Stepping off the afternoon train in Bayonne I was swallowed by damp. A fine wet mist hung in the air, softening edges; it smelled of salt and mystery. I dragged my bag noisily through the pretty cobbled streets, stopping to take a breath on the Pont Saint-Esprit. I leaned on the parapet and watched the … Continue reading Oysters On The Edge Of Infinity
At the window of my suite in the Citadines hotel, I yawned and looked out across the square at clutches of elderly Parisians huddling in fear as gangs of shouting, spitting teenagers slouched by. They call it a suite because in a sort of alcove off the bedroom there’s a sink with a hotplate next … Continue reading Fighting Vainly The Old Ennui…
The Metro spat me out into the muted streetlights of the Place du Chatelet and I headed across the river. I’d been in Paris a week and had so far avoided the centre of town– the crowds are too young and the beer’s too expensive– but tonight was the grand reopening of one of the … Continue reading A Night at the Huchette
I looked up and smiled as the lights started to swim. It was a few hours after landing, and I appeared to be at a small round table on the street outside a busy brasserie somewhere in Montparnasse. My movements leading up to that point completely escape me– I think there was a cab ride, … Continue reading A Page from the Jet Lag Diary: Paris
I’m the problem. It’s me. Florida is fine– they know what they’re doing, lumbering around blinding freeways in their hulking SUVs, eating their fried fish fillets, painting stuff beige, keepin’ it familiar. It’s just that I don’t get it. I try, really I do. I went down there with the best intentions, eager to spend … Continue reading Will Someone Please Explain Florida to Me?
I’m about to board a plane for the first time in 14 months and jet down to sunny Florida. Like drug-induced hallucinogenic paranoia, it’s a state I haven’t been in for 25 years, and one I have mixed feelings about revisiting. Working the Caribbean as a lowly musician aboard monstrous American cruise ships, the town … Continue reading Back to the Beach
The word “hike” is one that fills me with immediate and profound dismay. Like when other people hear words like dental surgery or experimental jazz. I immediately conjure up visions of craters and cliffs, ropes and crampons, dehydration and mountain rescue. Normally if I was invited on a hiking trip, I’d fumble desperately for an … Continue reading Let’s Get Ready to Ramble
’ve played the saxophone in some run down places: grim stinking pubs in the forgotten outskirts of Sydney, a few desperate alcoholics braying for ACDC despite our matching suits and 60s Rhythm & Blues setlist; slick cocktail bars in South East Asia, incongruous with the rats and trash, the abject poverty on all sides; below-deck nightclubs on seedy Russian Cruise ships- bleary vodka eyes and sudden outbursts of horrific drunken violence. And then there’s NYC’s West Village, January 2021...
A crack appears, the sky darkens, and then a crumbling spewing fetid chasm opens up before you; the screams and moans of lost souls escape from its depths. What you have here is reality, and haven’t I warned you about messing with that?
Entry to Rockaway is rough. The free shuttle to the beach is too horrific to consider: small, clapped-out vans with no suspension, torn broken seats, airless and stinking; on their last tour of duty before the knackery. I opt for the walk across the peninsula– it’s only ten minutes, but it’s an adventure though an almost cinematically rundown industrial horrorscape. Under crumbling rail bridges, past abandoned lots, burnt out cars; the gangs of beach-bound teenage girls in flip flops huddle tightly together, tote bags clutched nervously. But mixed with the stink of exhaust and urine, the ocean air holds a promise; and the rumble of the Atlantic infiltrates the sounds of traffic and wailing winos...