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459 Fitzgerald Street
North Perth, WA, 6006
Australia

The Amber Fresh Chronicles

Filtering by Category: musings

the good parts of groupthink

Andrew Ryan

last night as i was walking through the yard from the main house to my backrooms, i looked upwards and there, like always were the stars. my first thought was to stop forgetting them, to suggest to my housemate and new co-editor of a streetpress, “let’s spend time looking at these instead of/after Masterchef.” my next thought was to write a section in the next streetpress reminding all our friends to look at the stars too, and even at a specific time and day and even set up a buddy system where you text message a friend to remind them “NOW!” Now’s the time we’re all going to look at the stars together!

because we do everything together.

i’ve been enjoying Masterchef for this very reason, also for nostalgia to heal my wounded heart, but the knowledge that all round the place, the big fucking country, there’s other people seeing this too. me and the housemate got fish and chips last night after delivering the streetpress and there was a crazy eyed New Zealander sitting out there too, pinging after his footy training, smoking a ciggie, talking fast, not blinking and waiting for his fishburger. he had no shoes on, and shorts where you could nearly see into his soul. the way him and my housemate addressed each other i thought they already knew each other, but it turned out we were just connected through the telly
“we’ve only got foxtel” new zealand said, “you can’t get normal telly on it – no ‘The Voice’, no ‘My Kitchen Rules.’ i like ‘The Voice’ when they’re doing the button bit, where it’s just right at the start.”
“me too!” (that’s me talking)

well anyway, with all our friends we just do everything together sometimes and sometimes it’s a good thing. our friend started a paddle club and a swamp club and now everyone’s talking about the river – it’s not just me. we know the old name for it : derbarl yerrigan. we know the birds on it, including the yellow billed spoonbill which music photographer amber bateup told me she got to clean the cages of at the animal sanctuary where she worked.
“i had to grab them when i cleaned their cages,” she told me. “their beaks are really like spoons. if you ever get the chance to grab one you should grab the opportunity.”

all the girls too are talking about what happens to us 24/7. sexual objectification, patronisation, whistles, rape. some of the boys have no idea because they’re good guys, but as the groupthink goes they’re beginning to understand. ben witt, who releases his album soon, his eyes went very wide when he found out, yeah, actually girls get raped and then sometimes end up at the same show as the person who did it. that’s the sad group knowledge, but we all have to know. and he found out recently about a good thing – this history of the afghan cameleers who were a big part of the new culture taking over australia in the late 1800s, after whom ‘the ghan’ train is named. our schools didn’t drum this into us. our telly doesn’t tell us this, but soon all our friends will know and care about the afghan cameleers because that’s how it works here.

i kept trying to explain it to the french friends, how we just have to make everything ourselves here, perth. even the museum is closed for four years. but this is the beauty of our groupthink, and the way we will make things more beautiful all the days til we leave or die.

PETER DUTTON AND THE BEAUTY, AT SUNSET

Andrew Ryan

it’s nearly sunset and i’m free. there’s the moon already in front of us, in a soup of white clouds, freely moving through the sky. when you’ve got it easy, everything gets easier. when you have it hard, everything is hard.

i made a new friend last night at soup kitchen, we’ll call him john. he had sixteen years in prison and then never went back. while we were sitting out the front two boys came on bikes. first they wanted to buy weed. then they wanted john to go up to the bottle-o and buy them booze. so he went. when he came back he was all shaky and told me why, but with his way of talking and with all his broken teeth i made faces and noises like i understood, but i didn’t understand. my friend nigel explained it to me: john’s friend hung himself – the boys just told him.

did you know the richest fifth of australians have seven more teeth than the poorest fifth? well, it’s true.

when things are hard they’re really hard. your teeth fall out. your family rip you off. you borrow money and cash converters spring on you suddenly with 54% interest.

this morning i watched a video of peter dutton talking about people fleeing their countries. he said they can’t read and write, they can’t do maths and they’ll stand in queues wanting money, or try to take jobs off people. there’s something wrong with him that apparently a thousand sunsets haven’t fixed.

at dusk i’m going to go out in a field and send good energy to him. i sometimes think about sending curses or bomb threats, but we watched a documentary last night about the weathermen – white college students who learned to make bombs to stop the vietnam war, but ended up blowing some of themselves up and so changed their tactics a little. they also got good at public speaking and humped each other in the back of vans going to rallies, to sink in the point that they were all truly together in a new way. but that part of it didn’t work either.

they had the right idea though – some things we just can’t stand, and won’t stand and don’t have to stand.

pete, nick and i played at the bird, but the best song i heard that friday was at 7:30am in the morning. a young nyoongar man stood up in front of a bunch of generally white and free people and sung a welcome to country song in his own language. it was in the middle of the city which we all know now used to be lakes. all the people walking by would have heard, but us standing right in front of him also saw his hands move, as if over the moving waters under our feet, freely moving, freely calling up the waters running beneath us all, freely freeing something inside us that is going to grow and grow and grow.

i’ll watch the sunset and it will change me. i’ll call on something big and it will change mr dutton. i’ll call on the moon to move the waters, with friends and spirits everywhere, and it all will, just wait and see.

also i just went to the ballet, with my housemate and lots of people from the soup kitchen. it was beauty and the beast. an orchestra down in the pit lit up like the late afternoon, and dancers on the stage in flowing clothes all jumping and tiptoeing into each other. they had a beggar near the beginning of the story coming to ask the prince for something – shelter? food? love and care? it’s hard to know because there was no speaking, but what was easy to know was that the prince was turned into a beast by a magical being on tiptoes, and the only thing that could save him was true love, and his beastliness was an outward showing of what had been in his heart, but in the end of the story of course the beastliness is over come by a kiss and a rose and if someone comes to his house again dirty and mishappen by misfortune this time he will know exactly what to do. a prince, a monster, a curse, a rose, everything turning out at the end how it’s meant to. just wait and see.

Swamp Clubb/Wilson Tanner at Success

Andrew Ryan

hey leonie, so you know how anything you whisper in the ear of matt turns out as a fully formed thing: radio shows, bands, late night talk shows, perth version of monopoly, deep fried kangaroo, gatorade poached pears to celebrate the return of basketball to collective interest in the state of WA, etc?*

anyway, now matt’s become indestructibly more powerful, linked up romantically with mei saraswati. swamp clubb was another one of their children.

nick and me drove in to the city, listening to classic fm, talking a bit but not much. as we walked to the urban orchard i saw a man i knew from shopfront (soup kitchen) and wanted to stop and talk to him. he is an indigenous man. i’d never seen him affected by drugs and alcohol before but this time he was – it was 7 in the morning and he was drinking white wine i think from a water bottle and sort of talking strangely. but he was happy to see us and we stayed there for a bit. his teeth were all broken. what we were going in to the city for was to be part of a tour of northbridge all about how it used to be before all his family and ancestors were thieved of their patrimony. leonie, what are we going to do? we’re on stolen ground and there’s still no treaty, and i know 15 year olds from this people who pee their pants still because they’ve suffered trauma all as the direct lineage of everything being taken and shaken off them, deep troubles for their parents, their grandparents, their ancestors and down through to their children.

well, while we were still there listening to this man on the bench go a bit round in circles with his talking, making a mixture of deep sense and no sense, him mainly directing his babbling at nick, peter bibby came up. so it was the four of us, me, nick, pete and this man on his bench. eventually we left to go get the early coffee. on our way in the morning – an early rise for us had it not been for all the recent paddle clubb days and nick’s general insomnia – nick had said “it better not just be hamish djing when we get there”, because he was only willing to go to the city early for some real information, some real new experience, but i knew in my head that when we got there it was “just going to be hamish djing”. i even did a little drawing of that scene in my diary – nick saying that out phrase loud, me thinking that but not daring to say it out loud because i wanted us both to go.

anyway, yes when we got there it was just hamish djing, BUT also, a lot more than that. there was already a crowd, maybe 20 or thirty people, a mixture of all music friends (all the links and friendships have been so developed by our shared experiences through things like camp doogs, as well as just shows and parties, but yes, these outside experiences where even in a half hour of conversation in nature can propel depth of friendship a year or many years in advance) and then some fifty or sixty year olds who looked like the lovely sort of people double our ages who would be interested in something called a “ Swamp Clubb Eco Ghost Tour of Northbridge”. so music people and local history people, all beginning to form around a little table of bagels and cafetières, and a wooden sign cut by benjamin konto that said SWAMP CLUBB.

matt aitken was wearing a liegionaires hat, a few people were wearing swamp clubb shirts, and hamish was djing. i said shy ‘hi’s’ to all the deep friendship music people and then went on a little tour of the urban orchard with lockie, showing him which plants he could eat even tho i wasn’t always sure myself. then matt and mei and mikaela called us all together and the tour was ready to begin.

matt explained we’d be going on a tour of this land that used to be – and still is if you dig a bit – swamp lands, with a series of 7, no 12, lakes, that used to make up the entertainment and food district of the city. then matt said “first we’re going to do a toilet stop.” we all followed him, people half giggling and quizzically-browed not knowing if he was actually leading us to a toilet stop or it was a real start of the tour. but it was the real start. we all crowded into the small toilets at the top of the art gallery carpark and there was a map up on the wall, covered in plastic, used to guide tourists and locals to wellington street or the central train station or their office job. matt started explaining and drawing onto the map where the lakes used to be. the biggest lake was known in invasion times by the name of the engineer who ended up draining it. we learned how the river used to flow down to a big reef at fremantle, blown up by my hitherto hero c.y. o’connor.

matt drew the lakes in and already the transformation had begun. we were now in a new version of northbridge, an old and ancient version of northbridge. when it came time to move on, matt tried to wipe off the texta from the city of perth map, but it just smeared, and the wonderful political nature that this tour was creating started showing through more. everyone’s giggling continued as we left the toilets, the lake smears still there with ctv footage now showing an inadvertently council-approved graffiti act taking place.

we walked past the gallery and onto a footbridge kind of blocking traffic and the information continued, and perhaps at this point nandi chinna, local writer who it turns out wrote an entire book of poetry called “swamp” about just these ancient and mainly unknown things read her first poem. we were all in there, in the old times, with her words. then we headed down into another stairwell, the stairwell of some car park, one by one. we were given pieces of purple material each as we descended and through the doorway we started to hear singing. it was mei and andy williams (aj wigwams) and tessa (akioka) acapella-ing mei’s song “swamp gospel”. i’d heard and connected to this song so many times before, but new words became apparent after getting this new insight, like “see that tennis court, those manicured lawns? that used to be a food bowl but now it’s gone.” https://soundcloud.com/mei-saraswati-overflow/swamp-gospel (pls listen). as we descended the music became stronger. everyone was moved. tears started coming.

then we were all down the bottom of the carpark, but it was changed. we all stood there on the concrete, in the swamp, in a circle. we were given pieces of paperbark to touch, we were told to use the purple material to cover our eyes, and aj, mei and tessa created a soundscape of all that used to be there. them and surely the spirits of the land. tessa can make noises so much like magpies that i slitted open my eyes a few times just to see what recording device the magpie calls were coming from, but they were coming from a mouth. there was water noises, there were frogs, we were taken down.

then we went on, out into the day, walking on concrete, walking through the swamp. nandi told us more in her reading and in her stories of people digging up the ground to make car parks and finding the swamp flooding back in – it’s all waiting there leonie, for us to leave it alone to recover itself, for us to dig up and make space for all the plants and animals, the whole food bowl to live through again, supporting us and the thousands of species that were and are there.

in another outside carpark andy williams was sitting in the open boot of a station wagon. it began gently to rain through the sunshine and he sung about all that was not lost but still there, his smile and everyone’s eyes lighting up through time to be dewy and new.

