A very flickr update 7: Krakow

Some lovely pics from my lovely time in Krakow last month.

Wawel Hill

Me at Wawel Hill, and the wonderful storybook like castle grounds.

The Wawel Dragon

Heading down from Wawel Hill you can find the Wawel Dragon. Legend has it that it did something once and it was cool. Now it’s a tacky tourist thing and actually BREATHES FIRE. Sigh. They ruin sudh good stuff.

Auschwitz Entrance

Auschwitz Death Wall

Auschwitz 2: Birkenau

Aushwitz and Birkenau, the famous Nazi concentration camps. I am so fascinated by modern history, and this was one fo the big draws for me for Krakow. Such a harrowing, somber expreienc to walk through there.

1. Entrance to Auschwitz 1.
2. The execution wall at Auschwitz 1.
3. The entrance of Auschwitz 2, also known as Birkenau.

Oscar Schindler's factory

Interest in war stuff continued when I found Oscar Schindler’s factory. I had a surreal afternoon there fixing a projector and walking through the abondoned ruins, and buying batteries. I’ll tell you about it sometime. It’s probably my best travel story yet.

Rynek Glowny

Tessa & Sarah

St Mary's Church, Krakow

It wasn’t all doom and gloom in Krakow. It is such a beautiful place and the people were just wonderful. Best was he town square called Rynek Glowny.

1. Rynek Glowny, and the building in the middle called Cloth Hall.
2. Tessa and Sarah, friends from the Hostel
3. St Mary’s at night. Lopsided funny church that is also in Rynek Glowny.

I loved Krakow. If you go, stay at the Orange Hostel. They were so good to me.


Computers and the new rock and roll…

I got a new iPod. Silver, lovely 160GB. And it’s finally time to retire my old one.

I was very late to the iPod. Checking my memory, I think I bought a girlfriend an iPod before I ever got one for myself. I got one just over two years ago. I’m trying to remember how I would listen to music before then. I basically carried around 20 or so CDs with me everywhere I went.

Needless to say, I’m not going back.

I like how the iPod can track what you’ve listened to over the years. It’s a pretty interesting snapshot of my listening habits.

Here are some interesting* statistics

Number of songs on it – 11,390.

That’s a hell of a lot. And I had to start culling when I ran out of room a year ago.

Number of plays since August 2005 – 54,897

Again, not counting tracks that I have since deleted off the ipod, and of course, listening to CDs and stuff which I still do.

It’s pretty much dead on two years that I’ve had this iPod so check this shit out:

Average number of songs played a day in the last two years – 75


Number of songs that have ZERO plays – 742

These are songs that have sat on the iPod that I just never got to. Or kept skipping. Poor ‘Sunday Girl’ by Blondie was added to my iPod on 16th August 2005, and has still not been able to get one little play out of me. Nothing. It’s only 3:06 long. Still, no love. Sorry Debbie.

Top Twenty Songs

Pretty easy this one. The songs that got the most plays in the last two years.

1. Romeo and Juliet – Dire Straits (42)
2. Fluorescent Adolescent – Arctic Monkeys (41)
3. Sentimental Guy – Ben Folds (41)
4. Thunder Road – Bruce Springsteen (41)
5. Don’t You Think It’s Time – Bob Evans (40)
6. Girl Sailor – The Shins (40)
7. Phantom Limb – The Shins (39)
8. Turn On Me – The Shins (38)
9. Time – Ben Folds (37)
10. Rattlesnakes – Lloyd Cole And the Commotions (37)
11. Teddy Picker – Arctic Monkeys (36)
12. Sadness & Whiskey – Bob Evans (36)
13. Read My Mind – The Killers (35)
14. No Quick Fix – Nada Surf (35)
15. Sleeping Lessons – The Shins (34)
16. Let It Go – Youth Group (33)
17. Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying – Belle And Sebastian (32)
18. Don’t Change Your Plans – Ben Folds Five (32)
19. Hey Julie – Fountains Of Wayne (32)
20. Mystifies Me – Son Volt (32)

Good to see how much new music is there. I’m not still listening to Big Star and Gram Parsons.

And I totally love every single one of those songs. Especially Romeo And Juliet. And Thunder Road. Corner me somewhere and ask me about those songs. And be ready to lose several hours of your life.

So I have my new iPod now. I’m putting the old girl away. I’m trying to think, and it’s the only thing I’ve carried with me every day for he last two years (I changed wallets this year).

It will be interesting* to see what happens in another two years.


* any claims of anything interesting is ambitious at best.

