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459 Fitzgerald Street
North Perth, WA, 6006
Australia

The Amber Fresh Chronicles

Filtering by Category: nature

Will climate change kill the Arctic Monkeys?

Andrew Ryan

Yes. It will kill all your favourite bands. But don't worry it will kill all the poor people who live by the water first. They might ask to come in, you'll say NO.

It's all over. Your daughter might listen to the monkeys up on Mars. She brought a canister up there, with "Sounds from Earth", genre "World Music" on it. African monkeys, Arctic monkeys - those entries come one after the other, because there wasn't time at the end, or monkeys, to get the full range of what Earth used to have to offer. 

This wasn't going to be lighthearted, but the truth is, I thought all day about the Great Barrier Reef, and a suddenly dead, disappeared huge river in Canada, but I still managed to laugh and smile tying bells to huge chopsticks for our other friends' wedding. Our friend told us a story about learning she was not Italian but Indonesian, and then learning she was not Indonesian but Chinese: slippery but good-hearted fathers.

All those places end up on the canister. Once you can't see Venice anymore you can still talk about it, like Atlantis. Venice, the second Atlantis of Earth, if you don't count Kiribati, the Solomons, Nuatambu, Choiseul, Taro, because they are poor and brown and fleeing. DON'T LET THEM IN. Do they even know how to DJ house music?

I wonder what they'll play over the speakers as the last Mars ship takes off. The launching pads have ocean water and a cyclone and desperate reindeer lapping at their feet. Will it be "The End of the World" 1962 semi-classic song by Skeeter Davis, made famous by the series "Mad Men", or will it be a song from the Murrum people of Norn Norn Nup (Walpole) sung for thousands of centuries and containing all the information we needed to live here forever until the sun dies.

That's the hope, another earth, another state of existance. "The End of the World" is country music, another dead genre. No houses, no countries, no gods, no masters, on Mars. Jks, just no houses.

I tend to think, everything is important. Every good action is worth doing, even if it's miniscule. But perhaps eschewing takeaway coffee cup lids is stopping me from starting or joining a true revolution. 

The 61,000 starved to death frozen reindeer are probably still there on the Russian peninsula. They will provide protein for the last rich people. Maybe Leonardo Di Caprio will remake "The Revenant" in real life, feasting on that last frozen flesh, afforded a plane ticket because everyone preferred coal and oil powered movie screens and plastic drink bottles and celebrity worship over taking care of Krill or Dragonflies or Balga Trees. 

My daughter is looking down from the rocket - this might seem like sci-fi but it's actually happening, I saw the vision on the land of the Murrum people looking up to Mars last week with 10 teenage boys, leading them through a wilderness we're ending, telling them over and over and they mocking me back with the words "Don't Step on the Moss!" as if it mattered. 

There you go. And what did we get for the end of the world? The cool aesthetic of the industrial revolution. BCF. Space travel. The concept of "work" (economics, not physics). White rice. A typewriter. Dying arctic monkeys. 

A Tall Tree, a Silent Circle and Some Meth

Andrew Ryan

..

““Amber is doing album mixing at the moment and getting ready for a book launch, so she’s taking a week off… But we have a special piece of writing from her, originally published in The Lifted Brow, reprinted here to tide you over til next week.”“

The birds out the front of my house are trying really hard to have a baby. I keep looking for little chicks, but all I find are tiny white egg shells, broken in half and licked dry.

One night I was riding home on my bike, with 8 hole All-stars on. I got stopped on the street by a man who wants to find true love, or any love, but it’s hard for him, because he has wounds all over his skin from special crystals that you heat up, and he has no dry place to take his love to when he finds her. I am looking for true love and it’s hard for me too, but I didn’t take him home even though I have a dry place.

At the moment, I’m most proud of the worms in my backyard. I’m prouder of them than myself. All day long they eat and make good things and don’t do no harm to no one. I took the DCP reports from all the kids on camp, saying how they were messed with as little kids, and I shredded it all up and I fed it to the worms in their little house I made. It’s not a dry house, but it’s how they like it, and now they’re going to eat up all that nasty stuff and turn it into something good.

When my friends came over we all closed our eyes. I was waiting for god and my other friend was waiting for nothingness and my other friends were waiting for the universe and we all sat there real quiet. Well god did come and told me about Banksia Hill which sounds like a nice place, but really it’s not like a nest or a worm farm or a hotel if you’re on tour with your band. It’s this place right out in the suburbs and there’s all the kids in there whose reports are getting eaten in my back yard. See, that’s how the world works, in circles. Some of them are good circles, and some of them are a broken shell with all the yolk licked out and no life left inside. And at Banksia Hill sometimes there’s not enough staff, so it’s lockdown and all the kids get locked in their rooms with a plasma tv, but no mum or dad there with big wings to cover them over.

My city is a circle too. You can look at it on the map, but you have to draw the line round into the sea with your mind because they don’t draw that bit in for you. In the sea bit there’s some sharks circling round, gathering up their food, and on the land bit there’s people and birds and ants circling round, sometimes to gather up food, and sometimes to form a circle around something that died and they’re sad about it. Those are all good circles, even though they might not seem like it at the time.

Today I’m going to make a good circle too. It’s going to be me, the tree in my backyard, my arms, its arms, my mobile phone and the sound of my friend’s voice. I’m going to use this circle to cut into another circle that’s made out of crystals, but not the nice ones. It’s a special circle that I’m making today in my city, Perth, and you can make one too, in your city, to put the yolk a little bit back in.

Up Close and Perthonal: A Hot Date with Peter Bibby Under a Moreton Bay Fig Tree at Night, February 2015

Andrew Ryan

.
dear pete. dear old pete. yes, the hot predictions were true and his star has risen over the sky, his perfect songs and own true voice, apprenticed on the streets of perth and in the sheds of midland, taking him further than he could have imagined. last time i brought you an interview with pete he was just about to release a frozen ocean home-job album, with the memory of being a plasterer still fresh and wet in his mind, and the ubiquitous romance dramas hanging over his head. now he’s been overseas as a rock star pretty much, flying through the californian desert in a convertible with his band (johnny and lil nicky), his lipsticked and denimy manager toasting him champagne from the driver’s seat, his songs getting played on the ‘normal radio’, with a lovely photographer girlfriend (shout outs to tahlia who writes for here too <3) back home, and when we reunite he’s just come back from playing laneway festival all over the country. sounds fanciful, but it’s true. see, you can always trust my judgement, friends.

of course, he’s still the exact same pete and we sat again in hyde park at night, under a big old moreton bay fig tree in the night, with wine that a lady gave me that day for finding her purse and returning it, and cheese and mini tomatoes and rocket (that’s arugula if you’re in america) and the sounds of all the night birds, and us giggling, crunching through the leaves, hugging lots because we hadn’t seen each other since america, and talking of music, love, deserts and vonnegut. we get a bit wobbly half way through, so maybe read this while drinking some nice bevvy and you’ll be on the same level by the end…

last time the interview brought our friendship deeper. since then much has happened… this is a little insight into it all, just for you. again, just insert giggling between most things that are said.

