On Sport

Go the #Suns! Woo! #AFL, #Metricon

Sport. Well. A lot of people already know my thoughts on the subject. Probably not quite accurately, though. I’ll concede it’s something that brings out the best in people. But also the worst. And to be brutally honest those sorts of contradictions are why I think it – or at least many elements of it – are as redundant in civilised, modern society as a lot of elements of organised religion are. At this point I’ll preface the rest of this blog post by saying I mean no personal offence to any sports fan out there; many of whom I count among friends. This is a broad social analysis; in intent and – I hope – result. Normally my instinct would be to bury my most critical opinions further down in the post. When it comes to sport I’ll list them higher up and rely on you, dear reader, to read on further and put the entirety of what I’m trying to say into context. Sport has probably existed ever since, roughly 10,000 years ago, humans started farming their food instead of moving around to hunt and gather it, and built their cities nearby to these farms. In fact and not just if you count hunting (which is something fish like sharks do, for context) as a sport, the activity has been going on for a lot longer. Straight away, my criticism of that history in any way making especially physical, violent competitive sport relevant today is simply that it is and should be simply that: history. In evolutionary terms it might not go back very far. But in terms of human civilisation it is, in my opinion, the most outdated thing we still for some reason value very highly. I don’t understand why, about half a millennium since the Renaissance, something so base, uncouth and downright barbaric as physically violent sport is so relevant today – especially in Australian society. And I don’t think I’m alone. I once benefitted from wise words by a senior policeman who at least partially blamed drunken violence on obsession with UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). I’ve also heard UFC likened by I can’t remember who to “human cock fighting”. It totally is. It’s an ugly, messy celebration of the worst human behaviour has to offer. Though I think sports like football have less of an influence on brutish, Neanderthalian behaviour. Even boxing has many technical, sporting elements that require tactics, talent and skill. At the end of the day it’s still a couple of blokes (or women) belting shit out of each other for no real reason though. Remember that movie Gladiator starring Russell Crowe? Crowe’s character Maximus, though he was a soldier, was never a fan of the sport he was forced to participate in – a sport I obviously know is not officially practised anymore. But I’m making a point. A soldier can understand his role is dictated by unfortunately unavoidable local or international conditions. A sportsperson, though. If I was to stand as a player on a sports field these days I’d pretty quickly wonder what (and whom) I was standing there for. And why. Players would say the money, the prestige and the achievement. Ordinary people as players would say the fans. I’d say the (arguably undeservedly) wealthy and powerful men and women who profit greatly from every element of every game.

And profit really is what it’s all about. The real game isn’t actually happening on the field. The footy or other pitch is just where a small element of the business of sport plays out. Scrutinised a football field lately? It’s literally painted with advertisements. Eye-catching beer ads adorn the field. Ads of every conceivable type are splashed around the stadium, on the players and even the fans. It’s a bloody consumerist nightmare not waiting to happen, but happening. Even in the international epicentre of mindless marketing driven consumerism, the United States, its national football code NFL doesn’t feature nearly so much in-game advertising. Just look at the problems we’ve had with spoiled rich brat borne online gambling brand Tom Waterhouse. For some reason television execs thought it was appropriate to have him assault viewers’ senses with advertising that infiltrated every part of football – from the field to the commercial breaks and even to the bloody commentary box. Until they were encouraged by public, media and governmental outcries to think about what they were doing. How did it get this far? If people really enjoy the sportsmanship and competition elements so much why does sport have to be so heavily mixed with merchandise, gambling, booze and propaganda? I don’t know. Perhaps I’ve missed something. It’s just that even if all this stuff is a little more sub-conscious and secondary or tertiary or further down in importance to the game itself than it is for me, the negative or at least redundant nature of it is no less, arguably, there. This is by far my greatest problem with sport in a modern context. Too much commercialism cheapens everything. And the reason it “cheapens” everything is that it directly makes some people poorer and others wealthier. I guess one of the reasons why sport is so freakishly popular in Australia is probably in many ways directly due to our perception of ourselves as secular, even if we may individually identify as religious. God. God would be concerned. God would be very concerned if religion operated in the same way as those other holy institutions, sports grounds, did. Imagine if there was XXXX Gold advertising all over and within your local church, and a bar at the back. Imagine if you could bet on the odds of your reverend or priest or imam quoting certain parts of your holy book over others, through odds transmitted from the pulpit and gambling websites advertised all around you. It would be pretty blasphemous. I don’t understand why it’s not considered blasphemous in the context of something so many Australians take just as if not more seriously than religion – sport.

Two #homos #play #pingpong. #Fitzroy, #Melbourne @cactusporn

I’ve basically covered all the negatives I can be bothered with. As far as I can tell even a lot of the positives (many of which can be interpreted as negatives) are not really understood by a lot of people. Sport is the great unifier and divider. Fans are doggedly devoted to the local, regional and national team they support. And they’re just as doggedly against rival teams. Sport is in many ways the best and healthiest replacement we have for that other releaser of tensions between various groups of people: war. It might sound crazy, but I guarantee you if not for peoples’ mad love for their sporting team against another team, especially in an international sense, we would have more war. It’s kind of a good way of saying: “Ok. I hate you and you hate me. But if your team wins on Saturday I’ll admit that you’re better – for now at least”. As much as I see this as a good thing, it drives me crazy that people will trust a bunch of other people at their physical but not necessarily intellectual or moral peaks with an important element of their place in the world. At least most people are able to leave it at that when the result is decided. Not all of them though. Just look at soccer in some places. Fans of the team that loses sometimes start fights which have on some unfortunate occasions led to scores of people dying. Of course I guess more than just the result of the game contributes to sad events like this. Some people bring too many of their personal and social issues to the table to see them decided on the sporting field. Man, if you want to get so emotional about things maybe just have a deep and meaningful conversation with a family member or friend – or mental health professional. Instead of irrationally thinking your favourite sport team or person can resolve issues they are probably neither aware of nor concerned about nor equipped to deal with. Sport’s supposed to be fun. It’s about getting a rush from winning and a renewed hunger for winning from losing. It’s about winning and good naturedly congratulating the other team or person for still putting in their best effort. It’s about losing and good naturedly congratulating the other team or person for being better, at least during that particular match up. Sport transcends cultural, racial, religious, sexual, political and individual boundaries and unites all people in a spectacle that makes life worth enjoying, respecting and simply living. The fact that I know it’s about all these things makes it largely unnecessary, to me, and I think we could better project our energies onto other things like science, art and literature that have more of a tangible impact on our societies. You could argue that I don’t from a scientific perspective actually know much about this at all. But I have studied sociology. For better or worse I do have a basic understanding of the way society works – or doesn’t.

