When In Sweden….

A couple of ago now, I decided to take advantage of dirt cheap airfares and spend a few days in Gothenburg and Malmo, Sweden.  I flew into Copenhagen with Ryanair from Manchester and had an amazing few days that included football matches (of course), good food, boss record stores and some rather tasty museum experiences.  One such experience, The Rohsska Museum blew my mind!

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Opened in 1914 and located in the Bohemia side of town, The Rohsska (Swedish Design Museum) was like entering the future but back in the 1960s and 70s.  So where did it all go wrong I thought to myself as I wandered to high ceiling structures that housed these beautiful designs. There are well over 50,000 items on show at any one time and it covers such a broad and diverse history of Swedish design and innovation.  Despite all the beautiful items on display, I felt a sense of sadness because it rammed home the fact that we have become a little stale with our progression and innovation which has been over run by simplicity, made in China and profit.  Yep, somewhere along the lines, we gave up and said “Fuck the style and substance!  Let’s just make heaps of cheap shit that will make us filthy rich yet derive any sense of creativity from our minds moving forward!”  Harsh?  Perhaps?  Honest and truthful?  Most likely.

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On the plus side, you can immerse yourself within The Rohsska and capture a sense of beauty that has seldom been seen outside of Europe since.  “What about IKEA?” I hear you protest.  Yes, yes, IKEA can be cool but it still lacks that cutting edge which the confines of The Rohsska hold.  You truly have to walk to floors of this building to grasp just how sublime the place is.  As an added bonus, it was December when I visited so the cold grey skies obviously turned away the large crowds that normally fill the halls, giving one a sense of personal freedom to explore at will and not be interrupted.  Another plus side to the lack of crowds is that you can take some most lovely photos without having anyone in the way.  Much different to say, The Rodin Gallery in Paris when you are trying to capture “The Thinker” on your camera.  Yeah, we’ve all felt that frustration haven’t we?

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If you are planning a visit to The Rhosska any time soon, think twice.  The museum is closed through to June 2018 for renovations but the completed promise is a whole range of new displays and showings.  When I was there, they held a fabulous section devoted to German electronic pioneers, Kraftwerk.  This is where I could lead you astray as to why Kraftwerk are one of the most diverse and original bands to emerge in the past 50 years but I suspect my enforced history lesson may simply bore you to tears so, for now, I shall hold back.  Just in closing though, go and listen to the 1976 masterpiece, “Trans Europe Express” and tell me your mind hasn’t been blown apart by its brilliance!  Go on. I challenge you to tell me otherwise.

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So now, where was I?  Oh yeah, The Rhosska.  The entry fee is relatively cheap.  Around 8 Euro’s from memory and like all attractions in Sweden, the location is easy enough to find due to the fantastic sign posting around the city.  There is very little to no chance of ever getting lost in Gothenburg due to some rather smart and sophisticated town planning.   Booking flights in advance, you can get to Gothenburg for around 10 Euro’s from most major English hubs.  The hostels are warm, welcoming and clean but most of all, dead cheap and all located in the city center.  And like all major European cities, Gothenburg has a city pass which permits you entry into a number of attractions which provides substantial value, particularly for a budget traveler like myself.  So what are you waiting for?

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What’s In Your Backpack?

Some 8 years ago now, I had the fortune of seeing a film which hit an incredibly raw nerve with me.  Up In The Air smashed a home run with my train of thought on how we live in the western world and how I wanted to live on a personal level.  There was a particular scene played out by Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) where he asks the simple question, “what’s in your back pack?”.

Now, I shan’t bore you with the finer details because the video included here is quite self explanatory.  If anything, it confirmed my fears that we are carrying too much in our lives.  Possessions, things, people, bad relationships.  Is it making us happy?  Do those three sports cars you own really make you happy?  That huge mortgage that you struggle to afford just so you can give the perception of success to your peers and loved ones?  It’s all a lie!  You don’t need any of this shit in your life!

What you do need in in your life is freedom.  So empty out that backpack and start living! Stop trying to make other people happy and start making yourself happy!

 

When You Meet That Special Someone….

Around 13 years ago now, I discovered the sultry sounds of Sarah Blasko, a young Sydney sider who, once a choir girl, finally made it as a solo performer on her own right.  From that moment on, I was hooked and have since her every album upon release and seen her many times.  Sarah Blasko is one of the rare artists who has released a series of flawless LPs that grow with every passing year.

