Ejo #79 – Perspective: A Dubai Ramadan Story

Earlier this month my Spotify music account was hacked.  The offending asshole* changed the primary email and password of my account, locking me out of it (how rude!).  The team at Spotify were awesome and managed to give me back control of my music but the bastard had deleted all my playlists.  Now, it’s one thing to steal someone’s music.  But to delete my playlists was just a dirty thing to do and I was furious.  Especially because one of those playlists included more than seven hours of music for a very special party we’re having in Melbourne when we visit in September.  Shit just got personal.  And I was all set to write an entire ejo devoted to cussing this guy out, and giving him what for.

So, what happened?  Well, perspective, I guess.  As you know, it’s that Ramadan time of year. A time when Muslims around the world show their devotion to god by fasting – refraining from eating food and drinking water during daylight hours.  Doing this must be difficult at the best of times – but when you add abject poverty, housing that is unfit to live in, zero social standing and a lack of even the most basic of human rights to the mix, it becomes downright intolerable.

So, I had the choice of fretting over some random dick depriving me of my music for 24 hours, or I could get off my ass and organise an Iftar handout for a few men.  I chose the latter.  For the uninitiated, Iftar is the meal that breaks the daily Ramadan fast when the sun goes down.  It’s a big deal in Dubai, with every restaurant in the city offering huge buffet feasts for the privileged amongst us.  A recent article in a local newspaper highlighted the incalculable waste produced by these buffets.  The amount of food that gets thrown away is simply mindboggling.  Especially when you think about the masses of less fortunate, unseen people, hidden away in the industrial desert areas of the city.  The men who work exhausting hours, struggling to scrape together the equivalent of AUD290 a month (working six days a week, fourteen hours a day), most of which they send back home to their families.

I posted my intentions on Facebook and within a couple of days we had raised enough money to feed 470 men.  Four hundred and seventy men!!!!!!  I want to thank each and every person who donated money for this worthy cause.  Unfortunately, none of you could join us for the fun part of actually giving out the meals, so I thought that on this occasion I would put a face to your donations in the hope that it personalises your contribution.  Check out the photos below to find out who you bought a meal for.

2016-06-21 17.09.30

The guys at Two Seasons Restaurant who prepared the 470 meals with love and care – and even helped us load the boxes into the cars.

 

2016-06-21 18.24.21

Michelle H., your empathy directly impacted on this guy.

 

2016-06-21 18.24.28

Nicole C., thanks to your generosity, this guy had a nice Iftar meal to break his fast.  He was just one of many that you helped. 

 

2016-06-21 18.24.42

Mari S., this guy ate a delicious dinner because of your thoughtful donation.

 

2016-06-21 18.24.44

Simon K., this man was so grateful for the meal he received from you.

 

2016-06-21 18.24.45

Beth, Tim, Charley and Xavier – this is one of the guys you made very happy on Tuesday.

 

2016-06-21 18.26.43

Craig A., this dude said a heartfelt thank you to David – but it was meant for you. 

 

2016-06-21 18.27.02

Pieta S., this man’s smile and gratitude are thanks to you.

 

2016-06-21 18.27.09

Adrian R., this man got to eat well on Tuesday because of your contribution.

 

2016-06-21 18.27.30

Sam A., your compassion meant that this man had a tasty hot meal for Iftar.

 

2016-06-21 18.27.35

Melinda N., this guy was very shy when taking his meal, but also so very grateful – to you.

 

2016-06-21 18.28.01

Zimmy K., this man’s smile is one of so many – thanks to your incredibly generous donation.

 

2016-06-21 18.40.10

Guy S., you totally made this guy’s day!

 

2016-06-21 18.41.15

Matthew T., this man doesn’t know you but he directly experienced your kindness.

 

2016-06-21 18.41.34

Nancy L., this young man was surprised at the offer of free food, and so thankful for the meal you bought for him.

 

2016-06-21 18.41.39

Cindy C., your substantial donation made this man (and many others) very happy.

 

2016-06-21 18.41.51

Nic M., your deep generosity meant that this man didn’t have to worry about where his dinner was coming from on Tuesday.

 

2016-06-21 18.41.58

Svet M., we moved some money around and made sure that your donation was given to this man – and several others during the handout.

 

2016-06-21 18.42.08

Vicki D., the look on this man’s face is so heartwarming.  He is smiling because of you.

 

2016-06-21 18.42.58

Sam H., your substantial contribution gave joy to many men. This is one of them.

 

2016-06-21 18.43.27

Karien M., you are the reason this man is smiling.