So yeah. I don’t watch a lot of sport. Oh, I’ve been to footy (mostly AFL) games. And I’ve enjoyed them. It’s a good excuse to get out there with mates and enjoy the atmosphere of supporting whichever team you prefer, to the hopeful detriment of the team you don’t. The atmosphere is great. You get swept up in it. But there are other things with intoxicating atmospheres that I get swept up in. And they’re preferable to something like sport that I find so simply inconsequential. I suppose, like from reading a book or watching a movie, you learn things from sport. Things like team work, fairness, the importance of physical fitness and the importance of respecting people different to you. I’m probably arguing against myself now. My father played football. AFL, particularly. He played for Geelong during the 1970s in what was then known as the VFL. It probably helped make him the man he is today, even if that unfortunately includes injuries he sustained while playing. So it’s not as if I can’t see the benefits – and pitfalls – of playing sport in the pretty stark light of my greatest male role model. It’s just that, outside of him, I see more pitfalls or redundancies than positives in sport. There are only so many hours in the day. When it comes to interests, I’m hard pressed to consume enough politics, music, literature, film and even art for my liking to have much time at all for sport. Fortunately, it’s impossible to know nothing about sport in Australia. There’s an entire section of TV and print news dedicated to it, for God’s sake. When it comes to gambling, I’m not likely to lose much money from sport because I don’t know enough about what’s happening to risk chucking my money away. And when sport comes up in conversation I guess I’ll either participate as much as I can or want, or I’ll just zone out and think about politics or books or human rights or something. Noticed politics in this country lately? It’s crazy. Worth paying attention to. And if you miss a game or two of the footy I guarantee it’s less likely to have a negative impact on you or your society than if you didn’t pay attention to as much of local, regional and national politics as you could. Or you could pay some attention to what corporations are up to. Maybe think about what or who really runs this country (and what or who runs people we think we choose to run the country). You could come to some shocking realisations.

#Geelong #Cats #doomed #69. #Bummer


On Bullying

#Kid giving the #finger. #Random

This is my second attempt at writing a blog post about bullying. Just as the previous one regarding surfing came forth pleasurably from the tips of my fingers; this one about the age old human sickness of abusing others for personal gain or sometimes for no reason at all oozes from my fingers like blood. Maybe I’ll share with you the worst examples of bullying I’ve had directed at me. . . . No. I can’t. They’re all horrible in their own way and, though I will share a couple below, it’s far better to start off positively about it all. I recently noticed a post on Facebook by the Labor federal government addressing the challenge of bullying, particularly in schools – where on the not yet developed mind of a child it can have its worst impacts. On this post I wrote, probably not verbatim ‘I’m convinced bullying is something that could never be fully stamped out and would simply tell my child “Don’t worry. It’s highly likely the person bullying you will end up being the person who one day empties your septic tank or cleans your pool”.’ No offence intended to pool cleaners or septic tank workers out there (unless you were or still are a bully). Especially in a capitalist society, bullying is something that can only be controlled and never eliminated, so the key really is how you deal with it.

When I was in Grade 6 a bully would most afternoons after the school bell had rung steal my hat. He would run away with it and I would chase him until he gave it back – usually by throwing it aside and continuing to run away. One day I must have tried more aggressively to regain it before he decided to give it back so, for my troubles, he punched me a few times in the stomach. Thankfully, I was not terribly often physically abused during primary school. I was often simply a little bit outcast by my peers, which I didn’t always mind because I was an introverted and bookish child. I was also short and not particularly keen on physical sports, though I excelled at many athletics events. The problem with school, which I probably already recognised at least subconsciously at the time, was that I was forced to interact with the sorts of people I could and would choose to avoid during adult life. I’ve learned since school that it was my perceived weaknesses that bullies exploited. My shortness, my socially withdrawn and nerdish – even if only when it came to books – ways were like red flags to them. It taught me a valuable lesson: weaknesses, if they can’t be strengthened, should be hidden from those seeking to abuse them. Of course it’s difficult for a child to have that sort of comprehension. I never even subconsciously accepted their apparent appraisal of me as a weakling, and would sometimes enlighten them of that fact. Once again during primary school, while a particularly large and moronic bully was hassling me, I pulled his arm behind his back and applied pressure to his strained elbow. Then I told him to leave me alone. He did from then on. I recall running into him many years later during New Years Eve. I mentioned his name in recognition, and he immediately erupted into violent anger. His friends had to drag him away, and I didn’t need to be told to keep walking. Leopards rarely change their spots. Primary school would have been the worst phase of bullying for me, and I think either I was too young to remember many incidents or I have simply suppressed the memories. Apparently people are able to remember further back into their childhood as they get older. There’s something to look forward to. One thing about primary school I’m philosophical about, however, is that there couldn’t have been a lot of intelligence, or at least maturity, behind the abuse. It was for the most part simply childish ignorance. During high school, however, there was a noticeable shift in the phenomenon.

That physical weakness had begun to desert me proved fortuitous during high school. The bullies remained largely unchanged though. You notice their similarities when you’re forced to suffer enough of their abuse. They were usually but not always large, often experienced trouble at home and were generally at a similar level of the school social pecking order; but more belligerent about expressing their feelings on their social standing. Ugly, too. I can’t think of anyone I’ve been bullied by who hasn’t either had an ugly face or an ugly heart – or both. Besides size I was also happy that adolescence had decided to bestow me with better looks than I’d had as a pre-teen. Size and fighting competence were the main defensive weapons with which to ward off bullying in high school, though. Three incidents come to mind, all during Year 8 and all in response to physical abuse. In the first I believe I was having an argument with a bloke who had sometimes but not often bullied me. Suddenly, he slapped me. I responded by punching him in the face three times. He walked off crying to a nearby seat. In the second I was being repeatedly pushed into a garden by a guy with the same IQ as the plants in it. I lost control of my temper and punched him a few times. He took the punches then walked away. The third time, a guy who had developed a habit of trying – usually not very hard – to push my head into walls on this occasion used his backpack to push my head, hard, into the corner of a brick bag shelf outside a classroom. I turned around and punched him probably five times, until a teacher came out of the classroom and put a stop to the incident. Almost got suspended over that one. At the end of the day the bastard knew he was in the wrong, and all pressure on me evaporated quickly enough. None of them laid a hand on me again and I was never again forced to fight violence with violence. High school bullying had become a crude political tool through which the weak were suppressed, the strong impressed and the aloof ruled. Similar to the lower, middle and upper classes of broader society, the aloof for whatever socio-economic reason directed the script, the strong carried it out by force or taunt, and the weak suffered it. Fortunately, I felt no inclination to become a pawn in this game and high school proceeded and was completed easily enough.

