Saturday, January 24, 2009

Australia- not the movie.

So there I was, In Istanbul Turkey, and I had my money and my passport stolen.

Not by Turks, by the way. I love the Turks.

And I went to my embassy, and asked for some help, in return for the tens of thousands of tax dollars I have sunk into the country of Australia. I asked for a loan, so I could buy a new passport. A loan, not a gift.

The word from Canberra was simply "no".

No, go fuck yourself Mr Man. You can wander back out into the streets of Istanbul, and sleep on them for all we care. Luckily, I knew people, and those people made a lot of phone calls, and asses got into gear, and I got my loan.

But I won't ever forget that moment and associated feeling, of total abandonment, of being basically not welcome in your own country.

And it was from that point I started to evaluate exactly, what is this thing I call my country? I was born here, I have paid to be a part of it, I have even been told by the same Government that left me to the wolves that I am " integral icon in the cultural landscape of Australia".

So what is this Australia?

And I guess it depends on who you ask.

There is a facebook application called "I love Australia", and its home page is a place where you can leave messages about your take on the place. The discussion board is home to topics like 'Should Trouble makers be sent home to their own country?', and 'What is Australia becoming?'

Reading it just made me cringe. I am so ashamed to live on the same piece of dirt as the majority of these people. People who believe you have to play sports and eat barbeques and drive V8's in order to belong here. People who think that immigrants or refugees need to find somewhere else to stay.

There are people in this country who adorn their vehicles with this closed minded shit.

At this exact moment, the Pakistani's next door are hanging out in a typically hot Western Australian night, eating bbq and singing 'Against all odds' on the guitar. Thing is, they're working on the mines the rest of the time, and couldn't be less Australian. They are from Pakistan, they're Muslim, and by my reckoning, they're allright.

Does acting in a certain manner make us Australian?

Is it really necessary as some jingoistic fucks put forward, that immigrants speak fluent English and renounce their traditional religion before they move here?

Or could we maybe learn something from these culturally different people instead?

I'd love to say I don't know what people mean when they say they are scared of a future where 'traditional' (and by traditional, they mean "white) Australians are in the minority. Or where we all have to become Hindu or Muslim or Zoroastrian or whatever. I do know what they mean. They like the dominant culture because it's what they're used to, and they would like it to stay that way. And that's cool. But excluding people from doing the same thing they're used to, just because they come here is every bit as Draconian.

There is a growing trend since the Cronulla riots, where kids get the Southern Cross tattooed on them somewhere, or sticker it to their car, or wear it on their shirt. It's a flag, a nationalistic brand that stands for white Australia. It stands for being closed minded, xenophobic, and a fan of revisionist history.
It's the same as the swastica that Edward Norton wore in 'American History X'.

"See this? It means 'not welcome.'"

Now before you think I am saying that all kids from The Shire are Nazi's, I'm not. Hitler was an advocate of Imperialism/Colonialism, and seeing as the message locally is more "Fuck off" than "We're coming to get you in your own country", the similarity ends there.

But if you think I give half a crap what kids with southern Cross tattoos think, you're wrong too.

Australia Day is upon us, with all the flag waving, commercial cock thrusting, anti anything that doesn't fit into the narrow framework of the popular Australian conception mania it encourages every other year.

And what is it for?

What exactly are we proud of?

Because a country stands on the broken backs of dead criminals, who weren't in the main criminals at all, just poverty stricken and desperate?

A country stands where a country already stood, for tens of thousands of years before my Dutch ancestors rolled in, then decided they didn't want the place?

A country stands full of so many creeds, colours, and concepts, that any unifying banner over us is rendered ridiculous.

I'm really tired, I'm not going in-depth into anything right now. I guess I want to say "I hate flags", and "Being proud of a country just because you live in it is sad and desperate". I'm saying check out the Wikipedia article on Nationalism here or the Stanford University Philosphy Department's article here, and see what you think about it all.
I want to say, for something that is meant to be so inclusive and gather all of us inhabitants under a banner of togetherness, being Australian has never been a more divisive subject.
And I want to say I'm over people who never think an original thought in their lives proudly displaying their idiocy on moving vehicles, talkback radio, and in newspaper letters to the editor.
You people frighten me, I am not you, and by your reckoning, I am as far from Australian as you can get.
Quick- send me to Afghanistan, with the rest of my kind.
Fuck you Australia.
This is knifey, from 'the internet.'

