Friday, February 25, 2005

Suck on this, bitch 

Living in London, it's easy to get complacent. Yeah, you may reside in (arguably) the most exciting city in the world, but sometimes, as a 30-year-old boozehag living sarf of the river, the life you read about in magazines can pass you by. (Back in my 'Ditch days, as a tragic wannabe Ms Nathan Barley, I guess I lived the lifestyle, but - groan - that's soooo 2002...)

But then sometimes London sneaks up on you and slaps you in the chops. I had dinner (and many bottles of good Lebanese wine*) at Randall and Aubin in Brewer Street tonight and wow... THIS is London.

You may have guessed from my proclivities for disco and wild abandon that I'm a fag hag at heart - but I don't go out and kitsch it up nearly enough in Soho. Well, tonight, thanks to the divine Katey Melbourne, I went out - and how.

Under a three-foot-wide glitter ball, I sucked out every last bit of flesh from my half-lobster like a pro (thanks to a childhood spent demolishing fresh crayfish with my dad in Kaikoura), as our fabulous waiter replenished our glasses at every opportunity to a cheesy house soundtrack. Fruits de mer? Oh yes. I got my 5-plus-a-day tonight.

If I ever stop snogging random boys then abandoning them in the name of partying long enough to procure myself a date, we're going to Randall and Aubin.

Go there. Tomorrow. Suck the marrow out of London and leave an empty shell for someone else to clean up.

* from the oldest grapevines in the world - get the Ksara Sauvignon, I recommend it wholeheartedly.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Down the drain 

Criminy, just re-read yesterday's post - what a wanker. "Ooh, look at me, let's talk about art dahhhling..." Someone kill me now.

Anyway, today is brought to you by the letters H, U, N, G, O, V, E and R, after one quick drink to farewell the Welshman down at the Horse last night turned into several, topped off by having to stagger home all the way up Brixton Hill in the coldest weather of the year, thanks to the burst water main that's closed the road for the foreseeable future. Sniff.

That, combined with this morning's two-hour-long nightmare commute, has sapped my will to live, so in lieu of any inspiration, let's talk about T-shirts, more T-shirts and how very, very sad born-again Christians are [new link].

[PS: The Loft's disco godfather David Mancuso is playing London again on Sunday 20 March, tickets are two-thirds gone already - email me and I'll flick on the details...]

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Egyptian Reggae, Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Get the prints in 

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usAs I'm now officially, without any doubt, a "grown-up", I've decided weekends must now be spent pursuing grown-up activities - not scaring dogs and small children with the likes of this character (<--). Thus I've embarked upon a mission to cram every weekend full of visits to galleries, museums, exhibitions and the like, and really make the most of London, rather than just London Pride.

To kick off, this weekend will be spent reminding myself of the three years spent toiling away/sleeping in university art history lectures, at the Nat Gallery's Caravaggio exhibition.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usHopefully you'll never catch me spouting that terrible phrase, "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like", because I do know a lot about art (and everything else on the planet actually ;) - but I'm not ashamed to say a great deal of art leaves me stone cold.

Not this boyo though – not only is Caravaggio one of my favourite Baroque painters and the ultimate master of chiaroscuro, he's also got an utterly fascinating history behind him, involving sex, murder and rent boys, centred in one of my favourite cities, the deliciously sinister Napoli.

So make mine a print please. This weekend, I'll be bleary-eyed for a purpose.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Winter wonderland 

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usHurrah for snow! (Until all the trains go down and I break my ankle walking down icy Brixton Hill...)

Monday, February 21, 2005

The longest day 

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usSo I'm 30 - and alive. And given that the weekend was a maelstrom of mayhem that even the late, great Hunter S Thompson would have been proud of, I feel pretty damn good. It can safely be said that my 20s were farewelled in suitably spectacular fashion, and the new era of civilised behaviour and clean living ushered in with a bender of seismic proportions.

Just one glance at the assembled random debris lying about Smacked Face Towers yesterday morning was enough to indicate something major had occurred - a discarded stuffed hedgehog, a Hannibal Lecter mask, a pair of eyeless novelty specs, two fur coats, a tweed cape, one of those pinchy litter-collecting stick things, more empties than you could shake a litter-collecting stick at (including my entire cellar of treasured El Bulli wine)...

Onionbagblogger asks if the pile of sick halfway up Brixton Hill had anything to do with me. Not directly, no, but judging by the state of most people leaving the Horse and assorted after-parties, I'd say there's a good chance it could be traced back to us somehow. I feel like Shiva the destroyer...

