RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars season 3 recaps

The shadiest Drag Race recaps on the web. Get ready to death drop, queens!

RuPaul's Drag Race recaps

YASS, HUNTIES! Seasons 6, 7, 8 and a bit of 9 recapped for your reading pleasure. Let's get sickening!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Latin American TV is mental

You know how The Simpsons always pokes fun at Latin American television with "the bumblebee man" - a guy dressed as a giant bee who frequently falls over, or has eggs thrown at him, or gets hit in the head with a toaster and says "Ay ay ay, no me gusta!"?

Well I can tell you Latin American TV is nothing like that.

Giant bees? No!

Giant dwarves, yes.

Meanwhile, if anyone can tell what is actually going on in this scene, you're doing better than me.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rock heaven: Jack White and Alabama Shakes at the Roseland, NYC

A sort-of review of Jack White's May 22 gig at NYC's Roseland Ballroom.

Long time readers of Bland Canyon know that I have what could be called "a mild crush" on rock star Jack White.

Actually, to call it "a mild crush" would be rather like describing September 11 as "a bit of a bad day"; I am utterly obsessed with him to the point of embarrassing myself.

Seriously, just looking at this photo makes me need to lie down. I'm not actually joking.

I've written about him a lot on here: About the time I got to see him and Bob Dylan in concert and almost fainted from delight, about how I wanted to do things to him even when he went through that weird Spanish Willy Wonka phase, how he turned me on as a Simpsons character and also is basically God, and a dream I had in which I lied to his band mate about being poisoned by bad prawns. That was a weird one.

So I like to think it was serendipity when one day a few months ago I thought "I wonder if Jack White's doing any shows anywhere?" and discovered tickets to his two New York shows at the Roseland Ballroom were going on sale the very next morning. SNAP! It was meant to be, etc. etc.

So it was that last night Barilski (the man responsible for introducing me to the White Stripes and starting this whole mess) and I trotted off to 52nd Street and walked under this marquee, feeling very smug and superior as sad-eyed people outside murmured "Do you have any spares?"

YEAH, I have a spare ticket to a sold-out show which hundreds of people are willing to sell their internal organs to get into, and I didn't think to scalp it before going inside. YOU'RE SMART.

That last pic is the only one I actually have from last night because the audience was requested not to take photographs during the concert.

"Jack asks that you all put your phones and cameras away and just enjoy the music - there will be professional photos available for you to download from his website," they announced.

My first reaction to this was "WHAT THE F***?", quickly followed by "Actually, that's a great idea." 

Remember the days before mobile phone cameras when people at concerts used to, you know, listen to the music instead of trying to take shitty pictures of everything? Jack White does, and he'd like to go back there thanks. And I'm with him. Because you know what, if Jack White tells you to do something, YOU DO IT, BEEYATCH.

Did I buy merch? YOU BET YOUR SWEET ONE I DID. I bought a T shirt, natch. Meanwhile, here are some Jack White lyrics I would like to have a on a T shirt, none of which was available on any T shirts sold last night:

I actually think the top three would sell quite well.
(I REALLY DO want that first one though.)

Enough about merch - HOW WAS THE SHOW? Pfft. Do you really need to ask?


The mood was set by the warm up band, blues rockers the Alabama Shakes, whose lead singer/guitarist Brittany Howard was so incendiary the mic almost caught fire. I have decided that if I can't marry Jack White, I would like to marry her, please. She sounded like the love child of a three-way between Amy Winehouse, Nina Simone and Janis Joplin, and sang like her life depended on it - wailing, howling and shaking while absolutely shredding her guitar. 

You've never seen a chick in glasses rock so fucking hard. (Photo source)

As you may have guessed from the title, "warm up bands" are supposed to warm up the crowd, not douse them in kerosene and set them on fire. This was unprecedented. When they left the stage Barilski and I both looked at each other and said "Jack White's going to have to put in some effort to top that." 

Yes, for a moment we both doubted the world's greatest guitar player and king of rock MIGHT not better the Alabama Shakes - THAT'S HOW GOOD THEY WERE.

And then. THEN. The lights dimmed, the hot all-lady band The Peacocks wandered out and then....

OH HAI. (Picture source)
(Side note: I think this was from an earlier concert on this tour, but this is how he looked last night)

With the release of his first solo album Blunderbuss Jack has dropped the traditional red, white and black colour scheme he adopted with the White Stripes and reinvented himself in blue. Dressed in a 1960s-style, slim-fitting blue mod suit and black shirt the six-foot-two guitar god looked... well, I think you can guess how this slick outfit made me feel.

A bit like this.

Without a word he came straight out the gate with the blistering Sixteen Saltines before busting into Missing Pieces which his drummer kindly fucked up for everyone, forcing Jack to sing weirdly off beat for the whole first verse. Sadly he didn't kick the drums over or smash a guitar over her head or anything rock and roll like that; instead he subtly and very professionally pulled a guitar solo, reset the song and kept going. Nice work, Jack.

"Hello New York! What do you want me to play?" he asked, as everyone screamed.

"Tell me what to play and I'll play it!" 

