Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Driven to Distraction.

For half my life I was afraid to drive cars, probably due to the fact I was in three car crashes with my father when I was a kid. The worst I got was a bang on the head but it sure was a freak-out, one time the car ended up upside down on a traffic island beside the beach at St. Kilda.

And I’ve had repetitive dreams since then of being in a runaway car, driverless, that smashed at the bottom of a hill. I’ve lost many great job opportunities because I just didn’t know how to drive capably, being too damned chicken to learn. I hot wired a stolen car when I was fifteen and played at smash’em up derbies in muddy paddocks, young and dumb enough to enjoy the danger. I rode a small motorbike when I was eighteen, then I got run over by a truck and broke my right arm, from then on I didn’t like the roads any more.

I was a nervous passenger as well, screaming like a ninny at oncoming traffic, but I saved our lives a few times, waking the driver, who then swerved back onto the road, avoiding death by a few millimeters/microseconds. Cars are the ultimate capitalist beast, the city’s structure, economy and worship designed around them, like Mammon, the horned one, all sacrificed to its hunger, wars for oil included. I was never that interested in going down on my knees to IT.

Then when I was about thirty-five I had a dream, quite lucid, I knew I was dreaming, and I was in my girlfriend Sylvia’s red Volkswagon postal van, and I was driving with her seated beside me, licking her lips. “Fuck!!! Sylvia, I’m driving, I’m driving!!! It’s wild!” “Drive faster,” she said, “you can do it! You’re in control.”

I drove into the blue mist and woke up excited, still in the driver’s seat, not afraid anymore. I went to a driving school the next day, took seven lessons, passed my driving test on the first attempt and bought myself a rust bucket for fifty bucks, a Holden Commodore that was the best car I ever had, driving it endlessly with no problems. I had it for three years but the cops eventually made me scrap it because of the rust in the floor. Every car I bought after that cost more each time and each rise in price brought with it a rise in mechanical problems.

In 1990 I bought a little blue Holden Gemini wagon for a thousand dollars, big enough in the back that I could sleep in it, and from then on, whenever I got bored, trapped and restless in the city, I shot off up the Highway to visit all the natural and historical splendors of New South Wales, the south and north Pacific coasts with untold paradise beaches, and the tablelands and calderas of the hinterland, the ancient small mountain ranges and funky Aussie country towns.

The way I lost my little blue Gemini was the time a brash young friend of mine, Mark, suggested we drive on down the Hume Highway and then cross over onto the Stuart Highway to get to Wagga Wagga, a big farmers’ town deep in the bush that I’d never visited but always had a curiosity about. He told me a friend of his was opening up  a drive-in movie theater and the premier that Friday night was an Arnie Shwartzneggar “Terminator” double-feature, which I’d already seen a few times, being a sci-fi junkie, still I figured, “What the Hell, sounds like fun, yeah?”

Wagga Wagga is an Aboriginal name meaning “meeting place of crows” and that’s a good description of our stay there. I asked two other mates to come with us on the jaunt, we all piled in and when Mark asked if he could drive I stupidly said, “Yes.” That Gemini was a shit-box automatic, good enough for a pauper gronk like me but Mark thought he was in a sporty Ferrari and drove it like he was on some Formula One race-track, ripping from low to high gear as he tore around the other vehicles lumbering up the highway.


I saw the oil lights blaze up in warning and told Mark to cool it with the Steve McQueen act but by the time we found a gas station on that endless not-so-free-way the car was gasping. I gave the poor little beast some oil but from then on it chug-chugged along like a wounded animal, no more smooth zooming, the easy life was over. Then miles from anywhere, only the yellow scorched-grass hills of deep New South Wales like the curves of a plump prehistoric woman all around us, the car slowed, wheezing, clanking, and ground to a halt.

We looked under the hood, steam and oil gushing out, a gasket’s been blown and I might blow one too if I can’t just grin and bear it. Nearby, on a hill, is a lonely farmhouse and I figured I can maybe buy a can of oil from the farmer, if he’s friendly and not an uptight redneck. I trekked up the long drive and knocked tentatively on the front door and after a few minutes a woman came to open up and stand, suspicious, in the dark shadow of the doorway.

I explained my predicament in polite tones and she looked me up and down with caring, intelligent eyes and, deciding I was the real thing, came out into the sunshine, led me to a garage out the back and handed me a can of oil. I offered her money, she refused to take it, saying she was happy to help me out. I was absolutely bowled over by her generosity and trust, understanding it to be the “Aussie bush ethos” I’d heard much about in urban legend.
Wagga Wagga

We poured the oil into the thirsty car and chug-chugged a further few miles only to have the car again come clanking to a standstill. I espied another farmhouse not far off and, hitching my jeans up, again made the trek up to its front door to beg a can of oil. And again the farmer’s wife selflessly came to my rescue, not questioning my stupidity and not taking any money. All in all I went three times to a stranger’s door and all of them were kind and trusting, Aussies helping out a traveler in difficulty on the infinite highway.

(Twenty-five years later there would be a terrible tragedy in the area, a farmer would kill his family and then himself and, it being a tight-knit community, everyone was affected and in inconsolable pain, and while I watched reports of it on TV I couldn’t help but remember the time I was broke-down and stuck in their midst. I’d long thought of their kindness, their fortitude, their confidence in their fellow countrymen, and I always said a prayer for them, not to any god, but to an all-embracing Nature.)

As the sun set, the car struggled through the last fifty kilometers, night set in and my fellow wayfarers squawked about missing the opening violence of “The Terminator”. Finally the poor little clap-trap managed to chitty-chitty-bang-bang into Wagga Wagga and over to the famous drive-in movie theater the other side of town, Arnie already up on the screen and machine-gunning the local hicks. My Gemini made the most unholy racket as it clattered onto the tarmac and up to a loudspeaker pole, farting carbon dioxide, rattling engine-parts, screeching steam, causing many an uptight car in the audience to honk their horns and flash their headlights in displeasure.

The car literally dropped dead, sagging to its rubber knees, its heartbeat silenced, its breathing cut-off with a last whistle, while I shed tears of loss. All my mates had to say about it was, “Fuck, we missed the beginning of the movie, let’s find some better seats!” As it was Mark's friends who managed the drive-in theater, they could put him onto other cars into which they could all squeeze, my compatriots ran off quick and left me to deal with my own metallic drama, letting them masturbate over the one that was up on the giant screen, more fantastic, and forget the one that was real, at their feet.

