Sunday, November 26, 2006

I’ve been overlaid with more than sixty samples of funk

I’m way out past star cups, tingling
with shoobydoo sounds.
I’m the space lady who had
too much to dream last night
of mellow groups, an album leaf, tristesse
or the languid.

So, I was young and in love
geographically challenged
stuck in a car during a traffic jam.

(Is it possible to detach yourself from
the moment through music?
You’re supposed to think about it)

Am I ever likely to hear again
"Seven and seven is", "Psychotic reaction"?
I walk along a drive of tentative sounds.

I’m expert enough to navigate using a guidebook
though highly unlikely to begin my emotional nourishment.
Oh, the music glacier is slow, tarpit thick.
There's nothing to be afraid of!

I quake and tremble
using a rubber balloon to make all kinds of bizarre noises.
And I’m brave enough to listen to earth
littered with cigarette butts and empty cans.

I’ll ruin my eyes on the CD digipak
because I’m into
the controlled and crafted side of noise.
There's a heap of horns to be found there as well.

I’m such a collector
taking a chance, hey-ya.

I’m on the road to nowhere
and so rocksteady.

it's definitely a boy thing but ...

... you can get your free 2006 Boys' Summer Collection: new Australian gay fiction, downloadable now from gay-ebooks.

There hasn’t been an anthology of Oz gay male fiction since the days when BlackWattle Press was publishing, and that's way back last century (I should know, I was there at the beginning, wielding a hot stapler around a kitchen table).

This download contains eight new fiction works showcasing a diversity of styles and themes.

Summer's here and the time is right ...

listening ...

... The Trials of Van Occupanther by Midlake.

These are real songs, despite the slightly nutty title.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

making do

Every so often I have my hair 'done'. It's a luxury, a kind of time-out. Two hours or more to think and dream along different streams. A public kind of dreaming, especially on a Thursday evening, when it's crowded.

I get to read fashion magazines. I am far from the type for these. I could not wear the clothes featured, nor put on the shoes or contemplate the make up nor the diet fantasies proposed and propelled along their pages. It is all wonderfully alien, yet territory for thinking.

My hairdresser, Sam, gives me decent coffee, maybe a small Greek biscuit from the cake shop across the way. I don't talk much. The staff and other customers gossip around me and there's a lot of laughing and screeching. This is both comforting and friendly, but also exclusive. Or, as I realise, it's me who excludes. That I have nothing to say into this. But that isn't the point for me.

This time, and I wonder if it will stick, I think of ways in which I might need to change my life. This includes my writing - though I immediately fear this sounds like the ending of too many poems.

I think of hairdressing as making. Of choosing where to cut, on what plane and angle, and how to cut. Sam uses those sheep-shearing tools, different kinds of scissors, sometimes a razor. Tools to work with materials, at the present moment being my very material hair. And because it's his salon he has to make sure all the others are working as needed, expected. He breaks off cutting at one stage. Something is going on I can't quite hear. But there's no real tension, though there is a conversation going on between him and one of the women who works there. I tell him, when he returns, he is like a film director, and he agrees. 'Every day I have to tell them the same thing. They never seem to get it.' He is actually referring to just one person. And he laughs.

But I spend most of the time reading, looking at the latest mags. How can anyone expect to emulate the highly posed, buffed, manipulated tableaux inside? The stories of the rich and rich? But, of course, I am not supposed to emulate. All I could do would be to purchase a token, a brand, sniff a droplet of the elixir from afar. It is for dreaming. Of course, I can't pretend I wouldn't enjoy shopping in New York, or Dubai, or LA, if it was possible. I've never been to any of those places. Or to be able to afford London, where I have been. I would buy different things on my spree, or go to places that sold different things, to see and feel them. Books, paper, pens, music, sensible clothes.

In the magazines are also stories that tend to the real though I doubt them. Non-fiction is still story, composed, fashioned out of streaming ordinary reality. But there are people out there doing things - relationships, careers, successes. I like some of the photography.

To read is to be alone. I try to talk to the young guy putting colour on my hair but I have nothing interesting to say - weather. Please! I'd rather read. So I shut away, down, in. And all these directions are metaphors. All the while the pages offer me, as Barthes would say, 'the present tense' of fashion. I am happy to place myself as looking inwards as if, being alone here reading, there is an expanse where fantasy plays out alongside my critical self (so, I'm made of selves?), that even with the images and restricted vocabulary and diction of these magazines, there is still an expansiveness on offer, or that I take on. As if I could take off my clothes and live in the sun (an entirely dangerous enterprise, in point of fact).

