Wednesday, June 28, 2006

B.N.O. (Bowells Not Open)

Even tho I've worked as a nurse for many years I'm still bemused at the actual minutiae of the job, especially in aged care where there has to be a holistic approach covering the residents for many years, until they die. One of the biggest obsessions is the bowel movements of the oldies, for they can go weeks without shitting if not watched closely, lying in bed with little exercise as they do and with the sloppy food that gets sludged into them setting like concrete in their guts. We have to go into the finest details, how many times a day they went, what was it's colour and consistency, hard balls or liquid flood, any blood or foreign objects, if they had a laxative or did they self-manually evacuate it, (yes, some of them actually stick their fingers up their arse or get a nurse to do it for them, something I absolutely refuse to do!) I hate the sight and smell of shit and luckily, as the boss registered nurse, I just get to point at the mess and my assistants clean it up. I have 2 University degrees and several world prizes in ART but little did I know I'd end my days counting turds, what a bring-down for my brat's hubris!

I've said it before and I'll say it again, "old age is wicked, nursing homes are wickeder." You'd think that in the twilight years humans would be allowed to rest comfortably in bed dreaming of past joys and glories, but no, they must be hunted out continuously from under their blankets, rolled about to have shitty nappies ripped off and replaced; turned back and forth every 2 hours to get them off their pressure areas; pricked by needles and prodded by rubber-gloved fingers; sat up to gulp medicines; swung about in 'pelican belts' at dawn for compulsory showers; invaded in every orifice by catheters to void urine, drain phlegm and deliver suppositories; tubes plugged into bellies for feeding when the throat clams up; thermometres thrust in every nook and cranny, blood-pressure cuffs squeezing the limbs, bandages cutting off the blood supply; rushed about in wheelchairs for diversional therapy, propped up like groomed mummies for the grand poobah doctor's visit, it goes on and on, with rarely a half-hour's rest night or day for the innocent, like geriatric babes in arms, moaning protests, screaming, "fuck off and let me die!"

One old lady, rich but weak on her legs, was brought in by her nephews to be cared for 24/7 , she swears 'they' are just after her money. She calls us nurses a pack of bastards for keeping her locked up, she's been kidnapped and put in the 'home' against her will, and every night she toddles about the corridors clinging to her walking frame and planning her escape, trying to bribe someone to open a door, or kill her to put an end to her misery. I feel like a jailer yet I've seen that she can't look after herself, always falling over, she would be on her kitchen floor for weeks broken-hipped before anybody found her, and all her money can't buy her love. Life is amazingly wonderful if one has the guts, luck and brains to grab a hold of it, and then the party's over, and it's back to the interstellar dust in this vast mysterious universe. In the face of this entropic horror I'm having as much fun as I possibly can, like Life, bring it on, whatever the extremes, I want to enjoy it to the max while I can.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

How I Got (the) Beat!

I grew up Queer in a hetero-supremacist world and had to fight it out with many a bully-boy from kindergarten on, even my brother bashed me because I was a sissy, and at some point I learnt to hit back, to give as good as I got, like a lot of boys I found the fracas kind of exhilarating. I might be a poof but I was never a wimp, plus I'm smart, with a ferocious 'gay' wit, always giving lip, the smart mouth that often got itself smacked, and why should I take shit anyway? Thus I've had a long life of bashings and street-fighting and if I was to sub-title my life-story I would call it "How I Got (the) Beat!" cause it not only made me one tough cookie but got me with the groove, able to weather any brouhaha, hip to the moment, surfing the chaos.

So I was hanging around the Last Gasp Cafe past dawn watching the deadbeats drift down from the redlight clubs after the World Cup football match, everybody zonked, yahooing with a last hurrah, when a cute 'wog' boy caught my eye, he smiled at me and I couldn't help giving him a wink and a raised eyebrow. He returned my lascivious looks and plonked down beside me and asked, "what do ya know?" "Everything!" I replied, "I've seen it all." "So what's happening, what are we doing?" he replied with devil-may-care aplomb. In his mid-twenties, with close-cropped hair, he had that middle-eastern look I'm crazy for, tho he also had a crazed cast in his eye, with a marble loose somewhere rattling around his small skull.

He licked his lips and asked,"Are you gay?" "I'm queer, so what?" "But what made you GAY? How did it happen?" "I was born with the potential and society confirmed it, since I was a kid." "Are you a boxer? You look like your nose is broken." What was he fishing for? I had to let him know I was no push-over, for whatever he was planning. "I've been in a lot of street fights and had my nose broken 3 times. Life's been tough but I'm on top of it." He held up a fist and grabbed at my hand,"Let me see that silver ring you're wearing!" "It's just a ring, forget about it." His eye-balls spun, he grimaced, "What do you know about ICE? Does it get you high?"

