31 July 2008

losing my edge

I've continued to think a bit recently about the nature of youth. I guess we all hit a point where we realise we're not there any more. There are Young People + then there's Me. At some level I've felt middle-aged for most of my life, so it hasn't really come at me with teeth + fangs. But I have a memory of my mate Mat which kinda crystallised it for me.

It was a couple of years ago + I was on a bus, headed down King Street with Mat + his glamorous missus, Sarah. It's a great trip when it's occasional + not a day-to-day battle. You're at a perfect vantage point for people watching. All the freaks, geeks + hot young things parade in front of you, as the ribbon of traffic slowly unfurls into the city. The three of us were headed out on the town + our spirits were high. Then Mat throws in this fabulous old man line... "Jeez, there's a lot of Young People on King Street these days". It was poetry on so many levels. First there was the Poetry Of Mat, who is one of the most genuine, down-to-earth people you'll ever come across. There's no pretence or bullshit with Mat, + I reckon one day he'll be a champion maker of Dad Jokes. The line popped out without a hint of irony or self-consciousness. There was also something poetic about us being on the inside looking out. Because he was spot on. A couple of years earlier we had been the Young People on King Street, but suddenly, blindingly, we weren't anymore.

This tiny moment comes back to me again + again when I consider the irony of ageing. When you're young you have no concept that you'll ever be anything else. I mean, you can consider it, theorise about it, make grand statements about where you'll be when you're 25, 30, 50. (I thought I'd have kids by the time I was 20 for feck's sake.) But there's no REAL understanding of the fact that one day in the really-rapidly-approaching-future you'll be sprouting hairs from your nipples + waiting for the next pregnancy/wedding/mortgage to be announced. As far as irony goes, it's a particularly cruel one: Young People think they're the first + only; Old People understand that everyone has a moment of first + only, + that it can never be more than fleeting; but they can't tell Young People cos they'd never believe it. You can't be at the forefront forever. (And let's face it - few are there for more than five minutes at best.)

There's a brilliant LCD Soundsystem song called 'I'm Losing My Edge'. It's so spot on, I can't resist torturing you with more lyrics.

I'm losing my edge.
I can hear the footsteps every night on the decks.
But I was there.
I was there in 1974 at the first Suicide practices in a loft in New York City.
I was working on the organ sounds with much patience.
I was there when Captain Beefheart started up his first band.
I told him, "Don't do it that way. You'll never make a dime."

I was there.
I was the first guy playing Daft Punk to the rock kids.
I played it at CBGB's.
Everybody thought I was crazy.
We all know.
I was there.

I was there.
I've never been wrong.
I used to work in the record store.
I had everything before anyone.
I was there in the Paradise Garage DJ booth with Larry Levan.
I was there in Jamaica during the great sound clashes.
I woke up naked on the beach in Ibiza in 1988.

But I'm losing my edge to better-looking people with better ideas and more talent.
And they're actually really, really nice.

You mighta had the edge. You might want to hang on to the edge. But no one has the edge for ever. And the kids are ALWAYS coming up from behind. Dems da breaks.

PS: The full lyrics are here, if anyone's nerdy enough to care. And James Murphy talks a bit about where the song comes from here.

29 July 2008

patience, patience, patience

The beach is not the place to work, to read, write or think. I should have remembered that from other years. Too warm, too damp, too soft for any real mental discipline or sharp flights of spirit. One never learns. Hopefully, one carries down the faded straw bag, lumpy with books, clean paper, long over-due unanswered letters, freshly sharpened pencils, lists + good intentions. The books remain unread, the pencils break their points + the pads rest smooth and unblemished as the cloudless sky. No reading, no writing, no thoughts even -- at least, not at first.

At first, the tired body takes over completely. As on shipboard, one descends into a deck-chair apathy. One is forced against one's mind, against all tidy resolutions, back into the primeval rhythms of the seashore. Rollers on the beach, wind in the pines, the slow flapping of herons across sand dunes, drown out the hectic rhythms of city + suburb, time tables + schedules. One falls under their spell, relaxes, stretches out prone. One becomes, in fact, like the element on which one lies, flattened by the sea, bare, open, empty as the beach, erased by today's tides of all yesterday's scribblings.

