Hamburg: A City For The Underdog

It’s no secret that Germany is my favourite country from almost 20 years of world travel. There is just something about the place that has always stood head and shoulders above the rest. When I think of Germany, I think of a fluent and independent culture, efficiency, progression, atmosphere and substance. I’m yet to have a bad experience there or stumble over a German city that I haven’t liked. In fact, I suspect it might be impossible for any German city to be anything but brilliant!

One of those cities that stands out for me is Europe’s second largest port city of almost 2 million people, Hamburg. I’ve enjoyed a few visits there now and am yet to be disappointed in any way. It’s a left leaning city that has that “special” feeling not many world cities can attain. There is rarely a dull moment and the people are some of the most thoughtful and kind human beings I have ever encountered. So what makes the city of Hamburg so much better than the rest? Take a moment out of your day and please, allow me to explain.

Situated on the Elbe River, Hamburg was first discovered in the 2nd Century by Claudius Ptolemy and the region was originally known as Treva. In 808 A.D, the city took its modern name of Hamburg after a castle built by Emperor Charlemagne. The castle no longer exists and the left cation also remains a mystery to this day. Destroyed and occupied no less than six times, the city lost over 60% of its population in 1350 due to the Black Plague. The city was also battered by seven great fires before it became the city we love and adore today. To say Hamburg has been through the wars would be a massive understatement!

Fast forward to 1942 and over 46,000 innocent civilians were murdered by British bombers in air raids that lasted more than 6 weeks. The city surrendered to Allied Forces on May 3 1945, just three days after Hitler’s death. Between 1960 and 1962, Hamburg was then home to The Beatles who used The Star Club as a way to fine tune their sound before they went on to conquer the world of pop culture. Even today, the night life and culture is second to none.

One cannot visit Hamburg without taking in a football match at either St. Pauli or Hamburger SV. And, whilst you are at it, get yourself booked into one of the stadium tours both clubs have on offer. Like everything German, both clubs offer well rounded tours that give you a fantastic look into the rich history of both clubs who now ply their trades in the German second division. Tickets for games are reasonably easy to come by through online club shops or picking up a spare outside the ground on the day. Both grounds are not to be missed!

One of the many positives about visiting Hamburg is the ability to move about the city with relative ease. German transport, as always is spot on here and, there is a diverse culture splitting off into all corners that cater for the needs of just about anybody and everybody. You can’t get lost getting around and, if you do, the locals are always more than helpful in sending you on your way in the right direction. Food options are plentiful and the drinking is cheap and tasty! If shopping is your thing then you can take in all the big brand names or find some truly unique stores that support local fashion designers, artists and other business ventures.

If you have no yet paid a visit to Germany’s second largest city behind Berlin, then perhaps it is time to hit up the cheap airlines for that weekend away you should have taken on long before now.

The Other Side Of Rape!

Being accused of rape is a serious thing. It happened to me 17 years ago and here’s how it happened.

On a warm summers evening in 2001, I was setting up to D.J at my regular Friday night club in Spring Hill. It was another ordinary night, or so I thought. The doors opened at 9:00 PM and around 15 minutes later, some friends popped in with some rather disturbing news. They had been at a party the night before where girl “X” had been telling anyone who would care to listen that I had raped her a few weeks before.

On and off for a couple of months prior, I had been seeing girl “X” on and off. I was 23 at the time, she was 21. It was only ever really casual fun. We’d meet up in random public places and get up to no good. It was fun. It was kinky. It was fucking brilliant if I am being honest. At the same time as seeing me, girl “X” was seeing two of her TAFE lecturers (both men were much older and married) also on a casual basis and she would stay behind after night classes to have her time with them. Girl “X” said she loved the thrill of older men but found me a little more exciting because I was a D.J, youthful and more adventurous. A good ego boost if ever there was one.

The sex was mind blowing on many levels. We both enjoyed the fear of being caught so got up to any number of public and not so public adventures together. I kind of enjoyed hearing about her exploits with other men. I’m just not capable of being a jealous lover.

A few weeks into our “fling”, the phone calls became more regular and girl “X” decided she didn’t want to continue seeing her lecturers because she wanted something more with me. I decided to be honest and confess that I didn’t feel the same way and we kind of went our seperate ways following a few emotional phone calls. I’ve always been a fan of brutal honesty in relationships. Otherwise, people get hurt. Very hurt. Unfortunately, girl “X” didn’t see things this way and began to demand we see each other more. Things got a little uncomfortable so, despite trying to reason numerous times, I cut off all contact with girl “X”.

