Friday, October 31, 2008


Thai chilli mussels. Served on a bed of rice. Or a plate of rice, if you prefer to keep your bed for other things. The dish should conjure up hot, sultry nights in Bangkok, jazz music, and a rooftop bar.

20 minutes, or 30 minutes if you stop for a pre-dinner gin and tonic. Or two.

Serves 2
1 kilo mussels
3 spring onions
1 bit of lemon grass, woody bits removed
1 bit of ginger. Chop off a bit like your thumb
1 garlic clove
2 green chillis
bunch of fresh local coriander, with roots
oil - groundnut, canola, or massage
½ tin coconut milk
1 tsp fish sauce
1 lime - the juice thereof
1 red chilli, sliced as if with a laser beam

Tassel Park Sauvignon Blanc
or Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, if you are in an expansive mood

Ideally, mussels should be delivered to you early in the morning, fresh from Oyster Harbour, by a friend who is being schooled in the genteel art of poaching by some grizzled old local fisherman.

Where did you get these, i ask my intrepid friend as she hands me a kilo of mussels wrapped in butcher's paper.
"Well, they were attached to a rope floating in the harbour out near the Oyster Farm," she says.
Uh huh.
"The rope was clearly a hazard to boating, so we removed it," she says.
I offer her a coffee, and bang my head painfully on the corner of the range hood as i reach for the percolator. She laughs.
"Sorry," she says. "But you always do that."

When cooking Thai chilli mussels, it is important to have the right music on in the kitchen. Cooking is all about rhythm and timing. So the music is crucial. Pray For You by Plump DJs is a good start to getting the job done. Get the plump ones or some other homie wigga blasting on the stereo before you start cooking the rice. And for the best results, hand the job of actually cooking the mussels to someone who can cook and dance at the same time. Preferably someone with long, raven hair. Who will dance like she is making love. You mix the drinks.

If you don't have a delicious dancing chef in your kitchen, take out your frustrations by roughly chopping the spring onions, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, green chillis and coriander roots. Use a knife. Then throw them, recklessly, into a food processor. Whizz the whole lot to a paste. If you are in need of exercise, use a mortar and pestle instead. Don't be afraid to add a bit of Albany rainwater. If you don't live in Albany, this could be problematic. Improvise.

You can de-beard the mussels, but i wouldn't worry too much about rinsing them. Seawater is, sadly, a much-underused culinary ingredient. If you are ever on a picnic by the sea, barbecueing up some libertine rapture, just go and rinse the lettuce on the beach. Lettuce with seawater dressing is a simple sybaritic delight. But i digress.

Heat some oil in a big, fuck-off pot with a lid. Throw in the paste and fry it for a couple of minutes. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce and lime juice. Mmm. Bring this to a gentle simmer and add the fresh mussels. Put a lid on it (not the music - keep that wigga ghetto blaster blasting) and steam for about three minutes. Just enough time to knock back a gin and tonic and dance to your favourite track. Now pour the wine.

Open the lid, and you may see some miserly mussels with their lips still zipped firmly shut. Fuck these taciturn, shellfish creatures off, and only eat those mussels that really want to be eaten. Serve these stunned, open-mouthed and beautiful mussels on plates of rice, scattering coriander and fresh red chilli over them like confetti on a wedding day. Spoon any juice left in the pot over the rice.

Sip the sauvignon blanc while flinging the spent mussel cartridges aside. The raven-haired one uses mussel shells to spoon the delectable rice into her equally delectable mouth. Mmm. This is pure, epicurean pleasure.

Time to book two tickets to Bangkok.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


It was, quite simply, a humdinging lulu of a party. The muse and i stumble trolloped out into the apartment, emerging from the carnage of a bedroom strewn with marijuana, vinyl records, Absolut vodka bottles, cameras, and the other paraphernalia of saturnalia.

