Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Toronto - Eastern Provinces.

We blew out of Toronto once again by train, this time to Montreal. I loved Montreal because it was this really cool neo-French city sitting on a continent best known for Big Macs and calling French people “cheese-eating surrender monkeys.” Everything about Montreal seemed cool. The brasseries, cafes, boulangeries and hell, it even had a French style Metro system. The youth hostel was cool, the pool was cool, even the baseball players were cool when they’d belly up to the bar and order beers in French.

Jerry and I spent an afternoon wandering around, adapting to this mini-France and found a brasserie which did really good and cheap “dinner and drink” bargains. You got a decent feed with a vin de jour or a beer for something like two-fiddy.. Step up to the podium and receive your medal Mr Brasserie. We used that bar a lot over the next few days. The first time we walked in we found it to be a cross between an American style bar, a French café and a pub. It had pool tables, sport on TV and a French menu. Okay Mr Brasserie, make that gold, silver and bronze. That night we found that we didn’t even have to break into the hostel because they didn’t give a toss what time we turned up. Shwivilzed.

The morning after we found a café which did both Euro and Canadian breakfasts. Being messy, hungover pissheads we opted for the full strength Canadian option involving a mountain of pancakes, a gallon of maple syrup and more bacon than was produced during the counter revolution on Animal Farm. After that we headed off to the old part of town to the Fine Arts Museum which was exhibiting a truckload of gear by Joan Miro, a Spanish dauber of the (surprise! surprise!) surreal variety. It seems that anyone in Spain who wielded a paintbrush or slung a chisel was tagged Surrealist. Must have been one of Franco’s pet projects. He would have had the Guardia Civil (blokes who wore Devo hats and toted machine guns) scouring the pueblos and cities looking for people with paint stains on their clothes, then whoosh!, off to Surrealist Camp for you!

On the way down there we were talking about how old school European the place looked when in the distance we saw the golden arches. A few seconds later we heard a non-golden mid-western drawl ask a mid-western set of ears ring out the immortal phrase;

“Do ya wanna go to McDonald’s?”. This became a signature reference for us for the future, for those times we heard;

a) something really obvious,

b) something really dumb,

c) something really, really annoying.

The exhibition was fine as far as art goes and I recognised the style from a few pieces I’d seen in Europe. I did notice however how a lot of his sculptures had holes in the middle, and were called things like “man with hole”, or “dog with hole and, oh, I guess another hole”. If you like Kandinsky, give Miro a try. If you don’t like either of them, don’t sweat it, its no big deal. Right, that’s enough of the art stuff, back to basics.
Another feature of Montreal were some really cool bars, themed up in all the (1986) latest fads from post-punk angst to electro-bop Euro disco, jazz fusion (a great catch all for anything which remotely sniffs of jazz) to hard core rock. After an afternoon kip, a swim and a cheap meal at the brasserie we hit the bars. A lot of them had outside seating and it was good, sitting outside on a balmy night downing a few sharpies before hitting on the local wildlife. I must have had a good time because my journal of the time is very hazy, as is my memory. Its basically a blur of bars, dancing, girls, more bars, groping in the dark, cab rides and a late finish. I do remember a Goth bar and being very, very amused and horrified at the same time. There’s only so much of “The Forest”, “M” and “Boys Don’t Cry” which a bloke can stand while mascara runs down sweaty goth faces, thence forming a black, tar-like pool , ready to trap any careless gothosaurs in its unyielding, morbid embrace. Fuck that for a joke, I was outta there!

