That was Raife’s roof in Venice beach. What a bastard.
So, I’ve been learning songs. There are a bunch, we’re not doing all of them for the EP, which bodes well for the post-EP future.
There’s this thing on the internet, I don’t know if it’ll be fun, but I thought it might be. I guess it’s what the comments section on here is for, but maybe it’s more fun if it’s all formatted nice and stuff. Ask whatever, I’ll answer,
is that really egomaniacal? Not as egomaniacal as a blog?
I didn’t think Spain were going to win that semi-final. Netherlands for the big win, all the way.
8:37 am • 8 July 2010
I stopped doing this for a while, mainly because Veils went on a break and while I guess I could be one of those people who posts ‘what I’m up to outside of the band’ posts it seems like I pretty much do that already, with a veneer of Veils-interest, and..I dunno. I’m lazy. Plus ‘what I’ve been doing’ can be summed up in bullet points
-I work in a bar a bit. It’s a lot like being a band. A number of grumpy tired people in dirty clothes perform a service for a larger number of well dressed happy people enjoying a night/day out.
-I very much enjoy watching the video for ‘Alejandro’ when it comes on. As my friend Sid put it, ‘it’s a rare woman that can simulate a choreographed gang bang with a dozen men and not come off looking like a victim. Doesn’t even matter that the song sounds like a souped up version of La Isla Bonita.’ In related news: I quite like Tinie Tempah.
-A slightly waning interest in the world cup coincided neatly with wimbledon beginning. Or, a slightly waning interest in the world cup coincided neatly with the opportunity to gaze lovingly at Rafael Nadal.
-Didn’t New Zealand do WELL though!
Then all of a sudden one day I had lunch with Finn and it turned out he’d written some really good songs are we’re making an EP. This is Good, not least because it means I spend more time playing bass and less time watching music videos on TV. So next week we’re doing that. I don’t know if anyone knows who we’re doing it with, so maybe I won’t say. It’s a man. It’s not Timbaland. Or Ronson.
I guess maybe, depending how it goes, I might write some stuff while we record things. But that depends if the studio has a television. After all, the Tour de France just started.
10:32 am • 7 July 2010
Photos from USA 09 too golden not to share
'You guys wanna play on a tank?'
I break my own heart sometimes. Late in the tour, to the store for snacks, my subconscious takes over without my realising until I got to the checkout. Clearly in dire need of a salad, I end up with aspartame, lung cancer and oil.
The only answer I have to the question ‘What are you doing here?’ is the obvious one - ‘trying to pay with a shoe.’
Ever seen someone look this dangerous while eating a toffee apple?
11:28 am • 27 May 2010
That Promised TBC
A decent walk to School Of Seven Bells left us in a draughty building that managed to look New Yorky, the way draughty New Yorky warehousy venues always seem as though they’re full of smoke, despite this being unlikely, if not impossible. There was a high proportion of bellied older gents wearing many varied laminates. There was no band on, yet. There was no band on for AGES, but School Of Seven Bells were pottering around the stage making noises into microphones and checking synths.
'Girls with that kind of hair always terrify me.'
'What, the real angular fringe thing?'
'Yeah. How does it STAY that way?'
'Yeah I figured you wouldn't know.'
It might be that our standards were set a bit high by the one-two Thurston/Courtney wallop, but the most fun was had out of counting how many times the guitarist adjusted his hair during the set. And when he managed to find a moment mid-song to do a fringe re-arrange we just looked at eachother and went outside. It wasn’t their fault. Overkill. Tacos instead, on the way to see Basia.’
'THIS TACO IS HORRIBLE! IT'S JUST MEAT!'
'That's what a taco IS.'
'I thought they came with, like, salad and avocado and stuff.'
'That's a burrito.'
'But the taco you had yesterday had other stuff.'
'That's because I befriended the taco guy.'
* * *
'Y'know what….this meat is actually really good.'
