Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Love Shadow

Shadow and light, early morning in the cafe as the sun came up. Peaceful start to a crazy day.

Monday, December 28, 2015

When Strangers Become Friends

This person walked into the cafe one day, dropped off her resume. She has turned into the dream co-worker. Delightful small-talk. Much casually intelligent discussion of movies and music. There is no drama. There is frequent laughter. There is much of the adore. I enjoy her company and am grateful for the random serendipity of our paths crossing.

The Vibe... sometimes it gets it right.

Saturday, December 26, 2015


My Christmas present 2015. I love it.

Almost as much as I love her Christmas card message to me, which was "Love you always, you still are my best friend after all these years."

Mine to her was "True love morphs, never dies. I love you."

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Nick Cave At Grumpy & The Dreaded One's Little Cafe Of Awesome

In my banged up little cafe... this is Nick Cave. He has written some of the most hauntingly brilliant love songs I've ever heard. I'm quite the fan. His writing and his music can be exquisite and it can be raw and exhilarating.

I watched a few passersby stop and say things to him. I saw a fellow customer get up from her table to say something to him.

But I chose to leave him alone, as much as I'd like to have had a conversation with him. He's a human. He's probably back in Australia at Christmas to be with family, and he's lost a son quite recently. He looked like he just wanted some quiet time.

And that's how I blew my chance to say I spoke to Nick Cave.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

When Was That Moment?

The saddest question
That he never asked her was
When did you stop loving me?
What was that thing that I said?
That thing that I did?
What was that mistake that I made?

Because I never stopped loving you.

Even though I knew that at last
Our love was broken.

We are memory now,
But what was that thing that I said?
That thing that I did?
That mistake that I made?
When was that moment

That you stopped loving me?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Raging And The Healing In The Little Cafe Of Awesome

In my banged up little cafe
I see the regulars
And the not so regulars,
I see the the broken ones
Who need a favour or a smile,
Or someone who remembers their name.

I see some of them in suits
When I loathe suits
But I overhear them doing good things
Genuinely helping others in their corporate way

I've seen garbed doctors
Give kindly to the raging wanderers,
raging at the world,
And I've seen healer and patient move on
And get on.

I've seen broken, good hearted people
Become well - life at its best,
And I've seen good people
Been given the unfair deal
By a god who wants to rage
Far more than he wants to heal.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Selfie At The Wilde

It's a selfie, Jim, but not as we know it.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Solitary Man by Crooked Fingers

Neil Diamond wrote a good song. Crooked Fingers made it better.  Sometimes it comes on in the cafe at the end of the day when we are packing down and closing, and I sing along to it as loudly and as in tune as I can in our empty cafe, and I feel a private happiness.

Monday, December 07, 2015

A Nice Story About Sausages

Just before I left the cafe for my walk home, The Dreaded One phoned and asked what I felt like for dinner. I said I feel like sausages and mash and pea crush and offered to pick up some nice sausages from the new gourmet meat shop on Smith Street. Sounds good, said The Dreaded One.

My walks home generally involve a lot of head la la la-ing. I just let my mind off the leash and it wafts about in the clouds and tells me all sorts of random things. I wasn't really thinking about the sausages until a woman walked by with two sausage dogs. Talk about a sign from the universe. The sausage dogs were sent as a reminder for me to not forget to pick up the sausages from the new gourmet sausage shop (which, you'll be interested to know, is owned by our cafe's neighbour, restaurateur Andrew McConnell, aka The Godfather Of Gertrude Street, aka Toasty Guy because he only ever buys our ham, cheese and tomato toasties).

I keep walking because the sausage shop is just up ahead. Just a little bit further along. Couple of doors up... I'm running out of this block and I'm certain the sausage shop is not on the next block...

I stop and scratch my head, the suspicion growing that I have walked completely past the sausage shop.

A car honks its horn. I turn around. It's The Dreaded One, sitting in bumper to bumper traffic.What are the chances? She waves to me. I step onto the road and open the door and ask her where in the hell is the new sausage shop. She tells me it's way back up the road and that I have walked completely past it. She laughs like this is the funniest thing that has happened all afternoon. Funny and totally typical all at once.

I walk back up the road and weirdly, the lady with the two sausage dogs is standing right outside the sausage shop.

And that's my story about sausages.

Friday, December 04, 2015

The Never

I looked for you
She said into the never
But I couldn't find you.
Were you there?

I was there
He said back into the never,
You just didn't see me
And I didn't know you were there.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Living Stories: Kafka Woman

The thing was that he didn't want to send out the wrong signals. There was no denying the facts: he was much older than her and she was, no question, beautiful. This random encounter – so far quite a lovely thing - could quite easily turn into the clumsiest of cliches.

Maybe it was best left alone. Left to fade to the faintest of sweet memories.

But what if he was – yet again – missing an opportunity? Hadn't he already missed his opportunity with her? Only for her to return, for the memory of her to return, for him to be given the chance to thank her and talk to her and get to know her a little.

She had been sitting in his cafe. Her beauty and serenity had caught his eye. He didn't feel love or lust, but he was entranced. That she was reading one of his stories intrigued him further. Which one was she reading? What was she thinking as she read? He kept glancing over, entranced and intrigued as she read.

Later, while he had been busy making coffee that he knew they would enjoy, he heard an accent ask his helper a question: Excuse me, can you tell me who is the author of the stories?

His helper had looked at him. He had looked at the customer and smiled: I am the author of the stories, he had said.

She had smiled like she knew, a smile of peace and knowing.

I loved your story - she had said in a way that made him forget what he was doing - It was so sad and so beautiful.

He had felt such gratitude hearing these words. Thank you, he had told her, for telling me this. It means so much to me that my stories reach people but I never know.

It moved me so much, I had tears as I read it.

Ah, he had replied, I had tears as I wrote it. A sad smile of gratitude, then he had remembered the mundane thing of work and had shifted his attention.

She lingered, seemed to want to say something, could see that he was busy and wished him a good day.

And was gone.

He watched her go.

I think, his helper had said, that she wanted to talk to you.

This was true. As true as the fact that she was gone. He said something about next time, knowing as he said it that she was a traveller, perhaps passing through, perhaps never coming back. Losing focus, he had heated the milk too much, tipped it out and started again.

But she came back. She was looking for work, would like to work in his cafe. She wanted to leave her contact details in case there was work for her. He didn't recognise her immediately. He wondered why there was such friendly warmth in this traveller's smile. Then the memory fell into place and this time there was no room for the mundane things. He was not going to miss this opportunity again. Fortunately it was the quiet time of the day. Perhaps she had planned it that way.

You were here a few weeks ago, weren't you.


And you told me you enjoyed my story.


Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. It means a lot to me. And thank you so much for coming back. It felt like you had wanted to talk.

I did. Your story has stayed so much on my mind. It's so strong, the way life moves on... it is such beautiful writing.

Thank you. It's just a thing I do. Stories are all around us, happening all the time. Some of us have to write them down. Are you a writer?


And they talked and talked the way only very old old or very new friends talk. She told him about her play that she had written and produced, and about the other things she had written but not yet shared. They both asked questions and gave answers. They told each other about the tricks needed to get the words flowing, about the pleasure found in writing the perfect piece. He made her a coffee that she said was perfect, and she stayed and they talked and when finally he had to get back to the mundane things of cleaning up and closing down, she sang a peaceful song to herself in his empty cafe, perhaps for herself, perhaps for him. Her voice was exquisite.

Eventually, it was time for her to go. They thanked each other for whatever it was they had given each other, and once again he watched her go.

And now, weeks later, he was worried about sending out the wrong signals. He thought that maybe he should just let it go because it could so easily become the clumsiest of cliches. And yet... what if it could be the perfect friendship? What if, like him, she was a solitary soul who rarely opens, but opens fully in the right company?

He had no work for her, but he had her contact details. He could write to her. He could tell her about a new story he had written. She could come back into the cafe to read the story and they could talk and...

And what? Could they really become friends? Could true friendship really come out of this random chance encounter with a stranger? Why not? Stranger things had happened.

And yet. Maybe it was best left to fade to the most perfect of memories. She had come into his cafe. She had read his story. They had talked. End of story.

Friday, November 27, 2015

You Tool

A partner in crime is currently visiting. We have a history of staying up all night talking and drinking, but the cafe and 6am rises mean school nights are pretty quiet these days. She is out seeing other friends. It is Thursday night, just after 10pm when she texts saying that she is on the tram on the way home and asks if we are in.

