Monday, June 05, 2017

I'm Dying to Put My Fist Through That Class Ceiling!

I know I’m always moaning and bitching, forgive me, but from being bombed in your home by arms dealers, stabbed on the street by a maniac, to being kicked in the arse by a jealous competitor, it’s a cruel world. I have often wondered why I can rarely get a break in the rigid class-bound society most of us live in and I can’t help but surmise part of it would be that I’m from a working class background and I’ve dared to try to get above my station.

I was at a rally to protest the funding cuts to the arts by our neo-liberal masters when I realized it was upper-middle class artists who were threatened with being dumped from the ARTS “gravy train”, the govt’s sink or swim policies having little effect on me as the twats running the arts bureaucracies hadn’t given me any funding since the 1980s. I thought this was due to the radical political/social critique of my work, even though I’d won world prizes for such, but a chance meeting with an old acquaintance gave me another clue.

I’d painted a mural around 1985 for a project in a social housing estate in Woolloomoolloo, “How Do You Feel?” It was a 20 foot high artwork on a pylon holding up the overhead railway-track to Bondi and was subversive of consumer capitalism, depicting the working people enslaved, trapped and beaten down within The System , and particularly scathing of the uranium industry and Australia’s subservient relationship with Ronnie Raygun’s America. Most of the other murals on the rest of the pylons were done by a middle-class intellectual, Mary Cloudsky, who was garnering many of the public artwork jobs about the city and getting paid plenty for it.

My work was up for a miraculous 25 years but was then taken down and destroyed by the City Council while Cloudsky’s faded, patchy imagery of the social housing history of Green Bans were left in place. When I confronted her with the fact that the destruction of my artistic critique was akin to the Nazis burning books and destroying "decadent art" she shrugged and said it wasn’t her decision, it’s just how things played out in our contemporary (chicken-shit) politically correct times.

But it brought to my mind the fact that we working class types are to be seen and not heard; uneducated and uncouth, it’s best left to our betters to speak for us, it’s their prerogative, they are born to the job of overseeing us underlings, there’s an industry of commenting upon our sorry condition and only the connected middle-classes are qualified to do it. Australia, for all the bullshit snow-jobbing of egalitarianism, is rigidly class bound, and us who actually live in social housing should keep our heads down and our bums up.

I know that since "Reagonomics" of the '80s, with deregulation of the banks and Wall Street, and massive reduction of taxes for the super-rich, the middle classes have been squeezed out and sunk more towards the working poor, especially in America. But here in Australia there is still a substantial middle-class that act as guardians on the door to upward mobility, professions  such as doctors, dentists, lawyers, advertisers, arts curators etc as well as an army of Govt. bureaucrats, and they make dam sure they keep a tight fist on those well paid jobs for fear that they might too sink towards the "lucky to  be working" poor. I, as an unheralded artist, sank even further down into that human morass called the "lumpen proletariat", the Underworld of the no-hopers, vagabonds, layabouts, prostitutes, thieves and beggars,  never to get an even break. There's only so many places on the gravy train and, as in the dystopian movie "Snow-piercer", it's a cut-throat battle to get ahead.

Many years ago, the Hollywood actor Jimmie Stewart, touring the world to tout for his best mate Ronnie Raygun's second term as President, was guest presenter of Hitchcock's "Rear Window" at the Sydney Film Festival. As he got out of his limousine I couldn't stop my Tourettes and I heckled him, "Hey Jimmie, Ronnie's gonna lose! History will tell, and Ronnie will eventually lose out!" I was rewarded with a free ticket to the movie by a bouncer which I enjoyed thoroughly, and I was right about the future repercussions of the old movie villain's policies, America's rich are bathing in money while the middle classes are squeezed downwards, and the poor are starving, begging for work at $10 an hour. This act, among others, surely did my non-career in, for the rich, the movers and shakers of our Society, were in the crowd and they were mortified by my outcry.

Pyrmont Squats.
I’ve discovered the ruthless fight for position, money and kudos in other sites I’ve tried to break into. I made posters as an independent artist at the Tin Sheds Workshop at Sydney University but got written out of their history. I was too smart by half and my fellows didn’t seem to like the competition, as in the future I was generally shunned, not because I was a bastard, but because I was a naive, cool cat and easy to fuck-over. There I was, a distillation of most of the under-class minorities our leftie intellectual elite champion, and they knifed me, out of sheer meanness and competitive jealousy.

And it goes on. Here in 2017 there is a "Dark Corporate" festival called “Livid” wherein “the connected” get to put on light-shows, especially in Kings Cross, my old hunting grounds. If you peruse these Blogs you’ll find many artworks and stories depicting the Cross, I’ve put on several shows there over the years, but the curators of “Livid” have coldly excluded me. A mate of mine referred to me as “the poet of the streets” and this has possibly done me in as there are other writers in the area who feel they are the only geniuses deserving of such a title; I renounce the sobriquet, I am a piece of shrieking shit and I know it, and I bet if my name was mentioned as a potential Cross character worthy of inclusion there would be a quick, “No, not him!”

