Thursday, January 7, 2010

Boring Machine Disturbs Sleep

I wake every morning the same way: suddenly and without ceremony. Always to the crack of light in between the curtain and the windowsill revealing the time of day from the colour it lets through. There is a digital clock display just out of my immediate vision, but I never use it. Nine times out of ten the daylight is an enemy, the room is too hot, and I am dehydrated. One time out of ten I will lay in for a while.

I wait until hunger sets in to eat. I will turn on the computer and brew a coffee, but until the pangs in my gut will not let me sit still I do not find the motivation to cook. It all seems rather perverse, in the shadow of another bout of self-poisoning, tending to compulsive behaviours and chemical addictions before interfacing with the base desire for food. Sometimes I cannot even find the will to cook and instead spend my own scant hard-earned on a carb-heavy(certainly not a "rounded") bought breakfast. Still waking, barefoot, pulled into whatever clothes are nearest on hand, I skulk into the street and wander silently to one of several nearby eateries.

The contents of my bedroom rotate but the image remains the same: Single-cell clothes pile taking up a good portion of floorspace, drumkit partially assembled, surrounded by discarded parts and a fine sawdust that layers the ground from a thousand wooden sticks shredded on metallic rims, desk stacked with various discarded food containers until it bothers me and I bin them, and even then it doesn't take long for them to collect again. No seats bar my own computer chair, no real standing space. Solidarity has conditioned me to live this way: as I am the only person who ever sets foot in here nobody has to suffer my poor semantics. In a communal situation, or even had I the occasional stray to sleep here the night it would look nothing like it does.

My suitcase lies in the middle of the floor where I put it down upon my return, as though if I do not remove it then I am only visiting here. The hat I wore sits on the mantelpiece, ready to move again at a moments notice. There is nothing of mine on my walls, there are none of my belongings outside this room anywhere in the house, this is not even my bed. The assembled drumkit is the only physical anchor to this place and to this state, and even then I could have it down in under ten minutes if I so desired.

This all must change.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


They gather by watering holes like buffalo. Heavy set and broad-shouldered, clopping strides on well-dressed hooves; Thick-necked and blonde-tipped and manicured. They drag gazelles out into the night, into back seats, into alleys, into cabs. Staggering together down backstreets, almost comical: Her, paper-thin, all legs, dress-lines and straight hair; Him, broad, all thick joints and trimmed epidermis, clumsily leaning on her glass frame like it can hold all the weight in the world.

Disinterested ethnic men, neither big nor intimidating but with the store-bought demeanour of what Hank Rollins calls 'Command Presence', mill about shepherding this mismatched herd away from the docile night-walkers and the stream of tarmac. They wait uneasily.

I watch, but not from afar. In five or six strides I could be the nature-documentary stock impala-cum-spring-roll example of the food chain, but I know I won't be. The herd faces inwards, watching two young bucks exchange syllables in the staccato, thoughtless rhythm of the inebriated. Flashes of half-finished tribal sleeve tattoos. A misaligned crescendo that ripples backwards through the amassed but reaches me all at once as violence is averted. Disinterested ethnic men bounce on their heels.

Another vertiginous couple peels off from the herd and out of view, counting back the minutes until their arrival at the chosen den or nest to be the scene of the pre-somnia coitus ritual, conducted de riguer in accordance with weekly tradition.

I love Fremantle at night.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


I am in a city where I can smell the air. Streets whose name I don't know. Now I think about it I only knew a dozen street names where I grew up anyway. Sprawls and crevices. Intersections as markers. New grids never cease to amaze me. Learning where to eat again.

At first I think 'All these people are so damn cool. I want to meet them all'. Before long I realise that not all these people are cool by a long shot. Damned if they don't all look cool though. People are just better-looking here. Something in the water.

Life is everywhere. People sink into the cracks and the alleyways. Money stays awake at every hour. A billion seven elevens. Public transport. Everything a short walk away all in all.

A rush hour that is pure art. Too many heads for it to be anything less than comical. Every pedestrian light a stampede of polished shoes. Absurdity in motion. Every evening this city sheds its office dorks with practised precision and at a ruthless pace. Some will disseminate into a thousand empty seats by beer taps and many more will go home to somebody else or else go home to their television.

Less obvious crime. More crime though.

More people ultimately. More land, more stuff, more stores, more dollars, more art, more homeless, more wank, more music, more gold, more shit, more life.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Lukewarm salty kiss of dishwater on cheek. Unpleasant. Another half-finished plate drops into the awaiting basin with a healthy clang. Face back to the floor. I have had two beers; A slight hesitance in my focus as I turn to face the bright, bustling scene of custom. Into the fray again without breaking my stride. Such a fearsome contrast: the mottled off-yellow and oil-flecked plastic of a kitchen against the bright light and polished wood of a restaurant floor.

