Tugzy's Travels

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Machine Music

Music from the poker machines is a disgusting
Hideous siren's song to the desperate
Crawling around on the floor searching for coins
To put in the slot so they can watch the colours spin.
Continuous clicking.
Click, click, ding and a merry tinkle;
There is no sound more evil
Heard or devised in the history of man
Than the hypnotic, rhythmic jingle - the signal
That yet another decrepit soul
Has been laid out on the rack
Pockets heavy, eyes full of hope
Waiting... Eager...
And ready to be fucked.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Comedy and Laughing

My beard is getting way out of hand. It's not even that intense, I can pull at it with my fingers no problem at this point which is never a state I want my facial hair to be in, but I don't think I look like a failed case... it's just really annoying. Itchy. Fuck I hate facial hair, my electric shaver thingo broke in my bag on the plane to Brisbane last Wednesday, so when I went to use it a few days ago, instead of a neat trim accompanied by mild face-pain as per usual, the teeth just grabbed at the thick, black hairs sticking out of my chin, impotent and unable to cut. I was standing in a hostel toilet staring at a face in a mirror with a set of twenty dollar K-Mart facial-hair clippers hanging from it. My face. Fuck you Brisbane.

This trip has been good so far, although I'm just starting to count the days until my departure – not from hatred of this place so much as impatience to get back to my own place and set to work on a bunch of ideas that have been brewing in my head since I got here. I've been writing lots, and often, and aside from two drunken nights at the Base Embassy Hostel with an assortment of lecherous Canadians and Norwegians, have stayed completely sober. Clear headed, yes.

I've been thinking about the fact that my writing, and really a lot of the writing that I particularly like and try to draw from, isn't particularly funny. Even writers who are considered 'humorists' don't have many moments of actual, laugh-out-loud (I refuse to abbreviate that term) hilarity in their books. I can think of one moment in a Bukowski book, one of Douglas Adams', nothing from Hunter S. really springs to mind. Does that mean the expectations placed on an author, or a piece of writing, are lower? Or that the laughter is just more internal... as if laughter is more of a thing that comes from experiencing something funny as a group rather than just experiencing something funny in itself.

I guess that's where Dave Grant's idea of 'comedy is electricity' comes from; if laughter comes from experiencing something funny as a group, then the laughter will naturally be stronger and come easier when the audience feels united – feels that it is a group. Reading is, by necessity, something that we do alone, and so something really has to be BRAIN-RENDINGLY funny to illicit a reaction to the lone reader, sitting in his couch with a stern look of concentration on his face, trying to focus on the messy, messy words. Comedy is easy like that, because you know when you're doing a good job, and there are things to do to maximize your chances of doing a good job, like pushing the audience close together, and minimizing outside distractions. I'm still trying to figure out how all of the different aspects of 'comedy', or maybe even just 'writing' fit together though. I mean, parody, for example, is generally considered a genre of comedy, but then again, 1984 is a parody – and one so brilliant that it continues to reveal new aspects of itself to me almost daily – but I challenge anyone to find a funny line anywhere in that book. (by the way if you can find a funny line in there... fuck you, comedy is subjective, I win! CHAMPIOOOON)

I guess what this all comes down to is that I've been thinking a lot over here, and thinking has been good, although I am ready to rejoin the furious rat race back in Melbourne now, and the remainder of my days in Brisbane are looking longer than I would have liked. Yeeeeeckgh, so restless, so impatient, so jittery at the keyboard. Shudder. Stutter. Itch, itch, itch.

I need to have a fucking shave right now.

Peace, Taco.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Roma Street Gardens

The water makes a sound like trickling as it falls down, not very far – it's almost quiet. Mother and daughter, speaking between awed faces with voices that drift away, they barely disturb the silence. A friend is with them, leans down and takes a picture. Construction-site noises in the background, the melodious grating of a circular blade winds through the greenery. See trees moving but hear no wind. Feel no cold. Breathe shimmering stillness. The water, trickle, trickle.