 

2016-06-21 18.42.16

Yani, for me this guy says it all. He just couldn’t stop smiling while waiting in line for his meal – and then his smile got even bigger when David handed it to him. Your helping hand is the reason for his happiness.

For those of you who would like to contribute to our next handout, I’ve got a rippa idea!  I’m super keen to organise an ice-cream truck handout. Yes, of course it’s wonderful (truly wonderful) to do a food handout but how amazing would it be to gift ice-creams!!!  Think back to when you were a kid and you heard the ice-cream truck melody floating down the street on a hot summer evening, announcing the imminent arrival of  THE ICE-CREAM MAN!!!!  Don’t we all share the unadulterated joy associated with that?  Wouldn’t that be an incredible thing to give these men, whose lives are so bereft of the simple pleasures we take for granted.  So, I’m planning on doing this in a couple of months – around October.  I won’t announce it anywhere else except Facebook so if you are interested and aren’t my Facebook friend (boohoo for you) shoot me an email/message through the comments section of this post.

2016-06-21 18.42.17

Seriously, I love this guy!!!!

 

* OK, I can’t help myself.  The email address of the pond-scum who hacked my Spotify account is joesalisbury_13@outlook.com.  Feel free to bombard this mofo with spam, random subscriptions and stern emails about respecting other people’s privacy.

 

Ejo #78 – Drunk In….. Kyoto

00

They know what’s up.

Well, it’s official.  David and I have fallen madly and deeply in love with Japan.  Our most recent visit in April totally put a ring on it, and we’re already planning another trip early next year.  We experienced twelve days of incredible food, hospitality, sake and exploring the culturally rich and different cities of Tokyo and Kyoto.  Long time readers will recall that my very first foray into the Drunk In….. series started in Tokyo.   Even though we’ve discovered so much more in Tokyo since then, I decided to open up a whole new drunken city to you.  Sure, Kyoto is a little milder than Tokyo when it comes to debauched after-hours activities, but that doesn’t mean the city doesn’t have a wildly beating heart hidden beneath its reserved patina.  And luckily for you, we’ve done all the hard work to find a bunch of fun things to do when you’re drunk in Kyoto.

 

NOKISHITA EDIBLE GARDEN

Housed in a seriously tiny alcove in front of an office building, Nokishita Edible Garden was our first stop after arriving in town.  We took a stroll along the cherry blossom festooned river, goggling at all the gorgeous geisha clad women out and about.  And when we got there we enjoyed a very refreshing Hendricks gin and tonic for about AUD6.  In fact, we enjoyed two each.  There’s no seating (and barely enough room to stand) so this isn’t a place to linger, but it’s certainly a fun start to a night out.

INFO:

〒604-8022 Kyoto Prefecture, 京都市中京区Nakagyo Ward, Minamikurumayacho, 282
+81 7 5746 5675
0400-0000 (closed Mondays)

CLICK FOR MAP

 

 

BAR ROCKING CHAIR

It’s a bar and it has rocking chairs.  It doesn’t have an English menu but it more than makes up for that with the amazing cocktails that come out when you say “osusume”* to the bartender.  We couldn’t stay long because we had a dinner reservation to get to.  And that’s probably a good thing as the cocktails we had were so delicious (and strong) we may have ended up spending the whole night there.  We each tried a couple of different whiskey cocktails, all of them made with seasonal, local fruit.

* “you decide

INFO:

〒600-8044 京都府京都市下京区御幸町通仏光寺下る橘町434−2
+81 7 5496 8679
1700-0200 (closed Tuesdays)

CLICK FOR MAP

 

 

TORITO YAKITORI

There are two of these yakitori shops.  We’d been to the other one before so decided to give this one a try.  First off, let me tell you that it’s very difficult to find (hopefully my google map helps you).  We actually got dropped off by the taxi driver nearby and literally followed our noses to peek behind a curtain where we found the tell-tale woodpecker welcoming us in.  So, yakitori is basically grilled chicken, but let me assure you that there’s nothing basic about the flavours.  The skewers are roasted over special coals, as well as marinated in an assortment of spices and secret ingredients, to impart some pretty damn juicy flavour.  The coal is such an important part of yakitori that the origin and species of wood are usually considered as important as terroir is to wine.  We ate a lot of chicken, including wings, skin, meatballs, cartilage and thigh.  We also asked to try some of their raw chicken sashimi but they were sold out.  And yes, we were disappointed.  ;-)

INFO:

〒604-8144 Kyoto Prefecture, 京都市中京区Motohonenji cho, 683 烏丸 錦 東入 ル 烏丸 錦 ビル
+81 75 211 3750

