We are in danger of being swamped by Asians, is the gist of what I remember from Hansonism’s maiden voyage into the Australian consciousness. This was the ‘90s, when my focus was more on adolescent existentialism. But now we’re nearing the end of the first quarter of the 21st century, and history, as it does, is repeating itself. Now it’s a Muslim swamp we need worry about, apparently, which is not the least of the, nor the sole, irony, considering Islam sprung from the desert. What is a swamp, really? I see it as a stagnant body of water in which exist somewhat base creatures such as bacteria and fungi and frogs and birdlife. So was she saying Asians were bringing the swamp with them, way back when, or that our home was a swamp and they were going to en masse join us in the fetid pool? And surely she’s not saying Muslims are bringing the swamp, unless from certain parts of Indonesia or perhaps Malaysia outside of urban centres. So in this case ours must be the swamp? Or our home becomes a swamp upon letting them through the door? Or Asian and more recently Muslim culture is swamplike? Is she even capable of effective analogies?
Let’s leave the waste of consideration right there – is something I’d not normally say about anything. Because there is absolutely zero point in giving serious consideration to anything this crazy bitch and her political movement has to say about Australia or the outside world. Hanson is to a true reflection on this country what shaving is to using a broken, mouldy, rusted mirror: ineffective, distorted, and bloody. Now, forgive me for using the B word, but I’ve long been of the mind that if a man is a bastard or a woman is a bitch – especially those with baffling relevance and influence – they should be labelled as such. I guess a unisex term for the two could be: arseholes. But I’ll leave that up to you. There’s a reason why Hansonism, at least and almost exclusively (Cory Bernardi aside), deserves only some attention and zero consideration. It’s quite clear what her movement really is. Even clearer, now, than it used to be – as her policies and their appeals have not just expanded but also strengthened. Sometimes, this has occurred very recently, and on the run, such as in regard to vaccination. And obviously others are longstanding, and quite crystalised policies of hers.
Hanson is exploiting bigots and dullards’ ignorance and prejudices through her own intelligence and bigotry, which are just strong and restrained, respectively, enough to at all effectively do so. This is Hansonism II, and hopefully it goes the way of the first. I prefer not to believe that after this pimple of hatred whiteheads, pops, and heals, this country can’t learn from its two former mistakes and keep its damn face clean. I refuse to believe that Hansonism turns normally intelligent, tolerant people into stupid bigots, and that she simply empowers those who incurably are already. And I am absolutely convinced that the particular brand of hatred and ignorance she represents and propagates will be increasingly, if not ever totally, rejected by Australians in the future. It could get worse before it gets better. But if it were ever to become so strong it were considered mainstream, the tragic irony for me would be too much to bear. And if I at the time had children, I would fear for their future; and if I did not yet have children, I would never have children, to spare them the crushing dystopia their potential country had become.
The human race is at or approaching many of its to date most consequential crossroads – Hansonism and Trumpism and Putinism and Kimism and the like, being not the least of them. We must reject hatred and bigotry and exploitation and oppression and inequality wherever we can. Because if we don’t, or not enough of us do, or not enough of us do often enough, we may all be fucked.
The poor bastard. I get it now. He’s in over his head. He realised not all that long ago he was nothing but a brand. Otherwise useless to anyone but himself. So he ran with it. He put his name on everything he could. And in the superficial morass the late-capitalistic USA has become, it served him well. Money fell out of people’s pockets and, seemingly, the sky. Of course whenever he tried to do something entirely unfeasible, his brand failed. Brand power can only twist reality, not outright destroy it. But he held true to the brand because he knew he was on to a long-term winner that would serve him well until his death. Not that it would do his reputation, among from his closest friends and family to the most distant cave-dweller remotely aware of him, much good. But it was never about reputation. It was about money. And power. And both. And he was and is and always will be insatiable.
Now, he’s the President of the United States of America. This was not intended. He figured he’d run in the primaries. It would improve his brand. He won the primaries. It was unexpected. Hell, he thought, I guess I might as well go up against Hillary. It would improve his brand. He won. Totally unexpected. Somewhere in his tiny, simian brain he had earlier thought “Surely they won’t actually be stupid enough to vote in a man who has no political experience and heads a business empire that would be a spectacular failure if it weren’t propped up by little but his gargantuan ego and baffling celebrity and the couple of actually competent people who’d managed to slip into his staff”. But they did. And here we all are watching one man basically tell the rest of the fucking world “You’re fired!” (Or more crudely: “Fuck off!”) Except they’re not accepting his dismissal. And the frustration this causes him is hilariously agonising, or agonisingly hilarious, to watch.