For a kind of darkly humorous break, I’ll mention one high school bullying incident which in hindsight was bizarrely funny. I and my group of friends at the time used to sit on a foot high brick wall that retained a small patch of grass overlooking the school oval. One day quite randomly a thug and his two henchmen from another group decided they wanted to sit there. This was schoolyard turf war at its most raw. Every one of my mates moved when prompted menacingly by these guys – except me. So the thug decided to choke me, while my supposed friends looked on rather indifferently. He squeezed my throat with both hands and pushed me down on to the grass behind the retaining wall. I remember looking into his eyes while only resisting enough so the assault wasn’t terribly painful, and thinking: “What the fuck? Is this guy going to kill me over school grounds territory?” Soon, he let go. And the douchebag trio walked away. I’m not sure if this incident and the way I handled it improved my standing within the group or the greater school population, but I’m glad I stood my ground. I’m betting that guy is doing a lot worse than pumping septic tanks or cleaning suburban pools now, though. In fact he’s probably in jail.

As an adult, bullying has been a little more random, due to the complexity of post-school life. And it’s generally more subtle, such as in the form of gossip. I’ve still, at 28, spent more of my life in public school, if you count pre-school and kindergarten, than I have out. But let’s see. . . . Oh yes: there’s friendship bullying. This is when the good-natured ribbing common between friends steps over the line to become something in which one friend puts the other down in order to boost their own sense of power. Probably every friend I’ve had is guilty of this at some time for whatever reason, and so too have I been. Work is a big place for adult bullying. One day at probably about 2am I, as second in charge of the department, was preparing the Surfers Paradise Coles fresh produce section for Saturday trading. The bell for the loading dock rang and, according to an internal phone call from the young bloke staffing the dock, it turned out to be my shipment of about three or four pallets of fruit and veggies. So I transferred the plastic-wrapped pallets from the dock to the prep room; then stood there looking at them and trying to figure out where to start. It was about then I could sense someone in the room with me, and turned around. It was the dock dude. He looked angry. Indeed he was, and he confronted me about why he had to answer the door to my shipment of stock. I remained silent and a little angry in response to the absurdity of the question, and he eventually walked off. He quit soon after, and word was just about everyone else he came in to contact with had not experienced much of a sunny disposition from him. Another work bullying incident came from a very immature yet (physically) attractive yet superficial yet intelligent and still yet narcissistic young woman I worked in an office with. I must have left work earlier than her one Friday, because when I worked the following Sunday with another colleague, I discovered the word ‘gay’ written in large red pen on a piece of my stationery. She to this day has never apologised for it. And after she learned I’d mentioned it to my boss she seemed more worried about whether I had mentioned her name (which I hadn’t) than whether I had been offended or hurt by her actions. Fortunately, we no longer work together and I can choose to avoid her. Which I do. Gleefully 🙂

Bullying is an illness passed from the perpetrator to the victim. It is not often passed between victims. Indeed victims even in adult life tend not to deliberately associate with each other, or at least just not in the context of that which they’ve suffered. The reason bullying is a transferable illness is because even though a victim may not become a bully, the abuse will still leave its mark in the form of depression or any number of other psychological disorders. And whether they like it or not these ill effects will impact on the people in victims’ lives. And around and around the not-so-merry-go-round goes. A simultaneous positive and negative for bullying victims is that the abuse teaches them an important lesson from a young age: trust no-one. Obviously this leads to a certain amount of innocence lost. But it can also teach a healthy amount of targeted rage. The reason I was bullied was because I was the small kid. Around this core weakness all others perceivable were exploited at the various bullies’ leisure. I suspect even today some people who were bullies during school have some kind of sense that I was a victim at school, and will try to have a go at practising their early reinforced abusive activities on me. They can try their fucking luck as far as I’m fucking concerned. The most important and longest lasting lesson bullying taught me was the importance of hiding weakness, even though I find a certain amount of self-deprecating humour is also important. No-one likes a bloke who thinks the sun shines out his arse. Well, outlaw bikie gang members and nut-job-rich-bastards like Charles Saatchi (husband and alleged physical assaulter of Nigella Lawson) and Chris Brown seem to do ok with the fairer sex, I must admit. But there’s no way I’m interested in the sorts of women who are interested in aggressive men (though it is important for me to state that I don’t think women who are attracted to aggressive men in any way invite, provoke, condone, enjoy or deserve domestic violence that might be directed toward them by such men, or anyone). Women who attract and are attracted to aggressive men – such as my colleague mentioned above – may be the type liable to engage in emasculating abuse toward men, like me, who actually respect women. I don’t deserve such treatment, don’t condone it and will never tolerate it. And should it ever again be directed at me it will only serve to strengthen me, and weaken its perpetrator.

Thought I had the #hipster #combover going #pretty well without #product, but here it just looks #like a #regular combover #hipsterfail #cigarette #aviators

Full Moon Surfing

An historical night surf.  Photo courtesy of Blainey Woodham Photography.

An historical night surf. Photo courtesy of Blainey Woodham Photography.

Surfing is something that resides in treasured depths of not just my mind, but also my heart. It would require countless blog posts for me to comprehensively philosophise about it, and many more to properly discuss more technical or practical elements of it. This post will concern night surfing. And particularly one night surf. Though surfing at night is a different beast to surfing during the day, one night surf could only vary from another based on location, temperature and other conditions of the environment so this will be the one post I write about the specific topic. And I write this post for no more significant a reason than that I recently went for one of the handful of night surfs I’ve had. On June 23, 2013 at about 5pm a Super Moon occurred. In laymen’s or perhaps even scientists’ terms (but perhaps not a scientist’s language) a Super Moon is an event in which the moon passes as close to the earth as possible – presumably only as a full moon. On the 24th of June I noticed a Facebook post by Australia’s Surfing Life magazine that featured a video of night surfers. I don’t know where they were, I don’t know when exactly they were surfing. And I don’t particularly care. I enjoyed watching the dudes in it ripping waves to shreds in the pitch dark, aided by floodlights and probably a full moon. And quickly decided I wanted to go for a surf that coming night. High tide was at about 9.30pm – funnily enough as the moon was above the water. So I suspected a full moon surf at my local beach break was a definite prospect and headed down to said beachie just before dark in order to conduct some recon on the situation. I discovered a solid three-to-four-foot right hander breaking just to the south of and across the front of Palm Beach’s 7th Avenue. It was pretty good, and not many people were out there. I probably should have been out there for an afternoon surf, but it had become time to wait for the no-longer super moon to hang above the water as a heavenly surfing beacon.

