Polly Jean Harvey. There’s an album of hers that I listened to obsessively when I first realised I was in love with Tom. It’s Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, and it’s Pj’s love album too. She wouldn’t say who the lover was, and for a while neither would I. Those first few weeks, with their pain and ecstasy, were like finding the most exquisite drug made from jet black flowers- I was completely high and terrified all the time, but it was that kind of brilliant terror that children seem to live in. I felt new. I had energy for days, months. Anything was possible, and I wanted to do it all.
We didn’t have an easy start to that relationship. Life was complicated and not everyone was happy about it.Neither of us was single when we finally admitted how we felt. We caused some suffering, just hopefully less than we might have if we’d chosen a different path. But we are now six years in and things are good. This is someone I don’t have to be “on” with- there’s no role for me to play. I think he feels the same way. Hell, we threw up together one New Year’s Day- same toilet bowl, even!- as man and common-law wife. Now that’s what I call romance! Said no one ever, at least not outside of a John Waters movie.
Anyway, Stories from The City, Stories from the Sea. I heard at some point that Polly Harvey herself doesn’t consider this to be a particularly good album, but I have to disagree with her, much as I love her. It captures a time for me so perfectly- it’s love but it’s love with muscle and blood and possibly some vomit too. It’s not pastel colours and prancing with flowers, this is a feeling that is almost too big to be in one body, or even the bodies of two lovers fanatically discovering each other like religion, a wild religion. You only want to think about that one thing, that one person. I recommend a muscular love. One that can handle bad times and bodily fluids, because none of us escape either of those things indefinitely, no matter how much hormonal thunder and lightning is crashing around the rest of the time.
I decided my workmate “Betsy” was quite possibly a bad person when she shared her opinion of Polly Harvey with me, and that opinion was that Polly is an “ugly talentless slut”. Um. No. There were many other far more bothersome things about Betsy- chiefly her blatant racism, with a side of laziness- but this was my first clue that I was dealing with a person who I wasn’t ever going to click with. There are plenty of artists I don’t like but I really do my best to judge them on what they actually do- I can’t stand the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, but I’m not going to claim they are bad musicians, just because that kind of thing doesn’t work for me, or decide they are terrible people because other folks happen to find them attractive and I don’t.
To keep things vaguely linked together, Tom and I went to see a band on Saturday night and wound up seeing four, because we arrived in time for all three support acts. I think that might have been one too many. Maybe I think this because I am old, but I remember thinking that when I was about 19 and seeing Babes in Toyland for the first time. (For the record, the supports then were Pod People, Kiss My Poodle’s Donkey and Kim Salmon and The Surrealists. Only Pod People failed to make an impression on me, and that’s sad because Pod People might be a Dark Crystal reference. Anyway.)
First up was Marville, a two piece from Brisbane, who reminded me a little of Magic Dirt. They were pretty good. And I’ve got nothing else to say about that experience. Pretty good. Yeah.
Next up were Loobs. At first I thought they were called Moobs and got very nervous, because I hate self-conscious jokey bands, but I was wrong. They wore their influences very obviously, but their influences were Joy Division and the Mary Chain so I was totally fine with that.They kissed on stage, because they are edgy guys, I guess and their stage banter was dorky to a point of dork transcendence, but I still would go see them again.
Tom and I sat on the floor at this point in the evening, because he has a sore back and because I had been at work all day. While he was sourcing another beer I got to watch No Sister set up, and I got scared because all of them were dressed like someone’s aunt might have dressed in 1982. Even the boys. Uh-oh. I know I’m old and out of touch when I start thinking I look more dangerous than the band on stage in front of me, and when I’m right about that. But HOLY SHIT. No Sister! They love Sonic Youth and Teenage Jesus- but they aren’t Sonic Youth or Teenage Jesus. They are No Sister, and you should see them. They must be fairly rich, because I don’t think guitars like to be treated that way generally, but boy, does it hit my musical happy place, with a soft and furry lead hammer.
Final band was Cable Ties, punk and scrappy and abrasive and lovely. See them too. They are just about to become massive in spite(?) of not listening to record company guys. Three wines and four bands and this is too much fun for a Saturday. We were both deaf and destroyed the next day in a way I haven’t been in far too long. I can’t wait to do it all again.
My hair is blonde now. I keep being surprised when I see it. I don’t want to keep it this way, but I am having trouble coming to a decision regarding another colour. I think I’ve made up my mind, then bam! I’m all confused again. But I’ve managed to settle on staying blonde at least one more day while the colours whirl through my imagination.
Turquoise. Pink. Violet. Indigo.
Blonde actually works quite well with my leopard skin coat, but I might have to invest in lipstick if I want to get that sixties hard- as- nails Mod girl thing happening and I don’t think I do. I’m open to suggestions. What should a typically Celtic looking girl do to keep that space faery vibe she likes going strong?