That’s when it all went wrong.

My friends who warned me of the rape accusations mentioned that a few of the “boys” were going to come to the club that night and “sort me out”. By now, I was feeling rather anxious. I’d done absolutely nothing wrong but was somehow about to get my head kicked in. The whole night was full of many emotions. It came and went without incident however, the following few weeks had me full of fear and dread. You see, accusing someone of rape is a serious offence and mud often sticks regardless of how much truth there are to such accusations. Finally, after one too many sleepless nights, I decided to act and went to the police.

Those who genuinely know me will understand that I like to take to a task head on.

I went to my local Police station and was allowed time with a lovely young female Constable and a senior male detective who gave me a few moments of their time to hear me out. A good half hour later, I departed the station having given an informal statement of sorts and was advised they would follow up with some enquiries and get back to if anything popped up. Sure enough, a few weeks later, I received a call from the detective to advise me that girl “X” had lodged a “number” of complaints against a “number” of men in the previous 4 years. All of which had turned out to be baseless accusations that amounted to exactly zilch. It turns out, the young and perhaps, frustrated girl “X” didn’t handle rejection too easily from people. The relief I felt at this news is impossible to describe. My life could have been destroyed beyond repair by a selfish, heartless and cruel young woman who appeared to have no sense of decency.

What girl “X” did was take away an ability for other defenceless victims of sexual assaults be taken seriously. Her selfish actions hurt and damage the credibility of genuine victims.

From that day on, I have always tried to look at both sides of the coin regardless of the circumstances involved. Not every girl who cries rape is being honest just as not every man who denies rape is being honest. It’s always going to be a very grey area however, when a woman falsely accuses any man of rape and is found to be lying, she should face the exact same harsh penalties as the despicable men who intentionally go out of their way to take a woman’s self respect away.

Abbey Road: The Magical Part Of London

Opening its doors in 1931, Abbey Road Studios has become an institution, known the world over for being the home of The Beatles recording adventures.  Over the years, I have paid a few visits to the magical road which began life as a nine bedroom Georgian townhouse that was built in 1831.  When purchased by The Gramophone Company (soon to become EMI), the Georgian facades were left out the front where they have remained predominantly to this day.  Cliff Richard was the first rock’n’roll artist to record there in 1958 which began a procession of artists heading up the famed steps and into the studios ever since.

Now, enough of the history.

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In 2017, May 17 to be precise, I made another pilgrimage to Abbey Road so I could take in the wonders of the Sgt. Peppers mural that was in place to celebrate 50 years since the albums initial release on June 1 1967.  The first time I had heard the album itself was during the 20th anniversary celebrations of 1987.  My brother had received a special re-issue gatefold copy (which he later sold for drugs) for Christmas and I remember sitting around with the rest of the family listening to it in full for the first time.  A cherished moment from my youth and perhaps, an important part of my musical education?  I often wonder if young children today are still introduced to Sgt. Peppers as a part of their musical development?  I was 10 years old at the time and remember it like it was yesterday.

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The tube ride to St John’s Wood which lets you out with a 10 minute walk down to Abbey Road is always packed full of fellow travelers and tourists in search of the studios.  It’s a nice walk down a leafy street and by the time you reach the main intersection, you can spot the swarms of tourists mulling over ways to get their photo taken on the famous crossing that embodied the cover of the album of the same name from 1969.  The zebra crossing has moved since the 60’s and the traffic build up hosts a lot more hustle and bustle but the thrill remains the same.

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You can spend a good deal of time wandering around the outside of the studios and and watching fans trying to take their pics on the crossing.  A good tip if you do fancy a photo on the crossing is to head down there at around 4 am in the middle of summer when the light is on the verge of arriving for the day and the traffic, crowds and thrill seekers are few and far between.  Otherwise you can expect to spend a great deal of time waiting for your photo op.  There is always a stream of graffiti covering the walls and surrounds.  You soon realise fans from as far as Argentina, Japan and Australia make the pilgrimage to Abbey Road.  In my time visiting the area, I have seen 90 year old ladies and 18 month old toddlers having their photos taken.  It’s a beautiful sight and sometimes people will even share their Beatles stories with you when you get chatting.

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With the Sgt. Peppers mural up, I decided to jump atop one of the pilons for a photo op and slipped on the moss that had gathered and promptly fell off.  Somehow, I failed to break a bone.  Just a bruised ego as a handful of tourists had a chuckle at my misfortune.  Thankfully, I recovered and hopped back up to take a kooky photo with the help of a German lady behind the view finder of my phone.

