Tuesday, May 31, 2011

#267: Go Your Own Way

My head aches in the morning.

5 degrees is not a good time to forget head-wear.

The fact that buses do not run on time, or appear to stick to a set time-table makes me grumpier when I have wait in the cold.

School kids – if you think you’re going to be embarrassed in front of a bus full of giggling school girls when I say, “Fuck off junior. Come back and talk to me when you’ve got some fuzz on your nuts,” then don’t look at me as I get on the bus, grin and nudge your mate and say, “Wassup Grandpa?”  Yes, I’m a grumpy old man and still more than agile enough to both catch you and box your ears clear off your head.

Always close the curtains when in a hotel that faces a building with windows that have a coating which means you can’t see me but I can see your naked arse prancing around.  And never, when faced with such a building, open the blinds, have a stretch and welcome the day.  It’s a good thing I didn’t have breakfast.

It now takes me thirty minutes to prepare and finish a report that used to take the previous author over half a day to do.

People are now amazed when I don’t deliver work in a timely fashion, not when I do.

Some people hate it when it takes a person thirty minutes to prepare and finish a report that used to take the previous author over half a day to do.

I always fall asleep in meetings and no amount of Red Bull can fix this.

The show Cheaters makes me laugh.  There's nothing funnier than seeing a man sprung with his pants off and his dick in some tarts mouth turning to his wife, on camera, and saying, "It's not what it looks like!"  I have no idea what it could be, but when I saw that one even Blind Pew would have known what it was.  Having said that, there are people on Cheaters who I can understand why their partners are cheating on them.

I don't understand why people allow Cheaters and other 'reality' shows to film them or to trespass on their property, let alone man-handle, harass and deprive them of their liberty.

Not all jokes go over well, nor does everyone get every joke you tell.

I can bore people to tears by talking about topics that most people can’t understand, such as the Titanic, the GFC, lies that all politicians tell, history in general, MS Office applications, vintage cars, art, web design and web-building, sports and marine biology, amongst other things.

I am well rounded and have a good grasp of knowledge.

Joey Greco is a dickhead.

Liberal Party supporters are happy to whinge over Julia Gillard telling ‘lies’ about the proposed Carbon Tax, but have all forgotten how John Howard lied each time he spoke, with the most famous being the GST lie and the Children Overboard saga. 

Some window cleaners clearly like to sing The Lion Sleeps Tonight as they clean, and ultimately crash, into windows at a 4th story level.

Some window cleaners look very much like homeless people, which is a surprise to me as they use water and soap all day.

Deleting a years worth of emails in my in-box frees up nearly a gig of space at work.

The three acoustic tracks that I have featuring Rainer Ptacek are still amongst the best things Robert Plant has ever done.

My world does not revolve around my dick.  I think that ceased to be the case quite a number of years ago now.  My world revolves around my loved ones.

My life is a quest for knowledge and improvement, not a quest for sex.

I Don’t Want To Talk About It can still bring tears to my eyes for all the right and wrong reasons as it has some of the most evocative lyrics in a song.  I can sing that song with ease.

If Rod Stewart had died in 1977 then people would remember him as a genuine talent instead of a raspy voiced guy who sang bad disco songs and had a head like a ferret wearing a worn down toilet brush.

If you don’t believe the above statement then listen to The Killing Of Georgie and remember that Rod wrote that one alone.

I can recite entire routines by Monty Python but can't remember any Shakespeare.

Each time I hear the songs Forget Her and Gone I think of an ex girlfriend of mine.  I can’t help but wonder if she thinks of me when she hears them, but I’ll never know, but I doubt it highly.  I have several songs that affect me like that for any number of reasons.

I had a dream about Hell last night.  I discovered that my own personal Hell runs like this: I find myself on stage with my monster guitar.  For some reason I begin to play the opening chords of Immigrant Song when I look over and see Justin Bieber, who promptly asks me to play it, “…more like Nickleback or Creed,” as Miley Cyrus walks out on stage.  They then begin to ‘sing’ and, try as I might, I cannot wake up…

The place where I eat lunch now knows my order before I do.  I have become predictable in that regard.