p: i’ve missed you amber
a: really?
p: yeah, yeah, fuck yeah. been super excited to see you
a; ohh that’s so nice
p: when i was there in sydney…
a: awww
p: bein all lonesome
a: are you gonna sit all the way up there?
p: nah i’m gonna move so we can speak face to face
(sound of leaves crunching under a big fig tree, lots of ‘awwwww’s)

a: we don’t have to start at the start cos we did that last time.
p: wait… let’s stop… i need to light this ciggie.
(much giggling, much crunching)

a: ok
p: so
a: pete
p: amber. freshie.
a: last time i was preparing to interview you i was writing questions on a plane from france to here via china, i was trying to find my path in the world.
p: i remember then.
a: and since then, you went overseas for the first time. can you tell me a couple of things you liked about america?
p: the first thing that i liked about america was the amazing landscapes. it’s just so amazingly big and varied. like everything you’ve ever seen in a movie or a magazine. flying from l.a. to seattle, it was the crack of dawn so as we were flying up it became light, and you go through mountains and deserts and then it turns into snowy forests and then big snow-capped mountains and then just all these different cities. it was so incredible, and then i found out that the people were really great too. and everything’s really cheap and fun.
a: did you feel good in your body, in that land? i did.
p: i did yeah. it felt like a magic place, especially out in the desert.
a: yeh how good was the desert.
p: the desert was amazing. just felt like you could stay there for a long time. i wished i got to stay there for longer than i did.
a: you should have got to camp.
p: yeah. but i get to go back really soon.

a: when i was away there, listening to music in the car i felt like i understood lots of things in the music in the deep down way because i was in the place where it had been made. did you have any sort of feeling like that? like having listened to buttloads of music made there?
p: can you say that whole thing again?
a: did you feel like you understood music from america differently, or like rock and roll, differently, being in its land of origin?
p: yeah yeah i reckon i definitely did. there’s definitely… i mean it wasn’t even rock and roll that was a big part of it, but then there was every movie you’ve ever seen, well not every movie you’ve ever seen cos i’ve watched movies from all around the world – i’m a very cultured chap – but you know it just felt like, a movie where you’re just not the main character. but i definitely did feel that energy, that inspiration through every city i went to, like you can feel the music that you’ve heard from those places, like seattle i could feel jimmy and i could feel kurt, you could see its influence, from the people that were ridiculously famous. and l.a. and stuff it’s just like…
a: what music do you like that’s from l.a?
p: there’s all… well, like straight up the doors. i’m pretty sure that’s l.a. you know they had a song…
a: i know that song
p: a cracker of a track

a: have you read ‘just kids’ by patti smith?
p: i haven’t no.
a: it’s really really amazing. it’s her autobiography and biography of robert mapplethorpe.
p: was that in l.a.?
a: she was mainly in new york. but all of those people were around her in the flesh
p: yep.
a: like all the beat poets, all of that music from that time
p: i like all those guys. they’ve tickled my brain with a few enjoyable ideas
a: are you reading anything at the moment?
p: i’ve been really lazy with reading. i started reading ‘hell’s angles’ by hunter s thompson. which is pretty fun to read. it’s a really enjoyable look at the media. i feel like it’s more about the media than it is about hell’s angels.
a: i haven’t read it. what does it say about the media?
p: well it talks about how it manipulates things into a really distorted idea of what it actually is. like there was a few fucked up things that happened with the hells angels but because they were a big intimidating bikie gang it just got so blown up in the media. and it was basically just bullshit. or like, i guess, questionable.

a: what haven’t you been lazy about lately?
p: playin music. i’ve done a fair bit of that. being ‘tour manager bibby’
a: what’s it like playing with nick and lyndon and johnny?
p: it’s pretty great. our friend gumby, young jay, i didn’t hear him say it, but nick was telling me he was saying “how is it that bibby just has a band full of the nicest most reasonable, responsible guys and he’s so fucked?”
a: it’s true!
p: but yeah it really is that, like, me and nick are way more on the path… or you know just we enjoy a beverage and a cigarette whereas those boys don’t. well, they enjoy a beverage and stuff…

a: do you think you’re more scared this time talking because you’ve had to do lots of interviews?
p: yeah definitely
a: whereas last time you were good old pete from midland?
p: that makes me feel a little bit sad. i mean i guess that’s something i’ve been lazy about. like getting my shit together to figure out how i’m going to deal with this shit, you know. like it’s pretty strange world.
a: what’s been the weirdest thing?
p: i guess it’s just people that you don’t know, giving such a shit about what you do and being so excited about it and when they see you on the street or something, just wanting to come and have photos and stuff. it’s like that stuff weirds me out because i’m happy to talk to anybody, i love talking to people but i don’t want to talk about me, you know, it’s a weird feeling people thinking i’m some amazing legend person, when i’m just a bloke. i just wrote a few words and turned them into songs that i have fun singing.

and then through amazing strokes of luck and blessings it just turns out i get to be on stages where these people hear it and that’s what has made it happen. which is just the best thing ever, but i guess i just don’t like the way people idolise musicians. i think it’s a big crock of shit. i love that they come to the shows and love music but i think they should just forget about that they’re different. i feel like these people look up to you in a way that they think you’re a different level. that’s probably not even true actually.
a: nah
p: i think i’m losing my train of thought
a: do you think its nice in a way too for people to have someone to look up to?
p: yeah it’s amazing.
a: and keep a little bit of thinking your’e a bit special because it’s nice for them as well?
p: yep. and i always keep that in mind when these people talk to me and want to have a photo. i realise that it means a lot to them. and that makes me feel pretty special. i guess i just don’t like it when people seem to lose themselves in being impressed by someone else, or something. it’s just a strange, strange thing.
a: do you think there’s anyone that people should look up to or idolise?
p: michael jackson
a: i mean not even necessarily music, like in the world
p: yeah. yeah kurt vonnegut
a: aww what a man
p: that guy’s a bloody genius
a: why do you like him?

p: cos he writes some of the best words i’ve ever read, based on some of the best ideas ever come up with. so much just stripping the bullshit off and showing the way it is so beautifully and imaginatively. he creates some of the most odd worlds but it’s also like, he’s either just pointing out how ridiculous things are or shows how they should be. it’s grouse. it’s bloody grouse.
a: i like him because of all of that but also because he seems like he was just such a kind nice person
p: yeah, yeah exactly
a: like a boss person, not just a good writer that then goes and selfishly lives their life as an artist holding themself up as something special…
p: yep. yeah i mean i’d have loved to have got to meet that guy. he’s just so real. but then so bizarre and odd. and same as hunter s thompson. that guy’s a menace but just speaks the truth, just talks about how it is. i love that business. i base all my writing on that sort of honesty. you know. real shit
a: you know all the people who you are around at the moment, that have got whatever forms of success they have got do you reckon everyone is being real?

