Joyce Carol Vincent

 

Born in 1965
the year the Post Office Tower opened
into an age of mobile phones, the internet & television programs

She was young & single
Beautiful & clever
She died alone in a bedsit
It was 3 years till they found her

Her bills were in arrears
Piled high inside the house
The light from the television flashing over her skeleton on the couch

Joyce Carol Vincent
Alone & forsaken
Forgotten in this so-called
Age of communication.

She seemed like one of the lucky ones
So striking & confident
The world was her oyster
She was strong & independent
But everybody struggles
& her brave face was a curse
When she disappeared
People assumed she was living a better life
not worse
All kinds of men were drawn to her
the good ones & the bad
She ended up in a halfway house for domestic violence
Terrorised & sad
And that was it
No one knows how she died
She lost contact with her friends
No one even tried
She was smart & beautiful
Only 38
But some die for attention
& the love comes too late

Joyce Carol Vincent
alone & forsaken
Forgotten in this so-called
Age of communication.

Thoughts Unseasoned

Before the world was automated
people had soul
You know?
Festivals
Zoos
Vouyers
Tourists
Consummers
Collectors
Zombies
Audiences
Waiting
Wanting
Watching the performance
passively
like the telly
Dislocated
They don’t know how to get
involved
their souls have been charmed to
sleep
by the wolf pack
Now they are shy deer & good
venison
good sheep
Lulled to sleep
disconnected from their souls
their fight
their self respect,
by these creeps
in peeps clothing.
Thus the world is lulled
automated,
& the soul impoverished.
We breed an impoverished culture
of kids with strong thumbs but no
imagination
with strong senses of entitlement but no
manners
with less chance of surviving these
predetors.
Brainwashed
to love the wolf
as it devours you.
You don’t believe me?
Of course you don’t
I don’t trust me
Constantly reavaluating reality
Who’d trust me?
The curious case of the missing
audient
“Popularity is a sign of certainty!”
certainly?
In fact, it must be the very opposite.
-How’s the leg? she asked.
-Still kicking.
BopBop.
Holy smokes!
I protect the abandoned lighthouse
project the stoic light
Before the world was automated
Soul was key.
Intuition. Ignition. Imagination
The bedraggled
toothsnaggled
towering
obese
stammering
bombast.
I call him the Massuer
Although some call him The Cramp
Home just in time to leave.
They say it’s always in the last place
you look….but who keeps on
looking after it’s found?
A crack in the curtain
is more enticing
than an open window
Empty souls chase empty love
Fame is fake love (modeled &
fleeting )
Real love is obscure
& eternal
Where ya been? she asked.
Growing a beard, growing a gut
Falling in love, falling in luck
People who don’t think for themselves
always assume they’re normal.
And they’re correct.
‘Where ya been?’
While you were running on a tredmill, I was eating chicken skin.
While you were working in a dead end job, I was playing in a deadend band.
While you where screaming in the audience I screaming from the stage
& while you were living in an old folks home I was deep down in my grave.
Thank god for chicken skin.
Amen.
Heaven is nothingness.
Perfection,
simply unconsciousness, or
consciousness unconcerned with
perfection.
Yet consciousness seeks only perfection
& is thus never satisfied.
Dissolution’s more my thing
Orchestrating oblivion
aboard the celestial railroad
through fleeting artificial paradises
to side step old age
Poverty without impoverishment
so long suckers
One decent album is all I ask
One decent song
kick the bucket with a sore paw
Universal Crystallisation
We know our broken heart.
Everybody does. The first thing that happens is you vomit,
like being struck over the head with a blunt object. Then you
lunge for the first exit,
like a trapped rat,
& take refuge in a quiet corner without an exist
a deadend
to guard the only entry
your back to the wall
like a dog retreating
under the house to die.
The alternative is to walk without
floors, without legs, on streets
without place, without sense,
without direction.
The sorry songs & poems come
much later
long after the scar has healed &
deformed the heart
forever.
All strangers are enemies.
Instinct of pessimism.
Anticipation of pain.
Betrayal
Deluge
Ruin & Refuge
Bad love.
Yes
But to break anothers heart, which we are all witness to,
is impossible to know.
Oh well.
She’ll be right.
Right as Rain.
Dumbing down on the windscreens
dripping from the magazines
& billboards & pop songs &
junkfood & modern culture
dum-dum-dumbing down like rain
There’s a green light & no ones moving
Be positive.
People only take you as seriously as you overtake yourself.
Moons half full.
Mines overflowing.
Trees overhang with fruit
like bees weighed down with honey
I must write
Words are dynamite
Just like a roofless house lets the sun stream in
because it cannot help it
Lewd I did live & evil did I dwel.
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks
But you can’t trick an old dog.
Part of me wants me dead
Empty your pockets & line your
stomach
But beware the throat
Between mouth & stomach most men choke
If you give em enough rope
HoHoHo
Laughing at the same old joke
Drinking in the same old bar
Stalling in the same old car
The rain makes the flowers grow & the blues bloom a stronger soul
doncha know
It’s as easy for a wise man to get confused
as a fool
a fool about foolish things
a wise man in his wisdom.
The blues is life & death.
Both sunrise & sunset.
Duende.
The emptiness at the heart of the
modern world.
Dumbing down like rain.
Emotional generosity has gone
& thus intelligence,
which go hand in hand.
Being able to admit ignorance,
admire resolve, trust virtue,
wanting to learn, wanting to share.
Alas, regret was released from attics
into concentration camps
Dumb is cool:
Dangerous
Smart is safe, Square:
Considerate.
I don’t buy it
This fear of death, that venerates
youth & stupidity
Bah!
Experience is unattractive to these
terrified soul-pedos
They see soul survivors as damaged
goods
I call it Action
The instrument needs to be played
before it earns its Action
The equipment needs to be tested
See what breaks down  & what
Breaks out.
Animals aren’t Stupid
It’s bred out of them by the harshness
of their lives
if they can’t function, organize
& think smart,
they die & don’t breed.
Simple.
Humanity is the complete opposite.
All our history & technology &
information
is designed to make life easier
for idiots to safely breed
more idiots.
Stupidity is a by product of luxury.
Intelligent technology to make life
easier for idiots.
But who are  the real dummies?
The…
Idiots
Imbeciles
Morons
Borderline Deficients
Dull Normals
Average
Superior
Genius
And what about …
Emotional Intelligence?
Instinct?
Wisdom?
