Friday, December 22, 2006
Thursday, December 21, 2006
At some stage i will also need to learn how to handle a gun. But in the meanwhile i must find my sea legs.
Which in a strange way reminds me of the time i used to live with a one-armed and one-legged junkie in a rough shack in Hilton. Glen would get pretty absent-minded when he was on the smack. On any given morning he might walk into the kitchen where i'd be eating something like cornflakes with water (we didn't have much money) and he'd go "Where did i leave my arm?" and i would say, hanging on the door, or, on top of the fridge (when we had a fridge), or in the back of the Fairlane; depending. "Oh, thanks man," he'd mumble, and go strap the thing back on. It had a hook. After his right arm was rendered useless in a motorcycle crash, he elected to get it cut off in order to use the hook. Glen never had quite so much trouble finding his legs; they were always either attached to him or next to wherever he nodded off, because he needed them both to walk there, i guess. The arm, however, got about a bit. Both these hollow prostheses were frequently employed for shoplifting purposes.
But i digress. Preparations need to be made for the upcoming treasure-hunting documentary. Simply losing one's teeth and getting tattooed is insufficient, even with bandanna and eye-shadow. Basic gun-handling is required, but the sea legs must come first. Must be able to stand firm on a rolling deck while firing clip after clip from the automatic. So how to go about finding my sea legs? But of course! "Let's go sailing!" i suddenly shout to Mayhem. She looks startled. "Can you sail?" she asks. "Can i sail!?" i ask in mock incredulity. "Ha!" After donning our Sunday best, Mayhem and i hit the beaches, grab a sailing craft, and prepare for launch. Mayhem clambers onto the canvas deck while i push off.
"Whatcha doing mister?" A twelve-year old boy has waded out and grabbed hold of the craft. He pulls it back around into the wind. "You gotta point it into the wind or it will just take off," the little brat is telling me. Well, der fred, i'm thinking. I want it to take off. "And that boom can swing around and hit you in the head. You sure you know what you're doing, mister?"
Hmm. Apart from reading Moby Dick, being in possession of a recipe for seafood chowder, and having wet legs, i have no sailing qualifications. Mayhem has flattened herself to the deck and is regarding me closely, her saucered eyes filled with doubt and fear. "Pah!" i spit. "I was belaying the golliwobblers when you was a light in your father's eye!" I kick off and clamber up along one of the twin bows, and as the cat swings, i grab the tiller and rope. I bring on the sheet and head for the Narrows, sailing about four points from the wind. I check the sail for any tell-tale luffing, and run my eyes over the jam cleats. "Woo hoo!" cries Mayhem, lying prone on the deck. "Here we go!" The spray flies. I taste salt in the corners of my mouth. Probably all those potato chips i had earlier, i think. Oh, yeah: i forgot about all that beer ...
Before we hit the ferry run i go about. "Watch your head on the boom," i call, and realise Mayhem is still glued to the deck. "Not getting up," she says. "I don't trust that thing." She points at the boom. Ah, she's been hornswaggled and pugwashed by that interfering know-it-all twelve-year-old swabbie. I try to reassure her. "No first mate of mine is going to be scuppered by a sail, not while i'm master of this ship!" I slap the gunwale with a salt-encrusted hand. And swerve violently to avoid a channel marker.
"Art Director, are you sure you know what you're doing?" asks Mayhem, quite understandably. She looks across the water to some other sailors. "Because everyone else is wearing life jackets." I emit a hearty laugh, and spit sideways into the wind. "Pah! I've sailed from Pitcairn Island to Rock Harbour by dead reckoning - in the roughest seas known to man!" i say, quoting Theroux as i clamber over her to hand her the rope. "Just me against the elements, with the waves threatening to pitch-pole my frail craft! Now eyes to the fore and man the tiller! Heave her to starboard! No, the other way. That's it. You're sailing!" Mayhem laughs insanely, and pulls tightly on the rope, knuckles showing white. "Aye, it's rough out there and you can hardly see the bowsprit before your eyes! Aye, and the wind's shifting too. But never mind, Mr Christian! Give him twenty lashes - that'll take the strut out of him!" I take my literary leanings to a patch of deck near the pointy ends. Mayhem, as she sails towards the South Perth skyline, is still lying completely prone on her back. She does conduct herself extremely well from the horizontal. "It seems they will give these hire boats to anyone," she observes, staring up at the scudding clouds. "Like, there's no sanity test or anything."
I notice there are a couple of cats way over by the Barrack Street jetty, and the old sea salt from the hire shop is roaring toward them in an aluminium dingy. Looks like they've been blown over there under sail and don't know how to turn around. I point them out to Mayhem. We are beginning to feel more amphibious. Mayhem is even coerced into a more upright position, and we perform a pretty satisfying gybe. Ah, nothing like a nice gybe. We break out the camera and celebrate the fact that no-one and nothing is yet Lost Overboard.
South China Seas? Pirates? Sunken cargoes? Bring them all on, i say! Ha ha! Aye, my sea legs is back now, Cap'n.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
The mobile rings. It's four in the morning and it's Mayhem. She is suffering a slight anxiety attack. "Did i behave inappropriately last night at the Film and TV party?" she asks. No, no, of course not. You were perfectly polite. And your etiquette was impeccable.
Apart from eating her barbecued dinner from the end of the caterer's carving knife, telling everyone she met - including her former university lecturers - that they should take dmt, and trying to smuggle her way on board a pirate ship, Mayhem was quite a civilised consort. "Oh God, i think i invited all my former lecturers over to my place to smoke dmt," she says. Well, yes, that you did. "And most of them said they would come! What am i going to do?" she asks. I don't know, Mayhem. What are you going to do? "I guess when one turns up at my front door i'll just call the police and say i have a prowler," she says. Yes, i agree, that would be the most sensible course of action.
We run into the filmmaker Nathan Jones and his friends Donna and Kate. Nathan is preparing to shoot a documentary on the modern-day treasure hunter Captain Mike Hatcher. In the mid 80s Captain Hatcher found the fabled Nanking Cargo, lying at the bottom of the South China Sea on a merchant vessel which sank around 1750. The cargo of Chinese porcelain fetched around ten million pounds at auction. The Captain is readying a vessel in Melbourne, to venture forth once more upon the South China Seas, in search of more booty. A ninety metre vessel, equipped with a dive crew, gun licenses, helicopters and a team of lawyers. I have been busily preparing to shoot stills for this documentary by losing some of my front teeth and getting tattooed.
I introduce Nathan to Mayhem, to whom he takes an instant liking, and we raise our glasses to the Pirates and adventure on the high seas. Mayhem is busily scheming ways to stow away on board the pirate ship. "What do you think i could do, Art Director?" she asks. "Does the Captain have a parrot? After all, i am a veterinary nurse specialising in birds. What if his parrot was to get seasick?" Ginger, i reply. Everyone knows you would give it ginger. No, your role would have to be that of Muse. And Wardrobe. We drink to this. "Have you ever tried dmt?" Mayhem asks Nathan. Here we go again, i'm thinking.
I see my friend Sebstian's crazy French chick from the Reunion Island, Lucile Wiegel, who's film recently received the Best Script award at the Bondi Film Festival. The short film that Lucile directed is called "Touched". A genre film, it belongs to a new genre which i have dubbed "quadraplegic pornography." I congratulate Lucile with the most inappropriate hug i can muster. But the free wine is running out of the bottle fast. And there's nothing like networking when you've left all your business cards at home and are coming down off mind-altering substances. We opt to we leave before we do too much damage to the Film and TV Institute's reputation, gunning back down the coast in the 666 Merc. Next time i hear from Lucile she will be in Amsterdam.
Friday, December 15, 2006
As a serious writer, i do whatever it takes to bring the avid reader a story. Even take drugs. Yes, i place my body on the line and roll up my sleeves. And, by crikey, you have no idea what kind of laundering costs are involved in wearing your heart on your sleeve. But for wannabe writers who think they can empurple their prose by taking drugs, a word of warning: never, never, ever settle for inferior quality (and yes, of course i'm talking about the prose).
But trying to write on powerful mind-altering chemicals kind of defeats the purpose. Or rather, the act of writing vainly tries to create a purpose within a cosmic void wherein no purpose can exist. One of the litany of problems with people is that we think too much, we read too much, we write too much – we exist too much at one remove from the world. We should all take time out to read the self-help book "People Who Read Too Much".
Anyway i've taken a few drugs in my time. But am i not an experiential scientist? Shouldn't i employ this large, blood filled organ to probe as deeply as possible into life's little mysteries? After all, what's a brain for? But absolutely nothing did, nothing would, and nothing ever could prepare me for my experience with what Mayhem has dubbed the Fruit of the Wattle. I've had lsd before, magic mushrooms, the worm at the bottom of the tequila bottle, you know, it's all part of the rich fruitcake of experience that make us what we are today. So when my muse proffers a crackpipe full of dmt, and lights it up, i think ok, here we go ... done this all before. Smile and look interested. Just another head trip.
