Gonzo Twitter 1: Saturday Evening in Newtown

Twitter bird cartoon by Hugh MacLeod

I’ve always thought that my essays are my best work, even if I say so myself. I’ve done observationals before, like Saturday Night at The Duke and Burnt out sofa, burnt out life. But this one’s different.

As I walked home through Newtown last Saturday evening, I started sending little observational comments to my Twitter stream:

Actually still on Darlington Rd, a long-haired woman plays melancholy guitar on the terrace-house balcony as a currawong flops past.

As I moved into King Street, I kept going. As I went to Kelly’s On King for a beer, I kept going. I discovered that a rapt audience was watching my comments — although not everyone liked the volume of material. I suggested they use Twittersnooze to unfollow me for a while.

The 140-character limit imposes a certain staccato style which I quite like. I was chuffed to be compared with Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw and (especially) Hunter S Thompson!

Here, then, is my first attempt at Live Gonzo Twittering — as others decided to call it, though I’m not sure the label is quite right myself — across about 90 minutes last Saturday night. the only changes I’ve made have been to fix some typos. Is this the best way to present it after the fact? Enjoy!

Saturday Evening in Newtown

The sun has set. Opposite corner of Church St two guys play the blues, set up with portable amps under the hardware store verandah.

Outside the bank opposite, a woman in fishnets and a black top hat plays gypsy accordion. Welcome to Newtown.

Outside Better Read Than Dead bookshop, a 16yo artfag in hornrim glasses enthuses at his friends about his visit to Louis Voitton & Versace.

Another bank verandah, this one with guitar and fiddle players churning out playful Irish folk tunes.

It is, indeed, a normal Saturday night on King St. I bought dinner from Taste, but have stopped at Kelly’s for a pint of people-watching.

(I’m sure that @ApostrophePong is too deep in his editing to want dinner yet, what with a late lunch n’all.)

As dusk falls, a cool breeze drifts in thru the pub windows as the video jukebox plays Promises’ “Baby It’s You”. http://is.gd/4ixh

6’4″ of young gothboi with sleek black hair and perfectly-formed flowing black trench coat strides out into the street, purposefully.

Dear fat red-haired man on passing bus, your combination of straggly beard, slightly-too-tight shorts & Led Zeppelin singlet does not work.

Two middle-aged women stroll by looking well-educated and stylish in their Little Black Dresses. One carries a small gift, wears a red boa.

Two rough-voiced cropped-hair dykes walk the other way in jeans and singlets. One carries a bottle of wine, poorly wrapped in brown paper.

The stylish gothboi returns, accompanied by a curly-haired friend who looks like an off-duty car radio salesman in a cheap striped shirt.

Two chubby middle-aged lesbians stroll slowly, holding hands, smiling, chatting about passers-by. I’m guessing mid-ranking govt staffers.

More immaculate gothlings arrive and are carded at the door. Red plastic spikey wristband. The Maori/Islander bouncer smiles, waves them in.

The third in the group, a young women, is slightly older, but only slightly. Hair tightly tied back, she’s either a librarian or a spook.

A wogboi in baseball cap revs his spoiler-equipped electric blue BMW. No-one is impressed. He moves 2m forward in the traffic jam.

Shaved head, muscles, “celtic knotwork” barbed wire tattoos, baggy jeans, black singlet: Sydney gay cliché. Alone. Pauses, crosses road.

Two young Chinese student girls, sharing the carrying of their brand new rice cooker. Sentimental Jap-kitch t-shirts.

A Greek couple, him in white shirt and dress jeans, her in dark skirt & blouse, her hand down the back pocket of his jeans.

Gangly curly-haired politics student in khaki shorts and battered shirt, carrying his Thai takeaway, striding awkwardly.

Old man shuffles, long white hair, long white beard, black-rimmed glasses, green-chequed flannelette shirt. He looks very, very tired.

Woman strides into the pub, bright red dress, bright red lipstick, henna’d hair, whistling. Moves with all the grace of a farmer.

@NickHodge Yes, the old guy looks like one of the local old Communists. I think he’s remembering the good old days, but only dimly.

His t-shirt reads “sotally tober”. She has seven stars tattooed just above her left breast. Her blouse is… skimpy. They’ve been drinking.

Skateboarder. Tall, skinny, black-clad but for white baseball cap. He almost drops his drink in its bright pink disposable cup, straw.

Mostly couples in the street now, pointing to potential eating-places. Also men, either alone or in rowdy pairs.

Family. Tired mother shepherds three children, each carrying bookshop purchases. Father looks into pub window disapprovingly. I glare back.

I suspect the people strolling slowly have already eaten dinner, those walking faster are still looking.