“Come on!” urges the little girl with her mother and friend, they're behind me now. Some distant crashing is muffled by the all encompassing surrounds, these sounds enter and bounce off a craggy rock face. Maybe a plane, up above? Or just the unidentifiable rushing movements of the world, keeping pace. Staying in movement. Never stops

That was a bird, there was a definite chirp, unmistakeable. Tiny insects hover in front of this scene, too close for eyes to focus. More voices drift in, and out, and the water falls, and then ripples off into the reeds. The constant sounds of silence. Trickle, trickle, trickle.

Peace, Taco.

Friday, April 26, 2013

MICF Wrap-Up and Plans for 'The Future'

Once again, it really has been a long time since I've written in here, and I can feel myself getting out of the habit of writing, and really letting myself off the hook, which essentially goes against the whole reason I started writing on this blog. I think I can rationalize it this time though, and so, because I can, I will... here goes.

Comedy festival finished on Sunday (21/4) and that was a really amazing night. Massive. Huge. I felt like something changed that night – although it could have been because of the acid that we all took, because that darling chemical always gives events a sense of high significance, but I think the night itself was really special. One thing I'll always remember about the night that ended up closing out my first ever comedy festival, was that a group of Station 59 comics, disinterested with the Bollywood-themed closing party at The HiFi Bar, went to the Crown Casino – because it was the only place open – and decided to do a standup gig to seven assorted strangers, picked up from amidst the slot machines by the manically ambitious Sofie Prints. I got one amazing laugh at one point which rippled through the crowd, and yes I can sense the eye-rolls of comics listening to me calling seven drunken men and some comics a 'crowd', but that experience really was different. I don't care what anyone says... ew, look at me up on my soapbox defending myself. Gross.

The festival itself though was awesome, if not completely and utterly exhausting. I bitched out on going to see a show last night even though really I probably could have and still been fine for work this morning (I'm cleaning pubs and restaurants Monday, Wednesday and Friday now, but I'll get to that in a minute). I saw some inspiring work: Simon Keck, Jon Bennett, Daniel Kitson, Blake Mitchell, Setlist. I made some new friends, and some connections for the future, I did a bunch of spots including five at the Exford Late Show which was at times a surprisingly good room, but also lived up its reputation the first night I was there. I feel like this weekend will be full of rest as I finally catch up on the sleep I habitually missed throughout the festival, and hopefully come Monday I'll be back to square one energy-wise, because I feel FUCKING DRAINED, just right here.

So now, here's the plan folks. I'm going to Brisbane for two weeks starting next Wednesday (1/5) where I have a few spots lined up, as well as free accommodation with the lovely Corey White who I saw MC the show 'Undiagnosed' to about twelve people, and so feel unqualified to comment on at this juncture. I hear his comedy is very good, and I am grateful as SHIT to him for offering to put me up in his house for the whole two weeks. The reason I decided to do this trip is basically that for the first time in my life I have found myself in the strange position of having some level of disposable income. I feel squeamish... I don't really feel like I have earned or deserve this money, but I sure am not going to fuck it away on drugs and drinking – even if I wanted to I don't really feel like I have the capacity to be doing that anymore: I need to keep moving. I'm not saying that as a sort of order to myself, it's gone beyond that now. I actually need to keep moving, like I can't stop. I don't know how to not be doing anything any more, and every time I drink I end up being bored and edgy the next day when I'm not doing anything productive. Don't even start with drugs, in the last six months I think I can count two occasions where I've actually taken an amount of drugs large enough to create any sort of after-effect the day, or days after. It would be arrogant of me to say “I'm done” this early in the piece, but I am definitely having a break, and I can't see myself going back there any time soon.