Injury (and the Blockheads)

When I decided to go travelling, this intensely personal, spiritual journey, it seemed like everyone and their dog had a travel story. Especially the great Australia to London odessey. My sister did that. My friend did that. My dog did that.

And I’m not knocking it. I loved those stories. It lead to what Casey calls Place-Dropping. We would practise imaginary Place-Dropping back home. You lost a lighter? I remember one time I was in Vienna and I lost a lighter. It’s cold? Yes, reminds me of autumns in Madrid…

You get the idea.

So the new thing is accident stories. And again I love them. Although some are painful. It seems quite a frightening amount of people I know have seriously hurt themselves in their lives. Tales of collar bones, hips, broken thumbs, broken jaws, flying over the handle bars and in one case, getting hit by a taxi, this time in New York. The recovery stories are also lovely. 3 months in bed. 3 months in hospital. 3 months hanging in the water tank Luke Skywalker was in at the end of the Empire Strikes Back.

Everyone I know has suddenly become experts in medicine. In particular, orthopedic experts. I’m hearing (and reading) perfectly normal friends of mine use words like ‘femur’ in conversation. Apparently, all bones take 5-6 weeks to heal, regardless of which one. But according to another expert, foot bones heal quite fast. Maybe I need a 22nd opinion…

So the new game now is Body-Dropping. As Debbie told me, when her uncle got sick, he decided it was from then on completely OK to talk endlessly about his body. Quite inappropriately intimately too. It’s stopped hurting to urinate. The scabs on my legs have started to peel off. There’s still heaps of dead skin from where the cast was. Want to hold my glass eye?

So for me, my hip is fine, but when I cough or sneeze, my muslces in that area naturally seize up, and it hurts like hell. Laughing is also not as fun as it used to be. I’m getting pins and needles in my left foot a lot. And yes, most of the large cuts and stuff have now scabbed off and odd, innocent-looking, new pink skin has revealed themselves.

(Body Dropping, like Place Dropping and Name Dropping, is only fun for the Dropper. But it’s so much fun.)

Which all goes to show

a) how unextraordinary my situation is, really.

b) how much sickness and injury touches our lives. I’ve spent a bit of time in hospitals, both for myself and to support friends. And none of them have been good times! And…

c) how amazing the human body really is. It really is.


The Greatest Album of All Time

I’ve been sitting in my wheelchair, tired, unable to do much today. I decided I needed some cheering up and I put on Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys.

It’s a very, very important album for me. It’s one a cherish deeply. It’s not my favourite album ever, because sentimental reasons come into play. Not that I’m not sentimental about this album. But if aliens ever come, and they ask me what the greatest album, the greatest achievement of music mankind has ever known, I would point furiously at this CD.

Apart from being a marvellous, complex, involving bit of music, it’s also so pop. So accessible. Anyone who’s ever looked into it could tell you Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys’ resident “genius” (and it’s an overused term, I know), used some amazing musical tricks. It’s performed fantastically. The vocals! Geez. Mind blowing.

But it’s a record you can enjoy when you’re 12. Or 120. You don’t need a degree to get everything you need to get out of this album.

By luck, I came across this album in high school, at a time when I had no right to be finding music this cool. I had some great mentors who pushed me into the past. The Nuggets box sets. Television. The Ramones. All sorts of stuff that you just don’t hear in suburban Sydney.

Sean, the You Am I tour manager at the time, told me this great story. When he was a wee lad, he was given a cassette tape (by his parents? By a friend? I will ask him when I next see him). The tape had Pet Sounds on one side and the Byrd’s Sweetheart of the Rodeo on the other.

(I fell madly in love with Sweetheart of the Rodeo many years later, remembering Sean’s sage words. It was an album when every other fucker went psychedelic, they did a country album. And what an album. Oh Gram Parsons…)

Everyone knows the Beach Boys – from golden oldies stations and nostalgia documentaries. I even knew Wouldn’t It Be Nice, sort of. I knew the hooks. But when I got the record and put it on…and after the twinkle of bells, the drum snap! Bam!

Wouldn’t it be nice if we were older?
Then we wouldn’t have to wait so long.
Wouldn’t it be nice to live together
In the kind of world where we belong?

For me, Pet Sounds is about being young. Or not being young anymore. Just listen to the fucking marching band rattling along behind the glorious vocal on Wouldn’t It Be Nice. Isn’t that the tumbling hearts of a million teenage dreams? Isn’t it the power of teen romance. All big and exciting. We are going to last forever. God, this song just rules the school. It’s just a glorious, glorious thing.

