Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Eel River to Vancouver (cameo by young Naut)

Okey doke, time to wish everyone a Merrry Christmas and Happy New Year, deep from behind enemy lines down Bondi way.  Too many ratsackers to drown, not enough time.  Doc Y - I may be following up on that Dog Shit Killers thing.  Got an idea or two.  Depends whether I can give it enough legs or not.

I ended up in Eel River youth hostel after a party ride up from San Francisco.  The hostel was part of a holdiay resort run by an Aussie couple, Bruce and Jan McKinney.  They'd bought the place after travelling the world and rather fancied a lifestyle set by a pretty fine looking river.  The youth hostel was pretty new, the bar was nice and friendly and I settled in for a few beers.  Bruce helped me check in, showed me the basics and then helped me with beer.  Jan was preparing for the July 4th celebrations the next day.  There were a few groups of campers and people who had rented out cabins but not many of them hung in the bar for long.  Jan played some cool tunes on the steroe and I was well chilled by the time I hit the rack.

I slept in until about 10.00 then wandered off to the nearest shop, about a mile away to get some food.  When I came back I cooked up a whole heap of bacon, eggs, nushrooms and tomatoes.  Enough to help feed a couple of other of the hostel stayers.  They in turn donated Millers Draught.  Good people, well done.
I took a good walk around the site.  It was Fourth of July and there were family groups all around, partaking in holiday type activities.  There were people playing horsehoes, others throwing footballs, another marked out a rough diamond and started up= a game of slow pitch.  While I watched, they asked if I'd like to join in.
So I took up a position in left field and waited for someone to hit the ball to me.  After about half an hour their inning was ended and I'd fielded one mis hit drive on the half volley.  I was then put in batting at number five.  We needed eight runs to win.  Luckily by the time I got up to bat we only needed two more runs and were only one out.  I jagged an RBI, hitting a double beyond right field's grasp and was batted in by the next bloke up who hit a home run.  Woo hoo!  After that it was beers all around and a lot of questions.  I was used to this and had developed standard responses to probes about why I was there and what I was doing.
After a couple of beers I left them to their family fun and went back to the hostel area where we fired up a barbecue.  The standard American fare of hot dogs and burgers were on display and tasted might fine as the afternoon wore on.  The river was very brisk, ran fast and I didn't risk a big swim, just sticking close to the bank, in the shallows.  Even then it took me 50 metres downstream without a lot of effort. I tried swimming back upstream but gave up.  It was stronger than the rip you get down at Tamarama, the one you can ride out for a while before cutting across and in to Bronte.  If you can be bothered.

A bunch of canoeists paddled past, (more jetted past really) as the sun started sinking.  The whole atmosphere was very laid back so I went to the bar where Bruce was just starting to open for business.  I traded him a few of my warm Miller Draught for cold ones and sat back in a group of people who were happily celebrating their country's independence.  There wasn't the overt patriotism which outsiders often expect, just a "yeah, ain't it grand" sort of vibe.  I had been expecting a lot of over the top exuberance but it simply wasn't there.  The picture of a Latino family playing a game of horseshoes whilst sipping on Buds or Coke and "whoo"-ing each time someone hit the spike sort of summed it up for me.

I walked around again and was invited to a couple of different tables where I asked the people about what July 4 meant.  One guy summed it up by explaining how it represented throwing off an oppressor to give the American people the right to impose their own brand of government, be it good or bad.  It might be bad at times but it was their right to make it bad and then fix it if need be.  The rest of the night I alternated between the bar and the hostel crew.  When I kipped out that night I was satisfied that I'd seen a glimpse of a real part of America, and it made me happy.

When I awoke the next morning it was to the smell of sizzling bacon.  I'll swear to the end of days that this smell is stamped in the synapse of every human brain.  Its way better than an alarm clock and will rouse even the drunkest sod.  Its all to do with the promise of bacon goodness.  Nothing can revive a person any faster than that.  Funnily enough it was the remains of my bacon stash which were being cooked.  Yeah, I remember now.  Help yourselves was my offer.  Idiot.  I quickly got up and went into the kitchen where I was met by the sight of a hungover couple busily manipulating three pans, cooking up bacon, eggs and pancakes. I had a quick shower and came back to see a table laden with breakfasty goodness and a group of hungry hostelliers trwoelling it down.  They'd set aside a place, a plate and cutlery so I joined them.  It was fucking delicious.  They had real butter and maple syrup for the pancakes and the bacon was cooked just right.  They'd even done a damn fine job with the scrambled eggs, using cream instead of milk.  Turns out they'd done a stint as cooks at a campus kitchen in San Diego.  I congratulated them on their efforts, packed my gear and headed out.  On the way out I stopped in to say goodbye to Bruce and Jan. They were top hosts and proved their worth even more through Jan handing me a couple of cold Miller for the trip.  The road was calling, I needed to hit Calgary before the Stampede closed and there were a lot of miles to be covered before then.

The greyhound picked me up "a hunnert yards or so" from the hostel.  My rough plan was to go to Newport and stand outside the yacht club demanding free beer on behalf of all Australia, following the triumph of Australia Two a couple of years previously in the America's Cup.  even though it was the N.Y. yacht club who'd lsot the thing (I think) I reckoned that as Newport was the Cup's spiritual home, a few beers would be in order for a conquering hero such as myself.  Well, scuttle that plan, I was diverted to Portland instead through a combination of fucking up with timetables and impatience.  I was in a strange sort of fogged up consciousness as the bus pulled onto the main highway.  I looked down at a "family truckster".  It was a typical rental driven by families doing a holiday trip.  As it slowly slid past I saw a kid in the back holding a model of a green frog, pointing up at me and explaining something to the frog. The frog looked angry. On the back of the car was a small sign announcing "Nautilus Family Vacation".  I slipped out of the fog, blinked my eyes and the car was gone.  Obviously this never really happened but nautilus and I figured that we were in the same part of the U.S. that year, so I reckon it was entirely possible that at some stage one of my Greyhounds had been passed by his family's rental car.

When I hit Portlland I was once again suffering "bus lag".  I checked into the hostel and chekced out the city.  Bought myself a pair of Levis and decided to get a travelling companion.  I couldn't resist a Gumby.  I didn't buy his little plastic pony pal, Pokey but I was happy to have Gumby along for the ride.


So it was that for the rest of my travels Gumby was along for the ride.
At night I hit a local pub and fell in amongst a crew from England and New Zealand.  Needless to say it was messy.  I'm sure the Kiwi blokes were called Tim.  All of them are and they're either tow truck drivers, electrical technicians or all-rounders who are good at everything so they'll say.  This lot weren't too bad.  They even showed some nouse of  breaking into hostels after curfew,  which for once made me feel relieved.  I wasn't the one having to somehow get us back inside.  In the morning it was a quick shower, pack up and off.  I decdied to go to Fort Columbia.  Dunno why, it just seemed like a good thing at the time.  I had to hitch across to it after the bus dropped me off near the seaside.  When I got there I found it wasn't much at all.  I should have hit the main town and splurged on a B&B or something.  I walked around, the setting being scenic 'n all but it was pretty much spoiled an hour or so later as I was cooking up some pasta for Gumby and me.  Cyclists.  Fucking full on, born again cyclists.  One of the worst hostel nights of my life.  Next morning I got up early but not as early as these nutjobs.  Fuck they were annoying.  I hitched a ride across the bridge in a pick up truck and explained to owner about the cyclists.  He just muttered something about how he has to scrape them off the underneath the drive train every couple of days.

So it was back to Portland where I got myself a Swiss army knife, a six pack of Miller, a bag of cashews and a flask of Beam.  Then I hit the Greyhound terminal to grab a long haul to Vancouver.  Remember, I needed to make Calgary before the end of the Stampede and I also wanted to spend a couple of days in Vancouver. There was an Expo on and I heard it had a couple of beer halls. Well, a bloke has to have some sort of goals don't he?  Especially when he's far from home in a strange land and his only company is an unanimated green man called Gumby.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


G'day folks and welcome back.  First up, well done to the Brisbane birgers for finally getting your dozey fucking acts together and having a feed and a drink with Birmo.  Secondly, apologies for anyone expecting a more prolific output but shit happens, ya know?  Lastly, thanks for hanging in. 

I believe I was in 'Frisco last time we met so that's where I'll pick it up.  Ignore the spelling errors, I couldn't be arsed with spell check.

I had some much needed breakfast being slightly tired and hungover from the previous day's winery tour and evening drinking.  As I finished my feed I looked up and saw a really weird looking bloke wearing army camouflage clothes and a pair of those really thick 'nerd' glasses.  He immediately started talking about how he was going to the amazon and rely on his hard won survival skills to see him through.  Right.  His clothes looked brand new and he was pale, very pale for someone who led an outdoors life.  He then started telling us how he had ripped out the beating hearts of a gang leader in a back alley in New York City, "just like they do in the Green Berets". 
This was becoming ludicorus yet somewhat amusing.  After a few minutes we begged off and headed out.  I still had a rented Colt to return to Rent a Wreck and didn't want to cop any extra charges.  Marion was with me, kindly keeping me company.  She did seem a bit on edge but I put it down to the neurotic army wannabe. Just before the main entrance we saw Captain America's pack.  He had the largest army pack he could have bought and it was festooned with brand new mess kit, water bottles, ground sheet, poncho and all sorts of army surplus bits and pieces.  He even had a lamp hanging off the fucking thing.  This bloke had a very serious Walter Mitty complex.  I reckon in later years he'd be the sort to walk around his high school with a semi automatic rifle and make a bloody sorry name for himself.  As we walked past a couple of others had a giggle as well, one of them saying,
"That figures.  What a fruit loop."
I just laughed and walked on.  Luckily I had Marion with me to remember where I'd slid the Colt the previous night.  Then I remembered that I was driving once again in America.  Keep to the Right.  Got that?
Sure thing Therbs, let's go.  Surprisingly, given hangover and uncertainty of directions I managed to smartly take us to Rent a Wreck, at one stage even gunning the Colt to see what it would do.  Ended up revving the crap out of the engine and hitting about 70 (mph).  Poor car.  Problem was after I handed it back to the Rent a Wreck crew we had to make our way back somehow.  Cab?  Nup, too expensive.  Maybe we need to think about this and where best to think about things but in a bar.  So that was us for the next hour necking down a couple of Miller Draught and killing a hangover.  Marion explained that she had a boyfriend she'd met a month or so ago and he lived in Denver and that was where she was heading next.  That's it Therbs, draw a line through this one and move on.  I explained my mission to be in Calgary before the end of the Stampede.  That gave me about ten days to get there.  We discussed the usual travel shit and asked the locals about buses, how to get back to the hostel.  They then engaged us in conversation about where we were from and before I knew it I was once again in the grip of the Curious Drinker.  The bar we'd chosen wasn't a glam place, it was a regular, working bar, the kind I was usually attracted to.  Mainly due to price.
Nevertheless we were bought some drinks, I shouted a round back at them and was settling in for a promising afternoon cum evening of hoisting some suds jars but Marion had other ideas.  Sensible ideas.  Like we had to check out of the hostel and I was booked onto a Greyhound that night heading north.  Oh yeah, that's right.  I'd decided to go to Eel River for some reason.  Maybe because the term Eel River in the original language of the first Australians was said to be Parramatta.  Now I realised that Eel River would be nothing like Parramatta, mainly because they'd probably have a good Rugby League team unlike those slimy bastards who don the blue and yellow each year down Parramatta way.  Fucking flanno wearing westie wankers.

