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Sunday, December 4, 2011

If it's too loud you're too old

The video of these cars being torched, bashed and painted was mesmerising - KidZoom moved with the power and grace of a parkouriste and entered into a dance with these vehicles that was exhilarating - the man slid over burning cars and allowed his spray paint to ignite in a requiem for the relationship between Aussie youth and overpowered cars - it seemed he was farewelling his past like a viking longship being torched on its final voyage - whoever was behind the camera was as much part of the dance as the images flowed and ebbed revealing the mixture of affection, excitement and contempt which the past arouses

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The best things in life are not things

Further to my last post I find myself forced to look more closely at my own capacity for violence, for abusive, manipulative and intimidatory behaviour. I recall with the shame the moments when I have chosen the easy option of repeating the behaviours forced into me as a child rather than the more difficult and rewarding path of taking responsibility for how I am and choosing to make the good overrule the bad.

My body tells me that this struggle is never ending as I pace a silent early morning house unable to tell where the screaming comes from or if it is audible to others. I feel the noise as a slicing sensation, weasels ripping my flesh, scalpels turning me into sashimi. Sometimes I realise I have let out an audible moan or squeak or if I have managed to stay asleep for more than a few hours I burst awake unable to breathe, my lungs too full to get any air in and too paralysed to let any out. Fortunately this has happened enough that I can disguise the appearance of it if I wake anyone as I drown, clasping my neck and gulping ineffectively for - I don't know what - it's air of course, oxygen, nourishment, sustenance but more it's a desperate desire to be seen but not hurt to be loved but not smothered to live feeling free and safe.

So I lie there perhaps clawing at my neck, my back arched, my face a rictus smile of need knowing that unless I help myself I will die. I wake in a house where I am coccooned from reality by the warm embrace of my wife and daughters' love and over time the terror recedes and I can reassemble myself to pass for normal for every hour that I feel compelled to leave the house.

And then reality bites, every car journey involves encounters with angry aggressive motorists competing for their space on the road to nowhere, their need to get to their destination 37 minutes late rather than the 41 it will be if they drive as if other people matter. The streets of Sydney are lined with beggars, junkies, broken arses and backpackers smirking when I will not sign up to give monthly direct transfers to support charities they've worked for for four days. Yes, I say, I have worked 14 paid hours in the last eleven years - you're welcome to all of that money. I worked for charitable trusts for the last eight years of my career you're welcome to the difference between their wage rates and what I could have earned if I'd remained a seat-warmer in a government department. Take, I say, the $A11.50 an hour I earned as a residential care worker at an adolescent rehab centre along with the dysfunctional management team and the constant abuse and occasional death threats - you're welcome to all of it - spend it well. And I smile and nod my way through the day dreading the arrival of night when my family one by one falls asleep and the people I e-know are busy or offline so I must calculate the balance of coffee and whisky and how loud the music can be so it disturbs no one else and do I go to Coogee for dawn and feel the sand abrade my feet and draw me home into the earth and the wind come off the water and the waves play and tease with their ever changing shapes and patterns and the light, the dawn bringing warmth, illumination, safety to the day and where the sea meets the land but before the land turns into property and I remember Peter's rules for approaching the sea and I recall a song my children sing "the earth is our mother, she will take care of us" and the sea a fickle lover and demanding parent reminds me it is there and on the edge there are bits of building and of ceramic and glass and other gifts given by the sea and remnants of what has been taken - and I recall people taken, and with the city at my back and the sea facing me and the light increasing I stare loss and loneliness in the face and know that it is all right that there is pain and with it joy and the sea takes my howls and my screaming and lifts it from me and in its passion and fury it washes me clean and from the loss comes the the reminder yes they are gone and you don't have them but remember they are here and they were there you did have them so think on what you got what they gave and how the world is a better place and you are a better person for having known them and so go now clean and strong back to the city and wrap your loss in a blanket of forgiveness and joy thank you for your tears the sea is a better place for them thank you for your howling the wind is stronger and cleaner for it and as the rising sun lifts the light off your wet cheeks it is brighter fresher so thank you for all that is good and bad about you and thank you and thank us for being ourselves we will always be here think on Michael and his ho'oponopono chant and in your forgiveness allow in other's forgiveness and as the sand appears later on and out of your clothes remember that the sea and the edge always remain and always change - come again soon and surrender to the sky your heart of anger.

The bullied become bullies - hurt people hurt people.

