Tuesday, September 30, 2008


The first time she banished me, it was because she thought i was sleeping with the bass player. Kat Atrocity was a striking girl, to be sure. Intelligent and eurasian with a perverse sense of humour, she was a devilish man-magnet on stage. But we weren’t fooling around. I mean, it did happen later, but it wasn't happening at the time. It was all about the music, man. I’d come home late after gigs, hot and sweaty and exhausted, and my strikingly beautiful but sick wife would become increasingly suspicious. But we were, i suppose, a punk band. Heat and sweat came with the territory.

Early one morning, after a dusk-to-dawn recording session, i came home to find the house locked and my clothes outside the door. I never did get a key to my wife’s house. It was a strange relationship, to be sure, and i’m not pretending otherwise. You can’t base a relationship on sex and drugs, my friends would say. It won’t work. They were wrong. A relationship based on sex and drugs will work as perfectly, spectacularly, explosively as a firework.

Anyway, she banished me and i wound up at Glen’s. A friend of hers, he said he understood, and offered to put me up. Almost certainly dead now, Glen was a one-armed one-legged heroin junkie who lived in Hilton, just east of Fremantle. We called it The Hilton. Oh, hi, i’m Mark, i’m a recording artist and i’m living at The Hilton. Sounds grand, doesn’t it.

The reality was a verandah covered with the toys of his lost daughter, and an endless procession of local pilferers who thought his house abandoned. His garden of wild weeds flayed themselves upward into the stupid sun only to throw their seed out amongst the rusted spare parts of his ’72 Ford Fairlane. His legs. That Ford is my legs, he used to say.

And his plastic leg had other uses. Many a stolen bottle of vodka was thrust into its plastic hollows to drown our sorrows, and many a set of points, gaskets or spark plugs. We would floor it, always fast and loud, roaring the Fairlane back to The Hilton, windows down. Glen looked at the world through a rose-coloured windscreen, as his brother-in-law Kim Salmon put it. I would warm up the valve amplifier and play guitar, open-tuned 5-string Keith Richards slack-G tuning, and Glen would wail on the knife-edge of circulatory collapse, microphone held in hook. He had elected to have his useless arm sawn off, figuring a hook would prove more useful.

A good mechanic, he taught me a thing or three. There’s nothing like seeing a man with one arm strip down a Holley carburettor and reassemble it simply because he has to get to the methadone clinic. There’s motivation for you. You want to fiddle about and try to get a washer or a nut onto a difficult-to-access carburettor mounting stud? Slide it onto the blade of your screwdriver, and just touch that screwdriver onto the head of the bolt. There you go. You can’t miss, and you won’t drop it and see it stuck somewhere under the inlet manifold. Like i always did.

Glen and i changed a Ford 9”diff, complete drum-to-drum, between vodkas on a Saturday afternoon. With nothing but a length of wood, milk crates, stolen spanners, and brute sweating gumption. We ate pasta. Garlic stabbed on the end of a knife, held skewered over the steady blue yellow flame of the stove. It pops. And with one large left hand, twice the size of yours or mine, he squeezes out a fresh, virginal lozenge of spice. Spinach grew wildly in a square amongst the weeds, alongside the rosemary. The legacy of his ex-wife. With a big pot of pasta and a splash of vodka we would have ourselves a meal.

He was a consummate thief. And that’s how he came to grief. The father of the young girl he stole from the pub, the girl on the back of his motorcycle during that spectacular crash on the new 1970s freeway, tried to switch off his life support. I probably would have too. But jesus christ he had charm. Always smiling, always one eye on the main chance. A dreamer, a cruiser, a relentless bohemian, a reader and writer, he had style to burn. If only he had left me his shirts in his will.

I wake up, and the house is carpeted with people who can barely keep their eyes open, nodding people who scratch at themselves vaguely, stare at the floorboards and speak of their incomprehensible dreams. They have plans for this or that, plans which anyone can see will come to nothing. The backup is the sawn-off shotgun up the nose of the local pharmacist. A shotgun which i can wander out and see, loaded, brutal, tucked under the parcel shelf of a mute black coupe stolen and spraypainted with aerosols.

Morning. Glen wanders in, all mad shock of black hair and silk shirt. The perpetual smirk. Have you seen my arm? he asks.

