Furious Eye

Howd’ya like them fucken Apples?

If you’ve spent more than ten minutes and half a bottle of cheap plonk in my company in the last several years, you’re no doubt sick to fucking death of hearing me champion Android. But if you’ve somehow managed to withstand my mind-numbing polemicism, you might have realised that my position is not so much because I think Android’s an impeccable example of mobile innovation, as because it suits my delicate sensibilities better than does it’s chief rival, that ubiquitous bit of shiny, hipster, backlit fruit.

It’s worth noting, before we go any further, that despite my vitriolic commentary on Apple, and my often grossly inappropriate bashing of the late Sith Lord, Darth Jobs, I’m not really as much of a hater as I might come across – not like my esteemed fucking retarded colleague who despises Apple entirely because it’s trendy amongst the regurgitative Warhammer 40,000 fraternity to do so, and certainly not because he has ever seen a bit of Apple tech in real life. I mean for fuck’s sake, the guy continually lambasts Instagram, without ever having used it, for being nothing but a stream of poor quality, amateur photos disguised by a bloody sepia filter … hmm … Ok he might have a point there …

But truth be told, I’m quite turned on by Apple’s stuff, being as I am a bit of a sucker for sexy design principles after all. Better though, if said sexy involves climbing gear, or anything to do with coffee – I mean, just look at this bad boy:

Slayer Espresso Machine

The Slayer. Totally jizzworthy. And far sexier and more practical than anything Apple has made. Ever.

But Apple does know how to make some nice, shiny shit, I’ll give them that. And like a closet, self-recriminating poof, who likes to watch other boys have fun, but who can never bring himself to join in, I just sit at the bar with a stiffy while all those who’re comfortable with their hipster sexuality are out on the dance floor, dry humping their iPads and Macbook Pros.

Nice-looking pads and phones and shit, however, are not really the point – though, again I feel I should make clear, that despite my appreciation for their general focus on design, I don’t necessarily think, at least on a case by case basis, that Apple makes nicer looking gizmos than, say, HTC, or Samsung. But all questions of who copied who copying who aside, it’s the ideological impetus behind Android that draws me away from the ‘other’ guys.

Having a collaborative, open ecosystem that anyone can use, abuse, and improve to suit their own needs, is exactly the sort of egalitarian thinking that suits my own ideological utopia. Whereas, on the ‘other’ hand, being offered a Ferrari, but only if it comes with a chauffeur that will stick to a predetermined set of road rules in which you have no say at all is, well, limiting, and fucking frustrating, and slightly insulting … Is it really worth it?

Or so I used to ask.

I’m not building up to a total about-face here, a cessation of the oft repeated lamentations of the innovation-stifling patent practices of the corporate Apple machine. Nor am I pretending that I think that their marketing monster – that manages disturbingly well to convince everyone that Apple came up with all these ideas first (when the evidence, the EVIDENCE, so blatantly says otherwise) and that they’re so hard done by, what with all these people trying to rip off their rip-offs – is not an utterly deplorable, self-serving, and disgusting rort. It is.

And your arguments to the contrary are so easily refutable, so you can shut the fuck up now.

Neither, however, am I suggesting that by saying all these things and even remotely continuing to consider spending any of my fat-ass durty dollars on their filthy gizmos that I am not a totally hypocritical technowhore. I am. But I gave up any right to a position of ethical superiority when I realised every other shoe manufacturer was just as bad as Nike, and just bought whatever the hell was cheap and looked good, and screw those seven year-old midgets in factories all over China.

Whoredom aside, I am beginning to reconsider my position … a bit …

I do continue to have an ideological problem with the whole closed ecosystem thing – and no, despite the fact that it has become accepted parlance and it’s almost impossible to get away with not using it, I do not like this use of the term ecosystem, and the implication that we have some living, self-sustaining little world in which the decomposition of our outdated gadgets somehow feeds the growth of newer, shinier ones … but only if they’re part of that same ecosystem … because new season Apples grow not from the bones of decommissioned Androids, and vice versa …

Everyone seems to have decided on whose screen technology they are going to display a disturbingly large amount of their self-worth. They’ve chosen their world, or are in the process of, and never the twain shall … take a look at each other and say: actually that’s some pretty cool shit you have there, and thems some fucking good ideas, and maybe we could use a couple, and you could use this idea, and this one, because even you have to admit, they’re a little bit better than how you’re doing it, and yeah, see how much better off we all are now, and you know, I love you guys, and … what? … you’re taking me to court? And I have to pay you like a billion dollaroos? Because I thought it was a good idea for a touch screen to be, you know, touched … well … fuck.