I knew the car was fucked, there would be no salvaging it as the cost of repair would be greater than the shit-box was worth: I called a local wrecking yard who said they’d buy it for a hundred bucks. I had to wait, alone and forlorn, in the dead heap for the few hours it took for the tow-truck to make its way out to the drive-in, my flesh peeling from my brain like Arnie’s while his red-laser eye stabbed into me. Eventually my dear little fuck-truck was carted away, again making much hellish uproar, clanking, rattling, screeching, the other cars honking because it was ruining Arnie’s big line, “Haste la vista!” my exit line as well.

Because I’d asked my mates along for the ride into the “big nowhere” I felt some responsibility for them and thus paid for a motel room for everybody that night plus their train fares back to Sydney the next night, that’s what a good guy I am, even though they’d deserted me for a crappy Shwartzneggar film. We got to hang around the town of Wagga Wagga for a day waiting for the train and in that way I had my curiosity about the town satisfied, it seemed a nice, almost funky place for a stop-over, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

The next car I bought was an aqua green Volkswagon Kombi van, not only could I live in it, I could cart seven friends around in it with me, which I did, many times, going on many adventures up the Pacific Highway to the surf Mecca of Byron Bay and the hippie ganjha town of Nimbin. Kombi vans are notorious vehicles to maintain, they fall apart at the slightest provocation, this metallic mistress was the one that did me in, eating up all my money and losing my sanity for me, for a short time.

It was a manual and I became extremely proficient at driving my way out of any imbroglio, like the night of a howling storm when, going up a steep hill, the engine failed and I was rolling backwards. With thunder, sleet and lightning ripping my soul from my eyes, and huge trucks roaring up my ass, I couldn’t start the fucking engine and had to keep rolling backwards, kick-starting the engine in reverse gear, miraculously achieving forward momentum before a truck plowed into me, bringing on THE END.

But it was on a sojourn to Byron Bay that the beginning of The End indeed set in and whereupon I discovered the true nature of a guy I thought was the sweetest thing since the apple that enticed Adam way back in the bullshit garden. His name was Ron and he had a big schlong which I was always trying to get my hands on except he’d never let me as he was straight. I figured maybe if I took him for a highway jaunt where we would camp at some lonely idyllic beach and I could slowly come to grips with it crashed in the back of the van deep in the night. Ron was 25, I was 40 and he must've considered taking the tiger by the tail, hanging out with me. I was big bad Toby, and it was him who came around at midnight and said, "Let's go for a ride up the coast?"

And I nearly got there too, we were snoozing on the futon in the back and I asked Ron if he was warm enough, as I put my arm over him. He mumbled he was "OK" but just as my hand was creep creeping up his leg, in surprise he knee-jerked a kick that thumped the back door of the van, which flew open, not only letting in a howling sea-breeze but automatically turning on the overhead light so that Ron sat up in fright, yelling, “What the fuck? What’s happening, what’s going on?” “Nothing to disturb your little brain about, “ I stammered, but the oaf wouldn’t settle for the rest of the night, we both tossed and turned, dawn soon erupted and then came a banging on the roof that really made us jump.

It was a policeman, bang banging till we crawled out to see what he was grumbling about. “You can’t sleep here, it’s a public beach, there’s a caravan park over yonder better suited to your needs.” He looked us up and down, at our grungy clothes and long-haired scruffiness. “What, are you hippies or something?” He made a quick search of the back of the van and found a sketch book belonging to Ron, and as he flipped through it, Ron said, “We’re artists.” 

The young cop said, “Oh yeah, so the both of you are artists? Who’s the better one out of the two of you?” Perhaps it was my hubris, or simply my seniority, as I was fifteen years older and more experienced than Ron, he’d only just graduated from art school, I couldn’t help but automatically respond, “I am.” This of course rankled Ron’s youth-inflamed ego, his face screwed up, as if thinking, “This old fag is really getting on my nerves”, and I knew he would be giving me a harder time from then on.
The cop searched the front seats of the van and found a few scraps of pot in a tin, not enough to bust us with but gave us a lecture anyway. He was young enough not to be too uptight, he even seemed to like our quirky characters, telling us with a smile to be on our way. I sighed with relief while Ron looked upon me with disgruntlement, “I’m the better fucking artist, you mad cunt!”

In my excitement at escaping a cop’s wrath I drove the van in the wrong direction, down a rutted dirt track, through scrub and gnarly tea-trees. The front bumper-bar caught on some craggy rock and half tore off, dragging along the ground, bringing us to a grinding halt as it got tangled under the wheels. I had to bash with a hammer at the remaining bolts connecting the mess of rusted iron to the front of the van till it gave way, then wrench it off and drag it into the bush, while Ron sketched clouds drifting across the sky, occasionally looking over at my hard labor.

Finally we were on the road again, zooming along the Pacific Highway, heading back to Sydney and I began to cheer up, perhaps there was still a chance of a good time for the both of us. All was going smoothly, we were humming merry tunes and laughing at our silliness for competing in arty-fartyness. Suddenly a pebble flew up and smashed the windscreen, it shattered in our faces and we had glass all over us. We cleared out the multitude of glass bits and drove on, looking for some service station that might put in a new shield. A freezing gale-force wind pressed in upon us, I was amazed at how much it slowed us down but I drove on regardless, determined to overcome this latest obstacle to my desires.

As we hurtled along the pressure of the wind was so great it caused the back door of the van to fly open and, without me quite knowing it, all the contents stashed in the back flew out and landed on the highway, the futon we slept upon, the blankets, pillows, backpacks, food parcels, all in a heap. I looked back and saw the pile of my precious camping gear like a mountainous obstacle sitting in the middle of the lane and I shat my pants.

I braked the van into a screeching stop and screamed to Ron to quickly jump out while I backed the van up, run back and drag the junk to the side of the road before some poor car coming around the bend crashed into it. Ron nonchalantly looked back then turned to me with a sullen sneer and said, “Why should I? It’s your problem!”

I couldn’t believe my ears, I cursed him and, leaving the van to idle, yanked the handbrake on, jumped out and swiftly charged back to the pile of bedding and hauled it into the gutter, all the while praying no car suddenly lurched upon me. It was indeed a miracle that no car showed up for the next few seconds as the Pacific Highway is a very busy road and the result could’ve been death and injury, for all of us. I have always had the luck of the Irish.

I reversed the van and piled all the shit into the back of it and securely locked the door this time, then headed off into the wilds, driving very slow and cautious. I was unable to look dear Ron in the face I was so pissed off. A chilly silence set in with the chilly wind blowing upon us, me thinking, “So, behind the cheeky, cute face and devil-may-care personality is an uncaring prick, fun in fair weather, useless in a crisis.