CLICK FOR (APPROXIMATE) MAP

 

 

BAR CHEZ QUASIMODO

We visited this wonderful little hidden bar on our first trip to Kyoto and have been wanting to go back ever since.  The owner and bartender basically chucked in his corporate job and opened up a speakeasy in his garage, specialising in his two passions – whiskey and jazz.  The first time we visited, in 2013, I didn’t really truly appreciate either of these things.  In the three years since, I have developed a passion of my own for both so I totally loved this bar.  We spent far longer than we should have, just trying new whiskies (neat, of course) and listening to some amazing music and feeling like the cat that got the milk in terms of being the only non-Japanese in the bar for the whole night.  This one is a favourite.

INFO:

Takakura Dori, Nijo-agaru, Nakagyo-ku
+81 75 231 2488
Mon-Sat: 1800-0000

CLICK FOR MAP

 

 

DRIP & DROP COFFEE

Every good drinking city needs a good coffee joint for those mornings after.  Before our trip I compiled a list of third wave coffee places to try (something I do before every holiday) but we just happened upon Drip & Drop by accident and then never ventured from it – the coffee was that good.

INFO:

604-8074 京都市中京区富小路通三条下ル朝倉町531
ピースホステル三条 B1F,  +81 75 231 7222

1100-2200

CLICK FOR MAP

 

 

RAMEN SEN NO KAZE

So the sign outside this ramen place proudly claims that they are number one, not just in Kyoto but the world.  Bold.  The problem with making such claims is that there are just so many damn good ramen places in Kyoto (and even better ones in Tokyo, sorry RSNK).  But this one is definitely worth trying.  We arrived about 20 minutes before opening time to find ten people already queued up.  Unfortunately for us, this tiny little shop only has ten bar stools.  But fortunately for us, we were shown to a special little two seater table in the front window where we promptly ordered some beers (ain’t no better drink to have with ramen).  It was nice to have our own little table, but I must admit I’m a sucker for sitting at the bar where you can see all the action in the kitchen.  The ramen here is spicy and filling and absolutely delicious.  Perfect drinking food.

INFO:

らーめん千の風京都, 中京区中之町580, 京都市 京都府 604-8042
1200-2200 (closed Mondays)

CLICK FOR MAP

 

 

GION KINANA ICE-CREAM

The specialty at this ice-cream store is soy bean ice-cream.  Doesn’t sound very nice, but oh my lord, it’s very nice indeed.  The shop serves other flavours too, including green tea, black sesame, black sugar syrup, mugwort and sweet red bean.  These are all very traditional Japanese flavours, but hey, you’re in Japan (and they’re all delicious).  But my favourite is the basic soy-bean flavour, known as kinako, which is also the only flavour they serve freshly made (as opposed to frozen).  The fresh stuff is called dekitate and it is TO DIE FOR.  It is the smoothest, creamiest ice-cream I’ve ever had and luckily for us they serve it at the counter for when their upstairs restaurant is full (I’m not sure why, but you aren’t allowed to take the ice-cream away, you must eat it all in the shop).  When we visited it was a weekend, and the place was absolutely jam-packed upstairs, and downstairs too, with people waiting for a table.  But we got to skip the line and eat our dekitate kinako at the bar while everyone else had to wait.  Suckers!!!  The next time we went (oh yes, we went again – and again) we made sure it was a weekday and we didn’t have to wait at all.  Yum, yum, yum!!!!

INFO:

Higashiyama-ku, Gion-machi Minami-gawa 570-119
+81 75 525 8300
1100-1830

CLICK FOR MAP

 

 

NO NAME SMOOTHIE BAR

Sometimes the life of a Drunk In….. blogger isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  After lunch one day we went in search of a bar (any bar) to while away a few hours before dinner (OK, it actually is a pretty good life).  Sadly for us we just couldn’t find one.  Giving up, we decided to go home and chill out instead (where we knew that there was a bottle of whiskey with our names on it).  Walking home we happened upon a cute little house with pictures of drinks out the front.  Thinking that we had stumbled upon a bar after all, we got quite excited and prepared to enter.  But then I realised that the photos were of smoothies and fruity teas.  Deflated, we started walking away.  But then it hit us, why the hell not have a smoothie!!?  Why not indeed.  We knocked on the door and were greeted and welcomed (albeit with some surprise) into the home of a lovely little Japanese lady wearing a homely apron around her waist.  We took off our shoes and were led through her living room, which was set up as a juice bar, and into the tatami room beyond – the room reserved for esteemed guests!  Eeeek!!  We bowed as she retreated and sat down on our heels and just looked at each other and giggled.  Not a word had been exchanged between us and the lady and we were wondering what she thought we were doing there.  Not to worry, before long she reappeared with a menu (thank goodness it was one with photos) and we each selected a delicious looking drink which we could hear her whipping up with a blender in the other room.  It was kind of weird to be sitting in someone’s TV room with pictures of her kids on the mantle and completely unable to communicate.  But weird in a very fucking cool way.  I was really glad that we took a chance on that smoothie because not only was it delicious, it was an absolutely lovely experience.  And I think she thought so too.

