Thursday, March 31, 2016

Grumpy's Angels

I just love days like today. I am surrounded by gorgeous souls in this photo who all work so hard in the cafe. Viola, on my far left, is a friend who helps out in staff shortages. She is a great worker and lovely presence. She gave me an early morning guerilla hug this morning because of something I wrote about the person immediately to my right, who you might know as Kafka Woman. She likes to hug hello and goodbye if possible every day. I have no problem with this.

The person to my immediate left (yeah, she gets her own new paragraph), that's Badaboom Beverley. She's the one who suggested the Front-Of-House head design in the photo. Don't worry - revenge is already sorted. It's going to be so fun.

After work, Badaboom brought her banjo (she makes this creature sound so beautiful) back to the cafe after closing, and we kind of worked on a song. I have never sung in front of another person other than The Dreaded One. I am relaxed with Miss BB and even suggested the concept of a re-interpretation of this song. I was a chilled motherfucker until it came time to actually sing. I sang along to two versions of this song, a song I normally sing along to so well in the shower. But now, my hands shook a little, and I butchered the song. Twice! Go me!

Badaboom Beverley shrugged it off, we sat down and started tooling around with this song. We tried different ways of doing things. I realised singing quietly but in tune is more important than belting the vocals out. I learned I don't have a clue about music. I learned that there are things called chords. I realised that I don't know what do do with a chord or where the best place to put one is.

We also talked about this song. Why does he go faster here? Why is the chorus so upbeat when it's song about sadness? Is it in fact a song about sadness? It was so cool to try to get an understanding of a song, to really get to its heart and then to try to understand what we want out of our interpretation of it and how to go about executing that.

That Portuguese word saudade... I have always felt that about my creative partner... where are you? I have my perfect life partner, but in all my creative endeavours I have been a solitary man, always vaguely missing someone who isn't there. But here we were, two former strangers sitting in an empty cafe, sharing knowledge, playing with and discussing ideas and making notes about a text and a piece of music.

For me, this was a taste of this creative partnership thing, and it was quite beautiful.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Ragnar's Sweet Prayer For Sleep

I changed my name to Ragnar on a certain social network and can't change it back immediately. Consequently, his character is kind of growing on me. Or in me. Or something. Weird sleep disturbances lately (from someone very used to irregular sleep patterns) have resulted in this sweet payer to my favourite Norse God.

Ragnar's Prayer For Sleep.

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray to Thor to let me sleep.
If I should sleep before I wake,
Thank fuck for that,
Because two days with fuck-all sleep,
Is enough for me to go to Valhalla
And kick Thor right in the dick.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Love & Peace & Fuzzies

The end of a long weekend and I don't mind admitting I have the emotions. The person who took this photo is quite amazing. Really quite a lovely person. She once said she thought I'd like her partner. That's him there on the left. It's rare that I like guys as friends - my best friends have traditionally been female. And I don't like projections and promises of friendship because it's all such a fickle thing.

The person in the middle of this shot, quite obviously I like her.

I like the other two connected with this picture too. What I really like about the the fortunate life that I've lived is the tenuous connections and unlikely friendships that have occurred. Many years ago Ann decided to change her hair. She went to a place called Furr. Because of that she met Jess, and because of that, all these years later we spent a chunk of the weekend with Jess and her partner Xac. They look like freaks, and I love their creativity. But their personalities... holy shit they are no bullshit people. Much love.

Much love for the people I am working with at the moment too. Thursday was quite big - second biggest day outside of the Christmas break we've had, and I had fun. Badaboom Beverley is great company, a friend Viola is helping us out at the moment... it's all quite beautiful and I feel very lucky.

Throw some theatre into the mix and catching up with other friends and you have a pretty perfect weekend.

I have the emotions, and I don't mind that at all.

Love and Peace.

Velvet, Melbourne 2016, Review


Reviewed by Lee Bemrose

This is a strange hybrid of cabaret, circus and disco, and it's not too bad. I'm not sure why it's a MICF event because although it has comedic elements, it's not a comedy show. Nor is it completely circus or cabaret, burlesque or Marcia Hines concert... but it is a bit of all of the above.