Wrong. I am not even going to try to describe it.
Oh, ok then, i will. So i'm thinking: i'm going to fucking die. I am going to fucking die. No-one can survive this total body seizure. My head is splitting, my teeth are falling out, my watch looms like a relentless hybrid organic/mechanical threat strapped to me like a bomb, i simply can't breathe, i have become a slowly imploding bomb, my head is like totally oww! and i'm clutching it saying oh my god oh my god i'm going to die oh fuck oh fuck and i'm thinking well there's no coming back from this one and Mayhem is in professional nurse mode saying just let it go, let it go, go with it, don't fight it, like some paramedic of the paranormal. Don't fight it? It's trying to kill me! But i have no option; it seems either i place my trust in my muse, in this overwhelmingly brutal yet beautiful force, or my neurons are squid rings. So i relax and allow myself to be killed. That part of me which Freud called the ego, which barely clings to a rapidly unravelling thread of sensibility. Then my self – my ego, my (self) consciousness – suddenly evaporates, and with it, the headache. CAN NOT SPEAK> UNABLE TO MOVE> should say something, but i can't because there is no i. Only the ceiling. My God, is all that only a ceiling? There is the bed, the door, the Mayhem: all in beautiful perfect fractal unity. The crushingly reassuring feeling that all is incomprehensibly huge and mind-blowingly perfect. And the muse says, Relax, art director – have i ever given you anything that killed you before? And laughs.
Instead of my mind there is now just the purest, clearest, un-fucking unbelievableist perfection. There can be no buts in perfection. My nurse, ever professional, is correct. You can only embrace it. And be held in its clear infinite wonder. I am completely at one with the here and now yet it has taken only a moment. Because it can only take a moment to be at one with the here and now. I look at Mayhem and she is become a momentary goddess. A pure unadulterated yet evanescent essence. Serene, smiling, striking, beautiful, Egyptian. Her eyes large, round, intense Wandjina. Time seeps in around the edges and i find we are laughing, and somehow i'm laughing into a phone i don't remember picking up but vaguely recall its frozen rings somewhere out there like Saturn, and i'm trying to remember how to talk, with a bewildered Safari Bob on the other end of the line listening to me ranting it's like a gift. A gift.
Yeah? So where's my gift? he asks in his forthright manner. He called me earlier asking for Neil's number, and got a prompt and efficient reply. Called ten minutes later to find some unknown species of nut.
Dmt. Like the truth, it's out there. Allegedly not physically addictive, except in the sense that having a whole lot of fun is physically addictive. And as you know, having fun is half the fun. Dmt is an opening on the perfect underlying geometry and beauty of the universe, (and yes i know what that sounds like, but hey, it's not easy reporting on this) a kaleidoscope that deletes the mundane while bringing forth only the crystalline and the pure. The great cosmic joke in all its ludic, lucid, shifting, sliding, smiling complexity. To look at the world and not know if your eyes are open or shut because you've never seen anything like this before except perhaps just before dreamsleep, those reddish brown patterns that suddenly open wide, repeat and recur while you fall dizzying through the depths of the infinite. Kind of like that. Only with the intensity knob cranked up to eleven billion.
Professor Alan Watts has described the effects of DMT as: "Load universe into cannon. Aim at brain. Fire."
This has been the Art Director, reporting from beyond the edge. Yes, it's a dirty job and no-one has to do it. Meanwhile Mayhem has prepared herself like a hot dish, and we are heading out to the Film and TV Institute to party ...
Monday, December 11, 2006
As you may have noticed, Wandjina spirits have been appearing all around Perth, in spraypaint form. Particularly, it seems, in the back laneways and vacant lots around my stomping ground of Highgate. It just goes to show what a boring place Perth must be, if graffiti can make it not only into the electricnerve, but also into the (slightly more) mainstream news media. Stories about Wandjina graffiti have appeared on ABC radio, Channel 10 (a report by upcoming media star Narelda Jacobs - you go girl) and SBS. Local Noongar elders have said they find the graffiti culturally inappropriate. Not up to me to comment on aboriginal spirituality, let alone appropriateness. Appropriate behaviour is not my forte. But i will comment anyway. I quite like the graffiti pieces as i think they raise both eyebrows and awareness. Awareness about the system of laws, beliefs and spirituality that prevailed in this country long before the appearance of the wadjela.
I'm such a big fan of cultural inappropriation that i am seeking permission from the custodians to have a traditional Wandjina image tattooed onto me. "What? But you're not aboriginal!" is the usual response to this suggestion. Hmm. And all the people with japanese symbols tattooed on them are japanese, right? I like the icon, both as a design, and for what it represents. If you don't like the idea, tough titties. Or use the comment button; that's what it's for. My research on Wandjina spirits has seen them variously described as the spirits who control the rains and pattern of seasons in the Kimberley, and as Lawmakers (perhaps the two concepts are intertwined?) - so such a tattoo would also represent my concern over global warming (god how i hate that term - it sounds so warm and friendly - how about global overheating), my unwavering respect for the Law, and my ironic sense of humour. Yes, it's all about me.
But that's enough about me. Let's talk about you. What do you think about me? (Again, see the comments button.)
Tattoo guru Dave Lllewellyn from Living Art was going to tattoo this design onto my hide, until we had a slight misunderstanding, and he suggested that now, instead of tattooing me, he would come around and punch my lights out. Perhaps this misunderstanding over his girlfriend arose because i was not treating the Wandjina image with enough respect. Bad things happen to those who do not treat this image with enough respect. Bad things can also happen to those who do not treat a tattooist's girlfriend with enough respect.
Donny Woolagoodja, Chairman of the Mowanjum Artists Spirit of the Wandjina Aboriginal Corporation, has been quoted as saying that the misuse of the Wandjina could be "spiritually harmful" to the person or persons involved. Donny and the artists paint Wandjinas, and he believes the spirit of the Wandjina can benefit wadjelas, or whitefellas: "If white people have a Wandjina, that Wandjina can bring them a good life if they treat it with respect. They should look at it a lot. The spirit is in there." Well, avid readers, you know me. I am nothing if not respectful. I have written to Donny to ask his permission to use one of his artworks as the basis for a tattoo. I await his response with bated breath. Meanwhile, i will continue the cataloguing of these urban cover versions of the Wandjina on http://www.flickr.com/groups/wandjina/.
Monday, December 04, 2006
We are on the road from York to Beverley when they really begin coming at us in force. They had been slowly building, soon after we emerged from the protection of John Forrest forest into great flat treeless plain that grows nothing much but salt, salt and that vast monoculture of wheat. Hereafter, on the drive ahead, we would plunge through sudden swarms of this plague, covering the road like patches of fog. Das and i could only contemplate the sheer meaninglessness of it all, as each individual locust met God in the form of a Zephyr travelling at around eighty miles per hour.
But then, aren't we humans just one more plague heading towards the giant Zephyr windscreen of our destruction?
My hangover is giving me a rather harsh view of the world. Would of course be better to view this landscape through the Rose Coloured Windscreen of Kim Salmon and the Surrealists. But we don't have that on Das's mp3 player. In the meanwhile we have Mr Tom Waits keeping us company. "1200 songs!" says Das with some relish, the Creative player hanging by its cable from the cigarette lighter. Ah, just like the iPod in my Madaz. Minds think alike, you know.
As soon as we get to Beverley, we see the first of the Vampires. In Perth we have a statue of John Forrest. In Beverley, there are two statues of Vampires. Das said he feels sorry for these poor 'planes, built during the Second World War but never used; they never had a real conflict to sink their teeth into. An Australian-made fighter jet of the "two tails are better than one" school of thought, the Vampire was built by de Havilland using bits of plywood and nails. In England, they have a Vampire Preservation Group. Goodness me. Break out the garlic. The Vampires, standing on their pedestals like proud statues in this quiet wheatbelt town, seem somehow appropriate, a symbol of a culture which sucks all the resources from the earth, draining it of its lifeblood. Wheat, oil, minerals – it's all part of the petrochemical industrial cycle.
I'm a vampire, babe,
from the earth
I'm a vampire, baby,
from the earth.
Well, I'm a vampire, babe,
twenty barrels worth.
I'm a black bat, babe,
your window pane
I'm a black bat, baby,
your window pane.
Well, I'm a black bat, babe,
I need my high octane.
