Friday, April 26, 2013

Remembering Juliette

Last week was the first anniversary of me finding out my first girlfriend had died. A year since the phone call saying the death notice was in the paper, a year since the funeral. It was the biggest reason I didn't blog much last year. I'd never lost anyone that close to me before and it really knocked me back for a while. I was pondering just what to blog about this, or even to blog about it at all. It's a confusing thing. She was the centre of my world once, but not for that long and it was half a lifetime ago, so why so bothered? What level of grief is appropriate? Is there even such a thing? But then you remember that even if you didn't see them often, you still cared about this person.

This is me and Juliette about a million nineteen years ago. We dated for 9 months between summers in 1994, when we were both 17 turning 18. I was a first year, and she was in her last year of high school. I wasn't her first, and very much a naif - she taught me a lot about how to be in a relationship. Somebody had to, since I was clueless on the topic. Both being stroppy teenagers, we partied well (I've been told we appeared virtually inseperable at times), and occasionally fought well too. Lots of good times, a few forgettable ones, and a few that will forever stay between me and her to protect the innocent guilty.

We didn't end well, and were on each others shitlists for a while, but stayed in the same circles and eventually realised that we actually could still be friends. After a few years we were pretty much reconciled (and ironically being a bit more mature much better suited to being in an actual relationship, had the prior history not been there). Eventually though as the 90's drew to a close we went separate ways, and lost touch a little bit. We caught up on the odd occasion, but after around 2003 I lost touch with her completely until a couple of years ago. The last time I saw her was about a year before she died (at a barbecue notable for the attendance of not only all of my exes but my wife. Since they are all nice people, my world didn't implode). My wife being the wonderful soul she is, left us alone to fill in the gaps. The deal fate gave her
in the form of bipolar disorder was a particularly shitty one, and the intervening years unkind. It saddens me still to think of all the talents she had (she was good at a lot of things), and potential and happiness she wasn't able to realise. After a lot of struggle though, things seemed to be looking up for her. We parted well that night, at peace with each other, and made plans to try and see each other a bit more often, but busy lives got in the way and suddenly there could be no more catchups ever. 

It occurred to me that when an ex dies, and you are still living in the same place as you were when you were dating, it's a bit like breaking up with them all over again. You look around and remember, this is where we did this, that is where we did that, like no time has passed at all. I thought about what I could write about, what stories to relate, but then realised that the things that most reminded me of her were songs. Music was one of the things we bonded over and nearly two decades later the associations are still strong, so that is the eulogy I'm choosing. They might not be particularly great or funny memories, but they're mine.

The song she hated because she thought love should be a 24/7 thing : Friday I’m In Love

The song that reminds me a lot of that time, of being old enough to date, but still young enough to be restricted, particularly when it comes to having to catch buses to get around if the parents you are still living with won't lend you a car: Dancing in the moonlight

The song that we discussed a lot, and just seemed to capture a lot of moments, including a discussion at a party with somebody or other's cousin, who was the lead singer with a deep voice of an improbably named band called Thrusthusband (a name they wrote in Greek), and just how the deep voice in the song worked: Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm

The song she requested for me one night when we were playing dedication tag on Kix FM: Tunnel of Love. They didn't have it, so played Imagine instead, which isn't one of my faves (to put it politely). I still have the tape of the announcer's explanation somewhere.
The song I got played for her: Nights In White Satin. She loved The Moody Blues.

The song that at 2:20 reminds me of a single perfect moment at the 1994 Sacred Heart school ball : Hey Now (Girls Just Want To Have Fun)

The song she got bouncing up and down excited about in the car one Friday night on the way to her hockey game because she picked the “very late” lyric before it came up on her first listen: Round Here. It’s one of my favourite memories of her. I still remember the exact stretch of road we were on.

The two songs we bought a matching pair of cassingles together: Mr Jones and Streets Of Philadelphia.

The song from that year's Pink Floyd album, that we sat with nothing to say just staring out the window from her parents lounge one rainy day: Marooned. She gave me a Pink Floyd T-Shirt for my birthday, which still fits.

The song that always reminds me of a particular Friday night party in March 1994 and going to watch her play high school cricket the next day, and whose “time to say goodbye now” lyric particularly resonated after her death: Tear in your hand.

