Saturday, June 27, 2015

He's Got What Helfgott

We have a new semi-regular customer in the cafe. He doesn't play the piano (or maybe he does - what do I know?), but he reminds me very much of David Helfgott. His name is Pat, and he is a wonderfully quirky fucker. He introduced himself the first time he came into the cafe, then came in again and remembered my name, told me about his partner and his marital status and then made strange jokes all in his rapid-fire way of speaking. He is weirdly charming, totally oddball, and I am intrigued.

A week passed and he came in again. I think he is going to St Vinnies to have something done to his foot. He is hooked on our Moroccan lamb sausage rolls. He said "Hello Lee - my name's Pat," the words tumbling and stuttering out enthusiastically. The thought that I might not remember him was quite funny.

He came over after his meal to tell me again how much he likes our sausage rolls, then tried to get to know me, asking what I was up to this weekend and he bets I'm going to catch some football. Sadly, this is a conversational cul de sac with me because I am not a footy guy. We chatted for a bit though and he intrigued me more. Previously he had been making his wife of 30 years or more (but we're not hitched) laugh over lunch, so I sense he is a nice guy.

I'm going to try to make more time for him and get to know him because the quirky fuckers, they are colour and music.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Love And Information At The Malthouse, Review

Love And Information

Reviewed by Lee Bemrose

It's often fun to go into a play with the bare minimum knowledge about it. Don't read every review ever written of every production ever performed. Don't read interviews with the playwright or various actors or performers to get their take on the play, just go in blind and make your own mind up. Don't be swayed by the opinions of those bloody reviewers (seriously, what do those knuckle-heads know anyway?), get what YOU get out of the play. Definitely don't read publicity for the thing because the publicity machine only has one thing in mind, and that's bums on seats. Don't even read the program before going into the theatre. Just wing it. Dive into the abyss. Let the story pull you in and weave its magic. Let the themes appear to you of their own accord. Let the plot thicken and the characters develop...

All I can say with regard to Love And Information is thank God I didn't do all of this on this occasion because without sneaking a look at the program in the foyer before going in, I wouldn't have had lonely clue what the hell was going on before me. Even armed with the knowledge my program provided, I'm still not game enough to say I completely understood what was going on.

Effectively, from what this knuckle-head can gather, British playwright Caryl Churchill has written something of a game or a puzzle of a play. The play is written in seven sections, each with seven scenes which can be played in whatever order suits the director. There are additional sections to the seven acted out which contain scenes that may or may not be inserted throughout the play. Ultimately there are 76 scenes on offer, involving around 100 characters, played in this case by eight actors. With me? Good, because I'm not sure I am.

So there is no linear narrative. No story, as such, but perhaps many micro stories, all involving questions of love and information, more of the latter than the former, I think. Character development? Yeah kind of, occasionally, in teeny weeny ways. The whole thing really is a big, jangly, often frenetic, sometimes moody, frequently funny collection of vignettes. As such, there isn't the exquisite satisfaction of being told a story. There is no sitting back and letting The Story pull you into its world. This creature is too chopped up, too fragmented like a smashed kaleidoscope for any of that tell-me-a-story stuff.

The play seems to be prodding us to think about the nature of information. We live in the information age, so it's not a bad question to ask. Information is all around us. We devour it, we send it, we are it. Literally, we are information, it's there in our DNA. Information can change the way we see a situation or think of a person. Sometimes we don't want to know certain information, or wonder if we would have been better off not knowing it. Some information we keep to ourselves as secrets; and is this better or worse for them (or us). Certainly, friendship and love can be turned on its head with the appropriate information.

In spite of the absence of the snuggly blanket of a big old story, this certainly was an engaging performance. The stage was stark and white with movable white blocks for props and back-lit doorways around the stage through which the actors entered and exited again to make their hasty costume changes. Sometimes all the cast were on stage together, sometimes just an intimate two engaging in no more than an intimate two or three words. Settings were varied – domestic home; the office; a roadworks site; the gym; a psyche consultation room; a garden; a cemetery; a moving train carriage; a museum... sometimes it was non-specific, just friends in their bubble, swapping information. All scene changes were suggested by the choreographed rearrangement of these blocks by the energetic cast of actors.

