Gettin’ Lucky in Vegas.

You know those people (they are usually very attractive people, so you would have noticed them) who have amazing luck with gigs? Somehow they’re tapped into the vein that pumps out names of bands that you’re going to love way off in the future and they see them in some small, smokey bar that serves amazing whiskey concoctions and they stand by the stage, having a numinous experience that you’ll never understand, because by the time you hear of this band, they’ll have just toured the city you live in and you missed them, or they’ll tour when you’re flat broke, or they’ll be in the US at the same time as you are, but their tour will be two weeks ahead of you at every stop.

Clearly I am not the former kind of person, I am the latter.

I have terrible luck with gigs generally. The only reason I ever see gigs these days is because someone manages to penetrate the concrete fog of work that’s enveloped me for the last six months, long enough to tell me I’d like this band or musician and they’ve bought me a ticket and could I please put money in their bank account. I nod sternly, before the chain around my neck that is attached to my computer, snaps my head back to do some more work.

Not this time. Not today. Turns out that one of the last bands on my current ‘Would Sell My Soul and Your Soul and Maybe My Mother’s Soul’ list is going to be in Vegas the first night we are:

Shellac? For $10?

Bless me Father for I have sinned.

September

It’s been ages since I’ve done a general, this is what I’ve been doing when not shaming myself kind of post and ages since I’ve taken my camera out, so I’ve been trying to rectify both in the last few weeks.

Spring has been trying to sprung in Sydney. It keeps faking it though, like when I decided to take the paper to the park a few weekends ago. It looked lovely and sunny from my lounge room window, but I spent the entire hour fighting with my paper in the wind, when I wasn’t watching a father taking staged photos of his kid having “fun” at the park, complete with remote flash. Seriously, there’s not even spontaneity left in childhood photos anymore? It’s all a bit Don DeLillo, The Most Photographed Barn in America if you ask me.

Imagine the pleasant surprise I got when I unwrapped the paper from my face for the millionth time and  came across Bernard Zuel’s article on the legacy of Nirvana, quoting one Joel Connolly. I’m so proud of my big little brother-in-law. Actually both my brothers-in-law are doing really awesome things at the moment. Pity about their choice in wives, but what can you do?

When I’m not attempting to keep up-to-date with current affairs, I have been lounging with my new-ish cushions. They’re pretty awesome and made by a girl in Melbourne. One has Day of the Dead skulls all over it, the other similar religious imagery, but also roses and a random Roman soldier rescuing a busty brunette. The Roman looks a lot like David Beckham. Weird.

When I’m not reading or lounging, I’ve been working. The other day I went to work wearing my ‘odd’ badge, forgetting I had a client meeting. I almost took it off, but then figured it was probably best to just get the obvious out of the way from the get go. This badge came with a bunch of Doseone stuff I bought a while ago. I’m not sure if I bought it from anticon. and if it’s an Odd Nosdam reference? It would seem likely but I like it because I think it’s just so cute, come here, let me pinch your cheeks!

Last Saturday was a gen-u-ine spring day, so I picnicked in the Botanical Gardens and then went for a huge walk around the Harbour and Barangaroo, which was interesting. It was sort of like being on a set of a movie. I also saw a really odd black skyscraper with an ornate gold top. I have no idea what it is, but tell me it wouldn’t make a perfect lair for me? It totally would. 

This is a portrait of my hideous lounge room coffee table. I feel like setting it on fire every time I see it. I’ve been going through a dirty pre-mixed bourbon phase of late, as you can see. It’s not good for mind, body, spirit or tooth. Also featured are my Prada glasses, which I finally bit the bullet and bought after almost a year of dithering. Yeah, I said Prada, so sue me. Before you even think about mocking me, you’ve already been beaten to the punch by one of my sisters:

Also featured is my lawyer’s business card. It says ‘James Gorman: The Worst Lawyer in the World” and on the back, “You’ve Had the Best – Now Try the Rest”. I actually think he tries to pick up ladies with these. He’s single.

