Thursday, March 27, 2014
TZ and The Deadbeats.
A mate of mine, Bret Garten, who used to curate the funky films at the Chauvel Cinema, is organizing a monthly gig at a cool, laid-back venue called the Record Crate in Glebe and he's roped me into being the very first act to crack the club for him. I never know what I'm getting myself into, I simply put my hand up to do my thing and help him out if possible and now I find I'm the draw-card, something I never considered myself, more like The Fool's card in the Tarot pack, and I'm yet again shitting my pants. As I'm about to publish my epic tome, "The 7 Lives of the Punk Poofy Cat" on E-books, (somehow, somewhere in cyber-space) I feel to publicize the work by prepping an audience with live performances of the spoken word, with a couple of mates as musical back-up, that's why I'm daring to do the gig.
I'm calling us "The Deadbeats" as not only are we old and somewhat fucked-up, I at least can say, for all my efforts, I ended up a bum, reaching for the stars yes, but remaining in the gutter. At least I put in a lot of study along the way and so can claim to be a "dharma bum"; still, in all the phases of my life, I acted the fool: as a teenage wastrel, soul-seeking yogi, hedonistic freak, anarchic activist, bullshit artist, wannabe movie star, public enemy number 7 and now hopeful writer (or is that wanker, all along?). Oh well, at least I followed my heart and chased my dreams, even tho it's left me wailing and spitting chips from a back-alley dumpster.
The Deadbeats are going to perform often, more as funky theatre of the absurd intellect rather than serious musicians or artists, and I'll read different stories or poetry over time, according to the gig. Another reason I like the name The Deadbeats is I want to revisit, re-approach, reprise the Beatniks, their coffee lounge milieu, candle-light, guitars, bongos; I'm old enough to remember the look of the Beatniks, as a 13 year old I saw the last of them hanging outside their klunky clubs in Melbourne in 1963, and I laughed at Dobie Gillis and Maynard on TV, and I don't feel I'm being pretentious and waffle-minded to jump on the much whored phenomena of the "Beats", I truly get off on their writing, Allen Ginzberg is my biggest hero, and of course I admire Ferlengetti, Kerouac, Burroughs, and Bukowski, (tho he disavowed the Beats.)
I know this sounds like the usual wannabe hipster kow-towing but what can I do, I've read books since five years old to escape the terrors of the so-called "real world", (making a living, taking responsibility, running the rat-race etc) and I swoon at good writing, and at trying something different, a rebellious lifestyle. Life on the streets in all the realists' tradition from Jean Genet to John Fante, John Steinbeck to Jack Black, Carson McCullers to George Orwell, I've read them all and devour more still, it's what I live for.
So I will read "The Hungry Gods of Goa" with Paul Vassallo on slide-guitar and Brian Allen on sitar, and I'll have hundreds of slides projected behind us of scenes from Goa in the 1970s, palm trees and golden beaches, sadhus smoking chillums, naked hippies, churches, temples and nature spots, Hindu Gods, Christian Heavenly Fathers, Moslem art, the great god Pan, the Green Man, Satan, fairies, imps and psychedelia, all of it capturing "The Hungry Gods of Goa" that tried to devour my soul. I know there are plenty of books about freaks in India, "Shantaram", "Charles Sobraj" by Richard Neville, ""Be Here Now" by Baba Ram Das, "Holy Cow!" by Sarah McDonald etc etc, but I only hope I've written from another perspective, each human's tale is different and unique, like a snow-flake, (maybe I've a snow-flake's chance in Hell of being different and standing out from the crowd, there are endless books about visitors' travails in India.)
You might think I've ripped off "Goa Freaks - My Hippie Years in India" by Cleo Odzer, (1995) but I've never read it, only discovering the title recently when I Googled " '70s Hippies in Goa" in my ongoing research. I got entangled with LSD not heroin or cocaine, I wasn't a drug courier and didn't make a lot of money, I was desperately poor, in rags, lived in a simple grass hut and was not invited to the "In" parties on Anjuna beach. I was a dippy soul-seeker, lost in a labyrinth of gods, gurus, myths and philosophies, money and drugs were not my gods, knowledge and adventure more my religion. Maybe Cleo came after me anyway, she ruled in the mid-70s, I arrived in the early '70s. My story is my own, for what it's worth.
Whatever, I wrote the first draft of the story in the '80s and have been slaving over rewrites ever since and wonder if it'll ever see the light, except for this Blog. And anyway, there's a lot more to "The 7 Lives of the Punk Poofy Cat" than freaking out in Goa, there's growing up a freak in Melbourne in the '50s and '60s, chasing Babas and gurus in India in the early'70s, the squats and stunts of the situationists in Sydney of the '80s, and back to India and techno-raves by the Arabian Sea in the '90s and Naughties, all the while trying to handle, to enlighten, my deviance as a homosexual.
The doing of this stuff is the fun: creating, performing, contributing, no matter there's no money or glory in it, there'll be plenty of time to layabout doing nothing when I'm dead, I just love getting up on small stages and attempting to get the audience to eat out of my hand. For now, in my '60s, it's still "Action!" - the Arabian Nights movie goes on, I'm flying high on my magic carpet and it's literature, art, music and adventure that are my addiction. That genie still takes me to the top of the Himalayas to win the omniscient jewel from the third eye of the unknown godhead, or down to the underground night club to spout my poetry and entertain any open-hearted listeners.
P.S. So how did the gig go? The usual deadbeat affair, like you see in the movies, biopics about the hard climb to the top of some star performer, belting out their songs in a seedy nightclub while drunkards brawl. Only my show was more like mon-stars on their way to the bottom: some arse-hole walked in in the middle of the act and started yelling gibberish to some other arse-hole who yelled back; gronks walked in and out constantly, restlessly, like ghosts looking for their lost corpses; the fuckwit DJ in the record shop/restaurant downstairs decided to compete with my story-telling and turned his Tamla Motown hits up loud so that my musos could only play along with his melodies instead of mine; and the video-projector blew up so there were no visuals of the "hungry gods of Goa". But the organizer, Brett, had miraculously found an old 16ml film called "Shangri-la" about hippies in Goa in the '70s and he projected that on top of us and it was amazingly serendipitous, matching my material perfectly, long-haired hippies running naked in the surf and smoking hash in chillums and dancing mindlessly around bonfires. Only 7 of my friends turned up plus another 7 strangers, but all in all we had fun, it's what being alive is all about and The Deadbeats will carry on, dead though the beat is, in other venues with other hair-raising tales to tell.
If you enjoyed this story please go to the WEB address above and consider buying my book of tales about growing up anarcho-queer, rock and roll punter and mystic adventurer in Australia and India of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s.