(painting by Audrey Kawasaki)
NYE tomorrow. Sometimes this part of the year gets to me more than others - and it certainly is this time around.
A sense of being at a loose end, despite having masses to do and things I've left unattended for way too long. A lack of energy and yet I'm generally feeling antsy - almost tearing-my-hair-out antsy. Two days waiting for a table to be delivered, so I can reorganise my studio, yet it hasn't arrived. Will it turn up tomorrow? Or do I have to spend another entire day at home - waiting?
On Saturday, I unfortunately had to go to town - a major mistake of course, considering it was Boxing Day and opening day of the sales. These days, the God of Mammon is certainly bigger than Jesus, especially over the Christmas period! Streets were packed like sardines - no exaggeration. One entire block was completely jammed with an all-Asian crowd (yep! not one white Australian to be seen), waiting outside an expensive watch shop and 'Hermes' - their arms full of 'Prada', 'Gucci' and 'Louis Vuitton'-emblazoned shopping bags. At a pedestrian crossing, a tall, bored-looking tourist kicked a pigeon away pompously with his booted foot, after noticing it was near him as he made to cross the road - as if it was nothing more than a piece of garbage.
Trying to negotiate my way through this sardine can city to a couple of places was sheer hell - almost impossible. At one point I was forcefully shoved by an oncoming woman - difficult to see properly, as she was closely in tow behind her boyfriend - when we had opted for the street gutter at the same time. I was determined not to brush them with my umbrella or body as we squeezed past each other, but then - THE SHOVE! My body was heaved into a parked taxi - sharply. I quickly turned around with a "You fucking bitch!" retort, only to immediately see that she was a good 6 months pregnant. Indignant, they both abused me back, telling me to watch where I was going. I told them I was, but they continued - defensively glancing at her swollen belly and then at the surge of stoned-looking consumers moving past in both directions, who then stared at me as if I was the devil with their vagued-out eyes . Enough! I turned and moved away. I hate people sometimes.
And now, to twenty-ten. Let's hope it's a good one.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Another year winding up and I find myself more time-poor than ever.
Since I live very close to the city centre, I get to see the worst of what comes with the end of year meltdown in Sydney town. Sweltering weather, sunburnt tourists, inebriated people everywhere and the usual orgies of over-consumption. And then there are the music and arts festivals......
Anyway, I'll try to do some posting when I can and I should warn you that I'm going to start putting some music tracks up shortly as well - some tracks of mine and a friend's. - just some things we've been working on (most likely more of his, due to my work commitments). They're available for public listening and download on fairtilizer under the names Hieronymous and Onni in the meantime.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Going out to hear techno or house music in Sydney - it's such a weird scene. 20 years here and I've never quite worked it out - why this glittering party town has a hold on me? Why I hate and love it and why it can make me so lonely.
If I make the decision to go to an electronic music event, I must also prepare myself for an ordeal. Sometimes it goes well. Sometimes it doesn't. If it's at night, it'll go all night and if it's in the day, it'll likely go on all day - and usually in the blazing sunshine. Almost always, these events include multiple acts and are akin to endurance exercises. But sometimes, you get surprised and bump into fun.
Sydney's a place where you can be anonymous and just blend in, which is one of the reasons I remain here. Generally, it's a place where people move in, make money, invest money and leave. Other people grow up here and move on. A few of us stay.
Anyway, in the early hours of this morning, I ventured out to the 'Berlin Sessions' at the Civic Hotel.
Walking into the ground-level crowd that was cramming into the space and jiggling to Ame's dj set, my heart sank. Slightly aggressive vibe, too many people. Suddenly, it seems that tech-house is the new mainstream. I moved on and found the 'underground' area, catching Benji Frohlich playing an eclectic set that blended various styles rather effortlessly. He pulled it off, but then the crowd was sufficiently hyped anyway. Initially, I cynically assumed they would've probably kept dancing to an agitator washing machine, as long as it had kick drum breaks. However, Benji's set was consistent enough to win me over in the end.
Next up was the act that had drawn me to this gig - Move D - appearing for his first time in Sydney and playing Live. It was just after 3am and considering the punchiness of the preceding set, compared to the subtle, complex deepness of D's music, I wasn't sure how the (now thinning) crowd would respond. They did look a little confused at first, but slowly warmed (How could they not? They were in skilled hands). I noted that most people were actually listening! And then, when a break came, the crowd was fully reassured and, by now, convinced. It was wonderful, but one hour wasn't long enough. I didn't want this spell to be broken, because it seemed like it had only just begun. I didn't stay for the Ame vs Move D dj set, due to begin at 5am, because I was exhausted (why Sydney must make all-nighters out of anything vaguely techno is truly beyond me and not always appropriate).
