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Music is the flavour of the month

Posted on 22/03/2011 by
This is a GUEST blog from Curtis Palmer – an ex ITC graduate who quit his job (he was on TV) and he decided to go out and have some fun for the next few months. He’s also a GOLD medal winner with the Wheel Blacks. He’s been blogging on his travels, a really great read. If you want to subscribe his blog it’s URL is – He’s not angry at all :) Thanks Curtis for letting me share your news. ;)

Hi everyone. It’s been a month since I last wrote…I missed ya!

1st of all my love goes out to my friends and family in Christchurch and Sendai. I can’t imagine what you are going through right now and all I can do is hope you guys get back on track as soon as possible.
The rugby scene has been fairly quiet here. I’ve only had 1 tournament since I last wrote and 1 training session. My team is the Texas Rampage and we’re made up of guys from Austin, Houston, San Antonio and Corpus Christi….training is kinda hard to do. If I had one regret about coming here it would be that I haven’t played enough rugby…usually at home I train twice a week with my team, I’m playing all the time. The reason I came here was to better my game through tough competition. Sadly it hasn’t worked out that way.

The lack of training comes through when we go to tournaments. As fit as I am my match fitness is not up to par. There is no other way to build up match fitness other than playing. I’m expected to play all game every game and I’m hitting the wall during games, mistakes creep in and life becomes difficult. Not much I can do about it. The good thing is it has left me with plenty of time to have fun… I’m certainly making the most of my time here.

We had a tournament over the weekend in Phoenix. It’s the 2nd time we’ve been there this year but this time there was a lot more at stake. We were playing for a spot at Nationals. We were facing some tough teams and it was 85 degrees….I had my work cut out for me.
I was facing my nemesis in our 1st game, Manni from team Phoenix Heat. In our past 4 games they have beaten us and I was desperate to change that.

Things were going great for us and we shot out to a 5 point lead but that was early on in the game. We knew they would fight back. It was one of the toughest games I’ve played in. I was in a brand new Melrose rugby chair and the thing with new chairs is that you NEVER turn up to a tournament without playing in it and settling it in. It’s a rookie mistake. What choice did I have? My old chair, bless her heart (we’ve been through so much), is on her last wheels. Thankfully the lads at Melrose know their stuff and the new chair was great. My speed was good but most importantly I stayed in it. I was stressing that because I wasn’t used to it I’d get smashed. Happy to say the new chair worked well.

So back to the game. Team Heat was under pressure. They were making uncharacteristic mistakes and they didn’t adjust to our tactics. Now remember these fellas are all current international reps. They are all under 30 apart from Scott whereas we are all over 30 except for Landon and Joel. The young fellas from team Heat buckled under our pressure and we took the game by 2 points. It felt good, real good.

The next game we got smashed by Tucson who I’d put money on taking out Nationals.  Our next 2 games we won but it was ugly. We couldn’t find our rhythm and had to fight back from 4 down against the Stampede to win by 1.
So Nationals is 3 weeks away. In Birmingham Alabama.

It’s hard to say if I’d come back and play here again. If the Wheel Blacks don’t qualify for London Paralympics then I’ll think about it but right now I think I would’ve had just as much competition if I stayed back in NZ.

Like I said the lack of rugby has opened up some great opportunities to have some fun. Here’s a few highlights;

Motorhead. Heard of them? They’re the loudest rock and roll band in the world, lead by the great Lemmy Kilmister. I don’t listen to a lot of Motorhead but when I heard they were coming to town I couldn’t miss them. I’d recently watched a doco on Lemmy and by all accounts he is a legend. Some big big names rave about the guy. He constantly drinks Jack Daniels but isn’t a dick. He seems always in control. He lives in a small apartment block off Sunset Strip in LA and the reason he lives there and not in a mansion in Bev Hills is because he likes being walking distance from his favourite pub, The Rainbow. You can still see him there, sitting at the end of the bar, bourbon in hand. This guy is a superstar but lives the life of a regular Joe. I admire that. He was a roady for Jimi Hendricks so he has had a colourful life. He must be 60 odd. The funniest thing I heard him say was when he was giving his son some advice on drugs. He said, “son never ever take cocaine……………..speed is soooo much better!”

