... for us humans.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Wednesday, November 07, 2012
Tuesday, November 06, 2012
Thursday, August 30, 2012
I've been experiencing a strong sense of unease lately - an anxiety that's causing me to feel somehow stuck in an endless state of procrastination. No, I don't believe I'm paranoid, but it appears that things are getting messier and meaner by the day. There just doesn't seem to be much awareness of the fact that prejudices, outright ignorance and intolerance are taking over when it comes to public policy-making and, in particular, social welfare and our attitudes towards - for example - indigenous peoples, the mentally ill, the unemployed, junkies, asylum seekers and the economically-unempowered in general.
It's as if everyone's judging everyone else and those with good jobs and salaries are particularly quick to judge those who - for whatever reason - can't fend for themselves and require government support. They resent the fact that they "pay for everything", where others are given welfare payments and, for some, public housing, whilst having absolutely no idea of how difficult it is to exist on the dole. They think nothing of lumping less-fortunate people into neat stereotypes and don't appear to even consider them as individuals with their own stories. And in turn, people receiving welfare assistance fear that others - especially (in this country, at least) so-called 'boat people' seeking political asylum - will undermine or, at least, put added pressures on their own eligibility. So where is compassion? Where is empathy? Are we all narcissists now?
It's true that we live in a time of multiple distractions. Outside of work, we are busy, busy, busy - constantly texting and tweeting and updating, shopping and entertaining ourselves and (hopefully) making things for ourselves. There is always so much to get on with. Personal appearance seems to have become so out-of-proportionally important. Of course, to be beautiful, one must be eternally youthful-looking, with features that 'pop', and we must have perfect hair 24-7, no matter how many products and procedures are routinely required. It's all so high-maintenance. A 'look' is chosen for one's self (as if out of a number of 'templates' - like we use for our blogs), because anything subtle or individualistic isn't desirable or even noticeable - certainly not employable. We must fit in, because this is a very conformist time. Does anyone even notice anything (or anyone) outside of their own little universe any more? Are we actually afraid to be ourselves now and, worse still, are we refusing to even acknowledge it?
With all this going on, why aren't we in a constant state of protest? We should be screaming in the streets to protect our rights, because they will be taken away if we neglect to remain vigilant in our insistence upon having them upheld.
What's going on?
Anyway, this photo - sent to me from a friend now living in Vancouver, that she said she took in the apparently 'gay neighbourhood' of Davies Street - reminds me of that fantastic, fun and happy irreverence of the punk era. It is an example of the fact that it does still exist and that there is life outside of conformism.
(Don't forget to click on the pic!)
Friday, July 06, 2012
Procrastination has me wandering in my mind back to late 1970s/early '80s New Zealand days - a time when everything seemed possible and open. It had become ok to be "not normal" (and no one would've then anticipated how ultra-conservative life would be 30 years later!). Punk was pretty much the pop-cultural reference point, but - to me, at least - the really interesting stuff, most particularly in music, was happening (as per usual) somewhere else - in a less commercial (underground) realm. You had to look for it. Interestingly, much of the music that grabbed my attention around this time still sends tingles up and down my spine today. I'm thinking of electronic acts such as Thomas Leer and Robert Rental, The Normal (I've previously posted 'YouTubes' of at least one of these bands' tracks), early Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire, that all had a sparsely melancholic, so-called 'industrial' quality to them. The music conjured (and still does!) stark images of bleakness - industrial wastelands, urban decay and social isolation and the sound was dark and gritty, clattery and rhythmic, repetitive and hypnotic, sometimes atonal, sometimes kind of ambient and always beautiful to me. Vocals were most often bored-sounding and tended to be more spoken than sung.
Moving ahead to the late '80s, when house music and techno had established themselves as the Zeitgeist, an interesting fusion was taking place, which I think of as the start of electro as we now know it. Rap music (following in the footsteps of groups such as The Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five) - in what seemed like a most natural progression - started to incorporate this 'industrial' sound. Producers such as Dr Dre, Egyptian Lover etc were sampling rhythms from Kraftwerk and rapping about street violence, urban crime and/or boasting about sexual prowess. What I loved about the sound of these guys was the rawness - the fact that it was a cut-up music made of samples skilfully manipulated on record turntables, which in itself reflected an earlier aesthetic of the post-punk late '70s/early '80s industrial sound - the cut-up techniques developed by artist Brion Gysin and writer William S. Burroughs. The music was made by black artists, but it wasn't your typically smooth R&B. It was edgy and minimal and it rocked!