p: i think everyone is. i mean i’ve met some real lovely folk over the laneway thing. but i don’t think you ever get the chance to really know someone because it’s in that setting. there’s lots of nice conversations you get to have. but i guess everyone’s got to worry about getting to the stage or their hotel or catching a flight.
a: can you tell in people’s music though?
p: yeah. you see the real beauty when you see people on stage. you get them more. there’s been some pretty good shows. angel olsen is great. i haven’t got to talk to her a whole lot. but she seems just so authentic. and courtney barnett. she’s fucking lovely. so down to earth.
a: are you less bummed now that people say that you sound like one another?
p: i’m way less bummed because she’s a bloody legend and we talked about that
a: did you?
p: yeah i brought it up and she was like “yeah, i mean i don’t get it”. i guess we both just agreed that we speak our minds in an australian accent but besides that there’s not much else in the comparison. i’m maybe a bit more of a trashbag than she is. she seems pretty onto her shit

a: did you hear that duck?
p: i did hear that duck.
a: i’m gettin eaten by ants

p: i guess the thing is you’ve heard them and respect their music but like if you went to highschool together you probably wouldn’t hang out with that guy. but the music and the reason why everyone’s there shows the worth of the whole deal. and just shows that everyone’s completely different and everyone’s beautiful. everyone’s got a thing you know that they can do.
a: you really mean it don’t you?
p: i do mean it, i really mean it. i mean it goes back to what i was talking about the people who want to have photos and hassle you out a bit and look up to you in some strange way i’m still coming to terms with i guess, but you know those guys have something in them that they can do really well, you know. and i guess everyone’s just gotta realise that. that’s what makes me feel weird about the whole thing. i don’t feel like i’ve been idolised in anyway but you see that with people who are BIG music band, big artist performer people, and not just even in music but people look at them as something they could never be. And the thing is that every single person has a thing that they could just be awesome at. and it’s not only ever one thing. there’s a bunch of skills in every human, you just gotta figure out what it is and just do it. and love it.
a: yeah
p: like you’re pretty good at stuff amber. i’ve seen you be pretty good at… how’s this fucken tree! look up there!

a: i like that little bit that got lit up. yeah sometimes i’m like, you know i’m so in love with plants, i was walking along, running along mary street the other day and i had to stop in the middle of the street even though i looked like a weirdo and put my hands up and all this energy was coming from the trees and stuff but then at the same time i’m like – they’re just trees, you know, they’re not going to hold my hand and cuddle me at night
(laughing)
a: do you have any love advice for me?
p: umm.
a: oh yeah i was thinking , you’re one of the most romantic people i know!
p: really?
a: yep.
p: oh man. i’m an arsehole.
a: that might be true but you’re also very romantic.
p: i suppose so but i think that just comes from loving. you know, from love. i love a lot.
a: yeah you’re very full of love
p: yeah i’ve got a lot of love
a: where do you think it came from?
p: i think it came from my lovely parents who still completely love each other. and my whole extended family who all love each other, just growing up in a world of love. i had a very very good upbringing. some of the finest family i’ve ever known to exist. that’s where that all came from. just love. it’s a very real thing.
a: do you ever have spiritual experiences while you’re playing music? or like transcendent experiences?
p: to be honest, not very often. i’m often just thinking about what i’ve gotta say. just trying to remember my words. i mean sometimes when everything’s working well i definitely get on a level but not so much these days
a: what level? why not these days, cos you’ve been playing too much?
p: nah cos it’s like a different thing now. it’s like i feel like i’ve got some concern i feel like i have to do a good job. back in frozen ocean days playing with macca like it was… there was just no fucks to be given but we gave every single fuck about like-
a: quote!
p: playing massive you know. and it was just so loose, there was so much freedom in that band cos it was just me and my bro. that guy.
a: makmak

p: makmak. i didn’t have to worry about anything. we could just stop doing what we were meant to be doing and do whatever we wanted to do, whereas these songs are very written, structured, we don’t get to play music enough cos everyone’s too busy to get to that level where you can just relax and freak out. but i mean we do… i dunno.. we do lock in. i think it’s a good band
a: of course it’s a good band.
p: i don’t think we get to play with each other away from stages often enough to get to that transcendental state. but i get that a lot when i’m playing by myself. certain songs.
a: it’s pretty good hey
p: it’s pretty good, it’s nice, meditation, come out of it feeling pretty great. johnny was telling me at our show our two months late album launch in melbourne that he had a full on out of body experience while we were playing, and i swear i was looking at him when it happened
a: you knew the moment?
p: yeah i could definitely feel it and i saw him and he was staring off into the distance but holding down the bass so well. and then sort of like came back and just had this big grin on his face.

a: that’s so good. the other night when i was playing, i was playing on my own, i think it is different on your own because… well someone else was telling me about liking watching me better on my own because when there’s other people, that’s your team
p: yep
a: but when it’s just you you’re joined to the audience as your team
p: yep

a: but anyway
p: definitely
a: the other night… actually i won’t tell you about that it’s too deep… but one time
p: you can tell me after
a: when i was playing in my room one time i was playing ‘hot date’ and The Big was making it be about us, you know? [backstory. ‘hot date’ is a song i wrote once when pete and i were nearly in love. we went on a hot date. saw a really bad ben affleck movie. pete got into a fight. we remained friends.]
p: yep, the big… what do you mean?
a: like, god.
p: yep.
a: that the ‘hot date’ song’s between us.
p: i’m honored by that. and we had a hell hot date. i got super hot that night. i got so hot i tried to fight that guy
a: but what i mean
p: so pissed off at ben affleck that i took it out on some drunken idiot. ha!
a: but what i meant was, yeah, that song’s about you but like god made it about me and god, not about me and you, no offence, but just that one time.
p: is that the way you see personal relationships that are special all the time?
a: what do you mean?

p: like that idea there, that you know you wrote that song between me and you but then after a bit when, you know, it became pretty clear that
a: that we weren’t meant for dates
p: that we weren’t meant for hot dates together, we were meant for chill fun dates, that that feeling and that connection just goes back to god. cos that makes me think that all the love songs that i’ve ever written, not saying that’s a love song, that’s a raunchy party song
a: haha
p: but yeah i just suggest that all those people that i’ve written those songs about, they’re actually just god
a: well
p: it’s not in that straight up way, of like ‘you are god’ but maybe that feeling that you have is a thing of god. does that make sense?
a: yeah, i think it really is, yep. i mean, for an understanding that you have and i have that the Big Thing is a Big Loving Thing, i think that’s how, like what i was saying about the trees like, between you and another animal or plant or whatever, we’re meant be connected by, i mean we are all connected as one, but love is the thing

p: love is the thing
a: so yeah i think
p: love and honesty
a: yeah i mean
p: i think that’s a great thing to focus on when you’re making art and music and stuff, a good message to tell the people.
a: which part?
p: just things based on love and honesty
a: they’re my favourite things
p: what were you going to say?
a: oh i’ll tell you when i turn it off
p: ok.
a: do you want to say one last thing?
p: umm. i haven’t really been thinkin about it in a way of everyone’s going to hear everything i said…
a: i won’t write all of it up, just all the juicy bits
p: just the juice. did i give you enough juicy bits?
a: plenty of juice.
p: alright
a: it was more rambly than our first one maybe because i’d written questions last time or maybe because neither of us was nervous
p: yeah, well yeah i mean you had an awkward start to the situation from stephen giving you a grilling
a: oh yeah whoops [trouble from a review i wrote a few weeks ago about a show]

p: a stephen grillin
a: yeah do you reckon i should tell the truth in reviews and stuff even if it makes people upset and more self conscious?
p: yeah i think defintely because you know you’ve got to know the truth. you’ve gotta have the love and the honesty and sometimes that love that drives the honesty might give someone a bit of a sting. that honesty can sometimes fucken hurt, but as long as it’s driven by the love then i think you’ll eventaully just heed the advice and make your best decision. i actually do have a last word. the other night
a: good cos i didn’t want ‘decision’ to be the last word
p: me and lucas had a very large night last tuesday in sydney
a: i read lucas and louie some kafka over skype the other night
p: did ya?
a: yeah, anyway please continue
p: so we came up with the five finger rule, and i still think it’s pretty beautiful
a: yeah
p: and magic
a: yeah
p: i just gotta remember it though. so it’s like… … i think it’s … … be cool. oh fuck. i need to remember. i’ve gone through it so many times to remind myself. it’s something along the lines of be cool… don’t be a dick… … know who you are… … let all of that blossom… and see what happens. i think we had it worded maybe better but that will do
a: i could try and live my life by that.
p: be cool, don’t be a dick… what was the middle one?… know who you are… something along the lines of acting accordingly. letting it blossom
a: ok bye pete.
p: bye amber, i’ll see you in two seconds.

