Friday, March 16, 2007

The Freak at Loose Ends.

I'm at a loose end and have decided to tie up a few, to get some kind of conclusion to this epic crap-fest. In humiliation I had to carry my kitsch painting across the city from the Cross to Surry Hills with everybody staring at me, lit up like a fleurescent disco. On the way I passed a famous art dealer, Ray Hughes, whose monolithic gallery covers an entire warehouse and, fishing for a future show, I thought maybe I could catch the big man's attention. I left my work in the foyer and tip-toed in, and almost tripped over the Master, looking like Godzilla in baggy pants and braces. He gave me the laser-eyed treatment, I got mental telepathy from him, "Oh fuck no, not another desperate artist come to importune me for a break!" He's probably had artists up to his arse-hole; thoroughly sick of them, he ran into the next room before I could squeak. I tried to follow but was warned off by an assistant, "For staff only!"

I glanced around at the works on the walls, giant gloomy brown and black paintings that must have had $7000 worth of oils sludged on every piece,  pedestrian painting in a style a zillion other wankers are using, great lumps of paint applied with a spatula, ugly nude women standing at windows or falling down stairs. The works so huge only a palace ballroom or corporation foyer could fit them in, quite prepossessing if hung in the boardroom, they threatened power and fear, plebs like me better watch my step or one of them might leap off the wall and crush me, overwhelming to the point that I crept out of the gallery without a peep, carrying my cheap-shit acrylic on my head like a third-world peasant.

There was no place for me in this world of high capitalism and corporate art, I had to go fuck it a long time ago and be an anarchist, painting "for the people, amidst teeming life", like my murals and posters put up on squat walls. I've been living out a fantasy of 19th century Paris, absinthe, sex and paint mixed into a heady myth that had me deliriously drunk. But there's never been any money in it, and now I'm starving, the bad part of the "myth of the artist", what a lousy joke, I'm just a twit from Twirpsville! I've been kidding myself all these years, not only am I a kindergarten finger-painting retard with delusions of grandeur, there's no such thing as "the artist", only careerists, State-apologists, businessmen, wallpaper-hangers, upholsterers and master bullshitters.

I trudged back to Northcott Housing Ghetto and flopped back into my cage with my painting hung on my lounge-room wall for me alone to contemplate and gnash my teeth over. Eric the Berserker next door kept me awake all night, he'd been quietened the last few months with a double-hit of Modicate twice a week but he's become tolerant of the mega-dose and was back to his howling Hound of the Baskervilles self, the wailing echoing up the functional brick towers till dawn and creeping out even the creeps. To add to the horror, an old bleach blonde scrag from upstairs has decided to run amok, she got herself on the TV news the other night grizzling because the cops had socked her on the jaw at the protest against Dick Cheney's visit. Now she wants to be shifted to another suburb and has decided the best way is to make such a nuisance of herself the rest of us will complain to have her moved. At sunrise, when Eric finally chills out, she carries on the relay by running up and down the verandah yodeling, squabbling, gargling and giggling maniacally. When I put my head out the door to tell her to shut her gob, she lifted her granny dress and flashed her manky fanny at me, hooting like a cuckoo. Nogod, where does the madness end?!

Northcott got itself a certificate of "Safe Community" from the World Health Organisation, like a piece of bureaucratic voodoo, 'THEY' probably pray such tokenism will convince the loonies to put a sock in it without spending a penny on them, and in the meantime the rest of us residents have to provide the nursing, therapy, counseling, cleaning and compassion. It all adds to my insomnia, I walk around like a zombie, fitting in well with the crowd. Blondie upstairs has zeroed in on old Dolly, two doors up from me, as the best target for harassment, as maybe the authorities would listen to her complaints being the most respected resident here, (she picked the wrong victim, Dolly never complains, ever, she's the classic stoic Auzzie.) Blondie mostly does her mad-hatter's dance by Dolly's door, the 85 year old driven to despair, yet when the filmmakers interviewed her for the documentary, "1000 neighbours", Dolly never said a word about the 20 years of abuse she's received from Eric and Blondie, only describing Northcott as a friendly community with sweet caring neighbors, (like me), such is the goodness of her soul. She often brings me a hot dinner, worried that I'm ill, depressed, defeated, and she helps me to hang in there, surviving Northcott and callous Sydney, revivifying my trust that "humanity" is itself not a myth, or a post-modern illusion.