Which perhaps, gets me to the point, if there is a singular point to be made. Anyhow, the point about the open, or a kind of nakedness. Or being less protective. How does one explain a metaphor? In images? Open, naked? I am sitting in a white vinyl chair in front of a long mirror under strong lighting (quel horreur) with hair dye covering my hair. I am not entirely happy. I know that I am not entirely happy, though just slightly euphoric (maybe it's the chemicals). I know that there are things to be done, just as those poems say. I walk into the cold night and think of writing about it. Is that enough?


Is there a way to describe the phenomenon of typing up some drafts and thinking, as yr doing it, 'this is crap', then reading them a few months later and thinking, 'that's not too bad'?

I'm at the 'crap' stage this afternoon. I hope the other stage follows. Hmm, maybe.

anyone know 'the hum'?

The SMH has just published an update on an older article about a 'hum' that some people can hear and most don't.

It's something I have experienced. It occurs in certain locations. I hear it where I live (and I have heard it elsewhere in Australia, and New Zealand). I hear it not just inside the house but in the street and garden. So it isn't equipment inside my house. I've checked all of that. I don't have tinnitus or other hearing problems, having just had a check-up recently.

It is not unlike the distant roar of a plane but, unlike a plane taking off or landing, it is constant. There is no rising or falling, it is steady.

It is not unlike the distant sound of someone playing the same music at the same level for hours and hours on end, throughout the night and into morning. I have thought this is a possibility but I have never been able to find the source in my neighbourhood. As it has no real variation other than intensity, (ie there is no tune or any discernable vocalisation, etc) I have come to think it is not music or a television up very loud.

It is felt as much as heard - like a strong vibration in the head and chest. It is the vibration which I find most difficult to deal with as it is physically very unpleasant. Sometimes it is very strong, sometimes less so. So a low frequency is a possibility. It is the vibration that can be particularly disturbing. I hear and feel it yet Annette does not. I know of others who have had a similar experience, where they hear the hum and their partner/family does not.

I have wondered if it is some kind of industrial noise transmitted at a low frequency. However, the time I experienced it in New Zealand I was by a lake and amongst mountains.

I know that most people won't take it seriously so I've never discussed it with anyone, until now. But maybe there is an explanation. A recording has been made. I'm not totally convinced this recording is 'my' hum.

The earth talking?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

listening (another day in the life) ...

... I thought the 'new' Beatles album, Love was supposed to be released on Monday (Nov 20th) but my local had it for sale yesterday. So, I bought it.

It's a terrific work of imagining, or re-imagining if you want - just like any mix-tape or mash-up or sample-based work. I'm not sure it would mean much (matter much) to anyone who hadn't gotten into the originals, or at least grown up with them. Tho' one of the guys at my CD store, the youngest guy, waxed enthusiastic over it and I'm sure he wasn't born when this stuff was released. So the nostalgia factor isn't the only one (I have most of this material on an old kind of material called vinyl, anyway, some of it 'mono', if anyone knows what that is).

The sound is sharp and you can hear things you've never heard before. Some of the originals are alternate takes as well. As I said, it's a mash-up, essentially. So if you hate mash-ups don't go there. I love 'em. It's nearly 80 minutes worth and I didn't pay full price, so I'm happy.

It goes from the very obvious ('Yesterday', 'Lady Madonna') to the not-so ("What You're Doing', 'Blue Jay Way'). So, 'Gnik Nus' is 'Sun King' played backwards (very Beatles) and sounds a bit like The Beach Boys. Look, you could even get to (almost) like 'Octopus's Garden' in its new setting, and that's saying a lot.

Anyway, more later. I'm going to play it again. By the way, I think the title 'Love' is pretty stupid and the packaging is very ordinary.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

listening ...

... a 1958 version of 'Autumn Leaves' by Miles Davis (well, Cannonball Adderley, strictly speaking) while thinking of Mark's falling leaves for Jacques Prévert

... Solarized by Sola Rosa

worth checking out, sydney!