- Neil Young "Vampire Blues"
On The Beach (1974)
The Zephyr, at least, runs on LPG. A balanced and blueprinted late model 250 Ford hooked up to an auto trans with a B&M shifter, it has enough get up and go to startle unsuspecting boy racers. But the combination of an unmodified exterior and Das's old man's hat means it does not attract the attention of the police. "You know, if i was a drug dealer," says Das, "I'd get myself a white Volvo, with a slight window tint, and a set of bowling whites. I'd wear the Bowling Club hat, and those big Cancer Society wrap around sunglasses. The cops would never pull you over to just check you out." Hmm, i think. But imagine turning up to buy a couple of keys of coke dressed in bowling whites, wearing the Bowls Club hat and those big plastic sunnies. At least nobody would fuck with you. Look at this guy, they'd think. Dressed in bowling whites. Must be a crazy motherfucker. Best not to fuck with him.
We visit the secondhand shop. Das finds a neat camera with a pop-up lens hood, complete with flash, and loaded with a roll of film, for two dollars fifty. I buy a pile of books – at a dollar a pop they are good stock for my upcoming Melburnian bookshop. The old woman shopkeeper is outside in the sun-baked yard, talking to a barrelful of water.
I was just talking to my frogs, she says.
I've got five of them.
I used to have about seventy at home, but now there's only a handful.
Yes, one year we were down to two males. I think something was eating the eggs –
Can i have my books please?
Back around through Clackline, under the parachutists and gliders. The Zephyr is running hot, so we stop and chip away a layer of locusts clogging the radiator. The running temperature drops almost twenty degrees.
Wheat Belt. Perhaps Wheat Bludgeoning is a more apt term, particularly from the point of view of the local fauna. It's a disgrace. The desertification of an already arid landscape, passed off as "farming". And the tighter the banks, the drought and the competitive global economy squeeze the farmers, the more ridiculous the demands they will place on an already overtaxed environment. Many will drive their farmlands into ruin before being driven off the farm, trying to gain an extra hectare of productive soil, or a higher yield by using more and more super-phosphates. Agribusiness is merely a branch of the petrochemical industry. The fertilizers are a byproduct of the oil refineries. The wheat is grown in vast fields that depend on mechanical harvesting, then it is distributed by the huge network of petrol- and diesel-consuming trucks and trains. It's a self-perpetuating myth, a vicious cycle of destruction. And now Bill Gates is trying to relaunch the Green Revolution of the 40s. What a misguided philanthropist the man is. The Green Revolution was simply the economic colonisation on the Third World. In order to receive aid, farmers were forced to adopt first-world agribusiness farming practices, to give up their traditional subsistence farming and begin cash cropping. Their farms taken over by big businesses, many were not even allowed to grow food for their own families.
Was subsistence farming really such a bad idea? Growing food for your family and the immediate community? Call me a hippy, i really couldn't give a rats. Now just try keeping them out of the wheat bins without chemicals.
Read about the Green Revolution here.
Well it is I, Miss Mayhem. Art Director mentioned to me on various occasions that readers have been curious as to who I am and if I actually exist. Well hello and yes I do. The Art Director has just left the building ('Hotel D'pravity' as my housemate Dave and I have affectionately titled our abode) armed with some pornography that he aquired whilst assisting me in 'cleaning' up the joint ready for our much anticipated and regularly delayed rent inspection. It was touch and go for a while there. I woke up and was in dire need of some form of divine inspiration. Sifting through the remains of past tenants and making the place hospitable to landlords isn't really the sort of sport which anyone likes to play on a hot Sunday in December when you have a hangover. Fortunately Art Director had the motivation: I myself was sceptical at first. Recently I was told that gin is the housewife's ruin, so I thought we were definitely chartering new forms of ruination by consuming ecstasy for such an occasion... but boy was I wrong. Girls, really, give it a shot. It seems a little crazy at first, but all things considered I couldn't have enjoyed the process of sifting, polishing and organising more. Very pleasurable. What a grand new realisation. Ba bye Aunty Val, there's a new little helper in the house. Well enough of that, I have nothing to hide, I'm an open book with a creative, illogical mind and the body of a 20 year old ... which incidently neither the landlords nor the police are ever likely to find ...
I've been Out of Range for a spell. It's been an interesting ride full of surprises: some good, some bad, and some just plain out there. So here I am, covered in bruises ... reality always gets you in the end. I was chatting to my housemate as to whether the bruises were a vitamin deficiency or lifestyle related (I've been haring around on boats searching the wilds for whales, etc...) when it suddenly it dawned on me. As an empath, and particularly psychically enhanced since my round with dmt a year ago, I'm actually feeling the pain of the world. What a relief, I almost thought it was time to ammend my reckless, wild ways. It's so reassuring to know it's not me nor my habits: it's just that the entire planet has gone to hell. The bruises are just a reminder that it's all that you can't see and we're all affected by it.
So, surrealism and sci-fi have been thrusting themselves upon me of late which is a savvy relief from the alternative reality which we all face ... reality. Life is but a dream. But whose dream is it? I saw a play the other night by a student from Murdoch Uni entitled, 'The Garden of Earthly Delights', then the following night I relished in watching 'A Scanner Darkly:' both explored very similar concepts. EVERYTHING IS NOT GOING TO BE OK. We are all in dark times, some of us are fortuitous enough to be surrounded by intermittent beauty. It's time to let the dreamers dream and let go of everything we previously thought was 'right.' Lateral thinking is what's needed. Enough of teaching lessons to sharks that happen to bite boys' legs off. Its time for all human creatures to "Accept the things they cannot change...The courage to change the things they can ... and the wisdom to know the difference." or else, like the boy who had his leg ripped out by its roots, none of us will have a leg to stand on!
Thanks A.D for keeping 'The Nerve' electrified, you truly rock ... and roll the words out with wild abandon and poetic inspiration. You're the sharpest knife in the drawer :) Mayhem Out.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
My morning caffeine pusher had neglected to post the day's astrology prophecy on his DeLonghi. This left my latte quivering like a strung out question mark.
But, being a Friday, there was that syrupy optimism that stops you stabbing people that throw “thank god its Friday” at you as if it were a boomerang they expect you to hurl back. To, me that phrase is nothing but a stick to impale such plebs upon.
Still, a friend of a friend had suggested early drinks at the Fuche Bar. I got a headstart on ‘early’ waiting for Safari Bob and Scorpio Gal to collect me.
Safari Bob arrives with the idea that it is okay to wear purple in public even though he is quite clearly NOT a Wiggle.
Fortunately, being the Pink Minx, I just happen to have a men’s XXL Pink shirt in which he immediately attracts Melkior the neighbourhood cat. It also proves that men in pink are guaranteed pussy galore.
With Scorpio Gal at the wheel and aperitif in hand we head to Fuche only to be met by a veritable Berlin Wall due to a lapsed liquor license. A hand scrawled sign invites us to hang in there till Wednesday when it’ll be business as usual.
It seems a long time to wait for a drink but at least we’d be front of the queue. We take refuge at the Melbourne where we are convinced we must go to the Bakery.
I like the Bakery. As a venue its come a long way. Here we stumble upon Paddo. He’s being ghosting me since we met at the local swingers jungle party. He was in camouflage, I was in a guerrilla suit. He seems sober but who am I to judge.
Turns out he and Safari Bob recently met up in Malaga. How quaint, I think to myself, how parochial. I imagine them drinking warm beer with whinging Poms on the tacky coast of Spain. Turns out Malaga is also an industrial suburb of Perth, just beyond Bum Fuck Egypt.
The only live act, Sir Apple, comes on somewhere around midnight by which stage the punters are desperate to enjoy themselves so they can pick up and move on.
We just move on to the Moon for nightcaps and nachos. As always, we are lulled into feeling welcome…until some pseudo boho eyes our table and we admit it's time for bedtime stories….autobiographical.
Before leaving, I glimpse my stars. It advises that Venus is in trine with Uranus. I’m glad I didn’t have the sushi.
[photo courtesy Safari Bob]
Monday, November 27, 2006
Stick it in and hope for the best. Nope; doesn't fit. Let's turn it around. Nope, doesn't fit that way either. Must have been the right way round the first time. Maybe i didn't line it up properly. I'll try again. Hmm. Maybe i should crane my neck down there and look inside the port ...
Big shout out to the designer of the USB.
U STUPID BASTARD.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
All that is behind me now. I've been seeing a GMG. A Good Muslim Girl, lives with her parents. People will say that dating a GMG is an excuse to beat myself up. Or off, even. Because a GMG is a tough nut to crack. Sort of the Macadamia of the dating world. A Brazilian: too easy. A GMG that lives at home with her parents? There's a challenge. But you know perseverance works wonders. And it's cheaper than Bollinger, or even Gucci pour homme. Sure, i have my natural charm, plus my good looks, but it's perseverance that always seems to work. Well, either that, or you get arrested for stalking.
