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Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

Filtering by Category: tahliapalmer

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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An Interview With Chief Richards

Andrew Ryan

Tonight I sat at a table on a nature strip in Spearwood, near the current home base of Perth’s most mysterious musical act, Chief Richards.

A friend told me he saw Chief play at some sneaky squat party recently; Chief was wearing a bra, tight jeans and a Gorilla mask, making fucked up and amazing music with a guitar and some loop pedals. He said it was the best thing he’d ever seen… so when I saw that this enigma was having a “Career Launch” this Friday at The Fly Trap in Freo, I got in touch about an interview, hoping to find out more. He agreed, but only if I was fine with him wearing the mask. He told me to meet him at the nature strip on his street, and that he’ll be waiting with a beer for me. And he was. And I drank it. This is what we talked about.

Tahlia: So, Mr. Richards, how did you get your start in music?

Chief Richards: You mean in the biz or just for funsies?

Funsies, your first instrument, for example...

Well, my Grandad gave me this old trombone when I was about 5. It was bigger than me; I think he thought that was funny. But I played that thing, I played it good, practicing along to Grandad’s old jazz records… eventually I was keeping up with the greats.

Did you take lessons in school? With your granddad?

Well yeah I took lessons, math, reading and writing, agriculture, all that stuff, but never music, Grandad said music was not something that could be taught; it had to be felt.

That sounds like good advice; have you found it to be true? What other instruments do you play?

I can pretty much play everything but I mostly stick to the iPhone these days. Great little things them! In terms of Granddad’s advice, well, of course music can be taught. People have jobs teaching other people to play music. He drank too much cider, went apple-mad, used to say all sorts of crazy shit to entertain himself and confuse me... as I've grown older, I've learnt that there was some truth in his rants. I'm living proof that you don't require a teacher to become a master of your craft.

You're almost half a century old, twice the age of most first-time-releasers I have known in my lifetime, you’ve never released any music until this year - why so long to launch your music career? And what was your previous career?

Well, the family apple farm down in my home town of Donnybrook has kept me fairly busy. I've recorded hours worth of material over the years but never had much of a platform to release it. This year I thought to myself, "platform or no platform, it's time to release some shit." I mean, 2016 is my year; even my 3 year old kid knows that. Apples still rule my world, but now people will be able to take a little bit of Chief home with them, you know? Come to think of it, I released a track on a compilation tape a few years back in Melbourne: 'Non Precious Vol. 2'. It was put together by a nice capitalistic young man named Liam.

I’ll try to find it. Um, apples in Donnybrook; is that a long tradition in your family? Is anyone else in the family musically inclined, other than your grandfather?

My grandfather wasn't musical, he just got drunk and thought it'd be funny to watch a 5-year-old try to play the trombone. Sick bastard. I'm the only musical one; if it wasn't for my cider sippin grand pappy's twisted sense of humour and my absolute dedication to putting him in his place, there would have never been a musical note floating from my family home. EVER. But apples, hoooo boooyyy we been ploughin' that trade for a goods manies years in my family.

What about your son, does he seem interested in picking up a musical instrument?

Daughter. Nice assumption. God I hate men.

Oh fuck. My mistake. I can’t believe I assumed that.

This fucking patriarchy!! AAAHHHH!

Oh god I’m sorry. It's broken my spirit too, Chief.

We'll see about that...

I'm sorry Chief?

No, no... I’m sorry [coughs]... what were we saying?

Your daughter? Fuck I’m so embarrassed about that.

Yes! My daughter. She's more focused on visual art. She likes taking mashed apples and putting food dye in there and splattering it all over my walls. It looks great, she's very talented.

[Chief is evidently proud, you can hear it in his voice.]

That's great to hear, I love it when kids are in to art. I have to ask, is Chief your real name?

No.

Why the pseudonym, and how’d you come up with it?

I like to sometimes get a little bit freaky with my musical activity, and I don't want it to hinder the apple business. One time, I sucked a male prostitute’s dick on stage for 45 minutes with a contact mic on my throat going through all this fuzz and sonic manipulation, it was crazy. The 70's were fucking crazy. But my Dad would have killed me if he found out about that. No one wants to buy apples off a cock sucking gorilla. Not where I come from, anyway.

Mmm... if they're good quality apples, I'd probably still be keen. Maybe this musical project will open up a whole new apple-sales market?

The Apple God works in mysterious ways! Anyway, I came up with the name Chief Richards when I was partying with my buddy Keith Richards. We took all this acid together, and it's like we were each other, and I kind of became him, and you can see if you look at documentation of Keith, right, his soul and his colour and his essence really disappear more and more as time goes on. That's me collecting what is truly mine, bit by bit.

THE Keith Richards?

I'm not sure how many Keith Richards are out there but this guys name was definitely Keith Richards.

Like, from the Rolling Stones?

Well... let's just say he's got pale skin, and his best mate has an abnormally large mouth.

Ah, okay, keep the mystery going, I get it. I’m really intrigued hey, I like your story… you just kind of came out of no-where, and now you're launching your bizz at The Fly Trap on Friday night... I've only been there once, and it seemed like a good little space. Have you been to gigs there before? How did you choose it for the big launch?

You calling Donnybrook no-where mate?

[It’s really hard to tell what’s going on with a man wearing a mask. At this point I felt particularly unnerved by not being able to see anything but his eyes, and his eyes looked wild all the time.]

Naaah just joking, you're alright.

[I seriously breathed a sigh of relief and felt my muscles relax.]

Fly Trap...I was drawn to it because I sometimes feel like a fly, floating through eternity just picking at loads of shit, and I long to be forced into some kind of end...

[He looked away, and paused for a few moments. I took a massive gulp of my beer while I processed what he said.]

Naaaahhh I just know the boys down there, they're good blokes and offered me a date and I thought, hey fuck it, let's have a party, maybe I can do some shit.

[Oh man, he got me hard. Cheeky bugger.]

So now I've been trying to make this bloody album. I never gave a fuck before, but now I must admit I've got a bit of the old “normal person anxiety”, which I don't usually like to permit in my existence.

What is "normal person anxiety"?

You know, all that shit that normal people feel and let dominate their lives. Emotions and that. I generally just feel apples and rock solid beats, but all this thought I've been giving to this particular set of recordings, all this work I've been doing… it's made me get to a point of wondering if it's all for nothing. I should just bloody can the whole charade.

You can't do that! It's so close!

I like to keep things unpredictable. FUCKIN CHAOS MATE. Beautiful. Fucking. Chaos.

I can appreciate that, for sure. But let's just say that you’re going to keep the date at the Fly Trap, what can punters expect?

Well I've had a sore throat the past few days so I won't be sucking anyone off, that's for sure.

[I laugh and nearly choke on my beer.]

I mean, if I’m going to be honest, people can just expect a good tasteful show by a well dressed boy from the country who’s wants and needs are very similar to that of their own, and wants nothing more than to make them smile and make them love him. But often my shows don't go to plan, so bring a change of clothes and ear plugs.

[He sounded serious.]

What about the music though, how would you describe it? Just to give people an idea- you've only had music out for a couple of days, and from what I understand, it's quite eclectic.

It's like a year on earth. Made with a phone and a guitar. A fairly loud year.

[At this point, Chief finished his beer and pulled out his phone, and started watching a video of Triple J news. The reporting I heard was atrocious. Talking about what people commented when they tagged their friends on an announcement about Laneway’s Lineup.]

Oh yeah, Laneway’s coming up. Are you going to go?

I might pop down. Danny and Jerome usually give me a few complimentary tickets.

[He looks back down to his phone. I sense we’re done.]

Alright, let's wrap it up. Thanks so much for welcoming me to your street! Is there anything else you'd like to say to the readers?

[He sat up straight, then leaned towards me, speaking slowly.]

Be the guy you need to be to have the time you want to have.