(and then, of course, we climbed that tree)

[photo by stephen bellair or korrin stoney i think]

Valentine's Day, A Sensation

Andrew Ryan

well hello.

this is about the sweetest valentines day that ever was. some were not free, not me. some were dead, not here, not this one.

i wandered out to the shed alone, after talking to a little boy on the facebook phone. i wrote a song with flowers in it and love in it. outside the shed the flowers had just started to bloom, and i took a little breath in.

i wandered down towards the park, past all the trees i love, thinking and smiling of the one big love. the night before on the facebook phone an acquaintance became a friend, telling me my future by tarot cards, and talking together in writing about god. he sent me a long story about meeting jesus as a dog on an acid trip, assuring me it was really jesus. i put that dog in the song, in the shed.

so i wandered to the park and sat alone, my legs into the sun, my overalls on. my feet dipping toward the water and toward the brahmi edging the big wide pond. the secret of this plant to me is ‘you can eat me.’ it puts a smiley face next to the message. and when i smile, it puts a kiss face.

so past the magpies and past a man with a pram, a tiny baby with a tiny bottle held to its lips in the arms of the man, i lay on the grass. and out of the book patti smith told me a secret – “three chords and words that matter” – and i smiled like the smile of a talking plant. secretly, gently, deeply. i rolled over, watched the man, read my book.

and patti went all the way to france to see the place where rimbaud was laying. and i knew that feeling, going all the way to france on a strange dream and being in a room alone and crying a happy cry of things working out strangely.

i kept turning the pages but eventually i looked down, and there, of course was a dragonfly, hugging on my toe. i thought ‘i am being hugged by a flying dragon’, i thought, ‘this is the perfect valentines day’. the dragonfly went from one foot across the sky to the other foot. i told it in my mind ‘fly to the book too.’ but instead the sun dappled down on the book, and that dragon flew away.

i flew away too, slowly, feet on the grass. i drank coffee on a concrete bench with luka nearby and tried to remember all the days that had gone, and write little pictures of them. one way to know the past is to see what i told louie day by day. little louie.

so all the day went by like this, ‘alone’, enfolded in the love of the ground and plants, walking through my favourite park, and then the evening came and evenings are for parties.

i walked again, down to loren’s in close hugging pants and a denim jacket, feeling silly in other people’s thrown away clothes, and got to the door and got hugged and got in a car and went to where the rich kids grew, now in a soft borrowed jumper to be less conspicuous and now getting melancholy after a day of happy valleys.

and we all were there around the pool, and michael came with his pupils tiny from pharmaceuticals, because they’d opened up his knee, muddled things around in there, sprinkled healing dust inside, sewn it all back up. we talked about the future, our dreams, and i stopped feeling sad and bored looking into his brown eyes, and then michael said ‘what is your favourite poem?’

i told him ‘in bed, in the first salt light. in my east ear i hear birds waking, and in the right, ocean breaking inward from the night.’ my highschool boyfriend, xavier, wrote this to me in a card and i would say it to myself, over and over. it is from something by ursula le guinn.

and michael told me “‘sensations’ by rimbaud”. rimbaud, who i’d been waiting all this time to love. michael got that poem up on his phone, and i read it and my eyes welled up and i couldn’t speak. and michael read the words out loud to me, and my eyes welled up again. ‘this poem is going to be very important in my life,’ i told him. and i meant – i have been waiting all this time to love rimbaud, and here it is, the moment, by the pool with you my friend, after a day of patti telling me about going to his places, his museum, his hotels, and here is this poem, written from god to me, from the future to me, from rimbaud to you, from the sky to patti smith, from one dragonfly to the brahmi it floats over in the sunlight. gee.

i danced on the concrete in a dark room under paintings by belle. three girls made me jump in the pool and swum me round and put their legs around me. and we trailed dancing into the big shower together, silly and wonderful, and everyone giggled at everyone else with wet hair and bikinis and underwear on and got dressed and danced again with chlorine skin and there was a dog like a lamb that i fed tiny pieces of bread to under the table, just this once.

on the way home i was on my bike, in the warm darkness, with the denim jacket back on, and i missed things like xavier and biffy and felix, but i was very very happy to have spent this perfect day, in this way, with you.

Straya Day, Gum Trees in the Rain, Ican Harem

Andrew Ryan

i was going to write inside today but then i stepped outside and smelled the gum trees. my lungs are drawing it deep in. i imagine it’s going all the way through me – somehow things work like that.

a little earlier i was out in the yard in the rain. the storm had arrived in the night and i thought it was going to be a dry one, but instead it let down big drops all over us – the plants and me. i stood out in it in my pjs and let it cover me and fix me, wake me from everything.

so that’s why the gums are smelling so good. because they were out in it too, getting their singlets stuck to their chests. opening themselves up to the whole world and giving it what it needs: their beauty. ‘fucken hippy’ someone might say. but then they’d smell what i can smell and they’d wake up too.

my friend is doing a big art project on ecosexuality. like, people being emotionally and sexually and spiritually in love with things other than humans. but it’s such a fine line, in the sense that there aren’t hardly any lines – when you are in love with someone you’re mainly in love with water… a little bit of hydrogen… some carbon. their feelings about the author kafka and about war and peace are made up in carbon particles too, right?

i had to turn to my housemate and ask “what are humans made of”. he had the same answers as me, but i’d like to know all the things that are in us, so i can know what i’m loving next time i’m in love.

now i can smell licorice. that’s from dill, and if you remember, it’s the year of dill.

two nights ago we had a session of magnolia’s late night live at fringe world. magnolia’s is a t – woh! was going to tell you about a show, but a lizard just used my foot to jump on! as if i was a piece of land. it landed on there for a brief moment. shit. last night i wanted to be dead, but this morning everything is too good.

so magnolia’s is a talk show, like a tv talk show but it never gets filmed. we started it in my friend’s shed which he turned into a cinema or supper club or talk show venue. wild things happen in there. and now sometimes people ask us to have magnolia’s in public. so it was at fringe world this time, where one park in our city is turned into a little circusy wonderland with lights and speigeltents and mainly semi-lame shows and some amazing shows. to me it’s a wonderland because this time last year it’s where i became friends with felix from sweden.

felix is one of the greatest people in the world. i told you about him before. he used to be a model, and now he’s the most happy, kind, life-affirming human you could meet – he’s the one that came to help at soup kitchen the night before he flew back to sweden, instead of going out to get drunk and kissed by beautiful women which he’s also good at. he’d made a business card for one of the men that comes, to help him with some plan for making money that he had. sat at his computer, designed a good card for him, got it printed, brought it to dinner. some people are helping with ebola, and eventually felix will be doing things as big as that.