It’s hanging on the back of the kitchen door, i tell him, right where you left it. (The term ‘kitchen’ being loosely employed at The Hilton, given we have no fridge.) And where the fuck is my leather jacket?

Oh man i had to hock it, but you’ll get it back Friday.

Friday night i’m trying to write as an endless procession of misfits, thugs and losers make their way into my bedroom. Where the fuck is Glen, they ask. He has taken a few thousand dollars from this conglomerate of desperados and fools and disappeared into the night. Some hours ago.

Don’t know, man, i just live here. Chill out.

He could sing, in a way. He had an irrepressible smile. And, as it often is with the bohemians, and as it was with my beautiful, fragile wife, he is probably dead by now.


Ansel Adams described the camera as an “instrument of love and revelation”.

Sometimes i am blind. The clear-eyed sights of truth lie beyond my peripheral vision, emotions outlive and outweigh my ability to feel, i dream in impossible colours. Blinded by that which enables me to see, i rail against those who describe photographs as 'pushing boundaries'. They are leaves that meander downriver. Sometimes stuck in eddies, sometimes carried along in the mainstream. Obsessed with focus, exposure, mechanics. I will torch them all. My photographs.

The task of the photographer is to bring to light that which cannot be seen.

Trapped within turgid methodologies, i must jump boundaries and barbed wire without dropping the Rolleiflex. Infrared, infrared - why did Kodak banish infrared from this hot planet? Those pecuniary, short-fused fools. How to regain those searing truths, that slow burn of heat and light, all blistering silver heat of moment, lush glow and gritty force and hearts and minds aflame?

Climbing through overgrown steps, the ivy mocks our illusions of control. Through the open window and all is transience, dust, trash. Surrounded by the verdigris of evaporated souls. All the fittings gone, a fire lying long cold on the floor. Empty rooms, an emptier note in the fireplace. "You are the worse person i know. You took all i got. Please bring it back." The lament of the squatter on the edge of the abyss. Beyond realising you've got to give up everything to have it all, she is now overwhelmed with the terror of that lone dark flight into bliss and oblivion. The sad beauty of falling, and falling.

White dress, chocolate bricks. We stand and stare at each other, momentarily stunned. “I’m nervous,” she confesses. My hands shake. This is new. “I’m nervous too.” The veneer is gone, with it the wilful, simple urge to capture and contain. All i know to be self-evident flies from the lens, reflected on some distant horizon, a cargo cult plane. I can look at nothing, i can see nothing, i can only feel. I can’t operate these simple controls, these proffered mechanical dials, i can’t see the meter. I look to the walls and the ceiling, into the light that creeps silently through the window, a cat burglar, stealing away my stores of hubris and presumption.

The image of Miss Polly in the viewfinder is beautiful. The German existentialist Friedrich Nietszche said to experience a thing as beautiful means to experience it necessarily wrongly. But then, Nietzsche was a cunt. I press the shutter.

I am blind. I am a photographer.

Monday, September 29, 2008


Albany is undoubtedly the best place in the world.

Avid readers of The Nerve may find this statement alarming, coming as it does from the Art Director, who in recent posts has systematically bagged out his new home as a woeful, misbegotten penal colony, populated by a high percentage of the elderly, the infirm and the retarded, ruled by a mindset of fundamental christianism, and rabidly policed by cops and citizens alike. Readers may therefore think i am being disingenuous. Or, worse, trying to be funny.

But as anyone who has swallowed copious amounts of lysergic acid knows, perceptions can change. I have flipflopped from abject, Sartrean despair at this humourless, Misery Beach existence, to a sudden, sybaritic embrace all things Albanian. Am i on drugs? No. Not at present, no. Today i am thundering along the Frenchman Bay Road on a motorcycle in an irrepressibly positive frame of mind, to gleefully join the mindless hordes of long weekend Rainbow Coast tourists. To visit the Blowholes, Whale World, who cares, maybe even partake of bad food, worse service, and laminex tables at the Life’s A Beach Café. To do whatever, i really don’t mind. Let’s just ramble, waste time, and soak up the vibrations of the road under this fleeting September sun. Let’s have a day off.