I was crazy jealous of Basia’s show, because after her there was Quasi, and after Quasi there was Liars. But we could only see Basia, because we had our own show to do. She was awesome. Remains awesome. You’re retarded if you don’t get her records. Henning Dietz showed up, smoking a cigar, and was duly reamed in hilarious fashion. The last I saw of him was as Raife and I drove away in a cycle taxi, Henning standing in the middle of the road yelling ‘SOPH! YOU DIDN’T SAY GOODBYE!’
To Cedar Street!
And to the third stomach dropping musical experience of the day. Buddy. Miller. Two drummers. Rhinestone guitar straps. A woman who got up out of the crowd in a sort of anorak and twinset, as though she was just stopping by, and unleashed one of those perfect clear country voices that sound like a waterfall of cider vinegar in a mountain forest. I couldn’t really deal, I don’t think any of us could. Raife goggling at the drummers, one a chubby carpenter-type dude, the other a Steve Erkel lookalike, who played different and the same, grinning at eachother with utter glee, the chubber with a huge percussion bangle of sea-shells. The bass player who was one of those guys who look as though they are completely ignoring everyone and couldn’t give less of a shit about the whole thing and yet you could tell by the tiny incline of his head where his attention was, and by the fact that everything he played was the perfect and most simple thing that the not-giving-a-shit was a byproduct of a complete and natural knowing-of-his-shit.
And this is before you layer on the accordion player who was like what you imagine gypsies might’ve been like before gogol bordello got involved. And Buddy Miller himself, who was one of those guys that just…I dunno. He just so clearly loved it, that the whole thing was probably the most joyous looking show I’ve ever seen. It was unbelievable.
And yeah, we had to go on after it. AFTER IT. AFTER THAT. WE HAD TO GO ON AFTER THAT.
When they finished, I went down, goggly and manic the way I get when I’m a bit overwhelmed and Mr Miller was packing his stuff and I took a big breath and went up to him and said
'Hey, um, look, I have to play now and…'
and he interrupted me and said
'I know, sorry, I won't be much longer, just packing up.'
I don’t know what colour I went.
'nononono that wasn't what I meant. I meant, I meant um, um, oh, um, just that, that was incredible, and we have to play now and I don't know…..how it's going to go, but thank you, for making me feel like that.'
And he said
'Oh don't worry. You just do your thing, and that's all anyone can ever do.'
By this point I’d completely gone to bits and just gabbled thankyouthankyou and skittered off, only to bang into the Erkel drummer whom I also felt obliged to dribble thank yous and that-was-amazings at, who completely finished me off by saying he’d been at our show the other night and loved it and thought we were wicked.
And it actually didn’t go badly. Best one of the trip I think, Finn’s guitar fell right off him at one point but given the disaster it seemed like it would have to be after the buildup it was alright.
And another two hour wander around the city looking for a taxi, but we bought the best hot dogs of all time after the first half an hour and that made it a lot less painful.
8:19 am • 27 May 2010
Belated: Bewildered - SXSW III
'I think I want an icecream.'
'I want an icecream.'
'Why are we awake?'
'I don't know.'
'Where do we get an icecream?'
'I don't know.'
'I want an icecream.'
'I want an icecream too.'
By the third day it had come to this. I don’t normally want an icecream at eleven in the morning immediately following a mexican breakfast.
'Lets go to Mohawk.'
'Dunno. It's got that outside bit, where the wrestling was.'
Things made sense at the time that I can’t make any sense of now.
'We'll probably find an icecream on the way.”Yeah, bound to.'
'Dre's ordering a BEER.'
'This place is too full of people.'
'I WANT AN ICECREAM.’
'Fuck it. Let's go find one. We'll find the others later.'
Finn and I went in search.
'Where's that shop you got the mexican one from yesterday?'
'I don't know. Near the hilton.'
'This way, then.”No. Other way.”No, it's this way.”It's the other way, but I'll believe you.'
It wasn’t. It wasn’t the other way either.
'This was the best idea we ever had.'