Sorry, where was I?  Sorry about the Parra rant.  But they are a bunch of dickheads.  ANyways we said bye-bye to the barflies and headed back to the hostel.  I was all packed up ready to go and hung around outside talking to various people, including a bloke on his way home to Sydney after a few months ratsacking around the U.S. and Canada.  He was from Eastlakes.  He gave me a few tips and highly recommended the train trip between Vancouver and Clagary so I locked that one in, thanks Ed.  This fine little discussion was interrupted by Marion.  She was unhappy.  Unhappy enough to be in tears.  She was out of money and couldn't cash in her return bus ticket to Denver.  Her boyfirend wasn't home either to help out with some Western Union magic.  Salvation almost arribed in the form of someone heading sort of East and in the general direction of Denver and after enwuiries were made it was decided she could grab a ride.  The same Salvation then did the biggest fucking runner since that Greek bloke who died after running the first marathon.  Not only did it run out but was yelping like ascolded dog as it streaked away.  This was because we spotted what was loaded in the back of the car.  Captain America's army surplus store.  Then he appeared in full camo regalia.  I looked at Marion, she looked at me and I was shaking my head in a most definite manner.  Surely we could figure out a solution.  Captain America hopped in the front passenger seat and demanded to know,
"Are you coming or not?!  This was said in a loud, whiny, nasallly nerdy, very unsoldierly voice.
Marion shook her head, mouthing "No!."
I just simply said,
"Good luck in the Amazon, mate.  Don't rip out too many hearts."
We waved bye-bye to Salvation and bye-bye to a fate worse than death.  Still, Marion was upset.  We hung around, shooting the shit, thinking of options for Marion.  Greg from Eastlake broke out a bottle of wine which made the afternoon more pleasant.  Greg finally made a decision.
"Go and get changed into your best frock.  I'm taking you out for a slap up feed."
I turned to him,
"Mate, I didn't bring my best frock.  Will a blouse and skirt do?"
"Fuck off, dickhead, you have a bus to catch."
Marion went off to get changed and I asked Greg what he was up to.  He explained he only had a few more nights in the U.S., was four grand in front of his budget (thanks, rich father of Greg) and he'd most likely be able to help her out somehow, even if he couldn't sleep with her.  Well, ain't that grand.  What did I have to look forward to?  A night trip in a Greyhound.
Marion came back a half hour later looking quite tasty, all done up to the nines, make-up, hair freshly brushed and no tears.  Greg had gone and put on some trousers, a fresh shirt and a jacket. What a fucking handsome couple they made, the fuckers.   They even escorted me to the bus which took me to the Greyhound depot.  I never found out what happened to them both but I imagine that Greg, who wasn't a bad sort of bloke, probably took young Marion under his wing for a couple of days and helped her sort herself out.
The Greyhound depot was a fantastic place to leave.  I grabbed as eat towards the back of the coach and had an alcohol-inspired nap.  When I woke up a couple of hours later I was groggy and in need of a pick me up.
"Hey Buddy, you were snoring pretty well. You awake now?"
It was a surfie bloke in the seat across the aisle, one row up.  He held up a bottle and enquired if I was thirsty.
"Thanks mate."  I hopped across the asile to the seat behind him and grabbed the offered bottle.  tequila.  Not my fave drink but I was in no position to argue.  We sat there, knocking the stuff back and he pulled out a joint.  Highly illegal in a Greyahound but supposedly masked by a cigar he offered me.  We lit up both smokes and I engulfed the surrounding seats in a fog of cheap carcinogens.  We smoked the joint, finsihing just as the bus pulled up to a shopping centre.  The surfie bloke said
"Follow me." so I did.  Straight into a liquor store.  This bloke certainly knew how to travel.  We grabbed six packs and I went for uncle Jack again with some Coke to cut him back a bit.  Old Surfie Mate went for more tequila.  We jumped back on board and it was a very cruisy party ride from then on.  A bit of smoke, some beers, Jack Daniels and tequila and by the time I hit Eel River I was feeling nicely buzzed.  Very nicely buzzed,  So buzzed I had to ask the driver where I was and where the hostel was.  He pointed behind me,
"Eel River hostel's back there a hunnert yards or so.  Good luck."  I waved goodbye to Old Surfie Mate, the Driver and the bemused passengers.  Why bemused?  Well, it was in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere, no lights and nothing happening.  Must be Eel River 'cos it was just like Parramatta.  I hitched my pack, wandered up the road and saw the small youth hostel sign and an arrow.  That's where I went.  After a "hunnert yards or so" I reached the place.  It was a cmaping ground with cabins, spaces for tents, a bar and a youth hostel.  I plonked my pack in thehostel and hit the bar.  I asked the barman about checking in at the hostel.
"Sure thing mate.  Ian's the name, I run the place. You look a bit thirsty for a young bloke.  Fancy a beer first?"

You little ripper.  A holiday site run by an Aussie beer drinker.  Thank you Destiny, I'm back!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dog Shit Killers - Playing a Dr Yobbo riff.

First up - sorry if you were expecting a travellers' tale.  Its coming but I promised one time to do a sort of fan fic/crossover type thing of "In The Worst Possible Taste."  This doesn't hit the clever observation level of the Good Doctor but I couldn't help myself.  Hope you enjoy it,

Secondly, I had the pleasure of the company of Nautilus on Saturday.  We perched ourselves at the Edinburgh Castle Hotel in Sydney and spent a pleasant few hours drinking Carlton Draught.  Jugs of the stuff.  Very pleasant it was. As Naut made his way back to his hotel and I headed to the station we noticed scientologists collaring people as they walked past.  I was tempted and Naut suggested it'd make good blog fodder.  I declined and went down to the station and noticed I had a 20 minute wait.  That was me done, back to the Scientologists.  I started baiting them, asking them about aliens hiding in volcanos.  They said "No aliens, no volcanos."  Before I could get another jab in some Christian guy jumped in and started accusing the Scientologists of fraud.  He went right at them too, calling them fakes, their rleigion a con and they were really adherents to science fiction.  I kept my trap shut expecting the Scientologists to respond in kind.  But no, they ignored him.  As did I.  I had a train to catch and a dinner date to be blown from.  But that was then, here's another tale.

Dog Shit Killers

The Chamberlain was a hive of activity as Sniper Blake hosted his farewell drinks.  They weren't actually farewell drinks as such but Sniper was the type of man who liked to make up reasons for a major piss-up and one of his all time favourite drinking excuses was "Farewell Drinks".  He'd do this once or twice a year, generally following a large win at Randwick Races during the Autumn or Spring Carnivals.  So it was that after the end of the Spring Carnival he'd managed to convert two hundred dollars of his "cunning kick" into close enough to seven thousand dollars.  His job in the public service paid a reasonable wage but he was never going to be rich.  His long suffering wife had been unaware of his "cunning kick" for the four years of their marriage.  It was a separate account he'd established to run footy tipping competitions, social club events and cover his secret stash of gambling money.  He'd rigged the account with two other colleagues so that they were all signatories and any withdrawals required two of them to sign the form.  They were fully aware that the account also held his own private funds and they kept records of the legit cash in separate books so that they could keep tabs on how much they could blow on social club happy hours or the footy tipping weekly cash jackpots.  He maintained it out of habit even though he was now divorced and had been so for over two years.

Blake's seven thousand dollar windfall caused one of his friends to officially label him  a "jammy cunt of the first order."  That particular friend was Jacko, a scruffy gentleman who manned one of the department's worst front line offices in Darlinghurst, just up the road from the Hard Rock Cafe, housed in a building which had been expensively renovated for some advertising company which pulled out of the deal before the building was gutted.  The Department's property team had been looking for a new site for its Darlinghurst operation and wrangled a tight deal with a long lease.  A shiny new office however, didn't mean shiny new people.  The public toilets soon became injecting rooms and were eventually locked.  The staff weren't all that shiny either, Jacko being the least sparkling.  He kept his job due to a sharp mind, a clever tongue and a considerably large quotient of  rat bastard cunning.

Blake waved a couple of C notes at Margie behind the bar and told her to give the regulars drinks until the cash ran out and then he'd stump up some more.  Margie liked Blake but didn't like Jacko largely because he could be a really obnoxious prick at times, especially to red heads who pulled beers for a living and she'd observed the ruin of several young girls whom Jacko managed to entangle in his life of drinking, gambling and strife.  At Blakes table also were Reepo and Big Bill.  Reepo worked for the Juvenile courts and Big Bill was in his tenth year as a second grade accounts clerk.  Big Bill sprouted a lot of controversial bullshit simply to start people arguing with each other.  He'd throw a grenade and wait for the explosion.  He was over six feet tall, overweight and had another habit.  A really fucked up habit it was too.  After a long afternoon on the sauce he'd wander downstairs to the blokes' dunnies to take a crap.  Then fall asleep.  It usually fell to one of Blake's friends to throw glasses of water over top of the stall to wake the sleeping, stinky beast.  Occasionally there'd need to be three of them helping Big Bill up the stairs, a thankless god awful task which everyone dreaded and really should have been left to crane drivers or fork lift operators wearing Hazchem suits.