So I guess I can sympathise if not empathise with him. I have my own weaknesses and character flaws, as do we all. The difference is I and many others who are not paranoid, delusional, megalomaniac narcissists, are discrete with our weaknesses and character flaws. We admit them where necessary. Deal with them. Manage them. Play instead to our strengths. Whereas he plays to his weaknesses so relentlessly – and only in America could relentless indulgence of weakness prove so fruitful – that if the man has strengths, I have no goddamned idea what they are. He might not know either, because in the upside down and inside out reality of the existence he’s crafted for and around himself, he actually seems to see his flaws and weaknesses as strengths. I mean, it’s fucking sad – to use a word he enjoys abusing in his unappreciated, ironically Orwellian Tweeting.
So where to from here? It’s hard to see for Trump. (Plus to be honest, I don’t really care.) If he’s not assassinated or impeached – the former being unlikely because all the assassinatey types are his supporters, and the latter because if he was under threat of being impeached he’d probably find a way to change the law so impeachment is impossible – I guess he’ll just get back to cashing in his dignity for more money and power. Only he might not have any dignity left that he doesn’t manufacture in his own damaged mind after what will surely continue to be an entertainingly sad – there’s that word again – up to but hopefully not including four years (eight!?) in power. And to repeat, to be honest, I don’t really care. For the world? Well hopefully we’ll all take a collective sigh of relief as Marine One takes him from the White House for the last time (or as he’s dragged through the streets and pelted with rotten tomatoes, then tarred and feathered and placed in a stockade for more tomato target practise for a while).
And ensure that an IGNORANT, EGOMANIACAL, NARCISSISTIC, HATEFUL, LYING, BIGOTED PSYCHOPATH IS NEVER AGAIN GIVEN THE POWER, THROUGH SUPPOSED DEMOCRACY, TO LITERALLY DESTROY THE HUMAN RACE! Ahem. I guess I’m reassured by the fact that his rise to power has emboldened his like-minded (magnanimous of me to refer to them as “minded” at all, no?). Why? Because if the world or at least the US, for starters, decides to vote into power men or women who actually wish to lead the human race to a better place – instead of divide us into easily controllable and perhaps crushable groups based on superficial barely recognisable differences – I know that their like-minded becoming emboldened will revolutionise the universe. If Trump doesn’t get us all nuked in the meantime. . . .
It’s easy. It’s so, so easy. I guarantee you that being right-wing is easier than spilling water from a chicken-wire cup. You see, it takes effort to create things, like a socialist (not (an especially Soviet) Communist, which has never really been a thing), or destroy things (mostly philosophically, and from the argument that destruction is a form of creation), like an anarchist. But to be right-wing, all you need to do is keep things just the way they are. Or try your hardest to, which not even ironically isn’t really very hard. (Because calculated laziness masquerading as conscientiousness is both contagious and addictive, hence its popularity in the form of conservative votes on polling day in most liberal democracies, most of the time.) Unfortunately, the way things are is the way things always have been, to varying degrees: sexist, racist, violent, bigoted, desolate, exploitative and massively disparate in terms of every form of wealth and happiness. So it’s reasonable to suggest that if you prefer things the way they are, you must be obscenely rich, evil, dumb, or all three. Which would also make you (quite literally) comfortably (because it’s like sitting in an armchair and making everyone else sit on the cold hard ground) right-wing.
“But surely,” you interject, “it can’t be that simple to be that at once greedy, bigoted and self-righteous?” you foolishly query. Well, I respond, it is. Though there are some guidelines to follow, or dispositions, if you will, to adopt for you to out-dummy all those already blissfully happy right-wing dummies:
You’ve got to hate everyone and everything. Immigrants, natives, the poor, the (more) rich, different sexualities, different religions, different politics – basically anyone and anything who or that is in any way different to you. And then hate them/it to the degree in which they/it are/is different to you. Difference, as a right-winger, scares you. Your natural instinct might now still be that understanding difference reduces or eliminates fear of it. But over time, you will twist that instinct on its head to rightly, pun intended, boast a muscularly white hot reactionary fear of any and all difference. Things that are different to you, my proud beginning conservative, are the reason why your life isn’t better (or so you must believe). So if you hate them, and vote for a representative who shares your hatred, such hated might either go away or become more like you. The hated don’t have rights, because you’re right, because you’re gosh darned right-wing. Good on you.
- Wilful Ignorance
Like hatred, but useful otherwise and only in that it should be avoided at all costs, the enemy of the conservative is enlightenment. Enlightenment makes gays appear human. Enlightenment makes a (justified, but you will learn to wholly reject that or at least defend and strike out against it) mockery of religion. Enlightenment dares to reveal that guns, while not the sole cause of mass shootings, are almost certainly the major contributing factor. Enlightenment scares you. And what do we do with fear? Particularly fear of worldly knowledge? Avoid it, through wilful ignorance. The GLBTIQ Mardi Gras Festival just came on TV? Change it to Sky/Fox News, where it will at least be covered more accurately if at all. You just read that society’s better off with equal participation and remuneration of women in the workforce? Go buy a Zoo Magazine. Global Warming wetting your collar? Crank up the air-conditioner, buy some fossil-fuel company shares, and/or buy a faster/louder car. You don’t need pesky facts and reality compromising your principles. So bury your head in the sand or up your arse or up another right-winger’s arse. You will be safe there, you will be welcome, and, and because, you will be so deliciously deliberately ignorant.