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On April 11 2013, I was riding the tube from my Kensington hostel to Barbican in London for a small gig Sarah was giving to a few hundred lucky and humble admirers.  On the short walk from the tube to venue, I got chatting to a lovely lady who, as it turns out, was working for Sarah’s UK label.  Stranger things yeah?  Once inside the venue and at the bar (where else do record label people gather before a gig), I was introduced to a few other people from the label and we exchanged some chat about different bands and Sarah’s growing reputation in Europe.  One guy who stood out was Adrian.  He lived in Brighton, loved Brighton Hove & Albion and more importantly, was a really genuine and lovely guy.

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After a few moments, Andrew’s eyes lit up with a cheeky grin and he summoned me with his eyes to turn around to look behind me.  Low and behold, there was Sarah Fucking Blasko standing at the bar waiting to be served!  Literally a few yards from me.  Without hesitation (or was it the Dutch courage from a couple of drinks?), I saddled up next to Sarah and struck up a conversation for a few minutes.  Had I died and gone to heaven?  Perhaps?  Anyway, there was no chance I was going to waste this opportunity to to ask some questions that had gathered in my mind.

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We spoke for a few minutes and discussed covering a Bowie song (yeah, I know but I had to do it) and some small talk about recording techniques.  I often wonder if she thought of me when she recorded “Life On Mars?” for Triple J’s “Like a Version” sessions in 2016?  Probably not but we can all dream can’t we?  Following our chat, I grabbed a quick photo with her and then returned to my new found friends.  Meeting new people is always fun when you travel.  Makes the adventure more interesting.

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So where do you go after meeting a performer you have admired for many years?  Straight into the concert hall actually.  Well, she was playing a gig after all!  Oh, and yes, the gig was boss!  I took plenty of photos and the London crowd took a shine to her instantly and everyone left gleaming from a unique and intrepid performance from one of Australia’s shining lights in the entertainment industry.  If I am being honest, it astounds me why people watch The Voice and other glorified kareoke shows when they can explore the likes of Sarah Blasko, Claire Bowditch, Holly Throsby, Kate Miller Heidke and Katy Steel who are all briiliant singers, musicians and performers who excel at writing their own material and are gifted on many levels.  Anyway, that battle can be saved for another day because I met Sarah Blasko in London on a night when I would have been happy just to watch her perform.

Seven Wonders of The Football World!

In the past 17 years of travelling to all corners of planet earth, I’ve been most fortunate to visit some beautiful cities around Europe and, being Europe, there are also some fabulous football matches on to enjoy.  Now, Anfield will always be my home away from home but there is actually one ground I visited in May 2013 that sits in my seven wonders of the football world.  Camp Nou!

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Holding just a tick under 100,000 spectators, Camp Nou is home to FC Barcelona.  The city itself is somewhere  I have been a few times now but I decided it’s time to go again (hell, I was only there in May this year) so I have sorted myself for the Champions League tie against Olympiacos in the second half of October.  The last time I went, Barca were tonked 3-0 by Bayern Munich in a champions league semi final. Ouch!

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The stadium tour and museum is a most spectacular experience.  I went along the day before the CL semi final and was blown away by just how comprehensive the Camp Nou is.  You are allowed to take the journey at your own pace (I sat in the stand losing my breath for half an hour at the magnificence of it all) which allows you to see and experience so much more.  There is a lot to explore and learn in the museum as well! Camp Nou is also celebrating her 60th birthday in just under two weeks.  When opened in 1957, it came at a cost of 1.73 MILLION Euro’s which was a shit load of money when you think about it for money in 1957! Construction actually began 3 years earlier.

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During the 1982 World Cup in Spain, Camp Nou actually held over 121,000 people!  Imagine the atmosphere with that many people watching?  Even today, with a reduced capacity Camp Nou is Europe’s largest football venue.  If you have never been before, can I strongly suggest that you get yourself along, even if you only do a self guided stadium and museum tour, it’s an experience to behold and exactly why Camp Nou is one of the 7 wonders of the football world!

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So what on earth are you waiting for?  With flights departing Liverpool, Manchester and London for as little as $25 AU, Barcelona is not just worth it for the Camp Nou, the city has so much more to offer! But that my friends, if for another day and another blog entry.  What I can say is this.  Life is about experience so get yourself out there are start experiencing what life has to offer!

How (Not) To Date….

The question I have been asked a lot in recent times is, “Dave, why are you single? You’re such a lovely guy.”  It’s a process that I often contemplate when I am out on my long walks or runs.  It’s an answer I am yet to find but like most single people today, it chews us out day and night.

The last girl I was lucky enough to date invited me over to cook her dinner.  Long story short, she drank too much wine, passed out and didn’t even get to eat the scrumptious meal I cooked up.  A few hours later she woke up and just wanted to have sex and try some submissive adventures which, was fun but the next morning (we’d been on a few dates) sent me a text saying it was all too much too soon and wished me luck.  I’d left my French lavender oil, Japanese butter cream and a couple of bottles of unused wine there.  Oh well, an expensive date gone awry.