Two more nights we spent in Montreal before we lit out to Quebec City. This was sort of cool, particularly down in the old city with its rampart walls a legacy of the Frog-Pom wars of the 18th Century. Those ramparts were bugger-all use to keep us ratsackers out so we had a fine old time exploring the bars, cafes and brasseries. The hostel was a bit weird; it was all at once a dictatorship and an anarcho-syndicalist collective. We lasted two nights before ceding victory to the Napoleonists and ventured on to Ottawa, the capital of Canadia Land. Yeah, it was okay but mainly because we lucked into some guy’s 40th birthday and this mob was well cashed up. Beers and whisky all night long and we had to fend off the advances of older, cougarish women. We didn’t want their Mountie-type husbands pummelling the bejaysus out of us so we repelled their drunken advances (well, sort of). The next day we toured the city, checked out the parliament and other buildings of national import then did a night run north east, doubling back on our tracks and ending up in Edmunston.

Edmunston had nothing to go for it. The pub was crap, the town was crap, the chicken for dinner was crap and there was fuck all to do. We got a cheap motel room, ate our chicken, drank a six pack and watched crap TV on a crap TV set before crashing out for a crap night’s sleep. What a waste of time that place was and would definitely be a front runner entry for “Let’s Go Home – The Finalists”.

Next day saw hit a 7.30 bus for Fredericton. We checked out the town, talked a girl from Prince Edward Island, went for a pizza dinner (recurring them, I know) and then hit a couple of bars before getting an early night, around 11.30.

From Fredericton we bussed into St John, the launch pad for Prince Edward Island. (PEI). St John is a port town which had a reasonably clean YMCA where we stayed, making use of the gym and the pool. Naturally this had the desired effect of m aking us thirsty so it was off to the waterfront and a local pizza joint and then into the bars.

After a bacon based breakfast we took the bus to PEI, part of the trip being on a ferry, given that PEI is an island. This place is mainly famous for some kiddies’ book called “Anne of Green Gables”. The Toronto crew had recommended PEI as a great place to potato out, and called it Potato Island. What it did have was a couple of good bars, a cheap hire car place and some nice beaches. We booked into an overcrowded hostel where I had to sleep on a couch. That was okay ‘cos it wasn’t in the dorm room which was full of, I dunno who they were but I’m glad I didn’t have to share sleeping quarters that night. I think they must have been fans of that kiddies’ novel. I also didn’t mind because we’d been well fed and watered at the Dublin Pub and a bar called Avenues until about two in the morning. For breakfast there was no Fruhstuck Express so we hit a local café for the pancake stack and then went and rented a car. It was some sort of Dodge two-door coupe but it went fine along the country roads. It got us to the beach, a few bars on the way back and then into town again for another night at the pubs and bars. Sure, I drove under the influence but I figured that if I was driving on the wrong side of the road, alcohol could only improve my driving. So it did. We checked out the next day, returned the car and then hitched a lift to the ferry. The ferry took us to the mainland where we hitched another ride down to Halifax. This city was an important port during WW2 for convoys going to the UK. A lot of maritime history was on display so we spent some time down at the waterfront, checking it out. We stayed at the local YMCA and ate at a nearby pizza joint. The YMCA had its own gym which we made use of, feeling a bit turgid after not enough physical activity over the past week. Obviously this also built up our thirsts so it was bar hopping time again.

We found one great pub down near the water and played at being drunken ratsacker yobbos with funny accents. The local lasses were a bit wary, not succumbing to my manly wiles. Ah yes, that’s right. I was a gibbering mess after experimenting with shots of Canadian club. Didn’t help by asking if it was the same club which was used to whomp down on fur seals. Poor joke which got the appropriate response. After beating a churlish retreat we figured our invasion of America. We decided to slip in on its north eastern flank and pillage forth from there. But that was a day or so away, we had to get to Yarmouth first for a ferry to Maine..