[Then he leaned back and folded his arms across his chest.]

Wow. That's some pretty solid advice. Oh, and just quickly, do you follow politics at all? What are your thoughts on the Australian government?

All I can say is bring back Molly Meldrum.

[Fuck, all I could do was laugh.]

Thank you Chief.

Thank you Tahlia.

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Racial Tensions in Kalgoorlie: RIP Elijah Doughty

Andrew Ryan

A few nights ago I had a sleep over at my grandmother’s house after she had a minor surgical procedure.

My grandmother, known to her grandchildren as “Omi”, migrated to Australia from The Netherlands as a teenager during WWII, and has been here ever since. As she gets older, she told me she experiences more and more post-traumatic stress symptoms (my phrasing, not hers), like when a helicopter flies over her house, and she freezes in terror, momentarily brought back to The War.

She and my “Opi” raised my mother and aunts in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, before moving to Perth when the kids were grown up. She was a nurse in Kalgoorlie, and the only things I can remember her saying about this time was that spinal surgeries were awful back then, and that “black people stink”, because the Aboriginal people she dealt with as a nurse at that time were often living in horrible conditions.

I’ve always felt uncomfortable about this predilection my grandmother has towards a racially defined view of the world. I mean, I love her dearly, she is a kind lady, she volunteers at an aged care facility even though she turned 80 this year and all that - but she seems to have never come to grips with how this sort of Othering can negatively impact society. When she talked about her nurses at the hospital, she referred to some as “Negroes”, and sitting above the bed I slept in were a pair of Golliwogs, which she also referred to as her “Negroes”. She’s like a less abrasive, less funny, much more kind-hearted version of Uncle Pete from “Horace and Pete”. https://youtu.be/rBx-10c752U

I spoke to my mother about her time growing up in Kalgoorlie in the late 60s/early 70s. She described Kalgoorlie as being quite racially segregated. She said most Aboriginal kids were in separate school classes, and that she and her friends were quite scared of “blacks” because they beat up white kids occasionally. I didn’t ask her how often whites beat up black kids. She said the segregated groups didn’t socialise together, that there was a complete lack of cultural understanding. The white kids were taught in school that Aboriginal people lived in mia mias, threw spears to hunt kangaroo, and went walk about. That’s it. Which is only a little less than I was taught in school in the 90s. The Aboriginal people they mostly saw were the “full blood” “bushies” who sat in the park drinking, camped on the outskirts of town. Did the white kids see them hunting kangaroos with spears? I doubt it.

She said there was not a lot of animosity, just separation, and avoidance. But that tension bubbles, and every time I've been to Kalgoorlie, I've felt it, seen the massive inequality between the different coloured members of the Kalgoorlie community.

40 years later, today, Kalgoorlie experiences a “riot” in its city centre, in which police cars get smashed, the court house windows get smashed, and police officers are injured. That's what was reported in news media. Why did this happen? A 14 year old boy was found dead in some bushes, with a stolen motorcycle by his side. A man was arrested and charged with manslaughter, but was not locked up. Family and friends protested outside the courthouse, and the protest turned violent.

 The boy was Aboriginal. The man accused of manslaughter is White.

Cue the negative racial stereotypes against Aboriginal people written by White people all over news media facebook comments sections. White people with little to no compassion claiming it’s the boy’s own fault for stealing, that the protestors/rioters are animals, claiming that it isn’t a racial issue, whilst also giving shit to “dole bludging” “blacks”.

Never mind that there Is documented evidence of white people talking about running over black kids on Kalgoorlie social media pages. Never mind that the Western Australian reports on the riot in terms of the court house windows getting smashed being the most important issue, not that a CHILD was killed in what is seemingly an act of vigilante justice. Never mind the history of racial tensions in the area. Never mind the countless examples of horrific examples of Aboriginal deaths in custody all over Australia. For more information, read this New Matilda article. https://newmatilda.com/2016/08/31/the-kalgoorlie-uprising-a-rational-response-to-another-black-death/

Those bloody blacks, always complaining, always hung up on the past, always looking for an excuse to get angry, right White Guys?

Fucking hell.

The community around this boy are grieving. This boy was the third death in one family in the last month, and what appears to anyone with all the facts to be a MURDER, is being trated as manslaughter. The accused man was not held, despite manslaughter charge, while Aboriginal people around the country are detained for UNPAID FINES. No wonder 200 people protested outside the court. No wonder people were angry. This kid shouldn’t have died.

And let’s not forget the history of racial segregation in Kalgoorlie, home of the Super Pit that has its own fucking micro-climate - no doubt that boy’s adult family members were subject to that same segregation my mother described, as well as countless other experiences with Australian Systemic Racism, something White People rarely have to think about, let alone experience, and the young people are fucking angry about this shit, all of this shit, their friend is dead, no one should be killed for stealing a bike, though some are doubting he even did steal a bike, and goddamit those screengrabs of white dudes saying they’ll run the black kids over are horrific.

The situation is fucked. The reporting is fucked. The charges are fucked. The ignorant commenters are fucked. Some of these commenters cry “TOO PC, TOO MUCH SENSITIVITY” but there is such a big line between my grandma and Uncle Pete’s kind of non-pc old person word usage, and the kind of overt, hateful racism on display here; and FUCK, the shameful ignorance of the media in focussing on the riot instead of the awful situation that lead to it only furthers White Denialist Cause by giving an excuse for racial vilification. White Australia loves an excuse to racially vilify, ready to counter with “REVERSE RACISM” or “BUT MY FREEDOM OF SPEECH” when anyone calls them out on being insensitive assholes.

“Well, he’s never going to steal again, is he?”

No, he’s not, if he ever really did in the first place. A 14 year old boy is dead, and yet another Aboriginal family is in mourning for a death that shouldn’t have happened.

In a violent colonisation, the colonised have no choice but to respond with violence against the colonisers. For more on this, please read Frantz Fanon's "Concerning Violence". http://www.openanthropology.org/fanonviolence.htm

Show Me What You Got: The Arts and Corruption in Australia and Papua New Guinea

Andrew Ryan

So what’s happened recently?

The Arts Party popped up on my facebook feed, being all totally non-left-or-right (maybe depending on your understanding of political ideology I guess) but they’re all about just being pro Artist. I think that’s cool, because I’m an artist, and I am happy to see a party that accurately represents my interests: re: showing more care to artists, show more care for affordable education, because it’s really tough being an artist, especially if for whatever reason you’re not quite financially or emotionally capable of going through 3-5 years of institutionalized arts education, which doesn’t Make an artist, but certainly helps when it comes to getting to know people who have enough money to purchase art that isn’t a digitally reproduced printed canvas of Motivating Words from that discount store across the carpark from Woolworths and Bakers Delight in South Freo (deep breath).

Also I think it’s cool that Ben Quilty, who went to Afganistan as Australia’s Official War Artist is pro Arts Party.

The Greens responded to this with a call to give Australian artists help towards not being broke constantly and like, supporting them (us) and stuff, which I also think is cool. Up the exposure guys, we’re definitely worth something.

