Friday, 23 August 2013

Why the weirdest gigs are always the best

I wasn't expecting much. But I definitely wasn't expecting to be greeted at the 'stage door' by a man in pink leopard print lycra, a technicolour dreamcoat and mismatching Winklepickers.  Welcome to the Django Bar, the sort of warm salon-style bar you would expect to find only in Melbourne. 

The man in the Winklepickers was Yaron, manager of Camelot Lounge and the Django Bar: an oasis of live music and retro cool in a nondescript 1970s brink bunker, right in the heart of industrial Marrickville, Sydney.

It was all very last minute and there was no publicity, no gig listing and nor did we want any. We just wanted an empty room with a P.A where we could rehearse in front of close friends and have a drink afterwards.

We walked up the stairs, through the band room, past the toilets and then the man in mismatched Winklepickers swung the final door open to reveal middle-aged inner-westie heaven:  a room decked out like a salon from the 1950s;  red velvet curtains, framed pictures on the wall, a friendly, eclectic array of big comfy couches and retro table settings to choose from plus old juke boxes that were wired up as front of house speakers all around the room.

Beautiful warm analogue surround sound; juke box style.

The lighting was soft and moody, and the collection of retro knick-knacks dotted around made it feel like someone's living room, albeit someone with good taste in retro.  A bar in the corner offered wine by the glass, toasted wraps and margaritas with real squashed lime in them.

The stage was small and we asked if we could move the 'set dressing' of an accordion, two vintage guitars and a retro side table.  Yaron, a man big on visual impact,  was reluctant to change the aesthetics of his room to make way for a drum kit (totally understandable.)  Eventually we compromised on moving the two vintage guitars, if only for their own safety.

There was no room for Glenn (backing vocalist) on the tiny stage so he perched himself to the side (see video) behind the retro piano/organ and sang from there. Yaron thought this was weird. (THIS he thinks is weird, but the pink leopard print lycra is apparently all in a day's work.) However,  Glenn and I insisted that we enjoyed the weirdness of Glenn being in my eyeline all night.

(As opposed to the only other option which was, for Glenn to lurk directly behind me like a stalker, pressed up against the red velvet curtain with the stage lamp-light coming up from under his chin; camp-fire ghost-story-style.)

We played our set; bass (Paul Driessen) and drums (Stephen Toakley) were a dream-team rhythm section.  Glenn sang at me (and mimed some Dr Teeth piano-playing) from his weird perch behind the piano and occasionally interjected like a tight-white version of Tony Okungbowa (Ellen's DJ sidekick.)

 A projector ran black and white videos of fornicating animals on the wall beside us as we played. (This, we only found out later, but not even that could spoil my night.)

My son saw me play live with a band for the first time (and he also saw some fornicating animals he wishes he hadn't seen.)

The 'crowd' consisted of three people I didn't know, (thanks for coming) a handful of friends with their tween-aged kids and the girl behind the bar who cranked out a totally awesome margarita.

It was perfect.

We are match fit and ready for the 31st of August.

Here is some documentary video evidence of all of the above (except for the fornicating animals and the man in pink leopard print lycra: you'll just have to take my word for it on both those things.)

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Mother-effing recorders and 10 other things mothers have to buy 50 times over ...

This morning, I had to buy another recorder. Despite the fact that recorders are like dust-balls in our house – they roll around under beds, they attach themselves to my feet when I least expect it, they wedge themselves in the couch cushions and sometimes I even find them in the cutlery drawer- this morning, just when it was absolutely VITAL that my son take a recorder to school (goes without saying that this was flagged at 8.51am as we were rushing out the door) no recorder could be found.

I did my requisite lecturing in the car on the way to school, along with my usual karate chopping hand motions that other motorists then mistook for road rage. I gave a very wordy and passionate presentation on “looking after your things and not waiting until we are walking out the door to flag that there is something that you desperately need for the day.” I made a very convincing argument  for the benefits of being more organised and I am almost certain it went in one ear and out the other.

I pulled up to the school gate, yanked the car door open, threw bags from boot to nature strip and marched to the office with my 10 year old hop-skipping to keep up with my angry mother-on-a-mission-nobody-say-good-morning-to-me stomp.  I fronted up to the window (whereupon the office ladies ignored me for 20 vital seconds because someone was too busy putting staples into a stapler to pay attention to the mother-in-a-bait at the window) at which point it took all my will power not to slap $10 on the counter and shout:

“I need to buy another f*%#ing recorder!”

Which got me to thinking about all the OTHER things I have to constantly buy. If I had a dollar for every time I re-bought all these things … I could add a gorgeous second bathroom to my home and put a sign on it saying, “No Boys!”