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usA massive thanks to Ms G, Tom, Jamie, Dr Rubberfunk, Asad and Ravi, the patient staff of the Whitehorse and the crack troopers of the barmy army for the most legendary 30th ever. I confess I shed a tear when Ms G and Reilly brought out the fabulous cake (-->) at midnight, and as for watching the first snowflakes of the season fall while spangly-eyed on Saturday afternoon... well, my cheeks were moist. Hurrah.

[And my set, since you asked, went like this: Tutti Frutti, Lee Austin; 24 Hour Party People, Happy Mondays; Saturday Gigue, The Roundtable; The Clapping Song, Shirley Ellis; Once In A Lifetime, Talking Heads; Funkytown, Lipps Inc; Dance To The Music (Danny Krivit re-edit), Sly & The Family Stone; Take Me Out, the Franz; Teenage Kicks, The Undertones - I had a ball...]

Thursday, February 17, 2005

I'm so excited 

... and I just can't hide it. That slyly grinning lass sitting opposite you in the Tube this evening? Me. That girl skipping down the Berwick Street vinyl mile? Yep, that was me too. The chick overloaded with plastic helmets and water (vodka) pistols falling over in Hamley's? You know it...

This the Last Post (geddit?) for a few days. There's a lot to do before I can finally farewell my 20s. If you're stuck for a last-minute gift*, can I suggest:
• a new wallet to replace the several lost to the mists of time and alcohol in the past five years
• a book - for instance, Already Dead by Denis Johnson, Allen Carr's Easy Way to help with the no-smoking-after-30 rule, another copy of the utterly fabulous Yoga For People Who Can't Be Bothered To Do It by my middle-aged-male alter ego, Geoff Dyer ("A writer living in Brixton who spends much of his time wishing he lived in San Francisco"), or maybe just some Dostoyevsky to improve my mind
• music - because in the words of the O'Jays, I love music, any kind of music (actually I have very specific tastes, but you should all know what they run to by now)
• a trip to Rome - because every time I book to go, fate snatches it out of my hands
• a big bottle of champagne or, for the budget-conscious, a shot of the Whitehorse's finest Sambuca on Friday night...

Because on Saturday, I'm 30. There's a good possibility that, much like Dorian Gray, at the stroke of midnight on Friday night, all the years of debauchery and excess may finally catch up with me and I will disintegrate into Keith Richards-like hideousness. Which should be worth the cover charge alone...

When I was a newborn babe, so the story goes, my mother gazed down at me and was stricken with dread. For weeks she would be kept awake at night with the frightening premonition that her firstborn child would not make it to 30. Somewhat inadvisedly, she imparted this information to said firstborn child at a later date, meaning I've lived my life with a devil-may-care attitude, perhaps subconsciously thinking my days were numbered. (Well, that's my excuse anyway.)

There's now less than 48 hours for Mum's prophecy of doom to come true. Touch wood it doesn't - but hell, if it all ends tomorrow, you can bet I'm going out with a smile on my face.

See you down the Horse, y'all.

* And just kidding about the gifts. Your presence is presents enough. Although I wouldn't say no.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Hit squad 

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usNever one to miss out on the main chance, I've given myself the midnight set at my own birthday party. Never the best of DJs, however, I've only given myself 30 minutes (which will by then be one minute for each year of my life, sob).

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to help me compile my set (it's 90% sorted, but there's always room for change...). We have no time for misses - each and every track has to hit hard and be a bonafide floor-filler.

So. You're in the middle of a seedy, sweaty dancefloor in a rammed-to-the-rafters Brixton pub. You've just wigged out to all manner of delicious funk 'n' hiphop sounds from Dr Rubberfunk; you'll later rock out to a house and heavy metal mash-up from the Reverberations boys. But right now, courtesy of DJ Smacked Face, which track is going to make the roof lift off for you?

[PS: Today we have been mostly surfing here, here and here...]

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Once In A Lifetime, Talking Heads

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Sweet memories 

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI've been pretty restrained regarding the many bags of Kiwi sweets brought back from my travels (apart from wolfing down a packet of Pineapple Lumps with Ms G while jetlagged and watching Brotown last week), but last night I couldn't resist any longer and cracked open the bag of Mackintosh's toffees (<--) that have been sitting on my bookshelf since I unpacked.

I don't really know why. For a brand calling itself 'Toffee De Luxe', it's anything but. I've eaten a lot of 'deluxe' toffees in my time and almost all of them wipe the floor with these cheap, chewy concoctions, guaranteed to pull out at least a molar or two in every New Zealander's lifetime.