If you've seen some really good circus recently (Barbarois and Limbo come to mind), you will have seen better circus act than you'll see in Velvet. This is not to say the Velvet circus acts are not good; they really are very good. They just aren't the main feature and so the show doesn't rely on them to be the main thing. The female aerialist is very good; the guy with the six pack who balances on things is very good; the chubby hula hoop guy who will be the crowd's favourite is also very good. These humans like you and me who do things that you and me can't do will never cease to amaze. But the feats you will see in Velvet are not the best you will ever see.

The disco soundtrack might, however, be one of the best you'll ever hear in a show like this. Disco doesn't get any better than tracks like Boogie Wonderland, Le Freak and If You Could Read My Mind. If the disco version of this last track was the greatest misinterpretation of a song ever (has a sadder song ever sounded more uplifting?), Brendan Maclean's interpretation of The Bee Gees' Stayin' Alive nailed the true spirit of the song so much better than the original. For all the fun and sexiness in this show, this version of this song was the highlight for me. Amongst all the glitz and glitter, here was honesty and raw emotion. Goosebump City, baby.

The Marcia Hines nostalgia trip didn't really do it for me, but credit where it's due, this woman is amazing. Timeless beauty, yes, but those vocals haven't aged either. She can belt out a tune bigger and better than the younger back-up singers who were stunning in their own right. Respect. She sang her biggest hits and the audience lapped it up. Many smiles on many faces and much chair dancing was done.

Marcia and the chubby hula hoop guy will be everyone's favourites. Hula hoop guy's joke was obvious as soon as he hit the stage, but his skill made up for the obviousness of what was about to happen. The apparent enjoyment he was getting out of performing was also infectious. Most of the humour throughout the show was of the ugly duck variety; awkward nerdiness or outsiderness giving way to impressive talent.

There seemed to be a narrative, of sorts, best shown in the I Feel Love sequence. It was a softcore bondage sequence ironically about liberation and acceptance, ideals possibly at the heart of the whole disco movement, and we hope still at the heart of the underground dance scene today.
More mainstream than edgy, Velvet is nevertheless a fun night out that will leave its audience feeling happy. I would see it again just for Stayin' Alive.

At the Malthouse Theatre until April17

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Velvet, Staying Alive.

Fun show. This for me was the highlight. I love this version of this song.

Feathers & Bats & Friendship

A new friend diddled this (past tense of doodle) during a late night, post-lunch conversation. The feathers represent Vurt. The bats represent Hunter S Thompson. It was a very literary late night lunch.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Feel Love

I'd rather feel love than hate.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

It's The Little Things

Just got back from a theatre opening night. Short review: What in the fuck was that all about? Where do I start? I can't start with the free tiny little sandwiches because there were NO free tiny little sandwiches. Can't start with the free tiny little sausage rolls because there were no free tiny little sausage rolls either. And free booze? What free booze? Seriously, WTF? I couldn't believe what I wasn't doing - so much so that I checked my ticket envelope because surely there had to be vouchers for free tiny little sandwiches and tiny little sausage rolls and free booze. Guess what? No vouchers for anything. I checked upstairs in case there was a secret party with tiny little sandwiches and tiny little sausage rolls and free booze and guess what? NO secret party with free tiny little anythings. I even waited for an hour for the commoners to leave because then surely they would trundle out more tiny little sandwiches and tiny little sausage rolls and free booze than you can poke a stick and, but guess what? No late free secret party either! It was a fucking joke! Those fuckers think they're going to get a good review out of me? Ha! HA! They will rue the fucking day...

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Never Better Than This

Today in the cafe... a former regular customer reappeared unexpectedly. She used to come in almost every day and buy one of our tuna wraps for lunch. The only time she deviated from this was when she bought two tuna wraps. Before she stopped being a regular she told us that her office had been relocated to Abbotsford - a couple of suburbs away - and so she wouldn't be in anymore... She said goodbye and I think wanted to let us know the reason for her sudden disappearance.

Today she said she could take it any more She really wanted one of our tuna wraps and so jumped into a cab to get to the cafe and back in her lunch break. Apparently they're pretty good, our tuna wraps.
Then a little later, that woman a while ago who didn't exactly endear herself to me by telling me that a smile doesn't cost anything? She's been in a few times since and I always get a laugh out of Badaboom Beverley by snarling at her appearance.