I was hoping to have some company out there in the relative darkness. Despite putting the word out on Facebook I didn’t manage to attract enough interest, however, and one person who was keen ended up heading to a nearby point break – Snapper Rocks – a little earlier, instead. I suggested to him he could surf the beachie after riding Snapper but he said he wasn’t sure he’d be able to get back into his sopping wet and freezing wetsuit, which was reasonable. I told him to man up anyway. So I headed down to 7th at about 9pm to see what I could see. Which wasn’t a lot, though the moon was doing its best to enlighten the situation. I could see the same right hander I had just three hours earlier, and perhaps unsurprisingly there was no-one out in the water. The wave would appear quite suddenly from the Pacific Ocean’s depths as its energy hit the sand bank and the moonlight hit its newly formed bulge in the water’s surface. Though not particularly keen on the idea of doing it alone, I realised I had no choice and decided to paddle out. If not for the fact that I do own but rarely use wetsuit booties, I’d not have bothered. The air temperature was something like 6 degrees this night, while the water temperature was probably somewhere above ten. In that case I guess you could say all I really needed was a wetsuit hood or something, but from experience my toes tend to get cold no-matter how much of the rest of my body is covered. So on the booties went. Then I put on a long-sleeved wetsuit shirt I fortunately had. And over that went my wetsuit. After waxing up the board, I was ready to rock.

Photo (of me): Blainey Woodham Photography

Photo (of me): Blainey Woodham Photography

I walked down to the beach past one woman checking out the natural splendour of the full moon hanging over a calm sea. “Are you serious?” she asked, quite shocked.
“Well, there’s no one out there,” I assured her. Then after I’d made it down to the sand whose coolness didn’t thankfully penetrate my feet thanks to the booties: “It certainly is cold though,” I concluded to her.
She said nothing more but stayed put as I placed my board on the sand, strapped the leg rope around my ankle and began to walk out through the shore break. I could barely notice the cold due to the fact that my legs were pretty well sealed between my booties and the leg of my wetsuit. Neoprene is an amazing substance. Once I’d passed as much of the relentless white water I could I laid down on my board and paddled out. Fortunately the waves weren’t breaking terribly powerfully and I could see the white-water easily in the lunar light, so duck dived a couple of waves without much trouble and found myself sitting behind the break zone – where I’d been thousands of times before but not often in the same context. One of the best things about surfing during a sunny day, when the water is clear, is that you can almost feel like you’re floating on an air pocket metres above the shallow ocean bed. This is also reassuring because you are able to see any potential hazards like rocks, or sharks. During this night surf I remember thinking it was mildly reassuring that, with only the moonlight’s aid, I could actually see the sand through an eery green watery prism. A more than usually intense focus was however required just below and in front of the horizon, to notice when a rideable wave was approaching.

There was a bit of southerly in the swell during this night. So I’d look a bit to the south when sizing up approaching waves. The first one wasn’t much good. Unfortunately the moon wasn’t far enough to the west and hence not casting its light directly on the face of the wave, so darkness all but reigned as I paddled on to it facing west. The highlight of the hour I spent out there was one particular wave. I managed to stand up ok – which is difficult wearing booties that fill up a little with water – and get my feet in a good position for riding across the face. I pumped along the wave quickly and did a savage little cutback right into the pocket where the lip was forming. The difference between performing this manoeuvre at night instead of during the day was that, and any fellow surfers out there could probably relate, I had to do it more based on feel than sight. I could feel through my legs and sense from my momentum how the wave was breaking and knew almost exactly when to push my back leg out to carve some water from the wave’s lip; then when and at what angle to push my front foot out to bring the board around parallel with the wave’s direction of travel again. It was exhilarating. If the wave itself had been a little better I would have been letting out whoops of excitement. My new surfing goal that I may never fulfil is now to get a barrel while night surfing. The moonlight would shine through the lip of the wave above to create an icy-green cavern I’d be crouching within. Just thinking about it is wonderful. I caught a few more waves after that one, and enjoyed sitting out there in the warm water and cool air while trying to convince myself that random movements in the water around me weren’t due to sharks circling. Then I decided I probably wasn’t going to get any better waves than what I already had, so caught one in. A fantastic experience. Heavenly, even. The closest to true inner-peace and quiet I’ve ever come without leaving but physically sitting at the edge of a major Australian city like the Gold Coast. Well, obviously sharks were a small concern. But night surfing is like any beneficial endeavour: if you’re realistic, dismissive or even contemptuous about your fears, you become empowered to achieve your dreams.

Photo:  Ross Dudgeon

Photo: Ross Dudgeon

Not Yet a Smoking Gun

Smoking began pretty casually for me. Earliest memories I have of doing it involve bumming the odd one off older family members or mates’ older family members. This was when I was roughly 18 or 19 years old. From there it became something I’d not necessarily always do while on nights out. I remember very early on in the addiction, back in the wild old days when you could still smoke in licensed premises – at least in Queensland. I was at Jupiters Casino Gold Coast, with a mate, in the Prince Albert Bar. I lit up a Winfield Blue, took a deep drag and – possibly also because I’d had more than just a couple of pints – everything went dark. When I came to I was on the floor, blood cascading out of my nose. I lost consciousness again; this time mainly because I’d smashed my nose on the arm of my chair, then when I regained it again security took me to first aid and did their best to patch me up. In hindsight they were ripe for a right royal suing, but it was my own stupid fault – with a bit of bad luck and youthful inexperience thrown in for good measure.