We hit the hitching trail, bumming rides. We got a ride in the back of a small car filled with fishing gear to some highway junction where we were let off and waited for the next. And waited. There was not a lot of interest in two soapy looking backpackers with their thumbs hanging out trying to bludge a ride. Eventually some preacher guy pulled up and took us in tow, to his manse in Caledonia. He was a single guy in his forties, an honest to God, Holy Rolling preacherman. One of his flock was at his house cooking up a feed of which we were invited to partake. All good and bountiful and we ended up laying Trivial Pursuit (Canadian version) with a few of the Rev’s extended family. We promptly got whupped in the game but as we were also offered lodgings for the night we enjoyed a couple of post prandial libations and things were going well. All in all a good, homey evening. I was fine, I had a nice comfy bed, clean sheets and a wonderful breakfast in the morning. I even made a ten buck donation to the church to show my thanks and as I did so I looked up and said “Thanks Big Fella.” The Rev then gave us a lift to the nearest main highway at Digby and waved us a cheery good-bye. While we were hitchhiking again I remarked that it had been a brilliant piece of hitchhiking, what with being housed, fed and watered ‘n all but Jerry begged to differ. Apparently the preacher guy went into Jerry’s room in the small hours of the morning, sat on the end of his bed and asked if he would like some company. Yon Jerry politely rejected the preacher guy’s advances and spent the next hour or so expecting a more forceful visit, which didn’t eventuate. He asked me if I’d received a similar advance,

“Nup. But then I don’t look like a poof.”

Whilst we were waiting for our next ride we went through the lyrics of PIL’s “Rise”.

Anger is an energy was a theme for Jerry as I continued my remorseless attack on his lack of grace in rejecting the advances of the pastor the previous evening.

This theme was broken when our next ride pulled up. It took a couple of more rides before our final one to Yarmouth swooped us up. It was a sheriff of the court going to St John to serve some legal documents on some miscreant. He was an interesting fella, had a badge, a gun and everything but he was no Boss Hog. He dropped us off at the ferry wharf for the boat to Bar Harbor, Maine, USA. At 4.00 p.m. it took us on, promising a six hour trip to Bar Harbour.

Fuck, did I have any of Uncle Sam’s currency on me? A lonely looking twenty but that’d be enough for a beer in Bar Harbor any town which has a name starting with Bar was always going to be an odds on favourite in my book. And so it turned out to be.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Dog Shit Killers (2nd verse)

I've seen a thousand years of pain
I've got a huindred pounds of trouble running round in my brain
Its a feeling hard to explain
Its getting so bad I think I'm going insane

Hangover gorillas, hangover clowns

They fuck you up, then they fuck you down
Hangover monkeys, hangover chimps
Stand over pain, they're alcohol's pimps

Them fuckin' apes are killing my head
They took all my money and they shat in my bed
They beat me up and cut my skin
They pissed in my mouth, reeking of gin


Furry mouth needs a number one blade
Headache like Kabul in a Taliban raid
The answer is always the same
A hair of the dog, get back in the game


first verse reprise


Dog Shit Killers - "Hangover Gorillas"

Sniper Blake flicked the wah peddle with his foot and strummed an "a minor" on his Ibanez Strat rip off. Jacko shook his head, nursing his genuine Rickenbacker which he'd inherited off a muso friend who'd topped himself six months ago.  The use of a dead man's guitar didn't faze him at all, even if the muso had been a friend from high school days back in Newcastle.  He shook his head again, looking at Blake.

"I tell you the first chord is 'f' you fucking tardo."

"That's arse talk.  Its definitely 'A' minor.  Dylan did a lot of that." Blake retorted with his legendary scowl;  "Fuck it anyway.  Let's just work on "Hangover Gorilla" a bit more.  I'm sick of "Watchtower".

"Only because you keep on fucking up the fingering on the chorus".  Jacko was a hyper critic, blind to his own faults and was good odds to be clinically diagnosed as suffering from narcissism.  Blake never conceded a point when duelling with Jacko, never wanting to set up a verbal slog sweep over mid wicket.

"Yeah, right. You can't even get the three chord opening progression going without arsing up the tempo you fucktard. anyway, lets knock off a few more songs, we're almost there."

