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Catnip Conundrum

Catnip has always been pretty mysterious to me.

I didn’t grow up with cats. Somehow the first time I ever came across the concept of catnip was when Shrek 2 came out when I was a teenager. There’s a section of that movie where the filmmakers parody “Cops” and Puss in Boots gets caught with a bag of the good stuff.

I remember being puzzled. How the fuck did I not know about catnip?

I eat meat and I definitely don’t love animals as much as some people do. But I’m not a psychopath and don’t like the idea of harming animals unnecessarily.

A few months back I went round to my friends John and Shelley’s apartment for some Saturday night drinks. Shelley owns a skittish cat who hides whenever there’s new people inside the apartment.

At some point during the night John coerced the cat out of it’s hiding place and got him fucked up on nip.

It was such a bizarre scene to witness. The cat was sprawled out on his back and his eyes were rolling into the back of his head. He didn’t look like he was having fun; he looked messed up.

Maybe it was because I was stoned myself, but when I looked into the cat’s eyes, I could kind of understand how he was feeling. He was dealing with the feeling you get when you’ve eaten a really strong edible and you find yourself at an intimate house party with bad lighting and strange people. Extreme paranoia and heart-stopping anxiety.

Another friend of mine Chips told me about a time where he came home one night and his cat began to maniacally lick his boots. He’d been working out in the country and must of stepped through some catnip during the day.

A little while later Chips found his cat lying on his bed completely spaced out in a stoned stupor. He said he threw on a Pink Floyd compilation onto his soundsystem, turned it up to 11 and closed his bedroom door. He checked on his cat an hour later and the little guy hadn’t moved a muscle.

What puzzles me about catnip as that most people who give it to their cats are probably against using animals for drug testing.

I’m aware that catnip isn’t harmful to a cat’s biology but surely high doses of catnip could potentially cause mental scarring. I know Chips’ cat probably went on some dark psychedelic journey thanks to the nip and Floyd combo.

Me and Kiri recently adopted a cat called Hilary. A few days after she arrived we dosed her with some catnip. She had a three hour experience which was pretty funny to watch despite these ethical reservations that are percolating in my head.

I guess it’s hard with a recreational drug like catnip because you can’t ask your kitty straight-up if they’re down to party. What do you do if you’re cat’s an addict? No one wants to live with a junkie.

Next time I trip I might give Hilary some nip. Perhaps she’ll somehow be able to let me know whether she’s cool with getting high recreationally. Two species; one love.

Mario Kart

When I lived in London I got really good at Mario Kart.

I took a year off from uni when I was 20 to travel. I did the typical Northern European backpacking circuit and moved to London when my money ran out.

When I got to London I moved into a share-house in Stratford, which is in grimy East London. My good pal Zander had moved into the place a couple months before me and let me know there was a spare room going. It was cheap and I’d get to live with my only friend in London so I snapped it up straight away.

I got a job at a non-profit in West London. I’d get up early, catch the Tube across the city and work ’til five. Unless I was boozing with work pals I’d get home at around six.

After dinner me and Zander would often stay up real late playing Mario Kart 64 in his bedroom. We had other games but we only ever played Mario Kart.

Kart was a huge thing for us back in Perth. We’d play while pre-drinking with friends. It’s a four-player game so it works perfectly if you’ve got a big group of people.

In London it was different. It was just me and Zander.

Mario Kart 64 is a fascinating game. It’s the gaming equivalent of Sgt Peppers. You’ve played it a thousand times but on the 1001st game you’ll see something you never noticed before.

Me and Zander are pretty competitive cats. Best of all, we were evenly matched in terms of skill level. Kart is no fun if one player is far superior, particularly in two-player mode.

Fueled by Kronenbourg and skunk we would race until the wee hours of the morning. Our skill level became off-the-chart good. We knew every part of every course intimately.

In the interest of full disclosure, we did use YouTube sparingly to learn about racing techniques that would optimize our performance. However it was mainly the sheer amount of hours we spent on the track that helped us get so good.

Occasionally another housemate would challenge us to a race. This would inevitably result in a bloodbath. I remember several serious conversations where we considered going pro.

When I think of my time in London I immediately think of Kart. Perhaps it was a slightly stupid way to spend so much time, especially during a temporary sojourn in a foreign land, but it’s all a matter of perspective.

I never became a pro Mario Kart racer. But I did experience the exhilarating feeling of expertly avoiding banana bombs on the ramp to make it inside the cave shortcut on Koopa Beach, I did aggressively boss my way around the world of shit that is Moo Moo Farm, I did make several competitors slam against the train through skillful handling within the dusty landscape of Kalimari Desert. And I have the wonderful city of London and my good pal Zander to thank for that.

Dandy Warhols

Somewhere during my final teenage years and early 20′s me and all my friends got mad into the Dandy Warhols.

I’d always liked the band. I think like so many others my gateway drug was the song “Bohemian Like You” which was fucking everywhere when it came out. I also remember seeing the music video for “Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth” on MTV and really digging it.

I saw the documentary DIG! at the Luna Cinema in Perth during the summer immediately after I graduated from high school. DIG! profiles the rise of the Dandy Warhols and another group called The Brian Jonestown Massacre from obscure, underground acts into more popular bands. For any young kid into music and drugs DIG! is essential viewing, and the movie really solidified my appreciation for the Warhols.

Me and my friends would spend late nights at our university share-house listening to the different Dandy Warhols albums over and over. We’d get drunk and high and dissect the songs like true connoisseurs.

At some point the band became a communal obsession for me and my group of friends. The Warhols went from being just another band we all liked to our band. They somehow helped us define ourselves.

If I had to speculate there were two main reasons for this ascension.