"No, it rots your brain and kills you young! You should know, you had a shot last night by the looks of it. I don't take drugs." "So what are we doing? I need a job, something slick." He was spinning me out, not the fuzzy warm lover I dreamt of. "There's lots of businesses on the Cross, try and you will find. It's nice meeting you, I've got to go now, good luck." "You know what it is about you homosexuals? You're demon-possessed, you got a djinn in you!" Ah, he was a Muslim, no wonder he was so hung-up and ambivalent about same-sex knowledge. I'd love to have taken him home, rough trade being my favourite kind of danger but I just wasn't up for the nasty abuse, too old for it these days, the short thrill not worth the trouble. "Goodbyeee."

He wandered off in an uptight daze and I breathed a sigh of relief. Then grizzle-guts Michael showed up to haunt the Pick Your Bum Cafe, looking like a six-foot Agro from a Muppets' rubbish bin. Twenty years ago I had a fight with him up the street and still shuddered when I clapped eyes on his ugly face. He had been standing in a Chinese Tobacconists, practicing his non-Chinese while I waited in a huff for my ciggies. "Lee ping dong wang," he burbled on and on. The Chinese guy looked stunned, "Huh?" "Gung fook flung dung." "What you want?" said the little Chinese guy all in a pickle. "I speak Chinese. Ting wah soong chook." The Chinese Tobacconist looked at me as if to say, "What is this guy on about?"

Waiting not so patiently, I was really uptight and said, "Don't take any notice of him, he's a nutcase." Michael roared in a fury, turned and kicked me so hard I nearly split in two. I limped back out onto Roslyn street while he turned back to continue the "ding bat wah hoon" number, oblivious to my pain. I saw red and, with his back turned, I also saw my chance for revenge and went flying back into the shop and with my steel-capped boot kicked him so hard in the arse I gave him another arse-hole I'm sure. He shrieked in torment and chased me out and down the street, all the cafe dwellers sitting at their outside tables nearby cheering as they'd seen the whole episode. I was always a fast runner and got clean away, him screaming schitzo murder after me.

About 3 months later I was at Paddington Markets, sitting on the ground with some friends, laughing and chatting, and the bastard saw his chance and snuck up on me with a garbage bin full of slops from the hippie-food hall and dumped the whole mess over my head, making me wear the bin like a straight-jacket. I leapt up, muck flying and oozing down my neck and sprang upon him, for all his beastly six feet. He had a wooden flute he'd been hopelessly busking with, making non-music, and he dropped it on the ground. I swept it up and beat him with it a few times till it broke to bits, then he chased me in and out the traffic on Oxford street, throwing punches, me ducking them and getting a few good slugs in myself, really connecting with the out-of-control zombie's ugly mug.

My friends were stupified, their jaws dropped, then one of my mates collected himself and rushed to my rescue, slamming Michael hard on the chin and dropping him in his tracks. "Never touch Toby again, you fucker!" Mad Michael crawled away into the gob-smacked hippie crowd and never in all the years since did he try it on me again. Once when visiting a friend in Caritas, the psycho-bin in Darlinghurst, Michael was also incarcerated there and the poor fuck thought I'd come to visit him, he rushed up and drooled his thanks for my concern, I felt sorry for such a loser but never ever did forget that hard kick he gave me way back when, and it's been my fate to still see his grungy mug at least once a week for he's always creeping about the Cafe of Lost Souls for a hand-out. Such is life, a knock one moment, a hug the next.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

How to Survive a Serial Killer.

On watching the Aussie horror flick "Wolf Creek" about the serial killer picking off tourists in the outback, I was reminded of all those people who have disappeared from the Pacific Highway, which I myself have hitched up a thousand times and a few times come close to oblivion, only I kept a wary eye out, and escaped by a hair's breadth. There was one time I really nearly flunked the survival test, a classic horror ride from which I learnt extra caution.

