BYRON BAY Today is a day off and we have a three-hour drive to stay at Adam's (drummer for the Straight Arrows) parents' house to BBQ and swim. This proves difficult when we learn there is not a pool. It's a warm, muggy overcast day and everyone laughs at my teeny jean cut-offs and argyle socks when we meet for breakfast. I started writing these journals basically as a "complaint log," but I have to say I love traveling this way. I get a seat in the furthest back of the 12-person van, and we deem it "the rat's nest," where I get to watch movies on my laptop, read my book, and write and be on the opposite end of the van's cockpit, aka, "The Hornets Nest," where the GPS confusion/parking-space argument/too many cooks fussiness occurs. I am feeling very thankful getting paid, playing with my best buddies, being in beautiful friendly country, and NOT HAVING TO DRIVE. (ZZZZZ, I know.) Also, I am in love with my book, John Fante's Ask the Dust. While driving we pass a billboard that reads 'White Ladies Funerals - A Woman's Understanding." Wow. As Brigid and I are discussing implementing an exercise routine, our driver Tim says "Why? Have you got Bingo Wings?" which he explains is the term for the loose upper-arm skin you can see when old ladies flap their arms in the air while yelling "BINGO!"
We get into Byron Bay and head to the beach, which is overcast and lovely. When a light rain starts, we go to a restaurant on the beach and have a glass of wine, or as we now call them "Shiraz Chalices," in tribute to Shabazz Palaces. Adam's place is an hour outside of town, and we get lost in the dark and the rain, and after 75 frustrated U-turns are executed I lose count. When finally arrive, Adam's parents are very nice and have prepared vegetarian lasagna and lamb chops for us. After dinner we entertain ourselves with am iPhone DJ Battle Royal with all of our phones' apps playing various drum machine/DJ-scratching/theremin/Alan Partridge samples. It's so shitty that we may have set both music and technology in general back 30 years.
BYRON BAY DAY 2 Waking in the morning out in the country, you can hear so many crazy nature sounds it sounds like a loud soundtrack to the "Jungle Book complete with whatever animal goes "Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh—AH AH AH AH!"
Adam's mom takes us to the Koala Hospital where she works, and the Koalas are adorable, laying in their teeny beds with I.V. drips and watching the Maury Povich show on little TVs. She also warns us not to get to close, as we could catch "juncto," the pink eye they suffer from. Then we head to the beach again, and I swim in the ocean for the first time in probably 20 years, and it is incredible. As soon as we get out and lay on the beach, a pouring rain starts and we run to the van. Poor Petey, who hates the beach, is completely drenched in his beach clothes (Doc Martin boots, thick Levis, Ben Sherman dress shirt and suspenders). We play at Woody's Surf Bar tonight and the show is fun and the Straight Arrows are great again, and when we play someone spills beer all over the stage and Dwyer bends over slurps it up while playing and I promptly vomit all over my drum set.
NEW CASTLE We have a seven-hour drive today and are giving Owen from Straight Arrows a ride, and when he asks what I'm watching on my laptop and I tell him (SPOILER ALERT) I'm watching Miranda July's The Future, and he says "Oh yeah—the one where the cat dies!" WTF bro.
View from the Big Banana
Dwyer has a ONE TRACK MIND for Toboggans.
We stop at The Big Banana tourist stop, which has a gigantic plaster banana you can walk through, ice skating rink (?) water park, and a toboggan ride. Then we hit the beach again, and today is finally sunny and it is a blast. We get into New Castle just after all the restaurants have closed, so we have beer for dinner. The Straight Arrows are even better tonight, at least until someone spills a beer into the power supply, which shuts off all the lights. When they come back on, the bassist Angie is unrolling a spool of toilet paper from one of those gigantic man-hole sized, gas-station-bathroom rolls in an attempt to mop it up. The show's fun and my first time playing in cut off shorts (still not sure how I feel about this), and our hosts/promoters Leroy and Cat are swell. We stay with them in their cool little house. I'm laying on an air mattress that's so flat that when Petey plops down on the other end I get catapulted out the window.
Leroy and Kat's place.
SYDNEY After breakfast we go for a swim at the beach. I notice I am drifting further and further away from Dwyer and the gang, even though I'm swimming towards them. Then I notice that even though we are parallel, I can't touch the bottom, while they're standing in knee-deep water. Then I notice I am pretty far from the other 300 people swimming and hear the lifeguard PA speaker announcing something, but it just sounds like Garrison Keiler mumbling into a reverb chamber. I don't panic (because I am a MAN) and start doing the crawl as strong as I can for 10 minutes and reach the sandbar I hadn't realized you weren't supposed to swim past. Then I find out Garrison was yelling at me. Just as I walk up the beach, the rescue Jet Ski guy pulls up.
We have short drive today, and I start my new book Just Kids by Patti Smith, and it seems great. The show tonight is fun and I'm stoked to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Nick Zinner, and Dangermouse have come to the show, and get to see me completely wipe out when I try to stand on the drums. My feet go "whoop whoop whoop," like I'm standing on a cartoon barrel, and I knock every single drum over and slam on my back with my feet in the air and my eyes turned into to big black Xs.