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NO icicles for me please!

Since I discovered that I didn’t have to live half my life in the snow I must admit Christmases have been much better for me.

There is something so right about the sentence “Merry Xmas!… let’s go to the beach!”

Once you get used to images of Santa in shorts and thongs ( the kind you put on your feet) it all a Beach blanket bingo from then on. In my almost 30 snow free years I’ve had the opportunity to do summer Xmas in a number of places and I gotta say Western Australia is still my favorite. There’s something about the openness of the place and the security that while you may not always get the truth you will always get their truth.

 

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Let’s go back to that first Aussie Chrissie before I knew the country, the rules & the inlaws.

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To be sure there are a lot worse places to find one’s self at Christmastime than Perth but it was that first Christmas that made it clear even to me just how far I’d come culturally.

To some, the Australia of the early 90’s seemed to have much in common with the U.S. but I never saw it that way, to me Australia was super foreign and indecipherable, I found the “whys” of Aussie culture confounding.

Why does everything take so long?

Why does everyone seem to be reaching for the middle shelf?

Why is there a crazy reverence for American culture, can’t they see what we are?

Why can’t they see the folly of hitching their wagon to a runaway star?

Back then every Aussie was pointing the finger at the effects of cultural imperialism as if there was some ideology driving the American short, yellow bus besides the dictates of graft, gluttony & capitalism.

At Christmastime though, all those concerns are suspended and my first Christmas in Perth was as carefree as Christmas gets.

The scene was … well… idyllic, there really is no other way to say it, at that time my new family was living in a small compound just east of Perth teetering on the edge of the Swan River, the very picture of suburban splendor. All the fixins’ were there from the pig to the pavlova and as I hadn’t quite moved from guest to family there was very little for me to do but swing on the obligatory tire swing that was down the hill hanging over the Swan, punt around in the family “tinnie” and chat between feedings.

The feedings, all outdoors, started at “breakie” and went on till way past dark, that part was very familiar if a bit more formal than my own family experience, in fact, most of it was familiar ( although there was much more drinking ) people dropped in people dropped out most took it upon themselves to make me aware of the general social norms and mores of my new home.

It’s a bit fuzzy because of all the drinking but I think there might have been an informal game of cricket.

Thanks to the female lead of the household I was thoroughly briefed on all things sports related and as Christmas occurs right around Cricket season, that game took up pride of place in most conversations, the size of the ball and willow the speed of the delivery why it’s NOT baseball I don’t think it ever occured to any of them that I was uncommonly likely ( from their perspective) to have aquaintances from the West Indies that had long before extolled to me the intrecacies of the game, with the wide eyed, high tones of the cricket zealot, while I am not a fan of sports and certainly not a zealot I am familiar with the symtoms as I have an older brother that has sadly suffered from the condition for many years.

Although I’m not what you’d call an Anglophile as any African American of my vintage will tell you we all have to be, a little, for safety’s sake and personally in the 70’s & 80’s I was a punk and that led to Python, Thatcher, Manchester, Rugby, Cricket and this Island colony I call home. Make no mistake in those days Australia struck me as a very colonial place the question was whose colony was it? Britain’s or America’s!

Truth be told an Australian trip had long been on my bucket list but I had decided, maybe on that first Chrissie or maybe even when I met the then future Mrs. Bagley to let whoever I might be talking to tell their story of how it all worked, I’d learned long ago that you generally get more useful information when the giver has either a sense of power or feels like they are helping you out. I’m not sure how long I played the “fish out of water” but it still pops up from time to time when someone can’t seem to grasp what it means that I’ve been here for almost 30 years.

It was surely that first, hot, sunbaked Christmas or at least parts of it that give me pause at the times I considered leaving OZ.

As we head down the road to another “Silly Season” it occurs to me that after all these years I have become a living repository of recent Australian history                                         ( as I’m sure every immigrant realizes eventually ) and I’m not absolutely sure how I should feel about it… a bit proud to be sure, I mean after all some fantastic, astounding things have happened here ( although most of you will never know of them ) and I’ve played some part in it and although I began this tale with a simple idea about how nice it is for me personally to have all this time away from the horrible reality of a white Christmas but as all things are here on earth … it’s about so much more.