Play anything you damn well like, my lover. (Photo source)

He threw in plenty of nuggets for the long time fans - the White Stripes' Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground, We're Going to be Friends, a rocking Hardest Button to Button and a sped-up, ultra countrified Hotel Yorba.

He also played a few songs from his other, other band The Raconteurs and an EXTREMELY hot version of Blue Blood Blues by his other, other, other band The Dead Weather, which is in the running for a new award: The Song That Most Makes Me Want To Do Dirty Things As Soon As I Hear It Award. This video (not from last night) should explain why:

As if it couldn't get hotter than that, Jack busted out a fully pumped-up-rock-and-roll-on-steroids version of The White Stripes' Ball and Biscuit to finish in ball-tearing style. Given Ball and Biscuit is already one of the sexiest songs of all time, when you pump it full of dexys and then turn the testosterone level up to 11, you have a song that makes me do this:

This was the sexiest gif I could find. Sorry.

So there I was - the lights back on, Jack and his band gone, and me stuck in the middle of a sweaty crowd licking my lips and thinking sinful thoughts and wondering what I could do with myself that wouldn't get me arrested.

AND THEN, ALL OF A SUDDEN - the lights dropped, the curtains along the SIDE of the auditorium parted, and there was Jack and his other, all-male band, ready to kick a surprise encore on a second stage that had previously been the VIP seating area.

The entire room went spastic. The whole crowd turned to the right and rushed the new, previously hidden stage on which bewildered and formerly seated VIP guests were now being shooed to the sides by security, as Jack fired up his guitar for the most balls-to-the-wall rock set I have ever seen IN MY ENTIRE LIFE.

Ever since I first saw the White Stripes live at the Big Day Out in 2006 I have wanted to see Jack White perform Black Math, from the album Elephant. This is because it is an arse-tearingly good rock song, and one of my all-time favourites that I like to blast on repeat for up to 12 hours at a time.


It was kind of like this.

Could it get any better? Yes, it could. Next was another of my favourite songs, The Dead Weather's I Cut Like A Buffalo, a souped-up rock and hip-hop hybrid of a song drenched in Wurlitzer and crunchy guitar, and then The White Stripes' version of Catch Hell Blues

At this point I was moshing like a freak and covered in so much sweat I swear I was shaking droplets on people next to me. Sorry about that, people.

"IF YOU'RE GETTIN' TRICKY LYIN' TO YOURSELF YOU'RE GONNA CATCH HELL!" he wailed, as I tried not to faint from water loss and rock-god exposure and thought "ARE YOU KIDDING ME, JACK? MARRY ME GOD DAMMIT."

Just as I was wondering if the concert was going to go on forever, a notion I would not have been at all disappointed with, Jack got the room clapping a beat - and like a single, buzzing hive-mind, we all knew what to do.

"NA NA-NA-NA NA-NA, NAAAAAAAA," we chanted, which you of course recognise is the riff from Seven Nation Army

With the entire sold-out room chanting like a soccer crowd at the World Cup, Jack played and sang over the top and, WOW. I thought I was sick of that song but this totally reinvented it, reminded me why we all loved it so much in the first place.

And with a quick "Goodnight and thank you", he was gone.

In a word: Incredible.

In a few more words: One of the best, most energetic, joyful, surprising and generous performances I've ever seen anyone give ever. Jack White is sex AND talent, he clearly respects his fans and he can't be topped.


Expect another hysterical post in August...


POST SCRIPT: This magical unicorn of a concert was almost entirely ruined by two total arseholes next to me who insisted on talking all the way through it, and refused to shut up despite being asked to by THREE people (including me). This douchebaggery, and the ensuing thoughts of violence and murderous rage it inspired in me, will be the subject of a subsequent post. But as a small preview, they looked like this

I typed "douchebag couple" into Google images and this is what I got, and I SWEAR it looks EXACTLY like them.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Incredible Inedibles: Mexican Coke

Forget the Delorean, Americans relive the taste of the '70s south of the border.

My parents back in Australia love to hear about all the fun things I'm doing in New York. I regale them with stories about bar-hopping in SoHo and shopping on Fifth Avenue and tripping around the Guggenheim, and they always tut approvingly.

Then last week I told them I'd bought Mexican Coke and they started crying and begging me to call some woman called Betty Ford.

Fortunately I was able to explain just before mum broke into hysterics that Mexican Coke isn't an illicit white powder you buy from a bloke called Pablo in a Lower East Side alley, but rather Coca Cola manufactured in Mexico.

Even better than the real thing.

Sold in old-school glass bottles, the drink has something of a cult status here in America with foodies and hipsters alike traversing great distances and scouring through rusty old fridges in the back of Mexican delis just to get one.

Why? One ingredient: sugar.

Before 1980 Americans enjoyed their Coca Cola the way everyone else did - with 10 teaspoons of sugar in every can. Then the company began combining sugar with much cheaper high fructose corn syrup, and in 1984 it ditched sugar altogether, giving Generation X-ers yet one more thing to crap on about that was better when they were kids.

But in Mexico, one of the world's largest producers of sugar, high fructose corn syrup is actually a more expensive ingredient - so the drink's recipe there has remained unchanged.

