Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Oh my god! I'm in Sydney!!!

I'm in Sydney now. How could that be. Only 5 minutes ago I was in Taiwan.

Pubs in Paddington and dinner at Mike's. Sydney can't be better than that. What a great girl Lisa is. Could talk to her until the cows come home, and then talk about which route they took, and why it might not have been the appropriate one. Or was. Whichever the case may be.

MCing the OZTUG show tomorrow.A captive audience, what joy. I shall talk fine quality truth or bollocks. Whichever the moment calls for.

Guylians and salted cashews are a fine combination. Especially after beers, reds and greens.

Need something to wet the mouth though. A bit claggy.

And all of a sudden it was 12:30am. A second ago it was 11:30. shit.

They lay everything out so invitingly here at the Hilton. red wine. cookies. glazed and dried fruits. flat screen tv. Inviting bed. (Not quite irresistable just yet though).

Sydney's been great today. Short flight. Beautiful blue sky day. Easy comfy lunch in the hub. Plush hotel. Paddington pubs. Veg out at Mike and Lisa's.

But where have all the Guylians gone?????......

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Casual Lap of the World – San Francisco, Vegas, London, Istanbul

San Francisco

Well my trips have recently been more exotic and so far, I’ve been good to my new year’s resolution and have been making sure I have a good time. To that end, I did what it seems many millions of people in the world have done and bought a copy of The Power of Now to read. And to make sure the now was better than it otherwise might have been, I bookended my work trip with weekends of leisure in San Francisco and Istanbul. Two of my favorite cities.
San Francisco was just a real chill out after a few weeks of intense work. Hanging out in Golden Gate Park mostly and taking in the ex-hippy scene of Haight Street. My hotel was a restored old hotel run by an eighty year old hippy woman named Sami Sunchild. My room was the rainforest room which was decked out beautifully in photographic print wallpaper of giant redwoods, with furniture and fittings of a typical old English hotel. Suitable to its name of the Red Victorian. It was a very comfortable and relaxing place to stay, perfectly located only a 5 minute walk down Haight Street to the park. In what seems to be a customary way for me to overcome the tiredness of a long flight and the jetlag of moving to a different timezone, I went out to a bar and got drunk with whomever I could find that would talk to me. On this night it was a continuous stream of people. A mix of San Franciscan locals and tourists from other parts of the states. I ended up feeling socially fulfilled as I spilled out of the bar and joined the drunken procession at 2am trawling down Haight Street looking for pizza. Predictably the next day started as it always seems to on the first morning in a new country; hungover. I decided to hire a bike and had a relaxing 2 or 3 mile ride through Golden Gate Park to a free concert somebody had told me about the night before. Just what I needed in my delicate state; physical activity, large crowds and extremely loud noise. It was only the entertainment provided by watching the crowd that kept me there for 4 or 5 songs. Smash Mouth were playing and there were a few people going berserk with their screaming and dancing. The band seemed pretty pedestrian to me but I had to admire the energy in the crowd that I wished I had. Eventually the queasiness subsided and I got back on the bike to continue my journey through the park. It is a beautiful park with easy riding bike trails all the way through. It was only when I saw the signs pointing the route to the Golden Gate Bridge that I reached a major decision point. Was I in a state to attempt what promised to be a taxing but potentially rewarding ride? The answer was clearly no, but it took me a ponderous ten minutes just staring across in that vague direction before sense won through and I took the easy option. Armed with my new tools from The Power Of Now I left any feelings of inadequacy on the hill and had a relaxing ride back through the park.

I love San Francisco. That hippy sensibility still resonates strong. Some of my favorite food anywhere. Always interesting things to be done, be it live music, shows to see, individualistically strange people to watch or a good old fashioned protest march to join in. I’m sure that in a parallel life I could be having a totally fulfilled existence living in this city. I would have joined one of the kickball teams; having a beer somewhere beyond first base waiting for the ball to come and reveling in the camaraderie of what seems a fun hybrid of baseball and soccer. I was only there for two days on this trip but it felt like my soul had been cleansed. A true holiday albeit a short one. And so from there, it was back to work and off to a strong nomination for the least soulful place on the planet; Las Vegas.