We finally found a town with a windscreen repair business but they could only do it the next morning, one more night with Ron was now impossible, I could no longer stand looking into his lackadaisical face and I told him, politely, to “fuck off”, he’d have to hitch back to Sydney. I even had to give him some money as like all young artists he was broke and starving, “Whatever, just hit the road quick.” He seemed glad to leave and I was glad to be shat of him, the fuckwit. It was a grand lesson in life, a big schlong doesn’t mean a keen heart, sharp wit or even a good time.

That was the last vehicle I ever had and the way I lost it was truly pathetic. It was about 1992 and I was cruising up the north coast, on another footloose adventure and quite smug about it. When I saw some folks standing with glum faces by their broke-down car I grinned and waved, “Suckers!” Bad carma set in, a few miles later I heard a “kerplunk!” sound, some hissing and steam issuing from the engine in back and the fucking Kombi van rolled to a stop by the side of the highway and wouldn’t go any further.

Not far off was the town of Woodford, a redneck one-dog town if ever there was one and I walked doggedly into it. There was only one car mechanic gas station in the dump and I staggered in and plead my case to the grim grease-monkey overlords. They reluctantly took me on and I had to max my credit card out to get them to tow the van the ten Ks and hoist its ass in the air for a lot of poking and banging with spanners.

Unbeknownst to me, these bush-cockies were brain-dead homophobes, they hated me on sight and determined to fuck me for the effrontery of my existence, a response I’ve endured all my life, I hardly notice it till it hits me in the face. After a few hours they told me the van’s fixed, at great cost, and I drove speedily away, thankful not to be lynched in that backward shit-hole.

Only a few Ks out of town the van broke down again, whatever it was it was the same problem as before, the dicks hadn’t fixed it at all, just ripped me off. I marched back to the fuckers and informed them of their wonderful handiwork to which they just smirked. They informed me my van was a shit-box and it would take more work to really bring it up to scratch. I was trapped in the middle of nowhere and had to agree to them again towing the van back and murdering it with spanners and hacksaws.

I had to endure more hours of hanging around, under their pea-brain eyes, until they announced it was fixed and I now owed them a few thousand dollars. I freaked, I had only seven hundred dollars in the bank, no more credit and they’d take an IOU over my dead body. I pleaded, cajoled, begged, yelled, cursed, shrieked, finally I threw myself on the ground and rolled around in the grease like a rabid mongrel, moaning, whining, crying, the most humiliating thing I’ve ever done in my life and I’ve done plenty.

To all of this they merely laughed, then fed up with my antics they sneered and told me to “Fuck off!” Again I begged for my van but they growled threats and said I wouldn’t get it back till I forked up the cash. I wanted to call the cops only these redneck types would be best friends with the local pigs. I could bring in the hippie brigade and burn down their gas station but that was beyond me and anyone I knew.

I could only gather my meager belongings from the van which I was now abandoning, no way would I ever find the thousands of dollars they demanded, the van wasn’t even worth that much. And now those cunts owned it. How they laughed in my face! I kissed it goodbye and got out on the highway to hitch back home. So much for being smug, it’s a cruel world and the weak get walked on.

In all my driving misadventures I collected seven thousand dollars worth of fines, for parking, speeding, crossing the yellow lines, not paying the fines, so much money I decided being driven to distraction wasn’t worth the cost and I let them take my license away from me. Twenty-five years later I got a letter from the Department of Main Roads saying I could come and get my license again if I wanted, I’d been punished enough and they had gone long enough without squeezing those stunning amounts of money from me for the privilege of driving.

But I’ve let it go, not too eager to be drained of my vital juices, just for the thrill of flying up their plastic freeways like a lame-duck. The danger is enough to put me off. I remembered the time, long ago, when I was zooming out of Nimbin to go to a hillbilly dance in some community hall. Sylvia had gone ahead of me in her car, loaded with friends. She’d found the hall then came out onto the rise of the road, with her gang, to try to wave me down because I didn’t know where I was going.

I was speeding into the dark, then suddenly there she was, with about six friends, in my path, lit up by my headlights, waving her arms, and I was heading straight into the bunch of them. I braked and spun the steering wheel and did a mad swerve, careering around them, almost out of control, missing them by a few inches, spinning round and round, like something out of a speedway movie. Thank nogod I didn’t hit them but it was mighty fucking close. Fuuuccckkkkk!!!! Seven souls splattered like human skittles in a bowling alley of the damned. I still shudder at the memory.

Fuck it, I’m over driving. I prefer my pushbike, dangerous to speed in the city traffic, yes, but at least I’m not up for killing anybody, just myself.

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, September 08, 2014

Deadbeat and Gronky.

Half the world is in flames, hundreds of thousands slaughtered, marched silently to their execution, their lives made meaningless. Down here in Auz we’re safe and snug in our beds, too far away for war to reach us, unless our exported terrorists sneak back for their psychopathic orgasm of violence on our streets. I writhe in horror, and shed tears of blood for humanity, at the mercy of "homo rapiens" in this crazed 21st century.

Yet all I have to worry about here is if my act will go down well on a Nowheresville stage. I’ve been treading the theatrical boards all my life and never really gotten anywhere with it, except for having a lot of fun. Show biz sure is a hard road to travel, it should’ve been easy to give up, especially here at the end of the line, when I’m old, fucked-up and deadbeat. But when you get "in the zone", woah, it’s better than sex and drugs put together.

We got in the zone the other night, very high, for all that the club we performed in was a dive, hardly a soul knows about it, tucked away above a record shop, but it's organized by two cool friends who are worth supporting, and being under the radar means you don't have paparazzi getting in your face. Nobody came to our show for I just don't have any clout in this dammed city. It was a cold rainy Thursday night, half of Sydney had the Swine Flu, and I had the heaviest competition as far as old gronky performers like me go: Bob Dylan was in town and if you’re gonna go up against someone, it might as well be the best in the world.

A big pity nobody came as we put on a good show, performing for the other acts on the bill, seven people impatient to get home on a cold, wintry night but hanging in there out of politeness. It was one of the hardest gigs I've ever performed, 7 souls concentrating hard, their eyes boring holes in me. It tested my resolve and resilience, the show must go on, even in the VOID. Dives are the best venues for living out the romance of the "star" on their way UP, or in my case, DOWN. 

