Thursday, July 21, 2011

Subvertising the Anti-brand.

Been lying low for awhile, stormy weather chilling my soul while I contemplate the contradiction of pursuing notoriety under my artist's brand-name and my contempt for fame-whores in a vacuous pop-culture civilization. Nothing much else is happening here on the Northcott Ghetto front, the TV antenna for the whole complex has been knocked out, 1000 apartments left to stare at blank walls, I fear the joint will go up in flames tonight as the maddened denizens look for something to fill the void.

I knew what I was doing way back in 1978 when I came up with the anti-brand name of Toby Zoates, it was outre, cutting and ridiculous. I'd noticed a television commercial for a famous Aussie breakfast cereal where the voice-over slurred his "s" into a "z" and I had an epiphany, Z for Zorro, Zapata, Zippie the Pinhead, Zarathustra, Ziggy Stardust and Zen, even scientists eventually named the all-round nutritious ingredient in oats the "Z factor." As a renegade artist I saw riots and civil disobedience as my "performance art" and wrote/drew comix/cartoons with salacious, subversive content, satirising "consumer capitalism" via the breakfast of champions, OATS. No wonder the"System" was never going to give me a GO, my name is unmentionable, the works destroyed or banned from the light of day, no invites to anything, my post-modernism too clever by half. Unlike under Stalinism They don't kill dissident artists here in Auz, They just ignore them.

Yet every seventy seconds there's an add on TV eulogising "Uncle Toby's Oats", for many years now the announcer very careful to pronounce the words clearly, separately, no "Z". And lately Donald McRonald is selling bowls of Zoates in the mornings from their golden arches, again the TV commercials careful not to connect the words, it's "Uncle Toby's heart-tick oats" they're flogging, much to my amusement. Oh the joy of undermining the sacred cow of advertising and TV-land, as an artist in the gutter I could only have dreamed of reaching such sublime heights, to actually have an effect upon the over-arching cyber-sphere.

Sydney is a cruel city, it uses you up and spits you out, and gets the last laugh at you for being a smart-ass. I recently designed a poster for a classical music concert for a friend of mine, he decided one way to get noticed would be to donate the proceeds to the community radio station, 2MBS FM, a worthy cause. But when they put my design on their newsletter, mentioning the concert and sending it to 70,000 subscribers, they cropped the artwork and lopped off my signature, like it was done by no one, I don't exist. It's long been that way, every job, either no recognition or when promised payment, of a few lousy dollars, they refuse after they've got the art, or they make me go to the back-door, seven times, to beg. That's what I get for being a smart-ass, subvertising an anti-brand name like Toby Zoates.

Though the cone of silence permanently upon me is dispiriting, poverty painful, ignominy humiliating, the pouring rain outside bitterly cold, (poor little orphan me), yet the exhilaration of creating art, leaving a long trail of it behind me, was worth it all, my mind is blown, my heart is full. I might not get a VIP invite to Lady Googoo at the Town Hall along with gangsters and media-whores but I can thank nogod I have a peaceful life, there's no papparazi stalking me with their blinding flashbulbs, I'm absolutely persona non grata. To be really radical and subversive one has to stay anonymous, under the radar, that's what anti-branding is all about, otherwise you become "state-sanctioned", status quo, a franchise, a recognisable brand.

Read "Alec Farthing" in the anthology "Being Different" or my comic "No Future", or the strip in Penguin's "Aussie Underground Comix", view my posters in the National Gallery in Canberra, (hidden in the dungeon), read the stories in this Blog, do you think I'll ever surface from the Underground? Not bloody likely! I'm rattling on about this shite because I'm considering having a show of my art, past and present, at a fairly respectable gallery whose curator seems eager to have me. It's a bit like Banksy coming in from the shadows, (yeah, yeah, with not as much talent and no Brangelina cachet.)(More like Mr. Brainwash trying to flog a whole lot of trash that's overflowing from my apartment.) I'll have to surface from the sewers for it, work hard, promote, advertise, risk money, get exposed: why bother? So much nicer to hide out and read science-fiction novels. But nogod, I'm not dead yet, life's a challenge, being a recluse is boring.

