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Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

Filtering by Category: musings

The Galilee Basin; Part One

Andrew Ryan

The Galilee Basin, found in deep QLD, is massive. It has coal in it. Government wants to make coal mining happen there. In order to make coal mining happen there, they need to develop a port and a rail way to the port from the mine. Government wants to help an Indian company, Adani, develop a rail system to make the mining happen. Stuff started happening in 2014, and now, three years later, with the Great Barrier Reef that much closer to certain death, the mine and the port and the rail way are that much closer to being a reality. there have been ongoing legal hurdles, environmental and native title, hurdles strengthened by citizens who seek to protect the land, and the water that lays beneath it.

 Location of the Galilee Basin, wikimedia commons.

Location of the Galilee Basin, wikimedia commons.

 ABC NEWS Lateline - Barnaby Joyce interviewed by Jeremy Fernandez

ABC NEWS Lateline - Barnaby Joyce interviewed by Jeremy Fernandez

LATELINE, ABC, 12 APRIL 2017

INTERVIEW PART A:

JEREMY FERNANDEZ:         On the matter of the Adani coal railway: is the nation really in such desperate economic circumstances that taxpayers need to put a $900 million loan on the table for a foreign company to build a coal railway?

BARNABY JOYCE:                 OK. First of all, it's a loan. That means you get paid back. And actually, we hope to make money on the loan.
Secondly, it gives us that tipping-point capacity to develop the Galilee Basin. We make money in this nation by the stuff we put on a boat: coal, iron ore, cotton, beef, sheep, grain.

[but what if it doesn’t get paid back? what if the project is a bust? or is it an investment? why aren’t you calling it an investment if you’re planning on getting money back from it?

The Australian Conservation Foundation has had legal advice: the people who approve said-loan, the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility, could face legal action, could be found in breach of their duties if they don’t consider climate change when Considering Financial Risks of the Mine, I wonder if the directors of the NAIF are climate change deniers, there’s gotta be at least one of those guys there right, especially if they’re pro-coal mine development, or are there climate change Acceptors who are pro-coal mine development? people talk about “clean coal", and wouldn’t ya know it, some people BELIEVE in it.

From: Clean coal explained: Why emissions reductions from coal remain a pipe dream
“It works by forcing the exhaust from a coal-fired power plant through a liquid solvent that absorbs the carbon dioxide, heating the solvent to liberate the gas, then compressing it and sending it away for storage underground.
Great in principle, but the technology faces big hurdles in practice.
One is the huge cost and logistical challenge of transporting all the captured carbon dioxide and burying it.
It would require a vast network of pipelines and storage sites.”

doesn't seem very sustainable. also, the thing that really concerns me is the thing that happens to get the coal out of the ground. tearing up ancient landscapes. tearing up ecosystems. continuing deep cycles of environmental, cultural and social abuse through NOT LEARNING A DAMN THING from history or the voices of people who have dedicated their lives to learning about such things, like scientists, for example.
]

INTERVIEW PART D:

BARNABY JOYCE:                …of course there's going to be environmental controls on how you do it. But if you use this sort of blinkered mechanism to say, "Well, we're just not going to export product anymore, especially the one that everybody wants to buy: coal for India, so poor people can turn on lights like we have lights." I mean, surely we...

JEREMY FERNANDEZ:         India is aiming to buy less coal. They're aiming to be coal-free by 2050. This is...

BARNABY JOYCE:                Good luck to them. Good luck to them and God bless them. But in the meantime, they want to buy coal. And really, why are they buying coal? It's not because they want to buy coal. They're buying power. They're buying power because they've got hundreds of millions of people who, I think, have a right to turn on a light like we have a right to turn on a light.

[bit rude, Barnaby, having your One God bless them when you’re very aware that most Indians have Dharmic faiths. Also, there are other ways to power lights. It’s not just coal barnaby. It doesn’t have to be just coal.]

INTERVIEW PART B:

BARNABY JOYCE:                We make money in this nation by the stuff we put on a boat: coal, iron ore, cotton, beef, sheep, grain.
Now, we send that off in one direction and back in the other direction comes your terms of trade: everything you're wearing, everything your listeners - your listeners are watching TVs from overseas; they've probably cooked on a stove from overseas. They're driving a car from overseas.
Well, somebody somewhere has got to be putting something on a boat and sending it in the other direction. And this allows us to do it.
Now, if we stand in front of it and say, "Oh, well, I just don't believe in coal mining anymore or the money you make from it," you're a fool because you'll go broke.

[bit rude, Barnaby, assuming that everyone buys things or wants from overseas, also rude to assume that your audience is a bunch of idiots who don’t understand how global shipping economy works I mean maybe a bunch of people who voted your government in didn’t quite understand the global shipping industry because if they did they probz wouldn’t have voted for free market capitalists like yrselvzz to rule over them with a greedy, clammy, coal-smudged fists but then also maybe they just don’t care, maybe they actually don’t care about changing things for the better because it’s Too Hard or it’s Too Late.
what about the people who don’t buy things over overseas and buy things from Australia or want to buy things from Australia but can’t afford to because global shipping economy has created a situation where things from overseas can be more affordable than local produce, don’t you think that’s weird, Barnaby, weird and kind of shit for local economies, Barnaby, do you, do you think it’s a bit shitty? Don’t you think we should look at that? Or do you just want to keep those ships coming and going because it reminds you of being in a bath tub and playing choo-choo tug-boats with yr mamma
]


INTERVIEW PART C:

JEREMY FERNANDEZ:         I mean, we're talking about 1,500 jobs which is what Adani says under oath: 1,500 jobs. Is that a fair exchange for the contamination of water...

BARNABY JOYCE:                Well, I don't think that. I...

JEREMY FERNANDEZ:         ...for the risks to the Great Barrier Reef?

BARNABY JOYCE:                Well, first of all I think there's indirectly up to 10,000 jobs and many more after that. Secondly, it allows others companies to come into that precinct and also develop coal mines.

[Bruce Currie, farm man from QLD, went to India on an Adani fact finding mission: he found stories of environmental disregard at previous Adani run projects and sites. Illegal land seizing. Fishing catch reduced by 90% in a place where Adani built a port, what use is a job building said port when it’s done and there is no more job and suddenly you can’t even catch fish to feed your family. Worse poverty. Even worse. Coal dust on crops. That’s disgusting. Fucking polluted ground water. The last companies you’re going to trust with environmental issues are the ones that profit from completely ignoring environmental issues.]

INTERVIEW PART E:

BARNABY JOYCE:                And you know, this sort of - This is conceit. This is the sort of conceit where we say, "Oh well, we're all right, Jack and you can just stay poor and cold or poor and hot or just poor and miserable." I don't buy that argument.

[I don’t think many people would argue for keeping people poor and cold or poor and hot or poor and miserable, only callous arseholes would even think of such a thing, what kind of callous arseholes are giving those arguments to you Barnaby they sound horrible. I think most people who don't want the coal mine would be arguing that we can do other things to help alleviate the poverty you’re kind of half-describing without any actual sense of humanity or descriptive recognition of real struggles. Who are you talking about? The poor in india or the poor in Australia? it's hard to tell and you are confusing because your mind works so differently to mine, we seem to care about very different things and your values kind of upset me barnaby]

And the second thing I don't buy is: you've got to actually turn a dollar. If you want to pay for your pensions, if you want to pay for your defence force, if you want to pay for your hospitals, your roads, your school teachers, et cetera, we have got to actually make a buck. And the way we make a buck predominantly in this nation is things we put on a boat. And they're mining products and agricultural products, some services.
But if we start closing our eyes to that and start living in this naive world where you think, "Oh well, we just don't need to do that anymore," well, you'll pay for it because you just won't make the money to be able to pay for all the things that you think are your birthright, such as pensions.

[Yes there are some communities and families and individuals in QLD who may benefit in the short term from this, the short term, maybe a generation if we’re very lucky will benefit from coal mines economically but what about when they empty, when the market grinds to a halt because all those forward thinking nations have hit their energy sustainability targets, the renewables are in mass use, and no one needs your dirty coal? do you even pay attention to what’s going on in the rest of the world? you’ll be dead by then so you don’t care? green money can pay for the pensions too barnaby, we don't have to put things for sale on a boat barnaby, there have to be other ways we can try, why not try something new that might be safer and healthier and more sustainable, why not try?]

-------------------

This shit only gets worse when you look at the Wangan and Jagalingou Native Title / Land Use Agreement stuff surrounding this mine. These things will be covered and explained next week in Part 2. 

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Jigalong, The Pilbara

Andrew Ryan

I’m on a trip. A working trip, a road trip up to the Pilbra to document music workshops and concerts and whatnot put on by a group called Desert Feet Tours. They travel to remote Aboriginal communities in Northern WA a couple of times a year. I’m only going to one community with these guys, a place called Jigalong, around 2 hours drive east-ish of Newman, which is where I’m writing this from.

It took 2 and a half days to drive out here, stopping when the sun went down, lighting a campfire, pulling out the swags, falling asleep early. I spent those first 2 days sitting in the passenger seat of a big ol’ truck that converts in to a stage, and the last half-a-day riding around in the little “troopy” 4wd so we could stop more easily for me take photos along the dirt road from Newman to Jigalong.

I kept something of a little diary as we drove north-east, my first time traveling in this direction from Perth, but it was very, very hard to write in my notebook in both these cars, so fkn bumpy, words scrawled so that they were almost illegible, so I spent most of the time just staring out the window, got a lot of thinking done, not a lot of good thinking for writing though. Two days of staring out the window, felt like I was in a dream, slight out of body experience, not quite all there, existing in the future, but one that was completely foreign, unexpected; my first time in a remote community, my first time in a spot where English was not the first language, my first time on the edge of this desert, hanging out with the descendants of the last of the Martu to be brought out of the desert.

Jigalong’s history is interesting. The Nyiyaparli are the owners of the land this community is on, but given that the Martu were forced out of the desert and placed here by white people during the 50s and 60s, the Nyiyaparli handed the land over to the Martu, traditional ways, granted them custodianship.

You can read more about it here, if you wish : http://www.wangkamaya.org.au/pilbara-history-and-culture

This is some of the stuff I’ve written in my notebook:

Bindoon is for fruit. The roads are bumpy, the town seems to be well off. Sheep too, and horses. Driving through a gash made through a hill, look left, out the window, and see the layered rock folding/folded, pushed up, an angle, tectonic forces or something, pretty.

New Norcia seems shocking in terms of history. I want to go back and explore. Slavery, abuse, stolen generations. Church. Ew. Church. Abuse. The colonial buildings proclaim themselves, overshadowing everything else. Imposing. Rigid.

Pithara looks like it’s close to death. Main road is tiny, shops closed. Looks like it hasn’t had a new building made since the 90s. May turn GhostTown soon.

Past wheat area, now in Mining Country, where native bush/shrub land flourish, looks untouched but it’s probably been grazed into something foreign to natural, introduced hooves trampled for decades, tiny white flowers carpet the red dirt, looks like snow, with a purple tinge, under the overcast afternoon light.