After Brisbane I have a loose idea of a plan that I've been formulating in the days since Sunday, and so, in the interest of having something of substance recorded for my future self to fret over, here it is. My plan for the foreseeable future, may it hang over my head like an ambitious anvil, ready to fall at any minute and crush me:

  • I want to write a story-show, or at least a show with a coherent through-line, and I have already decided on the topic, although I won't go into that here because to be honest I don't really think anyone is too interested in an idea. But I've started the earliest of early preparations for the show's creation. On the advice of Kieran Butler I think I might try and figure out at least some of the material on stage, even just to see if I can do it. Just to see if I'm anywhere near able to attempt that yet. This is my new challenge.
  • I'm going to take this show, which will hopefully be up to half an hour in time for October, to the Melbourne Fringe and perform it as many times as possible at the Station 59 Free Comedy season there.
  • Between the end of the Melbourne Fringe and the start of the Adelaide Fringe I'll keep workshopping the show and hopefully – and this is the part of the plan I'm not sure about and the part that will probably depend most on the performances during the Melbourne Fringe and my ability to stay focussed and passionate about this idea – it'll be up to around fifty minutes for the Adelaide Fringe, and then I'll take it there.
  • If Adelaide goes okay, then I'll do the show at next year's MICF at Station 59 Free Comedy again for two weeks.
  • Finally, if everything has worked out and if my money situation is still holding up in twelve months' time, I'll book my ticket to Edinburgh 2014, and book my spot in the Fringe, and then I'll have a fifty minute show to take over there where I'll hopefully be able to book a spot in one of the Free Comedy venues and do my first overseas shows. If I can make it to Edinburgh then I also want to head over to Spain and do the Camino de Santiago for a month, and with a month in between the two I'll travel around Europe a bit and say hi to some friends from Bolivia and people I've met in Australia.
So that's it, that's my plan for the next 18 months, and that's my recap of everything that's happened for me in the last month. Well not everything, but everything my fingers feel ready to write about right now. I'm sorry I haven't been writing, although I don't really know who I'm saying sorry to, because even after I put this on Facebook, probably only twenty people will read it, and you wouldn't have read it if I didn't tell you to anyway. So sorry, to me, but also good job me, you're doing okay, although you could really do with some new clothes to be honest.

Peace, Taco.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


I feel tired. I've been doing so much lately: writing comedy for the festival, gigging 5 or more times a week three weeks straight, tours, cleaning, running in the rat race... not drinking enough water. I feel tired, but it's a good tired, a sign that for the first time in my life I think I am really pushing myself towards something. I think? Or maybe I'm just not getting enough sleep.

Money really isn't an issue at this point; I feel like I barely have enough time to spend the paltry amount that I'm making anyway – for those of you playing at home that's about $500 a week, which actually isn't that paltry at all, but it certainly isn't high-roller shit. I am leaving home in the mornings, every morning, and not coming home for hours. Ten hours. Twelve hours. Hours spent running around completing this or that errand, sitting on trams and trains, heading out to gigs to either do a spot, or sit in the crowd and watch. Learning, I've been learning a lot.

I've been working on this bit that I honestly didn't think would be ready for the festival, but turns out may just squeeze its way in to my show (Two for the Price of Free YES!). This whole bit is basically constructed around the idea that I had one day a few months ago that it'd be really cool to move to a new city where no one whatsoever knows who you are, and then create an elaborate, and completely outlandish fictional backstory for yourself. Nothing malicious – not like 'my family died in a fire' or some shit that would require actual acting and would seem like shameless attention-seeking if exposed... just something harmless, but fun, like oh say, that I was home-schooled. So then I decided I couldn't wait until I left for another country to play this game, and the next best place to play it would be on stage... but it wouldn't be funny if I was the only one in on the joke. Considering that the whole point of comedy is that the audience is in on the joke – and whence cometh their laughter – I'd need to figure out a way to let them in on the joke that was being played on them – that I was lying outright to them for no good reason – whilst not making them the butt of the joke.

Then I remembered the story that I have been telling about the time Tim Clark, bless his cotton socks, told me that I had a nice jacket, only to rescind his compliment moments later after it became apparent that I was going to take his sarcastic jibe at face value and proceed to talk about how much I, too, liked my jacket. He lied to me, for no reason it seems, and I couldn't understand the reasoning behind this not-unheard of social phenomenon. Why do that? Why say, “nice jacket man,” only to add after I had accepted the compliment, “oh no, I was joking, it's shit”... what he did there was exactly what I was planning to do in my lying bit about home-school. If I could tell that story, then tell another, seemingly separate one about home school, and have the audience believe it, then lift the veil and say, “hey, look, it was all a lie,” then they would know how I felt, and the joke would be on Tim, and not on them.