The worst part was I had to follow a guy who I had met on the traps many years previously and had prayed I'd never meet again. Back then he'd got himself on the committee of a video festival and my seven submissions were mysteriously rejected. I know I'm always on about getting fucked over but it's one of the most tedious things about life, having to be diplomatic with those who once not only burnt your aspirations to the ground, they then pissed on you to put out the fire. This particular dickhead's reading was so boring he scared away what little audience we'd lured to the joint. To be polite, I sat through his verbal vomit, an honor he didn't grant me, to my relief, I'd rather shout into the empty wind.

To reiterate, one of the through-lines of this Blog is the hard life of the try-hard iconoclast artist. If you really rock the boat then you get fucked and don't have a career, only apologists, inane surrealists and abstract expressionists that talk about nothing get encouragement by a State that's in lockstep with High Capitalist demands. For instance, on global warming, those who run the world, such as multinational corps, fund climate skeptics because having to clean up their pollution would reduce their profits.

Me and my friends are perfecting our act, we hit the mark, and then pushed it further and, repeat, got very high doing it. My 70 year old mate Brian switched on some synthesized tabla and sitar machines that provided a background canvas of droning white noise, and then played flute over the top of it to the accompaniment of my best mate Paul Vassalo playing electric guitar so smooth and ecstatic I went into Nirvana while I told my funky story, “A Numb Bum in Nimbin.” And it's all about how I love to smoke mellow cannabis.

We had two video projectors, one showing 200 pics of Nimbin, the hippies, the festivals, the ganjha buds, the cops, the murals painted on the Aussie frontier shop-fronts, and then the heart of the town burning. The other projector showed 200 images of gods, angels, demons, Buddhas, saints, sadhus, heroes, fairies, visions, from the vast range of myths, religions, spirituals and hippie psycho-babble that the locals are enamored of. All of which provided a psychedelic backdrop, visually informative as to the story I was telling.

And it all went off beautifully, I got with the beat and told of my long love of the area, my voice mellifluous from years of singing in the streets, Paul following the drama of the story with his wailing, crunching, roaring guitar, and Brian adding hippie trippiness with his flute. What a buzz it was, and what a bummer there was virtually no one there to witness it. Oh well, it went into the Akashic Records, above a vinyl record shop, that’s OK I guess. We sure did have high fucking fun though.

I’ve been doing this act for a long time, first just presenting bands and films, then making my own films and slide-shows and walking in and out of them while I told stories or tried stand-up comedy. My first original attempt was in 1979 at a squatted abandoned school, the Marist Brothers at the top of Darlinghurst, where punks put on a cabaret night they called “Side F/X”.

I told jokes in front of a live-action/animated piece called, “We Got It All For You” wherein Ronald MacDonald rapes a woman who later on gives birth to a baby with a hamburger for a head. He then puts the baby through a mince-meat machine to assure the public that Maccas are into recycling. With this kind of subvertizing I was never gonna make it mainstream.

I noticed the eyeballs pop on this one arts-hole in the audience, a year later he’d formed his own group, The Either Orchestra, performing a similar act only his animations were apolitical, cute, inane, arty-farty abstract, just the kind of crap the State Arts Funding bodies adore, they threw lots of money at him for awhile, till he ran out of steam, being unoriginal, he couldn’t keep coming up with the goods, though he did get a job teaching it.

For all he got the kudos and career, and I got accused of copying him (!!!) I carried on with my act, it’s who I am and I rarely let any shit-head get in my way. Here I am, in 2014, still doing it, every time with a different story, many of them told here in this Blog. For much of it I’ve called my mob “Deadbeat and Gronky” but lately I’ve cut it to “The Sydney Deadbeats”, because we’re all fucked-up, with the beat not beaten, and we operate in Sydney, every city in the world having a band called “The Deadbeats” I imagine.

We’ve played every venue possible, from rock clubs to squatted rooms, music festivals to street demonstrations, community halls to movie theaters, warehouses and art galleries, pubs and cafes, libraries and schools, and lately above a record shop, regardless of what others were doing, such as big time rock bands or art-school wankers, always under the radar, always for the love of it.

Membership of my band changed many times over the years, it depended on whoever was available and ready to venture Underground. It never even depended on musicianship, sometimes I wanted a certain grungy “look”, for instance the night we played at “The Slaughterhouse” in Redfern, a dilapidated warehouse that held BAD punk shows. I got a girlfriend to play base guitar, she was a junkie and had never played guitar before, she nodded off all through the gig and made the most awful racket but, with my wise-cracks and animated cartoons, helped create the nasty anti-pop I was forever chasing.

Then there was the time “Deadbeat” got invited to play the Byron Bay Arts Festival, 1000 kms up the North Coast. My drummer, Madhe, had a small wagon in which we crowded four musicians plus movie projector, drum kit, saxophone, guitar and bags. We drove into the night as a storm raged down upon us, an ocean of water through which we sloshed, lightning, hail, wind throwing us about till the car broke down, its ass stuck halfway out onto the highway. We froze there for hours, every minute lit up by the headlights of trucks bearing down upon us, me squeezing my eyes shut and praying this was not the moment of our oblivion.

When we got to the Festival grounds outside Byron Bay we were welcomed by the organizers and when I asked, “Where do we stay?” a young woman pointed to a ditch and said, “You can camp there.” Great, par for the course of being deadbeats, lucky we brought tents and sleeping bags.

The gig was performed in a small tin shed near the front gates, a long way from the main stage and the big name acts, and I kind of felt like an outcast. But my show was a hit, the crowd who filled the shed roared approval and the organizers told me my act was exactly what their Arts Festival was about. To add to our crazy presentation I got Madhe’s five year old son to play bongos with us, it made for cacophonous noise and the crowd lapped it up.

I could rave on and on, about “Deadbeat” successes and disasters, but some of them get mentioned in other stories, especially the next one coming up, “High Noon at the Gunnery”. One of my favorite gigs was the benefit I put on for Vitto of Piccolo Café fame, to raise money to send him on a holiday to Europe. I pretended to be Vitto cleaning the café after a long hard night’s work and sang a song in front of my cartoons.

I was accompanied by Ayesha, famous drag queen from Les Girls, on the stage of the old Les Girls nightclub, in 1995 re-named The Palladium. She came out wearing a mink stole and played grand piano, totally out of synch, off beat, off key, whatever, no matter how much I tried to catch up and keep pace with her, it was like two cats being strangled.

A big laugh anyway and we raised $2000 for the old dick but he complained to me that it wasn’t enough money which pissed me off. Twenty years later in a history video documentary he bullshitted that it was a girlfriend who organized the benefit for him, I got wiped from the record, even close friends forget, that’s the life of a deadbeat.

