The story I wrote for the Kapiti Observer on Thursday is going to be the front page lead on Monday - not bad for a first day back, completely out of practice. I didn't think it was a great story, but I suppose it's topical - local reactions to the Labour Party's proposal to make student loans interest free. The Whitireia students were surprisingly noncommital.
Of the newspapers I've worked on (Kapiti Observer, Wairarapa Times Age and Taieri Herald), Kapiti Observer would be easily my favourite as a workplace environment. Whether they'll have any job openings towards the end of the year is another question entirely.
And shorthand still feels totally unnatural.
Odd dreams the last few nights - I've noticed they seem to come in series, nothing for weeks and then several over consecutive nights. Last night was one about being in an army, several of us crawling with backpacks along a hillside trying to avoid gunfire. Very suspenseful. Luckily it turned out to be only a training exercise. There was also something in there about falling off a ladder.
The night before there was a dream about my flatmate Joe getting badly scalded all over by steam off a pipe. I had to put him in a bathtub and run cold water over him.
And the night before that was a rather enjoyable erotic dream involving me and a sexy woman in a red dress. No one I know from real life (or the media). The subconscious playing with archetypes presumably? And it does confirm that, unlike a lot of people apparently, I dream in colour...
Another dream last night, set at Bar Bodega (the new one). There was a gig involving Fran Mountfort - she handed her cello down to the audience so people could unravel and dance with it like a big wooden hula hoop. When it got to me I gave it back to Fran, saying I didn't want to risk damaging it.
Then Cecil Taylor did a set, and finished off by explaining to the audience about his bowel movements and how they become more difficult as one gets older. "The pie from the other day is just arriving"...
Another one - five in a row. This time something about Douglas Adams having been a cartoonist working for Benito Mussolini. Then something about me arriving by airship in Australia - floating low over huge fruit trees with grapefruit the size of watermelons...
I'm spending the next few Thursdays & Fridays doing work experience at the Kapiti Observer newspaper - have to get back into practice with journalism. Whether it leads to paying work is another question. When I mentioned it to my flatmate her first reaction was "are they paying you?"
I do seem to spend rather a large percentage of my time doing unpaid work. Maybe it's something to do with guilt about having been raised in a middle class family, not rich but never (that I was aware) struggling to put food on the table. Even these days when I'm broke I tend to eat well. Somehow I never picked up the hunger for money that most people (my cousins) seem to have - I tend to only be aware of money when its absence becomes a barrier to something... I should have gone travelling years ago. Anyway.
I do quite like the Kapiti Coast as a part of the country though. I went up the Paekakariki escarpment on Saturday to do some gorse-removal and tree planting (kanuka in my case) with Nga Uruora. I love the steep landscape there and revegetating it does seem to be something worthwhile that I can get behind.
I wouldn't mind living there when I'm older - most of my family are in the Wairarapa now but I didn't grow up there so don't feel much connection to it, and I'd rather live by the sea. Paekakariki's great, but trouble is the housing prices are pretty steep. Even renting out there's no cheaper than Wellington.
Anyhow, up early & out to Paraparaumu tomorrow to write about whatever the locals have been up to in my absence. And back in the evening for band practice...
I've been keeping a low profile since getting back - stayed in the last few nights reading & net-surfing rather than going out. The thought of going out to the bars fills me with a kind of dread. I've been feeling some kind of unfocussed low-level nervousness about everything - not an unfamiliar sensation, but one I was mostly free from in Melbourne. It's something about Wellington.
I had to say goodbye to my girlfriend so I could come back and get into shorthand classes - transition from bliss down to purgatory. The class are up to a similar level to me - I know what I'm in for so the #$%^ing test should be passable. And I have to find a job, which is like pulling teeth for me (the hunting that is, I'd rather work than not work). And speaking of teeth, I have to go to the dentist for a filling and I've got bleeding gums again.
The enormity of the artistic workload for the rest of the year is rather daunting too - first up there's the Bomb the Space gig on August 3rd but that's only a starting point. I've got a new website to launch, and try and draw some attention to the half dozen albums I poured my heart & soul into the last few years. Then there's the Word Festival which I'm helping organise - got to get a solo set together for it and finish off Volume 2 of my short stories, which I've been working on since early 2003. Writing seems to come so slowly the last couple of years. I've been going with Scrames don la Screan as a working title, but I never did get anywhere with that story about life in a film crew as I still have too much residual bitterness about the industry here to be able to write honestly & openly. I guess I'll rework, distort & fictionalise my account of door to door sales in Australia to round the book out. And after that I've got to organise a 15-piece band to make an album and tour the country. I must be mad...
I actually got back to Wellington feeling fairly good about the place - too much to keep busy with over the next few months to have any excuses for boredom. And nice to have everything in walking (or at least bike or bus) distance.
Bad things on return - those National Party fuckwits looking like they're in with a chance, and the desolation of the bypass.
Good things - the flat looks welcoming, with some of the overgrown garden cleared to make way for some native trees to be planted. The silverbeet and beetroot I planted last year have survived and are ready for eating, and my room was waiting. It's great to not have to go flathunting as I can get straight into things. Ascension Band rehearsals are underway for Bomb the Space gig on Wednesday 3rd of August, and there's also the Word Festival which is now in its third year and actually getting some support (ie funding) from the city council by now.