Me and my longtime friend, the Wood Nymph Sylvia, had decided to sleep on Byron Bay beach, like hippie funsters, we couldn't be bothered trekking back to Lismore where she had a house. It was getting past midnight and we were just snuggling into our blankets when this nerdy 30 something guy showed up and plonked himself on the sand, rousting us up with a tale of woe and lonliness, his wife and kids had left him and he was distraught to the point of madness. He asked us to save his sanity and come spend the night with him on his property in the hills not far behind Byron Bay. The guy gave off loonie vibes and I said "No thanks" but he whined, pleaded, cajoled and enthused, promising us hot -meals and warm fires, I continued to say, "thanks but no thanks!" maybe 21 times but he went on and on inveigling us. Cheapskate Sylvia, always with her eye to a free meal, finally gave in and agreed, me holding out sceptically, the guy was insisting too much, it was freaky/creepy.

"Why not?" Sylvia shrugged, she was born a punk and was scared of nothing, defying the world to beat her own manipulative machinations, and had gotten herself raped several times because of it, yet she was always up for new, outrageous adventures. She kept agreeing with the guy and against my intuition I went along for the experience. He bundled us into his beat-up car and then drove maniacally thru the dark with his headlights switched off, careering round dangerous bends and into black mountains with us having no clue where we were being taken. We roared past a lit-up gas station and I should've demanded him to stop there and let us off as the no-headlights fast driving was terrifying and disorienting.

But he kept up a bullshit friendly patter and so we swept on till we crawled up a dirt track in the middle of nowhere and parked in front of a wood cabin. Inside there was only a kerosene lamp for dingy light and the musty smell of a lone soul's empty life. He pawed a yellowing photograph of a woman and child and sobbed how he couldn't live without them, life had no meaning for him any more, on and on, me and Sylvia poking faces at each other when we thought he wasn't looking. After a bitter cup of tea, which I only pretended to drink, he suddenly pulled a shotgun out from under the kitchen bench and rambled on about what a keen hunter he was and guns made him feel safe and powerful, he waved it about and aimed it at pretend enemies just above our heads. I freaked and glared at Sylvia a sign language of readiness to escape for it seemed we were in the clutches of a true nutcase. He saw me edgy and tense and laughed as he put the gun away, announcing it was time for bed. I made a note of where the gun was hidden and determined to come between him and it if he made a move towards it again.

He went into his bedroom and we relaxed for a moment, whispering about how we could possibly find our way out of there on our own. I took my attention off his rumaging about in the next room and suddenly he came thru the door carrying a huge mattress and dumped it directly on top of me so that I was smothered and helpless under it's volume, with him pressing down on top. If he'd had a knife and started stabbing me thru it I was finished for I could hardly move for the restriction it imposed, I was buried alive for all my threshing about. Sylvia, a wildcat from the punk era of the '70s and no easy push-over, crouched ready to spring, her claws bared, he couldn't fight both of us off and laughing impishly he got off the mattress and allowed me out from underneath it. I was trully freaked out of my brain at this point, the guy had got me even tho I was ready for him, such an easy ruse, the manky mattress trick. He encouraged us to sleep peacefully and crept back into his own room, closing the door between us.

Sylvia has always slept like a crocodile, snoring and floundering, but I stayed alert the whole night, stiff as an armoured samurai warrior, my eye glued to his door, imagining him waiting to spring upon us, Halloween knife slashing thru the dusty murk. I was creeped out, ready to fight to the death, no fiend was gonna sneak up on me again. The night wore on and dawn finally sparkled thru the torn curtains. Exhausted I got up when creepo came out all smiles and good cheer in the safe morning light, my fears of the night seeming to be foolish. He gave us breakfast and took us to a swimming hole behind his hovel and he came across as sane, innocent, normal, but I looked out over his back-paddocks and shuddered at the idea he might indeed have buried many a silly hippie out there for who would know or care, hippies go missing all the time.

Eventually he drove us back to Byron Bay and thanked us for keeping him company thru the cold, deadly abysmal night. I returned a tight smile and thanked my lucky stars, and my ability to stay awake thru the wee hours, for our escape. Months later I was in Nimbin town in the Cafe smoking ganjha and drinking coffee when I eavesdropped on a conversation a hippie girl was having with her friends, telling them about a weird guy who picked her and her boyfriend up and drove them recklessly thru the night without headlights and then brandished a rifle in their faces, moaning about how desperately lonely he was, scaring the shit out of the peaceniks. I threw in my 2 cents worth and we all shuddered, nogod knows what demons work the highways of the Pacific Coast, so many trusting types have gone missing.