(But that’s a whole other post.)


Here is the list of things I have had to buy 50 times over:


1. Lunch boxes

Admittedly I have a Tupperware fetish so my children are very co-dependently enabling my addiction with their rampant loss of lunch boxes. I like to change it up a bit too: when I’m really fed up I punish them by going basic with it and getting a plain rectangle box with a lid.

Then if I’m in a creative mood I go all “aspirational”  and get one of those ones with the four snack compartments and a specially shaped cooler bottle.  During these purchases I have visions of myself packing the perfect nutritious lunch with raw vegetable sticks dipped into hummus and a gorgeous looking salad sandwich with mixed leaves on a byyooooshiful seeded bread.

My eldest child has finally accepted that lunchboxes are his Waterloo. He refuses to let me buy him any more and takes his lunch in a plastic shopping bag every day, gallantly accepting his penance with good grace.


2. 2B pencils

Again, as with the Tupperware, I also have a stationery fetish and there’s nothing I love more than an excuse to visit Officeworks and buy all sorts of aspirational things that will help me ‘organise’ my work life and save me oodles of time every day (coloured paper clips, post it notes shaped like houses, “fun” pins for the pin board, and novelty notebooks.) But it is a testament to my children's commitment to losing things that I am completely OVER buying packets of 2B pencils. There’s nothing fun about a six pack of stinky old 2B pencils.


3. Pencil sharpeners

I have bought all manner of pencil sharpeners: snazzy electric ones, animal-shaped versions, I even put one on a keyring, hung it on a hook and imposed the equivalent of a stationery restraining order upon it (it was not to venture more than a one metre radius from its hook.)

But when homework time comes, we inevitably spend 15 minutes hunting down a pencil (always blunt or broken) then another 15 trying to find a pencil sharpener that actually sharpens the pencil, as opposed to grinding it into a rough-hewn sawdusty nub of lead. (There is currently a warrant out on the missing keyring sharpener.)

Add to this stationery list: rulers (they are like Lake George in Canberra, they appear all at once and then just as mysteriously disappear again without a trace.)


4. Lost library books

The worst thing about lost library books is, as soon as you pay for them (as per the library policy) they appear again. Then you’re obliged to keep some stupid boring book about planes that you never wanted in the first place, because you just paid 30 bucks for it.


5. Swimming goggles

What is it with kids these days? My kids whinge and whine like a bunch of pansies if they can’t find their swimming goggles when it’s time to go swimming. And I’m not even talking about doing serious laps at the pool. I’m talking  about playing Marco Polo in the pool at home. They squeal like girls if they have to swim sans goggles and sometimes even refuse to go in without them.  If I had a dime for every pair of freaking goggles I have purchased …

In MY day goggles were like swimming caps: they were for serious squad swimmers only.  We played all manner of underwater games (including ‘guess what I’m saying underwater’) with our bare eyeballs to the chlorinated water. Sure we then spent the whole summer with bloodshot eyes and blurry vision, but toughen up princesses!


6. Socks, socks and more socks

I’ve said it before, socks are my nemesis. I cannot get on top of the sock issue. It doesn’t matter what I do. The other day my son stumbled upon a matching pair and it was like he’d seen a beautiful rainbow.   “Look! Look!” He shouted,  holding them aloft, “Here’s something you don’t see every day!”  I felt bad that something so basic was so delightful for him.


7. Butter knives and teaspoons

My kids are fond of using butter knives to give their Lego men Face-Off-style head transplants. So they go missing from my cutlery drawer, I buy a stack more then I find the old ones when I do the proper ‘Mummy clean up’ of their room. (That’s the clean up you do when you ACTUALLY clean up the room as opposed to the clean up my kids do where they shove everything, including their shoes, hot water bottles, old books and pillows into the laundry basket.)

As for the teaspoons. I just don’t know where they go or who is taking them and why. But every six months I have to buy another six pack.


8. Drink bottle lids

I have every single drink bottle I have ever bought. It’s the lids that elude me.


9. School hats and school jackets

I am nearly done with primary school and we are at the stage where we don’t even pretend to be on top of the hat thing any more. My kids just go straight to the lost property box in the morning, ‘borrow’ a hat for the day and then put it back in at the end of the day.
School jackets are just as problematic.


10. Bandaids

I know you have to eventually buy another packet of Bandaids, but I seem to buy a jumbo pack a week and I STILL cannot keep up the supply. I don’t recall using them but whenever there is an emergency of the “I’m bleeding! Somebody stem the bleeding with a Bandaid or I’ll die!” kind, I go to the bathroom cupboard and shake out an empty box.  Where do they go? Is somebody snacking on them?