So i have been persevering with the GMG, on and off, this nice Turkish girl, and, i don't mind telling you, quite enjoying the challenge. She has that certain i don't know what, that certain ... uncertainty. The French have a name for it. Janice Aqua. But the GMG told me straight, she doesn't fool around. She wants to get married. To whom, she doesn't know, but she knows what she wants. So never for a minute did i seriously imagine that the GMG would crack, change her mind, and decide to fool around.
So it's 12:35 in the morning and i'm at the Sin Absinthe Bar with the Donstar and Scorpion Girl, watching a fashion parade with more Gothik than Cologne Cathedral, marveling at the inventive piercings, make-up, fishnet stockings, lace parasols, zippers in the strangest places, high heel leather boots – and that's just the bouncers. Then i get the call. It's the GMG. She is all on her lonesome at her beachside villa, the one she used to rent out. She told me a few weeks back she couldn't wait to have it back. What am i doing now, right now? she asks. Where am I? She's 'had something', as she puts it. She is high as a kite. Her Highness wants me to come over. Right away. Well, i'm here with a couple of girls, i say. We were going to maybe catch up with Raoul and Safari Bob, at Geisha. Maybe swing bi, take a pill, get up to some mischief. Grab a pill, sure, she says breathlessly, then come over here. You can bring your friends too if you want.
Goodness gracious, i think, it's one extreme to the other with these young Turks. The Sin fashion parade is coming to its leather bound conclusion. I tell the Donstar about the GMG phone call over a couple of Moscow Mules. Do you want to go? she asks. My head says no. My heart says no. My mouth says don't know. I won't burden the Avid Reader with responses from other parts of my anatomy. The Donstar, always on her toes, swiftly divests the Lolly Girl of two of her finest gobstoppers, one red and the other green. She puts them behind her back, then proffers two clenched fists. Oh, no, it's Lolly Tarot. Red we go to Geisha, green you go see the Turk, she says. I choose. It's green. See you later, says the Donstar. Damn. I'm much better at rock, paper, scissors.
The quiet villa is set amongst a group of other quiet villas. It's, like, real quiet. The GMG comes out, and presses her fingers to her full red lips, her dark curls cascading around her face. Shh, she whispers, we have to be quiet. Then she's got this big grin on her face. She beckons, and we slip quietly into the villa. All the lights are on, and it's then i notice the GMG is dressed in a pair of trackydacks and a t-shirt, and is covered in a fine layer of sawdust. There is not a skerrick of furniture in the flat, other than the washing machine. My goodness, i think. She has gone to a lot of trouble to fulfill this particular fantasy. Getting rid of all the furniture! It's obvious! After some frantic and heated foreplay, she wants me to strip off her dirty clothes, throw them in the wash, throw her on top of the machine, spreadeagled, switch it on, and ...
Ah, no. Actually, the GMG wants me to help her renovate her flat. At one thirty on a Saturday night. Sunday morning, even.
After i leave, i text Safari Bob.
"I feel used and dirty."
"Did you get laid?" he asks, in his inimitably forthright style. I send the rueful reply.
"I'm covered in dust. The only screwing i did was when i fixed her cupboard door. It was unhinged and in desperate need of attention. I know how it feels."
Meanwhile, Niki, Safari Bob, Raoul, Donstar and sundries are having whales of times at Geisha Bar. Killer, blue, humpback, sperm – you name it, and they're having it.
Later, i text the Donstar.
"Where you at? What you doing? I feel like bothering you."
"You are bothering me. I'm trying to give head here."
She's listening to records with Safari Bob, so she's probably only half joking. I feel like a farmer with a double barrelled shotgun, who's accidentally shot himself in both feet.
I spend most of Sunday feeling, with some justification, sorry for myself. Poor Art Director. Oh well, tomorrow i see Mayhem, and she always makes me feel better. For some unfathomable reason the poor miscreant believes in me. We will start cutting our hyperstylised doco, The Maestro, on Monday. We have to learn the Final Cut Pro software from scratch.
Next time we'll make an Emo movie. One that cuts itself.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Blackstone. I remember the Magic Men. And Blackstone Morning University, with Dimity and Erin. I really should head back there on the way to Melbourne. Erin of Blackstone is up Geraldton visiting her friends and occasional home, and will be back at the Museum on Monday. So i volunteer my services for this driving gig, at the first whiff of petrol money.
I tap on the aluminium screen door of Holiday Apartments, Room 17. The door opens and one of the desert women appears. You ready? Let's go. There is a brief ruckus as they search for the door key. Then it's down four flights of concrete stairs, across Palmerston Street, and into the Madaz. The back seat belts never did seem to match up, as Mary, Margaret, Melissa and Katherine try to strap themselves in. The rustridden Madaz does not appear to inspire much confidence. Don't worry, i say reassuringly. I'm a good driver. At the first stop sign, some ten metres ahead, the Madaz lurches violently into the oncoming lane when i apply the brakes, and they screech loudly in protest. The brakes make a bit of noise too. Yeah, was going to pull that slave cylinder out today, i say. But it's probably good for another few k's. You know how much i paid for this car? One hundred dollars. I tried to knock him down to eighty, but he'd just put a new battery in it. Styled by Bertone of Italy, no less! He did the 60s Alfa Romeo. Look at the detail on those interior lights. So you're in good hands for this opshopping trip, right? Right. I know a bargain when i seize one ... oops! Can they park there?
I don't know how much English the women speak but since either nobody understands me anyway and if they do they bother listening, this does not really slow my verbal flak. Katherine, sitting up front in a mustard coloured cardigan, holding onto the dashboard, speaks English well. The others may or may not; they prefer to talk and laugh amongst themselves in Language. Well, good on them. We gotta get down to the one in Subi first, cos it shuts around eleven, i say to Katherine. She nods. So it's pedal to the metal i'm afraid. Yua, says Katherine, in that slow, mournful way. Although 'yua' means yes, coming from the desert people it always sounds like a lament; a sigh of resignation. Especially around me.
The urban coolite expression 'raiding the opshops' never rang more true than today. Blankets, doona covers, lamps, games, stereos, clothes, shoes, suitcases, bags, backpacks. But mainly clothes, picked out from the Subi to Freo opshop run. Save the Children of Subiaco. Good Sammys, Subi and Freo. St Vinnie's in Claremont. Cat Haven opshop, hidden in a shed around the back by the deathrow cats. Plus a Palmyra garage sale thrown in for good measure. We return to Holiday Apartments twice, the Madaz literally packed to the roof lining each time.
While the indigenous women are here doing a project at the WA Museum, they buy up big for their small community of Blackstone, which is south of the Giles Meteorological Station, in the Great Victoria Desert. It's a pretty cool part of the world for drying out, because it's a dry community: no alcohol, no cigarettes, no petrol. Also no heroin, no opium, no meth. No amyl nitrate, no nangs, no pot. No magic mushrooms, no cocaine, no dexies. No cane toads, no lsd, no gbh. No pcp, no rohypnol, no ether. Broadband? Yes.
Blackstone is the mental and spiritual birthplace of the electricnerve. There wasn't much else for me to do there. The blog name came out of Mayhem, meanwhiling in the wilds of North Perth, coming down off something, and stammering Louie that morning with "I feel like a bowl of electric nerves." And around that time, Mayhem and Art Director (yes, the girl's got more labels than a Dymo machine) began serving up the recipe we all know and love today.
I discover that the Donsta is bothering the Fremantlites, down at the Little Creatures Brewery. She wants to maybe catch up for a drink. The desert women don't drink, and it's not easy to convince them they should take a hike while i go see a friend. They just shake their heads. Wea, they say. No. But they express an interest in visiting the old round jail. It's funny, most whiteys call it "The Roundhouse." The women call it the jail. But the old jail is closed, and though i'd like to see the Donsta, i don't think it's worthwhile staging a break-in at the jail. Then she texts and says Native Expo is on at the Esplanade. Brilliant! I park and tell the ladies i will be back in a tick, and that they ought to go hang about at Native Expo. I don't know the political correctness of this move, but the words 'insensitive and stupid' come readily to mind. But it's hard being me. I've been working all day and i want a beer. And at least i didn't buy them the cute little picaninny doll i saw at the Subi opshop: I have some sense and sensibility.
Thus rationalised, i go for a beer with the Donsta and Simone. Donsta is silly as a kite with no tail. I suggest she should ought start writing for the 'nerve. "Mark, I don't write. I rant." Perfect: a ranting contrapuntist is just what the doctor ordered. Well, that, and a big bag of powder. "Why, are you baking?" she asks. "Or chafing?" We sit around drinking and matching wits. I've been living off mine for a long time now, which explains my poverty. My mobile rings, and it's the women. Donsta arranges to meet me up later at Sin to show me her Elvis impersonation. Well i better go round up the tribe and head home, i say.
