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Archive for April 2nd, 2010|Daily archive page

Batucada!!!!!!

In bike, ozstraylia, travelling, tunnnneeeee! on April 2, 2010 at 10:41 pm

I love Brazilian music, it is happy music, it is summer music, it is lazing around with the sun on your face music. And I’ve always felt an affinity to brazil since ’82 when i decided i was brazilian because my favourite player was eder, a gangly left winger, who scored a thunderous volley in one of the opening group matches, flicking the ball up with his right foot to power home with so much swerve and bend from his left that the keeper never even moved,

who wore those friendship/surfer bands around his wrist. Which i emulated with my looped rubberbands because i was from south london and didn’t even know that they could be purchased, so I made do and adapted what was around me, even at that young age I was like a ranger, improvising, adapting, and overcoming. As with all things heart related there was crying and tragedy, brazil so obviously the best team in that years world cup, lost 3-2 to the eventual winners Italy, when all they needed to do was draw. It could and has been said that, the ’82 team was the last of the swashbuckling brazilian teams, the last to be true heirs to jairzinho, pele, tostao, and the attack, attack, attack, you score two we’ll score three, teams that had reached their zenith with the ’70 squad. Anyway I cried my heart out when they lost, one of the defining momets of my childhood, alongside the doomed six year olds love affair with my uncles girlfriend in Barbados, was their loss, cementing the knowledge that in footbal as in life those that were the best don’t always triumph.

So I’ve been a fan of brazil since way back when and it’s one of the reasons why I’ll be going there on this journey, from listening to the husky tones of tom jobim on aquas de Marcos,

to joyce’s five minute long scat on aleida de ogum,

to the iconic celebration suite by airto,

just cemented this love.

But enough back story, joey whose a friend of a friend of mine, had returned to Sydney a couple of years back and we’d arranged to meet up when I hit town. Now I’m pleasantly surprised to find joeys a member of a Brazilian drum school and he and the band will be playing at bronte beach for the birthday of a friend. It’s just another chance for the drummers to practice and I’m delighted when joey invites me down. I get to ride to one of the public beaches, bronte is inbetween bondi and coogee beaches, I get to see how vicious these hills are, and I get to listen to some batucada! What more could you want for an afternoon.

2 bottles of cider, towel, Birkenstocks, swimming trunks, suncream and sunglasses, and I’m off down the road.

I won’t bore you with the ride, suffice to say it wasn’t that long, about half an hour, maybe longer and the hills out weren’t too bad, long lugs up a steady incline. The exit on the otherhand was a torment of straining thighs, push pull, push pull. Hands cramping as I pulled hard on the bars, ascending barely faster than walking pace, standing/stamping on the pedals, it doesn’t get any easier no matter how much I concentrate on my technique, it just gets harder, each breath, each turn of the crank. I had to take a fucking run up to get enough speed to attempt the damn thing in the first place, sometimes riding fixed sucks, sucks hard. Just when I think I can slow to a snail like crawl and sit back down and just grind it out, the hill keeps going, back out of the saddle, grit the teeth and will not be defeated, wheezing, head hot, grips slick with my sweat I get to the top and pedal ever so slowly along the flat, well relatively flat.

But I’ve gone to the end, well the middle and I’ve spent all that time building up the whole Brazilian thing to punt past it to the cycle out.

So anyway joey and the band are really good, really really good, just like a batucada band should be, two big drums, three smaller ones, some strange tambourines, a drum with a straw and a sponge to make that strange, sqwauking, squeeking sound and someone on the shaker, who eventually becomes me. But they are loud and rhythmic and as they bang out the sounds, people around the BBQ area poke their heads out and come and see what the noise is about. They stand and tap their feet, nod their heads, swing their hips a little before edging forward and joining the circle that we have formed. Obviously my time on the shaker was the high point of the impromptu performance, jam session. My shaking of the shaker held that shit together. Have I told you about my desire to be in a band and just play the triangle for one song. The band tours the world and I’m required for just one song, one motherfucking song, where I hit that triangle really goddamned hard and that’s it! I tour the world say to groupies “yeah I hit the triangle in that song, you know the one, the one with the really big triangle bit at the end, yeah I killed it tonight…. You wanna come up to my room?” That’s the dream, that’s the dream, and playing the shaker which requires a little more concentration than at first seems necessary is a step towards it.

