Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Grumpy, The Universe And Everything.


I don't know whether it's a new thing or if I have just been made aware of it, but people seem to be getting into this ask The Universe thing quite a lot. You want something, you ask The Universe to give it to you and you visualise yourself having this thing. You don't apply for a job and then hope you are going to get it, you assume the job is already yours and The Universe will deliver. It's a nice belief, if hopelessly flawed; what if two people apply for the same job and both are into this ask The Universe thing?

I'm also reluctant to get into it because I've just come back from a trip around the world, and in the six months I was away nothing went wrong. No flight delays, no lost luggage, no illness, no natural disasters. Far from asking the universe for anything, I'm happy enough to just thank it for being so nice to me.

House-hunting has been a bit of a nightmare, though, and when finally The Dreaded One and I found a place that we really wanted, I thought maybe I would ask The Universe after all. This was a very nice apartment and we had already missed out on a couple due to a very competitive rental market.

Weirdly, there were signs that this might be our new home. In scouting around the area the first shop we came across was a doof shop, selling doof clothing, psychedelic artwork and music. As you may or may not know, I heart doof. In the music section I found a couple of psytrance albums by friends of mine, albums that I hadn't seen before, so I bought them. Playing in the shop was a familiar track by a producer called Lost Keys. Lost keys? Was The Universe telling us we had found the keys to our new home? And The Dreaded One pointed out that the name of the apartment block was Acacia Apartments. The Acacia plant is a rich source of, erm, vitamin DMT, which is one of my favourite vitamins. Maybe the universe was delivering. God bless you, Universe, you noble and generous great big thing.

We visualised and assumed, even if there was a niggly voice telling me it didn't really work like this.

The phone rang. It was another real estate agent returning our call to set up an inspection time for another apartment. Was this The Universe telling us not to get our hopes up? That all the signs for the place we really wanted were part of an elaborate joke? Fuck you, Universe, you hostile son of a bi-

The phone again. It was the good real estate agent telling us that our application had been approved. The place we wanted was ours. Seriously – it worked! We asked The Universe and it delivered. Holy shit. Magic happens. For real. Oh Universe you kind, wonderful great big thing.

We waited for two days for an email confirmation that was supposed to be sent immediately. Nothing. Universe you prick-teasing whore of a great big thing... no one likes a smart arsed universe, Universe. Just go and poke your head back up your bum. I hate...

A phone call revealed that the real estate agent had been waiting to hear from us. After double-checking the email address we all realised there had been a simple typo in the way of getting things done. Oh Universe – come over here and give us a hug, you big hunk of a great big thing.

I don't want to push the friendship, but I'm currently thinking about my new neighbours. I am visualising Cameron Diaz... Angelina Jolie (sans Bradley and kids)... um... Shakira? Yeah, why not... ooh and Stewie from Family Guy, he would be a cack to hang out with. Who else...

Grumpy is freelance writer Lee Bemrose, leebemrose@hotmail.com. He is looking forward very much to meeting the new neighbours The Universe has given him to play with.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

HomeHunting Part 27

Northcote is back on the list, an area called Ruckers Hill. We saw a place today that is unbelievably cool. Brand new, district and city views from the fifth floor. Checked the area out and the first shop we came across was a doof shop called The Pixie Collective. They were playing a very familiar Lost Keys track. Lost Keys? Found Keys? They stocked copies of Daheen's Green Chillies album and Regen Records' Regeneration, which we bought. These guys are friends from Sydney and we hadn't seen the albums before. The Dreaded One also pointed out that the apartment block is called Acacia Apartments, Acacia, of course, being a rich source of Vitamin DMT.

I'm still not going to get excited about the possibility of getting this place (except that I already am, a little bit), but the signs are certainly being friendly. I asked the girl in The Pixie Collective if there are many doofer types in the area and she said yes and talked about the parties and the fact they have a renegade stage at tomorrow's St Kilda Festival.

We had a bite to eat and some good coffee at Ruckers Hill Cafe. Good vibe, owners (I assume) were really friendly. The area doesn't have the sceney look that Fitzroy does, but it does have its own cool. We both like it and can se ourselves living there. It's 7km out of the city, but that's okay. The apartment itself would be such a step up from our old one and our things will look great there. We'll keep looking in the meantime.

In other news, I almost walked out of a booze shop today with a case of low alcohol beer. I squealed like a girl and put that damn stuff back. Close call.

*Update - the above happened on Saturday. On Monday we got a call. The signs were accurate. Our application was approved.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Hostile Universe? Not Always.

So. Here we are in Melbourne (not the two knuckleheads in the picture, The Dreaded One and me). Been here a couple of weeks now but still don't have a home. We're staying in a serviced apartment while looking around and there is much confusion. We always felt we'd live in or around Fitzroy but it seems a million other people also want to live in or around Fitzroy. You can find a place you like and can see yourself living in, but you have to get that application in quickly and pay them what they want. I suspect people are offering more than the asking rental or even bribing the property managers. The latter makes perfect sense - slip them a couple of hundred bucks upfront to get you the place. Maybe that's being too cynical. Maybe it makes perfect sense. I don't know.

I do know that Fitzroy is starting to lose its appeal. We've looked at a lot of areas now and it's very confusing. Everything has shifted. Now the shortlist is Melbourne CBD, Brunswick, Brunswick East or... I don't know. A really lovely real estate agent (yeah they do exist) yesterday recommended Brunswick. She seemed to have us pegged. Mentioned music gigs etc, so I've read up about it and it sounds appealing so we'll drive over there today and wander about for a bit, soak up the vibe.