Las Vegas

The first thing you know about getting to Vegas in mid summer is that it is hot. Seriously hot. Over 100 degrees while waiting in the taxi queue at the airport. Fucking hot. Then the surreal taxi drive past the pyramids, sphinx, Eiffel tower, Empire State building and Roman forum to get to the Mandalay Bay where I was staying. Once inside the hotel, the air conditioning is turned up so high that standing for an hour in the long check in line I felt freezing. Welcome to Vegas honey.

The ITUG conference there is always a bit of a chore and mostly a complete bore. Always great to see Lisa, Sean, Barry and Morne and a random sampling of others that dot the ITUG landscape, but the actual show is a drag. Albeit a more or less essential and compulsory one. Having Ken Dixon there always takes it away from that out of conference hours. What a great guy. Always so confidently himself, at least outwardly. Infectiously amiable and fun. A gentle giant with a huge heart. And always up for a drink and a bit of mischief. As for how much he has helped me in setting up a business in Australia… well that could fill a book on its own. A true friend.

Unsurprisingly, the work was completely forgettable. Thank god with this new format combined with the HP Technology Forum that the booth days are short. At least that’s something. As for the night activity, well when in Vegas, the sleazy activities need to be investigated. And with that I found myself one night in “the horse” as the locals called it. The Crazy Horse is a strip and lap dancing club that like all places in Vegas, and all places of its ilk, is very adept at removing your money from your pocket. Expensive drinks. A “dance” costs $20 for one song. Usually with the dance becoming more interesting at the end so that another follow on dance can be solicited. You can’t complain in Vegas that the girls hold back though. Several dances were more like dry rooting at the back of the venue than any dance I’ve ever seen. All very much like Disneyland; Great rides, but very expensive and always too short.

Towards the latter part of the evening a sexy black girl came up to me and said “don’t you know it’s against club rules to be sitting there hiding your man-gina”. I uncrossed my legs, amused but a little taken aback. She sat down on one of them, put her arm around my neck and proceeded to tell me very graphically in my ear what she would like to do to me. “I’d first like to strip off your shirt and slowly rub my hands over your muscular chest. Then I’ll slide your pants down so that I can feel your large cock and rub it against my cheek. Then I’ll pour honey over you and run my tongue down your body licking it off until I take your large erect cock between my soft full lips and gently begin to suck it. But enough about me. Tell me about you.” Well she was such a good story teller that my disbelief was well and truly suspended. I could even believe that my body was muscular, my cock was large and she would want to do all of those things to me if she just saw me out on the street with no hint of money changing hands. I chuckled and told her that I preferred listening to her talk about me so she should continue. At which point, without missing a beat she told me what she would love for me to do to her. Invariably it involved more disrobing, breasts, pussy and tongues. While listening to her talk out a fantasy better than anybody I’ve ever heard before, I was rubbing her back and shoulders. And, I have to admit, arse. Somehow, between the stories and what developed into a sensual massage session, she fell quiet. Comfortable and obviously feeling safe in her spot. Like a kitten curled up in a ball on my lap. A nice place for a break. I guess it was after 45 minutes, probably the last half hour in silence, that she said that it was time to get back to work. She was on stage next. No money changed hands. It was a rare fulfilling time in a place that mostly aims at unfulfilled arousal. Take them close to the point but never get them there. Keep them coming back for more. Therein lies the skill of the profession. I gave her a kiss good bye, wished her well in her dance, and headed back to my hotel feeling good about myself. Still had a wank though.

Now if you’re reading this Tori. I don’t think that I was being unfaithful in any way. Just had a very interesting brief encounter in a far off land. I guess you’ll be the judge, but I didn’t have sex with anybody but myself when it all came down to it.

I left Vegas without spending a nickel on any of the gambling tables or machines.

