Monday, March 29, 2010

The Cool-Aid Acid Test at St.Johns.

I stood outside St.Johns Anglican Church on Friday night and handed out my flyers for my mate Peter's World Premier Concert of his violin concertos, people thought I was handing out Christian literature and treated me with disgust and horror, I was glad to see the majority were repulsed by such seeming propaganda, only it was so embarrassing for me, a die-hard Luciferian, to be seen as some kind of bent Evangelist.

Inside the church that fool, Charles Poncenby, ever lurking in the shadows to stalk the object of his twisted desire, Peter, tried to make himself useful by attending to the refreshments, fussing like some old biddie from a "Carry On" movie, pouring out cool-aid cordial into a line of cups ready for the well-mannered classical music punters. It was all very hoity toity except some freak from the streets of Kings Cross got in there while Charles had his back turned and put a tab of acid into every plastic cup which the nice middle-class churchy types then quaffed with relish. As the violinists sawed manically away at their instruments till the wild cacophony shook the stained-glass windows, the sandstone walls melted, the wooden rafters warped and the audience clawed at their faces, tore at their hair and ripped their clothes off. It was a real knees-up and paganised the Christian site just as I'd hoped.

That was my outre fantasy, in reality the concert went off beautifully, the violins, the grand piano, and the piano accordian all so ethereal and evocative it brought tears to my eyes and made me very proud of my talented friend. I'm a fiend for rock'n'roll, for techno, for blues, soul and folk, but also very much for classical music, it soothes my ravaged, fucked-over soul. I was relieved to note that the Anglicans are not into idolatry, not only was there no altar, no dead J.C. hanging lugubriously from the walls, there wasn't even a crucifix in sight, thank nogod, I'm like Nosferatu when spotting one, I hiss and spit.

The church itself was the most beautiful edifice, carved sanstone, wooden ceiling and rafters, Gothic arches, stained glass and marble buttresses, amazing considering it was dedicated to something that doesn't exist, actually it glorifies the ingenuity of mankind, a product of how clever we are at creating great works of art. The accoustics caused the notes to hang liquid in the air and ring clear thru one's heart and when the gang played Australian folk tunes on violin, guitar, flute and accordian, I was transported back in time, to the era of the early colonial settlement at Sydney Cove. For this church was built by convicts and sat on the ridge above the Cove, and convicts congregated here for solace, no crucifix to remind them of their own tortures, just the beauty of their own handiwork to assure them they had some worth.

Tho trite and purple I can't help but gush, "This universe is so AWESOME, life so exciting, good and bad, it doesn't need a god or an intelligent designer to explain it all, it just IS, a natural phenomenon that we're all part of." (Cosmologists think the structure of the Cosmos may be something like foam, each bubble a possible universe with its own particular physics, so if you want to believe in a God made of Foam or spewing out the worlds like saliva from a giant super-intelligent frog then you're crazier than Beelzebub.)

If one is lucky enough to be safe, fed and sheltered it is possible to become clearly conscious of the wonders of existence, where music is the heartbeat soundtrack to all the action and elicits "the music of the spheres" to meld with one's breathing, and on Friday night the existential Acid Test of joy was passed with celestial colours.

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.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Night I was King of the Sydney Gay Mardis Gras

There was a night, many years ago, when I was King of the Sydney Gay Mardi Gras, not that anybody voted for me, I just inadvertently barged in and took my place, possibly to the ire of the elite who had taken-over to ride the growing shlemozzle that had grown out of this gay protest/festival. It was about 1991 and I'd just finished my rock opera film, "Virgin Beasts" and wanted to somehow publicize it. When I went to the Gay press like the Sydney Star Observer with my flyers they turned up their noses, "an ugly broken-arsed queer anarchist, great, get out of here!", those days in Sydney things were vicious.

I was hanging around the Gunnery Squat in Woolloomoolloo, their punk alternative, chaos driven art-space and theatre attracted me like a cuckoo to a crows' nest, I participated in their shows and was with them the day the cops came, axed in the barricades and threw the squatters out. For a few years they had booked their Squat as an entrant in the parade as a kind of queer anarchist artists' float, they had a huge workspace in their covered drive-way where they parked a beat-up truck they'd hired, glitzing it up with tinsel, loading the back with abandoned drunks, driving furiously into the city and jumping on the end of the line at the 11th hour, usually being the last ragtag item in the endless line of entrants hopefully connected with "Friends of Queerdom."