So, while I’m not exactly ready to give up this whole Willy Wallace “go back to Apple and tell them there that our phones and tablets are yours no more” thing, there’s a balance to be had. Being all open-source and transparent and all that is all nice and touchy feely, but it doesn’t mean you have to let every fucking code-monkey on the planet upload their shitty attempts at an app into the Google Play Store – which by the way is as fucking stupid a title as the rest of Google’s bloody names – yes I’m looking at you FroYo, and Ice Cream Sandwich. Taking on just a bit of Apple’s stricter vetting process might really be a good thing. And I just can’t help but think that perhaps some of that customisable, geeky goodness, some of the laissez faire attitude toward what we do with the stuff that we own, might be worth trading off for stuff that just. Fucking. Works.

See what I did there?

Mind you, now that I think about it, trading off freedom and the occasional frustration for a life of certainty and limitation smacks just a little bit of dogmatism to me.

Also, just to go back to the whole Darth Jobs thing a bit, I am amazed, and maybe even reluctantly impressed – you know, in that same way you kind of have to admire McDonald’s for being the biggest distributor of toys on the planet – that for a guy who is worshipped as being the tech world’s sexy, free loving, alternative thinker, he was really into putting his disciples into a box and telling them that they didn’t need to think outside it because, well, there’s really nothing worthwhile out there.

And on that note …

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Search Term Doggerel

And we’ve just about gone as low as we can go. 

Until today I had considered the 743 counts of googling ‘Michael Grimm Foxen’ that had led people to my (other) blog was about as bad as life was going to get.

Today a single search has blown that away like a truck stop hooker:

‘how to fuck a forsaken vagina’

I cannot begin to fathom what dark and lonely place that person is inhabits, but I am not sure I will ever recover from my apparent association with forsaken vaginas.

In The Post.

Postmarked today:

image

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Thanks to the ever entertaining Nick Earls for the heads-up. And, statistical variance aside, for his earlier celebration of the Genius of C. Newman.

Lovely Biscuits

He’s that guy on the news, in the artist’s sketches, the one staring blankly into the near distance while before him the judge in her powdered wig makes a vain attempt at the imposition of order, at quieting the cacophonic courtroom; the bloke, could you see him in the flesh, whose clean-shaven lip, where once dwelt a well-cultivated, greying moustache, would betray not a hint of emotion as the photographs are exhumed, Exhibit A, dug up from the depths of the evidence stacked against him, the shots of the thirteen (presumably once) virginal boys that were until recently buried in his back yard.

He’s the guy the neighbours, the fucking suburban clichés, said was such a nice man, a little quiet, and his wife hardly spoke, until the cancer, and then she fell to silence completely, but didn’t she bake lovely biscuits, and charitable too, and their kids are normal, well-off, and all the rest, and on it goes, as everyone sits around and tries to make sense of it in their unimaginative little suburban universe, in their inability to understand one another, in their inability to understand themselves.

But not you. No. You look at his face, staring, his lips occasionally forming the ghost of a cheerful, tuneless whistle, and you know exactly what it sounds like. You used to work with the guy. You can still hear that mindless fucking warble, mixed with the endless whir of the photocopier, the open-jawed chomping on his afternoon milk-arrowroot biscuits, the mouth-breathing as he meticulously checks every item on a list his checked every day for thirty three years. The sound of a photocopier still makes you weep.

And none of this surprises you in the fucking slightest. You used to (half) joke, and shake your head as he wondered out loud when his kids were coming back from Europe, or China, or wherever the fuck they’d run to this time. You used to tell people you were sure he had boys in his backyard, thirteen even, virgins… until the time of their disappearance.

It all started with the paper, with the decreasingly passive aggression, with the fucking photocopier. If you think back on it, you’re perhaps surprised it was boys. It could just have easily been trees. He might have, if his love of printing, re-printing, copying, and wasting unfathomable reams of paper was anything to go by, had a fucking pulp mill in his backyard; a swath of tree stumps and a few miserable, curious, currawongs, wondering where the fuck their perches went, but sticking around in case the crows came back, and they’d get a chance to bully them. The crows, meanwhile, having taken up residence down the back fence, wondered when Mr Moustache, the Supervisor – by virtue of his length of service, and nothing to do with his fucking intellect – was going to dig up all those bloody stumps and get around to burying the little boys that were in the shed – it wasn’t the trees after all – and maybe the crows’d get a chance for a feed. Nothing like a bare, diminutive bum-cheek to peck at after all.

