Thursday, May 30, 2013

Between the Devil and a Shark Infested Sea.

I noticed on the news some photographers were bitterly complaining they'd been excluded from the Vivid Festival strobing out the front of the Museum of Crap Art down at Circular Quay, some international artists shocked and surprised that there was such a thing as "CENSORSHIP" in Australia. Surprise, surprise! Welcome to the club!

This is an extremely conservative country, run by an elite who want the masses kept ignorant, little or no information of facts and truths to be leaked out, the wealth concentrated in a few cronies' hands, the continent to be a mining camp, a military base, a prison island, (for the poor) and a sheep farm, (us being most of the sheep.) Oh yeah, and a consumer product test market. There's nothing wrong with all the above I guess, social security's gotta be paid for somehow, though it's a pity it's all based on wage slavery, but don't forget, a diversified 'artistic culture' underpins an economy and keeps it thriving. (Of course, I'm just taking the piss, Auz is a great place to raise a family, to earn a living, to visit as a tourist, it's just a tough place to be a free-thinking artist.)

The banned photos were quite innocuous, scenes of ecological destruction from bush-fires and floods. Imagine what happens to artists here who dare to pull no punches with their critique. At worst they're bumped off, driven to suicide, at best they never work in their chosen field again, this harsh fact driven home to me in the documentary "Shadow of Liberty" where global news organizations are concentrated in a few hands and in league with a govt. THEY helped put in power, and we the people are told lies, non-news, half-truths to befuddle us, and anyone who goes against them gets fucked.

Artists are between a rock and a hard place, the media monopolies and the Establishment: Art in Australia is mostly controlled by the government, it funds the art-schools, all major art galleries, the arts grants, the festivals, all of it closely monitored, as if art can be a revolutionary force that must be nipped in the bud. With the lowest common denominator in blandness one must pass muster with the apparatchiks guarding the doors to all the citadels of shit, sucking up to experts who know perfectly well what doesn't rock the boat, like the meaningless crap that fills most of the MCA. (The Koori bark paintings are what's worthwhile there, PC ever the criterion.) I cringe at having to be nice to the little beige bureaucats who get a few hundred grand a year to lord it over artists but still think they're hip; yes, even old rock-stars can climb the shit-heap, grow mouldy, conservative, and get to run a Vivid Festival that should now be called Livid, considering those artists complaints. To the poor put-upon public, ART is what they're told it is, they scratch their heads and think, "Oh well, They're the experts, who are we to question this nonsense."

 I know I'm a contradiction, if THEY waved a few thousand bucks at me I'd go running, such is the desperation of poverty. Still the whole arts set-up here makes me sick. The world burns and They want arse-wipes to hang on their precious walls. I'm spitting chips like this because obviously I can't crack those snooty bureaucats and much of my work has been 'disappeared'. Two of my murals were on squat walls and those building were eventually knocked down and this I accept as natural attrition in a shifty city.

What I'm livid about and don't accept is the disappearance/destruction of my Woolloomoolloo mural, "Enjoy Smack Cold", not only was it scathing towards the Hawk Labour Govt's. mining and selling of Uranium, but also that talking dildo Peter Carrot and his band Midnight Soil stood in front of it for their video clip "The Power and the Passion", which incidentally has also disappeared from the airwaves, not seen on TV since he joined the Labour Govt as a minister. Nukes have won, it's a fait accompli, the world needs 'clean energy', yeah, yeah, yeah, but an oppositional dialectic like mine gets destroyed: my effort is as good as any other arsehole's pro-govt. suck, that's my gripe. Not only Nazis burn books and forbid decadent art.

For all my complaints to the curators concerned, the public still can't access my posters online in the print collection at the National Gallery Canberra, such as the "Jail News" poster above; maybe the subject matter is just too tough, maybe the authorities hope to revise history, pretend such scabrous protests don't happen? My animated film, "The Thief of Sydney" has been lauded all around the world, it's as good as any of the "video art" mindlessly flashing inside the MCA but would I ever get a showing there? Not on your fucking life! It's anti-uranium and anti-nuclear, suggesting the industry feeds the global proliferation of nuclear arms. But worse than this, it has a go at a certain media mogul, calling him the Turd Doc, Emperor of Sydney, who hypnotically gazes down upon a hapless public from a giant wall-screen and announces, "You too can join ELITE" under which my protagonist graffittis, "Krap!" As far as Sydney goes, I'll never eat a good lunch in this town again.