At The Studio, Sydney Opera House, 24-26 November,
IMPRO-LAB: transparencies
, an instantaneous, improvised meeting between music, dance, sound and vision, featuring a collaboration with two legendary Japanese artists, musician Otomo Yoshihide (Peril, Player Piano) and vocalist Ami Yoshida with renowned Australian artists: dancers Peter Fraser, Yumi Umiumare, Tony Yap and Tess de Quincey alongside musicians Jim Denley (Machine for Making Sense) on wind instruments, Chris Abrahams (The Necks) on keyboards, poet/vocalist Amanda Stewart (Machine for Making Sense), video artist Sam James and lighting designer Clytie Smith.


For a little while now we've been able to see, up close, a number of silvereyes in our cherry tree, having a big feast of cherries.

Firstly, I have to say that Sydney isn't the ideal place for growing good edible cherries. They need a much colder climate. When I was a kid my father was regularly sent a box of the first cherries of the season, grown down south in Young. Nonetheless, our tree does get cherries which, while you wouldn't harvest them and have a big feast, there's always a few that we eat just to show we can. They taste a little too 'fresh', if you know what I mean.

And we can see the birds up close as our house at the back is two storey and our kitchen window is right on the cherry tree - and the native magnolia tree, with the jacaranda just a spit further away. It's as though we're in a hide and the birds don't notice. It's a good thing to see before having to drag off to work.

Anyway, the cherry tree is very attractive to the small exquisite silvereye and also to the slightly larger bulbul. There are various bulbuls around the world. The one we see here is the red-whiskered bulbul. It's an introduced species and though I'm not a fan of exotics - we have a hate-hate thing about starlings, for instance - I'm kinda fond of this one. It was introduced from China and not Old Blighty, so at least it's from this side of the world, if that matters one iota.

On other bird 'isshews', a little while back Mark Young had a post about the koel, a kind of cuckoo. It would have to be the most annoying bird in the world with its ever-rising loud, often at four am, cry of ko-ee ko-ee ko-ee, which gets into your head and drives you to distraction, especially if you're woken by it at that hideous green hour of the morning. Grr. It seems to have moved on.

What is it with poets and birds?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

bits and stuff

Reading went well, so most of you missed a good one. Quality poetry and great coffee, and a coupla friends did turn up amongst the crowd (thanks Pete and Josie). Perhaps a tad cold (it was outside, tho' under cover) but very congenial. I sold books. I had to give out prizes. Went for a drink afterwards.

But I've got the vertigo back a bit and I notice that it's affecting the way I read or present myself. I feel not quite there or not quite balanced. This is the second time I've felt it to be so. A touch of a worry.


Finally collected my TAB race winnings. A whole $11.60 from a layout of $24. Thank goodness I only do that once a year. I've had a reasonable track record of picking the Cup winner (ie I've gotten lucky) but this year just missed by a whisker.


And now for a coincidence. Annette and I have been discussing the latest green card lottery business (why not, I say). And she told me that the US Department of Labor (not Labour) has a job code for poets and they seemed to be ranked quite highly, unlike photographers. I took all this with a grain of salt but then, lo and behold, tonight I received a parcel of two books (for free, gratis, truly) from the nice folks at Soft Skull Press - books written by Gary Mex Glazner - and he writes that the DOL number for poets is 131067042 (is this a fact known to your average USAmerican, I wonder). And, hey, I'll find out from this guy 'How to Make A Living As A Poet' and 'How to Make A Life As A Poet'. I'll tell you how I go.

They also included copies of some Soft Skull cattledogs so I open one up and there on the first page is mention of Delia Falconer's The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers which took me by surprise till I remembered that my day job funded Soft Skull to publish Delia's book in the US. That felt nice.

And, one last thing, I think I've got a bead on a way forward in my writing. Just a small light bulb, just enough to see by. Now, I need those two Glazner books to find out how I can live as a poet and get the time to write. That, or the million dollar lottery. The fact I never buy a lottery ticket possibly explains my lack of progress on that front. And I can't see me taking up the geegees, I'm not that tinny.

It's a bit cold in Sydney, by the way. A funny old spring, indeed.

Friday, November 03, 2006

me, reading - sydney, if you're around ... next week

Poetry Reading
Featuring Jill Jones

● Wednesday 8 November, 7pm - 9pm ●

plus Open Mic.Poetry Competition

Sappho Books & Espresso Bar
● 51 Glebe Pt Rd. Glebe ●