Now, you don’t actually have to be wealthy. But you do have to not only want to be wealthy, but expect against even the worst odds or logic that you will be. These are the two wealth-related conditions you must satisfy before you can become right-wing. And there are no – I repeat no – allowances for contradictions on this point (though hypocrisy is fine, and there’s more on that). For example, let’s say you’re a successful, at least upper middle-class artist, but you support immigration and multiculturalism. You’re not a conservative. You own a chain of popular restaurants, but you’re a fan of hospitality industry penalty rates. You are not a conservative. You’re the CEO/director of a Fortune 500 (or national equivalent outside the US) company, but your employees like you and feel equally valued regardless of gender, race, religion, sexuality or disability. My friend, if you’re a conservative, you’re doing much too damn good a job of pretending not to be. You have to be – or one day expect to be – unashamedly, un-empathetically and never satisfactorily wealthy. While also denying it so much as you have the power to from all but the most un-deserving and already so materialistically disposed.
Told you it would come up again. Being right-wing, though inherently simple, requires certain conscious and maybe complex but conveniently and strictly managed contradictions. You don’t have to be a good person to be conservative, but you do have to infallibly appear to be so. This is a vague but still prominent rule. Religion? It helps, but is not absolutely necessary. The important thing is that if you are a religious conservative you, again infallibly, appear to be so. You can’t, for example, be against infidelity and promiscuity on an especially religious basis yet be found to have committed adultery on numerous occasions. The economy? This one’s definitively simple. You must convincingly profess to intend vast and ever-rising wealth upon all, but so much as is in your power actually direct the most wealth upon those already most wealthy. It is the most simple of the rules: say one (or many if you like) universally pleasing thing(s) in public, and do other, elitist pleasing things in (concretely) private. Your right-wing stocks should dramatically rise or fall on how well you adhere to this rule.
- Repression, Repetition and Regression
That’s right: the right-wing three Rs. To become and stay conservative you will enlist these words in your every introspective and extroverted thought or action. Order of their use is not as important as the flexibility of their use in response to need. You just found a member of the same sex vaguely attractive? Simply repress it. You wish to convince your electorate and/or teenage son that marijuana possession should remain illegal (despite the actual fact that its personal use is far less harmful to anyone’s long term future than is a criminal record)? Repeat such spurious reason, indefinitely. You find the opportunity as a member of the public, at least, to declare that workers have too many rights? Or as a politician, at most, to actually strip workers of rights? Do it. To regress and to force regression on others is if not at, then very close to the cold, barely beating heart of the conservative. The right-wing three Rs are your sword, shield, and steed, whenever needed. Unflinchingly weild them in your war for stagnation, apathy and homogeneity – always.
All of anything, as long as it’s the right (again, pun intended) thing, is never enough for a conservative. Even if it’s the wrong thing, in excess, by being right-wing you can actually legitimise it. Alcohol is a prime example. Traditionally anathema to conservatives, both in practice and as preached, a drink or even many can be acceptable if it’s your sole departure or at worst one of very few departures from moral prudishness. Wealth, also, depending on fashion might be seen as an objectively undesirable excess. There is one not necessarily terribly costly word you can use to maintain appearances, if so: philanthropy. Hypocrisy is also a useful practice to again engage in, in the management of excess. To return to alcohol: you can be at once an alcoholic and proponent of prohibition. But, in such case, you must keep your alcoholism private. And if your hypocrisy was to be discovered, the simple yet painful solution: give up, unreservedly, one of the contrary practices. In the case of right excesses – go nuts. You’ll be the envy (another important conservative trait) of your contemporaries, and a useful focus of hysterical derision from those poor goody two-shoes on the left. Pity them. They are deserving of nothing else from you.
The purest and simplest to follow of the conservative dispositions. The source of all your energy, and the manifestation of all your beliefs and actions. “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interrèd with their bones.” – Mark Antony, from Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. Evil gives you strength, and strengthens conservatism itself long after you’re gone. The evil that Adolf Hitler and the (about as far right-wing as you can get) Nazi Third Reich inherited lives on, now, in such phenomena (and so, so deliciously ironically (yet in all seriousness, which this post is only barely and satirically engaging in, tragically)) as apartheid Israel. You are the bearer of the flame of evil, and your purpose is to spread it among the ever tinder dry grasses of humanity. That said, you needn’t fear good. As Shakespeare observed, it will die with you – and serves during life merely to sustain you, your family and your fellow right-wingers. You may use and impart good on others only in order that it might serve as a suitably obscene foundation for the proliferation of evil. Evil is your purpose, the very essence of your being. And, God (who the best among you will come to usefully know does not exist) willing, it will not be defeated nor diminished by those opposing it with the loftiest good.
