Monday, August 27, 2007

Where did all the sax players go?

I recently had reason to reflect on a selection of 80's music whilst trapped in a never-ending taxi ride. The music of my youth was playing and it occurred to me that one of the important features of 80's music has all but disappeared from today's music scene.

I'll give you some examples...

The crush-worthy Steve Norman from Spandau Ballet:

Australia's very own "I'm lucky I ended up in this band or I would never have scored Deni Hines" Kirk Pengilly:

James Valentine from the Models, now a serious ABC journalist/presenter type:

The dude from Dire Straits:

The dude who played with Hall & Oates (who, readers, was actually the epitome of 1985 cool with a sax, a mullet and a shiny jacket natch)

This list is not complete of course. We should mention the other great forgotten saxophonists including from Australian Crawl, Wang Chung, Men Without Hats, Psychedelic Furs, Was (Not Was) (personal faves of Ms Batville) and the boys who played along with Alison Moyet and Sade.

These days there is nary a saxophone player in sight. I don't much mind this but I do worry for all those Gen X saxophonists who took up the instrument inspired by young Billy Hicks (played by the very chiseled cheekbones of a pre Sam Seaborn Rob Lowe) in the all time classic 80's film St Elmo's Fire. I related to the Mare Winnngham character (whose name was, would you believe, Wendy Beamish!!) when she fell head over heels for Billy. I'm sure many impressionable young boys and girls thought similarly and begged their parents for an instrument so they could look this cool:

Where are they now? Is their beloved sax sitting in a dusty cupboard somewhere with their dreams of stardom shattered, or are they out at the Burvale on a Friday night blasting away tunelessly while they recreate retro classics to a roomful of drunk and nostalgic punters?

I wonder....

Friday, August 24, 2007

Back in Batville (but planning my next trip)

How time flies – a whole month since I last posted. So I'm back in Melbourne, reasonably refreshed and considerably more penurious after my overseas extravagance. During my holiday I mostly stayed away from email and reminders from home, hence no travel blogging. (Besides which reading about Dr Haneef made me so angry I thought it best not to check out what was going on). I'm only just back but it all seems to be fading into the background now so I don't think I will depress myself and recount my fabulous times in detail.

Needless to say I had a lovely trip – The Man and I generally got on extremely well and we survived the whole driving/navigating together thing. I saw great art, magnificent scenery, breathtaking views and the odd historical building. I walked and walked until I had blisters, I read none of the books I took over, I swam in warm water and I only did a smidgen of shopping. I met interesting people, stupid people and travelled with delightful old friends and less delightful moody newer acquaintances. I spent money on great accommodation, expensive dinners and alcohol.

The nice thing about getting away is that it gives you time to think and get your priorities in order. Whilst I like to think of myself as a traveller I am often guilty of working too hard, obsessing over little things and not taking enough holidays. During my trip I have reflected on the following important and less important issues:

  • I get bored with my job from time to time. That is OK and doesn't represent a career crisis. I will get less bored if I take some time out every so often. I will also get less bored if I have the confidence to challenge myself. I'll get that confidence if I take time to stick my little meerkat head up from my work and get some perspective more often.
  • I have finally learnt to pack semi-lightly. I took a moderate suitcase, packed more clothes than I wore but still had room to fit in some shopping purchases. It has taken 30+ years but I no longer have to exceed the baggage allowance on Qantas.
  • I need to take more holidays – that is, I need to take them more frequently and go to lots of different places. I should mentally wipe my headspace free of work and Australia (picture a mental Etch-a-Sketch here) by travelling overseas at least once every eighteen months.
  • Melbourne food is wonderful. You can eat at plenty of mid-range restaurants and have meals that range from good to very good. You rarely get a dud meal. We also have some fabulous restaurants. The food here is fresh and the meals are not too processed, salty, sweet or huge. Not that I don't appreciate eating local cuisine in foreign countries, but some of it is just over-priced crap. I should appreciate Melbourne food more.
  • Australia is not a very important country but we could be a great country and we have some fabulous people. John Howard is not one of them. We desperately need to get out of our "baby-bonus plasma-TV buying, racist fear-mongering, complacent mortgage holders battler lowest common denominator" culture and elect a politician who can actually lead the country and equip it to face the future.
  • More than a few Qantas staff are up themselves and should take a bit more time to reflect on how they treat their customers.
  • The Man is a very very good sort and whilst he is not the most expressive, romantic bloke in the world, he is genuine and reliable. He has shown me great care and ever so often he makes some gesture to make me happy that takes my breath away. I enjoy his sense of humour, his intelligence, his musings and I am never for a moment bored in his company. We are going well. I don’t know where it will end up, and I don't think he does either. That is just fine for the moment.

  • Watching Kath & Kim on the Qantas flight home is destined to make one very depressed. It shouldn't be played on flights into Australia.

I am gradually sinking back into the routine of everyday living, although I fear I am still a tad jetlagged. This weekend I will get out and about in Melbourne this weekend to ensure that I am not beset by post-holiday ennui. Hope life is treating you well and I look forward to catching up on events in the blogosphere.

Yours restfully

Ms B