it keep sprinkling on us and we moved on through the transformed landscape to all shelter at tables under a moreton bay fig and a young botanist told us more – all the species that were there, the species lost, explained that to be a biodiversity hot spot, as all our south west is, you need at least 6,000 endemic species but we have 12,000, but that the “hot spot” appelation comes if more than 70% of your native land is cleared and that in fact almost 90% of ours is. she passed around small species – nick, pete, me, lockie, will stoker, hamish, tristan, 30 other people touched and smelled the plants. she explained a few we could eat that live still down by the river.

well, can you imagine? this one 2 hour stretch on a friday morning 7-9am, changed us all. it’s happening again but you’re in melbourne, but maybe you’ll go down to a river near you then and just let it really sink in to you.

i also saw andy wilson (andras fox) and john tanner (eleventeen eston) play as wilson tanner in the enormous dark basement, now gallery, in fremantle under the Many building. behind them was a big screen showing a video filmed deep in the swan river/derbal yerrigan of a toy piano they’d sunk down there and all the fishes swimming by and exploring it.

we missed the start because of watching masterchef, but the last part was like this: you are in the early nineties. you’re in a loungeroom in the late/night early morning, the only light is coming from the telly, on which you’ve watched a whole stack of videos, from the video shop, and now it’s on to rage, and you’re in the friendship and video coma, on a floor covered with mattresses and doonas and pillows in the dark with a few friends around, you’ve all eaten lasagne, mandarins and dry cocopops and lots of cadbury chocolate and you let your eyes finally start dipping and staying dipped, so relaxed in an australian early nineties style of luxury. you would have liked that too.
http://www.hhv.de/shop/en/item/wilson-tanner-a-r-t-wilson-aka-andras-fox-and-john-tanner-69-472216

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*but really, it’s no-one whispering in the ear, it’s just matt, all this creativity pouring out of him. where does it even come from. i got an insight into it going to his dad’s 60th birthday. his mum invited me and a few of our friends and heaps of their family and friends and made costumes for everyone who came to the viking theme she’d decided on. we all got costumed up at the next door neighbours house and did a viking parade over to their house, ready for the viking feast, she got joni and the moon to play, this crazy emotional political deep set with her and tera’s shaved heads and feathers in front of all their negatively gearing friends. so weird and so transformative. in the speech his mum had such a potty mouth and when it was time to cut the cake – a silver herring – his dad poked out the eyeball first.

Leafy Suburbs on the Lawn, One Band of In the Pines, Race to Your Face

Andrew Ryan


sometimes i write a “three best things in music this week” – that’s what i’m going to do right now, almost.

but the best thing in australian political life this week is png saying it’s illegal to detain refugees on manus island. here is a quote from the judgement and from abc news:

‘“Both the Australian and Papua New Guinea governments shall forthwith take all steps necessary to cease and prevent the continued unconstitutional and illegal detention of the asylum seekers or transferees at the relocation centre on Manus Island and the continued breach of the asylum seekers or transferees constitutional and human rights,” the judges ordered.
In one of two lead judgments, Justice Terence Higgins said the detention also breached asylum seekers’ fundamental human rights guaranteed by various conventions on human rights at international law and under the PNG constitution.
“Treating those required to remain in the relocation centre as prisoners irrespective of their circumstances or status … is to offend against their rights and freedoms,” Judge Higgins said.’
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-26/png-court-rules-asylum-seeker-detention-manus-island-illegal/7360078
some people might say this is irrelevant to perth music, but of course, as all the large political questions of our time are, this is completely relevant.

on friday i was to play on a grassy flat outside the new perth library, outside the big cathedral. lyndon was there to play too as leafy suburbs. while i played the sun beat down in the most white heat way it possibly could, i squinted through the tiniest slit of eyelids for the times i had my eyes “open”, except for a few moments to look up up at the blue and white sky. the clouds were going crazy. my spirit was going crazy as i played, but in the best possible way, all the songs being resung back to me by the spirit of the earth and sky, saying “this is how this song is about me, and this and this”. i sung for my friend who watched another friend become braindead by overdosing in the car next to him, he was visiting the hospital while i played. i sung into the few people watching who i knew, wondering if they could feel what i was feeling at the time. i sung into the bright white heat of the sun and up through into the clouds. but from the outside it might have just looked like a small person squinting and sweating in the heat with a guitar pressed to their arms and torso.

that wasn’t one of the best things i was going to write about. the best thing was lyndon playing next. lyndon started to play at the end of the big grassy flatlands. to his left and to all our rights was the cathedral towering up, but in a perth way, so not outrageously impressive, into the sky, and to the other side the new glassy perth library, slitted windows all the way, mirrored glass impenetrable unlike every book in there waiting to be opened. it’s at the same time welcoming and dont-come-in ish. we are meant to be impressed, we are mildly interested, we are put off, but we are allowed to move freely at least. so, lyndon started playing and from the first beats i turned to rupert on the grass and said “i like this already”. then the special thing happened. an old man, in long rumpled pants, a wide akubra with the aboriginal flag colours twined around the head piece, emerged from the side of the stage area. he looked like someone playing his role in a play – even though we were spread a long distance across the grass rectangle, everyone could see his facial expressions and were all responding too them. he staggered a slight bit. he theatrically cocked his ears towards the stage, while still facing all of us. and then he pipped a harmonica straight into his mouth and pipped out one single blow which was exactly at a good timing and exactly in tune.

everyone’s bodies, eyes and ears became more focussed. we looked at the man, we looked at lyndon, this was classic theatre and we wanted to know what was next. the man edged closer to lyndon, still faced us and pipped again – again on time, again in the right key – magically as every harmonica is in a different key. and then he headed to the microphone. the next moments were tense… lyndon was creating loops of a song, beats and synth melodies, and this new staggery man was at the mic. he pipped the harmonica again and lyndon nodded and everybody took out their phones. then came bird noises – you know, you don’t want to turn the scene into a ‘mystical elder character’ scene, but that’s actually what it was like. the bird noises and then the man’s talking turned lyndon’s music into something bigger and yes, more like ancient sounds than the references might already have been.

and then the man started touching the synth. what would lyndon do? roll with it, be put off? did this piece of land belong only a few generations ago to this man’s family and now a bunch of foreigners were all seated on the fakely placed grass, between the monoliths of european invasion – church and library? hmm. well, the scene played out as it does in our country. the sound man felt obliged to step in, taking a long time to convince the man it wasn’t his place to play on lyndon’s equipment, but clearly not convinced himself, every other person on the grass watching with their own private thoughts about just the music, the coffee they were drinking, the history of their country, etc. etc. who knows. and after a while the man ambled away, lyndon kept playing, and everything went back to beigely normal.

second ‘best thing’ – benjamin witt’s last song at in the pines. his whole set was fine, good, great songs, but the last song i believe many people in the crowd were transported up and outwards and something special was happening. i actually thought “i never want this song to end” as the music took me elsewhere entirely, and after ben and his band finished playing dimity who had been next to me said “i never wanted that last song to end, i was in a different place!” so at least for two of us the same thing happened.

third ‘best thing’ – race to your face at mojos on sunday. they were playing for shit narnia’s end of tour launch show, and they were beautiful. the drummer, lee, covering his shirt from the inside with the sweat of true performance, majestically locking in to the loops created by the f-off good guitarist chris – drumming to loops is so so so so so hard, getting loops tight enough for someone to drum to them is so so so so hard. i wanted to see them paired song for song in a battle (but where both are on the same side) with mudlark. intricacies, effort, all of it. it reminded me of michelangleo painting the sistine chapel, im not being ridiculous, but just that thing of watching people who are putting in true effort and making something you couldn’t even dream of appear before your eyes. i was embarrassed to play after them, and didn’t do a great job, but then got cheered up by foam who i have loved from afar since the first time i watched them…

imagine one day if we could all make music in a country where there’s just the necessary injustices – like a few health problems and a bit of romantic heartbreak to deal with – instead of the big time fucked things like incarceration of refugees and people from poorer areas of the country, and insidious corporate and military power, and human created climate change, and an unrecognised and unredressed invasion history. that would be sick.

Homecoming, eulogy from afar

Andrew Ryan

i think i’ve told you that sometimes teenagers from south america write to me and say “all i want to do is move to perth.” this is a very strange turn of events, as we’re all used, from the moment we arrive in perth, to artists and musicians saying it’s shit and they want to move to some other cultural capital. but in paris, people who love music know perth. and in chile there’s twenty three year olds late at night telling me “i just want to learn in the flesh what is to organise as a community”. i was reading an interview with methyl ethel the other day, who are becoming “big”, and in it they’re asked about cliques here. it’s something that gets thrown around on the edges of things – the idea that people only get to play shows because of being in a cool crowd or clique or something – but what the boys said in their interview was true: that it’s about people who have heard each other’s music and like it and want to hear it again making that happen.

i feel like there’s two big reasons it’s easy here, looking at this place on a homecoming from a cultural wonderland of a different kind. ok, three. we have space: everyone has a place to play music, backyards, lounge rooms, parent’s houses, bedrooms, kitchens, no apartment neighbours to make a fuss. the second thing (not in order) is perth is super RICH, off stolen ground, living on stolen resources dug up from the ground that’s making more trouble across the world while being useful: resources that are going to run out soon – and are already running low so everyone’s posting on facebook to find jobs for the first time because the boom is DONE. and three, people have created here a magical community where things are good and people support one another and friendships are deepened week by week by experiencing music together, backyard talkshows, festivals where it’s just friends putting it on, suburb-wide water fights, football games between musicians, people raising money for other musicians when someone’s sick or got their gear stolen by a junkie to deliver the money eventually to organised crime, helping at soup kitchens together, getting high together except me, making and making and making.

well, anyway, much more seriously, one of the people around perth music died last week, and it was someone i’d like to hear a minority report from on all of this but i can’t anymore. i liked this guy very much – travis doom. even though we only ever had a few conversations, and just saw each other ‘around’ he affected me very much. i would have met him when we were younger and both writing semi-anonymously for a zine called “The Ponies”, but i can’t remember that. but i remember our first recent conversation when some friends and i put on a show to raise money while we were doing ‘live below the line’ where you live on $2 a day for a week and do fundraising. he told me it was kind of ridiculous, raising money like that through a show, with a tiny door fee and then just people putting money in a hat when everyone’s spending heaps on alcohol and most people just don’t care anyway. he was right, even though i was right too when we talked about it. he was right but he was still there. this is what i keep thinking about when i think of him, that conversation, his general intolerance of hypocrisy – something missing from our circles all around – and him not smiling, but looking at me and me at him across cafes in our suburb with what i interpreted as the loving gaze, moving through our private darknesses and hopes to meet in the middle just in eye contact that said ‘we are different, we are the same, you are someone i like.’

hey travis, sorry if i’m misquoting your private thoughts, who knows what you thought (your true deep friends and family do probably), but what i thought of you makes me smile at the kitchen table, as you would know if the soul extends in a different way to the body and you’ve become semi-omniscient like a god. i hope you are covered in roses and that you found out the secret of the universe is that everything’s going to be great (is it??) and that you can hear all the thoughts of random people like me who loved you from afar although maybe if everything’s amazing and continues you don’t need anything extra for eternal happiness.

what is it like to organise a community here? very very easy when you’re in a rich country, with people with good hearts, and a mix of cynics, optimists, secret creators, show-offs and everyone else, with big enough houses to make a lot of noise.

