There are 25,030 kms on the Toyota “Touring Vienta” as we leave Canberra. The fuel light doesn’t work, but Joe hasn’t run out of fuel in four years, “despite spending a lot of time in the danger zone”. We have a working relationship, Joe and I. He and I balance each other like two halves of the same Gemini. The strength of this bond relies upon a willingness to give each other the benefit of the doubt; to indulge each other’s flights of fancy. Being creative types, we seek the boundaries – and test the resilience – of this connection.
“Do you feel like you’re starting out on a new life?”. Before I could muster an answer to Joe’s excited inquiry, I heard “momonommonmonommonmonomom”*, and then beat boxing. We had not yet reached Goulburn.
Preparing to leave this morning we executed a lightning car-packing job. Our stuff fits in the car with space to spare, despite the careful packing job being undone immediately when we went to pick up the new speaker from Laine’s house. We snatched it from her, fantastic galactic paint job still drying on its white undercoat, straight from her driveway while she sat, Bodhisattva-like, cross-legged and applying fine details to the surface with flourescent brushes.
This brought the car’s contents to a grand total of one quintillion things. A shortlist (from memory) follows:
Two black bags (James’ wardrobe)
One grey bag (Joe’s wardrobe)
One pair big ol’ snowboots (James’)
One box shoes (Joe)
Two guitars (acoustic)
One guitar (electric)
One banjo (acoustic)
One box tour posters (the talented KM’s handiwork)
One folder CDs (stolen from Ramsay of Fun Machine)
One glove box CDs (Joe’s)
One needlessly heavy backpack (James)
Two straw hats (Joe’s containing considerably less straw)
One powered speaker (supersonic and out of this world)
One ancient briefcase (leads, Indian blanket, battery cables, EPs, charger)
Two Extreme Odyssey solid-gel car batteries (27 kgs each)
One cardboard box (EPs)
One 1980s Australian roadmap (tour planning & navigation)
One damp towel (always damp)
One tent (Kayla’s)
One swag (Joe’s (beloved))
One inflatable bed (at $15, a bargain)
One inflatable bed foot-pump (thank god)
One gas stove (thanks Holly!)
One gas cylinder (makes James edgy)
Two bottles homebrew (in wine bottles)
We listened to a series of excellent albums on the way out of town, including but not limited to Smokin’ at the Half Note, Three Cheers for Peace and Quiet, and All Delighted People: a prize to the first person to name the artists without using Google – We’ll Know if you cheat. Somehow.
We set up at the Camperdown Rest Memorial Park (est. 1951 according to the Newtown Church Act) for the first gig of our tour, inaugurally set up the busking gear, and play to an audience of Joe’s brother and sister and the sweet folk of Newtown, walking their dogs. A surprising number of people set off on these walks with beers in hand, in a good natured fashion. An equally surprising number of people stopped to say hello and listen, many of them with only two legs. One enterprising trio of Year 11 students hung out, purchased albums, sang and danced, and filmed us on their camera phones (their generation being what it is) and we are eternally grateful to them. Our first sexy, unsolicited fans of the new tour! The video will certainly turn up somewhere.
It is worth closing with a brief mention of the filming, unless you are not sociologically inclined, in which case please pretend that the last words of this post were “only two legs”. Or perhaps “first sexy, unsolicited”. As I played (and Joe wandered around inexplicably) one member of this trio of audience members held the phone in position, horizontally and at about waist height (teenagers can and will correct me here) while the other two chatted and watched. Through some communication missed by myself, the initial member passed over his role as the camera man – without moving the camera – to one of the others, while he got something from his pocket. As he re-entered the conversation, the least involved – third – member of the group, seemingly by default, reached out and took the camera, appearing to me not unlike a mime by the seeming permanence in space of the camera, and she held it in place, comfortably, until the end of the song. This whole exchange fascinated me and has been a cause for rumination many time since. Will these kind of co-operative technological actions be the saviour of interpersonal relations in the digital age? Is every little shake of the camera nin a YouTube clip now to be read as a possible change-over of cameraperson? Is 24 filmed by passing the camera like a kinescopic hot potato from one crew member to another?
*Actually a distinct set of syllables: the transcription above is directly from the tour diary, but I recall it as more distinct sections of ‘mo mo mo’ running into more forceful ‘mon mon mon’s.