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Gertrude’s Diary #131 – Step Right Up

Regular readers will be pleased to know that try as I might I cannot transmit an actual soapbox through the internet.

It is a strange and difficult thing, to have an epiphany, and I have been poor company this week since I had by brain snap about CO2.  I’ll try not to get on that soapbox again, but I have found it tangled around my feet a bit lately.  Poor Bertrude was so consistently browbeaten with my insights and opinions for three days that he went out and got a job just to get away from all the talk about global warming.   And who said I couldn’t change the world?

Anyway, I’m sorry if I bored you with my rant.  I’ve now managed to channel most of that energy into the manifesto I’m writing and which I’ll be uploading to google docs the second it’s done.  Johnboy, you’ll be the first one to get the link, okay?

At the Hippo Lounge this Thursday I stepped into the breach when our regular door bitch couldn’t make it.  I’m not sure I really performed my task as well as I might have done… I probably shouldn’t have been asking the familiar faces if they’d like to join me in my battle to save the world, but instead, asking the unfamiliar ones for their ID.

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Acid Rock

Domus Adultus @ The Hippo, Thursday 29th Oct, 2009
Bic Parker, Special Correspondent

I wondered about life as I entered the hub of Civic, past the soup kitchen and the nonchalant crowd downing pints at Micks. I mused over the Christian revivalists and wondered whether they still hold revivals in Bible House? And is chicken gourmet better than KFC?

Hearing music on the air I sat and pondered these questions by the fountain in Garema Place, smoking a cigarette. It (the music) was coming from the Hippo Bar, my destination.

I sat in the back of the club idly watching the crowd whilst taking in this trio (Ed – Amber Nicholls) who were producing  a really sweet mix of mead and honey via a very pretty blonde woman (another pink  look alike). Not my cup of tea, but they seemed to fit in well enough. They could have been a tad loud for this venue (questionable) but apart from that they broke the ice.

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Vietnam Letters #53

Postmark ? May, 1970

218807 Pte Jamieson
8R.A.R. Dcoy. 10. PL.
G.P.O. Sydney 2890

16th May 70

My Dearest Sandra,

Received your letter yesterday and am very pleased to hear from you. I am glad you liked your watch, I thought it would look good on you anyway. Well I only have a week to go and I will be on my way home to see my love, time is passing very slowly now, there are about fifteen of us here in camp at the moment and it sure keeps us busy maning the place, don’t get much time at all to our selfs, day or night. It rains over here every day now, don’t think I will ever be able to get used to it, it gets that muddy you can hardly walk around and when the rain stops you just turne into a lather of sweat, just as wet as if caught in the rain, but I suppose in time it will be all over and forgotten about. I guess it is quite cold down home now, after having a couple snow falls. It’ll be quite a change after being over here, but I have the best woman in the world to keep me warm and look after me. Won’t be able to get to the store before the 20th to buy anything, not that it would do any good anyway if I could as I have no money, am suppose to be paid on the 20th. Shall try and get the few things for your father. Well my headaches have seemed to be gone but I feel crook at times, hope I’m not in for anything before my R&R. Sorry to hear you have got that damn infection again. How are the boys getting along in the cold weather. I suppose you have to keep them inside out of it, and I guess they just about drive you mad at times. Sandra it is now 4.30PM and I have to go and do two hours on sentrie dutie so I shall have to finish for now and get going, shall try and get time to finish this note off to-night. Sandra I love you very much.

Darling it is now nine PM, have been of picket for an hour or so now, have been sitting around thinking of you and wishing I could stay home with you when I go home on R&R. Darling there is not much more for me to write about except that I love you and am busting to see you again and hold you in my arms again, I love you Sandra and will always love you my dear. Hopeing to hear from you soon, shall be loveing you forever.

All my Love, Jock. xxxx.

Am dying to be with you again Sandra, my Love.

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Gerry and The Pacemakers

Gerry and the Boys @ The Phoenix, Wednesday 28th Oct, 2009
Bic Parker, Special Correspondent

After yet another beaut Spring day, I sat waiting for a bus in pouring rain, wondering whether it was really worth going out. The rain stopped, the bus did not come and I walked into town to the Phoenix. I decided to take a philosophical approach to everything and anything and someone up there must have been thinking of me. I walked into the Pheno. A small crowd of enthusiasts were gathered as they do (and why not?). I could hear some seductive jazz and I caught a glimpse of a really shiny tenor saxophone, a beautiful instrument itself. I ordered a cup of jazz (coffee) and pushed my way to the front just so I could sit down in comfort.

There were a few older bearded blokes across from me who I reasoned must have been friends with the double bass player as he was an older gentleman himself, at least seventy. And I was right.

His name was Gerry. Then it dawned on me. I was watching a legend (he used to play with Johnny O’Keefe according to  a bloke at the bar), within the Australian music scene, a pioneer. I was enthralled. These blokes, who also comprised an acoustic jazz guitarist, a trad kit drummer and a poet for a front man, were really hot. Initially, to the untrained observer, one might think these blokes were novices, but the more I watched and listened, the more I could see this had been practised before.