The Dewse's shaggy mop sticks out from a swag in a corner of the room. The window is open, and bottles lie about on the roof above the hairdressers where partygoers were dancing the night before. CDs litter the tables. There is broken glass, and unidentifiable dark patches on the carpet. My feet stick to the kitchen floor as i go in search of water. The tables are peppered with signs of drug taking. A Danish modern couch has been used to blockade the stairwell, while a red condom thrown in the bathroom offers mute testimony to some wanton partying.

Following the previous evening's elegant cocktail party at Tigersnake, with its sophisticated blend of mojitos, G&Ts and canapés, Miss Polly's Birthday Week celebrations just kept on rolling with the sweat-laden dance floor mayhem of Blumanna at the Regency Room, before band and crowd shook its collective booty en masse to the afterparty. A party that Moondog Taylor described as 'a night of legend'.

"Just look at the state of this living room," i say.
Miss Polly nods. "Looks like people have been living in it," she says. "Let's take some beer and oysters, drive to the beach, and roll a scoob."
Clearly the most sensible option.
"You are an ideas person," i say.

When Albany turns it on, it really turns it on. We float on our backs off a stunning white beach, soaking up the sun. In the distance, a blue beach umbrella stakes our solitary claim on pure, unbridled escapism. The Dewse has taken his Jack Kerouac novel, swag and backpack and gone to climb a mountain. Miss Polly and i have oysters, party food and a supply of cold beer. And an afternoon of sunshine stretches ahead of us like a sunbaking serpent.

"People really should float more," Miss Polly says.

After a while we swim in. Back on the beach i roll us a racehorse while the muse works on her tan.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Stuck out at Ora Banda, working fly-in fly-out on a gold exploration show, our only entertainment was the Sunday session at the Broad Arrow Tavern.

After a full week's work putting in grid lines, trailing through the bush with a roll of wire and a compass, drilling and sampling, and making billies of tea over stick fires for the geologists, we would knock off early, leaving our corrugated iron camp for the simple pleasures of beer, beer, and more beer at the Broad Arrow Sunday session.

The Broad Arrow was a 30km drive over a rough gravel road. We wouldn’t hang about. The standing record in a Hilux, held by Bernie, was 14 minutes 30 seconds door-to-door, at an average speed of 125km/h.

Even though the Toyota was airborne much of the time, we only rolled one company vehicle in six months. And while Bernie was, in all probability, a complete lunatic, he was also my boss. So I’d just hang on and not say a word. As well as teaching me how not to drive, Bernie taught me how not to handle explosives.

He had just spent his fly-out break in Bali, sucking down native hallucinogens in Blue Meanie smoothies, and although he was physically back at work, his mind was elsewhere. So we were well over our record time when we pulled up in a cloud of dust outside the corrugated walls of the Broad Arrow. The pub was inscribed inside and out with graffiti, full of prospectors, travellers, and the town crowd from Kalgoorlie. It was rowdy and raucous. Some of the nurses were there, playing pool in the back bar.

The hotel owner Tom, a "colourful racing identity", was behind the bar talking nags with a customer. An old prospector, Clarence, sat on his regular stool, quietly composed, his battered Akubra on the bar next to his usual pony glass. "Gets too warm otherwise," he'd say about his comically small glasses of beer.

Photo Rosemary Lynch

We front up to the bar. Tom comes over.
“What you having.”
“Middy of VB.”
Tom looks at me. Today i don’t feel much like beer. I feel like tequila.
“I’ll have a tequila,” i say. “With lime and soda.”
Tom looks slowly from me to Bernie and back again. He raises an eyebrow.
“I’ll get Dougie,” he says. “He does all the fancy drinks.”


Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I’m fed up with all this pussyfooting around with climate change. Governments and their people making noises, signing protocols, talking about quotas, and pretending that they are doing something about global overheating. And, while we’re on the subject, i’m fed up with the term ‘global warming’. It just sounds so … so warm and fuzzy.

An industrialised country is yet to take the lead on this. If i lived in a country of which i could be proud (and i seriously considered becoming a citizen of New Zealand when that small country stood up and banned US nuclear warships from its waters) then Australia would be doing something. Australia is in a unique position to make a difference and set an example - and that is what we should be doing. Not frittering away our resources, spending the money on big fuck off four-wheel-drives, and tooling about the city in our petty icons of status and power.