I love the line about the kind of world where we belong. It’s something that comes up a lot. That’s Not Me, I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times and others all allude to someone feeling kind of left out by the world. Of not fitting in. Is there a more teenage, or post-teenage emotion than that? The feeling that this world is not ours. Yet.

Then there are the handful of love songs. The heartbreaking Caroline, No. The absolutely timeless God Only Knows. It’s done with such hopefulness. There’s nothing complex there. It’s big, sad love.

And then there is just the nice familiarity that comes from loving an album for ten years. I know all the little breaks. The horn solo in I Know There’s An Answer. I can and do sing along to every single bit of backing vocal. It’s an old friend.

I will always say that there is more to the Beach Boys than this one record. And many people I know own this, maybe a best of, and calls it a day with the Beach Boys. Fair enough, really. Can’t blame you. At least you have Pet Sounds.

If you don’t, you’re really missing out. Grab a friend’s copy, a glass of wine and a window to look through. You’ll think of love, of expectations, of hopes and dreams, of the world as a whole. It will also make you happy, ultimately. Nothing cheers me up like this album. There’s something really rewarding about listening to it.

So this world probably has enough writings on this album. All I really wanted to say is, well, ignore all that. It doesn’t matter how revered an album is. All that matters is I had a kind of crappy day and this album made me happy again.

Genius, ain’t it?


A very flickr 6: Prague

So back to our regular programing for a second…the second installment of my photos from Europe. This time, Prague.

Me in Prague
Me in Wenceslas Square, Prague

So I got to Prague by plane from Brussels. Getting off the plane and onto the bus, I met 5 really nice guys from New york. We spent most of my time in Prague drinking, with me dragging along anyone I could find from the hostel.

NY Friends drinking in Prague
l-r: Nate, Ian, Alex, George, Chris, Sarah, Alex number 2, all from NY

I wasn’t prepared for how beautiful Prague was. Simply put, no one told me.

Lennon Wall, Prague

Vltava, Prague

Me at the Astronomical Clock

Prague Castle Steps

Me, St Vitus Cathedral, Prague

Prague Castle at Night

Random Pretties

1. The John Lennon Wall. Still not sure why John Lennon has a wall here, and it’s just graffiti, scribbles and things from local youths. At least they are being political and optimistic with their graffiti. Good on ’em.
2. The view of the Vltava river from St Charles Bridge. I had a beautiful moment just standing there looking at the world one afternoon.
3. The somewhat Back To the Future Part 3-esque Astronomical Clock at the Old Square.
4. Steps leading up to Prague Castle
5. St Vitus Catherdal, within the castle walls
6. The Prague Castle itself, but at night, looking over the main city. So beautiful I cannot describe. This photo does it no justice.

Brian, Adam, Prague

Adam's Lego Joker and Batman

More drinking buddies. Above, Brian and Adam. Below, Batman and the Joker.

Prague Dancers

I was already completely in love with this city when I stumbled onto this at the Old Town Square. A bunch of beautiful women doing a marching baton dance. To an instrumetal version of my favourite musical ever – My Fair Lady. I was clapping and hooting like a maniac with just pure joy, as the sun shone and the military band played: I’m Getting Married In the Morning, With A Little Bit Of Luck and I Could Have Danced All Night.

Kafka and Me

An artist greatly under-appreciated in his own time, and a statue of Frank Kafka.

Dancing Building, Me

Finally, my fave thing in Prague. The Dancing House by Frank Gehry. From the other angle, it looks like Fred Astaire holding Ginger Rogers as her skirt spins in a dance. It’s awesome.

I took so many more photos, these are but the highlights. More on Flickr. But even a billion photos cannot describe how much I loved every second in Prague. I can’t wait to go again.


Homeward Bound

I like the fact that this blog, started almost a year ago now, has gone from a travel blog, a loose philosophy blog, the inevitable music blog, a few poems and will now be an accident recovery blog.

So I’m home after my accident. I’m doing fine.

It’s day one and I’m pretty much living in my room. Nathan found a disused wheelchair in the street (we live near a hospital) and decided to bring it home. Some people questioned why, but it’s come in mighty handy today. I’m been on it, bouncing around the room. Going from the toilet (I have an ensuite, thank god), to my desk, my CD racks, my tall boy and my bed. Quite efficient really. Also, the keyboard stands Josh Pyke left at my house to look after make good handles. One sits either side of the toilet, and I can climb on them. Brilliant.