People who think that U2’s Pop album is crap are tone deaf cretins.  The two albums that were released after it were crap in comparison, but were popular in America, unlike Pop.  What does that tell you?

Mastering the Pivot Table function in Excel actually improves your life when it comes to reporting.

I wanted to be a professional drummer until I sat down and really listened to John Bonham.  I still had my hopes but then I heard Gene Krupa and knew that the dream was over.  I still drum from time to time though.

I had the same thing happen to me, guitar wise, and then I saw Eddie Van Halen and heard Steve Vai.  I still play guitar and can make that bastard howl and squeal when I want to.

I’ve met both Eddie Van Halen and Steve Vai and both were extremely nice to me.  That was a relief.  Unlike Gavin Rossdale, and some twat from Blur, both of whom I personally invited to step outside with the intention of beating the shit out them.

I’d still do it too.  Especially Rossdale.  The talentless wanker.  Gav, both you and your band suck.

I have several skills, including the ability to fart the opening chords of Smoke On The Water.  I have no idea how to make that marketable though.

Eddie Van Halen stood in a fountain signing a photo for me and then complained that his feet felt wet.

Mick Jagger once called me a ‘Cheeky cunt’.  I’m proud of that.

I know genuinely famous people; however I am not one of them.

I once sang Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue with three of the Ramones at a sound-check in 1989.  Or was it 1990?

Dave Navarro once kissed me on the mouth and asked me to run away with him.  I seriously considered about it...

I've always believed that you make the bed you lie in, so ensure that the sheets are tucked in and the quilt is a good one.

I know someone with the most amazing voice that simply does not match the delightfully kittenish look she has.

I do not want what I do not have.  I used to covet my neighbours’ oxen and suffer from jealousy, but no longer.  What is mine is mine, what is yours is yours.  So be it.

Every time I post a blog entry somebody I do not know emails me to point out the grammatical errors.  Now I deliberately place them into certain posts for fun.

I am loathed by people I will never meet, nor have I met, for their own reasons.  I find this flattering really, as I can’t loathe someone I do not know.  I deliberately antagonize them, at times, for my own amusement.

I fall in love every morning.  I have moments of desire during the day, I flirt a lot, but I fall in love again every evening when I get home.

I read something every day and I write every day.  It’s mainly non-fiction as that’s more inventive, at times, than most fiction.

I have done both of those things virtually non-stop since the mid 1970s.

I believed I could be a great fiction author until I read, in order, Huxley, C.S. Lewis, Orwell and Steinbeck.  I then gave up the dream.  I can write fiction, I just know that I could write for a million years and still not produce anything as immediate as Brave New World.

Watership Down is still one of my all time favourite books and has what I consider to be one of the most powerful exchanges of dialogue I’ve read.  I’m often dismayed to discover that some of my more literate friends have never read it.

I love being pleasantly surprised.

I want people to remember me as a person who did a lot of good, only the bulk of it went un-noticed.  I have come to terms with myself as a person, who I am, what I am and why.

I am a decent Backgammon player and am always up for a game, however these days my main opponent is the computer or my iPhone.

Celebrities are no smarter than you or I, so why do people value their opinions so much and treat their utterances like they're the words of geniuses?  Most are brainless and would happily promote the virtues of strangling kittens if they were paid enough.
When Richard Wilkins comes on the TV in the mornings it is my cue to feed the cats and get ready for the day.  The man is as vapid as they come. 

I think that the Cheaters cameramen probably upload and sell some of the footage they capture to amateur porn sites.

I have worked out my own eulogy and inscription for the grave marker.

I can get very angry listening to politicians and people of privilege talking about how hard people have it.  I lived for a good nine years in a state of relative poorness as an adult, including extended periods where I’d eat nothing but bread, noodles and baked beans for weeks on end, and hang around a local deli in the hopes that they’d have pies to give away, as I had to exist on around $25 a week, or less, for food.  Thus when people who do not know, nor will they ever know, how hard it is to scrounge for something to eat, talk about ‘battlers’ I want to punch them in the face.  I’d visit people at certain times of the day in the hopes of getting something to eat and if it wasn’t for my mother who would visit and bring food, or load me up with food when I’d visit her, I’m sure I’d have starved to death.  All through this my kids never went for anything and I’d ensure that they’d eat well, no matter how little food I personally had.