Lastly, I’m going through a big low light, burning stuff that smells good phase. Given the amount of time I spend alone, I realise it looks very much like I’m trying to seduce myself (sometimes I’m successful). The silver tin is a L’Occitane Miel candle. It’s my favourite candle ever, but sadly, they no longer make them. This is the last one I had. At the front are my cheap go to scents, Chandan incense and dhoop. You have to burn them at the same time to get the best of both scents. This will also your house smell like you’re living with a 19-year-old stoner. It makes my neighbours look at me suspiciously. Up the back is a caramel candle, made by, weirdly, Kit Cosmetics. I will say this: oh my god, it makes my place smell like crème brûlée, but when I was buying it, they asked for my name, email address and mobile phone number, none of which I gave, all of which made it a bit creepy. As a former PR WHORE, let me give you this advice: don’t make me feel like a meth smurf when I’m just trying to buy a candle.

Things that have been keeping me sane-ish: Smoke Ring For My Halo – Kurt Vile; A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again – David Foster Wallace; Prisoner – The Jezebels; making lists of thing to do before I go overseas and of weird ghost towns and graveyards I need to see while I’m gone; bacon.

And that kids, is the game!

The Time I Shamed Myself in Front of Neil Hamburger

Before I begin, there are two things you need to know:

1 – I have a horrendous history of talking to celebrities/”celebrities”. I should have learnt my lesson long before I decided to talk to Neil Hamburger. There is nothing to discuss with someone you have nothing in common with except their life work. There is only one opening line: “I like your music/films/jokes about shit and vaginas”. Then what? They stand there looking like they’ve heard the same thing one million times already because they have heard the same thing one million times already. Then you both stand there feeling like the air has been sucked out of the room and then you turn red, awkwardly laugh and say ‘Oh gosh! I bet you’ve heard that one million times before!’ except you’re dying of nerves, so you probably actually say ‘Oh gash! I bort you’ve heard that one billion tomes before!’

2 – Neil Hamburger, if you are unfamiliar, makes jokes about shit and vaginas. Together. With added Julia Roberts. It should not be possible to shame yourself in front of this man. This man’s entire career is based around the fact that there is nothing he won’t say aloud. Also, hacking coughs.

I discovered Neil Hamburger through an old manfriend, who sold himself as having encyclopedic  knowledge about obtuse music and/or pop culture and I fell for it hook, line and sinker and for the most part, it served me well.

We used to see Neil quite often, either opening for some band, or random stand ups he’d do in weird little pubs. Usually he would perform after Dr El Suavo who is a magician who once stroked my old manfriend’s face with a very realistic and large dildo as part of his act. Actually, I believe it may have been on this night that I shamed myself. Let me set the scene:

We are at a random pub in the Blue Mountains. Dr El Suavo is performing magic onstage, before stalking the crowd looking for someone to “volunteer”. It is one of my greatest fears to be chosen to “volunteer”, so imagine my horror when this maniac circled me as the pub’s PA played a very pornographic retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. Also, I think the good Doctor was drunk. I was sober and terrified and of course, he picked me, dragged me onstage, put a bondage mask on me and a giant hat shaped like a condom and made me buckle him into a straight jacket. I didn’t realise I had a giant condom on my head and as I wept behind my mask, I gently stroked it, assuming it was just your run-of-the-mill hat. The crowd laughed. My manfriend looked at me condescendingly. The Doctor flailed around, jerking around until he was out of the jacket and then released me into the crowd, where I took my seat, broken and was offered no sympathy from my manfriend. The Doctor circled us again, this time wielding a giant, very realistic dildo. My legs instinctively clamped shut and I started to sweat. He sneered at me, and then, almost lovingly, stroked the side of my manfriend’s face with the dildo, the tender part of the face, right up close to the mouth. It was my turn to look on condescendingly.

It was in this atmosphere that Neil Hamburger took the stage. If you’ve never seen Neil, I won’t spoil it other than to say his purpose is to make your feel incredibly uncomfortable, and it works best when most of the audience have no idea who he is, which was the case this night. He slayed them, if by slayed you mean he insulted a large portion of the room and spent a large chunk of his allotted time hacking his guts up louder than the hecklers could heckle. It was brilliant.

After the show, he was sitting on the stage, signing things and chatting to the crowd and I thought to myself, well, I’ve had a huge condom on my head, a stranger put me in a bondage mask before I strapped him into a straight jacket and my manfriend had a plastic penis very close to his mouth. What harm could there be in making some small talk with a celebrity on a night like this?!

The answer to this question should have been ‘there is so much harm that will come from talking to anyone in this atmosphere’, but instead we approached the stage and fuelled by a masochistic desire to make some connection with this man whose entire existence was designed to repel me, I spoke.

