She lives down
My eyes were
But now she lives
So close; so near
As if by secret,
I now have
Green eyes too.
THUNDERLIPS was born in 2012 to image-crazed uber-men Sean Wallace and Jordan Dodson. THUNDERLIPS drinks scotch for breakfast and eats dry coffee grounds. THUNDERLIPS uses hot sauce as eye drops and wears leather socks. Based in Auckland New Zealand, THUNDERLIPS’ method is to prepare meticulously, and then introduce chaos on-set. Here are three videos representative of THUNDERLIPS’ work they’d like to point you to. Glare, Cosby Kid and Sad & Blue. And here are five albums they’re loving right now…
1 – A Tribe Called Quest, Midnight Marauders: It’s not a hit factory in any sense yet still manages to reign supreme as a perfect work of understated hip hop artistry.
2 – Dr Dre, The Chronic: Coined the sound of an entire era and brought West Coast hip hop out of the gangsta rap era in one perfect cut.
4 – The Pharcyde, Labcabincalifornia: The Pharcyde’s Dilla-produced sophomore album, Labcabin, is at once stoned silliness and break-up poignancy.
5 – Mos Def, Black on Both Sides: Live instrumentation and vocal experimentation pepper this incredible debut album. So-called conscious hip hop at its unselfconscious head-nodding Brooklyn bounciest.
He had been over it again and again in his head. In fact, now, at this time, he felt indeed the reason he was struggling to deal with the information was due to the goings over that seemed still to be going over and over in his mind.
This is the way it had been for David for almost two months. (Certainly seven weeks, he thought to himself). Of course it was exactly that kind of annoying ‘self-accountability’ and pompous correction skills that had deterred Sophie from the relationship. She had seen him waste his days at the computer screen collecting and building gathered lists of almost everything he had (and indeed what he wanted!)
Sure, it was one thing to have an inventory of your books and CDs, especially when you have, as David does, more than a few. The thing that had frightened Sophie, to the point of changing her telephone number and leaving the new number unlisted, was seeing her name (alone and boldly italicised) on a list entitled: ‘What I WANT and MUST HAVE in Life’. That is what scared her. That alone was why she didn’t answer the phone in a month, relying on her flatmate Susan’s ghastly insensitive and unwelcoming answer-phone message. That was why she had left. That was why she was gone. That was indeed the reason for the change in unlisted telephone numbers. That was why she could not deal with David any longer. That was why she was gone.
David lurched forward and lifted himself up from the shower floor, the position from which he had been lying, pondering for what he guessed was thirty minutes – but what in truth was closer to the full hour. Having a bath with the converted shower tap was great at times like this. The shower became not just a place to wash, but also an ideal camp for thoughts. David had spent many hours on the shower floor, leaving the steady beads of luke-warm water to catch him mid-stomach, very much himself in mid-thought. He had composed some of his best lies and stories (the two often feeling synonymous) and had conquered School Certificate Maths by nutting-out base level trigonometry from the relaxingly secure wet floor of the rainroom.
Today his “shower-time” had been allocated (as often before) to the thought of Sophie. Still struggling to fathom why it was that she had once been such a good friend (his ‘best’ friend!) and now…nothing…Well, no, not exactly nothing…he still could not say that. The shower time for that morning had not been entirely useless, he had made one important breakthrough, the ‘most’ important (certainly that is what his friends would have told him) perhaps. This ‘discovery’ – although it still hurt David to call it that, realising that ‘discovery’ had connotations of something new and potentially significant – was simple and clear in its brevity: Sophie had not been his girlfriend. The end. Simple. Finish. (And yet, he straightaway thought in his mind, not at all the end. Indeed not so bloody simple!!)
It certainly was tough making discoveries and then not wanting to own up to or accept what it was that they actually meant or stood for. Call it a fault, thought David, something those pricks at high school probably put on my leaving testimonial. (Something those pricks at high school actually did put on my leaving testimonial, he quickly and characteristically corrected himself). David now felt like he had done any other day for the last…seven weeks and three days, he correctly affirmed.
He still could not see how they would go from doing all the great things they had done to now, not talking.
Obviously someone had tipped her off, told her something of his infatuation for her. He paused, reflecting for a moment, and then continued on in his thought, keen to dismiss his sudden realisation of how he had only now admitted to himself the keyword – ‘infatuation’ – and possibly just as retarded, the fact that he had only now seen how easy it could have been for someone within the circle of friends to say something.
David went to his computer, the only thing now that seemed to console him in any way whatsoever. And not that he had been a ‘nerd’ through his school years. In fact, David was still average on the computer; his keyboard skills were adequate but his knowledge of the programs on most standard PCs was still severely lacking. The thing he did like about the computer however was that you could account for absolutely everything, and you could type in whatever calls you wanted to make, and nobody else could find out or…
…He stopped briefly, mid-thought…
…And then, without completing what had, when he begun it, seemed like a concrete thought, he snapped on the screen and began the series of systems it took to enable access into the stored files of the word-processor.
Flashed up on the screen momentarily, David hit ENTER, not needing a password, he’d always figured.
