Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Grumpy In Provence

More or less... oh fucking hell I can't get rid of the bold and italicised. Anyway, this will be more or less my next Grumpy column in Tsunami Mag. Much more has happened involving little tiny street sweepers, little awful hamburgers, attacking hedgehogs and oh so much more, most of which you can read about on facebook in my photo album. Had a great time last weekend. I love everyone involved. Especially the little tiny street sweepers.

Grumpy in Provence

Friends were driving from Madrid to pick us up in Barcelona for the drive to Arles in Southern France. We thought the address of the hotel would be enough. We thought wrong. They didn't have GPS and assumed they would be able to drive straight to the hotel without a local map. Barcelona is reasonably big, so while they drove in circles with us on the phone trying to describe various local landmarks, we waited outside while night fell. Suddenly it felt like this was going to a loooooong drive.

The friends made the same assumption about heading to a little town called Arles, knowing that it was near Avignon, near Nimes, near Montpellier, near...

Fortunately we had GPS on The Dreaded One's new phone. Unfortunately The Dreaded One's new phone turned out to be almost out of juice. A loooong drive indeed.

Fortunately our friend Danny LeopardTron did an impressive job of marathon driving and we made it and went to a party full of mostly nice, non English-speaking French people. At a random point a fight broke out between two guys who didn't know each other. Broken glass, blood everywhere, much fighting and screaming. And because all the shouting was in French, I still didn't know what started it until much later. Apparently one guy called the other guy gay and that's about the worst insult you can give a French man. I'm happy to say that everyone else was mildly traumatised and it took a while to get the party going again. I am glad this is not normal behaviour.

There was another party the following night. Police were called to this one but not because of violence. A random guest barely known to anyone else wasn't enjoying the style of music being played (everyone else was loving it) so he called the police claiming to be a neighbour with a noise complaint. The music was turned off for a while and the sound system and decks moved inside. Bloody odd thing to do. Needless to say, the guy was not exactly popular after that.

It was a good party other than that. Sprawling and messy. There was dancing to awesome music, talking, people having sex outside, the usual. The French who did speak English were very nice people. At some point while The Dreaded One slept I was hanging out with my crazy French Moroccan partner in crime and a bunch of her French friends. It was cold so we went inside. We found an empty room with a mattress on the floor and we all snuggled up under the duvet, just like a bunch of girlfriends. My friend even said she felt like we were having a pyjama party. My partner in crime translated at times and when she said they were talking about how often they had sex, I thought I should go, but they said no no no and made me stay. I probably heard all sorts of lurid confessions because there was much giggling. I don't know whether it's a good thing or a bad thing that I don't understand French. It wouldn't have surprised me if a pillow fight had broken out because girls just wanna have fun.

Although the room was tucked away upstairs in a building next to where the music was playing, The Dreaded One walked in, still looking sleepy. She didn't look at all surprised to see me under the covers with my sistas, knowing that it was all innocent enough. And I certainly didn't feel guilty, just mildly girly. I later asked her how she found us and she said she had wandered about and someone told her, “Your uzband, he eez upstairs wiz zee women.”

Am I enjoying myself in France? Merde oui.

Grumpy is Monsieur Lee Bemrose. He is a freelance writer now miming his way through France. Contact him at

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Not A Postcard From Barcelona

Hola from Barcelona.

What should have been a short trip went a bit epic. Our flight was delayed by an hour and what should have been a short 40 minute flight stretched big time. Also, I booked us into a place slightly out of the city centre and after negotiating the metro system... we left the hotel in Ibiza at 5pm and didn't check in until 11pm. Still, we did well and were in good spirits. Found a local tapas bar around midnight and tucked into some ok food and a good bottle of Crianza Rioja. I haven't read up on Spanish wine so I'm not sure what that is exactly, but I think Rioja is the region and Crianza is the grape varity. It was nice, recommended by the waiter who seemed to like us and all was good in the world.

I really enjoyed my last day in Ibiza. I like the place a lot. I think like Byron Bay in Australia, the place itself has a magic about it that has been largely engulfed by modern times and tourisn. Like Byron, you need to have x-ray vision to see the initial attraction that started drawing people to it. I suspect that most of the superficial people who flock to these places on short stays to party don't have this x-ray vision. I can't explain it. And as with Byron, I wish I could have experienced it earlier in time. Don't get me wrong, I like the partying, but it's like the place itself has something. A vibe. A quiet voice that... oh just laugh now at my hippie shit mumbo jumbo. I know what I'm talking about.