You wonder if he was as careful in his selection of the boys as he was with everything else, as he was with that fucking microwave oven he bought, printing out the spec-sheets for thirty-two of the bloody things, from thirteen different retailers. Something about that fucking thirteen. You wonder if he was a religious man. He never said so, but there was that whistle, as unmelodic as a hymn, and his habit of just doing what he was told, and his seeming inability to fucking think for himself.

You asked him once why, for every single transaction that went through the office, the same checklist got printed, filed, and then printed again – you know, thinking that perhaps you might print just the one, stick it to the wall, and use it at least twice before another hillside in Tasmania got pulped. He said “because that’s the way it’s always been done.”

You imagine a hungry, dirty, beaten and recently buggered little boy, looking up at him in the darkness beneath the floor boards of the back shed, and asking why he was doing this. And he responds “because this is the way it’s always been done.”

You’re cool, and…

By the end of the day, every exaggerated sigh from the next desk is a wave of rage crashing on the shore of my resolve, rapidly sweeping the dunes of my attempt to remain even-headed away to nothing. Had I remained a single minute longer, I am sure I’d have let loose such a tide of abuse that could only have ended in one of two ways:

1) with my summary dismissal, or

2) with me getting my head beaten in by a colleague whose bulk is matched only by his lack of subtlety in fobbing work off onto everyone else… wait… I lie… his size is very much equalled by the volume (in more than one sense) of his sighing.

Now ordinarily I manage to remain more amused than aggravated by his oft repeated lamentations. So much so, in fact, that for my own entertainment, I keep a daily tally of his exhalations of dissatisfaction.

Like giving someone a run-down of the amount of property they would now be in possession of if they’d saved their thirty seven years worth of dollaroos instead of planning for their retirement by buying fucking lottery tickets, as a leaving present (as in, when I leave) I’m planning on giving the bastard a little framed poster that says:

Just think,

you could have spent 1460 hours

in a job you actually like,

if you’d gone out and got one,

instead of sitting on your arse

and sighing about how much

you fucking hate this one.

Either that, or I’m going to walk into the office with a megaphone and make my way around each member of staff saying fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, you’re cool, and fuck you!

Twin Cities

Like the infamous and dire coupling of Danny DeVito and The Governator, one of a pair of twins always seems to suffer by comparison with the other—though for posterity’s sake I would like to register my preference for the little guy in that particular example. But the argument, nevertheless, holds up… I think.

Now, Esau was a stand-up guy, but Jacob a deceitful little fuck; He-Man was a walnut-stuffed condom of awesomeness, She-Ra a blatant and unsuccessful attempt to get girls to buy Mattel products1; Tweed Heads is South of the border, Coolangatta in Queensland; and Fremantle’s all brew-pubs, artists and hippies, where Perth is … well … Perth. See what I’m getting at?

And then there’s Eugene and Springfield. The Springfield.

While Perth and Fremantle are separated by a (nearly) subtle, yet discernible, ideological difference—characterised by fisherman’s pants, beards and IPAs on the one hand, and expensive suits, police presence and Emu Bitter on the other—the gulf betwixt Eugene and Springfield is more akin to that between a 1990 Grange Hermitage2 and a 40oz of malt liquor. Anyway, regardless of Groening’s claim to the contrary, I know that Springfield, Oregon is that Springfield. As I said, I’ve been there.

Thankfully the Willamette River separates the place from Eugene—though it’s a shame it’s just a river, and not a sixty-foot wall, topped with broken glass, barbed wire and snipers. Springfield is the dark twin, the ageing shopping mall, wife-beater who sits at home all day in his underwear drinking beer and eating potato-chip crumbs and ketchup from his belly button.

The moment you cross the bridge from Eugene, it’s clear you’ve entered a new world … Or an old one … Either way it’s a god-forsaken (though, typically, not God-forsaken) place. Gone are the bicycles, the sock/sandal combinations and the mandolins – even the banjos are noticeably scarce, robbing the place of some of the charm of its easterly compatriots. Gone are the “alternative” thinkers (and dare I say it, the thinkers), the viticulture and the proclivity for bartering – which as a general rule involves the swapping of handicrafts and edible delights baked with the assistance of illegal vegetable matter, or, for the less dough-inclined, just handfuls of said vegetable matter.

