Friday, May 6, 2011
Thirty Years of Tears
Looking towards ANZAC bridge - the roof of the Kauri Foreshore Hotel in the middle ground - at dusk.
Via the curate's egg that is the life online I've linked up with friends from the glory days - 1978 to 1982 - when every thing seemed possible - we reminisce and discover that we remember differently - the past is a different place - and we are attached to it differently - so many people that energised us then have died since yet the strongest memories endure.
I've tried to revisit those days but find my version of them didn't exist or if it did it was parallel to but separate from the versions/visions of others that were there. I went to Upper Cuba Street about a year ago and it is as Peter McLeavey says a Disneyland version of itself. They paved paradise and put up a motorway. It's like a lot of things that are re-worked - someone who wasn't there recalls something they didn't understand and produces a Stepford Wives version of it - think of the "new" VW - like something from Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons
Upper Cuba Street is now a wikipediased version of its earlier grittier incarnations. So too the "Wellington Punk Scene" - romanticised versions of which are cropping up on the net - it was dumb and ugly and fun and glorious - some of the best musical experiences in my life took place back then - the Wallsockets on one of their perfects days: the rhythm guitarist relatively straight, the drums and bass locked in like Sly and Robbie on sensi, the lead guitar cutting through like something from Jefferson Airplane and the lead singer like a cross between Debbi Harry and Poly Styrene with a hint of ancient passion
Or the Gordons every show or Mike the Cripple in his homemade Charlie Parker t-shirt gallumping across stage to sing the Endless Sea with the Androidss. (I thought the t-shirt said BIRO) - the now legendary New Wave Special at the town hall at the same time as buddha sticks hit town - the possibilities were endless - I coulda been a contender. I was heading for a career as an art director or "something in graphics" but then came to believe art was too important to me for me to be able to make money out of it (childish or what?) plus I discovered fun - being dopefucked and thinking I could levitate - "dropping" acid and seeing the black dull twigs on a tree outside the window arrange themselves into a grid and the cat with the deep deep abcess on its neck that could act like a vortex and suck me in unless I intwined my fingers in the carpet and the formica bathroom walls running and turning into caverns and crevices and being what-is-now-known-as-P-fucked and seeing Roger as God bursting through the sun at Makara beach as birds dived into the sea and the wind whipped our voices away and the thrown stick tumbled through the air and hit a carload of hoons who laughed at it and us and Roxy the dog and everything was good and Tony tooted at the horse to see if it would rear and buck off the rider and then we were in town and fucking protesters were blocking the roads and we wanted to drive some more and had forgotten about the Springboks and Void leapt on the car knowing we were totally wired and we screamed and laughed Amandla Ngawethu and the marshalls made him sit down and then it gotbad. People started dying and ordinary hoons dressed as skinheads committed their dull suburban atrocities scaring women and children and things fell apart - the centre could not hold and fun was no longer enough and the chemists must have changed or lost the recipe and windows were being smashed and lives shattered and love lay limp and people escaped into nostalgia. And now nostalgia is not what it used to be.
Coming back to NZ later I stopped in Sydney and went with friends one old one new to see Dogs in Space. Though set in a different town in a different country it captured those days. The lead singer was gorgeous and my friend Jeff said he's a famous Strayan muso in a famous band I forget who and the teenage Aussie chick behind us said "INXS" like we were the dumbest people she'd met since she left home. That's how I like my nostalgia - by people from another place who can say well this isn't your reality this is ours.