The random habit of lighting up during nights out on the town continued irregularly until I moved out of home at about 23, and started smoking daily. At first and for a while it was just two or three a day. A close mate I had back then would ask me: “Why start smoking now?” and other criticisms. But he was never too much of a nuisance about it. What he was alluding to was the fact that most smokers start at school, when it’s seen as cool or rebellious or both. It’s probably less glamorous now, with the relentless and justifiable assault on smoking – especially in regard to its marketing toward adolescents – that has grown in momentum since the total Australian ban on cigarette company advertising during the ‘90s. Of course, not only can you now not smoke in licensed Queensland premises, you can only do so only in designated outdoor areas where food and sometimes even drinks are not allowed. Man, there’s nothing like a cigarette with a beer or Scotch and coke. But not even most smokers are terribly worried about these changes. We’re not (generally) fools.

Like with a drink, or after a meal, or first thing in the morning, or last thing at night: smoking is a habit that, for me, is generally tied to other regular things I do throughout the days and weeks. This year has been the only exception, at 28 years. Which means I’ve been a regular smoker for about five years. With a conservative estimate of one pack of cigarettes per week for five years, I’ve spent about $4000 on the nasty little things. That doesn’t really worry me, as in many other ways I’m a pretty low maintenance dude, financially. Jesus, the fact that people will spend ridiculous amounts of money on things like gym memberships and weekly clothes binges and the consumerism-gone-mad-like will always astound me much more than anyone’s expenditure on tobacco. But like I said: this year has been different. With the help of financial limitations imposed by unemployment and a massive draining of my savings through travel, I stopped smoking sometime during March this year. I didn’t slowly cut down then stop. I didn’t suddenly stop then take up wearing patches or chewing nicotine gum. It was simple and abrupt: I just decided not to buy another packet. This came about because, despite the fact that I’m aware and not dismissive of the consequences to my health of smoking, the effort to quit really has been financially motivated.


I managed to go smoke free for more than two months. Only once during this time did I break from this strict regimen, on Anzac Day, and left the not yet empty pack I’d bought with a still habitual smoker mate at the conclusion of the merriment. Then, at no particularly significant or symbolic time or for any real reason, I bought another pack. And it has become somewhat of an irregular but generally daily habit again. By no means am I smoking as much as before, especially the more than 10 and sometimes pack a day I was smoking while travelling the US and UK for almost three months. Smokes are very cheap in those two places, but still considered expensive by locals and frowned upon in many places. Without a doubt the addiction’s got its claws in me again. I’m not particularly happy about it, but I do if I’m being honest enjoy smoking. It’s relaxing, even though I know that’s the nicotine at work and that in actual fact each cigarette is in at least a small way clogging my arteries and raising my blood pressure. Which of course is not a relaxing health condition. Plus, while I respect gentle criticism about my smoking from my family and people I don’t consider morons; it gives me a strange satisfaction to be a smoker in the face of people who are all like: “Ew, I can’t believe you smoke. You know most people hate it these days. It’s not cool anymore”. People like that can bite me. The only real other reason besides financial that I have for continually trying to quit, is the reasonable assertion that many women don’t like it. But of course just as many chicks as dudes probably smoke. And, I like to think, if a girl really knew and/or liked me she likely wouldn’t really be too fazed by the habit. We’re none of us perfect, after all. And, to be honest, a lot of people I’ve met who don’t appear to have vices like tobacco, alcohol or religion are often sociopathic. As in their one vice is messing with peoples’ heads, relationships and lives. But really some of these people are just lame. One of the best quotes I’ve ever read but can’t remember properly is from a book named Youth in Revolt, and goes something like: “People who are able to resist their impulses invariably lead stunted lives.” I couldn’t agree more. I guess the key is to find healthy impulses.

So I am without a doubt going through what I like to term a smoking relapse at the moment. But it’s ok. I’ve proven to myself that I can stop, even if not for the best reasons. So, when I feel like it – and I think even in today’s often unimaginative and homogenous world it’s important to live at least part of your life by your feelings or instincts – I will stop again. And then maybe start up again. Then stop. Start. Stop. And hopefully sometime around 30 years of age I will kick the fags altogether. Anyone who’s followed my blog closely will be aware that I’m quite strong-willed when I want to be. Which I don’t always want to be. Because as mentioned above I have no interest in living a stunted life. I will do (almost) anything once. And I’ll do things I enjoy and don’t consider to be terribly harmful to myself or others as often as I want or can. If Adam and Eve hadn’t eaten the forbidden fucking fruit in the first place, the human race would still only consist of a couple of naked spoiled-by-God brats in some fanciful garden somewhere. Yes of course I don’t actually believe that myth, but I hope you still get my point. If not for the passions, convictions and sometimes addictions that drive people the human race probably wouldn’t have half the wondrous achievements it can call its own. In how many photos did Winston Churchill not have a cigar in his mouth?

Not looking forward to #paying double for these when I get back home to #Australia. #Marlboro, #cigarettes, #tobacco, #IcanquitanytimeIlike

I guess my focus, for life in general and for controlling my vices particularly, going forward, is to become directly addicted to those things that make humans the greatest race in our own known existence: learning, building, enjoying and loving. After all, when it comes to loving, particularly, we’re all of us social creatures. We do things that we should fit in, that we should find our affections reciprocated and, where necessary, we also do things that we should rebel from unreasonably restrictive social norms. In a capitalist society particularly, it’s personally dangerous to take convention too seriously. Especially when it’s dictated by unimaginative people sitting in ivory towers who will always live a stunted life, always be unaware they’re living a stunted life, and always consider others to be living a stunted life. You should always scrutinise people and groups’, if not clearly caring, perhaps selfish or even abusive motivations for trying to control you. And I’m pretty sure the self-diagnosis rate for sociopathy stands at not far above nil. They should make lameness a mental illness, too. Then someone might come up with some medication or other treatments for that debilitating disease.

Scrolling the Page – part two

The Simpsons Movie is the reason I’m writing this blog post. Other than that fact it will actually have barely anything to do with The Simpsons, sorry. It’s just that I was going to watch the movie on television, then realised it’s a pretty poor film and Matt Groening should have been tarred and feathered for engineering or allowing to be engineered such a tragic symbol of the television series’ decline. Is that harsh? I guess being tarred and feathered might hurt. It would probably have to be hot or pretty bloody warm tar for it to liquefy. In that case, he should have been punished somehow. Anyway, There’s Something About Mary is on right after it and I really want to watch that; which gives me plenty of time to write this post. Or I’ll finish it later. I’m not being paid for this.