Safety is the lowest common
denomnanator
The majority are the middle
of a Bell Curve
which is safe, consistent &
recognisable.
Thus mediocrity is encouraged.
In Art as in Life.
Be at either end, genius or idiot,
& you cop it,
same disadvantages,
same discrimination:
Weirdos, rare & outnumbered.
Fear rules this world
And fear is but ignorance in action,
in self defence.
A closing of eyes, rather
than opening to see both
the beauty & horror
Of truth.
We are all our own slave drivers
We construct our own deep dark forests
to become lost in
And to find our way out
To gain the forests depth & darkness
For ourselves
The girls love it
Almost as much as we do
I say
Let the mean ol’ world go its merry way
Life
Escapade & Debacle.
You do what you do & you are where you are
Side step the snakes
the wolves
The blue eyed psychopaths
Struggle with your  emotions.
Feed them, doubt them, fight them, believe them,
worship them, misinterperate them,
be decieved by them, consumed by them,
heartbroken, tormented, endlessly surprised
& dumbfounded by their depths & dimensions
longing only for stasis & consistency
For restpite.
A rest spot.
In other words: truth.
But truth is ever changing, as are emotions.
Perhaps sanity is simply the difficulty
of surfing this tumultuous sea of feeling.
Because one thing is for sure:
it’s only the psychos who have them under control.
Little men
desperate for power
are gonna fuck with you
They’ve failed & tripped up & are out
of the race but are gonna try and trip
as many others up as possible,
cos their failure makes them take the
race too seriously.
Only ants work for power
The Gods
They don’t give a hoot
They’ve forgotten more about power
than we’ll ever know
Submission becomes more interesting
to one who is naturally powerful
And allowing peasants to take the piss is the
most profound power trip there is
Greed for power is admittance of
weakness
The delusion of Control amid Chaos
But a good rider still only rides the horse,
he doesn’t control the animals mind,
just it’s body
momentarily
Yeah?
Better to be a good rider, than a
horses arse.
The masterful servant.
Put it this way
The difference between the little man
& the big man
is the little man likes to imagine
he’s a big man
& sometimes even BELIEVES he is.
But the big man, in his bigness feels
his own littleness acutely – & always
regrets the littleness of his thinking
& behaviour. He does not deny it,
but rather is acutely aware of it &
wishes to change it
just as a humble man regrets his pride
& a vain man talks up his modesty.
You do what you do & you are where you are.
Always.
Pain is often a test, and more so, ones
fear of pain.
Fear too, is a test. To succumb or
transcend.
If you want to leap higher than ever
before, approach a tiger. You won’t
jump half as high at an oncoming
poodle.
Venture into the silence, the great loneliness.
True wisdom lives far from mankind,
& can only be reached through suffering.
Pah!
Privation & suffering alone can open the mind
of man to all that is hidden to others,
Grasshopper…
Or else true sickness prevails
& becomes sanity.
But it’s a pity.
Sick city.
No one is safe.
Sometimes I read the blurb instead of
looking at the painting. It’s all wrong.
I feel the virus in me also.
Lazy mind
Good slave, bad master.
I been shadow boxing for years
Too many people will test anyone’s humanity.
It’s not natural.  The city’s will tell you.
Too many aimless meatbags waddlin around waiting
for something to happen
someone to notice them
something, anything to scoop them up & away
from their regretful lives.
Instead they just wander about,
getting in the way.
Packed in the throng, its uncanny to notice
how many of them
shave their backs.
Misanthrope, I may be
but Lycanthrope, not yet.
The glaring light & dry airless heat
blows fine off the streets
leaving a breathless, mysterious
stench in odd pockets of the city.
Cabs blank you, one after the other, aggressive tram drivers
ring their bells threateningly & wave their fingers
at pedestrians waiting idylly on the side of the road.
A sales assistant points to my inquiry
without even looking up at me.
I ain’t buying this shit.
I turn around & get the fuck outta there.
On the street a charity worker
in an oversized yellow shirt asks me backhandedly how my day is
& tells me I look lost.
It is all I can do not to tell him to do the same.
In the next store the cute teenage sales girl is such a low talker
I can’t understand a word she says.
Her boss winks at her & she giggles.
I walk out again into the dry dusty heat & stink
& weave among the beggars, buskers, dawdlers & off-road strollers.
Men carrying televisions, women with prams the size of small cars
stop in front of you, lost in a bitter revelry, young girls with too much
perfume & makeup & not enough clothes on trot by in pairs,
earphones in, sunglasses on.
A woman is getting a tattoo on the side of the road
while she talks on a mobile phone
flush, smoking, perfumes, sweat, clothes stuck to skin,
constant car horns & bike bells, skaters skoot past
clack clack
whiz by suddenly
& scare hell outta me.
I enter a shop to get a cold drink, reaching into my pocket waiting
for the cashier to tell me the price, but he says nothing.
I look up & he’s chewing on his lunch.
No hello, no goodbye, just looking at me like I’m a bigger prick than he is.
I soon will be if I don’t make it to the train station
dizzy with people, all as pissed off as I am.
Aboard the train is packed with exhausted stoicism,
many people on the last stretch of their journey home
but well past their patience.
I spent an hour in that cluster fuck & an hour too long.
I’ll just squeeze into a corner  seat & look out the dirty window
as the trees burr past & imagine
my home & the cats
tiptoeing around the edge of a cool bath.
Just ride it out.
Heh…
Before the world was autamated,
you had to have soul.
You know?
Now it’s just a weakness.
Zombie audiences
watch
Live performances
like they’re watching TV
…Brains!
(watching waiting wanting)
dislocated,
their souls have been dislodged
disarmed
charmed to sleep by the media.
They are now shy deer
& good venison
Good capitalist cutlettes
disconnected from their fight,
their self respect,
by these…
Wolves in wooly earmuffs.
The world is automated,
the soul impoverished.
We’re living in an impoverished
culture.
Breeding kids with strong thumbs
but no imagination.
With strong senses of entitlement but
no manners.
With less chance of fighting the
wolves
but rather being hypnotized to love the wolf
as it devours you

LOW CLOUDS SHATTER ON THE HILLTOP TREES

I read this story once long ago regarding a young boy with severe autism, who, every time he was taken by his parents in the car to a relatives house in the country along a certain stretch of road, would become extremely agitated & upset, much to the mystery of his parents.