The two would-be guitarists went through several of their fave tunes, getting their timings right, chord progressions smooth and the leadf licks sorted out.  They finsished off with "Hangover Gorillas".  They'd played it, re-written it, and were sick of it, but now they realised they'd completed its composition.  They went through it another three times and finally were able to boast that they'd done it; written a song, edited and bashed the shit out of it like it was a Gitmo detainee and they were Jack Nicholson andnow had it nailed..  The result was that it sounded the goods.  The real deal.  They looked at each other, switched off amps and put guitars in cases.  Blake jumped up, laughing fit to burst, doing a poor impression of a Revivalist preacher;

"I Believe!  I have the Power!  Hallefuckenlujah!"  he laughed again and thumped Jacko on the back.  Jacko grinned and yelled out;

"I genius! I smarts and bright. I be fucking thirsty!"

" Beer time!" Blake proclaimed.

"Chambo?" was Jacko's suggestion, noticing Blake's excitement and feeling overjoyed himself.


They swarmed out of Jacko's flat like footballers on Mad Monday,  All they were missing was Lara Bingle. They landed on Parramatta Road, Leichhardt, on a hot March Saturday afternoon.  They were quickly enbussed on a 440, getting off in George Street near the Capitol Theatre, a block away from the Chamberlain Hotel.  It was their pub of choice.

Blake checked out the latest Fox Sports news for cricket and F.A. Cup results.

"Fucking Liverpool.  Fucking retarded Scousers!" was his angry comment on what he'd seen, as Jacko returned from the bar with schooners in hand.  Jacko looked up, looked at Blake, cursing;

"Another fucking year.  Should never have taken up with that mob.  Craig fucking Johnston  has a lot to answer for."

Blake took the opportunity to remind his companion of his roots,

"What do you expect of the little tosser?  He's from Newcastle, innit?  Has to be tardo. DADS. Dumb as dog shit."

Jacko winced and ground out,

"At least he's not a Balmain wannabe, whining of cold latte and writing letters to the Sydney Morning Herald about Howard's cricket autism. Yeah, I know, you're no longer wanting to move to Balmain but that doesn't stop you sipping on overprcied milk fucking coffee and pontificating on the likelihood of Shoaib Akhtar bowling a bouncer straight at the Prime Minister's temple in an attempt to save the world from any more of Howard's post-Nazi romance with the White Australia Policy. Anyway there's also that drug addled Bosnich we can blame."  Blake raised his eyebrows, drained some more beer form his glass, licked his lips and smiled;

"That's all well and good but the point here is that Johnston was the first and that Novocastrians are DADS.  You admitted it yourself when banging on about that mate of yours in the cricket team, Scot.  You said he was 'a good example of why Newcastle is the DADS capital of Australia, probably the world'.   My desire for someone to scone Howard out of existence is born of patriotism and a recognition of our place in the pantheon of human endeavour.  Howard does nothing for either except to make the rest of the human race think we're small minded relics of the 1950's, pro-British, rah rah colonial milieu.  Fuck him.  He's a cunt."
Jacko took the opportunity to drain his beer and motion Blake to get a new round.  On Blake's return,  Jacko launched again;

"No, you've got it arse about.  Sure, Howard's a cunt and needs to be recycled as shark poo but the DADSist nature of Newcastle is a result of the self obsession of Sydney.  Its anti-Sydney writ large and stems from the colonial days when the first trains needed coal and they carted off all the DADS miners north to dig out the black stuff.  Who were these clowns?  The rejects of society.  Not even smart enough to commit crimes, they willingly came over to get treated like shite again and again and were thankful to receive a lump of black carbon for their tea.  Its all down to you lot here in Sydney drinking milk coffee and wanting to be rid of those smelly people who use picks and shovels every day. Realising this the Novocastrians have cast themselves as being what Sydney isn't; honest, hard working and not interested in fripperies and doing make overs of the balcony pot plants every six months."  Blake glanced up at the cricket report on Fox Sports before turning back to Jacko;

"Sure, Sydney can be obsessed with the finer things but that happens with world class cities.  People want the best and are willing to ask for them.  Like in all other major cities people will whinge about commute times, train delays, street crime, pollution, garbage, parking costs and the passing of favourite haunts.  The big thing is that the DADS quotient is lower in Sydney than in Newcastle. "  Realising that this argument was becoming too circular Blake turned to another theme;

" What I'm most concerned about is how we get Howard lined up to face an express bowler like Shoaib or Brett Lee.  It'd be a fucking pearler if we could make it happen."