On topic: during November 2011 I started blogging. I was working full time at the, erm, time, but am not really patting myself on the back for maintaining a successful and productive blog while also working as a journalist. That’s because, at the time and still now, really, the blog was neither successful nor particularly productive. Since then I’ve posted 71 times, including this one, about all sorts of things. There have been ups and downs and rounds and rounds and trouble with the law and romance and surfing and a lot more. And that’s just the content and not the reactions to it. I’ve enjoyed it. I am a little inclined to think I in the process of blogging might have offended and alienated myself further from many people and elements of society; but chances are anyone I did offend never liked me in the first place or made out of context, prejudiced or downright biased analyses about me and what I wrote. In that assumed case, no big loss really. Thing is, the first blog post I ever created was about eReaders and eBooks and such: https://wordjourneyer.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/scrolling-the-page/ And, as my blog has over that almost two years attracted exactly 1498 views at the time of typing this sentence, I feel like writing a follow up to that original post as a way of marking the milestone. Maybe it’s time I sought advertising payments for it. Then again, maybe not (yet).

The really apt and kind of belated factor behind writing another post on the topic of eReading is the fact that, since writing the original post, I have bought an eReader. Quite soon afterward, actually. I’m not going to bother fastidiously addressing the things I wrote about eReading in the original post. Instead, I prefer to just write its follow up in exactly the same manner as I did it: from the heart. What? That’s genuine. I love reading. Books were my best friends during and before primary school, and they still bless me with more intellectual stimulation than some people I’m forced to speak to, or perhaps read about. How ironic. Where was I? Oh, yes: eReading. I have one now. An eReader. I’m not even sure what brand it is. Kebo, or Bobo, or something. There’s no brand on it and I threw out the box it came in (and probably the manual too). A former colleague of mine wrote a news/feature (as in one newsy story and one featurey story, on the same page) story about eReading in the newspaper we both once wrote for. She’s also, not terribly coincidentally, the first person who ever commented on my blog. Used to have (a WordPress.com) one herself. Not anymore. She works hard and has a boyfriend and is probably busy with the interesting social life a publishing company publicist would have. Point is: I don’t think I took eBooks seriously until I skimmed over her article. So as a birthday present that year mum gave me $100 and I bought one over ebay. It was exciting. Like waiting for a traditional book bought over ebay but amplified beyond count by the fact that, eventually, an eReader has the potential to contain many thousands of eBooks.

Back to the colleague’s stories about eReading. I can’t remember the specifics, but she went into considerable detail (as her job required) about different types of eReaders and their different functions (actually, I’m sure the articles didn’t just owe their detail to the fact it was her job; she was and is a passionate consumer of books). I mention detail because, as I got a small chance to discuss with her, she seemed to take things just as seriously when it came time to buy herself an eReader. A Kindle, I’m pretty sure. It is the most popular one as far as I know. Pretty ignorant about why, though, I’ll admit. I took a different yet characteristic approach to the abovementioned her and simply bought the (or close to the) cheapest one. And it’s fine, really. Great, even. I must admit I’ve only read one book on it (The War of the Worlds – awesome! Tom Cruise should be tarred and feathered for the modern film adaptation too, by the way. And for a bunch of other reasons) and made a start on James Joyce’s Ulysses. The latter was probably the reason why I have been reading traditional books since. Ulysses is a difficult read if you had not heard. But of course I certainly haven’t thrown it in the bin and it now has between 10 and 20 books on it. Plus I haven’t spent a cent in the process. Let me explain: I’d heard a while back that most classic novels’ copyrights had expired due to their authors being dead for more than . . . I believe it’s 70 years, if I remember my media law correctly. Boom: free eBooks. I didn’t know exactly where to download them, however, so I think I just Facebook questioned my friends en masse and was suggested a few different sites by a few different people. The best one in my opinion is: http://archive.org/details/texts Would be great to hear of any others. Pretty keen to download Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas for free and read it again. It was a borrowed read the first time. Though HS Thompson’s only been dead for about 10 years. Oh well. There are some problems due mainly to my inexperience with the technology and the fact it’s still in its infancy. For example I bought a book through Amazon, which is the creator of the Kindle, but it could only be put on and read from a Kindle. I think the only way I could read a bought eBook on my eReader would be if it was downloadable as a Word or Notepad file. I’ll worry about that later.

Other than that it’s a pretty simple and low maintenance device. If only nature made women the way Asia made technology, right (hetero) men? Actually, that wouldn’t be much good to anyone. Ahem. Moving on. There’s an attractive but utilitarian little eBookshelf on the eReader’s desktop that houses eight eBooks (the rest are in a folder). Its desktop also has a calendar, but you can’t save events or set reminders in it or anything. You can also put photos, music and videos on it, though I’m not sure about its data storage capacity. Plus it features WiFi connectivity. That’s pretty much it. I certainly got what I paid for, and that’s without an intention to put photos, music or movies on it or connect it to WiFi. Unfortunately it’s already almost a little bit redundant because my smart phone (one of which I didn’t yet have when I bought the eReader) has a screen that’s almost as big. But I’d still prefer to read an eBook on the eReader over my phone, and I have no real intention, inclination or need to buy a tablet anytime soon. Unlike so much other technology with a deliberately built in expiration of only a couple of years these days, it may just be something that I own and increasingly treasure for years to come. Unless, as is probable in such a situation, I drop it in the bath. Borrowed that unlikely feared tragedy from my colleague. Just like traditional books, and despite the fact that I’ve barely used it, it already has a small place in my heart. That I and other book lovers are around to enjoy the greatest revolution in publishing since the invention of the Gutenberg printing press is a pure source of joy and wonder. With the advent and proliferation of electronic writing of so many types these days, it sure can be a little overwhelming when figuring out what to spend one’s time reading. The amount of eReading choice on its own is not necessarily revolutionary in its implications but is without a doubt revolutionary in its potential. As someone who enjoys writing whether for enjoyment, payment or both, the one question I’ll surely be asking myself for the rest of my life is: where do I fit in to this increasingly grand picture? Two things are certain: I could write a better modern Simpsons episode than the bunch of blind, drunken monkeys typing on smart phones who currently do; and Tom Cruise will act in the adaptation of my (eventual) novel over my dead and non-zombified body. I’ve missed the start (otherwise infamously known as the “zipper incident”) of There’s Something About Mary. Bugger.