On the back of the motorcycle is Miss Polly, the raven-haired coffee girl from the Raven Haired Coffee Girl blog. Miss Polly is a tremendous individual in ways which cannot really be enumerated, and nor will i even begin to try. For in the words of Nick Cave “she ain’t down with any of that ’cause she’s heard that shit before.” But one thing i can say about Miss Polly is that she seems to follow, innately and therefore without even trying, that directive which is the Art Director’s unwritten law, which states that One Should Always Behave Like A Fucking Rock Star. (Which, having now been written, is of course now longer an unwritten law, but has taken on the status of a self-evident dictum.) And if you must have a girl on the back of your 650 (and really, you must) it is definitely a plus to have a beautiful, raven-haired girl who holds on to you by your thighs.

Albany. What a fantastic place.

The road winds out ahead of us like a long weekend. We roar past the sign that reads “Take Care Dangerous Coast” and into a sweeping curve watched over by a soaring stand of granite. This is where the road opens up, and snakes through the Torndirrup National Park. In the parlance of the motorcycling magazines, i hunch down and wind it on for more grin. But i must be ready on the anchors, or i might end up wearing a gravel frown.

We fly past the turnoff to the Gap, the Albanian lover’s leap of choice, and throttle into another long curve. Blowholes turnoff. Decelerate rapidly. Miss Polly presses into my back like a Japanese masseuse. A sharp turn and a short road to the coast, and a carpark swarming with (i grit my teeth) tourists. We scrunch to a halt and dismount.

“How you doing there, Miss Polly?”
She removes her helmet, and shakes free the famous raven hair. She turns those Winona Ryder eyes on me and smiles.
“Not too bad. You make a good windbreak.”
“Why, thank you. That’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.”

Miss Polly appeared a couple of days before, sashaying in to Tigersnake, making my photographic exhibition suddenly look a whole lot better. And in doing so, turned my view of Albany on its head.

The girls bring out another round of G&Ts as i notice her there, with her hair and all, resplendent in a red vintage dress with a high, collared neck, looking like she has just stepped off a Southern plantation. But she is engrossed in conversation, as i am, and it is not until later, after ingesting a variety of high quality canapes, chasing them with more G&Ts, shots of vodka and crushed strawberry, plus a couple of glasses of red wine, not until nearly the end of the night, that i get a chance to speak with her.

Meanwhile i’m talking with my agent Annie, the journos Dylan, Martine and Tiffany, and Sarah Toa, the infamous writer. Dylan, after having spilled red wine on his “good” jacket, and having been told bluntly by Martine that his suede jacket “smelled”, has fronted up at this men’s boutique clothing store with his John Cooper Clarke legs protruding out from under a beige linen jacket, which features a kind of entrepreneurial 1980s cut, one button hanging by a thread, and a lapel deploying stains which look like they could easily be distilled into the kind of liquor that has a kick to rival the Limeburners whiskey we are currently knocking back.

The Don wanders over in his long, black, spotless jacket and stetson hat. There are introductions.
“Dylan, Don. Don, Dylan,” my agent says.
“Don owns the dry cleaners,” i say. Dylan shakes his hand.
“This is a match made in heaven,” Martine says.

I do more of the meet and greet, talk shop with a budding young photographer, who seems take this whole exhibition thing quite seriously, and try to quieten down a raucously drunk subeditor and news photographer who have turned up en route to a Chinese meal. Tiffany takes some social pics for The Newspaper. The ambient dance music gets too much for me, so I put on some Johnny Cash, much to everyone’s dismay. Except Sarah Toa, who beams. I wander over to Dylan and Tiffany. “I’m going to ask that girl out,” i say, indicating the raven-haired Southern belle at the other end of the room.
“She’s beautiful,” says Tiffany, no slouch in the looks department herself. She says this with an implied “but”, as she looks from the raven-haired beauty, to me, and back again.

The next morning at work, Tiffany stares at me. “How do you do it?” she asks.

We walk down to the Blowholes. Miss Polly is telling me about her trip to New York, about the outrageous price of entry to the Guggenheim Museum, the perils of xanax, and riding the late night subway into Brooklyn. I tell her my muse, Melinda Mayhem, is, even as we speak, away in New York, doing an intensive eight-week course at Film Director School. Mz Mayhem was spotted by a music producer at a Pixies gig last year. She showed him some of her film handiwork, including the Art Director production The Maestro, which co-stars the wild one herself in a red Ford coupe. And he snapped her up. She’s gone.