I’ve started watching Gypsy on Netflix. It seems both slow and a bit self-conscious. Lots of meaningful stares and Mazzy Star on the soundtrack as women almost kiss. You know what I mean. Not sure if I’ll keep on going with it- the “fascinating” character isn’t that fascinating to me, with her tousled hair and rock and roll outfits and shorthand cool demeanour. I’m hiding in the house today so I can be more or less lazy, though some tidying needs to happen. The landlords will not be put off forever!
It’s sort of cold in here. My Bagpuss wheat bag caught fire a week ago, which makes me sad. Nothing else out there has the weight and stripy importance of Bagpuss. I replaced him with a zebra wheat bag, but it’s not really the same, not even in heat-giving, menstrual cramp- relieving properties.
I usually wind up listening to music when I write, but today Team Dresch is competing with and contributing to a headache. I’t s not their fault. The headache was going to get in there and spoil any songs and it’s spoiling this one. I might go back to bed. There’s no one to talk me out of it.
Food. I’m not always on friendly terms with food. But when I like a foodstuff, I can get a little one track about it. I will be swerved from my favourite meals and treats only by an act of extreme persuasion.My days off are culinary monotony, just the way I like it. Just me, some dedicated detectives and the same meal, forever.
It was fairly early in my current job that I bought a communal block of Top Deck chocolate. For anyone not in Australia, New Zealand or South Africa, Top Deck is a chocolate bar with milk on the bottom and white on the top. It isn’t a suave choice, but neither are most of my favourite things. Do I even want suave taste? Subtlety is rarely fun. After buying it a few times, my workmate Tim declared I had an unnatural obsession with the stuff, so of course now I have to keep buying it, just to spite him. That’s kind of the reasoning anyway. There’s something about Top Deck- something childish – or retro, if that designation makes you more comfortable. It’s fancy if you’re eight years old, and some days all of us are eight years old.
I’ve added something new to my repertoire- granola. It’s another rather immature selection- the breakfast cereal favoured by Grateful Dead fans and hippies’ kids. Later today, there’ll be a glass of wine and something involving a pickle. What kind of sickos don’t want pickle with just about everything? Well, maybe not Top Deck chocolate.
In other unsophisticated choices, I’ve been rewatching a movie I saw in my late teens, a rather woeful “punk” film called The Beat. You can find almost anything on Youtube now, even forgotten teen melodramas from the 80s. It’s interesting to see how all the signifiers of dangerousness in youth culture get absorbed to the point of quaintness in not very many years- you can wear a leather jacket to an office job now, but in this film the cool teacher wears one with his shirt and tie, so you can really tell he’s down with the kids. Our premise here is that gangs and despair have torn apart the lives of some carefully coiffed teens. You can tell about the gangs and despair because they throw cans at each other, do a lot of staring, and have bad sex in the janitor’s cupboard. It’s all poorly acted sadness until a shabbily dressed outsider opens their minds up to poetry.
Essentially what we have here Dead Poets Society with more flannel, bad language, and an appearance by the Cro-Mags. I think The Beat actually pre-dated DPS, and is possibly about as emotionally sophisticated as that movie, but it’s pretty goofy and has no one funny or gorgeous in it, so it sank into the obscurity I have to admit it deserves. Rewatching it, I can’t help but wonder why it was rated R- maybe there’s a limit to the number of times you can say “fuck” in a movie before Mister Censor bangs his ban hammer, or perhaps it was the script’s ambiguous attitude to suicide that pushed it over the edge. There’s also a pretty awful opera/cello performance piece that could certainly frighten the young.
Here’s a link in case I have accidentally made you want to watch this thing. But you should possibly watch something a bit better while you eat your pickle. And I do hope I’ve made you want to eat a pickle.
River and I went out for a lunch of epic proportions today, then took a stroll down High St to work off some of that maple syrup. This proved to be a good idea. There were puppies, there were shops full of old Star Wars merch, there were more puppies too.
We also happened upon some sort of open day at a rave clothing store, at which we were deluged with offers of beer and champers (me) and jelly snakes (both of us). River found some sunglasses that turned the world into a psilocybin daydream without the use of psilocybin (what kind of evil stepmother do you take me for?!). The sunglasses proved such a hit that he capered around the store, ducking and weaving past men in onesies and women in monster fur and glitter, exclaiming “Nettie- I can hardly walk in these things!” I would have bought him a pair but they were 60 dollars! I suspect they will get lost or broken pretty quickly so I might see if eBay can oblige with something cheaper.