As the boy grew up his speech & communication abilities improved considerably, and when asked why when as a child he would consistently become upset being taken to these otherwise kind & loving relatives, he explained it had nothing to do with them in particular, but rather the stretch of road they consistently traveled on to get there. Bewildered, his parents wondered why the road could be so upsetting. He explained it wasn’t just the road but the hour of day they would pass along the road, which was often late afternoon. The man’s parents were even more bewildered. How could the time of day be of any consequence? The man then explained, as a child, every time they passed along that same road at dusk through the valleys to visit the relatives, he feared the low clouds would shatter on the hill top trees.

There is strong logic at work regards all delusion, and sometimes it would seem far safer to embrace a certain level of nonsense than to violently misinterpret the world.

For example: if  a rational individual, during his daily routine, continually came across only other seemingly irrational individuals, the more rational explanation would be that he himself were irrational, not them.

And therein lies the paradox!

If a seemingly sane individual were to one day walk out into the world & meet, one by one, ten seemingly insane individuals, the rational odds must surely be more likely – to logic, to reason, to sanity – that he was, in fact, insane, & not they.

Insanity has an overt thread of logic. Perhaps individual logic & not herd logic, but by using this logic, a sane man has become insane.

Ergo: I realised I was insane when everyone I met seemed to me totally batshit crazy.

Lastly, & perhaps most importantly, maybe all ten are, in fact, insane, only because they never doubt their sanity. They are not individuals. The world has formed them & encouraged them to mold their actions & expectations to the universal insanity, while the individual only doubts his own because of lucidity & singularity.

Deckchairs on the moon

“What you reading?” I asked her, finally bored with the view.

She didn’t look up, just said, ‘A book.’

“Oh, yeah?” said I, determined to be positive, but feeling that curious disdain common whenever she answered one of my questions with an answer too obvious to even warrant the damn question in the first place. “A book, hey?”

“Yeah.”

I took a suck on the straw in my drink & wiggled my toes. (Game on.)

“So… What’s your book called, babe?”

She flipped it around & read the front cover, peering over her glasses. “Listen Little Man.”

She seemed surprised by the title herself.

“Listen Little Man?”

“Yeah.”

‘”Listen Little Man.” I contemplated the relatively meaningless title, waiting a moment to let this new information settle.

“Any good?”

She made an ambivalent noise, closely approximated as “Ugh” and kept reading.

I looked back out to space, into the immensity of the darkness, & let the silence do its work. Any statement left hanging out here could become poignant, any moment soon pregnant with immensity out here in the cold expanse of nothingness forever beyond our reach, for even without gravity, any statement held a certain amount of weight, if one only waited long enough.

“Can’t be that bad a book if you prefer to read it rather than enjoy this view…” I said carefully.

She made the same ambivalent noise.

“I mean, his is one hellava view!”

“Oh yeah?”

“Oh yeah.”

“What  you lookin at?”

“Oh…. all kinds of stuff. Planets, stars.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Heaps of stars.”

She didn’t look up.

“Nebula, galaxies, gases, floating .. space debris…”

“Uh, huh?”

“Monkeys…. Space dolphins..”

“Uh huh?”

“Yeah, all kind of things. “

I took another sip of my drink & wriggled my toes. I looked at the small blue planet just over my left foot and remembered an image I had seen many times of dolphins, arching out & back into dark blue ocean water, in film & magazines, but never in actual reality. Supposedly intelligent creatures. But look where it had got them: ultimately in films & magazines. They weren’t kicking back relaxing on deckchairs on the moon. Nobody was. Only me & my old lady. And we weren’t no rocket scientists. Just a couple of average non-oxygen breathing self-gravitating folk from suburbia.

Lucky I guess.

“Yeah, I mean, it sure is something. I mean, the atmosphere out here is quite something, aye, babe? I mean, you could hear a bloody pin drop, if it were even a possibility. Ha!”

“What’s that, hon?”

“I said, you could hear a pin drop it’s so quiet out here.”

“Hmm.”

“Goddam immensity of the silence…It’s breathtaking. Or is that just the lack of oxygen? Ha ha ha!”

“Hmmm.”

“Oh, you’ve got to laugh, right, babe? Look at those gas formations, the pinks & greens. It’s so beautiful. I just can’t believe my eyes sometimes.”

I gawked out at the universe before us, in a show of awe, but she took a mean little sip of her drink & kept reading.

Finally I picked up my pad & pencil & started doodling comets & stars & ringed planets & stuff. Then I had an idea, and began scribbling down random words & sentences, and laughing to myself, making a big show of it.

Finally she looked over at me.

“What are you doing?

“Nothing.” haha

“What are you writing?”

“Nothing. I’m just writing.”

“What?”

“Nothing, babe. Just thoughts.”

“Just thoughts?”

“Thoughts & observations.”

“Thoughts & observations?”

“Yeah” (hahaha)

“Like what?”

“Like… everything.”

“Everything?”

“Yep.”

“Like what?”

“Like what I see.”

“Like what? Tell me. What do you see?” She finally put her book aside.

“Ah… no, I can’t do that, babe.”

“Huh?”

Scribble Scribble (hahaha)

“Why not?”

“It’s private.”

This shut her up. I kept writing, smiling, quite pleased with my work.

“John! Why wont you tell me?”

“It’s a secret! If you must know, I’m keeping a diary.”

“A diary?”

“Yeah.”

“A diary of what?”

“I told you: Thoughts & Observations.”

“So why can’t you tell me?”

“Because it’s private!” Scribble scribble haha!

“Whatever,” she said flatly, and slowly went back to her book.

I kept at it, finished the page and turning onto a new one with a flourish. She eyed me suspiciously from a strange angle, as her book too titled to an awkward angle of rest.

“John, what are you writing in there?”

“Nothing.”

“Is it about me?”

“Maybe.”

“Well, then tell me!”