I have no tolerance for billionaires who are wealthy and ostentatious while people go without.  Some people waste more in a week than others eat in a year.  The inequities of life can frustrate me.  I share my wealth with those who are struggling.

There are not enough hours in the day for me to do what I want to do.

I write in my head and once I've worked it all out I then commit the words to screen, as paper doesn't exist as a writing tool for me anymore, and hasn't since 1993.

When people ask me what my favourite album is I just reply, “My iPod.”  It seems to work, although even with over 20,000 songs it still doesn’t have everything I want on it.

I use my iPod to block out the voices of people around me.  I have no great desire to listen to people talk at times, even when they're trying to tell me something.

I have the best feline friend in the world and I will always adore the person who gifted her to me.

My memory is fading.  There are times when I draw a total blank on things that I should, and do, know.  I now have gaps in my memory and this bothers me as I am now beginning to forget things that I need to remember.  The harder I try, the more I forget.  I have no desire to see a doctor about this, but I am convinced that it is tied in to the daily headaches that I have suffered from for the past six months.

I am liking life as I’m finding it, and I believe that Heaven, for me, will involve me being placed into the happiest moments of my life and being able to relive those moments over and over.  I believe that I shall be reincarnated, hopefully not as one of Beiber's band members or Lady Ga-Ga’s pet Chihuahua, but as a higher being, but time will tell.

I could do this all day if anyone asked me to.

I am very tired a lot of late, but I am happy.  

How are you feeling?

#266: The Titanic (It Was Sad When That Great Ship Went Down)

Some anniversaries manage to slip by you with a relative sense of ease, and this is one that I expect has easily gone past the bulk of the world’s population.  Next year, on April 15, the world will certainly stop to reflect on the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.  The name, Titanic, has become part of the English language, as instantly recognisable as part of the 20th century as Hitler, Churchill or John F Kennedy, if not slightly more recognisable really, by virtue of age.   Indeed it has been said that the word Titanic ranks only behind the words God and Coca-Cola as the most recognised word in the world today – but I’m happy to accept any argument on that point.  So if it’s not April, and it’s not 2012, then what anniversary is it today?

At just past midday on the 31st of May, 1911, the Titanic was formally launched, thus setting off a chain of events that would culminate in the most famous of all shipwrecks, at the River Lagan in Belfast, Ireland.  Curiously no champagne bottle or any other form of traditional christening was done for the Titanic, nor was it ever going to happen, that kind of thing just wasn’t done at Harland & Wolff, the shipbuilders, at that point in time.  After a period of sea trials and fitting out, she was ready to undertake her maiden voyage.  The rest, as they say, is history, indeed it’s more than history; it’s both legend and lore.  Her last survivor, Millvina Dean, passed away, also on May 31, 2009, at the age of 97.  The irony is incredible.  Sadly the ship lies on the bottom of the ocean, a desecrated grave site as people plunder it for profit.  When anyone tells me that it's historic and that by bringing artifacts and personal belongings to the surface to be placed on display is valid, I always ask them how they'd feel if people started looting the graves of say Queen Victoria, or Lincoln or any other historical figure.  Such is the fascination with the anonymous dead, and those who we never knew or had a direct link with, that people pay money to see items that were worn by those poor souls who perished on that cold April night 99 years ago. And as for the claims that the ship hasn't been touched, if you compare the images of the ship from when Robert Ballard found it in September 1985 through to the images that James Cameron displayed in both Titanic and the follow up documentary Ghosts Of The Abyss you'll easily see that those who have 'salvaged' material from the ship have probably done more damage to it than time has.  But then again the iceberg that clipped the ship did the most damage.