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Say Goodbye to SKAnagie Hall

It is now time to wave goodbye to yet another home …. 

While it’s true enough to say that there are many kind of homes one can live in … multi level, multi bedroom mansions filled with all the modcons, two bed flats that barely provide shelter, even one bedroom studios that provide  just enough space to hang ones hat Ive lived in all types the real thing that makes any of them a home is a a commonality, a family, a warm feeling that exist between the occupants this is what myself and all the former occupants of our dear Skanagie Hall had in spades!  

Raise your glasses for the the closing and impending death of SKAnegie Hall is approaching. 

While sadness takes over the 4 current residents of the Hall one must remember that no matter what it may have been in it’s heyday the Hall can now only be seen by the casual observer as a Slanty Shanty. Yes, it has surely seen better days and as we, the current residents have gotten older it has also seen much more actve days, weekly band rehearsals and meetings are a thing of the past and while I still work in my little home studio, the main topic of conversation has turned to sports talk… a sad end to what was once a weigh station for travelling Muso’s and their lofty ideas but don’t believe that the muse has left us … far from it she may be just a bit tired but she lives still I for one still feel her presence even as we toil through the lack of modern amenities and semi-porous walls I feel her heart beating as we pack our things and contemplate the mouldy bathroom walls. The muse still moves us as we move and collect the memories of the past years … 

The backyard parties, the front of house BBQ’s… the album launches  & Aussie rules Grand Final Parties.

Then there were the times that the weather breeched the walls and we found ourselves living in the weather, hoping the gear stayed dry. 

Some conversations have been repeated AdNauseam, others avoided at all costs as we mingled our lives and searched for equalibrium and occasionally huddled together lashing ouhrselves to the mast as the turbulant seas of our individual existences gave us a beating.

I can’t speak for all the residents past and present but I know for sure that I will never forget my times at SKAnegie Hall, it provided a comfort that has been invaluable to me and has even quite literally saved my life.



During my time at the Hall I have known Love, Sex, despair, sickness and endless streams of smoke and now, even death… although our great friend Micheal did not technically die at SKAnagie his decline surely began there. Our friend Micheal who in his day had beaten cancer and stood toe to toe with alcoholism stood tall as an example of resilience and how to meet the world with a gentle kind of strength and throughout the precious time I knew him always had time to help with any problem anyone may have had even in the face of his own personal and pysical issues. Personally I fear that I may never know a man of his ilk again. There is one thing about life that always amazes me… How is it that so often we find ourselves huddled together in a foxhole with just the right mix of personalities to help us stand tall against the many tribulations life places in our path, it is indeed a wonderous thing how hope can lift us out of the mess of lives.

Shadow Electric abbottsford

With all that has gone on in the past six months I must have missed a thing or two but I have a long history with the abbottsford convent so I was a bit surprised that there is now a venue called Shadow Electric out by where they set up for movies in the summer.let, anyway… It’s pretty nice over there.
I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a sunny Sunday
Live music? 
Why as it happens,  as I recall there were a couple of bands there  (you know it’d never make it here if there wasn’t some live music
There was something different about this group…  My “freak ” meter was going into the red zone from the moment they started taking the stage.
Now it may have been a trick of the light or truth be told I did have a couple of drinks but I’d swear that I saw Frank Zappa up on the stage at one point.
This band reminds me of a question I used to ask myself when I was just a young thing…
What would happen if DNA was collected from all the members of zappa’s band,  steely Dan, the commodores, James Brown, Parliament and then those samples were taken to a lab in the centre of the universe ( a planet who’s coordinates are known only James &  bootsy ) where they were then inserted into a very funky humanoid host say like… Cindy Blackman. 
Time passes and she gives birth to a full band… would that band be funky and more importantly would they be called…
sex on toast?
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I know it’s a terribly specific question from my past but there it is…
Oh…  You should really look for the band ” Sex on toast ”

Monk

The dark alleyways

It’s a common theme throughout the world down the dark alleyways you’ll always find the seminal rock venue…
Tonight it

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‘s the Cherry Bar in the heart of Melbourne Australia.
Though I’ve been here many times I usually arrive a bit later but tonight I thought I’d catch the warm up bands before my mates the Resignators.
I find that it’s always interesting to show up before the crowd has found its groove and here in Melbourne it should be said that the crowd does not always find that groove. While Melbourne is a great city for rock finding the great venue can be hit and miss… Mostly miss. But for now this is home but when it comes to rock there is definitely a language barrier.
Iggy, stones maybe even a bit of colourful rock but the sound is different it is a matter of influences. Scratch an American rocker and you will doubtlessly find the blues but make that same scratch here and you find comedy. Does that make sense?  Australia is a place that refuses to take itself seriously and why is that?