The more pleasant additions to Blake's table were the girls, Tina, Gayle and Kerryn.  Reepo and Kerryn were a well established couple but Gayle and Tina were there for the hunt and Jacko had his spotlight on and bullshit primed for action.  Gayle's blondness and prominence of chest drew Jacko's attention almost immediately so he started in on one of his fave pub gambits, a card trick.  He did it well, shuffling, palming and confusing the gals enough to make them think he was sort of okay for a yobbo.  Blake engaged Tina in work related conversation before announcing to the crew that he was going to The Annadale Hotel the following evening to catch a couple of up and coming bands, The Monarchs and Flange Gasket.  Tina looked keen,

"I heard that Flange Gasket song on the Jays.  They're from Brisbane or something aren't they?"

Sniper had seen them once before when he was chasing a part-time music scribe who wrote fluff pieces for a street rag.  He'd even gone so far as to stalk her down at The Roundhouse at UNSW, but not before sozzling up at The Doncaster a block away.

"They're a north coast band.  Saw them at the uni during an "o" week gig.  They were a bit rough but had some good songs.  The lead guitarist was a bit of a tosser."

Jacko knew the tale and jumped in, guns blazing;

"What a crock of shit!  You chased that writer chick and got blown away by some hillbilly muso.  You're a fucking joke. She gonna be there tomorrow?"

Sniper winced, tried to hide it but his face confirmed her expected presence.

"You fucking idot, Sniper!  You have no chance with that tart and from what you say she's a fucking snotty nosed strumpet anyway.  Give it up."  Then he grinned,

"Right, that's all of us at The Annandale tomorrow night.  This is gonna be a fucking hoot watching Sniper get shot down again.  You're worse than Tin Legs Bader, Sniper."

Blake couldn't let that pass without a few blasts of his own,

"Fuck you Jackson.  I'm not gonna be hunting her, I actually want to see these two bands.  The Monarchs have been getting airplay with their 'Spitfire' single and Flange Gasket are apparently featuring at Homebake this season.  This is a warm up gig for both bands before the silly season sets in.  At least I won't be crying poor and staying in dodgy pubs next week.  This should be pretty good tomorrow night.  Haven't seen The Monarchs yet but they sound pretty fair."

The Monarchs' "Spitfire" was a hot single with the guitars mimicking Spitfires, firstly with the throaty thrumming of a Rolls Royce engine then screaming into dives and pull ups with a staccato machine gun style guitar thumping away, just like during The Blitz. It swooped, soared and was catchy.
Big Bill decided to throw in a grenade,

"They're all fucking poofs I tell ya.  Dirtbox divers.  That Flange Gasket song about Harold Holt is totally gay.  I betcha they dance the chocolate cha-cha back in Byron Bay or wherever it is they come from."

No-one took the bait, the crew had seem Bill in action too many times.  Jacko put a stop to it when Bill was drawing breath,
"For fuck's sake Bill, go and have a crap before your arse totally takes over.  And don't fall asleep this time. My forklift broke down and we won't be able to fish you out."  then turning to Gayle and Tina,
"Whaddaya reckon girls?  Could be a good 'un tomorrow.  Gasket go pretty well, I saw them up in Newie earlier this year.  They can be funny bastards at times."
The girls agreed.  Kerryn looked up after having spent the last ten minutes playing with her phone.  She loved her phone. Jacko reckoned it was a romace based on the vibrating alert feature.  The only reason she dragged her attention away from her Nokia was because Reepo walked in.  He took one look at Bill's mournful face so he decided to open up his innings right from the off,

"Hey Bill.  How's the dunnies mate?  Been getting some good kip?" he then walked over and grabbed a freshly poured round of beers from the bar and brought them back.
"Sniper, Jacko, ladies.  Then he grabbed Kerryn and gave her a passionate kiss, bending her over Holywood style.  Upon releasing her he quizzed,

"How ya goin' there Honey? This mob looking after you?"  Kerryn shook her head, clipped Reepo behind the ear, responding,
"We're going to The Annandale tomorrow night. Flange Gasket and The Monarchs are doing a  warm-up gig.  Sniper's organising it."  Reepo turned to Blake,

"Didn't that journo sheila you were after have something to do with Flange Gasket?  I seem to remember a killer piece in Drum Media and it wasn't you receiving hot, sticky plaudits."

Blake turned his broadside,
"For fuck's sake this has nothing to do with unrequited love, feelings of lonely despair nor does it remotely come close to a follow up bout of stalking.  In any case she turned out to be a needy little girl who probably still hasn't resolved her feelings for that guitarist.  In fact it could be kinda fun watching her interract with the rest of the band members.  Could be some Yoko Ono action on offer."

Kerryn narrowed her eyes,
"So basically you want to see her suffer.  Nice one."
"Look, its not about suffering.  Nor is it about revenge.  I really want to see these two bands.  I have no feelings for Lena at all.  None. Tina's heaps better than her."  

This time it was Gayle's turn to rise up and be counted,
"So Tina, what's this all about then?  You and Sniper?"

Tina blushed.  She did like Blake and was hoping he'd ask her out.  He had, sort of, tonight but Gayle had to open her big trap and force the issue.  Blake saw her distress and turned to Gayle,

"Well Gaylzey, yeah, I was going to invite her to the Art Gallery on Sunday.  There's an exhibition based on  dopey blonde prostitutes who drink VB and then fuck anything that moves."  Jacko could see where this was going, it was straight out of his own playbook.  He'd gotten her drunk once on Victoria Bitter and then taken her home and talked her into having sex.  He wasn't the only one who'd done such a thing with Gayle but she was trying to mend her ways.

"Don't worry Gayle.  Sniper's never won the heart of a truly loving woman, especially one as lovely as yourself. Ignore him, I'll look after you."

A smile formed on Bill's face, a flashing neon sign that told the world he was going to say something ratty.  Instead of allowing it Kerryn announced that she was hungry and this started up a food discussion.  The options were the seafood place a few doors up or a Spanish restaurant/pizza across the road.  They settled on pizza.

Blake phoned up Encasa.  It was one of their favourites and did great pizza. Only being a one minute walk up the road from The Chamberlain made it even more attractive.  Bill left himself out of the order and made a beeline for the Campbell Street exit.  It was a long way on the train to Ingleburn and he didn't want to miss the "Best of Red Faces" being screened later that night. He was that sort of bloke.

 Jacko collected the pizzas and after everyone had eaten Reepo escorted Kerryn across Belmore Park to Central Station.  Blake and Jacko settled in with Gayle and Tina, both of whom didn't realise the kind of nonsense they'd go through if they continued giving either man a sniff of a chance.  They went to the Ladies together to figure out their plans.  The strategy ended up being to leave now and see what happened at the gig. Blake had expected this given that sobriety had long since raised the white flag.  It had done so with a similar degree of alacrity as you'd expect of a mayor of a French village confronted by a clapped out Kombi.

The conversation turned back to the Annandale gig. Sniper donned a look of concern as he quizzed Jacko,

"Listen mate, you're not going to pull that stunt like at the Sandringham during the Dog Shit gig are ya?"

He referred to the last gig Jacko saw, at The Sandringham Hotel.  Blake had talked him into seeing a Melbourne band on the basis that if they were crap they wouldn't have come all the way to Sydney.  He was wrong.  The band was "deusexmachina" and they turned out to be a pretentious group of wankers whose sense of self importance was overstated in the extreme and in inverse proportion to their ability to play music.  In order to numb themselves from the pain Sniper and Jacko had started hitting the Bundy OP rum.  This in turn further fuelled Jacko's hatred of the band so he snuck around the back of the Sandringham's piddling stage and pulled a couple of plugs which in turn pulled the band's sound.  After sprinting down the road and into a cab he ended up back at The Chamberlain, ostensibly to establish an alibi but in reality to get stuck into more of the Bundy.  He had been joined an hour later by Sniper.  They looked at each other and burst out laughing,

"Oh mate, you should have seen the faces on those Mexican tossers.  It was a fucking pearler!  There are times when you can be a real cunt,  but this time, this time,it was one for the ages."

Jacko laughed,
"I was a bit worried that a bouncer might get me but they didn't seem all that fussed about giving chase.  Who the fuck was that band anyway?  deusexmachina?  What's that all about?  They sounded more like dog shit machine than anything else."

"It means something about God in the machine.  Its a total fucking wank, typical of a Melbourne band.  I reckon Dog Shit Machine is now their official name. Or just Dog Shit."
Jacko nodded, smiling,

" Yeah, fuck 'em.  Dog Shit it is. May they grow old and white and crumble on the footpath."

Blake raised  his glass, toasting,
"To the decay of Dog Shit!  Cheers!"  The rest of that night was spent contriving ways to get Margie give them free drinks.  They'd no chance of that but had still felt emminently pleased about killing Dog Shit.

Jacko dragged himself back to the present, ordered two more OP rums and intoned the historic toast from the Night We Killed Dog Shit,

"To the death of Dog Shit and the future of music!"
Jacko raised his glass,

"To the death of Crap!"

Jacko woke up to the hum of traffic on Parramatta Road.  He turned over to check if he'd copnvinced any women to joiun him the previous night and was not surprised to find the other half of his bed vacant.  He stumbled into the lounge room of the flat where a snoring Sniper was sprawled on the couch.  There were two long necks of Melbourne Bitter lying empty on the floor as well as a half bottle of ouzo and an empty Grants Scotch.  Two ash trays overflowed on the coffee table and the TV was showing snow.  Jacko turned it off and headed to the bathroom.  Pinned on the door was a note,

"Dog Shit died here!"

He warily opened the door and held his breath.  He inched his way inside and was surprised to see no mess.  There was no vomit, the toilet was in good order and there was nothing amiss.  Then he remembered Sniper's insistence in cleaning up after himself the previous night.  The theory was that it was better to do it when you're totalled than face a god awful hazchem mess in the morning.  A fine theory but difficult to put into practice.  Jacko was impressed.