Once inside the Word program he opened the ‘a’ drive to a file that had three separate stems: Docs, Projects, Sheets. Under Sheets, David kept all the assignments, letters and formal work he had done through the later part of high school and on into university. (He had been meticulous). Under Projects, were lists of what he needed (or perhaps ‘wanted’ – he thought hesitantly) and the Docs were all inventory-type lists of such potentially boring but well accounted for artefacts as his vinyl and CD collections respectively. His books had all been well documented in an on-going list that had currently seemed to be in need of updating at least once a week. The songs played by his old school band were in there, and so on and on…
Using the mouse to guide the arrow up and through the files David accessed his Projects file. Under Projects there was only the one heading. A heading which caused flashes of white-hot nausea to immediately disturb David. The screen was now haunting him and he’d not yet double-clicked to open the file. It seemed the file’s heading said more than enough, as David coughed a tiny, irritable and embarrassing hack. It was more, if anything, a splutter. The heading sat there nonchalantly on the screen as David’s mind finally, working overtime, revealed to him the pity and embarrassment of how territorially ridiculous he had been in his infatuation. Under projects stood the lone file heading: A. /SOPHIEDOC.WW
And finally summoning the demented courage to force an opening of the file, which he now was sure stood ready to reflect the worst, it was double-clicked and he waited.
Coughing again slightly, he gathered himself and checked the screen to see again if it was as bold and plainly simple as he initially dreaded: ‘What I WANT and MUST HAVE in Life’. Now seeing how sick he seemed, he perceived the title to be bad enough, but with the name Sophie (in accordance with the name of the ‘a’ drive stem Projects’ lone file) as the only name on the list and standing clear in bold italics in Times New Roman font and in 72pt sizing. Each facet of how the name was written seemed to further intensify the ‘sickness’ of what David now understood could be perceived as a ‘crime’. Erasing the file would achieve little, but still served up a valid dish of cold comfort and that was the first step he would take in attempting to rectify the situation.
With the file wiped and David still feeling somewhat repulsed he went straight back into the rainroom, having been in there for some time only minute ago.
A thorough cleansing of the deed and a relaxing series of thought processes whilst behind the foldaway curtain of the shower/bath had given hope. It had taken him just twenty short minutes in his second shower, and so with withered, wet Old Man’s Fingers he emerged from the bathroom a second time that morning, now with a more positive outlook on life and a plan firmly in mind.
The death of a friendship as David had thought it was never glad. He would have Sophie back, but this time as he should have wanted her the first time and in the only way he should ever have wanted her, as a friend. Mulling the plan of action over and over in his head, this time the goings over seemed to have an eased and oily flow about them, and he smiled a wry smile in the mirror, the first positive look he had given himself in a very long time (six and a half weeks he confirmed with a knowing nod).
Sophie would be starting to wonder about him. It has been nearly eight weeks (just four days short of, he further reminded himself) as he replaced his earlier position at desk and chair in front of the computer.
If he left it just another four days And then two further weeks on top of that to make an even ten, he thought, (roughly two and a half months) his timing would be spot on. He stopped briefly to ponder. This time he would be calculated and meticulous, there would be no sinister compulsion coming from his side of the dealings. It was natural to assume that a friend and a friend who had a fight would mutually begin to think about one another after two and a half months (or ten weeks!) He knew and relied on the fact that Sophie would give thought to what he was up to and though she might not yet feel comfortable to personally approach him, there would be a time when bygones would – proverbially, or not – be let as bygones, of that he felt confident. His plan was now formulating at a quick speed, but he would be smooth about this, he would work in secret, tell no soul what he was doing. He would do things the same way, yet not make the same mistakes twice (nor any for that matter!)
David snapped the computer switch, uncovered the computer and sat eagerly awaiting the title screen, keen to type and keen also this time to get all things right! Opening the Projects stem of the ‘a’ drive, once inside the word-processor, he began a new file and started typing.
Hearing a drop outside the window, that sounded like an old paint tin or something of the like falling, and then a shuffle down the hallway (scurrying bare feet working with and through the plush carpet). David was paranoid that someone might catch him at his work. This time was special. This time would be secret. This time it would work.
It might even be Sophie.
What then would he do? She could not see these plans. He was trying to make it all good and make it all work. She could not intervene until he had the plans ready to go. What should he do? He heard the footsteps outside his bedroom in the flat getting closer now, and closer…
What then could he do?
It might be her.
It might be Sophie.
Closing the file, he figured all was done now on the computer front, he must wait two weeks and four days (ten weeks was right, practically two and a half months, ten weeks was right, ten would be just perfect!) But who was outside? Who was trying to ruin it for him for a second time?
Outside David’s bedroom, in the long twisting hallway, Sophie trembled and stood perfectly still around midway through the narrow passage.
David grabbed the paper cutting blade from the desk’s top draw and lured himself out through his window to investigate; he would surprise whoever it was from behind. Whoever it was was now in the house and David was not getting caught. He would follow the intruder’s steps from outside around to the back door and then back through his own house to confront whoever it was, who by then would have no doubt made it down the hall and into his room.
The sudden discontinuation of typing suggested to Sophie that David was no longer busy with whatever work it was that he had been doing. She had come to surprise him.
Sophie had with her a copy of the new Nick Cave album The Murder Ballads – she liked music but disliked Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (his backing band). David had, during the two-year tenure of their friendship forced her on the odd occasion to experience the music of Nick Cave and she had found each occasion very odd, not enjoying the music too much at all. She especially disliked the concept of this new album, the one she had in hand for David. Titled The Murder Ballads – and subtitled ‘ten songs about murder’ – she found the theme to be excessive, to say the least.
Inside David’s room and noticing in series that the window was wide open, that David was nowhere to be seen and that the power to the computer remained on (an error she felt was certainly out of character for the ‘Mr. Meticulous’ she had fallen out with).
