Pertinacity, Dogmatism and Palm Fronds.

•February 1st, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I step outside, sans sunglasses, into a hot wind. Sunlight pierces my skull like a marlinspike, brain pulsating behind my eyes like the black, rum-soaked heart of Old Salty, marooned on some god-forsaken patch of white sand that stays sickeningly still beneath his feet. I need a drink, something cool and fruity, something that smacks of palm trees and an ocean breeze, of the rhythmic rolling of waves on the shore, and perhaps a scantily clad island girl to fan me with a palm frond.

Instead, I am climbing a fucking concrete hill, surrounded by great fingers of steel and glass pointing at the heavens, a cautionary reminder of the inescapable malice of the sun. Like a panicked rabbit, I zigzag between patches of shade, desperate to escape the descending fiery jaws of death. The wind, a sweltering blast like the flatulence of the almighty, burns in my lungs, parches my throat. I struggle to draw breath, stopping at every shaded opportunity to recover.

There is something deeply inhuman, inhumane about living in this sort of climate. We might have long since evolved away from growing fur coats, but we are not meant to live in this fucking heat. I’m sorry Edinburgh, for all my past indiscretions. I will. Never. Complain. About. The. Cold. Again… ever…

I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time – wasted it really – lamenting, discussing and ranting about the realities of Westralia, the rampant boganism, the dire state of conservatism, the nannying of the populace, not to mention the fucking temperature. I’m not going to take it back, the place is still bloody hot and (largely) colonized by dickheads, but I am prepared to be a little more forgiving, a little less quick to defenestrate the entire population. I have realised something very important:

It is not their fault.

The West Australian brain is like an overcooked roast, a shrivelled little nugget of meat sitting in a scalding pan of its own rapidly thickening juices. There’s no discrimination here, it’s not just Westralians. Their seems to be this critical zone that vaguely straddles the tropic lines, some shifting, indefinable region in which there exists just the right meteorological conditions to fuck white people up. Anywhere you go where the heat rises above 36.5°C on a regular basis, the whiteys in residence will by-and-large be a herd of bigoted fucking morons. Perhaps it is merely that cooking things brings out their natural flavour.

At any rate, I know it’s true, because I myself am drifting in that direction. Not to say that I’m turning into a racist, I’m most certainly not, but as I’ve said afore, and frequently in recent times (i.e. since taking up residence in this fair, red-dusted state), I’m becoming [more of] an intolerant prick – it’s just that my particular brand of intolerance extends only so far as my happily sweating jingoist neighbours. And you can’t blame me. It’s the bloody weather.

By the same token, give these poor little Jim Crows a break. Come on now, I’ve got an air-conditioner, and while I am loathe to use it – being a concerned little tree hugger and all – the odd session, when the outside leaves 40° in its dusty wake, might just be able to stave off a flailing descent into the scowling morass of dogmatism. But the locals? They’re fucked… or perhaps baked is a better term. More accurate at least. They’ve been cooking their pretty little heads (and there’re some pretty ones here abouts I can tell you) their entire lives, for generations even.

So, in the name of charity, of compassion and empathy, I hereby claim to cease my disparagement of, and disdain for all (ok, most) things Westralian. I will not go so far as to say there is a general lack of intelligence around here, far from it, so when it comes down to it, I can really only applaud and respect the fact that so many clever people choose to remain here, knowing full well that for all their intelligence, they’re gonna turn into a fucking idiot in the long run.

That’s some pertinacious shit right there.

NB:

Look, in regards to the above, particularly the fourth paragraph, I am well aware of the fact that I tend to sit at home, with two cats, and an occasional wife, and write – and maybe now and then watch a bit of telly, or shoot things on the x-box, or twiddle my mandolin. What I don’t do, is go out of my way to go out and be social, and make friends, and find like-minded people who will no doubt dispel my narrow-minded attitudes toward Westralia.

I also don’t go to the beach enough.

And, in all honesty, until I do, I’m not for a moment going to cease my denigration of the place.