Normally though, for a first date, I like to go for a cup of tea or drink of the stronger variety. Beer or wine is fine.  I steer clear of crowded bars because you can’t hear half of what anyone says (or is that me getting old?) so I have a few safe options lined up.  From the moment we sit down, it’s almost always enjoyable.  We swap abbreviated life and travel stories, discuss bad dates, fun dates, personal details like families and previous wives/husbands (this is where about 40% of the woman I have dated confess they are still married or have a boyfriend but want NSA or discreet fun) as well as jobs and hobbies.

The time flies due to the fact we normally have good banter and I do like a chat which surprisingly shocks many woman as they often tell me other men they date just sit there and talk about, well, fuck all if anything to begin with.  My love of live theatre, literature and picnics oftens brings an excited look (let’s face it, my competition (Aussie blokes) usually think literature is Penthouse magazine) and compliments that I am “different”, “unique” and “not like other guys” before they lead into their history of abusive relationships and unthoughtful ex partners who apparently didn’t give a shit.  Why do you ladies put up with these utter bell ends?  Is it the alpha male thing?

It’s here where I sometimes begin to get excited because you know, loads of woman are always saying there are no “nice guys” left.  How do you define what make a nice guy though?  Around this point however, things can take a decided turn for the worst.  You see, like every good serial dater, we know how to sabotage things.  For me, it’s my brutal honesty.  When a girl asks me how I got to our destination, I usually tell her by bus, train or by foot.  At this moment, the colour drains from her face (perhaps the realisation that I really am not like most Aussie guys finally sinks in) when I confess that I don’t drive.  Never have. Never will. Personal lifestyle choice but a deal breaker for many woman looking for a boyfriend who can possibly be their taxi driver on a girls night out.

It’s funny how the driving thing always seems to find it’s way into the conversation.  Maybe it’s the female intuition that picks up my inner vibe screaming “Please don’t ask me if I drive! Please don’t ask me if I drive! Pkease don’t ask me if I drive!”

I digress.

As the end of the date encroaches, we talk about potential for a second meeting of minds.  This is where it gets fun because you are both trying to clamber for the best option for date number two.  Personally, I like to meet up for sushi or ice cream.  It’s easy and provides enough simplicity to keep things comfortable. As we make our way into the street, this is where the inevitable “Where are you parked” question comes storming to the surface.  Remember earlier when I mentioned the female intuition? Well, if it failed her earlier, it comes to the rescue here.  Despite the often shocked gasps and looks of astonishment that arrive on their face about my inability to drive (this would not be an issue in Europe I tell you) we negotiate a second date  and part company with a kiss and a hug.  Oh, the married ones often ask you if you know a park, public toilet or even a hotel room to have that bit of fun I had thought we had already excluded from ever happening earlier during the date.  Full matks for persistence though right?  Remember though, the grass is only green where you water it the most!

This is where the fun starts.  The next day I receive one of two following texts.  First up is the one you just cannot help but embrace.  It reads something like this.  “Thanks for a great night.  Looking forward to seeing you again.”  The second text off the rank is one that haunts me on an all too regukar basis.  You kind of what’s coming yeah?  Ok, here it is. “Thanks for last night. I had a really good time and think you are a nice guy but, I didn’t feel a connection (it’s the fucking driving thing isn’t it? *jokes*) but hope we can be friends!”

Friends?  Friends you say?  Now, we all know the friends thing is probably not going to happen so why say it to begin with?   Guys normally replace the word “friends” with “friends with benefits” which, if I am being honest, is a pretty shit thing to say anyone, let alone that “nice” girl they have just punted.

But girls, us decent lads know we are nice.  No need to reinforce the fact you don’t fancy us in the looks department by telling us we are nice. It’s almost an insult to our intelligence and we’d rather you just speak the truth instead.  And guys, girls also don’t want to be insulted with your request that you just be mates or potential fuck buddies either so grow a pair of big balls and don’t be a cunt!

This is a story all too familiar for too many of us suffering from these pherenial first world dramas.  Perhaps the excessive options of internet dating are giving us too much to process?  Or maybe we just put way too many expectations on what we are looking for in a potential partner?  Either way, thousands of single Brusbane people will hit the bars, cafes and restaurants in the week ahead searching for Mr or Mrs fucking nailed it!

The struggle is real my friends, the struggle is real.