So yeah, proper sad to leave. Haven't felt that way about leaving a place since I left Melbourne last time. That was pretty intense, as you'd hope given that The Dreaded One and I have decided to leave Sydney and move to Melbourne.

We had lunch with a good friend who introduced us to other friends. As with doofer friends we've spent time talking to away from the party vibe, it's just kind of reassuring to realise there is quality there and that you have other stuff in common and that there is proper friendship there, I talked at length about how much I'd love to get the job at Dumbo Feather, told him about my conversation about psytrance with Warren Ellis from Nick Cave's Bad Seeds, we talked about music, he told me (this is my friend Ben, not Warren Ellis) about dipping prawns in concrete and making a chess set, and it was exactly the kind of intelligent and silly conversation I enjoy.

Another Ibiza moment that has come back to me a couple of times is dancing in a bit of a private area of Space. We had special wrist bands that allowed us into a next-to-the-DJ area fenced off from the crowd, which was fun if a little strange given that a couple of new friends said hello and chatted from the other side of the fence.

But there was this woman who kept looking over. I'm normally more than happy to not talk to randoms. If the music is good (Groove Armada were doing a DJ set and they were pretty good and close enough that I could have given them a wet willy if I was in a Bart Simpson mood) I'll dance with my eyes closed and keep pretty much to myself. But she kept glancing over and eventually I thought ok, go on then, and I made eye contact. She smiled. I smiled. Then she came over and asked me in a thick accent, "Did you go to the Boom festival?"

I dont know whether it was the clothes I was wearing or the way I was dancing or whether, as Ann thinks, she actually saw me there, but she recognised something, and it was nice. More than 25,000 peple were at Boom and he we were, two strangers in another place sharing smiles about a remembered party. It was a lovely moment.

This not a postcard from Barcelona. We arrived too late and have not done anything here yet. We intend to go to Parque Guell and Sagrada Famila and shop a bit. I remember the clothes here being pretty good. So when we've Barcelona'd ourselves a bit more, I'll send you a postcard.

Am happy right now. Am blessed with some pretty cool people in my life and am fortunate to be doing cool things. Thank you, Universe. You can be harsh, but you can be pretty cool too.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Grumpy In Ibiza

A version of the next Grumpy column. Will be posting photos on Facebook soon. Enjoy.

Grumpy In Ibiza

Our first night in Ibiza was a blast. A DJ friend got us into one of the big clubs, Space, and gave us drink vouchers. Apparently, he told us, drinks are a bit pricey, so this was all very good and much appreciated. The music was great, the club was way bigger than anything I've been to, and the crowd seemed like a typical club crowd with most people being there for the music. The dancefloor was rammed and pumping. We wandered a lot and personally I was just a bit amazed at the sheer size of the place. All in all, an excellent night.

Second night... all I can say is if you have connections, use them because The Dreaded One and I went it alone to Pacha and I had no idea until then what my friend meant about the prices - 60 euro each to walk through the door. That's roughly AU$90 per person. For an average Monday night with no headlining act. In fact I was damned if I could see a DJ at all. The night was called Flower Power and the music was hits from the 60s and 70s. There was no mixing and it felt like listening to a retro radio show. How did they justify that cover charge? Still, we wanted to experience Ibiza in all its forms, so best make the most of it. At the bar... two JD and cokes cost 34 euro. That's around the AU$20 mark for one drink. No fruit, no cocktail shaker or little umbrella, no complicated booze recipe, just bourbon and fizzy sugar. We've since booked our flights from Ibiza to Barcelona, and for the price of two drinks at Pacha you can fly from here to Barcelona.

It was probably the shock of all this that I got lost trying to get out later in the night. It certainly wasn't because I was drunk. The Dreaded One wandered off, I took a wrong turn and next thing I am hopelessly lost in retro hell. I kept wandering into the same rooms I didn't want to be in while Mama Cass banged on about all the leaves being brown and the sky being grey... I used to love California Dreaming but suddenly I never wanted to hear it again. For half an hour I was hopelessly lost while The Dreaded One kept texting from outside asking where I was and what I was doing. My eyes are pretty fucked and I can't read my phone without my specs so I didn't bother trying, but that was exactly what she was texting. Woopsie, sorry, how embarrassment.

