M I K E R U D D B I L L P U T T . C O MM M I K E R U D D B I L L P U T T . C O MM M I K E R U D D B I L L P U T T . C O MM M I K E R U D D
Mike's Pith & Wind (cont.)
..singing, rhythmic banging on tables and spontaneous dancing. Plus a lot of drinking of course, but drinking with a point – they do make their own wine after all and this party was a celebrating of the end of grape harvesting. There was a unity of purpose and shared background, something totally absent in the few parties I’ve been to over a lot of years, which simply reinforce the sense of being an outsider, a feeling which I’m sure is shared by a lot of people arriving in any new country. Anyhow, I can highly recommend Back to Burgundy as being well worth seeing.
Maria and I finally finished watching the TV series House of Cards courtesy of Netflix a couple of weeks ago. There was quite a bit of HOC bingeing going on as we had a few seasons to catch up on, but also because we were engaged by the quality of the acting and the writing and were enjoying the show. A lot. But, at the same time there was a nagging uneasiness. Should we be even watching, let alone enjoying the series, given the revelations about the actor playing its lead protagonist, Francis Underwood, (Francis Urquhart in the British original) the slightly-creepy-even-before-we-found-out, Kevin Spacey?
In case you didn’t know, the American series was based on a ‘90s’ British original of the same name, starring Ian Richardson, but the American series has gone way beyond where the British series ended after just four episodes and subsequently into realms that stretch one’s credulity way past breaking point. It’s another parable if you like about power corrupting, but done, like the original, with considerable style and panache.
These days the revisionists are loose and hitherto respected careers are being reassessed in the light of sexual proclivities and drug-taking etc. Leaving aside rock musicians, where does this all end? It was deemed OK by many when Rolf Harris was named and shamed and his oeuvre was disappeared from the Queen’s collection and a host of Australian galleries, because he was already seen by many as a national embarrassment. Songs like Two Little Boys were cheerfully reinterpreted as salacious, although I don’t recall any alleged incidents involving Rolf and young boys.
In reality most of Rolf’s output is kitschy at worst, but always affectionate and introduced a lot of people outside of Australia (albeit mostly in the British Commonwealth) to Australian culture, however shallowly.
I’m not denying there were crimes committed under the cover of celebrity by Rolf and Bill Cosby et al, but aren’t the people who didn’t call it at the time just as guilty? It beggars belief that a friend of Rolf’s didn’t take him aside and advise him of the baseness of his behaviour and that he needed to change his ways. And yes, it seems that his behaviour was well known to more than just his victims.
It has to be noted that times and values have changed. People generally, the victims of crimes of celebrity and people in-the-know, were much less likely to be judgmental and, anyway, society was much more rigidly stratified back then, with certain professions protected by a guild-like code of secrecy.
Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that inevitably some universally respected artists are going to get caught up in all of this and their contributions expunged from literary, musical and artistic history. It used to be that people’s behaviour in private was their own business. I can’t help but think the public’s so-called right to know is being led by its prurient nose and we might all end up the poorer for it.

On Sunday I was shocked to discover a text on my phone from the previous day informing me that Jenny Klepfisz had died. I first met Jenny when she and a couple of her daughters comprised the entire audience at one of Mike & Bill’s afternoon gigs at what was then the Universal Café in Hawthorn, opposite what was then the Swinburne TAFE, just up the road from what was then Real Guitars’ home. I could go on with the ‘what was then’ list, but you’ll gather that this was a while ago, late last century in fact.
Jenny was at a bit of a loose end at the time and out of the blue offered to manage us – I think she even surprised herself. As we were drifting aimlessly, I happily agreed. She was totally inexperienced, but she had oodles of the requisite ingredient to be successful in the music business, i.e. enthusiasm, and for the next decade she was instrumental in keeping the reformed Spectrum band on the road (Bill and I had been off the road for nearly ten years at that stage and were just getting back into playing live again as a duo). Jenny kept us in regular work as well as scoring some exceptional coups, including a visit to my home town of Christchurch and even an unsolicited trip to San Francisco and environs in early 2000. To supplement my typically meagre earnings I got some work proof-reading for her husband Allan’s company qtrax and was flown to Singapore and Hong Kong to help spruik the project.
Inevitably I suppose, Jenny’s enthusiasm waned, the partnership dissolved and we drifted apart. I’d not heard anything from or about her for a year or so, so I was shocked and saddened to hear of her passing the other day from her eldest daughter, Tali.
There is an amusing story. Jenny told me about an encounter that revolved around her married name, Klepfisz, which I believe is Polish in origin and sometimes caused some confusion. One day there was a knock at the door and she opened it to find a young man holding a box and musing over the label. ‘I’ve got a parcel here for Jenny Klep.. Klep..’
Sensing the young bloke was struggling over the last syllable, Jenny interpolated ‘fish’, at which the hapless youngster said, ‘So the Klep is silent then?’
The Klep is now indeed silent. Anybody who knew her and experienced her joyous enthusiasm was the better for it. Vale Jenny Klepfisz.
M I K E R U D D B I L L P U T T . C O MM M I K E R U D D B I L L P U T T . C O MM M I K E R U D D B I L L P U T T . C O MM M I K E R U D D