'Raife just texted me, says we have to go back to Mohawk to see this band, Frightened Rabbit.'
'Fine. I feel like I can handle anything now I've got this.'
They wouldn’t let us back into Mohawk. Frightened Rabbit were popular.
'Oh. Just saw this text saying to lie and say we're playing cos it's full and otherwise they won't let us in.'
'Guess we probably can't do that now.'
'I'm texting Dre.'
True to form, he appeared, pantherlike, spoke some sort of voodoo words to a guy, and we were not only in, but up on the balcony with free instant coffee samples everywhere and a mysterious dude in a sailor outfit who seemed to think he was King Of Austin. I spent most of Frightened Rabbit’s set watching him, instead of them, with a sort of lazy loathing. Not sure why, I think because he looked a bit like Ed Harcourt, who wasn’t in Austin, and would have actually been King had he been there so I sort of resented this imposter dude.
Or maybe I was just tired. Either way I was happy. I think it was the icecream. Everything had a golden glow to it.
'That was okay.'
'Guess so. You guys should get icecreams.'
'Yeah you really should.'
'What do we do now?'
'Hole are playing.'
'Right there. But don't get excited, it's full.'
At that point, we ran into O Mercy. They were looking for food, and planning to also go and see Hole. It didn’t seem worth mentioning to them that it was full.
'Jeff can get two of us into Hole.'
We looked at eachother. Dan was first out.
'I grew up in England. I must've seen Hole sixteen times. Not interested.'
Dre was next.
'You pussies go ahead, I don't give a shit.'
'Oh wait! Jeff says three!'
I swear to god it was the icecream that turned the day around. I would’ve thought the new Hole would be a disaster of biblical proportions. A plague of locusts descend on the stage and chew Courtney’s throat out, but she keeps singing.
It was unbelievably good.
'It's not even that full in here.'
'I'm getting closer to the stage.'
We only saw maybe four songs. The lady still got it. Proper. What she also clearly has is the best make up artist of all time, because she looked ridiculously hot, and about seventeen years old. Seriously. It wasn’t just icecream glow. The Johnny Borrel lookalike guitarist was a bit irritating, but aside from that, it was stellar. Raife Finn and I just stood there gaping til it was done, then we had a hug. A HUG. That good.
'That was insane.'
I know. Best thing I’ve seen in ages.’
'Now I want an icecream.'
'And some sushi?'
'Yeah why not.'
'What happens later?'
'Thurston Moore. Then I kinda want to go see School Of Seven Bells. Then Basia. Then us.'
'Fucking hell, look at that queue.'
'Nah Muse are playing back there.'
'That's one of the biggest queues I've ever seen.'
A note: people queued, I believe, for days, to see Muse. To see Muse. Who tour every major city in the world on a regular basis, and for whose shows you can just, you know, buy a ticket and show up. Go figure.
'I wanna know. I'm gonna ask.'
'Scuse me? What are you queueing for?'
Some kid in a tshirt told me two bands. I had never heard of either of them. I felt suddenly a bit old. Especially with his smug expression in response to my look of complete blankness.
* * *
'This icecream is incredible.'
'No, but seriously.'
'Would I be on my second of the day if it wasn't?'
The queue for Thurston wasn’t as big as the other queue. Some kid came up to me.
'Scuse me…what is this queue for?'
I looked smug. I hope he felt stupid.
Eventually they opened a back door and we did a teenaged sprint around the block. Midsprint we collected O Mercy and a friend from New Zealand. I liked the sprint. Everyone janging laminates and wristbands, trying not to tread on flapping laces.
I was trying to avoid drinking, we were hanging about in a more or less empty garage talking bullshit to O Mercy, when Graham-from-NZ presciently said ‘guys, I think there’s another room, where Thurston’s playing.’