Mt Magnet after dark. The town name reminds me of my childhood, I don't know why, some distant association, not quite tangible, just like almost every other feeling or thought I've had since leaving Perth. Have stopped at the road house for ages, waiting for the others. I want to sleep in the truck but I can't get comfortable. There’s a cat creeping around, bit skittish, a Toll Road Train Driver who pulled in just after us walked by my table after getting himself a snack, so I asked him if the cat was his. “Nah he’s a local Moggy I think”. I texted Emlyn to tell him I could hear the capital M in the way the driver said Moggy. I made the driver smile.

~~~

Moving through those areas, and the areas in the time afterwards, and spending time on this little chunk of land, so far from anything I am familiar with both culturally and environmentally, I have been asking myself a lot of questions, have had lots of thoughts come in. It’s interesting. It’s challenging. It’s hilarious and it’s brutal, it’s hard and it’s easy. It’s weird. But it’s good. I have nothing proper to say about it all as yet, it’s all still floating unformed in the air above my consciousness. There’s always so much to learn. So much to consider. Here they take days to make a decision. Days to have quiet chats in comfortable space with trusted people to decide on what to do about a thing. Things here stay broken for a long time because it's too expensive to get anything fixed. The local people aren't trained to fix things themselves. I have thoughts but there's not much room for another white person to make comments about things they know little about. I sit and I watch and I think and I photograph and I smile at the kids and I let them use my camera and I appreciate the sky and the sunset and I kick the stones as I walk and I crave a cigarette but I don't smoke one and I hope to see the brumbies galloping on the edge of town again even though I know they're bad for the natural environment, and I remember the rabbit I saw just outside of Mt Magnet, it had myxomatosis , it's eyes are scarred and closed and it looked weak, pained, and my heart went out for it, even though it is a pest, the disease was introduced in the 50s to destroy the rabbit populations but it hasn't destroyed them, it's only inflicted pain on them for decades.

I'll go back out to the kids. Go back out to my job. Try not cry because of my nicotine craving. Try not to cry about how unfair it is that their grandparents were forced to leave their homelands, their country. Try not to cry about the death of the young man who crashed on the road to town last night. This is not a sad time though. It is just intense.

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Punk is Dead but Gardens are Not

Andrew Ryan

I’ve gotten this idea in my head that I can gain skills in medicinal herbology. It comes as an extension of my interest in Australian native plants, my desire to help people, and my lack of trust/faith in global capitalism.

I want to be a botanist, or a witch, or something, or at least have some skills in that scientific area; I want to be able to recognise a plant anywhere it may be growing and know by sight if it would be good for stopping bleeding, or for reducing swelling, or reducing blood pressure, or helping a sore throat, or any of the bajillion other properties plants have when interacting with human/animal physiology, and I want to know how to properly prepare and administer these plants. I kinda want to be an expert in Australia medicinal plants in whichever area of country I settle in and I want to learn the history of the use of those plants and I want to learn everything else: not even just medicinal, but all the edible plants too, because well-rounded diet is number one thing for health, after all.

I reckon if people were filling their gardens with edible natives, that would be a very nice thing, for many reasons. And I reckon if the information about what plants are edible was spread, and people could just go and eat the food when they’re going for walks, instead of munching on doritoes or tiny teddies, that would be pretty nice too.

I would like to live in a world where this way of thinking is the norm, but I can’t see it happening in my lifetime, and that makes me a bit sad. There’s too much entrenched systemic workings going on in society, too many people with too much money and not enough inclination to change. It’s not as if I want to force the world to change or anything (I say this because I have been accused of such thinking before), because forcing people to do things isn’t very good for creating an environment where people are comfortable and not scared. I mean, how can you force people to do things without making them fearful of brutal repercussions? You can’t. And what kind of life is one where you are always uncomfortable and scared? Not great. I live it, to a very small extent, every day, and so do many others, in much more pronounced ways too, and the whole point of this change of lifestyle I am dreaming of is to not be scared any more; to know where my food comes from, to understand the land I live on, to have control over my life, to survive on my own, to not be at the whim of global food trading, to cuts costs, to opt out of certain modern ways of being that I feel morally uncomfortable with, and to raise my children to have the same knowledge, knowledge I will have to work incredibly hard to gain myself.

I’m gonna be traveling through big non-ubran areas for a little while again, eventually ending up back at the place of my birth. And once I get there, I’m pretty intent on building up my skills as quickly as possible so I can make up for all the time I lost while I was figuring out which skills I wanted to build up (see: my youth). I am keen to get working on creating a world for myself (and anyone who wants to join) where good food and natural medicine is easily obtainable, a world where I am self-reliant; a world where I’m working from a mixture of traditional knowledge and modern scientific understandings to make a nice time.

Last time I had an AH-HAH moment like this, it was Social Work. Now it’s fucking Botany. My intellectual, emotional and creative needs seem all over the place, but I think I’ve found a couple of courses that will provide some satisfaction, and more importantly a good push towards the academic and badass practical applications of these skills:

- Involvement in environmental regeneration? Tick.

- Native food and medicine understanding to decrease personal reliance on introduced crops and commercial products and then pass on the knowledge to young people through youth work programs and community development initiatives? Sure.

- Involvement in biofuel research? Possibly!

But there is still a part of me that feels like I’m too old. Just turned 28, and it feels weird to think that once I’ve finished the three TAFE courses in wildly different fields I’d like to do before I enter university again, one of which I have started but have had to put on hold while I’m homeless and waiting for Pete to rock up in his van to drive us back to Perth… once I’ve finished those courses I will probably be in my 30s. That kind of weirds me out, and that little bit is almost enough to make me not want to do it. Almost.

But, I have had to ask myself seriously, what else would I rather be doing with the rest of my 20s? Certainly not what I have been doing up until this point. I’ve been sick of boozing for the sake of party for a while now, completely sick of bar work too, sick of going places just to take photos of musicians, sick of getting bummed out every time I leave the house and see that despite our “best efforts”, punk – the thing that drove me and got me through my youth – has done nothing to change society for the better, because advertising and marketing only gets more insidious, sturdy old buildings still get replaced by not-built-to-last units, ancient trees still get felled, and real estate agents still get paid more than social workers.

The day after David Bowie died, I watched an interview with him from the 90’s in which he talked about the power of the internet as a communication technology, as a new media. In this interview, he mentioned that rock and roll was no longer revolutionary, not like it used to be, and it hasn’t been for decades now. I’ve been thinking about that a lot, and I agree. It gave me the same feeling I had as I walked around this exhibition a few months ago that contemporary music culture, especially in Australia, leaves a lot to be desired. There is nothing left in rock and roll culture that cannot be commercialized and bastardised by assholes for their own personal gains. And so there is a big, cultural gap that begs to be filled.

I mean, the amount of things that I, and so many others, perceive as cruel or wrong or shit or embarrassing about the way this nation is run, the way people are treated, the way resources are distributed, all that stuff, is pretty large. For how rich this country is, we’re not doing a great job of looking after people in need. This nation is pretty good at being an asshole these days, and very few people are expressing their frustration with it through music, and if they are, not many people are listening and getting inspired. But people still feel the anger.

I remember when Tony Abbott came in, both myself and fellow CPN writer Lyndon Blue both came to the conclusion that perhaps some interesting punk sensibility would come out of the inevitable political and societal shit-fight we both saw coming. But in the time since then, I haven’t really clocked anything that fits what I was expecting/hoping for. Which isn’t to say there has been nothing interesting going on. I am lucky enough to have seen a few fucking inspiring, intelligent and downright enjoyable musical expressions of political dissent and social critique… but their audiences are always too small for how good they are.

I’ve seen some great brutal, heavy music that is quite popular, but it’s nihilistic and aggressive. I’ve seen some great brutal, almost unlistenable noise acts play, but it’s anarchistic and kind of solitary. Same with the dark ambient stuff I was listening to last year- rich, satisfying, creatively inspirational, good listening… but revolution doesn’t seem to exist in music anymore without being covered by layers of melancholy, sadness, or hopelessness.

So as I said, I perceive a gap there, a gap I feel would be well filled (and indeed are beginning to be filled) by the revolutionary voices of those who are not of predominantly Anglo-European descent. But that’s an exploration for another time.

The point is, I refuse to lie down and cry anymore, refuse to agree with so many people I know when they say: “there’s nothing we can do about it”, it being frustration with political situation, frustration with social inequalities, because there are so many fucking things we can do about it, you just have to use your head and follow your heart and all that shit. Everyone is capable of doing it, especially if you exist anywhere between the middle and upper classes in Australia, but everyone has the ability to care, and show care, for your fellow human being. And, I guess, you know, my style is, when I have a garden to figure it all out in, is to become a Good Witch and train to be a Good Scientist and learn how to harness the healing powers of plants. Revolutionary.

Photo: Penny Rimbaud, of Crass, in the garden of the artist commune started by the band

Exploring New Waters

Andrew Ryan

Today I started writing this bunch of words while sitting on a beach near Sandringham, a costal suburb of Melbourne. It is on the ancestral lands of the Bunurong People, part of the Kulin Nation. Here is a story from this group of people. Here is some history about their interaction with European settlers.

My good friend Caroline drove us there; she is an archeology student, and she had snorkels in her car that she forgot about, even though snorkelling is one of her favourite things to do. Luckily, she found them in the back of the car and the place we stopped was pretty interesting for an inexperienced snorkeler like myself. I am determined to do it some more. I have fallen in love with the activity.

Caroline told me earlier in the day, as we were driving around the area looking for shade to sit in by the beach because it was fkn hot and the sun was out real good, that this area is made up of red sandstone, tinged by iron, and is of international geographical significance. This part of the country is what all other parts of our landmass of the same age (Late Miocene) are referenced from.

There are reefs of the sandstone all along that stretch of coast, as well as cliffs, and on our chosen pocket, named Ricketts Point North, we found ourselves stepping over ironstone concretions, where the sandstone has worn away to leave nodules, almost tubes, of these solid bits of iron stuff, making us wonder if we were walking over old piping from early colonial days in some sections, or fossilised tree roots in others. It was fascinating. All problems washed away and I was taken to another time, imaging what it would have been like if that area once was covered in trees, got me thinking about weather changes and sea levels and the impact of humans…

Past these reefs, it’s shallow for quite a few metres out, with plenty of underwater plants and little rocky bits to peer at. I saw all kind of small crustaceans scuttling around, and tiny fish, and also shellfish, which are specifically protected in that spot. You’re not allowed to eat the little guys in that area, I suppose, they’re only for non-humans to eat, which would not be a problem for the local residents I imagine, because the houses in the area are of the size to imply that very few of the folk who dwell within them have much inclination to live off the land. Those houses are ones to view nature from within, behind windows. They don’t strike me as places in which to shelter in-between stints of interacting with nature beyond activities that serve only to prepare your body to be more attractive. I wonder if traditional land owners would claim rights to eat the shellfish… though given it has only been protected for 14 years or so, populations of the protected species are nowhere near a size that could support a community to eat from it every day.

I watched a group of Black Swans rummage through what seemed to be a shellfish hotspot, if the piles of shells under the shallow water were anything to go by- and I watched them from underneath the water, with my snorkel on, belly hovering close above the seabed because it was so shallow, seeing something that not many humans get to see in real life. I felt incredible, completely connected to my surroundings, careful not to startle them, and once I’d emerged I didn’t stop smiling until my feet were burning on the 40+degree baked sand.

A few metres east from where the swans were feeding is a bunch of rocks with an algae growing that looks very similar to one I’d seen in an English history show that Caroline and I have watched many, many episodes of in the last week (Edwardian Farm). The algae was used to supplement the diet of the poor who lived in the coastal region of the area the show was based. I was pondering on whether or not is was indeed edible, as I imagined that if it was of similar nutritional content to the one discussed in the show, then I could be sitting very close to some free and excellent nutrients. Upon returning home, Caroline researched it and is indeed the same algae- ulva lactuca, more commonly known as sea lettuce. We missed the opportunity to try it, and I find myself internally cursing the evolution of contemporary society, that such information is only available by those who care to look for it, and that populations numbers are such that if everyone were to know that information, the algae could disappear from over-consumption. She’ll go back and nibble on some I’m sure, but I probably won’t get the opportunity to do so again before I jump in Pete’s van and accompany him back to Perth, where I can live comfortably closer to the ocean and snorkel to my hearts content!

P.S. While he’s been driving from Perth to Melbourne, his cousin has been filming all the things with the intention of making a documentary. I’ll be filming on the way back, if my camera doesn’t die, and we’re all hoping to raise as much money as possible to make this documentary the best it can be: here is the link to the Pozible campaign, watch the video for a taste, have a look at the special treats you can get in exchange for the dollars you donate, and let’s all have a lovely special thing to be part of!

The Ultimate Revelation of a New Year's Reveler

Andrew Ryan

The peaks rose like mountains in the distance, over where the revellererrerers were enacting their heathen celebrations of the heathen holiday, the mass of humans that trip over themselves and everyone else to reach their own peaks of intoxication, stomping and trudging to go and get wasted, those people in pure celebration of Not Having To Work, saving the wages they’ve earnt since the last year’s outlet of Twelve Months pent up expression, saving for expensive alcohol and drugs to distract them from having had to work or study all year, to enable them to not give a single shit about anything but their own party, to feed their cognitive dissonance.

That dissonance rules all behaviour during the year-change ceremonies. Or any other ceremonies. Or any other time, days, encounters; broader society chooses to forget or ignore that every thing ends, every single thing ends, even the stars, they end, even the propulsion of energy, that ends, nothing lasts forever, not their cheaply made clothing, not their supply of pingers, or internet, or petrol for their cars. They choose to forget or ignore the history of the land, why they’re even there, what happens to the cans when they finish the drinks in them.
All of their resources are spent on the moment, the joyous moment, and no thought is given to the consequences.

But what can you expect from living in a culture that actively encourages such attitudes? I didn’t like being in the thick of it much, you may be able to tell.

So they gathered, all forgetting, all dropping their rubbish on the grass under the huge fabric peaks that represent their best, everyone’s best, dancing like they need to expel the contents of their stomachs, talking to each other like they need to expel the contents of their souls, doing push-ups like they have to expel the energy of every sexual frustration, all of it an expulsion of every discomfort they’ve felt while living in a society of many, many, many human beings who are born in to the expectation that to live is to never accept degradation, to ignore its effects. A denial of the innate nature of existence rules them. They are slaves to the denial of entropy and history more than simply to wages.

And we heard their cries from outside the tiny strip of forest, the trees that the most recent “owners” of the land had chosen to leave for the sake of wind-breaking over those particular fields (the land traditionally belongs to the Wathaurung people), it did nothing to quiet the noise of yelling, of shouting, of the thousands of humans applauding the entertainment brought to them from across the oceans, now that the sun was down they were more excited, louder applause because those guests to the land were exotic, they’d heard them on the radio heaps too, whilst I, on the other side of the trees, wondered if the invisible fumes of exhaled chemical intoxications would drift over to us and permeate our lungs and skin with the worship of systems we found to not ring true within us. I was enjoying the company of my best friends, but the thoughts of what lie on the other side knotted my brow in frustration.

A young woman ran to our campsite and asked for company while she waited to be picked up by her boyfriend. She was emotional, insecure, chatty and alone. Nick and I sat with her to make sure she was safe, and she told us her life story. Through conversation I came to understand that she had trust issues, she didn’t believe in herself; she assumed her friends didn’t like her, she felt uncomfortable around them because they made fun of her for wanting to grow her own food, she did not know her mother, an Ethopian refugee. When Nick had gone back to camp for a moment, I waved off the attentions of strangers with predatory looks in their eyes as they asked if we needed a lift back to town, us sitting on the outskirts of the celebration, two young ladies without a man there to wave off that unwanted attention simply by being there with us. Predators prowling the edges, looking for weak prey. That is why I sat with her when she first asked for company.

In the morning, the sun scorched through our cheap tents and drove us in to fresh air, and we packed up our things, I picked up all the ciggie butts and guitar strings, it was spotless when we left, then went with the band so they could play underneath the peaks we saw from the distance all night before.

Finally there, we felt the lightheartedness we missed when we were on the other side of the trees, in the fields, because it was shady under the tent, at least, and in the performer’s area there were refreshing drinks provided, wet towels, clean toilets, fruit platter, no drunken revelers screaming in excitement, though the dust from the road and the heat of the sun was inescapable. I washed my hands and face many times. Sweat and dust create a paste on your skin very quickly.

And then Peter and his band played, and there were some revelers singing along to the songs they knew, that was real nice, and the video I’d made for the occasion was played on the huge screen behind them; I could barely see it but I was proud anyway, and Pete loved it too, and that’s all that really mattered.

After that, we swam in the ocean. We swam and I forgot all about everything because the view of the cliffs facing the ocean and the feeling of the Antarctic-ly chilled water was better than any drug I have ever encountered, and I looked at my beautiful friends splashing in the water, I looked at the horizon, and felt nothing but pleasure, dove in to the water and connected with nature and decided that was all I needed to stay strong enough to fight the ills of the heathen consumer culture I’d just witnessed, in those fields that were left so dirty by the thousands who didn’t give a shit about anything except their own party. All I needed was nature to remind me that to be human is not to ruin your home, but to be a part of it.

The end.

Anecdotes of a Pipeline Town

Andrew Ryan

A few years ago I spent some time in a small town in rural Western Australia. I’ve written about it for Cool Perth Nights before, but it’s been on my mind lately, as I’m heading back to WA soon to live within walking distance from the ocean. So here is the story of my time in the town.

After living in Melbourne from age 21-26, I got a one-way ticket back home for a friends wedding – my mum paid for it, and I couldn’t afford a return ticket – so I ended up staying west and taking a job in a hotel in this country town, because I was sick of the city, and I wanted to do something different.

This country town is positioned along C.Y. O’Connor’s pipeline, on in-between-er mining/agricultural zoning on Kaprun lands, home of the Kalaamaya language. The town has a population of around 700 people, a number that has decreased massively since the mining boom days, and it seems to be kept from becoming a ghost town (like many others around it) because the highway between Perth and Kalgoorlie runs right through it. That is where the hotel I lived and worked at was situated: on the highway.

The town was lined with empty shops owned by one man, the man who owned the hotel I worked at, and the shops were all empty because he wouldn’t reduce the rent on them in order to encourage small businesses to flourish. In the windows of these shops, there were printed and laminated signs that helpfully reminded passerbys to smile. The town used a lot of water to keep the ornamental plants healthy, but the fruit and veg they imported to sell in the local supermarket was expensive and nearly rotting.