To sum up I will reiterate a tale about my experience in show biz mentioned early in my opus. When I was about five years old a spoiled rich kid up the hill had a birthday party to which all the locals were invited. Her parents had put up a stage in their backyard upon which the brat and her chosen few were to perform for us plebs. She was quite a little theatrical Prima Donna and, as such, threw a temper tantrum before she’d go on.

Her mates did a lame song and dance as a warm up while the old folks tried to cajole their daughter onto the stage. The audience of mums, dads and poor kids sat glum throughout, it just wasn’t happening. I got impatient and figured, “I can do better than this!” and I jumped up onto the stage and sang a song popular at the time, Doris Day’s “Que Sera Sera.” The audience got with the swing of it, at last something entertaining, tapping their feet and clapping their hands, and I really played up to them, dancing about, hitting the high notes.

The birthday girl, from backstage, saw that I was stealing her limelight and flipped. She rushed on stage in the middle of my song and, with two of her tiny tot thug cohorts, grabbed a hold of me and pushed me off the edge, to land on my ass. While all the parents laughed in embarrassment, the spoiled brat smiled smugly, as if to say, “It’s my show, I own the stage and you don’t figure.” She then launched into her own song and dance and it was flat, boring, as twee as "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?".

It was a hard lesson to learn early on in life, it's not about how entertaining one can be but who controls the gig and how much one is willing to suck up to the "powers that be". All history is like that, the low-talents with the resources and contacts get the lime-light; you'd think it was the light of Nirvana, the way fuckers fight so hard for it. Whatever, for all the kicks in the ass along the way, I’ve had fabulous fun. I’m an artist, it’s what I wanted to do with my life, no money, no fame regardless: we got high on the night.

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, August 29, 2014

A Numb Bum in Nimbin.

I went up the north coast to Lismore to get a break from the dog eat cat city of Sydney, hoping to relax, commune with the bush, tour the hippie utopia, smoke some mild marijuana and eat delicious organic food. All of this happened and still I ended up cutting short my visit as the human drama found there was somewhat unsettling, being a small town all the trouble gets concentrated and you walk into it on every street corner. After a week I had to escape back to the anonymous, boisterous city before the countryside idyll blew up in my face.

Arriving in Lismore in the night I witnessed again the town empty and silent by 8pm, only some ragged schizos wandering disconsolate and angry drug addicts punching at phantoms in the air. I walked across town, peering in through plate-glass windows and while every third shop-front was for lease, denoting a town on the skids, I saw many new restaurants had opened since my last visit and they were full of middle-class people feeding their faces with cheerful aplomb. So there was money in the town but where was it coming from, the Lismore Base Hospital, the Southern Cross University or quite possibly from the Centrelink Social Security Offices as the area was a Mecca for drop-outs, disaffected and disabled? Yet I wondered, the prosperity seemed an enigma.

For the last forty years thousands of the disillusioned have fled the rat-race of the city for this north coast paradise with its bush and beach life-style, back to nature, outdoor sports, alternative health therapies and spiritual salvation. Oh yeah, not to under-estimate its attraction, also the abundance of marijuana to chill out with.

But there’s just not enough jobs to go around for everyone, no manufacturing industry to speak of, only a few employed by the cannabis economy, hemp cloth, paper, oil, life-saving tincture etc. and the related flow-on products of the hippie counter-culture, T-shirts, T-pees, candles, dream-catchers, solar panels etc. Then there’s the professional and quack cosmic therapists milking the army of restless, dysfunctional flakes marching through, but not even Buddha himself could save this mob.

Many of these desperadoes are on Social Security and hang around street corners and cafes in mobs looking for an opportunity, any opportunity, to make money, some selling the sacred herb and/or hard drugs, and taking those drugs in abundance, for want of anything else to do. They stand out from the crowd in their rainbow hippie costumes, the farmers, shopkeepers, bureaucrats and retirees resigned to their presence as the cannabis economy has overflowed into their pockets as well. The railway getting suspended fifty kilometers down the tracks really fucked with the trade coming through and Lismore needs all the traffic it can pull, even bums are better than ghosts.

I got to see the dysfunctional up close as I went to stay with my girlfriend Sylvia, she who cannot be mollified, whose void cannot be filled. I was lucky to find at her home as the amount of therapeutic groups she runs around to makes me dizzy. Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous is her favorite, (known as SLAA, she calls it “sluts anonymous”) but she’s also a regular at the Over Eaters, The Friends and Co-Dependents of Addicts, Narcotics Anonymous for her pot addiction and The Narcissists' Support Network. 

She's also done endless therapies, from Hare Krishna detox programs, Vipasana Meditations, acupuncture, crystal massage, psychic readings, etc etc. Whoever crosses her path with a glib tongue can get their palm lined as she has a kind mother to pay for a lot of it who wants to keep her daughter happy with constant healing. A leopard finds it hard to change its spots I hear, some of us get madder as we get older.

And just as well she is getting counseling as she’s had a certain mad boyfriend for a few years, as ugly as ZZ Top, only more wild-eyed for he’s been a longtime ICE head, a drug notorious around the small town for wreaking havoc. He’s been selling the poison to all comers, till the community was coming apart at the seams, and when he crossed the town many a punter gave him a nod, or good citizen a scowl. On every corner a haggard bum would be skulking, begging for a hand-out or a squabble would erupt, as in a murder of crows, with loud cursing and hand-wringing, while the old cow-cocky towns-folk looked on, shaking their heads in dismay, “it wasn’t like this in the old days.”

And when they saw me in the company of Zan, they thought I was another deadbeat ICE addict and gave me a sour glance, as if thinking “not another idiot in town”. Zan was in constant group therapy himself, for he was forever rehabilitating then busting, doing the Government program at the Buttery in Byron, calling in at every Narco Anonymous meeting in every hick village so that he had no time for anything else. Not even time to come to fun movies with us, what a dead-head.

He must’ve had low self-esteem for he enthused that ICE made him feel like Superman, king of the world, no worries, all problems solved with a little smoke. Straight, in the harsh daylight, he crashed and was nothing.