They've gone hi-tech with flash new packaging, although for some reason this only extends to four of the six flavours proudly advertised on the bag. (I had to double-check this figure, because I was certain in my youth there'd been many more varieties. But no, count 'em: Malt, Mint, Harrogate, Coconut, plain old Toffee De Luxe (not) and everyone's favourite Egg & Cream - possibly the most unappetising name for a sweet flavour ever dreamt up. (A lolly made of egg? Ick!) The Toffee De Luxes always came in second chez Smacked Face, but Malt and Mint were acquired tastes usually left to be eaten by Mum. What the hell Harrogate was, apart from a grim place in Yorkshire, we never knew, but they always tasted kinda gritty. And Coconut was of course the work of the devil, the toffee version of black jellybeans with its Marmite-esque love-'em-or-hate-'em quality.)

Obviously it's a genuine Kiwi bargain - from a entire bag of sweets, only a third are even remotely tolerable, and even they're scraping the edibility barrel. But I scoffed a couple of Egg & Creams anyway and still have all my teeth intact - which has to be some kind of victory. I'll give the rest out to unsuspecting punters on Friday...

[PS: Can someone please buy me a new wallet for my birthday? I promise not to lose it in a boozed-up haze - I'm sick of using my Travelcard holder as a change receptacle...]

Monday, February 14, 2005

Of mice and men 

I arrived at work this morning to find my desk covered in flowers - not. The fact that four out of my last five romantic dalliances have been lovely-but-going-nowhere interludes with people who don't even live in the same country has probably contributed to this (and I really must stop snogging random boys and girls in darkened corners of seedy bars when tipsy). And anyway, I'd be dismayed if I had got flowers - they're so predictable, and who needs the excuse of the tragically commercial venture that is Valentine's to demonstrate their love? That should be happening every day, surely...

Thus my Valentine's night will be spent in bed - alone (although I'm open to offers) - due to a desperate need to catch up on sleep after a quiet 'welcome back to London' drink on Saturday night turned into a no-sleep-till-Brooklyn bender.

Yep, the old Smacked Face is back - for a limited time, however. I'm consoling myself for my lack of willpower by classifying Saturday's silliness as simply a final foolish blast to farewell my 20s (not counting this Friday's inevitable madness, which will be permitted due to it being my birthday and all).

A friend says he thinks people only like reading this blog for the tales of wanton excess and hurtling towards hell in a handcart. Some friend - he'll drive me to an early grave. I won't do debauchery on demand, you hear (well actually, I can't, seeing as my travels have left me literally with two New Zealand dollars and a handful of quarters to my name - thank god pay day's tomorrow).

Anyway, it all seems like a good time to reveal the latest plan in the Smacked Face arsenal. I've been toying with quitting magazine editorial for PR or music press for a while now, but all my best-laid plans have come to nowt. Changing careers is always a gamble, but doing it in London seems a particularly risky business - for every job, there are a hundred young trustafarians willing to do it for sweet FA thanks to Daddy's money, and I'm not willing to take such a huge pay cut in this exciting but expensive city.

I was regaling my woes to a couple of ex-London mates over brunch while in Auckland, who said they'd reluctantly returned to New Zealand for precisely that reason - so Mr T could break into PR, which he very successfully did. Not fans of Auckland, they miss London terribly, but figure they can put up with anything for a year or so before returning to the big smoke, a shiny new CV in hand.

"Why don't you try it, Smackie?" they said. "You've got loads of contacts, you'd be able to score a great job - and then we'd have a new recruit for our weekly 'we miss London' sob sessions."

I thought about it a lot during the long flights back here, and have continued to mill it over ever since. London's a very easy place in which to tread water, but you can only do this for so long - I don't want to get to 40 and still be bemoaning my easy, fun but essentially dead-end job. Thus I've come to the conclusion a NZ career break might make a lot of sense - and so a tentative date has been set for the end of the UK summer. (All lucrative job offers to the usual address please.)

I know I've made such grand plans before (see Barcelona, Glasgow) and am on record as saying I'd only return to NZ over my dead body (I knew that would come back to bite me on the bum) - but it's actually not that bad, you know. I mean, three summers in a row can't be so terrible, can it? A nice place with a beautiful backyard in which to relax and finish off the book has to be a bonus, too. And anything that keeps me away from the evils of South London nightlife must surely add years to my life...