Spot the difference.

People claim Mexican Coke is more "authentic" than regular American Coke, with sugar giving the drink a more "natural" taste. This of course means you can now buy it at trendy Brooklyn restaurants for three times the price.

Rumour has it Mexican Coke tastes even MORE natural if it is consumed while wearing ironic glasses and a silly moustache.

Now Australia, lucky country that it is, knows nothing of this cross-border flavour competition because, like Mexico, our version of Coca Cola is also made with cane sugar. Normally this would make my usual Incredible Inedibles tasting experiment redundant - I could just write "MEXICAN COKE. SAME AS AUSSIE COKE" and leave it at that.

But as someone who NEVER drinks regular Coca Cola (I am a Diet girl, thank you very much), I figured my test of Mexican Coke was just as much a test of cornified American Coke. So here's what I found.

Unsurprisingly, they looked exactly the same. Except the Mexican Coke was MUCH bubblier, as you can see in the photo - whether that was due to the presence of sugar, or being kept in bottle as opposed to a can, I can't say.

American Coke on the left, Mexican Coke on the right. 
Mexicans are renowned for being bubblier than Americans.*
*May not be true.

As for the flavour - I was surprised to discover there was definitely a subtle difference between the two. The American Coke tasted tangier and left a rather unpleasant sour aftertaste after several minutes, as though my mouth had been wiped out with an old gym sock. The Mexican Coke had a softer flavour, which I agree could be interpreted as more "natural" tasting. (Although is there anything more natural than an old gym sock? It practically has its own ecosystem.)

Sadly I was alone in this experiment so couldn't indulge a blind tasting - try as I might I just kept remembering which glass I'd poured each Coke into. Sorry.

I'm never going to be a Coca Cola drinker, because I think it tastes like liquefied fairy floss and I can feel my teeth melting every time I put it within one metre of my lips. But if a bloke named Pablo ever held a gun to my head in a Lower East Side alleyway and asked me to choose between the American or Mexican version - I'd go south of the border every time.

Thank your lucky sugar cane, Australia.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Ban the backyard and save Adelaide's parks

A friend from Adelaide visiting New York recently was enthusing about Central Park.

“I didn't realise it would have all that stuff in it,” he said, eyes wide.

“It had all these lakes and cafes and bike trails and little gardens. I thought it would just be, you know, a park.”

Given that Central Park spans 50 blocks and 843 acres, the idea that it would just be a huge empty lawn with a few lonely trees in it struck me as surreally amusing.

The original plans for Central Park were far less expensive, but a bit more boring.

Then again, I probably shouldn't have been surprised. Growing up in Adelaide, surrounded by the vast expanses of dull nothingness that are the Parklands (yes, I said it), that's how many of us think public spaces are supposed to be.

A park? That's a big, boring, open area with dried-out grass in it, and trees, and maybe a few (broken) benches. Definitely some bindis. Fountains? No way, too much water wastage. Public artwork? Too hard to keep the graffiti off. Somewhere to get a coffee or a drink? Shame on you, you're commercialising Colonel Light's dream! Don't even mention parking, or you'll be chased down King William Street with pitchforks.

Exactly what to do with the Parklands has long been a point of contention in Adelaide. Sadly, while the argument continues between those who campaign to keep them untouched and those who want to revamp them, the vast majority of the population just ignores them completely. Because they're almost all totally boring. Why would you go there?


Our five city squares aren't that user friendly either. Three of them are carved up by intersecting streets into virtually unusable chunks, and two aren't much more than pretty roundabouts.

We could do worse than take a leaf out of New York's design book.

Many people tend to think of New York as a city of no open space – millions of people crammed inside tiny apartments in huge skyscrapers, and not a speck of green amongst the grey. Funnily enough it's the  opposite. The city has more than 1700 parks across its five boroughs, and few of them are ever empty.

Perhaps because New York doesn't have the luxury of such wide open land that Adelaide does, its forced to treat its squares and parks in a more utilitarian manner, so they're not just spaces but useful spaces. There are always plenty of tables and chairs, fenced-off dog runs, plazas and amphitheatres where people can perform or hold markets.

As a result, they're always full of people enjoying them: eating lunch during their work day, walking their dogs, picnicking, gathering to dance and sing and busk, to read, to study, to meet people, to protest.

Can you imagine anyone picnicking in Hurtle Square? Sunbathing in Light Square? People would assume you were pulling a prank, and look around for the hidden cameras.

Admittedly, New Yorkers' enthusiasm for public parks probably springs in part from their lack of private backyards. If you don't have your own garden to relax in, you kind of have to go public.

Conversely, perhaps that's the same reason most Adelaideans ignore our city's parks. Maybe it's the reason why we're still talking about what to do with Victoria Square 175 years after it was built.

Here's my tip: Ban the backyard for a weekend. Head into the city and rediscover its squares. Work out how you'd like to use them, and how they could be changed for the better and tell the council. Then maybe one day visitors will be enthusing about all the “stuff” in Adelaide's parks.


This article was first published in Messenger Newspapers on May 3, 2012.