At the Blowholes, tourists stand around on the granite slopes, these slippery rocks which descend in a rapidly increasing incline into the rough swells of the Southern Ocean. This looks like a simple form of madness. Men, women and children stand around waiting for a king wave to relieve them of the monotony of their existence. There is a deep crevasse in the rock, under which we can hear and feel the heaving of the ocean. There is a sudden explosion, a whoomp, and a blast of air. We both jump.

“I’m looking for a replacement muse,” i tell Miss Polly. Not that Mz Mayhem could ever be replaced. But the world keeps spinning. “You interested in being famous?”

Miss Polly is looking all windswept and interesting. Her eyes scan the coast, then she turns them on me. They could melt copper at two hundred metres. “OK,” she says. “When do we start?”

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Welcome to the first in a series of things to do in Albany. I will be your guide as we investigate ways to occupy your time while living on the beautiful Rainbow Coast.

Basketweaving is a very relaxing hobby which immediately comes to mind. However, if you have more of an artistic bent, and can arrange access to a pair of scissors and glue, you could collect some seashells from Middleton Beach and some old postcards, cut the nice bits out of the postcards, and glue them to the seashells.

I bought some clothes hangers the other day, which the old lady in the opshop had carefully and painstakingly covered with woven plastic and wool.

"Well, it's something to do dear, isn't it," she said.

Monday, September 22, 2008


“A bloke has escaped from the jail,” Sarah's mother told her when she was a teenager. “He’s dangerous.”
Their house was on the racetrack road, which runs out past the Albany Regional Prison.
“This is where we keep the shotgun … and this is how to use it.”

Albany is still a penal colony. We are, all of us, serving time. We have no freedom. People here, more than anywhere, seem to prefer security to liberty. But tonight is the poetry pub crawl, and the town is in delirium. Crowds take to the streets, imagining or dreaming that they are free, free to somnambulate en masse from one Sprung Writers’ Festival venue to another. I embrace these fresh hallucinations and am carried along with the festival vibe.

I raise Dylan on his mobile. I assume he is somewhere amongst this delusional mob, yet having scanned their endless white faces i have failed to locate him. Where are you, he says. I am standing in the middle of the road, i say. I’ve got on a dark brown pinstripe coat, a black felt top hat with a red-tailed black cockatoo feather sewn to its side. “I’m still at Strangle Heads,” Dylan says distantly. He sounds like a man signalling in semaphore from a pontoon afloat in a Sargasso sea of beer. “I’m staying here. The next venue is dry.” I am surprised they are even serving him at Tangleheads. Weren’t we both given a life ban there only the night before? Or was it the night before that?

The crowd, a hundred curious souls in dark clothes, womble gently down the main street. Cars pull to a halt, their drivers confused. So many pedestrians. Isn't this Albany, where people drive? A Holden Commodore smuggles itself past the woollen crowds on the roundabout. The rubber squeals as the driver does what Sarah Toa endearingly calls a ‘broggy’ before grumbling hollowly and loudly up the York Street hill. They will drive to the carpark at Middleton Beach, turn around, and return to do yet another lap of York Street in what is known in the local parlance as ‘chucking a yorkie’. In all honesty, there is not much else to do.

Sarah and i follow the dangling whale at the end of the fishing rod. It is a killer whale, though fluffy. A whale theme has entered the writing festival like a harpoon through blubber. Like a nylon fishing line in a turtle’s gut. The crowd follows the wandering killer whale on a hook, and next to it, travelling alongside, is not a whaler with a harpoon but a whore poet with what looks like a giant spliff. No, i think. This is far to bohemian for Albany. Suddenly the crowd stops. Is it a giant spliff? A sudden hush as the MCs entertain the gathering. But Sarah is whispering to me about the stocks. She points. I have never seen them before, and yet here they stand, directly in front of Justice. A blunt reminder of the brutalities of this penal colony, of the harsh institutionalised violence which even now simmers below the veneer of this God-fearing yet clearly godforsaken civilisation. An outlaw held in these stocks would gaze, all twisted neck and blistering back, straight at the southern face of Justice, across Governor Stirling Terrace into the courthouse and its attendant bureaucrats.

But no, it is not a giant spliff. The old salt raises it to his lips to blow a whale mating call. I see now it is a type of pipe. We are piped onward by these wandering bards. We reach the museum, where i am sidetracked by the genius of contraption, Andy from the shed jam, he of the incredible shrinking transportable house. A welder and inventor or some renown. Someone passes me a non-metaphorical spliff, and then won’t take no for an answer when, after getting me completely waylaid, he refuses to take it back. It is here my troubles begin. Some women ask me to step onto a bollard and recite some poetry. It must be the hat.

