Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Every day there is music

If there was something here like the blowing of horns or the spies and flag boys, if there was something here instead of the shackling wide-walk bound in black denim, if there was something here other than the shrill grating of those fuckers come in on buses for a pub crawl or the students clearing out for Christmas or the untalented begging beer money with shit-out-of-tune guitars. If there was something here other than the stinking concrete corners sending back memory odours of beer and piss and dogshit and the occasional drops of blood then maybe, maybe we could build something. It's not enough to pretend, you got to practice.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Failing deliberately?

Turning down the offer of a well-paid, sensible and corporate job for a bizarre and lowly part-time one has got me thinking. Is this a kind of deliberate failure?

Here are the reasons, inside my head, for wanting a part-time job:

  1. I am exhausted by the world and it's demands. I feel as though I might die if I don't have enough, more than others seem to need, time to just be, to read and think and write and sleep and just be.
  2. I am trying to finish writing a manuscript. A whole book-length novel manuscript and this feels impossible even when I have nothing else I am obliged to do. I need time.
  3. I am trying to run a magazine. A stupid kind of magazine but one nonetheless and I want to do the best that I can, I want all the amazing people who work on Team PAN to feel as though I am doing all I can, that I am not taking advantage of their work and their time that I am trying, that I am brave, that I have a good plan. I need time for this.
  4. I cannot be a corporate person. I have tried. I have failed. A law degree does not make me a suit. It doesn't make me anything other than a person with a massive HECS debt.
  5. Almost every day there is at least one moment when I think, 'I can't do this, life is too hard'. I quite often, so often it doesn't even phase me anymore, think that I won't make it through the day. This is normal for me, but it seems that other people don't necessarily agree that it's normal. I manage these feelings quite easily, usually, and just go about as though that wink at oblivion never occurred but it marks me in a subtle way. If you know what you're looking at when you look at people you'll see a tidemark on me, see that I've been to sea, been washed up, been marked by experience outside the good and kind. It takes effort to move with ease among those who don't know what I'm talking about, it takes enormous effort to conform to an office culture. I feel too tired to attempt it.
  6. The morning. I struggle with regular early rising. I struggle against the need for clockwork rising, I battle myself with late nights, with random insomnia, with the inability to manage it for than three days at a time. I can't do it. I feel as though I can't physically do it.
  7. I have the wrong clothes. I don't have any money for office clothes, I can never find any that I can wear without looking like a balloon animal. I am inappropriately attired, always, and I don't know how to change that. If I was a slip of a girl I might go to the op shop or ask friends to loan me things but that is really not going to work.
  8. I'm sure there's more. I don't what they are at this moment. I'm going to finish defrosting the freezer and have a cup of tea and watch an episode of Killing Time. I like David Wenham, this doesn't mean I prefer him to Richard Roxburgh, I don't think that 's a rule.
  9. This is an incomplete train of thought and perhaps the negative part of this train of thought. Later there might be a long line of positive ideas and notes and perhaps even laughter.

Monday, 5 December 2011

It is interesting

It is interesting to go to a party and sit between three singer-songwriters and have them all break into song, at the same time. Very interesting indeed.

Monday, 28 November 2011

NPO (New Peach Order)

It's time for the NPO. The Peach has finally and thankfully shrunk from housing three residents to two. This process was not without some tension. The one that moved out was both a self-righteous and sanctimonious little antfucker* who saw fit to upset Grizelda on her way out the door.

Anyone who upsets Grizelda is not okay with me. The problem was simple and unavoidable, she gave notice but come moving day failed to move all of her furniture then attempted to store it here for another week. I said no, Judge Judy says no, so we told her no, so she came and got the rest of her stuff two days later and upset Grizelda.

It wasn't small boxes or the last bits and pieces, it was an entire double bed, a large l-shaped lounge, a huge television and other assorted things. Surely it is normal to move out on moving out day?

I'm not sorry to see the back of her but I am sorry that Grizelda got upset. Seems to me she just wanted to leave with a bang.

She was problematic as a housemate, rarely cleaned, almost never washed dishes, came and went like it was a hotel and then kicked up a stink every time a bill rolled in. This is not the kind of person I'm willing to share a roof with but I was willing to give it a try for the sake of Grizelda's peace of mind if nothing else. I even apologised for not being personable which is a world's first but there you have it.

I am looking forward to feeling delighted the very next time I come home and know that locking the door behind me means locking the likes of her out. In my mind home equals respite from antfuckers and people who straighten their hair for the twelfth time that week then deliberately go to establishments owned by Justin Hemmes after they have finished rereading their list of financial goals and pretended to follow religious direction but I digress.

It is time for the New Peach Order. May wandering in the hallway and trackpant wearing and tea making and cat feeding be the only exciting events to occur under this roof for a long long time. If not then I'm going to buy a gun. A big one. And I am going to shoot things in anger, like Elvis and Hunter S. Thompson and Hemingway and my grandmother did. It is a fine tradition.


*Dutch term, look it up, it's kind of amusing.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

All kinds of fraud

Lately there's been credit card fraud on my credit card, email fraud on my email, even mail fraud in my letterbox so just for a little bit I'm battening down the hatches.

Blogs are bad enough already without someone committing blog fraud.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

This is a test

Does this 'buy now' button work for back issue of PAN magazine as ebook work?

Buy Now

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Because people always want reasons

It's a Groucho Marx problem and to explain it properly I'd have to understand the complete complexity of myself, but I don't, so I'm going to wear this fake moustache and ask you to leave.

On a jet plane

I'm picking Spencer up from the airport in a few days, well Grizelda is driving me in her car to pick him up, and I can hardly wait. I love picking people up from the airport. Airports have everything that counts, heightened emotions, shining public spaces, bars and moving walkways, newsagents lined with novels and people at the end or the beginning of adventure.

I love the long moments of watching a crowd walk by, searching for a glimpse of that familiar person, the top of their head, the curve of their turned back. That second when you spot your person of interest and know for sure that that glimpse of forearm weighed down with a bag is the one you are looking for feels like a revelation. How can it possibly be that the merest glimpse of their outlined shape fills me with such certainty? It's one of those minor miracles, the way we become so accustomed to another that we know, from an abstract shape or disembodied limb, they are walking towards us.

I wonder if Spencer will be grumpy, most likely he will be tired, travel-weary and swirling through relief at being home and regret that it's over. Either way I'm certain of one thing. I'll be glad to see him.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Turner vs Turner

Painting by Mick Turner
I explained that it was a Turner. He said "Turner! That's impossible, there's no way you could possibly own a Turner. I mean how did you even get it?"

I told him how I bought it, from a fundraising art sale for PAN magazine. He insisted that was ridiculous, that no one would ever donate a Turner to an independent literary magazine run by a bunch of drunken failed intellectuals. It was at this point that three things became clear to me, the first that the man was a prat, the second that he needed to be ejected from my bedroom as soon as possible and the third that he had no idea who Mick Turner is.

What kind of a man doesn't know there's more than one Turner and how to tell the difference between them?

Bad photo, taken by me, without a flash, it looks better in real life, come over and I'll show you.

Lemon Gold

Geoff Lemon has dropped another one, this time it's about Qantas.

"Of course, those of a certain view will always find a way to blame unions. The unions faked the moon landings. The unions gave me herpes. Union dingoes took my baby. The unions are the reason why my kids hate me and my wife never quite looks me in the eye anymore." - Click here to read the rest on Heathen Scripture


Sunday, 30 October 2011

About some useless information

My parents have provided me with a large amount of excellent advice over the years, such as instituting a rotating system of shoes and not blowing off the tops of my thumbs with explosives in the garage but I think there was something crucial they forgot to impart about courage.

Every day there is an opportunity to be brave and a chance to shrink back into lesser deeds and slide sheepishly into the herd. Every day I require courage to forge a path forwards. There is no such thing as rising in the morning and finding a ready-made life. This is something crucial my parents forgot to impart about living, courage is a verb.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Between dreams

Caught somewhere between the bohemian and the conservative, the Baby Boomers and those fucking little pests we call Gen Y, there seems to be an awful lot of freedom and an equal mix of joy and despair.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Tired of not being able to shoot people in the head? Me too

You know those days when you need, and I mean really need, to white the world out and have time, all of it, to concentrate and write? Every day is one of those days for me. But I can't manage to do it. There's always work to be done, or looked for, applications to write, money to worry about and dishes to wash. I'm tired of living like this. Exhausted beyond reasonable human capacity is more apt, which is why I placed an ad in Gumtree for a patron earlier this evening.