Apparently this is the iceberg that the Titanic hit
There’s plenty of books out there about the Titanic, and even more have popped up since the James Cameron movie.  Personally I don’t mind the Cameron movie, I can give or take the plot, what I’ve always enjoyed are Cameron’s sweeping shots of the ship as she cuts through the water, and then ultimate scene as she sinks in a mass of humanity.  Cameron could have made a far more interesting movie if he had spent more time focusing on the sheer insanity of decisions of the night and the trip as a whole, but, to be fair he did what he did and as a movie it’s entertaining enough.  Hunt down some of the books and read for yourself, after all each year brings more and more details forward and just when you think you’ve read all there is, another interesting slant comes out and turns your head into a new direction.

So pause, just for a minute, at 12:05pm today and remember the Titanic, that grandest of the grand, the might unsinkable liner that tempted the Gods and failed.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

#266 Conversations

The Perils Of Buying A Book
I walk into a second-hand bookstore and select a book.  Up to the counter I walk.
Salesperson: $10 please.
Me: (pulls out $10, places it on the counter) Thanks.
Salesperson: (takes money, looks at the book quizzically) What is that?
Me: A book.
Salesperson: Oh.

The Perils of Buying Nurofen.
Me: Pack of 30 Nurofen Plus please.
Chemist Chick: Have you had these before?
Me: Yes.
CC: Why do you want them?
Me: Headaches.
CC: Does your doctor know about your headaches?
Me: Yes.
CC: Have you had headaches before?
Me: Why yes, I have.
CC: You are aware of the dangers associated with this drug?
Me: How old are you?
CC: Excuse me?
Me: I’m just curious as to how old you are.  You’re what, 19?  20?
CC: I’m 19.  Why?
Me: I’m 44.  I’ve had headaches before you were even a wet dream.  In fact, depending on where your mum used to hang around as a 20 year old it’s entirely possible that I could be your dad, especially if she frequented a certain nightclub in the 1990s.  I’ve taken almost every drug there is to take, short of some of the harder Class A drugs, like heroin, and I’ve avoided weed, speed and ecstasy ever since they began to contain ingredients such as baking powder, lawn clippings, dirt and mouse droppings.  I snorted, popped, licked, eaten and drank, both intentionally and intentionally, anything and everything put in front of me for a period of time there in the mid 1990s.  Luckily it’s all over and done with now and taking the occasional Nurofen for a headache or a backache is about as drugged up as I’ve gotten since around 1999.  I’ve had every decent prescription drug, short of morphine, in hospitals and at home, including so much adrenaline during one stay that I was stoned for a solid week and slept for a day and a half straight.  I’ve had painkillers to strong that I’ve forgotten what gender I was, let alone my name.  I’ve had sleeping pills so strong that they’d place an elephant into a coma.  I’ve taken everything from Bex to Valium and beyond.  Believe me when I say this to you; I’ve had a headache before and I’ve taken several drugs for them.  Straight Codeine makes me feel ill, however Nurofen has just the right mix of Ibuprofen and Codeine to actually work.  And trust me, if I wanted to overdose and exit the world I’d pick something a lot more reliable, effective and faster than Nurofen to do it with as I seriously doubt that a packet of 30 of those little buggers would be anywhere near strong enough to do anything other than give me a mild case of sore guts and an attack of dodgy farts for a few days.
CC: Just wait here and I’ll get the head Chemist.
Me: Do hurry, my headache isn’t getting any better.

The Perils of Replying To Email

From:  Very Silly Man Who You Replaced
To: Personal Jesus
Re: My Job

Hi PJ,
I see that you’re still there, keeping my seat warm for me.

From Personal Jesus
To: Very Silly Man Who You Replaced
Re: Re: My Job

Hello VSM
Your seat? Sorry chum, I sit in my own seat now.

From:  Very Silly Man Who You Replaced
To: Personal Jesus
Re: Re: Re: My Job

Hi PJ,
Oh, come on, everyone knows it’s my seat you’re warming.  Admit it. You’re worried I’ll come back.

From Personal Jesus
To: Very Silly Man Who You Replaced
Re: Reality Check

You were here for a total of three months, of which you took so much time off that it wasn’t funny.  I came in as a replacement two weeks before you were due to finish.  You took me aside and told me that the job was ‘piss easy’ because there was nothing to do other than a very menial task.  Mind you the task was so menial that you couldn’t work out how to do it properly after forty days.  If you recall rightly you were amazed that it took me about twenty minutes to nail it and another thirty minutes to rework the data and streamline the way the task was to be done.  I’ve since moved that task into something a lot more complex and with far better results. I’d explain to you what I did, but as you had a hard time understanding the simple concepts of ‘Copy and Paste’ and ‘Auto fill’ I’ll save you the headache. 