I scramble back to the women. They stand sadly by the car. "Big fight there," says Katherine. Some scrap broke out amongst the Nyoongars, it seems. The women don't look too happy, so i bundle them into the car. Better frightened than unhappy, i think, and gun it through the carpark.
Monday, November 20, 2006
FEBRILE CONVERSASTION WITH EUCLID
MC: Hey Uke! Looky here. Got my hands on a Rolleiflex! It’s a German engineered, mechanical, medium format, twin lens reflex, 6x6 camera. Built in the 60s, this one. Guitar wizard Moriarty lent it to me. Belonged to his father. Let me get her out of this leather case. Isn’t she beautiful? The top flips up like this, then you focus at your waist like this. Cool, huh. The built in meter is selenium: that means no batteries. It's got the 80 millimetre Zeiss Planar 2.8 lens, top of the range. And it's square format!
EUCLID: Yes. An imperfect facsimile of the Ideal camera, which of course was invented by God.
MC: No, no, the first twin-lens reflex camera to use rollfilm was invented by this bloke Dr. Heidecke. His prototypes, although they used plates, were made as early as 1908.
EUCLID: God made one before that.
MC: Well, that's as may be, but the design of this Rolleiflex is based on Dr. Heidecke’s Heidoscop stereo camera.
EUCLID: He must have stole that patent off God.
EUCLID: I grant you, this is a good camera. Insofar as it is possible for a human craftsman to devise a good camera. It’s inventor must have had fixed in his mind the Ideal camera. Which was made by God.
MC: Look! It's written here under the lens: "Franke & Heidecke!" I don't know who this Frankie is –
MC: – but, genesis of this camera aside – the fact is, after seeing the world for 'cn years through a rectangle, i now must re-accustom my mental picture to fit the constraints of the square! See? It's got a big square frame, as opposed to the little rectangular frame of the 35 mm camera.
EUCLID: Mark, Mark, Mark, don’t you know a square is just a particular type of rectangle? In classical geometry, we define a square as a rectangle, with two adjacent sides of equal length.
MC: Oh. I didn’t know that. I thought a square was sort of different to a rectangle. So you mean it’s really the same thing? Well, how do you define a rectangle?
EUCLID: A rectangle is defined as a parallelogram which has one of its angles a right angle. So, you see, a square is rectangle too.
MC: But what’s a “parallelogram”?
EUCLID: A parallelogram is a four-sided figure in which the opposing sides are parallel. Look, haven’t you read Books I, II, VII and IX of the Elements?
MC: Well, no. I haven't seen any of them down the coffee shop. What do you mean, “parallel”?
EUCLID: The coffee shop! Mark, Mark, Mark, try to put stimulants out of your mind for just one minute while we deal with geometry. Pay heed to Plutarch, who said, “The function of geometry is to draw us away from the sensible and the perishable, to the intelligent and the eternal. For the contemplation of the eternal is the end of philosophy, just as the contemplation of the mysteries is the end of religion." By “end”, of course, Plutarch meant what is ultimately attainable. The intelligent and the eternal. Focus on that, while I explain parallel lines. No, you can’t have a biscuit. How shall I put it? Parallel lines are straight lines in the same plane which never meet, however far they go either way. You can keep these lines going forever, until an infinite number of cows come home, and they will never meet.
MC: The cows?
EUCLID: No. The lines.
MC: Okay, i think i get the concept of an infinite number of perishable cows. But what do you mean by a “plane”?
EUCLID: A plane is any surface which, with any two points being taken, the straight line between them lies wholly within that surface.
MC: I think i’m with you. But what do you mean by a straight line? Or a surface?
EUCLID: I think you are being deliberately recalcitrant. Obviously, the intersection of any two surfaces is a line. A straight line is simply one which lies evenly between its two points. A four-year-old could tell you this. Somebody bring me a four-year-old! The surface of a body is the boundary which separates it from the rest of space. Do you see?
EUCLID: Holy titty-fucking Christ.* Space! The final frontier! Don’t you watch Star Trek? God damn you!
EUCLID: Bah, that one’s easy. God is the Creator. The Christians say He created all things, the world and all the creatures within it, for the benefit of Mankind!
MC: He created all things for the benefit of Mankind?!
EUCLID: I just fucking said that.
MC: So how come fish aren’t boneless?
EUCLID: Mark Mark Mark. Why must you always drag the sublime into the gutter, and grovel about amongst the sensual and the perishable like some kind of frenzied fishmonger?
MC: Euclid, you’re a regular square. And a pedant to boot.
EUCLID: Just because I'm two-dimensional doesn't mean I'm a square. A pedant? Maybe. My colleague in the realm of the intelligent and the eternal, the inimitable Bertrand Russell, described a pedant as “one who prefers his statements to be true.”
EUCLID: Don't start. Yes, "true". That’s what he said. I just love Russell’s use of the word prefers, don’t you? “One who prefers his statements to be true.” Russell is just so – so – pedantic! So close to the Ideal philosopher.
MC: Fuck philosophy, i’ve got to get this Rolleiflex serviced. Can't you recommend someone?
EUCLID: Well, since God invented it, god should service it. I'd say take it to Max Dellaway, the camera repair god. But to quote Pliny, even as a god, he cannot make it that twice ten is not twenty, as such is the power of Nature. And in fact it is this power which we call God.
EUCLID: Mark, go see Max. Tell him Euclid sent you.
* "Holy titty-fucking Christ": Euclid is believed to have appropriated this expression from The Donsta (circa a.d. 2006).
Perusing this exhibition i see that Ballantine, who once operated under the nom de plume Arno Blax, has worked through the issues with aplomb. The catering consists primarily of large, 1.5 litre bottles of red wine. To hell with the cheese and crackers, let's drink. This is my kind of photographer. I select a large beer glass and ask the caterer to fill it to the brim, to avoid me bothering him unduly for a while.
The Diana is a plastic toy camera with an aesthetic all its own. It uses 120 roll film, but the image size is 4x4cm, rather than the 6x6cm image you get with a grown-up camera like a Hasselblad or a Rolleiflex. So you get 16 images on a roll instead of 12. Woo hoo. In the age of the digital and the "shotgun" method of photography, one can bang off 16 frames just to get one image. The technological advance which has had the greatest impact on the art of photography is that little trash can icon on the back of digital cameras. Which should, of course, be used much more often!
Safari Bob is here, as is Catherine, and the legendary Phil England of Terrace Photographers. Phil must have grown up with camera in hand in the sixties: he is very "Blow Up" once he gets Safari Bob's digital camera in hand. Darting this way and that, getting in close, legs spreadeagled, he strikes unsuspecting punters like lightning. You learn a lot seeing how other photographers work. When i get a camera in hand i look like one of the junkies nodding on the freo train. Huh? What am i doing again? Where am i? Mr England has more zest than a bagful of lemons. Where Mr England is like a 007 on speed, Mr Demolition, once he gets his camera back, is more from the Austen Powers school of photographic thought:
Tell me, Mr. Powers. Do you swing?
Mr. Powers: Are you kidding, baby? I put the "grrrr" in swinger, baby! Yeah!
Being both plastic and a toy, the Diana images are soft, with vignetting, light leaks - but therein lies its appeal: a random, snapshot aesthetic is enhanced by this lo fi apparatus. Visit lomography.com and check out the fanaticism. My personal favourite is the cheap fisheye camera. It's cute, with a 180 degree field of view.
All photographers are collectors, and all photographers love their toys.
There are moves afoot to charge professional photographers who wish to photograph parts of Paris. (I believe this is true for the beautiful French city as well as the vacuous skank). Clearly, one advantage of shooting Paris with a toy camera is that nobody is likely believe you are a professional, even if you wanted them to.
Ballantine describes the trials and tribulations of the process. "A toy like camera, with a plastic lens, that leaks light, unevenly exposes film, overlaps frames and produces softly focussed, hazy, whimsical and unintended images ..." he writes. "The colours of the flowers in the garden at Musee de Montmartre were intense. The geraniums were so red they seemed to pulse. They looked full of blood. In rue Lepic, where the owner's body was crucified on the windmill's sails, the borrowed Diana smashed.
"Norm's [photographer and lecturer Norm Leslie's] mint condition, hardly used, vintage, part of the history of photography, Kodak Diana seemed to float through the air like a piece of confetti. When it hit the cobblestones, it shattered. The lens wasn't damaged and the shutter worked, but a chunk of plastic had sheared from the top and part of the viewfinder had come unglued and rattled around inside. It was still possible to take pictures but when looking through the viewfinder the world was a complete blur. Rather than Diana the huntress, Norm's Diana Camera was reduced to the Cyclops whose one eye was put out by Odysseus.
"... Place Vendome and Place Concorde were just minutes apart on foot. Place Vendome was where Lady Di left the Ritz and crashed and Place Concorde was where Marie-Antoinette was guillotined. Paris can be rough on royalty ..."