So far only one response, and it was a man who simply said, "That was well written". Well 'forfunandbeyond' you can suck my imaginary cock. I don't have time to sit down and write some ridiculous essay begging for money. I'm too busy working on my magazine, and on my manuscript, organising all my notes and research and applying for fucked up jobs so I can pay my rent and on top of that dealing with a housemate (not Grizelda) who has preposterously decided to only pay a percentage of the electricity bill based on some kind of ratio of how many hours she spends in the house.

You should come over, I'll introduce you to her, you can sit down together and work out how to prepare a well-written proposal to me to pay rent based on the size of her arse and how many cubic centimetres of air it displaces when she walks down the hallway, or a letter to the resident cockroaches of the Inner West advising them that because she spends less time in the neighbourhood she should spot a percentage less cockroaches in gutters. Actually don't come over, go have a drink at The Ivy and drown in the rooftop pool. I'll be sure to make time to write a eulogy that outlines my precise percentage of giving a fuck.

Don't go out tonight

That old problem again. Walking home drunk and it's late and I'm tired and I'm smoking someone else's cigarettes and what a good time it was and then I 'm lost and then I'm home and then the keys and the door and then that's all of it finished and gone. Just nothing but me in an empty house where it is dark and an obligation for being quiet and not screaming up and down the hallway for just one more thing, just anything, something, someone to happen but all is untying shoelaces and remembering teeth and vowing about morning showers and nothing ever happens but the ordinary slow winding towards morning and one more day rattling up and down the hallway.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Send her victorious, happy and glorious or an earnest and boring first draft, publicly thinking about why I love the Queen

I love the Queen. I love her hats with matching bag, shoes and gloves. I love her gin-soaked downtime and the way she handles a horse. I keep a picture of her cantering across a field with a cigarette in one hand and a hip flask sticking out of her jacket pocket. It's how I spent the best years of my adolescence, wild and galloping anywhere I could.

Her life is public and she has been steadfast and dignified. For sixty years she has been the Queen, almost twice my lifetime so far, and not once has she failed to perform her duty. This morning I failed to dress and eat breakfast before midday because I was too interested in reading a novel, though I had many duties to perform.

I love the solid mumsiness of her. The kindly wave and stern gaze. The way she is so very clearly The Captain in every public conversation she has. Not once has she been accidentally offensive, uninformed or inappropriate. The woman deserves a medal for an endurance performance in public politeness lasting longer than anyone thought possible. Her private thoughts must be immense. They are a genuine mystery.

A letter to Spencer in Leipzig, Germany

Dear Spencer,


There's been a Bensplosion round these parts since you've been gone. I'm not talking just one Ben but many. There are many Bens. I have spent time with at least one Ben a day for the last week. In my head I refer to them by their surnames so as not to become confused, like I do with Hunter, and Wilson, and Worrad. I suppose you've being seeing a lot of those folk lately, say hi to them for me.

Gemma has been texting me words like 'Benglorious, Benerific and Benutopia'. She said I have Bens on a revolving schedule but it's entirely unintentional.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Diesel not truckers and a long-winded unrelated introduction to the promised Safe As Houses post

Times, they are a blurrin'. A weekend soaked through to the bone with exhaustion and mix'n'match pile of friends. The whole thing finished with a kebab eaten sitting on a plastic chair on Parramatta Rd with Mr X while he told me about his father and the war and the traffic tucked away for the night.

Before the kebab and the talk of war I made an adventure to the casino. Walking down the long guts of the place with Miles Davis on my mp3 player and those old brown lace-up shoes on my feet I looked around the lit calamity of the joint and the frocked up, clean-shirted crowd and wondered just what it in the fuck I was doing. Theoretically I went to write about the absurd 'Rock Lily' venue. Mr X's band has a residency there and the idea intrigued me. He took to the stage and I sat at a long empty table.

Diesel and his bass player asked if they could join me, but I didn't know who they were until they got up later to play. I'm not in the habit of recognising people I know let alone strangers. I made notes, got drunk on free beer handed to me again and again by Mr X and his band's rider. I rambled down a set of back stairs out into the night after an hour of non-stop Diesel. I was trying to shake off the impression that there's something very wrong with the world.

Back in the Inner West under roadside electric lights I gratefully devoured a kebab and conversation. They shut off the lights after a while so I carried home two borrowed books to read and a whole new set of memories.

Better memories than the ones I'm talking about in my houses project over here.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Big happy from small sighting


Every time I see PAN magazine in a shop,
or hear someone talking about it,
or even just catch a glimpse of a stranger
with a PANmagbag slung casually over a shoulder,
I feel undeniably happy for at least one whole second.

That is a long time to be undeniably happy.
For me.
A very long time indeed.

Usually happiness is at least partially deniable.
Or only partial itself.
Sometimes it is just a hint of what it should or could be
or just smells a vaguely familiar, like artificial fruit flavour.





PAN on Facbook
PAN website
Places you can buy PAN magazine (er, sorry couldn't stop myself)



Monday, 10 October 2011

Safe

I keep forgetting about my project of remembering. This week I vow to not only remember but take action. This week I will visit Catherine Street in Lilyfield, try not to alarm the current residents while I sit outside with my notebook and pen. This week I will remember.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Breaking up is hard to do or a magazine is not a person stupid

I was sitting next to PAN's excellent poetry editor, and good friend, Tim Sinclair when I tipped from relief into sorrow. I told him and he understood. You see Tim is a writer, a poet, a good one. He has lived that moment over and over again.

Last Wednesday night issue #2 of PAN magazine launched. People are telling me they had a good time at the party. I'm glad they did because I didn't. I hated most of it.* You can see how I can't even write a sentence with any sense of flow about this. Not even one. They are short and choppy and make hard little bitter feelings in my chest. I hated the anxiety, the anticipation, the organisation and most of all I hated the moment when I tipped from relief straight into sorrow.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

A letter to Spencer in North-West France (you told them you'd be back)

Dear Spencer,

You know how pineapple is the king of all fruit? Well I mentioned that last night, in a conversation about artificial fruit scents whilst smelling a scratch'n'sniff sticker. Nobody understood what I meant. The sticker-giving woman thought I meant pineapple was my favourite fruit, Mr X was just puzzled but he leant over a little and said "I like pineapple, it's a good fruit." but quietly, like you might say to a child who got something wrong by mistake. He only said anything at all because he is a kind interlocutor. He is kind in a lot of ways. Today he came to The Peach and drove me and some boxes of magazines to a shop so I wouldn't have to carry them, but then he said he had to do laundry and went home. So you can see it was one of those real kindnesses and not the fake kind, which is actually a little disappointing.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Yes

The more I think about it the more monumental it seems. With one simple act my brother has physically redefined my sense of family. I never thought anything of marriage or weddings. Never pondered what the significance of what one in my immediate family might be, until last night. My brother telephoned to tell me he asked his girlfriend to marry him. I shouted a long stream of joyful words for some minutes before uttering the hushed question, "She said yes, didn't she?"

For me it began again with Delia Falconer's book "Sydney", though I have always felt it pushing

I can feel it gathering, we, the writers of Sydney have found our inward eyes leaching out into our geography and now it is coming. The next age of writing our existence, here.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The very short story of how I became an accidental creepy woman

I telephoned Kirin J Callinan to confirm a few things for the PAN issue #2 launch party. While we were chatting business I thought I'd have a little look at his Myspace page.

It was the kind of thing that could happen to anyone really, staring at a photograph of a young man posing naked with a cat while talking to him on the telephone.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Flogged

Kate Britton from FBI stopped by and asked me a few questions about PAN magazine. That was quite nice of her really. It's pretty standard interview stuff, literature, red pens, self-loathing, shining beacons.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Clarity and focus - I hear you knocking but you can't come in

Everyone's off the booze, grinding out last cigarette butts on sun-warmed footpaths and walking away home, away from the bar, home to sit down and think out their sins. Fuck that.

It's taken me years to work up to being able to drink three whole beers in one night. It took me years to work up the courage to throw thinking to the wind and ram my head against fogged logic with joyful steps. It's taken me years to work up the stamina to be able to drink not even half what the rest of Slammatown throws down the hatch on an average Wednesday night. Now everyone's staring at me like I stood up in a mosque with a bottle of whiskey in my hand and poured out a blessing to the infidels. Fuck them.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

He's back

Spencer is playing with Damo Suzuki again, tonight in Newcastle, last night here in Sydney, last weekend in Melbourne. This time round Gareth Liddiard from The Drones joined them onstage to add some noise. I was thinking of writing something about it but then I remembered I am lazy.