After abluting Jacko started frying some bacon.  The smell tore itself through Blake's brain, reviving him,

"Two eggs, toast and tea thanks.  Poof." his voice croaked through a freshly lit Winnie Blue as his arm reached for one of the beer bottles.  He was devastated that it was empty.

"Got anything to drink?"

Jacko tossed him a fresh Tooheys Extra Dry,
"There ya go, Mr Hemasex.  Put Channel Nine on, they're showing a one-dayer between us and Tassie."

After reconnecting the antenna cable Blake tuned in the cricket broadcast, sat back and prided himself on how good he was.  Jacko served up their breakfast and over beers and grease they started to feel better.
They lasted two more beers before Jacko was back in his bed and Blake was unsconscious, once again sprawled on the couch.  By the time the cricket was finished they'd slept off their hangovers.  Freshly showered and dressed in different sets of Jacko's best gig wear the two drunks made their way to The Empire hotel on their way to The Annandale.

"By fuck I'm cool and handsome" was Jacko's comment as Blake walked to their table in  the front bar.

"Why thank you Clyde Frog" he added when Blake handed him a schooner.

"You look like the inside of a Salvation Army bin which has had a fight with a student loans officer and lost. And I'm not much better given that these are your minging fucking rags."

Jacko shook his head, muttering
"You fucking ungrateful poof." he paused, then added,
"Listen, what time are we meeting the others?"
Blake turned, looking out the window,
"Round about now I'd suggest."

Reepo and Kerryn provided a partial answer as they walked in with Gayle and Tina not too far behind.  Blake asked Reepo about Bill,

"He's poofing it.  I swear that bloke lives for "Hey Hey Its Saturday."
Blake responded,

"Daryl fucking talentless Summers.  He's not funny, he fucks up skits, is crap at interviewing and embarasses himself whenever he speaks to anyone slightly famous.  Unfuckingbelievable."

Jacko got up to go to the bar and sniggered,
"You fucking love him.  What were you doing last Saturday night?  I rang you and I heard Blackman's voice-over in the background."

"Yeah, I flick through it a bit if there's nothing on.  But geez he's a talentless fuck."

Tina and Gayle however were not looking talentless.  They had made an effort to catch the eyes of Blake and Jacko, which was rather wasted on two men who looked like unmade beds.  Jacko returned with a tray of drinks,

"We'll make these sharpies.  We should get down there in half an hour or so."

The discussion moved to Flange Gasket and The Monarchs and once again about the crapulence of  deusexmachina.  Once they finsished their drinks the group moved out and headed down Parramatta Road to The Annandale Hotel.  They paid a ten dollar cover charge and walked into the main bar. Blake and Tina went up and ordered a fresh round of drinks while Jacko scoped the crowd for the music critic, Lena.  The crowd was a healthy one and had that pre-gig feel of anticipation and hope.  The Monarchs made ajustments to their amps, guitar tunings and whatever is that drummers do before  the gig starts.  Probably reading Enid Blyton books.

Blake and Tina returned with the drinks and found that Gayle had slotted herself in next to Jacko.  Blake thought that it felt all very coupledom and started to get nervous.  He had visions of a few years down the track with the girls swapping pregnancy stories and the blokes giving each other advice on motor mowers,  whipper snippers and the joys of having a big enough 4WD to pack in bulk supplies of Huggies.  He shook it off, took a healthy swallow of Tooheys New and smiled at Jacko just as a thumping bass line riff introduced The Monarchs to the crowd at The Annandale.  The drummer tossed aside his Famous Five book and took up the cudgels on behalf of skinmen around the world.  The opening song was "Blinding Fury" which told a tale of night time driving at high speed, being blinded by the headlights of a truck and ending up in court, punching on with the truck driver's lawyer.  They played a solid half hour set with their encore being "Spitfire" leaving the beer soaked crowd wanting more action.

While The Monarchs packed up Blake caught the eye of Lena who had insinuated herself at stage left with Flange Gasket's lead guitarist and main singer, "Uncle Sam" McCarthy.  The other guitarist, "Angus" Young, was rifling an esky for a Tooheys Extra Dry. He came up trumps, handing one to McCarthy.

"There ya go Uncle Sam. Ready to fly?"

McCarthy was riding the enrgy wave left over from The Monarchs,
"Yeah, we have to pull something out of our flanged arses tonight.  The Monarchs were pretty tight, I liked their destructive attitude."

They watched Angus' brother, Jeff set up the guitars as the drummer, Phil and keyboard player Marty hooked up their kit.

McCarthy had a playful smile,
"We need to fuck with their heads.  Let's fucking give it to them Razorslash style, just like that time at the uni."

Both guitarusts went and strapped on their axes, twiddled with the amps to the extent that they were twiddled up to their highest and as McCarthy  nodded to Angus they hit the first of many thrashed death metal notes.  It was a blistering beginning with McCarthy and Young taking it in turns to devil growl out thrash words with Phil bashing skin as badly as any other thrash drummer.  Marty just played staccato bass chords.  The whole thing lasted about ninety seconds but certainly caught the attention of a crowd used to pub rock mixed with punk elelments.  Thrash was not the main menu of The Annadale Hotel.

In the audience a few rows back from the front Blake turned to Reepo, almost yelling,
"What the fuck is that about?  Have they gone primal or something?" 

No sooner had they asked than the the rhythm guitarist/vocalist, "Angus" Young, introduced himself,
"We're not Razorslash and they're not us, are they Uncle Sam?"

McCarthy growled out,
"That's right young fella, because you know who I am but who do you want to be?"
and with that the Gasket launched into "I Wanna Be Angus Young".

The antsy crowd heaved their collective relief and the Gasket took off, weaving hook line after hook line.  After playing for fourty minutesd they took a break, signalling a stampede to the overworked bars.  The Gasket team stood around their oversized Esky and Phil handed around some Uncle Teds.  After about ten minutes  Lena sidled over and grabbed one for herself and turned to  Uncle Sam,

"I reckon I spotted a bloke in the crowd who tried to come onto me back at uni."

"Another one?  Where is he?"
 Lena pointed out Blake and McCarthy looked at him, frowning.  Lena waved him over much to McCarfthy's disgust.

"What the fuck are you doing?  I'm not gonna play games with this prick."

Lena went up to Blake as he drew closer,
"Hi Wayne.  I see you're with your girlfriend?  This is Sam, the ringmaster and chief growler of Flange Gasket."

"Hey Lena, g'day Sam.  Didn't think you'd remember me from the uni.  Congrats on the writing gig, seems to be a regular thing."

"Well, it is sort of journalism and I'm getting paid for it, so I'm happy.  Besides, I get to see bands like this.  Especially like this."  Lena sparkled at McCarthy, who sparked up,

"Well my lovely, we need to be getting up so that these drunks can get down.  Good to meet you Wayne."

Blake nodded,
"That was a good set Sam.  Hey Lena,  remember that band Dog Shit Machine, or deusexmachina? They had a gig at The Sandringham?"
Lena nodded, "Yep.  They weren't that good.  They had an amp malfunction or something.  Did everyone a favour."

Blake smiled back,
" Do you know who pulled their plug?  That bloke over there.  His name's Jacko and we've renamed them dickheads "Dog Shit Machine", or "Dog Shit" for short or just plain Turd or Crap for even shorter,"

 Lena laughed and the Gasket crew pricked up their ears, with Angus very interested,
"So your mate silenced them and then basically renamed them "Turd".  That is fucking tops!"

McCarthy added,
"We played support to them a couple of times.  Couldn't stand the pricks.  Your mate should get a medal.  A Flange gasket medal. "  McCarthy leaned over to the esky.
"Here, grab some Uncle Teds" and with that  handed a chilled six pack of the precious drop to Blake.

 "So your friend's name is Jacko?"  Blake nodded and Sam went on,
 "We'll give him a shout out during this final set.  He's a dead set genius. "
McCarthy turned to Angus.
Ready Angus?"  Angus nodded, adding
"Dog Shit Machine eh?  Not bad.  He's not a country boy by any chance this Jacko of yours?"
Blake nodded,
"Right. After you Mr McCarthy."

Blake went back to his friends and told Jacko to be ready for a surprise to which Jacko retorted,
"You're coming out of the closet?  You now love John Howard?  Tardo poof."

Flange Gasket answered back by launching into their second set.  Three songs in and Angus turned to Sam,
"You know what Sam?  You remember a band a little while ago called deusexmachina?"

"Why yes, I do as a matter of fact.  Apparently they had some trouble at The Sandringham." and Sam played a descending d minor,

"Their power was pulled."

"Dear oh dear Sam.  What a shame.  What do we say to crap bands who lose their power?"

"What, aside from telling them to join the Democrats?  I don't know Angus, what do we say to a crap band like Dog Shit Machine?"

"Thank God for Jacko from Newcastle and thank God he knew to pull their plug.  He christened them Dog Shit Machine."

McCarthy responded,
"And thanks to Wayne for telling us about Jacko's brave mission."
 Angus clapped his hands over his head and the booze and drug addled crowd cheered.  Angus continued,

  "Cheers boys, this one's for you, written down at Coogee baths when I was down here on holidays as a littl'un.  I was forced tp learn to swim."
McCarthy quizzed,
" With who Angus?"  More cheers while Angus chipped back,
"That'd be Harold Holt, Sam"

With that McCarthy hit the opening chords to their once underground, now mainstream single.
After another fourty minutes Flange Gasket had beaten the crowd, giving them something to think about with the summer music festivals lurking.  As they retreated the band gave Blake and Jacko one more wave and Lena came over to the two drunks,
"That was pretty cool eh, guys? I'm gonna do a quirky piece about Dog Shit Dying. I won't name you directly but I may use some pseudonyms."

Blake said,
"Sniper will do for me.  Maj is okay for Jacko.  Reepo is the bloke with big shnoz over to my right.  The girls are Kerryn, Gayle and this is Tina."
 With that he draped his arm across Tina's shoulders, drawing her closer.

"Nice to meet you all.  Keep an eye out on Drum Media.  We'll be putting something up about the exploits of a certain Melbourne Band by the name of The Turd and how they get sabotaged."