On the other side of me Cursula and Bawl have settled down amidst her rat's warren of piled up rubbish, with the rabid pet rabbit gnawing at the edges, the star-crossed lovers seem resigned to each others idiosyncrasies and not indulging in the scream-fests of yore. (I think I've figured out the game plan = shrieking, blistering insults followed by repetitive nagging then hours of co-counseling ending up with a session of sexual healing, a god-shaking fuck = the routine for most Hets I gather.) Poor Cursula figured the only way to beat the State, who have taken her two children from her, was to have another baby, and maybe run away to a cave in the bush if THEY tried to interfere again. Only the poor bitch had a miscarriage, dropping a bloody mess onto the floor of her dumpster kitchen. It was then proposed by the 'Department of Human Services' that she have her womb scraped, it was her second miscarriage, but she chickened out, refuses to answer her door and has mulched down into her heaps of garbage, hoping she can hide out.

She's probably unable to get pregnant again, which is maybe for the best as she admitted to me she finds life somewhat peaceful without the responsibilities of bringing up children, it suits her to see them a few times a month, and in the meantime she can get on with her own myth of being an "artist". Bawl and her plink away on guitars and piano, warbling twisted love songs, with only a few interludes of scabrous abuse. Life has settled down to a kind of pastoral idyll, we look in on each other to borrow sugar, valium and cigarettes, and moan about the iniquities of cruel, capitalist Auz, our basement level in Northcott has the feel of a hippie commune such is the entanglement of our warped lives.

(Northcott Towers got on TV again last night, this time a boohoo story on "This Day Tonight", interviews with a gorgeous little girl who lives amidst the horror and degradation of "the toughest neighborhood in Auz." Our housing ghetto has become a 'media star', iconic for its existential challenge, now maybe there will be a rush of deviants from across Auz dying to live here. I'm amazed how I myself am strangely attracted to the biggest HOTSPOT of any city I end up in, such as Colaba in Bombay, Pahagrunge in New Delhi or the Piccolo Cafe at Kings Cross, as if I belong in the background like a telling prop in a piece of macabre theater.)

I daily ride my bike up to the Red-light District of the Cross to the Piccolo Cafe, that mecca for misfits and MY CLUB, which sails on regardless, cresting the stormy seas like a leaky ship of fools with Vitto as mad captain. In the hurly-burl of an uncaring, wilderness city it is the one oasis of 'Realness', people actually talk to you, ask you about your 'self', it's a true site of 'community'. It's such a relief not to be a transient ghost haunting the backstreets, I feel I take on substance there in that grungy shoe-box, all under the aegis of Vitto's irascible, Yoda-like nature. The old fool forever calls out to people passing on the street to let them know they're alive, and the whole district calls in on him, to gossip, get one of the endless books contributed by and for text junkies, sign a petition, drink bad coffee, and get insulted, scandalized, delighted by Vitto's gutter-snipe tongue-lashing.

So many of the old-timers have died, drifted into oblivion, gone mad, been incarcerated or driven away by Vitto's egregious grumpiness, there's only a few of the die-hard regulars hanging in there, like algae in a noxious pond, bemused by the "serious young insects" that crowd in to have their pop video shoot or trendy magazine interview, co-opting the cachet of 'cool' that the oldies have built up over 50 years. Ayesha the Drag(on-Lady) had to have brain surgery, and seems to have slowed down since, she's not as vitriolic in her barbed witticisms, as if the nastiness has been cut out of her, only the milk of human kindness left dripping. Mad Malcolm now permanently resides in Caritas Psyche Clinic, after all the wealth he'd inherited and splurged, he'd been found sleeping on the streets, his trousers filthy with piss and shit, drooling nonsense, even the desperate junkie rent-boys turned off, money can't buy sanity.

Old Yankie Auntie Crack and me are speaking again, he's forgiven me my nasty comments, at the end of his days he knows it's more fun to trade witty insults than have chilly silences. He's always on about his friendships with Tennessee Williams and William Burroughs, carping at his own failure to get published; it's great for me as a writer to soak up his senile wisdom, he once actually spoke to Carson McCullers on the phone at Tennessee's dump, I salivate over his reminiscences. He's now flown off to Seattle, U.S. to have one la
st "on the road" jaunt before he finally "asks the dust", (where am I going when it's all over?) I hope he doesn't get 'deep throat thrombosis' on the long flight, he's such a decrepit old fag. (He was 71 and the flight did indeed do him in, he came off the plane half paralyzed and dropped dead in Kansas city.)

