A Night at the Huchette

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

A Page from the Jet Lag Diary: Paris

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

Will Someone Please Explain Florida to Me?

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?

Back to the Beach

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

Let’s Get Ready to Ramble

 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

Send In The Tumbleweeds

’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...

Escape from New York

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...

New York City: Signs of Life in the Smoking Ruins

At an old favourite, 1803 in TriBeCa, we sat in the ruins of our city and ate grilled oysters, while a band of our friends and heroes played their hearts out, their music echoing through the deserted neighbourhood; intently ignoring the iceberg out the porthole and the water lapping around their shins...

South Brooklyn Badlands and a Bar with No Name

I’m standing at a bar, pushing my luck. I’ve got a beer in my hand and I’m wearing out my welcome. Currently in New York City, I’m allowed to order a drink at the bar, but not drink it there. Mask on, distance observed, I’m supposed to order and pay, then take my drink and get the hell out. But I want to sit here. I want to lean back in a rickety stool, eavesdrop on neighbours’ conversations, maybe pass an eye over some sport I don’t care about on the TV in the corner, spin a beer mat between my fingers, and order another one. That’s what neighbourhood bars were invented for...