And then, some morning in the second week, the mind wakes, comes to life again. Not in a city sense - no - but beach-wise. It begins to drift, to play, to turn over in gentle careless rolls like those lazy waves on the beach. One never knows what chance treasures these easy unconscious rollers may toss up, on the smooth white sand of the conscious mind, what perfectly rounded stone, what rare shell from the ocean floor. Perhaps a channelled whelk, a moon shell, or even an argonaut.

But it must not be sought for or - heaven forbid! - dug for. No, no dredging of the sea bottom here. That would defeat one's purpose. The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience + greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience + faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach -- waiting for a gift from the sea.

(From Anne Morrow Lindbergh, 'Gift From The Sea', first published 1955.)

28 July 2008

shack grafitti

Life's a garden... dig it!!!

27 July 2008

this week i ave mostly been...

Well, this week I have mostly been lazing about, let's face facts. But I've been enjoying meself 99% of the time + I figure the lazing is an important part of the whole dropping-out-of-society process. Aside from that I've been...

...smiling at
--me: I mean jeebus, if I can't laugh at myself it's not worth laughing at anything! Favourite I'm A Goose moments of the week were 1) tipping a tray of very small beads all over the floor. Given that the floor generally looks like this it was definitely worthy of an F-bomb. But I didn't even swear, I was too busy laughing. And 2) going to check my little car's tyre pressure only to discover, after many minutes stuffing around with nozzles + gauges + the like, that I'd actually been attempting to fill the tyres with gas. Ooops.

--calla lillies: + my mad roadside collecting mission. I know they're weeds but they're filling the shack + bringing me joy. All of a sudden life here has turned all Frida Kahlo. Although I have just read up on them + discovered that they can be fatally toxic. Ooops again.

--people: + the dumb stuff they do. Weeze sent me a side-splittingly funny article on names that eejits give their kids. It kinda put Taaylah + Taneysha into perspective.

--boys: I succumbed to a selfish + completely silly Men Suck Mood the other day. Within the next few hours I got a couple of lovely emails from boys, my bro Slim + mate Scott both called + Doug the neighbour dropped over to check that I was okay. If that isn't the Universe telling me to pull my head in, I don't know what is. Thanks lads.

--the little things: as one must do when one's experience is entirely domestic + largely solitary. (Sorry... coming over a tad Queen Mum there!) My wranglings with Leon, the cat from hell. The Triple J soundbyte of Muph + Plutonic calling their drum sound "boom bappy"... possibly the best onomatopoeia I've ever heard. Sunbathing on the back lawn during an afternoon of unprecedented sunshine. Oppy discoveries.

--my baby sis, Bella: she's recently started emailing me + is hilariously gorgeous in a way that only nearly-12 year olds can be. Example: all my fingers are crossed that you will meet the cutest guy in history, get married and have kids! all in one week!hahamy inbox is full too!love you so much i think im going to die!

--gourmet grub: I don't know what's happened but I'm right back into my cooking, after several months of feeling uninspired. I've had such a great week of food! The deliciousness has included: herb + chilli stuffed mushrooms with polenta + tomato sauce; homemade lamb-+-olive burgers with hummus + salad; + soy + sesame tempeh with stir-fried greens. Mmmmm... good homecooked food.
--decent coffee: at home always, but now in the outside world too! Hooray! I FINALLY found a cute cafe in the Bus after pretty much giving up in despair. The coffee is great, the menu looks fabulous + the staff are friendly. No one seems to mind me + my notebook setting up camp for hours on end over one cup, which is always a plus. Oh, + the chef is hot.

...listening to
--Hot Chip, but I'll stop rabbiting on about that.
--lots of radio. Running my laptop through the Shack Stereo is equivalent - in sound terms - to running it through a small aquarium, so I'm relying on Triple J more than I'd like.
--Paul Kelly's '...Nothing But A Dream'.
--a new hip hop mix for walking.

--a little bit of bad telly, while I've been beading, it's embarrassing, I don't want to talk about it okay?