I walk elevated, with purpose. Green and white dishcloth on my belt loop like gang colours. Grenades of drunken laughter burst occasionally in the middle distance. Children run through the knee-height corridors of the post-modern dining custom - they own this miniature cityscape. Eyes up at all times; That's how they get you.

Each cluster of the magnanimous middle class is tended like a ripening fruit. Progress monitored as the tabletops swell with bloodied wine glasses, discarded serviettes and speckled cutlery until the moment is right and the spoils volunteer themselves into our eager hands. Plink of coin in tip jar. My most honest "thanks a lot" pulled from my throat as if by muscle memory. A smile that has never once looked different.

Fake rapport. Same old lines. Gently inquiring presence on the edge of your peripheral vision at all times. No breaking sightlines. No making assumptions. Warmth from the kitchen, cold from the street. Perfect temperature rightmost seat on kitchen side of middle table, apparently. Fifteen syllable coffee orders. Post-ironic retro weak skinny decaf soy chai latte coming right up.

Back inside the muted stainless steel hug of the kitchen. Yelling "behind!" to avoid any further burns. Inside jokes. The ugly truth about where it all comes from. Illusion shattered. Dishwater that would make you hallucinate. Plume of steam as tap water meets hot steel. Driven on by the churning hum of the extractor fan. We take direction from paper dockets. Unspoken instruction; Mostly gesticulation and facial expressions. Rhythm; Chemistry. Urgent questions and vague answers; Impromptu menu alterations.

Feet hurt. Flecks of steel wool embedded inside knuckle joints. Mystery cuts you don't notice till the next day. Did I bleed on anybody's meal? Occasional leftover morsel delivered hastily from the burner on a boat of stale bread-ends. Flavours encountered like two good lines of prose amidst a reality TV marathon. Brief moments of fully formed transcendental joy peppered like tiny bullet holes in a ten-hour block of exhaustive disinterest. Miles helps too.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


He looks as though he knows something. His brow, mostly obscured by the leather hat he didn't take off when he came in, is furrowed in honest concentration. His slight shoulders are hunched inwards, his whole body is foetally curled around the shiny red stratocaster held to his chest. His knees are up, his feet on the stool beneath him so that the guitar is the centre of his universe.

His form is wrapped loosely in the faded blue jeans of rock uniform and a wrinkled longsleeve shirt. He does not look up or acknowledge us. There is a lull in conversation but no particular silence as the assembled wait to hear what he has to say. His hands are cracked and brown, criss-crossed with the cuts and wrinkles of age; His nails are a filthy grey. There are matching brown nicotine stains on the first joints of the middle and index fingers of his right hand from a lifetime of smoking rolling tobacco. His knuckles are swollen, they look arthritic. He has no guitar pick.

After almost a whole minute of silently speaking to his guitar, he strikes a single dull, ugly chord. He reaches one hand to the headstock to quickly and deliberately turn a machine head, then strikes the chord again. It is just as dull and ugly as before.

Suddenly his posture changes somewhat. He leans his weight back on the stool so that most of his face is visible under the worn brim of his hat. He plays the first three chords of 'smoke on the water' completely out of time and then pauses again. He waits a moment, then starts to play a simple pentatonic lead. He stops just as abruptly as before, then tries again. The murmur in the assembled throng pitches upwards as multiple mocking voices pipe up across the room.

He continues like this for several minutes, stopping and starting as if trying to remember a song he knew long ago. He is on a stage, people are watching him, he is being played through a PA and he seems to have no idea. Much of the crowd disperses to the bar or the beer garden, chortling. He will be done in five minutes and then they came come back for whatever is on next. I stand and watch on, fascinated.

It is warm inside the bar and unusually busy for a Monday night. Boys in op-shop bought dinner jackets and skinny-leg jeans converse with stunningly beautiful girls who look like they were lifted straight from a sixties fashion magazine. Coopers green is the beer of choice. We are in Melbourne all right.

As he progresses he seems to get faster but not better. His half-formed meedlings seem to take on a sense of urgency. I am now the only one paying attention. There is something fantastically avant-garde about this scene: trendy bar, beautiful young people, decrepit old man sitting onstage playing like a learner with nobody looking at him; but the sound is filling the room anyway.