The album she introduced me to, via an arabian pirate copy she got when her family lived in Syria: Wish You Were Here

The song I first heard on a Vic Uni pub crawl we both went on, on a jukebox in the old St George Hotel bar, despite neither of us being Vic students, or of a legal age to drink: Disarm. The opening to this song from the same album is beautiful and always reminds me of those times. That album was everywhere then.

The song from an album that was at every party we went to then, and would remind me of her in the period after we split: Sitting Inside My Head.

The song I played at her the night we broke up. Yeah, subtle: Crazy Love Part II.

Two songs that for whatever reasons, helped me deal with things last year: Diamond Jigsaw and Scribble. When driving alone in the car at night for a couple of weeks I would just play them over and over.

We both loved Supertramp. I remember her favourite song of theirs was School, but they carried her coffin out of the church to Take The Long Way Home. It's a favourite of mine but I haven't felt the urge to listen to it since.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


This song by one of my favourite Australian bands plays on a perhaps slightly unfair myth about the ANZAC leadership, but still suits the day well, and is one of the better efforts in a field that often turns to the mawkish:

ANZAC day isn't, and shouldn't ever be about glorifying war or nationalism. It's a day for rememberance and acknowledgement, of what others had to go through (rightly or wrongly) in our name, and those who fell. And as an army Brigadier eloquently quoted at this morning's Lower Hutt ceremony, the bonds of mateship. Soldiers don't often fight for the higher ideals of national policy, which are close to irrelevant on the battlefield. They most often fight for those alongside them.

NB: The Christmas Truce referred to in the lyrics was a real thing that occured in 1914.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Getting it right for once

Listening to: one of my new comps, and this track right now: Run Run Run. I love the pun of the chanting at the end of the song.

It wasn't until I saw it on Huffington Post while following Boston news that I realised this had been noticed outside the country. It might not be as spontaneous as some are claiming, but this was still a pretty cool moment after the vote that made same-sex marriage legal in NZ this week.

Another unexpected viral clip from an unexpected source is this brilliant speech prior to the vote:

There's some post speech follow up including an "Ellen" invite here.

And a couple of friends of mine on why it mattered:

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Re Compiling

I've been making comps for more than twenty years, first on tape, then on CD. I never used them to try and woo anyone, although I did make one for a girl I fancied as a birthday present, but more because I was broke than because I thought it would affect any other proceedings. They were more or less done for my own listening pleasure (for a while, there were times when I wasn't listening to actual albums at all). Besides countless tape comps, I made more than twenty CD compilations of my favourite tracks, including a 6-CD set that soundtracked my 30th birthday party. Listening to them now, especially the ones where I didn't record the tracklist anywhere can be a lot of fun, not only for reminding me of what I was into when I made them, but also since I've often forgotten what was on them, leading to lots of pleasant surprises. And the occasional skip or three when I wonder what I was thinking. Acquiring an MP3 player, and a car stereo that said player could plug into though effectively rendered the comps redundant, so it's been a few years now since I have put any together.

When that car died last month though, the stereo went with it. Our new ride has an actually much better stereo set up sound wise, but alas it doesn't have an AUX port (not yet anyway). And with it's first road trip beckoning yesterday, suddenly the comp is back in vogue, although being able to rip tracks straight from the MP3 player makes things a bit faster than the last time I did this. It was fun switching media on a whole bunch of new artists and songs I had never plonked on CD until now, and remembering the rules of making compilations. I was in a rush though, and a programme crash obliterated my first, near-perfect tracklist (which of course I neglected to write down first). Three road CD's resulted from a quick and dirty compile on Saturday morning.

The first one came out like this:

1. Unkle - "Keys To The Kingdom"
2. Dropkick Murphys - "Shipping Up To Boston"
3. Underworld - "Diamond Jigsaw"
4. Shihad - "Hard To Please"
5. Buffalo Tom - "Mineral"
6. Better than Ezra - "In The Blood"
7. The Twilight Singers - "On The Corner"
8. Big Country - "Porroh Man"
9. Third Eye Blind - "Motorcycle Drive-By"
10. Deborah Conway - "Today I Am A Daisy"
11. Jane's Addiction - "Mountain Song"
12. The Twilight Singers - "Never Seen No Devil"
13. Jakob - "Everything All Of The Time"
14. Talk Talk - "Life's What You Make It"
15. Chemical Brothers - "The Test"
16. Friendly Fires - "Jump In The Pool"

Having literally roadtested it now it kinda works, although "Today I Am A Daisy" and "Mountain Song" more co-exist than go together smoothly, and "Everything All Of The Time" does slow the pace a bit with it's epic moodiness.

