Friday, December 22, 2006

BITING THE BULLET

I'm thinking of getting my front teeth fixed, i say to Safari Bob.
Bob looks at me sideways. "Yeah, you're gonna have to bite the bullet ... oh, but it looks to me like you already done that ... "

Thursday, December 21, 2006

FINDING SOME LEGS

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

MEAT-EATING PIRATES WITH BIG KNIVES

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

JOURNEYS AMONGST ELVES

Every day i am inundated with requests from wannabe writers seeking opportunities to kickstart their literary careers by writing for The Nerve. But not everyone has the complex physiognomy and mental hardwiring that allows them to lay their body on the line, wear their heart on their sleeve, and avoid clich├ęs like the plague. Whilst we have published posts by Mayhem, the Donstar, even Celeste, these colourful identities are not writers. Hell no. Nor are they possessed of the pretentiousness that inheres in any claim to be a writer. Rather, they are the embodiment of a bohemian chaos; the incarnation of a certain primeval bacchanalian urge; the distillation of that stellar ebullience which finds its apogee of expression when coalesced into female form. Their role on the nerve – do i really need to spell it out? – is that of muse. Their posts are the random musings of elfin wanderlings, not serious writing.

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

CULTURAL INAPPROPRIATION

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

THE BUG RUN

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,
suckin' blood
from the earth
I'm a vampire, baby,
suckin' blood
from the earth.
Well, I'm a vampire, babe,
sell you
twenty barrels worth.

I'm a black bat, babe,
bangin' on
your window pane
I'm a black bat, baby,
bangin' on
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.
Uh huh.
I've got five of them.
Right.
I used to have about seventy at home, but now there's only a handful.
Fascinating.
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.

SMOKE ANOTHER CIGARETTE ...

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.