She popped the new album in the stereo on a low volume – she would tolerate it if it meant giving her friend a second chance – but she would not play it at loud volumes! Snapping on the computer screen, Sophie decided to park herself in the still-warm cushion of David’s computer chair. She would leave a note saved into the computer, and would exit out the window, drop down by the roadside and make a clever escape, leaving the CD on repeat and a friendly note on the computer, she would leave her new number and tell David to call her, they’d go out some time for a movie or a meal. He would like that.
David would like that.
David was now outside his own bedroom door, crouched low and listening; had been for five minutes. He had heard in that time the soft clack of the computer keyboard, still in progress…
And unable to deal with the prospect of someone searching through his new file he leapt forward into his room, with the cutting blade held high over his head. He plunged the blade downwards toward the shoulder of the person sitting at his computer desk, just before impact Sophie turned to reveal to David the identity of who had sat typing at his keyboard. The strong downward arc of the blade in full motion could not be stopped, the blade of the cutting utensil forced itself deeply through Sophie’s left eye, snapping half way down, and leaving David’s wrist soaked in blood as his fist, attached to the handle, ended abruptly in the shallow dish of Sophie’s eye opening.
David reeled back when he finally understood what had happened; what he had done
He shuddered to hear the printer churn out a page of pristine white A4 paper.
Sophie’s head had dropped down against the mouse, clicking the print icon on the screen and accessing a recalled file from the Projects stem of the ‘a’ drive of David’s computer.
What David saw horrified him.
He swayed back, rocking on his right ankle, almost buckling fully and toppling over, yet managing to lean back against the base of his neatly made patterned-duvet bed. The page that had printed and was now dropping off was from a new file with the same heading of: A. /SOPHIEDOC.WW Again the file was a list with the title: ‘What I WANT and MUST DO TO GET IT in my Life’.
At this point, David, for the first time since his lethal re-entry into his own bedroom, (now resembling something more like a scene from an over-rated Wes Craven film) noticed the music in the background. Soft in level, but deep and rich in tone, the voice of Nick Cave now seemed to provide a dreaded underscore for the scene. What could he do? Paralysed, it seemed, he could not shut off the music which was by now already enweaved in his brain to forever remind him of this most selfish and ill-understood of bloody crimes. He rocked back on to the bed weeping, hands over his ears, yet somehow still able to hear every word of the awful Nick Cave:
So mothers keep your girls at home
Don’t let them journey out alone
Tell them this world is full of danger
And to shun the company of strangers
David rocked back and forth on the bed for what seemed like hours – but was in fact only a few short minutes – unable to get the words of the song out of his head.
As he slowly raised his head and strained to see through the fish-eyed glimpse of his tear-stained eyes, he saw the final resting imagine of Sophie. Her blonde hair now sickly wetted back and congealed in blood, stuck to the desk in a light strawberry shade.
And the darker, muddier, thicker crimson blood coated the once pristine white of the A4 typed page now stuck to the slick strands of her hair. Underneath the title, shadowed by the dark arcs of blood, and straining still to see through eyes that felt as if they had been whipped with fine horse hair, David could still see boldly, and italicised for clear effect, the one entry made under the title.
It would take a lot longer than four days and two weeks to block out the vision of this real nightmare. In fact, and he realised at that moment, edging towards the handle and half blade left, smattered thickly, darkly with blood, that it would take longer than his lifetime to forget the atrocity of that day of fate that had been nearly eight weeks in the making.
Taking the blade in half preparation to aim upon himself, David read aloud the statement made underneath the neatly typed (Times New Roman font) heading, bold and in italics, it was to be the last word he would ever be able to read or say aloud, and there is was that final image in 72pt sizing:
 Cave, Nick: The Kindness of Strangers, taken from The Murder Ballads, 1996
I first got involved in the Wellington film scene about ten years ago. It was a family movie about a lake monster. Kind of a Scottish Whalerider. I started in Paint, plastering the inside of a castle and I really enjoyed it. Met some great people in the art and construction departments – just surrounded by talent and hard work and it was all building up to the big wrap party.
On the night of the big bash there was an All Black test at the Cake Tin and Don had scored us some cheap tickets. So Don, Markus and I all headed off – dressed up to the nines (Don in his vampire guise if I remember correctly) – All Blacks/South Africa then big party on the set – good night ahead!
We get in fine and make it to our seats but as the teams are coming onto the field some other folks turn up saying the seats are theirs. The Police arrive and we are all taken aside. It turns out our tickets were genuine but stolen. Don explains how he bought them in good faith and the cops are all good. As are the ticket-people, they give us even better seats that are unclaimed and we settle down to the national anthems sitting amongst rugby royalty.
As the Haka starts we are dragged away again, this time by the stadium authorities who say we breach their insurance policy…
So we just go to the party.
And it rocks. It’s held in the rooms of the castle we made and it’s all laid on – fantastic food and booze and beautiful people I make up for missing the ABs by getting trashed.
About 2am I’ve hit the wall – no more, gotta get home. I’m walking out through the various sumptuous rooms when Don sees me and tells me I’ve got to stay and get my second wind. He hands me a beer and sits me down in the almost empty ballroom.
I drift off and when I come to, there are the two most beautiful women I’ve ever seen dancing on the empty dance floor. I watch them, spellbound. When one of them leaves the other comes up to me and pulls me up to dance.
Not known for my great dancing – I think I was on that night. It was eighties music, Cure and Talking Heads and it was like heaven. At one point she kicked off her shoes. We must have danced for hours then she said….