Graf paper ark scrolls.

When you're quiet you can hear it.

It keeps you awake the night before a job interview. It makes it hard to concentrate when you're trying to do your taxes. It's louder when you're fucking, when Van Halen comes on the radio, when your best friend calls you from their car mid road trip a thousand miles away.

That thud thud thudding, steady radio static enveloping your every waking moment from the back of your consciousness, reminding you of why we're all here. It accelerates with a glimpse, with a sound or a taste, and it leaves you breathless at times, swelling that gland that regulates hope.

...It speaks to us and drives us, it makes us be.

And right now it screams at me like a raised visor on a land speed record, it's all I know. It's making me gag, forcing more of itself into my lungs, and I love it. My ears vibrate to breaking point, I have tears on my cheeks, and my heart feels like it will burst. I can hear it's voice, it's sound, it's name.

And it repeats again and again, like vinyl, like an urgent sigh..."The Future".

Stop looking behind you, it's just dust now. Head for that light, because that's where you are already. Find yourself, and RISE...

This is knifey, from 'the internet'.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Flirting with suburbia, aka: why do illiterate and poor people all know what gentrification is?

Kids are pretty stupid. They eat their own shit, get upset when they hurt themselves after doing stupid things that basically guarantee they will hurt themselves, and that sort of thing.

But mainly eat their own shit.
But even stupid kids know about the 'Fundamental Universal Ethical Truths', because like baby deer and even spiders, it is programmed into our DNA, like the desire to breed, and a prediliction for maintaining our state of being alive-ness.

The truths are those facts that, although not written anywhere in particular, are written everywhere. You just have to see them. Baby animals see them, hippies see some of them, musicians see all of them but prefer to ignore them. They are facts that are impossible to prove using propositional calculus, as, like God and aliens, the test of repeatability does not apply, and the hard evidence is few and far between (if that).

When you see an infant child, laying in its crib, watching avidly nothing in particular, it is actually reading the truths. The truth, in their big scrawly, flowing letters, the Universal precursor to Wild Style graffiti, sprayed across the very fabric of space, in invisible ink, that only invisible eyes can comprehend.

The truths are many, and so I will not list them. Besides, the list is in you anyway. But I will talk about one today, so sit on the floor and get comfortable. If you are in the ocean at the moment, sit on the ocean floor and get comfortable. But mainly get comfortable.

Fundamental Universal Ethical Truth # 3456455.

"When you raise the rental prices in traditionally creative and dynamic enclaves, the creatives that made said enclave creative and dynamic in the first place, will all be forced to move to whatever barren, lifeless industrial area that a) is affordable, and b) completely resembles what the enclave in question resembled when they first got there."

In short, Blockbuster, 7-11, and Starbucks will move in, all the graffiti and boutique stores and dogs in shop doorways and friggin actual culture will shut down or move. And you will be left with an expanse of grey space, of static, where all the music now sounds like a dial tone.

Even kids who eat their own shit can see this.
And so they spread out, just like the 12 tribes of Battlestar Galactica (the old one, not the new one which was turned into a steaming bucket of suck), or like the 12 tribes of Israel, or like the Dalai Lama. Some went overseas, some found a new enclave in which to plant seeds, and the rest?

They moved to suburbia.

I have always thought of suburbia as a dirty word. Cramped together, endless rows of houses, fluffy lawns, and sameness. I have been lucky, I grew up in wide open spaces, or in warehouses, or on the open road. Traditionally I have loved cities. I have loved living right in there among the bright lights and the ACTION. Feeling like I was a part of something amazing, which as I have grown older I realise wasn't the case at all, but it didn't make it any less fun.

The thought of living in a suburb, where you have to travel to get to anything, disconnected, no longer part of anything except maybe the rat race, has always provoked a knee-jerk reaction, a shiver up the spine, a hard swallow.

Living in a suburb is like saying "Game over". Like, "I'm done with trying to be somebody, I'm just gonna crawl over here and die a slow death of lawn mowing and ingesting television".

