"Alone, even doing nothing, you do not waste your time. You do, almost always, in company. No encounter with yourself can be altogether sterile: Something necessarily emerges, even if only the hope of some day meeting yourself again." (E.M. Cioran)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

An Evening Walk

It had been a while since doing so, when I walked down Crown Street, Surry Hills on Saturday evening (not the western, hilly side that descends toward the city, but Crown Street, north of Cleveland and to its east.) Wow. Things sure have changed.

At risk of sounding painfully nostalgic (too bad!), I felt as if I may as well be in Paddington. Every last pub in the area appeared to have been gentrified into sterility. Every person I saw looked primped and decked out in designer gear - women with that ubiquitous highlighted blonde, blow-dried hairstyle, designer jeans, bags and shoes, and guys with that typical 'yuppie about town' thing going on.

I remember when this area was lively with colour and contrast - struggling people and wealthy alike. And I especially remember `China Joe'. Whatever happened to him? He was a derelict, supposedly alcoholic Chinese guy of indeterminate age, who wandered around lower Crown Street and Cleveland Street all day and evening and slept in the street. He looked kind of crazed and was often laughing to himself. He usually carried a bottle - inside a paper bag most of the time - and sat with his hand outstretched, begging for money. He didn't seem to be able to speak any English at all. I heard numerous theories about him - how he'd ended up there, that he was actually an academic doing research etc. etc. Who knows.

But slowly the area was sterilised and that's pretty much when China Joe disappeared - along with the mystery.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Drug Wars

I can't believe that the Kings Cross injecting centre is still the subject of debate. Recent surveys amongst local residents show that 75% are in favour of it. Local business support has grown from 58% in 2000 to 68% in 2005. An average 220 injecting episodes a day have been taken off the street and medically supervised - more than 300,000 over five years - and 5,380 referrals to drug treatment have been given out. Countless lives have been saved. Stumbling across discarded needles in public places is becoming a rarity, instead of commonplace. Kings Cross Police report a drop in crime rates and anti-social behaviour, which has allowed them to focus on drug dealing and the clinic is not government/taxpayer funded, but by confiscated proceeds of crime, including from drug dealing. In short, it is a success.

Yet still these wowsers babble on and on about how it encourages drug use (?), despite having absolutely no evidence. They just don't get it. People use drugs and always will, for a myriad of reasons, and will continue to gravitate to particular areas of big cities for this very reason - such as Kings Cross. And rather than leaving these people to shoot up in streets and alleys and then turning a blind eye, we owe it to ourselves - regular citizens and junkies alike - to take some responsibility for this reality. By having a medically supervised injecting room, we are taking responsibility, whilst also maintaining an element of control, so that everyone ultimately benefits. We can't simply pretend that people will just stop using drugs, or that they won't overdose, or that drugs and druggies will vanish. It's not good enough.

When debating the issue with a family member a few years ago, he told me he disagreed with the injecting centre, saying: "Anyone who sticks a needle in their arm deserves everything they get". Apparently, they deserve to overdose in the street and die, just because they're junkies. And this is what so many others think. Compassion doesn't even appear to be a consideration, yet surely there is a strong element of hypocrisy here. Everyone uses drugs of some sort - legally or illegally - and for many reasons. Are our hearts so hardened that we cannot care about people who aren't as well-adjusted as ourselves. And who the hell is so well-adjusted anyway?

To my thinking, the so-called 'War On Drugs' seems to me to be as pointless as the 'War On Terror'. This whole idea that you can just wipe out illicit drug use is completely misguided and an enormous waste of money that could be so much better spent on programmes that assist people, in whatever ways necessary, to address the problems that lead to their habits.

Again, just my opinion..

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Joke Of The Week

What's the difference between yoghurt and an Australian?
Yoghurt has culture.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Things That Saved My Last 10 Days

Apart from Lisa's birthday indulgences (I am very rarely so naughty nowadays!) there's been very little going on really. Mind you, a few small pleasures have saved these last 10 days, namely:
**Hanging out with Choofla last Thursday and Friday - listening to his stories, watching his smile and listening to him speak Greek.
**'The Devil and Daniel Johnston' movie with stvbee last Sunday evening at The Chauvel. DJ is one of those rare artists who has the ability to effortlessly channel unadulterated insight and creative imagination via his songs and art - wilfully, yet almost unconsciously. Of course, he is labelled a 'genius' - and maybe he is - but sadly, he also has a tendency to become completely unhinged and remains dysfunctional - in the normal, suburban sense, that is - necessitating a dependency on hideous psych. meds.
**Cookie-eating. Stuff the wheat intolerance! Too bad, because lately I've been indulging in my favourites - 'Full-o-Fruit' (with a hint of chocolate), 'Scotch Fingers' and 'Orange Creams'.
**Finding out yesterday - from my endocrinologist - that my Vitamin D levels are as good as someone who regularly sunbakes - and I've more or less completely avoided the sun for 17 years!
**Seeing the Pigeon Lady in Hyde Park. I love her and so do the pigeons. She just sits on her spread-out newspapers in the late afternoon sun, slowly feeding them kernels of grain and talking to them as they sit on every part of her body and entirely surround her.
**Another movie last night with stvbee - 'United 93' - a very gripping yet, thankfully, not didactic or cloying in any way, account of the flight that ended up crashing in a Pennsylvania field, after being hijacked on September 11 2001 in the US. A very emotional experience.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Lisa's Birthday