I reply: No, we are at My Aeon nightclub in Brunswick. It's going off. You should join us.

Partner In Crime: Cool. I'm on Smith Street. Where on Brunswick?

Me: Sorry - that was a stupid joke. Am at home. Have to be up at 6am again.

Partner In Crime: You tool.

I do indeed feel like a tool when I learn that she got off the tram to find the nightclub.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Grumpy Meets Kafka Woman

Cafe Stories: Kafka Woman

A few weeks ago a woman was in the cafe quietly reading my story, Remembering Argos. I wrote about her then. I think I described her then as seeming like a serene or peaceful soul. She had come over and asked who is Lee Bemrose. I said I am. She told me she loved the story, that it really moved her. I got the distinct impression that she wanted to talk, but I was busy with coffee, and she left. My helper said to me, I think she wanted to talk to you. I shrugged and said maybe next time, but felt like maybe I'd blown it because she had an accent and was probably a traveler stopping by as she moved on. There probably wasn't going to be a next time.

Weeks later there is another traveler looking for work. I walk into the service area as The Dreaded One is telling the traveler that we are fully staffed. The traveler smiles at me and says hello the way you say it to a friend. I don't recognise her immediately, but we start talking and I realise who it is. It is her, as beautiful and peaceful and serene as ever. We start talking. I tell her how happy I am that she came back because I got the impression that she might have wanted to talk. I also go the impression that she might be a writer. Right on both counts.

It screwed with my afternoon getaway timetable, but I wasn't going to miss the same opportunity twice. The talk was easy and jumped about all over the place. I think something about my short story intrigued; she wanted to know more about someone who would write such a story, a story that she said has stayed with her so strongly since she read it. I asked if she was a writer, and she told me about a play she wrote and produced just after her uni years, and said that someone had compared it to Kafka, and how proud that made her feel.

We told each other about ourselves. She seemed content to stay in the cafe, saying something about its vibe. Eventually I had to continue packing down. She said the coffee I made was the best she had had in a long time. She sang quietly as I cleared the day away. Her voice was exquisite. We thanked each other for whatever it was we had given each other and said we'd probably run into each other again.

I could be wrong, but I thought I felt the hint of the beginning of a friendship between Grumpy and Kafka Woman.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

And So It Was Written: The Lament Of Saint Grumpy

And so it was to pass that all of the last customers of every day for all days to come would be the messiest customers of all the messy customers.

And it was to pass that all of these messiest of all the messiest customers to be the last customers of the day will order hedgehog slices with their lusciously loose toppings of desiccated coconut whose ultimate destination would be at the whim of the slightest of breezes.

And if these last and messiest of all the customers chose not to order the fucking annoyingly messy things called Hedgehog slices, it was depressingly inevitable that their second choice would be a toasted croissant, with its crispy and wonderfully flaky crispy flakiness.

And it would pass that now and forever more that there would forever be unrelenting storms of fucking coconut and fucking croissant flakes long after Saint Grumpy had swept the floor, weeping for the unrelenting eternity of his eternal punishment.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

An Open Letter To Jihadis

Dear Jihadis everywhere,

Look, I know you're not very bright. I know “Thinking” is not as high on your Things To Do Today as shouting, raping and beheading. You'd really rather throw people off rooftops or crucify them than actually think about stuff (stuff like kindness and charity). I know you don't like it when people suggest that maybe you should go about things in a different way, but bear with me here. I'll speak as slowly as I can and keep my message to you as simple as I can, because I know what dumbfuck simple morons you are – and I say that in the nicest possible way because it's not your fault that you were born a dumbfuck simple moron; your god made you that way smiley face.

So here's the thing. Paradise. It's good, huh? What's the deal? 72 virgins all to yourself? That's fucking awesome, isn't it. It's way better than you have it here. I mean, you're not EVER going to pull that many chicks in your life in the here and now – let alone virgin ones, what with all the raping you barbaric fuckers are doing. So Paradise... this Paradise with all these virgins to deflower... because that's the best – the absolute best - your God could come up with... 72 virgins who aren't going to be virgins after you've had your way with them. He's, like, God... he created the entire fucking universe – which if you ever read any science stuff you'd realise is an amazingly big and complex and mysterious thing... a fantastically amazing thing that just does your head in when you think about it... he created dimensions and time and black holes planets the size of... okay, soz, said I was going to keep it simple for you. But seriously – orgasms? This immense god has promised you some orgasms with some virgins? And that's it? And you're buying that?

Point is, he's fucking hugely gifted and amazingly talented, this god of yours.

And you're settling for 72 virgins. I see. That's the ultimate reward your god has promised you. That's Paradise.

Has he promised you hot virgins? What if they're fat? What if they're fat with chin stubble? What if they're a virgin version of the mother from Everyone Loves Raymond? Or even better still – what if they're Marg Simpson's sisters? How funny would that be! You kill innocent, peace-loving people quietly going about their business in this wonderful, modern world we live in and then you kill yourself only to end up in paradise with 72 virgin cartoons! Sorry, but that would be fucking hilarious. Your god, the great creator, he gave us (not you so much, but the rest of us) humour too, so you know... Paradise could be a great big whoopy cushion of laughs for you knuckleheads.

Thing is, you really think this Paradise gig is real. You say things to your loved ones like “See you in Paradise” before you go off to murder the loved ones of others. But if Paradise is the ultimate goal for you... if life here on planet earth is just a stepping stone... fuck off to Paradise now and leave the rest of us alone.

Go. Now. Put a fucking bullet in your poisoned mind and go. Go to Paradise. Leave us alone. Go to this better place, this promised place. Leave us infidels to rot here on Earth in the here and now, and you wallow smugly in your promised place with your promised virgins. You consider your death your wedding because of the promised virgins? Get married right fucking now. Gun. Bullet. Load. Put it in your fucking brain and fuck off to your Paradise and leave us in the peace WE all want and deserve.

It's so simple that even you dumbfuck jihadis must be able to get it. Fast track your destiny.

Paradise is waiting for you – what are you waiting for?

Leave us alone.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Forgotten Memories

Forgotten memories
Dark shadows
In closed rooms.
The empty hallways,
And the shadows
Of memories
That seep into the light.

I loved you.
I miss you.
And I wished from time to time,
That you existed.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

The Fear Of God, Flash Fiction

The Fear Of God

Lee Bemrose

God, look at them. What on earth are they doing?

Beats me. This is not what I had in mind. They're completely out of control. They're totally bonkers.

You going to do something about them?

I don't know if there is anything I can do about them. Not now. They've changed so much I barely recognise them.

Maybe you should have stepped in earlier. I think you should have definitely stepped earlier.

I think you're right. I think it might be a little too late now.

You're not going to do anything at all?

Hmm. I could send you in, I guess. Some of them have been expecting you for some time now.

Are you kidding me? I'm not going down there. They've gone completely batshit crazy.

You scared of them?

Damn straight I'm scared of them. They fucked me over last time, and look at them now. They've developed and regressed spectacularly at the same time. Imagine what they'd do to me now?

Yes, it's fascinating, isn't it. Like watching a car crash, as they would say.

I don't know why you don't just do something. Pull some Big Daddy stuff on them.

I just... I' don't know. I'm actually pretty confused by it all. None of this was supposed to happen. Not like this. Such killing. Such madness. Such destruction. I'm not sure exactly where I went wrong. Or how I can put it right.

You really think they are properly out of control?

Look at them. What do you think? So much potential squandered. And I thought I kept things pretty straightforward. Why did they make things so complicated.

Tell me something... are you scared of them?

Me? Don't be ridiculous.

No, you are, aren't you. You're scared of them too. Ha ha – that's friggin hilarious. They scare the shit out of you. Heee hee. You're shitting yourself!

Jesus, stop laughing. This is serious... stop it! Jesus Christ stop doing that! I hate being tickled!

Lol. Soz. Okay. Look, I just don't think it's right to sit back and not do anything. They're making a hell of a mess and making things pretty bad for everything else. And they're expanding.

What are you suggesting?

Smite them. For all their stupidity they are pretty bright. What if they figure it all out. Can you imagine them in here?

What a thought. Ergh. That would be really horrible.

Then I think you should either do something to save them. Change them somehow. Or smite them.

Maybe you're right. Although if we leave them to it it won't be long before they smite themselves. And it is weirdly entertaining. Maybe we'll watch for a little bit longer. See what happens.

Okay. You're the boss. You want some wine while we watch them?