But this afternoon I am the shaker, the shaker with the most, letting those grains, slide around in their container, an accomplement to the rest of the layers of percussion, which make it so rhythmic and exciting. I can’t smiling, its like I’ve been given a sweet when all of mine have hit the floor and are unedible. I’m part of the band, and for a little while, I listen and ask questions, and try to figure out how the beat builds, and when I should drop out as they change from one rhythm to the next. Its the most fun I’ve had in ages, and it makes me hunger to get to the beaches and clubs of brazil.

bright lights big city…

In ozstraylia, travelling on April 2, 2010 at 9:48 pm

So Sydney! It’s hot here, feels hotter and cooler than Melbourne all at once.

It also feels very much like a big city, tall buildings, high density living, more people, more hustle and bustle. And whilst I was in Melbourne I yearned (under my breath) for this size of urban space, but now I’m here I’m not as enthused as I thought I would be. Melbourne for all it’s lack of size, I got to know quite well, I spent time there, bedded in for a little piece, I’m having to fly through Sydney as I’m adding a couple of days onto the new Zealand leg of the journey, so I can see more of it during my fly drive.

Sydney doesn’t seem to have the nooks and crannies, the off the side roads eccentricities of Melbourne, that wonderful capacity to surprise you at every other corner.

I’m staying down or up in kings cross, and it’s by turns, seedy, touristy and chi chi, big faced, high heel wearing hookers line William st, titty bars and nightclubs line Darlinghurst st, and fashionable shops and delis line Macleay st.  Went out drinking in Darlinghurst and connecting environs with an Irish doctor called Damian, who was off travelling and climbing for a couple or four months, before he headed back for another tour as doctor on a cruise ship out of southampton, so he could make some tax free cash and begin a new life in new Zealand. As I found out along the way he also had a taste for expensive single malts.

So we walked around I had a couple or three bars that had been recommended, they proved to be a bit of a disappointment, and most of the ones we passed were either full on Australian hotel/pubs, gay bars or slighty pretentious wine bar type places. Finally ended up in one of the latter where we discussed fine malts and gins with the bar staff who told me that the more ice there is in your drink, the less likely it is to melt rapidly and water it down, as it can maintain it’s temperature better. I told him I’d still like half the ice so at least I could taste the alcohol to begin with, rather than not at all. I’m not sure this went down well.

Where was I? Oh the bars, so it felt very Soho, very this is where people from out of town come to experience Sydney nightlife and have a good time and this is where I didn’t want to be.

Got back to a bar/club called Melt which had been recommended and paid my ten dollar cover charge and the place was not that full, about twenty to thirty bods, mostly male listening to the same rnb and hip hop that I’d heard in various bars in Tokyo, it’s like the dj’s have the same playlist to choose from. God it was soul destroying, just proving to me that I am getting old as I sweepingly dismiss the music that the young people love and label it, in my mind as only this (holds forefinger and thumb mm’s apart) far away from just being unintelligible noise.

Down here in Kings Cross, all things blur into one, and you can’t tell the hookers, from the tourists, short skirts, stiletto’s and cleavage on display, some you pay for, some you don’t. On the weekend it heaves with people, just so many pushed into it’s environs, but as soon as you turn the corner away from Darlinghurst st, it quiets, the sound drops off and your into a residential area, where there’s a whispered hush that covers everything. We foreigners step outside and smoke and drink opposite the hostel, the quiet surrounding us. Some residents don’t feel we’re quiet enough. A man comes close, kicks over a drink, squares upto one of the french boys. He’s angry, think we’re making too much noise, declaims he would respect the cultures of wherever he was, as we should. He is xenophobic, and looking for a ruck, eyes bulging, claiming randomly that we are loud, night after night, after night, and perhaps some are. But tonight we weren’t and I’m not so drunk that I can’t stand and discuss the issue with him. But he doesn’t want to discuss, he wants to argue and yell, and be IN THE RIGHT! He makes me want to tar all australians, with this belligerent ignorant brush.

