Are you one of those people who can go out alone and still get into random adventures? Do you think you are but when you try you end up bummed out instead? Do you even really know who the hell you are?
So a fair bit has happened since the last post, but before getting up to date I want to tell you the story of the last 24 hours, was especially interesting, and I want to get it down on paper before the alcohol induced memory loss condemns it to a shadowy recollection of yet another night of too many drinks: it was actually awesome no matter how my drive for self improvement may write it off.
So Im rolling solo at the mo and Erin is off doing her own thing for a few days. I figure we need some breathing space every now and then, the confines of a 1.5 by 2 by 3m box can get a bit claustrophibic for even the most patient people!
So after dropping Erin off I spent yesterday chilling by the beach at Maroubra. Good spot Maroubra, got a carpark where you can pull your car up and face the sea, and one of those quintessentially Sydney man made rock pools for swimming. Pretty cool actually.
So I spent the day swimming, meditating on the rocks, doing some exercise, taking photos, talking to other van dwellers, and swimming some more. Its quite funny actually, whenever I talk to some other people who are doing what we are doing (travelling around in a van free camping) they invariably are from overseas, and ask what country we are from! I guess that makes us slightly weird, but I knew that anyway 🙂
So a lovely luxurious day, but after awhile I started to feel a bit malaised, like I was getting too slothlike and too much like a broke-ass lazy backpacker. So I decided to find a gig. Going on a tip from a friend of ours, I checked out the gig guide for this venue called The Vanguard in Newtown and spotted something that sounded interesting. Speaking of local tips, they are the way to go. It even helps to decide what to do out of the multitude of possibilities of a city. Just do something that someone recommended to you! Often its a winner.
So I googled some directions to Newtown from Maroubra, sat the laptop next to me in the car, and off I went (after having one more body surf). Specifically, I was headed for this park in Newtown, where this Mexican dude had recommended to me as the perfect place to sleep in your van: It had free 24 hour parking, shade to park under, and a swimming pool where for a minimal entry fee you could have a shower and shave haha!
I got to the park, parked up, and went for a bit of a stroll, after saying hi to a couple of trevelling Norwegian fellas with WA number plates. Needing to take a piss I went in to the nearest pub and ordered a middy, receiving instead a confused look and a schooner. Piss taken, I sat down and called my one of my old mates to see how he was up to.
Turned out he was pretty busy as it was his turn to deal at cards, but by way of compensation he said that his brother lived in Newtown. Turned out, not only did he live in the general area of Newtown, but in the part called Enmore, where I was parked! So I sent him a text, and rocked up at his cool as fuck townhouse very very randomly.
So we ended up having a few beers, catching up, having some Turkish food, and then it was time for me to get my ass to the gig, having missed the first act already! I must admit I was not exactly sober by this point, not drunk maybe, but feeling the creative juices flowing.
So I got lost, and asked directions from a dude who, turns out, was going to the same joint! Things going well so far, and with my new no worries travelling mindset I struck up a conversation easy. But when we got to the venue, we parted ways. I wanted to focus on the music anyway, too many gigs you can go to and talk the whole time through, and Im often left mystified as to what the hell I listened to all night.
There were practically no seats available, but one table had 3 spare. Upon asking for one, they informed me they had people coming back. But you cant pussyfoot around in this world, so I suggested that maybe I could sit until they came back. I really wanted to get comfortable and focus on the music, and really, if they had come back I would have given the seat back, I swear. OK, a bit rude haha. Anyway, seated, I focused in on the tunes ( I later made friends with the people, it was all good).
So the guy playing, this French musician, was playing all kinds of gadgets and instruments on stage, a proper one man show. But to condense the immense variety of his performance you could say he would trigger a drum beat on his drum machine, then play a violin line, get that line to loop (repeat over and over) using a foot pedal, and then layer another harmony line over the top on his violin. Then he would pick up something else to add texture, maybe some voice, maybe begin to change the drum beat live, maybe play the craziest shit I ever heard on a synthesizer. It was pretty awesome. But it wasnt perfect: his drum beats sounded weak, the melodies were beatiful but at times cheesy, and he didnt have the stage presence of a superstar like Prince or Bonny Rait.
But you know what? Despite its imperfection everyone fucking loved it!
Thats when I got to thinking: this guy is making music that he likes, gets as weird as he wants , doesnt look comfortable on stage but does it anyway, and loops up what seemed to be essentially long sprawling improvisations. And I thought, there is a real possibility that I could play my music to an audience, on stage, and it would be valid. I became very excited by this thought, and started dreaming all kinds of things… I had had a couple more rums…
But after the music finished I got a bit rare: I didnt know a single person except the dude I had walked in with but I had no idea where he was, and while I had made a few little conversations through the night I suddenly got a bit like a deer in headlights. I left the bar, then walked back in, hesitated whether to buy another drink, decided against it, and headed back out feeling like a loser. Things had turned upside down.