Thing is, things have a way of balancing out. People like Nightmares On Wax and DJ Sasha will pop up at free gigs, you just have to keep an ear out. Nightmares On Wax at a beach club (Kumares) while the sun set was perfection (see previous post). No cover charge and the drinks were affordable and the company was cool. I'm hoping to go back there before we leave.

Also, on two separate occasions I was given 10 euro too much in my change. Then last night at the Gypsy Markets after watching the sunset at Cafe Mambo next door to the legendary Cafe del Mar we ordered some barbecued ribs (churrasqueiros) and a couple of glasses of wine from this stand-at-the-counter place, just after a summer downpour of rain that was really quite pleasant. The gorgeous Spanish waitress (who could shout brick walls to rubble... we ordered our ribs and she switched her vocal chords up to eleven to place the order with the barbecue guy and it was hilarious and strangely sexy. She looked like the kind of chick you just don't want to get into an altercation with... which was strangely sexy again... erm sorry, ending parentheses now so so you've to join the sentence back together after this overly long aside... she really was quite sexy though...) emptied the last of the wine from the bottle and glanced at me, knowing that the cup was not adequately filled. Was she daring me? Was there was a faint glint in her dark eyes? I fucking think there was. There was a pause and I was expecting her to take the money but I did a sad puppy dog face and asked in my most fluent Spanish mime if she could put more wine into the cup. She smiled as though I was being cheeky but obliged by opening a fresh bottle and topping up both cups. Then she turned away without taking the 25 euro I estimated the meal to cost.

Normally I am Karma Man and will tell people I haven't paid yet. I'm a shocker for it. But hell, maybe this was karma in action. Maybe the universe took pity on me for the night at Pacha, so to hell with it. The shouty but sexy senorita had clearly moved on to other customers, so I put my wallet away and tucked into the biggest, most delicious pile of ribs ever. (And secretly hoped that when we walked away Senorita Shouty was going to chase me down and... actually, end fantasy here).

I'm heading out this afternoon to Bora Bora beach club where the boobies and bums frolic on the sand to thumping dance music. Going to see if the universe throws any more money at me... actually, Universe, don't bother; I'm more than a bit grateful for the boobies and bums at Bora Bora. Mucho gracias.

Grumpy is Lee Bemrose, freelance writer, leebemrose@hotmail. He prefers cash but will accept boobies and bums.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Postcard From Ibiza

Well we finally made it to Ibiza. I always said I wanted to come here just once in my life. My life has revolved quite a lot around dance music and clubbing for some time now, although the doofing scene of partying in the wilderness has caused me to see clubs much less in recent years. So just once, I thought.

I was under the impression that Ibiza had lost it's charm a long time ago. I saw that Real Ibiza reality TV show years ago. Over time I've spoken to a lot of people who have DJ'd here or partied here or just have an opinion about the place. Some friends with taste keep coming back each year, but I've had a lingering feeling for a long time that I missed Ibiza's glory days, perhaps with a little hope that I was wrong.

Bottom line? I like nice things. I like music and culture and style. We're due in Barcelona next and I like Barcelona. Loved Barcelona actually, but we still chose to extend our stay in Ibiza. I like it here a lot. I've had nothing but a good time in spite of friends who have never been here assuring me that it's a horrible, tacky place with nothing to offer but drunk Brits. With all due respect, they have no idea. I thought maybe it was going to be a bit like Surfers Paradise in Queensland; it's nowhere near as tacky as that place.

Yes there are drunk Brits. Pasty flesh rubs shoulders with the taut and tanned. You will bump into ugly, tasteless people wherever you go. But even in the most crowded club or beach party, everyone I have encountered appears to be here to party and have fun. I have not seen any agro... well a couple of people got thrown out of Pacha by security but I don't know what that was all about and I don't care.

Ibiza town is a nice place. Stylish little town with plenty of good food places about. Ibiza is not all about house music, drugs and drinking. There is plenty of that if you want it, but it's very easy to get away from all of that.