I sleep, I wake, and I head out for a ride. As they say be careful what you wish for, I wanted big city life and sydney is providing it…

In it till the bitter end!

In ozstraylia, tunnnneeeee! on April 2, 2010 at 9:23 pm

Gilles is playing big tunes and Mannings bar where the people politely queue up to get served at the bar, none of this free for all of lunging, lounging, leaning we get in London, just orderly lines stretching away from the bar, is feeling it. The bands about to hit the stage and I’m wondering how many people will bail once the main act ends, and won’t listen to what Gilles has to offer afterwards.

As Sofia says I’ve paid my money and I’m in to the bitter end, till the lights go on and the beer goggles truly come down.

As I wait for the band to hit the stage I am realizing that I am strange fruit wherever I go. I got looks when I was in Japan, but got harder looks when I was in Melbourne. Not inquisitive or curious like in Japan, but more appraising and startled. In Japan it was Why are you here looks, in Australia it is What are YOU doing here looks. Not sure whether it’s because I’m black, obviously a cyclist, I do wear my cycling cap at all times pretty much, or both.

On a cap note my favourite cycling cap the green gatorade one, the plastic peak has snapped on me and now I’ve got to be especially careful otherwise I look like a bit of a gimp with a crooked bent peak. Upset to say the least! Hoping to get a sugar spokes cap to compensate and hopefully when I get to the states I can find someone to repair it, cut out new bit of plastic, unstitch peak take out old broken plastic, replace , stitch back up, piece of piss.

With the orchestra in full eleven man flow you get a sense of what Fela in his pomp would have been like, thick basslines, soaring Hammond organ solos and the horn section waiting to pounce, fierce and sharp. Two lines of musicians, rhythm section and horn section two stepping, side to side as they pump out funky riff after funky riff, riff sliding into riff, and everlasting jam session.

Antibalas are to afrobeat what the Breakestra are to funk, students who become philosophers and teachers and the prime exponents of a music which has fallen away, but which they reinvigorate and remake and sculpt into a modern form.

It is a sight to behold, and I am stepping forever and I am in love with their horn section, so emotive and passionate, slurring, bending, twisting notes as they solo, then pin point precision as they punch through in unison. Transitions between songs are seemless and untraceable, as the band are feeling the heat as well, shirts soaked with hard earned sweat, brows are mopped, water bottles gulped at, clung to, before their instrument is gripped tighter.

As I look at the stage to my right, the horn section three different sizes of saxophone plus a man on trumpet, drummer with a six piece kit, four drums, high hat and snare, in front of him, bass player, laconic, laid back fingers moving but nothing else, Congo player and singer, with some Cow bells attached, man shaking some rattling gourd, two guitarists, one of whom sings a couple of Latin numbers, and finally the organ player, double decker of Hammond and korg.

Audience participation is hackneyed and overrated most of the time, but the Antibalas make it a special and cohesive thing, pulling the audience in with their versions of call and response, it is a pretty thing to behold, the intensity of the band, and the eagerness of the audience to be a part of that, so easily turned into a meeting of the musical minds, and everyone keeps dancing, as the bright horn section, squeal and squawk and sharpen notes in the night air.

So the Antibalas are blazing, yet two thirds of the audience bail as soon as they exit stage left, leaving Gilles to play to the committed music cognoscenti, I’m classing myself as one of them by the way. It’s weird to see Gilles trying to hype a space because the lightweight massive of Sydney pulled the cord early. But those that stayed that are in till the bitter end are jigging for all they are worth and Gilles is playing Brazilian Jesus arms outstretched head looking skyward, music is all. At the end the dancefloor is filled with Brits abroad appreciating the big tunes being thrown, and those that dance, which is all of them, close their eyes and swing their heads, stepping into a brighter tomorrow, fueled by the bass that drives out of the speakers and punches them in the gut…

1st night in Sydney

In bike, ozstraylia, travelling on April 2, 2010 at 9:19 pm

First things first, I miss my flight from Melbourne to Sydney. I’ve was upto four with David drinking gorgeous rum and cokes at Cookie and a watery capiroska at Toff at the Top when all I wanted was a caiphrinha, and beers at the rooftop bar until they kicked us out.