Only missed about ten minutes. It was stellar. Thurston and an acoustic and a really irritating dude in front of me with a video camera filming the whole thing. Watching a show through a screen. I gave him filthy looks for a bit but they didn’t work. And what’s even more irritating is that the dude doesn’t seem to have even put the fucking thing on youtube so I could at least link to it.
'Does anyone want to go and see school of seven bells with me?'
'What is it?'
'Uh…..arty brooklyn synth wank with twin girl singers?'
5:34 am • 30 April 2010
new birds, still no bands
I woke up with the full horror of the taxi queue somehow even fresher in my mind, loathing Raife. Actually, properly, deeply loathing him.
'That bastard is asleep at the Hilton, right now. He doesn’t even know what happened last night.’
Oh I was in a foul mood. Properly foul. Finn and I went to find some breakfast and I did a classic Dan-in-a-strop thing and walked into the first place (fried seafood. it was 10am. it was full. this is Austin) glanced at the menu, said ‘there’s nothing I can eat here’ and walked back out again. Then I refused to eat in at the second place (mexican), claiming it would make us late, stalked out and sat outside smoking. Stalked my way over to the taxirank, got in a cab and thought about how there was zero chance this day could go well.
It’s always funny little things, in America. I worry that I’m getting cynical. I had bemoaned to Dre the fact that the sign on the Hilton door, the etched in glass lettering stating that handguns are not permitted in the Hilton lobby, didn’t bring me out in the paroxysms of novel wonder things like that used to. Yeah, no handguns, whatever. Not even worth a photo.
Our taxi driver was playing sixties and seventies rock, low volume. Dre asked him if it was the radio, or a tape. It was a tape. He told us about how he used to have hundreds of old records, all the original stuff, a proper collection worth a lot,
'but then I got married….then my daughter got married, and I needed to pay for the wedding.”
”You’re a good man.”
”I miss those records, though.’
He told us about being in Vietnam, and coming back and finding all this new music waiting for him, the bands he liked and how he never thought the Monkees were any good even though people seemed to like them. Then Gloria came on, and we asked him to turn it up. He maxed the volume for about thirty seconds, I stuck my head out the window and suddenly everything was gloriously, glisteningly good again. He apologised in case we were deaf now, and turned it down a bit.
And I got to feel all lovely and from-a-tiny-place again, marvelling at how our taxi driver had actually been in Vietnam, and it wasn’t even a big deal. And that thing in America, the awesome taxi music thing. It’s not often I get in an american cab to find the Radio 1 equivalent. Or worse, when you get in a cab in England and they can tell you’re in a band or think you are, and they change it to XFM, and you can hear them thinking how sensitive to client needs they are, as you grit your teeth through bullshit for forty minutes. Dan and I once spent half an hour building a huge head of steam, glaring and twitching at each progressively worse piece of shit, the only minor respite being ‘Hey Jude’, which was actually even more depressing, in a way.
I digress. American taxi drivers are awesome, and now I’ve started I realise there’s probably a whole post to be written. The one, somewhere, I can’t remember, who was playing an underground hiphop station that only broadcast two hours a night. The one who showed us his gun…etc. But this is about Austin, and this one guy who turned me from snarling wretch into Pollyanna in twenty minutes.
He dropped us off and Dre put the lid on my mood reversal by noticing the Mexican ice creams in the shop I was buying Diet Coke in. I was even happy to see Raife.
Lustre Pearl become the base of excursions for the rest of the weekend. Farmhousey place set a bit away from the utter carnage of the main roads. We arrived midway through the Happy Hollows set, unloaded everything, ran into Em and Steve who appeared to be drinking fairly strong cocktails, and played a show that seemed to go quite well. Everything broke again, but it was starting to feel normal.
'AG! AG! SAILOR JERRY! SAILOR JERRY!'
That was me at the bar, upon discovering that they had the delicious vanilla spiced rum I like. I enforced it on everyone, stuck my hand in the glace cherry jar when the staff had their backs turned, and we began a truly lovely afternoon. Free tacos as well! Good ones!
'Hey man, thanks for the show, I really enjoyed it!'