- Kevin Ballantine, from Diana Pictures, Perth Centre for Photography Nov 16 - 26, 2006.
... and the cobbled streets of Paris can be rough on cameras. Safari Bob buys an image of a headless mannequin in a red dress. I am tempted by a low-angle, off-kilter image of two pedestrians at the top of a flight of steps. Streetlamp. Building. Sky. But i am distracted from my intended purchase by an attractive woman in a red top. Mmmm, i think. But of course i am practising celibacy, in preparation for my upcoming stint at sea. Besides, i can't talk to women, not properly, after my heart was broken by Mili the Ex. Oh, and since my front teeth were broken by Murphy. Suddenly, Moriarty appears. "Hey dude," he says. "What the fuck happened to your teeth?" Oh, you should see the other guy, i say.
The woman in the red dress fronts up and introduces herself. Well this is unusual, i think. Woman. Within two metre radius. I begin to feel slightly panicky. She turns out to be none other than Donsta the Pink Minx of The Block fame. This really unnerves me. It's somewhat disquieting when i meet a woman for the first time, who then says she has met me before. No; that wasn't me. That was some fucked-up drug fiend slash alcoholic. I am a cleancut, hardworking photographer. (And Dr Jekyll was a good-natured physician who was out most nights). I bumble my way through a few sentences before escaping to the relative calm of a conversation with Moriarty.
Meanwhile, Justin, Catherine, Safari Bob, the Donstar and others are heading down to to Billy Lee's in Chinatown. Do i want to come? I politely decline. "Fuck off," i say. "It's a shithole." Moriarty and i order Stones Pizza then walk round the corner to his new pad in Brisbane Place. Its late, we're drunk, his wife is not too impressed. We talk about the old days. Moriarty breaks out his new Gibson Les Paul. It's beautiful. Hand made. Purple glitter top. It's almost enough to make one think about Putting The Band Back Together. He's got this Framus valve amplifier, like a Marshall, only about 11 times better. Bought it on eBay from the US. How did he get it out here? "US postal service," he shrugs. "I got a call and they said come pick it up from the airport." Instead of speaker cloth, it's got like a chrome-plated grille with slots in it. Matching head. If it were a car, Moriarty's rig would be straight out of Tom Wolfe's The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby.
But wait, there's more. His wife says, "What about that camera." Oh yeah, says Moriarty. His father's Rolleiflex. He hands it to me, in its brown leather case. "Permanent loan," he says. "Put it to good use."
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Help yourself to a biscuit. Have a cup of tea and a good lie down. It's been a bit hectic lately, hasn't it? What with the weather and all.
As you can see, i am shooting more images for the Blue Room Theatre. Previous examples of my photography are all over their website. But if you just can't get enough of art director's photography, hell: click on the link up there that says "art director's photography."
Today Mayhem and i eat microwaved lasagne (oh and i swore i would never be reduced to blogging about what i eat for lunch. Well, there's that resolution gone out the window). We battle the heat and keep chipping away at the monumental task of editing our five minute rock'n'roll documentary epic, The Maestro. Monumental in the sense that it is like taking a large, rough hewn chunk of granite, and chipping, chipping, chipping away, until gradually it begins to take shape as a monument to Rino, North Perth's fabled Sicilian mechanic. The Maestro. You know he still uses those glass bottles to top up the oil on his customers' cars? Those old oil bottles have all but disappeared from the modern urban automotive landscape. Luckily we have them cleverly documented on digital videotape, along with Mayhem's legs.
Post production of The Maestro is scheduled to finish on November 22, two days after Mayhem's birthday. That's like next week. With delivery of the finished product the week after. Phew. For her birthday we will get whacked and tear around the Town of Vincent accosting possible sponsors and demanding money. Sicilian style. I mean, it's Mayhem's birthday for chrissakes. And five thousand dollars just goes nowhere these days. I mean, let's consider the budget just for cake alone ...
Enough biscuits for now. Back to work, all of you.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
At the Monkey, we have a quiet beer. Safari Bob arrives and we have a slightly louder beer. Then, off to the Kerb to see the Red exhibition. All the artwork is red. The food is red. People, wearing red. One girl even has red hair. The lengths people go to fit in. I try some organic red wine from the Porongorups. It's bloody awful, so i switch to Red Stripe. I see a guitar and a keyboard set up. A Simply Red cover band? Sweet Jesus Sanchez, i hope not.
There are three paintings here i really quite like, so i grab a cattledog to look at the prices. NFS, NFS, and NFS. What is it with artists these days? Don't you want to sell your work? Three words: let it fucking go. Are you artists? Or sentimental, anal retentive art collectors? Paint it; sell it.
We drink, look again at the work in case we missed something, drink some more, and eat. Jules suggests we go up to the Brisbane for a beer. I am dumbfounded. Why, why oh why in heaven's name would you go up the road to pay for beer when there is perfectly good free beer here? "You can't stand around drinking their beer forever," admonishes Jules. No, that's true, i acknowledge. Just till it runs out. "But by then people will see you for what you truly are," he warns. Well, they see that the minute i walk in, i say. Jules then posits the thought that perhaps the women are better looking in places where you have to pay for beer. And the higher the prices, the better looking the women. Hmmm. Interesting proposition. I look around, and yes, it's kind of Skank City. So it's either the Queens, or the Brisbane. Das is in favour of the Scotsman. That's because has a penchant for weird and freaky looking women, says Jules. A quick rock paper scissors and it's decided: the Queens.
At the Queens, Das runs an idea by me for a photojournalistic expedition. The sand drags at Beverley. Blokes with beer guts, tattoos, and beards, who take a lot of speed, race motorbikes, dune buggies, and whatever through the dirt, drink and fight, camp out, and wreak havoc. Plus other assorted sundry carnage. Sounds great, i say. I'm in.
After plowing through a selection of ales at the Queens, i suddenly find enlightenment. I'd always thought the Sunday session at the Queens was just a meat market. In a blinding flash i realise that it is indeed a meat market. It is full of good-looking, available women. The wisdom of drinking beer in such an establishment dawns on me: because you never know.
After about two hours of never knowing, Safari Bob, Jules and i throw caution to the winds and visit the Brisbane. We take a walk down Beaufort Street and get there at around four minutes before ten. The bouncer outside the beer garden refuses to let us in, on account of it being nearly closing time. No worries mate, i say. We walk around the corner to the door on Brisbane Street and let ourselves in. Gabriel is tending bar. Gabriel used to work at the Grapeskin with Ausra the Lithuanian. He has a lambda symbol tattooed on his neck. Why, i don't know. How long have we got? I ask. Three minutes, says Gabriel. He recommends a beer. We buy a few pints, and wander out to the beer garden, and see the bouncer in a whole new light, i.e. from inside the pub rather than standing out on the street staring at his ugly face. Ha ha. Goose. I meet the former singer of Lash, a tall blonde who lends some credence to Jules' philosophy and whose name i can't possibly remember on account of all the (increasingly expensive) beer. But it must have been Belinda-Lee. Her chaperone slash drummer asks for, and takes, my card. I could definitely use another photoshoot. There's a limit to how many junked bicycles you can sell to drunks on any given Sunday.
Hey, it's a living.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Friday, November 10, 2006
Death Lilly: Performing the Flower Girl Role in the Age of Consumption"
(or: Please don't pick the flower girls)
The Age of Consumption. Consumed by free red wine, whilst eating wedding cake off a photographic cut-out enlargement of Catherine the Flower Girl's head, i wonder how the "Age of Consumption" fits into this exhibition. Or is it performance? Catherine is dressed in a bridal gown, serving wedding cake ...
The exhibition can be seen at Edith Cowan University, Building 3, Level 2. By digitally recontextualising images of herself as flower girl, photographer Catherine Gomersall invites the viewer to (re)consider this role. Her flower girl in front of the heavy metal mosh pit is a startling juxtaposition. Or the flower girl's legs swinging in the top corner of an arcadian wedding scene - a flower girl suicide. The image rendered complete with blood-covered refrigerator... [Note: this post has been edited for length. Pages of pseudo-academic writing were deleted after avid readers complained that they were reading, reading, and reading - but nothing was happening. Well of course not. Nothing ever happens in academic writing. That's why it is academic.] ... and catherine is decked out in some kind of wedding dress, but it's too hot for it. "It's like made of plastic." She strips back to a black muscle shirt, billowing ivory skirt, and boots. You go girl. Kick some patronising patriarchal arse! So long as it's someone else's. Not mine.