The second one had more of an electronica theme, and not planned so much as themed.

1. Concord Dawn and Rido - "One And Only"
2. Underworld - "Scribble"
3. Crystal Castles - "Not In Love" (the Robert Smith version with a proper vocal)
4. Computers Want Me Dead - "Circles"
5. Concord Dawn - "The Space Between Us"
6. The Tutts - "i20"
7. Underworld - "Two Months Off"
8. Leftfield - "Open Up"
9. Shapeshifter - "One"
10. Prodigy - "Poison"
11. Chemical Brothers - "Star Guitar"
12. Unkle - "Burn My Shadow"
13. Underworld - "Rez"

That tracks in this genre tend to be longer is evident in the shorter traklisting. "i20" works as a kind of halfway break, and I originally planned to close it with "Burn My Shadow", but opted for "Rez" as a more trippy rather than punchy ender, and sort of breaking one of my own rules about not having too many tracks by the same artist on the same disc.

The third one was most rushed, and is more or less tracks that had caught my eye while putting the other two together:

1. Julia Deans "Skin (Everything Is Coming To A Halt)"
2. The Twilight Singers - "Gunshots"
3. Interpol - "Obstacle 1"
4. Foals - "Inhaler"
5. Hunters And Collectors - "Angel Of Mercy"
6. Paul Banks - "The Base"
7. Pearl Jam - "Brother" (the version with lyrics)
8. Neneh Cherry - "Manchild"
9. Dave Dobbyn - "Shaky Isles"
10. Foals - "Spanish Sahara"
11. Concrete Blonde - "Someday"
12. Hunters And Collectors - "Run Run Run"
13. Motocade - "Commandeering"
14. Pearl Jam - "Hard To Imagine"
15. The Twilight Singers - "Sublime"
16. Neneh Cherry - "Buffalo Stance"
17. Ween - "Mutilated Lips"

It's probably the messiest to listen to, but all three could flow a bit better. Maybe I should just play them all on random anyway.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Umm, yeah

I know my daughter made it with love and enthusiasm at day care, but this unicorn/baby/reindeer/yoghurt pottle thing is now resident on my kitchen windowsill and generally creeping me the hell out.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Driving out 2012

Harking back to the summer that was, we spent the last day of 2012 driving from one side of the North Island to the other. Depending on which bit of it you are crossing, this can take either a few minutes, or most of a day.

Guess which one we were doing.

Going from the Waikato coast to Hawke's Bay is a longish haul straight through the middle of the island. that said we had good roads, perfect weather, active volcanoes and pretty waterfalls to look at, and even the odd moment of perfection in the back seat. 

SH30 from Te Kuiti to Taupo. One of my favourite bits of road that I don't drive on very often.
 The aforementioned moment of perfection.
 The white smudge at centre right is the active vent on Tongariro being active.
Waipunga Falls on the Napier Taupo road, another new discovery for us (having travelled this road all of once before). After revisiting Marokopa earlier in the day this was almost starting to feel like a waterfall tour at this point, which bizarrely, someone has actually done.
Our first sight of the east coast from the Napier Taupo highway. Moment of triumph tempered slightly by the reason we were stopped being to clean up a motion sickness related incident, after foolishly giving a toddler a book to read on a winding road.

Spending all day on the road, then setting up a tent at the collective friends of friends before putting the children to bed though doesn't exactly set you up for a night of New Year revelry though. Although long days that end with a promising change of scenery are usually worthwhile.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Summer's Kiss is over baby

Nobody on the road, nobody on the beach . . .
I feel it in the air, the summer's out of reach.

We made a trip to Days Bay after dinner tonight to wave goodbye to summer on the last night of daylight savings time. The distinctly unsummeriness of the weather didn't stop the girls from having a paddle though.

Lyric reference #1

Lyric reference #2

Both excellent tracks for this time of year.