I do also, I’ll admit, have a tendency to frequently and bitterly bemoan wherever my current habitat happens to be, and then leave, and then spend the next several years in a state of desperate nostalgia about the place. So Westralia probably has that to look forward to.

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And Those Who Are You Want To Further Debase…?

•January 25th, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The forecast said rain, but anyone with any shred of national pride knew it was bullshit. It never rains on the twenty-sixth of January, and quite frankly the Bureau of Meteorology is farkin un-Australian to even suggest it. The glittering expanse of Bate Bay is languid, glassy in the windless morning, the gentle swell lapping at the edge of the hot sand of Cronulla Beach.

The ever present knot of surfers sit on their boards, disappointed, and two men walk the length of the beach, back and forth. They are not locals, usually a dangerous proposition. It’s alright but, they look enough like locals – which is all that really matters – and they’re dispensing flags… for a fee, of course.

Somewhere they’ve managed to get their hands on nearly three hundred of the bloody things, and in the great Australian spirit of ingenuity, looking for an extra couple of bob, with flags in hand, they’re trawling Sydney’s Sutherland’s most Australian beach. [Proper Australian that is. None of this farkin bleeding-heart liberal, multicultural bullshit round here.] The flag-floggers are greeted like national farkin heroes, great white mobs of sheep, their necks getting redder beneath the sun by the minute, surround them, clamouring for their own little slice of patriotic heaven.

Now and then some brave, or stupid, soul, with the wrong shaped nose, or a tan that’s just a bit too bloody dark, wanders close, hoping to get their hands on their own little stick sporting its limp scrap of Australianness. The vicious glare of the sheep points them quickly in another direction. And a good thing too. Sheep might be farkin stupid, but there’s no denying they’re dangerous in numbers. It’s before midday though, and despite the heat and the glare of the sun, nobody has got real stuck in to the stubbies yet. Things are pretty relaxed… for the moment.

Off in the distance, the first trails of barbecue smoke are drifting up to hang in the suburban air. Give it another hour or so, and it’ll be a fully fledged haze, heavy with the nostalgic smell of overcooked meat, Australia’s contribution to world cuisine. It’s a heart warming scene, replete with white picket fences, and all the trappings of what makes this country great: VB, thongs, footy jerseys and eskies… Oh, and the flags.

Yeeeeewwwww! It’s farkin ‘straya day.

Or, as those of us who didn’t cry foul at last night’s academic suggestion that the rampant displaying of flags is a tell-tale sign of racism might call it: Invasion Day.

Many have been the filthy looks I’ve copped for the use of the moniker, a reaction I find endlessly amusing, given that the same people who don’t give a shit about the past (and continued) debasement of the country’s indigenous population, are the ones that cry loudest and longest about how we’re being invaded! By asylum seekers, by Asians, by Muslims… by pretty much everyone other than, say, the 10,000 odd Brits & Irish that stay illegally here every year… but that’s alright, at least they look like us.

“Racist?!?” is the cry. “Don’t farkin call me racist, just ‘cause I fly my flag, ‘cause I love my farkin country. You can’t tar everyone with the same brush, you know. Besides, everyone’s a bit racist. Everyone wants to see Australia as really Australian.”

Yeah, maybe everyone does, you fucking (yes, fucking, not farkin) red-neck, but my definition of what’s really Australian is a bloody continent away from what yours is, and mine’s got fuck all to do with what anyone looks like, or who they pray to, or don’t pray to, or what their anatomy consists of, or what they like doing with it, or who they like doing it with. Mine doesn’t need to be displayed on a fucking pennant.

On the other hand, maybe I am a little racist. I certainly find myself having a harder and harder time being in the presence of other Australians… or, rather, other white Australians. I know, I know, you can’t tar everyone with the same brush, and I don’t really, it’s just that, well, so many of us are such Dickheads.