~~~

One time while I was working, I met a guy who was riding his bike from the eastern states to Perth. His face was red with wind+sun burn. He was the only person I met who came through the hotel who was around my age and not a bogan or a businessman. I bought a six-pack after I knocked off work that night, went to his room, knocked on the door, and invited him to sit on the pipeline and share the beers with me. He told me about his travels and we got along fine, though I remember worrying that I was too much of a downer to be asking a stranger to join me in beers and conversation.

I got to know the guy who ran the junk shop on the main street; he was the only person in the town I could talk to about permaculture without being scoffed at. He was lovely, worked for the council, had a little mine somewhere out of town so her could fossick for gold, a little extra income, and he taught the local kids how to play chess. We drank wine and smoked ciggies in his shop and talked about philosophy, spirituality, writing, music and art. He wanted to meet my mother, and gave me a gift to give to her when I left town.

I spent some time with a lady who volunteered at the museum; I think she liked me at first because her grand-daughter and I share the same name. She drove us around to show me some of the local sights, told me about growing up in the area, told me about her mother being taken away from her family’s lands near the Nullabor, showed me how to recognise a kangaroo resting spot, allowed me in to her home and showed me the photos of her family that completely cover the walls of her loungeroom. She was kind and gentle, but fierce.

One day, in a moment of frustration during one of my visits, she told me that the father of her children takes advantage of his role as a social worker in Kalgoorlie: he and his brother would supply some of the women who come in from the remote areas with booze and cigarettes in exchange for sex. The way she spoke about it was telling, and heartbreaking. Not only was she disgusted with the behaviour of the man, but she was also disgusted with the women. She spat the word “Black” when she described them, even though she too was an Aboriginal woman, though of more Caucasian heritage than the women she was speaking of.

In another conversation, she told me she suspects that even though she has won more Bowls tournaments than any other member of her Bowls Club, she will never be promoted from Vice President to President, purely because of her skin colour. She is the only Aboriginal lady in the team. I sighed, nodded my head, then shook it, and told her I think that is unfair.

A young woman I met, granddaughter of my boss, told me about some people close to her. The boy she most recently kissed at the time of our conversation witnessed his father stab his mother to death. He lives in a tiny room behind the local chemist. She brought food to him most days. I saw him riding his BMX around the town every day, always alone. She also told me that her brother’s girlfriend stabbed her step-father because he was physically abusive to the girl’s mother and sister.

When I first started working at the hotel, my boss told me I wasn’t allowed to go to the other pub in town, and at first I saw no reason to, so complied. But then I was invited by my new friends, and I went there because I do what I damn well please, and I experienced the revelery that was lacking in my workplace, the freedom of stories being shared, the personalities of humans that one can only see after the sun goes down and blood streams flow with booze.

The town suffers, a lot, but there is beauty amongst the pain, the monotony, the failing crops and shut down mines. I just wish the people there weren’t so fucking stubborn so as to completely ignore ideas about sustainable localized food production, but I feel like maybe the junk-shop owner will teach the local kids more than just chess skills, and then maybe things in the town will start to change for the better.

Finding New Horizons: On Perception

Andrew Ryan

So about two months ago I decided to start studying Youth Work, almost on a whim, after spending a night at work standing in the band room bar serving drinks to heaps of people who came to see a band called “The Stiffys”.

I felt pretty weirded out at how strongly I felt like my time was worth far more than the less than $25 dollars an hour I was getting paid to be in that situation with that band when I could have been spending that time making my own art, or like, reading a book from which I could learn about native title or neuroscience or ethics and morality or something/// it’s not often I feel like my time is wasted in that venue/// goddammit novelty/joke bands that do pop styling and glorify idiotic sentiments and ARE JUST HAVING A GOOD TIME GUYS have so much to answer for.

You know the type, capitalising on a majority-well-off-white-crowd who clap and scream in laughter at songs about erections and body boarding as the singer repeats the words “WE’RE AN ART ROCK BAND” between each song, and I think I’m a fairly gooooood judge of humans in music venues by now, and from what I could tell, those audience members looked like they would have brought a cheaply made colourful party hat and vanilla flavoured cupcakes to a Birthday Party gig if Triple J told them over and over for weeks that it was bound to be the Coolest Show Of The Year.

But I guess, like, you know, they’re entertainers.

…so I had an epiphany that night, born of disillusionment and social-issue pains, and within the month I was enrolled in an Open Colleges Certificate IV in Youth Work, something I never, ever, ever, ever expected of myself, but something that makes so so so so so so much sense now that I’m deep in it, sitting at home in front of my computer, researching the ever-loving shit out of everything related to the questions in my assessments, with a whole bunch of books I’ve collected over the years sitting in milk-crates behind me, books that completely relate to this thing I’m studying which I never thought I would study. Seems like I knew what to do without even knowing it. And I got a HD for my first assessment!

Looking at and also spending a long time thinking about case studies of hella-troubled young people is teaching me how to open my heart and focus on learning how to actually care for people, which is something I’ve found difficult to do in the past. I mean, I’ve tried to care for people, but I never really could, not properly, because I used to struggle with shit memories of abuse, you know? Childhood trauma. And I still do, struggle I mean; those memories are always going to be there, but it’s something I feel a bit more at ease with these days thanks to having access to a free (government funded) counseling service specially tailored for victims of sexual abuse and assault. Those services are there, but when I was younger, when I was more “at risk”, when I was going through puberty and my mind was still developing, and I was traumatised without evening knowing it, I was just diagnosed with depression and that was it, medication for you girl, I had no idea, and I didn’t know how to seek real help, and I didn’t know what to do, so I spent years drinking away all the memories, cutting myself if I felt upset, just being like: WHATEVER I’M YOUNG/DRINKING ALL THE TIME IS FINE/ and also: FUCK I WISH I WAS DEAD and also: oh yeah, whatever, and also: PLEASE SOMEONE JUST HELP ME and also: FUCK EVERYONE I’LL FIGURE THIS SHIT OUT MYSELF.

Resilience. I had it all along but I couldn’t see it. I would love to help other people going through similar and worse shit to see it in themselves too. And also get them connected to other people who wanna help them too.

It’s an interesting perspective shift, to go from experiencing life as one who is fighting personal trauma (on top of multi-generational trauma from both sides of the family) and trying to be a good person, but feeling like I kept failing over and over, to deciding “fuck it, I’m going to learn how to help people who need help” and then to suddenly find yourself to be one who has almost left the adversity behind, and is actively working on helping what is left over, and is charging headfirst towards a (fingers crossed) ripple effect of care and warmth and safety for others. I am not perfect, no one is, but I feel a whole lot better about the fact that I am alive and standing and stretching and productive and capable of loving other human beings than I ever have been before. It’s weird how perspective changes can so fundamentally affect the way you treat yourself and your history. It’s nice how years of searching for the right educational training (after plenty of educational drop-outs) can finally get you on to something that feels right. It’s just a bummer that education isn’t free in order to make that process easier and quicker.

VIC/NSW Border in Spring with Races

Andrew Ryan

We left Melbourne City for a country get-a-way on a sports-based public holiday.

Southern Cross Station was full of humans; it was very, very busy, and many, many, many of them were waiting to get on a specially-specified train that would take them from that biggest train+bus station in the City straight to the station that was the one next to the Race-Course, where the horses ran around in a circle and The Nation Was Stopped because loads of people thought it was good and proper and expected and fun to dress a certain way and get drunk and do gambling on the outcome of the constructed competition of some beautiful animals who were bred specifically to do running around in a circle for the entertainment of humans who thought that it was good and fun and proper and expected and entertaining to take pleasure in that thing.

hashtag raceday hashtag cupday hashtag racethatstopsanation hashtag colosseum hashtag cocaine hashtag downfall

So Pete and I weaved through and sat near that cultural and corporate muck for about 40 minutes longer than we originally intended to, because we’re good travellers who prefer the ease of being early than the stress of being too close to being on time, waiting for the train that would take us to Bendigo, from which we would take a bus to the border of Victoria and New South Wales, to a town of about 12,000 humans, a town named Echuca. Took about four hours of solid public transport travelling through regional area, something I would recommend to everyone who eats food in this country.

Why? Because you see it, you see heaps of it. Regional Australia is where heaps of our food grows, and where most of the Liberal/National Party Coalition voters grow, and viewing some of it from a coach-bus that winds through towns you’ve never heard of that have loads of humans living their lives in and around all that agriculture is an interesting thing if you’re open to the experience of it.

You see where the cows that you eat live. You see where some apples and pears come from. You wonder where the pigs are. You look at the pastures and the sky, the clouds, and the road and the intermittent suburban sprawl from a strangely bus-elevated view-point through polarized windows with protection from Victorian (European understanding of climate) spring rain, and everyone on that bus is just doing their thing, going where they gotta go, and everyone outside of that bus is just doing their thing, and it’s a funny brain thing to move through that country so quick and wonder what the stars are like without all of the light pollution and then you can connect-wonder to be like: “what the fuck was it like to live in this climate before colonialism?”, and it’s a fucking awful bummer that very few people can even attempt to answer that question with true knowledge, because the people who lived there first were brutally removed from that land for the sake of the cows and the wheat and unseen-pigs and the apples and pears and everything else. Fields and Fields and Fields of it.