I was at this announcement in Melbourne in 2011 when the then Victorian premier Ted Baillieu wanted to go on record saying that in that place, at least, the arts were a substantial part of the local economy (some photos here)

so…

If we’re gonna play the economy in politics card… why not help foster local creative talent, what with the potential for even more increase in cultural tourism around the country and all, let the artists do some art, work together to make beautiful art, do cool things that entice spenders here, inspire some people, show them what we’ve got, word of mouth plus good social media campaigns wouldn’t hurt according to market trends, as well as non repressive state government structures that show more care towards keeping the special, inspirational and meaningful things about this chunk of world healthy and sustained, like land, like trees, like ocean, like wildlife, like history; people come here to spend money to see that stuff, to experience it, and learn; not just to sit in a fancy restaurant that specializes in expensive Exclusive Fusion Cuisine…

We may be multi-cultural, and proudly so, but we should maybe spend some more time focusing on the culture that was born of this ground that all our houses are built on. As a nation and as a voting democracy we should be working much harder with the people who know the land, making sure that the babies of those ancestral lines, as far as they reach, are encouraged and respected in their acquisition of that knowledge, AND create culturally safe pathways of education for that knowledge to be shared with everyone who resides on this land, while providing support structures to keep everyone healthy, bring the stories home, learn the land, move with the earth… post-colonial concerns should be with atoning for the crimes of the past (AND ensuring no more destruction or forced assimilation), I reckon anyway…

Speaking of ground, and country, and nations and stuff, four students were shot by police in Port Morseby the other day during a protest against the PNG government, which they were protesting because of government corruption, allegations which are tied to $30 million of fraudulent legal bills being paid – upon the prime minister’s instance – to a legal firm, which was apparently then siphoned in to Australia through real estate and other investments.

Dude. That’s so shit.

And four young educated people were shot while they protested this situation in their nation’s capital.

This same nation’s supreme court recently ruled the detention of asylum seekers sent from Australian waters on their soil (Manus Island) illegal according to the country’s constitution.

Australia all but ignores the ramifications of this ruling.

Remember last ANZAC Day, when heaps of stuff was going around about PNG’s “Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels”?

…sigh… we’re fed 70 year old mythical (bordering on infantile) stories about the Kind and Cute Ones Up North and not kicking up a stink about how condescending that weird “war is good Because Mateship but don’t look at what’s happening in contemporary wars” story is in light of our current situation regarding putting asylum seekers – from wars our own military is involved in – in prison on their shores, against their constitution… presumably thanks to the kind of corruption which students are getting shot for publicly protesting about?

Hey also, do you know that Geronimo song? By a band called Sheppard. You’ve probably heard it on commercial radio, or seen the cutie-pie cardboard army film clip on television screens in places where they get paid to play video clips on certain channels or some shit…

Well, two of the band members grew up in Papua New Guinea, and their father owns the business side of the band, AND he is a partner with a law firm linked with significant political corruption AND was a former director of a security firm operating the Manus Island detention centre.

WHAAAATTT? That’s crazy right? The further you go with this shit, the weirder it gets. Stinks like oily propaganda, keeping audiences placated with inane meaningless bullshit, and mutual-benefit-backslapping to me.

~~~

Paul Hasluck, the guy the electoral division of Hasluck (big chunk of eastern perth area including Gosnells and surrounds, Kalamuunda, Midland, Wattle Grove etc) is named after (and also his author wife), said in his 1988 book “Shades of Darkness: Aboriginal Affairs, 1925-1965) that:

“To practice politics or to discuss political affairs without the illumination of history is as risky as performing surgery in an operating theatre without lights.”

That’s all I got.

Being a Nerd

Andrew Ryan

Last week I began watching Star trek for the first time. It was one of those shows that I kind of mostly ignored, for years, too much pop cultural influence without anyone in my life being in to it, until a good friend recently recommended it, over and over, as a counter to the occasional bouts of compassion fatigue I experience as I continue with my studies and Australian history research without the aid of a therapist. There’s only so many case-studies and accounts of horrible violence+colonial genocidal practices you can take it before it all gets a liiiiiiiitle bit too much, you know?

And the show works, as my friend said it would! It’s fucking great. Really. Quality viewing for everyone with a decent command of English. It champions diplomacy, cultural sensitivity, and highlights the importance of recognizing how values can shape a society. It’s inspiring. And to top it off, each of the main characters is, generally, treated by every other character with complete respect and appreciation of their skills, knowledge and background. Empathy, on that spaceship, abounds beautifully.

Funny things is though, the show was originally created through inspiration gathered from Captain Cook’s voyages around Earth. James Kirk. James Cook. I haven’t seen the Star Trek featuring Captain Kirk. I cannot comment on that aspect. Though I’m sure Captain Cook wouldn’t have ever come even remotely close to the amount of compassion and respect for other cultures that Captain Picard displays as he navigates through unknown space… not saying Cook was necessarily an asshole or nothing, but you know, different times, different minds…

Anyway, thank fuck for Star Trek.

The enjoyment I take is not unlike that which I gain from playing Civilization V (specifically Brave New World expansion pack).

Diplomacy, culture, technological evolution.

Avoiding war at all costs.

I have played Civ for a few years now, quite regularly. Some might say too much. I sometimes think I play too much. It’s exciting to start a new game: what conditions will there be? How will I shape my first few cities? How well I can I train particular units to defend neighbouring city-states from invading barbarians? Sometimes I sit down to play, look up at the clock and realize with a start that it’s been 4 hours since I started and I’ve been chain smoking for most of that time, especially if my position on the map is in close proximity to war-mongering AI players and they hella want my land.

It’s easy to get lost in the game. It is complex; you have to consider every element, have to have a strategy, have to have a goal for victory.

You don’t want to neglect your culture points as you boost your science points, otherwise your citizens mayy become dissatisfied and push for a revolt against your chosen ideology. You can’t let the happiness of your empire drop whilst building up your army, otherwise overall productivity is severely affected, as is the performance of your military units. You can’t neglect the building up of your military forces while you strive for quick accrual of culture and tourism points, otherwise stronger civilisations will attack and totally fuck you up. You can’t ignore global technological advancements because they may be charging ahead towards a scientific victory, or may obliterate you with atomic weapons before you’re able to decrease their effects.

Also, you get to see, hear and read excerpts from great works of art/music/writing occasionally too.

It is complicated, time consuming, and immensely satisfying when a cultural or diplomatic victory is finally achieved. I strive for cultural victories, it is always my end goal, and I avoid wars as much as possible. I think, for me, it comes down to wanting to prove to myself that it is not necessary to be a Military Might in order to achieve “greatness”. You must defend yourself, of course, because a few other civilisations are programmed to just want to destroy everything in their paths, but it’s Doesn’t Have to Be Like That, especially, I’m told, if you’re playing with like-minded individuals (friends, even) in a LAN setting. I wouldn’t know about that, because I’m a loner.

That’s why Start Trek is so good too. For loners! Not really, but kinda. The value system championed in the show is that Aggression is Loathsome, and I absolutely agree. It is only necessary in a fight for survival, if someone is attacking you first, but with such great technological advancements and apparent ease of food and energy production, fighting other people just ain’t a thing that needs to be done. In the show, I mean. Not today’s world. We’re still too troubled for all that.

And it is when I get to those thoughts, the “we’re still too troubled” thoughts, that I turn away from my screens and sit in front of a canvas to paint it all out.

I feel like playing Civilization V and watching Star trek: Next Generation have a useful purpose, for me at least. In times when I do not want to create something, in times when I do not want to spend time with other people, in times when I do not feel like studying, or reading books, I will play that game or watch that show and learn, without evening trying, some vitals clues as to how our world functions, how values shape our attitudes, how culture can emerge and move and be exchanged, with the idea of harmony never really too out of reach. Hell, if I can ensure my Polynesia civilization wins a cultural victory before war-mongers try their best to tear it apart, then I feel that, you know, maybe there is hope in this world after all.

Also, it’s a very good feeling when you notice yourself getting better at the art of strategy.

Also, I lied: tonight I started a war with America because they were sending their archeologists to dig through ruins within my territory. I ain’t having that. A blatant attack on my interests! Cheeky buggers.

Throwing a Dead Cat on the Table.

Andrew Ryan

(warning: lots of swear words)

‘In short, “to throw a dead cat on the table” means you’re raising an issue that’s unpleasant (dead cats do smell), can’t really be solved (the cat is dead), and would be avoided by most people (what can you do with a dead cat?). But everyone will talk about the dead cat, which means they won’t be talking about some other topic. More importantly, they wont be talking about a topic you would rather they didn’t, perhaps one you’re trying to hide.’ – Richard1098
city-data.com forums
Sep 2013

My rant begins now:

I kind of wanted to make this whole column “FUCK PETER DUTTON” repeated 200 times. FUCK PETER DUTTON FUCK PETER DUTTON FUCK PETER DUTTON FUCK PETER DUTTON FUCK PETER DUTTON FUCK PETER DUTTON FUCK PETER DUTTON. DON’T TALK ABOUT PETER DUTTON. DON’T TALK ABOUT PETER DUTTON’S DEAD CAT. I NEED TO TALK ABOUT IT TO THEN STOP TALKING ABOUT IT.

I hate this, all of this.

Fuckiiiiiiiiiing “they’ll take our jobs” and “they’ll be in the dole cue” at the same time bullshit; it’s almost as if the man is insane, but he is probably not insane, probably sociopathic, he’s using that fucked-up and cold tactic of appealing to the rotten racist streak that stinks up the fabric of Australian society. This country was founded on the idea of white supremacy, and it continues to be influenced by this factor, brown people in off-shore prisons funded by our government, setting themselves on fire out of sheer desperation to show how fucked up their treatment has been and continues to be and Your Average Aussie is all like “but did you know that those queue jumpers are swapping their TAX PAYER FUNDED cigarettes for booze and weed??? NOT ON MY DOLLAR SEND EM BACK TO WHERE THEY CAME FROM” while they dream their aspirational dreams of negative gearing on their second investment property and their young adult children smoke so much meth that Western Australia has the highest amount of meth users IN THE ENTIRE FUCKING WORLD.

These are the voters Dutton and Turnbull and Bishop are hoping to hook here, allowing those ignorant bigots to “freely express” their agreement with which ever bit of the corpse they feel most strongly. You make that dead cat gross enough, and that racist stink completely overwhelms that of any other issue in the media.