'DO YOU KNOW WHAT THOSE BIRDS ARE CALLED?'
'The band??? Nah I dunno man.'
'NO. THE BIRDS.'
'DID YOU KNOW THOSE BIRDS ARE CALLED GRACKLES??'
Normally, Finn is very unlike that guy you might think he is if you came and saw a show. Normally he’s all witty remarks and madcap capers. But sometimes, he just….he unhinges a little. We’re all familiar with it. Strangers….less so.
'……..the birds? Those birds? Yeah….they're called Grackles.'
'…well, anyway, great show, man.'
Grackles are pretty great though. Like skinny peacock crows.
And then all of a sudden we were in the Hilton bar and Kellen from Oklahaoma was there, and Mary and Phil from London, and it was as though we could’ve been anywhere, except we couldn’t have been because the only way I can imagine that Mary from London and Kellen from Oklahoma would ever be at the same hotel lobby bar would be at something like South By Southwest.
We tried to go and see a band, but missed it. So we went back to Lustre. I believe Temper Trap were playing, but we all just stood on the balcony with our Sailor Jerry’s Diet Coke Lime Cocktail Cherry drinks and looked out over the crowd into the ether. It was a nice unified moment, in an odd way. Odd in that it wasn’t quiet, nor was it particularly exciting. It was just nice, to be there, and I started to feel more at home in it.
6:20 am • 30 March 2010
That’s Venice. This isn’t about Venice. Venice was incredible and if I get the chance I’ll go back to it. Ditto about watching an NBA game from a corporate box.
People have been telling me about South By Southwest for years. So many bands. So little time. So much to see and do and the noise and the carrying gear across town and the crowds and the spotting of idols….
And there’s backlash, now. There have been people over the last couple years running the ‘it’s not what it was’ line. I’m sure it’s true, nothing is what it was. I was speaking to a woman about basketball the weekend prior. She said she only watched the college tournaments, that they were more exciting, and we came up with an analogy about little bands vs big bands, and the difference between watching people do something when it really, really matters every time they do it and watching them when they’ve reached a point where it’s….well, not that they don’t care anymore. In fact I’m sure there are many added pressures. But they’ve also, in a sense, already won.
Austin seemed sort of like a college tournament. The vast, vast, vast majority of the vast, vast, vast number of bands there were names I’d never heard. Then there was a muscular contingent of bands that I might’ve read about once. An epidermal layer of big indies. And then an oily sheen - people who sell (STONE TEMPLE PILOTS????) records. This sheen was buffed by a selection of rappers, all of whom I really wanted to see, none of whom I did. I was in a position to go and see Redman, and I didn’t, and that’s how crazy it was.
It was educational. I saw a friend from New Zealand at one point. He said that the number of bands made him a bit depressed about being in a band. I didn’t really feel like that. It did make being in a band feel like about the most insignificant thing a person could do. But that’s good for us to feel from time to time, in amongst the massages and bouquet acceptance speeches. And it felt a bit like camp. People talked to eachother a lot, in queues, and between shows. It felt very….democratic.
Aside, of course, from the relentless sponsorship onslaught. But then it was so relentless that no clear message could be gleaned. Should I drink Malibu, or Jack Daniels? Is my preferred throwback-to-the-mid nineties fashion brand Dickies or Jansport? TO WHICH MOBILE PHONE PROVIDER DO I OWE MY LOYALTY IN EXCHANGE FOR THIS ENERGY BAR?
We were staying a little way out of the centre. Didn’t seem like a big deal at all when we first arrived. We dumped our suitcases, everyone else had naps - early morning, show not til 1am -but Raife and I went into town. Raife actually took all his stuff, claiming there had been some mixup at our hotel and there weren’t enough beds so Steve-our-manager was kindly going to let him crash in his and his wife’s room at the Hilton in the centre of Austin. Raife has done southby before. So I didn’t realise he was full of shit about this and just wanted to be central until much much later.