anyway, magnolia’s. there’s interviews, music, comedy, all with friends. but the one i wanted to tell you was about ican (say it “ich-ahn”) harem, an artist from indonesdia who my friend matt brings over to do performances here. ican has animal magnetism. one year he did a satantic museum in the city – i had to sit in the vacant lot next to the venue and play songs to myself instead of going in, because it was just one step too close to the darkness for me, but it was a great time in the park, singing alone in the field in the middle of the city, a few acquaintances spotting me and coming in through the weeds to say hello on the way to their meeting with all things satan. i feel connected to ican, like we are the upside down tadpole of each other swum close into a yingyang for a year nine to wear on a necklace to school.

well, ican performed in the middle of the show. he had violin music playing the background, dramatic, dischordant, but moving towards a chordant conclusion. he sat in front of a table of items – paint, flour, tomato sauce, toilet paper, beer. and as the music played he began using his hands to plaster these items over his face. it was the kind of thing where people might say incredulously, “this is art?!?” and remember the story of the emporer’s new clothes; but instead it was the kind that actually everyone can understand deep in their spirit.

ican put his hands in the paint tubs and smeared it all over his face, over his eyes, in his mouth, across his hair. his hands are always very important when he performs, i think it’s because of traditional indonesian dancing and movement, but i can’t say exactly how. then he smeared flour, more paint, and all the other things, creating in front of us a melting, changing mask through which he looked out straight-faced or smiling wildly or looking sad.

somehow i felt like he was creating the history of the human race through time in this process. can you imagine what i mean? and the tomato sauce of course became blood in some way, but also it became excess and human engagement across time and space. and then he bit off the cap of a bottle of beer and everyone took a breath in. he looked out and said “happy austraya day!” in his very indonesian accent or “gday mate” or a few things like that that have left my swiss cheese memory.

then the beer got poured all over his head, spilling across him and the table and the floor. how can i explain how beautiful this was, and how it captured my feelings about this country and every country and our places in it?

well, my friend matt came out later just in brightly decorated speedos, saying he was an “emotional strong man.” he told us all to close our eyes and think of any pain or hurt we’ve had lately, or anything we’re concerned about for a friend, and breathe out that trouble and he would pick it up and carry it for us. this is what my friends do! in a wooden circus tent in the middle of the city, in front of 50 people, some friends, some strangers. but matt’s best act was bringing ican over. matt’s not ‘working in the arts’, he just does great things. and ican doesn’t write press releases and hang out in galleries, he just hoons around in indonesia and now here, painting on people’s denim jackets and covering himself in flour and beer to bring an australia day message to a room full of privileged aussies.

hmm. on the actual ‘australia day’ i just stayed at home, doing bits of work, keeping it real. but then strawberry pete came over and we played a bit of cricket in the backyard – i just batted and bowled one over, and then watched from the kitchen while pete and ben played guitar and pete sung in his beautiful voice that hardly ever comes out, songs that i couldn’t tell whether they were covers or his own instant spontaneous classics. it made me remember the night at the moon when pete had played a song an old aboriginal guy had taught him, and then the guy who wrote it got up from the audience and told him he was doing it all wrong and took over and pete would have drunkenly and humbly giggled and let him take over.

i went to court this week with some friends, and plenty of other things happened, but i’m going to go back to smelling the gums, all resplendent and sending out their powers after the rain.

Mojave, Joshua, Jack and Us

Andrew Ryan

Hello. I’m at a cafe in Joshua Tree in the Mojave Desert, about to eat a bunch of beans and eggs and polenta and coleslaw and drink a whole lot of coffee. I know some of you are in America that read this, well, at least one of you because I met a girl called Sarah at a show here who said she reads Cool Perth Nights and was a real sweetheart. And I know some of you won’t be interested in travel stories of someone random, but for those of you who are interested and want to know, here are some of my favourite things about this land.

Last night we were camping in Joshua Tree National Park. Our tent was there under a massive bolder, or family of boulders and under those boulders I dreamed all night about friends including Nathalie from Dianas who was happy and covered in sunlight as always, and about making friends with a Donkey who wrestled me and wanted to be hugged the whole time and charged at me in love when I tried to take a break. You can listen to Dianas if you like, I recommend it.

So our tent was under the big rock and above the big rock it was NIGHT. There were streams of cloudy light all emanating from behind the rock and also behind the rock was hidden that MOON. Jil was in the tent sleeping off the sickness and the boys were by the fire and when I looked across at them from a little way off it was the best scene I’ve ever seen. Their faces and forms, lit up by the fire and one little lantern we together managed to hang from a white whittled spear of wood, and the one Joshua Tree that leaned a little way over towards us but mainly leaned upwards to the big night. Night and day come from the sky, everything else is the same on the earth, that’s why there’s no reason to be scared.

So we sat by the fire and I wished for everyone to be quiet and so a voice said in my spirit “Be Brave” and so I said “How do you feel about a few minutes of just listening to the place?” and that’s the voice that will say “Be Brave” for much harder things than saying my mind to my friends, but it’s all practice for the bigger tasks of making the world like you know it’s really meant to be. So as well as the conversations about Hesse and Jung and eating chocolate sauce of the breasts of someone else’s girlfriend as a 13 year old, there was some reading of Jack Kerouac’s ‘Dharma Bums’. Kerouac can be a jerk at times, and sometimes I roll my eyes when he talks about his dream life that seems to require not working but still relies on the work and provision of others, or spit on the ground in my mind when he talks about women or doesn’t even mention them, but MAINLY the main feeling was this was just exactly the place to listen to his feelings about the exact places where we were or had been, California, all the wild nature that doesn’t seem possible with this many people living on it but somehow is.

We’d driven through the desert all that day, abandoned houses, fields and fields of nothing but tiny desert fauna, the kind of places that to my eyes are perfect but might perhaps to others seem like desolation or barren lonely uninhabitable wilderness. To me the uninhabitable place was the breakfast room of the hotel we’d stayed the night before, where I saw a couple sitting on the same side of the table as each other so they could watch the news instead of looking into each other’s faces. Crazy!

I’d like to tell you about everything else we saw, but it’s time to walk in the desert. When we arrived my body went all crazy with goosebumps and the good energy that flowed straight flooding into it so I think you’ll understand it’s time to get back out there. I will collect some of the energy for you, to try and transfer it into you when I see you back home, or if I see you here at a show. Draw it up into my body and hope that I can push it outwards in as much concentration as you need, when you need it.

Much love.

Greyer Border Sequoia

Andrew Ryan

So I guess I’ve become a weirdo. I’m in a new country and the main things I’m looking at, apart from my friend’s beautiful face, are the gulls and the trees. But it really isn’t so weird. We were talking about musicians and painters, another friend and I lately, and he asked me what I thought of Andy Warhol. The thing I said in the end was that no matter what people do or make, I’m probably more proud of the trees in the park out the front of my house.

The gulls here are bigger and greyer. My friend and I were swimming out in the murky San Francisco ocean at China Beach, and he was further out and I pointed to a big grey gull. He swam over to it, really close, and it stayed for a while and then flew out towards me. It was very beautiful and so was the light at the edge of all his body, just the edge, the rest of him all dark from shadow, and the hills behind and the idea of fog that would come in the morning all mixing in the vision. This is just a friend, not even a love, and my heart was leaping.