We are standing in a theatrically-lit park in front of the museum. The poetry run continues on, lemming-like, scrambling up the stairs into the museum, spilling into a prism-shaped room upstairs. Through a round window i spy what appears to be a giant disco ball, a revolving crystalline refraction. It’s the lighthouse lens from Eclipse Island, Sarah says. Of course it is.

Dylan turns suddenly up, all spindly legs matted hair with the wild look of a starving garret artist. Notebook in hand. But i am staring at the maniac who has handed me this marijuana. No-one will now take the proffered joint from me. I puff on it furiously in an attempt to defuse it, unnul it, reduce the damn thing to ashes. What should i do with this, i ask, waving the glowing tip around like a hot potato. When the cops turn up? Stand over there next to the sign that says Sprung? Perhaps this newspaper reporter can take my photograph?

Dylan is a grasshopper, all elbows and jump. He is explaining how he photographed the head of Greenpeace earlier in the day. “For the whole of the Pacific,” Dylan says. “He was at the Vancouver Arts Centre speaking about The Last Whale, and there was an erotic art exhibition,” he says. “From where i was standing, he presented his whole speech to the crowd with a giant penis coming out of his head.”

Sarah, Dylan and i leave the carpark hippies and try to get into the poetry reading. A mob of people are crowded by the stairs at one end of the museum. A museum staff member is guarding the entrance to the rear stairs, which houses the Eclipse lens. The staff member says something to Sarah which i can’t hear. “I just want to show Mark the lens,” Sarah says. The staffer allows us to pass. Dylan, Sarah and i.

I am transfixed by this construction, slowly rotating on its toothed wheel driven plinth. The lens is an engineering marvel. Crescents of mirrored glass suspended in brass arcs, all focusing the incredible parabolic energy of this quietly revolving torch. I feel as if we are standing on the set of an episode of Dr Who, at that point in the storyline when the light of the full moon is focused through a crystalline contraption to create a beam of cosmic energy that frees the aliens from their earthbound prison. The huge steel platter turns silently on its enormous bearing. Sarah makes to leave, while Dylan and i continue up the stairs to the poetry reading. “You can’t,” Sarah says. “You’ll fall through the floor.” She leaves.

My head is spinning. What did she just say? i ask Dylan.

“Oh, she said we will fall through the floor into a pit of vipers,” Dylan says with some nonchalance as we ascend the wide wooden steps to the mezzanine level and the poetry reading. The drugs have kicked in like a schizophrenic mule and i am suffering acute paranoid delusions. A pit of vipers?

The museum staff member had told Sarah that the mezzanine was holding its maximum capacity of people and nobody else was allowed to go up. Sarah made a joke about this as she left, but at the time she sounded like Cassandra, prophesising, forewarning me of the portents of evil. Cassandra, the prophet, was raped by Ajax, Martine told me earlier in the day. “Bet she didn’t see that coming,” Martine said. I reluctantly climb the staircase, braving the vipers, surrounded on all sides by walls bearing the carcasses of giant silver fish. Their unblinking eyes stare down at me, silently and without compassion. I round the stairs and come face-to-face with a hammerhead shark. A four-day drinking bender followed by powerful narcotics has left me in no fit state to deal with these museum exhibits.

But my senses are to be further assaulted. The poetry reading leaves me floored. It is appalling, really very bad, and yet people are applauding. I wonder if i am perhaps missing some esoteric irony. I feel like i am in an Asian evangelist church, a silent witness to a chorus of singaporean spiritual singers as the fresnel beam silently sweeps the room. Four boys from a Singapore boys’ school are leading the crowd through an incredibly badly-sung version of Stand By Me. What fresh hell is this, i wonder? Mercifully, they soon finish. To thunderous applause. “We are having a wonderful time here,” says a boy in glasses, speaking with an American accent. “What i have noticed about you people first of all is your viciousness,” he says smiling. A gasp goes up around the room. “Matched only by your forgiveness,” he continues. A collective sigh. What the fuck?

The lens of the lighthouse throws a weird diffracted array on the walls as it circles the room. “This is just too fucking bizarre,” i inform Dylan. “I have to get out of here. This is doing my head in. Let’s go to the pub.” Dylan is in agreement. “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy,” he quotes, the only relevant lines of poetry i have heard all night.