“Why, babe, then it wouldn’t be a diary! It would be public, not private. Then it would be…. ah, then it would be a….”

“An article?”

“Yeah…I suppose… An article.”

“Idiot.”  She hissed. “Oh, yeah, well, how would you like it if I kept a journal? Hey? I have thoughts & observations too, you know.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah!”

And she threw aside the paperback and picked up a little note book and started scribbling stuff down. Both of us, scribbling, and looking around at space, looking for things to observe, turn into thoughts, and thus into notes.

TRAVERSE PHYSIQUE

DUCKS ON THE POND

FILLING A COFFIN WITH MOLDY BLUE ORANGES, SHRINE TO A DEAD SWAN

TRUTH MOUTH:

“SCONA RINE” (so take an umbrella)

GONTRUM NIDDLES

A harbor town. Grating island raised and lowered on grooves as a defensive gateway. Curtains over a doorway. A tubby attendant at the door with a divided leather trunk on wheels, containing loose paper.

A foreshadowing omen.

“Any strong red wine in a storm.”

MAKE YR OWN FUN / FROM A BOX / PUT SOME NOISE IN / SWISH IT AROUND / ADD SOME WHEELS / PUSH IT TO THE LIMIT

The altered head of state on bad dole form & over the weather or not wearing halfa pair of shorts ox preferred to pay the price than profit from the past made a cut throat deal down my neck of the woods a lighthearted house down a gravel voiced road.

WALK TO THE SINK & RUN THE TAP

WALK TO THE SINK & RUN THE TAP

WALK TO THE SINK & RUN THE TAP

WALK TO THE SINK & RUN THE TAP

Avast! Alas, A fool afoot!

A Dream Swaps Sleep For A Bed

2 hours before 10

my alarm woke up and I uncovered my eyes.

“Privacy is utmost” I thought.

I beat the alarm back to sleep and shook off my bed.

In 35 minutes I’d be five minutes late.

I undried myself in the shower,

soaked a towel,

covered my body odor,

undid my hair,

shaved a mustache under my nose,

turned a door that was shut into an open door                                                                                                                                   and stopped standing.

I gave myself skin on my face, hands and feet and stuck them in socks      and tied them in shoes.

The mirror winked at me and the pictures moved past in the hallway.

I took the shell off an egg and didn’t fry it, watched my wrist, cooked the front of a slice of bread, and put it on the bottom of the egg, unwashed a plate and was not even hungry.

I was to have meet me in the meat market the one I am friends of at a cafe for coffee

before going to the work I’m paid for.

I locked the furniture inside my flat and a bus caught me.

I rode in the bus while others rode on cars.

I didn’t make a superfluous deal about it.

I don’t even spell pedantac properly.

I made a woman sit beside me and let my clock watch while the woman (who was not exactly Elle McPherson) tried to make me listen to her mean – but not say – “I’ll ask you a question if I can talk about myself next” but I pretended to be nonchalant.

The bus released me and I stepped into the street and turned to walk forward

ignoring a stop sign and alternating my front foot.

A building on a billboard leaning against a policeman read: The Future is Now…Past by as I heard a nervous voice mutter “act naturally.” I walked within a crowd, oblivious to them; those who were lead to believe in conformity.

I wasn’t going to be on time; that had just become apparent.

Or early; that had been apparent at least twice as long.

I knew what she’d think but I was skeptical.

She’d think I was clairvoyant

and yet I thought: “If I were her I wouldn’t like to be in my shoes”

and so I made everybody else walk slower.

She met me at the cafe exit and we went out.                The waiter waited immediately.

We stopped standing at a high table and ordered two flat coffees as a big fly sped through the tiny room.

After a time…and before a briefer period, I was no longer unaware that she’d written on a napkin          “I am in pain”.

I kept thinking of a dog drowning but I couldn’t help it so I said “I love. You?”

Her face showed no expression.

I was looking the wrong way.

I tried to relax but it was too much effort

so I looked at the window and noticed there was a lot less in there than usual.

Usually there was plenty of unusual, but today was unusual in that it was all just usual.

The light had disappeared.

Nothing grew.

And kept on growing!

Tomorrow was rapidly beginning.

And when I turned my back to her

she was looking right at me.

!

GOODNIGHT SWEET PRINCE

This is the story about the time I met Will Oldham. Yes, THE Bonnie Prince Palace Brother.  Believe me, I’ve dined out on this story quite a bit over the years. But as I got the shit kicked out of me I figure I earned it.

Here we go then. I’d been drinking all afternoon at a Richmond pub with a couple of old mates, one female, one male, and as the afternoon turned to evening the female of the species turned maudlin over an ex partner, who by all accounts was an arsehole anyway and as I was lovelorn myself, I was getting a tad fed up with her constant one tracked conversation. You know, that self-defeating yet somehow self-serving self flagellation that everyone notices except the self.  Not to mention particularly annoying to me, being as I said, myself bereft, as seemed to be the general fashion at the time (at least in that pub). However, rather than raise the white flag I wanted to raise some hell & get drunk and fuck anything that moved, not wallow in my own suspicion that people where generally oxygen thieves not worth falling in love with, barely worth fucking, & definitely not capable of talking anything but mind-numbingly boring self-serving crap disguised as conversation.  But one tries to remain positive.

Anyway, knocking back the last of my drink (and the dregs of every other drink on the table) I bid my two comrades farewell & fucked off around midnight, slowly winding my way home toward St Kilda.

The night was, though not exactly stormy, undeniably dark.  And it had a certain spinning quality to it. So as I stumbled down Swan St, happy as a toad, a group of pissed-up funsters passed me by, their general might-make-right attitude forcing me to the far side of the footpath & making me surely seem more courteous than I actually felt. But I’d learned long ago not to insult large groups of wankers, so I let them pass, bidding them a merry journey & all the best with their herd mentality.

Me, I continued on my solitary yet infinitely more dignified journey up the gutter.

I was making terrible time when lo & behold along comes another chap towards me, dragging a girl by the arm behind him. I later realised he must have been a straggler from the larger group, but at the time he was a lone man – well, kind of a Man… maybe more a lone Rat-Boy – dragging his woman along by the arm as he made his shitful way through existence.