My heart leapt too when it went into the sitting room and through my eyes saw the big black baby grand piano that maybe I would get to write some songs on. All the friends are heading this way too, to play music-band rock shows out in public, but my heart got big at just this one private piano in a sitting room.

So this is what I’m thinking about. Taking in every lovely thing and letting it sink in, and also taking in every shitty thing and letting it increase my empathy and appetite for good.

Back in time a day the border security man didn’t like my answers to the questions as I got off the plane and sent me to a small room. There were more men who made me sit and wait while all the other people gradually got their little black books stamped. Mine just waited there. I thought about crying and felt a few tears get up but mainly I thought about all the people waiting waiting waiting to get to some safe place, not knowing whether they’d ever get there. I knew eventually I would get out but I also knew there’s no reason for me to be free, feel free like this, except some random chance of where I got inseminated and born out into the world and what version of colour and hair type and body type I got put into.

So I took my hour of waiting and questioning by the last man in the chain of little border links to think about The Others we are very very very close to being. It doesn’t matter if you’re only in the place to get perspective for a moment, or if it’s a drop in the ocean of experience type of perspective, it’s still right to imagine what it would be like to be The Others. You know what I mean, the people waiting to come and live by us who instead are in a waiting room for four years without escape. Or the one who ends up getting taken to jail for a very long time through a series of sad things happening over a series of sad years.

To be free. All the trees and all the gulls have this. We might gradually take away places for them to land and plant themselves, take away the water by drying and heating everything up, but at least they are always free. Hmm.

After the music band rock shows we’re going camping. I hope to see a sequoia, and one day I hope some giving organism like a sequoia takes over the borders, and all the other places where the answer could be “Yes, just like me, You are free!”

The Wand, A Wander IRL (in real life)

Andrew Ryan

“the internet” is a little bit finished i reckon, except for good things, like seeing people posing with a baby goat they met, or doing big data to get a healing win against the big diseases (they secretly want us to win anyway).

but IRL i see the best things ever. (doesn’t mean i don’t love you strangers that write to me privately and say nice things… for knowing you, the internet is worth it)

on monday i didn’t go to a show, but i had one of the best hours of my life. it went like this:

i walked to the ocean, talking to The Big. on my way there and in the next hour i saw maybe at least a hundred different types of flowers. the smallest one was this small: if you got two hundred of the petals you could fit them all onto your one fingernail. actually, make that five hundred if you’ve got nice big hands like a baker or a computer programmer.

anyway, so this is the story of the wand.

down at the ocean i looked out across the waters and wondered why my heart was still sad. little heart, why are you still sad? you know things you can do in the world, you’ve got some nice friends, all the rest. so i called to The Big for some happiness, and i picked up a wand.

when i say a wand, i mean a little stick that’s gone into the water to smooth itself and which told me this secret: i am alive! and everything you point me to will come alive.

so i walked along, pointing my wand, and everything came alive. there was one starfish, dead by the shore, but i knew alive with a million things on its skin, its seven legs shaped like elongated pyramids, and seven being the special number of completion.

and i pointed my wand to the shore and there was a big gull, the ones that are four times the size of seagulls, and that move more slowly and that my friend sam and i call “birdsworth”, and which me and nick’s dog is named after.

i kept walking and kept pointing my wand into the water and everywhere i pointed things came alive. i got to the big rock, bombie rock, which we jump off and sting rays live under and i saw some tiny pieces of dust in the water and thought how they’re alive too and looked a little closer and it was a thousand tiny dust sized fish.

and i touched another starfish washed up and picked it up with the wand and lo and behold its pyramid arms went stiff and i looked under and all its thousands of tiny movers, all clear like clear jellybeans with a bright line of orange going up each one, were moving still and i took it to a rock and it tiptoed onto it, this big starfish, nearly too heavy for the wand to lift and gently walking itself into the waters.

and i saw striped fish and green fish and tiny fish, and a crow and a magpie on the same bit of land and then birdsworth flies out before me and catches a fish. she takes it back to the shore and starts teaching me about how she likes to eat and the little seagulls flew over to her but she just keeps eating and then one time takes the little fish to the water again to wash away all the sand – 3 second rule. 300 billion year rule. if it’s been on the ground or in the water for even that long it’s still good to eat, birdsworth showed me how.

and i keep going along the rocks and touch the wand to a rock underwater that looks like it has lips, and the lips close up! lips the size of a little child’s mouth, closing up and showing its true nature.

and then the thing that makes me go “WOH” out loud all alone on the rocks appeared. i look down into the water and see a black long eel! but it’s not an eel it’s a beautiful slippery cobbler with long whiskers winding back under the rock. it was as big as our arms, you and me, moving like an eel if you’ve never seen a cobbler so you can understand.

and then i climbed the rocks and saw broken glass and cans from the humans and tried to make peace with them in my heart. we’re the only ones like that. the other ones eat each other, but only we do the plastic and glass thing, being cheeky in a way that isn’t cute. but i’m gathering all the plastic up in my mind and throwing it to a special plastic planet where they eat it for breakfast as a delicacy, but in big bowls and just at the time they get sick of it, like oysters, they’ve used it all up, all the earth’s plastic. something like that.

and then i saw the eskimo out on the rocks fishing. i went close to him or her but not very close and the eskimo smiled at me through a furry collar, not a cheeky smile, but a big smile like we knew each other, and i did one back too because i felt the same. i’d fallen in love because the eskimo did a little glance around to make sure he or she’d left no bits from fishing. i was carrying a piece of glass and the eskimo was carrying a fishing rod and got into a four wheel drive and smiled through the window leaving.

there was lots of other things too, they’re in my brain. and you saw many things also, all in your brain. keep the good ones, gather up the crap ones and throw them to the planet where your troubles are a delicacy that they’ll eat up and send you back nice things instead – songs and hommous and grass to run around on.

p.s. the photo is somewhat unrelated, but this is emlyn johnson and he’s coming back to perth soon and will probably play a show. make sure you go if you like great music and a song called ‘lumberjack’ or ‘timbertigerman’ sounds like it would appeal to you

Kipperville (Robbie Williams (solo) at The Bird)

Andrew Ryan

“i feel like robbie williams”. that’s what my housemate said before she left the house this morning. she’s a beautiful brazilian architect and she had a ponytail, a nice white skirt with flowers, a little white jacket, and a travelling bag on rollers to keep her things in. i didn’t know why she felt like robbie williams, but i liked it.