And the traditional ancestral owners of that land? They’re either fighting a badly weighed legal battle for claims on that land, or they’re unknowing of their ancestral ownership because of colonial land-grabbing-forced-removal-with-heaps-of-people-with-guns,

and then the decades upon decades of governmental policies that made sure their great-grandparents and every generation after that had no more connection with the land their families were born-and-raised on (sustainably) for thousands of years before the guns, for the continued sake of the cows and the wheat and the unseen pigs;

and/or maybe the true owners straight up can’t even think about that stuff because of the many other reasons that any human that lives on any part of this planet can’t deal with anything outside of their own immediate survival+the survival of their children;

like how it’s hard to be flush with cash and legal resources if you don’t have access to affordable education and affordable healthcare and all that stuff that some people easily get and not everyone else can easily get…

…and on that Cup Day on the bus on the way to Echuca the bus driver decided to play the radio feed of the Horse Race while we drove north north north inland and I remember looking out the window with my hand gripping a little anxiously on Pete’s leg, enamoured by the view, and also confronted by the older gent wearing colourful suspenders who walked up and down the aisle forcing conversation with strangers who didn’t want it, creeping around, looking for a chat on a packed bus, I didn’t trust him… (I wish I could have walked the journey with rain-proof clothing and rain-proof portable shelter because I want to experience what that is like one day but whatever; another time): BUT: Murray River for the first time, and an old-time colonial port that still stands;;;;;;;;;; Oh the photos, the history, the bushland, the water.

Border town: We slept on someone else’s property, as we always do, always.

We walked through riverside bushland close to residential areas on paths made by decades of non-mindful feet but also cars. I pissed in the bush and no one looked, not even Pete. We saw introduced weeds and graffiti on trees and bridges, saw piles of burnt clothes and bags of clothes possibly waiting to be burnt, and I saw cow’s milk being poured in to the river by the tired old white guy who made coffees for tourists on the tourist paddle steamer we paid tourist dollars to stand and sit on, while I drank my tourist priced glass of wine and watched Pete watch the rain drops fall in to the river. I took photos like a tourist. I took photos of some of the tourists. I took photos of all the staircases I saw that lead from the water up to the bank on the New South Wales side of the river;;;;; How’s that epic bank erosion?

And I didn’t see a single mention of the Yorta Yorta Nation on any of the tourist placards touting seriously stupid colonial historical information around the tourist walks and points of tourist interest, or anywhere else in the town for that matter, and the only pub that was open on Cup Day was The America Hotel, which was hosting a big ol’ Cup Day Celebration complete with a dude of Islander ethnicity playing covers of shitty American pop/rock songs for hours while everyone in the venue ate overpriced “contemporary American cuisine” and got drunk on whatever booze they felt like ordering, and I could see them posting photos of themselves being dressed up in their cheaply-made special hats, special dresses, special suits and shoes on social media. We sat amongst that muck until we couldn’t take that culture anymore and got the fuck out of there. Hashtag bourgeois.

The next day, we visited the local antique shop and I paid $2 to take home an old photograph of a white man smoking a ciggy in what looks like war bunker + a letter that was sent by a man named Brian from 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, from Korea, to a woman named Helen for her 21st birthday. I can’t make solid assumptions about the date because the stamp has been torn off. But. Korea, maybe the 50’s? Brain said he’d been trudging through water, and had seen no battle as yet, and more to the point, had seen no “Chinamen”.

And on the bus home, looking at more Fields and Fields and Fields out the polarized windows, with those #history items in the backpack I carry my camera around in everywhere, the one that has the Aboriginal flag painted on the front, I wonder: “How the fuck would you feel trying to defending your land against a foreign invader who’s coming at you with more advanced weaponry than your culture has ever considered even being as a thing that is necessary?”

Pretty fucking flabbergasted, I imagine. And then angry. And then fucked up when you couldn’t defend against those military weapons anymore.

The descendants of the people who survived those wars on this land, they’re likely to feel pretty fucked up too. And everyone who lives on this land has to deal with that.

But it doesn’t have to be guns any more. We’ve got cultural understanding. We’ve got social inclusion. Humanity is a family.

Straya.

Spring Creativity

Andrew Ryan

Slowly feeling more at ease in this city again, after the ravages of winter drift away, and sprigs of spring shoot up and through the ethnically diverse array of plant life in my area, over days and weeks and sometimes hours, the sky opening and closing according to the whims of Antarctic wind and whatever else influences the weather here (will I ever learn, it’s been nearly 7 years??)… I wander around, mostly non-shivering, re-acclimatizing to a mostly sunny world outside of my bedroom and my workplace and my layers of winter clothing. And I take my camera out too, because there is plenty to be documented, if only to satisfy my own need to capture the fleetingness of inspiration and expression, whatever happens around me that I’m worried I’ll forget, or even to capture the aspects of the culture I know and understand, the culture that nurtured me, the one that keeps me here for the time being…

This weekend I took some photos of a two-day album recording session.

It hasn’t been very long since I took photos of a recording session. A few weeks ago I dropped in to a studio in Coburg, a real nice one I can’t remember the name of, and snapped for around 20 minutes the improvised drone sounds of First Response. Apparently I will be featured on the album as something like: “additional footsteps by Tahl Palm”. Lucky the band was too loud to have my camera snaps recorded as they played. Camera shutter but Tahl Palm. The photos looked good, though. I had to leave quickly; that project is an intimate experience between the two players that I could not comfortably be long a part of.

But before that time, it was aaaaaaages ago: WASP, the band that Poiter Bibby played drums in back before he left for tour and things and decided that Melbourne was too cold and grey and nice-beach-less for his sunny-boy disposition. That band he played drums in was a great band, (this video features their stand-in drummer because Pete was on tour) and all the players are fucking sweet (and are also going on to do some interesting things, more of which will mostly likely be documented too, unless it involves me going to a city nightclub in which case SORRY LOUIS NO WAY but, John, I would watch you play anywhere because I’m fucking glad you’re writing your own songs now xxx). I followed them (WASP) to Sydney earlier in the year – that was a mind opening and friendship discovering time, a very interesting and fondly thought of time – and then they recorded once they were back in Melb but no release as of yet, as far as I am aware… and I’ve still got all the footage for a documentary ready for when I’ve got some free time… but yeah, that was ages ago. Seeya next week Peeta!

So I found myself back at The Bank, same place as WASP recording, but different and bigger room; a room that has been the host of many-a-night spent watching friends play music (ey, Perth, Lalić is one of those bands, they’ll be back your way very soon) surrounded by wonderfully like-minded humans in a place where liquor licenses and security guards weren’t a thing, until the council cottoned on and now it’s back to purely artist studios and recording spaces and darkroom (and legit council approved domicile)… Oh, Bureaucracy, the bane of my existence; both as a word to spell and a system to live under. Sigh. You’ll die soon, I’m sure of it. No one has the stamina anymore; there are far too many variables these days.

But this one! The band are called Drug Sweat.

I posted like four photos to my instagram account, that’s how excited I was about it. Because IT’S GONNA BE A FUCKING GOOD ALBUM DUDES. Really good, musically fuckyeah, punk with excellent guitarists and hectic vocalists and electronic beats as well as real drums, all very catchy and driving, good shit. There are songs about drugs and songs about chodes. One song even sounds like a VB commercial. We all got pumped about making a music video for it, though I’m not sure it will be me they choose to make it.

It was the first time I’d encountered a recording session that wasn’t completely live. Or even, it was the first time I’d sat in on one for more than a few hours. I think it was about 11 hours in total I spent sitting there and walking around and taking photos and rescuing beers from the fridge to be given to the hungry mouths in the room and also helping feed when the Japanese food shop was closed and also contributing to the layer of smoke that hung in the air and observing quietly and also being a nice friend to whoever wanted it. And I learnt things too.

I learnt about drum recording techniques, and I learnt about the humans who were playing and recording (three of the five band members I had never met before, except for one briefly, who’s keyboard I confiscated from the bar at my workplace after it sat there for fkn ages as humans drank far too merrily around it for it to be safe from harm), and I learnt about what Ableton Live looks and works like thanks to Liam’s acceptance of my seating position behind his Recording Boss computer screen, I watched hard at what he was doing, it was good. That guy teaches me many things in all kinds of ways without even meaning to.

Thanks Liam. Thanks Drug Sweat. Thanks Zen. Thanks nature. Thanks culture. I’ll let y’all know when the album comes out.

Unsent Letters and a Three Day Rager

Andrew Ryan

I can’t stop listening to this song on repeat, you know when that happens? It vibrates through me, and I’m still not sick of it.

Unsent letters; I’ve got a few in digital and milk-crate storage. The things I’ve felt over the years, ohhhhh boy do they stack up on top of each other in all of my notebooks. So many threats of paper cuts, so many attempts at origami, splashed in spilt red wine and dusted with cigarette ash.

I heard the song for the first time in years and years and years the other night, when I was catching up with a friend who knows me real well at a bar I rarely go to, and Tame Impala was being played over the sound system a whole bunch of times and so was Radiohead, and I was feeling very, very nostalgic, and sad too, and then this song came on and it was perfect. I googled it when I woke the next morning, hung over for the many-th day in a row, luxuriating in tired melancholy, looking forward to therapy, exhausted from three days of a loud and sweaty and masculine driven music festival at my workplace (they called it a “rager”)- two days/nights of those were very exhausting working times, the last day was a non-working wind-down in the scene of the crime, but with my camera in tow, waiting for the sunglasses to come out, donned in doors at night after more intoxication and more aggressive partying, of which I was taking no part in.

I got a much needed massage today, achey as I have been from the bar work and emotional stress, and as I layed face down on that table in my friend’s bedroom, his hands working gently the muscle around my crooked and twisted spine, I stared sleepily at his carpet and wrote a bunch of little letters I’ll never send to the people that swam through my brain.

On that last day of the Rager, I thought about writing a book about my workplace, about the humans that come in there, that work there, that play there, the situations that make a bouncer quit in rage, the social dynamics and complex community hierarchical structure, all of it with narratives that don’t take long to find if you keep your eyes open long enough before you get too drunk to remember how much fun you had, or didn’t have.

I wonder if I will ever write that book? I think I need to figure out a three-month block of near-solitude somewhere near the desert again, but this time where I don’t have to do any work except write the dang book. These days I’ve found I can’t write in this environment I want to write about, the one where some asshole wearing a patch-covered cutoff denim vest yells at me for not playing The Ramones, the one where people cut their hands and the blood doesn’t get cleaned up for ages, where people stage dive in to bottle bins, where I can play Electric Wizard through the bar speakers and it’s totally acceptable, where some of my favourite Australian musical acts play regularly and I get paid to watch them and serve them booze, all the shit and fun things that come with living on the angry boozey fringes of society.

That book, if I write it, will be another letter, and sending it, well, that’s different.

Before I got the massage, I wrote a letter to someone, an email, but it wasn’t sent. It just sits there in the drafts folder, hoping not to be found again, little wordy head hanging in shame about its shape, its messiness. I wrote the letter the morning after a night of drinking because I tried to start writing the book I mentioned previously, and got stuck at two pages because I fell in to conversation with someone who’s likeness will appear in that story I was struggling to write; I decided to slam the book shut and get more ethnographic on that shit instead.

That’s the story. That’s how I’m telling it now.

Today’s letter was a different story, though it has to do with the book story, in a way. It was a story of my emotions, a garbled collection of old triggers and scars that have been rearing their painful heads in all kinds of ways recently, so it was an attempt to sort through the thousands of pages of scribbles in my heart, hoping for some self-organisation, some resemblance to coherency… but I doubted that would come across to the intended reader, I haven’t had much luck with that so far, so I didn’t send it.

