Monday, May 30, 2005

Ring Ring (only not the other one).

I got a phone call today, from my old Opa (Grandfather). It's his 80'th birthday.
Sure it was odd that he called me on his birthday. But it was more odd that he called me at all.
I'm 34, and he's never done that before.

To be honest, we've barely even chatted before, as much as I like him.
Love him, even.

He was really chatty. We talked about all kinds of things. The weather, for one. Gardening, of course. Yes.
It wasn't until I got my Mum on the phone that it all came together. He's getting on, and he's thinking about the past.

For those of you that are unaware, the past is a fantastic place full of amazing things, that can only be visited via nostalgia.
Nostalgia is kind of like being homesick, but you can even do it from home, like a pyramid scheme, or a porn website. You can stand in your house and still miss it, only you're really missing its previous incarnation from the past. Kinda like wanting to go hang out at the mall with yourself when you were fifteen, or trying to fellate your shadow. Clearly you have to be quite educated and clever to get your head around the concept. Wait...what do you mean you've never tried to fellate your shadow before? I haven't either, i was just saying...

Anyway, my Opa has been spending a fair bit of time back there (nostalgia, not the other thing), and it's making him appreciate the things he has right now.
Like errant Grandsons.

It's weird. My Opa is kinda my hero. He never said much to anyone, he's definitely the strong, silent type, as opposed to my antisocial, but still intensely loud-mouthed version. During the war (the second one), he, and two of his brothers made the Gestapo's most-wanted list, for taking a hill held by the Nazi's, who greatly outnumbered them, thirty-to-one. The Dutch Military awarded them medals and honour, and all that kind of post-war tomfoolery. The Vanderwerff boys gave them back, and went back to their farms, not even remotely interested in anything other than doing their part to wrest control of their country back from the invaders, then getting back to work. And they stayed there ever since, having daughters and sons, who married and had me, and my cousins.

What I'm trying to get across here, is that he was a no-nonsense kind of man, with his priorities straight.
So to suddenly have him call me up, for the first time in my life, was, as I say, odd. And it was disturbing for the reason that I, now that I too am educated and clever, have been doing exactly the same thing. Visiting the past that is.

As I said a post or two ago, you just can't get time back. You used to be able to pretend, but then Jerry Garcia died, and the whole deal pretty much fell over.
Some people even go so far as to say the past never happened, like Holocaust deniers, acid freaks, and anyone associated with first year Philosophy. But it did happen, and that's the problem. It happened, and now it's not happening any more, because it happened.

If there's one commodity more precious than the here and the now, I'd like a share in it. You can tell they're important, not only because I italicised them, but I slipped the word 'the' in front of them too, just to be sure. I hate to admit it, but Oasis calling their album 'Be here now', was not only astoundingly arrogant, but actually rivalled Socrates for pure, unadulterated wisdom. There really is, no place better to be.

But I digress.

I have gotten to the stage now where I have accumulated so many memories, and have so much 'past' behind me, that I've started to forget things. It's been unpleasant in the extreme to have to sit down and figure out whether the memories I'm having are actually mine, or a movie I saw on tv late at night sometime. And so he typed out into the cold and limitless void of the internet "Do any of you do this too?" Kinda like a modern day message in a bottle.

It's hard to know the truth about anything, even things have have happened to you. My family aren't really any help. They're all exceedingly normal and nice people, and they know enough about the world to know that when you have a past as dark and bad and wrong as our collective shared history, you bury it. I'm the only person that has any interest in seeing it again, and they all think I'm crazy. Like I'm at the cage with the groaning, heaving, slobbering dark beast inside, trying to fight my way past them with the boltcutters. 'Why do you want to know?" they ask. "Why would you want to remember?"

But that's the thing. I do remember. And I can't not remember. At least, I remember something. Don't I?

The further away I get from these memories in time, the more they visit me in my dreams. All jumbled, and out of sequence. They even have smells. Like coal fires, like cold, wet, rusty metal, and like...well, something I can't place, but once every two years or so I'll stop dead wherever I am, because I thought I smelled it again, but it's gone, and...well, it's gone.