The next time we were hitching and about to get into a car, Sylvia got in the front and me trying to get in the back, the guy took off before I was in, me hanging onto the door for dear life, Sylvia screaming for her door had been automatically locked, she demanded exit, and I hung in there yelling, so that he screeched to a halt, opened the door and she fell out, me on top of her, him zoomin goff without a look back. We were never again going to trust anyone acting even slightly suspicious, not listen to sob-stories, accept drinks from strangers, go to unknown backwoods hovels, or get smothered under manky mattresses, not ever again. It's a dangerous world out there for hitch-hikers, even in mateship Australia, it must be the cannibal apeman coming out in some cross-wired types and us friendly, compassionate souls are soft targets. But I survived to tell the tale, here in my dotage, it's even kind of a laugh, gallows humour in old convict Auz.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Night People.

I reckon certain members of society have evolved over the years to stay awake and alert throughout the night to keep watch and warn about danger, of predatory animals, storms and enemy warriors creeping up on them, otherwise the human tribe would've been wiped out long ago. Especially wildcats had to be guarded against, they picked off so many of our ape-men ancestors, they loom up terrifyingly in our collective psyche. And let's not think about the monsters that lurk in the night of big, modern cities, ready to jump upon the unwary for their wallet or their flesh; such metropolises couldn't function without night-workers keeping it all functioning and semi-protected.

The other night I dreamt I was in some utopianist game-park, where humans and animals lived in respectful harmony, and a huge mangy leopard approached me, limping, one paw held out. I was absolutely mortified and cringed as the creature growled and leapt upon me. I thought I was finished but the wildcat merely wanted to wrestle with me playfully and have me caress his matted fur and maybe heal him of his wounds. That wildcat was me and I need to heal myself, then have no fear. I woke up feeling ebullient, happy that the cat had come to me, my major totem going way back, like I'm one of the 'cat-people'. (All very "hippy psycho-babble" according to the movie 'Thumbsucker' but it feels like an historic/hysteric fit to me, my madness and I couldn't give a shit.)

So this week my muse came back to me, my spirit soared, I took off in flights of fancy and started a new painting, a big close-up scene of a psychedelic Kings Cross on New Year's Eve 1979/80 outside the Pink Pussycat Strip Club. Because of my weekend nightshift I can't return to a normal sleep pattern, I roam my apartment thru the dark hours trying to find the spirit to create. At last this week I alighted upon cloud 7 and got back to painting, for the sheer joy of it, the ecstasy of putting the idea into narrative and colour, not for fame, career, money, a competition, an Art Fair, a doting patron. No, just because I want to, from my guts, heart and brain, like a deranged brat who lets nothing get between him and his work, not even Love. It's very easy to feel defeated in this world of vacuous celebrity, the body/mind droops, is lacklustre, gutless, the world comes down on many try-hards like a ton of shit and kicks us in the teeth for good measure. No wonder every street corner has its resident loonie jabbering at the moon. It's hard to stay afloat.

I dread going back to the hospice at the weekend, I'm responsible for so many people, life and death issues with a thousand and one things to think of, oldies bleeding, shitting, fitting, vomiting, pissing, purulent ulcers dripping, it's so icky and tedious yet I'm glad I force myself to go to the Aged Care Facility, it makes me confident, and real, and brave, and full of life in the face of the one possible god to rule this universe, Entropy. I'll dare to take on any wild project my fevered soul can dream up, painting/writing risque stuff, subversive, transgressive, whatever I feel to, for we devour our years quickly, steak and chips like fairy floss, and no one gets a fun life of unremitting adventure by being a wimp. Thus I scheme thru the nights, there's a light at the end of my tunnel to which I travel towards.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Book of Se7ens.

I have long been obsessed with the number "7" along withthe rest of the world, only to me it seemed to especially apply for I was born on the 21st in the 7th house of the Zodiac in 1949. In 2001 I read a piece to a group of writers and actors at the Gay Pride Loft off of Taylors Square, Sydney, for an evening of readings titled "Dangerous Desires". I told the audience of about 100 theatre fans my piece was called "7 Fucks in a Sex Shop" from a work in progress titled "The 7 Lives of Toby the Punk Poofy Cat" and I got a big laugh at this. The play-come-short story was a distillation of all my angst-ridden experiences in the utopianist modern capitalist enterprise of 'sex industry backrooms', years of pain, fear, horror, frustration, desire and pleasure that nearly had me cutting my wrists at times, such was the disappointment swamping the few highs. It was a personally intimate, revealing story and I was terrified of putting the spotlight on my fetishes, weakenesses and bad behaviours but the audience belly-laughed, screamed, giggled and roared all the way thru and at the end gave me an uproarious applause, they'd loved the material, for all my cringe-worthy performance.

