An excerpt ....
Killing me with Big Momma’s hot-sauce: Part A.
Once I went completely Ape shit, and to be honest, I was lucky not to have ended up in a cell in Guantanamo Bay after the experience.
In the late 00’s, not long after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre, I was recording and composing music and sound for film. Two of the great local Brisbane writer/director duos and close friends, Craig and Shaun, were creating a documentary about conspiracy theories and they asked me to tag along to help capture sound. I jumped at the chance. Five weeks in the States chasing down potential conspiracy theories and crazy people at the fringes of society sounded like fun! So off we embarked on a great adventure. L.A., San Francisco, Elberton, Atlanta, Austin, and many places in between. It was an amazing five weeks, meeting with the most amazing and diverse corners of society, and many funny and insightful stories I still tell to this day. I truly treasure the experience. Even so, by the end of the trip I was emotionally, physically and mentally exhausted. I literally had nothing left in the tank. Which meant that on the final leg home at the Los Angeles airport, when challenged by a security guard about something I thought was ridiculous, there was simply no energy to keep control of my Ape. My Ape went completely Ape shit.
As fun as the trip was, it was long, hard and sometimes painful work. Freezing cold 2 am’s filming in graveyards, downloading and editing sound and video every night, up at 6 am to get ready for the days shoot, driving 100’s of kilometres to get to hard to reach places. Day after day, week after week, it was relentless. I had two young boys and a wife at home and by the end of the five weeks I was missing them terribly. I couldn’t wait to get home. Toward the end of the trip, on the plane from Austin to Pheonix and flying over terrain that looked like Australia, I was flicking through photos of the kids when the Tom Waits song ‘Tom Traubert’s Blues’ started to play on my iPod.
For those familiar with the song you’ll know that the song is the song of lonely travelers, with the chorus a stirring rendition of Waltzing Matilda. I wasn’t aware of the chorus, and the orchestra swelled and burst into the searing rendition of the ironically Australian anthem I simply couldn’t contain the complex tide of emotion. It was all too much, I was a blubbering mess. I just burst into uncontrollable weeping. Snot bubbling out and everything, it was my emotional cracking point. I was more than ready to go home, and couldn’t wait to get there.
But as much as I wanted to head home, there was a problem – I hadn’t been able to find a meaningful gift for my wife Alison, and there was no way I was going home empty handed.
Getting a uniquely American gift that you can’t get already in Australia that isn’t simply tourist kitsch was proving to be VERY difficult. However, I was determined to find something unique and meaningful. Five weeks of searching in the small breaks that we had in shooting had resulted in nothing. I had been able to find quite a few gifts for my boys – but nothing had resonated for Ali. The pressure was mounting. Finally, on my last day filming I found myself in Austin. A great town, home of Texas university and the SxSW festival. We were filming a notorious conspiracy theorist and radio host, and at the end of the interview I confided to him about my failed mission to procure a meaningful gift. “Ya’ know what son”, he said in a typically big, gruff, Texan accent, “If I were you I would go down to Big Momma’s House on the corner, and get some genuine TexMex sauces. You can’t get them anywhere else in the world and she makes the most divine, tantalising sauces. It’s a sure fire winner, guaranteed to turn any dish into pure joy. Give her that and she’ll love you forever!” I was sold. This was it, the final chapter in my quest to find the perfect gift.
Little did I know that that wasn’t to be the final twist in this tale, a twist that would trigger my Ape to come out in the most dramatic of ways…