“It’s dawn” or “I’m Dawn”.
And then she kissed me.
And then she went.
I walked back to town from Stone Street.
Yesterday morning at 6:30am I arrived to walk Mt Eden Hill in Auckland City. It was dark and misty and there was dew on the ground. These are ideal circumstances for me as Auckland can get mighty hot and I miss the cool and damp mornings of Christchurch and Dunedin.
In the car park there was a white Holden Ute which seemed to be surrounded by an air of gloom. I could make out that sitting in the driver’s seat was a bearded bloke about forty years old and he was sitting listening to Scott Walker’s No Regrets at a high volume. A feeling of sadness permeated the entire car park and drifted off into the surrounding trees. Darkness settled on darkness and the shadows danced and I imagined for a brief moment that I saw the devil and he looked like Gregg Allman.
The whole scenario was like being at a Nick Cave concert except a lot cheaper. The guy running the lights was a lot better too. I suspect that sadness is a lot more exciting to people than hope and it definitely sells more records. Sadness can be a powerful marketing tool as most people understand and identify with it clearly, but I think that Scott Walker lives every inch of his sadness and I too find that very appealing. There is something incredibly genuine about Scott Walker who resisted the star machine and went his own way and on a pushbike, too.
I stood off in the distance and watched the Holden Ute just in case the situation was going to get worse. A man, once he’s started to listen to Scott Walker at 6.30am, is capable of doing just about anything and a number of these actions can be very destructive.
Yet, the Buddhists tell us that we are all merely stuck on a wheel and that our feelings will change, that we are in a cycle called ‘Samsara’ and that our feelings of sadness/suffering (‘Dukkha’) can be eliminated. I have a number of friends who study, intently, old Robert Mitchum and Sal Mineo movies in order that their Dukkha stays, but that’s a whole other story. Some of them make great art and music and they are wildly rewarded for this. So it’s in their best interests to stay stuck in the despair. You never want to interrupt that despair as it is a comfortable old coat to them like Gogol would have worn.
Then, I have acquaintances who vigorously mine politics and the awful and pitiful side of life and they get fifty likes on Facebook and so they set about getting even more depressed for the intermittent reinforcement.
I find Facebook to be a cruel and wicked joke on humanity and I long for the dear old days of the Grand Old Opry and the Hank Williams brand of genuine sadness and enormous talent. At some stage back then the notion of hope became a prevailing wind and I too bought an old Volkswagen Kombi and enjoyed the good life. Whereas I find Facebook to be a massive machine which is grinding the sensitive down into the dirt.
I had a friend last week telling me via an angry and frustrated Facebook message that he was drinking Tequilla and unless I unfriended his former wife then he was going to unfriend me. He used the word ‘Goddamn’ and said he would give me ‘One more day!’ He’s a great musician and a genuinely good bloke who, for a moment, was at the end of his tether. We’ve all been there Bubba. I hear talk all around the camp fire of people being hurt via Facebook and of bullying and ‘obtuse’ comments. I long for the days when you could only fit twenty five people into a Volkswagen Kombi, a full p.a. system and a half pound in the glove box and you knew what everyone was genuinely thinking. You tied the drum kit to the roof and everyone knew the drummer was best when he hung off the side mirror with his feet dragging on the ground. Boy, I’ve met some…
Don’t get the idea that I’m saying if one acts in a certain way then one’s sadness will disappear. I would never say that. I spent a long time trying to override my sadness and in the end it came home to me like a steam locomotive down the end of a tunnel on the Oamaru line. It was just like when I was a kid and a boy called Keith Jopp died in the bed next to me at Dunedin Public Hospital. I saw him drift away and if you want fucking sadness then this is it. But I try not to dwell on it or to make gains out of it.
I find one of the choices that really helps to cancel out sadness is kindness. I really like George Saunders as a writer as he can string together many nutty and joyous ideas in a single sentence. He also writes about the dark and perverse side of the American Dream in a way that has me hanging onto my ass in case it falls off. The only writers who make me laugh as hard or get me thinking more are Barry Hannah and Thomas Pynchon. Then, when I want to really be in my cups, I always read William Faulkner. My dad read William Faulkner and managed to stay sad for the last twenty years of his life. But, by God, I love my dad so and I miss him every day.
George Saunders talks about the ‘failure of kindnesses’. These are times in his life when he was faced with a chance to be kind and just didn’t do it for one reason or another (anxiety, fear etc). Times when he could have said something kind to someone and this could have made a real difference. In an interview, he describes being kind as ‘our greatest ecstasy’ and this I know to be true.
Sometimes I sit and think about the people along the way who have been incredibly kind to me and I feel the incredible flow of warmth that George Saunders speaks of. Unfortunately, like a lot of people, I can get stuck in the groove of thinking of the people who haven’t been warm to me and next thing I’m reading William Faulkner again… but I try to arrest the process by thinking of the nurse in the hospital who helped calm me after Keith Jopp died, of my dad buying me a typewriter when I was ten and Miss Johnstone at Arthur Street Primary School in Dunedin who told me when I was a kid that I could write.
I would respectfully point out that sadness is distinctly different from depression and I have suffered from clinical depression at least twice in my life and it’s no picnic and ‘jollying up’ becomes a hated notion, object, and item. People who tell depressed people to just be happy deserve a visit from Omar Little. Omar has a code and it’s one I also believe in.
Anyway, what happened in the car park at Mt Eden is that the bloke’s girlfriend came screaming up the hill (maybe he made a call) and slammed to a halt beside him in her little Toyota. My work was now done and so I left.