A year later out came a play at a pub-theatre in the same area called "7 Acts of Love as Witnessed by a Cat" by an already famous writer and I spewed peevish chips that the number "seven, "cats" and "acts of love" had become "in" before I myself could find a publisher. Then the other night I was going past the Seymour Centre Theatre a couple of blocks in the other direction and I saw a huge marquee advertising a play "7 Blowjobs" and again I winced, thinking such close titular parallels can't be coincidental and maybe I'd let the cat out of the bag all those years ago and it had been perculating into the creative environment ever since. But then I recalled previous famous movies, "The Seventh Seal", "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers", "Seven Samurai", "The Magnificent 7", "Seven Beauties", "Seven Years in Tibet", "Se7en", "Seven Keys to Baldpate", "The 7th Victim" and I figured the number had long been hot, embedded within world culture for 7 millenia at least and was perfect for including in script titles as it was always the perfect quantity, not too big or too small.

So I've decided to write the "Book of Se7ens" with every 7 I can come across to show how big it is in our collective psyche and why I should see it as lucky and not a hindrance.

I'll begin with "Snow White and the 7 Dwarves" and the 7 colours of the rainbow.
The seven days of the week and the 7 celestial objects as seen by the naked eye in Babylon.
Seven notes in a musical key. 7 comes up most often on infinite throws of the dice.
The seven Seas and the seven Continents. The Seventh Heaven and 7 Levels of Hell.
The seven bodily orifices, the seven glands of the endocrine system and the 7 Chakras.
The 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Virtues. The Dance of the 7 Veils and the 7 Year Itch.
The 7 Hills of Rome and the 7 Hills of Lisbon. 7 Hills of Sydney and 7 Hills of Kampala.
Portugese peasant women wear 7 petticoats.
Hindu Brides and Grooms walk around the sacred fire 7 times at their wedding.
7 is the perfect number for a people's activist cell. 7 years in gaol is common for many crimes.
The 7 branches on the Jewish Menhorra. The seven wonders of the world.
The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. The Seventh Day Adventists. 7 Up.
Seven Lucky Gods (Japan). The 7 Virgins in Paradise. The Seven Fates.
The 7 Cities of Delhi. The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor.
The Seven Royal Companions of Alexander the Great.
Seven years bad luck on breaking a mirror.
7 million years ago the ancestors of Humans split from the ancestors of Chimpanzees.
In the 7th week of a human embryo development the presence of the Y chromosome turns the
'bipotential' gonad into a testes, a male.
Economic downturns typically endure for seven years after severe banking crisis.
The Seven Oracles of the Never Ending Story.
A piece of paper can't be folded more than seven times.
Mary Magdalene had seven demons exorcised out of her and in her old age she was taken up to heaven by seven angels seven times a day.
Maybe the planet can only handle 7 billion people before there is environmental collapse.
There were seven manned missions to the Moon.
It took seven villages to support a knight and his castle in medieval times.
The human body renews itself every seven years.
 The sonic boom from the Krakatoa Volcano explosion went around the world seven times.
7 Sisters constellation on the horizon was like an alarm clock for planting crops in the northern hemisphere.
7 Pyramids of the Moon in the Teotihuacan cosmic city of Meso America built on celestial plan.
7 weeks sensory deprivation in a Tibetan cave brings on Nirvana.
7 Preciousities of Tibetan Buddhism, (gold, silver, jade, coral, turquoise, ivory, amber.)
To catch the 7th wave to freedom in novel "Papillon."
In Hinduism marriage results from a relationship that has endured for 7 births, (lives).
Moslem martyrs believe they'll get 70 virgins when they enter paradise.
The 7 great virtues such as zeal, chastity, generosity etc.
Jesuit saying, "Give me the boy till he's seven and I'll give you the man."
Custer's 7th cavalry and James Bond 007.
Ghandi's 7 social sins.
Cursed or blessed down to the 7th generation.
The Angel on the 7th step.
The 7 tasks of Hercules.
The 7 Sacraments and The 7th Seal.
Nagarjuna's Sevenfold Negation.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Back to the Cafe of No Return.

Knocking off work past dawn I'm able to call in at the Cafe of No Return, for old Vitto gets there early for a long day of cut-throat gossip and Madame Lefarge knitting. Blocking my way to the door was a deadbeat couple, leftovers from the Saturday night bacchanalia on the Cross, propping each other up against the window, cursing in slurred speech endearments that brain-dead zombies find sweet, "You fuckin' cunt bitch whore, yous was suckin' up to that shithead all night, mumble grunt slurp splat!"

