Broken Foot, A Missive from an Old Bank in Melbourne, March 2015
i am listening to my friend mladen’s album. ‘broken foot rabbit hole’. leonie is beside me drawing comics. don’t worry, we work hard too, not in the fields, but in other related places.
last night we were at the place this music was recorded. a big old building called ‘the bank’. i trammed up towards it with my friend and drummer sam, back from all the world where he’d been making his home in a tent, learning how food really grows, playing his hang drum on the streets of every different city.
we had a meeting in the big backyard after liam showed us through all the rooms, climbing through all the windows of the big red brick palacial institutional post-bank apocalyptic studio – one room with two pianos and a million guitars and grubby carpet; a vault that someone uses as a studio; a sunlit front room where cosi’s going to sit and make great art that can last the test of time and the test of a stranger finding it special.
so we had our first ‘band meeting’ in a year, sam and i, in the big junkyard backyard field of the big many-roomed bank. just us, while liam and evelyn and georgia and louie played in liam’s room, jagged victorian soft punk with improvised but just-as-good-as-sweated-out words from georgia. sam and i held hands for a moment and said a few words to open the meeting, and then talked about recording in a few days. sam explained he will be all mind-messed and broken-footed and put back together again after the festival he’s going to and we both agreed this will be just the right time to make music. he played some notes on his water bottle that changes pitch when you squeeze it and i decided in my mind what song that would go just nicely on.
hmm. there’s many ways for music to be made. sometimes you can just talk about it instead of practicing. discuss the feelings of songs, remember a friendship into freshness.
on the topic of broken feet, i’d watched a clip that morning of a pop band, because my friend had put me in the clip, and then in a moment i saw the news one of the boys in the band had shot through his own foot, in a ute, on a farm, chasing some animals, maybe rabbits, that now would not be dead because the bullet went through a musical human instead of them. it was like a scene from a movie, an actual movie i saw recently, where shooting yourself turns out to be good for publicity. in fact, there’s some way in which it would make sense for a person to do this on purpose and in a short film it could happen. hmm.
so back at the bank a girl called georgia was there. she had come back from her first day at university, and from getting thrown out of a food court for doing ‘table diving’ which is eating food people have left behind. well, georgia had not made any friends on her first day, but she’d written a poem and i asked her to read it. it was all about fitting in. some places you fit in by having blowdried your hair, or knowing how to pick corn well, and some places you fit in by knowing what a space echo does.
everyone here takes food from the big shops for free, but we all went and bought food for the bbq, and mladen and i walked through the aisles at opposite ends, all the tins and packages in rows between us, stopping each time to silently pose or wave. do you know this game?
#.# skippable intermission #.#
hmm. earlier in the day i’d been with pete bibby and tahlia. tahlia went to the shop next door to where we drank our coffees and got a stack of second hand books. one of the books called out to me, so i picked it up and knew it would have something special it in. my eyes ate up all the words on the cover really quickly, and choked, but in a nice way, on one name: “Imants Tillers”. it was a name that stuck to me. i shook my mind and out fell this memory that imants tillers was a latvian artist i’d heard about at least a decade ago, somehow related to my dear grandmother who was a painter in latvia too. i turned the pages. and it was true. imants tillers, artist, latvia.
there was an essay there, and my eyes slipped over the pages and fell directly on one poem, imants quoting a latvian poet for some purpose i’ll never know, except that to me it was an arrow of connectivity shooting me in a nice place.
runā akmens, runā kalns
runā vārpus druvā
runā katrs koks un lauks
valodā tik tuvā
and underneath, the translation: the rock speaks, the mountain speaks, every ear of corn speaks, every tree and field, in a language so intimate and familiar.
hmm. so this poem was in a language so intimate and familiar, the language of everything speaking. if you read this every week, you’ll know what i mean.
#.# intermission over #.#
back to the bank, there were now many people in the big junk yard, and the moon had risen and become brighter and brighter, the sky deep blue, some east timorese musicians with long dreadlocks lounging on broken couches, leonie, sam, french julie, mladen, liam and i all on a heavy pink futon which had turned the grass underneath it into pale coleslaw, with leonie playing guitar and singing the classic song ‘whole wide world’ while liam played bass on the instrument he had constructed ten minutes before with a bottle, some wide tape, some old guitar strings, and part of a wire clothes drying rack.
we sat out there til it was too cold for bare legs and then all dispersed, each to our own soft parts of the soft nighttime city.
on the way home leonie told me and sam about her students reading my poetry in class and liking it, and i felt happy and proud, and told her about the poems of imants and georgia that had made my own day electric. and i found a nice bunch of plastic flowers somebody was throwing out that i enclose here, in picture form, for you.
this is kind of the beginning of a larger story, but the main point again is that you might like to listen to ‘broken foot rabbit hole’ by lalić, and think of the mountains and fields speaking to you. then maybe show someone a good time by making an instrument for them out of what the field around you suggests to you, or reading them a poem at a coffee table, with clean and tiled or grubby and carpeted floor beneath you. this is my hot tip for a good time, just for today, and possibly for every day, if you hear this idea as valodā, tik tuvā.