Jacko thought for a few seconds;

"Tee up a celebrity cricket match as a Liberal Party fund raiser.  He's a cricket nut and would love to be seen dressed in the whites, being all matey with the likes of Punter, Warney and McGrath.  We just tell him that the quick bowlers won't bowl at pace and they'll be bowling wides anyway.  He'll think he's safe then we get young Binga to launch one into Howard's skull.  I'll get done up in the same gear as a team medico and rush onto the pitch, you bring the stretcher and we'll make sure he doesn't breathe again.  In the immediate post-Howard confusion we'll drop our disguises and head back here to establish our alibis.  Better wear wigs, sunnies, zinc cream and pad out our torsos."

Blake smiled, nodded and contributed to the plan;

"We needn't even bother with all that disguise shit.  We just impregnate his batting gloves and the cricket ball with fast acting toxins, say from a box jelly fish.  Have so much of it that he won't last the time it takes for an ambo to get him to hospital.  Fuck yeah, Howard's Demise. We should write a song about it."

Jacko nodded;

"Fair enough.  Kill him off quick.  Speaking of songs, we have Rasta lining up a drummer, one of his students, and some rehearsal time in a studio.  Reckon Reepo's still on for playing bass?"

"Rasta" was a colleague of Jacko's who also played drums in a jazz fusion-reggae band.  His family was from India, of Tamil blood,  but that didn't stop him from wanting to be West Indian. He even supporeted their now-ailing cricket team. He also earned extra dollars by tutoring wannabe drummers.

"Yeah, Reepo's still got his old bass from high school garage band days.  Reckons he  knows how to use it.  We'd better ace it up ourselves and get our playing in order. I'd hate to think this band thing is just piss and wind."

Both men looked up at the TV screen as the bar manager changed channels to the live cricket telecast of South Africa versus Australia.  Ponting out LBW to Kallis for the best part of fuck all.

Blake swore, muttering,
"Fucking Yaapies!  I hate that Kallis prick.  Better get Binga to sort him out as well."

Jacko looked at Blake, nodding.
"Box Jelly Fish poison.  'Nuff said."

Blake's response was a defining one, that is if fantasy can ever define anything,

"That's single number two, right there.  "Jelly Death".  It will be a cautionary tale about the dangers of  being a dickhead 50's retro Prime Minister or a cunting Yaapie all-rounder,"

Jacko looked at Margie, the angry red-headed barmaid and added,
"Better include surly ranga bar wenches in that." then went and ordered some fresh beers.

"Two thanks Margie.  On the house, we're gonna be rock stars."  he grabbed a pen off the bar and signed a beer coaster, handing it to the frowning Margie,

"There ya go Margie.  A genuine autograph from a Dog Shit Killer,  It'll be worth millions in ten years."

Margie shook her head,

"Well its worth bugger all now Jacko so save it for next decade.  In the meantime that'll be six-eighty."

Jacko handed over the cash and returned to the table, to find that the latest experiment by Australia's cricket selector's, Shane Watson, had just skied a miss hit pull shot to Ntini ten metres in from the boundary at mid wicket.

"Tardo fucking Watson.  Waste of space.  They should just dump him and forget him, he'll never amount to much." was Blake's comment.  Jacko agreed,

"They're obsessed with trying to find a Flintoff.  It smacks of single-minded desparation.  He can't play at this level, they may as well select six batsmen and four specialist bowlers.  Its worked well so far."