The first is that the Warhols were female-friendly. Not just ‘coz they had a chick in the band, but in addition to their drugged-out shoegaze anthems they had some catchy hits in the catalog. This meant the girlfriends could dance along too.

Secondly, there was a depth to the Dandy Warhols that was appealing. The music was exciting fuel for a lot of late-night debauchery but it also sounded like real life.

When I was 21 the Warhols came and played a show in Perth. About fifteen of us all went to see the gig. I got munted on mushrooms and booze and woke up the next morning with absolutely no recollection of the life performance.

Time swallowed up those days quickly. Me and my friends all finished our degrees, got proper jobs, moved overseas.

I still like the Dandy Warhols. I’m sure most of my friends still do too. But I’m no longer obsessed.

Nostalgia is interesting because it makes you look back but it also makes you think about the present. You look back so you can figure out your current predicament. How did I get here?

When I consider those days I think about a lot of things. I think about the music I was listening to, I think about how much booze I was drinking, I think about the women I was seeing, I think about how little uni work I was doing.

But more than anything I wonder what I thought about my own future. What were my expectations? Did all those memories just wash away or did I purposefully forget so much?

Fight Night

The decorum of the corporate world is paper-thin. I love it when this thin veil of civility is breached and chaos reigns supreme.

Immediately after graduating from university I fell into an advertising sales position at Australia’s largest media organization. I’d studied Communications and harbored loose aspirations to be a writer. I thought by working in advertising I could learn about the media industry and if I wanted to I could jump across to the editorial side of the business.

When we’re young we don’t really know what normal is when it comes to real jobs. Even if you’re prematurely advanced or highly precocious there’s a ton of guesswork involved.

I enjoyed my first few months at this advertising job. National newspaper, fancy office, big team with a complicated hierarchy. It seemed important.

This novelty wore off quickly. I realized a lot of my co-workers were morons. The office was filled with petty jealousy and futile rivalries.

A few months after I joined the federal government launched a new initiative and began to spend a truckload of money on ads in our paper. We were originally destined to have a dismal end-of-year result but this last-minute campaign changed all that.

We ended up smashing our group target. This meant a fat commission check for each member of the team. A big party was organized on the eve of the new financial year.

The party started in the office. The Sales Director gave a short speech thanking everyone for their hard work throughout the year. Bottles of champagne were cracked.

After a few hours of boozing we made our way to a local watering hole. Sales teams know how to drink. Many celebratory beverages were downed.

This is where my memory gets hazy. The problem with after-work drinks is that they often don’t include any food. I had about fifteen drinks over the course of five hours on a completely empty stomach.

I remember laughing and joking with some colleagues but also noticing some dark energy emanating from some of the more inebriated members of the team. At around 10PM I caught myself starting to slur so I tapped out. I jumped into a cab and went home by myself.

When I walked into the work on Monday morning the atmosphere was grim. Worried faces buried into monitors, sweaty brows, no talking. It felt as if someone had died.

I immediately became overwhelmed with The Fear.

Did I do something terrible on Friday night that I don’t remember?

Surely if I did something bad I would remember at least part of what happened, right?

Am I getting fired today?

Turned out I was worried for no good reason. Two women who hated each other had gotten into an altercation at the party. The drunker of the two had accused the other of moving her handbag and this led to a verbal slanging match which included threats of violence.

Hilariously I was told by other people that I was still at the party when this confrontation happened, right in the vicinity of the action. Yet I was clearly in the early phases of a black-out as I couldn’t recall a single thing.

After a two-week internal investigation the aggressor who initiated the confrontation was fired. A monkey in a suit is still a monkey. This was the main thing I learnt from the whole experience.

I ended up kind of enjoying the soap opera drama of the office for a while. But eventually that got tiresome.

We’re all animals but we all handle domestication in different ways. After just over a year I realized I needed a different type of enclosure. And even though I’m no longer working in an office, I’m still very much still stuck inside the Zoo.

Amazing Snakeheads

The Amazing Snakeheads were a talented Scottish band that flamed out just as quickly as they rose.

I got turned onto the group by a friend in early 2015. I was back in Melbourne for a short week-long visit to renew my U.S. visa and hang out with friends.

One Saturday afternoon me and some pals ate some mushrooms. As we waited for the effects to take hold we took turns playing music videos on YouTube. My pal Zander dropped “Here It Comes Again” by The Amazing Snakeheads.

The tune is a banger. A pulsing krautrock bassline is augmented by a shrill rockabilly riff. Singer Dale Barclay repeats the verse refrain “here it comes again” until the explosive instrumental garage-rock chorus.

I made a mental note in my loopy brain to learn more about the band. When I got back to the States I liked the band on Twitter and Facebook so I could keep track of their tour schedule.

A few weeks later the band ended. The following message was posted on their social media pages:

The Amazing Snakeheads are over. Never, ever to return. To anyone who came to get down, I thank you with all my heart. Dale Barclay.

Like so many others I felt saddened. The Amazing Snakeheads seemed like they were going places.

I checked out the other tunes from their sole release “Amphetamine Ballads”. Their sound was simple, powerful and dark. The songs are gothic but more in the vein of The Gun Club or Nick Cave rather than The Cure.

I learnt about the history of the group. Their quick rise to the top in the local Glasgow scene. The original drummer and bass player leaving only a few month’s before the group’s eventual demise.

In my younger days I would’ve perhaps been more gutted that the Snakeheads didn’t release more records or that I never saw them live. But now I find beauty in something fizzing out before it’d properly begun.

In our culture of “authenticity” and “transparency” we are encouraged to publicize everything we do. Good, bad or mediocre who gives a fuck: tell me everything about your journey. Actual mystery is a rare commodity.

Maybe they’ll be back. Never rarely means never in the music industry. But for now I’m more than happy with a single great record, some cool YouTube clips and a lingering sense of mystery.