Anyway this show was on at Stubbs in Austin. Clutch were playing also, another band I don’t listen to a lot but really like. I’d seen Ben Harper at Stubbs back in 98 but it’s changed heaps. I’d just got a general admission ticket so I was expecting to sit up the back and not see much but the perks of being in a chair came through once again and we were lead to the VIP section on a balcony above and to the left of stage. If I put my hand out Lemmy could’ve cheers’d me with his JD’s. In hindsight, sitting so close to the stage with the speakers so close, listening to the loudest band in the world probably wasn’t a great thing, but when you’re a wise wee fella like me you bring…….earplugs! They worked a treat.

Not only was the music a treat the crowd was equally as entertaining. We were sitting directly above the mosh pit. I was practically in it without the luxury of getting my face smashed in or an elbow to the back of the head. It was amazing to watch it from above. I learnt that even though it looks like pandemonium there is actually etiquette in a mosh pit. It’s full of aggression and no one is holding back but if someone falls they’re picked up fairly quickly, no one got really angry for getting the accidental whack, no one got aggressive towards anyone for pushing. Usually if that stuff happens it’s on but in the mosh its different. It has to be otherwise there would be fights every 5 seconds. I mean it was like being in a washing machine and if you’re in a mosh you are going to wake up in the morning with bruises. There is no doubt that if I was still walking I’d be in that mosh pit….for sure.

Austin is a town known for its music. A lot of celebrities live here, have come from here, made their name here. 6th street is where you go for the action but I’ll get to that later. We were in the supermarket the other day when Ted Nugent walked by. Mark tapped me and told me that was him (I wouldn’t have recognised him, I like his music but didn’t know what he looked like). Well he turns around and comes back to us after he walked past and says. “sorry fellas I’m as deaf as anything and my wife told me you said something to me.” We had a bit of a chat, shook hands and off he went to take a few pics with some other fans. He’s a big guy man. His hand was huge. He was dressed in hunting gear. Apparently that’s what he does. Cool aye (not the hunting thing, the meeting a famous celeb).

Another thing Austin is famous for is roller derby. If you haven’t seen it watch Drew Barrymore’s movie, “Whip It.” It’s a game played on roller skates on a banked track (for speed) by hot girls (and some not so hot aaahem). It’s rough and there’s sometimes fights and I think it originated in Austin, or it was just really popular back in the day here. It’s still popular and the crowd of 2000 odd people were really into it. Think WWE wrestling type of thing with girls with names like Curly Suicide, Dill Dozer, Mz Behavin, Truckstop Trixie etc. They skate around the track smashing each other while the 2 speedsters dodge their way through to score points. I love it. They wear skimpy, trashy, sparkly, girly, emo, fishnet stockings…you know the sweet but savage kinda look.

Then there was the South by South West Festival (sxsw). Sxsw takes over Austin every year for a week and a bit. Primarily it’s a music festival but they also have film and IT stuff as well. One of my friends was involved with an IT conference and part of it was a mystery ticket to Stubbs to see a band. No one knew who the band was until they got into the show….it happened to be the Foo Fighters. The festival is big. Hundreds of bands and venues with wall to wall music of every genre. It’s overwhelming.

I got to taste a bit of it one day when a mate had tickets to the New Zealand party. Now most venues at sxsw are jam packed, are impossible to get tickets for or just in the to hard basket. The invite to the Kiwi party gave me a great taste of what it’s like throughout the city. I got to hang out with a few known kiwi artists such as Bulletproof and David Dallas and I got up close and personal with Brooke Fraser, Street Chant and The Naked and Famous. It was so cool.
One day I’ll come back and do sxsw properly.

That’s about it from me. I just watched UFC 128 and enjoyed seeing Jon Bones Jones take the light heavyweight title. That boy will go far. Unfortunately it sounds like the Warriors season hasn’t got off to a great start and with the Dragons this week it looks like 0-3. Kinda used to that now with them. I promise to not leave it for another month this time.
Take care (but have fun)
Much love
Curty P.


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