Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tom Waits 4 My Man

I was eating toast at the kitchen bench today when The Love came in tearing at a brown package.
“The new Waits,” he muttered, mouth full of cardboard. Normally The Love is ordered when it comes to opening packages. A pair of scissors. Use of the actual Open Here pull-tab. But sticky tape was flying. Saliva. Eyes were crazy. Finally the beautiful purple object plopped newborn-like onto the counter.
“The new Waits,” he sighed, and sunk onto the stool looking puppishly at it, not ready yet to touch.
The Love loves Waits.
He loves every mad gravelly swaggering big-shoed diner-boothing sad funny whimsical carnivalesque clownish magical piano-leaning weird childlike orchestral theatrical irreverent thing about him. He has loved him a long time. The day I went to his house for the first time to play Favourite Hits, he played me ‘Fawn’ – the last song from the Alice album. It made me melt on his couch. We later danced to it at our wedding.
The Love loves Waits.
I have a story about The Love’s love for Waits and it has a great moral and that moral is this:
Even if the thing you want is impossible, buy a glass of champagne and wait beside it. You never know. You might get lucky.
Before the story begins I have a side note regarding the naming of The Love in this blog. It was juste to begin with, but used abundantly it has turned slightly, become a bit saccharine. The Love is so much greater than that. But what to call him – The Man – The One – The Dude - The Guitarist – The Patient One – The Friend – The Petit Ami – Meine Liebe – The Pal. He would particularly hate that last one.
Mr Rabbit?
Ok I think for now on I’ll call him Mr Rabbit – if he doesn’t mind.
Also on another side note I can’t get out of my head that a French friend a while back described the blog as Optimistic. It was such a strange word to use – he searched for it in his head, and then said it. I don't know if the word was right for what he was trying to say but that word is disturbing me greatly. And this story is very optimistic. I’ll try to balance it out later.
Anyway, so Mr Rabbit was at a party in Paris talking to a girl about music and she asked what sort he liked, that old chestnut.
“Oh most things,” he said, irritated. “I don’t know. Tom Waits.”
“Are you going to see him?” she asked.
The world stood still. “See him?” he asked.
“I heard he’s playing here,” said the girl but Mr Rabbit was already back at his apartment trying to buy tickets online, on the phone… he was already on his bike riding to every single ticket outlet in Paris pleading, begging for the chance of a forgotten ticket that perhaps got accidentally wedged in some FNAC server’s underpants. Of course there was not a single ticket in the city. I was in Sydney at the time when I received a desperate phone call.
“Please check if there’s some way you can buy – tickets – from there.”
Of course there wasn’t.
Now if you’re a Tom Waits fan you’ll know that he never tours. He’s not really into it – he’d prefer to sit around and make albums on his farm, hang out with his wife and kids, do the odd film role, eat eggs and sausage in a diner, coffee and a roll. Last time he toured Australia was 1978. Paris – 1979. And from the list of places he was to play the Glitter and Doom tour he clearly had sat around the table with Kathleen and the boys and said Now Where do you feel like going for Summer? How bout a tour of some cool places like San Sebastien and Paris? And the boys said Sweet and he booked this tiny tour that nobody could get into. The tickets must have sold out in four minutes. There wasn’t many of them at all. And there were to be no resales – tickets strictly limited to two per person and you had to have your name on the credit card to collect them. Bastards!
Mr Rabbit’s little bunny heart broke.
For the weeks leading up to it he couldn’t speak about it without wincing. I was back in Paris by then and feeling also like a kid shut out of the Chocolate Factory. Nobody we knew had managed to get tickets, we could have knifed them or concocted some Costanza-esque ploy to acquire them. There was nothing to be done. We trawled and trawled ticket sites.
Finally the date of the first show (there were to be two at the majestic old Grand Rex on the Grands Boulevards – perfect venue, perfect, perfect) arrived. We were sitting with friends at the Petit Fer à Cheval and I’d just discovered their gourmet salad and was giddy with white wine and it was a beautiful warm night and we’d got the best table on the terrace and I could feel Mr Rabbit’s heart breaking next to me because I’d promised we’d ride our bikes to the Rex and perhaps find some tickets somebody had dropped or watch the people go in and perhaps steal their tickets or sneak backstage or something. Perhaps just stand outside and imagine the show.