CLICK FOR (APPROXIMATE) MAP

 

 

TEA CEREMONY EN

So, it’s not all about drinking and eating on our vacations.  We like to squeeze a little bit of culture in there from time to time and in Kyoto we did that with a private tea ceremony.  Now this experience was just awesome.  So much better and more fun than I’d expected (and definitely more than David expected).  It’s something I would recommend to everyone visiting Kyoto because it gives you an insight into a ritual that is fast disappearing.  The kids of today aren’t really interested in learning about it, so sadly, one day it might be lost for good.  I hope not because it’s something that is steeped in history and culture and ceremony and it’s a wonderful way to connect with people through structured conversation.  The 45 minute ceremony began with the host explaining the reason for the ritualistic aspects of the ceremony (including the utensils used) and then moved onto the four principles of every ceremony which are purity, respect, harmony and tranquility.  It’s super fascinating to discover that every single element of the ceremony, from the movements of the host, to the wood that is used to make the tea spoon represents something, means something.  In a world where meaning has been replaced by convenience, it was really nice to experience something meaningful.

INFO:

〒605-0063 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Higashiyama Ward, Matsubaracho, 272
+81 80 3782 2706

CLICK FOR MAP

 

 

MAN SA GAMA (POTTERY EXPERIENCE)      

So it’s springtime in Kyoto.  Which means that there are shitloads of stunning cherry blossoms to be seen everywhere.  But nowhere are there more to be seen than on the 2km long Philosopher’s Path.  This is an absolutely stunning walk (and the thousands of other people who were there that day obviously agreed).  Yes, it is tourist-ridden.  But it’s a must-do in Kyoto.  Another must-do?  Making your own cup at Mansagama Pottery, a little shop about half way through the walk.  When we saw dozens of little cups and bowls lining the shelves inside the shop we asked if we could buy them and were told they weren’t for sale.  But!!!  But, we could make our own!!!!  How exciting.  The whole process from jumping with glee at the prospect of getting my “Ghost” on, to washing my hands at the end took only 20 minutes.  We had them shipped to Australia so I still haven’t seen them but I’m super excited to have my own little cup (with my name etched on the bottom in Kanji).

INFO:

606-8404 Kyoto, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto Jodojishita Minamida-cho, 148
+81 75 751 8199
1100-1800 (irregular)

CLICK FOR MAP

 

 

NO NAME FRIED CHICKEN STAND

OK, so you’re thinking pottery, philosophy, blah blah blah.  Where’s all the drinking and eating?  Of course as we meandered down the Philosopher’s Path I was on the lookout for a little izakaya in which to quench our thirst – but to no avail.  Plenty of teahouses; not much in the way of sake houses.  But lo and behold, just when I was giving up all hope I looked across the canal to see a little handmade stand announcing that there was fried chicken and beer to be had.  I got mad excited, not so much for the beer or fried chicken but because this place was just fucking amazing.  A little lady had decided to set up shop on one of the most touristic routes in the country.  Brilliant!!!  She’d set up an esky with cold brews and she cooked the chicken fresh to order.  And it was delicious.  I just instantly fall in love with places like this.  I can’t guarantee that she’ll be there if you go visit, but if she is you must drop in.  Say hi from us.

CLICK FOR MAP OF PHILOSOPHER’S PATH – you’ll have to find the chicken stand yourself, but I’d say it’s about 3/4 of the way down if you’re heading south.

 

GYOZA CHAO CHAO

The final stop on our Drunk In….. tour of Kyoto was Gyoza Chao Chao.  We had been hankering for gyoza (fried Japanese dumplings) from Day One, but had yet to find some.  On our last night I took to the internet to find “best gyoza in Kyoto” – hey, when you’re desperate, you go there.  And Gyoza Chao Chao came up.  So off we went to wait in line for about an hour in the chilly evening air.  Luckily we’d already had a few drinks so we didn’t feel the cold, or the time, too acutely.  And before we knew it we were summoned into the shop where, upon entering, the entire room shouted and cheered us in, as though we were old friends they’d been waiting for, for hours.  There’s something to be said for such a warm welcome.  It set a friendly, relaxed and fun tone for the meal ahead.  And what a meal it was.  We ordered about five serves of gyoza and devoured them as if we hadn’t eaten food in over a week.  They were delicious.  So much so we decided to also try their steamed dumplings.  I ALWAYS put on weight when we go to Japan and this is the reason why, but it’s totally, totally worth it.