So now I am walking down the street. I struck up a conversation with this dude outside a tattoo parlour and got some tips on anywhere good to go out (they gotta know right?). What I really wanted was some random adventure, it can be hard to come by. So I took the tips, walked down the road, went up to one of the bars and was promptly insulted by a super aggressive asshole of a bouncer. Just the way some people speak you know? Probably full of amphetamines son of a bitch. They had just closed that minute, and realistically i just had bad timing.
So even more discouraged now! I headed down the street in the direction of my van, ready for an early, at first inspiring, then quickly down hill evening.
As the lights of open barfronts faded away, but still on the main street of Newtown, I came across a weird sounding busker. He was playing recorded funk beats and improvising over the top in middle eastern sounding scales. There were 4 or 5 rough looking guys and gals hanging out there drinking and carrying on. I walked past with a smile, then the music kind of got a hold of me. Again, here was a dude playing his thing, middle eastern funk, not giving a damn, and people were there listening to him! I had to listen. So I tuned in my ears, and next thing you know one of the rough crowd comes up and says “hows it going you son of a bitch?”. Nice dude. Then one of the girls pours me a red wine, and the yarning began.
Now the dude, Caspar, was having troubles. His girl, Candy, had just broken up with him but he was madly in love with her and was in fucking turmoil. He said they used to be called Caspar and Candy, they were a team, and that he was very very sad. Cant everyone empathise with that! Life hey, in a way Im glad I have gone through the hard stuff, must be boring to have never been dumped hey? Poor bastard! So we yarned for a bit, talking about this and that, listened to the busker, and then more people started rocking up.
Well the crowd who rocked up next had cigarettes, wow, you have never seen such a spectacle of begging! Myself included by this point, but we had it all now, cheap red wine, cigarettes, and a great weird busker! A party was really starting, and as it had hit midnight, loads of people were coming past having been kicked out of the bars.
A couple of young Aboriginal dudes sat down with their crazy uncle, this mad dog riding around on a kids scooter telling the best lies I had ever heard. And the young dudes could rap like pros, so good! One guy had a fast style, spitting out the words in a swirling freeway of unbridled conciousness, the other dude had a more smooth syle, and was all about the rhythm, held syllables, and a well placed phrase. Fricken awesome and they even convince me to have a shot at rapping. I will leave that to your imagination.
It didnt take long and we had a fricken street party cooking! We had about a dozen people dancing now, and more sitting on the brick half wall drinking and listening to the music, as everyone had spilled out of the bars. I saw the busker had a trumpet in his gear box too and feeling inspired by all the musical expression I had seen I got up, asked him for the horn, figured out a handful of notes that worked, and hit it, with stabs, man, people were dancing now. We were killing it!
Next a Japanese dude rocks up and starts recording the show with a handheld recorder. Holding it up to catch an Aboriginal kid rapping about the cops giving him a hard time, then catching a bit of trumpet, then taking in a middle eastern guitar solo, all over some dope funk beats coming out a amplifier powered by a car battery. By this time some crazy chicks were singing harmonies too, it was like the Newtown Drunk Allstars. Eveyone was laughing with each other, Aboriginal people arm in arm with white fellas, librarians, cake sellers and lunatics dancing together, truly fantastic!
But all things must come to an end, and when the booze ran out things kind of decrescendoed. It had been an awesome night, and it was time to go. I put a couple of coins in the buskers hat, and that amazing player thanked me for my trumpet playing. What a night.
So I slept in the van on the streets of Newtown, and woke up sure that I would have a parking ticket. Bothered by this petty concern, I got up and drove my sorry ass to the nearest beach, passing by the scene of the crime. Like a dream, the sounds and movement of the preceding night had vanished.
Clovelly, that beach was called. I cruised down to the water, discovered everyone was snorkelling in the little inlet, went and grabbed my as yet unused snorkel and mask from the van ($8), and spent a good hour snorkelling, chasing fish of all colours and sizes through this amazing aquarium. Perhaps fortuitously, when I duck dived down to follow a school of fish I forgot that I wasnt attached to a scuba tank, and swallowed a stomach full of much needed H20.
Coming up out of the water I felt cold and centered, like after a dive, and put on my thongs that Id bought in the Caribbean when I learned how to. Goddamn I felt strange. Walking up the rocks I saw this lady.
I spent what I thought was the morning playing my piano in the van, I was getting into it like never before, inspired that it could be possible to play what I like to a crowd and for them to enjoy themselves, not needing to pander to what I think people would like. All I need is practice and to be comfortable enough to be not egotistical about my playing. When I looked at my clock 3 hours had passed and it was time to hit the road.
Down the coast of New South Wales in the van, to Kiama, where I am now. And I spotted another one:
I went for a walk, bought a steak, took some photos and now Im here in my van doing some writing. Everything is as it should be.
And with that, putting in that last photo, I realised
Im just another thinker by the sea myself.