His ten minutes are up and the sound technician tries to get his attention. The man hasn't looked up from his guitar since he got onstage, it's a futile endeavour. The sound technician kills the PA and the man plays on for a full minute before he realises. He stops, looks up, scans the room slowly and deliberately, unplugs his guitar and walks straight out the front door into the freezing winter night holding it by the neck. As the door swings shut behind him Kings Of Leon swells out of the PA in the fast-attack fade-up of hasty DJing. There is an audible murmur of approval amongst the crowd.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I don't like chess. This troubles me somewhat as it doesn't really fit my self-image of being at least something resembling an intellectual. I try to work out if I don't like chess maybe because I feel I should be better at it (spacial awareness having never been my forte, not that I'm making excuses) or if I don't like chess because it reveals too much about the person playing it. I resolve for now that I do not like chess because I don't like the person I'm playing against at present.

I don't like the person I'm playing chess against. This troubles me also because it doesn't fit at all with my idea of how I judge a person as being 'good' or 'bad'. I can find people utterly annoying without considering them 'bad'. In order to really dislike somebody I have to have some suspicion that their motives are 'bad' or that their morality is 'wrong'. This guy... well he doesn't really fit either category, and this is new to me.

He's not a disagreeable looking person. On the contrary he's rather good looking; handsome in a boyish way. He's maybe seven or eight inches shorter than me and rather thinner than I. He dresses well and is always smiling. There is no reason for my subconscious first impression to have skewed my view of him.

We have known each other for approximately three weeks at this stage. In this entire time we have been nothing short of utterly civil to one another. He seems to harbour no dislike towards me at all and for this I feel somewhat guilty, as I'm sure I must appear to think of him as a nice fellow, which I do not. It seems strangely dishonest.

When we first met, he already knew my name. He smiled widely and shook my hand; spoke to me as though we were already well acquainted. He has been polite, helpful, even generous towards me in his daily conduct. Everybody who speaks of him speaks only positively. He's a talented artist and a reasonable chef. He reads a lot and we talk often about a wide variety of books and authors; Wyndham and Burroughs and Marsden. He knows some of the music I listen to - Sonic Youth and Radiohead irk his attention when they come up in a playlist. Its not like we lack common ground. So then what is it that bothers me about this character?

It is something I observe within all of his interactions. An unqualified courtesy to every person he interacts with, regardless of the treatment he receives in return. Even in the face of near total verbal abuse, he seems to be unwilling or unable to do anything even tacitly aggressive, as though the idea of even the slightest interpersonal conflict seems to terrify him. He is, in a way, the ultimate pacifist. And this idea, for better or worse, disgusts me.

His opinions seem to be a median of those of the people closest to him. Nothing he says is objectionable and when he disagrees with somebody nothing is said. He makes no effort to define himself, to have an opinion on anything even slightly touchy; His politics have remained wholly unspoken. A hollow shell, all style and no substance. After this revelation his good nature appears sickly and vile, like the defence mechanism of some kind of animal destined for domestication - not fight or flight, but merely smiling subservience.

He has my queen pinned down, most of my valuable pieces taken. It is my move. A slight mistake at this point in the game could result in my defeat. A defeat I'm sure will be met with a meek smile, a hearty handshake and a declaration of 'good game'. In the name of irrational hatred and passionate discourse, I will not allow this smug bastard to win.

Highlights From The Black Leather Diary

Only a few things I found worthy of publishing from my handwritings:

'Am Thoreau'

Blue tinged halo
White hot skin
Asleep in the cradle of your ribcage
Speaks through your pores and your follicles
Whose that girl
With ashen tongue
That sneaks into the corners
Of your eyes sometimes?

'Glen Iris'

This is an uneasy freedom
We find it so appealing to keep on letting go
But slowly, surely, I lose my footing
My feet grow light with the knowledge
Of my great impending fall
And somehow I cannot wait
For each cold night and back-breaking walk
Each eager meal and needy handshake
And so too eventually I welcome
That bitter retreat to the west.

'Dear Ms. ████'

As I am sure you are no doubt aware by now, I have taken the liberty of fucking off while you were away.

While I am aware that this was brash and unceremonious, please be aware that this is what I truly want. I do not get what I am searching for ████ ████ ████ and though I do not ████ it, so here must our paths diverge.

Thought I ████ ████ doubt it will be long till we next meet, I feel that this will be the best for ████ ████ ████, and wished to express so here.

Please forgive the overtly formal language, I have been reading far too much Crime And Punishment of late and have not had to write a formal letter since High School.

████ ████,



Smeared across the wall
A hundred thousand sentence fragments
A crimson rainbow riding high
In the french-beige sky of always
Offset so fantastically
By your spidered hand-to-mouth
I wish that I had been there
To photograph it all