Old Lismore
He never shut up about it, what it was like to get on, what it was like to dry out, what he’d said at the meetings. We had to watch our every step as very little excitement would have him falling off the wagon. Particularly incendiary was her complaints about the tiny size of his dick, bad jokes were forever being cracked, his manhood on the line. Sylvia would only have to deny him a fuck and he’d declare she didn’t love him any more, rushing out to smoke some Meth from his handy little pipe. He’d squawk out threats to kill himself, he’d already tried the last time she’d got sick of him and thrown him out, he cut his own throat then drove his car fast into a tree. Lucky he survived it, maybe not so lucky for Sylvia.

Yet he had character, was kind of fun to be with when he got going with the wisecracks and Arthur felt sad that the guy couldn’t hold his act together. He had two teenage daughters that should’ve given him real reason for living and achieving but the lure of the intense ICE high was too great and he succumbed like Pavlov’s dog at the ding of a bell.

I’ve been visiting Nimbin since about 1979, relishing its cowboy frontier, space cadet, astral tripping, jungle bunny, lost world ambience. I wasn’t part of the original crew cracking the valley for the alternative life-style, having been overseas in ’73 when the town got co-opted as a hippie haven after their Aquarius Festival. As the term ‘Aquarius’ signifies, the philosophy of these commune pioneers was a hodge podge of occult superstition, astrology and Tarot, Eastern mysticism, Yoga and Buddhism, and back to the Earth lifestyles including organic farming, communal homesteading, and crafts such as pottery and woodwork. Thus the area was a Mecca for cultists, druggies, loonies, therapists and government health department bureaucrats.

I’m not such a sucker for cosmic magical thinking and pseudo-loving hug-ins, being a skeptical realist, a cynical punk and a libertarian loner. But I love to experience the difference and funkiness of exotic places, as if on a journey through the galaxy, to space ports and asteroid cities, and gold-top oasis like Nimbin really draw me in. I’ve tripped many times on the magic mushrooms that pop up in the local paddocks and they’ve taken me through psychic initiations, rites of passage and vision quests that have enlightened my spontaneity and quieted my confusions.

I remember the night me and a gang of rogues ate Goldtop mushrooms on the edge of town then rambled up the main street heading for a party, tripping out of our heads. My friends got ahead of me and I saw an open doorway all lit up down a tree-lined pathway, a community hall wherein I thought the party was raging. I staggered into the front of the hall and up to a podium upon which stood a matriarch in white lab coat, with pointer upraised at a diagram, who stopped in mid-sentence and stared at me. I turned to face a hall full of seated women, farmer's wives, hippies, shopkeepers, teachers, all of them pregnant in variegated styles of smocks. They all turned their gaze upon me and gaped as one, and I spun in confusion, shivered in dislocation, wondered if I was hallucinating the music and stupidly said, "Where's the party?" 

They turned to each other, frowning, annoyed, they pointed to the door and a few laughed at me. I couldn't understand why they were so staid, clinical, other-worldly normal, and everything shining white hot bright. Then I noticed a huge banner strung up on a wall and, through the waves of glittering sub-atomic particles, I made out the words, "Nimbin Expectant Mothers Support Group" and I flashed the reality of the scene, this was not the raging freak party I hoped for. I said, "Sorry!" and fled, into the shifting animated murals of Nimbin proper, and I did find my friends where the music was at, shaking their asses, laughing at my cheeky cat nature.

The Nimbin Rocks stand up from the bush like Clever Fellows from the Dream-time, turning the area into a numinous site for magic guardianship seems to flow from them. The town lies in a caldera, the Rocks being the left-over shards of an ancient volcano rim, and the area is reputed to have been a long-time meeting place for Aboriginal tribes from all over Australia who came there to learn dance, song, healing, and special powers, the Clever men even teaching adepts to fly from the Rocks. It was a natural paradise and for years I enjoyed swimming in the Nimbin Creek, under the Rocks, until it got polluted with the run-off of pesticides from the farms and sewage from the homesteads.

How I loved those long-gone days, cruising up the old Pacific Highway before the new freeway got put in. The roadhouses with real hamburgers and hot showers, the side roads that took you to funky beaches where you could pull your car over and sleep the night, with no cops moving you on after an hour or so. I hitch-hiked up that highway a hundred times, the wind fresh in my face making me know it was exhilarating to be free and alive; then, in the mid-nineties, Ivan Milat, the back-packer killer struck and hitch-hiking as a lifestyle came to a nasty end. (He raped and murdered at least seven hitch-hikers in a state forest off the highway.)

Nimbin town would always be my destination when I zoomed into the Aussie hinterland and in the late ‘80s, as far as I’m concerned, it reached a peak of funkiness, like some frontier space-port for psycho-nauts. It was still relatively unknown and untainted, being true hippie-style, grungy, earthy, a hand-crafted alternative to concrete, steel and glass modernity, not half designed for middle-class homesteading and tourist consumption as it grew to be by 2014.

Every few weeks I would speed up the coast, trying to beat the timing of my previous trip, and I’d arrive in the night, The Rainbow Café still open, regular patrons gathered around the pot-bellied stove in the middle of the room, and everybody would welcome me back again, for everyone knew everyone back then, and any new face would be brought into the community in good neighbor humor. And we’d gossip about recent events in the town and the world while we passed around a joint of delightful homegrown bush bud, and I felt warm, connected and friendly.

I was there in 1992 for the first Mardi Grass Festival when only a few school kids marched up the main street waving a rainbow flag, me living in my VW kombie van parked outside the Rainbow Café. As a participant in their Arts Festival I showed my film “Virgin Beasts” at the klunky Nimbin movie theater where the audience sat in deck-chairs with their feet toasted by gas heaters in the cold winter.

That was the time I met some long lost acquaintances, Roger and Daphne, out in the back garden of the Rainbow Café. In 1971 I had lived with my old mentor Compassion on a yogi’s commune near Armidale. Roger was the chief acolyte of Compassion, extremely zealous in his austerities, fasting and standing on his head for days on end. Daphne was a local farmer’s wife who came visiting, looking for another world paradigm. She took one look at Roger, and he at her, and they were star-bound lovers, and he finally got his wick wet and went crazy.

Now here we were in1992 and they called out to me, “Artie, Artie. It’s us, Roger and Daphne, remember us? We’ve been thinking of you, and talking about you all these years, we’ve been looking for you and here you are, at last. And these are our two children, we’ve told them so much about you.”

They pointed to two smiling teenagers, a boy and a girl, who nodded like good robots. “Oh yeah, great. Hi, how’s it going? It’s been a long time, 21 years in fact. What have you been doing?” I hesitantly murmured. My dread-locked girlfriend, Marian, sitting next to me, glanced over at them with a curious eye.