Founded some twenty-odd years after Eugene – which in the life-cycle of a city, is the equivalent of being squeezed out of the womb three and a half minutes after your twin – Springfield is the brother3 forever living in the shadow of his slightly elder sibling, both eager to be close, and striving to be different from, the talented, beautiful other child, ashamed of his slightly oversized, misshapen head, and endlessly smarting from the sting of scorn heaped upon him by the others’ adoring friends.

Still, Springfield has managed to carve a niche for itself as a major supplier of its siblings’ prodigious appetite for dope, and the home of shopping malls and one-dollar cinemas, to which attractions, Eugeneans guiltily slink across the river, later returning under cover of darkness, and pretending they watched, instead, some low-budget Canne fare at the arthouse cinema – without, of course, feeding that venue’s resident cat that’s the size of a small truck, because, being the enlightened folk that they are, they refuse to pander to the rampant consumer culture that plagues the cultural wasteland across the river.

1 – And here Mattel’s androcentrism is cleary displayed in the gross failure to understand that simply giving a well-loved male character hips and a pair of anatomical uncertainties that one can only assume are meant to be breasts, does not a sensation among the young ladies make. And let’s not even begin to examine their assumption that any diminutive owner of a vagina will love this bastion of feminine strength because, instead of having as a companion a green tiger with a saddle! (which, let’s be honest, even little girls acknowledge is cool as fuck), she rides a (ho-hum) Unicorn, clad in pink barding. Really? Pink armour? Hello, McFly, unlike grown men, not all little girls are in love with pink, for fuck’s sake.

2 – Yes, yes, I know that’s about when they dropped the Hermitage, so technically it would be a 1990 Grange, but at $36,000 a case, you can call it whatever the fuck you like.

3 – I am not unsympathetic to the gross prevalence of the use of the masculine, particularly when it comes to pronouns, paying no mind to the fact that we don’t all have a cock – or for that matter consider ourselves male even if we do – but in this case I think it’s a fitting eschewal of the feminine comparison. So, it is both intentional, and meant with the utmost respect.

Even a Scrap of Bog-roll.

I

‘ve been a little … absent of late … yeah … that’s it … or, at least, that’s what I’m calling the extended period of consumption I’ve been engaged in for the last … er … I can’t quite remember. Weeks. At least.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking, something along the lines of: Consumption? He means booze. How’s that any fucking different to usual? Fair call. But given that I’m getting on a bit – akin, as I like to think of it, to a nice ripe camembert that’s been out of the fridge for a while, all soft, and sagging about the middle, yet somehow all the better for it – and my metabolism is like that of a three-toed sloth, I usually make an effort to rein in my bibulation … slightly … well, alright, I don’t … but I do try to confine it to the less yeasty varieties. But recently? Oh no. The past couple of months it’s been all about the brewery … and maybe the biscuits … and the butter. Indeed my tippling has become a bout full blown gluttony. And I have, in turn, become somewhat more expansive, slug-like even, a regular Jabba-The-Fucking-Hut. In keeping with my engorged state of being, everything has slowed to a crawl … you can probably even see everywhere I’ve been by the trail of slime I’ve left.
Yes yes, I have a talent for exaggeration.
But really, the last couple of months have been enormously apathetic. There’s been minimal exercise, very little reading beyond trawling endless, irrelevant tech blogs, micro-blogs (alright, Twatters), and the late-night, intoxicated musings of the luminaries of the writing world. There sure as fuck hasn’t been any actual writing. It’s probably appropriate, then, that this stretch of indolence has reached its climax. Even more fitting, perhaps, that said ejaculatory peak is characterised by the receipt of a rejection letter…
It may be the result of my well-developed sluggish state of being, but I am (disturbingly?) unconcerned by this development. I’m well aware of the worn path that most, even all, writers wear from the toilet to the letter box, as they oscillate between shitting themselves over submissions and collecting their missives of dismissal. So, I’m quite comfortable with the likelihood that mine is but the first of at least quite a few.
I’ve always said I’d frame my first rejection letter, and while this one isn’t technically my first, the only other one I’ve received – apart from the crushing primary school brush-offs that were passed from the girl to her friend to my friend to me, in response to me asking my friend to ask her friend to ask her out on my behalf – was from a last-minute submission to the UTS Writers Anthology, which, though well enough respected, is made by students for students, and that particular year was edited (in part) by a young lady [and I use the term in its loosest possible sense I assure you] whose dislike of me was proportional to mine of her, so that letter doesn’t count. Besides, I submitted poetry – at the time having nothing else complete – and my skill and grace as a poet is in direct (inverse) proportion to the significant (and aggravating) poetical prowess of the afore mentioned editorial skank.
Anyway, my letter-mounting plans were foiled by digitisation. I didn’t actually receive a letter, it was a fucking email. No calligraphic let-down for me, no. Efficiency, I’m afraid, has leeched all class from the process of telling someone to piss off and peddle their shit elsewhere. I really don’t think it’s asking much. I mean I know my rejectionist had fifteen-hundred-odd submissions to wade through, but the least you could have done was posted me a scrap of bog-roll with a hastily scrawled fuck off! on it; anything that I could tack up on the wall over my desk to remind me to get my fucking back up and prove him the fool for passing up the chance to “discover” an impending literary behemoth…
Or something…