England (not really London)

Coming back to England is always a mixed experience. Work is in Fleet in Hampshire, about 15 minutes along the M3 from the M25. All my friends are either in Brighton or London, about 80 minutes and 50 minutes commute respectively. That’s when there’s no traffic issues. On the way home that could be 2 hours and 75 minute respectively. Over the last few trips I’d mostly stayed around Olympia in West London so that I could hang out with Andy in the evenings and do the daily commute to Fleet. That worked well on a few trips, but Andy’s left London now, and the idea of staying in London just seemed an inconvenience with no real reward. I had no real time off in the UK to actually take in anything good that London has to offer. I arrived on the Sunday, courtesy of a delayed United flight from LAX to LHR and an unscheduled night in LA. And was then flying out on the Friday afternoon. This time, I thought that I’d do something different and try and find somewhere interesting that was a lot closer to work, and have a different English experience than normal. I told no friends in England that I was coming and searched the net for decent accommodation in the vicinity of Fleet. “Don’t stay in Boring-stoke” a couple of friends offered. “Guilford’s a shit hole” others had said. I already knew I couldn’t stay in Fleet. That’d be like flying across the other side of the world to stay in an overpriced rip off hotel in Preston, but without anywhere like Northcote or Fitzroy nearby. I ended up lucking into a self contained unit in some rich people’s backyard in a little village called Medstead in Hampshire. Beautiful. My own place with separate lounge room, conservatory sun room, comfy bedroom and a full kitchen. Cheaper than a hotel and in surrounds substantially more idyllic than the scene around Shepherds Bush Green; dodging the Tenants special brew guy and the crack dealers amid the traffic fumes of a million frustrated cars and buses not moving anywhere quickly. Instead lush country side, surrounded by woodland and peace and quiet. My drive to work was around 25 minutes each day, but with no traffic, through the English countryside and little villages. A very enjoyable drive in fact.

I suffered jetlag badly in England. I’d done ok really in the states, but this second timezone shift in under a week took its toll. I felt knackered all week really and mostly just cocooned myself away in my little cottage. I did go to the pub with the lady of the manor one night. Had a couple of pints and a good chat with her, while her daughter worked behind the bar. Then there was the night that I went down to Brighton. I guess you have to make the effort to get out and do stuff, but this was difficult. On the Wednesday after work, I took the 90 minute drive to Brighton to see the Boakes clan. Always a worthwhile venture but I felt so dead on my feet before I even left Fleet. By the time I got to Brighton I was at the sickeningly over tired stage. I found a park, pulled up the car beside it, put the seat down and fell into a deep sleep for about 45 minutes. I felt a bit better when I woke up. Just shit instead of completely fucked. I got to Steve’s, hugged and kissed everybody, had the adrenaline fuelled first half hour of seeing close friends who I hadn’t seen for a while, and then crashed in Bibi’s bed for about an hour. Bliss. I actually felt almost refreshed on waking up, and came fully good(ish) after a nice dinner. Then went up to the Railway with Steve and Paul for a couple of pints, by which time I was back in reasonable form, always though with the knowledge, that I had an extremely long drive to end the night with. When I bid a fond farewell to Steve and Paul in Brighton, it was midnight. With no traffic on the roads at all, but in drizzling rain (good ole England!) the drive back to Medstead took me 90 minutes. After 85 minutes of driving, very tired but almost “home” I came around a bend to see a red deer standing in the middle of the road looking back at me. My wildlife road obstacle detection has been pretty well honed over the years, partly by driving home stoned from Bruce’s and having to avoid wombats and kangaroos, so I saw him early, stopped and just stared back at him. A good unexpected wildlife encounter always gives me a lift. And I drove off feeling somewhat revived. About 5 minutes further up the road, a badger ambled across the road ahead of me. Even better. I’d never really seen one clearly in the wild before. Definitely beats the Tenants and crack guys of Shepherds Bush. I reckon I’ll definitely be staying here again.