 Re-visiting this post almost two years after I first wrote it I've decided to delete it as it was so very much of the moment when I wrote it that it seems indulgent to prolong its existence. I think I need a "This too shall pass" delay button that strongly encourages me not to post in haste.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Crown Lynn at the Gus Fisher Gallery

As Ed Hillary is reputed to have said "that's knocked that bugger off".

I did the speech on Friday night at the official opening and then the floor talk on Saturday. Both were nervewracking - the speech mercifully short, the floor talk endless but more or less finished on time.

I got to meet some interesting people and the events were more fun than I remember openings being in my National Art Gallery days.

I had a lot of conversations about Crown Lynn and Richard Quinn and not everything I heard was inaccurate. One of the people I met was Alan Topham General Manager at Crown Lynn up until 1962. His anarchic view was the company mainly manufactured dinnerware. We were standing next to a shrine of Dorothy Thorpe pieces at the time and he had a few amusing anecdotes about going to the US with Tom Clark to recruit her. He thought that a couple of the pieces in the case weren't Crown Lynn and the colours unlikely to have been selected by Ms Thorpe. Later they were upturned to show they had the same backstamp as they pieces they were displayed next to. Alan had been a buyer for McKenzies when Fiesta was commissioned to their specifications.

As well as a visit to Limeburners Bay with a few Quinns I also saw an impressive private collection of New Zealand ceramics. The owner is even more appealing than his collection and is clearly very passionate about fired clay and its variations. Two of the pieces he thought were late-nineteenth century pieces turned out to have been made by Clays of Calico at Caldwell, Montana ca,1970s but I'm not sure how to break the news to him. Earlier he had been very relaxed about joking about other miss-attributions he'd made.

I also got a lot of practice smiling and nodding as people spouted demented nonsense at me with knowing looks on their faces. I think I smashed a few molars gritting my teeth. The wacky world of Crown Lynn continues unchecked.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Kauri Foreshore Hotel

I got barred from this delapidated shithole last night. The landlazy had switched the All Blacks/France rugby game over to league ten minutes before the final whistle. I reminded her that the poster outside said that all Rugby World Cup games were going to be screened live and that she was obliged to do so. She said no. I informed her that as she'd advertised that it was going to be screened live it was a breach of the Commerce Act not to do so. She replied "Ain't going to happen, mate".

I wittily quipped "You're managing a fucking toilet" and she reposted "Don't come back" as I walked out. I realised she thought that being in this rundown messy dive was a good thing and that by agreeing that I won't be going back she was causing me some inconvenience rather than confirming my thoughts and feelings about the place.

On my way home I walked past the guy who runs Cafe K coffee shop in the pub as he is attempting to set up a cafe serving midday and evening meals at the hotel. He is a friend of the licensees so I told him of my experience. As I've been helping his mother set up the coffee shop most weekdays for the last couple of months he seemed concerned and wanted to go back with me to talk with the woman. I told him I'd been barred, that his friend didn't give a shit and his wife was a drunk. I gave him my estimate that the business probably had another six months at most. I'm hoping for less - the rubbish and cigarette butts that constantly flow into the gutter are doing damage somewhere.

I'll miss early morning contact with the woman making the coffee, she was honest, hardworking and enthusiastic - she'll end up on her feet somewhere else soon.

Monday, September 19, 2011


For a long time - 30 years or so - I've been attracted to Ganesha - I've never known why but on Friday I walked into a shop where Ganesh was playing - I was given a CD called 'Ganesh - He Listens, He See, He cares' and a prasad ladoo Ganesha's favourite sweet - I bought some red mukhwas and some ganeshania and then went to buy some clay-based paint for the outside of our home

Saturday, August 27, 2011

On gratitude

My sister-in-law posted on facebook:

I love my 50 year old husband, my new job, my adorable three children, my extended family and my doggie! Life is Good.

echoing Sri Prahlada's recent newsletter on gratitude. He starts kirtan sessions by asking "Who are the special people (mentors, friends, teachers, parents, God) who have been instrumental in inspiring you on your spiritual path? How have these people helped bring you to this moment?" This reflection on kindness and inspiration instantly awakens within the audience the "great-attitude" of a "maha-atma".

Although this quote is specfic to yoga practice it has more general application. These days I often think myself lucky and am surrounded by people who also realise that their lives are mostly great - because of the people they love and the people who love them. The little things fade in significance.

Also via Sri Prahlada: "Gilbert Chesterton (1874-1936), an English writer and poet, similarly stated, "I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder""

I too have a loving and tolerant partner, children who delight me and a life that causes me way more joy than sorrow.