Hate, ignorance, wealth, hypocrisy, the three right-wing Rs, excess, and evil. These are the seven main weapons at your disposal in the war of the right-wing against what is perfectly ironically (objectively) right. Because wrong is the best word you can take away on your continued journey of conservatism. You are wrong. Seek it. Accept it. Enjoy it. Perfect its use. Let it direct your every thought and action. Know that what is wrong for the world is right for you. That what is right for you is wrong for the world. Ingrained and projected selfishness is what you should practice and strive for with your every breath. I’m sure you’re at least beginning to see that it really is so very simple. Like slipping into a hot bath, being right-wing requires fleeting moments of initial pain and weakness, then acclimatised pleasure and strength lasting as long as you are willing to turn and keep turning the faucet of wrong. But remember your core aim: to prevent change. Like all things bad, it really is so, so easy. And like all things wrong, it should feel, and motivate you to be so, so very, very right.
Hockey’s hints. Or: how I learned to stop worrying and just got a good job http://ab.co/1L08b8r #abcnews
Not sure if I’ve ever shared a non-Wordpress article to WordPress, until now. But this humorous takedown of Joe Hockey’s ivory towering comments on home ownership is well worth the mention. Let them live in four bedroom northern suburbs Sydney mcmansions!
Serendipity: it’s gotta be one of my top 10 favourite words. It happens, sometimes. And I’d be very interested to hear examples from people reading this of it happening to them. For me, and I guess everyone, it’s when a strange and seemingly coincidental confluence of events conspires to a certain result or series of results. In the dictionary it’s defined as a fortunate thing, and obviously its antonym is simply “misfortune” – which is self-explanatory. Why am I blithering on about this pleasantly effecting and sounding word? Well, the other day I was just about to pull into my street after driving to check the waves and have a beer at the surf club, when a song called Freaking Out The Neighbourhood by Mac DeMarco came on the radio. So, not really having a lot better to do, I dis-engaged the indicator and kept on driving in order to “freak out the neighbourhood”. I wasn’t actually going to try and freak anyone out, you understand. It’s not true to my character. I did think about screaming something out the car window at some guys playing cricket, but I consider people who do that (screaming out car windows) to be wankers. If any other song with similarly accessible inspirations had come on the radio – such as a song about driving or exploring – I would have done exactly the same thing. I do have “my family stickers are stupid” stuck in multi-coloured letters to the top of my car’s rear hatch, but that’s designed more to convince people that the stickers themselves are for various reasons stupid, not that I necessarily think anyone who buys them is. And I doubt anyone would describe it exactly as “freaky”. If you can’t tell, I try to be a diplomatic, as opposed to definitively aggressive or submissive, yet not always quiet person; which in my mind works better for the playing out of serendipitous, as opposed to unfortunate, events. I did graze my face and almost break my neck on a sand bank while surfing a couple of days earlier, but that was merely a result of a slight misjudgement on my part. Plus I hadn’t surfed in a while, and was clearly out of practise.
So anyway, I’ve kept driving past my street and through not terribly less familiar roads. I didn’t plan on making this the start of some kind of four-wheeled Forrest Gump-style rambling around the country deal, however. Instead I was just going to drive around the area until the song finished. Call me crazy, but I felt at the time like something interesting was going to happen. It was almost like a premonition. So I kept intuitively going along for the ride I’d found myself on and, after passing the cricketers, came to a road that I’d only driven down once, when I was much younger. A mate, my brother and I were hitting golf balls during the night at the nearby sports field. A couple of the balls landed heavily on the roof of the netball clubhouse during this particular act of misspent youth, and inevitably we heard a siren sound somewhere in the distance. Without being quite sure what type of siren it was, nor exactly how close, we jumped in the car and hid for a while down the street in question. Equally strange, if not serendipitous times. This time, I chose to drive down the street for political reasons. All things considered, about who I am, what I value and how I perceive the world and my humble place in it, I would consider myself a politically centre-left-aligned person. So I decided to turn left into this street because of that factor. Kind of silly, but there it is. Obviously I turned 90 degrees to the left instead of the 135 that would have accurately symbolised the centre-left, but had I done that I would have crashed into the house on the corner; which was well more than any even incidental freaking out of anyone else that I intended on doing. So instead I’m cruising down the street with the intention of then returning home via whatever route after the song which inspired the whole journey had ended, when I spot a bunch of stuff out the front of someone’s house accompanied by a sheet of white ply-wood with “free” written on it in black lettering. As far as four letter words go, at least when used in a positive context, that would have to be my favourite. The song ended and passed quite seamlessly from my mind, as I did a u-turn and drove back to investigate.