Many of the Gunnery crew had worked on my film with me, making props, painting animation cells, I even shot some of the special effects in their gallery, so they were eager to see the project finished and exhibited. We were lying around the workspace wondering what to do with the truck that year, madmen, anarchists, wannabe artists and revolutionaries, junkies and lotus eaters, all worked up into some restless rebellious ennui. Suddenly Ian the Ice-rose had an epiphany, "Let's do the truck up as "Virgin Beasts" and show-off the movie during the parade!" I'm kind of a shy guy and cringed at the audacity of what would be self-promotion, even tho the film was queer in most aspects, queer writer/director, half the crew and actors were queer, but there were no poofs in the storyline, just loaded with "gay sensibility", maybe I wouldn't be a proper fit for the parade.

"No way, they'll come down on us like a ton of pricks! Everyone will stare at us!" I moaned. "That's the point, baby. It'll be total fun. We're doing it! Get off your arse!" He was mad and speedy, and too much effort to argue with, I acquiesced, always up for an adventure no matter how spontaneous. On two long sheets of plywood I drew the huge outlines of a whale and of a dragon, painted them in psychedelic colours, then clever dick Ian cut the vivid shapes out of the plywood with a handsaw. We put the whale on one side of the truck and the dragon on the other, and atop the truck's cabin-roof we put the bright cut-out words, "VIRGIN BEASTS". I also had printed up 2000 small flyers raving about the movie, "if you DON'T see one film this year make sure it's Virgin Beasts, a piece of shit, it STINKS! etc etc" and I girded my loins at the imagined fracas to come.

The disparate Gunnery gang piled into the back, wild-eyed Ian driving, we nearly got wrecked against a tree outside the squat, then shot-off thru the skyscrapers to crash the end of the parade's line in Macquarie Street. More of our grunge punk alienist friends showed up and hopped aboard, there were bottles, cans, joints passing back and forward, everyone pissed, stoned and hilariously high before anything had actually happened. Then the parade laboriously snaked forth, grinding onwards like a medieval penitents' procession.

Wendy and Annik, two of the busty girl performance act "Butchered Baby", dressed up like Las Vegas Showgirls and marched in front of the truck, blowing kisses and lifting their skirts. At one stage Annik, the brunette, jumped up onto the bonnet and danced lasciviously upon it but when the truck came to a sudden halt because of the float in front of it, she got shot from her perch like a bullet and splattered upon the road. The crowd thought it was part of the act and screamed their tits off, but poor Annik had to be helped limping into the back of the truck where she got breathlessly stoned with the rest of us.

At the very last second one of the artists from the Gunnery rushed up and attached his latest art-piece to the back of the truck with ropes that looked like entrails, his sculpture getting towed behind us. It was a huge blubbery lump of rubber and foam, pinkish with red and blue blotches, all of it on wheels that he was able to sit inside of and steer, it looked like an alien monster infiltrating humanity and hitching a free ride on the tail of the queer procession. Or it might have been an aborted foetus being dragged along by its umbilical cord, the crowds' frenzied screaming hushed into stunned silence when they espied it creaking out of the night as the final eye-sore, the parade's afterbirth.

We trundled forth down Elizabeth and around into Oxford Street, the crowds getting thicker and more raucous with every yard travelled, searchlights piercing the heavens, a wall of flashlights exploding our eyeballs, a deafening roar of ebulliation, hysteria, surprise and admiration greeting us, catcalls, wolf-whistles and howls for the last crazy freak-mobile. A vast, uncontrollable sea of 200,000 lost souls screamed and cheered for what they didn't quite know but squeal they did, and I felt it was all for me, the great artist. We threw the flyers to the baying mob, eagerly clutched and read, people reading over shoulders, 2000 leaflets seemed to cover the whole 200,000 and I figured, if nothing else, Sydney would hear about my film.