And so to home, 'Songs From the Beehive' and bed after another night out in Sydney town.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
I'm a huge fan of the work of Fernando Pessoa. 'The Book of Disquiet' is one of those books I can just dip into whenever I feel the urge and the words nearly always resonate with whatever's going on in my own head. Here's one such excerpt I pulled up earlier:
"I have never loved anybody. What I have loved the most are my feelings - states of conscious viscosity, impressions of a quick ear, smells which are a means, for the humility of the external world, to speak to me, to talk to me about the past (so easily recalled by smells), that is to provide me with more reality, more emotions than a mere loaf of bread cooking at the back of an old bakery, as on that distant afternoon when I was coming back from the burial of an uncle who loved me deeply, and when I felt the sweetness of a minor appeasement, from what I have no idea.
That is my morality, or my metaphysics, in other words, what I am: the ultimate Passer-by, of everything and even of my soul: I belong to nothing, desire nothing, am nothing - an abstract centre of impersonal feelings, a sensitive mirror fallen by chance and pointed towards the diversity of the world. After all that, I have no idea if I am happy or unhappy: it is of little or no importance to me.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Here's a trend that really irks me - plastic surgery for cosmetic purposes. Whether it's cosmetic 'enhancements' such as eyelid scraping, brow lifts, lip fillers, facelifts, nose jobs, collagen injections, laser skin treatments, breast augmentation or botox, it just perpetuates the very dodgy idea of a perfect beauty and the idea that normal signs of ageing are flaws - ie unattractive - so must therefore be erased.
But just what is it that's really going on here? Fear of death? Fear of being unloved, unattractive and unwanted simply because of being (and looking) older? Fear that we are nothing unless we conform to some conformist idea of exterior beauty - throughout our existence - with our faces frozen in the look of our youth or altered to resemble the perceived perfection of our superstar idols' appearances? Surely, this is a shallow view. You'd think that as we grow older, we would grow stronger and wiser in character. So just what is wrong with reflecting this on the outside? Why is it that we only perceive beauty in youthful faces and bodies?
To my thinking, unless we are hideously disfigured - by birth or accident - or so heavy in the breasts that it is a burden on our skeletons, this search for (apparent) perfection is a very disturbing trend indeed. Even worse, is that women's magazines now discuss cosmetic enhancement in much the same way as skin care products and makeup - that is, as a part of women's general upkeep. Unfortunately, more and more people are turning to these procedures. They're routinely shown on tv makeover shows as ways to gain confidence. However, I don't want to live in a world where most people pay a fortune to erase signs of age and the rest of us are judged as hideous, simply because we don't conform to such stereotypes of beauty. In that world, everyone is looking more and more alike anyway. And this is hardly a triumph for women - to be spending their hard-earned cash on erasing the signs of their lives. Although only the wealthy can really afford this sort of thing, of course it's spreading to the rest of the population who, unhappy with the apparent insignificance of their own existences, aim to be just like their wealthy celebrity idols. The proliferation of celebrity tv shows and magazines only perpetuates this. If only I had Angelina Jolie's lips, I would feel so much more confident and desirable. Blah! Many of the results of cosmetic surgery procedures leave much to be desired anyway.
We are all going to die. We are born, we grow, we bloom and form relationships with others and hopefully grow wiser and more beautiful as we learn who we are and try to better ourselves as human beings. I am all for the idea of looking and feeling the best that we can for our ages, but maybe we should be focusing on our health instead - what we're eating, what we're thinking and what we're doing with our lives. If we just can't get happy with who we are, we should see a shrink or, at least, find something to do.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Another month rolls by and I had, of course, intended to write about a couple of luminary figures who passed away fairly recently. Nonetheless, my distractions continued and last week there was a bombshell. I was informed that my friend Micky - who I have known since 1980 - passed away in Brisbane, after a brief - but difficult - battle with cancer.
I am not going to talk details of his illness here. I only wish to say that Micky was one of the very best (isn't it always the best ones?) - probably the brightest person I have ever met - brilliantly smart, well-read, kind, caring and always low-maintenance. He made do with very little and - most impressively - had no concern at all for material things. I spent time with him during a difficult part of my own life - staying with him in northern New South Wales, where he lived simply in the bush for a while. He sincerely cared about Planet Earth and was an amazing gardener who could make anything grow. He put into practice what most people just mouth off about and was the most environmentally-responsible person I have ever met, impressing me greatly with his knowledge of bush craft. His mind was always inquiring - almost child-like. A true Peter Pan - always enthused about what was going on!