Melbourne. Waves? Cold! Adelaide – part seven

ROSS yelled ‘I’m cooooold!’ in such a manner that he definitely was not joking. We’d dawdled a little before heading out at what looked like a perfect, glassy, slightly-less-than freight training right-hander. Under normal conditions we would’ve been out there so fast our dusty silhouettes would’ve been left behind like in a Warner Bros cartoon. But there was no one out, and this was the Southern Ocean; we knew what we were in for: biting cold, and biting . . . well, it was difficult not to think about. Ross chose jumping off the tip of the point, while I chose walking out across the ‘sand’, which turned out to be a walk across rocks – thankfully while wearing booties – which continued for about 50 metres until I was able to paddle, constantly worried I’d duck dive my board and possibly my face into more rock. Turned out my compadre fared little better: his leap from the point almost saw him promptly and painfully returned to shore by a following swell. If anything my longer paddle kept me warm for precious more minutes, but we both sat down and waited at the same time with seaweed gardens shifting below us, and ominous cramps building in our joints. Turned out the waves were massive, or simply seemed so because of what we later agreed was a lowering of our confidences by the temperature. Ross took a screamer and was forced to duck dive another three on the way back out, plunging into an excruciating ice bath each time. Which left him rattled. I can remember staring down one approaching beast. Paddling furiously toward it became futile as it crashed in front of me. Using all my weight to plunge the board deep I felt the foam-ball roll over me, then reach out, claw me back and spin me into the coldest wash cycle. Clinging to a board with lightly waxed rails in such a situation gave rise to irrational fears, such as seaweed wrapping ‘round my neck and strangling me and a great white shark snapping me out of the wave like fairy floss from a machine. It’s impossible to know which way is up in such situations until one floats to the surface or finds the sandy bottom, which for me was rock and seaweed. I forgot the cold from that moment on until it reared its ugly head again when I tried to catch a wave in – my joints had become so numb I couldn’t feel my feet and had predictable trouble standing up on the mountainous swell as a result. Pretty sure I was stubbing my toes on the walk to shore, but damned if I could actually feel it. A couple of guys paddled out as we towelled off and warmed feeling back into ourselves. We knew what they were experiencing; could tell in the rigid, time-lapse ways in which they surfed. Probably more used to it than us, though.


Comprehensively defeated at this point, I took the wheel and we started off silently past green hills dipped in salt water. Each kilometre travelled was rewarded by seemingly increasingly impressive westward vistas. We stopped to appreciate the free-standing 12 Apostles: skyward monolithic cliffs separated from the mainland by millions of years of erosion, two or three of which had succumbed to the ferocious wind and waves since they were named. The Arch was a self evident structure surrounded by seaweed that inconceivably clung to its base in the face of the liquid onslaught. Nearby to this was a small cove perpetually white-washed by waves from which it was battered. After a day of sharing our country’s most beautiful assets with brothers and sisters from all corners of the world, we cruised into the highway straddling town of Warnambool, population about 1000-or-so. Last port of Victorian call. The ambience of a Sunday night in that town was predictably subdued. So we played a couple of games in a pool hall in which our only companions were the dude running the place and his mate. The music seemed stuck on a loop of Pink and P Diddy, and the jukebox was busted. Wandered to a local pub which had a cool little group of Irish musicians playing as the locals and us sipped our pints, after that. Then returned to the hostel about 11pm to the disappointment of finding three attractive – and apparently Scandinavian – girls who weren’t around when we first arrived.

Melb-Adelaide trip 2011 8

It was one of the best places we would stay – 12 bucks a night and they accepted van packers so we simply parked the van out the back and I set up the tent, with full use of the hostel’s facilities . . . except for the Scandinavians, of course. Internet access, big screen and sprawling couches safe from the outside winter. I spent an hour that night on one of the couches, reading In Cold Blood and scratching the neck of a resident black and white tomcat. The desk guy was 20ish, overweight and spent the night watching TV shows such as Dancing With the Stars with his mum and laughing hysterically. Other than that – and some Asians who spent half the night in the kitchen, making it difficult for us to cook our tinned soup and bread – it was a great place. An oddly enjoyable last night in Vic. The only dodgy but entertaining moment was when we first arrived and met a pudgy though tall, balding, squinty guy of roughly 45 who’d lived in The Bool all his life. Said he worked seven day weeks as a tree feller. Had probably done that all his life too. He’d made sudden plans to start over again in Broome. That’s north-west Western Australia. And his only companion was a poorly painted ute which screamed ‘serial killer’ as much as he did. The way he’d stare off into the distance, squinting even with the sun behind him, or penetrating your eyes while speaking of the abusive employer who drove him to flee made us worried he’d see said employer in one of us and wreak vengeance while we were slumbering. But such imaginings were unfounded and our only companion for the night was once again the cold. I should’ve crashed on the couch inside, curled up next to the black and white tom. Or, God forbid, one of the Scandanavians ladies.

Melbourne. Waves? Cold! Adelaide – part six

FORGOTTEN for a moment, was the pain of the damaged trip and board. While drinking and driving – not driving while drunk, I must specify – emerald green swathes of trees appeared ‘round a corner, descending into the heaving ocean and stopping only at the thin strip of tarmac and volcanic rock. We’d arrived at the Great Ocean Road, and under a sky blemished only with thin, sparse jet-stream cloud, it was putting on a feast for our eyes. Triple j’s broadcast dipped and rose as we hugged the turns with a vehicle which threatened to tip with only a 10 km breach of the speed limit. There wasn’t even much wind. We passed through a few refreshingly lifeless towns and got stuck behind the odd daydreamer, stopping a few times to sear particularly spectacular visions into our minds.


Not long before Lorne, home of the Falls Festival, we marvelled at incredible waves which had our surfing salivation slippery once more. Forgetting the water temperature, we appraised Lorne’s incredible right-hand-point potential and, as dusk deepened, decided to stay. This would be our first night exposed, me within a tent and Ross within Mortein, to a sleep with Victoria’s famous cold as our companions. But we were determined to have an enjoyable Saturday night nonetheless. First port of call was a backpacker hostel noticeably void of both cheap drinks and Swedish backpackers keen on sucking our toes. It was warm, though, and the average-looking redhead behind the bar who held ambitions as a dancer momentarily captured my attention. We approached the town’s main pub as the frost began to gather. There we met a bouncer from Los Angeles, a couple from Adelaide and Sydney and a group of clueless girl’s-night-outers from Geelong. The bouncer had mysterious business interests both native and Aussie. The couple met at a warehouse party in which she approached him and said ‘You’re cute’. To which he replied ‘Hell yes I am’. And the rest, as they say, was history, and so too thankfully was his rendition of what he called ‘The Octopus’: walking backward while gyrating his arms out in front of him. I was kinda hoping he’d go too far and fall into the freezing Southern Ocean. No luck. Ross bonded well with the LA bouncer because he’d been there. The Geelong girls were reasonably attractive and from the city of my birth, and they certainly felt the cold, in comparison to us, like they’d not lived further north for any serious period of time. Apart from that, and my disappointment and confusion at the pokie room closing early, it was a pretty uneventful night so we headed back. Well drunk after stopping at another club if only for the warmth, and of course the drinks, we had a feed of noodles with help from the much suffered for kettle, then slept blissfully until waking up freezing cold at 3am and dropping in and out of unconsciousness until the sun rose, birds started chirping, and the breaking waves drew us hither.