The only thing I cannot do quite right is stairs. Which means I can’t get downstairs, to the front door or the kitchen. So food is a challenge. As is opening the door for people.So I can’t even recieve couriers or mail. It’s something I hope to look at conquering this week.

But it is so good to be home. Did some work today. Replied to some emails but I’m still behind. Caught up on the news and cleaned the room a bit to give myelf more room. Talked to my folks. It’s all going to work out I think.

Me in Emergency

Above is me barrely two hours after the accident. I healthy reminder to look left and look right. And lets not forget look left again.


Such nice things

They say such nice things about people at funerals that it makes me sad to realise that I’m going to miss mine by just a few days.

– Garrison Keillor

Everyone has been so nice.

Having watched far too much Scrubs, or indeed, just pop culture, it’s weird to step into a hospital and feel cliche. You think of flowers as dorky, cards as tacky.

But they aren’t. I love everything I’ve gotten. I don’t know when I last needed my friends to show me they love me, but they certainly came through. I don’t know how to react.

It made me think of the quote above, which I only learnt two weeks ago from a girl in Krakow. And I’m glad I didn’t have to die before my friends said some nice things to me.

The medical update is as follows. I have gone from dead, to not being able to use my spine, to a fractured hip, a foot and a torn muscle in my shoulder. That leaves one limb unharmed – my right arm. Insert jokes here.

They’ve checked everything and that’s all they’ve found. They’ve looked at those three areas quite a bit and still haven’t decided on a course of action. I’m comfy and all, but I really want to know. I’m mentally preparing to kick up a stink today.

I’ve spent so much time in hospitals, but never as an adult, staying in a long period. Funny to watch the schedule. Breakfast at 8. Sheets at 9. Rounds at 10. Lunch at 1. Visitors at 3. Dinner at 6. Lights out at 10.

My parents are doing fine with everything. I have friends here and Australia helping me in all ways. Lots of people have dropped by. My nurse kids that I have a small library and chocolate shop here.

Talked to many people over the last few days. I’m feeling loved, which is the bottom line. One of the last people I talked to was Bec, my dear muffin. And it took me ages to find her, so by the time I got through to her, it felt like I was calling for the first time.

I’m good, emotionally. I’m optimistic physically. More news soon.


I got hit by a car

At 11:30pm on September 4, I was leaving work after a couple of drinks with colleagues. I walked out, a little woozy, yes, and saw my bus across the road.

The bus was blocking both lanes of northbound traffic, so when there was a break in the southbound traffic, I made a dash for it.

Unfortunately, a taxi decided to do an overtake of the bus. I smashed right into the middle of the taxi, going at 30 miles an hour, and ended up almost 10 metres from the point of impact.

I remember seeing the taxi. Just the split second before it hit me. And I had so many thoughts. How do I get out of this? This is what a car crash is going to be like. This could be the big one.

I did not black out according to others, but I can’t remember anything but being on the floor next.

Right in the middle of Kensington Church St. I was in shock. When my mind started to clear a little, I screamed. I could not move. I didn’t know where my guts were. My legs could have been in Holland Park for all I knew.

Then the pain hit. And I screamed again.

I owe it all to Gary, another cabbie and a volunteer firefighter. He made sure I kept still, got my details off me before I became totally incoherent, checked my spine and neck quickly and most importantly, he held my hand and told me it was going to be ok.

The Police and the ambulance are a blur. I remember being put in the stretcher and being taken away. I remember thinking of Batman being in an ambulance in a comic I have.

The Ambulance people later told me that they were called in for a fatal. They brought body bags.

I remember them cutting through my jeans thinking, those are good scissors to cut through denim. Even delirious, I took off my leather jacket so they wouldn’t cut that.

I was taken to St Mary’s hospital, and was strapped down hard so I could not damage anything further. My Doctor, Will, and my nurse, Lizzie, could not have treated me better.

We had to do several Xrays at the base of my spine and my neck. It looked as if there may have been fractures there. And as much as I could feel someone squeezing my foot when asked, all I could really feel was pins and needles. I totally thought I would lose my legs.

The Xrays gave me the all clear in the neck and spine department. They did find fractures in my left hip. It hurts like nothing I’ve ever felt before.

Later they discovered I broke some bones in my right foot. They put me on pain killers, and after 7 painful hours, let me out of my neck brace. I have been napping all day and in my drowsy state it feels like the neck brace is still there.

I was taken away from Emergency then and put in a bed. Today, I have been doing further Xrays before they decide on a course of action.