The redolent flower girl symbolises fertility, the female cycle, but not the recycling of the female. Women are recyclable aren't they? Flowers aren't. Once cut, they wither and die. But then again ... there was that bunch of orange liliums i bought for the spanish painter, but she didn't want to see me, so i took them back home and gave them to Mayhem instead. Community recycling in action. Mayhem's boyfriends never seem to buy her flowers. Are they too cool? Ah, Mayhem. "The woman is both 'inside' and 'outside' male society, both a romantically idealized member of it and a victimized outcast. She is sometimes what stands between man and chaos, and sometimes the embodiment of chaos itself." Terry Eagleton (1983) must have met her. Yes, she is the embodiment of chaos.
Examining the symbolic roles of women in traditional society, whether through art, anthropology, or philosophy (i.e., art) can help decentre and redistribute power by explicating the power relationships, making the normal and therefore invisible hegemonic structures visible. Death Lilly functions in this way.
But these hegemonies are not simply patriarchal. In one montage, Catherine has placed two brides together, in matriarchal matrimony, a framed picture of a pre-Columbian goddess of fertility on the wall behind them. One of the Brides holds puppet-master's strings, secured to the limbs of the flower girl (Catherine) who sits at her feet. Are these women complicit in maintaining a patriarchal power relationship, or subverting it to a matriarchal one? The disturbing subtext of Catherine's image is that men are longer required within this new symbolic order. We are replaced by cells, by technology, we disappear into our own invisible, troubled realms, we vanish up the orifice of our own technology. And life goes on.
These Honours projects are hard. I don't really understand them. I never did no Honours or no Masters or nothin. I'm just an ordinary bloke living an extraordinary fucking life. But i reckon these images of Catherine's decentre the viewer, breaking down 'safe' binary oppositions such as real/fake, normal/deviant, mine/yours, authority/obedience, sane/mad. Montage is, by its nature, a polymorphous and pluralist art. As such it diffuses the rigid compartmentalised phallocentricities of our partriarchal world.
I may not know much about wedding cake, but i know what i like.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Asialink thanked me for the quality of my arts application (to spend three months in Bangalore with $12,000 of taxpayers' money) and encouraged me to reapply, saying my application could have been viable in different competition. Well, obviously. Particulary if the hypothetical "different competition" consisted of imbecilic, talentless morons. That would have made my application much more viable. But it was not to be. More reason to be shihtzu faced.
I did however discover that not all rejectees received these cheery words of encouragement from Asialink. An anonymous friend also received a rejection letter, but with no encouragement whatsoever. While it didn't exactly say go hang yourself, for a highly strung artist in a fragile state of mind ... well, things could have quite easily become even more highly strung, if you know what i mean ...
[insert animated gif of Art Director tapping side of nose here]
Coming out of the bathroom i run into siamese twins Elle and Janelle, about to enter, and suddenly have an idea of such startling clarity, it's like a vision. "I want you to have my child," i blurt out. I receive the usual response, incredulity mingled with contempt. "Oh Maa-aark," they bemoan in a united protest. I shake my drunken head. "No, no, you don't understand ... he's turning twenty-one this month and it would make the ideal gift - " but the Twins have disappeared into the bathroom, to do whatever it is blonde girls do in bathrooms.
Party ends as party does. I go home to find Jo19 is even more depressed than me, if such a thing is possible. Another argument with his anonymous. I won't disclose details, other than to say it seemed to involve the wastage of a perfectly good drink. Well, you've still got me. And the dog, i say cheerily. Jo19 is singularly unimpressed.
Good things never last, and i will soon be abandoning Jo19 to Hunter S. Thompson the dog, and going to make my fortune in the world. Things are afoot. Sunken treasure and pirates. Lawyers with islands, populated by palm trees and slaves. Turkish bakeries on the southern frontiers. More on these developments as they come to hand.
Meanwhile, the Perthites can keep their twisted little sex ratios. I'm leaving. And i'm taking my toys with me.
"Things never get better, only cheaper." - Art Director.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
I kickstart the motorcycle, and head out to buy a bottle of Bacardi and meet Safari Bob. The roads are blocked for the march, so i take it to the footpaths. The dykes on bikes are assembling their parade out the front of the pcp. There are cops everywhere, but it is difficult to tell which are the real ones, and which are the ones in the parade. Arse cut out of pants is always a clue, i'm thinking.
We drink, we watch the festivities, we show some punters around pcp. I take a brunette in the darkroom. The rum supply dwindles, and with it our common sense. Safari Bob has a damaged foot from dropping a wall on it, and has difficulty walking, so it suddenly seems a good idea to put on matching Hawaiian shirts and ride the motorcycle straight down William Street, right on James, and into ground zero. The Block. Artrage party central.
Things begin to go a bit awry on William Street. Smoke pours from the front of the motorcycle. We are on fire. I just keep going, with the half-assed half-drunk thought in the back of my head that the fire might blow out and the bike suddenly repair itself, but no. The corner of William and Roe Streets is a kind of motorcyclic Sargasso Sea. This is where my motorcycle was mysteriously and magnetically drawn into a steel barrier only a few posts ago. And now the bike is spiralling out of control in a seething vortex of smoke and flame. If i had a compass on me, it would no doubt be spinning on its axis. William and Roe is no ordinary intersection. It is a nexus of evil. We leave the 650 smoking quietly on the pavement outside the body piercing shop, and walk the last few metres into ground zero. We walk there on foot.
The Block party is still going. There are Blockheads partying wildly inside the marquee. From what i can gather, Artrage is an excuse for people (sorry, artists) to play dress ups, talk fatuously and throw parties at one another. Obviously, all this suits me fine. I walk by the doorman (being a marquee, the proper term is flapman), say "it's ok to take photographs inside" and whether this is a question or a flat statement is left hanging in a deliberately ambiguous manner as i continue on without breaking my stride. My AJA card and Nikon are slung casually, yet visibly, around my neck. The card and camera get me into parties and clubs where i would not normally be invited. These are the only parties and clubs worth going to, as I stand firmly by the Marxist principle that i don't want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member. ("Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, i have others." "A child of five could understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five." "Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana." And so on. R.I.P. Groucho Marx and his principles. Groucho, the only man ever to have eyebrows more rediculous than our Prime Minister's.)
Once inside, Safari Bob and i begin drinking in earnest, the night's earlier consumption of a bottle of rum serving us well as an apertif on our three course meal of alcohol, too much alcohol, and way too much alcohol. I take the odd photograph, but generally the night is about drinking beer and talking in earnest. I run into PCP Justin, and Donstar the Pink Minx, and Jude of Bankwest, who appeared in this blog recently in a leopardskin toque.
Also Irish Steve, who is completing a PhD in something or other and sporting a rather fetching set of Mickey Mouse ears. Our long and earnest conversation is one of a number of long and earnest conversations i have that evening, of which i can now remember nothing at all, other than whatever was said, was said at length and in earnest. I photograph Steve standing unnaturally close to a friend of his in a white singlet.
As is inevitable when completely totalled on alcohol, i am suddenly struck by the beauty of the girl serving the beer. I gaze at her with a combination of lust and reverence. Her youthful beauty is enhanced, in a strangely compelling way, by a vicious scar running across her cheek. "A know a gentleman," i say, "who got a scar like that whilst fencing." Oh, really? "Yes. Working with barbed wire can be quite hazardous." She gazes at me with a combination of incredulity and contempt. I order another beer. After they kick us out, Safari Bob and i go on a trip to The Moon. We make our entrance with the Art Director proclaiming loudly that all the staff are totally lazy and we will be waiting an eternity for service. "I'd like a crocodile sandwich, and make it snappy!" We seat ourselves at a booth and soon there is a huge carafe of red wine in front of me. "I'd rather have a carafe in front of me than a giraffe in a car with me." Mmm, white rum, beer and red wine. Halfway through the one litre giraffe, i realise it must be time to go. "Demlishun Blob," i slur ruefully at around three in the morning, "i'm garaging a car sale at six." We stare at each other confusedly. "I think." I leave Safari Bob drinking red straight from the carafe, and weave my way back towards Harley Street.
Remember kids. Binge drink responsibly. Art Director out.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
How is the documentary looking?
“The Ford Maestro”, set in Rino’s garage, is looking very rock’n’roll. If you accept rock’n’roll is ultimately about cars and girls. The 2006 Art Director / Mayhem production is currently set to bulldozer mode. Full speed ahead, and damn the tomatoes. We are going all out. We pin 83-year-old Rino down and grill him at length under bright Arri lights. We allow him some brief respite, when a customer in a Cadillac Eldorado rolls in to fill his tank. We shoot a quick interview with this tank commander. "Rino is the dictionary definition of cool," says the young Cadillac driver. How long has he been coming to Rino's garage, we ask? "Since before i was born," he says - completely truthfully. He books up his fuel and rolls on down sunny Scarborough Beach Road. When i fill the Madaz, i discover Rino does not have eftpos or credit card facilities, but is quite happy to take a cheque. Hmm. The good old days.
