Homecoming, eulogy from afar

i think i’ve told you that sometimes teenagers from south america write to me and say “all i want to do is move to perth.” this is a very strange turn of events, as we’re all used, from the moment we arrive in perth, to artists and musicians saying it’s shit and they want to move to some other cultural capital. but in paris, people who love music know perth. and in chile there’s twenty three year olds late at night telling me “i just want to learn in the flesh what is to organise as a community”. i was reading an interview with methyl ethel the other day, who are becoming “big”, and in it they’re asked about cliques here. it’s something that gets thrown around on the edges of things – the idea that people only get to play shows because of being in a cool crowd or clique or something – but what the boys said in their interview was true: that it’s about people who have heard each other’s music and like it and want to hear it again making that happen.

i feel like there’s two big reasons it’s easy here, looking at this place on a homecoming from a cultural wonderland of a different kind. ok, three. we have space: everyone has a place to play music, backyards, lounge rooms, parent’s houses, bedrooms, kitchens, no apartment neighbours to make a fuss. the second thing (not in order) is perth is super RICH, off stolen ground, living on stolen resources dug up from the ground that’s making more trouble across the world while being useful: resources that are going to run out soon – and are already running low so everyone’s posting on facebook to find jobs for the first time because the boom is DONE. and three, people have created here a magical community where things are good and people support one another and friendships are deepened week by week by experiencing music together, backyard talkshows, festivals where it’s just friends putting it on, suburb-wide water fights, football games between musicians, people raising money for other musicians when someone’s sick or got their gear stolen by a junkie to deliver the money eventually to organised crime, helping at soup kitchens together, getting high together except me, making and making and making.

well, anyway, much more seriously, one of the people around perth music died last week, and it was someone i’d like to hear a minority report from on all of this but i can’t anymore. i liked this guy very much – travis doom. even though we only ever had a few conversations, and just saw each other ‘around’ he affected me very much. i would have met him when we were younger and both writing semi-anonymously for a zine called “The Ponies”, but i can’t remember that. but i remember our first recent conversation when some friends and i put on a show to raise money while we were doing ‘live below the line’ where you live on $2 a day for a week and do fundraising. he told me it was kind of ridiculous, raising money like that through a show, with a tiny door fee and then just people putting money in a hat when everyone’s spending heaps on alcohol and most people just don’t care anyway. he was right, even though i was right too when we talked about it. he was right but he was still there. this is what i keep thinking about when i think of him, that conversation, his general intolerance of hypocrisy – something missing from our circles all around – and him not smiling, but looking at me and me at him across cafes in our suburb with what i interpreted as the loving gaze, moving through our private darknesses and hopes to meet in the middle just in eye contact that said ‘we are different, we are the same, you are someone i like.’

hey travis, sorry if i’m misquoting your private thoughts, who knows what you thought (your true deep friends and family do probably), but what i thought of you makes me smile at the kitchen table, as you would know if the soul extends in a different way to the body and you’ve become semi-omniscient like a god. i hope you are covered in roses and that you found out the secret of the universe is that everything’s going to be great (is it??) and that you can hear all the thoughts of random people like me who loved you from afar although maybe if everything’s amazing and continues you don’t need anything extra for eternal happiness.

what is it like to organise a community here? very very easy when you’re in a rich country, with people with good hearts, and a mix of cynics, optimists, secret creators, show-offs and everyone else, with big enough houses to make a lot of noise.