I still have a few reservations about the story, I mean I invented it, from nothing, which feels kind of cool to do – just like Brad Oakes said it would ha. – but still there are only laughs in the setup, not the actual story, and most of those laughs aren't that strong... but I guess my joke writing will improve with time. Hopefully. Fingers crossed.

I've also been trying to write jokes about the news headlines off the Guardian – it doesn't matter which paper really, but I refuse to buy copies of the Feral Scum (thankyou Kieran Butler) or any other trashy cum-rag of a publication just to practise my joke writing. No, no, no; I will not be indebted to Rupert Murdoch in my comedy career. Not now. Not ever. No, no, no, no.

So many no's. I think I am tired. I should stop guessing and have a lie down... but there's still so much I want to do. I've nearly finished reading The War of Art that Richie gave me, and then it's on to Fade To Black (And Disappear) by an Adelaide author whose name I forget right now because I can't be fucked digging in my bag and pulling the book out to read the front cover. No. Fuck. I said no more. FUCK. There they are again. Okay, I'll stop now.

Peace, Taco.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Review of Charles Bukowski's 'Women' [SPOILER ALERT]

I just finished reading Charles Bukowski's 'Women'. Like, just finished it. Just now. For most of the book I had no idea where he was going with the whole thing... it just seemed like one graphic, semi-pornographic sexual encounter after another. I mean, obviously I knew he was going somewhere, because I've read 'Ham on Rye', and 'Post Office', but I had no idea where, or whether it would be anywhere truly interesting, and I had absolutely no inclination whatsoever to begin guessing.

I think 'Women' is by far the best of the three Bukowski books that I've read though, and it definitely resonated with me much more than the other two... the language, he is so detached. Every sexual encounter starts with his eyes roaming up some girl's legs – they're not even girls though, really, just bodies with names on them. Then she undresses and submits to him completely; “I mounted, stuck it in, and then...” is a fair summation of the end of every other chapter in this book, and there are one-hundred and four of them. He jumps from woman to woman to woman to woman, never growing attached to them, or even seeming to care when they walk out on him. At one point around the halfway mark he muses that all of his women leave him, but it is clear that this is only the case because he will take sex wherever he can get it. Only on his terms though. Only ever the way he wants it... he knows how he is, and for most of the book he is aware that he is selfish, and a bastard, and he understands why they all leave. He is seemingly at peace.

The morning hangovers and physical sickness barely seem to drain him, and the paid poetry readings that sustain his lifestyle somehow keep popping up out of nowhere, along with groupies, and fan-mail from easy women. He dismisses the men. But he hardly talks of love – he was married once, but had been in love four times. Now a dirty old man of around sixty, he dreams of the day when he is “an eighty year old fucking an eighteen year old.” Life-long dreams of a professional pervert.

This chauvinistic, evil womaniser has his run of the town for most of the book, and the thing is... and I don't know whether this thing is scary, or sobering, or humbling, or maybe just deliciously tempting in its realism... the thing is, it speaks to me. I don't stand for all men, and I'm sure there are saints out there somewhere among us, but the way Henry Chinaski (Bukowski's literary alter-ego) laps up woman after eager, fawning woman should have most straight men salivating. It's not pretty, and it's not nice, and it sure is pretty fucking uncomfortable, but he gets right to the core of it, at least for me. No wonder there is no mention of his mother... no family, no moral compass or ties to a possibly innocent past. Just a dirty old man, “sucking beer”, puking up blood through three-hundred hangovers a year.