I'm old now, and very, very tired, and I can't be fucked anymore, for the 21st time in my life I'm giving up art, my work was probably no good anyway. The media tyrants, the pallid bureaucrats, the hungry entrepreneurs, it's like swimming in a shark infested sea and I'm floundering. Yesterday I had a meeting with some well-meaning businessmen on Kings Cross, they want Lane Kelly Place beautified with a wall mural, too many shops are for lease and they need to draw the crowds back somehow. I was pumped for ideas and told the Council would cough up the cost of materials but sadly, there was no money to actually pay the artist, it was to be a "community effort", possibly work for the dole slave labour. Always, always, no money for the artist, unless I'm the celebrated Banksy, then I could ask for millions. For free they got out of me great ideas for the design, will probably in the end give the job to some bland but safe fuckwit and in the meantime I'll starve.

This picture was banned from hanging in the foyer of the Sydney City Council's Office in Kings Cross.

The other night I went to the opening of another of the Head On photographic exhibitions, this one by Glen Lokhitch, action photos from the Sea Shepherd's successful campaign in the southern ocean to stop the Japanese from slaughtering whales. Now these were great photos with heartfelt purpose. The show was opened by Peter Fitzsimmons who gave a rousing speech how pictures can lend punchy import and inspiration to any campaign; for all the rhetoric, it's only when you see the whales bleeding or the wilderness before and after destruction that it it hits home what is actually going down. The next morning Peter was featured on page 3 in the Daily Terror in a piece of character assassination, he'd gotten drunk at some fund-raiser and ate a cracker from someone's plate, big deal. Very few are brave enough to stand up for what they believe in and risk the wrath of the Turd Doc and co.

 The documentary, "The Shadow of Liberty", warned that without an open-access media, democracy was doomed, and that the last bastion of free speech, the Internet, was in danger of also becoming corporatized, commercialized, constrained and censored. Up to now I've only had this Blog as my space to tell my story, to have my say in  response to all the shit being published/broadcast around me, but this too may fall into the dustbin of history if the media moguls get their way, no independent voices to be heard, no alternative views to be aired. But before that happens I will sweat out the Punk Poofy Cat's manifesto in cyberspace, get it in hard-copy and somehow distributed, for good or bad, a freak's story, something different to contrast with the conformist norm; I'll struggle on, to stay alive and finish those "1001 Outsider's Nights", how the above artworks and events got realized, and how Arthur, the arty-farty fairy, finally got the enlightenment he long sought.

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, May 20, 2013

32) Loner On The Run.

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. 

