Two guys, a girl and a Toyota Hi Ace Van

On Sunday the 30th of January 2011 I had the pleasure of being in the company of musical juggernaut Amanda Palmer and tour manager extraordinaire Eric Sussman. Two of the most real and inspiring people that I have ever met.
Let me start at the beginning, the point at which all good stories take flight.

Just under two weeks ago I had the honour of meeting my hero, Neil Gaiman, in Hobart. After speaking with Mr Gaiman I extended my services, in no particular capacity, should my assistance be needed Sydney. In the immortal words of Hoggle I stated "should you need us..."

Neil Gaiman just so happens to be recently married to Ms Amanda Palmer and her current tour is being managed by the handsome and worldly Eric Sussman. In short, I was taken up on my offer for a lift from Sydney to Newcastle. This in itself took a certain amount of planning on my behalf. I had to make sure that: 
a) I could borrow my father's Toyota HiAce van [check] 
b) I had enough gold coins down the back of the couch to pay for petrol [check]
and c) I had enough good music to keep these music folk from beating down on me within the first 10km [check... I think]

So away we went, meeting at Potts Point before loading the glorified fridge on wheels. I first met Eric, a handsome young chap he was stylish but in a nonchalant manner. Well worn brown boots and a grey buttoned short, open, exposing his tattooed chest. A moment later Ms Palmer herself sauntered forward, looking like a glamorous Drill Sergeant dressed in khaki and black with drawn on Celtic calligraphy eyebrows. 

She looked me up and down for a moment with her green peepers. Slightly intimidated, I felt as though I was being sized up. "Who is this devilishly dashing rogue and why the hell did he offer to drive us three hours north?" I'm quite sure that's what she was thinking.

"Amanda, this is Ryan." Eric gestured. Amanda offered her hand.
"And you're Amanda" I finished. Her grip was tighter than I expected, it's firmness belied her femininity.
"Is this your usual ride?" She asked, pointing at the rolling washer/dryer. 
"Actually no, this is my Dad's" I replied. Realising that as a 29 year old man I had just reverted to being a 16 year old boy, driving my Dad's car and ferrying mates up the coast. Road trip.

We jumped in the car and started chatting about everything and nothing all at once. Although almost immediately I was alerted to some very important business that Amanda had to attend to. I had to take them to my apartment straight away in order to use my wireless internet. This most important of important business was the YouTube viewing of Avril Lavigne's new music video "What the hull?". 
Topic of Conversation Breakdown
We arrived out the front of my unit where I had to play bad host. I had to deny entry to my unit, the mess that it was, even for a pee stop.

"I don't care about mess, I'd actually prefer it" she said.

I had to stand firm. I couldn't let Amanda and Eric come into my cat hair and dirty clothes covered unit! In hindsight, maybe I should have cleaned up the night before just as a contingency plan.

I ran upstairs to get my laptop and wireless internet so that the "urgent business" could be conducted from the rear of the van. When back at the van we booted up and entered "Avril Lavigne What the Hell" in the search field. We couldn't possibly proceed until we viewed the film clip. After watching the four minute clip full of product placement and Avril flaunting her pre-pubescent boys body we hit the road. Amanda was honestly delirious with joy, throwing high fives stating "Completely worth stopping".

We continued along the freeway talking about life, love and my dislike for shorts. It's strange but both Eric and Amanda actually seemed to care about me and my life story. We started basically from birth and wound up at present day constantly prodded by Amanda's "and then what?".

We stopped at a truckstop mid way for liquids and sustenance. Eric bought a bottle of water and a milk chocolate Aero bar. A piece of knowledge for those interested, Eric is very fond of Aero bars. A chocolate that you can only get in Canada, the UK and Australia. Amanda bought herself a box of decaying emerald orbs which were purported to be grapes and a bottle of lime flavoured Pump. Why is this important? It's not really, but what is?

We continued on, talking books, music and movies. We also talked about my wife and I. My best friend, my most understanding and beautiful muse. I think I only mentioned her actual name once yet at the end of our trip Eric referred to her, by name, offering to catch up for a beer on the return trip.