There was a whole range of stuff like tools, clothes and kitchenware there of various degrees of use to certain people. The only thing I regret not grabbing was a jigsaw puzzle or two. As far as I know, besides helping out with them, I’ve never completed one on my own before and was at the time keen to give it a go. But just like the song which started all this, it slipped from my mind. This was possibly because of some the books on display: a quite impressive collection of classics such as Homer’s Odyssey and 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (both of which I already own and have read gleefully). I had in fact read the about four or five or a couple more classics arrayed before me, so my eyes turned to the others. You can tell a lot about a person or indeed a family by what they read, and had I bothered I could have gleaned a fair bit from really scrutinising each one of them. But I was keen to go surfing that afternoon, so wished not to tarry long. I ended up settling on five books, which was perhaps excessive considering I was at the time going through a phase of not reading as much as usual: When in Rome by Penelope Green, Blind Date by R L Stine, Dad and Me by Sarah Bryden-Brown, Song of Songs by Beverley Hughesdon and Christine Marion Fraser’s King’s Croft – the latter of which is unfortunately the first of a series, so I think I’ll be looking to move it on. Two things troubled me, as I finished a cigarette and put it in my car’s ashtray: even in our burgeoning age of digital media is it ethical to take five perfectly good books from someone’s possession despite the fact they’d advertised them as free; and is it insulting to ask someone who had advertised something as free if they’re sure they wouldn’t like money in return for its transfer of ownership. I decided on the latter course of action; figuring it was instead considerate rather than insulting, and said to the teenage boy who came to the door: “Just making sure you you don’t want any money for these books?”
“No,” he said. “It’s fine; they’re free.”
“Thanks a lot,” I said, and left. Then I went surfing with a mate. It wasn’t very good, and a lifesaver on a jet ski came over to us at one point and told us a tiger shark had been spotted in the area. So we got the hell out of there straight away and as quickly as possible, without appearing to be panicking. As my friend said: “I’m not going to risk losing a leg for those waves.” And obviously at the highly unfortunate possibility of being maimed or killed by a shark, the serendipity ended.
Bikie gangs, as in the outlaw motorcycle type, are great. Agreed? No? A couple of yesses? But mostly no, right? Well, perhaps you’re misguided. Been consuming too much mainstream media, haven’t you? Tsk tsk. No, wait, don’t go. Stay, please. I’m going somewhere with this. Clarification: based on what bikie gangs have been up to lately according to the media, I don’t really like them. And nor might most people who keep honest jobs and grudgingly bleed taxes and the ever-proverbial cost of living through their work-worn fingernails. The bastards are basically a bunch of buttholes. Bikies, that is – and yes, also elements of the too dominant centre-right media. Take what happened at the Gold Coast’s swanky Broadbeach area the other day. Hypothetically, if I was a bit of a toff I might have been dining there with my effeminate male frenemies (erm, friends who are enemies, duh) during just another night in my narcissistic bubble of a life. Then, whammo! While taking a sip of an overpriced craft beer and smirking at Peter’s joke about the pitiful lower-class, a brawling group of large, smelly and blanket-tattooed men has gone sprawling across our table – fists a whirlin’. Poor Pete still hasn’t got the beer and blood stains out of his designer jeans. This actually happened. Not to me, but to some Broadbeach toffs and tourists a week or so back. Out, rageous – literally. As in they were out, and in a rage. C’mon, it wasn’t that bad. Aw you’re no fun.
Anyways, the city and state’s media and government quickly reacted to this incident – that basically amounted to a social sewer main bursting into and spilling through the country’s tourist capital – in order to protect the Coast’s flawless, cough, image from being further despoiled. In the days since, a crackdown creatively named Taskforce Takeback has been announced by the police, at the behest of politicians launching five-second sound-bite fire and brimstone from their ivory towers. They’ve been pulling over choppers, raiding bikie dens and generally cracking some rebel skull. Y’know, all that fun cop stuff. But I guess this is as good a point as any for me to explain why I said that bikie gangs are great. It’s because the guys the fuzz are hell-bent on destroying, assuming an absence of corruption, are not, actually, really, totally authentically, bikies. They’re what’s known as Nike Bikies – young, roided up, excessively tattooed thugs, gangsters and standover men who may never have actually ridden anything with two wheels in their likely to be short lives. Hence their distaste for bikin’ boots and love instead for expensive, child-slavery endorsing sneakers. Every Australian town and city has its problems with these guys, but it makes sense the festering pimple their sub-culture is should come to a throbbing whitehead at the Sunburnt Country’s own Sin City – which somewhat ironically is the actual name of an Orchid Ave, Surfers Paradise nightclub probably owned and/or run by bikies.