--'The Bride Stripped Bare' by Nikki Gemmell. (Oh, the shame, the shame.)
--'No One Belongs Here More Than You' by Miranda July
--'The Horse + His Boy' by CS Lewis

sunday self portrait

26 July 2008

half nelson, full nelson

It's official. I'm ADDICTED to Hot Chip's new album. I can't stop. I have to share some lyrics from a favourite track, 'Wrestlers':

the gloves are off
so why'd you have to go + fight dirty
don't fight dirty
don't bite me in the face
the gloves are off...

now what you gonna do
when i come for you with all that i've got...

here we come, drop kick
half nelson, full nelson
willie nelson, willie nelson
body slam, suplex, headlock, summer slam
elbow drop, jelly flop, cage match, grudge match...

it's me versus you in love
i learned all i know from watching the wrestling
i think you think i'm about to throw the towel in
everyone knows monday night means wrestling

It could simply, literally be a song about wrestling but it also provides some lovely analogies for love + sex + relationships + the wrangling that goes on within them. Musically the Hot Chip boys describe it as "a barrage of different lyrical hooks and melodies one after another" + I describe it as pure F-U-N.

Apparently there's also an LCD Soundsystem link, with both bands "wrestling" over the same guitarist - Al Doyle. Man... I love it when favourite bands turn out to be mates with each other! Then I love to imagine turning up at a party + they're all there + we end up hanging out. Anyway, my weird music nerd moment for today...

24 July 2008

flat pack

I survived my first slightly flat day yesterday. Nothing major - just generic listlessness + a teensy bit of beating-myself-up. I guess the crux of it is that I've been feeling lazy + that's been pissing me off. Not physically lazy, creatively lazy. I've had this floaty week were I haven't focused fully on anything much. I've been active but not applied, + the bits + bobs that I have done seem more like pfaffing than working towards something. So far there hasn't been a lightening bolt creative breakthrough... in spite of me not-so-secretly wanting one. Patience isn't my virtue here. I want it on tap! Now! Go! And it simply doesn't work that way. Maybe the downtime is a necessary precursor to the lightening bolt. Maybe there's no lightening bolt in store for me right now. It will be what it will be. Let go.

21 July 2008

jack pot

For anyone who doesn't know - I'm a keen op-shopper. I dragged poor Weeze into every charity, community + opportunity shop we spotted between Canberra + Albany, with very little to show for it. My only real roadtrip treasures were a couple of knitted toys (selected from the available hundreds), a fabulous old-man hat, + the best-ever hot-pink hand-knitted arm warmers.*

I'm pleased to report that I finally hit a bit of oppy paydirt today. My haul included:
--some insane 80s earrings
--a perfect-fit pair of cords
--a really pretty summer dress
--a cute blue + white stripey top
--a book on dinosaurs with great illustrations
--a felted mohair jumper, perfect for a couple of crafting projects

Jack pot!

*As an aside I can now confirm that it's scientifically impossible to feel the cold whilst donning a combo of ugg boots + arm-warmers. Yes, I'm all class.

20 July 2008

see the sea

Glorious sunshine. I AM friends with the rain, don't get me wrong, but there's so much to be said for the sun. I had my first full day of it since arriving in the Bus + boy, did I bask! Several hours whiled away on the back lawn: stripped down to my undies, reading + developing an unfortunate grass rash. It was sooooo worth it. This afternoon I took another long ramble down the beach, soaking it all up + looking for treasures.

My most recent memory of this beach is from New Year's Eve 2000/01, when Pete + I stopped in on our way down the coast. The mid-summer sea was calm clear sparkling blue + stretched on forever. I was astounded by the debauchery of the backyard party the 50-somethings threw. (Never fear, I know better now!) There was an unforgettable moment when my ma passed me a doobie. The boys went out in the dinghy + came back with a mountain of blue swimmer crabs which we devoured on the balcony.

It's different here now but still beautiful. I've always been amazed by the infinite variety of the sea - glistening like a bright gemstone one day, churning with dark violence the next. This winter beach is plagued by seaweed. Not a little, a helluva lot. The sea heaves dark with it, a seething cauldron of witches' brew. In some spots it's banked up metres high, like strange soft rocks. The birds are loving it + perch in their dozens. The weed is probably teaming with food for them. The mere thought of it gives me a shudder. There are all sorts of living or once-living things littering the drifts along the shoreline. Some I can't even look at, others I can nudge with a foot, until finally I progress to the few I deem safe to poke with one finger.