Around the corner west of Lorne

Around the corner west of Lorne

Melbourne. Waves? Cold! Adelaide – part five

WEDNESDAY, Thursday, Friday night – I’d not slept any of them very well. Too much fun to be had, and too much alcoholic dehydration, it seemed. Regardless, I wandered down to say goodbye to Chapel St while enjoying a breakfast of kiwi fruit (skin on, it’s totes normal), banana, mandarin, and breakfast sub. Plus the hostel’s complimentary upon return. The journey to West Footscray was painful, on account of lugging around a wheeled suitcase and a board cover within which less than half the weight was the board. Said weight was compounded by its girth, which my not so stubby arms struggled to encircle while I tried to avoid inadvertently knocking people out while manoeuvring through Melbourne’s public transport system. Ah, that trip. Getting to the city loop line was the easy part. What to do after that: a mystery. We encircled the city somewhere between twice and 20 times before finally switching at Flinders St and, a miracle, heading in the right direction, toward Geelong via Footscray. We arrived at the latter suburb, and it looked like a country town tacked onto a city in which people weren’t quite sure whether they were in fact urban or rural-ites. They seemed to fail at both. It was time for a taxi accommodating boards once more so we sat outside the station waiting for a yellow van, and watched the natives scurry for trains they’d very often and amusingly miss by agonising seconds. Watched a fat redheaded bogan chasing her fat redheaded son, yelling ‘Wait!’ like she was worried he’d be abducted by someone. My money was on anyone adopting that kid and giving him a more ample life, but that was probably a little pre-judicial of her parenting skills. Besides, she did catch up before he wound up on the tracks.

Melb-Adelaide trip 2011 7

Across the road from one of the biggest – and most sparsely grassed – cemeteries I’d ever seen, was the Wicked Campers depot. Jesus, imagine. While a talking point the rows, and rows, and yet more rows of ancient, crumbling and rusting tombstones certainly might be on your first day; just imagine after you’d been there a few months, on a bad day, when you’re actually envying the restful souls who are your neighbours. At least a Wicked depot worker probably works less strenuously than a dead person. We thought we were free and finally had wheels we could personally control, but we had to pay the cabbie; twice. He had one of those school fundraising chocolate things and asked, no, told us ‘You buy some chocolate. $1 for one and $5 for (get this) five’. Yeah, we said and I forked out a buck while Ross handed over a purple note. He was even in there spruiking his wares as we drove off in the van. The van. ‘Mortein’, as we came to name it, which you’ll understand if you keep reading. And, if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll already know one side of its paintwork. The other, inexplicably, had a painting of a rose with, even more inexplicably, a scroll wrapped around it with ‘Ouch’ written on it. Whatever. After small talking with the depot dude, who only treated us like human beings when he realised Ross worked for the company and was there to pick up a free van, we headed for Geelong and the Great Ocean Road. Geelong, ah Geelong. I was born there. We didn’t stop. They made a ring road ‘round Geelong a few years back, so we used it to bypass that sucker and get to where we wanted to go. Yes, the Great Ocean Road, but more precisely, the beach.

Geelong - taken during a more recent journey

Geelong – taken during a more recent journey

We both wondered why we’d taken so long to get there when we feasted our eyes on Fisherman’s Beach – the first left-hand turn we’d decided to take thanks to a beach sign’s prompting. Its ashen waters reflected a sombre sky hanging over small waves. But, there was little wind, and the whitewash we could see warmed the heart. The swell we could see at Bells Beach – one of the most famous point breaks in the world – boiled the blood. We were there about lunchtime and watched in awe as lines of swell marched in like an army of giants invading the southern coast from Antarctica. But shit those giants weren’t doing a great job; the water was crowded with surfers, and we both agreed we didn’t want to surf Bells just for the sake of surfing Bells, considering the crowd. Plus we hadn’t had lunch. So we had lunch. Then, after trying to check one place but giving up after we realised we’d walked a kilometre and still couldn’t see water, we came to Angelsea, where we both suffered knives to the face thanks to the cold water, and Ross suffered a death in the family. . . .

Melbourne. Waves? Cold! Adelaide – part four

Our journey's official flyer

Our journey’s official flyer

HE copped the board cover’s security tag full in the face, but I was just trying to mess around while unrolling it. The surf shop dude walked past and said ‘Shit, that was harsh’ then chuckled and walked off. Explanation: I’d obviously brought my board in a bag, but it was a cheap piece of crap, despite my mum’s best garage sale intentions, which looked upon arrival at the airport like it had been in a drunken Mexican knife fight after its journey through the airline baggage logistics. I wouldn’t normally need a board cover, especially once it had left the plane, but I was also carrying in it no less than, ahem: my tent, my sleeping bag, my towel, my wetsuit, wetsuit booties, detached fins, and my board, of course. It was one hell of a heavy bastard. So I bought another one. Also some board resin. And also a kettle bought specifically for the road trip we’d leave on the next day. Buying that cheap and nasty boiler seemed worse, ironically, than being boiled alive. We were savagely hungover after our visit to ‘England’ (read part three) and I was also sleep deprived. So we got lost in Target. I wanted to check the price of a notepad on one of the scattered self-serve scanners and got stuck behind this chick taking a million years to check the price of her countless dodgy-bogan-clothes. Then, the check-out chick seemed to be taking so much sweet time to serve that Ross, his senses rubbed raw, freaked out and had to leave while I unhappily waited to make the purchase. It was like Target was in a time-warp. Totally expected it’d be about 2050 when we finally stumbled out of its horrifying depths (it was an underground store). A bird shat on Ross outside after we’d been to a fancy French-esque bakery where you select the food yourself but there are no sneeze-screens. He was in for worse, of course, but didn’t know it yet (read part one). We went out that night, watched the Dandy Warhols, got much drunker than planned and went home minus any female contact . . . of course.