Tuesday, April 30, 2013

30) Riding High With the Sid Quartz Gang.

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 smiled wickedly when he thought back to when he’d first met Sid Quartz. It was at the one palatable restaurant in the monastery town of Shangri-la, the Neemal Hotel, a dark, grungy cavern patronized by the hippie-set for its half-western cuisine.
He’d heard a Yankee accent broadcasting loudly from the backroom, telling some deadbeats “How it is.” He followed it to its source and introduced himself, intrigued by the American’s “know-all” attitude. They discovered they were both studying yoga at the Yoganiketan Foundation and quickly became fast friends, the English language, mysticism and popular culture as their common bond.
Sid Quartz was a Jewish New Yorker in India pondering his existence, questioning religious tradition, searching for other paradigms. He looked a bit like Al Pacino crossed with Droopy the Dog, wily, cynical and disappointed. He was a drop-out from the American entertainment industry, once a successful agent to the stars and, having brushed up against the trappings of fame and wealth, was jaded and gotten hungry for riches of the soul, something difficult to find in Hollywood.
Arthur was fascinated by his street-smart confidence and “been there, done that” attitude and he in turn was charmed by Arthur’s Australian laid-back humor and larrikin cheekiness. Sexual attraction did not come into the equation, Sid being straight as an arrow and Arthur closeting his homosexual nature behind a fa├žade of the esoteric seeker. As well as yoga and meditation, they had many common interests and they discussed Life, the Universe, Rock and Roll and movies earnestly and endlessly as young people in every generation do.
For all his soul-searching and hippie ways, Sid was still a Jewish boy from Brooklyn, and no one could outsmart or hoodwink him in a business deal. Throughout his yogic practices and Indian adventures he was always scheming on how to make a buck, as his travel expenses had to be paid for somehow and he wasn’t about to sleep in the dust like the grunge-bunny hippies. Sid’s favorite saying was, “If you play, you must pay.” As an artistically inclined space-cadet Arthur never let economics bother him, he roughed it when he had to like the quintessential vagrant sleeping by the side of the road, and still Sid took him on over the years as companion and pet Antipodean freak, in his kindness and his coolness.
Later on they joined forces in Kashmir, after Swami Yogeshwaranand folded his summer yoga camp in the mountains, and it was with Sid that he lived the life of a prince for awhile, out on the lakes of Srinigar. When they’d first been in Kashmir Arthur had introduced Sid to his old houseboat wallah, Abdul, and the two had gotten on famously, Sid adopting the whole Muslim family and supporting them for many years. He got the old man to tow his dilapidated houseboat out of the city precinct and onto the wide-open Dahl Lake, parking it in front of the Shalimar Palace Gardens.
In 1972 it was the only houseboat that had dared to venture out into the placid expanse of the lake and they had enjoyed a level of tranquility and privacy unknown in the crowded caravan-park style of houseboat-mooring that festered in the city-center of Srinigar. Poor old Abdul’s houseboat was like a long, flat canoe with a ramshackle hut plonked down in the middle of it. The shack had three tiny rooms, enough for a couple of freaks to languish away their lives in.

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

Shalimar Gardens, Srinigar, Kashmir.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Dancing with a Rock Goddess.

As I said in "My SOB Story" there was one band above all others that uplifted my troubled soul in the '80s with their ecstatic pop/rock and that was The Divinyls. To hear of Chrissie Amphlet's death today has left my dancing soul bereft and reminded me that old age is quickly overtaking me, the '80s have been left way behind, never to ride that blast-wave again. Oh what rocking, rough and tumbling, rambling years they were and if there ever was a rock goddess, Chrissie was Her, she got us punters off real BAD, head-banging, highland-jigging, electric white-light rock euphoria blowing us in all directions. Us oldies might look fucked these days but at least we can say we danced with the likes of Bon Scott and Chrissie Amphlet live up-close.

I have bee an addict all my life, for music, art and books, and I'm always surfing the wave of pop culture to get my highs; when young I was of the rock'n'roll cognoscenti, not in the music industry, just a keen punter. I know I caught the wave crashing off the Divinyls at least seven times, and in memory of Chrissie's dissolving back into the interstellar dust, I'm now gonna recall the deliciousness of those times.

The first gig I attended might also have been The Divinyls debut on stage sometime around 1981 at the Trade Union Club in Surry Hills, Sydney, (maybe I'm wrong about the year and the debut, my heads been run over 21 times since but the word was it was their first appearance.) I remember that they surprised us with their up tempo, raunchy, pop rock that had the crowd jumping from the get go, me really carried away by the beat, the wailing guitar and her croaked soprano, I made a fool of myself and danced across the ceiling.