It’s indescribable, the lobby of the Austin central hilton. Its got a slight aquarium vibe, the way your eyes pick out certain fish at random and follow them round the tank for a bit. Schools of black jeaned musos. The occasional nutty dresser floating through. A couple of guys in cowboy hats lurking in the corners. Something spindly and brightly coloured clinging to a sofa. Shark suits. Seaweed children. Always a band playing in the corner. Always guitar cases. Laptops. Detritus. And a hundred interweaving Purposes.
'That's the taxi line. You'll be becoming very familiar with it.'
I couldn’t process anything, the first day. Anything at all. I’ve been to festivals. I’ve played festivals. Nothing like this. I can remember what we did and it feels like looking at a Judd Apatow movie or something. I look in at myself in my new trainers and glossy hair and I look like a child.
Everyone else arrived and we ate sushi for dinner, which was calming. I’ve no recollection of how our gear got to Elysium, but it almost certainly didn’t come by taxi, because there weren’t any. I hung over the front fence smoking and watching people go by. It was like that bit, is it David Cross, re New York where he says you don’t know whether to look at the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen or the craziest person you’ve ever seen? Like that, but do I look at the biggest hipster I’ve ever seen, or the most awesome looking person I’ve ever seen.
Don’t really remember playing. I know it wasn’t perfect and that Finn’s guitar probably broke, because it broke pretty much every day. Henning came, and gave Raife a truly Henning compliment
'Raife, you have become amazing!'
For the nicest man in the world, he sure knows how to phrase his niceness.
We should’ve bugged out for home straight away, but didn’t, and by the time we got back to the Hilton with the gear it was well after two. We stood in the taxi line. There were about twenty other people in it, but that’s not that many, given that it was hometime and it’s a big town and presumably every taxi driver in Austin was working pretty much round the clock.
An hour later, a man appeared and told us all we might as well leave because there were no taxis. Steve appeared with pizza and expressed his surprise at still seeing us. He tried to bribe the taxi-pimp. The taxi-pimp, clearly used to this, was too expensive. We left.
Half an hour after that, after a fruitless walk around town, we were back. Better the devil you know. We ended up weirdly surrounded by english and australian people. Oh, it was St Patricks day. So imagine half the people wearing something LED and green. And staggering drunk. I even saw a dude wearing a tshirt that said ‘Kiss me, I’m Irish’ in Spanish.
The girl in front of us didn’t know where her house was, and it was hindering her ability to get a cab. She knew she was having a party and all her friends were there. But that was it. She kept talking to them on her blackberry, and I could hear her asking where the house was, and I could’ve sworn I heard her mention addresses, but every time she hung up she was no closer to knowing. Then this guy I’d seen milling round, english guy dressed up as an american, tousled blonde beach hair, muscle tee, possibly beaded arm bands, honestly, maybe, moccasins and straight up Lahn-dan accent ran up to her, gave her a kiss on the cheek and said ‘hey love! see you there!’ and jumped the queue straight into a cab.
I only didn’t chase it down screaming because I was sort of glad to see him go. We were still left with a bunch of guys who looked like the Horrors as envisaged by someone’s mum given a copy of the nme and a sewing machine who talked like Ab-Fab, which would’ve been more funny had I been in a better mood, and a bunch of kids from Leeds called Scars on 45 who were being actually quite fun and thus preventing me from completely losing my shit.
By 4.15 I was sitting crosslegged with my forehead on the cool Hilton marble ground at the front of the queue. I heard taxi-pimp saying something. Something about where was I going.
'You know I gotta drop these girls off first, right? And they're going south?'
We appeared to be in the Hiltons private shuttle. I wasn’t going to complain. Dre did, slightly threateningly, and I told him to CHILL in a voice that totally proved that he was not the only one who needed to.
And forty minutes later we were home. Next stop, Lustre Pearl at 4pm.
