Tarago Diaries #12 – Here There Be Dragons

Mark Seymour’s social observations on visiting the USA as a tourist.

Author:  Mark Seymour.

Date: 14 July 2019.

Original URL: https://www.facebook.com/MarkSeymourOfficial/posts/1983108028462193?__tn__=K-R


Article Text

‘Here there be dragons..’

16th century map warning to early sailors. Unchartered seas ahead where dangerous creatures lurk, waiting to devour the innocent.

My daughter once asked me “Are there monsters in this world?”

She was three at the time. A bit young for Kafka.

“Go ask your mother,” I said, her mother being better at the truth.

She’d met a few monsters in her time and devoured them all.

In many a green room.

Scroll forward 22 years, in a similar place, chatting with a fellow songwriter of some repute and happened to mention I was going to the U.S..

Small beer you’d think. This is how it tracked:


Sounding hopeful, like I’m about to embark on a journey of artistic conquest.

“No actually. Holiday with Jo.”
Blank pause, eyes widening, then,
“God. America. Why?”

Hmm. The mild sledge. Normally I’d shrug this off as such but it was the sixth time in a month I’d gotten the ironic eye roll, the twitching head, the sudden indrawn breath.. for mentioning I was going to the U.S.

just for the hell of it..

with no plan to actually play music.

So here’s the thing.

Is there actually something wrong with going to the United States of America for a holiday?

Empirically speaking?

I mean, it’s not like I haven’t been there before, screamed myself hoarse in college bars, got wrecked, conquerin’ in my dreams, chasing the carrot. In a band with a shot.

Done that.

but right now there seemed to be a conundrum emerging:

It’s ok to work there apparently. It’s still pretty damned cool according to the rock cognicenti, regardless of whatever else the empire may be up to in the Strait of Hormuz.. or roiling in the fall out of pussy gate.

But to go there and just look at stuff and maybe even talk to people? Like humans? Some of whom may well have voted for the man baby?

I mean you’re bound to run into one or two. So what are you going to say, given you’ve got to buy food and shit?

Could be ‘problematic’, to coin an utterly useless and hideously overused term.

But it’s the judgemental tone that niggles. And it’s hardly the first time.. I’ve been in this game for a while. You get tuned to it. But then sometimes, you have to ask yourself:

To react or not?

The first stone. There are many willing to throw it.

Are you good? Or are you bad? You played where? You’re actually going to wear that shirt tonight? On stage? OMG. Runners? You’re wearing runners? You live where? What?

What are you? A monster?

So I bit the bullet. And that’s ok. Sometimes you’ve gotta react. In a nice way of course, remembering where we were.

A green room in Northcote.

“So, what’s actually wrong with going to America?”

“Aaa..It’s full of Americans.”

Good one!

And there it was. I’d discovered something:

People were the problem.

And yes. It has to be said. They can get in the way. Right? Just when you’ve whipped out your Iphone for that a stellar sunset of the Golden Gate, some goddamned American steps into the frame. Who happens to be homeless and needs a bit of cash.

I mean you wouldn’t dream about it would you?

Given how prone I am to be critical of my own country, not necessarily for my own good either,

irony beckoned.

So I slipped in the old chestnut. The ‘point of comparison’.

“Ahh so.. would that be a bit like if you were a European tourist telling your mate you were going to Australia for a holiday. And your mate gasps in mock horror ‘cos after all,

“Australia is ‘full of Australians’?”

Or words to that effect..

True enough. The point being, you’d be surrounded by them wouldn’t you? In their thongs. Of both kinds. Wallowing on beaches apparently. Ignorant. Slothful.

Later, when I got stuck on the Westgate, with time to reflect, the irony grew richer.

I rehearsed just in case it came up again..

“So, what if you were to say to me

‘How about we meet for coffee’?”
“Cool. Where?”
“I know a little place in Northcote.”
“Really?” Says me, frowning at the prospect..
So you say, “What’s wrong with Northcote?”
And I say, “Ah well, It’s full of people who..


You’d think I was bit of a tool right? With good reason!

Ah yes my darling daughter. There are monsters in this world. And who knows, as we quietly walk the earth?

We may even find them.