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Chiffon #112. Lunch


ARRR! Dear oh dear. My fa meal ya or my family, not the collection of father, mother, sister, brother. No, a collection of what is left of distant and vague or perhaps strange… no not any word describes it.

We are having a lunch and because they all work harder at this fiasco called society than I, so I must go to them, and no doubt they will spend exorbitant amounts on lunch as opposed to lunch time and they will get the shits with me because I am me.

I have just got back from my lunch time extravaganza. Let me tell you about it. I was picked up at twelve thirty by my mother’s brother in his Mercedes Kompressor. Upon entering the car, his little show dog Barney, a terrier tried to intimidate me by barking furiously at me, which then set the tone for further intimidatory tactics employed in conversation. Needless to say I just did my best not to invoke conversation too much. We had to meet my sister at one o’clock, which we did, and sat down at a cafe come eatery.

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West Coast Bootleg

Bootleg Sessions @ The Phoenix, Monday 26th Oct, 2009
Bic Parker. Special Correspondent

Last evening, another intermittent cold night, I turned up at the Phoenix Bar (and grill, I wish). There was succour in the form of a good looking duo affectionately known as Winter Flint. Young man with a full red drum kit by the name of Leon. He does know how to use a pair of sticks and he wowed me with some competent and innovative drum solos which went well with the young lady, simply referred to as Jude, who was playing an acoustic guitar and singing her own compositions. Well-versed songs about the realities to living life.

It’s very rare to meet someone who gives you the impression that Janis Joplin is alive and well and giving singing lessons, but this woman knew how to let go from deep within and the telling was in the richness and commitment of her voice. They did not play long enough as far as I was concerned, but they set the bar high.

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Domus Adultus @ Hippo Bar, Thursday 22nd Oct, 2009
Bic Parker. Special Correspondent

The evening was not dissimilar to those balmy evenings you get in the Hamptons come fall or Tuscany in its Spring. I could not help noting the cosmopolitan nature of Garema Place, complete with its statue of male nudes (one is under sixteen years old), not unlike the ones you would find in Florence or Venice except that we are in Garema Place, the piazza, the rialto of public places in Civic. Al Grasby would be proud.

Jazz music could be heard coming from my destination, the Hippo Bar. I decided to sit for a few moments in the square and allow the sound to wash over me. For the life of me I could not work out who was performing, but I quite liked the sound of it. A bit Quincy Jones with a little bit of Boz, and a dose of OI OI OI. I wondered!? [Read more →]

Gertrude Implores You To Take Her Seriously For A Minute

As some of you may know, I recently began employment with a small, grass-roots organisation dedicated to helping local communities do anything they can to reduce their carbon footprint. I spent several months visualising a job exactly like this one; working with people of vision, action and commitment, 5 minutes from home and Wildflower’s school, and with regular hours that accommodate other commitments. It is literally a dream job for me. Of course, the downside of this employment is that it comes with an increasing awareness of climate change, a line of thinking which is liable to lead to the excruciating discomfort of self-examination.

Despite the impression I may have given you with the amount of space I devote in my blog to flippant observations and trite assumptions, I actually try hard not to be judgemental of others. Recognising in each of us the struggle to reconcile to the slip of time we have between life and death (sorry; bit of new-agey philosophy crept in there), I am inclined to forgive people their foibles and stupidities. Plus, I’m quite foible-ridden and stupid myself, so people in glass-houses and all that. Also, I’m afraid no one will invite me anywhere if I start airing my opinions about the urgent need to dismantle the military/industrial complex and the end of the world scenarios that await us if we don’t.

So on the whole I have been able to check an inclination to proselytise when confronted with my friend’s and loved one’s casual indifference to the impending doom that awaits us. I don’t want to single any one out, you know, or make people I care about uncomfortable, but I just don’t think the Good-Fairy Government from the shining land of We Actually Give A Toss is going to make an appearance and give us time off from our oil dependent lives to find a nice little techno-fix for this. Uh uh. If we don’t take matters into our own hands, no one else is going to do it for us.

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Gertrude’s Diary #130 – Riddle

Here’s a riddle for you: what’s pink and green and goes rattle, rattle, rattle, hack plop? Give up? It’s me, coughing up great gobs of phlegm! The phlegm is the green bit that goes plop, in case you didn’t get it.

Yes readers, Gertrude’s been crook. The doctor reckons I had pnemonia, but what would he know. It was probably just a touch of hayfever – it’s the time of year for that and I’ve recently enjoyed many hours of extravagant sneezing and nose blowing. But I took the antibiotics prescribed anyway, and I must admit to feeling a little better after a couple of days on those. Not so much as if the air had turned to treacle and my lungs into a bacteria soaked sponge.

So I made it back to work. What lovely people I work with! So solicitous of my health and genuinely concerned with my well-being. And not only that; they’re also so pathetically grateful for any tiny task I’m able to complete for them that I can’t help leaving the office every day with a warm inner glow. “Thank you so much Gertrude. We would never have worked out how to do that. You’re a genius!” Me: “Really guys. It’s just a page break. Don’t mention it.”