Where the white women at ?

I guess that it’s just another stage of life but I find increasingly I am shaking my head in disbelief and thinking …
Living in this little social experiment we call Western Society is becoming more and more unrecognisable to me.
Things in my day were so different…
Yeah I said it!
Apparently It’s impossible not to have these thoughts.
“Why… these Kids Today…”
or
“The music was better when I was a kid and people danced!”

MY GOD!

You’d like to think that only the conventional life living folk have those thoughts …
Not me …
Never ME
I danced naked on a beach in with hundreds of other nudes and semi nudes.
I was at the last Bindoon Rock festival
I’m the guy that asked … are you sure there’s not a higher bridge from which I can throw myself off here in Queenstown? ( I’m a smooth talker)
anyway, the point is I think I’m doing my best to use my life well.
I should just let the change wash over me like a cool rain… but …

Maybe you heard about a controversy at a recent Footy (AFL ) match here in Australia.
Long story short… a fan shouted a racially offensive remark at a black player


… Truthfully I don’t know what kind of Black he was …
( Is that racist ? )
Torres Strait Islander?
Native Australian?

Anyway the culprit turns out to be a minor, a teenage girl.
The player hears it … turns to the nearest official lets him know and plays on.
Now, you’d think they’d shuffle the girl out…. maybe get the her some counselling at a nearby mental health facility ( or a smack on the back of the noggin).
And that’s it
deal done!
You’d be dreamin’!
What followed was 8 solid days of asinine conversation on what is and isn’t racist, by “Jocks” past and present…
Hoo Boy!
I’m sure their hearts are in the right places
(on the left side of their chest cavities)
BA-Ding!
In the mess the followed one of the better sportscasters one Eddie McGuire got himself caught up in the nonsense.
For those of you that don’t live in Australia you must know that Mr. McGuire is besides being a sportsman, sports presenter, President of a prestigious football club in Melbourne ( which means a hell of a lot in Australia), host of several television programs, Several radio programs (sports & non sports related) & most importantly widely known to be a stand up guy, one who steps up and always fights the good fight.
Now in a smart world this is a guy that should be given the benefit of the doubt if he should mis-speak or so you would think….
Here’s the deal …

The very busy Mr. McGuire made a statement on a radio program that was not racist but perhaps not well thought out (it doesn’t bear repeating here ) really it amounts to a stillborn joke, you will notice that in the introduction of Mr. McGuire above I did not ever refer to him as a comedian.
So … post comment, another controversy is born one that leads to McGuire fronting up on every radio, TV, program and newspaper, magazine article apologising for his bad joke.


Now the way the world works today when a person in the public eye makes an ill-conceived comment racial or other they are made to bow down in front of the alter of political correctness make the apology, and then for the next week or so ( a week being the limit of our collective memory these days ) they must do the “PC Shuffle” fronting up every place they can to make amends for their bad deed.
Now don’t get it twisted a guy makes a mistake like that and he should apologise but there are lots of other things to consider, a very important thing is INTENT.
These days we barely bother to look into the eyes of the “offender” and as a very wise man once told me “the answer is ALWAYS in the eyes” McGuire’s eyes showed remorse, embarrassment & a bit of fear of what he surely knew was coming.
Lets look at a couple of other incidents to try to put it all in place…
Many years ago another Australian celebrity made an unfortunate error in front of the camera Burt Newton’s famous ” I like the boy” comment