Towards the end though, maybe the last seventy or so pages (out of three-hundred) things start to get a little clouded for Henry Chinaski. The sex is still good – in fact the whores and sluts that he so adores only become more and more sumptuous, their young flesh more and more tempting... but he has also met a girl, Sara, who touches something else in him. He doesn't say he loves her, and I trust him, he is a very honest narrator, and is frank and blunt about his feelings, both to his women, and to the reader. He doesn't love Sara, but he knows that she is 'a good woman', and this is a phrase he uses sparingly only once before. But the difference with Sara as well, is that she won't fuck him. She knows about his continuing conquests, and she suffers through his ongoing selfishness, but she always comes back, and there is something in that that strikes a chord with old, dirty Henry Chinaski. His last few sexual encounters span the whole range of women possibly conceivable: a young, nubile belly-dancer from Canada who gives him the time of his life, and gives it to him again and again; an old, haggard, sagging woman whom he loathes even before she is between his sheets, and infinitely more afterwards; a black hooker who sucks his dick terribly five minutes after meeting him in the car park of a liquor store; a ninety-pound, eighteen year old – at last. He has seen everything. Fondled every part, fucked every crevice. Still Sara waits, over Thanksgiving, Christmas, then she gives herself to him, without his asking and says, “Happy New Years Henry”; they fall asleep together.

After he accepts terrible head from the black hooker for twenty dollars, and then drives her to an intersection where she continues to hitchhike and no doubt solicit more of the same, he makes one last attempt – and there have been many beforehand – to steel his mind against any more fucking around.
Sara was a good woman. I had to get myself straightened out. The only time a man needed a lot of women was when none of them were any good. A man could lose his identity fucking around too much. Sara deserved much better than I was giving her. It was up to me now.”
This is his final challenge to himself... three-hundred and four pages in and barely one more to go, he convinces himself that he needs to give this good woman a proper chance, because if he lets her slip away, then he will be doomed. Then another girl calls, another admirer, and this is where I was scared. Charles Bukowski was about to offer his opinion, in this last page, in one last conversation between a dirty old man and a juicy, delicious, groaning and spread-legged nineteen-year-old temptress. In the final lines of 'Woman' Charles Bukowski would decree whether, in his humble opinion, it was at all possible for a flawed man to accept the love of a good woman.

Anyone who says that Bukowski is a sexist, chauvinistic pig is probably right... but anyone who says that this is all he is is a single-minded, blind fucking moron. 'Women' is a book that is not afraid to delve past the scared facades that we put in front of ourselves to mask our true desires in our attempts to play the role of the good guy. I'm still not sure if Henry Chinaski is a good guy or not, but I am sure that he is a real guy, about as real a guy as there could possibly ever be in my eyes, and when his time came to decide whether he could be loved in the final pages of this book, my heart was in my mouth, as I felt my fate too, rested in his decision.

He sent her back. And still, there is hope yet.

Peace, Taco.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Adelaide During the Fringe

From Tuesday til Saturday I was in Adelaide seeing friends, Fringe shit, and fam. I planned this trip and bought the tickets pretty much as soon as I got back from my Hometown Christmas last year, but this time around – without everyone having the obligation to spend so much time with their families, and everyone from everywhere being back in town – the trip was way way way way WAY much better. Here's why:

Tuesday I got into town at seven-thirty at night after a brilliant (as always) bus ride involving books, music, and some great ideas and time alone to think. I love those bus rides – there's a reason I always include at least one in each trip home. As soon as I got off the bus I headed straight to the Cranka for some free Tuesday night comedy and caught up with Ross Voss, Josh Cruze, and saw some great comedians who I hadn't seen before. Jesus, what a refreshing change seeing people's sets that I haven't seen ANYTHING from. Being around the same comics all the time in Melbourne, while obviously lovely as it gives a great sense of community, can become exhausting because whenever someone has a good set, you already know more or less how the set is going to go. I can still recognize when someone has done a good set because they have performed well or really captured the audience or whatever, but it's rarely THAT exciting to see someone do well if sixty to eighty percent of what they're doing on stage I have seen before. So seeing my open mic contemporaries in Adelaide do their thing was a great break.

Then the Rhino late show that night was awesome – Will Anderson did some great stuff about framing Adam Hills for a murder by hopping away from the crime scene. Then we somehow got into the Artists' Bar. Then we got drunk. Then we went home. By the way 'Home' for this trip was Phil's place in Kent Town, which was a fucking great change in and of itself because it was a ten minute walk from town, and the posse that he lives with are fucking sick. Sick as dawgs.