Shut up Brain, or I’ll stab you with a Q-tip.

As many of the long-standing sufferers of my company will attest to, there is an appropriate Simpsons quote for any situation you find yourself in … ever. In fact there’s probably several. Indeed I can still dredge one up at a moment’s notice, and I haven’t watched a new episode of the show in a decade … at least1,2. If I’d been keeping up with the show over those last ten years or so, I’d probably be living in my own little Springfieldian nightmare … and nightmare it would be. I should know, I’ve been there … to the actual Springfield I mean, but more on that another day …

I doubt I am actually capable of counting high enough to cover the number of times I’ve said “hahaha that reminds me of this Simpsons episode” … This morning alone, I’ve been put in mind of at least half a dozen, probably more, I’m not sure, I get confused when I run out of fingers on one hand and have to move to the other. Unfortunately for me they have, one and all, been scenes in which Homer is arguing with his brain … or having it attempt to edumacate him.

“Aw, twenty dollars, I wanted a peanut.”

“Twenty dollars can buy lots of peanuts.”

“Explain how.”

“Money can be exchanged for goods and services.”

“Woohoo!”

And like my three-fingered counterpart, I too have been grubbing about under the couch, searching for a tasty morsel, another little nugget of plot to chew on. Unfortunately my twenty dollars doesn’t get me shit.

You can’t go and buy a good plot … or well, you probably can actually, but then you might as well go and buy someone else to write for you, in which case why fucking bother? So, I’m beating my head against the plot wall again. I’ve spent more time over the last week or so doing this than I have in a long while. That’s not to suggest that this is in any way an uncommon problem. Far from it, in fact. It’s a path I have not yet learnt to traverse, a fine line between giving a story’s plot enough consideration that it doesn’t read like it was written by a chicken with an extra chromosome, and over-thinking the fucking thing until continuing to write becomes like snorkelling in a sewage plant, where you can’t see shit for the amount of defecate your swimming through.

And it’s not helped by frequent bouts of psychosomatosis—I’m not even sure that word exists, or rather, I’m sure it doesn’t, but it’s what I mean, so I’m using it … or coining it even. For the last week or so, I’ve been living in a state of disrepair—and I don’t mean the sort of disrepair I was in yesterday morning, after having spent the night in Philly with a stereotypical I’m-Irish-I-can’t-fucking-get-drunk-but-I’ll-do-my-best-to-prove-myself-wrong Irishman, and his highly amusing, pregnant wife, who I can only assume looked on in horror as we consulted Dr Whisky … repeatedly. No, I mean the sort of disrepair where your brain, aggravated and disheartened by your/its inability to nut out the details of various plots you’re desperately trying to turn into an actual story, decides that it’s a great idea to convince your body that it feels like crap, and therefore the organism as a whole is justified in lying on the father-in-law’s fancy leather arm chair all day and staring blankly at a 55-inch television that’s playing re-runs of re-runs of Law & Order that said organism has already seen at least three times each.

Of course, there’s an argument that states the past five-odd weeks of deviation from my usual diet of rolled oats, salad, twigs and nuts, and the gluttonous consumption of bagels and meaty, cheesy things might have something to do with the state of disrepair also. But in all likelihood, that’s less a factor than the conspiracy my brain and my body are hatching to keep me firmly seated in my comfort zone (or, more accurately, my father-in-law’s), thus relieving my brain of having to do what it’s fucking told.