They might have been parting, I don’t know, but when I came back down the hill 45 minutes later they were standing in a park with their arms around each other. Actually, they may have been brother and sister. I don’t know and, hell, stranger things have happened at sea.
It’s love, comfort, and kindness that keep us all going. And there is nothing quite as powerful as reaching out to another human being even though he may be the drummer. The Scott Walker moments in life keep me going.
A Tinker’s Cuss started life on the Phantom Billstickers Facebook page – it’s a new feature here at Off The Tracks and we’re repeating the earliest posts before carrying on with new words from Jim Wilson.
This Saturday, the 19th of April, brings the seventh annual International Record Store Day.
Slow Boat has been with it since the start, in 2008, when it was almost more of an idea, or concept than a real, actual, genuine thing. Now there is a flash website, Chuck D is the Record Store Day ambassador, and there are supporting quotes from Paul McCartney, Iggy Pop, Henry Rollins.
There has been some criticism that it has just become another way for the big companies to fleece us, the music-buying public, with unnecessary re-presses of things we already own, and that online retailers buy up the limited releases for sale at grossly inflated prices. I totally get this, and am happy to say we have never held back anything for later sale (once the day is over, though, I reckon everything is fair game).
There seems to be a common misunderstanding that we just get presented with a whole bunch of stuff with which to make our millions – not quite the case (I wish it were!). We order what we can of the limited stocks, and what we get is often incomplete, or in substantially smaller quantities than we had hoped for. This year it looks pretty good – Universal Music NZ look to have done a grand old job of getting the limited titles in, and there are some things I’m really looking forward to getting – the Nirvana Penny Royal Tea 7”, Sam Cooke’s Ain’t That Good News on LP. Southbound Distribution also get a bunch of titles through – opening the boxes of RSD goodies is the closest I can recall to actually being excited about Xmas!!
The other thing we always try to do here at Slow Boat is to make it a bit of an event. Last year we hosted the magnificent Mr David Kilgour – it was a bit of a dream come true, to be honest, the previous year an amazing performance from Mr Lawrence Arabia and chums. And this year is to be no exception.
This year we play host to an artist who is unquestionably one of our greatest singers and songwriters – Mr Dave Dobbyn. Again, it’s a bit of a dream to host such an icon of New Zealand music, and the composer of so many wonderful, wonderful songs. How did this happen, you might well ask? Well, simple, really – we asked him. And, after waiting on seeing whether his writing and recording schedule would render it impossible, he said yes. And it’s going to mean a great deal to host Dave here for this most special day on the record store calendar.
Joining Mr Dobbyn will be another couple of singer-songwriters who we just happen to love – local fella Louis Baker, who has one of the finest voices we’ve heard in a while, and the lovely and extremely talented Ms Julia Deans.
The thing that we want out of this more than anything else is your energy, your enthusiasm. We want people to have an experience. It’s great to see people bringing their toddlers and kids in, in the knowledge that someone’s first experience of live music may be here in the store – the “temple of the music”, as Lou Barlow described it when he played an instore here a couple of weeks back, and that it may be with The Phoenix Foundation, or David Kilgour, or, indeed Dave Dobbyn. It gets people – performers, as well as audience – back to that essential experience of why they loved music in the first place.
Which sometimes feels like an easy thing to forget, when we are so surrounded by media, entertainment, distractions. I often draw the analogy of the modern world being like a gigantic buffet table, where everyone is hungry, but no-one knows where to start eating, or what they may enjoy. I feel like Slow Boat helps provide that filtering service – wading through all the stuff that is released that we may separate the wheat from the chaff, and share it with you.
If anything, Record Store Day is a day to celebrate this – to celebrate our unique place in the musical fabric of Cuba Street, and Wellington, and New Zealand, and to give thanks for having the ongoing ability to share this with you – hopefully you are able to come and celebrate with us – there will be prize draws and limited edition vinyl releases as well as the instores, and hopefully plenty to surprise and thrill!
Bravo, Slow Boat customers – we thank you from the bottom of our hearts (that sounds like a song!) for choosing and supporting us, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to give this back to you.
is he’s too busy now – trying
to save the world.
Flying around the world (in his private jet)
saying “save the planet” and playing concerts
through million-watt sound systems
but he doesn’t want to talk about
It, he says,
speaks for itself.
He wants to concentrate
on the atmosphere, the ozone; the air that we breathe.
He says he wants
to see the poor people get some.
He charges hundreds just to see his band.
He says he wants to do some good.
He says he does it for the love.
He says, “presidents, leaders, people, please,
stop hurting one-another”. He says, “listen to
our music, buy our records. We will lend a hand”.
He says he wants a revolution, when John Lennon said it
long before. (And better!)
He says all he wants is diamonds
on a ring of gold. When all I want is U2 to never
release another record.
But the thing about Bono is
he’s so busy.
He’s having his photo taken again.
In my first two years in Wellington I worked at the Arts Centre in Willis St. It was a kind of PEP work scheme for artists set up by Grahame Nesbit and Colin Knox and all kinds of great people came through there. I was there as a musician/songwriter but wound up doing lots of different things.
1981 – Ewan Upston was putting a cast together for a season at Bats theatre and wanted me to be part of it. The play was Gimme Shelter by Barrie Keefe and he already had Peter Hambleton, Joanne Mildenhall and Brian Sergent – all fine actors. It was three plays in one – Gem, Gotcha and Getaway and I took it home and read the first play.