At that moment I thought I knew what super-stardom must feel like, all humanity screaming for my attention, for my presence, faces melting, gobs open like black holes, countless hands clawing the air, blinding lights and deafening growl as if some huge beast was about to devour me, I virtually lifted out of my body, it was exilarating in the extreme, I flung my arms wide like Barbara Striesand singing "Don't Rain on My Parade", only I was shouting "Sydney, I'm surfing you!"

We rolled on, more deviants jumped aboard, punks, grunge-bunnies, hookers, junkies, squatters, swilling grog and yahooing, after a long line of freaks we were possibly the freakiest. When we got to Taylor Square where the crowd was thickest and the media waited like vultures, I noticed the spotlights drooped, the TV cameras swivelled away, the reporters' mikes fell from grim mugs, "Virgin Beasts! What the fuck! Beasts hunting for virgins, who are these deadbeats?" (What I was really talking about was the innocence of the animal kingdom/nature and how we humans were fucking it over.)

The party was quickly over for us, eternity squeezed out of a few minutes, glory and notoriety for fifteen nano-seconds dissolved, we cruised into Moore Park and got glum, post-climax mopy faces from the left-over queens roaming the shadows. It didn't take long before paranoia set in, I imagined the poof and dyke elite sitting in plush lounges hissing and spewing over my egregious self-promoting deadbeat truck, "Beasts after virgins, how offensive! Who is that fuckwit?" A cone of silence descended over me and my smashing movie, NOBODY said a word about it in the ensueing months. I certainly got shunned/excluded from all gay happenings hence forth. When I entered my film in the next Mardi Gras Film Fest, I not only got rejected, THEY scratched my one and only print for good measure, like claw-marks down my back, Sydney sure can be a bitchy city.

All this had me ecstatic and drained, brave and fearful. About a year later the Gunnery Squatters got kicked out and went their various, seperate ways. As a side-theatre in the Worldwide War on Drugs, some of the artists went into drugs as a full-on lifestyle, till their brains shrank, too boring for me and so we parted company, including the madman who'd convinced me to go into that Gay Parade, and this left me feeling more of a fool than ever. I have long been the simpleton who gets involved in outlandish events without quite realizing what was going on, and this particular saturnalia made me feel like Quasi Moto, mishapen and idiotic, made 'King For a Day' by the baying mobs then sacrificed on the public pillory. But it was a lot of fun, A LOT OF FUN!

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.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

It's Not All bad.

It's not all bad in my world, I was only back from India a week when a friend gave me an art job, designing a flyer for his concert at St. Johns Church, that's it above, and don't think I'm going religious, the church has great acoustics and a grand piano and as far as I'm concerned we're paganising the place with cool music. I was going thru my art archives and came across much old stuff, I'm chuffed at how much I've done over the years, I needn't worry about being a failure, the journey was awesome, the Becoming more interesting than the Being. What a scallywag I was as a young rebel, I actually had the nerve to paste the poster of the Lord Mayer, Doug Sutherland, above, upon the front doors of the Town Hall, ala Martin Luther.

My wall murals have been destroyed but there are photos that keep them alive, for instance my "Darling It Hurtz" that I did on a squat wall in Darlinghurst which Paul Kelly ripped off for his famous song, there it is above. And the anti-uranium mural I did on the W'loo railway pylons, mysteriously disappeared recently, at the same time They are trying to resurrect Peter Carrot's career on Triple M radio, flogging his bad rock all day long, trying to convince us he really is a cool guy for all that he's sold out his principles to become a Pollie (wants a cracker!) I've mentioned before that he and his shit band "Midnight Soil" stood in front of it for a music clip when he was anti-nuclear, but now he's opening up more uranium mines They want us to forget his previous stance, and so my mural had to go, destroyed, like Nazis burning books, I'm highly amused that I've had the Big Wigs wigging out because of ART. Let's face it, most art is wallpaper or furniture or investment, very little talks about the world we live in.