I know a lot of people would scratch their heads at this, but then a lot of people scratch their heads about a lot of things, and I don't care about any of that either.

Maybe I'm wrong, entirely probable. But when I think about suburbs, one emotion springs immediately to mind, and that emotion is sadness.

There's somthing fixed about a suburb, a massive block of mortgages, a population of individuals who are stuck together on a ship going nowhere, working their whole lives for a piece of something that will never take them anywhere but right there. Struggling for a holiday once a year to South East Asia, cars like anchors, holding the whole arrangement down like a rock solid but uninspired bassline from somebody who should know better. Dark at night, no sounds except thousands of frustrated dogs who are all too aware they shouldn't be kept like that, calling out to each other, singing staccato songs of captive misery, dreaming of running together. And all the cats loving that song, as they prowl. Home theatre systems broadcasting escapism, teenagers in bedrooms and bands in garages, plotting a way to break out.

Suburbs are like giving up.

They're like admitting to yourself and the bank that this is as good as life is gonna get, and there's no point gambling on it any longer.

Don't get me wrong, I understand the need for security. The peptic ulcers and sleeplesness, wondering how to spread such a tiny paycheck over such a vast expanse of life. I've just never let it dictate to me how things are actually going to be. That's my choice.

I have stayed in suburbs here and there, out if necessity.

I have walked those streets, and smelled the disinfectant. The total and utter lack of individuality, the Ikea and Bunnings and Super Cheap Auto Lego arrangements. Couldn't wait to get out. And I always did.


I have given years of my life to various cities around the world.

Turned up knowing no one, made a name for myself, invested innumerable hours in being a part of the scene, being known, being someone.

Then leaving, and no one even missing you, because all the decent people had moved on too. Searching for the same things I was.
Now, the idea of being in a bar or club full of 18 year olds sounds like a nightmare. Does anyone actually have any class nowadays? I'm frightened of young people now, because in the main they just don't think. At all. Thinking has become a disease, and the public is panicked. Going to the kinds of places I used to populate is a total non-option for me now. The things I used to find exciting about a city now I have seen a thousand times before and I'm just bored with it. I have witnessed all the stereotypes, I'm sick of the filth, and over the danger of it all. I don't want to fight any more, I almost feel like...

...moving to the suburbs and watching tv with the air conditioning on!
I said "almost".
I was in a suburb today, I stopped in to buy some lunch. The guy at the take out counter looked like he should be in a band, out on the highway, looking for life. But he arranged my food in the regulation manner, and bagged it up, and I just wanted to just take him from there and show him America. Or the Middle East. Or anywhere, where he might be able to find that spark that would drive him for the next 10 years. He was so sad, like he knew "This is it". That all life is is debt and an enormous flat panel tv, and porn and jerking off and cruising with the boys in a stupid car that looks like a boat and has far too much power for that few experiences.

I think about all the people I could have grown up to be, had I not escaped the suburbs of my past, all the thoughts i would have never thought. i wouldn't like any of those me's. It has taken exposure to so much of the world to get to where I am now. Otherwise I could have so easily been that guy in the take away shop.

So easily.

Because unless you are disabled in some way, we are all born the same. We can all become kings or paupers. Some of it is chance, but a lot of it is how much you put yourself out there to get hit face first with experiences. Your favourite band probably won't ring you if all you do is sit at home playing X Box, but if you're out there doing things, and they see them, then the chances are higher.

And it's hard to be out there doing things when you have to work am much as you do to pay off a house and a car and insurance and all the shit you buy to stop yourself from going insane because you live in a box in a row of other boxes.

My point?

I don't know, have a look at your priorities, maybe?

Because this world needs all the light and creaitivity and inspiration it can get, and unless you share it, we all lose.

If you want to just live by numbers, go ahead. But if there is a part of you that dreams about something bigger, don't think about it in private. Come do it where we can all see.

It's ok to earn less, despite what all the materialistic girls I meet say. That's ok, I don't care for materialistic girls, or at least the ones who think they have some god -given right to leech my money because they look pretty, but spend none of their own.

We're all way too geared around money. We need to be geared around life.

I think that's my point.

This is knifey, from 'the internet'.