INFO:

餃々 三条木屋町店
中京区木屋町三条下ル石屋町117
+81 75 251 0056
M-F: 1700-late, S-S: 1400-late

CLICK FOR MAP

Ejo #77 – Goodnight, Sweet Prince

prince

 

My grandmother died a couple of years ago and I never shed a single tear for her.  I felt terrible for my Mum, but felt no sense of loss for myself.  In contrast, when I read that Prince had died, it felt like I’d been karate kicked in the stomach.  The air evacuated my lungs, startling me with the impact.  I spent the next few hours totally bewildered, unable to process the information (and not really wanting to).  And later, in the shower before bed, I bawled like a newborn baby.  Ugly crying.  Tears mixing with shower water, eyes hot and burning, cheeks flushed.  Wracked with grief.  Unable to imagine a world in which Prince no longer existed.

How could I be so devastated to hear about Prince, and not grieve my own grandmother?  Am I a monster?  Possibly, but to explore the reasons behind this disparity I’ve spent a great deal of time over the last few days thinking it through.  I’ve come to the conclusion that you can’t choose who you mourn.  You mourn when you lose something important to you, and I never had a connection with my grandmother, so when she died I lost nothing internally.  On the other hand, Prince was someone who had dwelled in my soul.  We spent time in my bedroom when I was a teenager and in my twenties (even going on a few bedroom dates in my thirties).  But it was those adolescent years, I think, in which we were most intimately entwined.

A teenage girl’s bedroom is, in a way, just like a cocoon.  It’s a place of safety and privacy, and it’s a place where transformation occurs.  The changing of a girl into a woman, with all the attendant hormone tsunamis that go with that.  I spent hours in my room forming as a human being, moulding into the adult I would become.  Spilling my thoughts, desires and secrets into my diary.  Reading.  Examining my psyche.  Examining my new boobs.  Doing my homework.  Trying to insert my first tampon.  Dancing.  Trying on clothes.  Experimenting with makeup.  Masturbating.  Daydreaming, fantasising.  And the entire time, listening to music.  The soundtrack to my life.  David Bowie, George Michael, INXS, Michael Jackson, Blondie, Stevie Wonder, Madonna and Prince.

But it was Prince, alone, whom I associate with my own burgeoning sexuality.  I pity the young girls of today who only have Justin Bieber and the likes of Robin Thicke and Chris Brown to tease out their own understanding of themselves.  These singers are adept at making women feel desired (and, let’s be honest, objectifying them in the process).  Prince didn’t do that.  Where he differed was in awakening our own budding desires and making us want him.  He was overtly sexual but not in a way that was the least bit threatening, sleazy or aggressive (“I wanna turn you on, turn you out, all night long make you shout” – I Wanna Be Your Lover, 1979).  Singers like Thicke sing about what they want to do to women in order to please themselves (sometimes even without the woman’s consent).  Prince sang about what he wanted to do to a woman in order to please her (“Lemme show you baby I’m a talented boy” – Get Off*, 1991).  The difference is vast.  Prince often referred to women in his songs as his friends.  He always insinuated a deep respect, and love, for women.  And when you’re a teenage girl, there are no more valuable lessons to learn that a) men like that actually do exist, and b) you deserve to be put on a pedestal by the men you allow into your life (“I’ll do any and everything you want me to do, you know why? Coz I want you to have fun” – The Continental, 1992).

It was actually a little confusing to be so turned on by such a diminutive man wearing frilly women’s clothes (“I’m not a woman, I’m not a man, I am something that you’ll never understand” – I Would Die 4 U, 1984).  But that’s exactly where his power lay – he was sexy in a way that we hadn’t been conditioned to understand.  He was feminine, he was masculine, he was super-freaky and we all wanted him to touch us.  It was a learning, horizon-broadening experience to love Prince.  I truly believe he informed my choice of men in life.  I have always eschewed the archetypal “sexy” guy with a chiselled jaw and rippling muscles (ugh!), instead, being attracted to men who made me feel a certain way inside, regardless of their looks (“You don’t have to beautiful, to turn me on” – Kiss, 1986).