As we’d talked about David and the families adventures in Daintree, poor car choice to get to a Eco lodge in a rainforest during the rainy season, scuba diving off the great barrier reef, horse riding twitchy nervous steeds, and shopping in Tokyo, god I miss Tokyo.

There was also a certain amount of intellectual interrogation of the idea and structure of the novel that I’m still not writing even though I spent several days scanning in articles which I’d lugged across the world for research purposes. Good questions to which I didn’t have the answers to. I have the feeling that no matter how I write it the ending will be far too easy to see coming, and will be trite and banal. God I hope it isn’t though. I haven’t even finished writing it and already I’m doubting the quality of it.

So we stagger back to south Melbourne grabbing hungry jacks on the way (burger king in Australia) I have an ultimate burger, three beef patties and six rashers of bacon. Yum yum.

I wake up by the power of sleep cycle bright eyed at eight and proceed to break the bike down and pack it into the new bike bag I’ve purchased off Joel/Jol it’s a ground effect Tardis and it’s all I’ve ever wanted in a bike bag, if your traveling with a bike go and don’t need shit loads of padding or wheels get one it’s intelligently designed, packawayable, and robust enough (hopefully) to be with me for the rest of my worldwide tour.

(pictures below of the bike broken down, people always seem really surprised when I mention I’m travelling with a bike, and that all I do is take off the wheels, turn the bars round, take off the pedals, shove the seatpost down and away we go. It isn’t that difficult and only takes forty mins to an hour)

So the packing after the bike takes longer than expected and we don’t leave till like quarter to ten and my flight leaves at eleven. Get to the airport by half ten and when I try to get a boarding pass it directs me to a special desk. Not good. Wait in line for another ten mins and then am told I’ve missed my flight. Fuck, money I don’t have to purchase another flight to Sydney. But wait! I’ve got flexible tickets so Quantas girl, well woman really puts me on the one o’clock just an hour and forty min wait till I can board and no charge. Get in!

I surf the interweb, catch up on the England result, sorry Meriem. Laugh out loud from some postings on THE forum. I will be rolling round now yelling at the top of my lungs. I FUCKING LOVE CYCLING! Scan some emails and then make the long whistling walk to the gate.

Arrive in Sydney, catch train, lovely long silver double decker trains they’ve got over here. Make a promise to myself to do more touristy things in my time here. First up walk up the Sydney harbour bridge.

Get off train at Kings Cross where my hostel is located and the folding trolley I bought in Osaka gives up the ghost, not the base or the wheels but the retractable arms of the handle, they are bent beyond their capacity by the extra bag I’m lugging (reminder to self must lose more weight) and then have to relay the bags to the hostel, not fun! And by the time I get there I’m soaked through, and all I want is a shower and a power nap, because I’m out to shake what my momma gave me to the afrobeat stylings of Mr Gilles Peterson who is djing for Brooklyn’s own Antibalas Afrobeat orchestra.

But I don’t get the chance to power nap, the shower takes a long time as does shaving my head and putting the bike together.

I could roll down to Mannings bar in Sydney university later but I’m a cyclist in a strange city, I don’t know where I’m going, I’ve plotted a route on my map, but I have no idea how long it will take, so I’m getting out there early.

First impressions of Sydney are favourable, it immediately feels more city like and larger than Melbourne, the hills which I’d heard about aren’t on this ride that evident, it undulates and even I can see how it’s built on levels and there are height changes for all to see, but I’m more concerned with the heat and the amount of sweat that’s rolling off me, feels more humid here than Melbourne, and I’m getting bitten to fuck, mosquitoes love that thick northern hemisphere blood.

I spot my first fixed bikes as I roll towards the university, his and hers locked up outside a pub/hotel.