It’s a truly wonderful experience when you visit Abbey Road.  Even people who aren’t really that big into The Beatles make their way down and I can’t emphasis enough the importance of visiting one of England’s truly great landmarks.

Liverpool’s Glorious Revival Begins In 1959 & You Can Read All About It Here!

A few years ago now, 2013 if I remember correctly, I stopped off in one of the supporters shops near Anfield and stumbled over a selection of books going for a song. Among the rubble, I picked up a copy of “Eddie’s Golden Years Scrapbooks”, the season by season news reports of Liverpool FC from the beginning of a golden generation. This particular edition was the 1959-60 season review in which Bill Shankly arrived at the club. The book was written by Eddie Marks and published on 1 August 1986. As I would find out, this was going to be one of the more enjoyable reads from my collection.

The book itself is a collection of nostalgic newspaper clippings from the season which allows you an in-depth “at the time” look back over the clubs 5th consecutive season in the second division where opponents ranged from Plymouth Argyle to Lincoln City over the course of a home & away season.

As the 1960’s dawned, Shankly began to build the foundations of Liverpool’s future at the head of the world football table. He arrived on December 14 1959 after parting terms with Huddersfield Town on the first day of the same month. The articles within provide a fascinating insight into how the media saw the beginning of the clubs rise to become the force in world football we know today.

I’ve wondered many times about who Eddie Marks is and why he put this magnificent publication together? I’m sure as glad he did because it truly is a work of love and an incredibly enjoyable read. If you ever manage to track down a copy, may I suggest you set aside a bank holiday weekend, sink into a dozen or so cups of tea and enjoy stepping back into a time where great things were on the cusp for a club looking towards a bright future.

New David Bowie Single Due In November!

Continuing on with the 40th anniversary 7″ picture disc singles, Parlaphone will release “Breaking Glass” on November 16th with three new b-sides, all of which are previously unreleased!

The new tracks, recorded in London during the 1978 world tour are not taken from 2018’s “Welcome To The Blackout” double LP but alternate recordings taken from the same Earls Court shows.

Side A

1. Breaking Glass (live) (3.22)

(David Bowie, George Murray & Dennis Davis)

2. Art Decade (live) (3.12)

(David Bowie)

Side AA

1. Hang On To Yourself (live) (2.38)

(David Bowie)

2. Ziggy Stardust (live) (3.35)

(David Bowie)

Songs That Changed My Life: Suede – We Are The Pigs

Sitting in the front seat of my fathers dodgy old car on a sunny spring afternoon in early September 1994, I decided to turn the radio station over to JJJ, an alternative youth station that my father didn’t understand but I loved very much. I was in my second last year of high school and was more interested in becoming a D.J than focussing on my studies. Within minutes of tuning into the J’s, the female announcer talked about the new Suede single due for release the following week before promptly allowing “We Are The Pigs” to dance across the airwaves. And what a song it was!

It honestly seemed like a thousand years since the throng and excitement of Suede’s debut LP passed us all by in early 1993. I was often reading live reviews of their concerts in the NME (before it became utter shite), only to be left in fits of misery that I wasn’t over in England to see these immense shows for myself in the flesh. Seeing those early Suede shows must have been akin to watching Bowie impress Ziggy onto the unknowing public in the summer of 1972. After years of rubbish American music dominating the Australian airwaves, a British band had, at long last swept into my line of sight and thrown gasoline over the whole kit and kabootle before dropping the match and walking away to allow their music to do its thing.

So with “We Are The Pigs” on the radio, I stayed up late with a cassette tape at the ready to tape the new single from the forthcoming “Dog Man Star” LP off the radio. Mind, I had to listen to a fair bit of tosh before JJJ played it again that Friday night but the wait was more it. I had the song captured and could play it back on my Walkman at my leisure. In fact, I played it that much that the tape eventually died a slow and painful death.

During the second week of September, an import copy of the single appeared in the local indie record shops for the princely sum of $20. A fair whack of dosh for a jobless teenager in 1994. And, what’s more, there were only three songs on the single. Little did I know at the time of purchase was that the two b-sides were classic Suede songs in the making.

“Killing Of A Flashboy” & “Whipsnade” will forever go down in folklore as two of the bands greatest b-sides. Now, for a band who released a double album of b-sides that entertained the top ten of the British album charts (#9) in 1997, you can kind of see why this single was so important to the growing number of fans.

