24 September 2003

There are so many ways to have a human interaction these days. And you know, many of them are quite clearly quagmires of risk to an unwary participant. Not sure what I mean? Well, so many young souls have reached out to another and been rebuffed, causing perhaps irreparable damage to our fragile little egos. Been betrayed by a lover? Rejected by a friend? Left out of some social plans? Given a “thanks but no thanks” to a job application? Had phone-calls go un-returned?

Stings, don’t it.

What if you can never regain that sense of security and self-worth you once had? Well never fear because now you can turn to B Sharp’s failsafe Ranking of Low-risk Human Interactions.

1. The Blog
Say what's on your mind without the slightest hint that someone will rebuff your good self, as you don’t even know who you’re talking too, if anyone. Maximum opportunity for self-censorship. Zero risk! (Also applies to group personal bulletins or notices).

2. SMS
The best feature of low-risk sms use is when it has a time component. Ask a new friend to a drink precisely 1 hour before the allocated time. They don’t reply? Well obviously, out of range or not in the area, not because they didn’t want to see you. Restricted amount of characters has the added bonus of severely limiting the nuance or emotion. People will continue to try to put it back with those darn emoticons though. Don’t they get it? No emotion, No risk!

3. Haiku emails
I invented this term yesterday. It refers to email with information only, no comment or editorial. If it just says “Are you going to the club on Friday?” then there is no implication that you care what the answer is. Some risk involved for this ploy though, because most people can see through it. Keeps ‘em guessing though. NB: lowest risk answer to the above it is “Not sure, got a lot on, you?”

4. One night stands
The rules: Don’t ask for phone number. Don’t give out phone number. Make sure they don’t get access to your mobile when you go to the bathroom. Go to other party’s place of residence. Very low risk of any future contact, means low risk of rejection.

5. Normal emails
Can be tricky. Start introducing personal details and questions about the other party’s life can lead to an expectation of friendship. Be careful! Best to restrict to use with parties of the same gender (or whichever gender it is you don’t usually have sex with).

6. Phone calls
Medium risk. The receiving party is highly likely to know that you reached out, what with caller info display and such. Quite possible they'll realise it’s you and not pick up. Ouch. Unmistakable rejection if this happens. On the other hand: once voice-to-voice contact is established its much harder to weasel out of a definitive invitation, hence mitigating risk of rejection.

7. Actual face to face discussion
Enough to bring you in out in hives just thinking about it. High risk. Open to outright snubbing, ridicule, or worse, a relationship. Best restricted to highly codified environments like office meetings, or nights at the pub.

8. One-on-one relationships
Well kids, if you stick to the above guide for preference in all human interaction you’ll never have to deal with this one, the highest risk communication of all!

Good luck and good night.
Aunty B.

22 September 2003

My friend has a big beautiful round tummy with a new life coiled inside. I felt its head and its spine. Seems like a long time since we pulled those buckets together. All the best gorgeous, I look forward to meeting the new little human that you’ve made. Hopefully it will inherit a knack for naughty fun and casual disregard of authority from its mother. Quote from the weekend: “I don’t think we’ll reach significant G’s”.

18 September 2003

A girl with a dirty mouth

The Eels. Went to the gig on Saturday. Lucky me, got offered ticket in the sunny Sydney afternoon because someone else couldn't make the chaged timeslot. Of course I had to do some fast rescheduling to make a free window in my hectic social life. (Apologies to John Cusak for having to shelve another viewing of Grosse Point Blank last weekend... sorry honey..)

Well, thank god for rock and roll is all I can say. Being a total Eels kook, I knew not that they are best known for a mix of perfect pop and sadness-laced ballads. Waiting in the front-of-stage area (thanks Big Al) I am told that the lead singer has lived though the suicides of both parents and a sister. A few days after the gig I am told that former band members have offed themselves, I have no idea of what the actual story is. But at the time I'm thinking - oh no another damaged soul, on stage to bring me along for the ride. Great. Time for an aside here.. look if you're a lonely soul out there surfin' the web, and you're feeling like there's no point being alive, whatever you do, keep the tylenol and the razor blades in the cupboard, okay? Coz believe me, no matter what you think, it will upset someone. I promise. Probably me, when I end up inadvertantly paying good money to see your sibling/lover/parent blaze out their angst on a six-string in 2010.