Here's something I wrote last time Damo was in town, or maybe it was the time before that. I can't remember because my memory is also lazy.

This weekend wasn’t my first time standing in front of Damo Suzuki. I once started a review of Damo Suzuki with The Holy Soul like this: “Damo Suzuki is committed to the emitting of sound. He spares nothing, throwing his whole self into the grand wordlessness of Damo Suzuki's Network experience. He dances like a one-sided Axl Rose, hands gripping the microphone, long hair hanging in dusty curtains. Suzuki is enigmatic yet humble, as though the music moves involuntarily through his body.”

Last night I didn't see anybody going down but I saw a few people swinging

Geoff Lemon, his vest and A.H. Cayley at PPR

Friday, 16 September 2011

Help! My typewriter broke

I need help!

My lovely old typewriter is in need of repair and I can't find anyone in Sydney who can assist me. I spoke with one man but he is in Mt Druitt, which may as well be the other end of the earth from here.

Here is a blurry photo of my old typewriter in action just last week. Anushka was using it to type things for her exhibition at Gaffa Gallery.

If you know of someone please help.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Defected

I have taken up citizenship of Nowhereisland. It is my greatest wish that I be happy here, at last.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Correction

The 'horrible' Alan Jones I was talking about is not in fact The horrible Alan Jones. He may not be horrible at all. A case of mistaken identity I believe. Thanks for the correction Tim.

Glad we cleared that up. And now for a delicious recipe.


RARE PANDA STEW

method:

1. Kill rare panda.
2. Make into stew.

Meeting at PAN HQ

Intern: "So what we'll do is get a performance dragon to come to the launch party and blow up the pile of magazines with dragon fire and then that will be awesome and everyone will be like, 'Did you see that massive dragon? Fucking brilliant.' And then we can just have the bands play and go on as usual. What do you think?"

Editor: (sighs)

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Gumtree - the silent tyrant

I just tried to post an ad for a husband on Gumtree because I told my publicist I would. It won't let me. Keeps popping up with red flashing things saying I am breaching their policy. Who knew Gumtree is such a silent tyrant.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

How Slamma got her weird back

I got my weird back. For a little while there strange things happened to Grizelda while my days sailed smooth and boring. Grizelda was horrified, she thought we might have swapped, for good. Meanwhile back at The Peach I was like a painted ship, then yesterday happened.

It started on Facebook where I had a brief scare that maybe Alan Jones was the man behind the $1000 grant PAN magazine was awarded from the Awesome Foundation. I discovered, after some investigation, that The Horrible Mr Jones came on board after PAN received the grant, as one of ten trustees but I didn't learn that until today.

Cake-free and worried about Alan Jones* I headed out the Peach Gate onto the street but bumped head first into a neighbourhood friend of mine, who just happens to be Sam Cutler. Sam was talking about talking to Marianne Faithfull about his upcoming book then he offered me a chapter for the next issue of PAN. I said, "Well, if Marianne likes it then I'll take a look". Which was better than the real answer running around in my head that want a little something like this, "Holy fuck yes! WOOO".  Elegant, I know.

After Sam and I walked up the street just shooting the breeze I hopped on a bus and delivered the biggest bunch of flowers I could afford to my friend Robert at his office, because I felt like it. I can not afford a really big bunch of flowers but he didn't seem to mind.

Later in the evening after attending one of those overly hot and crowded exhibition openings at Gaffa Gallery I headed round the corner to Dymocks on George St. I was pleased to escape the gallery. It was loud as in the inside of a firing cannon and seemed to populated by people I am calling Arthouse Bikies. They were head to toe in shades of grey and faded blue denim. Bikie like patches sewn all over their jackets, there were top hats and walnut smoking pipes and various degrees of greasy lank locks. Seriously, there were hundreds of them.

I knew my friends Andrew P Street and A.H. Cayley** were hanging around at Dymocks. Well P Street was doing one of those 'in conversation with' things with Marieke Hardy about her new book "You'll Be Sorry When I'm Dead". Poor Marieke was sitting patiently behind a table signing books and being talked at by a man calling himself Edwina. 'Edwina' was sporting a balding bob and what appeared to a miniature safari dress two sizes too small. It seems to me that Ms Hardy is a patient and lovely woman.

I wound up with an invitation to dine with A.H.C, APS, Ms Hardy and her lovely publicist Kate. It was one of those restaurants that I can't afford to eat at. Seriously, I owe the A.H.C and the APS quite a bit of dinner money now. It was mildly delicious but hear this Gemma, not worth the money. The company more than made up for my horror at inadvertently spending so much on dinner. I believe I had what is called a lovely time despite feeling awkward for the poor waiter. I'm not sure how it happened but every time he arrived at our table someone was saying 'anus'.

One day later sitting here thinking about it all, inside my new haircut that makes me look like I'm five years old again, I've come to this conclusion. I've got my weird back. Grizelda, who does not enjoy unexpected events on a daily basis, is certainly glad.


* Alan Jones is the enemy of thinking, the enemy of the arts, the enemy of honest democracies and the enemy of me.
** Listen here APS and A.H.C - can we come to some kind agreement? Either you both have punctuation in your names or neither of you do. It is too hard for a fake intellectual like me to remember who does and who does not have a '.' in their name.








Friday, 9 September 2011

Wenceslas

I felt like Mrs Dalloway, or Clarissa Vaughn echoing fictionally around on her way to a dying poet with fistfuls of flowers. I went to steal them from gardens but street after street bore nothing but concrete and the bare bulb-ended green things that play flowers in the hot parts of the year. I think its OK to pay for flowers when the poet isn't dying faster than anyone else so I counted out ten gold coins while the cashier held out half an impatient hand.

Five days ago my father bellowed out words like, strident, abusive, arrogant and smirked while my aged aunt thrust both arms back into memory for the right word. 'Bohemian', she said. They called me bohemian, all those relatives in formal dress. I told Spencer and we scoffed over coffee. I'm the least bohemian person I know, here, in the new town, where I have burrowed out a cave room and set a fire in the corner. There are proper curtains and thread counts and cupboard complete with cups.

Some of the others here still drink whiskey out of jars and play the same crackling old records Joe Lynch might have listened to, if he had the money. Now of course there are crates of them on corners every Saturday morning.

I didn't come here to study them, to take down hasty notes in dark corners while they rollick across perfectly stationary floors. I came here unwillingly, rudder locked eastward, anchor gone screaming into the night. I came here in cardboard boxes and settled heavily into daily clockwork risings, for money, only for the money. The notes started small and scrawling, mystifying untranslated rubbings across self-erected tombs of the wildly living. But they have grown.

Walking across a whole morning with the single purpose of flowers information came to me. Neighbours appeared at my gate on the telephone to Marianne Faithfull, lay down chapters of books for my magazine,  the radio spoke with the voice of real friends, in song and story. Two people left for Spain with guitars and tour dates, Spencer and I spoke about which shirt he should wear in Paris. I said purple, he said he'd wear whatever he liked but the point was he's leaving for another overseas tour. The point is I'm sitting in my window looking out where the snow would fall if the world ever flipped and we had a chance at crisp and even.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Sausages save artist from afternoon of self-loathing and unproductive sighing

You know those days when you get out all the assorted notes and pencils for all of your projects, spread everything around on the desk and the table and the hallway floor and the bed and then can't manage to add anything useful to any of it? I was having one of those days until I remembered sausages.

 Now I am having one of those days where you have sausages for lunch.

The future of writing by Google?


This is a test. Google has introduced something called 'Scribe', which will apparently make suggestions as I write. I will write whatever comes into my head, and accept whatever suggestions 'Scribe' makes. Let's see if that room full of monkeys theory can work.

More than a dozen years ago and I have to say that the first and second portions of the first and second portions of the first and second portions of the first and second portions of the first and second portions of the first and second portions of the first and

Ok. That's enough. I typed, 'More', with the intention of beginning with the following sentence. More often than not there are minotaurs and a fish that floats above everything. I hadn't finished typing 'More' when Google 'Scribe' presented it's first suggestion. The suggestions came quickly, word after word with no further input from me. 'Scribe' wound itself into a loop quick smart. I will try one more time, this time typing out my whole original sentence.

More often than not there are minotaurs and a fish that floats above everything. I saw a man in the world of art and industry of choice for children with food allergies and intolerances which is still in awe of the power supply clock signals just as quickly as good as keep my eyes glued to the surface of the substrate and hormonal changes are being made to develop a plan to save the world. 


After I finished the first sentence 'Scribe' had no suggestions until I typed a letter. Quite often 'Scribe' would wait until I chose one letter and then it would carry on for three or four words together.