His Neanderthal charms certainly did not go unnoticed as he came towards me but for the most part I looked the other way and minded my own business.

Yet as he & his female possession passed by, the dirty rat turned up the rodent charm to 11 & somehow managed to hip & shoulder me, although he had the entire footpath to navigate (as you’ll recall I was already side of the footpath from the larger group).

Now, either I’m a complete shit magnet, or this was the most uncoordinated cunt God ever fucked bad breath into.

Maybe he was a little unsteady on his feet; it’s certainly no crime, but as he failed to offer even an apology, perhaps on top of being uncoordinated in the extreme,  he was also quite a deep thinker, lost in some profound mediation on the meaning of existence, distracted by some existential revelry & otherwise completely preoccupied.

Or perhaps his was the vessel of just another brainless, aggressive, chauvinist that this world is already full to over-flowing with.

Well, fancy my surprise! I was already in such a super mood that night, delighted by my fellow man & the constant invigorating surprises he held in store at every turn, so my immediate reaction was to make contact with this fellow traveler on the road to greater things. Yes, make contact with him immediately! In fact, spin him around & make contact with his nose. Make a bold statement! Hey, it felt so good I did it again. And again. And againandagainandagain! He must have envied my enjoyment for he too soon started to partake, doing the very same thing to me! We traded blows back&forth&back&forth & before I knew it I was surrounded by the rest of his gang who’d doubled back. Well… Turned out they too were quite good at this punching caper &, though I was outnumbered, this didn’t seem to deter these courageous young men, as they continued to punch & kick ten shades of shit out of me until I was totally bushed and couldn’t even keep my end up. I had to have a little bit of a lie down. Much as I would have loved to continue punching piss out of them, unfortunately I was forced to do the ‘merely defending constant blows to my head & body’ bit, which is not nearly as much fun.

Because there’s only so much fun you can have without needing a rest. So I ended up cornered against a shop window slowly retreating into the crouched position in preparation for the complimentary kicking these types like to finish their group beatings with, when, suddenly, out of the darkness, came a camp voice appealing to the heroic posse to stop attacking poor old defenseless me. The bloke from which the voice came must have noticed my humanity quickly waning & reacted immediately. And to my luck, & perhaps both our astonishment, the gang understood English & the beating ceased. They stood around overlooking their handy-work, while I tried to at least hold my head onto my shoulders. Then slowly they all must have realised their girlfriends had run up the road & were fucking the nearest dogs they could find, so they all pissed off. (Gotta be on guard these days: all it takes is a line of crank or a Hummer with a stereo & you can kiss your girlfriend goodbye.)

So off they trot into the night and I’m there left a puddle of pounded piss on the pavement.

I thanked the effeminate voice for his doubtless bravery, although, as I was still covering my ringing head with my arms, I didn’t see him.

And when I finally looked up he was gone.

Was it a bird? Was it a plane?

Was it Super Fag?

Whomever it was he certainly renewed my faith in humanity and that was and remains of utmost importance, so not all was lost.

Eventually I got up off the footpath & continued to drag my sorry arse home, being ignored by every cab that crawled by like spoiled fish who’ll only eat what they think big enough to justify the effort of chewing. Cab after cab drove by, slowing down as they approached only to accelerate as I hailed, which, believe it or not, was by now kinda  starting to get on my tits.

“Why are people so shit?” I heard myself think.

I had no answer.

Eventually I came upon a service station & went into the toilets to take a piss & seeing my reflection in the mirror I realised I was bleeding heavily. In fact, I looked like Sissy Spacek from the film Carrie. Except covered in much more blood.

I had long hair at the time & had to wring liters of blood out of it into the sink & wash the wounds to my eyebrow & nose, hoping they’d congeal. See, these tough guys like to wear large, sharp rings so a punch that would barely knock a toddler off its feet will still cut you open and bleed impressively.

So, cleaning myself up best I could with the last solitary square of dunny paper on the roll or on the sole of my boot, I walked back out into the now drizzling night to stand on the corner & play the Melbourne game of Hail a cab & hope the Cabbie FEELS LIKE picking you up – cursing having ever come to Richmond that day in the first place.

And while I participated in the ‘ignore the fair’ game with about two dozen cabs, a man approached me out of the darkness. He was a small, blonde bloke, balding & bearded, wearing long shorts & work boots, surrounded by a group of happily refreshed women, laughing & smiling & stumbling about, though the man himself seemed sober & dressed somewhat conspicuously like a normal dude, as opposed to every other gelled-up, faux-hawked, polo-shirted bogan out on the street that night. This man looked rather like he’d been gardening, had fallen asleep & someone had kidnapped him, locked him in the boot of a car, driven him to some mysterious undisclosed area and he’d woken up, struggled all day to unlock the boot, and having finally succeeded, escaped into the Richmond night.

“Who the hell are you supposed to be?” I asked the strange escapee rhetorically & not without a hint of the having-just-had-my-arse-kicked-sideways sarcasm “Will Oldham?”

To which he replied, ‘Yes, I am, actually. What happened to you?’

His concern seemed sincere, so I relayed the whole pathetic story of my smack down & the generally shitful night I was having.

‘Fuck that,’ he said. ‘Come with us.’

Who am I to argue with a complete stranger?

I piled into his transit van along with the others & was handed a beer as we headed off howling into the CBD to a karaoke bar in China Town.

Admittedly I had a little trouble initially getting into the joint, not just because my head was twice the size of the door & barely able to fit through it, but because the bouncers figured I had trouble written all over my face, more or less in a collage of cuts and bruises. Actually, I think what confused them most was that I looked coming in what people usually looked like as they themselves were throwing them out.

But old mate Will had a few words & let them know what ‘time it was’, so to speak (it was 3.am) and I was let in with all the rest of the pug-ugly drunks & drug- fiends out & about in clubs at that time all over the known universe. Check out the sweaty, gurning, make-up run libertines in these places and tell me they’re any more attractive than a guy with two black eyes covered in blood.  Hey, I just looked like a friendly raccoon out having a good time.