Around the time I met him, someone said that he was so smart you could ask him to solve a mathematical puzzle and he would solve it in seconds, without writing anything down. I tried it once - asking him something like: "What's 8,439 divided by 497" and he gave me a correct answer within a couple of seconds.
When I was staying in the bush with him, we had a conversation about death and about people's obsession with leaving legacies - being remembered for things. He told me he aspired to leaving nothing and felt that was the most responsible thing to do - to leave no trace.
This was the sort of man Micky Barry was.
He will be buried tomorrow on his brother's property, around where he used to live - in the bush - as he would've wanted. He will be sadly missed by many people.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Autumn in Sydney. There's been too much to distract myself with - and too much rain. Cut off from the world in my apartment building, because someone smashed up our intercom system - two weeks ago. The quotes to replace it are too expensive, apparently. A literary luminary has died - J G Ballard. I'll miss those novels, but there are older ones still to catch up with. An Australian activist died also two or so months ago - Fred cole, the originator of 'BUGA Up' (Billboards Using Graffiti Artists Against Unhealth Promotions), who achieved his goal of banishing tobacco advertising in his lifetime (I'll post more about this later).
In the meantime, there's been so much wonderful music. Some current favourites include:
The Field - 'Yesterday and Today'
Martyn - 'Great Lengths'
Hell - 'Teufelswerk'
Pom Pom - 'Pom Pom'...
...and many more, of course.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
A day in the life of a wanker
I walked through the city quickly today - with only my missions on my mind. Everything's shabby. A sense of strain. Half of the centre is pretty much gutted - in construction. My favourite bus route - out to one of Sydney's more pleasant inner suburbs. Left-leaning bourgeois leafiness - common sense attitude. I see a specialist. And I see lots of people who bought amazing local houses four decades or so ago. But everyone is really nice.
It's a very sunny day.
Next stop, Redeye Records to treat myself. Yay! Joris Voorn 'Balance' (double cd of seamless, textured blends of contemporary electronic stuff) and 'Fever Ray's debut.
I went running - on my new route - on the road at the top of the hill and away from the rustling of rats. They are getting bigger and bolder. Last week, I noticed some sudden movement in the grass next to the path and saw a rat, presumably about to dart out of the way. But suddenly, it had grabbed onto my foot and was clinging on! Yes, seriously.
I screamed and flung my leg out as I kept running and it flew off. It looked so funny as it flew briefly through the air that I couldn't help laughing, despite the horror of it all.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
After changing my ISP recently, I unfortunately found myself without properly-functioning internet for several days. Basically, my life shut down. I couldn't work, couldn't contact people, couldn't do anything that I do, because pretty much everything involves my connecting to the net. Instead, I spent my time on the phone (which itself wasn't working for two days), waiting eternities for someone to answer; listening endlessly to moronic, computerised instructions; getting conflicting information and generally having my patience tested to the hilt. At one point, I got into such a state that I actually contemplated suicide (well, almost!). Ridiculous? Maybe. In basically just a decade, so much of our lives depend on this technology - and on technology in general. I've even heard that (apparently anyway) our domestic appliances will eventually all be controlled and synchronised via the internet. Gawd help us all!
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Yes, I've been neglecting this blog lately. First, it was the distraction of the festive season and then the oppressive humidity of January, turning that month into nothing more than a blank. With Sydney in party mode en masse, somehow everything is geared to this time of year. Every music group and performance artist you had been dying to see for years all turn up at once - to perform, along with dozens of others, at numerous daytime events where, if you should be so inclined to attend, you swelter in the sun as you try to catch the acts you love and hope they don't overlap on different stages.
Temperatures can soar to over 40 degrees and can be accompanied by a hair dryer-like wind that burns as it blows. Forget gentle, cooling breezes. This feels more like some kind of radiation, which burns your skin in minutes and can even be felt through open windows when indoors. It's insane to walk around outside, of course, unless covered in long sleeves, hat, parasol or, at the very least, slathered in 30+. But everywhere, hordes of people are out and about, apparently loving it. When shopping for groceries in the evenings, I see many people - especially young tourists - seemingly oblivious to the extreme sunburn they've been afflicted with after a day at the beach. It always looks so painful and I wonder how they can look so calm about it. To make things worse, Daylight Saving extends the daylight hours to last until after 8.30pm (I would suggest Night Saving as a much better option!).
And now, February is turning tragic, with bushfires ravaging Victoria, destroying thousands of homes and lives. With 183 already confirmed dead and countless others injured, the toll is set to rise. Summertime in Australia is what people look forward to through the winter months and what visitors appear to expect.
At least now, it's raining and back to 22 degrees - for a week or so, at least. I feel like I can breathe again.