Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I was a teenage metalhead...

I make no secret of the fact I was a teenage metal head. I listened to Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and nameless other bands until Nirvana swept that all away. To be honest, my allegiance to metal was actually tested earlier when I started to fall in love with Jane's Addiction, Husker Du and Faith No More - all heavy but in other ways to be sure. Even so, I have still listened to Metallica on and off since I was about fourteen. I figure if you're going to listen to a metal band it might as well be a band called Metallica (seriously, if you step away from the legacy of one of the biggest bands in the world and look objectively at the name, it's pretty stupid). So, this last Monday I got to see Metallica live for the first time...

I have to admit I was a bit trepidatious about it at first. I mean there is a part of me that clings to the Metallica of my teens (1988 on the Hetfield mullet watch above) - the lion maned front man who chugs jagermeister on stage with EET FUK inscribed on his guitar while leading a cyclonic, humourless riff monster through eight minute songs about pain and suffering - like, awesome! My eternal teenager loves those guys - I mean, come on, their nick name was Alcoholica! I remember when they toured with Justice For All in the 80's and there was a riot which resulted in running battles between fans and police. That's how serious it was back then. Metal or death! Metal up your ass! METAL METAL METAL! My concern was that the post-therapy Metallica would be more Master of Ceremonies (Hello Cleveland!) than Master of Puppets (I'm your source of self-destruction!).

I need not have worried. Even though James Hetfield kept yelling out "Hello Brisssssbane YEAH!", the great thing everyone forgets about metal is that it is both fun and hilarious (unless you are a boy aged 14-18 and then it's very, very serious indeed). So I sang along to most of the songs, threw some devil horns and had a great time. I bounced up and down to my favourites (BA-TER-RY!) and scoured my memory for songs long forgotten (I couldn't remember Motorbreath off Kill 'em all for the life of me). And just to make me feel better about missing the old days, they played a 10 minute version of the angular riff, tricky time signature dour fest which is the title track of And Justice For All... - let's face it, if I was fourteen, I would have loved but at 37, I was looking for the exits. That ten minutes made me miss the all-entertainment Metallica which soon came back. They even dropped big black Metallica balloons (Metalliballs as I like to think of them) during Seek and Destroy - this shit was off the hook.

My second source of trepidation was that I was going to see them in bogan heartland - Brisbane. The thought of a 15,000 black clad bogan army descending upon me was a little horrifying. Would I get eaten alive? Would they notice that I wasn't metal enough? I shouldn't have worried because the crowd were the best bit of the night. I don't think I have laughed so hard at a concert because bogans love metallica like indie kids love skinny jeans and irony. I don't want to come across as mean but it was their enjoyment of the show that made it just that much more fun for me and my brother who went. Firstly, there was a guy dancing to the left of us like Magda Szubanski in this video...

Seriously, you kind of see people doing that dance in old countdown episodes - some form of primitive bogan waltz.

It was hilarious but I noticed the guys to the left of me laughing at him. I thought this was a bit rich as they were rocking back and forth in unison playing air guitar (like Status Quo). It was a hair farming frenzy as the moves they had been perfecting in their bedrooms for the last 20 years were finally on show in a place that they would be accepted. Bad dance guy was just as moved by the music but at least he wasn't pretentious about it? Pretentious how? Well, metal dudes on the left all had obscure metal band shirts on (you don't need to know who Voivod is) and stood stoney faced with arms folded when they played anything off the Black album (you know, when Metallica sold out) - a sure sign that they were serious fans, not like the rest of us posers. Metal dudes also had one other signature move which was to thrust their fist in the air at a right angle at the end of an awesome line in each song (the move is similar to a body builder flexing his arm muscle while raising it in a metal salute). I'd like to think of it as "By the power of Thor" move. It was apparent that they had either caucused earlier or they all thought the same lines were amazing as they all fist thrusted in unison too.

The last guy I'd mention was in the stands and he reverted to some primal monkey-like state - bare chested holding on to a rail and jumping up and down and screaming. Did I mention that monkey had been infected by the rage virus from 28 days later? Madness, I tell you, madness. But there was many examples of this kind of behaviour and I stayed weeeeeeeeeell away from the moshpit.

BTW if you see me, I'm happy to re-enact any of these moves for your amusement.

Sadly, I have no photos as I left my camera at home but be rest assured that my hearing is still destroyed and yes, I'm listening to Metallica as I type this but the Black album because I'm a sell out...


Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Rules Part 1: The Bus

(I recently wrote some rules about road trips for Blanket Magazine and in my spare time I've written some more rules for life that I'll post here occasionally).

Through necessity and convenience I catch buses most days. The reason is twofold, a) there is a bus stop at the end of my street and b) I find it harder for youth gangs to beat and rob me on a bus (they seem to dedicate their lives to train travel thankfully). However, even though bus travel is relatively common, some people seem to be baffled by the concept of communal transportation. So much so they make decisions that can only be described as stupid. As such, here’s the rules for the bus.

What? There’s a bus a-coming?
Hey lady, I take it from the fact that you are standing at a bus stop, flagging down and then entering a bus, you actually want to catch one. So why is it that you get on and then take out your tardis-like handbag and spend five minutes rummaging around for change? Are you surprised you have to pay for a ticket? Listen, there’s only two people who travel for free on the bus and that’s Kanye West and crazy people. I ain’t never seen Kanye on the 426 to Newtown but I’ve seen a lot of crazy people. Do me a favour and just have your fare ready before the bus gets there.