Now, I’m hardly alone in having a raging cluster-fuck of ideas, characters, and half-stories waging a lengthy war inside my skull. And I’m probably nowhere near the only Field Commander who refuses to give any of his word-troops a moment’s R&R, and as a result, they refuse to form ranks like they should … in fact, most of them have gone AWOL. The only reason I even know they’re still in there at all is because there’s only one way out (apart from an ice-pick or a Desert Eagle .50), and that’s by getting onto the page … which they’re blanket refusing to do.

You know—or you would if you had read my past rant about sheep and stuff— I don’t generally hold much with writing advice—because, you know, I’m better than … oh … right … yes … sorry. So sometimes also, you know, I’ll just go and read stuff, because I’m tired of beating my forehead to a bloody pulp against that plot wall. First stop, is usually the Profanity Prince of Pennsyltucky, because, well, he swears a lot, and he’s funny, as well as insightful, and hard working, and all that shit. And sometimes I’ll find my way elsewhere, and sometimes not, because I don’t really think writing advice gives you a fix for your writerly ailments, but like a fucking horoscope reading, or the tarot, or the runes, it casts your shit in a different light, and you already know the answer to all your problems anyway, you just have to find where you stashed it—which for me is usually somewhere in my pile of lacy, frilly undergarments—but different lights maybe confuse your brain momentarily, if you’re quick, that’ll give you the chance to sneak around the back of your brain and slip it one between the cheeks before it realises what’s going on.

I don’t know, I’m still trying on different solutions. Sooner or later, I guess, I’ll find the dress that fits nicely, and hopefully it’s one that complements my figure nicely, accentuates my curves in all the right places… of course, that might be easier done if I go back to the afore mentioned diet of twigs and seeds and shit… And if not, there’s always that backyard lobotomy option.

1. Not including the movie, which despite essentially just being a really long episode, doesn’t count. I do, however, reserve the right to quote from it whenever I can, especially if it involves Spiderpig.

2. In fact that’s no longer true. It was written a few days ago, and I just watched two new episodes—or at least ones I hadn’t seen before—a day or so later. No particularly good quotes were forthcoming though.

… and his men get all the crooks they’re after.

I‘m a great one for working in cafés. I’d hardly be unique in that amongst my writerly brethren (and sistren, ok, Jones?). There’s just nothing to induce the vomitous spread of words across the page like the mass-consumption of caffeine – or the consumption of mass-caffeine? – and watching people intently without them having any clue they’re on display. It’s easier to be surreptitious about this in the pub, of course, what with the narrow field of vision provided by beer goggles, but it’s easier also to go from healthily indulging my voyeurism, to become a leering, slobbering specimen of some of the finer tendencies of the male species.

Note to self: Don’t sit in the pub on your Tod, and think that you’re being subtle.

Anyway, people-watching aside, the anonymity of public spaces is great for ignoring and being ignored, for hammering out a few thousand words. It’s an interesting contrast to working at home, where a single other person in the house… at the far end of the house… making no more noise than a fart in someone else’s spacesuit, will wreak absolute destruction on your ability to concentrate… to say nothing of a single other person in the house who cannot work out that it’s fucking impossible to pay attention to the television when they insist on standing by and talking incessantly, let alone a piece of fiction you are attempting to work on.

Thus I have, of late, in my confinement to the summery land of pizza, firecrackers and better, cheaper beer – it’s fucking tough, I know – taken to escaping the interjections and the constantly running diatribe of Fox “News” and working in a particular café. It is usually (as above) a perfect environment in which to get shit done. Unfortunately, that environment has suffered some degree of degradation over the last few days.

In fear of the massive increase in bigoted epithets that surely afflicted Fox on 4th of July, I made my escape nice and early. I’ve been in the US for the national birthday before… once… I knew what to expect… flags and tears and well wishing and all that…

– Insert something about the mother of all fuck ups here –

Jesus Christ! I’m all for patriotism, and even American patriotism – it tends to be a little overt and flag-wavy for my tastes, though fuck, at least it’s a little less exclusionary than Arsetralia Day’s flag fascination tends to be – I’m even all good with patriotic songs, though my preference would be for jumbucks and billabongs rather than Yankee Doodles, but this was like being run over by a fucking ticker tape parade.

I should have taken the hint, I should have just turned around, abandoned any hope of work, of people watching, of subtlety, and gone straight for the ample supply of distilled and fermented grains. I did not. I was stubborn enough to sit through well over two hours of rampant, high volume, musical Americana – and not that most excellent, deep south, twangy, bluesy Americana neither.

Subsequently, I’ve spent the last three days with the theme song for Roger Ramjet stuck in my fucking head.