Anyway, back to the Eels. Mr E could be the long lost twin of Melbourne's Dan Brodie, and he swaggered on stage looking like an extra from one of those American army films with the band doing their best David Hicks impressions in orange denim. From the back of the auditorium, mind you. I haven't seen that since Rocky Horror at Star City in 1998. Band cranking out the rifs and pitched into darkness. It was all on. Flooded with relief after the bad indie rock experience aka Chan Marshall, and surrounded by young things shakin' their booty for the next 2 hours, I felt like all was righted with the world, and the ills could just wait outside on the street for a while...

A cover of a Johnny Cash song, a solo rendition of Beautiful Freak (ah Henry, where are you now?), a punked up "Birds" and four (count em) encores later, and the lights are up, they're still going and there's some strangeness on stage but who cares. Bernard Z from the SMH thought it was all a bit of a lame tired joke, but Bernie, this is where our opinion will have to differ. For the un-initiated, I'm happy to see a depresssed showman crank through a set of fired up tunes, promsing to make sweet love to his new lady, Sydney, on any Saturday night, baby.

15 September 2003

Cat Power inspires lots of buzz ..

From Jez, about the Sunday night gig:
She performed solo (with no-one accompanying her) starting off a bit slowly on the piano she played a medley of songs, none complete versions, then she moved over to the acoustic guitar and feel apart. On the last few piano tracks she'd said that she couldn't play some of the songs, that they were too difficult and she couldn't remember. This got much worse while she played guitar. Playing the guitar, the stage lights were in her face, so she got them turned off and then moved over to the corner of the stage in complete darkness. There were moments of complete brilliance, but mostly it was just damn annoying, insincere and pestulant.
I knew that she was fragile, but last time I saw her play she had it together a lot more. This time I don't know what to think. However, I did notice that when she emerged initially at the start of the concert, she muttered about the stress of playing solo, with no one to back you up, and complained about the bright lights and the lack of feedback so that she couldn't hear how her guitar sounded. When I saw her in Adelaide she played in darkness with a bit a light on the crowd. I thought that she would have been better at the metro. go figure.

From me:
We're in two minds over here - one that the gig-going public are expecting a glossy, pre-packaged show every time, and need a reality check that not everyone gives that.. and that she is a brilliant, raw dose of fragile talent and emotional power. And Jim Morrison or Iggy Pop were canonised for this kind of behaviour .. so is it a double standard for chicks?.

The other mind is that you've got such great talent, and the ability to move people that its kind of like chucking it away when you soak it in alcohol to the point where you can't remember the chords. And that's partly why the audience get so aggro.

From DW (spot the lawer):
Saturday night was very strange, there was the odd "boo" and a few people left but there was not the constant heckling that the "performance" probably deserved.

It was a surreal experience from when she opened by asking for underage drinkers and then passing around wine, the aborted attempts to play both her own material and covers (she got one and a half lines into a nick cave number before giving up). Right through to the final "piece" that was essentially a 20 min instrumental with Chan hiding firstly behind the guitarist, then the piano, and finally going into the crowd and sitting on the floor for 5-10 mins of incomprehensible singing/conscious stream.
Finally she stood up, getting one of her biggest cheers of the night, and
somehow got back on stage. The lights came up, the Verve came back over the PA, and we were treated to one of two attempts by her to play the drums before getting jack of it and followed the lead of others and left. I am still amazed that the crowed didn't go feral (I've seen bands pelted with rubbish for performances better than that).

For the first time in my concert going career actually wanted to ask someone for my money back, but upon hearing that what we had seen was standard for her, decided against it, if that is what she does in live gigs, so be it, but don't market it as a concert as it's a performance artist/cabaret/freak show, some sort of spectacle. Which is fine if you are not expecting her to perform to the level of her albums.... I needed the tip-off before hand to really evaluate it, as a descent into madness, a drunken idiot or someone just putting it on because that is their thing...... Kind of like going to see Lou Reed and knowing that it could be an amazing show, or he could decide to be a prick and tell the crowd they suck and play a few songs to himself.