And that’s okay, I think. Unsent letters are sad if you want them to be. But maybe they mean you’re thinking clever too, in that moment that you make the decision to not send. But all of those letters put together would make for interesting reading, one day, for someone. I guess that’ll have to wait.

~~~follow Tahlia on Patreon~~~

Perception, Time, Depth Etc

Andrew Ryan

I’ve been having weird sleep times recently, weird sleep from readjusting to many things; a changeable and ever changing life, nothing stays the same for long ever, not the weather, not the bus or tram time tables, not the work schedule, not the environment, nothing. I’m not used to sameness, haven’t been for ages. Even when I think it’s the same, it’s not.

Sometimes I find myself feeling and thinking that I’m in a monotony sort of thing, and feel uncomfortable with the sameness, but I’ve recently figured out that it’s not actually monotony, it’s actually only about like three weeks of mostly the same sort of experiences. There’s been so long of ever-change that to stay in similar routine for a certain amount of time is to feel stagnant.

But it’s not three weeks; that’s just the easiest time block to explain it in. I’ve been feeling like these constructions of time might be detrimental to feel-nice-times. I work weird hours based on the fluctuations of other people’s drinking habits and live music performances, and end up having weird sleep patterns based around those things, always trying to fit in the other work I have to do based around other peoples’ free times for communications and my own free time for actually doing things. And then I am asked how many hours I work for any given “job”, and I find I have no definitive answer. What are hours when one “hour” feels longer than a different “hour”? What are days when the amount of daylight and sunlight is different in each waking experience?

Funny weather changes have been going on in Melbourne. I’ve been back here for a little bit after doing a mega weather change by going up to the top-end and then coming back to bottom-end after two weeks. I haven’t enjoyed re-acclimatising at all. Tropical Dry up there changing slowly in to The Build Up and then back to Melbourne with its cold cold cold bit of warm cold warm WARM hot HOT HOT WIND HOT cold again.

My therapist told me the other day that when she was in an Indigenous culture training thing recently she was told about “deep listening”; in the way that you would sit with someone and listen to them talk, no talking back, just listening for ages and ages ages, just listening, but to the Earth, not just people, because the environment is as much a part of reality as the humans on it; she described it with an example about the recent blustery wind … she said that the person who was teaching her said that in that Indigenous Deep Listening thing, means that the Earth is angry.

I found myself both questioning whether that is actually what heavy wind means and to whom exactly, but I was also drifting on a little tangent thought of: well, if the Earth is indeed angry, what can I do to appease it? And then I said something about honouring the presence of the angry wind of the Earth, just the idea of doing so, not having any thoughts on how to do so, just feeling of 1: being at the whim of my own emotions and 2: being overwhelmed by the knowledge that I know fucking nothing of the movements of things that I have not been taught of or about.

So how does one honour that?

And I brought that question up and looked at the plants outside the window for a long time, watching the people with high protein diets that drip off their bones walking through the hospital grounds, and my therapist had a moment of feeling bad that she had offered at the beginning of our session to turn the aircon on to appease my sweating (I had politely refused it) and I saw suddenly that we co-existed in a mutual-learning experience.

Change of weather messes with my sleepin’. My recent dreams and hypnogogic states and sleep paralysis times have made me increasingly aware that reality depends on your perspective. It depends on how you treat your time, depends how you approach time, how you approach movements that make you think time is a certain kind of thing. You can do whatever you decide to do and things will get done if you will it, but the fourth dimension always exists deep within our cellular structure or something, maybe, feels like it when you really, really think about it, and if we don’t spend enough of our constructed moments knowing that then there are some serious problems to come up against when you’re at any kind of stand-still in yr life (whatever that life is) when you think “what is this?” or “how did I get here?” or “why”? Because the answer is in your own ignorance of the known truth of your physical make-up.

NO MORE TONE

Andrew Ryan

Well dust me with a feather all gentle and true: this week we found ourselves with a brand new Prime Minister! No more Tone! Let us all bop in unison for the wonderful thing that is usurpation of a disliked dictator! Such excitement filled the air on Monday night this week (some bars in my vicinity were even proclaiming free drinks in celebration); such excitement at the downfall of an arseholic, fuddy-duddy national-leadership-failure of a man, four days shy of his ability to earn a Prime Ministerial pension no less (which would have been just under $600,000 a year; instead he has to suck up just over $300,000 a year (fuck off career politicians that shit ain’t cool if you’re not actually doing good things for the people in the country you’re “leading” who aren’t born rich)).

And when I say “filled the air”, I mean filled the communication pathways between digital devices and eyeballs all over the country (as well as international internet folk who follow the digital expressions of people who pay attention to Australian politics); holy shit was it a treat to be aware of #libspill in real time (and some might say that it is internet’s fault this happened, gasp omg technology).

And also, when I say “man”, I mean reptile.

THE POINT: Australia just experienced something very special, and very exciting. We just experienced the instatement of our fourth prime minister in two years, something that, as far as I am aware, has never happened to this colonial nation in the last 50 years of its 200 and whatever history. CRAZY HISTORY SIGNIFICANCE. Keep eyes and ears peeled for how this shit goes down from now on because we’re pretty well equipped to do proper democracy now thanks to the internet being so fast at information spreading…

Analysts and insider+insighters+all-round-thinkers probably saw it coming, but I don’t know if all the spectating+voting citizens did, though I reckon many wished for it, as pipe-dreamy as it may have been for the whole of Abbott’s almost 2 years in office. What a relief to the portion of humans who thought that he was a ridiculous joke; the man who decided that knighting the Queen of the entire Commonwealth’s husband was definitely a good idea, for whatever twisted reason he had; the man who bit in to an onion like it was an apple, presumably as a sacrifice to the overlords of Our Glorious Agricultural Industry; the man who said the words “Stop The Boats” way way way more times than the word “Compassion” in reference to humans seeking refuge from the problems of their homelands as they come to this landmass; the man who said “lifestyle choices” way way way more times than “sovereignty” in reference to First Nations people of this land having rights to live on their ancestral land despite colonial bullshit fucking up traditional ways of living, surely the colonial government owes them more than what is currently given now that we all at least kind of understand that First Nations got the true knowledge of how to treat land all clever and sustainable… gawd, to look in to that man’s mind would be a heavy, heavy trip…

But the little factoid that Malcolm Turnbull is the 4th PM in 2 yrs is an interesting one, because of the context of Australian history. Before 2008 (when Kevin Rudd was elected), John Howard was Australia’s Prime Minister for 11 years. One prime minster for 11 years. And then four Prime Ministers in two years. The last time an Australian Prime Minister served a full term was before the iPhone was invented.

There were 11 years of that Howard guy and his dudes (mostly dudes) doing their shit and bullying anyone who gave any sort of critique of what they were doing in to silence (by using funding cuts and career pressure; some information about that stuff has actually made me cry from the sheer, overwhelming sadness of being born in to a colonial nation that appears to give fuck-all shits about human and also democratic rights (see: this book)). I suppose that many people who were old enough to remember (or at least clock) the movements of all that time+shit had fair reason to give up on political care by the time Tony Abbot became Prime Minister (Disciple of Howard AND the Roman Catholic God as he is, and a charm-lacker to boot); all hope was lost etc, HE WEREN’T NO LEADER. Little did most people know that Internet opinions would take the place of true voting process in this heavy-connected world we now live in. Bootz. Slam dunk anti-Abbott internet crew.

The main cry: TONE IS EMBARRASSING.

Liberal Party social media interns or whatever would have reported back to the powers in the Liberal party that pretty much every vocal Australian on the internet was all like “omg cannot BELIEVE this guy is our PM what a fkn nonce” or “WTF IS HE ACTUALLY EVIL???” or “dude lay off the dog-whistling” or “wtf what is wrong with you” or something to that effect (and, you would hope, paid attention to protests on the street), unless the commenters/protesters were all “he’s a good, god-fearing man” or “STOP THE MUSLIM INVASION” or “fuckin’ useless tree-huggers should be shipped out/IF YOU DON’T LOVE IT THEN LEAVE” or something, but the latter opinions touch on out-right extremism and are not to be minded by anyone in politics who wants to be taken seriously by the rationally minded rest-of-public… and Turnbull is a mostly moderate leader, within his neo-liberalism at least, and it would seem that most Australians are quite politically moderate (median range within “left vs right”) soooooo…

We have a new Prime Minister.

As someone who has never considered voting for the Liberal Party Australia (or its coalition best-buddy National Party of Australia) I am very wary about the change (despite my excitement because of the change) simply because of the fact that I would never vote for that party. Why would I never vote for those guys, you may or may not ask? Because I think market regulations are v. v. important, for a range of reasons (to be explained some other time), and those guys wanna get rid of as many regulations as they can. Me and those guys are total opposites in that regard. The free market can suffer in its socially-disease-ridden-jocks for all I’m concerned; economic/entrepreneurial gain should not be of maximum importance when we’ve got future quality of life with a huge global population to think about. It’s hard enough to get by in the world without already-rich-families and/or corporations being able to pay for soooooo many things to further their monetary gains when smaller businesses (and not-for-profit organisations+community ventures) are struggling to meet their costs in order to help their fellow humans survive through economically-shaky technological changes as a result of that already existing industrial-money income/wage/class difference.

Global markets aren’t everything. Being able to provide and engage in a mutually agreed upon nice-time amongst your various communities could potentially be that everything that free-market isn’t. Or: each community has different needs in order to care for the humans within them, and each community should be afforded the ability to sustainably provide those things in a way that is not destructive to the communities on which they encroach outside their own. Mutually agreed terms: the way of the future. And longevity of natural eco-systems would probably be a really good thing to look after.

~~~

There are a few things I’ll be keeping an eye out for in #auspol spots now that Turnbull is Prime Minister, in the lead up to the next national election (because heaps of people in the know are predicting that Libs will probz come in for another term and we’ve got to look at things prrrrrettttty closely lest we fall further in to neo-liberal political-elite policy making trap for the next couple of years):

- how many public forums governmental politicians participate in in which they are not able to rely on pre-prepared statements (if there is heaps of that: GREAT. If there are the same as now (not many, if any), then BALLS TO THAT, IT’S THE SAME SHITTY CULTURE OF NON-TRANSPARENCY).

- anything to do with Australia becoming a republic

- everything to do with the internet

- everything to do with “Indigenous Affairs”::: most importantly: the government funded Recognise campaign, because Abbott was self declared Prime Minister “For Indigenous Affairs” but the things he backed went against all kinds of understandings of how to enact cultural safety for this land’s First Nations, and Turnbull has gotta reference that shit now that’s he’s taken over that weirdo position.

- paid parental leave

…the end.

Darwin Musing

Andrew Ryan

I’ve been in Darwin for the last week, a place I’ve imagined many times over, the imaginings of which have been distorted by multiple stories from multiple generations and a distinct lack of visual media input originating from the city and its people, other than from the time of Cyclone Tracy (that bitch). As I flew in I saw the fires of burn-offs doing their orange thing in the black of the night. It was a sight to behold, something I’ll never forget. It looked like fractals from up so high. My heart pounded. Environmental conservation is important in this country, in all of the country. Traditional knowledge+science is the way: can’t turn this shit in to a dust bowl. Can’t rely on mining for long term income, long term life sustaining. Gotta take care of land bros.

Anyway. My dad grew up here. A good friend did too, he is younger than my dad, and younger than me. I’m staying with this friend – Finn – at his parents’ home in Rapid Creek; a beautiful house with plenty of tropical woodland trees in a beach-side suburb. Finn’s parents are art types, and involved in politics. They have lived in that house for 17 years, a 15 drive from the city proper.

The city is smaller and sparser than any city I’ve known, closer to a large country town than my home city of Perth, which I used to be prone to describing as such. Darwin feels weird. The city is kind of visually sterile, except for the humans and the trees, even thought there doesn’t seem to be enough trees sometimes, especially in areas where the big box apartments stand. There is so much architecture that is terribly suited to the climate that I wonder if those buildings weren’t just picked out of a magazine for cheap or something?

BUT! The humans and the trees. Especially the trees. Especially the humans. Lotsa people of many distinct cultures and parts of the world roam the streets; some sunburnt visitors like myself, some recent migrant folk from around Africa and Asia as well as Europe, some new arrivals who were kicked off their homelands further inland and have nowhere else to go, and there are some of those well worn bush-bashing grizzled types who exist only to drink beer and talk smack about women while drinking beer, and some people who’s grand-parents were forced to live here by the colonial government, and some who’s grand-parents to the power of 1400 greats had grand-parents who’s great-great-great-great-grand-parents were more likely than mine and anyone-I-know’s to be the first humans to step foot on the patch of earth I am currently writing from. So, you know, all types, and everyone gotta do their thing.

The Larrakia are the local mob, their welcome greets you from a shiny placard as you walk off the airport runway in to the airport. Their kin’s artwork and craft is hung not only in the Territory’s museum but also on the walls of tourists and local homes. There is a community up here that has been an “Aboriginal Reserve”, according to historical sources, since the 1930s. It is nestled on the edges of commercial land and suburbia, at the end of an unmarked turn-off on the freeway. Bagot. Welcome to the community of Bagot, the sign read as Pete turned the car in to it, a wrong turn on our search for op-shops in which to find cheap camping gear, the map mistakingly telling us we could drive through it to our destination. Nope, that gate was shut, had to turn around, turn around and drive past the open homes and unimpressed eyes. Sorry for the intrusion guys, just another couple of clueless tourists, there’s so many of us here this time of year.

Later I read an article from 2012 in the Green Left Weekly that said there was a politician fella who was pushing to have the Bagot area bulldozed and turned in to
“a normal, peaceful suburb”. About a year later, the ABC publishes a story about the community in a positive light. This year NAIDOC week was kicked off there. Fkn yeah Bagot! Don’t let the assholes get you down!