The first night we were here we went to Space nightclub. We are very lucky because a friend works there and we got in for free and were given free drinks. This is the one downside of Ibiza's short party season; it can be shockingly expensive. 60 Euro will get you through the door. Enjoy dancing sober because the drinks are horrendously expensive. We went to Pacha the following night with no contacts, and it was 60 Euro each to get in, 34 Euro for two JD and cokes. And I have to say it wasn't really worth it. The night was called Flower Power and the music was retro. I like California Dreaming etc, but this was just one cheesy cliche after the next with no mixing and it wore a bit thin after a while. The place was rammed and I just couldn't get into the vibe. The vast majority were having a blast though, smiles everywhere, not an agro drunk Brit in sight. Maybe it was just the shock of handing out so much money for so little. I don't normally care what it costs to have a good time but that was a shock, especially when you do tha exchange rate math. We can fly from here to Barcelona (next Tuesday) for the same amount it cost for two drinks at Pacha.

Oh and did I mention I got lost trying to get out? These places are big. Home in Sydney has a capacity of 1500 or something. I think places like Space and Pacha are about twice as big and I took a wrong turn, The Dreaded One was engulfed by the crowd and I wandered lost for about half an hour. My phone buzzed with texts from The Dreaded One but my eyes are fucked and I can't read my phone without my glasses. I knew what she would be saying anyway - where are you what the hell are you doing I'm waiting for you outside. It was a bit embarrassing. I kept finding my way to the same rooms I didn't want to be while Mama Cass belted out that tune I used to like so much but didn't want to hear ever again. In the end a security guy saw and recognised my confusion and showed me the way out. He seemed a little amused. I like to think I'm not the first to have been lost in Pacha. I was fucking glad to get out.

Anyway, a night or two later we went to a place called, I think, Kumares. Beachside place where Nightmares On Wax were playing a live set as the sun went down. A totally classy evening, sand and couches and beach-beds, white wine, friends and fire twirlers. I remember looking around and thinking how can you improve on this? Upbeat chilled music (been into NOW for years now) surrounded by cool people while the sun and clouds put on a pretty show... I like Ibiza a lot.

We're going to try to get to Cafe del mar probably today. Might also go back to Bora Bora. It's a club that spills onto the beach, and around 4.30 the relaxed vibe ramps up a bit until the beach and inside the club are one big, thumping party, planes roaring in low for landing at the nearby airport with party-goers cheering a welcome to the new arrivals.

You can knock places you have never been to and I really did think I'd come to Ibiza just once and probably never come back. But I'm staying longer than I expected to and I really wouldn't be surprised if I find myself back here again. Next season, perhaps. Or 2012, around Boom time.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Grumpy With Timid Travellers

We're in Denia right now (or "in denial" as The Dreaded One typo'd on Facebook), but my new Grumpy column is due so this is what it is. These people were so frustrating. But there is material everywhere.

Going to try my hand at travel writing too. With a Grumpy bent. There are a couple of comps about that appear worth entering. Wouldn't that be the best way to make a living? Being paid to go to interesting places and write about the funny shit you encounter there? May as well give it a bash.

Oh and I might be able to keep writing for Drum and 3D while here. No reason I can't. I just received an email from a guy who did a drag show last year and he wanted my story for quotes to use somewhere. He said it was his favourite piece in all the Sydney media. Not bad given that I'm straight and Drum is rock n roll and thre are quite a few gay street mags in Sydney. He wants me to cover his next show when I get back to Sydney, got me thinking, why can't I interview him (and anyone else) from here, write up the story and email it in? I'm writing Grumpy from here and it's being published in Queensland.

Anyway, hope you enjoy this Grumpy column.


I'm standing in an unnecessary queue at reception in a nice hotel in Lisbon. I'm allowed to be in a nice hotel in Lisbon because I've just spent a week dancing in the dust at Boom in Portugal, living out of a tent. I deserve a little luxury hit. The queue is unnecessary because the people in front of me are treating the information guy like a tour booking agent, which he more-or-less is. They have a facility to book tickets for you, but she's settled right in and is asking him all sorts of stuff that she should already know. Surely in these situations you already know where you want to go, and you book the tickets. Me, I just want 30 seconds of his time to get my password for wifi connection. But she's all elbows-on-the-counter while asking for his opinion on where he thinks they should go. Dad is gazing with lust at the hotel bar while Teen Boy looks very much like he's trying really hard to be invisible.