~~~

Did you know that during the time of “White Australia” policies (various immigration restrictions between 1901 and the late 1970’s), not only were non-White/non-European people not allowed to immigrate here, but Aboriginal people who left the country could also be refused re-entry? THAT’S WHAT WE COME FROM.

Someone close to me works in construction, and he’s been telling me about the racist shit that gets thrown around on site, my favourite example is when they were listening to my friend’s choice of radio station, some chill early rock and roll stuff to break the monotony of Commercial Hits, no one complaining, work getting done, but when the presenter’s voice came on saying “You are listening to Noongar FM” the Irish bloke suddenly expressed extreme distaste, something like “What teh fook are we doing listening to this shite, this is the Abo station”. My friend regularly pulls his workmates up on racism (“you know it’s their land don’t you mate?”), and is often met with that whole “you can’t talk about that shit on site” response. No one likes being called racist because being racist is fucked, but so many people who legitimately display racist behaviour and speech can’t admit that’s what it is, cry “PC POLICE”, to which I want to cry “JUST DO US ALL A FAVOUR AND ADMIT THAT YOU THINK NON-WHITE PEOPLE ARE INFERIOR” because then we can deal with it all properly, have proper discussions about it, you won’t have to pretend anything, just be real jeeeeeeeeeez.

I almost can’t deal with this any more. I mean, I still have hope that this awful shit will push voters capable of critical thinking towards non-Lib votes but like, what if that doesn’t happen, and then the Liberals could trot out the “we have a mandate” line again that makes them think it’s okay to keep flouting Human Rights and Indigenous Rights, AND ALSO, they’re proposing something that looks almost like worker-exploitation on poor young people, cutting education funding but giving businesses up to $10,000 for hiring “interns” so these young people can get another $200 on top of their well-under-the-povety-line Newstart Allowance for working 25 hours a week, creating a situation where full-time workers could be replaced by these financially lucrative “interns” thus creating even MORE employment problems…

My gut is screaming that, as a nation, we can do much better than that. Given the rapid evolution of technology and issues related to this evolution, and the continued dying-out of various industries etc, wouldn’t it be a better long-term strategy to invest in free education…?

But that’s not the conservative agenda. The only “future” these sorts of politicians appear to think about is one where they are better off, unlike progressives, who want to see EVERYONE better off.

I guess it makes sense that conservatives are in power during this time of massive social/cultural/technological/economic upheaval/change, change is scary, BUT IT CAN’T BE AVOIDED, the mines won’t last forever, the oil won’t last forever, we NEED sustainable energy, we NEED to pay attention to ecological damage, we are part of that ecological system, we live on this planet amongst it all, to behave as if we are separate from it is narcissistic, broken; the mistakes of the past + the actions and social construction of history’s most greedy, selfish and disconnected leaders have lead us to this place where humans all over the world with resources in abundance are completely unwilling to part with them without a profit in return, patting each other on the backs for their hard work, even though the nature of profit means that someone somewhere else is loosing out, it’s an unsustainable process, there is no balance, and without balance, systems break, people suffer. History shows this, over and over. Education is the key to not making the same mistakes again, and it makes me want to pull out my hair thinking about how little emphasis is placed on equitably accessible quality education in the broader public discourse on how this country distributes its resources.

I know I’m preaching to the converted here. The chances of you, the reader, disagreeing with the statements made here are slim, as is the nature of communities who give a shit about creative cultural expression. So what’s the point in slagging off our immigration minister in capital letters for your eyes to read? Expression of frustration, a hope that you understand it, a hope that if you feel the same way then maybe lots of other people do too and we’re not alone in caring about people more than profit.

In conclusion, please let’s try to ignore the festering carcass our “democratically elected” politicians have thrown on to the media table, and instead keep talking about the things we NEED to change in order to build a better, more supportive, more harmonious and open minded society.

~~~follow Tahlia on Patreon~~~

The Game Has Got to Change

Andrew Ryan

Last week I promised an exploration of Australia’s relationship with France re: Submarine Design Contract Signing, but given the events of the last week, that won’t be the focus any more, I’ll have an explore of that next week. Instead, I offer a brain vomit of thoughts and ideas, very little structure, influenced by the current cosmic weather and the confusion and pain that comes from keeping an eye on Australian politics. If you’re as frustrated and upset as I am, you’ll understand.
~~~

Sometimes people are blinded by career goals, selfish individualism and greed; they can’t feel the presence of all the other human beings on this planet, all of the people, can’t feel the ones who live a different way to the well-educated, well-off white political elite of Australia, even the poor white people in Australia, they can’t feel them, let alone the poor Dark Skinned People of Australia, or the Dark Skinned People of any country for that matter, unless they’re well-off, then they matter, because they can give some of that Money to Australia if Australia can convince them to do so; stick all heads in sand to deny the social problems, the racism, the cultural divides in neighbourhoods and sprawling suburbia, all encouraged to connect in money, nearly everyone’s got access to a Coles Supermarket now, food shipped all over the country, the imperfect apples left to rot at the back of a farm somewhere in deep South Australia while every two year old in the city is being fed berry flavoured candy and crunchy m&ms in between doctors appointments to figure out why they scream bloody murder when the ipad is taken away, the coles will employ their teenage siblings right, give them some internships to keep them off the street and off the dole but won’t pay them enough to allow them to ever dream of buying a house, never mind the man down the road encouraging his son to hate what he fears, like cultures he doesn’t know, generations of anti-Aboriginality “terra nullius” distorting into the words “keep away from them / we grew here, they flew here” instead of “want to invite them over for a bbq?”

Did you get partiotic on ANZAC weekend? None of our ancestors died so that we could be free to be bigots if we want to be bigots. We should be free to demand justice, to punish political bigots for the harm they’ve caused to humanity, but this does not seem possible. However, when a governmental policy is a racist one, it is the nation’s fault for allowing it to go through, and only we have the power to decide who leads on our behalf, up to us to pick an actual leader, leaders who educate and consider, not dogwhistlers who allow tax breaks for the super rich.