Even Northcott Housing Ghetto is not all bad, while I have the neighbour from Hell on one side of me, on the other side I have the neighbour from Heaven, old Dolly, she's 88 and still going strong, the first tenant at Northcott back in 1960, it was her who cut the ribbon opening the dump. She is forever bringing me soup, salad and cakes, when I'm sick, tired, depressed, she brings light and love, who cares that all her grandkids are cops and that she prays regularly in the local Catholic Church, she is a true great soul and I love her dearly. She's the only blessing tho, three times a week for the last twenty years the fire alarm has gone off at 3am outside my door, waking the whole building up, the Fire Brigade wailing and screeching thru the dark to come to our rescue, always a dud, (except for Cursula's inferno.) I swear they must be using us as a practice drill, it's been too regular for too long, THEY don't want them firemen slacking off during the wee hours, but what suffering we go thru because of it, I haven't slept in weeks and am a screaming banshee when the Housing dept workers arrive at 8.30 am on some bullshit inspection.

Oh well, music soothes this savage beast as ever, I've got my mate Peter's violin quartets coming up, and last week was funky metal rock'n'roll from Redbee at the Lewisham Pub, white hot electric static, Dan and his brother leaping manically about the stage, me headbanging like an old rocker fool, oh the ecstasy!

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.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Sydney, Space-Age South Seas Pirate Port.

I'm back in Sydney and it's the same old south seas pirate port it ever was. One of my great great great grandfathers got shipped in here as a convict in 1838 bearing my name, (my real name, not my nom de guerre T.Z.), and his blood still runs thru me, I feel a knee-jerk reaction to rebel and sneer against everything, and the false-consciousness of celebrity worship this city thrives on really gets my goat. Yet I inexorably drift back to Sydney even tho I was born in Melbourne and wander the planet, it's as if my Dreamtime spirit has always resided there and the silver cord connected to my navel stretches far but pulls me ever back to Sydney Cove. (One of my great great great grandmothers was a Koori, maybe it's her pulling me back.)

Take the Gay and Lesbian Mardis Gras for instance, every year I get more depressed by it even tho I'm kind of an 'elder statesman' of the Gay Community. I arrived home just in time for the grand parade and, as one of the faceless lumpen proletariat, got even more crushed by the weight of a zillion screaming queens and grunting straight gronks pushing and shoving, as if every float rolled right over me. I'm pleased the general public got to eyeball and pay lip-service to the city's deviants cavorting in public in their underpants, homos under klieg-lights beats homos lurking in toilets and dark parks, but to think that I helped start the whole freak-show by marching in protest back in 1978 pisses me off endlessly.

But afraid I might be missing out on something I toddled off yet again late Saturday night with a female friend to see what we could see. We thought maybe the entrance to Moore Park might still have space for viewing so we walked across the endless parkland to get there only to find the entire road leading to the football stadium fenced off for the Bobby Goldsmith grandstand on one side and some shit-kicking elite on the other. When we tried to get a peek of the caterwauling parade by standing on our toes and propping our chins on the black plastic cyclone fence an Indian (student) security guard came along and punched each interloper in the face, at last getting his nation's revenge against us Aussie white trash. He punched my fag-hag friend in the guts and as he came towards me I was ready to lunge over the fence and slap his face all the while cursing him in Hindi but before I could get that far a fat female cop came along our side of the barricade and dragged me down.

Oh what ignominy! I can now not even get a glimpse of an event that I helped launch and that's supposed to be for my benefit, and punched out for even trying. When I snuck a quick glimpse over the fence of who the grand elite might be, with a whole road given over to them, I saw the Press Corps squeezed up one end and the rest of the road virtually empty except for a squad of security guards and a few stone-faced blonds wandering about the deserted tents looking like Avon ladies trying hard to give away trashy make-up bags, all of them resolutely heterosexual. For all I cared they could keep that parade marching all the way to Bondi Beach and off the cliffs into the sea.

Bring back a shit-stirring protest section to the parade I say, let us rabble-rousers back in there, we homos remain treated like third-class citizens, can't get married and our relationships given respect, around the world still imprisoned, ostracized and murdered, I'm still angry and want to tear down Parliament House because of it. (The squad I appreciated most were the Gay Atheists and the one I booed were the Christians with a banner that read "We're sorry for fucking you all over for the last two thousand years", me screaming "it's too late, the damage has been done!")