Yeah, sure, some wine would be good. And maybe lock the gate on your way past. Just in case. These crazies... they scare me.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Pumpkin Beer In 13 Minutes!

When you know you are getting it right with your co-workers...

My new helper likes beer. I like beer. I mentioned something about a local place that has a weirdly nice pumpkin beer on tap. Vague talk was made about catching up after work for a weirdly nice pumpkin beer. My helper left for the day, and two hours later when I finished, I texted her to say that I'm walking home now and might stop off for one of those pumpkin beers and if you're about feel free to join me, cool if not.

Her reply was "I am coming! I will be there in 13 minutes!"

It was a lovely drink and conversation with a new friend.

And now she wants to share her comfort package that her mother sent from France with The Dreaded One and Me and her banjo teacher (a former member of band The Triffids) because she thinks we will get along.

Random human interaction. When it works, it's pretty special.

Monday, November 02, 2015

My Inner Demons

Following on from my previous post about being tired...

My Inner Woody Allen
Is tired of my Inner Chuck Norris,
Who in turn is fucked-upped to the eyeballs
With that insecure Woody Allen bitch.

My Inner Dalai Lama
Says Peace, Woody and Chuck
And Woody says but Chuck is so cranky
And angry as fuck,
And Chuck just basically mascaras everyone with, like, his eyebrows
Or his idle thoughts,
Or his little toe,
Or somefuckingthing.

And that's pretty well the end of the poem
And the journey
And the story
And everything.
Like, everything ended
With Chuck Norris'
Little Toe.

Epic, wasn't it?

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Tired. So Tired.

It's kind of weird when you're at a happy celebration of some milestone, with friends and friends of friends who are doing well in life. And you're happy for these friends and their milestone and the happiness and success of those friends of friends.

But you just don't want to be there. You are not successful. You are not happy. You are tired of life and you don't have the energy to make conversation. You do make conversation, but its flat and not inventive and fun and it's not what people expect. It's not what you expect. You are better than this.

But not now. Not right now. All you've got right now is a weariness that others don't understand. You're just so tired of everything.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Girl With The Killer Smile

The cafe is crowded with regulars and walk-ins. One catches my eye because she is attractive, but also because she has a kind of peacefulness about her. She looks like a serene spirit. I look at her from time to time as I go about my cafe stuff. I'm not trying to catch her attention or anything, she is just pleasant to look at.

Soon I realise that she has finished her meal and is reading some of my writing at the back of the menu. She reads for quite a while but there is no sign of amusement, which is a shame because I bet she has a killer smile. I think I know what she must be reading.

At one point I'm busy on coffee. I hear a voice rich with accent - possibly Eastern European - ask my helper, Beverley, a question: "Excuse me - can I ask a question? Do you know who is Lee Bemrose?"

Beverley turns to me. I stop making coffee. "I'm Lee Bemrose," I tell her. "Why do you ask?"

"Oh you are Lee... I was just reading your story, Remembering Argos."

"Ah. I hope you liked it."

"I loved it. It is so sad I was reading with tears in my eyes." She puts her hand over her heart. "It is so beautiful." She shakes her head slowly, as if in amazement.

My Grumpy heart has just officially melted all over the damn place. I thank her and tell her that I had tears in my eyes when I wrote the story. I have to finish these coffees. The girl lingers a few moments before walking away, wishing me an excellent day over her shoulder. Lingering eye contact, killer smile.

Beverley tells me quietly, "I think she wanted to talk to you."

"I couldn't stop. Maybe next time she comes in I'll be able to talk to her."

I realise, of course, that there may not be a next time. I've never seen her before, I may never see her again. Maybe I should have made the time to talk to her then.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre

Anyone looking for a book recommendation - Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre has just crashed into my top 10 list. So original, so funny, so politically incorrect with unexpected stabs of raw compassion and understanding. It reels you in with its humour, then about a hundred pages from the end it's like he rolls up his sleeves and says now I'm going to show them what I'm really capable of. The writing, the humour, the characters, the structure... all superb. I loved this book. One of those books that when you've finished it, you feel like you've said goodbye to a friend.

There is a longer review here that pretty well captures exactly how I felt about the book.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Jim: A Late Night Poem About A Girl Called Jim


I forgot about those green eyes,
I forgot about that musical laugh
I forgot about the attentiveness
When it was your turn to listen.
I forgot about your intelligence
And your appreciation of life,
And I forgot about how much
I enjoyed listening to you,
Your laughter and your thoughts.

I forget why we lost touch.
Why do we lose touch?

But in a humble cafe today
After almost 20 years
You were there
Just suddenly there
And you being there reminded me
Of how wonderful and amazing life can be
And what a lucky bastard I've been
For the company I've kept.

And sometimes lost.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Black Rainbow's Thoughts on Happiness

To succeed, have one passion.

To live, be passionate about many things.

Black Rainbow.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Clipboard People

What we want is a peaceful cafe. We want to make food and coffee and get to know our customers. We're cool with an average income. We're cool with the hard work involved. We love the humanity of hospitality.

But the clipboard people
The permit people
The rules and regulations people
The obstruction people
The red tape people
The Fill-Out-This-Form People
The secure job on some fucking council people
The clueless people
The attitude people
The set for life
On the council people
With your see-through training
And your clumsy human interaction
And your limited thinking,
You blinkered idiot dolts.

I probably need a permit to post these thoughts.

A Sign For People Who Think It's Okay To Eat Their Own Food In Our Cafe

One day, Chef Gordon Ramsay came to our humble little banged up cafe. He said he liked the look of the place and just thought he'd swing by and hang out. We were pretty chuffed.

Then when he sat down, he pulled out his little
Despicable Me lunch box and tucked right in. We were not pretty chuffed any more.

Sure, Chef Ramsay is a legendary chef, and probably even a pretty good one, and his lunch box food might even be a little bit better than our food.

Still. Really. What was he thinking? Why did this otherwise intelligent person who surely had the inkling of a clue of what it's like to try to make a living selling food think it was okay to bring his own food into our cafe? And take up valuable seating during our very small window of opportunity (lunchtime)? What was he thinking? Was he on crack?

Minions were dispatched to inform Chef The Dreaded One. Needless to say, Chef The Dreaded One was displeased. Actually, saying she was displeased is an understatement on par with saying Donald Trump is “a bit of a nong.”

Cue the theme from The Good, The Bad & The Ugly...

“But I thought you were called The Dreaded One,” Chef Ramsay whimpered at the end of the hellish blast of tirade, “because of your lovely dreadlocks.”

Another hellish blast of tirade.

“Oh God no, you're absolutely right,” Chef Ramsay sobbed, tears streaming down his face like tropical rain, his chin wobbling like world peace. “What was I thinking? How could I have been so inconsiderate to think it was okay to bring my own food into your tiny little establishment? You'd have to be a complete nitwit to think that that was okay, and I doubt that any of your customers are nitwits. Oh nit me I'm a nitting good chef, but I'm nitting shit as a considerate human being.”

(Clearly, this was fiction. Although if Gordon did come into the cafe I'd like to see a head to head with him and The Dreaded One).

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Peter Norman. Or, Who's On 2nd?

I have seen the photo this statue is based upon so many times during my life, but I have never known the real story behind it. Reading about it today, it has had a profound impact on me. The action, the photo, the statue... they are all almost as amazing as the back story. It's a beautiful and kind of heartbreaking story. If I were a movie maker, I'd make a movie of this story. It has all the right stuff for a great movie.

I have no idea why I have never known of this story before.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Limbo, Melbourne Festival 2015, Review


Reviewed by Lee Bemrose

Photo by Tony Virgo

In the promo brlurb for Limbo is the cheeky line, 'The show so hot, Madonna came twice.' To whoever came up with that line, chapeau.

Limbo is indeed an exciting show, a mashup of circus, cabaret and live music with a little bit of magic thrown into the mix. That it all takes place inside an art deco Spiegeltent – on this occasion on a perfect Melbourne Spring night – makes for a memorable night out.

The overall vibe feels kind of French gypsy, but the troupe is actually a motley collection of insanely talented performers from around the world. There are stunning solo demonstrations of contortion, tap dance, hand balancing, acrobatics, aerial grace and sword swallowing, but they also work together in duets or with the whole cast as one team. The melding of such diverse talents and the morphing from one skill to another are as impressive as the feats of strength and balance themselves. The trust the performers have in each other is also something to be admired.