It is as if the government knows they’ve gone too far, and cannot even consider letting those who have suffered at their hands in to the country without either:
a) paying the individuals a massive compensation
b) completely upgrading social services so that it is actually affective at providing helpful assistance to those in need of it (see: the poor)
c) risk letting anti-government feelings ripple through the families and friends and extended communities around the individuals involved
or the people who uphold the current asylum seeker policy legitimately don’t believe the people deserve our assistance.

Sometimes people choose to ignore things that are too painful, or too confronting, and people can die, do die, because of it.

Paying off our island neighbours to inhumanely and undemocratically imprison people who are not criminals rather than making sure the nation is socially equipped to handle the arrival of people in need is revolting.

Profiting from someone else’s loss shows a lack of empathy for others. If you could factor ethics in to risk analysis, if you could work within the boundaries that humans are more likely to show compassion than not, then the game is changed. Game theory was conceptualized by a human with paranoid schizophrenia, and the very real presense of altruism has been all but ignored ever since. Society has become a paranoid schizophrenic. Human children can be taught to be selfish, and they can be taught to have compassion. If the world they grow up in teaches them to be selfish, then they have no choice but to be selfish within that system, lest they risk getting fucked over by people more selfish than they, feeling the weight and the pain of doing what they can to help the people who are ignored by the greedy, being ignored themselves, or ridiculed, for not being self-serving. If the world taught children how to be compassionate, and share, then everyone would be sharing and no one would go without. There would be people who chose to be selfish among them, but I imagine their lives would be lonely and unfulfilling. The story of Scrooge ceases to be a warning when it is bands of Scrooges running the country I was born in- they are not lonely when they have each other.

I guess it comes down to the simple question of: how would you rather live?
Luxuriously with the knowledge that other people are freezing and starving to death, or moderately with the knowledge that no one is freezing and starving to death?

How can anyone be so brutal as to choose the former?

HMAS Bourgeois Bogan

Andrew Ryan

I recently acquired a radio, probably the first one I’ve owned myself for more than 10 years; a little $9 score from Cash Converters. At first it was in the kitchen, and I enjoyed cooking and bopping along listening to RTR FM (bigs ups for a gorgeous In the Pines this weekend just gone!), but then I started to crave it in my bedroom, a shack too far from the house to pick up internet, my music collection just not cutting the mustard. So out the back the little radio came with me yesterday, and I ended up listening to ABC 720 Perth for many hours straight, hearing news updates and discussion and callers from around the state, and you know, I think I now prefer radio as a news source than the internet. I learnt some stuff, thought about some stuff, and then went inside to research a few of them, and I’m going to write about one of those things for you this week.

I heard lots and lots of times the announcement that France won the bid for Australia’s brand new submarine fleet. It’s a big contract. Massive. $50 Billion. Imagine all the people you could feed and shelter and educate with that money! Upon hearing the announcements, some (Rupert’s) media outlets very quickly chose to focus on the fact that Japan missed out on it. Presumably this is important to said media sources because it was Tony Abbot who signed a defence agreement with Japan in 2014, and Tony Abbot seems to still be their champion, and also, pissing off Japan isn’t really a great idea for ongoing ”stability” (see: no obvious warfare) in our part of the world.

I feel like it was a need for regional superiority that lead the government to decided on the winning bid: France can provide “experience” and “propulsion” while Japan’s big sell was on “defence” and “geostrategic advantage”. Very different styles of Submarine, and what those differences look like to me is that Japan was offering a peacekeeping deal to further the defence agreement but Malcolm Turnbull kind of kicked it in their face being all “I’m the boss now and I want to make sure we have complete control over this area if we need it, don’t really trust you guys, France can make us zoom quicker through the ocean to fuck enemies up.”

For actual details on the designs and bids and whatnot, it’s all laid out very clearly in this piece in the Conversation: http://theconversation.com/why-the-french-submarine-won-the-bid-to-replace-the-collins-class-58223
It got me thinking about what’s going on in France at the moment, lots of worker strikes, student strikes, and a protest movement not dissimilar to all that Occupy stuff from a few years ago, all around concerns about treatment of refugees, concerns about workers rights and proposed Employment Law reforms. I got in touch with a friend who lives over there to get an update from a local, and that will all come next week, when I explore FRANCE: AUSTRALIA’S NEW FAVE SUBMARINE DESIGNERS and see what kind of ridiculous connections I can make.

During the hours over which this story developed, for one split second I was worried that Australia wouldn’t actually retain those jobs promised by Japan in their bid. Malcolm Turnbull and France would have to fucking make sure that MOST of those jobs are within Australian borders because goddamn there is a generation of teenagers coming in to adulthood who are gonna need those fucking jobs if the government wants to keep people out of the welfare system. I got riled up and then Bill Shorten was all “KEEP THOSE DAMN JOBS MALCOLM” and Malcolm was like “oh yeah election” so there are apparently a big chunk of jobs coming, despite some stuff having to be done in other countries, just so long as it’s not unethical foreign production; if I was a real journalist I would be demanding transparency for all of that business.

Dotted between segments on 720 was a little fun, “quirky” competition inspired by “Boaty McBoat Face” to name the first French-Australian submarine. The prize? A book called “The Truth About French Women”, no author mentioned. Classy! I was glad my phone wasn’t working, otherwise I would have been compelled to enter via text, simply for a real reaction out of the host, after I cringed for ages hearing her strained and tired laughs at the mind-numbingly obvious suggestions from callers. Here are some examples, for your health:

The Aussie Frog (“a very clever play on words”), HMAS Frog’s Legs (“some wit from Jeff in Bunbury”), The First Canoe, Foie Gras, Oh La La, HMAS Escargot, Esperance (“Fremantle’s got one, Bunbury’s got one, it’s about time a submarine was named after Esperance”), The Soggy Croissant…

I felt like crying after “HMAS Kermit” was offered by a fragile, shaking super-old-man voice, straight after “HMAS Frog’s Legs” by another caller… it’s too much for these people, I thought, France means so little to them. They have no idea what is going on outside of their own lives.

My suggestion for a name for the First French-Australian Submarine, one of 12 they’re spending $50 billion on instead of feeding and housing the nation’s homeless?

The Bourgeois Bogan.

drops mic

Stayed tuned for FRANCE: AUSTRALIA’S NEW FAVE SUBMARINE DESIGNERS next week :)

My Record Store Day, Fremantle, 2016

Andrew Ryan

It was a Friday night not unlike a few I’ve had before, though they are not regular: hunched over my computer, chain smoking jazz cigarettes and listening to music, trying not to get too frustrated with the limited RAM capacity, slugging beer after beer as I edit together video footage I’ve shot along my recent travels, trying to make something that will look fucking cool projected over a bunch of musicians on a stage of some sort the following evening.

That was last Friday, the Friday before Record Store Day, the Friday before Yardstock. I was shit-faced, still awake at 6 am, sun pretty much up, birds definitely singing, and the thing was kind of almost finished after a last-minute 12 hour slog on a slow machine, very professional like. Sometimes these passion projects work out, other times they don’t. Later that morning I woke up in Pete’s bed to the sound of humans clomping around the house moving musical equipment, dogs barking probably, Ray coughing because he’s sick, poor fella, sick and running around organising a suburb-wide music festival/party all day, Pete helping, coming in and out of the bedroom, giving me shit about “the life of an arrrrrtist” because I got to bed after the time he would normally be getting out of it in order to go to his construction industry job… welcome home Tahlia, you’re truly back in to a life now, in all its weirdo, confused and frustrating glory.