“i’m going to work really hard today, and then see my nieces” i said. she laughed and told me “you’re like robbie williams too!”

this week lots of walruses washed up on the shore somewhere far away. that seems like a bigger mystery than feeling like robbie williams, but i feel like i understand those walruses.

yesterday i was riding a bike with a yoga matt attached to the back. my friend was riding with a big lady’s sun hat on, and a white singlet, and a big beard, and pants that are called chinos unless you’re working in the fields, like he does, in which case they’re called ‘pants.’

we went to another friend’s house with enormous roses in her front yard that nearly made me fall of my bike with their loveliness. me and the rose friend did yoga while my chino friend read a book called ‘nausea’ and then the rose friend explained how to poach kippers in milk. that seems like something robbie williams would do, poach kippers in milk after yoga. i imagine him in the kitchen, smoking as he cooks, but never getting any ash on anything, turning every now and then to his guest who’s in a lemon pant suit, or a lemon plant suit.

on the ride home i started feeling worried, even though this was a great scene: riding home from kipperville with a yoga matt tied to the bike by a leather belt, and this time with the addition of four enormous roses wrapped in alfoil which didn’t lose their petals on the ride. and in my friend’s pocket a jar to fill with mulberry jam once i cook it, and in my friend’s other pocket a pair of clippers to cut the heads off our own roses so they grow better.

this is getting too deep now, so i’ll turn to music. we all played a show at the bird, the kitchen people, the me, the long lost brothers, the flower drums. everyone did a good job. but the guy who did the best job had not many teeth in his top gums, and a cap soaking up all the sweat from his intensely energetic head, and a tshirt soaking up the sweat from his intensely moving body. let’s call him robbie williams.

robbie arrived while long lost brothers were playing and almost couldn’t contain himself. everything made him nearly explode out of his body, andrew, mitch, steve on stage. every thing they were playing, every setting of their amps, every snare fill. everyone else was standing round the edges, being nasturtiums. but robbie was deep in it. he kept turning to us, trying to get us involved, but we were happy to watch him sweat, and to watch the band sweat, and watch to watch Robbie’s hands and body sometimes move like a raver, sometimes move like a metalhead, always move with pleasure that you couldn’t be sure was natural or chemical – a false dichotomoy, but you know, still useful for pinpointing things. every now and then robbie williams would fling himself into a chair for a minute, turn to face someone new, lift his eyebrows for a heartbeat, search for connection and then leap up again to the dance floor. when he sat next to me i put my head against his head and moved my skull against his skull with all our hair combining sideways so that he would know i was with him in spirit even if not in leaping.

he was my favourite guy that night and i can see why all the girls go crazy for him. still gotta work out what to do about those walruses though.

The Week in Music, According to Amber (E.R., Rosemount, Mojos, Balingup, Front Porch, Moon)

Andrew Ryan

Hello dear friend,

I’d like to tell you about my week, and you can tell me about your week. One thing for each day, and we can each pretend we were there, together, like we’re kind of meant to be, and kind of are.

I wasn’t in West Africa, so I didn’t get Ebola and same, perhaps, for you. Let’s give a little bit of money after this to one of those groups that go out in the fields, out to the cities, give injections for free, bind up the wounds for free, risk their own whole body and family life and everything of their Ownness for others as an expression of the Oneness. I promise I will, right after this. Money is nothing, but it’s still something.

Well, on Thursday, I took my friend to the Emergency Department. It wasn’t Ebola. It was that he had fallen over drunk in the street and because he doesn’t wash too much and because he makes the best broken music and lives the intense broken life to match it – he’s the kind of fallen man that people like to pass by.

He lives in a shed, and soon he’ll live back under the stairs at a different house where I knew him before. He called me and told me he’d fallen, so I drove over listening to the Growl and wondering whether he really needed to go to hospital, but planning to say to him “Come on, friend, it’s gonna be such fun!” And I thought how if you are with your friend its just as nice to sit around in the lobby of a hospital as sitting on the bricks in the courtyard of a bar, or on your loungeroom floor. Maybe even much more nice.

We walked hand in hand and he gave me his new album, ‘Under the Stairs’. Like Emlyn, he’s one of our best songwriters that hardly anyone knows.

And it was such fun. We sat in Emergency, and no-one seemed particularly sick, and we talked about the things we’d been doing, and I put on funny accents to say things like “Doctor, I’ve got a sore penis!” to make my friend laugh, and he made the shy triage guy laugh when he told him his regular doctor is called “Dr Duck”, which is in fact his regular doctor’s name.

(I guess in that story, you can pretend you were my friend, or someone in the lobby, or the shy triage nurse.)

On Friday night it was a show at the Rosemount. A few nights before I had had a long dream in which Caitlyn and Nathalie from Dianas were playing in a big cricket tournament, against England, wearing long sleeved lace bodysuits. Obviously this was a great dream. We used to play together in a band, and then we got kicked out, but we became more friends through it, so it was worth it.

When I came into the Rosemount big barn band room I saw Dianas on stage. They were wearing all white, and their new drummer John Lekias was wearing a white lace dress. It was a great dream, come true, just without the bats and balls which are hardly necessary ever anyway. There was less power when they played than other times, but still it was a thing of true musical beauty. Especially this time, again, as always, their songs and voices, a different type of power than amplitude.

(In that story you can be anyone, but I’d choose John Lekias, so you can wear the lace and listen to Caitlyn and Nathalie’s voices.)

Saturday, the big show. Jake and I practiced in Tom’s loungeroom, with both our eyes closed. Well, my eyes were closed, so I can’t be sure whether or not I was the only one. Often in the practice I think or say “I don’t care how the show goes, that was enjoyable enough.” So we played that night at Mojos, and maybe people liked it and maybe not, and Dave’s drumming made me more confident and happy again.

I met some young people by the hotdog stand outside who told me nice things, and one boy said he likes these pieces of writing, so, hello, again, and Shiny Joe played, filling up the room more than one man would normally be able to, and he was his usual mix of lovable, loose, earnest, skilled, mistake-makingness that means he and his music are beloved. Kevin djed, and played Mr Bombastic of course, making my waking dream come true. And everybody danced, because when Kevin is djing, people always dance more than if it were an unknown one choosing the songs. And that’s just fine.

And Cam had a new amplifier that looks like a cat carrier and sounds like whatever you want it to sound like. It’s like the most exquisite tofu, where the flavour is mainly made from the pedals you add, but its quality cannot be denied. It was different, listening to new songs that I hadn’t heard first in my room, or Cam’s parents’ loungeroom with their tasteful antiques and the good smell of Murray’s coffee brewing in the background and the lovely possibility of seeing Cam’s mum appear in the room, all effervescent openness, and the songs being newly about a place I know only through movies, Cam’s heart flowing out in California rather than here. So it was a different kind of treat than usual.

(For that story, you could choose to be Kevin Parker for the night, or Cam’s amp, or best of all, the guy making hotdogs at the hotdog stand.)

Sunday I got picked up by friends in a big car to drive down south to the forest, and listened to lucky dip tapes from my canvas bag, and mainly found duds, and talked about learning to fall in love with dust and other non-human things. Around the campfire, my friend Lix explained a genre called “Vapour Wave” to me and we listened to Eleventeen Eston and Andreas Fox and many other great choices because even though we were camping there was a shed. And we saw baby emus.

(Be the baby emus)

Monday I made a bra out of bark and vines when I was ‘alone’ in the forest. I lined it with gum leaves so it would be soft. Everyone else played on the guitar but I was too shy. At night the Milky Way was so strong, in the way where you know it’s stars and it’s a clear night but your mind keeps telling you “It’s clouds.”

(Be Milky)

Tuesday I heard my housemate teaching a girl to play Beatles songs on our back porch in a guitar lesson. The girl has dark eyebrows and soft blonde hair and a kind way, and her voice was lovely winding through our house.

(Be Ringo)

Wednesday I played at the Moon with my amp on the metal setting. Then Timothy Nelson played and the men around us clapped very enthusiastically and took videos of him on their iphones, and I sat flanked by Dave and George, two great drummers, and we all play very different music to Timothy and we all loved him, and all knew some of his songs, and all let his big rangey voice belt out to us and sent back big smiles and big applause.

