Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Legend of Toby Zoates (?!)

A few of the artworks I did in the '70s and '80s.

Get ready for another of my ongoing vitriolic raves about getting fucked over by the dogs' arsts-holes I met in my long travail surviving bitchy Sydney. I don't give a fuck if you think I'm a whinging fuckwit, it's fun to spit chips on the low-talent middle-class robots after they stood on me: imagining the look on their pallid faces is worth the bad reputation. They expect guttersnipes like me to just take it quietly, disappear and die; thank nogod for the Internet, it's a democratic space where I can get the right of reply, at least for the near future, until the likes of Murdoch figure out how to own and censor it.

In the last year I've been amazed and stoked to meet various people at events or on the streets who have lauded my non-career as an artist, telling me I'm a legend. For someone who has been totally broke, at times starving in the proverbial garret and always ignominious, it is quite bemusing to be told I'm a legend in inner-city Sydney. I don't quite believe it as mostly I've been fucked over, beaten, given up, fatigued and relegated to the dust-bin. But a legend is exactly what I had worked tirelessly for 35 years to achieve, like an underground guerrilla artist slashing Z for Zorro, Zapata, Zippie the Pinhead on all the walls of Sydney when I pasted up my posters, a phantom character with no one knowing who I really am.

I've eschewed entering the big snooty art contests here in Auz like the Archibald, Suleiman or Wynn prizes, (it being a 'class' thing and my inferiority complex telling me I'm not that good.) (And all of it apolitical and meaningless which suits the ruling class nicely but for me is a waste of time bothering with.) I rarely give interviews and try zealously not to have my photo taken so I don't become public property and a fame whore. My manifesto is about not climbing the shit-heap of a society which tortures and murders the poor and indigenous for profit: I work very hard at not selling out, thus I starve. In my jaundiced eye this rebellious attitude is the only viable way of producing cool art in an irrational, cruel world = the artist has a responsibility to depict/discuss real issues = the fact that the world is being destroyed in the name of profit, over-population and tribal differences. (And I don't mean vacuous modern art where snooty wannabes intellectualize volumes of bullshit about a few straight lines ruled across a canvas and try to con us that it's about some "social justice" issue when it is in fact avoiding really depicting and informing on the horrors of war-mongering, planet destroying capitalism.)

Last weekend I participated in a show in Woolloomooloo entitled "The Future is Known", inspired by a Russian expression, "the future is known, it's the past that's always changing". It was to be "an opportunity to re-remember the past anew, to bring together some of those fragments into a temporary present that will again feed and change the past... to remember a city and state of mind... Darlinghurst, Woolloomoolloo and Sydney in the 1980s." My rave here is in furtherance of that idea, my side of the story, for the record.

The organizer of the show, Madelaine Preston, was kind enough to exhibit my "Darling It Hurtz" poster and my Super 8 film of the same name, she even used a photo of the wall mural that both artworks were based on as the front cover for her exhibition catalog/brochure. And when I attended I was chuffed to have a woman approach me and tell me yet again I am a legend. Then I read the catalog and was somewhat pissed off. Talk about retelling the past, every fuckwit non-talent has his/her own ego to trumpet, desperate for fame, and thus revise history.

Some guy named Rob Miller wrote a poetic paeon for the brochure titled 'Darlinghurst Daze' in which he gives a long list of people, venues and events from the times, every deadbeat including the right-wing Prime Minister of the time, John Howard, gets a mention, but it studiously avoids my name, though I put on a hundred gigs as attested to by the artworks above. This I accept as par for the course as Sydney is a gladiator's arena when it comes to arty-farty competition and I only ever got kicked in the teeth by the wannabe trendoids.

What really got my goat was the clanger in his list of happening artists, "Super 8 film was synonymous with the person of Gary Warner" as that arsehole was mostly synonymous with elbowing his way into the Super 8 film group, taking it over and only promoting his own type of obtuse, meaningless abstract crap. I'd been showing my cinema verite/vox populi Super 8 at gigs for years before he invaded from Brisbane, and years after he fled back to Brisbane, (few of these Queenslanders could cut the mustard in rough and tumble Sydney.) I was especially involved with the Sydney Super 8 film festival but once he took over I was excluded. Then he crawled into the Aust Film Commission and got the job of handing out the grant money to Super 8 film-makers and when I applied for money to finish and make a print of "Darling It Hurtz" he coldly knocked me back, basically telling me to fuck off and die.

Darlinghurst Squat Mural 1981
I had to write a letter to the Film Commissioners informing them Mr. Warner was a know-nothing twerp and that "Darling It Hurtz" would long outlive his pathetic bureaucratic career. They invited me in and gave me a check under the table, over his dead body. The film has been shown countless times ever since, used as a resource for several documentaries, (the latest being on Paul Kelly's life) and was indeed a telling part of "The Future is Known" exhibition representing the times of inner-city Sydney in the '80s, the people, buildings, bands and venues as no other documentary has quite done. But if it was up to Mr. Warner (Bros.) it would never have seen the light of day, I can only imagine it was because of his overweening ambition and sheer jealousy that I was out there doing it. (His crappy films are totally forgotten.)

