Experiencing Nirvana

Nevermind was the first CD I owned and was a birthday gift from my girlfriend at the time. I'd seen the film clip for Smells Like Teen Spirit on MTV and asked for the album when it came out that week. Like everyone else I was crazy about it.

I managed the meet Nirvana briefly during their Australian tour, which coincided with Nevermind charging up the charts. They caused a riot at the ANU Bar in Canberra with fans smashing in the windows to see the show. I was watching from outside the stage door and introduced myself to Dave and Kris, who gave me a plectrum. Kurt was in his own world, detached.

The anniversary of the album will see a remastered version of Nevermind released and it's great to see a record given the director's cut-style treatment as I've been hoping for this for a while now.

However, I'm less enthused by these comments from Charles Sturt University academic Catherine Strong.

“Kurt was a contradictory figure, on one hand he had the reputation of being really pure, of being only about the music,” Dr Strong said.

“But he also enabled Nirvana to be marketed to a mass audience, with his choice of producers, record labels and so on.

“Grunge had anti-commercial and anti-capitalist messages, yet those things ended up getting lost along the way.

“Grunge also had a strong message of equality, supporting gay rights and women’s rights, yet this political aspect isn’t discussed much these days.”

It's a mistake to attribute so much to Kurt Cobain IMO and the remastered version of the album is supposed to be closer to his vision for Nevermind than what was released.

And grunge was a very successful label commercially for a bunch of bands from Seattle and some were closer to metal than pop-punk but it made them easier to market if they were lumped in with Nirvana. Everyone was surprised at the success they found, I remember reading a Rolling Stone article on grunge and the Seattle scene that was published about a year ahead of Nevermind and the author predicted Mudhoney as the band most likely to find a 'mainstream' audience.

It's also a mistake to lump a bunch of issues like gay rights with grunge, given the diversity of the genre. I suggest these were part of a much larger dynamic in the early 1990s that included trends like 'lipstick lesbianism'.

Super destroyer AMBUSH!

Last night my son and I agreed to create a comic today, we were inspired by this video we'd watched.

Here's what we created after discussing ideas and sifting through our Lego:


This video will seem incredibly mundane to many but has fascinated me because (a) it's about a block away from where I live, and (b) I'm amazed at the coverage this random event attracted -- just look for the second mobile phone recording video near the end.

It's full of the quaint charm of living in regional Australia. I love the amazement and excitement these blokes display at the sight of a car in a car lot with lights on.

You are what you eat

At uni I made a friend who seemed to spew heaps. Many social events ended with a quiet, or sometimes a not so quiet, vomit.

In the years following our graduation he figured out he was lactose intolerant and found some pills which allowed him to continue to consume cheese.

Last year I had a similar experience when I realised that eating sandwiches for lunch was the reason I found myself falling asleep mid-afternoon. Once I started eating rice for lunch, I was surprised to find the desire for a siesta disappeared.

Tonight I was thinking about this relationship between food and behaviour and realised I'd eaten sandwiches for lunch for more than 30 years before I realised it was taking a toll. All those years of not paying attention in afternoon classes and then the lost productivity in the workplace and the grumpy moments too.

Wish I'd discovered kimchi and rice earlier because it seems you really are what you eat.

Crispy Caesar salad

Here's my lazy Caesar salad made with leaves, vinaigrette and cheese and bacon flavoured snacks. It tasted pretty good but would be much improved with a boiled egg and some parsley.

Art Deco-era RoboCop!

I found this at Dangerous Minds.

Sometimes I think Modernism was the peak of western civilisation. There's a vision of humanity overcoming all obstacles with modern technology that seems to ooze out of all the wonderful Art Deco style. It's such a shock when you compare it to the sense that 'everything has already been done' that permeates postmodernism.

Yet the radio-controlled police robot above doesn't seem that far removed from RoboCop.

Still an amazing speech

Many remember Charlie Chaplin for his silent movies but there's a speech of his that is foremost in my mind. It's from The Great Dictator, the Hitler pistake comedy made around the start of World War II to encourage the US to join the fight against fascism -- muchlike Casablanca did in 1942.

I was thinking about this speech earlier in the year when I was working on the soundtrack mixed for Metropolis. These two films seem like bookends with Nazi Germany in the middle.

Both films say that compassion is needed to stop people becoming like machines. It seems to pre-empt the 'Nuremberg defence' and remains a powerful plea for humanity.

Heaven The Axe debut

Many of the loud noises emanating from my home over the weekend came from this CD, the debut from my friends Phoebe and Steve. These guys have been playing gigs as Heaven The Axe for a little while now and under other names for much longer (like when they kindly supported my Bassling CD launch as Sweethard in 2004).

The album shows their versatility, from the opening flurry of riffs and drums through to the ballad that closes the EP (before the hidden tune that reminded me of Kyuss). I hope the CD will open more doors for the band to perform widely because the combination of metal energy and mellifluous vocals is a ripper.

Hear more Heaven The Axe at their website.

Listen closely

Listen closely and you can hear the eructation which passed from my throat after I consumed the contents of this can.

Nice bokeh

This photo of a corrugated fence shows the shallow depth of focus of a 50mm lens with an aperture open to f1.4.

Bokeh is a Japanese term for this blur effect in photography.

Backyard bubbles

A short video I made while trying out my new Nikon D5100. You can hear a new disco bassling track in it.