Blake nodded,
"Thanks Lena.  Nice to see you again." Blake shook her hand, clearing his thoughts of any possible hook ups with the writer.  The rest of his friends echoed Blake's good byes.

As they finished their drinks, Jacko was draping himself around Gayle and Reepo and Kerryn smiled at both freshly minted couples.

Blake looked at the knowing, womanly smile of Kerryn's and noted,
"Its not every day one of your best mates gets an officially sanctioned Flange Gasket award based on an act of vandalism and dextrous avoidance of bouncers."

 Kerryn grinned back,,
"And its not everyday your boyfriends' mates actually behave half sensibly for a change."

Jacko responded,
"Fucking maudlin nonsense.  Who's up for a beer at The Empire?  Might even get a late bet on. Let's hit the toe."

They piled out of the Annandale Hotel and headed back up to The Empire Hotel.  As they went past the side lane next to The Annandale they saw the Flange Gasket boys climb into their band car.  Jacko yelled out
"Thanks Flange Gasket.  We've been the Dog Shit Killers.  Good night!"
Marty yelled out of the rear passenger window,

"And we've been a ripped Gasket. Good night!"

The van took off onto Parramatta Road, looking for a way to Maroubra.  Blake and his friends headed in the opposite direction, up to The Empire, looking for a last round of drinks, a game of pool and maybe a few bets on the Greyhounds in Perth.  Those Greyhounds which would shit in their stalls but in Jacko's mind still leave a better product than Dog Shit Machine.

 He even admitted a slight feeling of warmth to Flange Gasket,
"You know what?  I might even make it to Homebake this season.  As long as there's no Dog Shit Machine it coukd be okay."

Blake looked at Jacko, his face displaying a rare look of cogitation.

"You know what?  Both of us learnt guitar. Maybe we should start a band and call it Dog Shit Killers."

Jacko looked back,
"You know what Sniper?  That is one of the most fucked ideas I've ever heard.  Its fucking ridiculous. Its ludicrous.  We can't play, we can't sing, we can't write songs."

Jack paused for a few seconds while he thought it through.  He could play a little bit and Blake was okay with strumming a few chords in something approaching correct rhythm.  Then he thought of all the rock chicks they could attract.

"Hang on, it now makes sense.  Its  fucking brilliant! Let's do it!"

As they entered the Empire Blake noticed a nearly shapeless white lump near the wall of the pub.  A crumbling piece of dog faeces.  He stamped on it, grinding it into dust.

"Track one." he said to himself, "Track fucking one."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Golden Gate, Golden Slumbers. Dozey Navvie.

Dunno why I threw in a Beatles song title, just seemed to fit.  Anyways apologies to those who've been ignored by myself.  Sorry folks, things get a bit fractured at times but I do still enjoy reading your blogs.  Enough of the soppy crap, back to the U.S.

On the L.A. - Frisco Greyhound I was sat veside some salesman guy.  I quote here from a journal I was keeping at the time.  Remember we're back in 1986, there's no intermaweb, no mobile telephony and the closest you get to a PS3 is a game of Space Invaders in a pinball parlour. From the journal:
"The first bus, LA to SF and I had the misfortune to sit next to a salesman who was forever resorting to cocaine.  The shiftless myopia of his character was adorned by his sojourn in the bus toilet where he relieved his stomach of its dreadful junkfood contents. Throughout the night I was given an account of his recent adventures in Mexico where he managed to make fourteen dollars on a double-handed currency exchange."
Makes me kind of glad I took notes during my travels.  Was I being harsh on this bloke?  Nup.  No way.  I trusts me first impressions and original account.  Okay so I entered the world of Greyhound which I was to frequently dip into over the next few months.  I figured out later that the salesman guy was really doing crack.  It must have made him very ill 'cos he was forever hitting the bus dunny (toilet, loo, crapper).  I managed to saw some logs during the night and as the sun came up I noticed we were passing a wind farm.  There were acres of these wind turbines, a bounceback effect from a globally warmed future.
"Further north the welcome sight of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay drew closer and it was with feelings of relief that I left the coach."  Thanks Mr Journal.
I had a few nights pre-booked at the Holdiay Inn so that's where I went, via taxi.  I checked in just in time for breakfast.  I didn't really feel very hungry so I ordered the smallest meal item, scrambled eggs with bacon.  Once again the portions were generous to a fault.  Back in my room I unpacked, sat Jack next to the TV so I could keep an eye on him and tried to think of what to do next.  My head cold was barely alive so I threw down a tablet and a slug of Jack as a farewell gift for it.  Then I zoned out and sawed logs for a couple of hours.  When I awoke it was mid morning and time for a shower.  After that I wandered around and jumped on a cable car.  This was going to be a fun city.  I checked out the financial district before cable carring back up and then around and down to Fisherman's Wharf. The Bay area reminded me in some ways of Sydney Harbour.  I sort of felt home.  Frisco had a different vibe to L.A.  Its like comparing a decent beer to Coors, or a nasty box wine to a fair Merlot, say a 2006 from the Barossa Valley.  Frisco was mighty fine.
The rest of the day I spent tooling around the city, just drinking it in.  I found myself a cheap pizza joint as a dinner option and on the way back to my hotel visited a liquor shop to get some reinforecements for Jack who'd been looking pretty much used up.  That night I zooed out in front of the teev, nursing the newly replenished Jack, but made an early night of it.  I was knackered.

The morning saw me full of beans, no hangover, head cold or other illnesses so I burst downtown again and sent off letters to a couple of Candian frineds, warning them of my intention to invade their Canuck strongholds and take on Messrs Molsen and Labbatts.  I cheked out the Amex letter drop service to no avail and went on one of those city bus tours again.  The Bay was magnificent this day, a really sparkling sun drenched body languidly resting itself against a contented city in a marriage for the ages.  I ended up downtown in a ribs joint, feasting on flesh and talking to a group of Dutch and Germans.  We talked the usual travellers' talk, swapping notes, places we've been, hints and suggestions and an analysis of beers.  We pretty much agreed that the mainstream American beer like Bud or miller were drinkable, went down easily but they didn't have much kick.  So we adjusted, as any traveller should.  No use dissin' the local brew, just live with it.  Onve again I felt tired and headed back to my hotel, getting an early kip.  I figured out that a combination of jet lag, head cold and my subsequent medications had taken a slight toll on my stamina.

My stamina felt fine when I woke up so I bored into the breakfast buffet and feasted. American breakfasts can be the best in the world and these buffet jobs were well set out.  I had one night left at the Holiday Inn, my last ever proper hotel before I ventured once again into the world of youth hostels.  Once again I jumped cable cars, buses, walked and spent my time checking the place out.  The gardens with their crazy zig-zag road looked very appealing.  If only I had a car.  I rested up in thehotel for an hour or so before hitting the night.  Pizza again then I went bar hopping, or so I thought.  A couple of blocks away from thehotel was a string of bars.  As I looked at one of them something started ringing in my head.  As I approached it a vision of Oxford Street Sydney sprung into mind.  I'd found the gay bar sector of Frisco.  I asked thebouncer at the first one where the gay strip ended and the straight bars could be found.  all this maongst a swirl of pretty boys dressed with gay abandon, frills, make-up and the usual badges of gaydom.  Thebouncer was cool, pointed me in the direction of an English style pub a couple of blocks away.  So that's where I went for a few pints.  It was okay as far as faux-English pubs are concerned and I struck up a conversation with a couple of Melbournians.  They were married and were on the back end of a U.S. holdiay.  Four weeks in a hire car and they'd had a blast.  They'd bridged things up a bit, staying in a mix of good hotels and cheap motels.  They'd spent more in four weeks than my budget  was for four months.  I'm glad they ahd cash because they wouldn't let me pat for a drink.  Thanks Jo, thanks Mick. I hit a couple of more bars on my way back to thehotel but didn't quite get the zoom feeling I was after in a nightspot.  I walked into the hotel, grabbed my room key and wlaked past a hallway with bars on either side.  The first one was dead, the one down the end was slightly more alive so I sat my sorry arse down and ordered a double Jack with a dash of Coke.  I noticed there were a few couples dotted around the place, some were slow dancing to cool vibes, others just keeping each other entertained.  There were also a few singles scattered around but I didn't expect to be cutting up fine in this joint.  I sat back watching a ball game, munching on some pretzels and ordered another Jack, having a casual chat with the barman who quizzed me about Oz.
"I might like one of those".  I turned around to see a curvy, comfortably overweight (not yet in the gross range) African American lassie looking with hopeful eyes at my JD.  What to do?  Was she a hooker or a player?  Oh well, one way to find out.
"Another of those thanks mate" to the barman and
"Allow me" to the girl as I pulled a stool out for her to perch on and make goo goo eyes at me.
Well, she didn't make goo goo eyes but did enjoy the JD and coke.  By the time we'd finished another I'd learned she was divorced, had just moved to Frisco and was a teacher, landing a job in the Fall term, whatever that meant.  Well, what it did mean is that she had plenty of spare time and did some part time work helping organise seminars and doing some minor presenting jobs at places like the Holiday Inn.  A few of that day's participants were at the bar and had invited her for drinks.  At one stage she'd heard an odd accent and decided to find out more about it.  This it was that we were sufficiently introduced and fuelled to start thetouchy stuff.  I rested a hand on a knee (not mine) and felt some fingers lightly dance across my inner thigh.  Ah yes, the call of the wild.
"How about we continue our drinks in a place where I can show you my collection of Drop Bear claws."
"You invitin' me up to your room cowboy?" she caught on quick
"No, we're going down to Selinas and see Mental As Anything." whoosh, straight over her head
"You talk crazy. Let's go to see this mentalist or whatever it is."
Well, we went upstairs where my bar stocks came into their own.  Diane felt like a beer, which was fine.  I had my Millers chilled and ready.  We semi undressed and lay on the bed, draping around each other, slurping on beer, groping to a background of motown classics on the radio and Letterman on the TV.  Hell, I even found some salty snacks which we nibbled off each other.  This gal was fun, especially nekkid. We romped, played chasings, laughed,  sang along to the music, did some slow dancing,  and now and then simply screwed. Bythe time we crashed out we'd gone through a couple of beers each, a half bottle of Jack and a months worth of sex.

