Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Bloc Party are one of the only British 'rock' bands I care deeply about. Their last three albums have often thrilled me. They are supremos when it comes to jagged, instantaneous punk-pop tunes fuelled by vitriol and glee. Nigerian lead singer Kele Okereke can get it right lyrically. Russell Lissack's guitar licks come across as rare birds of paradise in a PNG highland glade or a firefight in Libya. Bloc Party, time and again, kick you in the guts and remind you you're lucky to be alive.

Recorded in New York, the band's latest album, Four, is hard to define. It has polarised me after two and a bit listens. It is, in turns, blistering, jagged, spiky, peculiar, fascinating, frustrating, odd, gorgeous, sublime and hollow. Think Blur meeting Aphex Twin in a bad street in South London at about 4am. There are interview/studio outtakes amounting to little (Kele? talking about someone's infected arm and the baby spiders that emerged from it), deep south vibes, nu-metal panic attacks, lost strings, buried vocals, words that can barely be made out, a track with a wall-of-Smashing-Pumpkins'-guitars-sound featuring an ending where I expected Billy Corgan to start chiming in with Kele any second (so I began imitating Billy in the car!), lacklustre lyrics and choruses you can't singalong with. As well as the odd golden moment where everything is in accordance and your heart wants to explode.

I really don't know what all this means. All I know is that I really want to listen to it again, very loudly and acknowledge how grand it is to be breathing.

LJ, August 22 2012.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I had the pleasure of meeting poet John Foulcher for the first time last week, at the Canberra launch of his first collection in ten years, The Sunset Assumption, released through fresh NSW publisher Pitt Street Poetry.

I've admired John's economic, varied and memorable work since the early 90s. I'm not sure how I first came across his writing. Perhaps it was during my long years at the ACU in Strathfield, Sydney. The Learning Curve, a collection focussing on John's other life as a secondary school teacher, is a collection  on my shelf I come back to time and again for its humour, truth and poignancy.

The Sunset Assumption (I love the ambiguous title) is an unexpected collection from John, centring mainly on the architecture, history, light, mystique, people and pigeons of Paris. It contains some of John's finest work. There are poems on death, torture, loss, anxiety, racism, miscommunication and our often shaky relationship with the divine.

About sixty people filled the back of Paperchain Bookstore in Manuka for the launch. Pitt Street Poetry's John Knight and poet Susan Hampton introduced John and the collection. Following the bash, several of us went for a lovely dinner at a nearby Korean BBQ spot with John, John, Susan, Geoff Page, Alan Gould and other ACT poets.

Congrats to John Knight for starting Pitt Street Poetry in this age where verse means so little to so many. His imprint is a beacon. The work he prints is faultless, timeless.

And thanks to John Foulcher for the writing, poetry/teaching anecdotes and laughter.

LJ, 16 August 2012.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


I'm still reeling from watching Tony Krawitz's doco The Tall Man, concerning the death of Cameron Francis Doomadgee whilst in police custody on Palm Island, back in 2004. A section from the 25 min mark, where Cameron's brother, sister and son (who suicided after his father's death) spoke, particularly got to me. All Australians should watch it.

LJ, August 12 2012.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Well done to NASA's armies of geeks for getting the rover Curiosity on Mars. I'm impressed. But really, these early images aren't doing much for me. Maybe, Annie Liebovitz  and Anton Corbijn should've been beamed down to Mars' surface instead.  

LJ, August 9 2012.