We record some of the Rino lifestyle, logging interviews with Rino and his real estate agent, who turns up with an offer on the garage; film tasty overlay shots around the place, and capture Mayhem hurtling around the Town of Vincent in a lipstick-red ‘64 XM coupé - the 2 door Pursuit model, retro-fitted with a late model V8 powerplant. Quite a rude proposition when combined with Mayhem’s urban guerilla driving tactics. So cool it’s zero cool, says Melinda 'Che' Mayhem. The simple narrative (Girl in Red Car with Engine Problems pulls into Garage) draws the viewer seamlessly into a touching exposition of Rino’s life as Sicilian Immigrant slash Ford Specialist: Rino, who arrived on these shores in 1948, who used to deliver market produce to Wellington Street markets on a horse and cart and race Norton motorcycles. Although not at the same time. A well-tuned Norton will win hands down over a horse and cart nine times out of ten.
The little red coupé is courtesy of Brendon, deep-sea diver and underwater construction specialist. Brendon may make a future appearance on the electric nerve, explaining to avid readers what life is like on the inside of a fibreglass helmet wrestling with steel pipes supported by airbags on the ocean floor, armed with a compass, a two-way and a set of spanners. We will ask the tough questions: is there time for spearfishing?
Meanwhile, Brendon is being driven around the streets of Vincent by Mayhem. He is impressed by the effectiveness of his coupe’s air vents in lifting the hem of Mayhem’s 50s style dress to reveal the fishnet stockings and suspenders which grace the upper regions of her milky white thighs. Ahem. A true professional, I have the presence of mind to carefully document the entire wardrobe malfunction on video. “One of the most erotic sights I’ve seen in a while,” Brendon tells me confidentially when i deliver his carton of Coopers a few days later. “Will that be on my copy of the DVD?” Yes. A definite for the Director’s Cut. And anything said to me confidentially will almost certainly appear on the blog.
The documentary rolls on. You notice, once you start making a film, how everybody has an opinion on how you should go about it? Well, i've got two words for back-seat film directors: shut the fuck up.
Storyboarding a documentary seems to be a contradiction in terms, but all documentaries are constructed. For me, documentary filmmaking tends more toward organic growth, like Bonsai, rather than the plastic brickwork of Lego. You must choose a start point, and an end point. This in itself will construct a narrative. The rest depends on your view point. The in-between ... how much of it is to be directed? How much is pruned, and how much left to run wild? How much is to be explained, how much left open to interpretation? These are some of the choices facing the documentary filmmaker.
Art Director chooses rock’n’roll. Never apologise, never explain.
A narrative has a beginning and an ending, a fact that simultaneously distinguishes it from the rest of the world and opposes it to the “real” world.
– Christian Metz, Film Language
All reality is constructed, but unreality is really constructed.
– Art Director, Out of Range
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Yes, i realise we live in a postmodern age. It’s all over the shop. All the fine arts: painting, architecture, sculpture, dance and music: and of course the music video would constitute the postmodernist’s avant-garde, if such a linearly progressive notion were permissible outside the modernist ethic: all these artforms have collapsed, been swept up and thrown into a pluralist gunny-sack with film, books, magazines, TV quiz shows and ringtones, given the label “texts”, and succumbed to a play of intertextualites, ‘ironies’ in inverted commas (i.e. the ironic use of irony), carnival, self-reflexivitities, self-consciousnesses and even self-contradictions. The cannibalism of the retro. The pastiche of languages and styles. What Henri Lefebvre called the increasing primacy of the ‘neo’. The Society of the Spectacle. And the gunny-sack has been flung into a quagmire, the logical swamp of late capitalism ...
Sure, i can dig it. No wuckers.
But in a deliberate attempt to escape the solipsism of writing a blog which, as far as i know, nobody reads, i began (sorry, but isn’t David Bowie’s Sound and Vision just a really cool track?) to peruse other blogs. And, Dear Lord, how i wish i hadn’t. I feel somehow contaminated. Like i imagine i would feel if i ever cheated on a girlfriend with someone who had radiation sickness. (Ex-girlfriends out there in alice-in-wonderland: i never did, honest) . I just hope this short foray into blogland doesn’t corrupt my style, although i can already feel it etching my paragraphs like acid on copper. So, prithee, what is it with all this writing (or blogging) on all these blogs about the techniques of blogging? Writing has finally disappeared up its own colon: Oh i neet to get Blogger Beta, can anyone tell me if the edit functions are much improved? I don’t think such-and-such a feed program is any better than so-and-so. This, from what is allegedly a Blog of Note called ‘Philosophical Musings’. And perhaps voicing one’s opinion on contemporary American politics does constitute philosophy these days - i confess i’m a bit out of touch with the discipline. And while on the subject of the contemporary American schoolyard and feebleminded writers, cop this from Perth’s new Drum Media, the freshly imported streetrag from the East, issue 004: “it may come as a surprise to learn that Ok Go are actually a very politically aware band.” Hmmm. Their singer posted an online guide to ousting George Bush. Very politically aware? Doesn’t the realisation that Bush should go just require a brain stem?
Back to blogging on blogging. Who cares what your technical difficulties or preferences are? Who gives a flying duck which software you use? Imagine if Shakespeare had rambled on like this in The Taming of the Shrew:
Pray, this quill is more pleasant, pithy and effectual
Than any quill i hath purchased before
And here it is in my writing, fairly drawn.
Oh i know i’m just an old man raging, raging against the dying of the light. McLuhan was right. And there is no escaping that sad fact. The technique has finally outstripped the content. The medium is indeed the message. Which iPod you wear is more important than what it decodes. But let’s cut to the chase, as they say (and what does that mean? Is it culled from film language? Generation XYZers use lines from films to communicate concepts they find difficult to elucidate themselves. A spurious impression of a line of dialogue, a raising of the eyebrows, a nodding of the head, like, know what i’m saying? Very perplexing indeed if you’ve never seen that particular film. It’s like listening to a rapper in an East-LA dialect who finishes a rapid verbal montage with just that line: know what i’m saying? Would you like a simple answer? No, i haven’t got a fucking clue.)
Back to blogging on blogging. Avid and imaginary readers, i confess: i bought a computer. There. It’s out. Oh, this is what the Greeks meant when they spoke of katharsis. It’s true, i am a CPU luddite. This entire blog has been constructed on and posted from the Borrowed Computer and the Internet Café. But i am now the proud owner of a fifty-dollar jellybean blue ex-Department of Indigenous Affairs iMac which talks to me. Actually, sixty dollars. I cut a deal and got a keyboard, a mouse with a little red light on its belly, and a Sony TC-K33 cassette deck thrown in. Ah, i knew all those cassettes would come in handy one day.
So this is the first time i have actually been able to blog from the comfort of my own room (while listening to the sweet strains of Bowie’s Low, The Fall’s This Nation’s Saving Grace, and Parliament’s The Clones of Dr Funkenstein. Yeah. Do That Stuff. Ah, Celestion made some good speakers, didn’t they?) - sorry, not blog, in fact. Write. Because Jo and i have no internet connection here in our Harley Street squalor, so blogging is out of the question. What, you cry? Everybody’s got an internet connection, i hear you say. Oh really, i reply, somewhat smug in my superior knowledge. Did you know that two thirds of the world’s population have never made a telephone call? And did you know there is a little piece of that Third World right here in Harley Street, Highgate?
But all this ultramodern supercomputerisation has done me no good. (We all return, salmon-like, to the fundamental source, the original question: does the techné do us any good? Has Bill Gates done any of us any good? If not, why has he got so much of our fucking money?) I am become a rambling, lazy, postmodern sap. Oh, the terrible power of computerisers. I am sunk so low as to become interTEXTual! Self-reFLEXive! It’s disGUSTing! I am become so lazy, all i have to do is save this concise blog entry to a little portable hard drive, take it down to the Internet Café, plug it in and save two dollars on blogging time. The iMac will pay for itself within a hundred posts, i reckon. While simultaneously corroding my writing.
What’s become of the buzz, the rush, of writing against the clock on a hired computer? As a writer I am become bloated, like some belletristic beached whale. And while we are on that subject, i have a theory. No, it’s not American submarine sonar driving them nuts and causing them to beach themselves en masse. No no no no no. It goes much deeper than that. It’s evolution. Whales are evolving into land dwelling creatures. Eventually, through a random mutation, a whale with mutant fins will beach itself only to discover it can walk about on land!
At the peak of our technological performance, the irresistible impression remains that something eludes us – not because we seem to have lost it (the real?), but because we are no longer in a position to see it: that, in effect, it is not we who are winning out over the world, but the world which is winning out over us. It is no longer we who think of the object, but the object which thinks us. Once we lived in the age of the lost object; now it is the object which is ‘losing’ us, bringing about our ruin. – Jean Baudrillard, The Irony of Technology.