Flume: Beau Gosse at Le Trianon in Paris

Andrew Ryan

If you’re also someone who hasn’t really listened to Flume because you’re surrounded by snobs, try the track “Ezra”, that’s what I’m trying now. Last week I didn’t have to try because I got to have Flume right in the face in the middle of Paris, with hundreds of French people going absolutely crazy and singing along to every single thing except for the two girls who broke up their karaoke devotion with “F*** me Flume!!!” over and over. I don’t know if that’s the best pick up line in the over-privileged world. Personally I could be won over with “You look like you want to work hard on creating utopia on earth, want someone to make you sandwiches and push you to truly get on with it?”

Anyway, our own Perth Kučka (Laura Lowther) was there in Paris on tour with Flume to just sing two songs at each show and to gradually draw around her more people to love her music. An easy task if any one ever sees her play. My favourite person to watch watching Kučka do shows is the boyfriend of RTR’s music director. Every time he’s a little bit drunk and gets more and more inebriated and invigorated on his own body’s reaction to Laura’s music.

Well, me and Laura hung out in her dressing room. This is what tours seem to be made of from what I’ve seen of all the friends. It’s just transport, being in rooms, instagram, playing a tiny bit of music and then taking up whatever oysters of quick friendship and delicious food and beverages occasionally come your way as everyone wants to please a star. How do you please a star? Just by looking up at them through time and space as they gradually burn out as all of us do, back in to dust, etc.

Well, Laura put on her makeup, we talked about whether it was possible for either of us to be a spy as a job, or whether we both just can’t be truly normal in make up. She did great big eyes, a good hairstyle with her pink hair that in so conservative Paris was enough to make people turn around in the street when we walked along later that night and in the morning. We listened to my masters and talked about songs and she gave me some insight into what the Flume boy is like: basically a truly “beau gosse” (bo goss) which is a French way of saying what a deeply babing babe. You can see it when you look at his face, a truly nice guy, the best possible guy to be having girls yelling “F*** me” and not take it seriously, the best possible guy to be rolling in dollars and slightly embarrassed about it and wondering how to use it for good. And a truly great musician.

Well, yes, Flume played and I got to be in my favourite place, at the front, saved by the barriers and not crushed in the crowd. He was beautiful, he did the same hand gestures to try and give a “Yes! I can see you and want you to be excited” to the crowd, but so humble too. How can you be in front of hundreds (or tens of thousands) of screaming people, just you on the stage, all the love and devotion directed at you, and exude humility? Dunno but he did it. He obviously played all the hits because everyone knew all the words, but the parts I could truly love were where it went away from easy poppy production and into some darker places – but darker like the beauty spots on a smiling 13 year old who had kind parents and is looking after a lamb out in the back yard and defends anyone at school who gets picked on. Not like Slayer dark. The other day I made the mistake of saying to my friend in between showing more and more good Australian music “Let’s listen to some Slayer!” and I’m still traumatised by the first five seconds of the film clip. Not that kind of dark.

Anyway, after dancing with Laura after her beautiful two song triumphant appearance, and the crowds ongoing going-wildness, three stories of a beautiful remade palatially theatrical room in Le Trianon, we went for a late night drink and kept talking about music, and our town, and all the good things about it and the moments of shittiness when people rag on other people’s music, and how to change the world, and Harley (that’s Flume’s actual name for all the snobs) came by with some crew members with a brand new keyboard under his arm – one where the keys are even more sensitive than the keys of an actual piano, and at this point I saw how he’s like the other “big stars” we know, because he told us “I’m going to go play with this for a while and then go to sleep”, instead of staying downstairs with us, talking and eating soup and soaking up a room full of random Parisian late night energy. Good choice little Flume, you’re truly a true beau gosse. <> <> <>

Bananas, Condoms and The End of The World

Andrew Ryan

so tonight in the next to last metro home a woman came nearly past but instead up to me and said “do we know each other?” “no,” i said, “i just smile all the time.” i had been smiling at her momentarily and so that was her chance to stop in front of me and begin talking. she had grey white hair with all the hair the same colour – that’s kind of rare if you look around at your friends or at your own hair in the mirror – and her top teeth were squiggly and her bottom teeth were all long and encrusted with age and food. this is a grosteque picture of her mouth but in fact she was lovely to look at, and a welcome voice on the same train platform, creating a circle of two women talking, one with grey white hair and one with various light and dark brown and reddy blonde hair, to make a small temporary force field together against late-night man trouble.

although it turned out she hadn’t always had a force field around her. she showed me in the first few minutes of conversation a plastic bag and inside the plastic bag was a dvd with her same face on it – grey white hair, long bottom teeth, smooth 69 year old french skin, looking at least ten years younger than australian skin. when she was 18 a man took her to america to be a prostitute and so, this was the story she recounted to me in the six metro stops to where we were both getting off the train. she told me about selling the dvds of her life story, which is how she earns her living now, and about how things got bad in the time of peak aids, and about the fact of not drinking or smoking and just eating fruit making her skin stay nice as it truly was. when she asked me to guess her age i thought about my mum – how old was this woman compared with her? – and thought about how to give a true but also potentially flattering answer. it didn’t occur to me at the time that she too could be my mum.

this happens often, people tell their whole story, or some particularly intimate part to me. earlier in the day i went to buy a banana on the way down through the streets towards the river and the man in the grocery store and i ended up talking about french attitudes to contraception. he was not being sleazy when he said, through his long eyelashes and islamically and grocery-store influenced world view, amongst all his opinions “it’s like licking honey through a pane of glass”. at first i thought he meant sex without being in love is like that, but in fact this was his way of describing sex with a condom. he explained to me how women in his village who didn’t have access to the pill or other contraceptives seemed to do very well with taking care with their husbands of the times in their menstrual cycle for not getting pregnant, and other special methods for when that way couldn’t account for desire.

i couldn’t understand everything the woman in the metro was saying, but one of the things was definitely about her job changing during the biggest aids time and how that affected condoms/no condoms/being able to do the job she was doing with or without the fear of death. “life and death” were also mentioned in the little grocery store, through the smiling conversation with the long lashes man. i can see his face and her face now as i think back to them.

i went to see music too, in a record store. a band called “volage” who later my friends and i agreed on a rating of 65% for, given the mainly excellent self-mix the band did of the semi-acoustic versions of their songs, the mix of songs that seemed like solid hits and those that lacked some balls, the mix of band members with and without charisma, the feeling it was all good but not mind-blowing, but still good. during the show the room of variously cool 20-45 year olds nodded along, drank the free wine and beer, mainly refrained from talking so as to be respectful to the music, and kept their ideas about aids, contraception, making a living by working 16 hour shifts in a grocery shop or as an international prostitute for the moment to themselves. it’s not a fair review because we only saw them play once and it’s hard to compete general folk-rock lyrics with a man bringing out “it’s like licking honey through a pane of glass”, but in french, in a grocery store where you’ve got a banana in your hand and as usual the almost-total absurdity and impending end of the world on your mind.

p.s. climate change

p.p.s here is an unrelated photo of some great dogs we saw in the bois de vincennes

International Women's Day and King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard Heal My Broken Heart

Andrew Ryan

Can I fit those two topics into one article? YES I CAN.

So, yesterday was International Women’s Day. Wikipedia threw up a great image from 1932 in Russia, colour palette reds through to yellows, white and grey. At first I interpreted it as a woman helping another woman off the street, but in fact it was a woman helping another out of a pile of furniture and kitchen items. Both of these have their place in a general utopia of equalities becoming manifest. As soon as I realised what the day was, starting from a facebook post from Matthew Aitken about his great Greek grandmother who was the first female bus driver in WA, I felt good. Because, truly, sometimes being a female is actually fucked. And somehow, having this day where lots of friends made posts about their female heroes did achieve something, at least in my own heartbrain.

The thing the Russian poster taught me, via wikipedia, was that the day was initially about workers rights, and I thought – even for Coolperthnights – imagine if me and Lyndon got paid differently just because of being peeny or vageeny. But of course, there’s still a billion direct ways and vestiges of ways that living in patriarchy and often misogynistiarchy in Australia or France 2016 sucks balls.

All day I revelled in the feeling of “Make it count”, “Think differently”, “Do things differently”. Alex Griffin interviewed me for some project where he asked lots of questions about women in music and directly asked the question “What can we (men) do?”. He asked this question several times and I tried to answer, but the thing is, we’re taught from really young ages to not say what we (females) really want, to swallow our own desires, to put ourselves second. Putting oneself second is a wonderful way to go through life if it’s done the right way, but when it’s a symptom of systematic small and large oppressions and violences from when you pop out to when you get dug down, it’s not wonderful.

Anyway, five nights before that I was in my usual heartbroken state, not having been re-engergized yet by a day just for my downtrodden sex, and I was contemplating bailing on the King Gizzard show. I had wangled free tickets though, and had a friend who wanted to go for his first time to the Flèche d’Or, so I rallied. Every time King Gizzys play in Perth I seem to miss it. Never again. Thanks to RTR I had heard them in bits and pieces on the radio and from the radio their music somehow intrigued me but somehow also seemed like a cypher of itself, of its own genre. But seeing them live the cypher was filled in, the Lacanian hole was made replete and my little heart was sewn up again song by song, drum fill by drum fill.

So yeah, we got to the Flèche, I wangled the door lady, said a quick hello to Ambrose whose keyboards we’d hardly hear but can wait til their Perth show, told my friend “I’ll just watch two songs and then leave, ok?” except in French, and then headed to the closest possible place to watch amongst a full room of initially reserved and soon stage-diving French people. It was so beautiful from the first moment and then all the way through. Beautiful in the way that unconsciously my mouth blurted out quiet “Fuck yeah!“s many many times through the show and I could actually feel the tears of the day quick-drying as if the two drum kits and closest amp were emanating a delicate form of liquid nitrogen. On particular middle-tier of the musical podium (that means GOLD rather than MEDIOCRE) was the guitarist closest to us. What is his name? I shall “phone a friend”. Only four pedals and one of them was a tuner – what a tru boss. It seemed like there were guitars everywhere, but his was the closest amp, and his were the most delicate tones that floated my way, stuck in at every point by the simultaneously tight and humble bass and those two drummers. Oh how I eat up the double drums when it’s not a curly affected mannerism but impressive and necessary.

It’s hard to distinguish ones own feelings from the spirit of the crowd – in a way this is good, a reminder of all being one one one one one – and in another way it sucks because I don’t know if I’m right or egotistically interpreting the mood of the night to say that the more languid songs were more loved, where the drums swung, where spaces were left. I did the usual thing my mind does with Melbourne boy-bands for some reason, which is imagining what each member would be like as a father, and what jobs and hobbies each have outside the band and which one is an architect or barista, who learns piano concertos on the side, who mainly plays video games, immobile and slouched as both a complement and inversion of their role as psych musician on stage.

Well, it was wall-to-wall bewdiful and the full crowd of Parisians, and one guy from Sydney who we found out after the show had met his girlfriend via their shared love of the Gizz, were all heaving in joy, creamy breasted red-heads and overly zealous drunkards expressing admiration in their own ways. I’ve never heard an encore call as long as that – it was left unanswered and we all spilled out into the smoking section. There I met Eric, maybe drummer, maybe architect/barista, who was being accosted on all sides by tru-fans and beery-eyed moderately lovable douchebags. My friend asked me, laughing, “Do you remember all the songs they played to write in your review?” and I laughed back “I’m lucky if I even remember any of my own songs,” but magically enough another friend happened to be one of the tru-fans with a brain of titanium. And so this first ever set list to grace a Chronicle comes direct from Pierre-Jean’s phone to mine, to Coolperthnights for those of you who care, along with the name of my favourite guitarist because of proximity on the night: Joe Walker, and photographic screen-proof that P-J has listened to the song “Am I In Heaven” from the album “I’m In Your Mind Fuzz” 292 times just on his computer. Emoji hearts as original in text message.