I saw The Divinyls play twice at Sellina's, Coogee Bay Hotel, that rockers' gladiator pit with the black wire-mesh balcony looming over the stage and enclosing the mosh pit like a cage within which the punks fought it out, grappling and thrashing while Chrissie danced maniacally about, lifting up her schoolgirl's dress to incite the riot. How I loved Sellina's as a rock music mecca. Maybe Sydney could be considered down-under Dagsville compared to New York, Paris and London but we Aussies had our own cutting scene regardless, venues like Sellina's, Trade Union and Phoenician Club, and bands like The Divinyls, INXS, The Saints and The Angels made Sydney city worth living in.

I saw The Divinyls support The Angels at some football stadium out in the middle of suburbia sometime in the late '80s, a few fellow Pyrmont squatters and I got through a hole in the cyclone fence at the back thus experiencing the ultimate in electric blow-outs for free. The Divinyls smashed the heads of umpteen thousands crazed fans, Chrissie leading the entire mob into a frenzy when she did her Scottish fling, flirting with her school dress, I'm sure the Angels found it a hard act to follow.

I chased the band again into the middle of suburbia another time in the '80s, they performed in a giant shed, like an aircraft hangar, again we snuck in, climbing the cyclone fence, not even barbed-wire stopping our enthusiasm. Except for Sylvia Saliva, she got stuck on top of the fence, the barbed-wire caught in her crotch, she couldn't get down and swayed up there for many tense minutes, screaming for help. Eventually a security guard came to her rescue, untangling her and gently helping her to the ground. She batted her eyelids at him and he let her into the crowd, where I gleefully joined her, and we forgot all about our troubles as we rocked to Chrissie Amphlet and Mark McEntee, dancing ever the way to get our endorphins flowing.

Another great rock venue was the Tivoli Club on George Street, where the Metro is now; I saw Public Image there on New Years Eve, 1985 (?), we ate psychedelic mushrooms and hit the ceiling with our grappling, Johnny Lydon smiled at me, ME, a little poofter nobody. But The Divinyls gig was also a beauty, so exhilarating, they made life exciting, we gasped with pleasure at the end, like we'd caught huge death-defying waves and lived to tell the tale, light pouring from our third eyes, limbs aching, feet twitching, as if dancing were an Olympic sport and we were golden athletes, that's how she made us feel.

And the seventh time I saw them was perhaps the most memorable, it was up the north coast at Ballina, at a wet t-shirt pub of all places, there was a small band-room at the back of the pub, a few hundred die-hards packed in there and got up close, real close, to Chrissie pumping it out, gyrating, stomping, head-swirling, the rock-maddened punters falling over each other to get to the stage and touch her. Some young dykes up front started a fist-fight, virtually between Chrissie's legs, for a split-second she stopped singing in shock but then carried on with  the abandoned dance, the rest of us dancing with her like a thousand-limbed monster, thrashing, writhing, restless life emergent, the punch-ups dykes tumbling on top of us, everyone laughing, it was ecstatic, without drugs!

After the show I hung about the stage-entrance door, yelling for Chrissie to come out, shouting out my love, screaming my appreciation to the silent heavens. But she didn't come, too tired I guess, I wish I could've known her but I'm just a fag in the wind with nothing to cling to except the music. Oh electric music, it tweaks my nerve-endings blissfully and sends my soul into satiated quiescence, and if ever there was a rock goddess, surely it was Chrissie Amphlet; though she's gone from star to star dust, it's been an awesome trajectory!

P.S. Yeah, yeah, "Goddess" is a bullshit term, she was no fucking angel, no one is, if I had've been one of her inner sanctum, like I fantasize, we would've fought like two cats in a bag, drunks get on my nerves! I'm writing purely from a punter's perspective, existence without culture would be unbearable, her art got me high, consoled me, helped me to keep slogging thru the shit of city life, that's what I know about her, all that pain, live fast/die hard, she was human and I hope she knew how much she turned her fellow humans on.

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, April 05, 2013

In Fear I Laid an Easter Egg!


Thank nogod I survived another Easter and didn't get crucified by the howling mob. It's not that I have a Messiahnic complex, it's just that as an independent, free-thinking individual rationalist I can't help being paranoid that the backwards superstitious, herd-mentality god-morons might stone me in the public-square for daring to be a cheeky atheist.