I didn’t want to go because I was having fun and I knew it would break his heart worse to be there and stuck outside. So I said,
“Let’s just stay here and get drunk.”
And we did and then we rode home and Mr Rabbit went to bed all quiet and Charlie-Bucket-eyed and souled.
The next day was quiet too. He just really really in his lifetime wanted to see Tom Waits play the Grand Rex in Paris. It was just something he would have liked.
The next day was very hot and the next night was very tense especially as 8pm approached so at the last minute I suggested,
“Let’s just go for a ride up there. You never know, something might happen.”
His eyes lit up. I felt cruel.
“It’s a nice night anyway. We’ll drink champagne at that crappy brasserie next door and maybe we’ll hear some of it from there. Maybe we’ll be able to sneak in at interval.”
“Yeah,” he said as we rode off. “Maybe he’ll actually be inside the crappy brasserie at the bar drinking an iced tea and we’ll go up and talk to him and he’ll love us and invite us in to watch backstage.”
“Maybe!” I said, crushed.
The doorway at the Grand Rex was very subdued when we arrived. It was 7:45. A sad American was moping around in a sandwich board with something tragic written on it like:
I will be your Slave for a Year if you’ll Sell me your Waits Ticket
And a few other moping heads who had already given up their plight.
The doors were shutting. It was over.
I told Mr Rabbit to hold my bike for a moment and ran over to the big black bouncer and asked him if there was any chance of buying a last minute ticket, just to make him feel better that I’d tried.
The big black bouncer laughed and said,
“Pas d’chance.”
I shrugged and Mr Rabbit and I chained up our bikes and headed into the awful brasserie. Tom Waits wasn’t at the bar. We ordered two glasses of champagne and two horrible sticky flutes of an awful, sickly crémant came out. We took a seat at the terrace with the best view of the doorway at the Rex, as if to torture ourselves.
“Oh well, we still have our health,” I said. And it was Optimistic, but we did.
Suddenly Mr Rabbit stopped drinking. I followed his gaze to the Rex doorway.
“Something’s going on,” he said. “Can you go and ask?”
It was true, the bouncer had approached the group of twenty or so hopefuls that had remained loser-like around the entranceway. He was murmuring something and there was a ripple through the crowd.
I ran over.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
The bouncer told me that six tickets had been released. SIX TICKETS! It WAS Willy Wonka. Again my heart sunk – there were at least a dozen other people there in front of me. In a frantic last-ditch effort I called out and asked the man if I could have two.
“120 euros each,” he said. When the tickets went on sale there were 60 euro ones in the circle and 120 in the stalls. Mr Rabbit was intent on snaring the expensive ones even though we didn't have enough money for that month's rent.
“I could take two,” I said.
And then I noticed that some of the other people were moving away.
“Trop cher,” I heard someone say. They didn’t want them!
“The two last ones,” said the bouncer and Mr Rabbit was there and then the bouncer said,
“En cash.”
“No problem,” I said and Mr Rabbit looked in his wallet. He had forty euros. Oh my god! There was no ATM to be seen.
“I’m closing the door,” the bouncer said.
“DEUX MINUTES!” I said and Mr Rabbit was off. Never has there been seen in the history of Paris a man run so fast up a boulevard. Despite the wall-to-wall shops and cafes all up the street, not a single ATM. I shifted from one foot to the other. The bouncer raised his eyebrows and looked at his watch. The Rabbit raced like the wind but there simply was no ATM in sight. Finally, all the way down near Opéra he found one, overdrew his account and with beating heart flew back towards the Rex. The bouncer said he was sorry the show was starting and he had to shut the door. I flirted. I pleaded. And then, Mr Rabbit was there.
He did it.
The bouncer pocketed the cash, locked the door and led us through the empty foyer to a big red door. With his flashlight he led us to our seats.
The best seats in the entire house. Right behind the mixing desk. The perfect place for perfect listening balance Mr Rabbit told me. All around us hushed Parisiens sat firmly in their plush seats in this vast sumptuous auditorium in all its art deco grandeur ready to listen. No dancing, no pushing, no moshing. A listening party. We were invited. We were in.
And then there, on a big wood box right in front of us as though he’d been waiting for our arrival, was Tom Waits. As the music began he stomped on the box in his big awkward boots and glitter puffed out all around him. Our hands were on the sides of our faces. And for the next two hours we just couldn't stop laughing.