I’m liking Sydney already, working off four hours sleep and ready to get sweaty to the big beats.

Got to go Mr Peterson has just hit the decks…

Three. Two. One. Polo!!!!

In all about the ride, bike, ozstraylia on April 2, 2010 at 8:47 pm

First things first for those of you who have never seen bike polo here is a short film made by Blunt Films which shows you the ins and outs.

http://vimeo.com/6376546

I don’t play bike polo. I always say to the polo bods who ask why don’t I play, that I don’t like riding (relatively) slowly, and falling off. Which you do lots of in bike polo. I am happiest when I am healthy, and when I am unhealthy or carrying knocks or niggles I am a shadow of myself. And carrying knocks and niggles is part of polo as in any sport, playing through pain becomes de riguer. But also I know when I was younger and competitive in sports, I was VERY VERY VERY competitive, so much so that it became all encompassing, and it made me physically ill to lose, and having made the decision not to actually pursue a competitive life, I’m much happier/content being so competitive that if I can’t win I won’t compete at all.

Bike Polo in London is big, 17 teams in the league, pretty much polo every night of the week if you want, and most do want, oh they so do want, tourneys in Europe, and the rest of the world to compete in, and an instant easy camaraderie and bond of fellow feeling amongst the players that exists, that if you don’t play, you do feel envious of.

But having known, and spoken to, and hung out with a lot of the polo bods before polo became the be all and end all of riding a bike, I know that I miss them, and the interaction we shared, which is now limited since the desire to play polo became the meaning of being, so much so that they self selected themselves out of anything which wasn’t polo orientated. Meaning to see them, or be with them usually involves polo, and if your just spectating that can get old in a hurry.

So coming over to Melbourne to hang with the polo bods over here was by turns intriguing and slightly nerve wracking. Would I be confronted with the dreaded “no polo, no talk”, the inbuilt cliqueness of those who have spent many hours in each others company, with the ongoing familiarity and in jokes to which no one who doesn’t serve their time can hope to achieve.

I needn’t have had any fears, Joel/Jol who I’d known back in London had emigrated over to Oz with his girlfriend and was my entrée into the polo scene over here. But here in Melbourne rather than seeing the polo bods as a splinter from THE forum with a distinct self identity and a lack of interaction with those who aren’t part of the polo circle, I saw the polo bods as my cycling circle, the people who I can roll for miles with, sit and drink beer and chat bikes with, the people who understand why you can’t be off the bike for a single day because they feel the same way.

The generous souls I’ve met through Melbourne polo have pulled me, gratefully, into their cycling world.

Take last night for instance, hanging out at their main court up in north Carlton, chatting shit, watching the games ebb and flow, speed ratcheting up, slowing to a crawl, falls and rolls, crashes and catches. On the edges not playing but cheering a good shot, or commiserating on a lost opportunity, night falls rapidly, the light slips away and those anxious on the sidelines shave minutes off games so they can get back on in the next throw-in.

Questions are asked, conversations batted back and forth, decisions made. We’re going to the night court, a car park out in Coburg which has floodlights and Ezee’s house is over the way with a cached supply of wood, enough to cover the ends and the drainage holes which are around the edges.

We haul ass out there, some in cars carting bikes and equipment, the rest of us on our bikes, there had been talk of trains, but we’re spinning before the talk takes hold.

Melbourne’s a city of long wide roads, to accommodate the cars and the trams. Rolling forever uphill, unless your going downhill. It’s getting chillier, we reckon it’s 16 or 17 degrees, weirdly wonderful how your body gets used to the conditions it’s set in, if I was in London I would have been exclaiming how warm it was. Here after getting used to thirty odd degrees it feels positively arctic.

But we roll, five, six, seven of us, dangerous Dan going all Macaskill on us, pulling rolling endoes, seated wheelies, popping huge bunny hops off speed bumps, searching for lines along the sidewalks before hopping back into the street. And I’m in my element, sometimes keeping up, sometimes at the front, chatting with Scott as we both spy a bike with a Spinergy rev x on the front, catching joke with Anthony (who is like me traveling round the world with bike, except he is getting funded to do it and builds a bike wherever he lands rather than take one with him as I am doing, his blog is here: http://anthonysiracusa.blogspot.com/) we vaguely remember each other from the BFF polo tourney held back in London last year down in Newington and we discuss dangerous Dan’s riding style, polo gearing, his journey, couch surfing and we ride.