And down at the café things haven’t really improved. There must have been something of an ebb, prior to the 4th, in the flood of teenagers with nothing better to do with their summer than hang out in the café and simulate Ramjet’s Proton Energy Pills with hefty doses of caffeine their underdeveloped little bodies neither need nor are able to cope with, because the tide-line is way above my ears, and doesn’t look to be going down any time soon. What ever happened to trying to find some dodgy old Noodles Romanoff to buy some booze for you, or raiding the older sibling’s stash of ganja and fucking off somewhere where the adults wouldn’t find you?

I begin to wonder if Australia’s various civil-liberty-suppression groups introduced all those anti-loitering/crowd-dispersal laws, not to fuck with perfectly legal and legitimate protest groups, or get rid of all those unsightly people wearing hoodies in our public spaces, but to allow for a little peace and quiet in places where little people like to hang out in groups of more than one.

A Little Misconception About The Band.

T

ime is a fickle bitch, unpredictable. I’ve been having a little holiday, one of those ones where you kind of fall of the face of the world – or at least the world you usually inhabit; one of those holidays where you decide that you are going to wilfully ignore your need to do things – and by things I mean write, I mean actually doing something with the plague of ideas, of words, that flitters around the interior of your skull like locusts, devouring every thought that doesn’t begin (and end) with “sit the fuck down. Now. No, with the laptop, not the television. No no, with the interwebs turned off. Now write. Write. FUCKING WRITE”; one of those holidays where, contrary to your usual experience, time seems to exist in all its states at once – as opposed to that only state in which you otherwise perceive it, being the one that disappears so fucking quickly you basically don’t experience it anyway; one of those holidays where the days flitter past like a newspaper in a hurricane, and yet it seems like last time you were at home, or went to work, humans were only just crawling out of the ocean, where summer afternoons that last forever go by in the blink of an eye.

Despite the tidal ebb and flow of dissatisfaction that comes from that one locust in the back of your head you can’t quite ignore, scratching on the inside of your skull, trying to make you aware that you’re not doing. Anything; despite the regular consumption of yeasty, fermented beverages, and the madness of running around trying to see as much of the family as possible; despite being left in charge of multiple (ok, two) small children (and fuck me, parents, you are lunatics, LUNATICS… and properly amazing); despite all of this, this sort of holiday is really quite a peaceful one, and very conducive to some self-reflection.

I don’t mean the sort of self-reflection I usually engage in: “Should I have said that? I shouldn’t have said that. Did I come across as an arsehole? I should eat less pizza. And drink less. Oh my god, I am an arsehole. But I’m funny. I think I’m funny. I should cultivate that. Maybe someone else will think I’m funny. I should ask the wife. No, I should not ask the wife. I really need to exercise more. And drink less. And write more. Whisky.”

No, I mean the “Oh, what does it all mean? How do I get to not have to work for someone else anymore? Why hasn’t someone offered me a six figure advance for my novel? Why haven’t I finished writing my novel? Do I have to get older? Am I really good enough to even bother trying to be a writer? Will I be able to afford the liver transplant when I inevitably need it? Whisky?” sort of self-reflection, where you come to realise that there’s a level of constant rancour that’s suddenly absent from your life, and you think that this is it. This is The Life. It’s been over a week since I’ve sworn at someone just for existing, this must be the life… right?

Of course, the early days in familiar places are deceptive. You get all caught up in that moment of stepping out of the car into the fertile, hazy green of a New Jersey morning; or onto the tarmac in New York’s cool humidity, before the sun turns it into a sauna; of the smell of post-adolescence as you drive past the Morton Bay figs along Anzac Pde; of exiting the airport into the first chill fingers of the haar, surrounded by bright fog and the yeasty smell of Edinburgh’s breweries. Those deep inhalations, nostrils filled with the breath of nostalgia, with longing for things half-remembered, for the things all around you, as ephemeral as the touch of the air on your skin; filled with the sense of belonging, of coming home, these are heady and comforting breaths. But the nose quickly returns to its usual state of inertia, unresponsive to all but the most redolent of stenches. And the fading of comfort, of relaxation is never too far behind that. So too the clash of indolence and ambition… and back to the realisation/reflection equation.