I still love electro - certainly not all, but I love the minimal stuff that continues to display these basic aesthetics. Here's a full track from my most recent record purchase - on sexy all-blue vinyl - by Ekman.
Sunday, April 22, 2012
I could spend all day raving about how much I love the music of Elliott Smith - this track being one of three tracks on his 'Needle In The Hay' 7" - and one of the most treasured items in my music collection (btw, there's another from the same record on my previous post - just click the pic!).
Elliott's music just gets to me and I like it best served this way - without backing band, so it's just him and his guitar. He's so raw and intense, he makes you feel what he feels. His music has helped me to emerge out of some very bleak moods, but it's so terribly sad to think that it wasn't enough to keep him here. I miss him.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Saturday, February 25, 2012
I only recently discovered the work of Val Martino, aka Unicorn Hard-On. She lives in the USA's 'home of country music', Nashville, operating within the so-called 'Noise' scene. I love the way she treats her voice and appreciate her use of techno and house motifs. Her overall sound isn't chaotic like much of the music categorised as 'Noise', but relatively straightforward, yet gutsy. Click this link to hear her track 'Persian Cats'. It begins quite abstractly, but picks up the pace after a while.
Why do most people assume the weather is only pleasant when it is bright, sunny and hot?
Why is one's hair only acceptable when it looks anything other than it's natural state and colour?
Why are successful, economically-empowered women still spending their hard-earned cash on painful cosmetic surgery, or so-called 'enhancements' that freeze their expression lines and fill their facial contours with plastic in order to stay pretty for longer (or erase their individual uniqueness, depending on how you look at it)? I've heard the reasoning that remaining youthful-looking gives you a competitive edge over others, but that seems to fly in the face of what the Women's Movement stands for. Contrarily, many feminists have adopted the idea that such procedures are part of their empowerment and self-realisation, but as I see it, this is just the same old marketing ploy the beauty industry has always used. Here is a pretty interesting analysis I found on the subject. 'Consumer Feminism' indeed! Why can't we be acceptable - to ourselves as much as to others - simply as we are, naturally?
And finally, why is being considerate to others and being co-operative within communities so difficult for what seems like the vast majority of people?
I guess I'll never know.
Friday, January 27, 2012
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
A week of processing the events outlined in my last post hasn't been easy. I am determined to avoid self-pity but, for some reason, I can't not care about these people. Only thing is that from now on I'll be caring about them from a good distance.
Dad's hateful rant really has changed my thinking. The penny has finally dropped. For way too long, I've been focused on the 'injustice' of how he treats me, somehow thinking that 'if he could only get to know me and the person I am, he will accept me and love me ('get' me) - like all fathers unconditionally love their daughters, right?' Wrong! I now realise with crystal clarity that many people are simply not capable of liking their children - particularly those children who share a different world view, or don't capitulate to the demands (or massage the ego) of a parent. Apparently, it's not that uncommon, but there's nothing I can do about it. Actually, I can only feel sorry for Dad, because he has shown himself up to be (yet another) pathetic narcissist and it is obviously beyond his control. Therefore, I am beginning to forgive him, but will never forget (and need no more reminders!) the extent of his animosity towards me. I'm moving on and every day becomes easier, as I train my mind bit by bit to stop the internal conversation with him.
Currently, I'm taking time out to do things I've been putting off - cataloguing my music collection on the 'Discogs' data base, for example. I finally had Gertie's nails trimmed yesterday. We went on a walking excursion - with her in a box - to the local vet and she's looking very spick and span now.
Music is helping, as always. Currently, I'm enjoying Byetone's new album, 'Symeta' on 'Raster Noton', but I still love 'Plastic Star' - from his earlier (2008) album, 'Death of a Typographer'. Here's a YouTube of the album version (no video here though - just a still image of the album cover.
Thursday, January 05, 2012
Now into another new year, this post is obviously an exhumation - bringing something back to light that has not exactly been buried, but definitely abandoned of late. If I actually do have any readers here, my apologies are in order for this gap in communication. Despite my gaps however, I will always come back.