Once upon a time I wandered about being incensed at the behaviour of the backpackers that crawled like plague-ridden rats through the gutters of Sydney’s beachside suburbs. There was even suggestion of making t-shirts that read: Fuck Off Back To Ibeefa. That, however, was prior to venturing into the world myself, and witnessing the great viral spread of Aussies overseas. Bugger the Brits, Australians are worse… shit, I was probably worse.

There’s nothing like broadening one’s horizons to change one’s attitudes and ideas. I wonder, however, if mine haven’t got a bit too broad. Not long before moving back to Oz, I saw Powderfinger play in Glasgow, and found myself wondering very seriously whether I actually wanted to be going “home” at all. I mean how many bare-chested, Essendon-Footy-Jersey-clad, Aussie-flag-draped wankers can you squeeze into one room? Not as many, apparently, as you can squeeze onto Cottesloe beach. Why the fuck would you need to try so hard to establish your Australianness? You’re at a fucking Powderfinger gig, there’s no one here but Australians. By the same token, why the fuck do you need to drape, shade, dry or tattoo yourself with a fucking Australian flag on Australia Day?

Given the number of people I know who have a great old time on Invasion Day, who get happily plastered, eat meat that’s been barbecued to within an inch of its life, drink fucking VB, or Carlton, or even bloody XXXX, who are Very. Clearly. Australian and quite rightly proud of it, but manage all of that without the need for bandying about the fucking flag, the only conclusion I can come to, is that you’re flying a flag because you’re (at least a little bit) fucking racist.

* Thanks to The Herd for the title:

“You’re not even from here in the first place,
And those who are you want to further debase.”

Encompassing Eons…

•January 18th, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Somewhere between lying down last night, and the alarm going off this morning, a truck came through the bedroom and ran me the fuck over. I should have been out on the piss. At least then there’d be a justifiable reason for feeling like I’ve been cast in lead. I am beginning to give credence to the notion that the body will demand you catch up on lost sleep eventually, even if it was months ago that you misplaced it…

Brain function is like a guttering candle flame, easily extinguishable. The way I’m feeling, it would be a blessing if somebody came and blew me out. The clutter on my desk has blended into a mess of colour, a blur from which stands out a fountain pen, a stained knife, and a rubber stamp that reads FUCK OFF. The screen before me is indistinct, unfocused. Perspective is skewed. It could be inches from my face or on the far side of the room, and who can tell the fucking difference? The drone of banal conversation fills the air, like the buzz of insects over summer grass, the breeze replaced by the hum of air-conditioning, the whir of the photocopier. It’s the modern fucking meadow, the quiet clearing amid the forest of steel and stone, bathed in fluorescent sunlight.

The gentle dozing, the half-sleep of ennui is broken by the harsh call of a telephone. I go through the motions, mouth bleeding out some incogitant drivel, subconscious regurgitating answers to the inanities of the legislative process, already retreating to the comfort of staring into space.

Like the clichéd world of childhood summers, endless afternoons spent lying in the grass, staring at the sun through closed eyelids, this place is extemporal; each heavy thud of the second hand encompassing eons: glaciers retreating; sea levels rising; clouds massing to block out the heavens; the darkened world freezing over; species evolve; extinction events rain down ruin upon the world; galaxies expand; planets collide; distant stars supernova…

There’s a multiplicity of coexistent cranial states it seems. Questions are met with a languid, heavy-lidded stare, mouth agape, slack-lipped. I am on the verge of drooling. And yet, I have just watched, passing before my sightless eyes, a universe take form, expand, and dwindle into nothing. There is clearly something going on in there. But nevertheless I sink back below the surface, the leaden waters of sleep closing inexorably over my head…

And then Director’s hand clamps down upon my shoulder.

“You alright there Gethin?”

“What? Um, yeah, fine mate…”

And the Oscar goes to…

•January 10th, 2012 • 1 Comment

This is my acceptance speech, my gracious reception of the Pulitzer, my acknowledgement of the exceptional taste displayed by the judges of the Man Booker Prize, my humble gratitude to the bestowers of the Nobel Prize for Literature, and my thanks for the Eisner… etc.