The cast was brilliant. They had to chop and change myriad times and instantly change the tone from comical to tragic to mundane and back again.

The musical score by The Sweats was a large part of the performance and was all synthy energy early on, softening to some wonderfully haunting ambiance in the late scenes. The last couple of scenes were actually quite wonderful. The reading of the... the symbolism of the... the argument about the... You really don't need to hear this information right now from me. Best go see it for yourself. It's well worth it.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Twisted Tale Of Demented Mind Games

Some customers walked in to the cafe today and said they had come here because they were told we made the best coffee in the area. This is a big call, given that we are on Gertrude Street. I asked who told them that, and they said one of the nurses at St Vincents. Said the nurse said we were pretty much the best cafe in the area.

Regardless of whether this is true or not, it's pretty impressive that someone thinks this is the case and is willing to recommend us as such.

The customers ordered three Grumpy Burgers and some vego quiche, so I'm guessing the nurse is also a big fan of our burgers. They enjoyed their food and coffee and left saying that they were glad the nurse had recommended us. Warm and fuzzies all round.

Until a hideous thought crawled across my mind the way a zombie demon baby will crawl across your bedroom floor tonight when you are asleep so that it can eat your eyeballs and suck your brain out of the empty eye sockets... what if Nurse Recommendy is that embodiment of evil herself, Spoonwoman? Fucking Spoonwoman!

This vile thought crossed my now tormented mind today after Spoonwoman came in for her afternoon large skim latte with one sugar and OUTRAGEOUSLY was pleasant again. She was really fucking nice. The fucking bitch! How dare she! She asked for her coffee with a please, thanked me when I gave her the coffee (even for this dark witch I will make the best coffee I can), and paid for a $4.20 coffee with a fiver and told me to keep the change. It was almost enough to make me reach out across the counter and strangle the pestilent life out of her on the spot. Because it was then that I noticed the St Vincent's logo on her jumper. All this time I had assumed she was in the area seeking psychiatric help to control the psychotic ways of her mind, and here she is a fucking nurse! Helping people!

The concept that I might have to be grateful to Spoonwoman is more than I can bear.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

True Nature

A recent incident reminded me that I may have mislead some people. In spite of my writing and occasional extrovert behaviour when in the company of close friends, I am actually your poster boy introvert. I wish it wasn't so, and apologies, but there you go. We are what we are.

Monday, June 08, 2015

A Moment Of Clarity In The Shitstorm Of My Mind

Here's a thing. Here's a random memory from my most drug fucked days - not the worst days of my life. The worst days probably happened then, but some of the best days happened too. Some of the most enduring friendships came from those days. Glad I made it through. I almost didn't. Really, I almost didn't make it. I'll tell you about it sometime.

But here's a memory from those days. A new friend. We're out. We're out and we're fucked up in the most wonderful way. I don't really know this person but I like her. I don't remember where we were or where we were going or what was going to happen next. I don't really remember very much about that night at all, except that we were enjoying each others company, this new friend and me.

She made a joke about being transgender, transexual, something like that. And in my fucked up state of fucked-upness, I noticed her broad shoulders, her height, her big hands, her square jawline. In the calm backwaters of my fucked-up mind, a question: shit- is she a dude?

I was in a state. Remember this. I wasn't sober. I was a long way from sober. I started realising that I didn't have a clue about anything.

And looking at her, this new friend, I didn't care. It's too late, I thought. It doesn't matter because I already like you. I absolutely want you to be my friend for a very long time, whatever the deal is.

And a very long time later I'm happy to say we are the very best of friends. She is married now to a lovely and cool guy, and they have kids, this tall, broad shouldered, large handed and beautiful, caring, intelligent woman and her husband.