The problem is the hip, which destroys my motor functions below the waste. I can’t even get into a wheelchair. Also, if the damage is significant enough, they may have to operate.

I hope not. I was very silly, but I’ve been lucky so far. Very lucky. Being hit by a car front on? And no permanent scars and maybe a funny hip forever. That’s nothing.

Even my bag with my laptop, camera, glasses, ipod and all survived. Well the bag is wrecked but the insides are ok.

All my London friends have really stepped up and looked after me. I have a fresh set of pyjamas for tonight, bunch of mags, and plenty of emails wishing me the best.

I am going to be ok. Which is nothing short of extraordinary.


A Very Belgian Flickr Update, flickr number 5

Now that we caught up on London, finally I can post the some of the hundreds of photos from my recent Europe jaunt. Firstly, Brussels.

Me at Grand Place
Me at Grand Place

Asterix Statue Smurf Statute Smurfs House Smurfs Sketches

Undisputed, surprise highlight was the Comics Museum:
1. Asterix (and Dogmatix! I love Dogmatix)
2. A Smurf statue (Surgeon Smurf?)
3. Fancy shot of a Smurf House, lightly reminiscent of a photo of Elvis Costello I really like. It’s the back of the All This Useless Beauty record, trainspotters.
4. Some of the very first sketches Le Schtroumpf.

Katia at Grand Place

There was a free music festival on at all different sites around the city, and Katia and I enjoyed lots of great music. Katia also did a lovely job translating the French lyrics for me.

The Manneken Pis and Me
A symbol of rebellious spirit, and a shit statue of a boy having a piss.

If I don’t look impressed it’s because I wasn’t. This is the Manneken Pis, a statue of a boy having, well, a piss. It’s supposed to be ironic, and cheeky. It’s a bit bizarre and disturbing. Just like Isabelle’s humour then.

Calvin at Brussels airport

I love random things at the best of times. But to see the head of my favourite comic strip character at the disused children’s play area at Brussels airport takes the cake. What the hell? This is Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes. He, and his creator, Bll Watterson, inspired the very first song on the very first album I ever made. He doesn’t license this sort of thing out either, making it an illegal ornament. Makes it even better.

(Yes, it’s just a picture. I’ll get over it)

London (but my heart is in Brussels)

This Is Not A Blog Entry

I love this painting very much.

It’s by the Belgium painter René Magritte, and it’s called the Treachery Of Images. The french writing translates to ‘This Is Not A Pipe.’

We live in information overloaded times, and it’s interesting how someone like me can come across someone like René Magritte. There are two really obvious ones – The Beatles Apple logo is based on an apple from a Magritte painting, and Paul Simon wrote a wonderful song called René And Georgette Magritte And Their Dog After the War.

I love the Simon song. It is one of my favourite Paul Simon songs – and that says a lot. Just like Magritte’s work, Simon’s song is a surreal thing, but somehow very tender and sympathetic. It’s basically an imaginary story of René Magritte and his wife and dog, living in New York, dancing in hotel rooms, listening to 50s Doo Wop. Bizarre and lovely.

But the real way I cam across Magritte is this painting is used in a comic. Scott McCloud’s Reinventing Comics. In it, he uses this painting as a larger talk about art.

And that’s why I love this painting. It reminds me to not get too up my own arse when I fall in love with a song, a painting, a movie, a book, a whatever.

I mean – This Is Not A Pipe?

It’s most clearly a pipe, right?

It has many pipe like features.

Actually, it doesn’t. It’s a painting. Wikipedia tells me it’s Oil on Canvas.

Well, it’s not even Oil on Canvas. It’s a jpeg. Pixelated little lights on a computer screen. My Dad would find it hard to smoke out of this pipe. It’s pretty much light. So, ok, Magritte is right. This is most definitely not a pipe.


I like it because art is about trying to capture something. People painted huge elaborate scenes to try and capture a moment. Or a place. Or a portrait. But at the end of the day, it’s not the same. And for hundreds of years of painters saying, hey, this is what this actually looks like…well Magritte gave all that the finger.

Treachery Of Images is like someone in a movie turning to the audience and going ‘This is all a bit of bullshit, isn’t it?”

And it is. All art is bullshit. And you have to question what you learn from it. You don’t really know someone just because you listen to their songs. You don’t know an object just because you read a book on it. It’s the great lie of art. To make you think the art can represent something else.

I tried to buy a print of this when I was in Brussels. But everything is closed there on Mondays. They are also building a Magritte Museum that opens next year. So maybe they’ll buy this painting back and I’ll actually get to see it.