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Boring Acquaintance

We’ve all been to a birthday party two years in a row and run into the same boring person.

You remember meeting them the first time. They were so incredibly dull that you hoped to never see them again. But a year on you see them again in the exact same place.

Because of Facebook you can keep tabs on these boring people. You notice them in photos with your mutual friend.

In the past I’ve purposefully avoided parties when I knew for a fact one of these boring acquaintances would be in attendance.

Other times I’ve tried to convince myself that they might have become more interesting or that maybe the first interaction was just an unfortunate accident. A true Lemony Snicket.

This mentality always leads to disaster. As soon as you see them at the party your heart sinks. You realize instantly “People don’t change maaaaaaaaaan”.

You say hello. You pretend to be interested in what they’ve been up. You make your excuses and get the fuck away from them so you don’t catch the boring disease.

Moments like these fuel my social anxiety. I feel angry at the mutual friend for keeping such a dull person in their life. I don’t want them to stop being friends: I just want them to stop inviting the boring acquaintance to events that I’ll be showing my face at.

We like to think of ourselves as free spirits who spend our lives fulfilling our wanderlust. But in reality we’re just pattern-seeking victims of circumstance with social amnesia.

Next time you run into a boring acquaintance at a party I dare you to be honest. Get drunk and tell them how you really feel. Ask them what they think of you.

Let me know how it goes.

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.

Day Job

If you’re a young creative person chances are you are having to deal with the harsh realities of a Day Job.

This is not necessarily a job you have to work during the day. Maybe you’re waiting tables every night.

The point is you’re doing something short-term to facilitate and finance a dream.

This situation can really fuck with your head. It’s a minefield of anxiety and emotional chaos. How do you keep your head above water whilst moving towards your goal?

In 2015′s “Getting There: A Book of Mentors” Mad Men-creator Matthew Weiner says: “Get a day job, but don’t get too good at it.”

I like this piece of advice a lot. It’s simultaneously realistic and revolutionary.

Growing up we get told we have to try our best in everything we do. This is Bullshit. There are some things you definitely don’t want to become the best at.

So much of our lives are based on timing and chance. The place we find ourselves living in, the people we sleep with, the jobs we work. You do a lot of things just because they were in front of your face.

The idea of having a creative dream is that it’s a future you’ve decided for yourself. It’s the sum of your influences for sure, yet you decide what gets put in and what gets left out. Chance is eliminated from the equation.

People can hate their jobs for a variety of different reasons. Laziness, boredom, shitty co-workers or long hours. Not everyone hates their job because they’d rather be doing something else.

If you truly hate your job because you’d be working on a passion project then you’re actually in a slightly better position then so many others. You have a temporary obstacle in your path. Others are stuck in an all-encompassing existential malaise.

George Carlin said: “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” Even if you’re not excelling at your day job chances are some other moron is actually trying and still doing a worse job than you.

The trick to getting by is being really cool to the people you work with. They don’t want to hear about your half-finished screenplay about the lost city of Atlantis; they want you to pull your weight so they can leave on time.

If you’re hung up on the fact that you’re working a day job you hate, find solace in the fact that you actually have purpose in your life. But remember if you’re not good at your day job and you’re not working towards a dream, then what the fuck are you doing?