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Vietnam Letters #52

Postmark 13th May, 1970

James St.
N.S.W. 2628

(Tues) 12-5-70

My Darling Jock,

I received your wonderful letter yesterday, Darling gee it’s wonderful to hear form you, & even more wonderful when I’m not expecting them, as you didn’t think that you would get any letters out to me while you were in the bush this time.

I forgot to tell you that the day before I went down to Canberra last your  Mother brought Brian a nice pair of light brown overalls & they have got a train on the front of them, & he says that it’s the train that you went in. He says “Choo, Choo, Daddy in dat un, ta-ta Daddy.” And when I tell him that you will be coming home soon in a big plain, he says “No-train”. I suppose he thinks that seeing you left in a train that you’ll be coming home in one. Gee it will be just great to have you home again, but I hate the thought of you leaving again. Mum gave me one of those copper rings, which are supposed to be good for reaumatisum & things like that, & I think that it must do some good as I hadn’t had any of my ackes & pains, even last week when the weather was freezeing with snow & everything. The last couple of days have been quite nice I hope it keeps up & you have some nice weather for your R&R.

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Vietnam Letters #51

Postmark 8th May, 1970

4th May 1970

My Dearest Sandra,

To-day was great, received two letters from you to-day, it’s just wonderful to hear from you, I can all most hear from you when I read, I love you, Sandra I love you to and am looking very much forward to seeing you on my R&R, it’s going to be wonderfull, to be with you again. It’s so hard to realise what it will be like, but it will be just wonderfull for I will be with you Sandra, you the one I love, so it cannot be anything but wonderfull. Darling I love you and will always love you.

Everyday about the same time, 2:30-3:00PM it rains like hell, and we get soaked to the skin, sometimes the sun comes out in time for us to dry out but we usually end up wet all night, and covered in mud. Sometimes it gets verry cold and is very hard to sleep, but belive it or not you get used to it. Lately we have been staying in the the same place for up to seven to ten days, which is good for we don’t have to hump our packs around, the only thing wrong with being out like this is you cannot carry enough food so we never feel very full as we have to make our food last. The day are starting to drag for me now, only twenty days &  I will be home to you my love. Sandra I should be on the first plane from Sydney on the morning of the 24th, should arrive in Sydney about 6AM on the morning of the 24th, and  think there is a plain from Sydney to Cooma every morning, but not sure of the time. Since we have been sitting around in Ambush for a few days at a time I feel much better and haven’t had any headaches, which is very good. Darling, I shall have to finish for now as I am on the next watch, shall write more later. I love you. Jock.

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The Phoenix, Wednesday 14th Oct, 2009
Bic Parker, Special Correspondent

Last night was not a really good night. I had a headache and it had stopped raining heavily, it had slowed and was only irritating. None the less, in order to maintain the status quo I turned up to the Phoenix to see what I could see.

I found an out of the way seat (down the back). There were only twenty or so people in the place. The first group (Ed – Fayrouz) got up to play and there was a lot that was not revealed by this trio of nineteen or twenty year olds. Musically they did manage some nice interactions between their two guitars with one going off with some lovely sounding breaks. The enthusiastic djembe player might have to review his contribution to the ménage. The drum produced a sound that squashed the acoustic quality these boys possessed.

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Speakeasy Fringe Club

From the 14th-17th of October, the Canberra Musicians Club and Cardboard Charlie bring you the Speakeasy Fringe Club in Street Two as part of the Street Theatre’s Made in Canberra season. Hit the jump for more details.

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Kasha CD Launch

Kasha CD Launch @ MacGregor Hall, Acton, Saturday 17th Oct, 8pm, with Fats Homicide and Hoodlum Shouts.

Reviews of Merry Muse Friday and Folkus

Merry Muse and Folkus, Friday 9th Oct, 2009
by Potato Pete

Hi Music Lovers,

At the Merry Muse Friday 9th October saw Ami Williamson after the support act Buck and Deanne. Ami, what a singer and performer, combining her song writing, opera singing, humour etc,. Her genres swung between country, folk and classical. How fortunate was I to be there!!

Support acton first were great. Buck and Deanne, whose variety of music swung between the ‘ murder songs ‘ that were so believable listening to Deanne’s rendition, then to end by saying ‘Well I am not really like that’. They did some great Johnny Cash and June Carter covers, especially the song Johnny wrote 4 months after June Carter’s death, with Buck playing his twelve string Fender. What a performance. I own a similar fender. If I could play 50% as well as Buck, I’d be happy.

Later I attended the Folkus performance at the Italian club of Beautifully Mad: The Blue Ruins, loved the rendition of ‘She had diamonds on the soul of her shoes’. I learnt this song for the 666 ABC choir for the National Folk Festival performance a couple of years ago, they did a great creative version. (Ed – not sure if Pete saw Beautifully Mad or The Blue Ruins, probably the former)


Potato Pete