Everyone was amiable enough & abided me as we imbibed & the girls got into the karaoke & in the darkness no one even noticed I looked like the Elephant Man’s ugly brother. And so while the girls cranked out ironic classic after ironic classic, Oldham & I found a table & drank & chewed the fat while the girls murdered songs that should have been aborted at birth. Will assured me he was not out on the prowl, that the girls were Aussie fans he’d met at a gig in LA earlier in the year & that, in fact, HE TOO was nursing a broken heart, like the rest of the entire human population. I believed him. Why wouldn’t I? As I said, it was all the rage at the time. And also, he was the first, decent, non polo-shirt-wearing-human being I’d met in the last 24 hours. Who was I to doubt him? He was well ahead of the pack. I’m not given to caring two hoots  as to other people’s business either way, unless I could write a song about it. And as I couldn’t (believe me, I tried) I’ve written this happy bloody tale, and he being the crux of the piece, I wont hear a bad word spoke against him. He is a fucking hero for all time, above and beyond all scrutiny, and certainly above tuning pissed-up Antipodean groupies. Remember, this was a man who had taken a poor lost soul down on his luck & turned his night around, single-handedly, all thanks to the power of his celeb status and the convenience of having a Tarago & a driver. After a gesture such as this, of such staggering sympathy & generosity, not to mention benevolent creativity, I would have turned a blind eye had he mounted each one of the young ladies in tandem on the table before me. Not that I could see much out of my eyes at this stage anyway, as they were starting to close up like clams, but you get the idea. He was alright by me.

Anyway, I can’t go into the juicy details of all that Will & I talked of that night, from astro physics to rocket science, for time waits for no man, not even the princes among them, & soon the sun came up (apparently) & I bid my bonnie buddy goodbye, thanking him for everything as he organized me a ride home to St Kilda in a cab with his brother, who was drumming with him on the tour (& not nearly as outgoing or friendly) (it was 7am, I’ll grant him that) & at around 9am I walked in the door of my Balaclava abode, to the shock of my bro, but I reassured him: ‘Brother, forget my busted head….Guess who I just met?’ & soon we set off to the Meredith Music Festival, where Oldham was playing that weekend, & I simply self-medicated even more than usual & donned a pair of aviator shades to conceal two eyes blacker than a raccoons butthole. And yes, I’ve dined out on that story ever since, even though I hardly know the man’s music. Plenty other people do & are impressed. And, let’s face it, that’s the main thing.

Because I like to think Oldham knew that I would brag to anyone in earshot about this chance meeting for years to come, & that’s exactly why he did it: he & only he, through his celebrity & Tarago, had the ability to turn my shit night around, from a horrible, unmentionable experience of mundane street violence & alienation, to a magical, once in a lifetime brush with fame I could dazzle my friends with for decades to come, all thanks to the benevolence of a B Grade celebrity & an A Grade stranger.

IT NEVER RAINS ENOUGH

I’m supposed to write something about myself here, which shouldn’t be too hard as I’m always writing, and I’m always crapping on about myself in one way or another. That rippling reflection Narcissist once stared into, unmoved by Echo’s constant cries, will be my computer screen. And the crystal eye of Skype or Big Brother or whatever hell is on the otherside of that unblinking labyrinth will be my undoing. What can I say? I’m a simple guy with complicated motivations. We live in a complicated world. I’m not even sure how to spell it. My television set has three remote controls, and not one decent channel. I like to sit around the house in my SportsGirl muscle-top & contemplate all the big questions: Who is Alan Murry? Could it really be the worlds best low cost airline? Could it really be Australia’s largest Chemist? Can one’s legs be akimbo? Why do I always seem to be listening to someone talk about something they know NOTHING about? Commentary was invented by people who cant. Me, I’m only a couple of letters away from Val Wanker. I like to drink a beer, eat wasabi peanuts & chat to my housemates about the life I’m not living. There’s always washing up to be done. I like to read books I find laying about, walk round my neighborhood & kick passing cars as hard as I can. I might kick the footy with a friend or shoot some hoops in the schoolyard across the street, stroll Victoria Street searching for the perfect Pork Roll while fending off the propositions of sex & drugs (no one ever offers rocknroll, that’s a harder thrill to sell). I like to lay around reading graffiti, looking out the window, play my guitar, smoke like a fish & drink like a chimney & become quite literally an all-round entertainer while my peers starve themselves to fit into the scene (or some old carny’s britches). I like to imagine a place a little cooler. A place where you have shelter & room to grow. A place where outside is harsh but invigorating  & all the neon lights & billboards are hidden under snow. I like to imagine a rainy day that keeps all the bad ideas away & the creeps off the streets & the cops off their beats & the heat off my heals & a rain that washes away all the bullshit & conjures up all the hidden smells & spells so as it all can start again. Basically I like the rain & it never rains enough. And nor should it. We all gotta get ready for a hotter place.

Echo

Outside my room on the 2nd floor among the trees I can hear the children playing in the schoolyard. They scream with delight, though the same noise made by an adult would only be made in terror. Soon playtime will be over & this sound will cease. I can hear a small dog barking & whimpering. He thinks he’s the pack-leader & his owners have deserted him. He’s calling them back. Everyday he thinks they’re never coming back. From 9 to 5 he calls them. All he needs is some discipline & be put in his place & then he would happily wait all day for their return. Another bigger dog begins to growl, pushing his bowl around the concrete enclosure like a prisoner rattles his cup along the bars. For a long time I didn’t know what this sound was. Then there’s the possum in the crawlspace, scratching itself as it sleeps. He’s alright, not too grumpy a neighbour. Though sometimes it’s as if he’s tapping out some kind of morse code. Am I meant to reply? Traffic like the wind whistles in the distance. And a bloke hammering. Always a bloke hammering. Hammering what, I do not know. His masculinity to his chest? Now a car horn: someone riding his horn aggressively, tooting another driver he would never say peep to face to face.  I can hear a chopping, like someone walking briskly on stilts. And a drill, small, like a dentist’s white lies. The big dog growls again. A plane drones overhead, coming in to land. Birds in the trees are quiet, balanced on the swaying branches, like feathered surfers on a huge green wave. My own sounds are few: silver strings spun & songs sung & tap-tap-tap of the keyboard. Outside the sun light sparkles in the leaves. Outside is a world of noise that nobody hears. Inside is quiet, but each sound tells a story. Like birds we send our sounds off blindly into the arena to seek an echo.

grog

I drink a lot. And for many reasons unknown to me. But I recognise a mysterious need to be sociable coupled with an almost comical social ineptitude. Growing up, my family were not in the habit of hosting parties or entertaining guests. In fact, neither my mother or father, though lovely, friendly people, ever had many close friends. So the social animal remains a fascinating yet unknown entity to me. Perhaps that’s were my solipsism begins, or the need to seek communion through art.