We ride into the night, up a road which feels like it has no end, rising into the distant horizon, my legs feel good and I follow the light in front, making sure to cross the tramlines on the diagonal, giving space here, squeezing in there. Time moves fast and slow, it’s only supposed to take fifteen mins but I haven’t looked at my watch and it feels like more and less time has passed.

The déjà vu is strong, in a group of cyclists heading into the night following lights and grinning like a loon all the way. God I fucking love Cycling

Coburg is lit up bright when we get there, feels like we’re the first but we’re not. A trolley is procured from the massive diy store that is at one end of the car park and frames the cones set down as goals. We drink more beer as the games start, and the temperature dips even more, shouts and cat calls, serious and childish play breaks out. There is a distinct edge sometimes, some want to win, others want to have fun, the urge to be competitive, to not be beaten, overrides the inclination to muck about on the bike, within the game, to try, to learn, to see what is possible.

I drink, I take photo’s I fall into the spirit of the evening, I laugh long, and loud into the night and then I help carry the wood, back to Ezee’s place.

Then there are four of us, heading back to town, unable to make a decision about what to do, the other three are hungry, I’ve already eaten a kebab from some corner place, I’ve demolished it and for the hundreth time I’m grateful that I’m not a vegetarian or a vegan as I’d be fucked. Imagine not being able to eat whatever you wanted because of the ingredients it may contain.

The ride back is different, slower, more sedate, more companionable, but the urge for food means that soon the pace is upped, we zip along tram lines, along dusty park tracks, Benne skidding zig zagging in front of me, whipping dust into my face, dangerous Dan’s search for new and unridden lines, never far from the surface. Teagen pulls us along quick at the front, and we hit Brunswick St, and the crew inhale their falafels, sucking them deep into their innards, the fuel needed to continue to exist gratefully received.

And as we go our separate ways, its nice to know for however long I’m part of a cycling crew again…

Section Eight

In ozstraylia, tunnnneeeee! on April 2, 2010 at 7:03 pm

I’m in the container bar that is section eight, tattersalls lane, off little bourke st and it’s half three in the afternoon and the house music is already booming out of the speakers, I do have to say its not annoying or unpleasant four to the floor, it is quite nice actually, spacious basslines, little fills of snares and melodic overlays, but I wonder where else do they have to (musically) go from here. It feels like they’ve pulled the pin and just thought fuck it! Let’s hav it! Only time will tell if that proves to be a wise policy and I’ll probably not be here to see it, so really who cares. But if the best reaction you get is the rhythmic shrug of shoulders, tapping of feet, the two footed knee dip, and the odd autistic head nod will the dj’s feel they’ve failed? On a side note really hating hard on those bullshit roman sandals which are all about over here, I would try to describe them but I’m looking around and there are so many variations I’ve opted for the indiscriminate nuclear option and am hating all of them. Think positive thoughts, and breathe… This is your aggrieved reporter, speaking to you from thirty five degree Melbourne, in the midst of an avalanche of sandal type wearing, back to you in the studio….

Music is life

In ozstraylia, tunnnneeeee! on April 2, 2010 at 6:57 pm

I don’t know when I became obsessed with, but more likely made the decision to submerge myself in, music. I remember dancing to songs at primary school, as an eight or nine year old, we were taught Indian dance by our teacher, and then the year after I was a cockney king, amongst a welter of kings and queens, dressed in sequins and black suits, dancing for the old folks, in various resting homes around Lambeth, bringing a little cheer to their lives. I used to love the dancing, the energy required, the concentration on the songs, to remember the lines of each song and sing it distinctly, no slurring of words allowed here. I remember liking Bucks Fizz’s Eurovision song, “Making your mind up”, particularly the bit of the routine where the girls skirts were pulled off to reveal shorter ones. I remember my cousin playing hip hop to me, Roxanne Shante and Biz Markie and being entranced by it. But I must have listened to it before, because I remember trying to body pop and being afraid to breakdance in play times and later after school hanging around outside the gates, or up in the playground round the corner, with its swings that we were just starting to get too big for, and the roundabout spinning , that we’d hang off, head close to the floor, as one of us span it faster and faster, the centrifugal force wanting to rip you away from it, and fighting the sick feeling that rose in your stomach.