But if I'm not back here or in San Fran by 2007, shoot me. Please.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Owner Of A Lonely Heart, Yes (as sampled by Joel Brittain)

Friday, February 11, 2005


Today's release of The Magic Roundabout (looks rubbish - Kylie as Florence? get out!) reminds me of my last Magic experience many years ago - and means I don't have to tax my still jetlagged brain for a post idea.

As I recall it was at a warehouse party in Anzac Ave, Auckland, back in the 90s when acieeeed was still our drug of choice. The theme was Doctors & Nurses, and the hosts had really gone to town, having seemingly raided a hospital for all the Bloody Mary drip stands, syringes of vodka, X-ray light boxes and operating tables scattered about the venue.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usIt wasn't one of my finest moments - while all around me saucy girls were dressed up to the nines as naughty nursies, I'd only been able to locate a extra-large green surgeon's floor-length gown, thus snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory once more in the sexy dressing stakes. (Much like the time I went to a party dressed as poor old Roy from Siegfried And Roy - white bloodied jumpsuit, nasty headband, giant toy tiger dangling from my neck... Ain't no one gonna pull in that, damn it.)

Anyway, we dropped a tab and the room turned even more bonkers than before, ending up with my then-boyfriend deciding to play his Magic Roundabout record at 5am. Suddenly it all made perfect sense. The room fell silent and jaws dropped. Dylan was speaking the truth, man. Sadly, I can't for the life of me remember any of these blinding revelations. But I know they were mind-blowing.

Will such flashes of insight emerge from the new version? I'm thinking not. (Then again, I haven't done acid in years... Hmmm.)

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Eye Of The Tiger, Survivor

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Auckland in brief(s) 

Summed up very quickly in vaguely chronological order, as it's fast fading from my much-battered memory...

• Discovering my long-lost Kiwi Visa card with $2,000 credit
• The return of the novelty specs at Fi Coolies' birthday
• Sinking many a pint o' piss at the King's Arms - grimier than ever, love it
• Dealing to a monster hangover the next day with a massive brunch at Roasted Addiqtion - great coffee and best Eggs Flo for years
• Enjoying a great Kiwi BBQ out in a beautiful Swanson backyard (read: half of the Waitakeres) to farewell Chris and Tara NYC; being amazed by Simon Flower's long flowing locks; remembering why insect repellent is a must in Ak
• Shopping at sale time - Ruby (four tops and a set of badges for just NZD$80!); my wicked Workshop tiki singlet ($59); two pairs of Juicy and James jeans from Fabric ($250 for both 'em - and that salesman was HOT)...
• Drinks with the old gang at The Whiskey
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us• Getting down at Morrisson (and losing the email addresses of the two Manchester lads (<--) we partied with all night and managed to take no less than 100 photos of - someone tell these boys to get in touch)
• Preparing for Crazy Jane's birthday party by shopping at God's own fishmonger Seamart; subsequently eating so much seafood it's a miracle I haven't grown gills
• getting up to nonsense with the novelty specs and a lemon for Crazy Jane's birthday party; listening to far too much Mylo; laughing myself stupid with DJ Johnson over jokes about moths 'n' muffs
• Curing the hangover with yet another brunch at Roasted Addiqtion with old London friends, and experiencing a revelation that may well change my life. More to be revealed soon - suffice it for now to say Smacked Face may be on the move in the not-too-distant future...

That's it. No more holiday nonsense, promise. OK, well maybe one more post about fantastic Frisco and its beautiful people, where even the homeless seem happier. Ah San Fran... Swoon.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Frisco disco 

So yeah, I'm head over heels for Frisco. And this is why...

Flying in over the city, I was jumping for joy in my tiny airline seat. The cloud-free sky was a pure cerulean blue, the sun was outta-sight bright and I could see for miles and miles, as the song would have it. That faustian pact was paying dividends again.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usAfter dumping my excess(ively heavy) baggage off and sampling a bit of the duty-free 42 Below feijoa vodka I'd brought with me, my host, DJ Eli B, and I headed out to North Beach, to drink coffee in the sunshine at Caffe Trieste, eat divine seafood at some North Beach cafe I've forgotten the name of and try to uncover a vestige of the area's long-lost beat vibe, ending up at former Kerouac hangout, the City Lights bookstore. We eventually succumbed to the tourist thing, however, with a brief toilet stop to the gruesome Fisherman's Wharf before sauntering up Telegraph Hill to check out the Coit Tower (<--) and its spectacular views. (The Coit(al?) Tower was apparently commissioned by a woman who had a thing for firefighters, which might explain why it looks like a big cock.)

