Albany is undoubtedly the best place in the world.
Avid readers of The Nerve may find this statement alarming, coming as it does from the Art Director, who in recent posts has systematically bagged out his new home as a woeful, misbegotten penal colony, populated by a high percentage of the elderly, the infirm and the retarded, ruled by a mindset of fundamental christianism, and rabidly policed by cops and citizens alike. Readers may therefore think i am being disingenuous. Or, worse, trying to be funny.
But as anyone who has swallowed copious amounts of lysergic acid knows, perceptions can change. I have flipflopped from abject, Sartrean despair at this humourless, Misery Beach existence, to a sudden, sybaritic embrace all things Albanian. Am i on drugs? No. Not at present, no. Today i am thundering along the Frenchman Bay Road on a motorcycle in an irrepressibly positive frame of mind, to gleefully join the mindless hordes of long weekend Rainbow Coast tourists. To visit the Blowholes, Whale World, who cares, maybe even partake of bad food, worse service, and laminex tables at the Life’s A Beach Café. To do whatever, i really don’t mind. Let’s just ramble, waste time, and soak up the vibrations of the road under this fleeting September sun. Let’s have a day off.
On the back of the motorcycle is Miss Polly, the raven-haired coffee girl from the Raven Haired Coffee Girl blog. Miss Polly is a tremendous individual in ways which cannot really be enumerated, and nor will i even begin to try. For in the words of Nick Cave “she ain’t down with any of that ’cause she’s heard that shit before.” But one thing i can say about Miss Polly is that she seems to follow, innately and therefore without even trying, that directive which is the Art Director’s unwritten law, which states that One Should Always Behave Like A Fucking Rock Star. (Which, having now been written, is of course now longer an unwritten law, but has taken on the status of a self-evident dictum.) And if you must have a girl on the back of your 650 (and really, you must) it is definitely a plus to have a beautiful, raven-haired girl who holds on to you by your thighs.
Albany. What a fantastic place.
The road winds out ahead of us like a long weekend. We roar past the sign that reads “Take Care Dangerous Coast” and into a sweeping curve watched over by a soaring stand of granite. This is where the road opens up, and snakes through the Torndirrup National Park. In the parlance of the motorcycling magazines, i hunch down and wind it on for more grin. But i must be ready on the anchors, or i might end up wearing a gravel frown.
We fly past the turnoff to the Gap, the Albanian lover’s leap of choice, and throttle into another long curve. Blowholes turnoff. Decelerate rapidly. Miss Polly presses into my back like a Japanese masseuse. A sharp turn and a short road to the coast, and a carpark swarming with (i grit my teeth) tourists. We scrunch to a halt and dismount.
“How you doing there, Miss Polly?”
She removes her helmet, and shakes free the famous raven hair. She turns those Winona Ryder eyes on me and smiles.
“Not too bad. You make a good windbreak.”
“Why, thank you. That’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.”
Miss Polly appeared a couple of days before, sashaying in to Tigersnake, making my photographic exhibition suddenly look a whole lot better. And in doing so, turned my view of Albany on its head.
The girls bring out another round of G&Ts as i notice her there, with her hair and all, resplendent in a red vintage dress with a high, collared neck, looking like she has just stepped off a Southern plantation. But she is engrossed in conversation, as i am, and it is not until later, after ingesting a variety of high quality canapes, chasing them with more G&Ts, shots of vodka and crushed strawberry, plus a couple of glasses of red wine, not until nearly the end of the night, that i get a chance to speak with her.
Meanwhile i’m talking with my agent Annie, the journos Dylan, Martine and Tiffany, and Sarah Toa, the infamous writer. Dylan, after having spilled red wine on his “good” jacket, and having been told bluntly by Martine that his suede jacket “smelled”, has fronted up at this men’s boutique clothing store with his John Cooper Clarke legs protruding out from under a beige linen jacket, which features a kind of entrepreneurial 1980s cut, one button hanging by a thread, and a lapel deploying stains which look like they could easily be distilled into the kind of liquor that has a kick to rival the Limeburners whiskey we are currently knocking back.
The Don wanders over in his long, black, spotless jacket and stetson hat. There are introductions.
“Dylan, Don. Don, Dylan,” my agent says.
“Don owns the dry cleaners,” i say. Dylan shakes his hand.
“This is a match made in heaven,” Martine says.
I do more of the meet and greet, talk shop with a budding young photographer, who seems take this whole exhibition thing quite seriously, and try to quieten down a raucously drunk subeditor and news photographer who have turned up en route to a Chinese meal. Tiffany takes some social pics for The Newspaper. The ambient dance music gets too much for me, so I put on some Johnny Cash, much to everyone’s dismay. Except Sarah Toa, who beams. I wander over to Dylan and Tiffany. “I’m going to ask that girl out,” i say, indicating the raven-haired Southern belle at the other end of the room.
“She’s beautiful,” says Tiffany, no slouch in the looks department herself. She says this with an implied “but”, as she looks from the raven-haired beauty, to me, and back again.
The next morning at work, Tiffany stares at me. “How do you do it?” she asks.
We walk down to the Blowholes. Miss Polly is telling me about her trip to New York, about the outrageous price of entry to the Guggenheim Museum, the perils of xanax, and riding the late night subway into Brooklyn. I tell her my muse, Melinda Mayhem, is, even as we speak, away in New York, doing an intensive eight-week course at Film Director School. Mz Mayhem was spotted by a music producer at a Pixies gig last year. She showed him some of her film handiwork, including the Art Director production The Maestro, which co-stars the wild one herself in a red Ford coupe. And he snapped her up. She’s gone.
At the Blowholes, tourists stand around on the granite slopes, these slippery rocks which descend in a rapidly increasing incline into the rough swells of the Southern Ocean. This looks like a simple form of madness. Men, women and children stand around waiting for a king wave to relieve them of the monotony of their existence. There is a deep crevasse in the rock, under which we can hear and feel the heaving of the ocean. There is a sudden explosion, a whoomp, and a blast of air. We both jump.
“I’m looking for a replacement muse,” i tell Miss Polly. Not that Mz Mayhem could ever be replaced. But the world keeps spinning. “You interested in being famous?”
Miss Polly is looking all windswept and interesting. Her eyes scan the coast, then she turns them on me. They could melt copper at two hundred metres. “OK,” she says. “When do we start?”
Monday, September 29, 2008
THINGS TO DO IN ALBANY part 2
Albany is undoubtedly the best place in the world.