Highlights include the German contortionist Tigris, whose flexibility edges by degrees towards downright freaky whilst retaining a weird kind of grace; Australian dancer Hilton Dennis who taps solo before being joined by American sword swallower Heather Holliday (she tap dances here, sword swallows later) and French Canadian aerialist Evelyne Allard who adds to the dancing dynamics some unexpected and exciting percussion; and the hand balancing Russian-born (Australian?) Danik Abishev. The pole dancing, the fire breathing, the aerial work, all highlights. However the one act guaranteed to be everyone's absolute highlight of the night is the threesome on the tall bendy poles. This act is the essence of circus. It is thrilling, it is both physically demanding and physically elegant, and it is fun. Big fun for the performers and for us.

The live band is used as a filler between acts, but it is not mere filler; its very much part of the show. And as if the stage performers weren't multi talented enough, many appeared to also play music, sing and beatbox, with the band headed up by the dynamic ringmaster figure Elyas Khan.

Given the athletic nature of the show, there is plenty of eye candy. The dance scenes – often a combination of acrobatics and dance – are bawdy, flirty and playful, with the night perhaps a little top-heavy with shirtless guys with their perfectly sculpted bodies and sheen of sweat... seriously – who has bodies that perfect? But the girls have their moments with the tattooed Heather Holliday looking particularly exotic in that bygone era, sideshow kind of way. Yum.

I raved about the Fringe's Barbaroi a couple of weeks ago, and while not wanting to put that show down (I really enjoyed it), put simply, Limbo is next level.

At The Melbourne Festival Spiegeltent until November 1st.

Jeremiah's Tuesday, Butterfly Club, Review

Jeremiah's Tuesday

Reviewed by Lee Bemrose

One hour. One actor. A whole lot of words and ideas. That's mono-drama, baby, and it has to be hard work making it look this easy.

Stefan Mrowinski provides the text and direction, actor Steven Kennedy brings the story to life, on this occasion in the downstairs theatre at the wonderfully quirky Butterfly Club. Set and sound design are minimal, so the focus really is on this one performer and his arsenal of words. He'd better be damned good if this is going to be any good.

It's raining. Lots of rain. Biblical rain, as the biblically named Jeremiah tells his story. The situation is not completely clear in the beginning. Who is Jeremiah? What is it with Tuesdays and rain and what is he looking for with those gold binoculars? Where is he? Is he hiding? Who from?

It's intriguing from the start as this strange, Catweazle-like character (but better looking and with a more impressive beard) tells us a story, his story, stories within stories. But Jeremiah ain't no Catweazle. He is something far darker, more of this world even though there is something more of-another-world feel to Jeremiah and his current situation.

Jeremiah's Tuesday is an observation of politics, humanity and power, and how dangerous and ultimately - perhaps inevitably - fragile the mix is. Apparently first written 25 years ago, it would appear to have been updated somewhat to include some current world affairs, whilst at the core of the thing... lets just say some things never change. There is plenty to recognise here from history old and recent.

The play is well paced and well structured with the text often poetic and playful, as well as slightly surreal. In fact there was a faintly surreal feel about the whole thing. Maybe not surreal, just otherworldly. Think Catweazle as a dethroned despot in hiding, finally accepting the fact that you and I and he together brought about his downfall.

I have it on good authority that the narrative during this performance might have been occasionally confusing due to opening night jitters and forgotten lines. I simply thought any minor plot obscurity was due to the nature of the thing, the kind of story that demands you pay attention. Overall the narrative came together and I certainly saw no sign From Mr Kennedy that he had fluffed anything. It was a seamless and thoroughly engaging performance.

So was it any good? Yeah, it was pretty damn good.

Black Stamp Productions has been invited to take Jeremiah's Tuesday to the United Solo Festival on Broadway, no less. It was a brief run here (last chance to see it tomorrow) but hopefully it will do well in New York and see another run here.

At The Butterfly Club, Carson Lane, Melbourne

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Life & Love

And all too quickly it is over.
The loves,
The likes
The misunderstandings
And the disagreements,
Suddenly it's all over.

But She was there through it all.
With her love and acceptance
And her understanding,
And her disagreement
And the essence of her.

You realise,
As your world implodes
And you die and disappear,
That you wouldn't have had it
Any other way.

Sunday, September 27, 2015


I'm posting this because it's a lovely photo and it's hilarious. In the background is my very special friend and surrogate kid sister Kat. In the foreground is a guy who thinks he is having his photo taken. The photographer is a professional. He's also Kat's partner and future husband. Hilarious, no?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Girls Night Out

This is how silly I am. This photo was taken recently at The Spiegeltent on Johnston Street in Collingwood. We had just seen Finucane & Smith's burlesque show, Glory Box.

I was there with The Dreaded One, we bumped into some friends. Someone asked The Dreaded One to take a photo. She took the photo.

I stupidly had no real idea that our friends were having a girls night out until this photo surfaced the next day. I probably should have taken the photo.

Barbaroi At Gasworks, 2015, Review


Reviewed by Lee Bemrose

Barbaroi is, apparently, an old Roman word meaning barbarian. Someone who is coarse, unrefined, uncivilsed. Certainly this circus is devoid traditional circus frills... no men in tights here. It's also devoid of other circus paraphernalia such us safety harnesses and safety nets, which was cause for the audience to move forward in its seat and clench its buttocks on more than one occasion.

A quick search has revealed little about who these particular Barbaroi are (no dialogue was spoken so we can't even hazard a guess at their nationalities – perhaps a mix of local and overseas performers?), so I'll just tell you a little about what they do. It's basically just showing off, but in the best possible ways.

There was a guy who did ridiculous things on a single piece of rope dangling from the ceiling, as well as another guy doing equally ridiculous things with two straps dangling from the ceiling. As someone who has been known to tie his shoelaces in knots late at night, I have no idea how someone can wrap straps around their forearms and manage to somersault themselves up to the ceiling. Once up there, most sensible people would be screaming for someone to get them down from there. But this guy –
this guy hung about for a bit before kind of unsomersaulting gracefully back down.

There were a couple of strapping guys who threw an incredibly flexible and trusting performer between them and swung her sometimes like a human skipping rope. At times she seemed frozen for a moment in mid air - above that unforgiving hard floor - only to be caught and flung again with astonishing precision. The team work was insanely good.

As was the... erm... lets call her an Upside Down Foot Juggler. She sashayed onto the stage with a knowing air about her, oozing the kind of confidence must of us have when it comes to brushing our teeth. Only this woman –
this woman – lay upside down on a purpose built bench, warmed up by juggling balls with her feet, then did a whole lot more showing off by doing seemingly impossible things with a wooden table. She flipped it, spun it and twirled it, her feet working with a furious dexterity, like little creatures with minds of their own. Later she performed a similar routine with a stack of suitcases. As someone who has brutally kicked the life out of a broken suitcase on the streets of Paris, I was quietly stunned with the clever and delicate things she was doing with her feet and some luggage. I don't doubt those toes would be capable of manipulating the combination locks. Amazing.

As was the guy who looked like one of the leads from television series Vikings. What this guy did with a huge blue hoop... lets just say you're probably never going to see such a mesmerisingly beautiful routine performed by a Viking and his big blue hoop. It was graceful and lovely and I didn't want him to stop.

I did want the juggler to stop. He was having a bad night, but to be fair, he was doing some crazy-clever juggling. That he also moved with the grace of a trained dancer and did a great job later on a single pole more than made up for a couple of dropped balls. Multi-talented show off.

I recently saw a still photo of a dancer walking along a row of upright glass bottles. Apparently it was a famous routine in some bygone era. The cynic in me, which is basically me, assumed the shot was somehow staged because how in the hell can anyone walk across a row of standing bottles? It just not humanly possible... and there before my eyes there was someone actually doing it. Co-performers slid bottles across the floor to form a path of stepping stone bottles – and she actually stepped from one to the next to another. I could regale you with many stories about bottles and balance and falling over; this is not one of them. And I certainly won't be attempting this at home.

There was a couple who danced and balanced on a tube and a board, with the female performer finishing of by balancing atop an impossibly high and wobbly tower of tubes criss-crossed on top of each other. My palms sweat at the mere memory.

What felt like the show's climax was not actually the last act. It was a springboard piece complete with high jumps into the air, tumbles and twirls and more of that uncanny teamwork and precision. Majestic, thrilling and fun.