I had done lots of performing but no real acting at this point. The character I was to play had about three lines and I thought I can do that – do my cockney accent. I went into rehearsal and Ewan asked if I thought I was up to it. I said yeah no problem and they all looked at me.
“Did you read the second play? You play the Kid.”
In the second play the Kid holds two of his teachers and his headmaster hostage in a shed, holding a lit cigarette over the petrol tank of a motorbike. It’s a heavy piece. I’m 23 and the kid is 16 and has a ton of lines…
We start work on the first play and I keep botching my three lines – everyone’s worried except Ewan. We get to the second play and I’m sitting on a chair pretending it’s a motorbike going through my lines with my cockney accent with the slight lisp added to differentiate from my first character and everyone is underwhelmed. Then two friends walk into the back of the hall and I suddenly have an audience and I take on the Kid and start to threaten the other actors, take control in an out of control way. The post punk in me comes out.
When we get into Bats Theatre we have a trail bike from Wellington Motorcycles to use in the show. They assured us that there was no petrol in the tank and it had been washed out. Ewan decides to test it there on stage, he holds a lit match over the open tank – all good then he blows it out and throws it in.
BOOM!! Fumes or whatever – the bike’s on fire!
Someone grabs the fire extinguisher and it’s empty. I go running two doors down and get the fire brigade. They get the engine and travel a few metres to the fire. By this time Ewan’s got a blanket over it and put it out.
The firemen are all good and take the bike out the back of the station and hose it out properly for us.
I’ll never forget that feeling, standing in the darkness of the wings waiting to come on to the sound of those creepy opening bars of the Stones’ Gimme Shelter. Shivers.
The play was a big hit – sold out by the end of its run but got a crap review.
I’ve been back in New Zealand now from New Jersey for about six weeks. The Air New Zealand flight out of San Francisco was cancelled and in the end I had to take a plane out of Los Angeles. This process meant that I had to call Air New Zealand six times over the course of a day and was put on hold for more than an hour in total. During these assorted times on hold, I heard Six Months in a Leaky Boat eight times. This was a perfectly decent song which has been ruined by excessive air play. It is not the only one.
I read Morrissey’s autobiography over the Pacific and at some point I had to be restrained in my seat as he worked through the thoroughly sad details of his life. I found the book compelling and un-put-down-able as I recognized in full depth the music industry he was describing. Then, on my return to Aotearoa, I read a further article about Morrissey. I was by now intrigued and feeling like I was part of his family bringing him tea, cake and commiserations. “There there…that Johnny Marr he’s just bad chook…here, have a wee slice…let me rub your precious wee tum…that guy from the record company has got you all wrong…” This new article was in the Uncut magazine and noted that Morrissey has had a number of health issues and other miscellaneous hindrances during this last year. I feel kind of sorry for the man because his talent is huge…but maybe that’s what he wants, for us all to feel sorry for him and to somehow act as cake carriers who will understand and be with him on every single little thing he does. Maybe the world just rewards people who have all these obstacles between them and happiness? I’m hopeful this isn’t the case. There is no end of people relaying their illnesses and grievances on Facebook and I too had surgery a month back but I refuse to whine.
I reckon the man who pokes his head up out of the fox hole of life will have all manner of strange and unusual things happening to him. It’s best to not listen to the noise.
We have to remember that Elvis died on the bog back in 1977 trying to work out quite what was happening to him. I think what happened to him was called Doctor Nick.
So, I miss New Jersey: the snowstorms, the river canals, the old book shops, the guys down at the gas station talking like ‘real men’ and the men fixing the road wearing Carharrt from head to toe. The distinct lack of ‘political correctness’ makes the air very fresh. That’s when people appear as being truly equal.
I miss the sound of V8 engines clanking down the streets of Lambertville and then there are the women in the restaurants and cafes calling you ‘hon’ and meaning it and also the row houses and the illegal Mexicans pitching for work outside the 7/11s and wearing big smiles and guitars. I even miss the New Jersey Turnpike. The Garden State is the only place in the world where Bruce Springsteen feels truly authentic and you have to be eating a White Castle burger down in Colt’s Neck to think that. You may even go searching for Southside Johnny on the Jersey Shore.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman died and that threw me a bit. He had 70+ packets of Heroin scattered through his apartment. In this apartment he also had various medications for curtailing addiction and probably among them was Buprenorphine (Temgesic in New Zealand) which has been the ‘drug of choice’ in treating opiate addiction over these last ten years or so. It has come into vogue ever since it had been noted that Methadone often brings people more problems than it solves.
You see the ‘authorities’ want quick answers and they prefer to think that one drug of addiction cures the need for another. There’s also a great deal of money built into this reasoning. From memory, Heroin was developed in the 1870s and part of the thinking was that doctors wanted an answer to Morphine addiction. People have all kinds of ideas and there are myths about this sort of thing, but in the US Civil War Morphine addiction became a big factor, during and after that bloodthirsty conflict. If you gave a soldier a shot of Morphine (the syringe having just been developed or initially in widespread use in medicine) and then left him behind at Antietam, he then looked around and thought he was on Park Avenue. And that’s when it first came to him that he was a truly remarkable, talented and unique human spirit. That’s also how jazz music came to be. Stoned guy looks around and thinks “I can play to this…” Half his body may be missing but he feels fine.
What’s not addictive about that?
My own views on drug addiction tell me that there are no pharmaceutical cures and that true junkies are just the loneliest guys on the planet. I had a shrink back in Christchurch City in about 1974 who was writing my Methadone script and he said to me one day (and it has stuck in my mind): “Jim, there is no chemical nirvana”.