I flew out of Heathrow on the Friday arvo, bound for Turkey. Andy left his job in London some few months previously to take up a 12 month English teaching post in Istanbul. I had a long weekend to catch up with my great friend and check out the city more through the eyes of a local than on either of my previous trips. That mostly involved sitting inside apartments or bars and drinking beer. A lot of beer. On the first night I didn’t meet Andy in town until after midnight. By the time we got back to his place, dropped my bags off and found an open bar, it was already 2am. We adjourned to the small balcony of his flat some time around 4 and drank beer there until the sun came up, some time around 6. I fell asleep on the lounge sofa bed with Andy still trying to make me listen to Loudon Wainwright. I made it through the Bob Dylan song and was out like a light. I was apparently having an intense conversation in my sleep according to Andy’s flat mate Natalie when she got ready for work only a couple of hours later. I just hoped it wasn’t anything along the lines of the black girl in Vegas.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Rolling Stones at Brixton Academy, Wembley Stadium – twice. U2 at Wembley - Pop tour 1997, Sports & Entertainment Centre Melbourne. The Church at Village Green, The Manhattan, Bowery Ballroom NYC, Lower Plenty, Pier Hotel Frankston, Festival Hall, The Palace, The Club Collingwood, The Venue St.Kilda, The Seaview Ballroom, The Central Club, Underworld Camden, Prospect Hill Hotel, The Corner. Billy Bragg at The Palace, Clapham Common worker’s festival. Violent Femmes at The Corner. Hoodoo Gurus at The Palace. Cocteau Twins at the Fillmore San Francisco, Phoenix Festival UK. Massive Attack at Phoenix Festival, Glastonbury, Shepherds Bush Empire. Patti Smith at Shepherds Bush Empire. The Who at Hyde Park, Earls Court. Pink Floyd at Rod Laver Arena – three times. Bob Dylan at Hyde Park. Split Enz at the Myer Music Bowl. The Models at Storey Hall, The Espy, The Palace. Smiling Infants at The Punters Club, The Empress, The Manor, The User’s Club. Sinead O’Connor at The Phoenix. Muddy Waters at Santa Cruz civic centre, The Royal Albert Hall. Van Morrison at The Dome. Sex Pistols at The Phoenix. Neil Young with Pearl Jam. Neil Young with Crazy Horse. Neil Young Greendale at The Bowl. Nick Cave at The Metro, The Brixton Academy, Melbourne Town Hall, Homebake Sydney, The Big Day Out Sydney. Skyhooks at Festival Hall. The Police at the Melbourne Showgrounds. Dire Straits at Festival Hall. Canned Heat at The Corner. Deborah Conway at The Continental, The Garage London. Paul Kelly at The Prince, Shepherds Bush Empire, Storey Hall (with the coloured girls). The Pretenders at a day on the green. Ed Kuepper at Red Hill. The Saints at the ANU Canberra. Harem Scarem at Storey Hall. The Cure at The Palais, in Vienna, at Rod Laver Arena. Brian Ferry at Rod Laver. Elton John at Festival Hall, Sports and Entertainment Ctr. Hunters and Collectors at Storey Hall, St.Kilda Festival. Tori Amos at Royal Albert Hall. The Primitives on Haight Street. Radiohead at Glastonbury, Rod Laver. Lou Reed at Sports and Entertainment, Royal Festival Hall London, Wembley Arena, Hammersmith Apollo. Deborah Harry at The Phoenix. Crash Test Dummies at The Concorde Brighton UK. Jonathan Richman’s Modern Lovers at The Concorde. Morcheeba at The Concorde, some club in Brighton. Tim Rogers at Paul Inlander’s backyard, with Tex at the Prince, Harvest Festival Red Hill. Cruel Sea at The Prince. Dave Graney at Linden Gallery, The Espy Gershwin Room, The Prince. David Bowey at VFL Park Waverley. Not drowning Waving at The Continental. Elvis Costello at Shepherds Bush. Underground Lovers at The Palace. Dead Men Walking at Shepherds Bush. Eric Clapton at Hyde Park. Joe Satriani at the Forum. New Order at Power House. Neneh Cherry in Nice. Paul Simon at Rod Laver. Echo and The Bunnymen at The Concorde 2 Brighton, Shepherds Bush Empire. TISM at The Prince of Wales (as a member of the band), Collingwood Town Hall, Old Greek Theatre, Chasers, The Palace, Upstairs at The Garage London. Tongue and Groove in Northcote, Eltham. Wintergarden at the Heart and Soul, Old Greek Theatre. Weddings Parties Anything at the Old Greek. Chris Wilson at The Old Greek, Melbourne Concert Hall (Downstairs) with Shane O’Mara. Mick Harvey at The Central Club, Harvest Festival Red Hill. Conway Savage at The Wesleyanne. Died Pretty at the Seaview Ballroom, The Northcote Social Club, The Club. James Brown at The Metro. The Maelstrom at The Club, The Punters Club. Silent Reach at The Perseverance, The Evelyn. Jesus Rodriguez at The Corner. Iggy Pop at The Big Day Out Sydney. Canned Heat at The Corner. Cowboy Junkies at The Phoenix, The Palais. INXS at the Electric Ballroom St.Kilda, Sentimental Bloke, Oakland Coliseum (almost). Tom Jones at The Brighton Centre. James Blunt at the House of Blues LA. Shane Macgowan and The Popes and Kirsty MacColl at the Fleadh Festival Finsbury Park London. Aussie Crawl at The Bowl. Stevie Wright at Merimbula RSL. Ross Ryan at the RMIT caf. Kangaroo Moon at Tiger Tiger (?) Brighton. MEO245 at Storey Hall. Jello Biafra at Brixon Academy. Steve Kilbey and Marty Wilson-Piper in San Francisco. Steve Kilbey at the Continental, The Borderline. Marty at the 12 Bar Club London. Ani Di Franco at the Wiltern Los Angeles. REM at The Concorde Pavillion San Francisco. Dragon at The Prospect. Ice House at Festival Hall. Midnight Oil at St.Kilda Festival. Kuranda amphitheatre. Darloing Downs at Red Hill.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