In a televised awards program in 1979 the illustrious Bert Newton made the mistake when introducing Mohammed Ali by saying ” Here he is… I like the boy! … Mohammed Ali ! ”
Now the look in his eyes as the words came out of his mouth said it all, a giant WTF & Jesus!
Ali instantly understood and like a true stand up guy and possessor of a media savvy the like of which we may never see again, got onboard to help Mr. Newton apply the appropriate patch, of course he meant no offence to Ali, a man revered by everyone!
A simple verbal gaff that was repaired by two good men.
Now let’s look at another …. Groucho Marx once let’s say repeated a joke in the film “Duck Soup”


the character Rufus T. Firefly says, “My father was a little headstrong, my mother was a little armstrong. The Headstrongs married the Armstrongs, and that’s why darkies were born.”
This is one of pure ignorance & the wrong but common beliefs of an era and as we all know ignorance can be easily fixed and time fixes an era’s errors I believe that Graucho came to a fuller understanding in the end.



Ok… so what about those that truly did mean to be offensive?
Even Governor Orval Faubus moderated his views later in life but when he made his infamous statements about integration in Little Rock you could see all the hate in it.


In fact it was felt by the whole country and you could see the truth in the eyes of those that were truly reviled & those that were onboard with Fabus.
My point of this whole thing is simple …
Before we insist that any infraction should be judged with the same yard stick perhaps we should consider the intent, and the reputation of the person.
I think we should have all learned the lesson about the folly of crucifying a good man for the bad deeds of others.
I mean I don’t want to live in a world where Cleavon Little, Mel Brooks and co. couldn’t make “Where the white women at?” funny

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Everybody loves a birthday


Ok so here is another birthday
My loose plan was to spend the day in one of my favorite places …a movie theatre
Thangs to a promo from the good people at village I have purchased a “man pass” which entitles me to entry to 3 films at a reasonable price.
Hey at this point I just want a day free of controversy and schedules arguments so I think movies are a good idea.
I’ve picked out 3 locations and ill just drive around inner Melbourne singing loud in the car taking pics along the way.
Nice

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Location:Jamieson Street,Kingston,Australia

The Trip: Eastbound & down…

Listen… in the spirit of truths being told ( and those of you that know me already know this) I don’t believe in boundaries in music and even less so in life so if you should happen to find yourself riding along in the BluesFunkRockSoulJazzC&WR&B+ Mobile


You are just as likely to hear Speedy West as Wes Montgomery
Kurt Weil as Curtis Blow. Mayfield as Merryweather…. listen I could go on like this all night, some have found it confronting I don’t know why?
Do I have a point ? … Always!
The song title at the top of this post has always been special to me, not cause I love Burt Reynolds so much Or a young Sally Field but I do…( Sister Bertrille If I could have only one precious moment with you … and your crisp white habit…


Yes baby we could truly fly) Ahem … I digress…
So, no it wasn’t the car, or the film, no friends it was Jerry Reed Songwriter extrodinaire and a personal Telecaster hero


Let me know if this starts to get too odd for ya!
“East bound and down loaded up and truckin… We gonna do what they say Can’t be done…”
If those aren’t words to live by … well I just don’t know what would be.
So there we were about to Land at LAX and the only thing running through my mind is that song.


The plan as it stood at that time was to get our bags, get a rental car and get over to our hotel in lovely Hawthorne and rest off that hellish flight ( the flight was not horrible it’s just that a flight that long is never good )
The good people at AVIS handled our car needs ( we had a rental agent with nails so long that it was near impossible to imagine how she got through her life) anyway fitted out with a ford focus with the wheel on the wrong side, off we went a bit jet lagged to our hotel …. oops the rooms not ready ok we’ll drive about a bit … and some more …and… hmmm my daughter seems to be unconscious or sleep still no room… ok time to put on a bit of pressure, pressure applied … still no room!
Well that was all the influence I could muster a quick check online through the WiFi service in the hotel lobby and off we went in the direction of the Santa Monica pier … ahh right the daughter is now truly off with the faerries so a quick look around and back to the hotel, which is now ready for us to check in.
First stop on the trip made, hotel bed … nice!….ZZZZ
Crap!
Can’t sleep
LA calls with Jim Morrison’s voice Perhaps I’d better “take a look around … see which way the wind blows”
So off I drove out of Hawthorne down to Redondo beach, a burger by the ocean and a few ciggies.
Was America ready ?
Was I ready for America?
TK slept …and I pondered.

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