You may have noticed, but I don’t do this sort of thing very often.

If you haven’t noticed, you really ought to fuck off now. And don’t come back, you’re a fucking moron.

Sorry, sorry, that’s not much in keeping with the spirit of the occasion and all that is it?

So…

I’ve left this a little late, you might think, to be counted amongst the ubiquitous messages of hope and good will that are spawned by the replacing of calendars around the globe. And you’d be right. That was the point. Why the fuck we attach so much importance to such an arbitrary distinction I have no idea. We might as well start the new year on March 31st. Much more appropriate, as far as I’m concerned…

I can’t deny, however, that I have been somewhat caught up in the whole spirit of renewal, of change and hope and all that. I have actually made a couple of resolutions this time around, which is something I usually denounce with great prejudice: Honestly, what’s with the reliance on January 1st? If you want to change something, pull your fucking head out of your arse and change it.

But resolutions are irrelevant here, considering getting all in love with the world wasn’t on my list.

I did, however, get a little bit in love.

I don’t exactly work in a high stress environment, quite the opposite in fact – which is quite stressful at times. Nor do I have childrens to take up my time, or extra-curricular group events to feel obliged to turn up to three times a week, etc, etc. For all that though, my little Eastern sojourn felt like the first time in a long time that I’ve actually relaxed.

I stopped being uptight about how much I was writing everyday – or wasn’t writing, to be more precise – and I exercised because it was fun – wait, Golf qualifies as exercise right? I just spent time lying around, overeating, swimming in worry-free (read: sharkless) water. I even played a spot of tennis.

The dire result of all this tranquillity, the slackening of my furious eye, was a disturbingly invigorated appreciation of life, of the people who make it a worthwhile endeavour, and of all the wondrous places I spend time in – yes, ok Perth, even you’re quite lovely, for all your boganism and conservative propaganda.

So, while I’m still running around smiling rather scowling at passersby, let’s go back to the podium.

This is not, in fact, my acceptance speech, it’s my bestowal speech.

And the prize goes to…

Heather, of course, first and foremost. The list would take up a month if I were to go into detail, but essentially for being an unshakeable support, an inspiration, a challenge, for being funny as fuck, and for being perfect… for me.

The parents, for all usual things, for creating a family that none of us want to get the fuck away from, and for being clever enough to beget me.

Will, for being who he is, and being an artistic inspiration, and being fucking good at it. And Erin, for being a sweetheart, and for keeping him in line.

The rest of the clan, for all that clannish stuff.

The Old Man, for being eager, insightful, and a bloody good laugh. Semaj, my brother from another mother, who needs no further explanation. Shwom, who needs far more explanation than even he is probably capable of.

The Byron Christmas bunch, for starting it all off. The Sydney lot, for remaining beautiful in a city full of wankers – and by extension the Sydney High Diaspora.

The lovely Salome Jones, for… well… go and find out for yourselves. She’s amazing. And by extension, General Ghostwoods, Grim, and the rest of the Red Phone Box lot. Wazza and the Penmonkey for being freaks and all that.

The Edinburgh Clan, for adding to my pervasive nostalgia.

The Planet (universe, multiverse, etc) for being monumentally fucking amazing, awe inspiring, and inexplicable. Stop trying to work it all out you lot, and stop FUCKING IT UP you other lot.

Alright, that’s it, you’ve got your love, light and quinoa (formerly known as peace, love and mung beans). You can fuck off now. And don’t ask for a repeat, we’ll be back to normal next week.

That’s it Thing, lend a hand.

•January 5th, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I’m ignoring my writerly responsibilities. I don’t care. I’m on holiday. Which is tough. Holidays in general are tough. They’re like a little condensed version of life. It takes a little while to relax, to get used to the new circumstances. Then you start to enjoy yourself. Then you realise that if you want to do all the things you planned to, and see all the people you give a shit about, you better stop just lying around all day. The days are going past faster. In fact, you took to long thinking about what you were going to do, and now the days have gone. It’s over. Time to go back to work.

