Then I heard our lovely Lord Mayor and Independant Member of Parliament, Clover Moore, was coming to Northcott Housing Estate to placate the restless tenants with self-congratulatory speeches and tout for votes, for the State elections are only 3 weeks away. I could never hope to meet her out in the wider world to have my say so I turned up at the Northcott Community Centre and sat with my fellow dispossessed wards of the State intending to get her attention. I tried to remain cool and diplomatic, but after being told to shut up several times the horns popped up on my forehead and I got quite histrionic in my rave, electrifying myself and gobsmacking our dear Big Sister, Clover: actually, I nearly did a "Carrie" and set her hair on fire.
For support and comfort I sat beside my beloved next door neighbour Dolly, the woman who actually cut the ribbon on the estate when it first opened in 1962. Like some long-awaited rock-star Clover suddnely marched in all in a flurry with a gang of cronies trailing her and I was alarmed to see her eyes go straight to me and flash, like she knows who I am and is ready for trouble. Without further ado she barks out a rabble-rousing speech, first congratulating the locals on their marvellous performances in the ABC documentary, "1000 Neighbours", then spitting chips because the Surry Hills Police hadn't shown up and she was on their case and her biggest effort of late was to set them on to us. My skin crawled and I felt relieved the cops hadn't put in their mugs, I'd seen them a half-hour earlier out on the footpath attending to some hysterical woman from B Block who looked like she'd just been ravaged.
As if to pre-empt me, apropo of nothing, except maybe she knows about my blogging invectives castigating her treatment of street-level artists, she shouts enthusiastically how much she's done for artists in the inner-city, providing community spaces for their work to be shown, the local park being an example, right now a committee of experts were judging 10,000 entries, whittling it down to 69 finalists, and all us Northcott gronks can come along and view the results. There, that's you covered Toby Z Shithead! She called for questions and one old codger wanted to know what she was going to do about the sewerage out on the mainstreet. Oh, blah blah, bluster bluster, she was coming to get down on her knees and stick her arms up the pipe and pull the shit out herself, but in reality, it wasn't in her brief and she couldn't do anything about it. More moaning and groaning about the sewerage, and I got jumpy, for me and the Lord Mayor knew my rambunctious turn was coming up.
Up goes my hand. "I've got a question."Her punked-out hair bristled. "I've lived here at Northcott for 17 years and in that time there have been untold suicides, many jumping from the 24th floor, the poor souls probably driven to it by the harsh exigencies of life, it's hard to survive if you're poor, forget about trying to achieve anything. Take my case for example." I then went on to quickly describe how the Sydney City Council had banned my painting with no criteria given even tho it had won a prize called "The People's Choice" and this had depressed me terribly and I wanted to know where was 'freedom of expression, democracy and individual talent' in her scheme for a future Utopia for us plebs?
Instead of mollifying me with sweet cajoleries and sympathetic whimperings she barked 'Big Sister' double-speak, like the armoured rhinocerous she'd learnt to be in umpteen years in parliament. "I've already mentioned how in future there will be no controversies over public art spaces for we will have committees of experts and peers to decide what the public can handle." "Oh great, state-sanctioned art, achievement by committee, just what I wanted to hear!" "Shut up, we dont want to hear about it!" growled an old retard three seats up from me. "No, not state-sanctioned art!" she spluttered." I kept growling, "The art will be blended down to the lowest common denominator, meaningless, bland and safe. Dead art!" "Oh shut up, that's enough, let's get back to the sewerage," hissed the old grump, a real caring Auzzie.
Clover soldiered on, "Blah blah, bluster bluster, we've all got our prejudices!" "I'm nobody and nothing, with no power whatsoever, my prejudices don't matter. You're very powerful, your prejudices rule over us little people's lives, your power can mean life or death, and Linda here from the Council with her little bit of power, even that can have an effect on my livlihood, and I've had to have medical intervention I was so upset by the treatment I recieved, it was so unjust." "Shut up!" the old cunt again, I'd like to slap his face, my one minute to have my say and he won't let me say it.