Understand, I’m not the most pro-establishment guy myself. In fact I reckon this country while doing well economically right now is in danger in the long-term of becoming a right-wing, un-egalitarian, environmentally degraded nightmare. Not to mention cultural backwater. Yet I hope to be proven wrong in my old age. So I kinda sympathise with real bikies. As far as I know the whole outlaw bikie thing came about largely as a result of the Vietnam War. Blokes came back home from being shot at in ‘Nam only to be spat on by hypocritically militant anti-war protesters, and thought: ‘You know what? Fuck it. My government fucked me over, and now my countrymen and women couldn’t give a flying fuck that I put my life at risk to save them from the scourge of Communism.’ (I’d apologise for the language, but it’s unlikely most of these guys are above profanities.) So they grew epic beards, cut the sleeves off their leather jackets, got their mums to stitch a cool club emblem on the back and, most importantly, bought Harleys. Of course they also got inked, but not to the same excess as their young, dumb and full of (s)cum wannabes we’re lately seeing splashed across the news every morning and night. Even if I’m stereotyping with the former, then theirs is still a better cliché than those we’re terming ‘bikies’ these days. Check ‘em out: they probably have no real reason that wasn’t their own fault to rebel against the establishment, they don’t have beards and most of them are probably more likely to name their equally unfortunately dim-witted offspring ‘Harley’, than they are to purchase one. And those fucking head-to-toe tattoo jobs. I remember a while back seeing a Coast one on the news with a swastika on his neck. Please. Word to the wise: it used to just be deeply offensive to get a Nazi tattoo. Nowadays, it’s also in pretty bloody piss-poor taste.
So what do we need to do about this social fungus growing in our otherwise peaceful suburban utopias? Well, nothing, really. We pay the taxes; the cops take out the trash. At least that’s the way it’s s’posed to go. Ultimately while the social filth laps at our comparatively pious doorsteps you should generally understand that it’s not the real bikies we should blame. They aren’t all bad. In fact I recall that they sometimes do charitable things like mass – if often police shepherded – rides in support of such things as anti-child abuse campaigns. Yep, believe it or not, deep beneath the leather, scars, facial hair and glowering countenance of your average bikie dwells a heart of gold. And if you’re concerned they’re selling drugs to your children then, well, perhaps that’s more your fault for not keeping an eye on the brats than it is the poor maligned bikie’s for simply tryin’ to make a fringe-dwellin’ livin’. Then again, perhaps not. Only remember: just as not all Muslims are terrorists; not everyone who claims to be a bikie is authentic about it. More likely, they’re wannabes. Fringe-dwellers among fringe-dwellers. And when you’ve got a society that permits people who are mostly full of shit, with a pinch of evil, to run rampant; perhaps it’s not the fringe that people should be looking at when planning to “Takeback” their community, but the rotten apples at its core. In other words: it’s easy and sometimes right to blame the guy in the gutter; but dismiss blaming the guy who used your money to construct the gutter at your own peril.
Kingswood rocked so hard it was almost scary (and were in fact blurry, going by the above smart phone photo). This is about all I can remember from their Red Deer Music & Arts Festival 2013 performance. Not sure if it was the bass bleeding my ears or the BYO beer soaking my brain cells, or both, but the devastation their set wreaked remains but a shadow on my rock and roll soul. Then shit got real hazy. I can vaguely remember my brother hoisting the empty of all but soft drink esky on to his ex-personal trainer and labourer’s shoulders, as we prepared to depart for more alcohol. Then I recall us saying hi to three couples gathered around a campfire on a property between the festival site and the house we were staying at. They said nothing in return. One of them may have cocked a gun and spat tobacco at our feet. Then finally my brother passed out in front of home base and, despite my best efforts, would not be roused so we went to our beds instead of catching headline act The Grates. I woke up with barbed-wire-wounds on my hands, possible concussion from falling over deer fences and to sunlight hitting my hungover eyes like a truck.
In regard to malevolent figurative or actual trucks, as proof “these things come in threes”, the festival’s story from my perspective began early on Saturday September 7 – while most of my fellow countrymen and women were busy misguidedly ushering in Tony Abbott’s xenophobic and economically elitist right-wing government. Brisbane City had gloriously revealed itself from my mobile vantage-point atop Mount Gravatt, as I steered my car north along the Pacific Motorway. Presently one of those orange-texted traffic conditions signs stated there was congestion on the Riverside Expressway, beside the CBD. “How bad could it be?” I thought of the expressway, that I’d never had any trouble with especially at noon on a Saturday. Margaret, Elizabeth, Turbot and Herschel Streets into the city were all missed as rat-runs I could have used to escape traffic inching along the expressway. I needed Kelvin Grove Rd, which after becoming Samford Rd would lead me to Mount Samson, under whose evening shadow Red Deer would be projecting its progressive vibes north, south and eastward.
After an hour spent feeling the skin on my right arm sizzle in the spring sun I finally discovered the source of the congested calamity, where the M3 split from Coronation Dr and usually took cars north toward the Sunshine Coast. All manner of emergency vehicles had blocked the ramp, where a truck (the first of “these things”) had apparently lost its shit and crashed. Trusting in my metallic-voiced GPS, I had no choice but to continue along Coronation Dr then turn north along Park Rd, Milton, and get back on track. When I was confronted my yet more traffic, and I swear my sun-shrivelled right arm shrieked in alarm. An ALDI truck (second of “these things”) was sitting under the rail overpass, and someone was motioning for it to reverse. “Ah,” I thought, “it’s ok: he’s just waiting for the right moment to back up and deliver his German-owned and probably Asian-made goods.” Then the truck driver got out and wandered around his truck, shrugging. The horrific reality of the truth finally hit me and almost had me returning home convinced the gods were angry with me that day: the ALDI rig had gotten stuck under the rail bridge.