I'd like to remember my past, so I can put it all away. Not so it can just fade and rot, and be denied, like it has been. I like tidying things up. Otherwise, what's the point of having a past? If you just leave it behind you? Even if it was utterly craptastic? If I gave you a birthday present, and then took it away right away, wouldn't that kind of be stupid and pointless? If I gave it to you and then it exploded, and it hurt you, you would probably wish it didn't, but would you want to cut the experience right out of your life? Surely you'd rather keep it, so you could say many years down the track "Knifey? Yeah, I knew him. He gave me an exploding present, and that's how I got this scar on my anus."

Or should I be thinking more along the lines of, life is like a car, and while you're roaring through the here and now, there's no real point sitting back to front looking out the back window. Otherwise we wouldn't need windscreens. Or front seats. Or...

Hey, guess what? I don't know!

I don't like the idea of being a big tangled mess of behaviourisms and general oddness, without knowing how it is I turned out that way. It's like looking at a bunch of pipes that all delivered a part of you, and not really having any idea what is at the other end of each of them. Still, I'm the kind of guy that gets really curious about "...Who exactly made this pizza? What is their name? Are they happy? And most importantly, did they wear gloves?"

And if it sounds like I'm saying "It's like..." a lot, it's because I can only imagine what it's like, because I only have part of the picture. Or should I say, the finished picture.

And I guess the reason I'm asking all you people that I'll never meet all these questions, is because I don't think me and my Opa are the only ones. Do you remember your pasts? Do you want to? Do you wish people could clarify the parts you're hazy on? And if so, why is it so important? Because we invent ourselves, don't we? Seriously, don't we?

On a totally unrelated note (seeing as I always have one of those...), I had a dream last night that someone found Jesus Christ's mummified remains in a cave, and they took a DNA sample from it, and cloned him. And he 'grew up', if you will, gave out a bunch of speeches, got it on with the whore from around the way, and got busted trying to smuggle drugs into Indonesia, ending up with the death sentence.

This one's going out to Schappelle.

And on another celebrity note, when will celebs realise the second they go on the record advertising Foxtel, or Telstra, or Telfox, or Foxstra, they lose all their credibility and all of a sudden whaddyaknow? We all hate them. I thought Hugh Jackman was great in X-Men. Good fun. He was even pretty fab in 'the boy from oz'.
But from now on, he's 'the guy from Foxtel', and that's just stupid.

Get fucked Hugh. I hope you Google yourself.

This is knifey, from 'the internet'.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Here comes Winter...

Maybe it's obvious, but I've spent an inordinate amount of time sitting in a various rooms all over the world, thinking about things.

Sometimes it's been pretty good, especially when I've been to The Netherlands in the winter, hiding from the kind of freezing precipitation that gave birth to Bob Mould (from Husker Du)'s 1990 album release.

Sometimes I feel like I should have been a little more attentive though, when I've been somewhere exciting, and the weather's been good. It's not every day you're in Egypt, unless it is, and you are.

I've been thinking about life.

A long time ago, I was walking through the Industrial back-blocks of South Auckland in New Zealand. Between the State Housing and the endless factories, there aren't many urban landscapes more bleak or depressing. Once-were warriors-ville, all the way. I was with my friend Peter Yee, who was about the most original breed of kid I have ever met. He had tight and curly blonde hair, and intensely pale white skin. His Father was a Chinese taxi driver, and his mother was a raven-haired Scot, so impossibly beautiful and dark, it is impossible to describe her by heaping words on each other. Maybe I'll talk about her some other time. God knows there's a lot to tell.

How his parents came up with Peter is beyond the scope of modern genetics. But this isn't about him, and it's barely about me.

As we walked beside a parked car, we saw a kid of about six sitting in the passenger seat, all by himself. He poked his tongue out. Peter returned the gesture, and this kid went nuts. He let out a battle cry (I have never heard one before or since), and threw something at Peters head. At first we thought it was broken glass, and our first impulse was to run out of range. But as I took a closer look I saw it was a DIAMOND.

It was the size of four coke bottle tops stuck together. It was enormous.

Peter and I looked at each other in complete amazement. We could buy a lot of candy with a diamond that big, and by 'candy', I mean candy. Like, the kind you eat. We were thirteen.

We were about to hot-foot it out of that suburb, before the parents/jewel thieves came back outside to see thir six year old throwing all the loot out of the window of their Ford Anglia, when he threw another one. And another one. And another. Pretty soon, Peter and I had about twenty gigantic rocks each, which we decided was more than enough to set us up for life.