I am not sure why but 'Scribe' angers me. There is little art in my handwriting and typing has been easy since word processing began but the one thing that has remained is that the writer chooses the words. I choose the words. I suppose I could surrender and laugh and think of this nothing more than a novel way to compose a cut up, an involuntary return to Dadaism or one more thing to take the strain out of remembering to type out conjunctions. But I'm not going to surrender. This is my alphabet, to do with as I please.

In case you were wondering I haven't gone insane. I am aware this a tool that can be turned on, or off, or ignored altogether. It isn't going to change the words pouring thick or becoming elusive and transparent but still something sticks with me about this. I think it is the suggestion that automated prompting can improve what ought not to be improved in this way. Writing is thought made visible and I want it to be original to the author, unique, unprompted by the pen itself. An exact explanation of my revulsion remains elusive but that is my fault, my fault that I am unable to make clear a shifting and newborn feeling and I prefer that it stays that way. At least until I figure it out. I would not like 'Scribe' to choose how I should say this. It feels like there would be thieves among us.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

A Slamma family wedding weekend

Raw data in non-chronological point form:


  • Percentage of relatives I despise yet remain polite to - 2%
  • Cousins who explained to me the reason for all the wog food at the after party at his house was because his family were all wogs, before blinking drunkenly and saying, 'Oh, you're my cousin' - 1
  • Cheeses eaten that cost more, per cheese, than my weekly rent - 9
  • Belly aches due to eating too much cheese - 3
  • Languages spoken at various after parties and dinners - 6
  • Languages I understand - 1.75
  • Big W catalogues read aloud to me in a mixture of Creole and French at the dinner table - 3
  • Divorced parents who arrived simultaneously at my brother's house, where I was staying - 2
  • Relatives who sang Johnny Cash songs - 8
  • Instruments my dad played at the after party - 2
  • Relatives who suggested my cowboy boots were an inappropriate choice and did not at all go with my formal dress - 1
  • Number of people who approached me in the DJ booth and asked me to change the song - 17
  • Number of times I complied with song-change requests - 0
  • Aged Aunts who cried mightily whilst filming proceedings - 1
  • Radiantly happy cousins who floated back down the aisle with their new husband - 1
  • Balloons popped in anger by delinquent cousins - 1
  • Amusing witty asides made by my father - 35972
  • Hours spent in the company of relatives - 20
  • Bushranger shows filmed in my hometown watched on my return to The Peach - 1
  • Overall success as rated by the bride - 100% and I suppose that's the one point of raw data that actually matters. 

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Reasons you will love him - Re:reading the dictionary

Tim Sinclair is brilliant. He is the Captain of Poetry at PAN magazine and also a poet. A good one, not one of those crap pretend ones. I've been waiting ages for his new verse novel to come out. His last verse novel, Nine Hours North, a verse novel for young adults, was fucking great, which is weird because I hate both verse novels and young adults.

When Tim announced he was releasing an echapbook, in the middle of revising drafts of his second big book, I became angry. Surely it is the duty of a Tim to finish a book as quickly as possible so that a Dale may read it? When I asked him about this he said no, no it's not actually a duty and he is working diligently on said new novel, as I bloody well know.

The new echapbook (I will make that a word) is called Re:reading the dictionary. Tim said something along the lines of it being an accidental book that came about as a result of his unnatural love of the dictionary and the more natural human desire to do other things when they really ought to be finishing their new novel. At least I think that's what he said.

Tim is very busy and important so I have taken the liberty of interviewing myself* as Tim Sinclair about his new book.

DS: Hello 'Tim'.
DSasTS: Er, hello.
DS: Right, so the cover art is good. Who did that?
DSasTS: Kitty & Rosevich but you already knew that, seeing as how they collaborate with PAN magazine.
DS: Yes, fine. The words inside the book are also quite good. Who wrote those?
DSasTS: I did! You already know that too.
DS: No need to get tetchy. You seem rather violent for a poet. You're supposed to be all peaceful.
DSasTS: I am peaceful.
DS: So are you saying you're an elitist or something?
DSasTS: No. No, that's not at all what I'm saying. What are you doing?
DS: I'm practicing to be a hard-hitting reporter.
DSasTS: Fine. Good. Now about the book. It's an echapbook.
DS: I agree. It is an echapbook and it is brilliant. Why are you a poet?
DSasTS: It's available from my website Cottage Industry Press for a very small sum of money. Don't want to know about the book?
DS: You didn't answer my question. You're being very uncooperative. I think I should terminate this interview now for my own safety.
DSasTS: I don't think that's really necessary. If you would just sit still a second and stop doing that jumping around thing. You're being very distracting.
DS: Good. Fine. You can see how this is. The mind of the poet is a mysterious and important place. I have risked my life to bring you this hard-hitting inside view of a poet in his natural environment. It is with reluctance that I have had to cut the interview short and retreat to a safe distance. Interview over.
DSasTS: For fuck's sake!
There's a lesson in here. Poets, not as easy to impersonate as you might have thought.

Here's a proper interview with Tim about Re:reading the dictionary. Just in case you weren't satisfied with the above hard-hitting one.

You can find the real Tim Sinclair at Cottage Industry Press.


* I did not actually ask Tim for an interview, he probably would have said yes but that's really not the point. Right now it seems like a brilliant idea to pretend to be Tim. It would do well to note that the above is not at all what the real Tim Sinclair is likely to have said.  Hopefully this will not cause the real Tim Sinclair to become cross with me. Let's see what happens.

Go ahead and jump

Warning: Do not read if you are recently bereaved, possess an overly sensitive nature or are one of those people who enjoy yelling at writers when they write something you do not like (in fact piss off if you are a person who enjoys yelling at writers).


People are concerned about me, which is nice, but unnecessary. I'm entering a research phase on suicide prevention for my manuscript, hence the incessant talk about the topic. There is a little twist to my research, I want to find out what not to do in the case of coming into contact with a suicidal being. In fact I am determined to put together a large volume of information about pushing someone past their tipping point and right off the old cliff there.

Whoosh. Straight down. See ya later alligator. Splat, crunch, splatter, gasp, death rattle, gone. Hallelujah and good riddance.

I'm thinking about the kinds of things one could utter to a person perched on a precipice to encourage a good old jump off the mortal coil. Reading research papers on the topic of suicide has been so far quite unhelpful. They are full of the usual charts about risk factors, tipping points and the no-good nature of social isolation. What I want are some ideas for sentences cruel or callous enough to cause a confused being to stop their calculations and put all their eggs in a death-bound basket. What are the kinds of things it is crucial not to hear at a moment of indecision? How can one person talking to another fail to offer even a small pocket of hope or comfort when faced with such drastic circumstances? What is the string of words least welcome to a consciousness in agonising mental pain?

If you can help in any sensible way drop me a line.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

A letter to F. in Western Australia

Dearest F.,

I've been slaving in an office for a few weeks, editing video titles and adding the appropriate rating. G. PG. M. MA. Tedious just about covers it. As usual I am dubiously and sporadically employed by real organisations. The rest of my time is spent more wisely on editing PAN magazine, making notes and drafting things for my manuscript and generally running about looking at things and wishing I didn't notice every tiny detail about everything. The footpath just three houses down the street has begun to exaggerate its folded crease as the tree roots underneath swell with time.

Last weekend I travelled to Canberra with my brother and his girlfriend to visit Dad and the other wonders of our nation's capital. I found them to be much the same as last time I saw them, which is good in the case of my father. My brother and I planned to take advantage of Canberra's lax stance on smoking pot and get high in a hedge maze by the lake. When we got there the hedge maze was missing. The miniature train driver said the government had the hedges removed. I was wondering if maybe too many people had the same idea and there was a meeting in parliament about whether or not the government ought to provide a large hedge maze in which stoned people frequently ran about in and got lost. It was a great shame about the hedge maze. I was hoping to able to sell my brother to someone dressed as David Bowie.

Several weeks ago I was invited to read a short story at Penguin Plays Rough. I decided definitely not to do it due to high internal levels of fear. I was however forced to do it by the inimitable Pip Smith who runs the show. In the end I did not vomit, faint or run away and the thing was got through tolerably well. After the reading Spencer and I drank an enormous volume of beer, Pip folded a sum of money into the palm of my hand and it turned out to be the highest paid ten minutes I have spent in my life. Unless you count inheritances, of which there have not been many, but it doesn't take more than a minute for someone to die. On second thoughts that's not really earning is it? Now if I murdered someone and inherited money from that act then it might be considered earning I suppose, so no earning at all in this case.