3:06 pm • 24 March 2010
Question: if you’re a vegetarian, in the sense that you’ll eat no flesh (including fish, stupids) but are fine with eggs and cheese and milk and all that, then is it okay to eat caviar?
This came up over lunch with Steve’s brother on Saturday.
Dan: ‘I don’t know that I’ve ever had to make the call.’
Me: ‘Well, I don’t think the fish lay the eggs.’
Dan: ‘I think I saw a thing on TV once where they were sorta…squeezing them out. Like a guy would grab a fish and squeeze and they’d….pop out.’
Me: ‘That doesn’t sound very likely.’
Steve’s brother manages sports people. He got us tickets for the Clippers game on Monday. This is exciting. I’m getting to it. But this was Saturday, so we spent lunch finding out the finer points of drafting and pay arrangements for major american sporting leagues. We also tried french dip
for the first time. Noms.
And then we went to our actual dining experience of the day. This is where LA started getting proper nuts, and it’s been getting progressively more nuts ever since.
We thought we were going to a ‘dinner party’ at a woman who does music for film and TV’s house in Silverlake. I wasn’t necessarily not expecting a panoramic view down through the valleys of Silverlake to the city through tall arched windows on the third storey of a spanish style mansion. I wasn’t not expecting two enormous platters of amazing cheese and dried apricots and the best bread ever as I walked in the door. I wasn’t super surprised when a really lovely woman made me a grapefruit based cocktail within four minutes of arrival, and it wasn’t that weird when she just kept bringing me more. But it was very, very nice.
And then fifty more people arrived. Fifty important looking people. In shades. By this stage we were downstairs in the garden, looking out at the city and having lovely chats with cocktail woman and her husband. Cocktail woman turned out to be the chef for the day, Anna. She was awesome. It turned out she lived in San Francisco, and had flown the entire dinner down that morning.
'Wait, you FLEW OUR FOOD HERE?'
'How the hell did that work?'
'I gave the skycap guy a bunch of money, and it was fine.'
'This is so the sort of thing that ends up a line in our bio - The Veils have their food flown to them from San Francisco.'
It was LOVELY. The woman who put the thing on was LOVELY. Proper lovely. It was nuts. Finn played some songs, and I managed to look like an ass by being talking to someone when they mentioned the rest of the band and everyone turned around and looked at us and clapped. Raife tried to warn me it was about to happen, but I was way over-excited by what I was talking about, which was that I had discovered the location of the Buscemia
. I never thought I would know where that ended up, it was one of the best coincidences of my entire life to discover, and so looking like an ass was kind of worth it. I should know I can never have it both ways.
And then I ate the best ribs I’ve ever had in my whole life. It was just glorious, the whole affair. We should’ve stayed there all night, ten minutes before I left Tricia-whose-house-it-was made me one of the best drinks I’ve ever had. It took her a while and I don’t know if there’s a recipe. But instead, there was something we felt like we had to do.
Well, we got to LA, and who’s on the cover of LA weekly? Manny Pacquiao himself. It turns out
he’s basically a god. 1400 situps a day. Gives his millions away in the Philippines. Spends $700 a night every night in the same Thai restaurant when he’s at training camp. The woman who owns it says he’s changed her life. And beats the shit out of everybody. And he was fighting, that Saturday night.
'We kind of have to watch it, don't we.'
'I'm gonna call Dre and ask where we should go to watch it. Plus, Eva's out, we can go meet her.'
This despite the fact that we’d ordered it in at Steve’s house (FIFTY DOLLARS! WHAT THE FUCK???) and Dan had already, sensibly, gone to watch it there. But no. Raife Finn and I made our exit from the beautiful house on the hill, where there were about five different kinds of vodka, let alone everything else, and drove off into the night with Raife at the wheel, having told various people the name of the bar we were going to and that they should come.
And that’s when the jetlag hit.
'Raife why does your car smell like pot?'
'Yeah but WHY?'
'SKUNKS. The car smells like SKUNKS. THE ANIMALS. THATS WHY THEY CALL POT SKUNK.'