“We’re in fine spirits, since we found the Lord. We were here in 1973 for the Aquarius Festival and we had a great spiritual experience. We had a vision of our Savior Jesus Christ!” gushed Roger.
“Hmmmm… maybe you ate too many gold-top mushrooms?” I wanted to laugh but I kept my peace, my mien grim. “The last I saw you both you were happily living with Compassion in the Moonbi Ranges?”

“Don’t mention him!” they hissed. “He was the Devil, teaching Satan’s ways, we had to get away from him. We came to Nimbin, had our ecstatic conversion, then we traveled throughout the Pacific Islands where we’ve been turning on the natives to the glories of Christianity. We’ve now returned here to convert the heathen hippies. We’ve thought of you a lot, you were such a pure soul, we think you’d be perfect for our mission. We hope and pray you’ll be our first convert?”

Marian sneered in dismay. My jaw dropped, my smile tightened. “Ummmm… I’ve been through so much in all these years, a thousand personality changes, a hundred levels of heaven and hell, you wouldn’t know me any more. I’m an anarcho-mystic type now, not suitable material for your religion I’m afraid.”

Daphne shrieked like a vampire with a crucifix thrust through her heart, “You were lost back then, and you’re lost now!”
I snorted, “I’m lost and I don’t want to be found. I’m lost on purpose! OK? Goodbye.”

The Missionary Mary and Jesus duo, Mum and Dad, with their kids behind, filed out of the Rainbow, faces downcast and hard, as if Satan had thwarted their fondest desires, and thankfully I never saw them again.

“Good for you Artie, you really stood up for your self and didn’t take any holy-roller shit from those smarmy assholes,” Marian reassured me. It’s tough being adamantly sure of one’s position in a world of a zillion pressures and brain-swipes. Lots of times in my life I had to have force of character to make my way through, lost and deluded though I’ve been.   

And after all those highways I trod upon, here I am again, yearning to go back to Nimbin and be the usual numb bum passing through. Always the high-point of my sojourn up the north coast, I waited patiently for our drive up to this strange attractor site of numinous experience. Eyeballs popping and hairy face fuzzed like a furry freak brother, Zan showed up late from one of his stupid fucking “I still wanna take drugs” meetings. 

He’d ruined the trip on previous occasions, lying about his drug usage and getting stopped by the cops for reckless driving. It was a waste of time him fixing upon every drug-counseling service when he was always busting at the slightest encouragement, such as the chat up he gets from his mates at the meetings. He also claimed he was worked up over my visiting from Sydney and it made him want to have fun, like we seemed to be having. I groaned, now it was my fault.

He jumped in the driver’s seat and shot off like a rocket, babbling nonsense in a halting limerick that never reached a punch-line. As I tightened my seat-belt I turned to him and said, “Please promise us you haven’t had a taste of ICE today!” The car spun around a blind corner as he replied, “That’s a promise I can’t keep.” His eyeballs stabbed through his coke-bottle glasses like a Terminator’s, I freaked out and asked him to pull over, Sylvia could drive the rest of the way into Nimbin.

Zan disappeared to an AA meeting as soon as we hit town, leaving Sylvia and I to run the gauntlet of all the dopesters and tourists thronging the pathways of this cannabis caravanserai. Eating at the cafes, buying pot knick-knacks from Bringabong, munchies from the bakery, organic goods from the Emporium, booze from the pub, and of course, the main attraction, buying pot from the dealers.

Whew! They were right, Nimbin was booming, a couple of hundred people treading the short main drag all day, with another hundred to service them. People from everywhere, not just Lismore and hinterland, from Byron, Tweed Heads, Brisbane, Sydney, France, Britain, Germany, Japan and Zambia! Here for its fame, the festivals, the music, the fun. I’ve been to some of the best rave parties in the bush around here, under Nimbin Rocks, the techno matched with live trumpet and sitar, and flames flaring to the stars, it was wild. They have Zombie Nights in the Town Hall for the kids and have built a huge skate-boarder park where they hold competitions to rock’n’roll music. It's not all Fucksville here.

We got to the Rainbow Café, not too different to how it always was, painted psychedelic hippie kitsch with about thirty dealers hawking the green stuff  in the near vicinity. Sylvia went out back to their toilet while I waited in the alleyway next to the Nimbin Museum. This was where most of the pot-dealing action went down. I was confronted by a mob of determined hustlers all looking upon me as a possible customer, ready to peel the shirt from my back, but I wasn’t interested, the area was too much under police surveillance.

The competition here to make a buck must have been fierce, apparently the cannabis economy had many, many busy little bees all up and down the town, it was that lucrative. We had vege juice in a blond-wood restaurant across the road and waited for Zan to show up. I watched the bustle of the counter-culture wannabes out on the street and I thought of the Situationists of the ‘Sixties, who eschewed the work ethic, giving their lives over to wandering, pleasure and knowledge, and satirizing the Spectacle, only they became part of the Spectacle as well. The Beast co-ops everyone.

And a good thing they hated work too as good jobs were getting scarcer, what with new technologies like computing and robotics, as well as outsourcing to cheaper third world countries. So the unemployed rushed to bush communes to fill their time, growing crops and getting stoned. The only work left in town was to amuse their fellows. Much of the population intuited its existence was now useless but they got distracted from its import; in the city with reality TV, sports and the political circus; in the Nimbin/Byron nexus they lolled about dreaming of self-realization, rainforest preservation and UFO conspiracies.

The Kooris of the area were in their element, at one with the spirit of the place. They owned the traditional lands under the Nimbin Rocks and, for all the harassment from the local cops, came and went at their leisure. They loved smoking their yandi and were masters of its healing lore. Nimbin was one of the few places Arthur visited in Australia where Aboriginals and whites mixed in a united community, relaxed and caring. He hoped the history of racist antipathy in the rest of the country did not flare up here in a tussle over territory. The Kooris opened every Mardi Grass Festival with dance, singing, smoke ceremony and didgeridoo and were an integral part of the whole hippie alternative milieu.

Sylvia bought yet another sparkly hippie dress and breathlessly announced the arrival of a comet from the constellation of Leo. She was one for getting worked up over “End of the World” myths, the last being the 2012 Mayan Calendar debacle. As the world is still here she’s disappointed and now waiting for the great Pacific Rim Earthquake, where California will fall into the sea and Sydney will get swept away by a tidal wave. She’s like every other fractured personality on the planet, trying to find a non-existent cosmic purpose to life with innumerable illusions, compulsions, wishes, crazed rationales and hoped for salvation. If all that fails, then surviving disaster will give her a future.

