Wellington New Zealand…everyone has gone home (not the residents, of course) but Dex and Jenny and Joe and Ellen and Mikey and that weird life-size African statue with the massive female genitalia he stole out of the Oriental Bay Airbnb…heretofore referred to as Blanche).
So I’m sitting here on Tory Street alone…traveling alone-alone being very different than traveling as part of a group, yet still being alone. I’ve noticed over the years people are pretty excited to say goodbye to me…I’m pretty sure that’s because I give excellent “goodbye bro hugs.”
This has been a long trip. Portland to Perth/Freo to Sydney to Melbourne to Auckland to Wellington. Much to the dismay of my social media team…I didn’t write a blog from AUS full of witty insightful comments about kangaroos and funny accents and Bret Mosley (tho I played shows with Bret in Western Australia…I have long maintained Bret is one soulful badass motherfucker. He is playing and teaching music in Perth/Freo…uh, I wouldn’t want to learn from him …as whatever dark painful soul scorching hole you have to go down to remotely sound like him is a crap shoot as to survivability) and in what really would have been an excellent team move, tie the Aussie blog to our new record release.
Unfortunately, on the plane across the Aussie wastelands, I wrote I was supporting the UnBernie…thereby dominating whatever we were promoting with banter to rival Mao’s green revolution. I’m still unclear I won’t be dragged down Alberta Street in a dunce cap, getting spit on, when I return…with my family publicly denouncing me as a capitalist stooge and a traitor to the cause. Already the band is asking to stay in separate hotels because “it’s just easier on the Uber bill” and “we don’t really need wi-fi anyway” and the traditional workhorse…”we just want you to have some space bro” and “could you wear the bright red windbreaker so we don’t lose you ?”…so it’s been a bit tense…tho obviously I’ve been here before.
Australia…I didn’t write a blog from Australia…like I don’t write travel blogs from California…I am more than a little unclear they’re not the same place…just turned upside down…and as someone who grew up in San Diego, if Fremantle isn’t San Diego 1976 (with hipper music, better food and possibly more beautiful girls)…then I couldn’t really tell you where the hell I was. Seriously. Take away that they say the word chemist (like chemo with an ist) and the fact that there’s 2000 different kinds of avocado and those big bouncy rats that sound like Rottweilers and can kick you to death and that there’s a Bon Scott statue and Nick Cave is from there and people are generally lovely and cigarettes cost 50 bucks and the whole yah nah yea thing…and it’s California. Big California, big fucking cities, big big deserts, big Opera House (where we saw a big Decemberists show)…big waves, big music, big suburbs…big prices for everything…and big-ass sharks. I mean…what else do you want from me on this subject (besides an in-depth report on the Bunbury brunch knifing avocado smash Easter fest)…I think I nailed it.
So…I’m in Welly…and the whole cutesy thing is starting to grate. Football is footie and bikers are bikies and herpes are herpies and Wellington is Welly. New Zealand…Fuck me…I can’t believe I’m back.
In 1976, I was in a lot of trouble in the California school system…my father was a renowned international fisheries conservation scientist…and when faced with the imminent destruction of his eldest son (Dr. Spock had not provided instructions as to the proper response to one’s 12-year old eating acid…or anything southern calif children were coming up with), he and my mother decided to move the family to New Zealand for a year-long writing sabbatical…mostly to get me to the furthest end of the Earth were I might chill out and ride horses or something that didn’t involve class A narcotics and cops. Yesterday, I drove up to where the house was, (I reconnected thru FB with my old friend and neighbor Steve O’Neill…he was instrumental in getting us here) a farm house with a paddock on 14 acres…stunningly beautiful. I had no idea the whole time I was there. If you went down the hill to Lower Hutt…where the schools and social life were (someone yesterday called it the Bronx of Wellington)…it was a whole new world for me. I was a La Jolla kid…and I walked into 15-year olds legally quitting school…everyone drinking (I started smoking cigarettes because Carey Duncan said I wouldn’t have any friends if I didn’t…I’ll be sending the NZ government my impending lung cancer bill)…and pretty much fighting…constantly.
I don’t think anyone ever actually knew my name. I was “the Yankee Cunt” the whole time. Cunt being a word here like fuck. All purpose…like, “Er cunt all ya fucking cunt…eh ? Ya cunt?” that’s when people were being friendly. Everybody was in some kind of gang (no guns…pipes and knives and crossbows and whatever…but zero guns) and I was like…hello?…and proceeded to pretend I was a rough and tumble bloke who could handle myself.
I’d love to tell you I learned to fight…but basically I got the shit kicked out of me on a regular basis…by white guys and Maori and Tongans and Samoans and Rarotongans and Fijians and a couple of big ass Cook Island girls…and I kept coming back for more. I wasn’t the sharpest of tacos on the Xmas tree…to be sure.
I always thought had I stayed in La Jolla and played guitar, my teen years would have been pretty good…then again…most of my friends from there are dead…so…posing and faking and bleeding my way thru my NZ year was my lot. I did play in a couple cool bands and played my first paid bar gigs (and ultimately was in a band with an EMI deal…tho…). But mostly I tried to swing pipes at big face tattooed Pacific Islanders and missed. It was a miserable year for my family…my little brother, particularly…and I can never say I’m sorry enough. Ultimately, the metaphorical pipe connected and I was in a lot of trouble and asked to leave, (on the bright side the paper my dad wrote while there is credited with saving the Pacific dolphin population…so you’re welcome).
So that’s what I’ve been doing the past few days…taking a long hard look down the barrel of the past and not turning my gaze in the hopes I can help my kids avoid the same bullshit . I was a righteous dick of a teenager (you are going, “no way…that sweet Jerry Joseph? A massive douche bag of a kid?”)…and then I left NZ and I never went home again until I was an adult. Funny, it was not to be the first time I received a beautiful gift and failed to recognize it for what it was…this place is beyond beautiful. Everything you have ever heard or read or seen in pictures is true…sure there’s a dark side…dark sides give stuff, people, places…soul. I’ve never been anywhere without a dark side…’cept maybe Vermont or Switzerland and who the fuck wants to go there? If you are ever lucky enough to travel here, you’ll hold it in your heart the rest of your days (just make sure to smuggle in a lot of cigarettes…and if you’re going to the Hutt…a shotgun would be helpful).
This tour was good…great shows…Jenny and Dex were amazing every night. We actually had crowds and cool bands to play with…and it was worth the price of admission just seeing Kempler be a door guy (as I’ve noted before…none of this would happen without his support). My only regret is it took 40 years to get back here…and that I never found Johnny Kouara who beat me with a broken wine bottle on my 16th birthday and put me in the hospital…man…I’d have really loved to see him now…
Anyway, it’s Sunday night at Meow…the club we played here on Friday. I’m watching a guy play Neil Finn covers…and I love Neil Finn…he’s a national hero here…and drinking coffee and trying to do my social media homework.
We have a new video out…a new record that comes out next week. I am a long-ass way from home…really all I can think about is getting back to my family…and Shelly Mulligan…Shelly was my second-grade girlfriend…her birthday is April 12th…I’ve remembered that for close to 50 years, and every year on April 12th, I write, “Happy Birthday Shelly Mulligan” in my journal. So have a great Shelly Mulligan day. Buy or stream or steal the new record. She’ll be right ya cunt eh? Yea nah nah yea.
Man, I really miss Blanche.