There's not much in the way of shells but there's an incredible array of sponges, different shapes/textures/colours/sizes, fleshy + alive. I feel guilty about the couple I've collected + will return them once I've had a chance to draw them. Like most sea-things, they seem to lose their magic once they're removed from the beach.

The walk back took me past a beachfront retirement home + some very elderly residents who were also enjoying the sun. One asked if I'd been fishing + when I looked confused she pointed to the plastic bag I was toting my treasures in. I explained that I'd been walking + collecting, + pulled out a lump of old fencepost I'd found to illustrate my point. The lady looked at me, nodding + giggling, + told me I was very lucky. I'm taking her words as wisdom rather than confusion. I can hear the sea now, the gentle thudding thunder + roll of the waves, + I FEEL lucky.

meme me, part three

This blog is experiencing technical difficulties. I can't get my comic meme images (below) to open in a separate window, + hence be read + understood. Makes the whole exercise a bit useless really. I'll revert to Plan A. Stay tuned... again...

sunday self portrait

19 July 2008

meme me, part two

After Tones' very sensible suggestion I've taken a couple of bodgy photos of my "10 years ago" comic. Not the best but they'll do. There's a heart-on-sleeve warning with this one. May contain traces of emotion, confession, sex, drugs + rock n roll. I was 22. It was an eventful year. C'mon. Gimme a break.

18 July 2008

this week i ave mostly been...

I thought a return to an old format of mine was well warranted. After all, I've gotta find some way of managing this post-a-day malarky + I haven't come up with anything interesting yet! (I may brainstorm new options next week - or steal some? - but for now you'll have to put up with same old same old.) So a summary of my week. I've mostly been...

...smiling at
--last days with Weeze: exploring my new hood; unearthing a Cue dress that fit her perfectly + cost 15 bucks; nearly breaking my ass on my first bike ride in 500 years; taking a walk down Busselton jetty accompanied by three dolphins; watching Thelma + Louise + celebrating our very own roadtrip; waiting for the bus with the Bunbury bogans; waving goodbye :(
--all the things that have arrested my loneliness in its tracks: loads of lovely emails + at least one phonecall every night. THANK YOU!
--my new shadow: Jack. It's nice to have some canine company again. Even if she is ancient, stinky, arthritic company.
--fire: girl make fiiyaaah... arrrr. Getting a bit primal there, sorry. I can now get the pot-belly cranking in approximately five minutes. It makes me happy. There you have it.
--rain: I didn't realise it could rain this much without the whole world being washed away. But I am friends with the rain. I will not be defeated.
--1998: having the time + space to reflect on it.

--whatever I can be bothered cooking.
--porridge, oh how I love porridge, which is a tad bizarre seeing I never did before this winter.
--a big pot of home-baked chilli, with fiery reds + herbs fresh from the garden.
--an appley strudelly thing, on Gin's suggestion that a bit of baking would make me feel right at home. It worked AND I got to eat strudelly thing. Thanks Gin!

...listening to
--NOT my stupid frickin new iPod, which died approximately six hours into our trip + has been returned after much whining + wrangling + yelling.
--many amazing compilation cds. Thank goodness we had back up! And it was brilliant, thanks guys! Next step is a radio station... + then we take over the world!
--Kate Bush's 'Hounds Of Love'. Genius. I had no idea. Thanks Nico!
--Hot Chip's 'Made In The Dark'. One of my Library Farewell Stash. Electropop magnificence for anyone who's into that kind of thing.

--the bunnies playing on the back lawn. (Yes, I know they're feral but they're still cute.)

--'All The Pretty Horses' by Cormac McCarthy
--'Names For Nothingness' by Georgia Blain
--'She Played Elvis', soon-to-be-published memoir of my pal Shady Cosgrove. Congratulations Shady! Sooooo exciting!
Okay. That's me. Bed time.

PS: I just put that emoticon in there to shit you Weeze!