We also threw into the mess of what we are doing right now the possibility of going back overseas. I can't express what a perfect trip that was. Nothing went wrong, everything went right. The universe really delivered. When we were in Madrid and had to buy a tent for Boom, we couldn't find a place that sold tents. They just didn't exist. One day to go, we got hopelessly lost and stumbled upon a place that sold tents. The 'salesperson' has achieved legendary status for us - she was pure hate. We asked if we could look at a tent (it was, after all, a tienda specialising in tiendas) and she screeched at us, "No tienda!" We asked if we could look at one of the tiendas hanging on the wall and she insisted, "NO TIENDA!" We politely insisted that one of the display tiendas would be fine and with some Spanish cursing and a roll of the shoulders she stormed of, got our tienda from the back room, stomped her way back in, threw the tent onto the counter and told one of her minions to sort us out. Hilarious WTF moment.

Point is, we got lost and wouldn't have found the tent shop otherwise. Sometimes, stuff happens for a reason. This was merely one of countless incidents that made me feel like the universe was not hostile at all but was actually being rather nice. Things just fell nicely into place when we were traveling.

I'm not complaining about having trouble finding our home in Melbourne. I think after such a charmed trip we probably assumed we'd just walk into our new home. Thinking about it, I'm not surprised it's a bit of a shitfight. We've had a dream run. We have to put in a bit of effort now and that's cool and maybe the universe knows what it's doing. We'll still look at Fitzroy this coming Saturday, but there was something about that real estate agent and her recommendation. There was a vibe, like she knew something. We shared a laugh and she gave us some of her time and both The Dreaded One and I thought there was a vibe. We'll see how this pans out.

The other thing about the universe is the friends I have at the moment. The picture above? One of my favourites. What you see there is a picture of damn near perfect friendship. It's ridiculous to think those two people met at all, let alone became such solid friends. There is no clash of ego, no struggle for dominance, no bullshit of any kind. There is just acceptance of this other human who for whatever reason is cool in the eyes of the other. It's a beautiful thing.

And I have a few precious people in my life right now. Some I've spent a lot of time with, some only a short time but knew then that there was a vibe. Solitary guy doesn't feel quite so solitary anymore. He feels very grateful.

In other news, my new phone is waaay to smart for me. It's doing my little tiny head in.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Still Calling Australia Home

Photo - me on the phone to Kat whilst feeding some locals. They like the peanuts.

New Grumpy column attached. Wonder if it will ruffle any feathers.


It's a bit of a shock, this coming home thing. Not that I have a home to come back to, but I guess because of various bureaucratic rules I still call Australia home. And I'm not very comfortable with this for a number of reasons.

Firstly, that damned Australian accent. I hate it. I've spent the past six months hearing nothing but proper accents. My ears became completely accustomed to hearing Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, German, Mexican, French, Czeck and even English and American accents. In America I heard black people talk to each other just like movie black people and they weren't even trying to be funny, and soon I just got used to it. I started thinking in whatever accent I was surrounded by... although one American guy, upon hearing that I was Australian, wanted to hear everything I knew about crocodiles, marsupials and The Great Barrier Reef because “he could listen to my accent all day long” – and I don't have a Goddamned accent. (Although once at a party in Turkey I did, due to a random bit of liquid a friend of a friend gave to me, develop a kind of generic euro accent. Amusing at first, it became tedious after the second day but I just couldn't stop it).

But the Australian accent. It disappeared from my ears. A few times I was mistaken for being British, but this has always happened. Perhaps because of my travels I became even less Australian- sounding. Whatever the case, as soon as I stepped on board my QANTAS flight home, I was shocked to actually hear the Australian accent the way foreigners must hear it. Far from having that slightly lisping, delicate way of talking that most flight attendants have, the QANTAS guys spoke like rool bloody blokes mate. Just like when I first heard a black guy call his friend a mofo, I thought these guy must be joking. Surely no one really talks in such a broad, nasally, avuncular drawl. But as the plane slipped at a blinding speed over the Pacific, I realised that I wasn't Over There any more, and that sadly, yes, we really do sound like that. Crikey.

My ears have by now acclimatised, but there are some things it is taking longer to get used to. Keen to postpone reality for as long as possible, I spent some time on the Southern Victorian coast, and I felt really sorry for International travellers almost as much as I felt sorry for myself. On other coasts the seafood was fresh and plentiful, plucked straight from the sea and served as nature intended or lovingly shaped into the most aromatic bouillabaisse or rich chowder, but here in Oz? Burger joints, cafes, local Chinese - AND everything closes so early. I am now part Spaniard, Goddamn it, and dinner happens alfresco some time after 10pm!

And don't get me started on the clothing... too late – I've already started me on the clothing. Why do none of you Australians – males especially – make the slightest effort in the dress department? Just as I was hearing the Australian accent with foreign ears, here I was seeing the Australian fashion aesthetic with foreign eyes. Guys – thongs, shorts and an O'Neil T shirt is just wrong to go out to dinner in, even if it is the local Chinese. Hairy legs and bare feet do not belong in a restaurant.

Don't get me wrong – I have been to the opposite end of the spectrum to the coast of Victoria with a mercifully brief visit to St Tropez (travel tip re St Tropez: don't bother unless it's a port-side shopping centre for the mega wealthy you're looking for), and things can go too far. But for Goddsake and the mercy of my international sensibilities, make an effort!

So here I am, back in a country I reluctantly call home. It's been a good round the world trip. It's opened my eyes and ears and allowed me to see and hear what we're really like. Either that or it's turned me into a stuck-up wanker. Beauty.

Grumpy is Lee Bemrose, International Man Of Wankery and freelance writer. Tell him he's a wanker at leebemrose@hotmail.com