If there is one thing in life I hate (and there isn’t because I hate a whole of stuff), it’s inspirational quotes. Not quotations. Quotes. It’s always quotes when you are being inspired, because now you don’t have any time to waste on big words. Anyway. I’ve found a thing called Inspirobot on Facebook and it’s hypnotic. So much spiritual pretention, so little time. Like this:
Life goals. Oh yes.
I am certain I mentioned not being an atheist on here previously, but I still do find almost all expressions of spirituality kind of unbearable. Sorry. But if there is such a thing as spirit, words are an almost obscene method to express it. Everything winds up sounding self-important and just…false. If spirituality is anything other than self-congratulation I believe it has to be quiet and private and something that may happen inside you but can be expressed by doing something worthwhile for others. I don’t think codifying it into a set of rules ever helps- does anyone really need much more than “be nice to other people and consider their situation before you say anything” to get them through the day? Once you get into which adult can sleep with which adult, and who needs to cut their hair, and “please give me all your money”scenarios I get a bit impatient.
Reading material this week has been Chris Connelly’s book on his time as a member of Ministry and The Revolting Cocks. I’m enjoying it, though it’s kind of rough in both senses of the word- the subject matter is fairly often disgusting and the writing could use a little polish at times. I’m laughing a lot though, so that’s good.
Today I got so cold that my right hand little finger has swollen up and won’t unswell. Yes, it’s a word! It’s word if it’s a thing that’s really happening. Tiny veins are not so good in the depths of winter. My hands are only slightly bigger than Rivers, and he is 8.
Yeah. Winter. I like coats and boots but I don’t like frostbite. Somehow I need to improve my circulation or I could lose a few fingers.
I’ve been listening to all kinds of odd music lately, including an ill-fated adventure down the Youtube mix enticingly titled “50 most annoying songs of all time”. All the usual suspects are there- Rebecca Black, 4 Non-Blondes, Plastic Bertrand et cetera. But there are a few entries from the so-called classic rock years, and the one that got my attention after having heard it in a fog for years was “Horse With No Name”. This is one really terrible song. It’s quite possibly the most lyrically lazy thing to ever get mistaken for being deep. “There were plants and birds and rocks and things”. Oh wow. This guy can’t be bothered to name his horse, can barely describe anything that was in the desert and can’t even be arsed to write a chorus beyond “lalala”. “I went some place and some things happened. Someone else might have been there, I don’t know, fuck off”. Wanna tell me that music was better when you were young? Yep, there’s your classic rock for you! 14 year old boys are more forthcoming than this when you ask them how school was, so how this song became so revered as a great spiritual metaphor is totally beyond me. Bloody hippies.
Tom and I are still making music, but we are coming at it from disturbingly different directions- he’s mining a Tex Perkins country rock vibe, whereas I keep being drawn to drum patterns that would scare Al Jourgensen. It’s unclear just how happily such vibes will coexist as yet. We aren’t going to rock out today because Tom is ill, but this is a thing we plan to make work. We will finish some songs, even if they are evil altcountry-industrial- Frankensongs that no one wants to hear, not even us.
Yesterday I got to work by the skin of my teeth, only to find out my boss had messed up the timetable and that I was going to have to close, not open. I fumed and uttered foul language for a bit, then decided to visit the Fitzroy Market, because I never get that opportunity any more. I left with silver doc Martens and a satin jacket thingy, and cursed my weakness, but these are nice trinkets that I will wear, I promise. I even have the Docs on now with a Wednesday Addams dress and hair that is every shade of pink, up to and including white. My earrings are too big. I feel okay in my body today, not cursing every bit of it that isn’t strictly functional. I’ve been eating less, but feeling better overall. More energy but less restlessness. A decent combination, one I can live with. Living is good. And eating is good, I guess. I do get very mean when I’m hungry- I even use sarcasm, which I barely understand the rest of the time. Maybe being hungry raises my IQ but lowers my EQ.
I’m watching a documentary on Disocciative Identity Disorder today. I know it’s a controversial syndrome, but I do believe it exists, maybe quite not as it does in movies though. I’m not a doctor or a therapist, and telling people they are neurotic as an insult is not my thing at all, having gone through that in my youth. I don’t think people fake mental health problems very frequently at all. So many of us are troubled for pretty solid reasons, but maybe the way we are told to approach those issues aren’t helpful. And then when you aren’t “all better” in a nice neat bundle, you have a huge problem, inside and outside yourself.
Why was I listening to W.A.S.P this morning? Well, why not? I do have an enthusiasm for all that stuff that was so shocking in the eighties- the eighties was good for scaring children with fairytale villains. And growly hair metal musicians were considered so dangerous to kids, so much more dangerous than poverty or ignorance could ever be to their development. Sigh. I’ve got nothing more to say on this sort of idiocy that hasn’t been said better by others. At least we got a few brilliantly bad horror films out of that decade, plus extremely powerful hair products.