What's my problem? Why the chip on my shoulder? Why do I have to eternally stick the finger to the System, the Beast, Consumer Capitalism? (Again I'm a walking contradiction, my art is possibly just another product to be consumed!) First, because as a cheesy smiling sacred-cow white-washing exploitation, pollution and destruction, the Beast cries out for satirization, and, secondly, because I got fucked, twisted, stunted on the journey to here and I can't Get Over It. Toby Zoates is my "fuck you" to the Beast. Hee hee hee! I'm also quite mad but madness is a healthy response to a terrible world history. Who wants to be normally adjusted to all this crap raining down upon us in the name of, what? The one true god, Money!

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.

Monday, July 04, 2011

29) The Fallen Yogi.

These stories, that have been available on Blogspot for 10 years for free, will now only be available on Amazon at the address above. They are contained in “Vagabon Freak”, the 1st volume of a trilogy titled “The 7 Lives of the Punk Poofy Cats”. I have been the archetypal starving artist in his garret, painting, drawing and writing, writing, writing as if I were some waif crying out in the wilderness. Now I need you, dear reader, to hear my cries and go to Amazon and buy a copy of my book and keep me alive. There you will find my complete tale, from beginning to end, in one place, for you to hold in your hot little hands. When you read it straight through, I assure you, it will blow your mind.

Below are introductory paragraphs and some pictures that I still retain to illustrate this story, hopefully to give you a come-on to get my book. Thanks for giving me a go, TZ.


Arthur’s concrete cave was far enough upriver from the Ashram to be out of sight of the nosy old Swamis, bored with their sadhana and entertained by gossip, especially the waywardness of the Aussie wannabe yogi. He would sit out on its concrete veranda, shaded from the ferocious sun under a thatch awning, and sing sacred love songs while clinking Old Compassion’s hand cymbals frenetically.
He adored the Sadhu’s meditative life and when a diamond-backed snake slithered around him he delighted in it as the cave’s penultimate mod con and genii loci. Carrying on like the King of the Kooks he soon attracted a motley crew of western freaks with whom he held rollicking soirees, smoking chillums, beating bongos and playing guitars to the wee hours of the night as if it were some exotic nightclub he might have named “Sadhu Nick’s”.
The smoking of hashish was certainly anathema to his yogic disciplines, drug addiction a path he was inexorably led to after a life of disaffection, topping up the peace of his meditations, quelling his disquieted neurosis, soothing his nerves. It didn’t help that beautiful young men continued to swim daily in front of his cave like angels from paradise, perfect athletic bodies, innocently erotic in their play, virtually naked as their cotton loin-cloths turned sheer in the splashing water. He felt as if his iron-bound nerves were unraveling from his eyeballs down.
In the midst of all this tantric jungle melodrama Swami Chidananda, head honcho of the Ashram, decided his errant nephew would benefit from the illustrious company of the austere young Aussie, suggesting the two of them hang out together, naïve old fellow that he was. Mukesh was about twenty-three and a mess, his body all chopped up with running sores and his face caved in from several years as a heroin addict.
He had created horrendous troubles for his Swami uncle by stealing anything not nailed down at the monastery, breaking into the hospital pharmacy and robbing the drug cabinet several times, dropping near-dead from overdose at many of the spiritual functions, till his uncle was at his wit’s end trying to figure out how to help the lad get over it. Somehow Arthur’s worldly-wise, rock and roll nature would show the way to an upright, intelligent life for the unruly young fellow or so the abbot hoped.
For a few weeks the sorry chap followed Arthur everywhere, like a plague of flies, shattering his calm facade, for Mukesh was a demanding brat, badgering, whining and harping on about his sorry existence. He soon confessed that all his woes began at the age of sixteen when he was seduced by a British Swami residing at the Ashram, a guy who had renounced the world, dressed in saffron robes, dedicated himself to prayer and meditation, and then avidly fucked the arse off Mukesh every chance he got, the poor boy discovering he was gay in the process and turning to drugs to handle the abuse.
It didn’t take long before Mukesh demanded that Arthur have sex with him; he pleaded, cajoled, nagged to be sodomized, to have his cock sucked, to suck Arthur’s cock, whatever, anything, begging for it, on and on, day and night. Still trying to ward off his own sexual demons Arthur was having none of it, the ashram atmosphere was not appropriate and the guy was too screwed up, unattractive and uncool with purulent track-marks all over his body and cold sores around his mouth.

(If your curiosity is piqued please go to the WEB address above and buy the book to read further.)

In Search of the Golden Fleece.