We arrived at the Great Northern Hotel in Newcastle. A great double story building with art deco highlights and tiled walls. The exterior of the premises was emblazoned with posters promoting Amanda Palmers impending gig, sadly with a glaringly obvious spelling mistake in "The Dresdon Dolls" [sic]. We walked past the stage, tiny in comparison to the Sydney Opera House, through the pub and to the "Staff Only" room. Confronted by two flights of stairs I balanced a large purple suitcase on my head and carried it up to the once splendid dressing room. This ballroom cum dressing room looked like it had once been beautiful before it started having alleyway sex with older male ballrooms to pay for it's heroin addiction. Although covered in exposed floorboards and pigeon poo, Amanda was instantly enamoured with the crack whore ballroom "I'm going to put my makeup on at that dresser, even with all the shit" Amanda told Eric.

Crackwhore Ballroom by Eric
It was at this time that I had to split. Duty called an I had to leave, begrudgingly.

"Well, have a great time tonight. This was real." I said.
"So you drove us up here and you can't even stay for the show?" Amanda questioned.
"Seriously?" asked Eric.
Yeah, but it was worth it" I gushed.
"Totally, best ever!" Amanda said before giving me a big hug in my sweaty, stinking mess of a state.
"It was lovely to meet you both, if you need anything on the return trip..." I said, extending a hand to handsome Eric.
"I'm sure we will, we'll definitely see you on the way back." Eric said as we shook.

This was a rather bittersweet moment. As crazy as it sounds, I actually felt as though I had made two new friends in the past three hours. Some very real and all too interesting friends. Although I'm almost certain that I am just another person that was graced with their presence in a constant whirlwind of touring. One can only hope that I was able to make as much of an impact on them as they did on me.

I walked downstairs, past the itty bitty stage that would soon be graced by Ms Palmer herself, and that is where my story ends.

Well, almost. On my way out I grabbed a black permanent marker from behind the bar and fixed the spelling on each of the posters, giving The Dresden Dolls the appreciation that they deserved. It was the least I could do.


  1. I did wonder who fixed those posters. You missed a wonderful show, thanks for your part in making it possible!

  2. You are composed of win good sir!

  3. So jealous.

    You're a good writer--thank you for sharing this! I'm sure all the other Amanda Palmer fans out there will appreciate this, too. If we compile the abundance of info about her from the internet, we can at least convincingly pretend we know her too, right?

  4. Meanwhile: I had to do it! I had one gentleman come up to me and ask whether I should be doing it to which I replied "It's what Amanda would have wanted". I know for a fact that both Ms Palmer and Mr Sussman had other travel options although for some strange reason they chose to jump in with me. I'd like to think that it was due to my natural animal magnetism, but then again, I'm a dullard.

    Anonymous: I sure am, shit just keeps falling into place with me at the moment. As a side note, I am also made of 10% red wine and 16% English Breakfast Tea.

    Caley: Firstly, thank you so much for your kind words. They mean more than you realise. All I can say for certain is that they were incredibly beautiful and charismatic people. I honestly wish that everybody had the chance to drink in the aura of these gems.

    I just want to make sure that this isn't misconstrued as an article on Amanda Palmer. This is just as much centred around Sir Eric as well. He was such a lovely chap, and the whole reason that this little experience took place.

  5. You write well, sir.

    The artists that make up the crazy never-ending party amanda and eric are part of, prefer people in their lives.


    Amanda blogged a while ago, that she shared 10% of herself in her blog. IMHO, it's more than that. A lot more. You add in her interviews and blogs like this, and you do come closer to knowing her.

  6. Thanks for sharing your story, I arrived here via a link in Amanda's blog updates I get e-mailed. I am a member of Couchsurfing and often host people who are travelling. I meet lots of great people who I can really connect with and have great conversations with in just a day or few. It's often the people you meet and not how long you've known them. I'm sure Amanda and Eric had a great time with you in the van :)

  7. Eric should know that he can get Aero Bars at the World Market import stores. I'm partial to the mint ones.

    Also *squee!*

  8. Great tip Denise! My wife loves mint chocolate of any type.

    Whenever we go to a fancy pants eating establishment I have to save my after dinner mint for her. I more than happily oblige.

    My new Denise Washburn inspired slogan "The Geek of Oz, Connecting People"

    It's much better than my old one "No it's not porn but please give us a chance!"

  9. Interesting entry. It seems that Toyota Vans are subject for popular culture.
    bad credit car loans


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