So there’s no seats on the bus so you stand - but where do you stand? Logic dictates that you move to the back of the bus to allow more people on and (spoiler alert) you actually have more chance of getting a seat if you’re standing near them. However, most people like to crowd around the middle exit because, obviously, that’s where it’s the most inconvenient for people trying to get off the bus. Seriously, this little flock of moronic sheep mutter and curse when you have to basically force your way by them because they’re blocking the exit. Hey dickhead, you’re a walking-talking OH&S liability, move out of the goddamn way!

Sitting isn’t hard
There are numerous places to sit on a bus but unbeknown to many, there are a bunch of different styles of sitting. Let me break them down for you.

1. The Normal Intelligent Human Position: tries to sit in a way that allows the people around them maximum comfort.

2. The Real Estate Agent position: They sit on a seat but they put their bag, box or whatever on the seat next to them and refuse to move it. ‘Hey mate, is your inanimate object having a great trip? Too bad that 80 year old woman has to stand up while your bag enjoys the ride.’ Short of taking a canoe on the bus, you should make room for anything with a pulse over your possessions. If you want personal space, buy a car so you can have your own four wheeled mobile bedroom for all I care. Another variant of this loser will take up the pram/wheelchair space oblivious to the struggling mother angling their pram around them.

3. I am a Dickhead position: So the bus has two seats next to each other near a window but you choose to sit in the aisle one to, say, avoid the sun or you’re getting off soon. You’re silently thinking ‘If they want a seat, they just have to ask.’ Well, fuck you, I ain’t no mind reader, I just see a rude prick who is taking up more space than they need. The only caveat is that you’re getting off in a couple of stops and if that’s the case you should offer to get up for people if you’re so bloody vigilant about your upcoming stop.

4. The Mighty Penis position: Why is it some men have to sit with there legs so far apart they take up half the seat next to them? Dude, if you’re that well endowed that you have to sit like that, I’d seriously consult a doctor. That ain’t normal, it sounds like Elephantitis of the penis. Just close your legs moron...

5. The Princess position: This is when you have two seats together and the person sits in the middle of the two, arse cheek firmly planted on both. It’s a clever ruse because it’s not clear which seat they’re sitting on, do you perch yourself on the edge or ask them to move? Most people tend to do neither and look resentfully at this idiot hogging two seats to themselves.

6. The Emperor position: I call this the Emperor because generally it is always assumed by men. They sit in the middle seat of the back row, leg’s spread wide making it impossible to get past them to the other seats. So they sit there, surveying the land like a conquering fascist dictator and take up five seats instead of one. They also like to open the air vents in some wanton act of machismo which I can only guess is because they can’t open the window and put their head out the window like a dog. See Fido sit, see Fido drool...

The solution to all this is to ask people to move and I do and often and if they are reluctant I push past them. There you go, rudeness in you promotes rudeness in me. If you just had even the vaguest sense of what was going on around you and some common courtesy, I wouldn’t have noticed any of this and I could be writing a novel or something...

IPods are awesome
IPods are awesome. I cannot think of a single piece of technology that has improved my life in every way like the iPod has (except for when I go prematurely deaf at age 40 - 3 years and counting). I’m no audiologist but if I have earphones on listening to Fugazi and you’re sitting on the other side of the bus with headphones on and I can still hear your music, I’d say that’s because you’ve got it on TOO LOUD. Worse still is that some mobile music devices have speakers so at times I have had to endure other people’s crappy music taste. Did I really want to hear the Cranberries at 7:30am in morning on my way to work? And I think that junkie who played I wish I was a Punk Rocker fifteen times in a row must regret that now... surely? It's more offensive to me that people have such terrible taste in music than the noise aspect but they go hand in hand I guess. Keep your shit music in the closet people and turn it down.

Thank your driver
Everyday and in every way I see bus drivers deal with a lot of crazy people in what seems like a pretty thankless job. I don’t know if they notice or care but a simple thank you might stop that driver snapping one day and driving a full bus load of commuters over a cliff one day. Just says 'thanks driver, you're awesome.'


Monday, October 11, 2010


So, I'm 37 and that's weird. It's weird because when I was 20 I couldn't even imagine being 35 so technically I have am now living in a period of my life which was previously beyond my imagination - holy shit! It's weird though because I'm still throwing devil horns and playing air guitar to Superchunk in my lounge room like when I was 20 so maybe nothing has changed. Well, that's not true - everything has changed.

I've just had a very reflective week where everything I did was reminding me of change and mortality. I re-visited my childhood home in New Zealand which I haven't been to in a good 22 years. I lived a reasonably idyllic childhood roaming the streets of a family orientated suburb near a university. There was lots of parkland to explore and university buildings to play war on with my friends. When my sister and I drove past our old home it looked exactly the same except the street had changed dramatically. The suburbs are now predominantly rented to students so the family homes of my youth are now populated with bare chested students lying on the front lawn drinking long necks. It's true, you can never go home unless you're willing to except some arsehole playing Nickelback or something at full bore at 3am. It made that Arcade Fire page all the more pertinent and sad.

I also read Haruki Murakami's What I talk about when I talk about running, which is ostensibly, an exploration of his running, writing, life and encroaching frailty. It made me feel it even more so. While I've been lucky with my health, twice this year I've hurt my back and it aches and aches sometimes regardless of the treatments I get. For some reason this has struck me to my very core because it affects almost everything I do and I've never felt that before. I suddenly feel very mortal and wonder if I've been wasting my time as each passing day takes me further and further away from the clueless 20 year old I was.

That being said, it's not all doom and gloom as there is sweetness is my life and much to be grateful for (two of my favourite things are in this picture). But it's almost as if the clock is ticking that little bit louder and faster. I'm not sure what it all means but I've got a couple of weeks holiday and I think I'm going to dedicate my time to working out what I should be doing next...

However, one thing about my birthday. My friend baked me personalised ginger biscuits which are awesome and yummy and almost all eaten.

Yay - gingerbread!