30 Years A Junkie….

Take yourself back to September 1987.  Australia’s population was only 16 million (now 24), Bob Hawke was Prime Minister, The Year My Voice Broke was one of Australia’s greatest box office successes, Manly-Warringah were crowned champions in the rugby league and my brother began using heroin for the first time.  In our shared bedroom.

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We lived in a modest three bedroom brick house in Belmore, Sydney.  We never really had much.  You know, just the basics but somehow, I was always happy.  Sure, some bad stuff was happening during this period with priests molesting me at school and my father almost dying from a cerebral brain hemorrhage (he abused and cheated on my mother so my cynical side would not have been bothered by his passing) and I witnessed my elder brother of 7 years inject heroin for the first time.

It’s had a lasting impact not just because of that initial insight into how one injects drugs, but the knock on effect over the following years as his life disintegrated into many fragmented pieces.  We last spoke in 2006. I was in Melbourne for travel agent training and he had heard about this off my mum.  Unfortunately, she gave him my number under the guise that he wanted to catch up.  It had been 5 years since I had last seen him.  Sadly though, his invite to meet up for a beer soon turned into him asking me to lend him $500 to keep up with rent and bills.  Once a junkie as they say.

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Being ever the optimist, I used his drug addiction over the years to motivated myself to keep healthy and active.  He’s the reason why I don’t drink a lot, take drugs or live the life of a couch potatoe.  Ok, I tell a small fib.  I smoked pot twice (who hasn’t) and might have snorted a few lines of snow white out of curiosity but aside from those ever so brief interludes, I’ve remained clean.

I’m 40 years young now.  My brother is 47.  I’m not even sure if he is still alive but I do have him to thank for my love of some good music.  Billy Bragg, The Smiths, The Beatles and The Jam and yes, without him, I may not have read the likes of Oscar Wilde, Jack Kerouac or Henry Miller so it wasn’t all a loss.  But back in September 1987, and despite all the bad things that were happening around me, it helped me realise at a young age to never trust junkies, never trust priests and most of all, never hit or abuse woman.  Love your mum, treat people with respect and if you want an addiction, better make damn sure it’s a clean and healthy one.

In Love with Annie Hall!

It’s not that often a film resonates with me long enough that I can watch it more than twenty times however, Woody Allen’s contagiously witty “Annie Hall” does exactly that.  Why would anyone want to watch a film over 20 times you ask?  Well, it’s a Woody Allen film for starters and it also stars Diane Keaton, still an actress I admire by the spade load to this day.  If I am being honest, I doubt Diane Keaton has ever excelled as much as she does here in any film role before or since.  And yes, she’s been in some crackers!  Think “The Godfather” and “Crimes Of The Heart” as a starting point.

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Release in September 1977, “Annie Hall” traces to constant woes of Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) who spends far too much of his time procrastinating over lost loves and failed relationships.  Hey, we’ve all been there at some point in our lives and for Alvy, it’s carried on a little too long for his liking.  Whilst playing tennis with friends, Alvy meets and proceeds to enjoy a somewhat awkward conversation with Annie Hall.  The spark is there for both parties, albeit a flickering spark at first which lends you to the train of thought of a gradual layer upon layer process of foundation setting.  I guess this is what we all go through when we meet someone new right?  Well, the boiled lobster scene is the epitome of all relationships.  You will find your saying “yep”, “yep” and “yep” as you giggle your way through the scene.  Actually, come to think of it, relationships for those of us above 35 or so.  I mean, young lovers these days do it all through social media and selfies. Conversing in the kitchen whilst boiling a lobster for young lovers in 2017 seems a step to far doesn’t it?  Hell, they would be too busy checking in on Facebook and photo shopping the fucking lobster for Instagram to take to the time out for a serious chat.  Ohh, look at that.  My Alvy Singer side is shining through.  Enough on the cynicism David!

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There is a morbid and twisted tale that unfolds as Alvy and Annie fall in love.  Alvy struggles to come to terms with his demons from the past which tends to push Annie away.  In typical Woody Allen form (a good reason why “Annie Hall” is one of the greatest pictures ever made), Alvy takes the long way round to Annie’s heart.  Once there, the results are spectacular!

What makes “Annie Hall” so desirable as a lesson in car crash relationships is the sharp wit employed by both characters at the centerpiece and a somewhat morose way one man looks at love whilst his partner takes on a more positive approach which is how we should all look at relationships.  Let’s face it, relationships are sometimes tricky and rarely perfect but if “Annie Hall” teach you one thing, that is to always communicate and be honest with your partner.

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Maybe, just maybe, this weekend is the perfect time to sit down and enjoy one of Woody Allen’s finest creations for the silver screen.  Hell, 20 viewings or more and i still want to go back for more so I am most certain you will enjoy the picture, even if you see it just the once.