Back to me (sweeties):
Well I'm starting to think - bless her for creating something that people
feel strongly enough about to discuss a few days later! (and online forums) In today's world of disposable consumerism that in itself is an

To AJ (I think she's kidding about the A-triple C)
I don't think any of us quite knew what to do, I have seen her before and can only assume it was the high quality Australian performers that backed her up that made it an interesting and delightful performance last time. If you can't perform, don't, nobody is going to make you, and it would create a certain amount of interest in you as a musician.

I will never see Chan again, I will not recommend her music , will never buy an album, and will actively rag her to other people. This was by far the most appauling spectacle I have ever seen, the reason the audience didn't riot??
no point, i'm sure it would have ended up with catpower in a mental institution, which is probably where she needs to be. I should have taken a cue from the level of performance from the support acts (equally as annoying) but they played more songs than she did. I do want my money back but I want Chan to pay personally, I have moved from confusion to anger, nobody deserves to be served up this kind of "performance", I wish I had gone to the pub.

Currently receiving advice from the ACCC about return of monies

An Dave weighing in on gender issues:
I like the comment about at least it is stimulating discussion, mind you I saw Jane's addition on Australia day and I haven't stopped talking about it (it was awesome, dude).

I agree that she has the right to put on whatever show she wants and doesn't have to conform to a standard for folksy/blues performers where they strum the guitar, tell a few jokes, belt out the songs and have candles around the stage etc.

But! there is the expectation that she will put on a decent show as it was billed as a performance not as a collapse

I don't think that it is a female/male thing Jim Morrison and Iggy pop traded off the fact that they were likely to be a mess on stage - look at Tex Perkins, I've never seen him live where he didn't act drunk/stoned/high/low, it's his persona/life.

I didn't know Chan had a reputation for flaking out on stage, if i had known it would have been less of an issue - but it could be argued that is my fault for not doing better due diligence, or a false representation by the promoter - the ticket should have looked like a cigarette packet with a big warning on it stating "Performer may decide it's all to hard, causing you anger". If I had seen that sort of performance from Courtney Love, Grace Jones, Martika apparently a big tantrum thrower) or Janis Joplin etc it would have been less of an issue as you know that buying a ticket to one of their shows is a gamble. - especially Joplin, i bought a ticket to her show a couple of years and she never turned up! ;)

I may not be as angry as AJ, (not far to go -denial, resistance, exploration and commitment to move on), but i am disappointed that not only was it a crap show, but that as a performer in general she appears to lack respect for those who listen to her music.

So I will be instructing people to avoid seeing her live, and to steal the equivalent of $44.95 worth of CD's of her music off the net, cause despite saturday night, on her albums she can hum a good tune.

And of course I get the last word
I knew she'd be flaky but I hate to see great music tortured and all but destroyed. I think partly the anger comes from seeing someone who has the voice of an angel and the opportunity to spend life doing what they love, playing music and making money from it, throw it all out the window with histrionics and bullshit...

Phew! Anyway.. my inspiration to blog away to my heart's content. Okay so I may go blind. Oh well, at least I'll still be able to hear.

Next time: The Eels, or
"How a band can enter your life and instantly become and old friend"

12 September 2003

Performance / Anxiety

Catpower, last weekend. Imagine a life where hundreds of people pay a chunk of the money they earn to keep themselves alive to come and spend a couple of hours to hear you strum a guitar and sing a few songs. So a chick in this modern world could get a bit overwhelmed by the pressure and responsibility. It that's the case then stay off the stage!

Perhaps I have got to a point where I expect a meagre $40 is enough to buy some comfort and escape via the magic of a live performace. Even an average live performance can lift (or maybe shunt) you to another place for a short while. Somewhere you haven't been before. Does that make me a shallow materialist ? Am I and hundreds of other drones in the big dirty city trying to buy beauty? Did Chan Marshall give us a nasty little lesson in where that attitude can lead to? Or is she a demented folk-rock parody who should never be let out past the door of a nice soft padded recording studio ?

Next post will be some review and commentry by some buddies (and some people who I've only met once) in the couple of days after the Catpower gig, all sent to me on email. I was inspired by how passionate some music fans can get when it all goes horribly wrong.

.. as soon as I can extract them from my catankerous work email server.

test 12 sept 03