~~

Life is different up here, different to anywhere else in the country. There’s still air-conditioned shopping centres and petrol stations and bowls clubs, boat clubs, race tracks, TABS, but it’s all of that with fucking tropical weather and it changes everything. Sweating lots of the time, lots of sun in the dry season, even more heat and humidity in the wet. It is only the well off who can afford to be the kind of big babies who try to shut themselves out of the weather with an air-conditioned box apartment- that shit is expensive to run in a climate like this. Open doors, lots of shade, ceiling fans and well placed water features is all you need to keep sane and economically comfortable in it, and why would you move up here if you can’t handle the heat anyway? So everyone feels it, it makes your priorities shift. I, for example, feel calmer in this heat. More relaxed. It’s only been a week though. Tomorrow Pete and I go driving inland for some camping- I guess I’ll have more to say about the heat after a second week of it, but without the luxury of a ceiling fan. NO AIRCON ALLOWED. If you don’t hear from me again, plz don’t go hunting the crocodile that got me. It was just being a crocodile.

Entropy

Andrew Ryan

We drank, and we exploded in a convulsion of energy, in the energetic time, in the energetic space. And then, each retreats, because explosion cannot happen forever.

Entropy: energy that is not able to do work. Energy that is slowing down. It is a term coined in thermodynamics. Second law of thermodynamics. Basic physics; that is how things move. Every thing slows down and dissipates and disintegrates and degrades eventually. Wabi-sabi. Nothing stays the same.

~~~

If society is to be understood by the technologies that form their paradigms – their ways of viewing and behaving in the world – then surely we can only view ours-right-now as an epically sped up and confusing one simply because we are having huge technological leaps at a very, very quickly accelerating rate. Everyone knows this.

In the 15ish years since I hit puberty, I have experienced most kids I knew at the time having flip-phones that can connect phone calls and text messages across the country and sometimes planet & some of us talking about the internet sometimes but not really spending too much time unless you were a “nerd” which wasn’t very common in the schools I attended… to most kids I see having smart phones with instant access to the whole of the 15+ years of increased usage of internet and spending heaps and heaps and heaps of time on the internet doing fast paced communication and watching and consuming and consumer feedback. That is sooooo much stuff that is different, in 15 years! Too much for our only recently evolved human minds to handle. We’ve barely had the time to evolve to adjust to agriculture, there’s so much adaptation to be done, so many technologies and then medicines and pesticides to adjust to and so quickly… no wonder so many humans are in to the idea of being a cyborg. Stave off from cancer you’re going to get from pollution, overcome any physical shit times that stop you from obtaining enough money to survive comfortably. So many things to do, such little life left. Need to be part machine to keep up with all this shit. “FML make me robot now plz.”

We’re in an age of explosion, watch it explode, but it won’t last forever. It won’t. The laws of physics say so (kinda, I think, the smallest particles humanity has found behaves in this way at least as far as I know thanks to the reading I’ve been doing in the last few weeks). Wired is good.

So…everything we can see and also touch exists under these laws.

Whatever power the magic within global political economics has, it cannot sustain itself on the finite resources it came from, birthed from mining, from ground; the resources that feed it, the metals, the oils, the salts… the kings still don’t have real alchemists yet, trickery can’t last for much longer, the finite will run out eventually (soon, at this rate) and humans who are terrified by this destruction have no choice but to ready themselves for continually increasing change. Know the land, kids. It’s the only thing that will save us all.

I’ve been watching a few American made documentary films lately (maybe that’s why I’m so doomsday this week?), and it got me to thinking… I reckon the terms “socialist” and “communist” are used so much in American media as a derogatory term because they are the only words most English speakers have that can name a different way of structuring society (whether or not it means what they think it means), and no one can think of any other ways, comfortably, or at least the ideas haven’t caught on in broader society yet… so those “bad” terms are the only alternative, and the talking heads of capitalism spit on+with those words in order to scare people away from them. Scatter the thoughts of change that were bannered under the term “socialism”, take their words away so that they cannot continue to collect; shatter the enclosure that allows for safe and reasonable questioning in order for the progressive cells of English speaking society to carry out their cleaning functions. It’s societal war-fare. Human-eco-war-fare. There is a spilt coming; and it is an even bigger one than what already exists in “global income brackets”. I wish there didn’t have to be such a divide.

P.S. I wonder if anti-socialists understand that socialism means being shared with, as well as sharing…?

P.P.S. Wasn’t Jesus, at heart, a socialist? Didn’t he share? Wasn’t he shared with? Yet so many people who claim to uphold Christian values, or those who claim to be culturally tied to those values, just straight up do not like to share? It is as if they are the half enlightened flock of false prophets, roaming the land like they own it, instead of instinctively knowing that they and everything else grows from it. And I’m like: if you’re gonna be greedy, that ruins it for everyone and the planet that sustains us will be destroyed way quicker than if it was out of our hands, woo woo.

P.P.S. I remembered what you said about the ignorant, about how they should never be hated because they legit just don’t know any better. It’s a complicated thing: nature, nurture, mutations caused by any number of factors (so many as a result of human industrialization)… it’s difficult to look at it holistically. I guess just gotta be Zen about it, yeah?

P.P.P.S. Am I ignorant? I can’t actually tell any more.

Does all this political turmoil mean some more interesting art is on its way?

Andrew Ryan

I’m having internet nostalgia. I’m digging up things that were very much suited to my depressed-and-internet-addicted-tastes from like 10 years ago. I’m even getting music nostalgia to match. I remembered Sparklehorse, and now I’m listening to “Vivadixiesubmarinemissionplot”, something I haven’t heard for nearly 10 years. Jeez, why did I used to like Sparklehorse?

Anyway, so times right now are pretty interesting.

Aboriginal activism in Australia appears to be making some big ol’ steps towards recognition and acceptance of sovereignty, with previously far more disparate groups coming together thanks to the recent creation of internet based community and activist groups. We are seeing a new generation of activists strengthened by the work and passion of their elders, and it’s downright exciting.

Also:

The Liberals have blocked a conscience vote on same-sex marriage. This means that the people who can make the law cannot allow it to pass by voting according to their personal moral compass, which opposes their party line. It’s a bit gross to be in a political party in which the official line doesn’t support your beliefs though, isn’t it? That’s probably why the two party system in Australia is so gross, why people have lost faith in it. Politicians everywhere just being a bit gross.

Some commentators are predicting this move to be the downfall of this government. It could be. And the timing is pretty good for Aboriginal activists looking to connect with the portions of Australian citizenry who are not aware of their concerns and their environmentally sustainable culture. Many Australians want sustainability. Many Australians want equality. Looks like we’re actually one big mob hungry for connection and stability ey?

~~~

I went on big hunts for art on the internet over the last few days, and in my travels I came across the aforementioned internet nostalgia bringers. Images and videos, memes from years ago that used to feel so cutting edge, so exciting. Little tidbits of proclamations saying “I’m here, I feel, and I’m uncomfortable with all of that but I’m making stuff about it anyway”. It was an aesthetic I enjoyed. Within those early memes were implications of deep depression not-quite-hidden within idealism. I totally got it. The world is doomed, we all know it, yet we carry on. I was there with them. That feeling of “Guess I’ll just stare at this computer until I find something to save me from my crippling doubts about the worthiness of existence- oh there’s a pretty picture of a kangaroo, yep, that slogan written on it sums up my feelings, the irony and meaningless of the juxtaposition is absurd and I laughed, that’s exactly what I needed, thanks internet” click scroll scroll scroll click.

Now I look at them through more years of living amongst that kind of absurdity, I’ve seen it all slowly become absorbed in to the mainstream, and I recognise in me a sense of “well, that was interesting, but it’s all actually totally pointless now it’s not even funny” because it’s no longer relevant, no longer thought provoking, it’s swept up in to the commodified mess of internet culture and marketing meta-insides.

Lemme explain.

One of the points of the underground post-ironic creative movement that sprung up in the late 90s (and filtered through culture for the next 10 years) was that there is a sense of hope to it, despite complete awareness of nothingness, meaninglessness. World was crumbling but things were still chill. A subdued hope fluttered. What they were doing was new.

The commodified “inyourface” youth culture of the 90’s seemed so… gross, and the ironic imagery and attitude of it all doing a feedback loop through mass media made it all seem so… funny. It was a brave new world with MTV and Tom Green and all that. For ten years by that point, they were already living in a world where a woman could make art from her list of sexual partners and a man could make art by cutting a cow down the middle, but there was room for the seekers to keep going down that path, searching for the meaning that was lost in the Young British Artists, despite knowing it was gone forever thanks to them, but still, that little ray of hope for something more always glimmered because it was pretty fun to make new funnies.

I suppose the late 2000 and early 2010s brought in a slow complacency with the evolution of that just-described new world… And so post-irony exploded and quickly became the voice for so many of us filled with apathy because of all the choices available to consumers of film and television and supermarket culture; tired from so much choice, unsure because of so much choice, our ability to focus sapped from us by so much choice, but just getting on with life and jobs and relationships and parties and whatever anyway, those new funnies sure were funny… and then Tim and Eric peaked and their style of comedy was absorbed in to the mainstream, which meant that so did post-irony as a concept, it finally became commodified, and that little flame of hope just. fucking. died.

And now? Those artists from the 90’s are sellouts, and their actual sales are plummeting. Social activism and a decade of high-youth-use-of-internet culture has shifted everything to become meta-jokes. A decade of idealising the images of purity from our youth whilst also taking the piss out of them has left us tired. There’s some full on meta post-irony going on in meme culture now, weirdly shaped heads floating in empty space with misc items that betray an absolutely no-hope attitude, (wars, wars, codeine (see picture above)).

Art by young artists seems to be fucking stuck in the detritus of organic culture, drying out under the harsh blue glow of our computer screens… and I’m all like: did western art get so close to the edge that it’s just totally fallen off now? What is exciting in art right now? Where is the passion? Those things certainly ain’t on the path of western art no more.

So it has no choice but to meet up with other paths, if something can’t adapt, it dies, and I certainly don’t want to be involved with a culture lacking in oxygen because the flames of its own making have burnt everything in sight; right now cultures are mingling good and proper from the connections being made and the conversations being had instantly across vast oceans and cultural understandings that previously took years, then months, then weeks to bridge. Instant access to a whole planet and a combined history full of inspiration changes everything, again, new life is breathed in to bodies and minds made sickly by the abuse of global capitalism…

As I said before, Australia is at an interesting point. Potential fall of a socially disappointing government – a socially neglectful government – the rise of a powerful minority group, united First Nations within the borders of this colonial nation, other First Nations people from around the globe getting fucking sick of dealing with capitalist colonial governments… I can only hope that artists from all groups are preparing for this proper conversion of paths. And I wish they’d hurry up and make their work available to view online already because I would really, really like to publish them in the online magazine I’ve just started to work for, because everything else feels pretty irrelevant.

Media Ownership + Culture + Stuff

Andrew Ryan

///
I did some journalism units at university, and because of this I am always wary of anything that calls itself journalism (same as the result of doing one year of a fine art degree: wary about anything that calls itself art). I think the term “journalism” is a little misunderstood, and I think that Australian democracy suffers as a result. This week, I am about to make no attempts to define “journalism” – that ain’t my role right now – nah, I just wanna explore how I feel about that stuff as a result of reading annoying Australian “journalism” and feeling despondent because of it.

So: last year I enrolled for a degree in communications at a well-respected in-that-field university. I was doing it online because that university is in Queensland and I wasn’t prepared to up and move to Brisbane just for study; even though the weather is pretty agreeable with me up there, I needed a little more time than I had to prepare for cultural and social and financial switches to move to a state I’ve never lived in before.

And I got the text books and I read right through them, and I started some of the assignments but didn’t finish all of them, got pretty fucking good marks when I did finish them and hand them in, and I engaged with the online course discussion groups no matter if it was compulsory or not, and I got good feedback and thumbs ups from my online tutors; I’m sure I would have had some kind of bright future in that path if I’d followed it but, yanno, I went to Tasmania last minute for the thrill of following musicians around the country so I dropped out because I fell behind in my school work. Also, that was around the time that politicians were proposing to send any journalist who reports on information provided by “whistleblowers” (see: concerned citizens) to jail for ten years, and I was like “that’s the most important journalism to me, that’s what I would morally prefer to be doing when I graduate” and I got scared of that gross authority and dropped out. Better to just paint and make music videos; can’t get thrown in jail for that right? No prison for artists in Australia right? Yeah, you’re right. She’ll be right mate.

But the point is, I’ve got some book learnin’ on top of my street smarts. Got some theoretical understanding, from peer reviewed sources no less. Academia. Ethics and philosophy and psychology and sociology and non-humanties based sciences, on top of 10 years working as a bar tender in Perth and Melbourne and a little time spent in country towns and a general global internet culture mind-view stretching. So I look at current journalistic practices in this nation I was born in to and my mind is a little blown in to despondency.

~~~

Media ownership in Australia is gross. It is essentially a duopoly. One could write a book on it; books have been written in the past about this issue, and they’re worth the time it takes to read a book. But I don’t have time to write a book, and you don’t have time to read one, so here we are and I’ll touch on one tiny, tiny little portion of a much bigger and complicated thing for the rest of this word blurt:

Did you know that Gina Rinehart has a 10% share in Channel 10 (and also that Rupert Murdoch has 5% share in Vice, but that won’t be expanded on any further today)? She was on the board from 2010-2014; when she stepped off the board, the chief development officer of her company (Hancock Prospecting) took her place as a director.

~

A big thing I learnt during my studies, when I would go on epic 12 hour long research tangents that were more suited to late-degree assignments than first semester of first year assignments, was that media ownership is an important factor in how news – and culture as a whole – is projected (see: sold) back to citizens, to consumers. Cui bono? To who’s benefit are the actions in question? How much money is involved? How much greed is involved?