Settling back in to a city is nice when you’ve got good pals around doing cool things. Pete played that day and made a bunch of people smile at Mills Record Store in Fremantle, I was feeling pretty great despite the massive night of solitary, frustrated intoxication in front of a computer screen which brought me in to the day, a bit bleary eyed but more than comfortable with my body, I danced with Nick a little, which was nice, breezing around the record store, pulling out Electric Wizard and Mayhem, shoving them at Pete hoping he’d acquiesce and purchase them because my broke-artist-ass couldn’t afford such a luxury, Pete’s set was wonderful, he was so clear-headed, oozing confidence and comfort, the set and playing tight and well-paced, the new space upstairs Mills the perfect place to play an afternoon session, can’t wait to see some art up there soon. A nice little crowd showed up too, Pete signed a record, and a young man’s day was made when he introduced himself to Nick, so nice to meet your musical idols huh, Happy Record Store Day!

After that, we had to organise all kinds of things for the final venue of Yardstock. We’d missed the whole day’s journey around Freo and surrounding areas, the little flyer I made a few weeks ago the only available guide to the houses holding music, left in Mojos Bar to be picked up by those interested, little map directing what must have been, by all accounts, an enthusiastic crew from house to house, and Pete was playing again at the final venue, a big ol’ amphitheatre tucked away somewhere in White Gum Valley, had to organise gear acquisition and transport, luckily my brother and his housemate were up to the task, and we sat around drinking beer and talking shit at home for a while, finalising plans and having nice times, then OFFFFF to the place we go, all the things in Troy’s car, me Pete and Nick in an Uber, Joe on his freshly salvaged and reinforced scooter after some dickhead attempted to steal it, apparently the cops were dickheads about it too, but that ain’t my story to tell, you’ll have to ask Joe.

We got to the place, were lost for a while, it’s a big parkland, not much of it untouched by the ravages of population growth and colony expansion, constructed park as far as I could see in the darkness, wondered what was there before in that place that was concreted like an old Greek construction, small though beautiful as it was, made from stone that looked local, sweeping broken glass to somewhere the bare-footers wouldn’t hurt themselves, ultimate freedom, ultimate responsibility and all.

So, so many people ended up filling those stair-case seats, they trickled in slowly at first, as I was trying to set up the projections, coming to the disappointing realisation that the lack of one little adapter I had never heard of before would mean noooo projections at all, such a bummer, so I packed it all up, determined to be more prepared next time, like actually learn what machine I’d be using at least a day before the event, and then suddenly there were hundreds of people, smiling laughing dancing cheersin’, pretty glorious to be honest, glory at celebration of musical culture in this city, shared through backyards and along the streets, a mixed bag of attendees all attesting to the serious drawcard of high quality live music, of which this town can provide in spades. Even though the hunched computer work I put in was not to be realised in that setting at that time, I had no weight on my shoulders, only smiles that community organisation is getting better and better, things are growing, if we can direct these energies in the right way we can easily have an even greater positive impact here, just gotta show the Big Important things the care they’re really worth, you know? Music is about people, and people are society, and society is tied up with all kinds of problems. If music works for getting people smiling and working together peacefully, then fuck, maybe some of that music-spirit in to other fields? I’m rambling now. I’m still pooped from all the things I just told you about.

For photos of Yardstock, take yourself to this wonderful album by Amber Bateup, one of Perth’s finest, hardest working live music photographers.

 

Pic By Amber Bateup

Smiles at Fron Voyage, Nannup, 2016

Andrew Ryan

Fron Voyage m’fkers! The last time I went to a festival at that secluded little property outside of Nannup, I made a list of places of note in which I sat. I came back, two years later, the festival different and smaller, a familiar crew and organizational team (the super chill, community minded hilarious badasses in the Good Time Arts/Doogs collaboration team), and golly, what a treat.

It is often said about camping festivals such as this that you are taken out of your reality in to something else. And in some ways, I feel like that could be true, but I also think it’s like… you are, for a short time, joining your needs and desires up with those of similarly minded people, in a beautiful setting that reminds one of the existence of lifestyles outside of the one you’ve ended up in… if you feel like you’ve left reality to go there and have a real nice time, it means whatever your reality is outside of that leaves you wanting.

I reckon, anyway.

And it’s funny how, in that experience, I was able to forget the ills of the world for longer than usual. When you’re trying to feel your way through bushland on a cloudless, no-moon night to get to the place where your water is, which is also where your big coat is, because your friend is a bit chilly after lending her only coat to someone else who was a bit chilly, well, you’re in true communal-survival mode, and there is nothing quite nothing like communal-survival to keep you going. It is indescribably more life-affirming than sitting on a tram taking the same journey you’ve taken at the same time most days for the last however long you’ve had your job. Nature is good for the health.

So a list, to keep my theme of that property going. It was a very different experience to last time I was there: less intoxicated, that’s for sure… more cognizant, less overwhelmed, more comfortable. Older, too, I guess. Brain is a little different to how it was a few years back. Was nice to revisit faces I haven’t seen since then and see how the various sparkles in everyone’s eyes have evolved….

Some of the Places I Smiled At Fron Voyage:

- at the top of an unknown hill, in the dark. When Eva and I got lost, singing The Nanny theme song at each other, both of us enjoying the act of singing that loudly and freely and passionately, so distracted by the joyful interaction that we got ourselves lost.. that was where we found ourselves. We could hear Doctopus clearly, though we couldn’t see them through the trees… we shouted at the tops of our voices. I think I wanted a magic connection with everyone we couldn’t see. I have no idea if it worked. We eventually followed what Eva remembered of Amber’s travel advice, and got back to our camping area without injury. Stimulating journey.

- at our Office, the fold-out chair and tables Pete and I trekked across the country with a few months ago, used this time to host some of our bestest buddies in the world at the front of the van at our campsite, animated conversation abounding, Shiny Joe and Pete and Nick and Ring and Amber and Eva and Bridge and Chris and Ana and anyone else, chatting and shouting, excited and happy and comfortable, drunk too, what a pleasure to be in fresh air even though I smoked tobacco heaps, what a pleasure to be back with some amazing pals, feeling at home on the fold out table and chairs surrounded by the people, pleasure.

- by the edge of the water, the beeliar, listening to it, in the dark, almost blind but for Ring’s special spotlight torch, looks like a theatre light, the water so loud. The bush across the water looked like a wall, and I pondered over how strange it must have been for the European settlers who decided to make camp in this country, to be affronted by a landscape so different to what they knew. I thought about the Europeans who, individually, joined in treaties with local groups, sharing resources… but once the colony started to expand, boatloads of more Europeans getting dropped off every few months… well… treaties expired, were broken, the colonial land sold off, the new owners leaving the first caretakers with few options. Where are the traditional land owners of this property now? Do they know their birthright?

- in the van, waking up on Sunday, a wonderful evening behind me, a comfortable sleep on our blow-up mattress, Pete looking all disheveled and gorgeous in the sun, looking out the window and seeing Amber packing up her tent, early morning rise, I went back to bed for a little more snoozing, so sleepy and comfortable on the bed in the back of the van, smiling myself back in to a lovely slumber. I missed out on breakfast at the Odell camp though, cheeses and meats by gahd, I would have smiled if I’d eaten that breakfast with Nick and his two little kids, which leads to the next one…

- hulla hooping with Archer and Ziggy on the sand in front of the stage! Such a good activity for people to do between band sets, get some energy pumping, entertain the children. I remembered some tricks I learnt when I did circus skill classes in highschool (hey, I’ve always loved trying fun things- I can firetwirl on stilts if I have to as a result), showed them off to the two children I was watching over, Archer, the oldest, was like “that’s cooooool” and I was like “hell yeah a 5 year old thinks I’m cool keep doin what yr doin tahlia”, that kid is cooooool. I had a lot of fun, so many smiles for and at those boys, Ziggy so little with such long hair, throwing the hoop because he couldn’t quite be bothered getting the hang of twirling it around his body. Such sweet, innocent fun, the darkness is so easily uplifted when a tiny little human is holding on to your hand and looking all the way up to your adult face, placing their trust in your protection and guidance, makes you swallow everything else for the sake of seeing them smile. And it gives me such a massive smile.