In the morning when we woke I used the bathroom and had a shower.  Ended up Diane wanted a shower at the same time.  We made ourselves clean and dirty at the same time.  Back in bed we collapsed again, grinning at each other.  Then I remembered I  had to check out that morning.  When?  I was laready past ten o'clock check out.  I called up the desk and booked in for another night.
"That's the last of your voucher entitlement sir, enjoy the rest of your stay."  Woo hoo!  I'd miscalculated my voucher. I wouldn't have to pay for the extra night.  You bloody little ripper!  I excalimed my delight and rolled on top of Diane to celebrate my good fortune.  We eventually were interrupted by room service who wanted to clear our mess.  Win on top of win.  I could steer Diane out for a while and come back to a clean room with fresh sheets.
After we got our clothes on we walked outside.  We went to a nearby cafe and sat down to talk.  She was going to Sausalito later that day for a few days with some relatives, so we only had a few more hours together, if I felt like the company.  I thought back to the previous night and the fun we'd had, especially the laughter so I told her yes, company would be a fine thing.
She left close to dinner time so I mournfully made my way to a local pizza place and had a quick bite before hitting the same bart again.  I wlaked in and the barm,an asked me how I'd gotten on so I told him "until about an hour ago".  I loaded up with a JD, had a beer chaser and checked out tonight's attractions.  All of a sudden it seemed sleazy and dull.  There was no laughter, just a few people looking around, waitying for something to happen.  I downed my beer, feeling tired, cheap and in need of a good sleep.  back in my room Diane's scent still lingered.  Jack still sat next to the teev, inviting me to have one more.  Okey dokey, slurp, ice , more slurp and a dash of coke.  And a baseball game!  Win.  Watched a few innings then crashed, smiling.

Okay,  time to demolish breakfast, pack up , check out and head to the hostel.  I really tried to out eat my fellow diners but by jingies they were good on the fang.  I was outclassed even though I though I was a good eater.  These people would get a large stack of panckaes, have french toast, bacon, scrambled eggs, toast and hash browns.  I dipped me lid after a more chaste serving of, short stack, eggs and bacon and ojay.  i was stuffed.  Then it was a cab out to the hostel overlooking the Bay and reserve a room.  Did all that then saw a notice on the board asking for people to share a hire car and go on a tour of the Napa Valley winereies the next day.  That was me straight in.  What a brilliant idea.  I check out the names on the list - Marion (Melbourne) and Caroline (U.K.).  Yep, could be interesting.  But that was the next day so I wenty down to Fishermand Wharf and chilled out in the sun.  I was really getting a groove on for Frisco, it was like a lost relative who suddenly crops up and they end up being an immediate hit with all of their cousins, part of the family crew and an automatic invitee to the family gigs.

In the early evening I ventured out of the hostel and to a pub called the Rose and Thistle.  I encountered a bloke from Cronulla who was in the final days of his three month backpacking jaunt around North America so Idecided to help him celebrate his survival.  We talked the usual crap and I updated him on how the Cronulla Sharks were crap and The Canterbury Bankstoiwn Bulldogs were aces.  We didn't come to blows but we quickly had to find common ground so that was the generakky crap nature of the Australian cricket team.  It was a fine old night but we had to get back so as not to break curfew and I hadn't done any research on how to crack the place open after hours.

After breakfast our intrepid crew which now included Alan (Irish but living in SF) ventured to Rent A Wreck to get a Dodge Colt.  My thinking was that Caroline, the organiser was going to be the driver.  Nup, not old enough.  Neither was Marion and Alan simply dodged the issue.  Fucking dozey navvie.  This was to be the first time I ever drove in North America.  On. The. Wrong. Side. Of. The. Road.  After signing the forms which absolved wrent a wreck of any guilt in my murderous attempt to drive a left had drive car on the right hand side of the road in the midst of a big fucking city like Frisco.  I took a couple of deep breaths, thought longingly of my bottle of Jack sitting hiddne at the hostel, lit up a Winston and jumped in the car.  Then got out and went around to the driver's seat. this was frightening.  But hell, its just a car, has a steering wheel , brakes, accerator, auto shift, radio and two fine looking girls to impress (plus one dozey fucking navvie).
I started her up, drove out the car lot and onto the rright hadn side of the road;
"See, no worries ladies.  Smooth as silk."  At the next corner I had to turn right.  Yikes!  Into the right hand side you buffoon!
"Just foolin' yez!  No danger.  Someone look up the map, we need to head over the Golden Gate and you'll need to direct me onto the correct exit."  Always delegate tasks, makes you look as if you know what you;re doing.  In the meantime I was simply sticking behind other cars with minimal lane swapping.  We made it over the Golden Gate and I got the right exit for heading to the Napa Valley.  Fuck I needed a drink and as we passed through some really picturesque countryside we were abuzz.  Except for the dozey fucking navvie.  We did a tour of half a dozen vineyards, me tasting as much as I could to make the drive back as painless as possible.  Sure, it might get a bit swervy but my nerves would be fine.  It was a grand day and the girls were great company.  Alan, the fucking navvie, was a total waste of space.  No spark, just dullard demeanour and dozey attitude.

On the way back we stopped in at Mini Wood which had the vestiges of the original Red Wood forest including one of those big fuck-off trees, the sort you could live in if you felt so inclined.  Should have left Alan in one of them.  We toured back through Sausilito, a pretty little fishing village which was at the time housing one Diane.  I drove around trying to catch a glimpse but it was a forlorn hope.  The girls were interested in what I was up to and thought it quite romantic.  Good, I'd have to play on that later.  We got back to Frisco and I drove down the gardens on that crazy zig zag street.  Fuck it was fun, trying to gun a Colt down a zig zag track.  We then headed around to Fishermans Wharf and had beer and pizza.  By this stage I had early hangover symptoms and was feeling the stress of my first day driving on the wrong side.  My bad side came out and snapped at Alan.  Called him a couple of things like being a dozey, needy navvie.
He got upset, the girls got upset and I piled them all into the car and drove Alan home.  He didn't even invite us in for a coffee or a beer.  Dozey fucking navvie.  I drove thegirls back to the hostel where I accosted them in the lounge room over illict JD in coffee mugs.  Uncivilised I know.  They both gave me a hug and a kiss, with Caroline starting to warm things up before pushing away, looking at me and asking about the girl in Sausilito.  Duck me fed, things get complimicated at times don't they?  We walked outside and did a bit of canoodling but that's all that happened.  She felt a bit unnerved by the whole thing.  I jsut reckon it was all the fault of The Dozey Fucking Navvie!  If he'd driven I could have made some moves.  Dozey. Fucking. Navvie.

Next time we venture further north, via Eel River.  See yez round like a rissole!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

LA Cockleroaches and Cheap Dives

L.A. is a great big freeway.
Put a hundred down and buy a car.
In a week, maybe two, they'll make you a star
Weeks turn into years. How quck they pass
And all the stars that never were
Are parking cars and pumping gas

Thanks Dionne, how true.

I packed up my gear and vacated the Holiday Inn and caught a bus to the inner east of L.A.  The area was cheap, well suited to my budget.  The hotels were even cheaper.  The first one I scoped out of a budget guide to the U.S. was, from a faded and failing memory, about ten bucks a night.  I went up to the guy at the desk and asked to see a room.  He handed me a key so off I trudged.  The hotel may have been something good at some stage of its life but it was a busted up slut of a place when I visited.  The room I checked out was mainly clean, had an ensuite bathroom, TV and fridge.  Sounds great dunnit?  Well folks I walked into the bathroom, the toilet was clean as was the shower recess. But. The. Wall.  There'd been a pretty fucked up paint job over some bloodsatins. Nasty fuckin' drippy, pooly, splatty things which probably once spelled out Redrum.  Cool you say?  Yeah, very cool as were the three Balmain Butterflies playing with each other in the corner  They were having a fantastic time measuring me up for sustenance.  They weren't as big as the roaches you get in Sydney but they looked nastier.  They looked like the sort of insects which carry switchblades and know blokes called Guido Garotte and Sammy Sawnoff.  I thought it would be great to look back on having stayed there, fantastic recollections of my time in sleazeville but I wasn't really into making grunge memories a happenin' thang.  Not at that stage anyway.  I went back and handed the desk drummer the key with a "No thanks" thrown in.  He asked me why so I told him about the three freeloaders in the bathroom not paying any rent and the botched up paint job.  Or was it just art?  Nup, it was a dodgy fix in a dodgy hotel and it weren't my style of dodgy thanks very much.

The next on the list was a few blocks away and was listed as having a supermarket attached.  Sounded okay so I walked in.  This time the clerk was pretty cool, took me to a room and pointed out the basics.  It looked clean, no roaches and had the requisite bathroom, TV, fridge and a fair bed.  A hunnert for the the week. I looked around, the supermarket had closed down a few months before due to being squeezed out of business.  The lobby was respectable, there was a dining room but no bar.  I handed over an Amex Travellers cheque for the ton, grabbed my key and said hello to my new home for the week.  Uncle Jack was still half full so he sat on the sideboard next to a good sized tumbler.  I unpacked, set myself up, threw down a few cold tablets, the sort which had pseudo-ephidrine and washed them down with a good slug of Jack. Zingedy zing-zing, we're back in town!  Next item on the menu was food.  I went out for a brisk stroll, feeling the medication zap me well and good.  A block away I found a market, grabbed some food things, a six-pack of Miller, some Coke, salty snacks, ojay, and a pack of Camel filters.  Lickety split back to divedom where I unloaded my shopping, took another slug of Jack and a cold tab and headed out looking for a feed place.  Not too far away was a Greasy Joe's which advertised steak dinner for four bucks.  I ordered and was pleasantly surprised by how it hadn't been badly cooked.  The fries were generous and the salad stuff fresh.  Not bad.  I made a mental note to give Joe's brewakfast a go the next morning.  For there to be a morning after there has to be a night before so I went looking for a watering hole.  The first one I walked into was full of Latino guys looking macho and watching a soccer game broadcast on a Spanish speaking channel.  A lot of surly looks in my direction led me to  pretend that the door was a revolving one.  A block or so further up was a cheaper than Cheers type place and when I walked in I only got a couple of dirty looks.  Well, that was good enough for me so I parked my self at the bar and ordered a draught, asking to run a tab, putting a ten buck note down in front of me. The bar guy nodded sagely with the hint of a smile as he pushed the glass onto a beer mat and slipped a piece of paper on the counter below serving level, where he made the first of many marks.