Set list for King Gizzard, La Flèche d’Or, Paris, Jeudi 3 Mars 2016 (thanks to Pierre-Jean)
Robot stop (Nonagon Infinite 29.04.2016)
??? (Probablement une chanson de Nonagon Infinite 2016)
Nonagon Infinite (Nonagon Infinite 2016)
Gamma Knife (Nonagon Infinite 2016)
Hot Water (I’m In Your Mind Fuzz 2014)
Trapdoor (Paper Mâché Dream Balloon 2015)
River (Quarters!2015) <3
I’m not in your mind (I’m In Your Mind Fuzz 2014)
Cellophane (I’m In Your Mind Fuzz 2014)
Head On (Float Along – Fill Your Lungs 2013 <3)
Am I In Heaven? (I’m In Your Mind Fuzz 2014 <3 pour l’original)
Head On reprise (Float Along – Fill Your Lungs 2013 <#)

Pierre-Jean’s caveat:
“If you listen to the albums you’ll see that Float Along – Fill Your Lungs, I’m In Your Mind Fuzz, Quarters!, Paper Mâché Dream Balloon are often variations on a musical theme. It’s very probable that there are other songs which were played together. That said, I’m pretty certain about my tracklist.”

So anyway, King Gizzard show ended with a salmon pizza, a reconstituted heart and an introduction to the French version of Aesop’s tales in the metro on the way home, and International Women’s Day ended with me sitting with three men discussing their trips to strip clubs in Pigalle (the strippy part of Paris where a few days later I’d meet great Australian actor Noah Taylor), and then a few moments of awkwardness as I made my friend say in a louder and louder voice “Today is International Women’s Day!” and then my final interjection at the end of the strip club story of “You know, you can’t buy a woman!”

King Gizz 10/10
International Women’s Day 8/10

Roses, Beanies, Sharks and Trump

Andrew Ryan

i met a man a few nights ago, who i think i will remember forever. maybe not on my deathbed but once in a while til then. i was with my friends and they were drunk. everyone’s friends are always drunk, or leaning on Lean. what even is Lean?

everyone’s friends were drunk, but not this man, jamal. his name was jamal but i’ll call him “tom” so that if you’re not also from bangladesh you can’t “other” him.

so the friends were drunk or stumbling from one bar to another and i was lagging behind and tom was selling roses. in the bar my friends told me “ah, this is a real parisian bar you can do WHATEVER you want!”

tom came in with his roses, all the white french people at the tables discussing art or asses. and my friend bought one red rose for me, one white rose for joe, and one coffee for tom, and wingled tom into staying, who was winglable because it was the end of his night’s work.

i won’t remember tom on my death bed but i know at least four people who will. his mother, his wife and his two little kids who lived in bangladesh, who in february 2016 couldn’t see tom but could feel his presence as he walked shyly amongst drunk french people and foreigners selling roses stem by stem.

we talked out in the rain. my friend swapped beanies; tom’s surfer beanie for his thick black french saint james beanie, and tom told us his job in bangladesh was selling clothes. in fact, he had a whole shop. “is it hard being away from your family?” my friend asked and i had to translate from french to english with my head down thinking “don’t ask that,” and, “what do you think of photography, like, in general?”

my head was down, but who knows what shy tom wanted to be asked.

at the end of the night tom still had almost all his roses. he had sold five when we saw him at 2am, since 8pm, two to my friend, and he had given me four more for free, because we spent half an hour with him.

my six roses ended up strewn on the street after a late night fight (well, four because i gave two to a man cross legged and asking for money and kisses sitting in his own filth on the way home), which is sad, but not as sad as being far far away from your home because the political parties are fighting for real, or as sad as watching george pell’s testimony on a laptop (i fell asleep with his words coming through headphones and the laptop resting on my stomach) or watching a ridiculous man inch closer to being a presidential candidate.

in some good news though, sharks are coming further up the swan river, and more local news – pat dodson; hooray! and international news – today in paris it snowed, big clumps of multi-flake flakes clinging to everyone’s coats and hair and faces, and personal – you are loved, at least by me and four other people.

Braless Forestial Valentines

Andrew Ryan

so, i pretty much don’t wear bras at all anymore. what is it like, you might ask. well, it’s like, you’re exactly the same person, but you don’t have any bras on.

that’s kind of what it was like when i didn’t use to shave my leg or arm hair when i was a fully grown teenager. fully grown as in still small and everything, but with all the pressure of life as a white rich-country teenager. as in, hardly any pressure except that all the life around is trying to disconnect you from yourself and nature, and you just have to struggle to re-connect yourself in any way you can.

anyway, so not wearing bras is a wonderful new thing. what are bras good for anyway? shaping something that would prefer to shape itself. it started because i was living with a french girl, and we were going to a new years eve party in dresses with thin straps.

for a while i thought maybe it’s bad for your body, that the boobs would start to go low, but instead it turns out it’s very healthy and helps your self pull itself together. you are soft and free and moving upwards, actually. and, if someone wants to touch you, or you want to touch your own body there are less impediments. women friends, be free, someone told me the secret (no bras) in a french whisper and now i tell it to you.

also it was valentine’s day and i was in paris. i went walking with a beautiful man of a similar height to me, meaning, if i’d like to say something, he can hear it straight away. i’ve wondered if this is the reason couples here are more affectionate, namely that they are more often more or less the same size, so there’s no struggle to be close. or perhaps it’s because just up the road there is a museum called ‘le musée de la vie romantique’ – it could be that too.

so it was valentines day and i was with a nice man, eating salmon, sour cream and small pancakes next to some wattle and gerbera flowers in a tiny apartment kitchen, listening to the radio, and then went walking in the big woods. this is the woods where people live too in tents all around the forestial paths. one tent i saw even had a garden that the people had started constructing around it, there in the middle of the woods.

“they live like birds” i thought to myself, and said out loud “not producing, not doing tertiary industry, just finding food and eating it.” the nice man said “you don’t know that, they might have jobs.” and he was right. i’d thought i was being poetic, instead i was being a dog.

we wandered a long way in the woods, through the trails that people who visit and people who live there use. there was one tree i wanted to look at for a significant part of forever, and said “i wish everyone was on mushrooms so i could look at everything on this tree for as long as i like, and it not be weird, and other people look too.” the man was taking photos and perhaps didn’t reply. i looked at all the mosses on that tree. each small area of lichen or moss had a different colour of tiny protrusions growing from its centre. there was lichen with black protrusions, lichen with white protrusions, green lichen with green spots, green lichen with orange spots; funguses; water colourings. the day before we had done water colours in the apartment. he made shapes like a true artist, going for it with the colours. i tried too hard to get the folds of his adidas or similar squeaky jumper and the highlight stripe right. that’s not what watercolours are about. but this plant was doing everything watercolour exactly right.

so this tree was just growing there, on valentine’s day on the edge of paris, throwing out every colour it felt like, mainly shades of greens, browns, blues, whites, greys, oranges, and we were there looking at it in our own ways. i found one leaf that was fading away into being a piece of see-through silk and said in the other language “what is between life and death?” and answered my own question, cutting the man off, “life and beauty.”

so, braless and on valentines day we both kept walking and marching through the woods, past many lovely dogs now, owners, lakes, footbridges joining islands in lakes, dog poo, leaves mid-death. and we went to buy wattle and gerberas and bread and wine for the russian man and his guitarist wife. they fed us blood sausage and potatoes, and nadia the wife played a series of incredible classical and then turkish-inspired pieces on the guitar, lifting her hand in the air at the end of phrases, and knitting and unknitting her long brows. each time she did something, said something, clinked glasses, laughed, the russian man would turn to her and give her a kiss on the lips, sergeuï, a singer too, but of course making room for his wife who is the true artist.

they and the tree and the tents and the actual dogs showed what valentines day could possibly be, braless and free.

xxx

DAVID BOWIE REINCARNATED IN A PARIS METRO AND OTHER BRIEF INTERACTIONS

Andrew Ryan

Let me give you an update on a few people. Remember Mehmed? He’s the man that sits outside the bakery and asks for money in a little plastic cup. And Amina? The lady that was sitting in a big triangle of doonas and bags in the metro. Well, I saw them again.

Mehmed was sitting in the same place as three months ago, the same bakery. This time he had more clothes on – it’s winter somewhere in the world that’s not heatdeath Perth – a big beanie, sleeping bags around him. He saw me from far off and his face went pink and happy, mine too. He speaks about 50 words of French and the rest is in Bulgarian but somehow last time he managed to explain to me the whole story of him and his wife and his family. This time we tried again but even though we were smiling the conversation was full of non-comprehension. Even to try and tell him “I’m very happy to see you” midway through the conversation dropped into a ditch of indecipherable sign language. He tried to explain something about papers and something about Monday and something about me coming at 1 or 2 on Monday to see him. But still, I guess like with birds and trees there’s something you understand and appreciate about each other even if you can’t actually talk. Hmm.

Do you know the story of the Tower of Babel? It’s somewhere in the bible, probably every way of understanding the world through a book has its story about how all the languages came to be. This one is about maybe humans trying to build a tower up to the sky, because they wanted to be as powerful as gods, but the god god was like, uh-uh I don’t think so and crumbled it all down and sent a wind that carried a million different languages so none of the people could understand each other enough to build large-scale constructions, the ones in the style of our love, C. Y. O’connor. Well, I made up the bit about the wind. I don’t have a book here to look it up.

But, I don’t want to build a tower to heaven, just want to be able to have one proper conversation with Mehmed.

There was Amina too. Remember her? She was the moroccan lady. She made me laugh when she explained how people holding on to their money are so ridiculous. This seems to happen here: if I sit down beside the right person they just start talking to me as if we were friends forever, even though we still do the getting-to-know-you part. This time Amina was again in the underground tunnel of the train station and at first I rushed by like everyone but then thought “What is life for” and went back. She got straight into it again, even though we’d only talked once and it was four months ago. And then she started producing food for me. I was going to meet someone I didn’t know for a drink, a fan of one of the friends’ bands who maybe wanted to become a friend, and I hadn’t eaten, and now I was being fed dinner by a lady sitting in the spat-and-peed-upon very all-kinds-of-grey concrete of the dirty underground railway station. She produced a sandwich someone had given her – with ham, so no good to her anyway – and some loaves of sugary bread which in the end I left elsewhere in the street, and a little jar of very good paté. She told me, in her accented French but still French, that she just needed money for her place she lives, to pay the rent, she didn’t need food. So, I gave her nothing again, and she gave me dinner and some paté.

And I guess because this website is about music I could tell you about some music I saw. Again, at the end of a day of thinking about bombs and plastic and love and “What is my place in this world” I went down the metro in another place and underground this time was music, but, BIG music. It’s kind of like Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree – each time you go up, or in this case down, some new weird thing is there to greet you. This time, it was some maybe Portugese people sad to be missing Carnivale, a guy on guitar with long big wavy hair, a man on bass, a man on drums, a woman just shaking a tambourine and all playing a raucous mixture of rock and ska and then two young boys taking turns at freestyling over the top with all their teenage friends egging them on and filming on their phones. The boys were sort of happily invited by the band and sort of wrestling the mic off the man with wavy hair at the same time.