Artwork du jour 130

Tom Waits

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Being Nijinski

Time poverty is great. You don’t have time to think. You just have to run and throw yourself into 14 degree water, no toe dipping, no hand swishing. You just ride like the wind, find the spot, rest your bike up against the rocks, put your towel on the sand and in you go. I’ve never been like that before. But there I am, in. And the great thing is, because it’s October and because of the arctic temperature, nobody is around to hear you squeal like a girl and gasp embarrassingly. You don’t have to act elegant. You don’t have to worry that anyone’s watching you in your ridiculous bikini composed of an old bra and pair of tatty jocks. It’s too mad for anyone else to swim and that’s perfect. The beach is yours. Just a few buoys and a tanker passing in the distance. Perhaps a pilot boat. A black lighthouse to your left, a white lighthouse to the right. Some kelp around your thigh. It's excellent. I dive in again and it’s so cold my feet throb. I would never have done this before. My mother did it all the time and now I understand. There’s no time to waste.
And in the water your pelvis is new, no memory of the 9 pounder, you’re free, you’re Nijinski in the Rite of Spring, hopping, dancing spastically, warding off hypothermia, making weird sounds, just yourself: a complete and utter idiot. It’s fantastic. You’re a fish. You twirl your toes into the sand. You are Nijinski, you can feel him, feel what it might be like to be him, it feels magnificent - I wonder – is it more fun to be Nijinski alone in an impromptu bathing suit in the icy post-winter waters of Point Lonsdale or to actually be Nijinski. I often wonder that because sometimes when you get or become the thing you wanted it’s not as much fun as when you were imagining being it. I’m so glad I can imagine. It would really help in prison.
The swim was quick and good and I did it and wasn’t scared and felt all bold and got back on my bike and when I rode past the cemetery I really had a feeling of rubbing shoulders with mum. She would approve of the plunging in. I’m not sure what she’d think of the wild splashing and dancing though, she’d have been far more elegant. She would probably laugh about Nijinsky and say I was nuts. But one thing’s for sure, if I couldn’t imagine her and the things she might say and do I would certainly go insane.  

Leon Bakst 'Nijinski in the Afternoon of a Faun'

Artwork du jour 129

Going Under

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Recipes for Disaster

I might like to write a cookbook. It will be called Recipes for Disaster. In it I will take recipes from say, Jamie Oliver, and couple the recipes from other recipes for the same thing which I’ve googled and printed out, coupled with my own input on what I think should go in the dish, plus what I feel like eating that night, which is often peanut butter. You’d be amazed how many dishes you can think would do well with some peanut butter in them. I’m sure I once made a recipe with peanut butter and it came out good. I’m always chasing that peanut butter dish.
Recipes for Disaster by EB Rabbit would recommend that you always cook on an empty stomach. And that your dishwasher is always half-unpacked and a few head-height cupboards open at dangerous right-angles. You need to be a terrible chopper who nobody can bare to watch cutting onions. Wine would be suggested and a slight drunken head, to exacerbate levels of creativity. Creativity is the key to all Recipes for Disaster – you must always think that you know better than the recipe and never EVER follow any of the prescribed steps – improvise – what ARE you - a bit more sugar here, a few less eggs there… see what happens you pussy, dare to step over the edge - yeahh. It’s exciting!
Creativity, indeed, is the essential ingredient when it comes to Recipes for Disaster. You must never be quite aware of what will come out of the oven – it’s your creation, your baby, never seen before. Anything goes – be free – feel wild - you’re an untapped kitchen genius about to uncover the winning fact that peanut butter goes in everything and everyone will love you because you discovered it and you’ll be flown around the world to sit po-faced in posh restaurants and say FUCKEN WHERE’S MY SPATCHCOCK at Michelin star chefs in steely kitchens and do great middle-distance stares as you spoon bisque into your gob on some cooking show.  
You must lose yourself utterly in the joy of cooking. Ego is important – never surrender to the idea of order, humility towards vegetables, care. Instead dump in masses of folly. Twenty cups of hubris. Twelve pounds of abandon. And absolute lack of certainty to taste.
Eh – voilà!
Deep Fried Disappointment with a Whine Jus.
All dishes in EB Rabbit’s Recipes for Disaster will guarantee feelings of utter dissatisfaction, deep regret and a definite resolution that the Other will forever do the cooking. A-ha...clever recipe.

Artwork du jour 128


Friday, October 14, 2011

Capturing Kiki

Kiki is gold. She eats books and chairs. If she is upset she looks in the mirror and feels immediately better, consoled by the fact she exists. And I can understand that because she’s lovely. I would be comforted too if I saw that pale little face looking back at me with its deep eyes and quaint nose. And I do, every day, and it is comforting, and it’s Christmas. Every morning there are presents. A new smile, a sound, a movement. Perhaps a tooth. Not quite. She is a fresh delicacy, warm, sticky - the back of her neck is unbaked dough, her arms, steamed dimsims. She licks giraffes and sucks necks and sticks her right leg out stiff and pumps it up and down when she’s happy. What is it she feels? What does she see? Think? I ache to know, I look for signs but I can’t be her, even though I made her. Well, half. Well, nothing. She is silent in prams and loud in mornings and delighted by the sight of me, which is endlessly flattering – never have I felt so important, so popular. Me. Me? She murmurs in cars. If you blow in her face she pokes out her tongue and her eyes go wide. It’s hard not to do that a lot. She’s a wind-up toy, a kewpie doll with no clothes on. She is absolute in her rejection of sleeves. She likes the feel of her skin in air, in water, against things – my skin. She isn’t afraid. She is bold. I miss her already. I take pictures and pictures and hope I don’t drop her in the desperation to capture the moment of her, catch every instant of her before it’s gone, though it so quickly is, replaced by yet a new marvel. Never was there such a living reminder of moments passing.