I pushed them out of the way but found the door locked, Vitto was holed up in Cafe Precinct 13, he'd been attacked by twilight junkie thugs a few months previously and egress nowadays was by special invitation. He saw me clamouring and opened up, I skittered in and we relocked the door as more zombies approached, Vitto was a notorious soft touch and the cafe had the only easy toilet for miles. A bedraggled schitzo with rat's tail hair scratched at the glass, it was cold out and he needed the toilet and a place to keep warm till the sun came up, Vitto yelled "No!" but then a legitimate customer arrived and, as the door was unlocked for him, the schitzo scrambled in and clung to a table, immovable, whining and muttering deluded prophesies, so we shrugged and turned our backs on him, "There but for the grace of nogod go I!"

We laughed over the movie "Colour Me Kubrick" which we'd seen the other night, swearing we'd never be taken in by such an obvious fucker as the film's anti-hero conman. Clatter clatter at the glass door, crotchety Old John was demanding entry and Vitto screamed, "Go away! Fuck off! I'm sick of you! Get lost!" The grizzled old fellow clutched his usual bunch of flowers wrapped in tissue which he tried to flog by the railway station, and he waved them at us impecuniously, his wizened, saggy face screwed up in a grimace of despair. There had been letters of complaint written to Column 8 of the S/M Herald about some horrid old creature seen haunting the north shore suburbs and cutting the precious flowers from their swank gardens, 'birds of paradise, roses and tiger-lillys, it was crazy old John, the desperate pensioner who supplemented his income thus, flogging stolen flowers to the unwary.

I felt sorry for the old geezer and, against Vitto's wishes, opened up so he could scurry in and launch into his salesman's pitch for my good-natured benefit, he had a brand new pair of shoes to sell, for only $25, and tho I didn't need shoes, he pleaded so heartrendingly, and brought the price down, $24, $22, $20, I gave in and bought them, daggy shoes fit for a tax collector, still they might come in handy for work one day. The old boy shook my hand vigorously in thanks, as if I'd just paid for a heart by-pass operation, and then he scurried back out into the cold. "He probably shoplifted those fucking shoes,!" growled Vitto, "he comes in here every day and hassles everyone to buy junk he's stolen from somewhere, and he never lets up, I'm sick of him, he drives me crazy!" I felt mortified to be encouraging such villainy, but he was such a sorry old sod, maybe he blew it on the horses, but just maybe I had fed him for a week, it was worth the risk.

The day was hardly started, just warming up, and the desperadoes were crowding in, lonely for a social club, needy of human company, any company. Richard tottered in on his walking-stick, looking sick as a mangy dog, skeletal, the ravages of cancer about to finish him off in the next few minutes. He'd been diagnosed with an incurable disease only a few months ago, overnight he'd deteriorated to a walking-corpse true to chaos theory, and now he just wanted to sit with the derros in the Cafe Hole in the Wall, never saying anything, simply be amongst humans for his last days on earth, derive some warmth, some contact, some distant caring. Thus was the Cafe of God's Waiting Room for all of us dispossessed, alienated, defeated and down-trodden, and Vitto was like a cranky, cruel Mother Theresa, knitting, knitting, woolen shrouds that fit all comers to the Pearly Gates Cafe.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Of Lamas, Freemasons and Psychedelic Cartoons.

Life is full of absurd surprises, like on Friday night when I was taken to Sydney's central Masonic Temple for a lecture by a Tibetan Rinpoche Lama. A close friend of mine has become an acolyte, Tibetan mysticism appealing more to her than her previous Catholicism. I was more mystified about such exoticism of high Himalayan Buddhism and found it quite surreal to hear about it in such a hard-arsed city like Sydney, and in the grand hall of the Freemason's temple to boot, their ghosts welling up from the nuclear fall-out shelter in the crypt below and wailing in shock around me.

I imagined the 500 nice Aussie white groupies in the audience were sincerely seeking the sacred in a terribly materialistic and mundane world, and had chosen Tibetan Budhism as having great promise. Another friend sitting nearby whispered to me that there were some in the crowd known as 'Lama lovers', hoping to sully the virginal, pristine monks sworn to lifelong celibacy and thus attractive to certain jaded Western succubi types, zeroing in on all that Eastern innocence. I scanned the crowd of placid, polite spiritual waifs, white middle-class do-gooders scrubbed antiseptically clean, trying to pick out who were the lusty and pretentious wankers. The sheep-like Aussie monks dressed up in their saffron and maroon costumes amused me, they crept about with earnest, milksop miens, swishing their robes over their shoulders like drag queens, hogging the front row, holier than the rest of us worldly slobs, most of them idealistically young, shaven-headed and pink-skinned like new-born wombats, and I wondered for how many years they would keep up the front before collapsing back into decadent capitalist temptation, buying or screwing everything within reach.

