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The Adventures of Zoë

Mental As Anything c Mary Hendrick/Artist Publications

Mental As Anything with the winner Susan & her dog
San Francisco, CA, November 1983

photo © Mary Hendrick/Artist Publications
graphics effects © Joy Williams/Artist Publications

Chapter 12 -



In which Mental As Anything wash a dog—and drink a lot





So, it's Sunday morning and Zoë has the name, address and phone number of the lucky lady who has won the contest on KQAK radio to have the Mentals (as they are affectionately called) come to her house and perform a particularly odious task.

"For a band that hates to work," Zoë thinks as she searches for the house and a parking spot (no mean feat in overcrowded San Francisco, with it's steep hills and one-way streets), "it's an interesting PR gimmick."

When she finally locates the lovely home tucked away on a back street, Zoë discovers that Susan, for such is the winner's name, is all ready for the dog-washing date, with sandwiches and plenty of chilled champagne.

Things soon become rather crowded, what with a few friends, the band, a clutch of reporters and photographers, record company suits, management and assorted others. Then, while most everyone stands about on the deck admiring Susan's rock garden, Zoë corners Greedy and Wayne in the kitchen, where they've discovered the champagne and are searching for a corkscrew.  Not shy to dig through stranger's kitchen drawers, the necessary appliance is soon located, and Greedy opens the bottle with amazing grace. And the three of them polish the bottle off in no time.

"Gee," Zoë muses, "these guys seem to have a wonderful approach to one of the most disorienting of professions. They're friendly, more or less normal people, who just happen to have been lucky enough to have fallen into an industry which so many people spend half their lives getting into, and the other half trying to recover from...."

In spite of the hijacking of champagne that was undoubtedly meant for their eventual consumption anyway, there's no sign of rude, aggressive, hotel-trashing arrogance or hostility, "Though we do paint pictures on the motels sometimes," mentions Greedy, "you know, a pair of dogs mating over in a corner, a shark's fin emerging from a puddle...."

But just as the conversation takes this interesting turn, typical San Francisco weather douses the group out on the deck, reminding all that they are here for a reason, that there is work to do, and they all troop inside, breaking up the kitchen party.

All right, mates, it's into the cute little bathroom, all five of you and, of course, the dog—and three photographers. The poor creature is catatonic—having long ago given up on the idea of protecting it's mistress from invaders—and submits quietly to the band's overzealous washing and brushing and the flashing of cameras. Meanwhile, the rest of the party polishes off Susan's store of champagne, wine and anything else mildly interesting.

Well, thank you, Susan, but it's time to head over to Wolfgang's for soundcheck, so we pile into the available cars and head off into the sunset. Once inside, the boys mount the stage and give a great sneak preview of what is in store for the audience later on that evening.

But basically soundcheck is short and painless, with one just one minor glitch. While Peter works on getting his bass sound just right, the rest of the band members flit about the room, engaging in idle chatter, until someone decides, "Let's go get a beer."

As they're all leaving, Zoë witnesses the only disagreement that apparently occurs amongst the band that entire day, with the intensity about as harsh as one would expect from this easygoing bunch:

"I wish you would stop being so difficult," pouts Greedy.

"I wish you would stop trying to rationalize everything," sniffs Peter.

"I wish you would stop being so irrational," counters Greedy.

End of argument. "Whoa, not like some slanging matches I've seen in bands!" Zoë muses. "These guys really are amazingly laid back."

Wayne, Greedy and Zoë then depart to the corner snack place where they fill up on beer and munchies until it's time for dinner, which is at  Vanessi's, a lovely, upscale Italian restaurant on Broadway in the North Beach area.

Like everything else, this was not taken seriously by the band, though it was viewed otherwise by their manager, who was paying a lot of attention to Joel Selvin, the music critic for the San Francisco Chronicle.

So, while the manager spoke earnestly of the band, Australian music and the band's prospects in the US, riding the MTV-fueled "Australian Invasion," the band "shared" their food (whether or not you wanted it).  Strange subjects were discussed, and the most popular sentence of the evening was, "Three more bottles, please." (That is, three more bottles of quite expensive wine.)

Everyone's having a grand old time.  Then, suddenly and totally unexpectedly, Wayne turns to Zoë and says, "I don't want to go back to Australia. Fly to LA tomorrow and marry me. I'll wash the dishes and I won't touch you, I promise." Zoë, stunned, mutters: "Uh, pass the wine, please."

The bill for the evening arrives and it's the manager's turn to go white with shock, as he stares at the $700+ tab. But the band, who ultimately pays for everything anyway, doesn't seem to care. After all, they are pretty typical Aussies: As long as you don't have to work too hard and there's alcohol at hand, good on'ya—she'll be right, mate, no worries.

Interview with Mental As Anything next

  

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