All this purulent paranoia came to the surface on Good Friday when I watched the Dino de Laurentis biblical pot-boiler "Barrabas" on TV, made in 1961 starring Anthony Quinn in the lead, it was three hours of sado-masochistic spectacle, lots of whipping, stone-throwing, crucifixion, gladiator slice and dicing, on and on till I had to laugh, realising it was the vicarious pleasure of watching others being tortured that was the hidden agenda of the film, not spiritual uplifting. And I laughed at cliches like a solar eclipse at the moment of Jesus's death to prove his godhood, the superstitious peasants falling to their knees; I've seen the same thing in a hundred cornball movies when the hero needed to fool the dumb natives and make himself a false god for a quick escape.

I got to thinking about Jesus as an historical character, most likely some kind of revolutionary against the corrupt organised religions of his time, a member of a pagan love cult and into a variation on Utopianism, eschewing money and war, living communally in peace, taking drugs like magic mushrooms on pagan holidays like mid-winter solstice, and experiencing free love, not only with his girlfriend Mary Magdalene but also possibly with a boyfriend amongst his eager posse, all of them sharing each others' love. Espousing lines like, "the meek shall inherit the earth" and "the kingdom of heaven is within" he was definitely going against the grain. But the Authorities killed him off and eventually certain power-mongers like Saul of Tarsus, (St.Paul), saw the "population-control" benefits of this new style religion, and he took it on as a means to power, conclaves of old men then planting special Christian holidays on old-time pagan festivals as well as usurping ancient symbols like "mother holding child", and pushing hard bullshit mythologies, miracles such as resurrection and the overcoming of death, walking on water and bread and wine from nothing, all sleight of hand tricks to befuddle the credulous and con them into thinking this life is not all there is.

By the time it gets to the Emperor Constantine in the third century A.D. it gets institutionalised, becomes the State religion, and what was in the beginning a Utopianist creed of living in freedom gets turned back into a method of enslavement, brain-washing people into accepting their slavery with the promise of life in the here-after. As ever it was about nasty, dirty old men ruling, living off the fat of the land, bludging much of the time, getting their grubby hands on the virgins whilst striding about in long black dresses, demanding the stupid rabble kiss their hands and wash their stinking feet, waving incense and mumbling mumbo-jumbo in front of a ghastly idol of a corpse hanging from two pieces of wood while they eat of Christ's flesh and drink of his blood like cannibal ape-men of the stone-age. Oh yeah, and moving the center of control to Rome, the original instigator of repression and torture against the rebellious Utopianists, which shows exactly where they're coming from.

It's not just the witch hunts and burning faggots of medieval times that get my 21st century goat. We now have to be witness to the horrific exposure of pedophile priests, crimes of the Catholics 5 times greater than other Christian denominations, children raped over and over by these Bible-bashing hyppocrits in their tacky long black widows' drag. And to think the power-mongers of our modern state, many of  those running things, are Catholics, (the Terrigal gang of politicians that's just got busted in N.S.W. for corruption), several of our last State Premiers to our possible new Prime Minister, (Abbot and his lieutenants) to media moguls like Murdoch, all Catholics. No wonder the world is on the brink of nuclear war, irrationalism rules while money is the real god!

My paranoia is fed by the fact that the major artwork of my 20th Century working life, my film "Virgin Beasts", shown all around the world, sends up the Catholic religion mercilessly, with a satanic black mass and a faux J.C. figure screaming at a woman, "It has no penis! It has no penis!" She replies, "Of course I have no penis, I'm a woman!" J.C. shrieks, "Impossible, women are creatures of myth and fable." Here I am satirising the fact that there are no women in the Catholic priesthood and that they are therefore hung-up on the penis as their true idol and are possibly closet homosexuals. Any smart spectator of my art would twig to my signifiers and the Catholics amongst them would want my scalp. Perhaps that's part of why I live in poverty and ignominy and may be easily killed off here in the underground.

But fuck it, I can't give up my rationalism, it would be like plucking out my vivid blue eyes, eyes that burn laser bright, like the alien kids in "Village of the Dammed", though I be demonised for daring to think free of the herd, to be burnt at the stake as an honest faggot. I came out at seventeen in 1967 and have copped Hell for it ever since, unlike those great heroes here in Auz who have just come out in the last few years, or are still in the closet so they can have grand careers. And by reading history and science I got my eyes opened further, there is no god, just an awesome universe, a natural phenomena where I have a single life to live of which I'm going to make the most. At the risk of being crucified I think I'll soon jump on my time-machine and go back to the age of Jesus and see what he and his mob think of chocolate Easter eggs.

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.