17 July 2008

meme me, part one

Ahhh... I have had such a lovely, lazy, luxurious day. I've been trying to get back into a reasonably early routine (read: 8am instead of 10am) but also trying to make friends with the almost-constant-rain in this part of the world. The rain told me to sleep in, so I did. That's my story + I'm sticking to it!

The day began with hot coffee, yummy porridge with banana + birdseed, + a "quick" email check. So many gorgeous friends have been writing to me + I feel incredibly spoilt. (Also a tad guilty - I'm not responding at nearly the rate I need to in order to keep up!) One such friend was Lady Adi, telling me that I'd been memed...

Back to basics comic meme
Draw a ten panel comic about what you were doing ten years ago. Put pen straight to paper - no pencil, no computer, no planning, no starting again if you make a mistake. Simply draw, scan, publish. Tag some people who you'd like to see do the meme too. Oh and if you want to do it even if you haven't been tagged you are most welcome!

How exciting! Interactive blogging! I haven't done anything interactive since my few forays into Illustration Friday. And that was a loooong time ago. I love this idea of reflecting on the past + creating a comic out of it. (Adi's take is brilliant of course. She's such a natural illustrator + has been drawing for as long as I remember. That's a lot of drawing given that we've known each other since preschool!) At first it was a struggle to even think of what I was doing ten years ago. But walking does wonders for the old brainspace + by the time I'd paced the beach for an hour (in momentary sunshine) I was bursting my seams with memories, ideas, enthusiasm. Holy moley it's good to have this time!

My week so far has been devoted to creative play (+ lazing, let's be honest) + I've been messing about with a couple of old projects while I get back in the groove. This one fits the bill perfectly! I was absorbed for hours. It brought up all sorts of stuff - happy, sad, confused, confusing - + then gave me something constructive to do with it. Brilliant!

The drawback? I don't have a scanner, I don't travel with a scanner, there is no scanner at the shack. So you can't see my meme. I'll email Adi next + ask if we can do an old-fashioned mail + scan job. Hopefully my meme will join the likes of Adi, Amber, Adam, Ord + Anthony sometime soonish. In the meantime I'd like to tag Nicole, Tones, Birdsworth, Kristy + anyone else who's interested. Come jump on the meme-wagon!

It might also be fun to drop me a quick comment + tell me something you were doing in 1998. Whaddaya reckon? Anyone out there? I don't bite!

16 July 2008

shack graffiti

1. attend to the working surface
2. the work is more important than your thoughts about the work
3. stop when it's time to stop

15 July 2008

back on the bus y'all

Okey dokes! I promised Weeze that it would be a post a day once she left, + really, there are no excuses. I'm unemployed + on my own. Allllllll by myseeeeelf... don't wanna be... Sorry, channelling Gin's recent karaoke show-stopper for a moment there! But it's true. Weeze headed home to Canberra yesterday + I am now on my own: a lonesome pine swaying in the breeze; a solo performer in the middle of a lonely stage; a single serve of jam waiting to be spread on a piece of toast. We had a rollicking roadtrip + hopefully I'll have time to flesh out a few more of the highlights at a later date. But for now it's a new adventure! Six weeks of housesitting at a beachside shack located between the Bus (as I'm calling Busselton) + the Boro (as I'm calling Dunsborough).

The shack belongs to longtime family friends, Libby + Martin. It's the maddest junk shop of a home: stuff spilling off every available surface; a broken-down hodge-podge of furniture; scarred lino covered in drifts of dust/sand/fur; doors graffitied by legions of kids + friends + hangers-on; a lifetime of beach holidays rolled into a handful of small rooms. The house has had the same absolute open-door policy for as long as I can remember - all comers welcomed from the heart. I could probably move in for six months without a second glance from L+M. The house reflects them pretty acurately I think. Chaotic but incredibly warm.

Those of you who know my Neat Freak side won't be surprised to hear that the shack thrills + terrifies me in equal measure. My major challenge for the next six weeks will be NOT to don mop + gloves + scrub it from top to bottom. But I've already given the kitchen a good going over... so that's not looking likely. The going-over revealed that 95% of the food L+M generously suggested I help myself to was either growing ten types of mould (fridge) or best eaten sometime last decade (cupboard).

