Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Earth Died Screaming.

Last night at dinner Penny Modra suggested that every Tom Waits song was essentially a variation on a basic twelve bar blues. By the end of the evening Leith had convinced her that there were some exceptions, but not many. Now, I'm a pretty big Tom Waits fan, and though I'm a little taken aback by her claim, I'm not quite willing to dismiss it altogether. The thing is, I don't really care. It doesn't really matter that Tom Waits has been stealing his riffs from the blues for over thirty years now. Hell, in some songs John Lee Hooker only really uses one note, and he's another favourite of mine. While I agree that structure is important for songs, it's not the be all and end all. And it's the other stuff that Tom Waits does that make his songs fucking amazing; the flesh he puts onto these basic bones is like one one else's in the world.

Also, Flesh vs Venom are playing their last ever show at the East Brunswick Club on Friday night. The Diamond Sea are supporting, as well as Default Jamerson and Dead Boomers. A varied lineup, just like the days of yore. Attendance is highly recommended.

Monday, September 22, 2008

This Summer I Hear The Drumming.

I've been away the last couple of days, during which I pretty much listened exclusively to this song:

I also finally got around to reading Christy Road's Indestructible. I wasn't going to - I also took with me a book on the West Memphis Three that was more pressing, due mostly to it not being mine - but I was flipping through the first few pages of Indestructible and the word janky caught my eye. Now, I'm not entirely sure what janky means, but it stuck in my mind for some reason, and I ended up belting through the entire book late one afternoon. I still don't have a precise definition, but for me it's come to mean grotty, angry, a bit stinky, rough as guts, tomboyish, playful and proud, all rolled into one. It doesn't sound like much of a compliment, and in the wrong hands it probably isn't, but it seems to describe a lot of my favourite folks. Even if I'm appearing pretty respectible these days, it's comforting for me to know that there are still people out there for whom being punk means giving accepted conventions a crusty kick in the guts.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Everybody Wear The Mask.

Most of you will have probably heard by now that a cyclist was killed on Swanston Street this morning. Apparently she got caught on the tram tracks, fell off, and went under the wheels of one of those tourist buses. Something similar happened to me a week or so ago on Sydney Road, but I was lucky enough just to be stuck under the front wheel of a BMW with anti-lock brakes. It's much worse, of course, when someone has passed away. There's a sense of confusion, like no one has any idea of what they should do. At the rally this evening we just stood around feeling awkward while journalists took photos and interviewed people. The sense of outrage we all feel when a fellow cyclist dies didn't have anywhere to go. Someone probably should have said something, but really, no one seemed to know what to say.

But you know what? I'm still angry, and now that a couple of hours have passed, I know what I want to say. I'm pissed that there are still taxis, buses and delivery trucks on Swanston Street. I'm pissed that the state government put the kybosh on the Copenhagen-style bike lanes along St Kilda Road. And I'm pissed that nearly every single news story on the incident makes mention of cyclists being fuckups in some way - either with the Hell Ride debacle or the pedestrian being knocked over by a cyclist last year. But most of all I'm pissed that almost every day, on the way to or from work, riding out to coffee, or just visiting my friends, my life is put into danger by some motorist who is not looking, not listening or just not paying attention.

The problem now is figuring out what to do. I fully support the aims of Critical Mass, but find their rallies and rides excruciatingly annoying. The Amy Gillett Foundation have the best of intentions, but really, running ads that ask cyclists and motorists to respect each other is about as effective as those 'Look Bike' stickers from the eighties. And I'm a member of Bicycle Victoria, but I kinda feel the same way about them as I do my family - I want to be a part of them, but don't wanna hang out all the time, because we really don't have all that much in common. I'm into direct action, on a very personal level, but can't really figure out who to take action against. It's not like freeing animals or placing yourself in front of a bulldozer. Societal change - which is what is obviously needed here - is way more complicated than that, and takes way longer. But what do we do until that change occurs? Sit back and let more cyclists die? That's simply not good enough.

I don't know what, but I know that something has to be done. And that we have to do it.

The story is on the ABC news right now.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Black Sheep.

Ok, so I know that just yesterday I said I wasn't going to put up any hilarious YouTube clips, as the job is obviously being done a lot better by other folks. But last night I went around to my friend Casey's place to watch Rage for a bit. We were talking and only really half paying attention until this clip came on. I held her hand, squeezed it tight, and told her that as no one would ever believe that this song actually exists, we had to treasure the moment as a special one between the two of us.

The Murals On West Broadway Finally Fade.

Tash last night suggested that I'm about six months behind on the hot new YouTube clips, and that every video I post the Is Not Magazine folks have already played at YouTube Tuesday. While I find this difficult to believe (I'm pretty sure that the young literati hipsters down at Loop Bar on Tuesday nights aren't down with late-period Propagandhi - more fool them), it did slightly annoy me. No more funny clips for you, jerks.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

All Your Empty Houses.

I love Melbourne - really, I do - and it's quite difficult for me to remember that there was a time when I lived somewhere else. Where I felt like I knew which streets fell where, how to find the decent vegetarian treats, who was who and what was what. It's weird, now, for me to see a kid with a Ballast patch, for example, and to remember a time when I'd go see them play all the time. Or, for some reason, when I'm driving up on Sydney Rd, way up near Pentridge, north of Bell, and for some reason it reminds me of driving up on St Laurent, way up in Mile End, north of the 40. Sharing your time between two cities is in a lot of ways harder than travelling all over the place - it's almost like living two separate lives. I guess I'm susceptible to this way of thinking because Sarah K came to visit from Montreal a month or so ago, and all the memories are sitting awkward. I'm also not entirely sure what any of this has to do with this blog. I mean, I guess that all of this writing is ostensibly about Melbourne and the awesome things about it, but surely it's a bit strange to filter these awesome things through the lens of geographical location. And yet I seperate them in my mind, dividing them into Melbourne bands and Montreal bands. Hmmm. Anyways. I miss Montreal, sometimes, you know? Even though I can barely even imagine leaving Melbourne for anything more than a weekend.

Monday, September 8, 2008

All So Close To Breaking.

Everyone seems to be blogging at the moment, which makes me not want to do it, but well, when something strikes you so profoundly you can't help but start tap tap tapping at those keys. Seeing Jamie Hay play solo at the Arthouse last night was one of those moments.

It'd been a while. Fear Like Us seem to be on indefinite hiatus, and A Death In The Family seem to tour overseas more than they play here. So I guess I may have forgotten how awesome it is to see Jamie on stage. He sings with such earnest passion, such good nature, all the while attacking his guitar like he's still in Conation. Whom he covered last night. Along with Waxwing, Rumbleseat and Fear Like Us. I've written at length before about his ability to structure songs, but don't think I've mentioned the man's ability to select the perfect cover. Indeed, I think the first time I spoke to him was about a cover - the song 'Gamble', which appears on a Propagandhi record but is actually a Lowest Of The Low song. That our relationship has continued beyond my first obnoxious approach is testamount to his amiable personality. And when you're a solo performer, your personality is really all you got. There weren't many folks at the Arthouse last night, but I'm almost certain that everyone there was three quarters in love with Jamie by the end of his set. I know I was.