The man talking to the bouncer is trying to maintain eye contact, so he keeps missing when trying to put his lighter into his pocket.

A man with a mid-life crisis and a racing-green convertible has his son in the passenger seat, wide-eyed with delight at King St’s wonders.

A young couple looking very pleased that the bouncer is taking a toilet break. I don’t think they’d have passed carding. Upstairs, fast!

Young man in sports car passenger seat! It’s an hour after sunset. You do not need sunglasses on your head. Arm inside the vehicle, please!

Bleached-blonde woman on phone outside pub, carrying a plastic toy golfclub. More pretend-golfers inside. She’s loud, tanned, gold-bangled.

On the video jukebox, Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta have been replaced by a popular but simplistic dance track.

@JonoH I’m drinking one pint of James Squire’s Amber Ale, maybe one more before I deliver the chicken and salad home. Watching my village.

Bleachy-pseudo-golfer is STILL on the phone, tapping the toy club against her leg like a riding crop. Bright purple, with a blue handle.

That is the shortest short brightest bright purple dress I have ever seen! Just a flash as she almost runs past, handbag flapping.

The mob of 10 pseudo-golfers emerge, shouting at their bleachy friend to get off the phone girl. All have the toy clubs.

They’re blocking the street as they decide their next move. The men chat quietly, the girls scream & giggle & shout. 2 separate circles.

“Hi Alex! Let’s go!” One of the girls pretends to fellate her golf club as a camera-phone picture is taken. Flash. The group turns, is gone.

Man walks in carrying guitar case and a box. The next man carries a Marshall amp.

Gothboi and his car radio salesman friend leave, followed by all the other gothlings. I think they saw the band arriving. Good call.

Grey-haired man t-shirt “I got Bourbon-faced on Shit Street”, 7yo daughter in floral-print She’s fat, bored, skin like too many burgers.

Lights changes, masses cross, a jumble of alt and punks and respectables and then the change again and the bus roars into action.

“Where’s your friend?” a boring regular shouts. I pretend not to hear. But he shouts his question again. I shrug “dunno”, return to kbd.

It’s not a floral print dress it’s a dark blue beach dress with orange crabs and yellow fish and a red button holding it closed at the back.

She is still too fat. She and the grey-haired man are waiting for the women to finish using the pub toilet before moving on.

Drummer arrives, and drummer’s girlfriend.

Fat girl has an older sister, maybe 19 or 20, fat in her zebra-print blouse and jeans which yes your arse does look big in them. Drab hair.

Dammit I will stay for another beer, which I have now. Fat Family has negotiated their way up to the terrace for a family dinner.

Visitors. @katska and @matthewlandauer arrive. The old man admonishes me for being antisocial. I go offline to drink beer with friends.

The karaoke kicks off with a bunch of drunken drag kings singing “(Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”. Kill me now.

Correction. It’s not karaoke. It’s just that the cover band has been totally pwn3d by drag kings. Well, the whole pub, really.

Hah! Both Jebusfone users have flat batteries! Losers!

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9 comments

  1. Katie Harris’s avatar

    I’ll even throw in a Hemingway for the rhythm.

  2. Andrew Boyd’s avatar

    Thank you. Moving slice ‘o’life stuff, very very real.

    I’m inspired to do the same – but I am not sure if Twitter is my medium.

    Cheers, Andrew

  3. Stilgherrian’s avatar

    @Andrew Boyd: I wasn’t sure that Twitter was necessarily my medium either, but then I remembered that live radio was. So, I figured, just to see what happens, I’d choose an aspect of the image in front of me, and turn it into words. Rinse and repeat. Create long descriptions for characters, but then morph that into shorter forms as you go along, like “Bleachie” in this first story.

    I have the feeling I could evolve this into an art / literary form.

  4. Stilgherrian’s avatar

    On turning this into a medium with pictures, I reckon assign a photographer and have him or her take their pictures independently. Combine them afterwards.

  5. Laurel Papworth’s avatar

    Awesome. Really touched me. I cried.

    sell the rights and make a movie 😛 Love ya work, Hemingwaytogo 🙂

  6. Stilgherrian’s avatar

    @Laurel Papworth: Thanks for the compliments. I think it’s very creepy, though, that we were both reading the same page on Flash Fiction at the same time!

    Dunno about movie rights, though. Maybe I could just point a camera down the street and provide a voiceover.

  7. kath’s avatar

    thanks. I can imagine being there after reading your words. I love reading/seeing real life captured by others.

  8. Stilgherrian’s avatar

    @kath: Glad you enjoyed it. Yesterday I did a trip to Punchbowl in Sydney’s west, and I’ll be posted the edited Twitter stream here in the next couple of days.

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