And then there were people watching and then there were people dancing. A woman of maybe thirty in very plain clothes and spectacles who couldn’t help herself and a white man with combed grey hair and a pin stripe suit with pants slightly flared at the bottom and a red tie, and a big tall black man with a different type of suit, more ragged and a leather beret. All around other people were just watching but these three were really dancing and the boys were really singing. My body was moving a little and so the tall black man came and took my hand and danced me over to the woman and the pin stripe and within a few moments me and pinstripe were couples-dancing. He was a good lead, and even though I don’t know how to move unless it’s alone, he lead me through a series of steps that were beautiful, funny, romantic, close, and as I looked into his eyes I actually thought for several moments that he was in fact the reincarnation of David Bowie, come to dance with me for a few minutes in the metro.

Some people might think this is all naïve, but no-one’s trying to steal my wallet. It’s just all people doing what they’re made to do – work to live, dance to enjoy. There’s sometimes talk in my city and probably every other one about beggars ‘organising’ themselves, but you know, who doesn’t work for a corporation that’s organised? And who’s job doesn’t involved mainly sitting, not producing much – as in not producing food or art – and just waiting for a person with more money and the will to do it to put a few coins in your cup?

HOLDING HANDS WITH EVERYTHING: Tame Impala at Zenith, Paris.

Andrew Ryan

I’m jumping out of bed with one cat slipper on to bring you this little review of Tame Impala playing at Zenith in Paris. Yes, white boys from private schools* (fact check) playing successful music. This is a reference to Triple J’s hottest 100 – if you’re not from Australia, don’t look it up, look up the photographer Jean Gaumy instead – but really, that particular night – Sunday – if world justice wasn’t possible, then music from white boys was just what I and thousands of Parisians were in the mood for.

I nearly made Cam late for the show by spending too long drying my hair but when I got to dinner he and Ash told me I looked beautiful. That’s pretty nice if you’re someone who doesn’t feel like they look good most of the time – is that everyone? What does it mean to look beautiful? Where do hairdryers go when we die? Fuck. Anyway, Cam put bits of steak in my mouth with the fork, jiggled his leg and talked about projects, Ash be-d lovely and a small dream of soft-heartedness, I tried to think tough to not be on the heart-break mind train and just soak up some pleasure.

The taxi driver was real nice, Ash and Cam were going song for song on their phones, us three in the backseat – I checked if he minded us playing music but what I really meant was “Is it annoying to have three rich white people in the backseat just having fun as every single day and night and seeming to not know what real work is, what long shifts are, what putting up with shit from strangers is?” It’s not exactly like that, but it’s just that here it’s in your face, every bar you go to it’s all white people having a “good time” inside and the only not-white person is working on the door, sorting through who can get in and who can’t. Pewk. Everyone has their troubles and hardships, but the general sorting of who gets in and who can’t is the layer of weird injustice over everything, all the time.

Well, we made it, those two went through the backdoor, Cam with ten minutes til he was meant to be on stage, and I collected my friend from the front, who put his hand in the middle of my back making me dream of true affection and inside all the boys had already started playing “Let it Happen”. This song is magical, so many of the songs are magical. I didn’t come by to this music via music, but by personal familiarity, but all the songs have been working on me day by day since the first time I really had to listen when I was interviewing Kevin for Oyster magazine. Sometimes “everybody” is wrong about what they like – coffee in takeaway cups, Australia Day, formalised religion/atheistic agnosticism, Rubens/Hoops – but sometimes they’re right, and this is the time.

They played a million great songs, ‘Let it Happen’, ‘Apocalypse Dreams’, ‘Cause I’m a Man’, ‘The Less I Know the Better’, ‘Elephant’, ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ – not in that order, and not only those, and usually I’m not the kind of person to care song for song, but I dunno this was something different, they are all hits and they were all hitting into that right spot for being in heart-break but moving you into uplifting abandon to the possibility of a happy ending despite all the signs to the contrary. And right in the middle of all of it was ‘Eventually’, the most perfect song for me personally right then and there, but also like I said before for several thousand Parisians. Everyone seemed to believe the words. I hear those words for my own heart and for the whole heart of the whole world – eventually, eventually, eventually. And maybe music by white boys from private schools is a wonderful part of that eventually. I believe it is.

Anyway, the whole crowd seemed to rise up in this song, and I didn’t know if it was just me but afterwards my friends said too, in his French accent “Eventually!!” Yes, the big spirit flowing through that song.

And yeah, the sound, nearly perfect, a little on the mud side, a little on the bassy side, the drums always take over but so they should, always simultaneous homage to Julien in the present and Kevin in the creation past, the most ‘Perth’ moment for me being when Kevin stood for a few moments longer than maybe even he expected just playing notes on the guitar to the oscilloscope, letting the notes and the shapes created ring out – like really ring out – creating stars and Lord of the Rings and splitting time and joining light and sound back together in green lasers on the big screen behind him.

Well, so it was a great show. Afterwards up in the room where the boys were there was Nicolas Godin from Air (I didn’t know who he was till they told me), with his gentle lovely teenage son fanboying on Kevin, Kevin and Gum fanboying on Nicolas, me fanboying in friendship on Dom who I only get to see every six months. Ringham who looks after gear talked to me about matters of the heart and possibly mathematics, Noemie who looks after tour managing gave me a true hug, everyone just moved along in their own worlds but at the same time taking care of one another, me included, even though truly they’d all already healed me a little bit in the show.

I could tell you about the rest of the night, but that will happen another time, when I’ve got both slippers on.

GOING FULL HEARTBREAK FOR AUSTRALIA DAY 2016

Andrew Ryan

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well, i’m in full heartbreak mode again. it’s a mode i’m quite used to, but i just realised walking through the rain in paris that even though i do this all the time i’m still not very good at it. like, i could have become a master by now. i could have worked out exactly the right ratio of crying time to lightening the mood with jokes time, bath time versus looking at yourself blankly through puffy eyelids in the mirror time, what to eat, what to listen to, which type of friends to lean on and how hard to lean.

yes, in fact i might write a small book of advice for myself about this for next time. included will be a self-portrait in the shower recess, with one big winter coat on the floor of the shower to lie on, the self-body curled into the teeny square of shower, head resting on dirty washing from the heartbreak-er and then another layer of coat on top to cover over the crying figure. this photo will have a cross through it though, and be included in the pages “what not to do”, or, “what not to do unless you make meaningless self-focussed art from it later, like, a comic, or say, a video clip, or a poem.”

anyway, this type of heartbreak i could make a book about, but then there’s many other kinds of heartbreak, if there was to be a series, that i would have to get other writers in for. say, a self-help book on what to do about the heartbreak that comes from having parents that actually don’t love you, or say, the heartbreak that comes from having your whole country stolen, or say the heartbreak that comes from losing your family to bombs, then going to another country and having people yell insults from their cars at you in the street. yes, a series.

when i say “walking through the rain in paris”, i really mean “walking through the rain in montreuil”, which is a place far away from the images you might have of “paris” in your mind. this is a special place, where just up the street they found some kalashnikovs of the people who’d come to shoot everyone up a few months ago. the guns were sitting in a car just around the corner from the shower-coat scene. i’m not sure if the guns had been shot yet, or if they were waiting to be used. either way, they were there, at least fulfilling their purpose of “just being”.

so, how do you put two people back together? it’s harder maybe than putting a country back together. for putting a country back together you can take action, like matt aitken apparently did a few days ago, getting the elder Noel Nannup to talk to a whole bunch of people by the side of the river about that place, the stories of his people, speaking through a big heartbreak into the spirits of a whole riverbank of mainly white young musicians. i wasn’t there, but it’s still enough to dry my tears up actually, and pull me out of the shower recess and unfurrow my brow at the audacity of a friend to make some step at fixing our whole country on Australia Day.

hmm. otherwise, if you aren’t presently surrounded by legends of your own time you could try drying your eyes with pieces of stale bread, and then feeding the bread to white european or black western australian swans; or you could find a bookshop that has a piano in it and play songs based on the hundred phases of petty griefs; or you could cut little bits off your thumb and arrange them in a small frame for a Christmas present; or you could learn to fillet any type of fish. anyway, these are the things i would try, if it weren’t for the fact that even from the depths of full heartbreak, one small person’s small attempt to heal BIG heartbreak of a whole history of injustice can put everything back into place.

(Nice Day for a) ROMANTIC DOG WEDDING, 4th March 2016

Andrew Ryan

Just got my period. It’s pretty exciting really, the way it all works, “it” being our bodies and the whole entire thing. I’m living with another female person in the house so yeah, it all synchs up, and it’s really like magic. You know it’s coming – everyone starts looking more attractive, this time I got wildly angry at my friend for saying he was going to ditch his bass player, even though the sun was shining and we were riding home after a delux swim in the ocean listening to AC/DC – some smooth low-key number I had never heard before – in his beat up van that smells like Australia.

Anyway, nice reminder that one’s an animal. Sex-appeal, anger, tears, all linked up to tiny juices flowing round us, the moon, pheromonal molecules entering our skin. So, yeah, our friends put on a wedding for dogs – “Romantic Dog Wedding” – this week, and it’s good to suddenly remember once in a while that you’re pretty much covered in fur and at the mercy of mysterious forces and not just the workings of your big grey brain too.

The dogs were “Ben” and “Pony”. A Border Collie and a rescued Greyhound. Our country doesn’t recognise unions between two males at the moment, but countries are not as old as love and unions between two dogs or two men so the joke’s on us. (Fact check please). I put on lipstick and high heels, a dress with no bras – my female companion similarly dolled, as in, attired a little less animally that we might otherwise be, and headed to the river.

Big, pale, skin coloured gum trees towered upwards around us, all their crooked arms swaying languidly over the scene. There was a small crowd, writer Matt Giles passed us with his dog Abbey who had to leave early, maybe to finish their respective PhDs. There were tall women in dresses, Alex Last was djing with the dj set up laid out on top of a boogie board, a pathway of vines and flowers showing where the aisle would be, rugs on each side, and Chloe – human Mother of the Groom – came towards us to offer mimosas from a table laid with champagne, beverages and a beautiful coconut wedding cake.

Why a dog wedding? Because we are free, I guess, and because there was no better place to be, or event to conjure than a dog wedding by the river on a Monday afternoon in a city built on stolen land and stolen minerals and a decimated ancient culture. What else are we meant to do? Buy jet skis?

So everyone mingled, the Border Collie groom was a little late but arrived, then the celebrant, Paddle Clubb mastermind Matt Aitken, arrived, then Lyndon Blue, wedding band-member, arrived in a powder blue suit, and the ceremony could begin. The boogie board played “Kiss from a Rose” by Seal as the grooms and a dishevelled Border Collie bridesmaid were walked up the aisle, everyone took their places, and Matt fumbled through a wonderful and brief ceremony, starting somewhat irreverently with the words “Dearly Beloved, Who Let the Dogs Out?” There were salmon-coloured ribbons to tie the rings on to the grooms, they were pronounced husband and husband, kissed, and after much cheering the coconut wedding cake was served, musician Rachael Dease encouraging young kids to not be shy and take some first.

It was definitely the best dog wedding any of us had been to, and the band hadn’t even started. Stephen Bellair was there with Evie, a white teenage miniature falcor labrador. Tristan Fidler was there, resplendent repository of a million beautiful, and tragic, and inspired thoughts I’m yet to be privvy to, Julia Suddenly was there, ray of sun and moonlight showering gold and myrrh on us from her glowing face etc, etc, etc.

Me and my hot date were nearly ready to leave, deciding between going for a paddle on the kayaks or heading back to the coast by the flip of a coin. Luckily the coin said stay because then came the band. This will remain one of my musical highlights of 2016 even if a thousand more great musical things happen. The band was called both “His Master’s Voice” and “The Bark Simpsons”, two names picked from a communal facebook list of suggestions, and they were incredible. Lyndon Blue on guitar, Chris Last on bass, Brett Smith on saxophone, Alex Last on boogie board laptop, and, the pinnacle of the sinuous body of fluff, the unleashable Alex Griffin.