‘I find you really funny!’ said Julia to the comedian.

Ah, we were off to a great start.

He looked at me through huge, dirty glasses and from beneath a greasy comb-over. I panicked and grasped at straws, both physically and mentally, as a small, silent crowd of fellow Neil Hamburgerites looked on, uneasy as this tall, red, awkward woman stuttered at their idol. Suddenly it came to me. My manfriend had told me that the man behind the Neil Hamburger persona co-owned Ipecac Records, whose news section I found mildly amusing. I lie. I didn’t even find it mildy amusing, it had maybe made me smile once. I was about to lie to a celebrity.

‘You’re record lable’s site made me laugh the other day!’

‘Really? Which part?’

‘The news section mostly, you know, on Ipecac?’

This is the part where I should have taken the nearest beer bottle, broken it, inserted it through the front of my throat and removed my voice box, taken my voice box into the ladies bathroom and flushed it down the toilet. Never, never act like a know-it-all fanboy douche bag. Do not name drop.

‘Hmm…I don’t really have much to do with that website actually. Here! Have this sticker!’

The worst part about this story was that while I walked away, kicking myself for going the fanboy douch bag option, it wasn’t until years later that I made the most horrifying discovery of all: the reason Neil Hamburger was (admittedly very politely) confused by my Ipecac reference was because Neil Hamburger is played by Gregg Turkington. Ipecac Recordings was co-founded by Greg Werckman. My blood went cold when I realised this and I looked at my soon-to-be-ex-manfriend with disgust.

It would be like if someone left a comment here, congratulating me on my Photoshopping skills over at Perez Hilton because they assumed that as our names shared a few letters and our Photoshopping skills both extend to drawing white penises next to people’s faces, we must be the same person.

I shared this story, which I have honestly never been able to bring myself to tell anyone before, because my friend Pete ran a half marathon on the weekend and I promised that if he raised $600 for The Black Dog Institute, which helps those with depression, I would write about being the world’s most giant loser.  So there you have it, in all its horror.

My First Manfriend™

The other day I was thinking about my first manfriend.

When we first met, I was 16 and he was somewhere in his mid-20s. He drove a station wagon with blinds in the back and was in a band and lived in a terrace on the highway with two other men, also in various small country town metal bands.

I never really wanted a manfriend. All my friends had manfriends and they seemed like a lot of hassle. Their problems became your problems, their family hated you, you couldn’t stand their mum. I had other things on my mind, like getting my licence and sneaking into pubs and hiding my braces while I ordered Malibu and Cokes, lugging my mum’s vinyl collection to the local community radio station to play with a much older guy who was looking to be some sort of musical mentor to me (and who would years later describe me as ‘the nicest person he’d ever met’. This is wildly inaccurate) and sitting in my room listening to Hole, or going to see bands, or trying not to accidentally kill myself every time I opened my cupboard and five years worth of Rolling Stones fell out.

Then one night I was at a party and this older guy, whose friends mercilessly mocked me (and with good reason. I used to watch their band rehearse by sneaking through their yard and watching through the window. That’s creepy right there), suddenly told me that he “liked” me and so almost as though I had nothing better to do and it didn’t make me want to stab myself in the forehead with a fork, he became my manfriend.

Turned out he was the best first manfriend I could have hoped for. He was very sweet and funny and didn’t even mind that I was heading into a horrible phase of dressing like Fred Durst when I wasn’t at school. Our relationship blossomed. There’s nothing more romantic than having to get your mum to drop you off, clad in Catholic school uniform, to your manfriend’s terrace, where you’d wave over your shoulder and skip through the front door, having arranged to be picked up or dropped home “later”. My poor mum admitted years later that she felt like a pimp. For the most part she didn’t have to worry. Once the front door closed, normally I’d head straight to the lounge room, not phased by the plumes of cigarette smoke, the Dr Evil and Metallica posters barely clinging to the walls (the terrace had a massive issue with damp), and the obligatory barely conscious stoner. I’d hop over the large hole in the kitchen floor, grab a glass of water if anyone had done any washing up recently and plop down in the couch with his housemates, whose main form of entertainment was throwing the lids of long-necks of VB behind the TV, which grew into a pile which must’ve been a few feet tall. I wasn’t even phased by the bong or the bathroom that no-one ever cleaned. This was adulthood people, these were the awesome older kids who I wanted to be like when I grew up!