Slightly jetlagged, and with the promise of more 42 Below vodka awaiting us back at Mr B's Hayes Valley apartment, we wandered home, passing through a busy Chinatown where a festival was in full swing - the rest of the city, paradoxically, was like a ghost town due to it being Superbowl Sunday, which was just fine by me.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usSunday night was spent drinking pints (yes, pints, and only $6 each) of gin and tonic at hip biker bar Zeitgeist, where a 40-something ZZ Top-lookalike leather queen informed Mr B and myself we were the best-looking couple in the place. This wasn't hard since we were the only couple in the place, but it was still nice to be told, and accurate at least in Mr B's case. The toilets were possibly the skankiest in the Bay Area, if not the world, but at least some people found time to laugh about it (-->).

Then it was off to the EndUp, where I lost my heart and found my soul, busting out my usual appalling dance moves with Puerto Rican muscle boys to the gayest disco, funk and MAW house ever heard. What a club. My inner fag hag was unleashed once more and I was in disco heaven - I had to be dragged home kicking and screaming. I could have danced all night - but having seen (and deleted) the photographic evidence, it's probably best I didn't.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usUnsurprisingly, Monday morning was spent nursing a killer hangover, only vaguely eased by a proper 50s-diner breakfast of eggs sunny-side-up and a whole heap o' grease at It's Tops Coffee Shop (<--) on Market Street ("the finest diner in the world") before scoring 10 T-shirts and two wrap dresses for $100 up the road at vintage nirvana Crossroads Trading Co. Then I hit the Castro and Upper Haight, spending hours ransacking bookstores, record shops and more vintage stores than you could shake a joss stick at (Aardvark Books on Church Street comes in for special honours, as does Villains on Haight for the best T-shirt selection this side of www.2ktshirts.com), and basically just digging the scene. As you do.

After a slap-up picnic of a bagel and iced coffee in Buena Vista Park overlooking the city, I strolled down the length of Haight to Golden Gate Park, where I had a Merry Prankster-style "be-in" all by myself and wondered if I'd ever felt this happy in my life.

(Oops, I've just realised I've totally ignored Auckland. More on that later - because that has crazy tales all of its own... But I've got to get over my Frisco fever first. And yeah, damn right it sucks to be back in London - grey, cold and raining. Boo.)

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

I left my heart in San Francisco 

(And a g-string, I've just been informed. What a delightful souvenir for my host.)

I'm killing time in the hell of LAX by celeb-spotting (Kathy Bates and what appeared to be a bloated Stephen Dorff thus far), but I'm miserable and this crummy airport is just making it worse. I've fallen in love again and I don't want to go - I've found the city of my dreams and it's breaking my heart to leave it. More details when I get back to grotty old London. :(

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

She's leaving home 

I farewell Nelson, the town of my birth today. In keeping with my devilish deal regarding the weather, the elements have sensed my imminent departure and thus for the first time, clouds have gathered overhead, making the place as clammy as between an old whore's thighs, if you'll excuse the unsavoury simile.

It's a strange place, Nelson. I lived here for the first 18 years of my life and can't recall a time when it wasn't wresting between aspirations and reality - yearning to be a centre of arts, culture and polite middle-class sensibilities, and only partially succeeding, having been saddled with a population saturated with bogans, loggers, fishermen and other "coarse types".

Regardless, I spent many happy years here. I left as soon as I was able of course, as all Nelsonians with an ounce of ambition do, but it was a great childhood, even the tumultuous teenage years.

It can be hard to spot the youth of Nelson these days, outnumbered as they are by steel-haired matrons and "trendy" mums ordering cappuccinos, and at first I wondered what was wrong. Then I remembered Nelson teens had always led an underground lifestyle, frequenting the local parks by day and night, drinking Chardon til you puked in the Queen's Gardens, inhaling butane on the Church Steps (we never had that in my day)...

I drove past my old haunt, Zippy's Cafe, where I studied for my bursary exams (read: played backgammon and smoked a lot of Camels), and judging by the dreadlocked mini-hippies puffing away outside, nowt's changed.

In fact, despite the race to develop every spare inch of land in the huge property boom that's taking place (Bill Gates owns two sections there, my mother's house has tripled in value) and the cloyingly-horrible bourgeoisness of the town, for all its faults (a overload of crap cafes and theme bars being a main one these days as far as I can see), Nelson is still a beautiful place to live.

I still can't wait to get the hell out though. No offence, Mum. ;)

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?