I remember the exact moment when I knew I would never body pop again, as Candy Girl was played at a friend/relatives wedding in a church hall in Clapham, and running into the center of the empty dancefloor to shake my arms, and contort my torso, and sing along with Ralph Tresvant’s premature falsetto, cringing now as I write it down, commit it to paper, expose the failings of my junior self. But I suppose that was a harbinger, the way that, that one song had wormed its way under my skin, made me lose my gotdamned mind, and thrust me into a space to close my eyes and feel nothing but the music, the bass thumping in my chest and the drums driving my feet. Hip hop when it arrived was all encompassing. I don’t remember many songs before I found hip hop, but after it I remembered them all, even if I didn’t remember their names, but fragments of lyrics would rise as the intro started and the scratching cut the record into shards of sound (why does no one scratch anymore, I still move my hands in an approximation of scratching when the DJ starts to cut on those records of old, is it the hip hop version of air guitar?) But hip hop filled my life like I thought no other music could, until I got into funk off the back of it, hearing hip hop samples in their original context and liking them as much there as in the hip hop tune I’d danced sweatily to the night before. Listening to the 80’s soul that my sister would play loud from her bedroom, as she prepared to go out to the house parties which I was still too young to attend. Militant at fourteen when Public Enemy became my whole world, sitting on the school bus once, back from a football match on a Wednesday evening, and all of us, black faces all, knowing every word, every line, every verse of Rebel Without A Pause, singing/rapping it back to each other. Don’t know who started it, but it spread like widfire down the coach. Capturing our adolescent souls. I remember not liking it that much when I heard it first. Staying up late on a Friday night, tape in the hi-fi, finger hovering over the pause button to record or stop a song so that I could cut out the sponsors, the jingles, the inane chatter, just wanting the beats and rhymes. Sometimes a tape would last a couple of weeks before it was filled, sometimes it would be filled in that night. New songs to play, to rewind, again and again and again, to learn the words of, no lyric sheets here, having to learn each song line by line, verse by verse, to play to friends, to figure out if they liked this new mc, more than the others. Discovered recently when listening back to some old tapes before I threw them all out that I’d liked Rebel Without A Pause more than I knew having taped it like five times on one tape.

But looking back I can’t find one exact point when this love of music came over me, when it became so important that it could lift/change/define my mood. When not to hear music was like a punishment, that dead space needing to be filled, by humming, whistling, singing, rapping. Not sure when the dependency began, but knowing I can’t be weened off it, or want to be, this music junkies not going to rehab, oh no, no, no. I sit here typing this, in the urgent heat of Melbournes afternoon, listening to a playlist, push out song after song, portable speaker throbbing, ipod hard drive churning, and it brings me joy, it makes me happy. I went to see The Dark Knight at the Botanical Gardens here, part of their moonlight cinema season, I took the portable speaker and the ipod and listened to the Bright Times on the grass, as the sun set, and evening cooled and we all waited for the film to start, munching on food, sipping on chilled beers. I suppose I could have bought headphones, but what would have been the point in that, it was early evening, it was still warm out, and it is so very very fitting to sit eyes closed and the lowering sun, turning your lids, that warm orange as the shadows lengthen and the music lilts and trips out of the speakers, and into your ears. Once heard/read that the difference/schism back in the day, and probably still to this day to some extent, between east coast and west coast hip hop, was that east coast was designed to be listened to on your headphones in a rocking, rattling subway car, or pounding the pavements in your fresh new sneaks, whilst west coast was designed to be played loud out the back of a car, window down, elbow out, rolling down the center of the boulevard or over to the next block. That night at the Botanical gardens I wanted nay needed to be west coast. And as I nodded my head, I wanted to know why everyone else wasn’t doing the same.