All the Kyoto Protocol can hope to do is slow the rate of growth of carbon emissions. Oh, but surely that's a good thing, say people with a feeble grasp of mathematics. No. Short answer, no. Slowing the rate of growth is not the same as reducing emissions. It is merely slowing the rate at which industrialisation and emissions continue to grow. It is merely postponing the inevitable.

Except it is evitable. Almost anything is evitable. Notice, dear reader, that i didn’t say anything fatuous like ‘anything is possible’. As if i were a meteoric sports star standing on the highest podium after a race at the olympics: “This proves anything is possible if you put your mind to it.” No, it fucking doesn’t, you moron. A winner is a sample size of one. What about the other 99 per cent of people in the race, who also put their minds to it, who also gave it their best shot, who also gave 110 per cent, who also did better than their PB. And lost. If someone winning a race proves anything, it proves that you can give something your best shot, put your mind to it all you like, and still have a reasonably high probability of failing. Try telling a vegetable in a wheelchair that she could win the hundred metres freestyle at the olympics if only she would put her mind to it. But i digress.

When chess was played in Persia, back in the mid sixth century, pawns could only move one square at a time. No moving two squares on your first go. No taking another pawn en passant. These moves came later, to speed the game up a little, to leap more quickly into the fray. But more interestingly, the queen was the weakest piece on the board. Both the king and queen were quite staid, protected by the pieces around them, the pieces that held the actual power. Then, around 1580, an Italian suggested making the Queen the strongest piece instead of the weakest. In France, the new game was nicknamed echecs de la dame enragee or ‘the chess of the maddened queen’. The queen became the most powerful piece on the board. Promotion of a pawn became a singularly cataclysmic event.

As i said, almost anything is evitable. And it would help this planet immensely if someone seized leadership, rather than merely clutching at power, and actually fucking did something.

Now if the Art Director was suddenly promoted to the position of the maddened queen, Australia would immediately cease exporting all iron, nickel, and other metals – the basic building blocks of industrialisation – to the rest of the world. Yes, just like that. That would learn’em. Ouch, i hear you say. But how will i meet the mortgage payments on my three-storey house looking over the bay? Then how will i afford my new Landbruiser? Two words. You fucking won’t. You will grow vegetables and cycle to work like the rest of us. You will start actually making a change rather than blowing ever more hot air out into the world.

And you will stop making dirty big holes all over this beautiful land, you greedy mutherfuckers.

Monday, October 13, 2008


OK, so we have been spending a lot of our time together.

Last Wednesday, Miss Polly turned up at my workplace at lunchtime, and we went out, and i didn’t come back until Thursday. Dishevelled, and still wearing the same clothes. Which raised a few eyebrows. But it proves nothing. Because the first rule has always been The Art Director Will Not Fall In Love With The Muse.

You see, everything the muse and i do together is done for the purposes of Art. And Miss Polly’s modelling contract clearly states “no sex - just the drugs and rock’n’roll.” I trust this sets the record straight, clears any confusion, and disambiguates the obvious. One should always strive to avoid confusion.

She adjusts her Ray Ban aviator sunglasses as i drive up York Street. We’ve decided to take the weekend off and head up to Perth. I push a switch, and the electric windows glide shut. Miss Polly sinks back into the leather upholstery and dials up a tune on her iPod. Pulling to a halt at the pedestrian crossing, we wait as as a few of Albany’s more senior citizens shuffle slowly towards the afterlife. Above us, stretching across the road, is a banner that reads “Mental Health Week.”

“Hmm,” she says, looking up through the windscreen. “Perhaps we should have taken the whole week off.”

Once the road is cleared of pensioners i put the pedal to the metal and hold it there. We’ve got to get this show to Perth sometime inside of the next four hours. There is some serious partying to be had. Architecture in Helsinki blasts out of the stereo. "Give it to me, baby give it to me." Miss Polly starts with her car dancing, her bare feet up to the dashboard. She makes some rhythmic yet strangely undefined movements with her arms, and sways her legs from side to side. Car dancing. She seems happy.