And I've had a reproachment with Cherie Geuvera Glumbum, he knows the Piccolo is the only Club that will have him, the REVOLUTION needs a madcap base, and the funkiest coffee house in the world might as well be it. I don't really hold grudges for too long, except for those who really fucked me over, like Robert Baywatch at the Booze-on-tap Gallery, who is such a petty power-monger, when I rang about for my People's Choice prize from the Images of the Cross competition last year, I was told I'd have to crawl to get it because of my atrocious bad manners. Luckily my friends went over the deadhead dead body and rang the factory where my $500 worth of paints reside and I'm able to go straight there and pick them up.

 I am miffed at how my painting continues to get the rough-shod treatment from 'gronk society'. I watched a doco last night on TV about artists in Iran who get killed off if they're not state-sanctioned. It's not too different here in Utopian Auz, we simply starve here instead of facing a firing squad. I am very pleased to note that one of the main motifs in my controversial work was the "Pink Pussycat Strip Club", the first such club in all Auz and thus Iconic, my intuition as ever spot on, and the painting will live on long after Robert Baywatch has bitten the dust. (Leslie caught him watching porn on the gallery's computer, and getting the gallery to pay for it, and she kicked his red baboon arse all the way back to Queensland.)

The latest disgrace at the Piccolo is Knobby Israel, local raconteur and snatch hound, getting arrested at his part-time job up at Porky's Sex Shop for selling sexually explicit DVDs and he now faces the humiliation of criminal court as a "dirty pornographer". This is all part of the "clean the sleaze of the Cross" campaign, all for the giant apartment towers that are springing up like poisonous toadstools and bringing in a tsunami of 'good citizens', squeezing out the salacious businesses that made the Cross famous and added zest to its Bohemian edge, which is what attracted punters to the area in the first place. Roslyn Street itself, where the Piccolo Cafe is situated, is about to be 'cleansed' and irrevocably lose its Bohemian milieu, when the quaint Baron's Pub building, a faux Tudor Manor, gets knocked down for a post-modern VIP Club that looks like the Titanic sinking into the asphalt. Funk is out, Money is GOD.

CHANGE is inevitable, for the entire Universe is transient, life a mirage, humanity a sales pitch, one's self a construct, the artist a myth, and the Piccolo will also disappear when ancient Vitto gives up the ghost, even Northcott Suicide Towers will fall, all in the name of PROGRESS, gentrification and respectability, and like many an old timer reminiscing in their rocker chairs, (I'm an old rocker), I will be sad as Sydney itself dissolves into the mists of time, like Camelot, me as Arthur getting it in the arse.

Right now I'm reading Gregory David Roberts' "Shantaram", a book it's taken me years to come at as I myself have been writing my memoir of old-time hippie India, fiften years of re-writes and despair, only to find this guy has pre-empted me, with better writing and a more exciting story. He was a junkie bank robber on the run, up for any way to earn a buck, I was a homo yogi trying to lose my abusive upbringing, giving myself up to the Universe, different stories but both of us Aussie. Hets rule, and everyone loves a romantic villain like him. (For instance, our different perceptions are summed up by Leopold's, he's always the guest of honor there; in the '70s I slept on the streets of Bombay as a deadbeat dreamer, Leopold's Cafe was a paradise of lush food and elite comfort way out of my reach, and by the '90s I avoided Leopold's like the plague, it's a plastic tourist trap with the funk cleansed and the patrons all wearing David Jones type clothes.)

"Shantaram" is about to be a movie with Johnny Depp in the lead, an ugly guy turned handsome, as Hollywood-land always tends to do. I'm just jealous, about the writing not the movie, (it didn't happen anyway, maybe they found out what a wanker the guy is), the idea of my reality filtered thru celluloid horrifies me, especially as he arrived in India a demon and was reborn as an angel, I went to India a naive angel and got myself djinn-possessed, realizing my homo Self and becoming a demonic Ling worshiper! Arriving at a loose end, reading his book because I miss India till my heart breaks, I find someone else has gotten there before me and written much that I wanted to say about India, always the way for a loser like me, I'm just not quick enough, it's the quick or the dead in this world.

No big deal. I think I'll get lost in the Himalayas and forget about 'achievement' and 'contribution', there's an avalanche of auto-biographical confessions rushing down upon us, no need for another, this Blog enough. I guess I'll just let myself get swept away. (But the weird thing about us homo sap sap sapiens is we can never be told enough stories, like eternal children we want adventure tales told over and over, so maybe there's space for my quirky bedtime stories somewhere, way way over the rainbow.)

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.