Another singaporean boy begins listing allegorical truths, furtively erasing the stillness of our minds. We can no longer stand the poetic tension. We wobble quietly down the stairs, past the plastic fish replicas. Sarah is outside, sipping water. I try to ask her for a sip, but my mouth is so dry my lips stick to my teeth and it sounds like i want a sick. Lips, when they stick to your teeth, become licks. I can barely swallow. Incomprehensible quantities of marijuana have left me mute and almost paralysed. I point at my mouth; at the water. Sarah comprehends and passes me the bottle. I drink greedily, downing half her supply within seconds in sheer dehydrated desperation. My sated lips are then lured into brief conversation with some complete strangers. “Don’t trust that drug-addled impostor,” says Andy, the welding genius, pointing at me as i stand before these confused pub crawlers. “He still owes me a documentary.” I slip away into the shadows.

And into another strange conversation. There is no escape from this madness. This red-tailed black cockatoo-feathered felt hat is bringing down on my head eleven different flavours of trouble tonight. I am beginning to feel like a character in a Heironymous Bosch painting. A stranger in jeans and jacket has somehow found out i am from the press. Do i have a story for you, he says. I don’t know, i say. Andy suddenly appears at my side, devil, court jester and constant shadow. He laughs. “I bet you hear this all the time,” Andy says to me. Jacket man shakes his head. “This is serious. They’ve blocked off the road to wait a while.”

The singaporean students and the pub crawlers spill out of the museum and over the railway tracks, stumbling across the level crossing as one of the woodchip freights heads west out of the port, headlamp blazing and horn blaring. It is not going slow. Somehow it passes through the crowd without mutilating any poets.

Wait A While? I raise a questioning eyebrow to Andy. He nods. “It’s a place. Out past Manypeaks.”

Jacket man continues. “Anyway, an overseas company, Indian i think, has bought the land. There’s a bluegum plantation out there. Then they padlocked a gate across the road and now you can’t even access the beach. The ranger went out there to check on the firebreaks. Eventually he got in, only to be confronted by a Hilux with four blokes carrying shotguns. They showed him the firebreaks, and then escorted him out.”

Shotguns. That’s heavy security for a plot of Tasmanian bluegums. Who ever heard of people stealing trees? Jacket man does not want to give his name or go on the record. But he gives me the name of the padlocked road, and that’s a start. I thank him, and give him my card.

On the way to the Premier Hotel an escaped psychopath tries to steal the Nikon from Dylan and i. He appears in my peripheral vision and is suddenly right in our path, up close - way too close - all curses and threats. Like a Michelin man pumped up with mustard gas. He clenches his fists, threatens us. Won’t get out of my face. Take it easy, man, i tell him and we slip across the road where we run into a bunch of guys wheeling a naked man on a trolley, wrapped in glad wrap and covered in lipstick. This night is getting all too freaky, i decide.

We keep heading up the hill towards the sanctuary of the Premier. The nut job is trailing us across the street. Before we reach the pub he bolts across the street and is in my face again, jabbing a white-knuckled finger at me. “How do you know me?” he demands. We almost fall over each other getting in the hotel door. My mouth is so dry i can barely swallow. Owen the bartender is going slowly about his business, ignoring my parched cries for help. Water! An escaped prisoner is loose on the streets but my thirst drives me back out onto the streets. The psychopath is nowhere to be seen. I slip down the back alley, sticking close to the shadows. Home. Water. Drink.

The doorbell rings and it’s Dylan. “Let me leave this camera here, man,” he says. “Some bikers put the head of the bouncer into the wall. There’s a kind of aggro vibe out there tonight, don’t you think? Far out man, how was that guy tried to steal the camera? If i was as stoned as you i’d be freaking out.”

“I am freaking out, you idiot. I’ve just spent the last ten minutes locking all the doors and windows.”
“It’s the hat,” Dylan says.
It’s the hat. My head has become some kind of luna magnet.
“So, you coming to Strangle Heads for a drink?” Dylan asks.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Skid row desert scenes, women covered in Davy Crocket skins, flights to nowhere and a man with a hat. Travel through eons of space and time only to find yourself broken and reflected in one of Mark Roy Coddington’s new photographic works, Aether, a display opening on September 25 at Tigersnake. His work will also be exhibiting at Ryan Waugh’s Hairdressing.