What an amazing place Tokyo is. Something like the vibrancy of New York City but, unlike that city, no in your face attitude and feelings of danger when wandering in to the “wrong areas”. Late into the night, people out and about everywhere. The district of Shinjuku where I was staying is a flood of neon with masses of people at any time of day or night. Bars, restaurants and brightly colored shops. The main difference for a honky foreigner being that it’s not so easy to strike up a conversation in a bar with the person next to you. It seems that only a minority of people in Tokyo are comfortable in an English conversation. And mostly people seemed to avoid eye contact with me. No flirting encounters or opportunities, and not even an easy sporting conversation when watching Japan play the Saudis in the Asia Cup semi finals. That was pretty frustrating and made for a largely solo kind of a time.

Wandering into the red light district of Kabuki-cho brought the song The Boxer to mind in another parallel to New York.”…just a comeon from the whores on 7th Avenue. I do declare, there were times when I was so lonesome, I took some comfort there”. Not that I felt quite like that. I was too excited to be in Tokyo to get down about lack of conversation, but the only source on a couple of nights did seem to be from touts for strip bars or massage parlours, or a mama-san telling me that she had some beautiful Japanese girls who were willing and able to satisfy my every sexual need.

Tokyo. It just brought a smile to my face thinking that I was actually there. The HP guys that I had come to see for business were incredibly hospitable, several with their extremely limited conversational English. They took me out and introduced me to shōchū. It’s a kind of Japanese spirit – the type I had being made from potatoes and tasting similar to tequila, although not quite as strong. That being said, it had a very good kick and the HP guys certainly became a lot more animated in their attempts to speak English. My stories started to flow a little freer also and by the time I staggered back to my hotel, I was primed and ended up having the late night drunken international phone rants over more beer. Night guy had well and truly kicked in, with the inevitable result of a really shit time for morning guy the next day. Hungover, late for work, feeling very delicate and having to run a full day’s program of discussion with a meeting room full of people of mixed English language skills. Thanks be praised to the pharmaceutical conglomerates for their gifts to humanity of berocca, neurofen and visine.

And on the work front all seemed to go well. Firmly in the back of my mind however, perhaps somewhat closer to the front than that actually, are the thoughts of my father's business dealings in Japan. Ultimately very expensive and fruitless. Pretty much cost him the family home as more and more money was sunk into a business that promised much more than it delivered. What were his mistakes? Why didn't he see it coming? Can the same thing happen to me? He enjoyed visiting Tokyo also and likewise found his hosts to be very hospitable and seemingly interested in doing business with him. Perhaps the moral was to be slightly more cautious and not to bet the house on it.