Man Ray 'Film Strips with Kiki'

Artwork du jour 127

Caravan at the Latino Circus

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I’m feeling happy and well at the moment and consequently, fat. It’s disquieting. Things have gotten quite comfortable. Not that I’m comfortable, I’m still as angst-ridden as ever, only my body is reflecting my domestic situation which is, in itself, rather healthy. 


A friend at a party a few weeks back said,

“Wow, you’re looking healthy.”

I looked at him.

“So basically you’re saying I’m fat.”

You don’t say someone looks healthy unless they’ve put on weight. It’s a terrible insult. If people must make verbal observations you’d much rather they pinched your upper arm with concern and said,

“Are you ok?”

NB this only applies to females. One of my male friends has never forgiven me when I questioned his health after observing his pale and thin demeanour after several months spent locked away in his mother’s house writing screenplays. He still smarts over it. I would have definitely taken it as a compliment.

Anyway, it’s a little scary this health and wellness. I’ve got comfy. Let myself go. Easy to do in remote seaside villages where the most cosmopolitan encounter you’ll have in a day is with Edna from the op shop or one of the countless gents on ride-on motorised vehicles zipping up and down the foreshore. - Hello! - Lovely day! - Watch those magpies! - Where you can easily slink around in your pregnancy jeans and same-old crap t-shirt for days on end without the faintest care or recognition that you are even being seen.
I’ve basically disappeared. I really couldn’t draw myself. If I tried with crayons it would just be a faint cloud of pink. A blur. Not really there. That’s the thing about being well - neither thin nor fat – you feel all en par with life. What’s there to define you? How are you supposed to feel alive?

I might like my angst body back, the one that belonged to the person who wasn’t living quite so comfortably. The slightly miserable one. I wonder if I could have the misery body while continuing with the comfortable life feeling. You probably have to choose one or the other. Before when I was on my angsty quest for happiness the edges of me were much sharper. When I went to bed at night I could feel my skin against my bones and that was tops. I felt alive. Hungry for the thing. Would tomorrow bring it? I was definitely not happy, and that was great. I was ravenous for the thing I was looking for. So clothes hung off my frame in that great rangy way – I could just throw something on the frame and run out the door without bothering to think of corsetry or hang, bulge or muffintop. It was excellent. I was free.

And then, now, comfort, and by that I don’t at all mean that I’m comfortable within the comfort, it’s just that feeling of choosing to eat the biggest fattest cheesiest lasagne for dinner whilst watching Colbert in track-suit pants instead of shoving tuna from a can into your mouth for pure fuel purposes on your way out the door wearing a black sequined micro-mini that barely covers your butt. As a side note, god bless country Australia for making track-suit pants a three-course fashion statement – breakfast track-suit, lunch track-suit, dinner track-suit. So versatile – why buy anything else? Comfort. You’d thousandfold rather eat that lasagne in track-suit pants than have the bliss of waking the next day and squeezing into the skinny jeans – in fact if you were honest and searched way way down you really don’t care all that much about getting into the skinny jeans at all and that is a deeply shocking realisation. You really don’t care that much any more about how you’re perceived. Even by yourself. So who then, are you? It’s as though you’re looking from the inside out suddenly, rather than the outside-in. You’re Jabba. Jabba doesn’t care that his Vanessa Bruno spring frock doesn’t hang any more. He’s looking out. It makes him powerful.

Actually Jabba is a bad example because he’s so fat he is something. He’s gone all the way in the other direction which effectively is similar to the thin model. I’m talking about just being well, which is more nothing. It’s sort of, well, just normal. Average. Un-extreme. Weird.

I’m not sure how I feel about it. I don’t know where my power lies. It always used to come from the feeling of the edges – knowing myself, my shape, my silhouette – I may not have had a clue who I was, but at least I had that. I remember when I was in Grade Four I went through a period where I decided to eat nothing at all and see what happened. It was such a great feeling to push myself right to the edge and see where that led. I could really feel my outline so clearly, so defined, I was human, I had control, I was alive. My inside pushed against the skin of me, it was great. I was really, really here, present. It felt great to say No when the plate of choc-chip bickies was passed around and to see everyone’s shocked faces. That feeling of definition – putting myself in relief with the world around me – far outweighed the joy of that goddamned delicious buttery cookie. Plus, I got some fantastic attention, especially from Mum, who panicked. It was my life and I wanted to feel it. And I did. And I never lost that feeling. Though I did start eating chocolate bickies again.  

This is a sort of letting go of that need to pull against the grain, a push in the other direction, right through the terrifying centre of normal. How far can I go inside of it? Can I find a way to feel myself inside of it? What could that mean? Is there a way that I can live it and still find a way to have lines? Maybe there are new ones to be found inside that place.

I don’t know. I really don’t know.

Artwork du jour 126

New York Comfort