourhood !

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Birthday and Birthday invite etiquette.

Ok, I am the first to admit that I am a tight butt. But this isn’t about money, it’s about right and wrong, truth and justice, freedom and…ok maybe not all of those things. It's all about the all consuming question of 'what is the etiquette around birthday invitations'?

If a friend invites you to their birthday party/drinks, then yeah I am excited and want to go, hey, I’ll even spring for a gift!!! And if I have the time I’ll go above and beyond the cash gift and source an appropriate present (I still think cash is the best gift ever! Note to anyone wondering what to buy me-cash, cash, cash!!). But really, do I need to be invited to my friends children’s, relatives or friend's parties? And isn't it the height of rudeness that I should be placed in the awkward situation of having to say no and come up with some plausible excuse? Because, quite frankly my plausible excuses ran out long ago and now I have to say 'no' while acting odd, include body spasms/severe twitching in the hope that either a) the topic of conversation will now change, or b) that the person inviting me will just go away.

The whole point of this is that I am friends with my friend, not with their children or anyone else. And speaking of children’s parties, what adult enjoys them? (yeah ok, lets not even explore that one). A guy I worked with once told me he had the perfect excuse for not being able to attend a children’s birthday party. He would firstly feign excitement and then disappointment and say something like ‘I’d love to go to Timmy’s birthday party, but I have this court order thing that states that I am not allowed to be within 15 feet of minors’. Apparently word got around and the children’s birthday invites stopped coming. He was pleased as punch.
I digress… So I was invited to my friend's child’s birthday… soon I envision being invited to her extended family’s birthday parties. It’s mum’s birthday, It’s my cousin’s birthday, its…..  where does it end??? To make matters worse this was a joint birthday party with some other kid! (clearly my maternal side is showing). I don’t know this kid and I have no idea who it’s parents are, if it even has any. Anyway, a dilemma then arose around - do I have to buy this other child a gift as well??? Another friend 'J' was insistent on dragging me along to the party (  J has a child I might add and said child was also going… great, do I have to buy J's kid a gift as well???). Anyway J checked with her family and work colleagues who were all of the opinion that we had to also give a gift to this strange child who just happened to be jumping on the party /gift getting bandwagon. Count tight arse (me) said ‘what are they crazy?? Are these people out of their minds??? Do they know what they are talking about?’ (Yes I did become just slightly hysterical). I then asked ( ummm more like demanded) that  J go back to her work colleagues and ask them how this situation differs from buying a gift for some random stranger on the street.
My thinking is that soon, anyone will just tag along and try and claim a gift… ‘oh, we are also celebrating Jacks graduation, Jills new job etc..’, ‘Oh it’s my birthday as well’ etc… Where will the madness end??? It’s not that I am focused on the gift giving, it’s the principle God damn it! My Grandfather didn't die in the war for this! Technically he didn't die in the war at all, I don't even think he went to war, but if he did, he would have fought and died for Freedom, Liberty and Justice! Which somehow ties into this whole gift giving/ party invite fiasco. I'll leave that to your rich and bright minds to work out how. 

So, note to friends,
If you’re having a party ‘I’m there’ because I love you, you are my friend and hey you deserve a gift just for being my friend and accepting my craziness. But I have to say that if the party is your brother's, your mother's, your child’s, your neighbor's, your cousin's or your pet monkey’s… ummm thanks I’d love to but I have this court order that states……..  

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Randy Newman

Wow, what an amazing night was Saturday night. I saw Randy Newman and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) at the State theater. Many of my friends have no idea who Randy Newman is. My brother joked that he is the ‘toy story guy’. Sheeshhhhh kebab!!!

Ok, in a nutshell… in 1968 Randy released his first studio Lp and has so far released nine others, the latest being ‘Harps and Angels’ in 2008. He has released a musical (Faust), various live Lps and compilations (the most recent being this year’s ‘Randy Newman song book Vol 2, in which he performs a selection of his songs with just a piano accompaniment) . He has also done many film scores including The Natural, Ragtime, Parenthood, Toy stoys 1,2 & 3, Monsters inc, Cars etc… Among the many awards he has won are; 2 Academy awards, 6 Grammy’s and 3 Emmy’s.  Randy’s songs have been sung or covered by many artists including Nina Simone (I love her version of ‘I think it’s going to rain today’), Cilla Black, Tom Jones, Dusty Springfield, Eric Burden and The Animals, Nilsson, Irma Thomas, Gene Pitney, Peggy Lee, Wilson Pickett and Joe name but a few.    

So, Saturday night sitting eleven rows away from Randy, I was in heaven! The performance had an intimacy about it. Randy made various humorous comments. He shared self deprecating anecdotes and engaged with the audience. After each song in which an orchestra member soloed, Randy announced their name and thanked them. He told us that he thought that we have a great Orchestra here in Melbourne and asked us to support them. At 67 Randy wasn’t quite in his performing prime, missing a couple of notes/chords as well as a few other mistakes, but we, the audience, loved him regardless. During the between songs banter I noticed a few times that his hands looked like twisted claws and I wondered if the years of playing piano had taken their toll on him or if there was something else going on health-wise. Where Randy usually sings about characters, shifting the focus away from himself, tonight he was the focus and we saw him as the sixty seven year old performer. We saw his years of wisdom, musicianship, wit, brilliance, his frailness, his aging, his humbleness and his humanness. We loved him for it all. This was a touching performance in which his brilliance still shone strongly. 

Randy played almost all of the songs a fan would hope for, some just him and piano, others included the MSO. Randy even conducted the MSO as they played suites from four of his film scores. I could have just listened to Randy solo on the piano all evening, well....along with a few of his witty and self-deprecating stories and comments thrown in.  It was such a great concert and Randy (with MSO) ended with an absolutely haunting rendition of ‘I think its going to rain today’. At the end of the performance everybody in the theater stood up and gave one of the western world’s greatest songwriters a heartfelt and earnest standing ovation. We had experienced something beautiful and real.

Thank you Randy (I did restrain myself from yelling out 'I love you Randy' at the concert) and special thanks to Nadia from Coco Moloko (check out her site and buy her cool children's clothes!). Because of a chain of events that Nadia inadvertently started, I was able to get a ticket at a discounted price (long story).

A couple of examples of Randy's brilliance:
The witty and probably truthful 'Political Science' (live in 2006):

This next one is a beautiful song about the great Mississippi Flood of 1927. This is a fan made clip and has some images from the flood.
'Louisiana 1927':

So many people have covered this song, but I love Randy (ummm but you already know that).
'I think it's going to rain today'(live in 2004):

This next one is about racism and cleverly done. It really asks those pointing the finger
to look at themselves.

'Rednecks' (Live in the Netherlands in 1979):

This one is autobiographical, well apart from a few little things. It is Randy solo on piano and live. Fan made clip of images of Randy.
'Dixie Flyer':

This is such a moving tune and here Randy explains the inspiration behind the song before performing it.
'Losing you':

From 1979 (again), 'It's money that I love':

'Lonely at the top' (again live in 1979):

and lastly, live in 2006 'I miss you':