In the meantime I try to stay alive, mostly hiding out in my apartment to dream, write and paint in peace if I can get it. But returning to Northcott Housing Ghetto I find a worse war-zone than in India, in fact India is where I get a break from the front-line of existential entropy. Cursula next door had finally burnt her apartment down, luckily it happened a week after I left, otherwise I might have had a heart attack from anxiety of the flames engulfing my flat. She'd dumped some bales of hay by her bedroom window, maybe as feed for her rabbits and guinea pigs, but our local pyromaniac put a match to it all and the flames leaped thru her window and set her junk-filled bedroom ablaze. Her apartment was trashed, the mess so filthy with charred animal corpses lying in their years old shit the firemen refused to go in there.

Happily for me Cursula has moved up into the tower with her new schitzo boyfriend, whom she met at Caritas psyche ward, and sub-let her flat to some drongo who remains hidden and blessedly quiet. She's told her ex, Bawl, to fuck right off, even got the new boyfriend to flog him mercilessly with a bike-chain, they're both now going to criminal court for "afray". I noticed some council workers using the half-destroyed "worker's toilet" in front of our place today, if they knew its' history maybe they wouldn't shit in there. Urban legend has it that when Cursula built her Mongolian yurt in front of if, before it all got burnt down, she charged junkies $5 to use it as a shooting gallery! No wonder the place was like "Deviant Central" with a non-stop derros' party going on, and it's why I got attacked by the ICE zombie last year, when he said "everyone pisses and shits around here!" he meant it. But I hardly see her anymore, her new boyfriend has complained to all and sundry at the Community Center that she keeps him busy manipulating his cock in such painful contortions he feels like a human pretzel. Whatever, my nights are now peaceful, the zombies of the world, gay and straight, can devour each other, and leave me be.

For some real community spirit I wandered like a mouse in a maze to the Cafe Fawlty Towers on Kings Cross, a freak-show where I feel I really do belong. I am, as ever, the classic starving artist for I haven't got the energy to suck the System's arse so I can sell my work, and when I came into the Cafe my friends were sitting there shoveling delicious heaps of food into their gobs while my mouth watered in desperation. My musician mate noticed my face pale and he kindly rushed over and handed me $20 for a drawing I'd just finished for a gig he was organising and with great relish I scoured the menu for the dish that would assuage my hunger.

Yes! Spinach and ricotta lasagna, I'm an old Popeye kid and love spinach so I ordered it, getting reassurance from the cook, Feral, that the repast was indeed available. After an interminable half-hour the dish arrived and I cut into it with glee. But to my consternation there was no spinach or ricotta, just pumpkin and eggplant, both of which I detest and I called out to the cook, "There's no spinach here!" "Yes there is," he shouts. I cut further into it but none of the magic green stuff appeared. "No there isn't!" I shouted back. "Yes there is, I should know, I just cooked it!" "There's no fucking spinach here, look at it yourself!" "I don't have to look, I know there is spinach in it!" Tina, the manager of the (Un)Lucky Horseshoe Cafe screamed, "There's no fucking spinach in this lasagna!" "Yes there is, yes there is! There is spinach in it! There is fucking spinach!" Feral screamed and screamed. I was still blue from my mother's funeral and had no energy to flip-out like I would normally do but he kept shrieking "There is spinach, there is spinach, there is spinach!" stamping his feet, jumping up and down in a temper tantrum.

I hefted the dish in my hand and yelled, "If you keep it up, cunt, I'll throw this shit in your face!" Everyone in the cafe shuddered, they knew I was capable of it, Vitto shrank into himself like an old tortoise, Feral screamed and screamed, throwing dishes about the kitchen then attacking a piece of veal with a mallet as if he wanted to murder the calf all over again. Then he screamed, "Give it back if you don't want it!" Again I made out I was going to throw it at him but desisted, I was tired of destroying the Cafe, it had happened many times over the years, I just shoved the plate at him and rushed from the hole in the wall, still starving, cursing the Piccolo, "This cafe is worse than Fawlty Towers, seriously!"

I bought a chicken pie from a cake-shop and was satisfied with that. Fuck, this starving artist routine was too much. Hmmmmm... Sydney! The convicts, pirates, space-cadets, hustlers and junkies sure had given me a wonderful "Welcome home!"

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.