It’s potentially ruined the holiday existence, this realisation. Who wants to be left at the end of two weeks with nothing more than a clarification of how maddeningly short life is going to be? I’m going to go back to work next week thinking of how much I will not have done by the time I hop the twig if I don’t stop sleeping, or doing anything in fact, other than actually writing all the fucking stories that seem to have got out of their cages and are indulging in depravities inside my head.

And while we’re on the topic of how shit holidays are, it’s particularly difficult being on holiday “over East”. Yes, yes, I’ve had that little rant before, but this is not about the Nullarbor divide and the homogenous version of Eastern Australia that exists in the collective conscious of the great Westralian frontier towns. All I am really saying is that swimming in coastal waters where there’s no sharks, and drinking beers that cost $4.20 each, as opposed to $10.00+, is a fucking hard life. And having a circle of friends within a thousand kilometres is pretty crap as well. And it’s all made that much worse by having the Addams Family pinball machine sitting invitingly in the corner of my parent’s living room.

Hmm… now that I think about it, the pinball might have a lot to do with how quickly the days are going by. It’s probably got nothing to do with the regular trips to the beach, the golf course, the couch, the book, the fridge…

This is rather disturbing, actually. Given that I am on holiday, and the pinball is taking up a lot of time in which I really having nothing else pressing to do, and that I am still a long way from my goal of writing a thousand words a day, every day, and when I get home I will have a lot less free time, in which to squeeze a lot more than the current fuck all, and… and… that I recently bought an x-box which is sitting at home all shiny and new and waiting for me to make the love to…

Ah, but fuck it you know, I am stronger than that. And I am trying resolutions this new year, which I don’t really do as a general rule. One of said resolutions is the writing, to be conducted in similar fashion to the wrist shuffling of a crazed, caged monkey with a penchant for masturbation. So fuck the x-box sideways… and all that.

That’s really about all to be said here.

Oh, except about the sharks. I’ve done that rant before as well, but this is not about that either. In fact, Westralia gets a bad rap (not helped by me). Both NSW and QLD far outdo the west coast for shark attacks – and fatal ones. In fact QLD has nearly three times the number of shark related fatalities than WA does, and NSW is not far behind. Still, I feel safe in the water here, and I don’t really over there. Which I know is counter intuitive, but that’s the way it is. I’ve never been known for my propensity to change my opinions based on fact.

 

Sme again…

•December 21st, 2011 • 1 Comment

http://www.therejectionist.com/2011/12/how-to-have-better-blog.html

On that note, I think I need to take a week off and think about the fact that I pretty much shouldn’t be writing any of the things I write.

And it’s Christmas pratically, who the fuck wants to write blog posts at Christmas?

Actually, it’s really almost Yule, but who am I to argue with Christendom, the great pimp, for forcing the older traditions to whore themselves out for it’s benefit?

Anyway, I’m going, I have a house to pack, and endless hours sitting at my desk to attempt to fill with anything mindless enough that I don’t notice the time going by, ticking, ticking, tick, tick, tick…

Goan. Fuckoff.

…to Sail The Seas of Cheese

•December 14th, 2011 • Leave a Comment

There comes a time for every man…

Firstly, we are boys. You ought to understand that from the start. We’re tall, some of us, we’ve grown hair in our secret places – and some unfortunate of us in our not so secret places, we’ve even started to lose some hair; we own houses, or rent them, but they’re ours; we drive slower than we used to, and we do other things slower than we used to as well – which is sometimes good, and sometimes not so much, but we’re not the ones to ask about that; we give sagely advice, and contrary to much of that advice, some of us have even assisted in creating little squealing, shitting, joyous versions of ourselves.

But make no mistake, no matter how much we resemble men, we are boys. It is an irrefutably universal truth. Accept it.

Just to clarify though, don’t you fucking dare tell us that we’re boys. It’s our job to admit that – to ourselves as well perhaps – and we’ll do that grudgingly, if at all, but do. Not. Tell. Us. Please, lest you subject yourself to an explosive anger, or worse yet, a protracted and raging silence… in fact, it is best to just keep your mouth shut at pretty much all times. Really, it’s safer this way.