~~~

Waleed Aly is on Ten Network’s “The Project”, and that guy has an incredibly grounded and fairly nuanced understanding of political and social issues happening in Australia, which is a pleasure to watch in the snippets I see of his media appearances online when I open facebook. A much-shared-on-the-facebook guy. He’s a hit with progressives because he speaks justified criticisms of neo-liberal mentality. He’s a very good speaker, and a clever man; well suited to public discussion. Board of directors for Ten Network is watching him closely I’m sure, but his popularity must keep it all (his job) afloat. I’d like to see him in politics, but it seems like being in politics pretty much sucks the life out of everyone because of the pre-existing shitty culture of multi-generational-business-and-political-elite-rich-white-man bullshit that everyone who is interested in that world has to contend with. Exclusionary. Awful.

Side note: I first encountered Waleed Aly in 2011, when he was the opening speaker at Abdul Abdullah’s “Them and Us” exhibition. I recognised him vaguely, vaguely, and could tell by Abdul’s excitement that he was a fellow to be listened to, a fellow to note. My camera was there too.

I can’t remember exactly what was said in his speech, but Aly was standing in front of a photograph of Abdul’s father, a white Australian man who converted to Islam when he married Abdul’s Malaysian mother. The image is arresting, with the word “Assimilate” printed below it (see image above). Abdul’s work is predominantly about his cultural heritage, Muslim in Australia, remembering life as a child before 9/11 and his life as a teenager and adult post 9/11; how 9/11 changed the way non-Islamic people view him and his kin.

Looking back, I view this exhibition as a little prophetic. Conceptually, this is not a completely uncommon thing in Abdul’s work. He has been privy to and on the wrong end of the worst sides of Australian “nationalistic pride” since he was a child, and it’s only been recently that this side has become properly reported on in mass media. He’s got a longer depth-of-insight in to the workings of white Australia than many white Australians I have met. The grossness of extremist nationalistic pride present in some of Abdul’s work, his research, his thinking, his expression, was being exhibited in galleries in multiple Australian cities years before the Australian media duopoly started reporting on the kind of abuse Islamic people can experience at the hands of extremist nationalists.

~~~

Australia, as a nation, is a big colonial nation sitting on top of many, many pre-existing nations. The other day I listened to an interesting (well constructed, informative AND vaguely entertaining) podcast about nationhood, what it means to be a state. It was specifically about micro nations, the old metal platform sitting off the coast of England known as the Principality of Sealand and whatnot, but I was listening to it through the ear-goggles of Australia, through the ear-goggles of being familiar with recent attempts to flex First Nations sovereignty muscle under the veil of Colonial Law…

Listen to the podcast here.

And then listen to this song and think about salt lakes.

Orlando Furious

Andrew Ryan

Orlando furious (real name: Ben Snaith) is one of those freaky weirdo genius types. He’s perceptive, intuitive, self-aware and multi-disciplinary. Hailing originally from the Sunshine Coast, QLD, he has the title of Tahlia’s Favourite Housemate in Melbourne, from our 8 months of living together in Footscray a few years ago, not long after he made a huge banner that was displayed for 2 months on a busy intersection right near the centre of town with the phrase “I will always be your friend” in many of the different languages spoken in that beautiful multi-cultural area printed next to a photo of his giant smiling face (back when he called himself “Razorsex”. The guy is just so fucking inspiring: a hard working and open-minded artist with interests in education, inclusion, collaboration, rituals and spirituality… it’s hard not to love him.

This Monday just gone saw the last of his month long Monday night residency at The Evelyn Hotel in Fitzroy, a spot in which I have seen many friends play, but never before have I encountered the wonderful energy and atmosphere that was present for this particular gig; it being a fairly unconventional – though very well considered – use of the time and space allocated (no doubt thanks to Snaith’s experience as an installation artist, as well as theatre actor).

The night went like this:

First, the seating was casually arranged for a screening of a collection of short films by local filmmaker Christina Tester. It was funny timing for me: I’ve been thinking a lot lately about film, toying with various ideas, including animation… and then I saw Tester’s work and I was hit with the reminder of just how painstaking the animation process has to be for good.quality.work. and decided that I ain’t ready for that kind of time commitment just yet. Inspiring yet intimating stuff. Looking forward to seeing what she does in the future fo sho.

MC Lloyd Honeybrook, the guy who has recently taken over direction for the well renowned, long running, weekly improvised music night Make It Up Club (he’s also just started as a lecturer for RMIT’s Sound Art course, yeah booooiiiii), stood up, paced the room and yelled a bunch of craftily and delightfully worded information to the crowd about what we had just witnessed and what we were about to witness, which included a respectful shoutout to the Wurundjeri, the lands of which we in Melbourne live+work+play on. That guy is very good at coming up with exciting and rousing shit to shout at people. He also gives me consistently good musical recommendations and for that I will forever be thankful and appreciative.

~~~

Usually during gigs I can have a little break from cavernous band room vibes between sets while I go and smoke a cigarette; but not on Monday night, not really, because
SHIMA was set up to play on the floor between sets, off the stage and to the right. SHIMA is one of Angus Doyle’s many musical projects (I reviewed his band Galaxy Folk’s album here a few years ago), and his unassuming confidence and placidity behind his gear made for a perfect musical interlude while the dudes of Spike set up their equipment on stage. Snaith’s curatorial prowess strikes again. I did smoke a cigarette though. Old habits die very, very hard in the body of this little ball of mild-to-frustrating-social-anxiety.

I am not very familiar with Spike, though one of the duo, Pat, is a long term friend and collaborator of Snaith’s, a film and sound guy, a clever guy. He used to come over to our place a bit, helping us with lighting for film experiments and doing musical techy work or something with Ben. He and his musical partner in crime, John, didn’t crack a smile once while on stage, even when people were madly dancing up the front, even when Pat pulled out some sort of gaming device and played it along with the music. My favourite part of their whole schtick was the video projection they had going on: non-expressive faces and awkwardly dancing bodies of the two players in quick loops green-screened over a fighting computer game I didn’t recognise, hopefully the one Pat was playing. I couldn’t help giggling in appreciation. Too good. Theirs is a kind of expression that is near ego-less, non-threateningly humorous, maybe even innocent, and totally enjoyable.

The other thing I liked about it all was the gridded boxes made out of metal that were moved around stage between sets for the musicians to put their equipment on. Being able to see through these things gave the resulting industrial aesthetic a sort of unimposing quality; a chilled gig in a construction site kind of feel. It also offered a sense of inclusiveness with the physicality of the electronic producers, something important in the relationship between performer and audience member in that genre, I reckon; especially when it comes to Orlando furious and his innate understanding of the world and space around him.

Next up was Worng and his pyramid that slowly inflates over the duration of the set, fresh off the boat from Dark Mofo in Tasmania. The crowd pulsated with the music, bodies pointed to the pyramid, it felt dark and heavy but not overwhelmingly so, just enough to twist the mind in to a sense of ritual, a feeling of swimming through murky water but being totally cool with it because you know there’s no crocodiles around. Or maybe that was more of a result of the many glasses of red wine I’d consumed. “I am having a cultural experience” repeated in my head for a little while. It’s nice when that realization flashes behind my eyes, because it means that whatever is happening around me is a cultural expression that is different to my own general experience, a group maneuver, outside of the individual consciousness, everyone in attendance being present in that moment, contributing to some sort of creative outcome for the whole just by being there.

More Shima making his textural prettiness, and then Orlando furious took the stage to introduce and premiere his brand spanking new video for “Ed Sand”, an absolute banger of a track with accompanying video featuring the fkn hologram he created in his studio in Docklands a few months ago. I will post on facebook when the production team put it online. It’s great.

Dancer Carla Ori emerged on stage, and the set began proper, and loudly. I have never met Carla, but I have had a few dreams in which her name is present, I think because I have seen it on facebook so many times and I really like it. Carla Ori. Say it out loud. It’s nice. She moved with the music around the stage, flicking the long braids from under her baseball cap. Snaith moved around between music-making-desk on the side of stage and the center, back and forth throughout the set, throwing his weight around performatively, jumping off stage to belt his stuff at the circle of humans surrounding him, jumping back on stage after a chant of “ONE MORE SONG” erupts from the mouths of enthused and appreciative audience members… and my camera loves it all.