At first it was obvious they had all never played together, they didn’t know at all what they were going to do, and took a long time to set up in which Alex just danced at the front of the group, in front of the boogie board, in his fez and yellow jacket, with his big faux-sad eyes drawing up to the sky then glancing over the crowd, then eyeballing people one by one for effect. Eva next to me, French artist, was instantly obsessed and kept saying “He is Magic!” and it was entirely true.

Then the band began playing: Alex dropped a beat, Chris and Lyndon somehow locked in, Brett breathed panpipe sax over the top and through the just-birthed theme, and Alex started the first of three 100% improvised and 100% classic dog-wedding songs, with each band member having their moment to shine, and all the wedding guests laughing or swaying or iphoning in responsive pleasure.

Yeah, the whole thing was genius, actually filled with love, life-giving, under trees, by the water, honouring to another species, and only possible in a free land of this kind, with all the trouble and lack of trouble resting underneath our feet and in the air around us and up in the gum branches and way up into the spheres. Definitely the nicest day in the history of the world for a dog wedding.

THE MOLLUSC AND THE ENCYCLOPEDIA - Lyndon Blue and Amber Fresh Wrap 2016 and Toss It Into Your Lap

Andrew Ryan

Lyndon: Amber says I’m an encyclopedia and she’s a mollusc, which is very modest and kind, although at best I think I’m a pamphlet ready to blow away in the breeze – and (more realistically) maybe we’re all molluscs, trying to make the best trail of slime we can. Anyway, it’s nice to be able to look back on the year in music with Amber, who is both a musician and a music writer. With Amber those two things don’t feel like two separate sides of a mirror, but instead are both mixed together (with all sorts of other life endeavours) in the same rock pool, a place called poetry.  

Usually the two of us approach writing-about-music fairly differently, but I think one thing we have in common is a belief that music – the best music - is a singularly meaningful way to connect, a window into souls, food for the imagination and the heart. Speaking broadly, 2015 has been full of awful, trying things – on the global stage and close to home. I feel like music has responded gracefully, with thoughtfulness and energy and ingenuity and compassion. Even when we are reflecting on the rough stuff, music can reveal our best selves. L

in response to :

When I think about it, it seems like Lyndon has an encylopedic knowledge of music; me, a molluscic knowledge. As in, if you looked at Lyndon with your eyes closed, and got him to think about bands and sounds, you’d see his chest exploding outwards with a thousand pages, some coloured, some drawn, pencil notes, pen notes, a little typed text. If you closed your eyes and did the same thing on me, you’d see me advancing very very slowly along one line, leaving a trail of glistening slime. 

So, anyway, Lyndon Le Bleu and I both make music and write about music. Here’s our combined wrap up of the year. A

Lyndon, who do you feel blossomed outwards music-wise this year?

First up, can I express my appreciation for the word “molluscic,” and your trail of glistening slime. Snails are underrated. Who blossomed outwards? I think a lot of people – 2015 in Perth music (to my mind) was a lot of people trying new things, going hard, being uncynical, and a lot of these people were one the periphery of my awareness but nevertheless hard to miss. I’ve felt privileged to hear the likes of Sam Atkin and Mining Tax and Lana Rothnie come into their own, fusing electronic hooliganism with a profound thoughtfulness and sensitivity. It’s also felt like a big year for garage rock, interesting punk, weird pop: Pool Boy, Helta Skelta, the Kitchen People/Hideous Sun Demon/Regular Boys sorta collective, the new Perth-based version of Rat Columns. Koi Child have, famously, kicked massive goals. Erasers finally released an album and it was a corker. Phil Stroud and Ben Witt’s solo releases – phwoooaarr! Lots of blossoming in good directions, I think 2016 will be a champagne year.  

 
Lyndon, what do you wish was different in Perth music? 

I kind of wish line-ups were less determined by friendship groups, and more varied and outrageous, but I guess things play out how they do for a good reason, that’s how scenes exist. 

Lyndon, if you were standing in a small group of Chilean teenagers at a party, everyone with beers and optimism in their hands, what would you recommend they listen to, from this year, from your city and from far far away? 

I like this question, and I wonder if I will ever stand in a small group of Chilean teenagers. from my city? Maybe Mei Saraswati’s Hyperdiversity, or the Ben Witt record, or… maybe I’d just get overwhelmed as usual and make them a mixtape for later. From far far away? Possibly Holly Herndon’s Platform, ‘coz it’d blow their minds into a million chunks and make their beer taste like starlight. I’d recommend the Tame Impala album, which feels like it’s from both my home town and far far away, but I’m sure they’ve already heard it.

Lyndon, what is your favourite music thing of this year? Show or album or experience? 

This is really tough. So many goodies. Listening to an old guy play jazz standards on a banjo in a bush hut near Launceston, Tasmania. Camp Doogs – the whole thing. Going around Australia with a band called the Burnt Sausages who dress up like a human-sized BBQ party and play BBQ punk. Watching Nick Allbrook play at NPBC with David Wirrapunda. The Outlordz mixtape. But ok, ok lists like this are a copout. I’m gonna say the Mining Tax EP. The only record that made me cry proper tears and dance in one go. There ya go. 

Who are your five favourites for music at the moment and why? 

1. Julia Holter – “Feel You” was my favourite song that came out in 2015

2. Tourist kid. Ooh la la. I should’ve mentioned Rory in my “blossomed” answer. This local upstart can do no wrong

3. The band/Joni Mitchell/Kate Bush on endless rotation… i.e. listening to lots of my dad’s favourite music

4. Lois Olney, I came across her in the documentary “The Coolbaroo Club” and am now obsessed with her voice

5. The Metronomes, they feel like the Australian band I always wanted to exist, and they do!

the ol switcheroo~

Amber, if you could make music with anyone in perth (who you haven’t yet), who would it be – and why?

mei saraswati – we were ‘married’ on new year’s eve last year, but have never made music together. i feel like she’s above me musically (that’s a fact in many ways) but still that would be a dream.

craig mcelhinney and i have talked at times in the past about making songs. could be fun but maybe it’s like realising you’re never ever going to work in a pizza shop or video store (i just realised that a few months ago).

maybe gum. because he’s a pop king. nick wants to do hiphop with me him and stephen bellair (my mc name is mc lavender) but dunno. we’ve played together but not written new music together so maybe either of them actually.

also, you, actually. because you’re special and pure.

i really really miss tho playing with dave egan – one time we just recorded us touching various grasses in the garden at his planet street house. true freedom.

Amber, what’s your favourite perth music to listen to while submerged in water, and your favourite for in the car?

for the car i listen most regularly at the moment to a methyl ethel ep called ‘teeth’ from jake webb, and a mix from nick allbrook with his last solo ep on it. all time favourites though include a selection of cds from emlyn johnson, particularly Armageddon Gomorrah Haemerrhoid. pond, hobo rocket + back catalogue. alex griffin – the album with him in a party hat on the front.

submerged in water i’d take erasers or mei saraswati or benjamin witt as my first thought.

*I’m gonna still your question – “what do you wish was different in perth music?” – cause I think your answer will be more interesting than mine. *

only that no-one would sing with an american accent and that no-one would ever diss another band. the second is ridiculous high schoolery. especially in public. also, i think a few things have changed after a few bands have been successful/semi successful – it would be cool if no-one thought about progressing too much unless they’re specifically making pop music for money, and just let it (the music and any success) happon.

Amber, what show did you see this year that made you laugh the hardest?

i more see visions than laugh… joni and tera playing at a friend’s father’s 60’s surprise viking birthday was one of the most moving musical things i’ve ever seen. also nick allbrook at the astor before unknown mortal orchestra, benjamin witt solo. doctopus’s recent album launch. peter bibby recently at the newport – watching with nick and also a bunch of strangers watch in awe – i love seeing strangers see pete for the first time – and one man who seemed off his nut did the most beautiful mix of drunken stumbling and honest interpretive dance (using that term non-ironically) to pete’s song “rich” which i get flows of spiritual energy through me when i listen to. oh, and for non-perth, no-zu at doogs. joy overflowing joy.

Any clairvoyant predictions for perth music in 2016? what do the tea leaves say?

every tea leaf’s a lucky charm lyndon. i predict half way through the year everyone will join together to change the world, with music as an important side-project/spiritual fuel propelling everyone to create a future with peace, care of the earth and all others.


Amber: hey lyndon ps

two cool things – last night i was eating an oyster out the back of my friend pete’s house and a possum was there with a baby actually clinging to its back (reminded me of a line from one of emlyn’s songs which is something like ‘clings with possum hands to timber tiger man’). 

second thing, i met a new friend in paris – a kindred spirit – who talked lots about wanting to play music but everyone would always say they were too busy washing their hair and that it all gets taken too seriously on the other hand, so i told her, move to perth, everyone will play with you, you’ll be able to play shows, you’ll find a drummer in the click of a hand, and that’s exactly what happened. pretty cool hey. the rumours are tru.

Lyndon: hehehe this is so good!!! jealous of your possum-spotting. one time in melbourne last year I had missed the last tram and was walking home at sunrise, I walked through a park near pete’s house and saw a shape on the trunk of a tree. when I got closer I discovered it was a huge possum – the biggest I had ever seen, like the size of a dog - just clinging to the trunk at about my chest height. we just stared into each others eyes for ages, it didn’t seem to want to run away, but I thought I might be making it anxious so eventually I just kept walking.

that is marvellous about your new paris friend! so theyre in perth now, playing music?? who are they?

we leave you into 2016 with a mystery…

Not Eaten By a Shark on the River This Christmas

Andrew Ryan

we went in the river again. we always go in the river now. heaps of beauties came. tristan, kind of melancholy but rallying, lyndon, kind of quiet but with new hair, loren, loud across the water, mid-apocalypse as she might say. “the tines”, alex and chloe, who we call both by the same name. one ‘tine’ on a kayak, the other ‘tine’ on a raft built by matt’s brother and towed by loren.

yeah, we go out all the time now, into a part of the day that’s just completely made of gold. gold on the water, gold in the sky. all reflected from one place to another, the second last place on people’s bodies and faces, the very last place into our eyes.

one man made this happen, our friend matt. he just started collecting boats for cheap on the internet, and it’s changed us all. me, i go far ahead of the other people to one spot in the river where i feel all things are ok. yesterday i sat there waiting for the bull shark to come, willing it to come. i tucked my feet up and wished it to come and bite the front of the kayak off, and for me to survive but to have seen this big thing.

lots of sad things happened the last week. leaving a friend in the city with no-where to stay, all her things taken, starting to steal from people too, shaving more than normal off her eyebrows because of something going very wrong inside her head. but even she came on the water. if we could just make it happen every day maybe somehow things could be different.

and the nice things too, coming home to play on my keyboard and eva coming in and listening with her head resting on her hand and her arm resting on the old bricks of c.y o’connor’s lost horse stable. and nick coming to sit at the door and listen too, and then coming in and starting up in tiny notes on the guitar and for that moment to feel in a beautiful place at a beautiful time.

arnold schwarzenegger was just writing the other day about new energy and how it’s all going in california. i once heard that he hurt some women but hopefully it’s a furphy and he has a soft and melting heart like it seems, talking very simply to say something big about door number one and door number two.

anyway, merry christmas. hopefully the wind will touch you softly in some moonlight and you’ll feel that all is right in the world. next week we’ll have favourite things for the year and i’ll try to stick to music…