Since you’ve left I’ve taken on a lot of different projects and roles.  In fact one of the things that I’ve heard is that I’ve taken a position that was classified as a level 4, but was really a part time level 1 role, and turned it into a full time level 5.  I’m quite proud of that.  They like me here, I like being here.  You couldn’t do what I do now on your best ever day, and correct me if I’m wrong, but in the year I’ve been here, in the one position, haven’t you moved to six different locations?  I guess it only takes people about a month to work out you’re a dud and then another week or so to find someone vague enough to palm you off onto.

When I mention your name here people respond with one of three options.  The first, and most popular, is generally, “VSM? Who was he?”  The next best response is, “VSM? Wasn’t he that dickhead that was here before you? Thank fuck we got rid of him,” or they merely shudder at the thought of you.

Good luck in your eternal quest to find the ‘piss easy’ job, that job that requires you to merely turn up (which you often have trouble doing at the best of time) and that requires you to not do a lot, if anything at all, other than surf the net looking for vertical bacon sandwiches, perusing your bachelor’s newsletters, standing up to fiddle with your chicken skin handbag in front of the female staff and send stupid emails to people who don’t care to hear from you.

As for your seat, I think that it was taken out to the dumpster shortly after you left. Someone was muttering about urine stains.

p.s. Are you still wandering into female toilets with half a loaf of bread under your arm?  People are still talking about that in stunned amazement.

From:  Very Silly Man Who You Replaced
To: Personal Jesus
Re: Re: Reality Check

Hi PJ,
Mate, you’re funny.

And you think your days are odd?  You ain’t got diddly squat chum!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

#265: Breaking The Law

Future hard-core criminal
God, I love this stuff.  Back in the mid 1930s a study was undertaken to ascertain why kids became criminals.  The results were finally published in 1940 and they make for, well, more than hilarious reading.  The Making Of A Criminal was written by F. Oswald Barnett, who believed in housing, God and slums.  Not that he promoted the slums, but being the social reformer that he was, Fred put his money where his mouth was and, realising that slums in Victoria often lead to generational poverty and crime, decided to do something positive, and radical for the time, and pressured the current government of the day to form the Housing Commission of Victoria, which supplied public housing at the time and is still active today.  For that I applaud Fred, he set the template that every other state followed.  A charted accountant and housing expert is the last person you'd expect to write a book about why kids turn to crime, but that didn't stop him. 

Fred's methods were basic and straightforward - he simply supplied a questionnaire to the Court to be completed when a child was brought up on charges for two months in 1933.  It really was as easy as that.   Once he had the findings, he wrote the book, and they offer a great insight into Australian life, and poverty, during the Depression years.  Focusing on children from the suburbs of Victoria, he found 277 kids to study.  Their ages ranged from seven to twenty (kids were kids for longer back then), with over 3/5 of them being under the age of fifteen.  Most of the kids were sent to the Castlemaine Reformatory Gaol, which housed both adults and children and which saw ten executions during it's time.  Built in 1861, the executions all took place in the 1860s and 1870s, but it was a depressing place to be at any point, and was eventually shut down in 1990, although it stopped being a gaol for young people in 1953.  According to the Annual Report Penal Establishments, Gaols and Reformatory Prisons 1933 Annual Report, Castlemaine was used for, "the psychiatrically ill, neglected children and juvenile offenders; and particular gaols tended to hold a high proportion of old and infirm poor who had been imprisoned for having no visible means of support."  The report goes on to state,
To meet the requirements of the Act the Castlemaine Gaol was proclaimed a reformatory prison for youthful offenders and a portion of the Pentridge Penal Establishment was set apart as a reformatory prison for prisoners of the habitual class.