Blake peered out the window across to Belmore Park, then back to the TV. He looked at Jacko and stated with a clear voice loaded with conviction,

"Just like a band. Drummers are drummers and that's all they'll ever be. Wouldn't do to have them getting all uppity. Certainly won't happen with the DSK's."

As he said this Jacko let out a curse.

"Who the fuck is this Hussey character anyway? Meant to be a gun bat.  Looks more like a retarded fruit bat."

Blake smiled, drained his beer and went to the bar.

"Two more thanks Margie.  Two more."

Thursday, March 11, 2010


From nine till five I have to spend my time at work
The job is very boring, I'm an office clerk
The only thing that helps pass the time away
Is knowing I'll be back at Echo Beach some day

Martha and the Muffins "Echo Beach".

I took a couple of weeks off and went here  for a part of it.  My sister's place was full up with other family members for a birthday party bash thing which extended over a couple of nights.  So Flynn's Beach, Port Macquaire, mid North Coast NSW was my Echo Beach for 5 days.  I've stayed in a couple of places around Flynn's before (including my sister's various bits of real estate) and it ranks highly in the Therbs stakes for Top Beaches.  My routine is to wake up reasonably early and walk down to the beach and do some body surfing before breakfast.  Given my bulk the waves have to be pretty fucking good to cart me around and a lot of the time they are. Then I head back and shower,  have breakfast and consider what time to head back to the beach.  I like the beach, me, and that's why I live close to one.  But a beach out of town has that magical allure of being at an away game and devoid of the usual responsibilities which flap around us every day, squaking for attention like those one-legged seagulls you see down at Bondi Beach scrapping with Brit ratsackers over some end bits of fish ' n chips.  I dunno what's worse, the gulls or the ratsackers but each time I see "Bondi Rescue" I feel like firing off letters of complaint about the lifeguards' behaviour.  Imagine saving those soapy, VB-fuelled Brits.  Be a lot better off just holding their heads under water for a few minutes.

Port  Mac was good even though I'd had to spend a goodly part of a months' wages bringing the VS Commodore up to registration scratch and insure the damn thing.  But geeze that V6 engine is a fucking little ripper, heaps sprightly and likes a road trip.  When I arrived I did some shopping, part of which was for beer.  I chose one of my fave's, James Boags Premium Lager.

What I didn't count on was after placing all the beers in the fridge that the shelf in the door would dollapse when I closed said fridge causing three of the beers to fall to the floor and slightly dislodge the bottle tops, causing opnly minor leakage of beer but major leakage of the magical beer gas, meaning the beer would become flat and lifeless in short order.  So I took the only sensible option.  The first went down pretty quickly given I'd just driven half the day and was still on road trip pace.  The second took slightly longer as I flipped on the teev and watched some t-20 highlights od Oz beating down on NZ.  The 3rd had me in a suitably relaxed state as my brother and his partner arrived.  Holdiay, foricng down a nice chilled beer and t-20 cricket on the tube with five days of sun 'n  fun to look forward to.  Absolutely fucking brilliant!

One highlight of my stay was having a feed of fish down near the water in the main part of Port.  As the sun hung up its boots for the day there was a swarm of flying foxes flying from the south to the north east.  There were two streams of them clouding the sky for about twenty minutes.  Millions of the mad little buggers but by jingies it looked spectacular. 

The party went well, the whole family was there and we ripped it up in good style. I had a fine, fine time.

Now I'm back at work but only for a couple of weeks.  I'm going to Hobart at Easter to check up on a newborn and wet its head.  That will also be a fine time 'cos I love Tassie, me. (insert map ' o Tassie joke here).  It'llbe another four days of living it large, albeit in a cold climate.  But that's what warm clothes, walking, hot food and pubs are designed for, innit.

I'll be doing another instalment of my 80's travel thing within the next few days.