Methless Healing Intent and Some Music Reviewed

Andrew Ryan

so the thing is, i was sad for a month. it was after all the gunshots and explosions, just because for once a thing like that happened exactly where i was walking a month before. exactly where i was walking when i felt The Big give me a cardigan – fluffy and white and with pearled buttons and smelling like soap even though it was abandoned with trash on the street. i picked it up and grinned and also wild tooth smiled up to the blue paris sky, The Big for once not even hiding up there.

but then, same street, bombs go off. so yeah, i got all sad. read some camus and got a bit excited realising i could keep protagonists alive by not reading the end of books, but then the sad was still right there, winding all the way through every single thought.

i nearly let it wash away, the deep sad, with trips to the river, and nearly finding my mindset again of – some things you can’t understand, just follow your path, just enjoy the cardigans left for you, just let love enter when it’s falling your way – but then a trip to the hospital put me back in the place where actually nothing makes sense.

nick is in the other room making singing tracks for a new pond album. joni and tera played one of the best shows i’ve ever seen, at my friend’s dad’s surprise viking party where i felt the world become better and also was crying as they played and spiritual energy pulsed through me as we sat on the floorboards of an enormous floreat home with this incongruous sound invited there as entertainment. and we had a show last night on a jetty where me nick, pete and lucas swam across to the far side of the shore to explore the “mangrove swamp” next to “shit creek”, and then an armada of friends came over on kayaks, matt and mei and amber bateup and ju and all the rest, and even nigel from soup kitchen came to the show and played songs, and mladen sang the most beautifully he ever has, as the sun went right down low and everything was pink and purple or a mangrove swamp or mladen’s hair and the microphone was rigged carefully to an amp and a beer carton seeing as hooking it through mladen’s jumper, tied on to a kayak paddle, wedged upward into a crack in the beams of the jetty didn’t work in the end. all these things, before the deep sadness washed away, couldn’t have had their full effect, because the mind went to the same place “it’s unfair”, and to the same place, “maybe someone will come and shoot us all up, big holes into us that are big enough to go right through the other side” etc.

see, i picked up my friend from a drug den. i knew it was a drug den because no-one had watered the plants. when you get on meth, plants are the first thing to go. you forget you’re addicted to air too, and that you need those plants. they wither away in their rough drying dirt as you head out to someone’s shed to steal bikes, a mirror, some guitar cases, some guitar pedals, in the hope of using some (never going to happen) and selling some (just might happen) because music things have now become money things and plants won’t be watered as they don’t grow notes, coins, or better still – more meth.

i was in the room with my friend just now – not on meth so she waters at least twice a week – and i said to her “i think you’re a healer.” she told me “i think everyone is a healer. it’s just to listen to the body, feel, not think” (but in a french voice). she was right, but the thing that nearly made me lose my hope was being in the hospital car park.

see, i picked my friend up from the drug den. first i stood in the doorway invited in but not invited in, and she went to “collect some things” and went into the kitchen and came back out wiping blood from the inside of her arm. you know that bit – classic part of the body – a place i’d like to get kissed first if i ever get kissed again. that delicate crease inside the elbow (touch it now. let’s do it together. kiss it.)

that was real sad, seeing that blood get wiped, little crystals oozing out with the blood. i try to make it into something nice – “crystals oozing”, but at some point this isn’t possible. in the hospital carpark i saw my friend’s eyes change, from normal coloured to black coloured, and back again. i’d never seen that until the hospital night, and i hope you never do. and then we were there til 3am, the carpark, the hospital, the ER the toilets, the front verandah, all the boring places to watch your friend falling away from life right there next to you. and all the time the thought that it could be anyone but it should be no-one.

see, it’s never just a question of choice and substance, and this is the thing that plunged me into that deep river for a month. why does my friend do that? a million reasons flowing all over her from all time leading to that point, and then one tiny tiny mini choice reason at the end. why do people shoot each other? a million reasons flowing all over them from all time leading to that point, and then one tiny tiny mini choice reason at the end. and that big river flow seemed also to be connected to me, and everyone else, as it is.

at the Unknown Mortal Orchestra concert i took one picture. i held up the plastic cup i got my wine in, over the face of the singer, and the title of the picture in my mind was “what will last longer: this plastic cup or u.m.o?” the answer of course is already in their band name.

meaningless, meaningless, plastic from ancient oil, dug up and carrying liquid to us for some tiny moment and then lasting forever on a junk heap, a trail of destruction in its wake, tiny plastic almost immortal vessel.

but yeah, now it’s christmas, and time to drag yourself out of the river called “Truly, Life is Unfair, Meaningless, and Plagued by Arms, Drugs and Plastic, and You, Tiny Person Are Swimming With That Same Current Even When You Wish You Weren’t”. time to drag yourself up on the jetty to dry out and find a cheap kayak on gumtree, and then get back in but this time on top.

PIRELLI CALENDAR 2016, MARK ZUCKERBERG, A POD OF DOLPHINS WITH THEIR HEADS STILL ON

Andrew Ryan

two special things happened today:
mark zuckerberg and his wife said they’re giving away 99% of facebook shares to ‘good causes’, and the first photos from the new pirelli calendar came out.

this morning i was on the water, in a little long boat. my old drummer was there and my friend from paris who was just in a bikini.

we saw the swans i always see now: there is one family with two black parents and five grey kids, and one family with two grey kids.

we aren’t a family, just friends in the same species.

these days i tell my friends i have three problems: how to order my songs for my album; what to do about the man in france i like, beautiful tough sound engineer who isn’t into FaceTime but took me to the country to walk in the forest and take potential album cover photos; and world peace.

the last one is again linked to the phrase “how to turn a man into cream”, from last week.

i’ve been thinking and dreaming about the men and women who go all the way to another country to blow themselves up or cut off the head of some stranger. to them it’s not a stranger though, it’s another species. i think about steak night tonight with sav, the cow that’s getting its head cut clean or not clean off, in the past, to get cooked right up for me tonight, and lain there amongst the pretty great chips and all the gravy.

me and matt were messaging about “steak night” and then it got on to the pirelli calendar. this time it’s all ladies with their clothes on, and without their heads cut off.

when the frenchman shows me a photographer he likes i look up the pictures and if the man has cut off the heads of the women because he just likes the shape from the neck to the thighs, we say to each other “il faut pas couper la tête!”

what a lovely surprise for a man in his office who doesn’t read The New York Times or Vogue on the internet to open up the parcel with the special pirelli curled blacklined insignia in the corner, and slip out the package and untie the little brown ribbon and undo the paper and to find, there on his leather desk 12 months of ladies, all gloriously clothed and in black and white, instead of naked and splayed torsos and pelvises all with the heads cut right off by the silver blade of one type of funny off-reason.

well, back down at the river we begin to understand the routines of the birds. the ducks eat in the middle of the day. they put their heads under and leave their last feathers out like shark fins but without threat, and the pelicans are day eaters too. in the evening they just like to glide across the sky as small projector screens for the sunset to light up orange – a clockwork orange of pelicans. the jellyfish – meduses in french – get maybe eaten a little bit by the fish but it’s hard to say. there was one today as big as my head. i wanted to tell the frenchman as i’d sent him a photo of one another day and he’d exclaimed “incroyable cette méduse!”

the other day there were dolphins and i put my hand in the water to try and speak to them but in the end i had to just chase them til they circled round me a bit and we all went together up the river.

..
everyone is called matt in this story, the frenchman, the drummer, the photographer, the friend who bought the kayaks and began the paddle clubb. everyone except the man at his desk, and me, and the pelicans, and the twelve – thirteen women in the pirelli calendar, and the cow, and the ducks and the dolphins.

..
i went to nick’s to get the typewriter. in the case was a piece starting with the words “Dear Soul”. he read a few lines in front of me and then tossed it to the side. today he replied to a fan letter from scotland from many years ago which may or may not get to the right person depending on how often scottish teenagers move house.

“they eat seafood every night and they don’t even have to work,” i thought about the egrets, diving their long necks in. they eat at lunchtime and at dinner, like us.

..
so that’s why today felt like a wonderful first day of summer. pirelli said yes to clothes left on, mark and priscilla said yes to giving everything away*, egrets, ducks and pelicans on the river only had to dip their heads under to be full, and i got to keep my head on too. for now, “go humanity!” as sav says.

*we shall see

EPILOGUE.
i ate a mushroom burger instead. sav got steak.

How To Turn A Man Into Cream, Eventually

Andrew Ryan

there’s one man at soup kitchen from poland. he told me last night he’s 47, but his skin looks real soft with only as many wrinkles as a dumpling straight from the steamer. stalin killed his grandparents apparently. we usually just talk about toasted sandwiches and how many sugars he wants in his tea. he’s easy to ignore because his english is hard to understand and he just sits, quite like a dumpling in fact, big and white, with a fedora and big blue eyes looking out semi-vacant, but really these are exactly the reasons to sit by him more, lean in close if you have to, and hear what he has to say. last night what he had to say was why we shouldn’t let refugees in, “trouble-makers” he managed to mumble through his pink lips and soft face, “trouble-makers”. “but if they have war in their country,” i said, “where can they go?”

it’s impossible to know why people think the way they do unless you ask them. there was that photo of the big tooth-poor face-tattooed reclaim man on all the facebooks today. when i heard him speak in the minute video i wanted to hug him. mainly i want to hug certain kinds of people, and organise a dinner where they get to meet some families from the countries they’re scared of. it can work. other people i burn in anger against. at the moment – george pell and all the actual war mongers making the weapons that are flying their ways all over the globe to plug flesh with bullets.

for a week i kept thinking of this sentence “how to turn a man into cream”, and it was after my friend in france asked me, “amber, do you know how big a hole the bullet of a kalashnikov makes?” i didn’t know but by the sound of his text message he’d found out, watching videos of his countrymen being turned into cream by a long series of international relations events that end up in someone taking a big gun and plugging their fellowmen with projectiles. but i said to matt aitken as we walked by the swan river, “there’s a reason why we’re not doing the plugging, you and me, and it’s not because we’re better people.”

the other day i thought about how i’m never going to work at a pizza shop now. i’m past the stage where that’s a possibility, but i thought how i’m connected to all humans and so some other human having that pizza shop experience is still somehow part of me. then i thought about the boys plugging others with bullets and blowing their bodies up, i’m never going to do that either, but they’re doing it in our place.

sometimes i think about the world like an othello game, if you’re sure you’re right, you just have to try your hardest to flip people over to your side. and there are ways to do it. there is pure evil, but there’s also dinners where in two hours someone meets someone new and they’re changed a little bit.

anyway, ‘eventually’: that’s the song i’m listening to by a band from our city, and it’s the thing i’m holding on to at the moment. the word eventually. “and i know just what i’ve got to do, and it’s got to be soon.” the song might not be about a renewal of all things, and of permaculturalists being the main people we should listen to now, or about stepping back and taking stock of one’s own life to see how to turn creamed humans back into flesh, but that’s how i’m taking it for now.