Yesterday my mother telephoned to yell at me. Fortunately I was not the topic of her yelling, she needed to express some violent anger on a topic and decided I would do. After the yelling ceased she instructed me to get myself down to the harbour and report on the water. In an amazing coincidence that had been my intention all along. I rode the train down through the tunnels under the city until it emerged suddenly, without seeming to climb, at Circular Quay. The day looked a grey one but I was unsure as to the real colour of things as I was wearing unfamiliar sunglasses. The sunglasses belong to a friend of mine. He gave me a lift home in his car and in order to avoid sitting on the things I stuck them in my pocket. My only failure was I did not take them back out of my pocket again until I was inside The Peach. I have confessed my accidental crime to him so I do not feel as guilty as I otherwise might.

My only purpose for going down to the harbour was to visit the Satyr statue by Francis (Guy) Lynch. It was placed in the botanical gardens, just near the Opera House gate sometime in the 1970's, I believe it was originally sculpted in the 1920's. The face of the statue is reportedly based on Guy's brother Joe Lynch. Joe is the subject of Slessor's brilliant lament Five Bells. Five Bells is of course wildly popular, one of those Australian poems repeatedly set in the school's English curriculum forever and a day but I don't think you should hold that against it. The first time I properly read the poem I was at university and definitely uninterested in all things poetic. At the time I wanted violent contemporary fiction and wildly intellectual essays and nothing else at all would do. I read the thing because I had to, but made no internal note of it.

It wasn't until I was hanging over the railing of a ferry searching for jelly fish and ghosts that I remembered this line, "Deep and dissolving verticals of light". I hung perilously over the ship's railing reciting, "Deep and dissolving verticals of light", and watching the light split the "waves with diamond quills and combs of light" and plunge single-fingered through water, fish and ghosts and time waving weed that I remembered the poem at all. Bloody hell a lit match head just flung itself off the end of the match and scorched a permanent mark between the 'v' and the 'b' on my laptop. I suppose I should give up on matches and move across into lighters but I do love the sound of match being struck, nothing quite like it.

All the notes and drafts for my manuscript cross and recross the harbour. The idea of Joe Lynch seems submerged not just in our national poetic consciousness and the harbour itself but in all of my recent thought. It is possible that I have fallen in love with the man, this "Joe, long dead, who lives between between the five bells."

I was distressed to hear of the recent loss of one of your friends. I hope that you can find some solace in your impending adventure overseas.  Write to me dear F. for I always miss you. Here now is a photograph I took of myself with Old Joe.



Thursday, 11 August 2011

Awesome

Did you know there was such a thing as The Awesome Foundation? Well there is and they have just awarded PAN magazine a $1000 no-strings-attached grant. Awesome.

Combination lady death-farmer tea party

I wore a slip today. All day, for the first time. One of those white nylon slippery things with lace trim and darty bits around the bra area. When I remembered I was wearing it under my dress I felt vaguely like a lady, a proper grown-up lady who is organised and dabbles in witty inappropriateness. But that was only when I remembered.

When I arrived home at The Peach I was tired beyond reason. Tired beyond the ability to make even a stab at pretending to be polite, like a potato digger returned from twelve hours hard labour in the field. That's when one of The Peachettes declared she would not pay one third of the electricity bill but some other mad proportion that she would calculate based on fuck-knows-what and then email to me.

I wanted, no, I desired with all my being, to magic a pitchfork out of the air so I could stab her like a sack of grain and toss her to her bloody death off the edge of The Peach Deck. It occurred to me at that point that I was not so much of a proper lady. More like a combination death-farmer lady bringing bloody physical destruction and organising tea party settings for witty appropriateness followed by gin drinking at my desk in nothing more than a slip and some pearls. I'm fairly happy with that combination.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Communal ridiculous celebrates cat AIDS, in her hand

I don't know who's idea it was to start singing but we were all doing it. Spencer was cranking out song after song on the guitar and somewhere along the way we all lost our shit and just sang as loud as we could. Waving around our arms and creating one hell of an unharmonious racket.

It might have been the cold, the hours we spent UFO spotting in the park in the middle of winter, Spencer's idea of an ace birthday party, or the sheer volume of drinking under our belts. After the park where Spencer spotted fifteen UFO's and nobody else any at all we congregated in Spencer's lounge room. There were already people there, drunk as fuck and making little sense to anyone but themselves. One small woman in the corner held up her hand in greeting, showing off a fresh looking graze on the heel of her palm. She said 'I've got cat AIDS' then went back to the bottom of her glass.

Someone explained on the small woman's behalf that she had slipped on some pavers and grazed her hand. She was convinced that there was cat urine somewhere in the mix and now she was telling everyone about her new dose of hopefully imaginary cat AIDS.

Songs turned into time and we sang our way through three more bottles of wine. There were highlights, old favourites, songs nobody at all knew the words for so we all just made noises that kind of sounded like the right words were somewhere underneath the almost melodic synchronised guttural utterances.

Spencer started playing 'Zombie' by The Cranberries. It seemed like we all knew the words, everyone jumping in with;


But you see, it's not me, it's not my family. 
In your head, in your head they are fighting,
With their tanks and their bombs,
And their bombs and their guns.
In your head, in your head, they are crying...

In your head, in your head, 
Zombie, zombie, zombie.
Then came a pause in the singing, no one remembering the next verse, some of us started just humming and harmonising the right sounds but from the corner a clear voice started ringing out singing.

'I've got cat aids, in my haannd, in my hand, in my hand
I'm still fighting'.

There was a communal shrug then everyone, and I mean everyone, all fifteen of us, fell into the song with enthusiasm so wild it was frightening. 

'She's got cat aiiiids in her haaaaand, in her haaaaaaaand, cat aids cat aids, but she's fighting'.

Spencer had his wits about him and started playing us in a loop. The small woman in the corner repeated her solo verse, holding her injured palm out and rising from her chair like she was on wires. Three drummers in the room started banging beer bottles on the table and someone picked up another guitar. The chorus swelled again and again 'She's got cat aiiiids, in her haaaaaand, cat aids cat aids, but she's fighting'.

Spencer played us in a loop for an age but the song only gained momentum. We were for those minutes joined together in the height of a communal ridiculous. Together as one voice of call and response, all of us screaming words through laughter. The night and the songs went until just about dawn with moments so strong you could pen a book about them but that one, the impromptu chorus of cat AIDS, well that was really something.

Spencer turned thirty and thought nothing of it

Spencer turned thirty on Saturday. It was about fucking time. He's been in his twenties the whole time I've known him, first he was twenty-one and then a whole year at every age until thirty. It's been a long ride.

Thirty is one of those reflective birthdays where you sit down and have a little think. The first things I thought about were how much he has annoyed me, which is a lot but probably not quite as much as I have annoyed him. Friendship is sometimes a two-way annoyer-annoyee contract. I was thinking about making some notes about the annoying times but that would be easy and a little glib. Then I thought about the moments of support through sorrow, betrayal or ridiculous romantic muddles with hideously inappropriate men. Spencer was there for all of them but that too would be easy.

What is more difficult are moments of friendship and understanding that drop like a mantle pinning you still for just a second while the world glides on your own gentle axis.

Last Saturday I had to read a short story in front of an audience. I did not want to. I was petrified. I was coerced into going through with the deed by a horde of people, Spencer being one of them. I had friends in the crowd, all of them lovely, but Spencer was the one I knew I would go to if I fucked it up royally, made an irredeemable fool of myself and needed someone to make a fast exit with. I shouldn't have been so afraid, writers do this kind of thing all the time, but I was because before that night I've always said no, let my fear guide my answer and just said no.

The reading went with no major hitches, no one was more surprised than me. My next move should have been the bar, but the crowd seemed impenetrable. They were planted wall-to-wall like cross-legged rocks, jagged and unable to be stepped upon. I gave up on the idea of a drink but Spencer went over the back of the armchair he was holed up on and picked his way to the bar.

He strode back towards me, triumphant over the cross-legged crowd, holding two open bottles of beer. I saw he was heading for some difficulty, climbing simultaneously between the red hanging wall partitions and over the back of a sofa. I stood up to help and fell into a five second ballet. He came up suddenly over the back of the sofa rising gracefully as an eagle, passing a bottle into my open hand then placing his empty hand on the top of my head for balance. While he was up there, tall as a rafter, I looked up at the travelling arc of him and realised we were mirroring the same grin, shining and elongated with one long unlit cigarette out of the corner of each of our mouths. I kept looking and grinning as the flat palm of his hand centred his descent and he came to rest feet first on the ground.