Well, I don’t believe there is.
Complete abstinence can be a very hard thing, but I believe it is the only road to take. Then there are certain factors that make it easier and a 12 Step Program may be one. To me the essential thing is to clear the head and give up the struggle and to plant new seeds. Having good friends matters a lot and physical exercise makes a huge difference. It always helps to have a project through where you can bring out what is at the bottom of your soul and which is ‘true’, something with which you are completely happy and never mind the accolades or awards. You want to find that hallowed place of ‘self acceptance’. It is the only place worth going.
Living in close proximity to Heroin (as Phillip Seymour Hoffman did) is not good for any addict. You might call this ‘The Coca Cola Effect” in that if you have Coca Cola available you will possibly then drink it. Still there is not much of a movie industry in Fairbanks, Alaska to run to and no doubt there is a lot of Oxycontin there as well. Supply and Demand…the same old story. The answer is in self acceptance and turning off your own arse kicking machine.
The most interesting thing I have read about since returning ‘home’ is the conclusion of a trial in Christchurch where Lucille Scollay has just been found not guilty of murder (but guilty of manslaughter) after killing her husband, Guy “Guido” Scollay. Guy used to frequent a venue I booked in Christchurch many years ago (The Gladstone Hotel) and said venue was a meeting point for many people from various backgrounds and the audience was often more interesting than the bands. In fact some of the bands should have paid to watch the audience. I very remotely knew Guido (a lot was happening at the time). I certainly knew many people like him.
These two (‘Guido’ and ‘Lulu’) ended up on Methadone and it seems that they both became very depressed and for a long time (20 years). Guido didn’t usually leave their flat on Edgeware Road (he was agoraphobic) and he stayed in bed and read constantly and lived on coffee and toast. Sometimes he went to the supermarket at 7.30am when there were no people about or he went to collect his Methadone. For two decades he lived this way like an Underground Man.
Guido was once a very bright man and full of spark. Just like Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain and Elvis Presley. There have been hundreds of thousands of others who have perished and I have a moment of silence for them each and every day.
It seems Lulu got clean and wanted to change their lives, to ‘jump the barrier’ or to ‘leap out of this life in a single bound’ (as is Raskolnikov’s desire in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment). Many people have written about ‘peak experiences’ (Maslow and Colin Wilson) and a ‘super consciousness’ where people’s minds are elevated and they can see a clear road ahead. Guido waited twenty years.
Sometimes an alcoholic or addict manages to get a ‘moment of clarity’ and they must build on these experiences. It is essential to lock out the noise and people banging on Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s door telling him he was the greatest character actor of modern times must have been very difficult indeed.
Lulu came home one night after drinking and sat astride Guido in bed and stabbed him in the heart. As he was dying, and she was sobbing, he forgave her. Wouldn’t you? She cured his misery for him. Of course she will never forget this but I do hope she has a happier life.
I think every junkie is trying to find a way to leap the barrier that comes into place between them and real life. Sometimes a good shake does it but often it takes more than that to leave old and destructive ways behind. William James famously said something that meant that addicts (or alcoholics) need a huge spiritual and mental displacement.Either he said it or it’s in the Alcoholics Anonymous ‘Big Book’ – whichever way, the statement is true. Getting clean from a real drug is hard work.
I got my first big wake-up call in the ‘Pound’ (maximum security punishment block) in Her Majesty’s Prison at Paparua in 1976. I was sentenced to six weeks in the block for possession of Nembutal (the drug that killed Marilyn Monroe) in Rolleston prison. They cut the sentence back to four weeks when they found that was the maximum term applicable.
Rolleston Prison was an interesting place and I was sent there because it was my first time in jail. It was home to NZ’s longest serving prisoner, Stanley Reid the necrophiliac. Stan had served something like 30-something years at this point and his was an ominous figure ambling up and down the wing with his pillowslip full of valuable things across his shoulder. Also in the jail was Alf (‘Cyclops’) Vincent the notoriouskidfucker who was famous for running up and down the food line and yelling, “It was little girls not little boys…I’m not queer!” I think he’s still in there.
Stan Reid was released to a nunnery when he was in his eighties until the day he tried to rape a nun. What he said was, “I’m a real bad bastard.” It must be horrible to live with that. I think addicts, in living a double and illegal life, live with this sort of thing a lot – “I’m a real bad bastard.” They are always surrounded by shame, remorse, disgust and fear. Sooner or later we must let them in out of the cold because they are simply dying out there behind the closed and locked door of moralization.
Anyway, I was sent to the pound at Paparua and one begins to suffer from ‘sensory deprivation’. In other words there are no distractions from the mind. One cannot go out and buy a coffee or a White Castle burger and there is no music playing, nor books to read. There is no one to talk to (My Mate Eru Hall was down the Pound with me at this point and I may have previously written about that). There is certainly no Facebook page in the punishment block, or huge sporting events and getting bigger. There’s no Prozac or alcoholic orgasms stumbling on the streets of Auckland at 3am and getting nasty as well.
There’s just you in those walls and you are more fucked up as each day goes by.
The three screws who primarily ran the Pound were Jimmy Robinson, McGuire, and Paddy Hunt (Mister C’Hunt…). The first two were with the New Zealand Army in Vietnam and one could respect them for being good, staunch men. Jimmy Robinson became quite important to me and he died an alcoholic’s death a few years later. He was a good man who let you know his boundaries a half mile before you came to them. He’d sooner bash you than listen to your crap and I can appreciate that. I think that’s often what people like Morrissey need. They have all the money in the world and unlimited time to moan. The singing is beautiful moaning and it ceases to be real when they have all that acclaim.