Fron was lovely, Fron was good, Fron does things just like they should.

The music was sick too. Read Lydon’s review for that side of the story <3

My Breasts are Shameful and the World is F***ed.

Andrew Ryan

This week saw International Women’s Day fall within its boundaries. I took a photo of myself topless, and posted it on Facebook with the following just-woke-up rant:

“For my contribution to International Women’s Day, I would like to publicly free my woman nipples. I find it super unfair that my heart pounds hectically at the thought of walking around topless in public in hot weather like all the boys get to do just because society has, for a long time, considered female nipples to be rude and/or sexual only. It is absolutely ridiculous that photos of female nipples get taken off Facebook while men’s do not. It’s not like I’m scared of my body or anything; I have done plenty of nude modeling, I don’t mind getting my kit off in situations where it’s totally acceptable around people I know I can trust to not be disrespectful, but publicly, it is not possible, for many reasons, while for men, it generally is.

(and on that note, some extremely talented artists have to censor their work on social media if it features a female nipple, but not if it features a male nipple, which totally changes the image they are sharing with the world, changing their work and the way it’s read by people, reinforcing the weirdness around the female nipple and instantly highlighting the fact that some nipples are considered more acceptable to be viewed than others…)

mostly, I want the simple freedom of not having to gross-up a t-shirt or singlet when I’m sweating and the simple freedom of an equal every-day-built tan across my tits, and I don’t have that freedom, and it pisses me off, because not only does it mean extra washing and an uneven aesthetic, but it’s just plain stupid to be so fucking obviously and shamefully unequal about such a simple thing, a really, really fucking simple thing.

to me it is a simple thing that is actually a huge thing that proves how many simple inequalities are everywhere between the way women have been and are treated in comparison to men, how we are expected to behave compared to men, how mass society still has a lot of work to do in terms of getting rid of destructive, obsolete ideas about the way humans function, how they interact, including not only gender and racial issues, but fucking economic and political ones too.

we are at a critical stage in human history- a massive, massive amount of people on this earth, so many people who cannot eat while a few others are far richer than any of us could ever imagine, more money around the world spent on updating military technology than ensuring citizens are fed and sheltered, and mediums with which humans communicate publicly to share ideas and have discussions are not only monitored but also must bow-down to stupid old-idea pressure about how distasteful it is to see a woman’s nipple, one click of a button and it’s taken down, when it can take weeks and hundreds of people to successfully take down overtly racist and hateful images, FUCK THAT SHIT, FUCK ALL OF THAT INEQUALITY, IT’S FUCKING SICKENING AND TIRING, free the fucking female nipple from shame, fuck the white supremacist patriarchy, justice for all the oppressed.

phew, is it hot in here or is it just my fucking frustration?

love to all.”

After a few hours and much applaud from ladies and men alike, it was taken down. My nipples, but not the nipples of my male friends, were a violation of community guidelines, so the post was taken down.

A part of the problem I have with it is, as I mentioned in my rant, is that other things, which are far more offensive than my nipples, such as grossly racist content/pages, or grossly sexist content/pages, can take a lot longer to get rid of. I recently reported a page that was anti-feminist, making fun of a well-known Australian feminist writer whilst being obviously sexist, and Facebook told me it didn’t violate community guidelines, presumably because it can get away with satire. A friend commented that she reported The United Patriots Front Facebook page for hate speech, as they are overtly Islamaphobic: “Shut down all Mosques until this ISIS shit is over”, “They’re ruining our way of life” etc, but because they’ve stopped using straight up derogatory language and just dog-whistle
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog-whistle_politics)
instead, they have avoided breaching community guidelines and still remain, with tens of thousands of followers, spreading misinformation, fear-mongering, and extremist right-wing circle-jerking.

But that gender inequality thing still feels weird. I was enraged when my posts were taken down, enraged though vaguely amused, and I fantasised about launching a campaign to change the community guidelines so that there was gender equality in topless hot weather photos. I imagined creating a Facebook page in which photos of men and women, trans included, in the exact same, non-sexual poses are posted, including breast feeding photos, as a challenge to the wider community to recognise the absurdity of creating a situation in which women are not allowed to display the same parts of their body as men. No one likes to be shamed for their bodies, and this particular community guideline is perpetuating the distorted notion that breasts can only be seen as sexual objects. Women cannot post photos of themselves breastfeeding their babies without them being taken down. If you are comfortable with your body and you want to take your shirt off in hot weather and post of a photo of it online so people can see you enjoying the beach with your pals or your dog or whatever, you can only do this if you are a man. “ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY?? THIS IS FUCKED!” is what I screamed in to the void.

Later, I read articles about #freethenipple, and I realised that not only had I missed the boat on this topic, but that boat made no real waves in rectifying the inequality of men and women’s torsos on social media, as was evidenced anyway by the deletion of my photo. The movement seemed to have made a few women feel stronger, which is good, but straight afterwards I read an article about a 10 year old girl who killed herself in a Northern Australian Aboriginal Community the other day and now the chances of her friends and family doing the same thing are statistically higher than they already were, and she was only 10 and she experienced the worst kind of suffering as a result of institutionalised racism that manifested itself through social issues experienced in places where citizens are left to rot in their mental health problems and cultural disconnection… I am not sure if trying to create a situation of nipple-showing equality on social media is the most important thing to be focusing on. It made me sad again; frustrated again.

I started my day feeling empowered to show my tits because fuck it, gender inequality with body photos is stupid, boosted throughout the day by friends and acquaintances appreciating the gesture, and ended my day with another heart-break, kicking myself for not being able to make a similar gesture to highlight the gross racial inequality existing in Australia concerning First Nations people: mental health, education, opportunity, cultural sensitivity.

I feel at a loss, especially since my boobies got far more “likes” than anything I have ever posted about social injustice in the real world, which I suppose shows why these problems continue to exist despite the work many people have done over the years to rectify them: it is easier to see boobs and say “yeah, don’t take them off my facebook feed!” than to see a headline about the suicide or death in custody of an Aboriginal person and critically engage with the reality of white supremacist paternalistic economic management + untreated intergenerational trauma cycles in this country.

Massive, massive sigh.

For good reads by writers much more informed and clever than I, about issues much more important than my breasts, please take yourself here:

Let’s stop neglecting the unique struggles of Aboriginal women, by Celeste Liddle
http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/lets-stop-neglecting-the-unique-struggles-of-aboriginal-women-20160307-gnccax.html
Self determination will reduce the suicides, by Dameyon Bonson
http://thestringer.com.au/self-determination-will-reduce-the-suicides-11726#.Vt-w6ZN96M4

Reflections on Q & A

Andrew Ryan

I turned on Q&A the other night and was confronted with a couple of people talking about how allowing gay people to Marry and be Married could lead to a “stolen generation” of children who don’t know and are not raised by their biological parents, in reference to a previous Australian policy of forced adoption of children born to unmarried mothers (especially in reference to the words used when Julia Gillard Apologised for it in 2013). I was dumbfounded by the clumsiness, flimsiness, ignorance and cognitive dissonance on display within this argument, and could only imagine how offensive these statements must have been to not only homosexual couples who have or desire to raise children, but also to First Nations people who have encountered forced removals from their families and communities, whether under the forced adoption policy or the horribly named “Aboriginal Protection Act”.

There was a young woman in the audience who spoke of her experience as the daughter of two women, who knew her biological father and had a good relationship with him; a good upbringing resulting in a strong, intelligent and open minded young adult, which served as a counterpoint to the ridiculous “fears” stated previously. There multiple points of view on offer here, so the people watching were given to option to look at it from both angles.