And by the same token, Prince tried to teach me another lesson.  To not give a flying fuck what anyone thought of me.  To do my own thing.  To never apologise for being myself.  To never apologise for anything I wore.  I say he tried because it’s something I still struggle with.  But he never apologised for anything.  He just wore what he liked and we had to deal with it, and for that he will always be an inspiration to me.  I remember one particular casual day at school when I was in Year 7.  I was SO damn excited.  My Mum let me borrow my favourite item from her wardrobe, a pastel yellow 1950s-style poodle skirt which I wore with a little short sleeved cardigan.  I looked AMAZING.  I could barely stop admiring myself in the mirror long enough to actually go to school.  But when I got there, the ooohs and ahhhhs of sartorial adulation I was expecting to hear from my classmates actually turned out to be snickers, jeers and merciless teasing.  At that time, I didn’t have the belief in myself that I (mostly) do now and the experience crushed me.  By the end of the day, I hated that skirt, which is so terribly sad.  Especially when I think back to what the cool kids were all wearing – parachute tracksuit pants (if you don’t know what these are, please look them up so you can fully understand the tragic nature of this story).

So, watching Prince prance around onstage in a tight, flared onesie with his bare ass cheeks proudly on display was a sight of wonderment for me.  On the one hand, I found his clothing pretty ridiculous (perhaps the same opinion my schoolmates had of my poodle skirt).  But on the other, bigger, hand, his complete confidence and self-assurance made his outfits seem incredible.  He just quite clearly did not give a damn whether we approved or not.  And in doing so, we had no choice but to love everything he wore.  I wanted to wear clothes armed with that kind of attitude.  I still do.

Another memory from high school.  When I was sixteen years old, my high school English teacher lost the plot and stopped teaching us English for a while.  She went through a phase of playing us songs instead and dissecting the lyrics (no complaints from us).  The nadir of her personal crisis was when we spent two whole weeks analysing Don McLean’s “American Pie” (I can tell you what each and every line supposedly means, and I’m still waiting for that knowledge to come in handy one day).

Anyway, towards the end of the project my teacher asked if anyone wanted to suggest a song that the class could interpret together.  My hand shot up and I volunteered ‘Sign ☮ The Times’ by Prince, without even thinking.  I had spent the last few weeks listening to the song over and over and over again, in thrall of it.  It was the coolest thing I’d ever heard.  I, on the other hand, was not cool.  I was the opposite of cool.  But I still KNEW that this was a fantastic song and I figured that choosing it for my English class was going to give me some major fucking props with the cool kids.

The next day I handed out photocopies of the song lyrics.  I was so excited to share this song with everyone.  I almost felt proud, actually visualising my life changing as a result.  People would realise I was OK.  They’d want to hang out and I’d become popular.  It charms the hell out of me now, thinking back to what a vivid imagination I possessed, how much I craved approval and how deep and textured my internal life was, compared to my reality.

But guess what?  The song was a bust.  My teacher was mad that I had handwritten the lyrics and not typed them out (on a typewriter!!!!).  And my classmates just didn’t get it.  They hated it.  They thought it was shit.  I was teased (again).  My teacher stopped the song half way through and the rest of the period was spent in private study.  I distinctly remember feeling two very intense emotions about this.  Firstly, I was seriously dumbfounded that my premonitions hadn’t come true.  But more than that, I remember realising, “Oh my god, I’M the fucking cool kid here.  These people don’t have a clue!”  I mean, how can you listen to ‘Sign ☮ The Times’ and not love it?  HOW?  It was an epiphany.  It was the beginning of not needing the approval of other people, of just believing in myself.  The beginning of not having to follow the crowd.  I was always going my own way anyway, but I’d always experienced so much angst about it.  Not anymore.

Prince is tied in to so many of my emotions and memories and growth that in some way it feels like he is part of my DNA.  I truly believe that I only know some parts of myself because of him.  And so mourning Prince is like mourning a part of me that is gone.  And that’s why I feel such an intense sadness that he has died.  No, I didn’t know him personally (regrettably, I never even saw him in concert).  He wasn’t related to me.  But my grief is real.  And so is the grief of so many others.  Here are a few tributes:

Silvia – “First memory of Prince is the most poignant. I was in bed with my then macho young boyfriend watching MTV.  Prince appeared singing ‘Purple Rain’, and my heart stopped.  Literally.  Physically he looked like my boyfriend, same colour skin, hair and mouth, but his energy was female, and his clothes just fabulous.  Prince’s female/androgynous, raw, sexual energy turned me on so much it was almost uncomfortable.  I was 17½  at the time.  I never married that young man. I would have married Prince if I could have.  His vulnerability, flamboyance mixed with sensuality made him very attractive to many lesbians too.”