We established some lovely traditions during our relationship. He used to drive me and my friends out to the boondocks and let us practise driving his car; he took me to the local prison to meet his mum (who worked there as opposed to being incarcerated there) and once a month I got to choose which centrefold he stuck up next to his bed. I think I actually initiated that one. Not the concept of the centrefold being next to his bed, I think probably a man invented that concept, but that I’d pick. My favourite was a Wizard of Oz-themed poster, where a very pert, topless Dorothy sat underneath a rainbow, cuddling a little dog. The only creepy thing about it is how non-sexual it was. I’d kneel on the bed, push hard on the edges of the newest girly poster, stand up and admire my handiwork, dust my hands off and high five the manfriend, then we’d go eat beer-battered chips.

It was so sweet, playing house!

However, all good things must come to an end, and a few months before I left high school I decided that I needed to be a single lady because I had plans to move as far away from that town as I possibly could, so I ended the relationship. I don’t think it took him long to get over me as I left home, lost my mind, cut all my own hair off and returned to town, tail between my legs and a mullet which was the result of my DIY haircut growing out. I was also still dressing like Fred Durst, so it wasn’t so much my tail between my legs as it was my wallet chain.

I see him every now and then, he has a wife and some very cute kids and a business and we do the smile and awkward wave and pretend my younger sister never accidentally got him so drunk that he passed out at our dinner table one night.

The end.

Country road / take me home / to the place / I grew up

On the weekend, Fi, Marty and I decided to go on a pre-America road trip. Fi and Marty wanted to see some country sights, catch up with a friend, and cook their own steak at the pub and I wanted to prove to myself that I can actually drive and that death is not something that happens every time I get in a car. Before you judge me, tell me the last time you looked up and saw another car floating in slow motion towards your windscreen, only to just miss it and go over the top of the car you’re in. Because that happened to me once and even though no-one died ( but as the tow-truck driver who took both wrecks away cheerfully told me, it was very lucky no-one did), suddenly I became aware that driving is dangerous.  Before that night, driving for me was all country roads, windows down, stereo up loud and fishing around between my feet for the glowing red stub of a cigarette I’d just dropped. It’s semi-amazing that I didn’t cause the accident I was in, but I didn’t. I was just another victim, kid.

But I knew, a month on the road, I’d need to brush up on my skills and with my parents away and a car at my disposal, I decided to drive a bit over 500kms in two days, by myself, and show Fi and Marty some country sights at the same time. I’m all about killing multiple avian with one solid aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids.

I made three travel mixes and got very lost on the way to Fi and Marty’s, but once we were in convoy, it was all on like Donkey Kong. Here we are on the M4 Motorway. You can see Fi and Marty in front of me. This was when Fiona ‘Speedy Gonzales’ Laughton was driving and I was still finding myself floating between gears a lot, counting from one to six to figure out which gear I wanted to go into next.

After a few hours and one freezing pit stop, we hit the country roads, where I was in my element. I love less traffic and faster speed limits; however, by this stage I had discovered that I make the world’s worst travel mixes. They were so depressing, I was either sticking my head out the window to dry my tears, or falling asleep to the dulcet tones of someone moaning about unrequited love. The 45 minutes of sleep I caught up on between Lithgow and Bathurst was just what the doctor ordered.

Finally we made it to the farm, where we all immediately gave up on the idea of cooking our own steak for dinner when confronted with the judgemental eyes of some of my parent’s cattle. Who know beef could induce such feelings?*

Here I am getting reacquainted with my country roots, by throwing on a pair of manure-stained boots to go and collect firewood. That makes it sound like I’m knowledgeable about rural life and handy with an axe. Really what I mean is I threw on a pair of my dad’s manure-stained boots to walk ten mitres to the shed where there was a pile of wood he’d left there, already perfectly cut down to fire size. I totally lit that fire though and got it going. By which I mean Marty did while I stood at the side of the fire saying ‘So, Mum said this handle is like an accelerator. Push in when you want the fire to slow down … no wait. Push in if you want … I have no idea why you push this handle in’.

After we’d successfully burnt my inheritance to the ground, we went into town to the Union Bank to  drink fine wine and eat fine cheese and catch up with my friend from high school, Camille, who’s just had a baby. She left the baby at home though, which is good, because I hate drinking with babies. They can never hold their booze and always get so aggressive and threaten to glass people. Small person syndrome, babies.