“You know, i was going to get a dog," she says. "But then i met you.”

Sunday, October 05, 2008


Waking up with a head cold is bad enough. But when the slow realisation dawns on you have lost your camera, that you left your camera rig on the floor of the pub the night before, then you need more than a hot lemon drink.

I text the muse. We are supposed to be doing a photo shoot this afternoon. Oops a daisy. Miss Polly makes a few calls, including one to the hotel manager, who says there is no sign of the missing camera. (A Nikon D70, serial number 6011881, and Nikon SB800 flash. By the way.)

The next thing i do is cast about for a scapegoat. I think i can blame the girls. Mainly Dolores the Journalist for getting me so tipsy after work, but also Miss Polly, whose rockstar looks are enough to distract blind Freddy and his three dead brothers.

When Miss Polly turns up and joins Dolores and i on the black sofa, she crosses her legs, revealing a glimpse of thigh-high stockings with elasticized lacy tops. It is at precisely this point that i lose the camera. I completely forget about the backpack on the floor, with its padded carry handle on top, big clip-down flap, and diagonal zip pouch containing a blue USB card reader, spare 1Gb compact flash card, a $3000 camera rig, and an unused condom.

Can i get you a drink, Miss Polly. What’s been happening, Miss Polly. Uh huh yes wow how fascinating uh huh can i walk you to your car?

Doh. So the digital camera is now, more than likely, at one with Miss Polly’s iPod, which disappeared during the past week’s Birthday Week celebrations. No doubt both pieces of technology are in the hands of the same drug dealer, who is, even as we speak, idly flicking through photos of the muse and the art director playing pool and listening to More News From Nowhere on Polly’s iPod. Oh, and looking at rock photos of Adalita Srsen from Magic Dirt. Mmm, Adalita. No, wait. There can be no more distractions. This is serious. Miss Polly and i have both lost stuff in the past week, and doesn’t that, technically, make us a couple of losers?

To hell with the technicalities. On the positive side, it certainly makes the maddening choice between film and digital one hell of a lot easier. I unclip my aluminium camera case, lift out that trusty old brick, the Nikon F3, and blow off the dust.

I text Miss Polly and confirm the digital camera is no more. She texts back. “Fuck fuck fuckity fuck. Want to go out for breakfast to commiserate?”
Fuckity fuck sounds good, i say, but breakfast will do.
“OK… where r u? Work or home or in the bath with razors?”

Everyone’s a comedian.

I order her breakfast at the café downstairs, hoping she is coming equipped with her credit card. She arrives just as the steaming plates of scrambled eggs and chorizo are put on the table. We sip our coffee. The muse is also a professionial barista, and one hell of a coffee critic. The Bean Café long black somehow pole vaults and contorts its way over the bar, which Polly has set so impossibly high. But then, as Tim Shocker always says, she makes the best coffee in town.

I found these, i say, pulling a pair of Mexican silver earrings from my pocket. You left them. Do you have anywhere you can put them?
She looks at me like i am not all there. “Uh, like maybe in my ears?” She puts them in her ears, and tucks back into her breakfast. I do like this girl.

In spite of my sickness (and yes, avid reader, it is a mere head cold – i don’t want to see the word lovesick bandied about in the comments section) and in spite of my camera having been stolen, we go ahead with the scheduled shoot. Upstairs in the apartment we crank through a couple of rolls of film as Albany turns on the rain and hail outside. Miss Polly in a mohair coat, sprawling on a bed of vinyl records, the new muse in stockings and heels curled against a rain-spattered window. The raven haired coffee girl glowers through the locks of that famous hair, all wide eyes and hoop earrings, into the lens of the Nikon.

And with each look, she permanently rearranges the chemistry of my fine-grained emulsion.


Pork Medallions, to be awarded when your partner is particularly good in bed. Served with citrus and green bean salad.

15 minutes. Marinating time will vary according to what you’ve got on. Allow 10 minutes to cook.