Rob Miller mentions that a lot of this remarkable art of the '80s was post-punk rebellious, but anything truly anti-authoritarian gets wiped, the status quo can't handle it, and he himself has seen fit to write me out of history as have many another desperate fame-whore in tall-poppy-cutting Sydney. For example, when someone submitted an entry about my efforts to Wikipedia, that all-wise tome's agent in Sydney could find no proof of my existence on the Net! (The twit didn't look very hard.) (The dude submitting my "history" was trying to get up my bum and secondary stalking a girlfriend of mine, I don't give a shit about all this clamoring to get into Wkikipedia, I'd get a hernia if I did!)

When the "famous" Tin Sheds crew got their catalog printed up for the National Gallery Canberra show "Walls Sometimes Speak - Poster Art in Australia", the innumerable works I did within their hallowed precinct weren't included though they've got 17 of them buried in the Gallery's dungeon somewhere. (Again, the jealous cunts who organized it are instantly forgotten, and they just couldn't handle that, without any connections or money, my work got around the world.)

My mural from the Woolloomooloo Mural project has disappeared though Marilyn Fairskye's many ugly photograph-traced murals, faded to arse-wipe blotches, are still in-situ because, after all, they're safe and she's a professor who gets to judge the Archibald prize. (My mural depicted our great Prime Minister of yesteryear, Bob Hawke, selling Uranium as he's getting fucked in the arse by Ronnie Reagan. I bet he asked for it to be taken down, a bit late as it was up for 21 years. His latest contribution to Auz is to suggest our outback become a dump for the world's nuclear waste = what a great legacy to leave behind, he's got one foot in the grave and the other on some slippery reactor sludge.)

And my hard-won technique of roto-scoping and dissolves between animation and live-action film, with the design of a head eating crap, stuff flying out the ears and circling like thoughts above, got stolen from my studio while I was in mid-production by a plagiarist named Hobart Spews for a video clip for that boring band "Mad as Cut Snakes", he based his academic career and arty non-fame on it and I got relegated to an also ran, (He was a vampire and I was stupid enough to let him in the door so it was my fault.) To reiterate, fame and fortune, as the "grand artist", has most desperadoes willing to sell their grandmothers to the glue-factory, and they'll quickly trample a nobody like me, no worries.

The winners always revise history and let's face it, the conservative capitalist neo-fascists have been winning since the 2nd world war ended, forget the post-punks of the '80s.  THEY run and profit from wars, steal from the workers and the poor, kill off the indigenous owners and destroy the environment. And have nice blank-faced artists to white-wash and apologize for them. I'm not worried about posterity, or even fame and fortune, I get by, I travel the world, dance by the Arabian Sea, really live instead of climbing a bureaucracy to make sure me and my friends get the kudos/money.

Hiss, spit, scratch, yoooowwwwllll from the punk alley cat!
Yet it seems I did indeed create "the legend of Toby Zoates", (not even my real name) for that's what many people tell me, and my tag is all over the Internet. I actually put my soul where my mouth was and got arrested many times for my political beliefs and I bet the plethora of artsy anarcho-pretenders hate me for this as well. Fuck 'em all. I want to live NOW, and I sure got myself a life and not chasing a career with a brief-case and mobile phone ever stuck to my ear, sucking up to the grey-faced milk-sop bureaucrats who hand out the money and cushy jobs.

On top of the nightmare of being poor, everyone's afraid of death and dying as a nobody, not leaving even a ripple on the pond, being meaningless in this vast VOID. Why give a shit? Is fame worth selling your soul to vacuous consumer capitalism for, or trampling on others? Many seem to think so but they don't end up happy and fulfilled anyway. To LIVE, fully in the moment, and be COOL, that's the rub, fuck posterity!

(Yeah yeah, I'm a legend in my own toilet-break and a walking contradiction, all this blather is blowing my own trumpet, as if I'm a sucker for the cult of celebrity along with every other dickhead. But I've never sought power to hand out the money and jobs, never plagiarized or pushed anyone out of the way to get ahead, never hassled to get my face in the Daily Terror news. I've hung in the underground, with only the Internet as my right of reply. Great art is a joke, half the masterpieces in the world's collections are forgeries, the other half will go up in smoke when the bombs rain down.)

I've got a show coming up in September 2012 at Damian Minton's Annex in Redfern, (if the Machiavellian artsholes don't interfere and stop it), wherein I will show 35 years of my work, posters and paintings, absolute proof that I did indeed LIVE IT to the MAX. Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean They're not gonna fuck me over!

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." - Hunter S. Thompson.
(Thanks to Gaz for the quote, it applies to the Arts in general!)

W'loo Mural 1985 to 2006.

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.