“We Are The Pigs” is a single that will sit firmly in my echelon of life altering moments because it was released at a time in my life when I was looking for new directions and alternatives to the mainstream and American rubbish that was flooding the market. It’s a dirty, filthy little number that, had it come in the form of a human being, you wouldn’t dare dream of taking it home to meet the parents!

How To Do 24 Hours In Sydney For Under $200!

Early last week, I decided to head to Sydney for 24 hours to watch the Sydney Swans v GWS semi final at the Sydney Cricket Ground along with the Cronulla-Sutherland v Eastern Suburbs straight after next door in the Sydney Football Stadium. Being the avid adventurer and always having trips on the go, my funds were tight so I was only able to make this mini adventure work out if there were cheap flights going. Thankfully, my luck was in and Tiger Air has flights with 7 kg of carry on luggage available for $49.95 each way. Departing at 10 am Saturday morning from the Gold Coast and returning from Sydney at 8:10 am the next day.

The big money saver came in the form of my gym membership as it covered my erm, “accommodation” for the night. You see, I go to Snap Fitness and part of the membership deal includes access to any of their gym’s worldwide and Sydney has a Snap Fitness in the heart of the city with showers, toilets and even a room to put your head down for a while. Of course, it’s not ideal but the hotel rates on short notice were asking upwards of $200 alone for a room so there was no way known that I was going to spend that kind of money for a room that I would only utilise for 5-6 hours. You see, by the time the second match finished and I walked back into the city, it was 11 pm and I was due on the 5 am train out to the airport. This is why Snap Fitness is my friend. I got a workout, shower and a quiet place to hang out in the heart of the city for precisely $0! Winning!

So what did I spend the other $100 of the budget on? Well, I only paid $47.95 for both match tickets. I buy student priced tickets online because nobody at the ground ever checks your ticket which meant my Swans ticket was $25 all in and the NRL ticket was $22.95 after booking fees (none for the Swans game) saving me $45! A bargain if ever there was one!

Next up was the actual transport from Sydney Airport into the city and back. Normally, a return ticket on the air train would cost $34. A highly expensive option for a ride that takes all of 10 minutes each way. Instead, I walked to Mascot Station which is located just 2 km’s from the domestic terminal and paid $2.75 on my Opal travel card. Returning the next morning was actually free because at 5 am on a Sunday morning, there are no ticket guards on duty at either Central Station or the Domestic Terminal so why pay bullshit money to the privately owned Sydney Airport Corporation who earn billions in profits every year when you can ride for free?

So far in the total cost is just under $150 and I still haven’t paid for food or the movie I was going to see! Well, the movie was free too because I had a gift card for Palace Cinemas that meant I was able to avoid the midday rain and see “You Were Never Really Here” starring Joaquin Phoenix. A marvellous if somewhat brutal film too.

The food option was easy. Once in the city, I headed to Woolworths and bought some crusty bread, ham, cheese, drinks and a shit load of snacks for $30. You see. A meat pie, chips and drink at the ground would cost almost $20 alone so buying up before hand essentially saves one heaps of money. And, at 3 am on Sunday, in Sydney’s CBD, I spent $10 at McDonalds for food and again, when at the airport, another $8.75 at McDonalds for a hot cakes breakfast. Better still, I had plenty of leftovers from my Woolies spend to bring home with me for snacks.

Now, I know many of you will think that buying student tickets and riding airport trains for free is unethical and immoral and yes, once upon a time, I would have agreed with you. However, as I grow older, I constantly see unethical and immoral practices in place through corporations, banks, governments & institutions as CEO’s fleece millions off shareholders whilst the politicians continually shove their heads in the trough like pigs so fuck it! If you can’t beat them, join them! The world we live in is a dog eat dog kind of place so you have to look after yourself and do what you have to do. Playing by the rules gets you nowhere in life. To get ahead and enjoy your life, you have to think smart and know how to milk the system in your favour.

Had I chosen to do this trip the way most people would done so, my flights in the middle of the day would have cost $280, airport transfers over $30, a hotel for the night in the city would have set me back $200 and buying food & drinks at the stadium’s and restaurants would have easily chipped away another $80. The whole adventure would have then rattled up over $600! Madness if you ask me.

In spite of the Swans getting bundled out and Cronulla losing (I hate Eastern Suburbs), it was a grand adventure that I would do all over again in a heartbeat. It sure beats spending a Saturday night plonked in front of a television set doesn’t it? And I mean, after all, why do you live? Think about that.