At the end of the set, I came back to the city and realized I was standing on stage. In an unthinking break for the safety of the bar, I jumped off too wildly and hit my head on one of the speakers hanging from the roof… and I may have been a little concussed (if my lack of memory from there on is anything to go by (especially because another act followed and there are not photos of that at all)). Apparently I was wandering the streets alone at 2:30am after the gig, but, you know, that could have been the wine too, OR even the sheer joyous lightheartedness I felt after such a good night of music (here I’ll make a nod back to that invincible feeling summoned by Worng and his pyramid from earlier in the night). Overall the gig was a great display of creative badassery by a wonderful friend and talented artist, Mr Ben Snaith. SOMEBODY GIVE THAT BOY AN ARTISTS GRANT SO HE CAN TRAVEL THE WORLD.

~~~

P.s. I got home safe enough to edit the photos and post them here for you to look at.

Power and politics musings

Andrew Ryan

One of the life lessons I find difficult to learn properly, despite the universe throwing it in my face multiple times, is that it is better to have no expectations of anything you have little to no control over, because expectations in that department can lead to disappointment, and disappointment is fucking shit.

I’ve been trying to practice some Zen thinking to make that lesson stick, to accept that things are simply what they are, nothing more, nothing less, and to consciously and meaningfully go through life according to that principle (as well as some other nice ones), anticipating and expecting whatever from only that which I CAN control, only things in which I focus my time and energy to achieve/change/see. It’s really hard to stay in that mind frame though. Really, really hard.

Many of my head-dropped-in-hands disappointments of late have been to do with, you guessed it, Australian politics. It’s so tiring. Like, actually tiring doing all the reading and the learning necessary to figure out what the actual fuck is going on, figuring out why I am consistently disappointed by the government that runs this country I was born and raised in, a land I love and am thankful that I can continue freely exploring (a government which I and most people I know did not vote for btw)… I feel like they’re kind of screwing everyone over, you know? Everyone except people with heaps and heaps of money and no progressive views for a better and more sustainable future. So I’m going to write about that, again.

A lament up to the clouds: Why do people in positions of power screw people over? Why does greed and vengeance rule in the hearts of the powerful? They know you trust in them to do their job well, (in this case, their job being facilitating good lives for the citizens of the nation they have power in) but they turn their power against you for a quick, or even not so quick, benefit for themselves, leaving you feeling hopeless in the face of their obvious power over you…

Maybe I’ll write a song about that one day. I’ll call it “Say NO to Career Politicians”. A drone album called “The Effect of Neo-Liberalism on the Minds of the Young”. Under the recording name “Ohno”. Yeah, I’ll make my fortune in this society we find ourselves in, one that is politically maximizing its potential to become a place in which entrepreneurs can flourish, with a truthful and politically damning/subversive creative expression like that. LOL

I am aware that many fellow citizens share my disappointment in the government. “Approval ratings”, wherever they come from, say that not many people dig too hard on what’s going on in politics right now. The prime minister isn’t too popular, and the opposition leader isn’t too popular either. 30% approval or something for both, the last time I was made aware of it (this week some time).

On that note, I’d like to clarify that this rant I’m going on isn’t confined to just the Abbott government, nah nah nahhhh: it’s about how annoying the way everything works as a whole is.

Gosh knows that with Labor sitting so far to the “right” of their “left leaning” opposition platform, they’re still pretty fucking conservative because their policies exist to placate what they think the popular opinion is, probably based on focus groups they pull from popular facebook groups or something, it’s not leadership of any kind, not making big calls for big, needed changes, because they have been crushed in to defensive mode after the Abbott government’s huge smear campaign against them for so long. They’re weak, and thus voting decisions are very, very hard when the two big parties are both such shitty options, so many people feel stuck, and the Greens don’t appeal to a huge majority of any kind because they seem to be sticking fairly true to their original guns (fuck yeah) despite their increasing rise in popularity and they still scare a bunch of people because: spooky scary new progressive ideas.

…and confidence in the system slips.

Some stats:

In 2013, the percentage of those enrolled to vote in the federal election who actually voted: 93.23%. The percentage of all people eligible to vote (including those not enrolled) who voted: 80.51%. Around 25% of young people failed to vote. As of 2015, the percentage of eligible Australians enrolled to vote is 92.8%. So that means enrolment has dropped, and around 1 in 5 people did not vote in the last federal election.

I reckon political engagement drops when the cons outweigh the pros of doing so.

Some people just flat out aren’t interested in politics, but I think that has something to do with a lack of education on the subject, and this education is probably lacking because of what was offered within that education; a cry of “but politics is BORING” would not be uncommon in Australian schools, I certainly heard it when I was younger, and I still hear it now amongst adults.

I imagine it would be incredibly difficult as your average primary school teacher in tour average government funded school (which educates around 65% of Australian youth, the funding of which has been cut by current government) to create a lesson plan about politics that can engage each and every student in their over-packed classrooms because it’s something that needs to be encouraged in a special way for each individual to actually care about the process in a critical way. Kids (and adults) gotta actually feel the effects of something, somehow, before they care about it.

Empathy! Encourage empathy in kids and you’ve got some young humans who can put themselves in the shoes of others and think “Man it wouldn’t be nice to be in that situation vs my own situation, how can I help make that situation better?” and BAM you’ve got the makings of a decent adult who votes according to ethical values.

This also means you’ve got the makings of a decent adult who does their political, historical and social research and decides that, well, voting doesn’t seem like it actually does anything except justify the existence of an uber cashed-up political elite class, and the whole things seems a bit gross so they figure that system just isn’t for them. They see other ways in which they can help to change things the way they want them to be changed. And act accordingly.

(For some info on the pros + cons of compulsory voting, have a look at this swell resource provided by the State Library of New South Wales.

I am inclined to think that, based on my observations of this country, a country of much privilege amongst the majority, the majority seems to find it very easy to glide through their privileged lives having little to no reason to consider (or reconsider) the state of the society they live in, other than by the influence of the most widely distributed (shitty quality) journalistic sources and similarly privileged people paid quite well to shout their narrow-minded opinions via media outlets funded in part by those with huge corporate interests… and so very few questions get asked about human rights or social issues if they’re not inclined to feel empathy for those causes, so no criticism is given, political inclination is handed down through families the same way AFL team affiliations are, and the people in power can get away with doing sneaky things while no one’s looking because they know they can get away with it because of the lack of criticism; power corrupts no matter what etc etc, and that is why transparency is so fucking important. That’s why a television show like Q and A is so important to just exist and be available to view freely without being interrupted and distracted by advertisements for whatever thing some bright spark has decided there is a gap in the market for, AND that’s why it’s ridiculous that our Prime Minister banned his front benchers from appearing on the aforementioned show: it closes up the opportunity for ministerial voices to be heard on an unscripted platform, closes up the opportunity for discussion and critical analysis (and isn’t that what defines an informed democratic system?) and he shoots himself in the foot and outs himself, again, as an complete fool.

So I repeat to myself: “Must. Not. Expect. Anything” and “Must. Stay. Informed” and “Must. Stay. True. To. Own. Ethical. Guidelines” and “Big. Beats. All. The. Time.” Because music helps. And so does information. The end.

Three Gigs, Many Bands, Much Laughter, Wanna Go to Darwin

Andrew Ryan

This week I emerged like a big ol’ shiny dolphin out of the depths of a fairly loner/lonely period, and dove straight in to such-comfort-with-myself feels that I went to three gigs in one week, as well as encountering two more at my place of work while strolling through the band rooms collecting glasses and beer bottles and sweeping up after dickheads who break shit because i served them all that clumsy-making liquid. Feels like I’ve absorbed heaps of live music lately. So I’ve got a lot of music to talk about. Won’t be able to fit it all in, but I’ve got to start somewhere, so I guess I’ll start with my main man Pete, seeing as he’s been involved in all three gigs.

Peter Peter Peter Bibby. When he’s not in town, I go out a lot less. When he’s not in town, I prefer to hole up in my room and watch films and paint. Especially when it’s cold. Going to gigs in the cold can be a total pain in the ass, as I’m sure most of you reading this will know, and Melbourne gets pretty cold and shitty this time of year, that antarctic wind blown’ all through the gridded streets, making your face all tingly and weird. It’s kind of pleasant at first, but then it gets tiring… but then Pete got back in to town after his UK sojourn just in time to help keep my bed warm, and we remembered how lovely it is to be in each others company, and I couldn’t really stand the thought of shivering alone on all these nights he had gigs booked, especially with that aforementioned loveliness coming so easily to us both, so i rugged up and followed him out in to the cold, looking forward to whisky and beer and heating and smiles of love and appreciation of my pals doing music they love.

I’ve mentioned WASP to y’all before, they are an improv group of which Pete is an original member, the drummer infact, all doomy and loud and kind of ridiculous. They played their second Last Ever show last Thursday night, this time with the proper line up (plus one extra) because Pete was away last time they did a Last Ever show, so it wasn’t a proper Last Ever show because Pete wasn’t done with it yet. Between you and me, I don’t think it’ll be their actual Last Ever show this time either because those guys actually love doing it too much. They’re not all done with it yet.

I was filming Thursday’s WASP performance (which was at the Tote), helping out my friend George with footage- he had a camera too, and he set up a go-pro up above the drum kit. Turns out Pete filmed the first half of the set with his iPhone set up on the bass amp facing towards the crowd, and the dude who opened the night’s gig (under the name “Fuzzsucker”, he was fucking awesome weirdo rock’n’roll pisstake pop star extraordinaire originally hailing from Canberra) was in the crowd filming it all with his smartphone as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to piece together something watchable with all those camera angles. I am concerned about the watchability of my footage, mostly, because it had been a while between filming assignments and my arms muscles aren’t quite up to the task of filming freehand for almost an hour, so I was shaking more than i would have liked (I left my home-made steady-cam at The Bank after a drunken night of filming for The Shabbab music video I made recently).

And I was having a great time because it was so good. At one point I realised it would be best if I jumped up on stage with my camera. The last time I did that on that stage was when Guitar Wolf played a few years back. Anyway, I got great footage of some dude in the crowd reaching over to mess with Jay’s guitar pedals and Jay launching himself off stage at the guy (good on ya mate), also, John decided to go for a crowd surf with his violin, and he was pushed above the crowd nicely. Georgia got up on stage and sung what I think was supposed to be a John Farnham cover – i’d like to mention here that when WASP say they’re about to cover a song (they don’t rehearse) they just do their usual improv shit and Alan (the vocalist) will moan and sputter and shout his version of whatever the lyrics are… i don’t know if Georgia was keeping true to Farnsy’s words but whatever she was doing, it was great, undulating her body and yelping all constrained and hectic at the same time. The audience was good and loving it all. What comes of this footage we got should be pretty entertaining.

Sunday night saw Pete playing a set in the bar at the Gasometer Hotel for their first birthday party. A bunch of our friends came down- Shiny Joe Ryan and his band of merry men (The Cosmic Microwave Background) were in town for a gig the next night, so we were all in the crowd watching Pete do his crowd-pleasing solo set, full of cheeky smiles and charming quips, with a few die-hard fans up the front singing along to all the words. I went and stood up on the stair ase with Finn and Charlie, our mates from Darwin who play in a band called Gorsha (they’re about to do a tour with Pete driving from Melbourne to Darwin), looking down over the crowd and the show, smiling and laughing and drinking to Pete’s charm. Then we played pool and smoked ciggies and drank beer for hours. It was quite a time. Quite a time indeed. One of the guys who works there got fired after that night, that’s how “quite a time” it was. Teehee.

The next night, Gorsha played the last night of their 5 week long residency at the Evelyn Hotel. That’s where Shiny Joe played too, in support. Flew over from Perth and everything like the wonderful friend he is. Pete opened the night wearing a monkey mask, joined onstage by Lucas (also wearing a monkey mask) and Perth’s own Dirty Dave on drums (wearing a Dalmation mask) for a set of droney doomy tunes he improvises on guitar under the name Chief Richards. The Shabbab played too, but I was too tired after the loooonnnng weekend to do the amount of body movement and dancing this band usually draws out of me (though others in the audience seemed in much more capable). Gorsha are swampy, serious and a little on the dark side musically, but they are refreshingly cheeky and hilarious between songs. Finn’s lyrics are just as sharp and true and wary as he is, just as clever too. Charlie is hilarious when he talks, and is a good bass player. Noah drums likes a sensual pool-boy. Peter Bibby and Gorsha doing a tour “up the guts” from Melbourne to Darwin is a great idea, not only because they fit well as musical outfits but because they’re great friends. It will be the perfect thing, and I’m bummed there isn’t enough room in the car for me to join them and take photos and make a music video or two. FINGERS CROSSED I CAN GET UP THERE TO MEET THEM.

And that’s my week of music. The end.

No Spoilers

Andrew Ryan

For all the idiotic things going on in Australian consciousness right now, one thing I’m sure many will acknowledge is that the latest season (5) of Game of Thrones just finished. It is done. Did winter come yet? I dunno, because I haven’t watched any of it. None. I decided that I would wait until it’s all released so that I can watch it all at once, or like, over days and a night probably. Greedy for that quick fix. Get it out of my system. Yeah.

Taking my daily peek at facebook over the season’s duration, I saw more than a few reactions to various episodes, but thanks to internet etiquette spoiler warnings I still have no idea what’s going on, other than the fact that an episode here or there was generally considered kind of boring, and that the ending was confusing, or a death was confusing, or something. I had my blinkers on. No spoilerz.

Game of Thrones is one of those shows that is expected to pack the biggest, bloodiest, sexiest punch one can imagine, every time, because that show does those things so well that people have begun to crave it, a huge punch, maybe for the same reason that all those older women were reading 50 Shades of Grey on the train for a little while, maybe. Masochism. Horny. Blood lust. Repressed animosity in the face of heavily policed civilized society. Those first few seasons, omg, I’d never encountered anything like it. And the television show episodes keep one’s interest, even through all the occasionally fatiguing complex family ties and political intrigue because omg filmic amping up of what was a little boring in the books and omg it’s soft porn and totally mindblowing violence omg. I was so excited every week to watch that fucking show on the great media set up Andy had in our old Footscray loungeroom and watch the ever-loving shit out of each episode. Hooked, mate. Sex-and-gore hooked.

The story had me hooked too, don’t get me wrong. I’ve had an avid interest in history since my high school history teacher opened my eyes to the fallacy of global politics after a particularly impassioned story about “communist oranges”. It was almost 15 years ago and I never wrote it down, so I can’t remember anything else about the story except the term “communist oranges”, but I know that was the turning point in my adolescence that lead to readingreadingreading about recent human history. Gotta learn from mistakes etc. I mention this not because I am the kinda human who thinks that Game of Thrones is actual real history, but like, those marriages and political wheelings and dealings echo quite loudly the footsteps of early European kingdoms and family lines. And I reckon a lot of people get a kick out of watching this fantasy elite wield their armies over the lives of that fantasy non-elite; a lust for a knowledge of that kind of power when most of us live like near slaves to whatever boss or land lord or debt you may have is hard to deny. Just wanna know what it’s like to be powerful man, just wanna know.

So past viewings of Game of Thrones seasons were The Most Satisfying Thing because it’s obvs written by a history nerd who loves mythology so much he had no choice but to write fantasy novels, and the visuals were all perfectly constructed smack bang sex gore like I said before brutal fun and dragons lol etc. And what the epic fuck does that say about us fans? How many turned away when that guy’s eyes got gouged out? Beheadings are banned on television but millions and millions of dollars are spent on a television show in which you watch people artfully edited to look like they’re really dying, and we’re artfully enticed when and when not to care about them and their deaths, it’s a dream, it’s a real fucking dream, gosh we could all learn a thing or too from the the financial lessons of Game of Thrones in terms of what is good for the ruling class to put their investments in so that a society functions properly and then maybe people won’t have their heads cut off or die of cold on the streets or children won’t be kept locked behind bars simply because their parents wanted to get them the fuck out of a war zone asap in the only way they could find out how to do asap, you know?

I’m not bagging out Game of Thrones, not really. I am very much looking forward to watching it, but I think in the midst of all this recent global and national political weirdness, I’ve had my fill of sex and gore escapism after watching two seasons of Vikings back to back the other week, and I think I prefer Vikings, because doing some learning about an old spirituality was fucking enjoyable and kind of nourishing and the babes are also way more babing and the costume design is more pleasing to my eyes as well so… I think my imminent Game of Thrones time may be a little tainted by this rekindled appreciation for a near rival television suitor. And it’s hard to ignore all those pressing concerns that I personally have no control over, and lying down to watch an expensive American TV show might feel like a fucking asshole move if I’m in the wrong mood and have read too much internet in the hours beforehand. But who knows what will happen when that theme music starts up all loud in my sound system, who knows how my body will respond, and maybe the familiarity of the characters will give me a hug and I’ll be straight back in to “yeah Cersei, drink that wine so you don’t get none on your lips you crazy bitch” and clapping with glee when Arya takes her revenge. Oh plz don’t break my heart, Arya’s gotta be the top dog in all this. Get that revenge, girl, get it.