Then the old Rinpoche Lama turned up and the crowd bowed in obeisance, like God had walked in, some even flinging themselves upon the floor and prostrating 3 times, to show their zeal and holy commitment. I guess they were honest in their respect and awe but it still seemed ridiculous to me, he was just a human, even Buddha himself said there was no god, and there should be no religion made in his name, but desperate seekers see only what their clouded mind's project, we all want the sacred in our lives, and the "special" to come save us, even me, who always hopes that one fine day a great teacher like Babaji, yogi of yogis, will walk out of his hidden Himalayan fastness, tap me on the shoulder and say, "Yes Toby, you are ready for the eternal wisdom, come with me." That's why I roam the Himalayan mountains so often, only it never happens, because it's a myth, a romance, and I'm the eternal lost soul, wanderer, desirous, horny, mischievous trickster, incapable of sticking with the real thing even if it happened my way.

Anyway, the Great Lama finally sat and proceeded to give a long-winded lecture, harrumphing, coughing, wheezing, whispering, giggling, mumbling, on and on and on, and I couldn't make out barely a word, (it all sounded Tibetan to me), something about my mother and father being illusions, (my old mum will be sad to hear that), and 'sound' was also the basis of Illusion; if so, that meant his mumblings as well. The crowd listened raptly, as if they understood everything, it was life-awakening for them, and when he giggled idiotically they laughed with him, all very honourable and jolly, quite daft in my mind, I didn't get a single joke for all the polite laughing. I meditated on his vibes for an hour, there was some charisma there, he might even have been passing in and out of Nirvana as there were many long moments of silence that were extremely sweet, but still I understood nothing, maybe it was just not my thing, I was not ready for the message. I grew restless and impatient, after 90 minutes I gave up and rushed from the auditorium, past the stained glass portrait of some high, solemn Freemason glaring balefully down upon me and out into the blessed rain and fresh air.

In relief I went to the movies, to see "Cars" by the Pixar Animation Studios, and got much more of a high, spirit-filled experience, the psychedelic colours, the funny car jokes, the music, the art, the sweet story of the journey being more important than the goal, it made me very happy, I even cried with delight, like a child, I had a life-affirming epiphany, 'up' movies my kind of religion, I saw the 7 sacred colours beamed thru the white light and nectar dripped from the roof of my head. YOW!!!

If you enjoyed this story please go to the WEB address above and consider buying my book of tales about growing up anarcho-queer, rock and roll punter and mystic adventurer in Australia and India of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Punk Attitude in a Cannibal Society.

For the last week I've been workingat a hospital named after a Christian Saint, of all beings, me the consummate pagan, but at the final thresh-hold of life, a hospice for the dying, launching from the material world into the infinite Light, (I hope), religion doesn't really matter, humanity is all there is. I was terrified of the job before I went in, it seemed terribly complicated, so many wards, 175 aged and dying people for wild little animal me to look after, yet my experience stood me in great stead, the worst was thrown at me from the beginning and I handled it with aplomb.

Two old ladies fell over at dawn and cracked their heads, not in my wards because I try to be there to catch them, but I rushed over and assisted my fellow nurse in this hospice's technique of patching up such wounds and after dealing with these nasty gashes felt I was ready for the worst. The fire alarm went off with much futuristic fanfare: bells, sirens, disembodied voices echoing instructions bouncing up and down the 7 levels, the staff all ran around like headless chickens, very few knew what to do, me and the charge nurse gave a quick one minute course in 'fire-drill', luckily the fire that set off the alarm was burning toast in the nurse's residential quarters and no disaster of eternal flames rained down.

And one old woman died on me at 3 am in the morning as I sat by her bed, she was Jewish, a survivor of the concentration camps in World War Two Germany. I noticed her breath grow more and more shallow and I  leant forward to observe her more closely and caught her very last breath exhaled into my face, I inadvertently breathed it in, and I felt I was then imbued with her ancient spirit, as if I was being passed a baton in the survivor's race for life. I've sat with many people as they've died so I was not unduly freaked out, death is "the final destination" of life and in fact I was honoured to be the one to send her across the mysterious dark river of the Unknown.