The sight of those rocks sailing through the air, set against the dark grey sky, kicking out rainbows as the faint sunlight refracted through them, was about the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

Exit stage left.

Of course, when we went to the jewellers to sell them, we got laughed at pretty hard. They were cut glass, and from memory we were offered about fifty cents for the lot of them. The jeweller must have felt sorry for us.

But this story isn't about diamonds either. or jewellers, or glass.

It's about life.

In just the same was as you don't just sit and look at a waterfall of diamonds cascading toward you, it pays not to sit in rooms thinking about life too much. It pays to grab at as much of it as you can get, even if it only turns out to be worthless junk. As everyone's Mother used to tell them "You'll never know unless you try."

Sitting and thinking, and reflecting, and remembering, are all worthwhile things to do once in a while. But doing it every day takes you out of the running for experience, which is what life (along with contrast) is all about.

Sometimes I think I have lived, despite my life, seeing as I spent so much time hiding from it. Because once in a while, after putting myself out there and having the balls to face the scary parts, I've been given an experience or an opportunity of the kind I could have only dreamed of in the past. Sometimes they've been cut glass, and sometimes they haven't. But I'm glad I was out walking, and stopped to pick them up, because a couple of them were diamonds. For real.

It takes a lot of courage to love something with everything you have. It takes a lot of determination to stay on course and stick with it, no matter what. It takes a lot of selflessness to give yourself over completely to something that is bigger than you are, and it takes a lot of strength to not give up or run away when the storms roll in. It takes a lot of trust to not believe the spies who whisper in your ear, everything you fear the most. But we should all try it anyway.

The good things are never easy, and if they are, they're probably not so good. You have to work and sweat and bleed and yearn and suffer and cry and hurt and break down and risk everything, every day, until the day you die.

Because the payoff is LIFE.

Less thinking and more living.

This is knifey, from 'the internet'.

Corrupt cops are good cops.

When I first arrived in Melbourne from overseas, I was dropped off at my new World HQ one rainy March afternoon, by a cabbie.

He didn't reply when I got in and said hello, and didn't speak a word the whole 20 minute drive. He also didn't look anything like the picture on his dash-mounted I.D. card. What he did do was unceremoniously dump my bag into the gutter once we arrived, so I had to chase it as it washed down the street. My iPod was ruined. "Maybe it was a one-off" I thought.

Yeah, right.

Since then I have heard so many stories of cabbies ripping off drunken passengers, trying to fuck my hot friends for a reduced fare, and the ever-popular 'eftpos machine that mysteriously stops working the second you arrive at your destination', that I have pretty much decided that all cabbies are ass-rapers.

I can't ride anywhere on my pimped-out custom chopper, without little yellow road-maggots opening their doors (and breaking my left leg), pulling illegal u-turns without warning (sending me over my apehangers), and of course, standing around all up in the cycle lane as if the sole reason the council spent millions of dollars putting them in everywhere, was so they could have a place to engage in various un-Australian activities.

Whatever happened to silver-haired and overweight Teddy Boys called Bruce, who would subject you to a constant barrage of foul language and highlights from the racing? Where did they go? Remember the days when you'd get in a cab, and the driver knew exactly how to get you to wherever you wanted to go, without making you show them in the Melways? And what about those legends of the roadway, who could not only take you to the best brothel for your pay-rate, but also recommend the kind of girl you were after? Those days are gone, my friend.

Now, if you want a brothel, you'll get a sharp-tongued lecture on the evils of fornication, from a guy called El-Haj, who may or may not be the registered driver for this cab. You will get this, while he does his best to convince you the fastest way to get to St Kilda from Prahran is via Byron bay.

I've tried to punch on with a few of them, just to "take the pressure down", as Farnsey Farnham so sagely advised, but it's no use. There is not one taxi driver in the entire State of Victoria who knows how to fight, let alone one who is actually willing to give it a shot. They tend to favour acting tough until the heat is on, then calling out for the cops. In the end you get so wound up and aggravated trying to pull them out of their cars for a beat-down, that you're nothing short of relieved to see groups of tanked-up British backpackers spilling out of the nearest Irish pub, looking for action. You can say what you like about Poms, but let no-one accuse them of nancying their way out of a smackdown. National pride is at stake, and they know it.

