The Ruminator

Come on up and grab yourself a beer.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Strange Fruit

A slow start to the morning today, after a late night at Tilley's. For non-Canberrans, Tilley's Divine Cafe & Gallery is a Canberra landmark and favourite performance venue, like many Canberra features hidden away in one of the suburbs. Low-ceilinged, red-painted, and full of dark, scarred wooden furniture, Tilley's was famous for once being open only to women. Although that is no longer the case, the clientele does still disproportionately consist of short-haired women in Birkenstocks. (Not that I say that as a criticism. Some of my best friends are short-haired women in Birkenstocks. Let’s be honest, a lot of them are. In fact, were I not too cheap to buy Birkenstocks, I would be too.) Tilley’s is a great concert venue (most performers I have seen make a point of saying how much they love performing there and how lucky Canberrans are to have it), and being in the suburbs I am always surprised that noise complaints haven't shut them down. I have seen some great acts at Tilley's - The Waifs, Tex Perkins, Vince Jones, and last night, Fruit.

Fruit is an Australian band, consisting of three lead singers/musicians (Sam Lohs and Susie Keynes on acoustic and electric guitar and Mel Watson on saxaphone, clarinet, flute, trumpet, horn and whatever other instrument she can get her hands on), Brian Ruiz on bass and Yanya Boston on drums. The core of the band has been together since 1995, which is quite an amazing feat as they are all incredible performers in their own right (each has released solo albums) as well as obviously being strong-minded women. They all have very different voices, but the sounds compliment each other and their harmonies are to die for. A little bit jazz, a little bit blues, a little bit funk, a little bit rock, and a whole lot of energy. Grinning madly from ear to ear and jumping up and down from the sheer joy of performance. One of my favourite live acts, and if you are in Sydney, do yourself a favour and go see them at The Basement tonight.

I am still driven to teeth-gritting feelings of impotent rage at selfish bitches who insist on talking loudly throughout a performance, but fortunately Fruit has such a big sound that most of the time they safely drown out such irritations.

Other than that I am looking forward to a Sydney road-trip this weekend, and contemplating the rash promise I made to go indoor rock-climbing next week. Not that the idea of rock-climbing disturbs me – I’m not afraid of heights and it looks like fun. I am disturbed that apparently the venue has a sign, placed inside the toilets where you don’t see it until far too late, notifying patrons that they don’t have insurance. Maybe it is meant to encourage climbers to put that much more effort into not falling.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

And Mother Holle likers her wool from the African dromedary

Life is full of little disappointments, and last night’s Eurovision Song Contest was no exception.

I’ve grown quite fond of Eurovision in the last couple of years. A chance to get together, get drunk, and spend some quality time laughing uproariously at some of the worst music and worst costuming choices to come out of Europe since the invention of lederhosen.

The first problem that arose last night was my fellow audience members. Or the lack of them. It is bad enough being the only one in my household not getting some regular good lovin’ – must they rub it in my face by failing to come home on such a regular basis?

So I had one other person to watch Eurovision with, and his heart wasn’t really in it. Besides which, he doesn’t drink. I respect that, but the problem is that Eurovision is best watched while drunk, and getting drunker. And getting drunk by yourself just smacks of sadness and incipient alcoholism, which means I was sober too.

I still managed to burn the popcorn.

Then there was the commentary. I’m normally a fan of SBS’s Des Mangan, who brings his own brand of impish perversity to a Monday night movie. Unfortunately he confined himself to commenting in-between the songs, and the last thing you want to do in Eurovision is actually listen to the music.

The British commentary used to screen in Australia, courtesy of Terry Wogan. Terry used to comment all through every performance, and as the evening progressed he would get increasingly drunk and increasingly bitter. By the time it got to the voting at the end of the night, Terry would have worked his way up to a state of outrage over the habit of neighbouring or allied countries to vote for each other. Because preserving the integrity of the Eurovision voting process is vital. Des was just altogether too respectful to be fun. However I have found that the British version will be screened on SBS at 12.30 on 31 May.

To really understand the essence of the Eurovision Song Contest, and why drunkenness is an integral part of the experience, you have to understand the music. To which end, I bring you the lyrics of Austria’s Alf Poier. Please note that Alf looked and sounded like a guest star on The Wiggles. He also came sixth.

Man is the measure of all things

I like most animals on this earth
But I really prefer little rabbits and bears

Soon all birds and beetles will die
But Adam's in bed with Eve busy reproducing

Rabbits live in the woods
Cats in the meadows
And cockroaches
Live under tiles

Little rabbits have short noses
And kittens soft paws
And Mother Holle likes her wool
From the African dromedary

The difference between animals such as apes and primates
Is no bigger than between noodles and pasta

But whoever wants to know more about animals should study Biology or inform
himself on my homepage

Some animals have wings
And others have fins
Some live outdoors
And others in cans

Small rabbits . . .

Music can touch your heart and change your life. Or so I'm told.