Mark cut out his eyeballs to replace them with camera lenses.

"It helps, I can steal images direct from my dreams. No more creative problems, but no more vision either."

That doesn’t worry this intrepid photo fiend as he finds ways of exploding even the most innocent victim into his cruel and crippled psyche.

"Human nature is merely a form of slavery to hide the beast. Behind every necktie is a beating, brutal heart waiting to explore the undercurrents of man’s internal world."

And that he does, with his photos illuminating the walls of the Albany shops into a haven of brilliantly technical photographic masterworks, a dead beat vision for tomorrow’s world. Peel your eyelids back and stare vacant into the photographer’s inner workings, his talent of years sprawled upon the walls for the remainder of the Southern Arts and Craft Trail.

Purchases can be made through gorepaniART gallery, phone Annie Brandenburg on 9841 4468.

- Dylan Garrett, The Newspaper arts writer

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I open the door of my apartment to look for the taxi, and get a terrible shock. Dressed in hoodies and baggy pants made from hemp or hessian, garments i later discover were obtained, probably by force, from some poor Laotian fishermen in Byron Bay, are two larrikins i last laid eyes on in Oyster Creek, Carnarvon. The living Dewse and Monkeyboy Zac. A sudden vertiginous fear grips me. Their precipitous arrival here in Albany cannot be a good omen. How did they get past the ring of cops? Last seen back in the bad old days of booze, guns and loose women, the living Dewse and Monkeyboy Zac, together, are like nitro and glycerine. I recollect that long night in the mud and mangroves, pursued by a drunken young woman Monkeyboy let loose with a high-powered rifle.

That was back in the days of cod wrangling at the oyster farm. The sweltering heat. The boredom. The strange, misbegotten mania that can seize a man. Carnarvon. It's a different kind of heat up there.

"Art Director," says Dewse. I consider for a moment just shutting the door and bolting it from the inside. Hunching down below the letterbox slot. I could pretend to be an illusion. I figure they are probably so dosed up on stimulants and hullucinogenic drugs they could never really be sure they actually saw me. Instead i elect to step out onto the street, pulling the door shut behind me. How did they find me here, i wonder?
"How did you find me?" i ask.
A smile crosses Dewse's lips. "I read your blog. It said you were in Albany. We just came down and asked the first person who looked like a journalist where you lived." He shrugs. "It was easy. There was a girl -" here he exchanges a meaningful look with Monkeyboy "- and she was photographing some people in the main street. She said she worked for the paper, and that you lived down the next street, above the hairdressers." He points at that gay party palace beside my front door.

"That girl, ooh," Monkeyboy moans. "She was nice."
I frown. I don't know any nice journalists. "Which one?" i ask.
"She was blond, pretty, skinny -"
"Gertie." I shake my head. "She won't have anything to do with you reprobates."
"Art Director," Dewse says again.
"Good to see you man," he says. He smiles. He has very white teeth.
"I thought you were in Darwin," i say.
"We were, for about six months," Dewse says. "God, it's easy to buy a gun in Darwin. We had a great time there, didn't we Monkeyboy?"
Zac grins. "The women," he says. "Remember that time with the coconuts?"
Dewse nods. "We bought a couple of coconuts each from the Parap Village market," he explains. "And as we walked down the street, carrying these coconuts, every girl we saw just gave us a big smile and bared her breasts." He shakes his head. "Darwin is just tremendous."
Monkeyboy nods. "Except when we got to the nightclub, and they made us check our coconuts at the door," he says. "But they didn't take our weapons."
"So what are you doing here?" i ask.
“Oh, hunting, fishing,” Dewse gestures airily. “Why, what else is there to do?”

Good question. I sigh, and resign myself to a night of mayhem. In spite of my initial trepidation, it is actually good to see these guys again. It’s just that i know i will wake in the morning in some strange place, having done some strange things. It is simply inevitable.