The physical performances were complemented perfectly by a varied soundtrack which included some gutsy electro grunge, some Matt Corby indie-alt-folk-rock-pop (or whatever the music boffins call it), as well as a melange of ethnic styles served richly and crisply. It all sounded so good. The recurring theme of flirting/courtship throughout the show was also a fun touch.

I may not know who these Barbaroi were, but I really enjoyed seeing them strut their stuff in this intimate space at The Gasworks. Great night out.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Just You

Came a time when they were all gone. They just weren't there any more. The ones with the bright eyes and the warm hugs and the best of intentions and the wise thoughts you wanted to listen to forever. Came a time when they just weren't there any more. There was just you. Alone, stupid, inconsiderate you.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

New Hawaiian Bar Opening Soon

Andrew McConnell, one of the country's leading restaurateurs, often comes into the cafe for a ham and cheese toasted sandwich. I recently asked him about the renovations he is having done to the space next to Cutler & Co. This is a conversation I've imagined having with him next time he comes in.

"Hello, Andrew. How's the Hawaiian Bar coming along?"

Long blank stare. "I beg your pardon?"

"What's it going to be like anyway? You going to have all the waiters dress in floral shirts like Magnum? Are the waitresses going to wear grass skirts and those coconut shells on their boobies? That would be awesome."

Even longer blank stare. "I said wine bar, not Hawaiian bar."

"Oh. I see. No coconut shells on boobies then. Erm... your toasty is ready."

Monday, September 21, 2015

Frances Ha

Just watched this. Hadn't heard of it before. Liked it a lot.

Last Order Of The Day

Late in a long, busy day in the cafe, the last of the customers have finally left and I'm in pack-down-clean-up-and-get-out mode. The door opens and a guys wants to know if we are still open. I tell him we are closed but I can still make him a takeaway coffee if he wants. I leave cleaning the coffee machine until the very end of the day for this very reason. The guy tells me a takeaway coffee would be great.

He then launches into a garbled story about his mother being in hospital and he doesn't have any money but here - I have this bag full of things so I can leave it here and come back with the money.

Awesome, I think - this is just a great way to end the day. He's a street person, clearly wired up wrong. I should have just said that we were closed and I know he would have left. Irritated, I find myself hurriedly making a coffee that I will never see payment for. I want to make it fast to get him out and so that I can get on with closing up.

He continues talking almost to himself, but he clearly thinks he is having a conversation, perhaps with me.

I feel guilty for being irritated, and I slow down. I decide to make him the best coffee I can, as though he is one of our paying customers, because in the big scheme of things, it's just a cup of coffee. And how good must a good, hot latte with two sugars taste when you're living rough?

He takes his coffee and his bag full of things and his muttered conversation, and he leaves the cafe, perhaps thinking he has pulled a swifty on me. I really don't care, I just hope he enjoys his coffee.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


Your eyes
Those eyes,
Those brilliant
And intelligent eyes,
Those fun playful eyes.
I like those eyes,
Even more
Than I like meat pies.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

3 Mad Rituals, Melbourne Fringe 2015, Review

3 Mad Rituals

Reviewed by Lee Bemrose

Disclosure: This reviewer isn't an improv aficionado. He's actually pretty clueless when it comes to the intricacies of this particular art form. He loves good comedy and has seen a couple of improv shows but had never heard of Del Close or his Harold before. He will now get on with the review speaking in the first person.

It's true. I really had never heard Del Close, even though, I now realise, he was the highly regarded mentor of many modern American comedians and a giant in the world of improv. If nothing else, that's one massive hole in my knowledge filled.

I know all about the structure of The Harold now, but prior to 3 Mad Rituals, didn't have a clue. As a result, when the show got underway I didn't really have any idea what was going on.

What was promised was a marathon (90 minutes) of three forms of improv, sparked by audience suggestion. After the cast of eight took to the stage in the intimate theatre, there was a brief introduction after which we were asked to offer a favourite line of poetry as the show's starting point. After a few seconds of internal head scratching (I was trying to think of songlines because what kind of nerd carries around lines of poetry in their head luggage?), someone from the back yelled out a couple of lines of obscure poetry. Oh that kind of nerd. And by obscure, it could well have been the most famous couple of lines of poetry known to humankind, if the gaps in my knowledge are anything to go by.

This single vocal ejaculation of poetry was seized upon immediately and that was that. There were no other suggestions and no invitations for alternative suggestions. Let's just say that the more cynical among us might have thought a bit of gardening had taken place.

The inspirational lines or line of poetry vanished into the night as activity commenced on the stage. I may be wrong, but I seem to recall an assurance that we should not worry if we were not familiar with these forms of improv because all will be explained. There was no explanation, resulting in 90 minutes of WTF for this reviewer. The Deconstruction was followed by The Movie which was followed by The Harold, all of which have their own rules and to some extent structure which I'm not going to explain to you here. Don't be lazy. Google it.

There was much chaos with a myriad of sketches and characters coming and going and sometimes coming back again. If some of the story lines had been carefully scripted and performed as comic theatre they would probably have seemed pretty stupid. But in the almost stand-up comedy format with inspiration of characters and lines and scenarios coming at random, stupid can reign supreme. I may not have known exactly WTF was going on, but I was constantly amused. There were loads of very funny lines, lots of wonderfully ridiculous characters and some truly absurd situations.

Part of the game seems to be to put your fellow players in difficult or overly complicated situations. This frequently had the effect of the performers struggling not to laugh, and again the cynic in me couldn't help wondering if occasionally this was genuine or merely a device to get the audience to laugh along. Regardless, there was much laughter for almost the entire hour and a half, with some in the audience literally falling about in hysterics.

So for this former improv ignoramus a show was enjoyed, a yawning gap in knowledge has been filled, and interest in another form of comedy has been piqued. Job well done.

At The Improv Conspiracy Theatre, 19 Meyers Place Melbourne. Part of The Melbourne Fringe until October 3. Check here for further details.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

They Saw A Thylacine, Malthouse, Review (may need tweeking because of late night and tired).

They Saw A Thylacine

Reviewed by Lee Bemrose

I don't know, but it seems to be drawing a long bow to call this piece a play. Doesn't a play usually have set design, props, acting, costumes, that sort of thing? Thylacine had literally none of these things. Well almost literally none of them. So was it even really a play?

Maybe, maybe not. I suspect it was more an hour of story-telling, rather than a play in which the story is played out. More about this later.

They Saw A Thylacine tells the story of the last days of the almost mythical Tasmanian Tiger, the last captive one dying in a Tasmanian zoo in 1936. There are two stories told in tandem, one told by Beatrice, a tracker hoping to find and capture what she considers a noble creature; and another told by Alison Reid, daughter of the zoo keeper of Beaumaris Zoo, where the tragically neglected Benjamin spent her dying days.

That's right – Ben the Tasmanian Tiger that you can still see prowling his cage on youtube is a she. They Saw A Thylacine is as much a commentary on our clumsy and insensitive mismanagement (in this case, complete ignorance) of environmental issues as it is on the ineptitude of the blinkered patriarchal way of thinking. The tracker, in the wilderness, encounters the brutality of man (and is a formidable opponent), and the zoo keeper's daughter, in “civilisation” encounters bureaucracy (Good Lord that's a hard word to spell late at night) at its most idiotic. She is also strong, but not strong enough to prevent the extinction of a species.

Back to the question of is this a stage play or is it something else... there is some subtle acting going on. The character of the hunter (Alfred Alfred?) is actually quietly very funny. It's all done by suggestion, but this weird and knowing old bastard grows on you. And Beatrice with her truncated syntax suggests something early Aboriginal, perhaps invoking the spirit of Truganini, generally considered the last Tasmanian Aborigine. Also female, like Ben the last Tasmanian Tiger. Both were horribly mistreated.

Is it theatre or is it a radio play on stage? Shouldn't a theatre-going audience expect more bang for their buck? Certainly the last couple of Malthouse productions (I Am A Miracle and Antigone) have been rich in staging, so it was kinda nice for this bum on a seat to see some pared-back performance that engaged with minimal everything except story. When you get down to it, you really don't need much more than a good story well told. And this delivered.

Malthouse Theatre until October 4th.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Vernon God Little, A Random Encounter That Isn't 'Orrible

I got slammed by one of the worst cases of hayfever I've ever had right before service today. Making coffee and welcoming customers through a fug of hayfever becomes a bit of a challenge. It came on suddenly and my current antihistamines just didn't work. Not a fun day.

However... Cool story time.