Her nuttiest obsession, other than co-dependence with BAD boyfriends, was collecting dresses, thousands of them, each one worn for a day, then cast upon a pile that mulched down into the dust, mold and moths, stacked in every room, hung from miles of racks, heaped under the house, disappearing into the elements as more dresses were added to the top of the pile. She spent a fortune on them, new and second-hand, the rest of the house with its appliances went to rack and ruin, all had to be subordinated to the rags. 

I supposed it was an attempt at trying to always be beautiful and hold out against entropy but it wasn’t working. She also stuffed her face as an added consolation and got fatter and fatter in her old age. Finally, only a fungus faced flip-out like Zan would put up with her craziness on a regular basis.

All of us are lost and dreaming, some seeking out new age religions and alternative healing therapies to massage the narcissistic ego, but it’s like throwing energy into a black hole, nothing can ever fulfill its powerful suck. I watched the hippies, tourists and townsfolk with my misanthrope’s eye, we weren’t the supreme product of a wise evolution, we were accidental beings no different from other animals except we thought too much bullshit, we hoped for salvation and an endless existence as angels but were in fact a rapacious plague, like zombies, devouring the world, unthinking and selfish.

And yet, like all life-forms, we need love, and the freedom to go about our business, raise families, work, and live in peace, including me, so whom am I to put the poor old human race down? Live and let live, if only all the world thought this way; many of the hippies in Nimbin town seemed to.

With all the clashing ideologies of modern life, no wonder confused souls turned to drugs, ICE the latest to really give them a momentary thrill and loss of fear. Speaking of which, Zan returned, sheepishly contrite, and we drove up above Nimbin to the rim of the old Caldera where I sat in the sun and gazed down upon the town, with fondness and creative memory, as if I was a Koori acolyte from 7 thousand years ago, undergoing a mystical flight. The Rocks were in the near distance and spoke to me of communion and Dreamtime, and I forgot myself for an all too brief period.

We drove back to Lismore, past Tuntable Falls Commune, where a German woman told me she was living in Hell as she didn’t get on with her fellow communards, they dumped their night-soil in her fresh water creek, played Heavy Metal Music late into the night and gave her grief at the monthly committee meetings. Hmmmm… she reminded me why I could never be a communist and live on a commune, better to be a loner and organize one’s world according to one’s own needs and likes. All was not perfect bliss in paradise, I knew it: it could only be that way with flawed humanity.

Perhaps the town had called me back for one last look at its ‘Sixties Hippie funkiness for the very next night some utter bastard put a match to the heart of Nimbin and burned it into oblivion: the Rainbow Café, The Nimbin Museum, Bringabong and other Hippie Souvenir Shops, now non-existent. A young guy was questioned but let go as there was no evidence but I could imagine that one of the dealers, a desperate ICE head, was asked to move his dealing elsewhere and he thought, “Fuck youse cunts, I’ll show you what useless bags of shit you are!” and, from that very alley-way of ravenous dealers, set all the wooden buildings alight.

ICE heads are the new pariahs, getting blamed for everything, handy scape-goats for whatever agenda may be lighting some fuckwit’s fuse. It could’ve been some right-wing redneck’s jealous anger at the success of the cannabis economy or the fury of the God-fearing Christians who have an ongoing war against pleasure. Whatever, it was a piss-off and, though a distraught townsfolk swore they would rebuild, it will never be the same old funky Aquarius style, lots of irreplaceable memorabilia was lost and original paintwork and architecture destroyed. Perhaps the Council will fill the blackened hole with a brick, steel and glass post-modern monstrosity, nogod forbid, even a MacDonalds might spring up like a poisonous toadstool; I hope not, surely the hippies will insist on re-imagining the klunky early 20th century dairy-town design?

The right-wing Authorities certainly hate the place and wish it ill as only a few weeks later a squadron of cops raided the town, sniffer dogs and all, and busted locals and tourists alike plus a few shops for the possession of a few paltry bags of grass. It's not stories like mine that have snitched on the Nimbin cannabis economy, everybody knows about it, that’s why the tourists rush there, pot is a very popular recreational herb, and a few fascists stew in their rancid juices thinking about its success.

They refer to pot as "hard drugs", perhaps encouraged by the booze lobbyists, but Richard Branson, Koffi Anann and five ex-presidents, in a World Advisory body called The Global Commission on Drugs Policy, have declared that the “war on drugs” hasn’t worked, only caused untold misery and economic ruin. They repeatedly call for the decriminalization of the sacred herb, and such bigwigs can't be misrepresented as crackpots. In Auz the state of New South Wales is on the verge of making Medicinal Cannabis available as a panacea for the ill, but it sure took a long time for the blockheads to get even this far.

I don't drink alcohol or take hard drugs, I only have ganjha to relax with. I dream of a time I can go into a shop and have 300 hundred varieties of the plant to choose from, the one that suits my biochemistry and psyche perfectly, that doesn't make me paranoid or mad, that doesn't zombify me into stupefaction, but gives me a sweet, laid-back euphoria so that I seem to float on a cloud listen to a celestial choir. It's an absolute curse that those bastards of the LAW feel they have the right to tell me how I should relax in the privacy of my own living room. That's why I curse them with the strongest term possible, "Fascists".

Back in Sylvia’s house we tried not to smother under the mountains of dresses that tumbled upon us as we listened to yet more assurances from Zan that he would resist the lure of ICE debauchery. He told us more about his graduation from the Byron Buttery, the government-run rehab for drug addicts, where Big Brother therapists got them to confess their deepest thoughts at “How’re You Going Mate?” and “Things I Need to Get Off MY Chest” sessions. Eight months of it, several times, and still he ran around town like a chook with its head chopped off.

Sylvia had been denying him sex for some months as a punishment for his waywardness and he was crawling up the walls, horny as a tomcat. In honor of him dealing so attentively with my visit, and to placate his restlessness, she gave him a fuck and he was very jolly the next day, his loins finally oiled. Then she set to with her existential complaint that his dick was too small and she couldn’t feel it in her big cunt. He got uptight anxious again and threatened dire consequences if ever she would leave him, such was his need for a woman to hold onto.

She did admit that the manic activity of his sexual technique made up somewhat for the lack of size, the old “quality over quantity” line, even enthusing that ICE addicts made great lovers when they went off their heads. I thought it was about time I went back to Sydney, before their drama exploded in a direction I would find tedious, her blood and guts soaked into the mountain of dresses. Lismore madness got too close to the skin, in a big city I could get lost in the crowd.

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.