(Be Metal)

Ok, so there’s the week, and now it’s time to give some money away…………..

Tame Impala on Rottnest and other Feathered Things

Andrew Ryan

Hello my dear,

Well, I’d like to tell you about the Rottnest show. While I’m doing it I’m going to listen to some Bridget St John, the album ‘Ask me no Questions’. Have you heard it? I think track two ‘Autumn Lullaby’ is my favourite. Pete is sleeping on the couch in the other room, I guess his mind would be singing himself some kind of autumn lullaby as he starts waking.

I kind of felt like the Rottnest show began the night before at the Claremont Hotel – remember where I brought you the cake when you were djing? Well, Drage played first and it was for me the best music I listened to the whole weekend because you know I like that element of danger and trouble to keep everything on its edge and also he really puts his whole self into it for every word. I guess it’s something that maybe can’t be sustained forever, that way of being and that way of making music, but for now while it hasn’t destroyed him it’s my favourite thing.

My second favourite thing at the Claremont was Kevin playing Mr Bombastic while he was djing and everyone dancing really daggily along: me, Tristan Fidler, Felicity, Jenny Aslett and all the others in a big daggy circle dancing to Shaggy. And my other first and second favourite things were giving and receiving massages from one Shiny Joe Ryan, getting right in there to his curly top that was no match for my will to give him as good a time as possible sitting out on the verandah.

But yeah, Rottnest… All that buried history. All those buried boys. I knew it was a prison but I didn’t realise it had been up until 1931 – that seems like only yesterday. From going to prisons here on the mainland somehow I felt it was ok to go there in the same way, as in, with reverence in my spirit and with openness to be healed in some way by being in that almost-natural place and to bring a spirit of peace to leave there as well.

So yeah I got to ride all the way round the island circumnavigating it in the wind, with my eyes becoming used again to looking far away instead of just ahead of me. And I got to swim in amazing places and make new friends with the people from Shannon and the Clams who were there for a post-tour holiday, and this is how I began to describe it, yesterday morning…:
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Another great recommendation from Craig Mcelhinney: Bridget St. John. Her guitar is moving in and out of time with the crickets in the backyard. Two birds I haven’t seen before have come to listen while they get their dinner. They aren’t vegetarians. Me neither for the moment.

Sunday night I was eating steak cooked carefully and expertly by Shannon and the Clams’ drummer Nate. Knowing how to do at least two of the most wonderful things with ones hands and arms – drumming and cooking – seemed like an incredible thing. Maybe the other one I’m thinking about is bringing a person to life again. In Japan they only do the hands part of resuscitation, they say you don’t need to do the breathing, that the breathing just comes if you use your arms in the right way.

On that night, Sunday night, we were on an island of immeasurable parts death and life. I didn’t know much of the story until I came home and looked it all up, just knew it was a prison for boys of a particular feather. But you could feel death in some parts as we rode around it, just little pockets of bad feeling as we rode by, but the other parts felt like the island had started breathing again.

One place I went to with a new friend was a small bay with murky wild water. It was cold and windy but that made going into the water an even better idea. We got sucked in and out of the shore by the breath of the waves, and I spluttered water as my head went up and down in it. I was conscious of my body out there in the air with not much on it, so I walked quickly up to the cliffs and climbed up them and on the top there were of course treasures in a bigger view and more birds winging their way inwards and outwards – no music, but they don’t need that most of the time. Neither do I.

So the music was like this: it was Tame Impala’s show on this strange intermediary piece of land. Nearly their home but not their home. Once part of the shore but not anymore. You know, like them. Now they fly around almost as much as birds. Joey was there early when we arrived in the morning, me and the Swedish beauties, and we saw him in a way I have never seen him before, as in completely focussed on his work so we only said hello and then got bikes and then wheeled our way in freedom all around the island.

I think about it all the time don’t you? How good it is to have freedom but how it can never be completely good until everyone has freedom. It’s still aboriginal people in prisons in greater parts than other people, and it’s still people who have tried to get from one island to another island – “our” island – and our government and the people around us say “No”. So, it’s good to ride bikes with Swedish beauties around Rottnest – very good – enough to make Felix say “My heart is vibrating with so much happiness I can hardly contain it!” but I’m still not satisfied.

So Leure played as we ate nachos on the grass, getting up once in a while to hug a friend coming in. She was confident as usual, beautiful as usual, and as usual every song was the kind where I’d be happy to listen to it for another fourty minutes. Her beautiful brother and sister got up to be near her for some songs and a row of their friends called and whistled out to them in joy. This was a special show to play and it made sense for her to play it.

Then we went away on our bikes for another swim but I only got as far as Julie’s house where Julie and Storm and Rex and Shannon and the Clams were lounging and thinking about heading in to the show. It was a beautiful sight to see, and that was even before I knew how lovely each of the Clams were. Shannon told me a very amazing story the next day about growing up near a feather farm and how she would walk up to the farm listening to the terrible cries of the peacocks that sounded like ladies shrieking for help. We all looked for a while at a peacock on the path and I thought about how incredible it was for all those colours to come out from the inside of that one creature.

And of course because we were there for the show I thought about Kevin, all the beautiful things coming from inside him in terms of songs that can endure a hundred thousand listens by a hundred thousand people, and in terms of his voice, so beautiful and sure and clear as it strode out across the small part of the island and the small part of the ocean it was allowed to touch.

Before his voice though there was Koi Child and this is how their story happened: they were two bands playing a show at Xwray one night who decided to jam together at the end and Kevin saw them being great and said “Hey will you play a show with us?” So Koi Child was reborn, playing their second show with for some of them their heros. This is a “Cool story bro.” It may not be the greatest story ever told, but it’s pretty cool for them. I felt happy for Jamie Canny and Blake Hart, skilled and humble boys, and all their friends who made a little party on stage together and called the crowd into the party as well. Leure was midnight, they were dawn, and Tame were the daylight.

There’s birds in the recording now. This whole album is called ‘Ask me no Questions’ if you want to look it up. It’s got a cover with a lovely face and lots of hair and a waterway and a paisley dress. I guess all the things that fit for Kevin in a way as well.

So the Tame boys played and the rain began to come. It was wonderful, everyone slowly bumping up and down and singing along to the words, and the shelters covering the sound guys bumping up and down as well and shaking rain drops up and down sometimes in time to the music from their vinyl tops. A boy climbed into a tree and did some air guitar and fell out onto all the people, and girls were butt humping against boys near me but even this bit of gentle doochebaggery couldn’t make it any less magical. The rain was great, the show was great – nothing got mentioned about the past, but I held it there in my thoughts and maybe some other people did too.

Later that night after the steaks and shooing quokkas with their glass barbecue eyes out of the cabins and walking round in the rain I had a big talk to Dom about all the big troubles of the world and existential crises and climate change and all the rest. I tried to convince him that we can actually make things better, even if what we do seems like nothing at the time. Maybe the spirit of the island had got into him, the unacknowledged past, but I hope that he and everyone can be won over by the idea that we have something inside us that can make beauty like a million-coloured feather, and that if we put them all together, as completely daggy as it sounds, we are even able to fly. “And I know that I gotta be above it now”.