My new French side-kick (who accidentally called papadums badabooms) told me that yesterday after work she visited a music shop. She needed some tuning thingy for a guitar or something. We mostly understand each other but there are little gaps.

She has a band back home and she plays several stringed instruments. One is the violin. She got talking with the music shop owner and he let her play one of his violins. She started to play - first time in two months - and suddenly she started crying. Really sobbed it out because it made her miss playing and miss her band. "It was so beautiful," she told me, "but so 'orrible at the same time."

She told me this with her customary openness, and fuck me if it didn't make me tear up. I actually had to turn away and find something to do. I think tomorrow I'll tell her how much it affected me. I'm sure it was 'orrible for her at the time, but the story itself was, for me, just beautiful.

Then as she finished her shift today we chatted about what we were going to do with our respective evenings. I foresaw an evening of sneezing and miserableness but said something about the book I am reading. She asked what I was reading. I told her that it was a novel that she probably hadn't heard of, Vernon God Little. She didn't get the title at all, because of the language barrier. I told her about the awards it has won, uber impressive given that it was a first novel. She asked again about the title... she is genuinely interested in stuff. I explained that the character's name id Vernon Little, and that he seems to have put the God bit in there but I haven't gotten to the bit that explains why yet.

Suddenly her eyes widened.

"Eez it a red cover wiz a bus on ze cover?"

"Yes, that is what the cover looks like, I believe. It's in my bag. Let me get it out."

I took the book out and yes, this was the very same copy book she had found abandoned on the side of the road recently. She had picked it up and kept it, wondering if she should test her English by attempting to read it. Now, there was no question: she was definitely going to start reading it.

What are the odds, I wonder, of someone picking up a random book on the side of the road, and it being the very book your new employer/co-worker is reading? Of all the books ever published, of all the books discarded and recovered. A book published more than 10 years ago. And it's not a book that I once read, but am currently reading. What are the odds?

And that's my two nice stories of the day.

And I'm happy to say that the combination of behind the counter antihistamines, painkillers and icy vodka and orange have made the night turn out okay after all. Hayfever is ebbing. Tomorrow should be a good day.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Shortest Short Story I've Ever Written

I thought I had the beginning of a short story in this line that has been rattling around in my brain for a while now, but I actually think it is a full and complete short story; possibly the shortest one I've ever written:

"I really don't have any time for people who want to play mind games. But a word of advice - you'd better be fucking good if you're going to play with the best."

Monday, September 07, 2015


This is a story of two brothers. Bear with me.

A customer often comes into the cafe and calls me brother half a dozen times during each transaction. He's a friendly guy, maybe trying a little too hard to be cool or something. It makes me laugh inside for some reason. When he called me "Bruz" I almost snortled out loud.

We have a local fruit and veg shop that has also become our supplier for the cafe. It's run by a Muslim family.I often stop off on my walk home to buy some things (so stupid - we get their stuff delivered to the cafe every day and never think to bring stuff home from the cafe, so I stop off to pick up more stuff).

The main guy we deal with is a big guy always ready to smile. We usually chat about our respective days. His eyes widen as you talk; he's really interested in what you have to say. He looks like he laughs a lot.

After one such chat, he smiled and said, "Take care brother."

Far from being amused, far from snortling, I was actually quite moved by it. I'm often wary of religion and the divide it can create. And here's you with your culture and your God and your Holy book... and here's me without a God or a Holy book, or much culture. But you call me brother.

I left his shop thinking fuck it - you regard me as brother, I regard you as brother.

And that's my story about two brothers.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Watching The Clusterfuck That Is Humanity

That little boy on the beach, face down, cold and lifeless. His face should be raised to the shining sun, shining with innocent happiness. But life is not fair, and so he is face down in a foreign land, cold and lifeless.

I feel like I'm sitting somewhere distant watching so many horrors take place. This refugee crisis is immense and will likely bring about the downfall of the infrastructure and economies of so many established western countries. Infrastructure and economies and industries and cultures that have taken many centuries to evolve. Most Western countries can barely keep up with their own population growth; now they must cope with a sudden, massive and uncontrolled population explosion. There are too many humans. There are far too many humans.

What happens when all these millions of refugees manage to make it to their dream countries like The U.K and Germany? So many are stuck in wastelands in France and Hungary and Greece (former holiday destinations for the lucky ones)... stuck in makeshift tent villages... do they really think it's going to be so much better in The U.K or Germany? Awesome - you've arrived. And you keep on arriving and arriving and arriving and arriving... social welfare becomes an issue because presumably that's what you need to get by in your new home country. You have to be supported. Tax-payers income has to support you, and that's fine because the citizens, for now, can afford to support you and mostly they want to support you.

But you keep arriving and arriving and arriving in ever swelling numbers, and those previous arrivals set precedents and there are family members no that you have a right to join and you just keep arriving and arriving and arriving. There are too many of you arriving too quickly for the situation to be managed efficiently.

The situation is out of control. There are too many humans. Too many evil humans killing and raping and destroying. Too many humans fucked up on fundamentalist religion or fucked up on fucked up politics.

And there are too many innocent humans. Too many innocents who want to escape the tyranny of evil. Why shouldn't they have access to the comfort we have? Why shouldn't they at least have a sense of peace and security in their lives? Why shouldn't they feel secure that their family will be a happy and healthy and loved one with a home and with some purpose? Why shouldn't they enjoy simple pleasures like love and laughter and happiness?

I'm sitting somewhere distant, watching humanity's demise unfold, my own troubles nothing compared to the untold sorrows of those innocents fleeing despots and actual barbarians, the leaders of the world unable to deal with the myriad factors contributing to the current clusterfuck that is modern humanity. Politics. Greed. Race. Religion.

That little boy on the beach, face down, cold and lifeless; that is humanity. That is us.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

A Tweet In The Darkness

Me: That bird is a trouper. What a positive little guy he is.
Her: What bird?
Me: That one outside whistling and chirping so cheerily even though it's getting dark and it's raining. We could all learn a thing or two from the positive attitude that little bird is showing. It makes me really happy.
Her: I think that's just the washing machine squeaking.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Thousand Year Laugh

I feel like I've heard that laugh
for a thousand years.
Never tired of it,
I want to hear it
For another thousand years.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Customers And Their Phones... Ergh...

So a customer walks into the cafe and smiles at me. She whispers something inaudible to me because she is talking on her phone. I Marcel Marceau back to her that I have no idea what she just whispered to me. Phone firmly pressed to ear, she whispers again and points to the display cabinet, her pointing finger way out of my eyeline. I walk around to her side of the display cabinet. "Quinoa salad," she seems to whisper while pointing frantically, precious phone pressed to her fucking ear.

Back around on the service side, I see that she has turned away to keep talking and to get a drink from the drink fridge. Does she want the quinoa salad to eat in? Take away? Small? Large? I wait for a few moments and she turns back around. I hold up a small take away container as a starting point. She nods and keeps talking into her phone. I fill the container with her salad, put it on the counter and mime ask if she needs a fork (some customers already have them back oat the office or whatever). She nods, phone still connected to head.

Back with the fork, she is whispering some secret at me again, protecting her phone from the secrets of this whisper. I'm all palms up and French mime shrug. She cups a hand over her phone and whispers a little louder, "I wanted a large salad."

Oh fuck me did you now? Really? I'm supposed to have just known that by some kind of magic, am I? Especially after I showed you the small take away container and you nodded while chatting to your phone. I say a different, more polite version of this to her as I open the small take away container and start to fill a large take away container.

By this time she has finished this precious phone chat and seems pissed off with me for fucking up her order.

"No look really," she snippety snips, having at last found an actual voice, "I don't think I will have anything now. No."

She puts her drink back in the fridge because clearly I am being a totally unreasonable cunt, and she goes about fucking the fuck off.

"Oh thank you for that," I call after her. "And by the way - I'm soooo going to tell Facebook about this. And my legions of friends are all going to show how much they dislike you by liking this post and leaving comments like "What a fucking rude bitch!" and..."I can't believe how rude some people are!" and... and "No one treats Black Rainbow like that and gets away with it!" and maybe things like "I ever bump into you, dumb phone head, I'm going to punch you right in your fucking ear."

Thank you for letting me vent.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Antigone, Malthouse Theatre 2015, Review

                                             Photo by Pia Johnson... says it all, really.

I feel even less qualified than usual to review this production, not having much of a clue about Sophocles or Greek tragedies generally. And I felt so ambivalent about this one that I'm tempted not to write anything at all. It's probably the most disappointing play I've seen at The Malthouse. I have usually left the Malthouse feeling excited, not feeling meh.