However, the discussion/episode took a turn for the worse when the issue of teaching children and teachers how to be understanding, empathetic and compassionate towards LGBTIQ students (if they were not already capable of such things) came up. The managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby, Lyle Shelton, kept referencing to (only) one study on transgendered people as reason to take transgender issues as seriously as the Safer Schools program is encouraging, though he gave no background about the study, the nature of the study, the way the study was conducted etc etc, and he would mention “gender theory” whilst seemingly having no in-depth understanding of what that actually meant and how inappropriate his attitude was given that they’re talking about children and adolescents, who, to put it very simply, are in need only of care and love, not debates about whether or not one old white feminist agrees that the experiences of transgender people are indeed deserving of respect… and a woman who pulled her children out of a school that had this program in place was given lots of microphone time, while not one transgender person was given ANY microphone time.

It was weird.

Despite an excellent bunch of truth coming from the badass, well educated and socially enlightened truth-tellers on the panel, it was both disappointing and frustrating to see that there was absolutely no opportunity given to any of the transgendered people in the audience to speak, which must have been horrible for those who sat there, forced in to silence while people who do not live as they do talk for them and about them.

As with any discourse on social issues, it seems imperative to have a wide variety of voices involved, which should surely OVERWHELMINGLY INCLUDE THOSE WHO ARE AFFECTED BY THE ISSUES BEING DISCUSSED. If you’re talking about the need to keep an anti-bullying program that focuses on transgender individuals in schools, howzabout getting some trans people involved in the discussion? To keep their voices out of the public discourse, especially on a national television program, creates a situation in which they are “Othered” in to oblivion and the members of the public who have no understanding of the issue do not see them as just like them; that is, as another human being capable of complex thoughts and feelings. It results in a person being viewed as having “an affliction” instead of just being a person with a different experience of existence, a situation of distrust instead of understanding and compassion.

This Othering is seen over and over in our society, a society that is only just coming out of a looooooong bunch of decades of narrow mindedness and repression of guilt amidst an environment of complete cultural confusion (British? Then, American? Does suburban multiculturalism mean eating Chinese takeaway? Aboriginal culture is a commodity to be consumed and exported yeah? What is Australia other than beaches and mining and drinking?), a society borne of genocidal practices, a society that evolved through unsustainable resource usage and unsustainable population growth, a society mostly made up of white people with colonial mindsets who did not and still often do not understand the implications of their lifestyles and their desires and their attitudes… how is the asylum seeker debate framed? Them vs Us. How do uninformed non-Aboriginal Australians view Aboriginal people? Them vs Us. The Other suffers in their separateness, while those who create the divide suffer from their lack of understanding and humanity.

This view is old and tired and is damaging to a well-rounded, intelligent way of figuring out how to shift society towards being healthier and more beneficial and inclusive for everyone, not just the majority groups. We’re all in this together, oh giant human family. All it takes is a little critical thinking to overcome social conditioning and the evolutionary programming that is left over from when the first humans still dealt with carnivorous predators every day, and then we won’t have to cause each other pain any more, and we won’t have to fight to be heard or understood anymore.

One step at a time. Listen to everyone, especially if they’re unfamiliar.

Across the Country in an Unreliable Van

Andrew Ryan

*Photo credit to Peter Bibby

I write this on our third forced day in a Kalgoorlie motel room, thankfully paid for by the RAC. All our stuff, except what we could fit in our backpacks, is still in or tied on to the van, which is at the mechanics, with the gear-box all pulled out from underneath it, the gearbox which is confirmed to be broken.

This gearbox issue is the latest in many van fuck ups. Pete drove from Perth to past Norseman with a cracked head gasket. The van broke down and he was towed back 700kms. He made it to Adelaide about a week later than expected. He had to leave his van there to be fixed in order to make the shows he had booked in Victoria: caught the bus from Adelaide to Melbourne. We caught the bus together from Melbourne to Ballarat, Ballarat to Adelaide, picked up the car, drove back to Melbourne, stopping off at Portarlington on the way. We picked up my stuff in Melbourne, waited around for a few days for a mechanic to fix the alternator, then headed off along the Great Ocean Road, portions of it scared by a huge fire that tore through it a few months ago. We had to stay four nights in Portland due to waiting for mechanic as well – a busted external regulator fuse – and once we left there, we explored along South Australia’s coastline, went a little inland to explore arid national park, and kept drivin’ drivin’ over the border in to Western Australia. It was a relief to know the van was good; we thought it would last forever.

And I felt so darn inspired by the landscape as we drove in to those big ol’ Western Woodlands. I find that environment to be so comforting these days, even though I remember kinda hating the bush when I was a kid. I grew up mostly across the road from national forest in Kalamunda; the first chunk of bush off the road was all suburban prickle bushes and swooping magpies. Once you got deeper in to it, it got pretty good – a creek and big rocks and all that – but when my ma and step-dad would force us in to going on orchid hunting bush-walks i guess I was lazy and wanted to be watching movies or exploring the internet or hanging out with my friends or something. But these days, I can’t think of many better things than driving/strolling through/sitting amongst that kind of bushland. We drove through heaps of it, through mining areas, the red dirt thrown up on the trees, traffic cones dotted all around, wondering what the hell was going on down all those unsealed roads that we could no longer trust the van to safely go down, planning photo series and video works, documentation of where the state’s money comes from, where so many people are employed, the condition of the environment and the workers…

Before we got to Norseman, some of the van’s gears stopped working, and we had to park it somewhere where we didn’t have to put it in to reverse, so as to consider our options. Pete has a mechanic friend who he has been in touch with sooooo many times on this trip, has been a voice of calming hopefulness and the first port of call before dropping the car off at any local mechanics, so we were waiting to hear back from him in Norseman, and decided to drop in to the pub for a bevy and a game of pool. 4 hours later, we’re drunk and up $70, after Peter played songs on his guitar for a bunch of construction workers who happened to have their RDO that day and were keen to hear some music, a nice change from their regular horse-racing and youtube watching r&r styles. They plied us with booze, filled Pete’s hat with money, and we were able to pay for a room at the pub for the night. Woke up the next morning feeling good about driving the van to Kalgoorlie to get shit sorted out, and then when we got to Kalgoorlie we thought, fuck it, 4th gear works fine, let’s just gun it to Perth. 5kms out of the city centre, at an intersection on the Great Eastern Highway, we broke down completely.

So we’re in this motel room, kindly provided by Pete’s premium RAC membership (fucking worth it if you have a dodgy car btw), thank fuck he thought to purchase it, and we’ve got not much to do, except browse the digital television channels and lament the lack of decent reception on the SBS channels, and like, listen to fellow motel guests sit outside all of our rooms in the walkway with an esky full of beer. After two weeks of driving through tiny towns, agricultural areas and extreme arid plains, it’s not hard to feel grossed out by sitting in a motel browsing through television channels.

Earlier, I sat just outside the door of our room smoking a cigarette, looking at the building and envisioning what it would look like when Kalgoorlie has way less people in it and there are even more disused buildings and this one is crumbling and all the windows are smashed in. Nearly every town will go through this process at some stage. It is a dark satisfaction for me to see this process in action, it is a reminder that nothing stays the same for long, not much is built to last, especially not contemporary society, it’s not yet designed sustainably, it’s still layers of buildings rising and falling at the whims of investors and industries. That being said, in some tiny towns we drove through, there are some buildings that were built seemingly well over a hundred years ago which are still in use. I saw plenty that weren’t too, especially in inland South Australia, man, so many crumbling old buildings along the highways out there, failed farms from early colonial days, but in the towns nearby, the colonial settlers remain, and very few of those towns seem to have had more than one new building built each decade that has gone by since their creation.

All of this to get me to Western Australia’s capital, lil’ ol’ Perth; the land of renewable buildings and non-renewable energies, plenty of houses but not enough homeless people who can afford to pay for them, fewer music venues than I’m now used to, more expensive food than I’m now used to, possible anti-protest laws on the horizon and a vast, sprawling suburbia… I’ll be back here for a while, and I reckon I’ll have plenty of things to say about it, mark my words.

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.