When I delivered her coffee to her, she was reading one of my stories to her husband. She stopped reading and told me that she was really enjoying the one about the time I held the stranger's hand at the festival. She thought it was hilarious. She also loved the one about the time I was on the Amalfi Coast. We had a bit of a chat and a quiet laugh. Was not expecting that.

Later, Ann's helper told me, "That woman up there was reading your stuff as I walked past. She stopped me, put the stories to her chest and said 'I'm loving these stories. I really love them.'"

Before she left, the old lady approached and told us she wanted a photo of "Grumpy and The Dreaded One and you two. I don't want Grumpy to smile for the photo."

Much laughter, from us, many smiles from the full cafe as bemused customers looked on, but Grumpy, The Dreaded One, Badaboom Beverley and Kafka Woman bunched up for the photo. As directed, I didn't smile.

Well done little old lady - you somehow went from being a sour little thing to being a wonderfully quirky individual. Respect.

And as deeply happy as I was, I was a little sad too because I was pretty sure that life in our banged up little cafe was never going to be better than this.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Oscar, Lee & Hunter

"Just had one of those nights where I'm a little bit ashamed of the fact that Hunter S Thompson would be proud of me."
Oscar Wilde (Not Lee. Definitely not Lee.).

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

I'm A Zen Motherfucker

Sometimes, some things burn slow. Sometimes you don't know immediately what a person is saying, because you don't really know that person.

Today in the cafe... it's towards the end of our day. We wind down from 3.30 to 4pm depending on the customer flow. The kitchen closes around 3.30 but if people come by we do what we can. Take-away food and drinks are on offer right up til the end. The Dreaded One and I start at 6.30 and don't get to sit down or have a break but we're cool with that.We're used to it.

This guy comes in during what I consider my bump-out, clean-up time. Wants some food. I put his toasty on the sandwich press that I've just cleaned, because that's what he wants. This guy is a semi-regular, have never much liked him, not sure why. He's always given of a slight air of self-importance. I've also overheard him having a meeting with a superior about unacceptable workplace behaviour. I have noticed that that he has a small personal space around female customers and likes to make eye-contact and smile... okay in itself if done the right way, but there is something about this guy.

Anyway, while his toasty is being cooked he decides to strike up conversation. Tells me he saw me walking along Johnston Street the other day. Tells me he got it wrong and thought I was the owner of the operation and lived upstairs at the cafe.

I tell him no, I own the business, not the building. I tell him that I walk home most days. I enjoy my walk home. It's such a luxury to walk home, maybe half an hour, 20 minutes if I push it, I really like it.

Long pause, then: "I really don't know how or why so many cafes do this. I guess they must really love it or something."

I'm totally motherfucking Zen for a Monday, so I'm all whatever you cock-sucking wanker. But I can't help noticing a couple of things about this exchange.

Why are you speaking to me in the third person? Why didn't you say, "I don't know how or why you do this?"

I tell him, I can't speak on behalf of 'them', but yes, I love this. Weirdly, for all the hard work it is, I love it. I love not working for someone else. I love getting it right, in our banged up way. I love the very slow additions to the Trip Advisor reviews. I love the first-hand feedback we get each day. I love the team we have right now. I love how much better I have become at choosing the right people for us. I like the perfect complementary yinyang thang The Dreaded One & I have.

I explained that for hospitality, this is a pretty sweet gig. No night shifts. No weekends. And we choose the people who work with us, and it's a pretty cool vibe each day.

He was polite, but I don't think he got it at all. Standing there in his suit, he tells me about his commute... one and a half hours each way every day.

He left and I was still Zen as all motherfucking shit and stuff, but the encounter did make me think.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

You Got It! You're Addicted To Music!

This clip makes me so happy. Will post another one from the same movie that makes me even happier.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Hug Etiquette

So Kafka Woman now works in the cafe. Remember her? She is indeed a beautiful woman and a serene soul. A random and fleeting encounter, and now we are in contact on an almost daily basis.

It's all very wonderful, really - except for  The Crisis Of The Hug.

Normally with hugs, I like them and I indulge in them frequently with old friends. Usually you hug a friend when you see them after not seeing them for a long time, and then you hug them again at the end of that meeting, knowing that you might not see them for another long time. Granted, that period of time might only be a week or so, but hey, hugs are cool.