She had shat herself at the point of death and I was told the Jewish religion demanded she not be touched till her Rabbi came in to offer up last rites. He was not due for several hours and she was to lie in her own faeces, smelling like a sewer, though her family was to sit with her soon. I decided to ignore the irrational demands of her faith and got my assistants to clean her up quickly, dress her in her best clothes and have her presentable for all her loved ones to fuss over. And I'm deadly sure if she was asked in years gone by if she'd like to be left squelching down into her own shit as she died, she would've replied in horror, "No damned way!"

I finished work at 8am and, exhausted, had to catch the rush-hour train thru the city. The platform was packed with commuters and when the train pulled in at 8.45 it too was jam-packed to the doors with sardine-like humans with no way for us on the platform to squeeze in. I could see there was space up in the middle of the carriage, the drones were simply  blocking the doorways so they could be the first to get off, and nobody else could get in. In a flurry I just threw myself into them, pushing them aside, at first politely asking them to move up the stairway, and when they just stood there like lumps ignoring me, I started shoving them aside and yelling, "Move, fuckwits!"

Still they blocked my way, standing on each others'toes, in each others' faces, dead-eyed like zombies, not standing aside even the slightest bit to let me thru. I had to shove and push harder and made my way up into the carriage, with certain suits tsk tsking and pushing me back, one arsehole heaving my backpack in my face because it brushed her coiffed head. The train pulled into Martin Place, where all the sky-scrapers threaten to topple over, the pack of zombies rushed off and I realised the mob were mostly office workers, pushing useless bits of paper for a job and possibly sending many poor souls into penury, and I called out loudly after them, "What a bunch of arse-holes!" The rest of the alien drones shuddered, and I saw them pretend exaggerated politeness in contrast to my rudeness as they eased past each other to get off at Town Hall Station, shop-keepers for the most part, ready for another day of selling shoddy crap to morons who didn't want it.

Sydney has become the "banana republic" long threatened by our 'rulers' and these were the third-world hordes scrambling to their slavery, and as one tall, blonde wimp left for his collar and tie non-job he gave me a vicious look of "How dare you show your rude individuality to us good, conforming citizens!" And I smirked back at him with a "Fuck-you" cheesy grin,  I'm 'BAD',it amuses me to have a punk attitude in this rat-race world, at the least it gets you onto a crowded train. I yelled at his white-shirted back, "You'll all end up on your deathbed one day, lying in your own shit!"

(I realise this all sounds anti-people/worker, as if I'm not part of the faceless crowd, but this Blog is all about "me , me, me!", the crass curmudgeon and yowling Punk Poofy Cat, lost in a magnificently enigmatic, uncaring universe.)

Watching the remake of "The Omen" last night at a special cinema screening on "Beast's Day, 6-6-06", (like, why do 'They' bother, it was frame for frame the same as the old one!) I was struck by the idea that thousands of years ago certain old power-mongers guessed that in the future our potential for violence and destruction, teamed up with our technology, could end in the "last of days", the "Armageddon", the end of humanity but, being ignorant, crafty and superstitious, they projected out of themselves reified ideas of good and evil, God and the Devil, to take responsibility for the horrors that would come, conveniently ignoring that the good and evil came from humans themselves, they committed BAD stuff on each other, with no help from outside entities.

On reading Jared Diamond's "Collapse", he reminded me that when populations outgrow their resources and stupidly exploit their environments till everything collapses, the people starve and fight over land, and some of them can turn to cannibalism, as happened in the Pacific Islands and Africa when they ran out of food. I also flashed that George Romero's zombie movies, "Dawn of the Dead" etc are not just metaphors for contemporary consumer capitalism where we are all forced into taking the skin from each others' backs to survive; amongst the billions teeming on this planet we're all strangers and thus don't care about anyone, (except our own families), and we end up selling, forcing, promoting life-draining rubbish on each other and thus consuming faceless humanity. Those zombie movies also warn of civilization's collapse in the future, where we fucked the environment, run out of food and chaos ensues and we turn on each other as a food source.

Those crowds of good citizens packed passively on the trains are ripe for 'cannibal society' and only those with a tough Punk attitude will possibly survive, pushing their way through all the shit raining down, (and hopefully make it out of the cities and into the wilderness to establish 'Utopias' of sustainability and co-operation, a contradiction to Punk attitude I know but I'm as full of shit as the next zombie!) For all I don't seem to care, I'm a nurse, another contradiction, I feel compassion for flawed humanity, most running in fear, knowing they will die some day.