“There’s a shed party,” i say. You want to come? I’ve just called a taxi.”
Zac grins. “No need. I’ll drive. We’ve got the Salmon Wagon. Let's go.” Zac has no patience.
Curious, i follow them down the main street. There is a blue HiAce van, new paint, new peripherals. Zac presses a button on his keyring and the new indicators flash. Central locking. Noice.
“Zac’s not drinking,” Dewse explains. “Much.”
This is what i like to hear. Binge drink responsibly, that’s my motto.
The interior of the van is roomy and, in contrast to the wild wooliness of my companions, surprisingly tidy. There is state-of-the-art stereo system. I climb into the passenger seat. Dewse, in the back, reaches into the bar fridge and extracts a six pack. He hands me a beer, then spreads himself out on the double bed in the back. I notice a well-constructed storage system under the bed. I don’t want to know what is in there. A small armoury of guns, knives, and harpoons, no doubt.

“We’ve caught a fair bit of salmon in this bus, eh Dewse?” Zac says as he fires up the beast. Dewse laughs.
“Oh, i caught a couple of salmon a few weeks ago,” is say, enthusiastically. “We got nine. This big,” i hold my arms wide apart. “Good eating, as long as you bleed them –” I notice they are both staring at me as if i were insane. “What?”
“Not that kind of salmon, mate,” Dewse explains. They are talking, as usual, about women. I’m thrown back in my seat as the Salmon Wagon accelerates up York Street.

Sarah Toa is there, and Catherine. Some other girls i don’t know. The shed party is cranking. It’s a big shed. There is a band, people dancing; drinking. Jezza from Bluemanna is fronting a four-piece outfit. He’s delivering some fervent Oz rap, his mic held upside-down and close. A drummer in a bluey, who looks for all the world like a waterfront worker, is keeping up a steady funk beat, locked in with a solid-looking bloke on a Rickenbacker bass. The guitarist is fast, and good. A boat hangs from the roof. Behind us is a flatbed truck. Behind the dancers , coming out at right angles from the tray of the truck, is what looks like an aluminium house, like some kind of space-age fold-out kit home. I can see people moving around inside. A boy climbs out of a hatch onto the roof to calmly survey the scene. I pour some wine. “Sarah – Dewse, Zac. Dewse, Zac – Sarah.” Sarah says hello and goes back to dancing. Zac starts up a conversation with the blonde girl on the couch. Dewse polishes off another beer and just stands there, grinning.

The evening of saturnalian mayhem is just beginning.

Monday, September 08, 2008


Avid readers. As i rapidly approach my 50th year, still i find myself, even now, thrashing about the countryside in a futile search for wisdom. Still, even now, i plunder exotic and inappropriate places seeking enlightenment. In the nether regions of beautiful women. Atop a pile of nickel rocks in the Victoria Desert. In the cloudy depths at the bottom of a bottle of Cooper’s ale. In the Mongolian yurts of Mount Barker.

But it never used to be like this. When i was young, at that tender age when, in today’s truncated vernacular, i would have been known as a ‘tween’, things were so much simpler. What happened to that naïve and elemental primitive, that clear-eyed boy and his innate oneness with the universe?

When i was a snot-nosed pre-pubescent the days were long, the summers endless. Days spent building wooden carts to race down the hill, afternoons riding pushbikes, skidding down lanes with my cousin, building hideouts, treehouses, cutting a swathe through lupins at the lake with our makeshift wooden machetes, intrepid explorers that we were.

Then one day my mother gave me a pear tree. Like me, it was a mere sapling. I dug a careful, round hole in the garden, pulled away the wet hessian, and planted it. I watered that tree every day for months, nurtured it, fertilised it, until it grew tall and strong. Until one fateful day when it began to bear fruit.

And it was then that it all went pear-shaped.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


Yes, avid readers, it's yet another solo photographic exhibition from the Art Director.

The incredible travelling 'æther' exhibition is but one cog in the mighty machine that is the Great Southern Art and Craft Trail. It follows on from the overwhelmingly overwhelming Western exhibition, held in April at the Queen Street Gallery, Fremantle, as part of FotoFreo 2008.

The opening party, should anyone wish to partake, will kick off at Tigersnake Men's Clothing, Empire Building, 120 York Street, Albany on Thursday September 25. Crack a lager with Tigersnake owner Tim Shocker from 7pm. Just remember, it's Tigersnake, not Trousersnake. Wouldn't want to get those two mixed up.

Works will be exhibited at Trousersnake as well as Ryan Waugh Hairdressing, home to those heathen party animals who live downstairs at 6 Peels Place, Albany. And yes, you're welcome to roll out your swag under our stairs.

The luminiferous æther is a medium for propagation of light, thought in ancient times to fill the upper regions of space, beyond the clouds.

It will all make sense some day.