But poor Clover was glad of the naysayer, she needed protection from this gutter-snipe. "Yes, I think we've heard enough on this subject, let'smove on to something more relevant." "In other words, SHUT-UP and go die!" I blurted out."No, no, don't die! Speak to me after the meeting if you have any more to say" Splutter, splutter. Another old pensioner put up her hand and mumbled, "I'd like to ask about the sewerage." I quietly moaned. I wasn't going to hang around for hours listening to this crap just to be told more gobbledygook. I thought a quiet, dramatic exit would be a fitting finale to my histrionics, I jumped up and shoved my way thru the crowd in a tempest of anguish, flapping my arms about, perhaps they'd imagine I was rushing off to kill myself, me chuckling all the way.
I thought maybe "They" would give me a placatory phone call the next day but the 'cone of silence' continued to rule. Then the posse of sidekicks showed up at the Northcott flats, now going door to door, "Clover is in the building, gird your loins!" I asked them if she'd visit me to hear more of my bitch-rave and they enthused, "Of course, why not?" until one of them recognised me and said, "She already answered your question yesterday." "I dont consider a politician's double-speak an answer. Tell her I'm waiting, I wont kill her, I'm actually a law-abiding citizen." "You sound like a used car salesman", quipped a smart-arse crony. "No, you're the one selling used cars, I'm just an artist." She never came of course.
Clover must be desperate, leaving no mouldy stone unturned in her quest for any and every vote, but still not that interested in the soul behind the vote. I was furious to see a contingent of her lackeys marching in the Gay Mardis Gras Parade last Saturday night, a hundred of them holding stakes with a cut-out photo of her head atop them, that's what I call egregious opportunism, co-opting an entire 'rights' movement, capturing a vast fag-hag audience, not what I was aspiring to when I marched with the original demonstrators back in 1978. I heard some fool stood all day on the footbridge over Parramatta Road near Sydney Uni with Clover's head on a pole and there was one of the monstrosities stuck in the railing at Taylor's Square on the weekend. Doesn't the poor dear realise what the symbolism of heads on stakes stands for? Hello, the French revolution anyone? The high and mighty getting their come-uppance!
Clover has her back to the wall these elections as, in her craze for control she's taken on two POWER jobs, Lord Mayor and Independant Member of Parliament, and not doing either properly, and the people of Sydney are fed up, there's a feeling the city is teetering on the brink of chaos and maybe she's part of the problem. Still, it was foolish of me to take her on, like facing a double-barrel shotgun, yet I was amused that such an experienced gladiator in the bullpit of politics was for a moment gobsmacked by a powerless tho streetwise deviant like me.
The next day I did get a call from Linda, a council worker, in sweet-talk she asks me to come see her, maybe there's a solution to my existential dilemma, (yeah, win the lottery.) I visited her in her office near the very wall where my art was aborted, paintings now hanging that would be more suitable as wall-paper. She explained that council policy was not to hang anything that was "sexually suggestive" which means no crtitique on sexual-politics, sexual practices, sex mores, as if we're 700 years behind the times, but that's Auz for you, not as progressive as it dreams. She was very understanding and kind, took a digital photo of my risque art and posted it on the WEB, putting it into a gallery in cyber-space, which assuaged my hurt greatly. Soon you will be able to see what all the kerfluffle was about, when I can get my cyber-act together.
I'm always on the verge of giving up "ART", especially as far as operating in Auz goes, it's still the prescriptive penal colony of old, the proles have to be kept in their place at all costs, and no free speech allowed, only the Murdochs and Packers to be heard, oh yeah, and the arse-wipe modernist painters THEY can sell for millions of dollars, all a pathetic joke farted in my face. I'm stymmied, I've been killed off again, for the 700th time. Oh dear Clover, please catch my body as it falls from the 24th floor and shed some crocodile tears over me too, I deserve it.
P.S. It was silly of me to ambush the Lord Mayor over my non-career as an artist, she actually has nothing to do with street-level happenings, I guess I just grabbed my chance for a piece of street theatre, and I figured the buck stops with her, it's fun to discuss 'democracy' in the Arts with a bevy of powermongers. Clover has in reality done a lot for Public Housing tenants and gays in the area, she's 1000 times more preferable than the conservatives who'd like to sell us to a chain-gang. But I fear she's hopeless at doing two tough jobs and should stick to just being an Independant Member of Parliament, where she's most needed, and give up the night-shift job as Lord Mayor, it's not working out for anybody.