Of course there's lots more to be thrilled about: comfy bed, cranking wood stove + diverse book collection. Lovely companions Jack (ancient cattle dog) + Leon (enormous ginger cat). A stroll through the backyard + over the bike path + onto the beach. What a thing to gaze at while I'm washing the dishes! And, more than anything, time + space for my creative self, for recuperation + reinvigoration + a wee bit of heart-mending. On that note I'm ready to slip into that comfy bed + off to sleep, lulled by the sounds of storms + waves + a crackling fire. How bloody lucky am I!?

01 July 2008

takin that ride to nowhere

Phew! It's been a massive couple of weeks. I've got so much to say but also a minor block to deal with after so much time without writing. Blog Block... sounds painful +/or messy! Wish me luck with the unblocking. I've got me plunger out!

Weeze + I hit the road last Saturday + are into Day Four of our Outrageous Outback Odyssey. My mind's eye had us driving comfortable distances with long hair streaming in the wind + a hip soundtrack belting out in the background. Each evening - at a glamorous hotel with firm-but-not-fat pillows - I hammer out a witty update before we stroll to a stunning-but-surprisingly-affordable restaurant for a spot of tea. Of course reality is slightly different. After fanging it down the Road To Nowhere for six or so hours, the last thing I've felt capable of is witty updates. A couple of glasses of vino, a flick through cable tv + an early night have been waaaaay more appealing. But hey, don't get me wrong, I'm not whinging. I'm unemployed, I'm discovering new places, the world is my oyster. In fact we've just entered Oyster Country!

Tonight finds us in Port Augusta, enjoying the spacious comfort of the Poinsettia Motor Inn. It's spacious because the only option left was a family room encompassing two wings + five beds. The proprietor suggested we might like to bring a couple of fellas home. No, I am not joking. The guidebook tell us that this industrial town is known by South Australians as 'Port-a-Gutter'. The sign on the back of our door tells us that we should use the security chain at all times. Call me a wuss, but trawling the streets for fellas seems a tad unwise given the little we know about the place.

There have been some risks taken so far, let me assure you. Crazy new car-dancing moves, loud car-singing, impromptu waves to passing motorists, a tiny bit of fruit smuggling. We've even considered writing "Weeze + Claire woz ere" in some outback dunnies. There's plenty of scope for crazy behaviour out here in the wild unknown. Let me tell you.

Okay... so... highlights thus far...
--the place names: Widgewa, Curlwaa, Gumly Gumly, Gol Gol, Goolgowi, Oodlawirra, Orraroo.
--the expansive landscapes + huge skies: everything feels enormous + somehow like we're at the very end of the earth, although clearly we're not... yet. I can only imagine how it might feel when we hit the Head of the Bight.
--the differences in the land as we motor across it: dry rolling alpine country around Yass + Wagga; lush farming land surrounding Griffith; the flat flat flat of the Hay Plain; red dirt making its dramatic entrance before we hit Broken Hill; a sense of real live desert beyond the silver city; + finally unxpected green + actual hills (not just occasional hillocks) as we moved back towards the coast. The variations seem infinite!
--the wildlife: plenty of it dead on the side of the road as we'd expected, but also the live stuff - an enormous range of birds, hundreds of feral goats, occasional kangaroos + emus.
--the tumbleweeds: they tumble, they gather in families in the middle of paddocks, they find themselves choralled into fences or sitting in strange (juxta)positions in fields of green vegies, they rock. I wanted to hug one until I discovered that they're highly prickly. I also wanted to take one with us as a mascot but I had to be happy with a couple of photos.
--the soundtrack: it IS hip + we HAVE been belting it out. We have wonderful friends with amazing taste in music, it must be said.
--the company: silly jokes, dance routines, good coffee, bad coffee, great conversation, shared driving, fun fun fun.

Okay... I'm even boring myself with my endless lists. I'll attempt to get some photos up on my Flickr site tonight so there's a pictorial version instead. Tomorrow we head into the Serious Desert - Ceduna + then onto the Nullabor. No such thing as internet out there my friends. So I'll be seeing you on the other side.

Hugs to everyone who finds time for a read + even those who don't!