Lessons would be well learnt from mothers of men, from past masters – or past victims, depending on which way you look at it. They’re too kind though, to teach these lessons early. Let the little dears have a few more years of blissful ignorance. Let them dream of Ryan Gosling.

You know, the greatest deception in modern history comes out of Hollywood. It, they, are called Romantic Comedies. Oh, yes, of course, you know, we know, they’re all make-believe, escapism, gel-coated, easy to swallow opiates for the desperately lonely and hopeful.

Incidentally, this is where fantasy novels, sci-fi films (hell, even time-travelling superhero comics) will win every time. They’re far superior forms of escapism. No one secretly believes that they will actually come true one day… ok, some people do, but they meet weekly at a private table in the back corner of a military/gaming bookshop, and discreetly pull their undies on over their jeans, and giggle. Unlike romantic comedies, they don’t produce an entire culture of the deeply delusional.

It is not that the gullible masses think that they will meet Mr. Right and, after a whirlwind romance, live happily ever after. They know that they’ll probably never meet him, and if they do, after the whirlwind romance, it will not all be golden sunsets, and lowered toilet seats. But somewhere in there, they do believe that they’ll meet Mr… eeeeeeeeeghhhh! Wrong Answer. No, you’ll meet Mstr, masquerading as Mr. and the struggle that ensues, that follows the three weeks of rampant sex on a beach in the tropics – or at least at Coolangatta – is not one of learning to operate the toilet seat for yourself, it’s of learning to come to terms with the fact that you’re now married to/cohabiting with the little boy you never wanted to have… that’s why you got your fucking tubes tied… and now all that worry free beach sex has got you right where you don’t want to be.

It’s all over now, emotional immaturity reigns, most commonly manifested in a taciturn refusal to talk – especially if it concerns feelings. Don’t try to understand this, anymore than you’d try to understand how two blokes became the closest of friends following a couple of nights sitting in silence around a campfire. It just is. We’re not going to explain it – after all, that would require fucking talking.

There’s no going back to that blissful ignorance, and don’t look at us like that. We’re not taking responsibility for the way things are. We shall take no responsibility at all in fact, we’re too busy yearning for the endless summers of yore, when the only worry was whether mum would notice the dollar we’d nicked and spent on a distended paper bag, bulging with 1¢ lollies, or if there were enough bricks under that plank of wood for us to clear the creek on our bikes.

What? Oh this? It’s a remote control helicopter. Isn’t it fucking awesome?

Listen, there’s no use in getting upset about us coming home with remote control flying things, chainsaws and convertibles. It doesn’t matter that we live in an inner city studio apartment, have no room for aerial manoeuvres, no trees to fell, and can never get above 53km/hr. We need them. Need them. And we don’t give a shit that we can’t really afford them, after all, we’re irresponsible; we’re boys; we’re living the life of a seven year old… with a lot of pocket-money… enough, we don’t want to hear it, mum. No, we won’t fucking talk about it.

There comes a time in for every man boy… it’s nearly here. It’s fucking Christmas. I’ might not be any more interested than any self-respecting alcoholic in getting up early to dash into the living room and see what Santy Claus left in my stocking, but in the lead up, well, I’m back to being seven once again.

Family? Time off work? A glut of prawns? Pfft. It’s. All. About. The. Presents. I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s all I can do to stop myself looking in the other side of the closet, where I know something is hidden away from me. It’s a dire strain not to take out the things I bought for other people and play with them. Jesus, I might even have to buy myself toys in the meantime, just so I don’t expire from desperate anticipation.

No, I have no shame… ok well, that’s not really true. I have lot’s of shame. Some of it’s reserved for the therapy couch,  some of it becomes lies that tell truths upon the written page, and some of it is festering away in my black little heart. But none of it, none of it, has anything to do with being excited for the season of giving getting.