I talked to the cops too, to see what they thought of the fact that taxi drivers, for the most part, don't know how to operate a motor vehicle. They relayed to me their intense disappointment at the fact they are stretched so thin already, and that they simply do not have the time to run around after taxi drivers. Apparently, the Police Service would have to be "60-gazillion times bigger", just to cope with the extra workload. All of the cops I spoke to agreed that taxi drivers are the absolute scum of the earth, and some went so far as to say they hate them so much, that they ignore any calls for assistance they receive from cabbies.

Normally, this kind of admission would infuriate me beyond belief, that the Police would actually withhold protection from a group of people they simply don't like!? But seeing as it's a group of people I don't like either, I decided to let it ride this time.

Not only did I decide to let it ride, I decided to take the Police's unofficial position as carte-blanche to wage a one-man war on Melbourne's cabbies. If the cops don't just can't buy that kind of opportunity (unless you live in Queensland.) Game on!

First Mission- Operation Shappelle Corby.

As the name suggests, this mission involved setting up someone for a big illegal narcotics takedown, only this time it wasn't going to be a hot beauty school student from the Gold Coast. I don't take drugs myself, but I do live next door to the biggest crack-house on the Eastern seaboard. In order to secure the illegal narcotics in question, I simply jumped the fence while they were having a full-moon bonfire party, and asked them to give me some pot. It was 4am, and they were all feeling more than a little generous, so this was unbelievably easy. The next step was to take the bag of goodies down to Swanston Street, and while Raj was chatting to his friends in the middle of the cycle lane (forcing all hapless passing cyclists under an approaching tram), to empty the contents all over the passenger seat through the open window. This being done, I made an anonymous call to crime stoppers, all about the taxi driver who tried to sell me drugs from his car across the street. Then sat back and enjoyed the show as eight of Melbourne's finest slammed the cabbie over his bonnet and cuffed his ass. One down, 6000 to go!

Second Mission- Operation PABX.

Back in the early days of hacking, Melbourne was home to some of the worlds best phone phreakers. So it was in the spirit of nerds everywhere that I took a nonviolent approach, and used pure brain power to bring down the enemy forces. Using the photocopier at the North Melbourne Public Library, and some adheisive sheets from Officeworks, I made me some stickers that said "How's my driving?" with the phone number for a cab company on them, and stuck them on the bumpers of as many cabs as I could find between the city and South Yarra. You would not believe how easy this is, as cab drivers never pay any attention whatsoever to anything that is happening around them, even when they are parked. The cab company got so many calls of complaint within half an hour, they sent out a radio call for all drivers to check their bumpers, as their phone lines were overloading with angry road users. I just wish I had vinyl stickers, coz these ones came off real easy. All of this was fine so far, but as anyone who has read Sun-Tzu knows, the best way to defeat your enemy, is on the battlefield of the mind. Which brings me to...

Third Mission- Operation Mindcrime.

Let's face it, waiting for the law to help is like watching paint dry, only, it's the kind of theoretical paint that never dries, and if it's possible, only gets wetter and wetter, and more and more opaque. So what do we do? We make our own laws! Who cares if they're not real, cabbies don't need to know, do they? This mission was my favourite. It took some time, and some effort, but the end result worked a treat. Cabbies standing in the cycle lane is my absolute hate of hates. So I made a couple of road signs out of steel and reflective vinyl tape, that read "Police now targeting TAXI DRIVERS STANDING IN CYCLE LANES", and put one at the bottom of Swanston Street, and one at the Arts Centre taxi rank. Oh my God, it was beautiful! Not only did the cabbies get paranoid, and believe they were under scrutiny from the 5-0, but the Police saw the signs too, and just figured that's what they were meant to be doing! Result- every last cabbie sat in their cars all damn night, and cyclists everywhere got to ride in relative safety for once. It was awesome. But I had to see how far I could push the envelope. I'm an extreme guy.

Fourth (and final) Mission- Operation Xenophobia.

Has anyone else noticed the fact that 9 out of every 10 cabbies is from India or Sri Lanka nowadays? I have nothing against Indians, or Sri Lankans, but I do have a universal red mist of hatred for people who can't drive, but still hang out on the roads all damn day. And in this case, 90% of them are Indian or Sri Lankan. So with these startling statistics in mind, I made some new road signs. "Police now targeting HINDUS IN YELLOW FORDS", "Police now targeting TAMIL RESISTANCE FIGHTERS", and "Police now targeting ANYONE WHO EATS CURRY AND WORSHIPS VISHNU". At worst, I figured the council would open its doors to a few irate phone calls from community groups first thing in the morning, and send a crew out with some boltcutters and a stepladder. But it never got that far. All three signs were ripped down by enraged taxi drivers, withing 5 minutes of their erection. One point to the took me about four hours to make each sign look convincing. But I definitely won the war, as I took down the I.D. number off the side of each cab involved, so I can do an Operation Shappelle Corby on them next time I can score some free pot from the hippies next door. Vishnu must have been hella proud of his troops.

