Saturday, May 08, 2010

The Mean Backstreets of Lismore.

Tribal Dancing at Sunset on Byron Beach Carpark.

Nimbin Mardi Grass High Jinx 2010.

House Mural in Lismore - Goddess of Space/Time 1997.

I needed to de-stress from city-living and so went up to the Nimbin Mardi Grass festival, always good for a laid-back chill-out time, and that's what I got. But I had to make it thru the mean backstreets of Lismore first, that cow-poke town in deep New South Wales where I stayed most of the time with my old girlfriend Sylvia. I will one day dedicate a whole story to Sylvia, the Wood Nymph, our adventures together have been many and wild, I met her in 1978 at a punk venue, the Grand Hotel, when she was 18, and it's been a lot of madness ever since, and I arrived to hear yet another horror story.

Please excuse that a lot of my stories are neo-Gothic, with our sappy sapient species I'm afraid that's how things pan out, (he knows that he knows that everyone else knows he's a bastard), but don't worry, I also find light in the darkness. Sylvia was in a restrained hysteria because only a few months earlier she'd had a frightening experience. Going downstairs late one night to fiddle with her 1001 second-hand dresses, suddenly from out of the shadows stepped a young man, naked except for boots and black balaclava disguising his face, he was masturbating his huge phallus in her direction to which she screamed and screamed the whole street down.

The pervert ran off, dressing himself as he went, she reported it to the Police and related to me in breathless whispers how they particularly asked her to describe the length of the guy's shlong. They caught the guy a few days later but not till after he'd terrorised the north coast on a rampage of rape and slaughter. Sylvia went to his court-hearing to check out what the guy looked like without his balaclava and hear all the nasty facts. Before he'd gone to her house he'd raped a young woman in Casino, and after he'd run from Sylvia's alarmed screaming he'd gone into town and hung about the Lismore Cineplex. When one of the teenage usherettes left work after midnight he followed her home and attacked her in her bedroom. She fought him off but he had a knife and slashed her up so bad she had to be hospitalised. He had a history of attacks against woman since he was 14, terrorising the whole of Byron Bay's hinterland for many years and now after this last heinous crime spree he's thankfully put in a cage for many years.

At the courthouse Sylvia was warned by a cop not to look at the perp because he was as ugly as "the elephant man" but when dragged before the magistrate she saw that he merely had a cleft-palate and broken nose, ugly features that perversely attracted her and she regretted that he didn't just approach her socially and ask for a fuck, she's constantly horny and as a 50 year old woman finds men don't see her as attractive anymore, for all the come-ons she gives off. (This is not black humour, just sad commentary on my civilization, if only these maniacs were sensible and put an add in the paper, "Male masseur available, women only, magic hands!" He'd make money as well as get his rocks off, but rationalism doesn't come into it, it's because he's mentally ill and not monitored by any health service that this terror trip went down.)

What grabbed my soul was the newspaper article about the whole affair, Sylvia being the star of the drama, the headline being something like "Woman Screams at Wanker". After detailing all the nasty acts, at the heart of the story she goes on to explain, "I'm afraid the mural painted onto the front of my house attracted the guy, it's of a naked cosmic goddess and it probably excited him and gave him the wrong idea!" I was flabbergasted, I'd painted that mural in 1997, (see pic above), and here it was held up as the reason a nutcase went on a sexual rampage, my art has achieved much over the years but this really was the pits!

The hot-griddle streets of Lismore took on a creepy edge, when I went to the cinema I looked at the usherettes with fond regret, I'll never take them for granted again. Everything shuts up by 10 at night, there's no food available except for the petrol station by the highway, when I went out for snacks at midnight I had to walk a gravel road thru dark parks where I kept seeing hare-lipped perverts behind every tree. At the gas station I found a gang of teenage Aboriginal boys ransacking the shelves, the security guard shitting himself and looking the other way. Every aisle I went down I found a black guy stuffing goodies down his pants, I was wearing a black jacket with arm tags, I looked like a security guard at first glance, they jumped, rushed about and ran out of the shop en masse and regrouped there. The last of them was with me at the cashier and watched me take my wallet from my pocket then, using me as cover, he also ran from the place clutching some snack, the cashier behind his glass wall saying, "It's got nothing to do with me!" That mob would burn the station down if any cop-types fucked with them.