It didn’t worry Arthur that Sid and gang had abandoned him for their motherland, America held no appeal for him, and as a gay gentile he wouldn’t fit into their scene anyway. He was a lone homo on the run, not fitting in anywhere, hated by most for no good reason, not an assassin nor an arms dealer, merely a seeker after sexual enlightenment, which he didn't get, a failed mystic being his biggest crime.
He aimed for London and would arrive for the Punk revolution in early '76, a much more fitting milieu for his type, if he could keep his shit together, and get over his hippie airy-fairiness. He hoped his seven hundred dollars would get him there, if he traveled overland and was frugal. India had palled on him, he’d seen and done enough, and if he stayed any longer he would mulch so far down into the dirt he would be irretrievable. He had a journey of Marco Polo proportions ahead of him and he prayed he had the stamina to escape India and achieve his destination, enjoy modern civilization’s amenities and surf the wave of popular culture like a hero.
He’d given up trying to be an ascetic with the pretense of being enlightened, the only way in which he’d realized his Self was resignation towards his homosexual nature, acceptance of his dysfunctional humanity and a determination to achieve his potential, as a thinker, an artist and possibly a political rebel. He still practiced Yoga exercises and was extremely fit and healthy, he attempted meditation at all hours of the day, no matter the activity, trying to calm an overactive mind and sharpen his wits.
He’d made pilgrimage to most of the Indian holy sites, had gut-dropping adventures but always remained merely a tourist. At Budh Gaya he’d longed to sit under the Bodhi Tree and find Buddha, except that an uptight monk had chased him away as a no-good vagabond. He’d sat on Vivekananda’s rock at the very bottom of the sub-continent where the three oceans crashed together and instead of cosmic consciousness he received cold water splashed in his face and was nearly swept away into the maelstrom.
At Benares he tried to meditate on death and transience beside the funeral pyres at the river ghats and all he got was his mind clouded with the stench of burning flesh and the filth of body-parts floating in the water and he felt repugnance. He went to live with Tibetan Buddhist monks in their monastery at Dharmsala and was shocked by the medieval toilets, weevils churning in great vats of shit that he had to sit upon; he got sick and vomited his guts dry and ran away in a head-spinning fever.
He’d searched high and low for his soul’s salvation, from the Siva Temple at Kedarnath high in the Himalayas to Ramakrishna’s Ashram down in the south of Tamil Nadu; at times he’d experienced intense euphoria, even gained a few talents like goal-oriented concentration, mental telepathy and purveyor of auguries. These were all transitory flashes, for the most he’d found only the husk of his body driven by the software of his programmed mind, full of moods, desires, fears, joys, hopes, dreams, thoughts that kept repeating or changed with the weather, whatever the circumstances dictated, and no soul anywhere to be found.
Trying to still the Mind was like trying to dam the Ganges River by thrusting his hand into it. And trying to quell his sexual libido was akin to sitting on top of a volcano hoping to block an eruption with his skinny butt. All he really wanted was to find love and overcome his status as a sexual outlaw; forever hunted in the shadows, he longed to live in the light.
Yet throughout all his travails he tried to be a cool dude, never cheating, trying to help if he could. One day on a bus he met a woman who’d just been to visit a foreigner in an Indian jail, incarcerated for drug possession, and though she hardly knew the guy she put in much time trying to help him. When Arthur asked her why she bothered to do it, it was so much trouble, she looked at him as if he were an idiot and said, “But he is me. It’s the same as me being in there. I would want someone to help me if I was there. I don’t see the difference between us except I’ve got my freedom.”
This gave Arthur a luminous satori, one of the clearest epiphanies from all his travels and sitting at many big Babas’ feet. “Yeah, for the truly compassionate there is no separation of identities, all creatures share the same consciousness of being, one doesn’t have to be separate and living for me me me all the time.”
Yet he was ever himself, imperfect and vulnerable, and by 1976 he’d learned enough in the mystic continent of India to last him the next twenty-one years and thus he had to be on his way or he would return to the dust. He left Goa for Bombay and, while getting ready to doss down at the cricket Maidan at night, he was approached by a very beautiful young Indian man of a similar age to himself, whom he keenly desired as he hadn’t had sex for what seemed like ages.
At twenty-six years old, Arthur was at the height of a young man’s sexual prowess and for the last few years had experienced little pleasurable satisfaction. He felt he never did quite get his hands on the quintessential Indian male, an elusive phantom, intrinsic to the phenomena of Samsara, whom he had chased down endless pathways in his masturbatory dreams. This luscious guy lurking in the shadows of the cricket maidan, who fit his ideal of the perfect male, was available, but only at a price, for he was a hustler. The money Arthur had was for something he wanted much more, escape from the land of his dreams and, anyway, he was too proud to pay for it.
“But I’m a great artist, I’m going to be famous one day, can’t you feel my presence, the force of my personality? How can you knock back a hot dude like me?” pleaded Arthur.
The young man gazed contemptuously at the horizon and replied, “What can you give me now? Fame in the future means nothing to me. With no money there is no honey. I want the sweet life the same as you and the mouthful you desire so bad, so baad you could die for it, is not free. I’m worth much, I have value and you must pay for it. This is a fact of life.”
Arthur gnashed his teeth in frustration, it was a hard truth and he hated it, and he thought, “All you macho, superior, beautiful men can get fucked! I can live without you, if I have to. And maybe one day I’ll have the money, charisma as well, but I’ll be knocking you back because I won’t need it, I’ll be enlightened by then, and it’ll be you begging to be with me.”
He was catapulted out of Bombay and up the length of India to Delhi and in her fabulous seven cities he nearly got lost again. He’d discovered a Budhist monastery on the outskirts of the city that charged only one rupee a night to stay there. It was a converted Mughal fort in Mehrauli and most of the foreigners slept on the roof of the giant gatehouse. They led the usual communal life, sharing most things and, as Arthur still had a few balls of charas given him in goodwill by Jean-Jacques, he was a very popular Hippie Baba. They would sit in chillum circles and relate their hair-matting tales of India to each other, each story more incredible than the next, and Arthur told them of his own death defying escapades and of all the crazy, big Babas he had crossed paths with.

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

Bombay 1975