Kafka Woman is not an old friend. There was what some people would call "a connection" on the first day we met. Then she was looking for some work and after a while we had some work for her. At the end of the first day of work, she put her arms up for a hug. We hugged. It was an end of the day, thank you hug.

Next day, Kafka Woman came in and gave me a good morning hug. She gives good hug, btw. Cool, I thought, because it's the second day and this is a second day good morning hug.

The day went well and she is a pleasure to work with. At the end of her shift, we had another hug. Which s great. I love the hug. Especially when the huggee is so beautiful and serene and when the hug is all about appreciating that they need the work and we appreciate the help.

Third day in, more hug action. And this is where I start to wonder... did one of us accidentally initiate a hug policy that the other one is a bit confused about? Are we both thinking that we have to hug the other one because the other one thinks we have to hug? Should I find something else to do at the assumed moment of hug so that they realise we don't actually have to hug? Then again, what if they really do want to hug... what if these hugs are really important to them and me trying to act preoccupied causes offense?

Fourth day in, we hug hello and we hug goodbye. Customers see us hugging. Then I wonder if Badaboom Beverley sees us hugging. Badaboom Beverley and I also hug, but just usually on special occasions. But I torment myself with the thought that BB then starts to think that I am hugsnubbing her. Why doesn't he hug me twice a day, she might ponder Frenchly.

You probably think I'm trying to be funny here, but I'm not. It's all actually quite awkward.

Then again, Kafka Woman hugs The Dreaded One each day too, so maybe I just need to loosen the fuck up.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Legs Eleven At Adelaide Airport

At Adelaide airport the other day, I was buying a pint for myself and a gin & tonic for The Dreaded One.

At a random point during the preparation of the drinks, the barman looks at me and says, "Legs Eleven?"

He may as well have slapped me with a wet fish, because wut? The fuck is legs eleven all about? Have I wandered into a game of bar bingo? Is this some new bar jargony thing that I don't know about? If so, how did I get out of the loop so drastically and so quickly? Even more baffling because bars are basically my second home.

This barman and me, we stare at each other with impressive blankness for an unfeasibly long time. I can think of absolutely nothing to say in response. Is it a joke I'm not getting? If it was a joke surely he'd be showing some sign that it was a joke... raised eyebrow... wry smirk... a nod or a wink... but he's giving me nothing.

Finally, after a long, long, long, long time of nothing, the barman ends this stalemate of stupid by using a pair of little tongs to pick up a wedge of lemon and putting it in The Dreaded One's gin & tonic.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Throw Your Arms Around Me

Last Friday The Dreaded One & I went to Adelaide  for The Adelaide Fringe Festival, or at least two days of it.

Before we left, a couple of our awesome workers did this thing... they threw their arms up in readiness for a goodbye hug. We hugged, and they were were nice hugs, warm hugs, hugs with muscle strength behind them, hugs with emotion behind them. It was really kind of beautiful, given that we are just their employers.

Feeling an overload of love and gratitude.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Off To Adelaide Fringe

Things Lee Is Really Shit At Number... oh I've totally lost count. But packing for two nights away when it's hand luggage only... how the hell do you do that shit? How am I supposed to know on Thursday night what I'll feel like wearing on any of the occasions in the following days? (Yes, it's a weekend of occasions... Like seeing Juliette Burton's Look At Me and Betty Grumble's Grumble:Sex Clown Saves The World. Naturally there will be lunches... der).

I need packing minions.

At least the tickets arrived. Way to send me into a nervous breakdown - tell me after I book the tickets that you'll be sending them interstate IN THE POST? Who does that? In this age of the internet and scanning codes and scanners and insto info, who in the hell puts printed tickets in an envelope and sends them in the post with only days to spare? I'm a lot of things, but I'm not a fucking adrenaline junky. Usually I never check the letter box, but every day this week... FFS. I never want to put myself through that fucking ordeal again.

And now, of course, there's every chance I'll misplace the tickets or leave them behind or something. Fuck me, Adelaide Fringe Festival - this just isn't funny. It's mean. You bastards.

Right. Back to this "packing" ordeal.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

BeverleyLee & The Badaboombooms

I think I am going to sing this song with my friend Beverley. I think it is going to be a little bit wonderful.