Eating in Tokyo was one of the culinary highlights of my life. Every meal was something to look forward to. I managed to have sushi, sashimi, tempura, teppanyaki, soba, gyoza, ramen, noodle dishes, rice dishes, all of the highest order. So good! And eating in Japan was much cheaper than I expected. 950 yen (about $9.50) for gyoza, fried rice and a 600ml bottle of Sapporo. A lunchtime sashimi set was around the same amount. I never expected to be eating cheaper than I can in Melbourne. Even drinks in bars weren’t exceptionally pricey. Cheaper than Singapore that’s for sure.

And then some unique highlights. A toilet that even cleans your bum for you. After finishing a crap, you can press a button and a warm continuous stream of water shoots out the back of your toilet until you press the off button. Now I’m sure it sounds weird, and perhaps even slightly fetishest, but the temperature and pressure were so finely tuned that I could have sat there for hours. Then to complete the experience you press another button which starts a wave of warm air to dry you off. What luxury. I wonder if I can get one installed in Melbourne.

Then there was the current seeming obsession with Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Regardless of the time of day, a couple of hundred people were queued up waiting for their turn to purchase doughnuts. Further to that, there was actually a queue to get in the actual queue. Predicted waiting time was well over an hour. Now that is some serious dedication to doughnuts!

Monday, January 01, 2007


January 1st 2007. New Year’s Day. Last night a party at Bruce and Lynne’s that was by all accounts a good party. Tori certainly had a great time, dancing and laughing amid consumption of drinks and spliffs. Jaz and Finn went in waves. They both seemed spent by around 11pm so I went and lay down with them trying to coax them off to sleep. Strange beds and too much going on for that to happen. Ella came in to join the attempted sleepers around that time too. The first thing we knew of the New Year was the rousing chorus of Auld Lang Syne coming from outside the window. We had a group hug on the bed and then went out into the party to wish everyone a Happy New Year. A number of people left shortly after midnight, the formality of the event over and time to go home to bed. I made the mistake of being on the end of two spliffs too many and watched my mood, cognitive thought and physical being spiral downwards. Perhaps on the back of several hearty days at the Boxing Day test, consuming litres of beer, I just hit the wall. Always disappointing to be at a good party and not feel fully into the party spirit. But there seems for me to be something about New Year’s Eve that makes this all the more possible. When I look back at most New Year’s festivities that I’ve been too, I’ve always felt a tinge of melancholy and often disappointment with the night. Expectations not met perhaps. Reflection on the passing of another year and the various changes and sadnesses that have occurred. Or just getting too out of it perhaps. When I think of all of the great times I’ve had at parties over the years, not one of them has been on New Year’s. They are all memorable in their own right, but they seem to always come with baggage. Too much reflection rather than just enjoying the moment for what it is. I watched other people moving around the party. Tori, Lynne, Bruce all definitely in the moment of the party, not hindered at all by reflection or melancholy. I would like to have been there with them. Jock’s brother Andy seemed in good form also, constantly punctuating conversations with his laughter. Especially given that he is in Melbourne to give Jock support while he goes though chemo. More fucking cancer. That doesn’t help my mood. But there is more to it than that. Lynne told me that I looked like I was worrying. I had been looking after Jaz and Finn and was concerned for their night and how long they could go without sleep. Around 2:30am when I glanced through the window from the back to check on Finn, he was up and raging out big time on the dance floor. So was Jaz. And Tori. I was the only one not up to it. Somehow not able to let go of something that was keeping me back. It seems to have crept into my life over the last few years. I’m not sure that I was ever truly a free spirit, but now I’m not even really sure what it is that I like to do. Work has been so crazy for the last three years that I’ve had a bit of my being swallowed up. Now that I’ve taken Ik on, time should be more available to me. This was the purpose of his employment. To allow me to recover my life. I don’t even know anymore “what’s my thing”. My resolution for 2007 is to try and rediscover some things that I enjoy doing, and commit time and mental space to pursue them. To not allow everything to become a chore, even things that should be fun for me. To try and overcome the hardest thing, as Woody Allen puts it; turning up – physically, mentally and emotionally.