There was a lot of curiosity about how the fuck an Aussie tourist was sitting in a cheap bar in East L.A. watching soccer on TV and sprouting all sorts of crap.  The silly barman had asked where I was from, thinking I was a Limey.  He'd then started asking me about the Wide Brown Land and a few of the other bar flies chipped in with their own inquisitions.  Tweren't long before I was teaching them our native lingo, Strine, and checking out their wimmin folk. I had to slip into my faux American accent a few times to be understood and found that it was becoming easier to speak like that the more I heard them talk.  The TV was tuned into a baseball game before too long and the barman brought out some bar snacks.  Happy Hour kicked in and my head was soon kicking off.  Too many cold tablets.  I was drinking Miller so I wasn't getting hammered at all.  Their regular strength beer seemed about half the strength of Aussie brews so it was smooth sailing. The  bar crew I'd joined up with was Eddy, Steve, Felipe, Jean, Roberta, and Alissa.  The singles were Alissa, Steve, Eddy and myself.  The odds were two to one against but I started pitching anyway.  To straighten out my noggin I switched to Jack, me old mate.  Cheers boys and gals!  After a couple of those free pour style I'd settled into a nice little fugue.  Well, Brain had anyway, I was still pitching at Alissa.  Despite my best drunken Aussie efforts she left on her own.  Jean gave me a tip,
"Be here on Friday night, handsome."  The guys shook their heads and laughed in that rueful way practiced by blokes who recognise hit and miss tactics when they see them.  Through the enveloping mist of L.A. bar life I realised that I hadn't tipped since the first round.  I asked the bar bloke to add up my tab and pulled a couple more twenties to show I meant business.
"Fifteen bucks."  I looked amazed which he took the wrong way, frowning.  I quickly interjected,
"Thought it'd be more like fifty."  I'd been wrongly thinking that drinking in cheap places in the U.S. would still cost plenty.  I was wrong,  very, delightfully, wrong.
I laid a twenty on the bar covering the tab and the tip and told him I'd see him again real soon.  Eddy and Felipe came outside with me, making sure there no undesirables around.  To me, that was for show, but I appreciated it.  These people were the real deal.  Working stiffs who enjoyed a boisterous drink, a ball game and salty snacks.  They didn't bullshit too much and had given me some good tips about their country.  Particularly about bars.  If people are mainly drinking bottled beer, stear clear of the draught.  If there's a lot of good bar snacks on offer then tip extra.  Don't use overly crap lines on chicks in bars, in fact with my accent, they'll probably be the start up pitchers anyway.  Thanks guys, see ya on Friday.  Now where the fuck did I leave my hotel room?  Must be back at the hotel.  But where the fuck was that?  L.A.  Thanks Therbs, nice answers but stop being a fucking smart arse and sort yourself out.  I looked up the road and then down the road, only to see Steve having a chuckle at my expense.
"You lost, buddy?"
"No mate, but my hotel is.  The fucker was here a moment ago and now its fucked off.  Bastard of a thing!"
"I wouldn't walk back there guy, a cab'll cost you five bucks at most with tip.  Don't give the fucker any more than that."
"Cheers Steve, thanks mate.  I'll buy you a beer on Friday."
"See ya, buddy.  Sleep well."
I hailed the next cab, showed him the key tag with the hotel name and pointed straight ahead.  Which meant that we then did a u-turn and within a short drive I was in front of cheapsville USA.  I handed the cabbie a fiver and waved bye-bye.  He said thanks and drove off.  Back in my room I turned on the TV and found Letterman.  He was crash testing appliances off the top of a building.  This was back in his early years when he was younger, rougher, took more risks and had fewer interns to Clintonise.  Jack was looking at me from the sideboard, teasing me, challenging me in that playful way I knew so well.
"You're a real fucking charmer aren't you Jack?  Well there's gonna be less of you now."
I poured a healthy slug into the tumbler on top of some chunks of ice.  Then added another slurp.  Topped it off with some Coke and tasted it.  Yes.  Perfection.  I got into my shorts and t-shirt and slouched on the bed, watching Letterman go through his paces. It was the first time I'd seen him and was impressed.  I then started thinking about where I was and what I should really be doing.  Sightseeing.  Yeah, sure.  I'll do some tomorrow, starting off with the greasy Joe's breakfast, followed maybe by a visit to Rodeo Drive or Hollywood.  That was enough thinky shit for that night.  I went to sleep well pleased with myself.  I was boozed up, had met some decent folk and maybe had a chance at one of the local beauties on Friday night.

Greasy Joe's breakfast special was a small stack (butter and maple syrup) with a side order of bacon, toast, ojay and coffee for three-fiddy.  Once again the small stack required the hire of a scaffolding gang to hold the thing up so I fed well, stacking it on to save on lunch.  My cold symptoms were prettyuu much reduced to an occasional sneeze.  I like to thank the likes of Jack Daniels or Bundaberg Rum for my epic cold cures.  I was proven right again.  Its a case of attacking the thing with generous amounts of good spirit and maybe some ojay.  Another ingredient is greasy food.  You also need to make sure you drink enough water to let your innards clean out the bad stuff.  After breakfast I caught a bus downtown and lobbed onto a sightseeing bus.  L.A. in a day seemed good enough to me.  It was one of those voucher jobs where you jump on and off as you please, the voucher lasting the day.  It gave me a good opportunity to see all the main things like, Hollywood,  Rodeo Drive, Sepulveda, the studios, the Hollywood sign, the walk of fame with all the dabs of the stars set in concrete and all that sort of shite.  Glad I saw it but wasn't going to explore it too much.  I did eventually go back to Rodeo Drive and do some people watching but Hollywood was a bust.  Was not impressed.  I did like "The Ol' Chinne Thee-ate-er" as one old gent called it.  The Red Carpet wasn't out so I was going home.  I spent a few days like this, getting on buses and checking shit out but just never quite got into the L.A. vibe.  Another visit out to the beach was fun but it still seemed unreal, fake.  Before I left L.A. I had one Friday night back at the bar.

After having sold my soul to a few different bars around L.A. I went back to the first and in my mind the best.  The others were mix'n'match, sterile sorts of places for businessmen having a sharpie on the way home.
The Bell Bar seemed like home away from home.  Steve, Felipe, Jean, Eddy. Alissa and Roberta were there on Friday night when I walked in freshly showered with clean (and pressed) clothes.  They cheered me all the way to the bar where I set up a tab.  The barman, Jeff, pulled out a cold Corona for me.  First time for everything so I downed half of it, held  up the bottle and sang,
"Mah mah mah mah mah mah My Corona!"
Just call me cheap and cheesy 'cos that what I was.  I got a few laughs but I knew not to push it too much.  I asked Jeff about the Corona and he told me that he got it cheap from some guys he knew.  Fair ebloodynough.  He was charging the same as  a mug of draught for it and it was heaps better.  It also seemed to have a familiar kick to it, like the beer I'd been brought up on.  Good.  I now knew what I was dealing with and it was tasty.  It was a grand night.  We played darts, watched some baseball, danced to some old kickin' rock classics and I even twirled Alissa around the floor to "L.A. Woman."  Not really relevant except in the title.  Alissa wasn't alone and she didn't have the blues.  I s'pose I wasn't "Mr Mojo Risin'" either.
I was still being quizzed a lot about Australia and then about Europe so I told them about some of the things which happened when I'd been ratsacking around in previous overseas sorties.  They were disappointed in how Americans were viewed by other people and I went into how us Aussies as tourists aren't necessarily the best ambassadors for our country either.  Some of the crap dished up by my fellow countrymen to various cities around the world is best left hidden under the carpet if at all possible.  At the last, just deny all knowledge.  Say it was most likely a bunch of Kiwis or Seth Efrikens.  This bit of ratting on drunken bogans didn't seem like treason at all to me.  I thought it may feel like it but, nup.  An idiot is an idiot no matter the language they speak or the accent they drape it in.  At this stage I was draping mine in a big boxing kangaroo.  There was one important point as well to this laying bare of the national soul.  It got Alissa hooked in.  By the time I'd settled my tab (thirty bucks including tip) she was hooked onto my arm.  I said my goodbyes to the gang with a promise to see them the next day before heading north.  North to San Francisco and beyond.  Via Greyhound.  That was going to be fun.  Not.

So I asked Alissa if she wanted to come and stay the night at chateau de sleaze.  She agreed.  We cabbed it there and by the time we ended up in my room our clothes were flying in all directions.  It was like some sort of sexual washing machine action.  After a little while we settled down and stopped acting like excited teenagers.  I poured a couple of tumblers of my ice, Jack ' coke throat soother, lit up Winstons for two and we stretched back on the bed, still slightly clothed but comfortably bound together by intertwined limbs.  It was a mighty fine evening.

We slept in till about ten, well sort of slept anyway.  I took her to Joe's for the day's breakfast special - a big plate of ham and eggs with french toast on the side.  Outside of Joe's we said a passionate but temporary goodbye.  I had to pack, reserve a seat on Greyhound and hit the Bell Bar one last time.  I did all that.  The farewells were fine and fond, but Alissa's was a bittersweet moment.  I'd had these before and knew what was coming so I braced myself with a pre-poured double slug of Jack.  Before long I was a little misty eyed as a cab took me from the bar to the Greyhound depot. It was getting dark as the driver pulled up and as I settled the fare plus tip he advised,
"Don't stop, don't walk slow just move quickly into the main terminal.  Holy shit!  Look at these whackos will ya?  Jesus!"
That sounded really encouraging and as I stepped out and hitched my pack I noticed what he meant.  Outside the Greyhound terminal was a pack of scurvy looking sharks waiting for some fresh meat. I strode purposefully forward, not looking askance, and ignoring any pleas for money, smokes, change, food, whatever.  I got inside with twenty minutes before drive-off, checked in, got a seat assignment and waited.  I had to get used to this 'cos I there were a few more months of it to go.  But first, San Francisco here we come!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Disneyland - La La Town

I looked around the room a second time, rolled out of bed and did those post-drinking, post-long haul flight checks; breathing, dizziness, headache, fogged up feeling, aches and pains.  I felt pretty much ready to rock with a slight headache and a gentle listlessness.  I showered, dressed and went lookiong for food.  The Holiday Inn Feedlot wasn't for me, I wanted to sample a genuine greasyspoon Americcan breakfast.  Took me a couple of blocks of walking in the Anaheim sun but I found one.  I ordered eggs (over easy), bacon, grilled tomatoes, mushrroms and hash browns on the side.  The orange juice was served in a large glass (unlike the recession thimbles they used in England) and the coffee was very ordinary; no espresso or capiccino, just the pot they keep on the warmer.  The food was okay in quality but generous in quantity.  A plate full of bacon, another with the tomatoes and mushies and another with the hash browns.  So that was me sorted for at least another six hours.