Wifi or lack thereof

In ozstraylia, travelling on April 2, 2010 at 6:28 pm

I am officially fucked off with the lack of free wi-fi in bars and cafes here in Melbourne, and Sydney and New Zealand, motherfuckers making you pay through the nose, even though its your only contact with the outside world, your friends, your family, the life you left behind to travel and see whats out there. Establishments if you have it let the people use it, and if you don’t want people to enquire about it don’t name it after your business for fuckssakes. Starbucks and micky d’s here we come….

I’ve only just come to realise how much the internet is contributing to me not being homesick, and when it disappears or you have to pay for it, or ration it, it is real hard…

Those little trickles of information, keep you from sliding off into meloncholia, when the travelling stops, and you’ve seen your sights for the day, your mind wanders back to the things you’ve left behind, the people you’ve left behind, and having to go and pay to find out that information when your on the road, makes you miss them even more, since the interaction is confined to 15/30/45/60 min slices.

And for those that have issues with the book of face, peoples witty, mundance, scatalogical, boring, furious, musical status updates keep me connected, as I run untethered through the puddles of the world.

Grimy

In ozstraylia, Uncategorized on April 2, 2010 at 6:11 pm

Australians do that rumpled, crumpled, worn this vest, shorts, cut off jeans a day too long look really well. Every so often you see someone who verges on being dirty, unkempt, grimy, but they seem okay with it. I put it down to the heat and the sweat and the Protestant work ethic, rather than have a siesta, let’s just continue to keep working thru the middle of the day. Beach culture is an excuse to wear less culture, which I’m not adverse to, but it does result in some interesting looks on the high street with the desire to show as much flesh as possible to make sure you look tanned (don’t believe the Aussies who trot out that old chestnut that brits go mad for a bit of sun, they are out with their limbs exposed to the sun just as quickly as soon as mr sun puts in an appearance, they just get to do it more often) and to try and keep cool, let their sweat hit thin air rather than dampening their clothes.

Lanes

In ozstraylia, travelling, Uncategorized on April 2, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Melbourne’s cultural identity is wrapped up in the , close, cozy, eateries packed together each a distinct entity in and of itself,  with their own vibe. This vibrancy of the lanes, and the CBD, and Carlton and Fitzroy, can be put down to the licensing laws being relaxed a couple of decades back and anyone with a bit of creativity and some cheap secondhand furniture could open a bar. So they did and the vast array of eateries and drinkeries that followed made Melbourne a distinctively interesting Australian city, filled with those inbetween eats, not too expensive, not too cheap, but food courts packed with different styles, reminds me distinctly of the walk through japans train stations and the eateries, chains to sure, which line the way.

The asian influence is obvious with lots of noodle and sushi places and the chance to sit and hang out in the sun and shade is infectious, to loaf away the day sipping chilled cider and munching on just cooked food, feels like heaven.

You get the same sort of experience up in Carlton except they aren’t lanes they are long streets like Brunswick or Smith or Nicholson or Lygon which seem to go on forever, with a different eaterie, boutique, bar/pub in every shaded doorway. It is a complete Eco system of Bohemia, I find it very comfortable and easy to slip into, whilst it feels cosmopolitan, the whole Mediterranean vibe is supplied by the mass immigration of Italians and Greeks, but it’s not that cosmopolitan really, or if it is its cosmopolitan in a very narrow band, you will not see many dark faces at all, though you see plenty of Asians and Orientals, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Malaysian though they tend to be in and around Chinatown. I’m not sure how Australians would deal with a truly multicultural city, the shuffle and scuffle of races brought together, the having to get along, not sure the Australian desire to be blunt and straightforward would handle under the plain speaking of those that consider themselves to be as Australian as themselves just darker of skin.

If you sit in one of the cafes on the lanes you’ll see all of Melburnian life pass you by, sneaking a quick peek at you or an outright stare as they stride, mooch, saunter past you.