It seemed to me that everything was communicated in that five second arc over the back of an old sofa with full beer bottles and unlit cigarettes and stupid grins. It seemed to me like we'd sat for hours talking, me saying how much I had needed him there, him saying of course he was going to be there and that I did alright. Me saying that for years it was him turning his back and taking three tall steps up and onto a stage and that it seemed important somehow that just this once it was me doing the climbing. Him saying that I did it, and he knew all along that I could.

I don't suppose it sounds like much, five seconds of grinning and balancing in the quest for beer but just in that moment it was everything. To be wordlessly understood as the somersaulting mix of fear and relief left me giddy. To know absolutely that his open palm on the top of my head was guiding him safely back down no less than his presence was safely guiding me.

Spencer is one hell of a friend. So happy birthday to him.


note: 
       I actually received an overwhelming amount of encouraging advice and support about mastering my stage fright and reading my story. From a whole bunch of people like Gemnastics, Geoff Lemon, Anushka, Spencer, Vanessa Berry, Thomas G Watts, my mum and especially Tim Sinclair who came to my house and got all Geoffrey Rush on my Colin Firth arse but right now this is about Spencer.
       I am grateful to the people who came up to me afterwards and said they liked my story, especially the people who quoted lines of it back to me, that was odd but nice that you remembered some of my words. And to the woman in the red coat at The Duke thank you for coming up to me and saying you liked my story, days and days and days after the fact. That was kind of great.
       Oh and erm, thanks Pip Smith and Penguin Plays Rough for making me do it, giving me free drinks and then paying me money. I hid the money in my sock drawer.



Monday, 25 July 2011

We did it!

Crowdfunding goal achieved!

 This means we can print issue #2 of PAN magazine, and I am grateful. Crowdfunding felt like a huge risk, if we failed then the issue was in serious peril.

Thank you everyone who donated by pre-ordering their issue of PAN on Pozible. There is much dancing at PAN HQ this morning.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

I stopped the rain

Hello my blog, this is Dale speaking. I've nothing much to say to you, just hello my blog.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Homeless accidental toothbrush self-murder with shit in pants and train full of kicking horses

I have been asked to do something frightening. I said no but they said they weren't taking no for an answer.  So here I am, sitting at my desk working out how to do the frightening thing. I asked The Peachettes and Spencer if I should do the thing and all of them, straight away, right at my face, said 'YES! Overcome your fear. It will be awesome'.

Awesome.

I want to know why in the fuck doing something you are afraid of doing is awesome. Here is a list of other things I am afraid of:
A giant poisonous spider dropping into my open mouth
Throwing myself under a speeding train
Being kicked in the head by a large horse
Shitting my pants
Freezing to death
Accidentally killing myself with a toothbrush
Being homeless

Now tell me, where is the sense in facing any of those fears? If I was a homeless person with shit in my pants, a spider in my mouth and lying cut in half underneath a train I am pretty sure that would not be awesome.

I am unclear as to why a person should immediately run out and do something they are afraid of doing. I understand if the fear is making an unhealthy impact on life, such as social phobias or fear of eating vegetables that it is best addressed head on but this does not fall anywhere near the same suburb as vegetables.

Now it's 11:17am and I have spent one and a half hours sitting at my desk being frightened of working out how to do the frightening thing. I predict this is going to be a hard week.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Geoff Lemon This Should Not Be Your 15 Minutes

Everyone is talking about Geoff Lemon's Carbon Tax article, and I mean everyone. Click that link back there and have a read if you haven't read it yet (been under a rock?).  It's a fine piece of Lemonian writing but my point, and I do have one, is that it is not the first fine thing he has written.

I've been reading Lemon written things for years now, ever since I first saw him come down the outside stairs at The Hive holding a bottle of gin and a chicken sandwich. There was a group of us, all writers, sitting under the stars drinking and playing Balderdash like our lives depended on it.

I have followed Lemon's writings, corresponded with him via electronic mail, purchased his poetry, commissioned him to write for PAN, narrowly avoided arrest with him in public park and even put him up in The Peach Library for a couple of days.

The rest of my point is this. Geoff Lemon is a fine writer and I understand why everyone has gone ape shit over his carbon tax article, it has been on everybody's mind, but I hope this isn't Lemon's 15 minutes of fame because he's better than that. He's been writing well for years and he's getting better all the time. Writers, like Geoff Lemon, deserve a respected place in our society that lasts longer than 15 minutes.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Touched

Last night my friend said he touched Jon Spencer's inner thigh, when he was onstage. I thought about my tall bearded friend touching a stranger's inner thigh, without permission, in public. Spencer piped up and said Jon Spencer's sweat fell all over him once, after a show, as he walked by and grasped Spencer's hand. Yet another friend sighed longingly at the memory of just listening to him play.

What a strange thing it must be to be desired like that, by everyone from would-be lovers to colleagues of the stage. I wonder if he remembers the feel of all those hands. People straining upwards just to brush the side of a leg or if he is one of those people who descend into a state of otherworldly hyper-focus as the music clangs right through his body in a whirl of muscle memory, chords and rhythms.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The ideal height of a front fence is the same as the height of a good pony

The urge to walk always comes as the sun sinks. I used to walk south-west, down the short hill towards the tall footbridge where a person can stand and think with a proper horizon, one that curves with the world and doesn't end with a building. Lately though the urge to walk comes accompanied by an urge to skim near the homes of friends. Just glide by the entrance to their street or glance up at a window and see a warm glow behind curtains.

I thought it was enough to navigate around just knowing where friends will come back to at the end of each long day but I'm not sure now. Last night I swept under the grim railway line, hollow train sounds, flaking posters and a dankness not justified by the climate push me out the other side, fast. I turn up beside the railway track and follow the cyclone fence along its little journey guarding concrete sleepers bolted into beds of sharp grey rocks and the place where I imagined I once saw a severed finger.

I look hard at the street sign for Baltic St, named I guess for my ancestors. I looked hard at the dinner party guests on the weekend too, no salt from the Baltic detectable in their outlook, only the high sweep of a cheekbone or curve of a nostril would give you any idea at all.

Halfway up the slow hill Robert's Eyrie comes into view. Crazy cube of a building. I can just make out the vase full of knitting needles by the window. I only know what it is because I have a vase like that, on a shelf, full of drum sticks. From a distance they make the same pointed shapes, fat and flowerless stems.

Cutting through the meagre grounds of the old church I see signs everywhere, 'please don't steal our plants'. I wonder who would want to, desperate things hanging on to chlorophyll for dear life. I turn down alleys as it pleases me, heading North towards Spencer's strange house with its unexpected hallways and everywhere bathtubs and purple ceilings.

I come out suddenly on Probert St which sweeps a clear path downhill and back up again. Open and straight like a long wound cut by a scythe. Winter feels almost gone this night. The Frangipanis already ludicrously sprouting leaves from their bulbous ends, like trees drawn in crayon.

Crossing a thin arterial road I make a turn towards Abdullah's. His street offers me the opportunity of dodging the whip of tree branches before opening out onto flat industrial ground where his urban fortress sits in its unlikely locale. If I hadn't been politely ushered through the blank metal door in the flat brick wall I would never have imagined what lies hidden behind. Abdullah with his records and guitars and coffee machine that makes coffee the same way you get blood from a stone.

Finally I come to the banks of the loud metal river they named Parramatta Rd. Wishing as always that I could make this journey on a horse. Somewhere in my youth I became so accustomed to travelling on four legs that I exchanged my rhythm for their own. Every step missing the brother echo of a foot that doesn't exist.

I'm not sure now if navigating around where they come back to is what I'm really doing. If I could I would walk through the pulse of their words and songs. Walk slowly and breathe in something of their work as the words and rhythms float silently down amongst the gutters and fallen leaves.  I'm walking through ideas to make myself contemporary, with them, weaving my feet through something bigger than my own words.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Extended Slammas drink magnums of red wine

He ran around the table, behind the seated guests, spoon feeding everyone creme brulee at high speed, whether they wanted it or not. Periodically he'd yell at the giant flatscreen television showing silent football in the corner or shout, 'Vegas!' for no apparent reason at all. The guests, slumped a little drunkenly in their chairs, turned the conversation inwards and talked in insular circles that made no sense to me at all. They accepted the mouthfuls of dessert blindly, like birds.

He strutted more than walked in the way men in their 40's do. His face lined but not yet beginning to crumble. More physically strong than at any other point in his life. His wife sporting a bleached-blonde beehive converted into a ponytail over a spray-tanned body jittering inside a short dress and high boots. The angle of his chin gave you no doubt that if you stepped outside his invisible and unclear lines of behaviour he'd take your fucking head off then laugh about it while he clapped you on the back.