I am currently seeking sponsorship, so I can get in taxis in the middle of the night, stare menacingly at the drivers, and simply leave without paying. If i can do this for a full-time job, I'm pretty sure i can scare at least 78% of cabbies into another profession, like working at a 7-11. It is a well known fact that no cyclists have ever been harmed in any way by a convenience store operator.

So help me out, and pledge me some money. The only way to shake up the system is with menacing and law breaking, and you know it!

Send all donations to *'Taxiwatch, PO BOX 666, Melbourne 3000'. Phone enquiries: 7623-624468.

*Please don't actually send any money or call, this isn't actually real, numb nuts.

This is knifey, from 'the internet'.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Letting Go.

I used to be in a band called 'knifeyard.'

I say "used to be" because, well... now I'm not.

I came to Australia to form this band, and I'm really glad I did, because it opened my eyes up to how incredibly naive I still was, even at the age of 31.

I'm not going to go into all of the stupid and childish things I used to think, because I embarass myself enough every day as it is. But i can tell you there is nothing like trying to get something started that requires teamwork and cooperation, but pays nothing, and actually costs an intense amount of money, to show you just who you really are.

As some of you know, I had worked in the music industry for years before, as a tech, or a road on tour, getting other bands up every night. So I thought I knew a thing or two.

I didn't.

We had some fans (mainly in the States), and that was nice. It was nice to get emails, and to hear from our Distribution Company in Seattle (do you like how I used capitals for that?) that we've sold more CD's, and can they have some more please?

It was nice to appear on compilations and DVD's and all sorts of other things.

It was nice to be at the top of certain internet music charts, and to Google your band and to see people talking about you in Malaysia.

It was nice to see some of the same faces at shows, and to see yourself in the streetpress and to hear yourself on the radio.

It was positively kickass to find out we were getting played on College radio on the other side of the planet too.

I dug seeing my posters and stickers around Melbourne.

As nice as those things were though, it wasn't nice to have to babysit people who swore they were professional, and knew how hard being in a band and touring can be, when they had less than no idea.

It wasn't nice when people would let you down constantly.

But this post isn't about that. I'm not here to bitch.

This post is to say "goodbye" to a thing I used to love, and be, and had big dreams for.

This post is about waking up, and realising those things are not going to happen.

And this post is about not letting any of this get me down, and to just look forward to the next musical journey I'm cooking up, even if it never gets off the ground. Because there's no way i can stop loving band life and writing/recording/performing big dumb rock songs.

To be honest, knifeyard has been dead for more than a year, but i couldn't accept that.

I thought sooner or later, a new drummer and guitarist would come along, and me and the bass player would get them up to speed and pick up where we left off. But that is clearly never going to happen. Not in Melbourne, not with our sound.

I really like the name 'knifeyard', I don't know why. Lots of people have told me it's really stupid, but i liked it anyway, and I liked it that I liked it, even in the face of others not liking it.

I've still been accepting new friend requests on Myspace every week, and promoting us here and there.

I still don't know if we were any good.

If you want, you can listen to us here, and make up your own mind, before I delete the page in a couple of days.

I feel so incredibly sad right now, not sure why.

Truth hurts, I guess.

When you see so many of the bands you used to play with, and who even supported you, rising up through the ranks and become the next hot item.

Hurts when you don't, and when it feels like you're not only overlooked, but that perhaps you just really weren't any good in the first place.

Hurts to admit that at 34, 'the kids' don't give a crap about what you play, because you're old, and you're not playing garage revival rock, or post hardcore/emo.

So goodbye my little band. I've had some incredible moments, and a whole lot of heartbreak.

But I wouldn't change it for the world.

I still have a few of our old Ep's left, if anyone wants one, hit me up and I'll sell you one for a dollar, plus postage. Fire Sale'n'that.

This is knifey, from 'the internet'.