At Castlemaine, in 1925, a schoolroom with modern equipment was built within the prison, and school instruction forms an important part of the curriculum. The school is under the supervision of the Education Department. Instruction is given in the use of tools, in woodwork and sheetmetal work, and in general education. On the farm, about 3 miles from the prison, there is accommodation for fourteen of the prison inmates, and there are houses there under the honour system.

So what did Fred find?  Most of the kids didn't bother going to school and when I say most Fred states that over 60% had given school the flick.  What were they doing?  Some worked, but the majority merely sat on their arses holding their heads in their hands, as evidenced by the brilliant stick figure image table shown here.  And the tables are what sets this book apart from others - nobody I can think of ever used stick figures with such effectiveness.  As a failed artist who couldn't master stick figures, resulting in my grade three art teacher telling me I was an idiot, I can fully appreciate this fine art.  As for the jobs, well around 15% had trades, the remaining 17% worked in Blind-Alley jobs, which I presume meant delivery jobs, running numbers or the like, again - I'm going on the little hat on the stick figure.  Either that or they were tram conductors.  Blind Alley jobs for the time were the McDonalds of today - employers who hired young people, paid them pittance, worked them like frigging dogs and then pissed them off into the world once they reach an adult age and thus were eligible for an adult wage.  Nice to know that hasn't changed since the 1800s.

The kids all hung around undesirables which presented a problem for 'State and Church'.  You see kids back then were less likely to be led astray if they belonged to a social club of some sort, a church group perhaps.  Otherwise bad company would surely follow, but the worst company for some of them were their own criminal parents.  Bastards and Fagins all.

There's more studies, in particular a great look at Delinquents.  Most Delinquents, if not put in gaol, would merely form a conga line and dance the night away, watched by the sad few who hung their heads in shame and were forced to live in a box.  And what made a Delinquent successful at Delinquency?  A lack of intelligence.  Fred determined that his Delinquents could be classified into the following levels of intelligence, via their rudimentary IQ tests:
0-69: feebleminded
70-79 - borderline
80-89 - backward
90-109 - normal
110-119 - bright
120-129 - very bright
130+ - very superior
Now I'm not sure about you, but I don't know what would be worse - being called backward or borderline.  It'd be a challenge.  Naturally with most kids dropping out of school to enter a life of crime, the bulk of them were, well, feeble-minded at worse, backwards at best.  However in the late 1930s, if you were classified as being on the 'borderline between sanity and mental derangement' then you were instantly classed as being psychopathic and thrown into the loony bin or put into solitary at Pentridge.  Instead of calling the kids psychopathic, Fred classed them as being either Good, medium, Poor or Bad, with one kid earning the classification of being a 'bad type, always seeking evil companions'.  Most of the other 'bad types' were 'dirty, irritable, sullen, lazy and resentful'.  I expect that, at the age of 15, if I was starving every day and got a good flogging and locked up by the plod for stealing food, I'd be fairly pissed off too.  It's only natural.

Being unemployed in the 1930s led to people adopting a pose akin to dropping a log
Where did these kids come from?  If they didn't have a British father then they were foreign, pure and simple.  Most were illegitimate, almost all had sole parents or were orphans.  Most fathers who had a skilled trade had kids who had a skilled trade, and vice-versa.  You know, people got paid for these types of studies.  Where the study becomes truly heartbreaking is when you read the cases themselves.  Most had broken childhoods and had been faring for themselves since a young age.  Most had been locked up theft and housebreaking, with one kid being locked up for stealing an overcoat in winter, a crime that saw him spend the better part of a year inside the big house.  Most of the parents are hopeless drunks who engage in both spousal and serious child abuse.  The link between domestic violence and kids acting out was made, but not the link between the kids possibly wanting to be locked up to get out of an abusive situation.  That link wouldn't be made for another sixty odd years or so.  Another disturbing trend from this book is the gender bias - every offender in this book is male.  Make of that what you will.