Anyway, I needed something to lift me out of my ways which will always (always) lead me back to Heroin/Opiates if I let them. If I get in a certain mood, I become like Guido and I don’t care if I have to wait twenty years in a prison cell…unless I jump the barrier I am going to end up in the wrong place at the wrong time and I will get stoned. That’s just the fact of a life. Junk Addiction is likely to be the biggest thing that has ever happened in your life and it takes a lot of daily work to get over it.
The first big thing that ever helped me to ‘jump the barrier’ happened in that Pound in Paparua. That was the first time I ever knew I could stay clean, the first mere inkling and a glimpse of hope. I got depressed and they called a Justice Department ‘Shrink’ to see me. After three weeks in that cell I wasn’t moving or saying anything. You couldn’t move in there anyway, you could only sit on your concrete shelf all day and stare at the wall. You didn’t know what time it was. After a while the wall starts moving and there are designs and patterns…and then the noise comes…oh there’s no one there to be making that noise, but it all comes of its own accord. It sounds like Six Months on a Leaky Boat over and over and over and you don’t even have to call Air New Zealand or the tax department.
I said to this shrink, “Man I feel like committing suicide but there’s nothing in here to do it with…”
His reply was, “Use your teeth…”
That’s what helped me jump the barricade out of my own self pity that day and put me on the track to a better future. Neither Phillip Seymour Hoffman nor Guido got that. That’s the sad truth of it.
A Tinker’s Cuss started life on the Phantom Billstickers Facebook page – it’s a new feature here at Off The Tracks and we’re repeating the earliest posts before carrying on with new words from Jim Wilson.
The Velvet Underground
took their name
from the cover
of a cheap trashy porno-novel.
That’s kinda neat, don’t ya think?
I mean, come on – they sang about sex,
and violins were always
threatening to stay in tune. They sang about
needles and hey, they played on garbage
tin lids, when Mo’ lost her drums that time.
Sterling did a fine job – his fuzzy warblings weaving
in and around Lou’s views. They took their name
from the cover of a cheap trashy porno-novel; kinda neat
don’t ya think? Are you still reading this? What more
is there to say? Buy their 4 albums immediately.
Here’s the set-list for last night’s Purple Reign 2 DJ set. Started just before 9pm with a few warm-up records, then into the Prince until around 1am or so. There were a few new people in the audience – including an American woman who was insulted that she could not tip me and a guy who got a little scared when, after asking what was up next, I replied that I Wanna Be Your Lover. There were also a few people who had been at the first Purple Reign evening and were back for more. Good effort. Here’s how it all went down…
1. Knight Brothers, Love (Can’t You Hear Me)
2. Big Bo and The Arrows, Iron Horse
3. The Fury, Zing Went The Strings
4. Clarence & Calvin, Rooster Knees & Rice
5. Higgs and Wilson, Sha-Ba-Dah
6. Sheila E., A Love Bizarre
7. Joni Mitchell, The Jungle Line
8. Sebastien Tellier, L’amour naissant
9. Miles Davis, Full Nelson
10. Stevie Wonder, I Was Made To Love Her
11. Mr Sterile, Let Red Corvette
1. [Interview Snippet]
2. When The Lights Go Down (The Vault: Old Friends 4 Sale)
3. Anna Stesia (Lovesexy)
4. Love Or Money (B-side)
5. Joy In Repetition (Graffiti Bridge)
6. Lady Cab Driver (1999)
7. Sister (Dirty Mind)
8. Daddy Pop (Diamonds and Pearls)
9. Anotherloverholenyohead (Parade)
10. Soft and Wet (For You)
11. Private Joy (Controversy)
12. My Name Is Prince (Love Symbol)
13. Illusion, Coma, Pimp and Circumstance (Musicology)
14. Irresistible Bitch (B-side)
15. 17 Days (B-side)
16. Money Don’t Matter 2 Night (Diamonds and Pearls)
17. Sign O’ The Times (Sign O’ The Times)
18. When Doves Cry (Purple Rain)
19. Head (Dirty Mind)
20. Controversy (Controversy)
21. P-Control (The Gold Experience)
22. Gett Off (Diamonds and Pearls)
23. I Wanna Be Your Lover (Prince)
24. Raspberry Beret (Around The World In A Day)
25. Partyman (Batman)
26. Kiss (Parade)
27. Erotic City (B-side)
28. Computer Blue (Purple Rain)
29. Musicology (Musicology)
30. 1999 (1999)
31. Strange Relationship (One Nite Alone…Live!)
32. When U Were Mine (One Nite Alone…Live!)
33. The Beautiful Ones (Purple Rain)
34. 7 (Love Symbol)
35. U Got The Look (Sign O’ The Times)
36. Housequake (Sign O’ The Times)
37. Alphabet Street (Lovesexy)
38. Black Sweat (3121)
39. Partyup (Dirty Mind)
40. Chelsea Rodgers (Planet Earth)
41. Superfunkycalifragisexy (The Black Album)
42. Cream (Diamonds and Pearls)
43. I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man (Sign O’ The Times)
44. Face Down (Emancipation)
45. Dig U Better Dead (Chaos & Disorder)
46. If Eye Was The Man In Your Life (Musicology)
47. Pop Life (Around The World In A Day)