But this is where I may be at fault. Perhaps if you are intimately familiar with Sophocles' play you will see more merit in this production than I did. Perhaps you indulged in a knowing nod to what looked to me like indulgent, highbrow theatrical knowing winks. I honestly didn't know why some things were done the way they were done. So I guess if this is a review, it's one for people, like me, people who like theatre but aren't very educated.

The general theme of the story is the question of which is more important, or noble: dedication to the greater good of one's country, or personal and human honour? Love or duty? This seemingly simple question is complicated by Antigione's plight of wanting to bury her slain traitor (to the state) brother. By way of punishment, his body is being left to rot in the open, deprived of being given the dignity of a proper burial. She buries him, his body is dug up and she is punished for having the temerity of going against the wishes of The State.

In this adaptation there appears to have been a smooshing of several characters, which became as confusing as some of the theatrical devices. There appeared to be an Aunt who was delivering the decrees of the king, or something; the blinded Antigione appearing to deliver the prophecies of a blind seer... then there was quite a bit of semi-nudity (that later leaves you asking why?), some strange physical moments in silence that seemed a bit silly and a little too long but which appeared to be symbolic of struggle or something. The rising water on the stage may or may not have had something to do with reflection... cleansing... changing tides... I have no idea but maybe it's crystal clear if you're more in-tune with this kind of thing than I am. Maybe it was just doing a trick because you can do a trick. I don't know.

In bringing this ancient story into our modern theatre, much comparison can be made between the theme of the play and, say, the current migrant crisis in Europe. On the one hand, yes, they are humans deserving of all the dignity we would treat our loved ones with.

On the other, if you simply open the floodgates and let millions into your homeland with its already struggling economy and infrastructure, at some point your economy and your infrastructure and social structure will fall. No question. I think Sophocles was posing a big question: should we devote ourselves to our family and friends, or do we have a greater duty to the greater community?

Big questions, unfortunately for me, clouded in this production by the kind of pretentiousness that would put someone like me off. I was occasionally engaged but more often baffled.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Talking Whilst Banging And Frothing: The Vibe Strikes Again

Today I made someone a take-away mocha and asked them if they wanted any sugar with it. "Eight please," they replied.


"Is it white sugar or brown?"

"It's raw sugar."

Thoughtful frown as she did the calculation. "Better make it eleven."

Later, another customer came in and asked for a coffee. I asked if she wanted sugar. She said "One please."

I almost never make small talk while I'm actually making the coffee. It's a noisy process that actually does require concentration. But there was something about this customer that I liked. The Vibe. During a non-concentrationy part of the process when I wasn't banging or frothing (hmm... does that sound dodgy or what?), I told her my story about the mocha with 11 sugars. She laughed. I went back to the coffee. After a few moments the customer said, "Actually... you aren't looking for staff by any chance?"

I told her that we may be soon but I'm not sure how soon. My current off-sider has said she has vague plans to move on but isn't sure when. The customer had apparently enjoyed my story (pretty shit as stories go but it probably is my best recent attempt at mid bang-and-froth small talk) and had been looking around the cafe and had decided that it was a cool little place. She's been looking for bar work but could see herself working with us.

An hour later my current off-sider informed me that she has decided to move to Sydney and that she is happy work around whatever is convenient for us.

And that's my story about the mocha with 11 sugars, reluctant small talk and The Vibe.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Next Time

The background shadow of lack of self-esteem comes to the fore as I walk past a famous actress who I assume has forgotten we met, and she stops me and says hello and turns her face for an opening night cheek-kiss. Nice, but the lingering feeling is that I moved on too quickly after pleasantries, thinking she was just being polite. Next time, I hope, I'll linger a little. I think maybe she expected me to linger a little. Sometimes people think I am confident. A lot of the time, I am destructively shy.

And again as I pat a fellow and far superior theatre reviewer on the shoulder to say goodbye and we get muddled in that hand-shake-or-hug thing. And hug is the muddled outcome, with laughs. Oh you knucklehead.

And on the same theatre opening night... the audience is exiting and someone says my name. It's a former co-worker I've seen at these things many times but be damned if I have been able to remember his name, even though I remember the person so well. There's a tone in his voice when he says my name. It's the tone of invitation. It's a tone that says hey I remember you, dude, remember me?

I fess up and smack my forehead as he says his name. Of course I remember him. Of course I remember why we got along. I just forgot a minor detail, like the name because it's been so long.

Next time, I'll hang around and talk to the actress. Next time I'll just assume a hug is the thing with the reviewer.

And next time I'll say to my former co-worker Joey, "Hey man - thanks so much for remembering me and bothering to say hello. Kept seeing you at these things and wondered if you had seen me... so glad you said hello."

Hope there's a next time.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Epic Pillow Fight

Conversation today:
Me: Who do you reckon would win in a pillow fight between Steve McQueen and Elvis Presley?
Her: Steve McQueen. What about a pillow fight between Steve McQueen and Chuck Norris?
Me: Whoah.
Her: Yep. That would be one epic pillow fight.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Creative Heroes: The David Bowie Exhibition, Melbourne 2015

Went to the David Bowie exhibition today. It's had a big impact on me. This man is a great artist and I'd forgotten how much I have loved his music over the years. I came away from this exhibition feeling the same way as when I've walked away from a Picasso exhibition or the Joan Miro museum or anything that Gaudi has had anything to do with. These are my creative heroes.

But David Bowie is within my lifetime, unlike the others. Heroes... I was a young boy when I first heard this song. Heroes was the most epic song I had ever heard. I didn't know what it was about at the time, but I heard a passion in it that I hadn't encountered before.

A few years later in the 70s, I said something about how much I liked Bowie's music, and a suburban relative asked me, "Do you mean in his boy phase or his girl phase?"

Confused? Fuck yeah. As naive as I was, I knew this person was making some kind of point. I knew she knew more than I knew. It dawned on me that maybe my musical idol maybe different to the norm of suburban Australia. I realised at that moment that maybe as-yet-non-sexual me was missing some point, but there was also this: I don't fucking care. I just like this music.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

David Sedaris In Lee's Alternative Universe

David Sedaris is coming to Melbourne in January 2016. I think I'll go see/hear him. I've been curious about him ever since an editor friend told me 10 years ago that my humor writing "reminds me of a less camp David Sedaris."

I hadn't heard of David Sedaris back then, but I could tell that this was a compliment. Since that moment I've read snippets of David Sedaris' stuff and heard a couple of things and maybe read an interview or two, and indeed, my editor friend was paying me a big compliment; David Sedaris is a very funny man.

And I like to imagine that there is a parallel universe somewhere where an editor friend of David Sedaris has said, "You know, David - your writing reminds me of that very funny and successful humourist Lee Bemrose. Your writing is a bit more camp than his - he's a bit of a Viking after all -  but it's just as funny."

And David, poor, struggling David, he knows instinctively that this is a compliment even though he has never heard of this Lee Bemrose person. Curious, however, David Googles Lee and discovers that Lee Bemrose is one of the greatest and most astonishingly successful humourists of modern times. So excellent is he at his craft that he has his own radio show and is a much in-demand guest on all the popular television talk shows and he travels the world leaving in his wake seasons of sellout shows and satisfied audiences who talk about the enjoyment Bemrose has brought to them long after they have seen his shows. "Oh my God - that thing he said... the way he told that story... the thing about the thing... such a talented and funny funny man... Oh my God I love and adore him so much..."

And David Sedaris, in this alternative universe, is filled with admiration and even a little hope that one day his career as a humourist might take off. Imagine, David thinks, not having to work for pocket money for street press or masquerading in hospitality as a chef or any of the other myriad odd jobs he must do to pay the bills while on the side writing the stuff that he one day hopes will make strangers laugh.

Alternative Universe David Sedaris does indeed get his frequent. modest writing gigs. He hones his craft. He even gets his very own humour column called Happy. Happy is about all the silly things that happen to David and his long suffering partner The Loved One, known as such because of their head of brightly coloured and very lovely dreadlocks.

And although David's Happy column runs for about 10 years and is hugely popular with the magazine's readership, David's career as a humourist never really takes off. He accepts this and accepts that he is happy to do it for the love of it, and because knowing that you have brought some laughter into the lives of friends and strangers is actually the most perfect and suitable gift he could be given. He is perfectly happy to sit down each day and write stuff that makes him laugh, and know that once published, it will make others laugh too.