 There's a guy named Jay Katz who once showed trash movies in a pub in Anandale for many years and I politely asked him to show my film " Virgin beasts" starring a few memorable rock performers of Sydney who had sadly died and I so wanted a show in a famous rock'n roll pub to remember them and give them the respect they deserved, but he politely declined.
At that same "arts funding protest" rally I spoke of above I saw Jay Katz with his fist raised like some low-rent Che Geuvera but when I went to say "hello" to him he turned his head away with his nose up in the air as if he'd smelt shit coming. He must've been in a bad mood that day, I have to understand that we're all fallible humans, but oh no god, why do I have to keep copping the blow off? His wife, Miss Death gave me a wan look as if to say, "What can I do, he's the boss and he's in one of his tantrums?" Instead of being diplomatic and self-effacing I should've heckled him on the spot, I'm tired of being the nice guy,but it only causes bad vibes, best to go my own way, I've got things to accomplish and he'll come around.

And a few years later he did, I think his wife read this Blog as a poison pen letter, he's being ever so nice to me, telling me what a genius artist I am, stroking my ego till I'm purring, he knows how to give the cat some cream. He's offered me a gig down in Darlinghurst showing my short animated film "The Thief of Sydney" and giving a talk afterwards so I'm quite mollified, I am the type to forgive and forget, but always be wary, the knife in the back could come at any time.

Most of the people who organizing  shows in Sydney are heterosexual couples and, for all the gay lib lip service, are secretly homophobes. I can just hear them in the privacy of their lounge rooms while they are getting pissed on cheap booze sniggering, “Oh, that Toby Z, what a nasty, presumptuous little fag he is!” Or they're upper middle-class gays monopolizing everything with money and kudos involved, screeching to a deaf and blind god, "I'm the most famous fuckwit on the planet!" No god, it's easy to get trampled in the rush for that 7 nano-seconds of tinsel celebrity. If you, my suffering reader, ever get to read my book, “Vagabond Freak”, you’ll find out what a cruel obstacle course I’ve had to run, the kicks in the teeth and the doors slammed in my face, mostly from untalented, yellow with envy, snooty shit-head middle no-class people who are desperate for the lime-light. Humanity crying to the Infinite Void, "I existed! I was loved!"

 I know I'm bitching like a real arsehole myself but what the fuck, we all know the dice get loaded against the poor, unconnected boat-rockers. The Sydney City Council fund and control most of the cultural festivals including Livid Light Show and the Council is run by a megalomaniac mayor with a tight cabal of PC squeaky clean dirty tricks brigade encircling her like a mob of mafiosi body-guards.

I've crossed her eminence's path a few times and she doesn't like people who speak back to her without kow-towing. Before her recent election, for her fourth term, she got a flunky to ask me for a painting for an auction that would help raise money for her campaign. Even though her mafia have fucked me over in the past, being a cool cat, I readily agreed and submitted the ink drawing below, titled "Undefeated", about the frontier wars between the indigenous Kooris and the invading Europeans in the first settlement days of Australia. This is a drawing I'd previously put a price of $1000 plus I'd paid a hundred dollars to frame it, and here I was willing to give it to her for free, and I'm a pauper on a pension.

The old flunky showed the JPeg of the drawing to her and the next thing I hear is it's been rejected, too controversial and violent, can they please choose another one, something nice, cows under gum-trees perhaps. I flipped and wrote them an e-mail informing them that their PC censorship was insufferable and they certainly could not choose another one. The Lord Mayor has the nerve to own her domicile in Redfern, an area where once the indigenous Australians lived and called their community but have now been moved out due to gentrification; in reality she's on their land, stolen from them, and has the nerve to reject any mention of history and fact. I was and am furious, she is no people's Mayor, she is a power addict, mixing with million-dollar elites, far from the street-level people's concerns.

Her and her cabal are a vengeful lot, never forgetting or forgiving the tiniest slight and they exert their poisonous power, secretly, behind closed doors, nothing which can proved, by blackballing from public events those they consider not onside or rude guttersnipes. This is a true story, not just my paranoid delusion, Sydney is a father-fucker of a city and I've been fucked every which way on every occasion, even when I've tried to contribute. No god, what a bunch of dicks rule here, they'd murder the Kooris all over again if they got between THEM, money for the boys/girls and redevelopment! 

Of course, I did myself in when I created the nomme de geurre, Toby Zoates, as The System will have blackballed me outright from every public event, the name being so subversive. Only tonight I was watching television and an add for the famous breakfast cereal came up, in between that amazing anarchic movie “The Purge – Anarchy”, and I flashed that my years of outrageous artistic output, particularly my writing, will have the Upper Class dogs who guard "The Door" writhing in their skid-marked undies. (I'm kidding myself, they wouldn't even have noticed me, too busy sailing on their yaghts and quaffing champagne.) What can a poor boy, with a brain and guts, do? I have to be true to what ART should be doing, telling it how it is for us downtrodden, people, animals and the planet as a whole!

Just when I’m about to have an aneurysm, I let go of the tension over all this shit as I have no power over IT or THEM, it’s just the way this dickhead place is. Forget my forty years of hanging around that shithole once called The Cross, (it's soon to be named upmarket West Potts Point), I'd be too paranoid to have the locals beady eyes upon me. I'll have to get into my mantra, meditate and know I have no worries. I’ve had a great life, my films have shown everywhere, my Blogs have had 59000 hits from all around the world and my new book, “Vagabond Freak” is a beauty and will surely, over time, get a readership as a wild 21st Century tale. So fuck you “Dirtworks” crew and Bug Swatter’s Gallery, my art will live on.