And I like people, generally. But as Marcel Proust, the great french author/ shut-in, recluse/socialite (& teetotaller) said ‘Without lies the whole of social activity would grind to a holt’. So drinking is basically a device of enabling oneself to be untrue. Another mask.

By the way, I lied when I said I liked people. I love people, which is why I find I can still hate them.

So booze, if I may be so bold, is that double edged sword that kills but also gives life. It quietens & enlightens, numbs & distracts, douses & inflames, turns up the volume, pulls down the shutters & lets in the light.

“Lord bless the vine

it gives me vision, it gets me blind

a drop of whisky, a drop of wine

why cant i stay drunk all of the time?

Lord bless the vine”

I wrote that.

And then, of course, there is the blue light…… The glorious hangover!

Consider the cons of alcoholism: 1. Depression  2. Constipation 3. Insomnia         4. Impotency 5. Weight flux 6. Memory loss 7.  Relationship loss 8. Amorous insanity 9. Socializing with bar staff… etc, etc

The list (like myself) certainly goes on.

Ah, but the divine hangover! Something like opening the blinds at 6:05am & letting in blue light. Some kind of freshness the mind has when you’ve tried to send it to oblivion the night before, as if in it’s repairing one can gauge the fundamental mechanics of the psyche & wash all else away. It’s as if one can almost observe the mind as it reboots – the zen like gems, the epiphanies of simplicity – like flotsam & jetsam, retrieve them & let all the other clutter & dross be gone forever. Memory loss is another double-edged sword. For there is so much that could do with forgetting. Heavy drinking could be seen in this sense not unlike reckless spring-cleaning, & throwing out all those cheap socks & ugly ties & birthday presents & unwanted gifts people pass on like a disease & finally freeing yourself of all that & sending it down the eternal shit-chute where it belongs, once & for all (just hopefully not including your car-keys, home address & important dates & anniversaries). I mean, isn’t that what real illumination is? Getting rid of all the clutter?

So alcohol abuse becomes like the work of a sculpture – sculpting grey matter. Dangerous work. Long, slow, arduous work, but worthwhile work nonetheless. And just as you begin to find the perfect form, the perfect balance, you would do best to stop, leave it be, cease & resist. But you wont stop. You can’t stop. You’ll keep hacking away at it with brews at the bar, beers at the footy, whiskey & wines & tonics for insomnia, if only for that blue light in the wee morning hours.

But somewhere along the line, even the lush might understand what he’s doing. And he’ll smile at melancholy, lose slabs of sleep, shit like a broken refrigerator & die young & haggard with the blue light fading from his eyes.

tote

The Tote’s closing down. Here I am in frosty Berlin & my old local’s getting the arse, just as I did from there myself, so many times in the past. Originally the ol’ Ivanhoe Hotel (from Frank Hardy’s The Hard Way, the story was there was a tunnel under the jukebox to escape the Jacks that led to either the Old Bar or Amy’s – now The Gem. Something like that. Once Cal & I rolled the huge Jukebox back &, sure enough, there was a trap-door. But more about that later..) cum-Tote Hotel, Melbourne’s home of R’n’R (that stands for Rock & Roll and Rest & Recuperation) going the way of everything real in the world. Used to be run by Richie Ramone (changed his name by deed poll, that’s how rock’n’roll the place was) who was a great supporter of my band The Swedish Magazines. And we loved the Tote. A-bomb & I decided to live together for a while & rent a place as close to the Tote as possible. We got a place right on Wellington street, less than three minutes from the bar. Used to be my second home. I even wrote the song Girl from the Tote about this bar fly, a cute but clearly bonkers chick who was always there drinking but we’d never spoken a word to each other. One night we found ourselves alone at the bar & as I’d run out of money (hence why i was suddenly alone) i suggested she accompany me to my place for a bottle of vodka I had somewhere, merely a hop, skip & a hump away. I thought it was a pretty kind offer. But she started laying into me as regards to my intentions, my sobriety & sincerity. Moi! And this coming from a fellow bar fly! So then i started goading her, fishing for bigger & badder insults. She said i was too young, too this, too that, too two faced! Then she complained I didn’t look after myself. The cheek! I was an A.I.S athlete for ten years, woman, I’m having a fucking rest! Jesus, talk about the pot calling the kettle stout. Yeah, well, she might have liked the look of me when I was younger, but would I have liked her? Shallowness is uglier, I’d say. Anyway, she ended up going home that night with a friend of mine. I got a song out of it & by all accounts he got a crazy nightmare on legs for the next few weeks. The chase, indeed, better than the catch, as Lemmy has warned us. So the Tote has buckled under these ridiculous  liquor licensing laws. Pollies have to pretend their doing something so they kick the small guy in the guts. Same old story. Fuck it. Rock & roll is in the heart.

ramblin

The ramblin van walker title came from an ironic take on the old cowboy singers (jack elliot being perhaps the most well known). Ironic because i’d spent most of my twenties as a vertual recluse, & so regards my loquasitic rather than peripetietic tendencies. Again, as no-one was to know this, it ammused only myself. But it still seems to make sence to me: if you’re gonna have something as meaningless as a title, have a misleading one.

Jobs

But the artist has a deluded sense of generosity. Like someone who wipes their arse & wants to show you the paper (much less get on a stage & sing about it)  Although, like that soiled bog-roll, the art tells the story of the innards, the dark, hidden, unspoken reaches we cannot otherwise divine. (It’s a shitty job but someone’s gotta do it, etc,)

Speaking of jobbies, I remember reading once the one & only D. Boone from The Minutemen explaining how one can always spot an artistic child: they’re the ones who smear their shit all over the place (& certainly know it stinks!)

But i digress/digest.

The mask is not unlike the red rag to a bull. It’s purpose fun, flux, & also to protect the small flame of creation that can start a fire, but also so carelessly be snuffed out. So why do i write all this? Think of it as white noise as a form of silence. But keep searching. Those who have it all worked out are full & they take no more. We others pay our dues, bide our time, & look always a little deeper.

