Sunday, April 10, 2011

Well I ain't that much worse than the rest, just that much further west.

Apologies in advance, I'm going to say the word 'cunt' in this post a lot. A few years back I went to my first Rangers F.C. game - where they lost away to Dundee United 2-1 (I left raging, but absolutely smitten), I was surrounded by a crowd who used the word as liberally as any other in the English dictionary, I've slowly added it into my rhetoric. As of Tuesday night, I really feel I've capped out my ability to drop it in everyday conversations and/or karaoke.

And that's where the story begins. For whatever reason, and clearly not relating to talent, there had been notable absences at Stackers on a Tuesday for karaoke. I'm not entirely sure what changed that, but the layoff had seen everyone trying to play catch-up on frivolities.

Having just successfully smoked a cigarette under a table, Becs and Adam serenaded the room with a Chicago ballad. While standing around them offering my support, the microphone came my way and I managed to address the entire room as 'cunts'. Needless to say they didn't win the night's prize, but I don't think that had much to do with my interjection.

Still, I'd have my own chance to win a prize, as Dicky Peach and I volunteered to sing some Kaiser Chiefs under the stage name "The Benders". It took two hours before we would eventually grace the stage, and Peach was well and truly toasted (he has no recollection of the event). The time rolled by, and I swear Elle was topping up my beer with whatever fruity vodka drink she was having, but by that stage I could barely notice.

Eventually, 'The Benders' were called to the stage, and after a brief practice run, we started sing 'Oh My God'. Before the song had started, I'd already called the audience cunts, and when the line about being far from home came up I couldn't help but yell "Wollongong, cunts!". Fortunately, the song ended after three or so minutes, and I managed to add in a few more expletives before the microphones were turned off. We were the last to perform that night, and unbeknownst to us the winner had already been determined. Cunts.

Now I know it's not nice to use such language, especially not in public when assisted by a microphone, but there was an almost instant payback the next morning. My struggles to get ready for my afternoon class culminated in a spew that found its way on the bathroom floor, sink and toilet. Undeterred, I still made it to class, despite a what I imagined to be a horrific trailing odour. Sometimes, the Wollongong cunt in me shines through too much. 

Noho hipsters about succumb to urban outfitters


Chinese whispers is a fascinating concept, and Sam and I received first-hand experience on how the same thing can be interpreted differently. Northampton's finest $12 hairdressers received the same directions from the two of us (tidy up the back and sides, a little off the top and keep the front longer), yet we both walked out looking completely different. While he looks like Jonathan Creek, I look more like K.D. Lang.

I felt the haircuts were fairly representative of Northampton, a lesbian and an eccentric hippie type. With new mops, we returned to the town that night to catch Sebadoh play at Pearl Street's basement. It was immediately apparent that we were the youngest members of the crowd, and for me personally it was a feeling that has become increasingly unfamiliar. The older crowd was in excellent voice and humour, as the opening band called out for requests and numerous grey-haired revellers called out for 'Freebird'.

Richard Buckner and his friend were the next band, and though they dressed like they were somewhere between Neil Young and homelessness, they put together a fascinating sound with only two members. There was lots of feedback, guitar loops and a man who dressed like a vagrant acting like a nomad by constantly switching between guitar and drums. The two are older than most parents of UMass students, but they were excellent and a refreshing change from the usual bands you see live. It was like imagining Bon Iver, but if fame found them 30 years too late.

Sebadoh were great, and even though it was a reunion tour of sorts, they played like they hadn't stopped jamming in their garage. From the start they were there to have a laugh, joking about how they had seen two guys making music on their computers at a cafe, and calling it 'jamming'. When Lou and Jason swapped instruments and vocals it was like a different band, going from an older man slowing down in his rock and roll days to an angsty punk band. They shifted dynamically, and though they played my favourite song of theirs early in the set, the remaining two hours were like getting a lesson in what it is like to be a 90s band on the cusp of success. Given the members of the band, their connection and the show's location, I really thought tonight was going to be my best chance to run into a member of Sonic Youth or Dinosaur Jr but it didn't happen. I've only got 4-5 weeks left, so I'll have to improve my stalking skills.
Jonathan Creek

With the sun shining the following day, a few of us parked our arses on the grassy lawn outside my building for a few hours. There was beer, wine, cigars and songs provided by Sam, as we sat around getting our fill of vitamin d. In an act of instant karma, the results of heckling the frisbee players came back to haunt when one flew towards me. It spun through the air and was graceful as it approached. I thought five years of junior cricket had prepared my hands to catch it, but I was very wrong. I put out my left paw, and as it came closer began to close my fingers. The timing was all wrong (possibly due to the wine, but mostly because I'm rather uncoordinated) and as my missed catching the flying disc it deflected off my fingers and straight into Jessie's face. Classy, real classy. I felt incredibly bad, and clearly a frisbee to the face is no way to spend a nice afternoon in the sun.

That wasn't the only bit of violence to occur that night, as Max and I took advantage of our free tickets to the MMA fight at the campus' entertainment centre. Though we'd been assigned free seats, the small number of paying audience meant we could get close to the ring. As everyone stood for the anthem, I took off my jacket to reveal my American flag shirt, put my hand on my heart and got ready for what I was hoping would be a scene right out of the end of 'Bruno'.

Before the first fight an announcer came into the ring, and this is not exaggerated, but she actually told all the ladies of the crowd that sleeping with the fighters was a safe thing to do, as they get tested for sexual diseases all the time. With that bit of class out the way, terrible hip-hop and angry man hardcore came over the loudspeaker before two guys began kicking, punching and hugging each other for a few rounds.

It was a repetitive display, with a few fights being award via points, the other through knockout. The revolving door of tattooed up guys in shorts trying to murder one-another gets old pretty quickly, and when they're straddling each other on a mat my attention drifts away at a rapid pace.

We waited out until about halfway through the event, joining a heckling lady in sharing our opinions about a fighter named 'Sam'. While she yelled "stop hugging" and "knock him out", Max offered such brilliance including "there's no I in Sam", and I did my best to recite phrases from Green Eggs and Ham.

There was no crowd fights, and no overly obnoxious or hilarious behaviour. My opinion on MMA didn't change, but I was disappointed that everyone was so well behaved. After all, I moonwalked my way into these tickets and expected a great show of in return.

The rest of the night was spent barhopping, and solving rubiks cubes. That bottle of wine from earlier on came back to haunt me, and again I decided to bring up the contents of my stomach as a reparation for having too much fun the night before.

Frightened Rabbit - Poke
Well after all my talk of using the word 'cunt' in everyday discourse, again I've been usurped by the Scots. This song, beautiful as it is, also has the most amazing use of the word I've ever heard.

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