Halfway through my weekend. I’m feeling a bit dark and despondent. The old doom has come around to stay, I don’t know for how long. I am scared we might have to move -our real estate want to come around again and do the 3rd inspection in 7 months because the owners paid for some extremely minor repairs. I’m thinking no, but can I really stop them? I hate this. It feels like harassment at this point and I’m going to let them know that, but there is always the possibility that retaliation will be taken. Scared. Scared. Always scared. I hate this. Real estate is an evil way to make money and I won’t be argued with on this right now.
Last night I dreamed I was living on a beach in the Bahamas. Just a tent and a lot of books and- and some New Model Army records because that makes sense! I dream of places where authority doesn’t exist. But those places don’t exist and authority is everywhere.
Ministry is soothing my soul a bit right now. I bought a ticket to see them again on a whim- maybe I’ll be a trifle more sober this time around. I think the prime years to see Ministry live are long gone, at least partly because Paul Barker is not in the band anymore, and he is the star of all my romantic industrial rock daydreams. Ministry are still loud and obnoxious and fun, but the cutting edge that was there has blunted for a few reasons. Nostalgia won out however. I think its what gets most people to Ministry gigs- do they have twenty year old fans anymore? But it’s a chance to fancy myself up and dance. I don’t do that much any more. I’m going with Scary Bill, who is such a good gigging wingman- we can dance and get drunk and still keep each other out of trouble. It’s nice to have a friend you can utterly trust who is not also a sergeant in the Fun Police.
Back to mould patrol! I wish I could whip up a magic spell to make my house a showroom. Not that I want to live in a sow room- I want to live in bohemian squalor, but not smelly bohemian squalor. And my idea of squalor is different to that of the sort of retired investment property owner who will get on her hands and knees on the lawn to look for weeds in between the grass blades, so…
Anyone out there remember Toyah Willcox besides me? She was a pretty big name in Britain in the 80s, but possibly not so much in other places. I have always thought Toyah was rather cool, especially given her rough start in life. Toyah was much littler than me, had a lisp, a club foot and one leg a lot shorter than the other, but she didn’t let any of that stop her from becoming a technicolour pop star and actress. She was Miranda in Derek Jarman’s wild version of The Tempest, and played a really mean pyromaniac (which I guess makes more sense than playing a nice one) in Jubilee. She rode white horses and made things slo-mo explode in her video clips. She was wild and beautiful and fierce, which made her more beautiful. Nothing was subtle about Toyah. Subtle can go get lost, along with the “b” in it, far she and I are concerned.
Anyway, I seem to be accidentally channelling her fashion sense in recent years, particularly in the hair department. Like me, she had a friend in her youth who wanted to use her head as a canvas for wild hair experiments (though in my case this was so she could test them out before doing them to her dogs). And like me, she always chafed at only looking different from people in ways that got her teased and ways she couldn’t help. I love Toyah! She’s like a candy version of Kate Bush, but maybe candy with LSD in it, like in those silly stories I got told in church about Satanists trying to kill kids. Kill them with excitement, I’m guessing, seeing as there is no known lethal dose of LSD. Sweet and a bit unpredictable, is what I’m getting at, anyhow. A sugar stained glass window. Toyah is worth revisiting for a dose of 80s awesomeness if that’s what you need on Monday evenings.
And to fast forward a decade, I’m listening to Sheep on Drugs now, the band that live on in my memory as the most unprofessional act I’ve ever seen live. About 50 of us got to watch a lot of swearing, stumbling, plugs getting pulled out, and a final pratfall clean through their backdrop. Overseeing it all was a tall lady with a glued- on smirk and rude clothes, who stayed above the one- man fray and plonked the bass in the most bored fashion you could imagine. This mess lasted all of six songs! SOD records tend to sound better in clubs after ingesting some, er, cocktails than at home in front of the computer but I’m having a big old sitting-down techno dance party by myself anyhow. Next up, Lords of Acid. Another band who had pretty much only one song, but it was so bangin’ and dirty you didn’t really mind that you were dancing to a remixed single entendre for 12 minutes.
Speaking of dancing, it’s a long weekend coming up. Do I want to go dancing? It always sounds like fun in my head, but so often disappoints in the reality. Live music is more exciting to me these days, generally. Though lately I’ve had so little energy that television plus breathing is about all I’m fit for. I have a feeling this long weekend will not break me out of that pattern of behaviour. I did make the effort to see a friends’ band on Thursday and by accident ended up at two gigs, which is a pretty good effort. A door stamp on either wrist the next day and a head full of good music. I need to remember this next time sloth overtakes me. Get that sad butt out the door and be an alive person in Melbourne with all passion intact.