After we wine and cheesed, we went to a local pub and ate the best garlic bread I’ve ever had. I wanted to sneak into the toilets with that bread and make sweet love to it and I don’t even believe in making sweet love.

Then I decided that I was going to drive home, so I stopped drinking and sat back and watched what I’m in for in Vegas as Fi and Marty gambled, drank and whooped it up. Trouble, that’s what we’re in for. I have no doubt Marty is going to win big in Vegas, and that Fi will out drink us all and join a Fleetwood Mac cover band. Meanwhile I’m all over my role as the sober girl snarling ‘When I say Coke, I mean cola!’ while getting winked at by meth heads. It’s my pretty hair that sucks them in like moths to a flame. Such pretty hair.

We got home at about 1am and watched in horror as some escaped lunatic chased the steers through the moonlit paddock, then we reclined in front of the fire with a nightcap and Marty made me sick with laughter translating some bad pickup lines I’ve had this year into German. German makes porny language sound very stern. If a German wants to have their way with you, that’s an order.

The next day they set off and I went to the Blue Mountains to visit some family before driving home.

Coming up my street, I smirked, confidently readjusted my breasts and high fived myself for overcoming my fear of driving, before  almost crashing into my own fence. Regardless, we’re chalking it up as a win kids. It was a win.

* Vegans, that’s who. Always the vegans.

In Conversation With…

Hello Julia

Hello blog.

What are you doing, Julia?

Trying to make it through Friday, blog, and wondering why you’re talking like HAL 9000.

Hehe! I was wondering if you would notice that!

Of course I did.

Do you like 2001: A Space Odyssey?

You know what? I know I’m meant to, but I saw it when I was, uh, a bit under the weather which made it seem  eight hours long and I’ll be honest, I was disappointed there wasn’t more screen time given to those crazy chimps.

That made you sound really uncultured. Why have you been so quiet lately?

Insomnia, blog. I’m too tired to think in coherent sentences.

Remember that time you slept on a Monday night, then you didn’t sleep again at all until the next Sunday night?

Yes.

Remember how on the Saturday you started hallucinating and thought you could speak German?

Yes.

That was funny.

It really wasn’t that funny. It was frustrating trying to remember the German word for ‘cup’ which I never knew to begin with, but not being able to remember that I didn’t know it to begin with.

I see what you mean about coherent sentences. At least today’s Friday and it’s almost the weekend. What are you doing this weekend?

I’m going to the farm, blog. Apparently it might snow!

How are you getting there?

I’m driving, by myself. Well, in convoy with Fi and Marty, but I’ll be alone in my car.

Oh. What about the … the thing? The thing about you and driving, especially alone?

You mean what about how I’m terrified of driving alone in the city because of the terrible car accident I was in that made me give up driving and cooking?

You never cooked, you loser!

Sure I did! Then I got too scared.

No you didn’t, you are a terrible cook. Back to the driving. Let’s face your real fear.

Well blog, in just over a month, I am leaving for a month long road trip in America. It would be good to get some driving in before then, so I thought driving for four hours by myself would be a good idea?

This is going to be interesting. Manual or auto?

Go manual or go home.

Why?

Because it requires a greater amount of skill and interaction with the vehicle? Also, Dad made me learn in a manual so I drive them much better.

Are you making a travel mix?

Hells yes!

What’s it going to be, you only make two kinds, whimsical and metal. Are you currently heartbroken or angry, Julia?

Why are you such a jerk? I’m neither. I’m going to combine the two.

Ok, so what’s going on them?

Well, at the moment, I think Kurt Vile, Cat Power, 13 & God, Themselves, Tool, Eyedea & Abilities, Jezebels, P.O.S … I don’t know, do you really want me to list them all?

Nope, that was a thoroughly boring exercise to be honest.

You are.

Your mum is.

Your mum is!

What are you doing in Orange?

Visiting friends, going to a wine and cheese bar, cooking steak for dinner at a pub, visiting the Blue Mountains.

Taking a camera?

Yes.

So you might actually put some photos up here next week for a change?

Yes! >:( You make me very angry blog.

You know what? You bore me, I’m prefer Poor Stevie, I’m going over there.

Me too, blog. Me too.