Serves 2
250g trimmed Pork Medallions
250g green beans
1 orange, torn to shreds
¼ cup fresh orange juice
1 totally crushed garlic clove
½ red onion, if you want
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoons zesty orange zest
1 tablespoon olive oil, virgin or sullied
1 pile of cous cous

Pitchfork Pink
Peel Estate Zinfandel.

I never won any medals in sport. So when i was awarded these Medallions for skills with the pork sword, you can imagine how excited i was. If you want to get someone excited, give them Pork Medallions, and tell them why you believe they deserve them. Especially if that person is me.

First, lay your hands on the extra virgin. You can never have enough lying about the apartment. Whisk this luscious liquid with orange juice, garlic, lemon juice and orange zest. Mmm. Now don’t get your orange zest mixed up with Zest, the fertiliser. That stuff will send you into a hormonal frenzy. Just make the orange zest yourself by scratching an orange rind on a grater. It’s easy.

Keep half the marinade (see, this is what you’ve just created – a marinade – so don’t be afraid to let people know. Splash the word about a bit. In fact, pour yourself a drink – you deserve it) and pour the remaining liquid over the Pork Medallions. Leave these babies to marinate for half an hour or so while you crack open the Pitchfork Pink. This is a rosé, but don’t hold that against it. It will quaff quite nicely with this light dish. In fact, splash some in the marinade. Go on, you know you want to. Do it with a flourish.

Open the Zinfandel and let it breathe. This is a big wine. Very big. In fact it’s fucking enormous. Don’t mess with it, just let it breathe. After a while, remove the medallions from the marinade and pat them dry with a copy of the Albany Advertiser. Dioxins and ink never hurt anybody. Now, heat ½ tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat and grill the pork for a couple of minutes on each side. If you’ve got a George Foreman Grill, use that, while singing the Rich Hall classic, “I’ve Got A George Foreman Grill.”

"I've got a George Foreman Grill, a George Foreman Grill
If you wont cook my dinner, George Foreman will
I've got a George Foreman Grill, a George Foreman Grill
If you wont cook my dinner, George Foreman will.
He was the master of masters
In the sweetest science
But to you he is just a name on a kitchen appliance
How can you be so stupid
How can you be so dumb
Not to know that George Foreman was as mean as a gun
He went eight rounds in Kinshasa with Mohammed Ali
He didn't float like a butterfly or sting like a bee
He just lay there on that canvas all quiet and still
But he was dreaming of the plans for a cheap sandwich grill
I've got a George Foreman Grill, George Foreman Grill
If you wont cook my dinner - George Foreman will.”

After singing this, repeat the chorus a couple of times. “I’ve got a George Foreman Grill, a George Foreman Grill…” before removing the pork from your George Foreman Grill (or the Stupid Frying Pan, which doesn’t rhyme quite as well) and loosely cover it in foil. The Pork Medallions need to rest for a few minutes. You know how it is.
Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of salted water to the boil and blanch the beans. Throw in a few quotes from Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, even though nobody will have a fucking clue what you are on about. Chuck the water you just blanched the beans in onto some cous cous and let it quietly absorb, like a reader in a public library. Then quickly refresh the beans with cold water. Wake up, beans! Time to be eaten!

Heat the remaining ½ tablespoon of oil in the pan and briefly sauté the red onion until it has slightly softened. Sauté sauté sauté. Splash in a bit of Zinfandel. Now that’s what i call red onions. Combine the green beans, orange chunks and red onion in a bowl and lightly drizzle with the rest of the marinade. Drizzle, like a sweet Albany rain.

Now, grab your pièce de lower résistance, the Pork Medallions, and crack some salt and pepper over them. Serve them up alongside the green beans, couscous and what's left of the Pitchfork Pink. The Zinfandel is for later, when you switch on the lava lamp and the record player.

If you haven’t got cous cous, you need to ask yourself just what kind of show you are running here. You should have chucked a few whole potatoes into a sealed plastic container and microwaved them for about four minutes, about four minutes ago. Then cracked them open and added lashings of pepper and sour cream. But it’s too late now!

Pork Medallions.

The name says it all.