The house itself was some kind of poor 70's brick contraption renovated and extended beyond recognition. The outside 'smoking room' was cedar-lined, marble-floored and had a touch screen for music and a television bigger than the ocean. He said, 'I can watch television from any angle in the house. I have screens everywhere, those doors there, those ones, they cost twelve thousand dollars, see that tennis ball it cost eight thousand. Vegas!'.

He told me he wakes at 2:30am, 'just fucking pumped! Ready to go to work!'. But he restrains himself and only rises at 5, works til after sunset, is in bed by 8. Except for when he 'parties' which he does in a style I'm unaccustomed to.

Close to the marble 'smoking room' is a bar, a fully-stocked bar, all the bottles magnums, with two fridges of beer, a dishwasher, television, plumbed-in coffee machine and overhead racks of glasses. The wine glasses were bigger than boats. Magnums of red wine appeared at the table with astonishing regularity. Before dinner was served my face went numb and the world a little swirly.

He and his wife are happy. They are handsome, their children are handsome, they are rich. They have everything they want. They walk through the world like it's a football tour invented for their pleasure. They  scream out non-sensical utterances at random intervals for the sheer joy at being alive. I'm not certain but I suspect I had a terrible time.

My brother and I walked through the ludicrously large front door and out into a suburban cul-de-sac. The yard we were standing in was watered, trimmed and groomed a uniform deep green but across the road, dead lawns, family cars, red bricks and ordinary street lights. The house we walked out of had all the trimmings of a 7 star hotel in Dubai but five metres away South-Western Sydney lay undisturbed.

My brother drove me home. We sat in stunned silence for most of the journey unable to process what we had just experienced. I said, 'I'm not sure I understand why they are so blindly, wildly happy'. My brother said, 'You are too much of a suicidal Russian novellist to truly understand how ignorance and money can equal bliss'.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

They are exercising organised destruction for money

There are men with chainsaws outside in the street. They are shouting to each other, 'higher, over there, hold it up, wait on, now go'. I can't see them but I am glad for physicality of their noise. They are busy, they are strong, they are executing organised destruction for money and I like it.

Monday, 27 June 2011

54% funded and 28 days to go



Enormous thanks to everyone who has participated in PAN's crowdfunding so far.

28 days to go, I think we can make it. Click here to check our progress, staring intently at the pie graph is more satisfying than you might suspect.

Did I mention that for $15 you help secure our printing funds as well as grabbing yourself a discounted copy of issue #2? Well just in case I didn't that's the deal and it's a good one. Here's a link to PAN's crowdfunding page.

Maroon Pants Man discovers the ability to cause genuine shock on the streets of Newtown

Last night I dined with Tim Train, The Baron, Mitzi G Burger and Nails . I have never met any of them before so the experience was awkward and partially surreal. I can't help but feel that a good splash of whiskey might have eased discussion along. There were several interesting points and one surprising connection. It seems Ms Burger is acquainted with Abdullah. I am always disturbed by the discovery of mutual friends.

Afterwards I was sitting in a cafe with Spencer, attempting to describe the experience, when a man in tight maroon pants and tweed jacket appeared. The crotch of his pants was alarmingly low despite the glove-like grip of the trousers on his legs. It was an odd pair of trousers but not as odd as the man himself. He was hopping about from one foot to the other or crouching down to table-level. Constantly moving, adjusting, hopping, crouching and talking yet he was calm and lyrically coherent.

Maroon Pants Man was on his way home from  Star Wars Burlesque at The Vanguard, please take a moment to think about that, when he came across an abandoned pram. If I had come across an abandoned pram nothing at all would have happened but MPM seized the handle and commenced a wild careening down the road.

Noticing the high volume of alarmed looks by pedestrians MPM took to wheeling past restaurant windows and 'accidentally' tipping the pram over with a shocked look on his face. He said the simultaneous reaction of all onlookers was consistent from restaurant to restaurant. Every person half-standing, ready to pounce to his assistance, all of them alarmed for the safety of the invisible baby.

MPM repeated the performance at several locations on the street, after each one holding up the pram to show it was empty.  MPM's impromptu pram performance was genius. There is so little left for us to do that will genuinely shock.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Pebble theory prevents imaginary umbrella suicide in supermarket without linear or interesting narrative

Walking around the supermarket in Marrickville Metro I thought of five efficient yet whimsical forms of shopping suicide when Spencer telephoned for no reason and said he was coming around. I put down the umbrella I was planning on opening inside my heart and started doing what I was supposed to be doing, helping Grizelda choose waffles.

In-supermarket whimsical suicide is not a unique phenomenon. I strongly suspect every second person picking out a package of pasta is secretly wondering whether they could stab themselves right through the eye and into the brain. Or perhaps if it is possible the stolen almond they are eating tastes not like almond because it is one but like cyanide because it is laced with it. That would be an accidental suicide I suppose, if you inadvertently ate a cyanide-almond in the fresh produce section of a supermarket.

Spencer appeared ten minutes after I did at The Peach. Grizelda made us deliciously repulsive hotdogs followed by an enormous communal plate of waffles with berries, ice cream and real chocolate melted into sauce. Spencer mentioned something about me needing to be a pebble, rubbed along in company, and not a solitary rock all jagged and alone. I guess that explains the supermarket umbrella-opening-in-heart idea.

Spencer and I did nothing much last night. We sat at the kitchen table and drew idly with coloured pencils, drank cider and schnapps and whiskey to use up the tiny bits left in bottles. We talked about nothing and everything and nothing again until three o'clock in the morning. I had chocolate smeared on my face the whole time. Spencer drank cider from tall bottles and preferred to use the lone lead pencil over all the other colours. I crosshatched colours into meaningless colour blobs surrounded by words like 'bonp', a word that sounds as well as any other.

If you thought there was a point to this post you would be right. It is in there, quite obviously floating around from the very first sentence but I'm not going to sum it up. I'm going back to just past the beginning, before the middle. Spencer came striding up the hallway in a long winter coat carrying two big bottles of cider and two identical copies of Kinky Friedman's autobiography. We've done that before, sat somewhere reading the same book at the same time. Everyone has a different way of being a pebble.

The real beginning was the day before. Friday night I sat at the kitchen table watching my housemates bake separate cakes simultaneously. I was drinking butterscotch schnapps out of a Moroccan tea glass, smoking cigarettes and uttering depressing asides to any baker who would listen. Leaning my elbows on a pile of Hemingway's borrowed from Marrickville library. The Hemingways were a result of an email from Abdullah.

You see narratives are interesting things. You can lay out first this, then that, then this is what I was thinking or what it might mean but all readers are just guessing really and I like it that way. I wouldn't want anyone to know just how much my friendship with Spencer or Abdullah or Grizelda really means. It would be like baking a cake using the pumping valves of my real heart then watching the knife slice through the iced and decorated thing. That would be a fine way to end the last story, no conclusion necessary.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Stupid problems are still problems

Sunlight is visible through windows. It looks warm. I suppose everything is going on out there like it always is but I'm not going out into the light. Not today.

I've been interviewed too many times, become confused by many be-suited versions of myself held up for inspection. There comes a point in every job interview where the interviewers say one thing that sparks a ripple of alarm. One point that makes it clear that I don't want to work there. Couldn't possibly stomach the day-to-day swallowing of that brand of shit and they know it. The atmosphere shifts subtly, my interview-mask stays firmly stapled but everybody in the room understands that I'm not the best person for the job.

This is the stupidest problem to have. Can it not simply be understood that I will not like it but that does not matter?

A small portion of two cents

Like most people I know I've been watching Go Back To Where You Came From on SBS. I have a tremendous problem with Raquel. Like Geoff Lemon said she's a 'bandsaw-voiced tracksuit mannequin whose casual racism and innate sense of privilege has made her the anti-matter star of the show'. Geoff raises some interesting points in his post but I'd like to depart from his reasoned and informed opinion and go my own way, just for a minute.


Raquel was crying because she was not able to bring herself to use the toilets in the refugee camp. I sympathise with her plight, as a woman who never mastered the art of squatting to wee without weeing on my shoes, down my legs or on my pushed down trousers I get why she was upset. What I don't understand is how she failed to understand that weeing in those circumstances might be upsetting for other people as well as for her. If there is a personal yet universal act it is surely the act of doing a wee. Everybody wees.


It seems to me there must be a malfunction with Raquel's humanity. I admire her sense of self, her sure as shit everyone else can get fucked attitude, but I don't understand how it hasn't been dented by her experiences. It seems to me that she has wound her sheltered suburban lifestyle around herself tighter than a flak jacket. 