It's not Lisa's birthday any more. It's early the next morning. Listening to some dumb glam music - a bit past-it by now, we're liking being stoned on pot and don't care. This is us

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

R.I.P. Elizabeth Tolley

A late night phone call - after midnight - and I'm told you had passed away, earlier last night. I never knew you closely and seldom saw you, but it didn't matter. We had been acquainted over a long period of time and I knew that there was a connection between us.

You were inspirational - a goddess of my time. A pantheon of light and style, I looked up to you - almost as a 'big sister' - when I first met you in small-town New Zealand. You were a shining star - dressed with exotic, gypsy flair. I sometimes imagined living my life as you might live yours. You sold me an old cotton lace dress, dyed black, from the vintage clothes shop you operated. The lace is handmade and I still have it. For several years, if you saw me, you would ask if I would sell it back to you.

In Sydney, you were in your element. You have been indispensable in injecting new life into the fading glory of Kings Cross's bohemian chic. Working at the legendary 'Piccolo Bar' in Roslyn Street for some time, you were fabulous. Stunningly beautiful, sassy, wise, funny, mysterious and always so incredibly stylish, you kept the legend alive. You ARE a legend. It's not hard to imagine you fitting in perfectly with the icons of 1950s Sydney bohemia. I even saw your name on the credits of 'Fashionista' (SBS fashion doco) one night. Perfect.

I heard that you had been sick, struggled and triumphed and then, relapsed. I heard there were two relapses. I can relate to this, because I have been through something similar - though comparisons are, of course, always dubious. Yet, I know how difficult it must have been because I know the pain and anguish of just getting through each 'day-at-a-time' day. And I can clearly comprehend what it is like to reach the moment when it is simply impossible to go through any more. So I am glad that you can finally just rest now, Elizabeth, even though the world will miss you.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Film review - 'Scared Sacred'

Not much to say about this movie that isn't already covered in the PR blurbs. However, film maker Velcrow Ripper, (though clearly not the "punk rocker" he fancies himself to be) has definitely created a thought-provoking reflection on hope and compassion springing from suffering in the aftermath of disaster - the shifting of emotional devastation into positive transformation. Or, to paraphrase Velcrow himself, breathing in tragedy and breathing out compassion.

He has travelled to 'ground zeros' of the world - post-disaster - including the sites of the 'Union Carbide' tragedy in Bhopal, India, the World Trade Centre in New York, post-war Bosnia, Israel/Palestine, the minefields of Cambodia and war-torn Afghanistan. A group of Afghan women, mostly orphaned, who had fled Taliban-controlled Afghanistan to live in secret in a Pakistani border town, were particularly inspiring. Continuing their brave campaign for the rights of Afghan women - including regular street protests, where their lives are constantly endangered - they have set up a school for orphaned Afghan girls, which offers their only hope of getting an education. Also moving were the stories of an Israeli and Palestinian family who had both encountered tragedy from their particular sides of the conflict. They had managed to transform their raging (and useless) desire for revenge into empathy and now actively work together with other bereaved families, from both sides, to encourage compassion and understanding. Good stuff.

Was A Friend

He thinks he is the only one who suffers as he does, in isolation. He thinks his suffering is more justified. He doesn't understand why people sometimes become indifferent to him - after all, he has sought out their company and has been capable and charming. He doesn't recognise love when it is being given to him, nor friendship when he has it. He betrays his real self and his real friends alike. He knows what he doesn't want, but not what he wants. He knows who he doesn't like, yet doesn't like himself. He lives in the world as he sees it and is master of it, but he is miserable. He assumes he is being misunderstood.

He seldom admits to being moved by what moves others and maybe he isn't. He sets himself apart and negates the value of mere mentions of things that have brought small satisfactions or joy to acquaintances - books, films, art, studies, people, jobs. He knows better, or so he thinks. His take on things is more informed. His studies and life mission are more relevant and worthy than yours. A narcissist, this is what he thinks. It gets tedious after a while, but don't challenge or criticise him. He can only dish it out.

I know about him, because he was a friend of mine.