"We're outta gaol! LET'S CONGA!!"
What did Fred eventually find?  That the causes of crime included lack of parental control, bad companionship and unemployment and that, with the right guidance, care and education, child crime could be reduced, and repeat offending could all but be eliminated.  Oddly enough Fred's findings could be applied to today's little bastards, although I doubt that kids today dance in conga lines when they're discharged from the slot.  What Fred also found was that poverty = slums = crime and to make a difference Fred had to eliminate slums as he'd not be able to eliminate poverty.   And make a difference Fred did, by insisting that people write to the then Victorian Premier, Sir Albert Dunstan, which resulted in the Housing Commission, which went a long way to reducing slums.  I wonder what Fred would have made of the slums of today, those suburbs and areas where crime is now so rampant that even the authorities don't venture there at night - and the bulk of those slums are made up of public housing, containing people living in poverty and in broken homes.

In the country, you shoveled shit or you didn't work. The skilled laborer fixed the shovels
The more things change, the more they remain the same. And if you didn't think Fred was serious, check out some of these photos that he published, showcasing the slums of Melbourne in the early 1930s.

Yep, people lived like this back in the 1920s
 It wasn't all wine and roses.

#264: Rapture

Bring it on!

Mind you I do want to know, if God is going to end the world at 6:00pm tonight, is He going on Eastern, Central or Western time?  And if the world doesn't end at 6:00pm in New Zealand, then are we all safe?

Still, the Crows are playing Collingwood this weekend, so they might want the world to end regardless, and the way Port are going, they probably think the world ended a few weeks ago - at least it'll bring an end to a season that they'd rather forget.'

Que sera sera...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

#263: Stormtrooper in Drag

What do I know about Gary Numan? Not a lot really. I know the following – I’ve skimmed his autobiography and it was interesting. I watched a documentary on him recently and that was also interesting, especially when Trent Reznor came out and sang his praises – good to see ole Trent is still a fan. I know that when I was at school he wasn’t taken that seriously, other than by a few borderline Neo-Nazi’s who loved the militaristic attitude that Gary exuded and the black shirts with red stripes that he popularised. I know that he always looked like a miserable bastard, on a par with Ritchie Blackmore for public displays of smiling and emotion. I know that he flies planes and is a pilot. I know that he recorded an entire album with James Freud back in the early ‘80s only to scrap it. I know that he also lined Freud up and dropped his guts in his face. I also know that I love dancing to Cars and that I have a great mash-up of Are Friends Electric combined with Walk Like An Egyptian by the Bangles, which fits a little too perfectly. That’s about it.

Armed with that knowledge we wandered down to HQ last night to see Gazza in concert. The Bear was dead keen to go and see him as she’d caught him back in late 1980 when he first toured here behind The Pleasure Principle album, and this time around we were promised The Pleasure Principle Album, although I don’t know why. Possibly an anniversary? Beats me, but purchase the tickets we did and off we went. I have to admit that I used to haunt HQ back in the days when it was Heaven and would play decent retro on Wednesday nights, as overseen by the brilliant Hoops. Sadly other than a splash of paint and a name change the club looks exactly the same. I say sadly because it’s old and tired now and there’s nothing worse than going back to the scene of many crimes over a decade and a half later and seeing the chalk outlines are still in place. One thing has changed though – the price of booze is outrageous. One can of JD and a can of Russki set me back $25. Call me old, but it wasn’t that long ago when $25 would see me happy for the evening, not to mention the small bottle of water for $5. Still, a nightclub has to gouge the crowd and recoup costs of the gigs somehow. Good thing I didn’t ask for anything off the top shelf, gone are the days of drink cards.