Wednesday I woke up earlyish with a hangover, me Elle and Leon went to breakfast at ETC which was always one of my favourite Adelaide breakfast spots. We consumed, then I sweated my shit down to the DMV and got my full license. Tick. Then back home, broke into the guys' house through Leon's bedroom window and crashed out for the afternoon under a fan waiting for MA BOIIII S. Rouse to call, but finally having to pay a Twenty-Five-Dorrah cab to his place during rush hour after he was to shit to get out of bed all day. We reminisced over Pool Party (WHOSE PARTY?!!) days in Empire and then I had a gig at the Ed Castle that night where I also met the lovely German, Sarah for the first time after chatting to her for ages on CouchSurfing since mid-year. The gig went okay – good enough, although I felt I performed a really tight set, but the crowd reaction wasn't AS amazing as I would've liked, but I was happy enough – then me, Elle and Josh Wills jumped into the Artists' Bar again after Rouse went home to crash.

Thursday: another hangover, another breakfast, another cruisy afternoon in Kent Town that ended with the most brilliant snap-decision of recent times with me, Phil, Leon and Nick Fuckenwhatever unanimously agreeing in about five seconds to go to the Tap Inn and have beers. After this I went on to dinner with the fam and shaking Dad's hand after his last day of working some shitty job that he's had for the last ten years and moving into semi-retirement at the tender, supple age of forty-five. He now plans to become a stay-at-home wife and paint the house while Mum Dawgz is off making DEM STAX. Now THAT'S Feminism, bitches!

After family dinner I went off to see David Quirk's Fringe show which was fwarking brilliant I have to say, notwithstanding the tech blunder that sort-of ruined the ending. I can forgive that, the show was great, and I still need to write to that dude and tell him how much I liked it because it really was that good... if any of you reading have a chance to see David Quirk's 'Shaking Hands With Danger' at either the Adelaide Fringe (until march 16th I think?) or the Melbourne International Comedy Festival later this month, do it. Drinking and deep hangs with Lucy at hers, and then the Rhino Room Late Show again capped off my Me Time before I headed to the Botanic to romp some cunts I'd never met before in doubles pool and crash out around three AM watching something I don't remember on the laptop. Or maybe it was music? Three days into this journey I start to get mixed up about details.

Friday played host to another breakfast/lunch thingo at the Austral with Phil and Eliesa, and then meeting up with Sarah again for a CouchSurfers' picnic in the Botanical Gardens. I convinced my new CS friends to join me in jumping the fence into WOMAD that night to see the Cat Empire – I decided to jump even though I had a press pass, a move that infuriated Phil after I lost his pass in a drunken haze later that night, but for which I'm sure he has forgiven me, and will understand. Adrenaline baby. A-dre-na-line. Before WOMAD though, we went to the UniBar for some final nostalgia and I caught up with Sammy B and Chess – DA BOIZ from Immanuel College. We spat the shit over jugs of cider and laughed heartily as if we were seventeen again. I know I'm not really allowed to reminisce that heavily because I'm still only twenty-two, but whatever, fuck you. I remember shit too you old fuck reading this. That's right, you. Old.

After loosing my shit to the Cat Empire (six years since the last time) me and Jaleesa the Dutch girl went to Trashbags in EC and I capped off my stay catching up with the Kings of Hindley St: Johnny Monday, Jason 'Terror Terror' Petersen, Jake Baker, Liam Ball, and a million other cats that were there that I won't start to list off now mainly because I don't remember shit and I'd probably start guessing, and guessing poorly. When I woke up at ten am on Saturday, I looked at my phone and confirmed what I knew instinctively was the case anyway – I had missed my bus. Mum bought me a plane ticket because she's a diamond, and I spent the rest of the day in Glandore, spending some time with my little bro watching Louie off my hard drive, and then driving around with Eliesa in order to make up the loss of the press pass to Phil. I bought the boys a bottle of wine for letting me crash at their place, and then at nine pm, Eliesa drove me to the airport, and an hour later I was inside a flying steel box, soaring over the country on my way back to Melbourne.

So that's why this trip was better than the one over Christmas. Any questions?

Peace, Taco.