I was waiting for her to arrive at a compassionate thought but I've given up on that now. I don't have a point, not yet. Unlike Raquel I'm trying as hard as I can to be compassionate, to attempt an understanding of her point of view and how she might have arrived there.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Public alphabet causes mild humiliation in shopping centre

Grizelda was standing next to the display shelf right near the front of the shop, which isn't very interesting until you learn the next part, the part where I tell you what she was saying. She held up a pink sparkly pencil and very clearly and loudly explained to me how to hold a pen. I attempted to emulate her but apparently I got it very wrong. She went on to give another demonstration before grabbing my fingers and making me practice writing letters all the while giving loud instructions and corrections.

You see Grizelda has recently discovered that I hold my pen 'incorrectly'. I think it all began when I asked her to correct my chopstick technique to minimise soup splashes on my white shirt. What makes it worse is that Spencer agrees with her. He also thinks I hold my pen incorrectly, which is how I wound up in Smiggle receiving a public lesson on writing letters of the alphabet then purchasing a triangular pen-grip holder to 'help' me. I don't think Grizelda would have run so publicly wild if she hadn't have had Spencer's support on the matter.

I can not even begin to describe the intense feeling of embarrassment I felt standing near the display shelf at right near the front of the shop while Grizelda waved around an over-sized pink sparkly pencil. I wanted to yell, 'I am only being docile about this because I am writing my manuscript by hand and it hurts. My hand hurts!'. But a quick scan of the sniggering twelve-year olds in the shop kept me quiet.

I don't know if the shop incident was merely a coincidence but today I began to type. Before today any effort made towards writing the damn thing on the computer was thwarted by an insistent inner voice that said, 'you must first write this by hand'. Today the voice was absent so I went digital and began the work of typing it all out. It is depressing how reams of handwritten pages shrink down when they are typed out,  like mushrooms in a hot pan. I never cook enough mushrooms but fortunately the manuscript is not finished. I have no idea how the whole thing goes which is almost the loveliest part. There aren't too many things left where I get to discover something brand new every step of the way. Don't vomit yet, I'm not turning into Anne of Green Gables I'm just saying that not all art feels bad to birth. That part of it, the pain part, is at least partially a myth. If it didn't feel good, apart from the unexpected public alphabet humiliations and the odd day of horrifying slow-progress torture, I'm quite sure we wouldn't all be doing it.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The last time I read this it was compulsory to pit my mind against it

This time part of it rose up as if in a dream and I longed for nothing more than to turn around, run back to the harbour, witness it for myself.


An excerpt from Five Bells by Kenneth Slessor.


'Deep and dissolving verticals of light
Ferry the falls of moonshine down. Five bells
Coldly rung out in a machine's voice. Night and water
Pour to one rip of darkness, the Harbour floats
In the air, the Cross hangs upside-down in water.'




Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The URL broke!

How in the hell can a URL break? Bastards. Anyway the correct one is now http://tinyurl.com/3rk4tkn (you know I'm still talking about the crowdfunding for PAN right?).

Friday, 10 June 2011

Maybe in advance but maybe not

It is possible that I may become slightly annoying during this crowdfunding campaign so I'm going to apologise now. Sorry.... also here is a link.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Crowdfunding for PAN #2



Crowdfunding is nifty, particularly when we, me and the PAN team, are using it to help us make the last little bit to print issue #2. I don't usually ask people for money, it makes me feel squirmy, but this time I'm holding out my hopeful open hands. 


For just $15 you score a copy of PAN issue #2 and I score enough money to pay the printers. Please take a moment to check out our crowdfunding page on Pozible.


The way this works is simple, all money pledged is held in a special fund until the target is reached, once the target is reached the fund is transferred to PAN. If we don’t reach our target you will receive a full refund. There are options to pay by credit card or PayPal. You will need to either signup or use your Facebook login but that only takes a second.


So what do you get for your money? A quality magazine for $15 for starters but we’re offering a few different levels of support. Please take a moment to have a look at what we’re offering. Our crowdfunding campaign opens tomorrow on the 10th of June.

Oh and if you wouldn't mind spreading the word I'd be very grateful...
For media and publicity enquiries, please contact:
Rebecca Lee Williams, Publicist, PAN magazine | e: rebecca@panmagazine.com

Clockwork rising

I haven't stopped paying attention. Night sounds still crowd my ancient windows while the cat bolts under the blankets on top of my bed. She'll burrow and curl herself into a dear little bat-eared knot. Wait out the worst of the overnight cold with her measured breaths and unconscious whirrings. She'll emerge at a predetermined signal, known only to cats, step delicately across my shoulders and face. Paw to nose, paw to eye, paw to hair.

I might sleep through bat-eared whirrings and the hallway pulling cold breaths under doorways until well past first light. I may sit all night bent as a bachelor over hand-written piles of nothing or like last night I might lean back upon pillows and read through the hours of other people's words.

Some people ask me if I would be so kind as to read what they have written and tell them what I think. This happens more frequently than it used to, I suspect it has something to do with being the editor of a magazine. I always used to say no, some writers are horrifyingly precious, won't even take a modicum of measured feedback given gently, with sugar, in a positive light. Witnessing floods of tears followed by defensive justifications is not my idea of a good afternoon. Of course there are always people I will read for, writers who have the good grace to ask for an opinion only when they genuinely want one.

I was sent some writing the other day, parts of a journal not yet worked up into something bigger. He would like to know my opinion on whether or not they are worth the working. I debated whether or not to say yes. Not because he is precious or a terrible writer but because one of the great joys of my existence is reading other people's journals or diaries or scrawlings, notes, jottings, ideas, brain blurts. Anything that was written just for them. I took a moment to balance my desires. It seemed possible that if I said yes it would be to satisfy my own urge as a favour to myself and not to him.

It is not the first time he has sent me something to read, he is someone who knows what they are doing and would not send through pages without thinking it through first, so I said yes and I'm glad that I did.

There is nothing more magnificent than a writer with an open throttle, when thought and language combine in lightning fast unconscious combinations. All the good bare bones are there on those pages, whole paragraphs of flowing prose shot through with real and jagged ideas still hot and bloody. I adore this stage of other people's work. Every word is a footstep further into the usually guarded mind, sentences are raw and intentions unclear. I feel like a scientist with a microscope wondering at new puzzles of the universe. It is the very best reason for staying up late, a silent joyful worship for the absence of a clockwork rising.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Bubbles

In things. Bubbles in things like chocolate, baths, lotion, water. I suspect there is a bit too much of that going on at the moment. Less bubbles, that's what we need.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Crunch time

Issue #2 of PAN is finally, finally, finally, at crunch time. I can't remember any project being quite this difficult to bring to fruition, except perhaps the grand project of staying alive, or law school but I'm not sure that counts as a project. Law school was more like an error of judgment that gathered momentum then gripped me in its yellow teeth and wouldn't put me down until I used every last ounce of will to finish the damn thing and walk away holding nothing but a cardboard folder, much like my relationships with men, only with less sex and more highlighting sentences in large books.

I'm about to embark on a large-scale experiment, the likes of which I have not before What the fuck was that? Juvenile cockroach ON MY DESK abandon ship this is an emergency.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Backwards/forwards, its all a direction

Everyone is travelling backwards, spending their days writing piles of words about the past, or photographing the fading dying corners, digging their own little nostalgia holes to sit in. I love reading what they write, or seeing what they exhibit but I'm wondering what's going on. Is it that time already where me and my contemporaries turn to look over our shoulders and see a vast highway of rich things already attempted, experienced or felled by? Surely we have a way to go yet. This can't already be the point at which we fold up like dying spiders and take permanently to the memory pit. I'm still walking around realising things for the first time. I'm still learning the names of the flowers on my street and the birds in my trees. I only just learnt how to buy a dress and I'm trying just as hard as I can to get a media pass for my first ever Dolly Parton show. Should I be spending more time sitting still and remembering?


A cursory and incomplete clickable list of beautiful memory pits that I thought of in under two seconds:
Biblioburbia by Vanessa Berry
Dress, Memory by Lorelei Vashti
Parramatta Rd by Lyndal Irons

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Another forgetting gets remembered

I've been ushered down the horrifying path of remembering that I started a project and then forgot all about it. Vanessa Berry has started a new project blog called Biblioburbia, like all of Vanessa's writings is definitely worth reading, but it is also the cause of my shameful remembrance. Best to just have a read of Vanessa's project while I go about trying to remember where I was up to with mine...

Roger Daltrey is a centaur!





No further words required.