'Raife, skunks smell awful. That's the whole deal. You're telling me this fairly pleasant pot-esque smell is skunks.'
'SKUNKS? WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN? WHAT DID YOU DO, CHUCK TWO IN THE TRUNK BEFORE YOU LEFT HOME??'
'SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT SKUNKS.'
'Smells kinda nice.'
'D'you know what's really nice? Being driven around LA.'
'Oh is it.'
'Yeah it is. Can you just keep driving a while Raife?'
'At least drive me up Mulholland.'
I do genuinely love driving around LA. Especially at night.
We got to the bar. Valet parked the car. Walked to the door. It was twenty dollars to get in. Turned around. Got back in the car. Called Atom. He told us a place to go.
'That must be it.'
'That looks horrible.'
'Skunky skunky skunky.'
'Oh look! That place across the street! They're playing it and it looks really nice in there!'
Valet parked the car. Walked across the parking lot.
'That's not boxing. It's basketball.'
'We could…..go to that other place?'
'Let's go have a look at it.'
'I don't think this is a good idea.'
'I think people would look more at us than the fight. And then kill us.'
We got back in the car and drove to In-N-Out.
'That place across the street is showing it.'
'How do we feel about going to a place called The Happy Ending?'
'I feel good about it.'
Raife and I sat in the carpark while Finn went in to get his snacks.
'It's gonna be over my the time we get there at this rate.'
'We should've just dropped Finn off and met him there.'
'….that would've been a good idea.'
Eventually he came back.
'It's completely insane in there. But I did discover something very important.'
'Girls drinking vanilla shakes are really sexy.'
We didn’t even get to the valet stage at The Happy Ending before it was all a bit much. I was, true to recent form, dozing off, but also trilling ‘QUILA’ (short for tequila, which seemed obvious to me at the time) from time to time, and Finn was covered in burger grease.
'God, Raife, it's just so LOVELY driving around LA.'
'No but seriously. It's really nice.'
'Finn could you stop saying everything you see?'
'Shall we just go to Venice? Then at least I can start drinking and maybe stop wanting to kill you two.'
'Sounds like a nice drive.'
'At her friend's place.'
'We could go there!'
'There is no way I'm taking you two there.'
Venice it is. Raife took us to a bar that was playing Joan Baez when we walked in. It seemed nice. I had been asleep when we pulled in, so to wake up I got the first round of drinks in.
'I'll have a gin and tonic.'
'Negro Modelo please.'
Or that’s what I thought he said. I don’t know anything about beers.
'Can I have a Gin and Tonic, a whiskey soda and a negro modelo please?'
I looked at the beers on offer.
'A negra modelho please.'
I delivered the drinks.
'I'm not ordering drinks again. And Finn, I hate you.'
It’s an odd bar when the music goes Joan Baez - house tune - fake plastic trees - horrible pop - Vampire Weekend - Britney Spears. And not even good Britney. It was time to go.
But it wasn’t over yet. Raife had been going on about his house for ages. On Venice beach, ON VENICE BEACH, ON THE BEACH ON THE BEACH etc.
But it was on the beach. There was a roof. We looked at the dark ocean and listened to the dancereggae. Standing in his window, we noticed three girls standing outside. They waved to us. Like zombies, we waved back. They made exaggerated key turning actions and big animated faces at us. Raife made ‘what?’ actions back, and opened the window.
'We're here for Yogi's party! Can you let us in?'
'I don't think this is the party. I think it's upstairs.'
As if on cue, the sound of a party faded into my conscious through the ceiling.
'Can you let us in anyway?'
When Raife came back he had news.
'She was carrying bongos.'
The lag came in handy, to drown out the sound of a full-on drum circle located directly above my head. When I woke up, it was light, and the drums had stopped. I went up to the roof and looked at the sea for a bit. And when I came down, Eva made me a coffee. Welcome to Venice beach.
3:25 pm • 16 March 2010