I toddled out into the shadows munching on my Gaytime ice-cream and into the dark car-park, the teenage gang prowled around me in a wide circle making catcalls to each other, the noose on their prey tightening, me the queer white stranger challenging their territory. I've been in this situation a thousand times and I'm too old to play it out to see what happens, instead I walked backwards into the light of the gas station and then went in the opposite direction, the long way round. I heard their catcalls echoing amongst the gum trees as if they were chasing me, like a kangaroo I hopped it, up the silent backstreets, making it back to Sylvia's house just before I heard the gang rumble past, as a deadbeat old streetie I might've been Ok but I wasn't pushing my luck.

We made it up to Nimbin past the police blockade and had a great time at the Mardi Grass festival, like what's not to like? Great food from around the world plus wholesome home-made yummies that has us eating, eating, munching-out till our guts slumped and we lay like beached dugongs on a rug under a marquee at the back of the school-ground where band after electrified band played music to us, each musician better than the one that went before him/her, and all of it for free, it was wonderfully de-stressing for me. To take a break from the rock'n'roll we wandered into town to Daisy's dress shop where she played loud techno music from amplifiers in her doorway and we danced with the crowd in the middle of Nimbin main street.

We decided against going to the 'Doof' party under Nimbin Rocks because you had to pay to get in, and a good thing too, we got different reports about it, some said it was cool, with a high new age vibe, the 2000 crowd dancing till 9.30 in the morning. Others told us the vibe was hard and dangerous, they arrived to see a guy get hit on the head with a bottle, later on a Lebanese guy pulled out a huge knife and waved it about, it was taken from him and he was stabbed repeatedly with it, told the hard way, "Don't fuck around in Nimbin!" And then some poor 52 year old guy staggering away from the party, got run down by a car and killed up on the Kyogle Road, in Nimbin we were all saddened by it, it kind of brought the whole ambience down and reminded the organisers that they have to "Take Care!" But it involved alcohol, ironic for a "Pot Festival", and it could've happened anywhere, booze being the biggest killer of them all.

Sylvia Saliva.
Lismore Markets.
I was glad we stayed in town and missed the bloodshed, my modus operandi of staying in one spot and letting the whole parade pass by paid off, we had such a good, care-free time, even the cops were friendly, possibly told to smile and keep their hands off as the Festival attracted a lot of tourists who dropped several million dollars into the local economy. All the usual events took place, bhong throwing competitions etc, but the numbers were down this year, it doesn't have the frisson it used to, punters don't like the police presence. Half the crowd were from Brisbane on a day-trip to gawk at the freaks and the other half were international backpackers, other Aussies not giving much of a shit for Marihuana Reform, they've heard all the scare stories about psychosis, paranoia and lung cancer, that dam poisonous "Skunk weed" encouraged the flip-outs and demotivated zombies and has the Conservatives cheering in vindication.

What the hell? I just wanted release, relief, relaxation, I danced about like an old fool in the hot-spot of main-street Nimbin, I can't not move to that Beat. An old guy who looked like he'd been thru the Vietnam War as well as the Drug Wars leaned over and said, "Here, this will calm you down", handing me half a pill, it looked like Panadeine Forte so I swallowed it, stupidly. "What was it?" "It's an exotic psychotropic called Seroquel (?!). It's for shell-shock, some people have an adverse reaction to it but you'll be fine, I'm sure it'll suit you perfectly." "Great, I hope so," I replied hesitantly. I continued to dance jubilantly for another 2 hours feeling the psychedelic slowly course thru my nervous system and lighting up my inner space.

Then I felt the heebie-jeebies coming on and tried to lie down on a wooden verandah in the cold but the jitters set in, I twitched and shuddered, all my nerves on fire, especially my sciatic nerve, like electrified wire down to my tippie-toes that had me jumping and contorting, for 7 hours I had what might be likened to a kaleidoscopic epileptic fit, eventually sinking into fleuro-oblivion for a few hours, but kind of tripping for the next two days, it really zonked me, what the hell was it and why did I take it, am I getting more devil-may-care as I get older?

The party was soon over and we had to shred our plastic green garlands, Sylvie and I split to Byron Bay beach where we camped out and danced with the tribal-types to their bongos and guitars in the car-park at sunset. What sweet, grass-roots funkiness to shake the body in the golden twilight, and right in the middle of yuppie-wonderland too. Byron Bay is worth a longer visit, the beaches so splendid, I'd gladly stay there for weeks camping in the bushes with all the Ferals, only I bet there's a dark undercurrent here in Paradise, of despair and dissatisfaction, desire and frustration, the streets are mean everywhere when you have no money, no beauty, no fame, no sanity. Still there's the sunshine on the beach when the nightmare is over, and the beaming out of compassion from the green heart Chakra, that's something to warm up with.

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.