Eventually, of course, I found myself on Kelvin Grove Rd, from whence there were no more traffic related problems. I was frustrated at a service station about 30 minutes later by a fat old guy in full bits-per-inch futuristic army camouflage, who was taking forever to choose his brand of bogan juice (energy drink) and blocking access to the good old fashioned water I wished to purchase. Talk about two worlds colliding. Then at Samford Central shopping centre, I left my wallet open while handing over money for my salmonella chicken wrap to the decayed-teeth late-teen chick apparently in charge of the entire shop at lunchtime. “That’s a nice photo,” she said.
“Thanks,” said I.
“I look like a criminal in mine, because you’re not allowed to smile anymore.”
I tried not to hesitate too long while also trying to avoid staring at her brown choppers, before saying: “I guess I’ll keep mine (taken about a decade ago, when I was 20) until I die, then.” The awful drive had all but killed my good spirits. Had she not been friendly, I may have snapped when after a 20 minute wait I brought the food toward my lips and noticed a piece of chicken at the wrap’s edge was barely cooked. With valiant calm I threw the offending morsel out, took the plunge on the rest of it and continued on to the house I was staying at nearby the festival – while trying to ignore imaginations that my stomach was already sending bad-meat-bacteria to my brain that might ironically render me a vegetable for the rest of my life.
The beginning of the end began as it always does: with that first sip, while we sat on the veranda looking down the valley toward Lake Samsonvale. Red Deer was audibly already in action somewhere nearby. After a short walk down the road the four of us set foot through refreshingly lax security into the dual-stage festival while Bec Laughton was in the middle of shaking her little pink hotpants through a jazz and hip hoppy set. I’d decided to take the $400US Canon I’d bought last year in San Francisco. And it was the catalyst for my being accosted by a Hawaiian shirt wearing rugby union playing type. He insisted on taking my photo, citing the somewhat dubious observation that photographers rarely have their photos taken. At some point during his drunken rambling a young blonde woman poked her head past him to wish me a happy World Beard Day, and disappeared. Then my brother joined us after using the men’s and immediately clashed with the large loud shirted and overbearing photographic sympathiser. Understand, the only “music” festival my brother has ever been to is the pill-popping and flesh flashing Gold Coast Spit event: Summafieldayze. Moments later, I told him he needn’t bring the same levels of testosterone-fuelled defensiveness required at that aforementioned celebration of boganism to Red Deer. We sat down with our two friends as triple j’s Sarah Howells began a very blues and rootsy dj set, and were almost immediately confronted by a horrific sight.
Many people had returned to their BYO couches and beers from the stage-front after Bec Laughton. One young blonde woman, carrying at least 40 kilograms more than was healthy, had also returned to her group which happened to be sitting right in front of us. It was time for her to change out of her party dress into warmer clothes and, my God in Heaven, did we get a show. Details aside, let’s just say we by her getting changed in front of us had unwittingly and not pleasurably been ushered “backstage” to her performance. I tried harder than most around me to avoid looking at, while stifling laughter, the train wreck unfolding in front of us. Think of my reaction as being similar to Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now, repeating: “The horror. The horror.” Fortunately, a man wearing a bear onesie who had just won Howells’ costume dance competition walked past, and I put “the horror” behind me by congratulating him. One of our number headed off to get and then return with pizza, and we sat in the last of that day’s early spring sunshine washing them down with cold beer while Bobby Alu strummed his way through some folksy reggae grooves. All 1000-or-so of us were collectively aware that Tony Abbott’s iron-budgie-smuggler right-wing reign was about then being ushered in across the nation around our left-leaning, progressive bubble. Such anxiety could have contributed to the couple of scuffles that broke out nearby. Or it could have as usual been about women. Or perhaps some bogans might’ve gotten through hard to spot security. Impossible to be sure. As the sun set behind Mount Samson and the temperature dropped, I headed back to the homestead to collect my jacket – a trip for which I sacrificed listening to The Dashounds’ apparently bunny-suited drummer bash out some tunes.