I want to tell you about the worst job i ever had. It was in an ice-cream factory with a bunch of dolts who where either old & cranky because they where embarrassed to have such a low wage gig at their age, or young, dumb, & full of drugs. I took more drugs in that kitchen than ever in my life. We’d huddle in the dry room (or the freezer) at the start of the day & your man would dish out whatever pills he had on him & then we’d spend all day making ice-cream like zombies, zonked out of our minds. I made thirty liters of strawberry ice-cream one day, then i re-read the menu: raspberry!!! I think i ate strawberry ice-cream for the next two weeks. Fed it to my cat.  But yes, it certainly was not a gas. More like a modern day gas chamber. Thank god there was a pub across the road. There was this old Glaswegian, who was fair enough, (tho when i first started there i was pointed in his direction & told he’d show me the ropes, to which he responded ‘i don’t get paid enough to teach you’ so there i was stood there like a prick between another prick & an even bigger prick) & the young lads where alright, but there was this gay junkie who was the most morose, pretentious fucking loser you’d ever wish not to meet less be trapped in a kitchen with who somehow managed to O.D on me after a drinking session & nearly caused me to murder him with my own  bare-hands.

The one vague pro about the place (beside the lovely icy temperature) was the fact you could nip into the dry room & take a hit on a bottle of Kahlua or whatever other fancy spirits they added to these la-di-da ice-creams. They warned us they’d sack us if they ever caught us, but i figured that seemed more like a win-win situation. In fact it sounded like a bloody bonus. Cheers! I’ll drink to that! It was a miserable bloody lifeless colourless capitalist nightmare & as we worked in our big white gumboots & big white spacesuits in our big white kitchen we were watched by the bosses through a big glass panel, not unlike 2001: an ice-cream odyssey. The bosses would get paranoid if we talked and laughed while we worked & they wouldn’t tolerate it. We explained it was a nesessary requirement to surviving such mind-numbingly, bone-achingly dull work. The bosses would also watch us through the glass & complain that we worked hard & heads-down for a couple of hours then slowed down & talked for a period while washing up, & so on & so on, throughout the day. We explained that’s how kitchens usually worked, but they wouldn’t have it. They probably feared seeing us smile meant their precious money was going down the drain. So they wanted us to work at a more consistent pace. We explained that would mean we’d have to work twice as slow all day. To which they where quite prepared to allow us to do! As if the situation was not crap  enough, now they want us to walk around in an even more zombie-fied torpor than usual. Thank god for alcoholic icecreams, that’s all i can say. The bosses where a brother & sister, & the lady was fair, but the bloke was a right prick. He was wider than he was tall. Wore a leather jacket & rode a motorcycle with a numberplate that read ‘SORBE’. Get the picture? As a six-foot plus ‘man’, he hated me. He once rolled his eyes at me & i seriously considered headbutting him until i realised i couldn’t possibly bend down that low. So i walked out & never went back.

ps. I did go back but that’s another story.

Warning!

Long after i stopped smoking marijuana for breakfast, lunch & dinner, i would oft-times be seen strolling the bad lands of north-west Tasmania wearing a t-shirt displaying a large gnarly ganja leaf – the dopiest advertisement for a lifestyle i was certainly no longer apart of. But that to me was funny. How was any one else supposed to know i was being ironic? Well… you tell me. In reality, no one gave a shit. My point is: in this way i am a raving narcissist, be fore warned before reading any of this.

It’s easy to hide from people who make shallow judgments. Put on an apron & they think you’re a chef. Put on a suit & tie they think you’re a responsible, mature, financially secure, adult member of society. Serial murderers thrive on these deep seeded knee-jerk biases, & maybe it’s Gods way of perpetuating natural selection. A fool & their head are soon parted. However, a mask is sometimes also a mirror.

Some say people of average intelligence aren’t smart enough to comprehend just how dumb they really are, while intelligent people have to suffer the comprehension of their own sublime ignorance every moment of every day (people who are straight-up bovine stupid don’t know what they’re missing, believe me). So it’s usually those who think they’ve got another pegged who fall for the mask, hook, line & sinker. While those who humbly take the time to discern the multi-faceted labyrinthine & mercurial nature of any soul take the time to delve deeper, & as they are rewarded they come to see the many masks as one. (And, indeed, their own)

However, like the liars paradox (eg: if i tell you that i am a liar, you must assume that i am lying, thus you must then assume i am in fact honest, in which case my first claim was untrue, therefore… etc,etc,etc)  one must resist the temptation of drawing conclusions of the artist from the art, but rather begin to picture the art itself through the artist within yourself. The ‘artist’ is simply a distant boof-headed sun, the art merely shadows that stretch & shrink due to the artists’ own self serving solipsism. Much like the person who needs to interpret their dreams tells one more about that person than the dreams they’re trying to interpret!

The point?

I guess what I’m ineptly (and yet somewhat aptly) trying to say is it’s impossible to speak  about art, because true art should speak for it’s self. But we live in a world of twits & twitter & sticky-beaks & skype & instant access & immediate, incessant gratification, & as Rimbaud said, you gotta be absolutely modern. But my old pal, Uroburos – the snake that devours it’s own tail – is a symbol (in my opinion) of this kind of narcissism. However it’s also a symbol of magic, creation, & alchemy. So hopefully… (& here’s the belated point) there’s something of interest in this for you.

Just be thankful you don’t have to live with it.

I forget my point.

Always separate the art from the artist.

Art is merely the mirror (see ramble #1) thus to appreciate or take any level of enjoyment from art is to yourself  be artistic. This is arts sublime magic; it hides from the un-artistic (if that’s truly a possible state) & more commonly awakens the artist within anyone who seeks it; the seer within us all; the child at play; the creator of the ‘essence of existence’. In this sense art is an evolutionary act of self preservation of the highest importance, & has been so  from the beginning of mankind (we wont speculate what serves as art for insects) therefor it is also the most natural thing in the world, bar a morning dump (or a morning bar). Thus artists take inspiration from other artists, & live on. That is my one justification for this drivel.

Thank you for your time.