Nigel's keen to take the band as far as it can go this year and was talking about dividing responsibilities up - eg the recording team, the management team, the media team etc. Seems like a good way to go. I feel like I've found my place in a scene now - in the past I got left behind a bit by the Wellington jazz scene, but it's time for the next generation to make its presence felt.
It occurred to me that shorthand classes Mon-Wed mornings might not be all that bad. I can think of it as self-discipline to make me stronger. And I can have the afternoons to work on music & event planning - seems important to take things to the next level. Then Thursday/Friday for journalism and work. Could be a good structure for the next few months - aiming towards an Ascension Band South Island tour around Oct/Nov maybe?
Here's a possible outline for yr calenders:
Wednesday 3 Aug - Bomb the Space gig ('Revolution' as work-in-
Mid Sep - Full scale show... Newtown plus Palmerston Nth
Late Sep - Studio recording of 'Evolution' for album release
23 Oct - Punk Fest gig?
Late Oct - Mid Nov - Tour! North and/or South Islands (1 week
each?). Play high schools and public gigs.
Feb - March 2006 - Fringe Festival II
Mid-late March 2006 - What Is Music Festival in Melbourne
This is going to be a massive load of work, starting right now.
For touring we will need funding to cover the large costs, but good planning should get us there - apply to pub charities, Creative Communities etc in each town. Playing schools should be valuable as it will give us the 'benefitting the community' ace up our sleeves.
Any thoughts/advice? Welcome back to the busy life of deadlines....
My last day in Australia (this time). Interesting dreams recently Ė the other night something about some roadworks at a crossroads. Earthmoving machines digging up the concrete and throwing big chunks to the waiting cars, which had scoops attached to the front to catch it. The car in front of me didnít have one and so the large chunk got thrown and dented the bonnet quite badly. The enraged driver got out, started throwing petrol around and was clearly about to light it. I ran as fast as I could in the opposite direction.
Last night there was a fairly long dream where I met Van Morrison, Margaret Atwood and John Cage. Van Morrison didnít want to talk, saying his work spoke for itself. He was a sculptor as well as a musician Ė heíd made a huge stone cup. I canít remember what Margaret Atwood had to say but she lived in a huge floating wooden castle with carvings all around. I had to get there by seaplane. John Cage was in a library Ė seemed impatient with me.
There was also another one about arriving in a big metropolitan city in Australia, bigger & denser than Melbourne. As new arrivals we had to shake hands and introduce ourselves to each other. There was an unfriendly Aucklander and a blind & deaf woman feeling her way around.
Make of that what you will. This time tomorrow Iíll be flying back across the Tasman. Shorthand class on Monday Ė euch. The good thing is I donít have to worry about flat-hunting, as I can move back into my last Wellington flat Ė same room even. I will have to get a job though Ė itís been bothering me recently the thought that my adult life has been pretty much an aimless drift, with a useless BA and a succession of meaningless short term jobs. The thing Iíve stayed focussed on the whole time is the recording music, and so Iíve got this series of albums that (almost) no one listens to. Have to dedicate the rest of the year to (passing shorthand and) getting the music out to a wider audience. Anyway.
The good thing about coming to Australia is realising that itís here nearby, not far to travel to. We tend to think of New Zealand as very isolated, but there is a whole continent next door which has enough in it to stay interested for a few years. I havenít remotely exhausted the possibilities of Melbourne yet, let alone the rest of the country. Itís good to think that going back to Wellington, from now on Iíll be there by choice Ė no need to feel trapped there. On the other hand to go travelling further next year Iíll need to scrape some savings together as this trip has rather depleted themÖ
New album is taking shape - I must be up to about #10 by now. Here are a couple of its ingredients. Also field recordings from Melbourne and some computer-generated stuff - it's even got sum phat beatz.
I bought my ticket back to Wellington for the 15th of July. I can move back into the same room in the same flat that I left, in Newtown! Suits me fine, as that was the best flat I've had. I'll also be able to slot into rehearsals for Ascension Band's upcoming performance at the Bomb the Space Festival in early August.
Ascension Band seems to be the real business of 2005 - by taking time out in Melbourne I've skipped over the comedown phase and inaction between the end of the Fringe Festival and now. It was good to have a change of direction so that life didn't seem anticlimactic. I know last year after we played at Meatwaters in September life felt flat by comparison to music and I couldn't get motivated enough to put in the long hours of practice necessary to pass shorthand (plus there were a dozen other things due at the same time).
Now I have to go back to Wellington to finish off the accursed shorthand paper, dreary bane of my existence, but on the other hand having something to anchor me in Wellington for the remainder of the year could be valuable as it means more time with Ascension Band. It's the heavy artillery of my musical projects - it can do anything. And the thing I found pretty mindblowing earlier this year was that people were actually into it. The audience showed up. The costs were covered (except for the break-in to the back room when a microphone got stolen). The reviews were good ("they maintain avant-garde cred and still manage to rock harder than AC/DC" - now that's a good review). And it was great fun.
I'm playing a Melbourne gig next Tuesday, hopefully with Mike & Fran, at the Make It Up Club, the weekly improvised music evening in Melbourne.
8 days to go in Australia (this time) - there should be enough around to keep me interested...