Patrick – “In 6th grade Mom drove to my Catholic school to confiscate my ‘1999’ cassette because somehow she got tipped off ‘Let’s Pretend We’re Married’ has the word fuck in it.  She comes into class and takes it.  I never get it back.

In 1987, now a sophomore in high school, I purchase my first CD boom box. I buy two discs from the used record shop that day.  Prince’s ‘1999’ and L.L. Cool J.’s ‘Bad’.  I still listen to one of them.

Sometime in high school, my three brothers and I are cleaning our rooms.  I am blasting ‘Sign O’ The Times’ and ‘If I Was Your Girlfriend’ comes on.  Mom catches wind of the lyrics, comes storming into my room, turns off my player, and snatches away the cassette of…. ‘Around The World In A Day’ (which is the wrong album [and] I also have the CD).  Check and mate, Mom.

As a seventh-grader, I am confused as to whether ‘Darling Nikki’ is using the magazine as a visual aide or an actual rolled-up masturbation tool.  Also, as a Catholic kid in the 80s, I didn’t really know women got down like that.  Thank you, Prince.

‘Purple Rain’ forever remains my favourite album of all-time, 32 years later, 3200 listens later.  At 45, I still flash back in times of need to Apollonia purifying herself in Lake Minnetonka.  No, seriously, thank you, Prince.  The world is less funky without you in it.  Dance.  Music.  Sex.  Romance.”

H – “It snowed here in London [today]. One of my all-time favourite songs is ‘Sometimes It Snows In April.  I would always play it on my record player smoking a joint out my bedroom window when it snowed in April.  When he died I put it on and heard it for the first time with him gone.  So beautiful.  His music takes me to such a magical place.  Never saw him live, wish so much I had.  I love watching him live.  Such an incredible musician and so god dam sexy.”

Michelle – “I was enamoured with him, with his lyrics, with his grooves, with his mystery – he was, essentially, HOTNESS personified.  He sang about things so taboo to me as a young school girl that I didn’t even know what some of them were.  But because he had somehow managed to publish them (I couldn’t understand how he could get away with such brazen sexiness) – it meant that I could sing them and explore what they meant.  ‘I Wanna Melt With U’ – Hottest.  Song.  Ever.

But – there is so much more to him than rampantly explicit lyrics, to his music, to that particular album (which for me is a microcosm of his career).  There is ‘Sacrifice Of Victor’ – which tells a story of racial vilification so eloquently you could be mistaken to miss the significance of the underlying message.  There’s the love ballad of ‘Morning Papers’, there’s ‘Blue Light’, alluding to a couple who have lost their spark, but who were probably destined to fail from the beginning because only one is willing to try.  More hotness from ‘The Continental’, ‘Love 2 the 9’s’, ‘The Max’ and rappin’ out ‘The Flow’.  The entire tracklist still has a profound effect on me – and triggered my purchase of 13 other Prince albums.”

Jen – “I saw him in concert a few years ago and it felt like I was at some evangelical revival.  Everyone was on their feet the entire time and I was testifying with the best of them.  Hands in the air, eyes closed, singing along, sometimes with tears rolling down my cheeks.  It really did feel like I’d been taken to church.  His ability to move so effortlessly from one instrument to the next, his booty shaking prowess and of course his voice were second to none.  He was hilarious as well “You better call in sick tomorrow, coz I gotta million hits”.  His whole swag was sexy as fuck.

I cried immediately as I woke up to the news yesterday and struggled to believe that it was real.  Like Michael and Bowie, I didn’t ever really think of Prince as being mortal.  I guess his musical legacy will have him living on for generations but it’s ultimately jarring to think he was actually just flesh and blood.”

Pieta – “Gutted, robbed.  Bowie, I considered him immortal and in doing that I had considered his morality.  I never, not once, thought of Prince as being anything other than a shining dynamo.  The guy was a fucking powerhouse of sex and talent and art, there was no one like him before and I’ll wager there never will be anyone like him again.  Sexy motherfucker.”

Dee – “I’m so gutted I haven’t been able to even crank up the tunes yet.  Since [my husband] Jack was killed true joy is such a rare thing for me.  Prince’s concert in the Purple Circle with great friends and Flava Flav from Public Enemy was a couple of hours of joy.  I just can’t believe I’ll never see and feel that again.  His music moulded my sexual growth.  His raw in-your-face sexuality was a visual delight and sensory pulse raiser.  Musically there was so much more to come and I feel ripped off that I will never hear his genius evolve with age.”