CAMP DOOGS 2015 - Utopia in the Water Parts 1 and 2

Andrew Ryan

how do you create a utopia? apparently it takes about six months and a lot of meetings, but it’s possible. some of my friends did it and it existed for one weekend down near nannup. the utopia happened before, in 2014 and 2013, and each time it was two and a half days where no-one got bombed, everyone washed themselves in the waters of the blackwood river under ‘the tree’ at spliffton, with music only for love and music’s sake, and hundreds of faces of hundreds of friends deep-smiling at you through the bush and across the big ditch of a dusty dance ground, nose getting full of black soot and spirit getting full of yellows and browns and greens of all nature and the clear idea that this is actually what life could be/is/was/will be.

well, we drove down for four hours, listening to mississippi records cds from jake from when we were true friends, and mixtapes from my old love with many tracks to jump over. a big fire had arced up over the country and we saw a tsunami, an actual tsunami of biggest smoke of all colours we’d ever seen, a big storm cloud coming, dark as doom to white grey of death bones, and then all the colours in between, oranges and reds covering and uncovering houses and weeping willows til i thought there was no way the whole world was not ending. the sky was black, fire orange, purple. we stopped and took photos on our phones at the edge of the world and i sent some to my love in france hoping for apocalyptical sympathy.

and then i was over again, we were through the smoke and fire and out the other side, and in fact later we learned from nick it was a ‘controlled burn’, but truly, i never saw a thing like it. the whole world up in orange, the whole sky turned to vapoured lava.

so anyway, next driving, with that memory behind, came the part that’s always the best, between balingup and nannup where hills come straight out of the ground all green with pines dotted across that has made me think the exact same thoughts each year. and sections where the road is all tree lined but the trees were there before the road and have the energy of their hundreds of years and the thousands and millions of years of the soil they draw from and the endless energy of the infinite waters they call into themselves and breathe back out again.

when we go through those trees i think already about all the people who’ll be on shrooms and ecstacies and mdmas and think how they’ll get to feel this thing that’s already there waiting for them, the shimmering of every leaf and every tree, the endless love that can flow from and to them from each face they see.

well, when you arrive it’s tent time, finding the perfect place, reacquainting with the river and beginning the stream of greetings that will last two and a half days and then into the community life that’s changed forever afterwards: nat, tera, joni, first three women to draw their smiles up and outwards, knowing special things about each to already feel thankful for…

kids already, tents already, food vans already, a newly flowered stage, CAMP DOOGS proclaimed in wood and fluouro tubing waiting to be lit, and vines and flowers wrapped all round it, and a million art pieces waiting to be lit or touched or listened to or moved across when everyone was finally in place for the weekend’s wanderings.

and so started the weekend of everyone choosing their own adventure, and everyone’s adventure mainly ending in something wonderful. mine took me back and forth from the stage, missing some of my favourite friends’ music and catching others but always moving with whatever felt like the persons or places to be at the time. missed hootenanny but took a special photo of hootenanny’s nan with her tiny child and bigger man behind her grinning face. saw methyl ethel, eyes open, eyes closed, some of the songs bringing me shivers, letting my mouth follow all the words to all the songs i already know and have deep down in me. missing mathas but smiling at him too each time we passed in the campsite, hiphop town boys under gum trees and beside only just waterproof tents. and big sounds from mutton and DEAD but i was in the zone of moving, swimming, tenting, watching boys jump from the highest branch over the river, taking photos of amber b and axel kissing with half their bodies in and half their bodies out of the water, ellen’s face lighting up and breaking into laughter at them hamming up the aquatic romance.

that first night i wore lipstick, ruby woo, big red, like essential tomato sauce on a hotdog. i was in the tent of ash baroque, drag queen, and his friend aaron, who became a friend too. the next night they’d both be in g-strings, spreading their cheeks toward amber bateup’s camera, ash whirlying his willy and little grey nuts and ginger hair across the stage and flying at me off the stage to dance me into the dirt. he took the fall though, flinging his white bodyback to the ground first to protect me from the impact. loren chastised him but he said “i protected her! i wouldn’t let amber be hurt!”

this is part of the freedom we were afforded, in this paradise made by the hands of friends – to be sexy one night, lipstick, lace, and the next day to walk along the forested dirt paths with dust encrusted bare feet, dirty tshirts, dirty shorts, sun-red noses. mei, finally making it to a doogs, and with her band it was the first moment of many to look out over a night-time crowd, CAMP DOOGS spelled now in pink light over us all, and see everyone together, dancing for the joy of pride of our place, time, sound, love. mmm.

i danced to brett murray djing and then wandered again with matt, him leaving me mid-d and m to make me go dance in the party van, and in comes laura, kucka, to get down lo together, gyrating and putting our hands to the ceiling which for once in this tiny club bus we could touch. and past deep doogs, which would go all night, all the next night, but which i’d pass by like a thousand other possible treats and conversations. but like i said, every adventure leads to wonder.

and so also with lipstick on we watched kirin callinan. i stood at the side with my friend shannon to bathe in kirin’s emanating heat and unbridled giving. when he sang the words “and god is in the water” it made my whole spirit shake at a fast and tiny pace, like it did when he played that same song at the Death of the Bakery(RIP). he asked if everyone knew donny benet and one boy did and started shaking visibly and so kirin got him up on stage. the boy kept shaking as kirin did perhaps a cover, and then called for all to come on the stage and so everyone rushed it, even shannon and i from the sides, til eventually kirin made us all hoist his glistening body upwards to the scaffolding of the tiny stage, and he hung on the railing posing for photos with the wild mess of people he’d created almost taking care where they were treading below and also spilling beers and happiness all over the stage.

i think i’d been dancing that night near little alby from shit narnia, in his long overalls, grinning like a country banshee, gentle and wild too, like almost everyone seemed to become. overflowing love, overflowing gentle spiritedness, overflowing baccanalian ecstacies where it’s all glow and glitter rather than vomit and tears.

there are always tears too. my friend told me about taking shrooms and crying for his mother, sick with dementia, and crying for feeling alone, even though his friends took care of him, whisking him kindly into some first aid arms til the shrooms were gone.

little rory too, shroomed or mdmaed or ecstacied, coming up and telling me his true feelings, his overwhelming love feelings of gratefulness, which made tears choke up into my own throat.

i felt toddy’s beating heart too, holding him close on saturday night as his body tried to work everything he’d poured inside it out without dying, the fastest beating heart, drooping eyes, words of affection and a body dripping into give-up.

…….but all the rest of that will come later, part II…..

SATURDAY

well, that part one was way too fruity, so this time i’ll just do you the highlights.

nick odell of alzabo brought his children, and his children brought everyone joe. little cuddle-pie zen masters, being cool always as in, being in the moment always. me, nick allbrook, and tiny archer walked around the grounds like a little glowy family. archer fell asleep with his tiny arms around my neck. we walked to the river, sharing holding him and nick stripped into his little undies and i stripped to my little white undies and we took turns swimming and watching over the tiny sleepypie daytime child of archer. boys were jumping off the big branch again, this time i think leigh from flower drums did a back flip off it. what is it like to have a family? i don’t know. but having a 2 hour pretend family is just grand.

nick had arrived earlier. the odells picked him up. i was waiting for a hamburger but then i got the feeling in my spirit ‘nick is here’ so i left the little burger ticket with some friends and ran to where i thought in my spirit they would be and there was nick, all glowing and ready for a day of wandering round as a pretend family and later playing one song with me by the river for the bigboy river set and later again getting up on the shoulders of steve summerlin of alzabo and me up on the shoulders of will stoker of will stoker and the embers and the bachelorette and half dancing half shoulder ride wrestling and nick getting so turned up that he jumped on stage after ben protasiewicz of pat chow played such a beautiful set of songs with his lovely eyes darting round the people up in the deep energy-brewing van he was playing in, people watching from inside and people like us watching from outside up on shoulders or down on haystacks. yes, great songs just him and his eyes and the guitar and his beard being great. and after nick got up and sung one alain bashung song called ‘osez josephine’ on ben’s nice guy borrowed guitar.

anyway, back to the very morning i was sleeping alone in my tent. friday night had turned into saturday morning and i had turned into what i am, a woman alone in a tent with dirty and clean clothes and batteries and musical instruments and a toothbrush somewhere and a little light hanging from the top of the tent, all this in a tiny sea on top of a body and a doona and a sheepskin jacket as a pillow.

then outside the tent i heard “AMBER FRESH, where is amber fresh?” and it was my two adopted brothers, jacob and matthew aitken, who helped put the whole thing together, and big burly emlyn johnson of emlyn johnson and kirin callinan of kirin callinan all wide and fluffy eyed and talking like charred steaks around the camp fire. i crawled out and there was talk of the river, but instead we went and go coffees and kirin and i finally became friends because he wasn’t able to talk having got heavily on all the pills and powders offered in the evening, night, early morning (this is just hypothesis).

everyone was wandering round, some people would have seen leure and erasers and sui zhen and alzabo and injured ninja but i was wandering and swimming and having stephen bellair help set up some little amplifier on top of the big leg root of the big special tree down by the river. i was so tired and slept in my tent while kitchen people played, but from my tent i could hear how great they were. it was just the same as last year when big blondey dean’s other band hideous sun demon played. that year i was laying out flat in my tent too and hearing too how good they are, always good in tiny places but even better with big boy speakers and out in the woods with nothing stopping them from being 100% real. yes, i like them bands, and they like to play great music it seems. all that big bass coming all the way down the sandy paths through the trees and to my tent by the river.

outlordz i got to on time, and stayed long enough to see hamish throw a can that hurtle struck beautiful toby in the nose and cut him open, big drops of lovely bright blood jumping straight out of his face and hamish feeling sorry and toby feeling surprised to suddenly be opened in public like a can.

then i had to run to the river. people came and sat all around and i tried to wait for stephen bellair to arrive but then had to just start playing, the river flowing just like it had when emlyn played the year before and when peter bibby played the year before, and everyone listening like then too as i sung, for once with my eyes open, hoping to give something very good to people and sipping on vb and nick coming down to sing one song in the middle about his grandmother gone and underground at karrakatta cemetery. it felt very special in the way that it seems like a glowing dream, a sea of faces and a big tree under us all.

i went to see that tree on sunday morning. i had almost forgotten how good it was, even though it’s roots stretched all the way out across the weekend. when i looked at it, with the river behind and it stretching all the way above everything, it started sparkling again and giving power. all it takes is to be by that tree for a moment, free, and it talks to you in a way you didn’t realise was possible, like extra ears opening up inside your body for a new kind of music.

and, missed lots of the other bands, even dear catlips, beautiful katie campbell who i like to just smile at as well and hope she thinks nice things back. she had dancers, but i missed them. and tim richmond band with the boys in it who became friends but i got to see them five days later at mojos all great songs like melbourne without sadness, just the good bits and tim the singer teaching me how to make beef stroganoff just by explaining it. and superstar – missed. and scott and charlene’s weeding – just two minutes of seeing them to make me in love. strong songs, the blonde man real and sweating out reality and true words and everyone in the band rising up like an australian castle. and then grace barbe. oh grace barbe. the doogs people did the right thing, to give honor to Real Musicians and to have someone humble and a star and making the crowd actually do dance moves at the most special time of the night. we all danced a lot, during the bands, between the bands. when i wasn’t dancing it felt like “i can’t possibly dance another moment” and when i was dancing it felt like “i can’t do anything but dance every again”.

when no zu played i was by the side with dom from injured ninja and with chloe from true dreamz. we couldn’t help our bodies moving and didn’t want to. at one moment the beautiful boxer shorts singer with a face like george foster from moist oyster sung the words “one touch and i live forever” and the words actually shot through me like a true shooting star and my hands went straight up in the air as if i were on some great drugs that made my body move in shooting ways to music, and i looked and chloe’s arms had shot straight up in the air at the same time. my mind wasn’t strange with anything except the music and the moment, and it shot my arms up like that. woh. NO ZU everyone loved it.

well. i could tell you a terrific number of things more, but there’s a tiny taste, of one person’s choose your own adventure of doogs. if you don’t like it, you can spit it out. if you do like it, you can take it to the river and make a little sail for it and send it out across the water and see if it comes back next year.

photo Aliza Caruso