Now the thing about reflection making its laboured way to realisation is that, without comparisons, it usually doesn’t. It isnae too bad for me though, being as I’m rather fond of comparisons, though typically I tend to compare the past more favourably to the present than I am currently. I have, in fact, spent more time than I care to admit in the throes of a desperate longing for something else, anything else, anything other than where I am, what I am. I have fooled myself time and again with a nostalgia for idyllic pasts that don’t exist, except in the imperfect black and white of my memories. I have tantalised myself with dreams of flight, of ceaseless travel, of worn boots, and a perpetual gaze into a bright, uncluttered future. I have succoured myself with the delights of inebriation. And I have bludgeoned those around me (and even nowhere fucking near me), all undeserving, with the ire of my dissatisfaction. This last bit probably a bit too much.

In fact, there seems to be quite a lot of this going around at present. Was reading one of Birmo’s Brisvegas Times Posts recently, which usually I think are a bit of faffle – frequently amusing, to be sure, but not quite as thinky as they might be… to be fair to the guy though, that’s not really easy in the twenty seven and a half words that editors typically limit opinion pieces to. Anyway, he asked, rather poignantly I thought, pertinently even:

Are we just so miserable and dissatisfied with our existence, so pissed off that we do not have everything we think we deserve, that we cannot help but lash out in retaliation for our relative deprivation? And I emphasize relative because most of us are not deprived at all. Does some sense of having missed out on something surround us like a poison fog, infecting everything? 

Um… yes. That’s me, up the back, with my hand in the air, and my eyes on the floor. Oh my god, I am an arsehole.

Look, for the record though, while we’re on the realisation/reflection bit, this doesn’t change the fact that Josh Pyke really does suck, and Perth still has no fucking idea how to use a train (or an escalator) that has more than two people and a midget on it.

Anyhoo, years ago – actually, thinking about it, it was fifteen… fuck. FIFTEEN… years ago. There’s that fickle bitch for you again – at one of the many mind-fuckingly amazing Tool gigs I’ve attended, the Rev. Maynard James Keenan said something along the lines of:

So, I’d like to clear up a little misconception about the band, if I could. A lot of people think that just because there’s a lot of energy coming off the stage like this that we’re all about hate -violence & stuff like that. And that’s just not the case. We’re about a lot of things; unity, evolving thoughts & ideas, choosing compassion over fear, emotional stuff and, uh, anger which is ok. Anger is constructive, unlike hate which is destructive. This particular song is about choices…

And now, possibly the only cross-referencing of John Birmingham and Maynard Keenan that will ever exist.

So very little of the anger that gets bandied about by, well, nearly everyone, is constructive. No, don’t fucking argue with me, I should know, I’m a bandier… or I have been… I’m mending my ways… I’m going to meetings… Hi, I’m Gethin, and I’m a bandier. It has been twenty one days since my last…

It’s destructive. It’s hateful. It’s bullshit.

If we weren’t all so fucking concerned with Mackbook Pros and Google Glass, with a fifth bedroom, fourth bathroom and third ensuite, with amassing our fucking dollaroos, we’d realise that we’re not deprived, of basically fucking anything… other than what we deprive ourselves of – see afore mentioned lack of six-figure advance and unfinished novel. And there’s the rub. We. Fucking. Deprive. Ourselves. Because it’s easy… but we hate ourselves for it, which is not quite as easy as hating other people for it, so let’s fucking do that instead.

Ok, look. I know there are plenty of people who are genuinely deprived of things. But they’re typically deprived of things like drinkable running water, and access to basic health care, and enough food, and a roof over their heads, and somewhere to hang out where they don’t get shot at, and somewhere to stay while their asylum status is determined that’s not behind a fucking barbed-wire fence. And they’re generally not the ones using their Macbooks to spew forth HateTweets about Android users having access to Instagram, or about equal rights for all mobile operating systems, or about lefty/hippy/liberal weenies wanting to see other people being happy and having some of their basic needs met, or about said weenies wanting to take away the soft, plush carpet of poor people that lines the halls on the way to the penthouse suite.

Oh, and for the record, shouting about people other than ones self being (genuinely) deprived of the basic things we rely on, that is anger, shouting about ones self having to pay too much tax to help people who are deprived of privilege, and BMWs, and 24-carat gold plates to snort their uncut cocaine off, well, that’s hate motherfuckers.

*     *     *

Um, so apparently, credit for that Maynard quote is required to be given to http://www.collectiveunconscious.org, because said website, it would seem, has copyright over something that someone else said, in public. There you go.

And also:

All you read and wear or see and hear on TV is a product begging for your fatass dirty dollar so … Shut up and buy, buy, buy.