Justin – “I’ve always loved his art from an early age.  His voice.  His instrumental arrangements.  His showmanship.  His compositions.  He was a true master of his craft.  Crossing so many genres and making them his own.  Bringing together so many different people through their love of his art.  I’ve always played so much from his catalogue during my DJ sets.  I’ve been lucky enough to acquire some rare white label remixes (that I know he would throw a tantrum until he turned purple if he knew about).  But such is the artistry woven by this man, that people around the world, even knowing the possible consequences from his Royal Purpleness if he were to find out, still risk it all, just for a chance to release their own remixes, interpretations and homages to this musical genius.  I was truly lucky to have seen his last full stage production in Australia a few years ago.  And we even got free upgrades from shitty seats in the nosebleeds, to second row from the front… RIGHT NEXT TO HIS PIANO!  It is, without a doubt, the best live stage production I’ve ever seen.  2016 has taken so much creativity from the world already.  The loss of his musicality will leave a great void in the world of sound.”

Natasha – “Prince helped me reach a sexual awakening in my late teens.  I was a pretty repressed teenager, a good little Catholic girl from migrant parents (and their only child!!)  Yet I would still read books like ‘Flowers in the Attic’ and really bad Mills and Boon books, while listening to Prince’s album ‘Diamond & Pearls’ on cassette tape.  I would sit on my bedroom floor visually imaging all his songs on that album.  Prince was a great story teller through his lyrics – 23 positions in a one night stand!!!  I could only imagine two positions!  I couldn’t get over how this tiny effeminate guy could be so god damn sexy!!!  This was my first introduction to Prince and one that made a lasting impression on my psyche.  He was a musical genius, his ability to continue to write amazing songs for both himself and others over his career is a staggering feat.  I’m also so impressed by his ability to play and conquer any musical instrument that he turned his gaze on.  A true legend that died too young, as they tend to do.”

Kath – “To me, growing up listening to the genius that was Prince, has made me feel so lucky to have had that in my life during my most formative years.  He was naughty, screamed sex, soulful and so goddamn funky.  To this day, ‘Baby I’m A Star’ is still one of my favourite songs to dance to and listen to while driving to work to fire me up at 6.30am!  I saw his ‘Diamonds & Pearls” concert twice and will never forget it.  He was so effeminate and tiny, and yet so sexy at the same time.  A truly amazing talent and the world is better for him having been here.”

Mari – “I remember [my friend] Sam and I as teenagers dancing around to ‘Cream’ and ‘Gett Off’ in her bedroom – I don’t know if we’d folded her futon over to make room for two tall chicks dancing or what but I remember we had heaps of room and were dancing around laughing and singing along and I felt ALIVE.  The music and the dirty lyrics made me feel sexy and I felt like I was on a ride that I didn’t want to end – ‘cause that’s what Prince did.  Didn’t matter what he looked like, what you looked like, what anyone looked like – if you didn’t come to party, don’t bother knocking on the door.  His sexual confidence was catchy as fuck!  I’m reeling at his early death, I really am.  I still can’t quite believe it.”

And from Melly (who was the first person I thought of when I heard the news) – “I have been trying to think about what to write… I have been too sad about his death that I have avoided thinking too much about it.  And I haven’t listened to his music since because I tear up.  But I read an interview with Sheila E. and she said he’d want us to celebrate him and his music, not mourn him, so I will.

The first record (and I mean vinyl) I bought was ‘Purple Rain’, ‘Purple Rain’ was the first movie I watched multiple times, ‘Purple Rain’ is still my most played record and it is still the original I bought.  His music was everything to me growing up, as was he.  I thought him sexy before I even knew what sexy was.  The way he moved, the way he played guitar, the way he dressed – everything about him, I loved.  And still do.

My wardrobe contained velvet coats with embossed buttons, shirts with flounced sleeves, loads of jewellery.  I think I wanted to be him.  Or Sheila E.  Who wouldn’t want to play music with the genius.  He played every instrument in the recording of ‘Purple Rain’, he inspired and created a musical style that is mimicked today.  ‘Darling Nikki’ is one of my favourite songs from ‘Purple Rain’ – for its naughtiness, its outrageousness – but ‘Controversy’ is my all-time favourite.  When it underwent a resurgence played at clubs in the early 2000s I always broke into a smile and into song.  I can go on and on but I’ll finish here.  My heart is saddened but my soul will always soar when I hear his music and I will always remember what his music meant to me.”

And so, goodnight sweet Prince.  You will never be forgotten.

 

 

 

 

 

* I still feel a stirring in between my legs whenever I think of this song.