Turned out the best way to get past the deer fence separating the festival’s VIP camping area and the property at which I was staying, was to simply fall almost spastically drunk over it. Then another couple of barbed wire cattle fences were surmounted, and I was away, my possibly emphysema-afflicted lungs struggling to power me up the hill. I was momentarily stopped by the fact the former serviceman head of the household had locked up the house tighter than a hillbilly fortress. Fortunately, some of the beers were stored outside. Plus his wife ended up responding to my text messages in query of a hidden key, and eventually appeared to unlock the place so I could get my leather. The return journey was vague. Memory had already become unreliable. The alcohol had reached my brain. Chance Waters’ future car commercial indie pop was lulling Red Deer’s crowd into a false sense of security upon our return. I remember by this point we’d lost the other two of our number, one of them being pregnant and all, and the other being her husband. I’d become engaged in a deep and meaningful bromance with the guy sitting next to me on the esky, who was literally my brother. We continued our D ‘n’ M as Kingswood took to the stage and shattered the peace for kilometres around. It was a lot like trying to carry a heartfelt conversation through the first sparks of a violent revolution, so great was the noise and so frenetic the mosh pit. And considering what was taking place in Canberra about then, I wouldn’t have objected to an actual uprising. It was about this time that things had started to become weird, in the form of the attractive lone young woman who had been loitering close to my brother’s left for several minutes. I leaned in front of him and said something like: “Hey, how are you?” And she vanished to our rear in a flurry of blonde hair. Then we had other problems. Kingswood had finished, as evidenced by rivers of blood from peoples’ ears beginning to dry on the grass and in a large pool in front of the stage. The Grates were yet to hit the stage. But alas, we were out of piss. And we both fully intended on returning at the time, but barbed wire wounds to my hands remain better evidence than actual memories that we even tried. And ultimately failed.
Way back. In San Francisco, I believe. In the figurative shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge, I commented somewhat ironically in my journal about how important the very same was as a source of comfort and companionship in the absence of predictable others. While travelling alone. The outlet had gotten me through: jet lag in LA; giddying pleasure in SF; incarceration in Yosemite; I Fought The Law And The Law Won-related post traumatic stress while escaping from California; intoxicating solitude through the US Pacific north-west; contempt in Vancouver; disgust and suffered abuse in Las Vegas; death’s-door sickness in New Orleans; ultimately doomed feelings of love in New York; doomed feelings of love in Brighton; and finally recovering from rejection while fortunately staying with very extended family in London – perhaps the most impersonal and alienating city I’ve ever come across. Vancouver then New York would rate second and third, respectively. For more than two months, it had accepted my inner-most thoughts while I shielded it from rain and maybe theft.
There were times when I left the notepad simply under my hostel pillow while I journeyed during the day or bar-hopped during the night. In such a situation I would often feel guilty; like I’d left my young child at home unattended. My parasitic dependence on my journal was quite clearly indicative of my introversion. It was a friend I could pick up and discard at my convenience. Just like regular socialising, using it as a passive listener to express myself would exhaust me, as is the way of introverts. But I would swig all the more heartily at the bottle of life for the knowledge that I could recycle the energy gloriously onto its non-judgemental paper. And now, in respect of my efforts, at least, dear reader; its service has come full circle. The details it kept mostly hidden (except for my side-story about riding a Dragon through cold wet skies in the north-west USA) have after more than six months almost all been committed to Word Press. And whether you’ve been loving my story or judging it, the next move should you want to make one is yours.
It’s Thursday night, September 5 – two days before a conservative Australian government is swept into power on the back of paranoia and misinformation. A warm, windless early-spring evening. Blues In Hoss’ Flat by The Gene Harris Quartet plays on my phone through the Pandora app. I received a probably taxpayer-funded anti-Greens pamphlet from Brisbane, today, that I spent a 50c stamp on to send back to the Joseph Goebbels admirer who initially sent it. Instead of a Saturday night spent watching Tony Abbott’s impending prime ministership secured over the Telly. And my status as a young progressive in a land of the elderly and bigoted further maligned. I’ll be at the Red Deer Festival, west of Brisbane, with my exuberant pregnant semi-retired geologist half-sister and her resourceful strong-quiet-type husband. And my notes tell me Dublin’s coast in the evening sunlight was “quite enthralling from the air”. It was less-so from the ground. At Los Angeles, the US-Canada border, San Francisco (linking to Las Vegas from Vancouver) and Heathrow, London, at the end of all of my international transitions so far, I had been confronted by angsty or simply unhappy customs officials. Not so in Dublin.
My experience of customs there consisted of almost precisely: “Where did you fly from? For how long are you here? Have a nice stay.” Then a stamped passport. Delightful. I’d later come to the conclusion that the city and country desperately and almost no questions asked needed tourists and their money. I must’ve ordered a drink at Dublin Airport before heading into the city, because I wrote: “One thing I have to remember to find out is why do they give you a receipt for everything – even drinks at a bar – in Dublin, without being asked.” Still haven’t. Found out, that is. Considering the Irish reputation, alcohol is probably tax-deductible regardless of employment purposes. Maybe just for Guinness. That’s just about all I drank. Almost constantly. I caught the Airlink bus south to the, ahem, “city”. Naturally by 4pm it was already dark. I got off about a 15 minute walk south of my west-Rotunda area hostel, and reasoned it was a good tactic for which to familiarise myself with the area straight up. Google maps simply helps you get around, while hard-earned local knowledge helps you at least survive or, at most, have fun. After checking in, I turned right around and set forth for a night out in a city in which family removed by hundreds of years surely lingered amid the lamp-lit, cobblestoned streets.