“Okay,” Mum says in the most annoying of Brit accents, “so we'll book a day tour for Sintra and the coast on Friday, another day tour on Saturday... that leaves Friday night free. What do you suggest we do on Friday night?”

Info Guy looks a little exasperated. “Well what do you want to do on Friday night?”

“Do you have restaurants and bars and things in the area? Not too far away because we'll get lost if we go more than five minutes away. Is there a show nearby that you can recommend?”

Dad pulls out of his bar-lust for a few agitated moments. “Darling, do we really want to do so much. Won't we be exhausted? Don't we want some time to just relax and take in all that we've seen?”

What he's really saying is can't we have some time to just sit in the bar and drink beer, like back home?

Invisible boy remains invisible, probably daydreaming about whatever game it is he uses to block out his awful reality... probably a game involving shooting family members with high powered weaponry.

In the end Mum hands over a huge wad of Euro for their day trips. Especially when you do the conversion to Australian dollars, it's a silly amount of money. Especially especially as I've just come from Sintra on the train for a two Euro. I spent a whole day wandering around the main attractions of the Moorish Castle, Pena Palace and Quinta da Regaleira. You could spend the best part of a day in each and there are plenty more. And the coast of Sintra as part of a day trip? You must be shitting me.

As for any bars or restaurants in the area... did these people run blind-folded from their taxi straight into the hotel? There are massive plazas of bars and restaurants just outside the hotel door. And if you walk a block or two away, you'll enjoy top quality food at half the price in authentic, friendly restaurants.

I feel sorry for timid travellers. Sure, these clowns can go back home and talk of all the wonderful sites they saw, but a quick glance is just missing out. Toughen up. Check out the public transport system and use it. Stay in a place. For the hundreds of Euro she was paying for these day trips, the family could have been in Sintra in less than an hour, stayed the day or two it really takes to experience it, then bussed it to the coast and stayed there at a couple of beaches for a couple of days. And time constraints be buggered; they have more days in Lisbon. I know because I've been listening to them for almost 20 minutes now.

And I've just designed a new game that involves timid travellers who get in the way of my wifi being blown to pieces by high powered weaponry.

Lee Bemrose is Grumpy with timid travellers. He's a freelance writer,

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Postcard From Lisbon, From Granada


So far this trip has taken me all over the place, including many places I hadn´t intended to go. As I write I´m in Lisbon which had never been part of the plan. Consequently I haven´t boned up on any of the Portuguese basics like can I have beer please? I´ve just been going with the flow after partying at Boom for a week and have been to Sintra, the coast of Potugal and now Lisbon. And palaces? I´ve seen so many palaces and castles I´m seeing them in my sleep. Castles, castles and more fucking castles. And I swear I never want to climb another turret in my life.

Don´t get me wrong - I´m enjoying the hell out of it. So much freedom it´s doing my head in and I´m experiencing all sorts of cool stuff for the first time.

I used a bidet for the first time recently. It was a startling and strangely pleasant experience. It puts the “Ooh!” into Pooh. I think I may have a problem. I think I'm developing an addiction. I've started using the bidet even when I don't need to go to the toilet. The Dreaded One keeps banging on the bathroom door and shouting “Grumpy – what are you doing in there?”

“Nothing. Nothing, I swear.”

“You're on the bidet again, aren't you.”

“I'm not. I'm... I'm just doing normal bathroom things. Leave us alone!”

“Us? You and the bidet?”

“You leave the bidet out of this!”

Almost as amusing as the concept of the bidet is the number of times I´ve been offered drugs during the day in the streets of Lisbon. I think a week of partying has left me looking like a drug monster. In my first hour here I was approached by five dealers. Persistent bastards too.

"Psst - want some hash? No? Marrijuana? Coke, you want coke then. It´s good and cheap"

Over the course of the first night I clocked up nine different dealer, some repeat offenders. And often I´ve been singled out in a full outdoor cafe too, which isd making me feel a bit self-conscious. Maybe it´s time I shaved and tidied up a bit, although in reality I am fussy about my appearance and if I look like a hippy I´m the best dressed hippy in town.

And I´m clean from the top of my head down to my bidet bits.