Certainly the unexpected arrival of my new little cavy housemate, Gertie (see second-to-last post), has thrown a metaphorical spanner in the works. I wouldn't have thought a guinea pig would be so high-maintenance, but the fact that she resides in my own apartment means constantly cleaning/picking up after her, not to mention having to launder her bedding towels and blankets every other day. There is also the endless shopping for her vegies and making sure she has an ever-present supply of hay and dry food. Since guinea pigs are social animals and I am unable to court the option of a guinea pig friend for her, I must also make the time to spend with her - making sure she is comfortable, continuously entertained and happy. It is a handful, to be sure, but when I get frustrated or impatient with her (or simply low in my own spirits), I just look at her and am immediately reminded of how adorable she is - just so completely real and joyously 'in the moment'. When she responds to my affection and gives the love back, I feel instantly rewarded and know it's all worth it. As I write this, she is reclining upstairs in her big cage, trying to stay cool in Sydney's January humidity. Her claws are so long, they resemble Nosferatu's, but I lack the confidence to attempt cutting them.
Talking about confidence, my own has once again been hammered and very much tested by my father, who (yet again) managed to ambush me with an onslaught of grievances and resentments about myself and the way in which I live my life - finding fault after fault in a bitter and hateful rant about virtually everything ever to do with me. I was in a stressed and defensive position right from the start in this hostile environment, yet anything I said in my defence, or to 'put the record straight', was rubbished and talked over. I wasn't my normal self. For three and a half hours, my life was being trashed and I was expected to just sit there and be judged.
From the outset, I knew I was walking into an environment of resentment about my lack of visiting them (even though they make it clear that they dislike my company and I don't own any personal mode of transport), so broached the topic early on, saying that I simply wanted to find a way (or a compromise) to make things work, so everyone could be happy, trying to explain to them that I'm not inclined to go away much - in fact, I've left town 3 times in over 6 years and one of those times was to their place! - but I had given Mum an open invitation to come and stay at my place, which was apparently not an option. In fact, at this early stage of our meeting, Dad leapt off his seat and spat pure bile at me about my "disgusting" home, saying ".... and you expect your mother to stay there!" Here's where I began being defensive, explaining that my home of 16 years - although perhaps not to their taste - is clean, comfortable, organised and, importantly, that it was MY HOME and that since they were inclined to come to Sydney several times a year, it might be an option, but no, not good enough. Dad would rather just sit there, abusing and sneering at me, all the while drinking beer, then wine, then beer again. Of course, the accusations were completely untrue and unfair - just his negative slant on my motivations and actions and all the while, I'm sitting there, being pushed into a desperate, ranting mode of defensiveness - desperate to clarify things, inform them of what I do creatively, how I live my life, what I love and value - while all the while being talked over and scoffed at. At times, he just walked out of the room while I was in mid-sentence. As he insulted me, I kept saying "You have no right to talk to me like that!". At one point, I felt so hurt and angry, I followed him out of the room and beat his chest weak-fistedly, devastated by his coldness towards me. Overwhelmed with emotion, I pushed my face into his shoulder and demanded that he put his arms around me and show me love. He gripped me tightly for a while, but couldn't look at me. I was so relieved, I sobbed and said "thank you" over and over, but as soon as the hug was released, the curtain came back down again and the hostility and bullying escalated. I could never satisfy them anyway, because they only value work that is paid and money and/or status in general and I've been unemployed for over a year now. It's hard to find a new job, especially with no contacts. A little bit of encouragement or support would certainly have been more useful than these bullying accusations of "Job Snob!" Also, I do not criticise their values or their homes, even though they are alienating to me (their own home and my sister and her partner's, where we sat that day, are minimal and airily comfortable in the way that corporate office or art gallery foyers are - ie sterile, bland and with none of the clutter of life [or love] in them), but the life I have lived/am living must be summed up as a series of mistakes, irresponsibilities, pretensions and excuses, apparently.
His final insult to me was "Your problem is that you think you're bigger than you are" and I immediately realised that he saw it as his job to cut me down to size. Great. Father of the year, eh? Taking it as his duty to knock his daughter's self-confidence. That was it for me. I said "I'm leaving" and Dad cackled at me as I gathered my belongings. "Typical", he snarled arrogantly, to which I answered - in all fairness - "You're an asshole!"