So there. There's a thing. A beautiful memory from my drug-fucked days.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Currently Reading Medium Raw By Anthony Bourdain

"As I looked around the beach, I saw in the jaundiced light of my unhappiness, the full extent of the horror of this Island of Dr. Moreau I'd willingly marooned myself on. The full spectrum of plastic surgeries gone wrong - right there in the open, curiosities of the flesh, which at a lesser income level would have been confined to the carnival sideshow: mouths that pulled to the side, lips plumped beyond credibility, cheeks filled with golf ball-like lumps, and foreheads frozen so tight you could play a snare drum on them. Identical noses... eyes that refused to blink and could barely even close...
   And there was my date for the night, in her thousand dollar plain white T shirt. Searching - once again - for her cell phone."

I think I would like to hang out with Anthony Bourdain.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

A Day In The Office

It's a good thing you can't see me from the front here - my tongue would be poking out as I try carefully to spoon just the right amount of Nescafe instant into each cup.

Nyuk nyuk nyuk.

This is me being a bit slammed on the coffee machine. Someone came in with a take-away order for 11 coffees, then, naturally, several other customers came in at the same time with multiple coffee orders. We ran out of space along the bench and had to stack the other lids in clusters wherever we could find space. Early on, this kind of thing would make me break out in a sweat of nerves and my hands would shake. These days, I love it. It's a puzzle, it's a game. Hannah, my helper, wrote the orders on the lids. I then got her to cluster the same types of milk together. I did all the shots, steamed the first of the milk and handed the jug to Hannah to pour and finish, by which time I had steamed the next jug to silky perfection. I merged smaller orders in with the big order so that those customers didn't have to wait right until the end of the big order. It's a small thing, but its a buzz. Being busy is a buzz.

And yes, I currently have a stripe of green hair on my shaved head. And those pants? Made by a talented friend, Sharron at Leafy Sea Dragons. I get plenty of comments on them and yeah, can see why. They're pretty cool.

Felt a bit tired by the end of the week. Was a pretty busy one. Expected yesterday to be quiet because of the long weekend but we got slammed. Busiest day of the week. 50 hours plus on our feet each week, running at times... it's exhausting.

Lots happening at the moment. We seem to be going through another busy period. We haven't done anything to promote the cafe so it's all word of mouth, the most honest kind of promotion. Although we did have a band record their music video clip in the cafe recently. Papa G & The Starcats. We'll get credit in the clip (for their song Smooth Lovin') and post a link here when it's out.

And we're off to the album launch of a former employee tonight. I used to love working with Alyx. Now I just have to be content with loving her music, which I do very much.

First theatre opening night in a while coming up on Tuesday, and I have a feeling  (because there's no rest for these weary bones) that we're going to a doof bright and early tomorrow morning. Just to go hard for the day and into the night, drive back on Monday.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Spoonwaoman V Squinchwoman

Dear Diary,
Spoonwoman has been mercifully not present lately. Sometimes I think I see the spectre of here there in the middle distance, only to realise that it's the reflection of a traumatic memory in the window of my mind. She haunts me. Currently there is no sign of her or her hellish torment, but I have no doubt she will return to torment me hellishly. This is Spoonwoman's raison d'etre.

To less sad tidings... a customer. Pretty, yes. French, ye... oui. We had an encount... a rendezvous which involved human interaction and currency exchange. A croissant and a baguette and a drop of youthful beaujolais. Then again, this is my delusional memory we are dealing with here, so perhaps it was a ham, cheese and tomato toasty and a bottle of coke. I really can't recall, because I was distracted. And the source of my distraction, Dear Diary? Well.

As she turned to leave she... this mademoiselle... did the most curious thing. She smiled, thanked me (merci, she said, merci beucoup), then kind of squinched both eyes shut. Fleetingly. Simultaneously. She performed what can only be described as a French Fleeting Simultaneous Eye Squinch.
And left. Without so much as an au revoir.

That eye squinch, it will haunt me. What did it mean? And if I should dream about Mademoiselle Squinch and Spoonwoman, what will happen?

As I go now into the frontier of the unconscious and enter the realm of sleep, I am nervous. For I have eaten rather a lot of cheese, and shit could get weird.

Pray for me, Dear Diary, and please come rescue me if I call your name. Especially if I am squealing things like "Get off me Spoonwoman it's horrible it's horrible!"

Until next time,