The crowd were the usual people of a certain vintage, and I have to wonder about all of these vampires that are coming out of the woodwork. I say vampires because clearly they don’t have a reflection to judge what little fashion sense they have – the bird that scuttled up next to us for the evening was wearing an outfit that wouldn’t have been out of place in 1986, and I don’t mean that in a good way. I hate to say it but my generation seems to consist now of two types of people – those who have moved on with fashion, dress for the occasion and generally look good. The others dress like Brynee Eccelstein on a bad day, think they look great and generally look like twenty pounds of shit bashed into a five pound bag. Both parties were represented, in number, last night, along with the few obligatory Goths, at least three Neo-Nazis that I spotted and a pile of industrial type people with chains and studs in their faces, and one dude close to the stage wearing a studded dog collar that he probably bought for $150 from a bondage shop. You can get those from Coles for under $15 by the way. It’s also refreshing to see that hairspray clearly isn’t banned in some households and that big hair isn’t restricted to Kate Pierson alone. But there’s nothing funnier than seeing a wanker in tight black jeans, a tight white shirt (neatly tucked in) which showcases the expansive gut area and a long ponytail, the weight of which has clearly stripped the front of the head of hair stalking the crowd looking for that woman with saggy titties, tight black leather pants, hair that’d make Bon Jovi blink in disbelief and a top that wouldn’t have fitted at birth. Something to bear in mind kiddies, after the age of 40 people are single for the following reasons:
A] they want kids
B] they have kids
C] they’re bunny boilers
D] they have a vast collection of Restraining Orders
E] they have issues on a grand scale
F] they’re fresh out of jail/going to jail
G] are terminally unemployed/unemployable
H] they no longer care and can’t be arsed sorting through people only to discover that the person they’ve picked has all of the above, some of the above or additional items to deal with. Baggage is a wondrous thing indeed, but, seriously, I’d hate to be stuck with the last chicken in the shop at last night’s gig. Now, on with the show.

The support band wandered out – the Severed Heads. I’ve never been a fan of the Severed Heads, even back in the day, and time hasn’t changed my mind. I know they’re a seminal Australian electronic band, but, well, to my ears they just sound a mishmash of early Depeche Mode, Soft Cell with a bit of B.E.F. and Art Of Noise thrown in for good measure. I’m sure that the two guys on stage would love that, but after a while I kind of sat there and thought, “Hmmm, yes, drum track from Bedsitter, rhythm track from Leave In Silence and samples from Optimum Chant.” That generally leaves me cold, but hey, such is life. The lyrics were good wordplay – all about oblique cockroaches and seagulling – and the videos were interesting, in a retro computer graphic kind of a way.

After the usual period of waiting Gazza walked out onto the stage and began to play. He looked good, damned good.  Youthful, at ease with himself, vibrant and full of energy.  He also looked like he was wearing a syrup, but I can't verify that, other than to say that he has more hair now than he ever did, it's thick and black as my cat Klerqy, so you do the maths.  There were two distinct sets, the first being devoted to The Pleasure Principle complete with loads of synths and that’s when I first began to enjoy myself. Once the notes came out, those long, extended synth notes with the phasing, I thought I was back in 1978. Great stuff. Gazza had an incredible light show to go with his live set and pretty much all of the album was there. I got into it more than I thought I would, and indeed was enjoying things when, after the first song I recognised, Cars, the band stopped and walked off the stage. Great. No big deal, they wandered back on to perform a second set, complete with guitars and noise. It was terrific!

Seeing Gary Numan live, like we did last night, you can easily see where bands such as Depeche Mode, Fear Factory and Nine Inch Nails, to name but three, all drew inspiration from. Numan’s unique voice is what separates him from a lot of the people who appear happy to steal his feel but not cite him as an influence, and the second set was blistering. Seeing him tear through stripped down renditions of I Die, You Die, Down In The Park and Are Friends Electric was a treat not to be missed, although some of the crowd definitely did miss the point, with some twat heckling behind us, “Play something we know!” I couldn’t care less if I didn’t know the songs he was playing, I enjoyed myself more than I should have. Numan’s band were in top form, the sound, which is usually horrendous at HQ, was note perfect – loud enough to be loud, but not loud enough to be distorted beyond enjoyment. And enjoy the show people did – the applause was warm and genuine, the enthusiasm levels were high and the interaction between Numan and the crowd, especially during the stripped down second set, was a welcome sight indeed. HQ might be a dive, but there is something about the small clubs that lend themselves to a more intimate show, and that was on full display last night.

Last night I walked into HQ with a rudimentary knowledge of Gary Numan, and a passing knowledge of his music, but I walked out with a new appreciation for him and a desire to hear both his back and current catalogue. I can easily understand why Numan is held in high regard and why many of the acts that I do listen to and enjoy a lot cite him as an influence. We may have missed out on Hugh Cornwall in Adelaide recently, but we got Gary Numan – and that was just as good.