I went back to the hotel after stopping at a minimart to stock up on basics - coke, juice, a loaf of bread, some cold cuts, cheese and a bag of pistachios. I snookered that in the fridge along withg a six pack of Miller and then caught the shuttle to Disneyland.

Disneyland is fucjing big.  I know that's like saying the universe is big but Disneyland is still fucking big.  Not only in size but in concept.  It was the first of its kind and a great example of the scope of American imagination.  I validated my day pass and walked straight up Main Street.  I don't have a lot of notes on this part of my trip so details are sketchy but here we go anyway.  I walked around a lot, getting my bearings and trying to score dope off goofy.  He just diodn't want to play along.  Minnie seemed to have her own set of goons whose sole purpose was to thwart my attempts to goose her.  The goons succeded.  In amongst the walking I queued up for some rides.  The first one was a gold miners mountain ride which was okay, but then I hit the jungle cruise and the Pirates of the Caribbean.  The robots were passable and the rides themselves quite enjoyable, especially the water ones.  I rode the paddle steamer, the submarine (we avoided the giant squid - phew!) and capped it all off at Space Mountain.  That was one hell of a roller coaster ride and worth the cost of the day ticket.

One thing about Disneyland is its wholesomeness.  I went round behind some buildings to see if there were any desperate types finagling joints or blow but there was nothing.  I guessed the cameras would soon pick up on anything barred by Unlce Walt, manned as they no doubt were by a battalion of Disney Goons.  The food on offer was pretty much the standard of what you get at a football match or a baseball game.  Very fucking ordinary.  After a soldi day of hassling goofy,  taking the rides and getting cold shouldered by Minnie it was time for me to head home, Holiday Inn home that is.  I was feeling hungry so after getting cleaned up in my room I did another look around and found a small hole in the wall eatery.  Got myself a four buck steak with fries, coleslaw and potato salad, all of which seemed surprisingly fresh.  What I next needed was a beer so it was back to the H.I. for a sharpie or two.  After a couple of draughts I suddenly felt all funny, like tired and washed out.  Ahh, sweet jet lag, carry me home.  I managed a quick shot of JD in my room before crashing out.  Next day I was off to L.A. proper to check out the real La La Land.

I woke up feeling very chipper and went and sampled the Holiday Inn feedbag's breakfast.  I went easy, settling on the short stack with maple syrup and butter plus a big ojay.  They woukdn't sell me an espresso either, something I'd have to get used to, so it was pot coffee again.  With the meal they threw in a couple of hash browns which were the size of the local A-K phone book.  I guess they thought mini mountain of pancakes wasn't enough.  It was surprisingly good food, surprising because I had this preconception that American food would be pretty much homogenous goop as exampled by McDonalds.  Not that I thought Maccas was a true representation of American cuisine (there was also the Colonel and Pizza Hut) its just that I reckoned it would be okay but not really noteworthy.  Their breakfasts were starting to win me over.

I packed up my gear and grabeed the shuttle into LA.  I had a two night pass for the Holiday Inn and spent most of that cowed over by the flu.  It struck as soon as I hit Lala Land.  On the second day I hit Venice Beach and was amused by it.  It was sort of like Bondi on steroids but brighter and funnier.  Lots of street stuff, beach posing and scam merchants all up and down the main strip.  I decded a swim was in order and it felty good, hitting the Pacifric from its other side.  Didn't help with my flu so I went back to my hotel and sought comfort from Uncle JD and some flu tabs.  Before these took effect I checked my guide book for cheap dives, circled a couple for future reference and then zoned out, dreaming of cockroach hotels and starlets.  Not really, I actually didn't dream a thing, I was just pissed off that I wasted my good hotel nights on being unwell. 

Thursday, October 22, 2009

On The First Day I Dreamt Of Goosing Minnie

Well, here we go again.  Sorry about the neglect which  was down to a combination of me being a lazy prick, problems with access to electronic abacus machines and some other job related crap which isn't really all that interesting given that most people go through it.  Enough of the maudlin apologies, let's get cracking.

After tooling around Europe I decided that a trip over to North America would be a good idea.  Sure, my thinking was vague,
"North America is thataway.  Duck me fed, another long haul flight but at least they'll speak English.  Kind of.  Better save up some cash and git on over there" but I had a few ideas.
The plan was to visit a couple of people I'd met in Europe, hang around them like a bad smell and annoy the bejaysus out of them and see a little bit of the good ol' USA and a fair bit of Canada.  I had contacts in Calgary and Toronto and decided to make the rest up as I went along.  I had some definites; July 4th in a vacation type setting, Vancouver Expo, Calgary Stampede and making a nuisance of myself in old mate Doug's home town of Toronto.  Sure, he was fine in Europe when he was free of employment and hometown duties but when a freeloader like me comes to town?  All I can say is good luck.  Oh, I also wanted to hit Disneyland.

The flight from Sydney to L.A. was through the dubious agencies of Air New Zealand.  They were the cheapest deal I could arrange and in my travel package they threw in a week's worth of Holiday Inn vouchers for ten bucks.  Trust me, I checked out all the offers and this one was straight.  Flying with Air Paewa Fritter meant a stop in Auckland at crap o'clock with no bar service, another in Honolulu with genuine friendly American "Welcome to America" sentiments and then
"L.A. International Airport
Where the big jet engines roar"  - thanks Susan Raye.

So what does a clueless Aussie do when landed in Lala Land with a transfer voucher to the Holiday Inn at Anaheim.  (Yes, I wanted Space Mountain real bad.)  What I did was get on the coach and have a look at the LA-Anaheim road trip.  Not that exciting, but I'd been told to expect not much  except for the amusement parks.  I was dropped off at Anaheim Holiday Inn, hitched my pack and checked in.  The room was pretty good and I had a feeling that my near future of hostels. Y's, cockroach dives and couches of friends would make this seem like the pinnacle of luxury.  I was right.  I knew it deep down so I immediately dialled up room service and ordered the test marker of any hotel, a club sandwich.  They did a fair job of the sandwich while I was using the shower and stashing the soap and shampoo reserves.  I also sampled my first Bud out of a can in the U.S.  Wasn't as crappy as I thought but it was like a Macdonald's beer.  Yeah, you can drink it but there's better stuff around.  So I decided that one way to fight jet lag would be to check out the hotel's bars.  I found a dodgy lounge affair, a piano bar and finally settled on a regular type bar with a lively bar guy.  I settled in and ordered a draught.  I held out cash as the barman brought my beer but he said to run a tab instead.  I then remembered I was meant to tip.  Did I tip the room service guy?  Yep, and it was at least ten per cent.  Okay, how does bar tipping work when you run a tab?  Fuck the confusion, just ask the man behind the bar.  The response was that you can tip small for each drink or just leave a nice note at the end.  If you're in a group just tip each time the waiter brings a round of drinks and make it ten per cent minimum.  If you tip more, you'll get more. If you do neither then don't come back and expect to be served anything halfway decent.  Thanks Mr Barkeep, I'll steer clear of the beer for now and give me a double Jack thanks.
"Whoa, Big Guy!!"
 I then found out why he said that.  His version of a double was basically to free pour a generous slurp, then another and then double that.  Ended up being almost the volume of a hip flask.  In a very large glass with ice and a splash of coke.  It looked magnificent so I tipped him four bits, keeping a couple of notes on the bar as obvious tip bait.  I had a beer chaser and then started feeling Mr Nod zoning in so I went and zoned out after he poured me a complimentary single shot straight up.  I swallowed it down sharpish, feeling the warmth begin to remind me of time differences, potential jet lag and limited budgets.  I did some quick bar maths and figured I'd been treated very fairly even after leaving a couple of bills on the deck.  The reason you need to know this is because bar etiquette is very important to a thirsty traveller and once you crack it, you can crack most anything when visiting foreign countries.  Food is always easy but bar smarts are essential, no matter how complex they may appear at first glance.  Remember, always, always have a towel, toothpaste and condoms. Stash bread and cheese in your day pack with a bottle of vino or a ocuple of beers and you'll make it through anything.  Oh yeah, a hip flask may sound pretentious but they are very fucking useful in a tight fix (like a no alcohol venue).  Oh shit, is this gonna be another series of ramblings about drinking?  Well here's a big fucking clue; the first anecdote was about learning how to tip in bars in the USA.  There's other crap to throw in so don't feel neglected if you're a non drinker, just feel like you're on the outer.

So the next morning I got up wonering where the fuck I was.  Then I saw an empty Bud can on top of the teev,  a few remnants of my club sandwich from the previous night and an opened bottle of JD on the kitchen bench.  Where the hell did that come from?  Oh yeah, sweet sweet Duty Free. I was some sort of genius.
So what was in store next?  Where was I?  AnafuckingMountDruittfuckingHeim. If you're lost, google Mt Druitt or Fountain Lake, then google Anaheim.  There's no fucking difference except Anaheim has more MacDonalds outlets and theme parks, the biggest and best being good ol' Uncle Walt's pioneering effort. Yep, I had a dream of going to Disneyland, smoking some jays with Goofy and chasing Minnie around those stupid fucking teacups.  A bloke has to have ambition.  So Disneyland here we come!