In his twilight years, now running a little cafe called Happy & The Loved One's Little Cafe Of Okay, David Sedaris the reluctant barista receives an unexpected email. It's from none other than Lee Bemrose himself. Lee confesses that he has always been a bit of a fan of David's Happy column and - long-shot that it is - was wondering if David might like to open his show by, you know, doing a reading of a few of his columns because Lee has always felt that David is really very funny and deserving of a much bigger, more adoring audience. Not to mention fuckloads more money.

David tears up a little. Finally, his big break. Late in life, but better late than never, as they say. And a break given to him by the legendary humourist Lee Bemrose... who could ever have imagined...

Meanwhile, back in this alternative universe, I'll be seeing this slightly camper, much more successful and undoubtedly much funnier version of me in January. Looking forward to it, actually.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Basically, Lee Hates Wankers

All the creative people I've met and haven't met, all the artists and the writers and the actors and the story tellers... I have gotten so much more from them than I have from The Celebrities and the sports people and the politicians. Give me gentle and intelligent creativity over bombastic domination any day.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Stranger In A Strange Land

A new worker working with us. English is not B's first language. She has taught herself our language, and though a bit bumpy, I think she is doing a superb job. Also, she is absolutely lovely in nature.  She is kind and intelligent and helpful and funny. These are the things you want in a co-worker.

It's interesting watching the facial expressions and the general attitude of our customers when they deal with her, especially when there is some confusion because of the language thing. Some people are all smiles and patience and make the effort to make small-talk.

Others squint and shake their head a little and get a slight tone, a superior attitude. Some talk down to her and seem to think she is unintelligent.

And these people make me want to ask how their second language skills are. How the fuck have you been at living in another country, supporting yourself, speaking another language? Would you be as good and gracious and intelligent and helpful to others and as funny as B is? Have you travelled? Do you have any empathy at all?

B has seemed oblivious to their ignorance, and has just quietly gone about serving everyone in good grace, with helpfulness, intelligence and her gentle humour.

Am very happy to be working with B. I feel kind of sorry for the squinters and head-shakers.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I Remember You

I remember the clouds in my blue skies
The rainbows on those rainy days
The sunsets at the end of days.

And at the end of days,
I remember you.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

The Big Issue

We have a semi-regular customer in the cafe. He is not one of life's successes. He is gentle. He is worn and threadbare, a person of the street. He is a bit more into God and salvation than people I am generally drawn to. He has asked me to God meetings and has tried to engage me with talk of Baptism. Sometimes it has been awkward because I have had to say, no thank you, your God is not for me. But thank you.

Yesterday he came in with a friend who is also on life's fringe. Some people have it so rough it does your head in. They remind you to never complain again, because compared to some people, you ungrateful fucker, you have it sooooo good.

So Mark and his friend come in and they order two pots of tea and a slice of sweetness. They sit down. I take their tea and slice to them. Mark is talking quite excitedly of work. I've often wondered what he does with the rest of his time. The concept of employment never really came into it. I just didn't know.

"Hey Lee," Mark says through that lop-sided smirk he always talks to me through. "You would know about that magazine - The Big Issue? We're selling that now, him and me. You know that magazine?"

"I know that magazine. It's a good magazine. Good on you."

The Big Issue is a good magazine. I know the vendors on the street often look worn-down (with some other ones seeming like hyped buskers), but seeing Mark in the cafe looking so chuffed to be doing something, some work... yes, it's a good magazine.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

The Dark Miracle.

The Dark Miracle

Lee Bemrose

The greatest species on planet Earth is broken in ways that can't be fixed. We are too many.We are too greedy. We are too hungry, too careless, too violent, too willing to believe in God. We are too divided, too superstitious, too fearful, too hateful. We want too much, want what isn't ours, we want more and we want to be over there where life is better. But we don't want them here, where life indeed is better, because this is ours, this better life, not theirs. Humanity is going mad, turning on itself like Calhoun's rats. We have embarked on our own destruction, and there is no turning back. We are destroying the forests and jungles, the oceans and the air. We are destroying this miracle planet, fully aware of what we are doing and where it will leave us. We are too smart for our own good, too stupid to save us from ourselves. Our demise is inevitable. We are accelerating towards it, no turning back. We missed our chance. Perhaps we never had a chance. Certainly, now, we don't stand a chance. We could have been light, but we are the dark miracle that is humanity, and we are broken in ways that can't be fixed.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

On Being Immortal

Click image twice to make it readable.

A friend sent this to me recently. Something I wrote about 10 years ago. Sometimes, amongst the silliness, it was fun to slip something a little more serious into the mix. Although I had forgotten about this piece, I remember so very clearly writing it, and what was going on in my life at the time. Those were the crazy days, the out of control days, the too much fun days.

The hand-written note my friend sent to me said flattering things. But most flattering was the fact that 10 years ago my friend bothered to cut the column out and keep it.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Feeling Smuggly

I love walking home from the cafe - even in this biting cold. All rugged up in my warm things and scarf and beanie and big jacket, I'm all "Fuck you, Cold, you can't make me cold with your pathetic cold, not when I'm all rugged up against you like this. Your feeble attempts to make me cold merely make me laugh."

It makes me feel kind of smuggly.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Squirting Rainbows

Sunday lunch. It makes me so happy I squirt rainbows out of my head.

Friday, July 24, 2015


Sometimes when I say I like a thing, it's because I like a thing. Sometimes when I say I think a thing is funny, it's because I think a thing is funny. Sometimes when I say I've disengaged from a thing, it's because I've disengaged from a thing.

Sometimes things are just things.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I Am A Miracle, Malthouse Theatre, Review

                                               Photo by Pia Johnson

I Am A Miracle

Reviewed by Lee Bemrose

I Am A Miracle is the latest work from Melbourne writer Declan Greene. My short review? Wow. Epic. Dreamlike. Nightmarish. Disturbing. Confronting. Thrilling. Biblical. Poetic. Perfect theatre. Go see it.

Oh how I'd like to leave it at that. However I suspect a few more words and thoughts are expected, probably with some of that syntax stuff involved. Oh well, here goes...

There are three stories being told here. There's the story of an 18th century Dutch boy who grows up, joins the armed forces and sails away to the colonies to help quash a slave rebellion. There is the story of a contemporary city dweller and his clash with his carer as his mental deterioration worsens. Both of these stories are book-ended, in a way, by the true story of Marvin Lee Wilson who spent 18 years on death row before being executed for his life of crime. It was revealed that his low IQ should have seen him avoid the death penalty; alas, it did not.

This very ambitious production draws you in from the start with its powerful story-telling and at times glitteringly poetic text. The acting is masterful. The set design and sound production are nothing short of stunning. There's a kind of harrowing beauty going on here – especially towards the end - coming at you from all directions.

Bert LaBonte opens the show with a kind of countdown to the hour of execution of Marvin, as he offers a futile list of unfinished promises to do something, of futile hope that some last minute thing will happen to prevent this imminent death. There is an argument, of sorts, between the three figures on stage, and the situation does indeed seem futile; there is a reason these Angels Of Justice are wearing prisoner overalls.

This gives way to Milita Jurisic's wonderful monologue of the life story of our Dutch soldier. Surprisingly funny on occasion, it grips and manages to be incredibly evocative of the bloody hardship suffered by the invading Westerners and the slaves alike. The whimsical intro of our hero's journey gives way to brutal reality, ending on a note of yearning. Jirisic takes on several characters, and armed with such excellent text she drags us through the gamut of emotions with aplomb. It's a bit of a bravo performance.

LaBonte takes centre stage in the next story, a very modern, domestic drama. Again, there are unexpected laughs, but the mood here quickly darkens. Nothing whimsical here. This is confronting and raw and so sadly real. LaBonte and Jirisic as the combatants make you feel for both of them and the situation they are so tragically locked into.

There is a third cast member, Hannah Le Crisp. She frequently adds to the ethereal feel of the production with her soaring operatic vocals. Gorgeous stuff. A lot of thought has been given to the sound production, and it works like the best soundtrack of your favourite movie.

The play closes, back to that countdown, back to the futility, back to those prisoner angels and talk of God and justice, back further and further... can't remember the last time I felt (you don't just see it, you feel it) such an epic and thought-provoking close to a play.

It takes a while to unravel just exactly what you've seen here, just what connects these three stories. It stays with you, this play.

At Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne. Season Ends August 9th