Sunday, February 28, 2016

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Afloat again

I'm back in the game!

Finally managed to pick up another kayak a couple of weeks ago.
This morning after improvising a hatch cover out of a found bucket-bong, a shopping bag and some very handy shock cord.

Final result.... I'm afloat.

Monday, February 22, 2016

How to give a f-ck

It's hard to write in a constructive way when the black dog's sniffing at your heels all day. Too many pointy edges when I've tried talking to people but and I was starting to take comfort in gray sheets of paper, eternal blankness seemed fine...

Then I saw a version of this song on someone's facebook page and felt instantly uplifted!

Phat Bollard - Millionaires

Checked out the band and bought two of their albums immediately from Bandcamp! Here's the link to the album Spare a Little Change

I love angry caring songs and it's been so long since I've heard music like this being performed! My previous post about Redgum was kind of a lament. Once they left the scene in Australia I rarely ever heard any really strongly worded political folk music, although Bruce Springsteen put some good stuff into his Wrecking Ball album, this stuff is far more raw and to the point and expresses the rage beautifully and with humor!

Thank god for rebel buskers!
And sturdy wheel barrows.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

It's only business

"Don't be afraid, it's only business
The alien prophet sighed..." (Roger Waters - What God Wants part 3)

I've been testing the water of organized religion for a few years now, unfortunately I haven't been able to commit. The institution and the people made it too difficult for me to join. 

I've been working with them for quite some time now but I think I've reached my limit. While I contemplate what to do next I thought I'd try to write what I'm feeling at this moment in time. 

A brief goodbye letter to the Church.

Dear The Church,
I'm afraid our relationship may be coming to an end. It seems you couldn't listen. You sensed you were losing your grasp of the world and reacted the way institutions always do.

Why is it do you think you are failing? Will you save the body of Christ by clutching at power and money? Didn't you hear the parable about the camel and the eye of a needle?

You thought you could hold your place in the world by securing lucrative business deals with unscrupulous corporations. Well you were part right... You have secured a position but are now exclusively 'Of The World', but your place in it is lost.

You were unable to see that by the virtue of your own action you defy the very principals you espouse. You are dying because you have nothing of value to offer the people. (If what they value is what you preach)
When they look to you for truth they see denial, lies and deceit, when they seek faith you greet them with illogical rationalizations, when they turn to you for courage they find institutional protectionism, when they look for love they are confronted by your fear. Take a step back, it's not hard to see.

You were called to carry the light, you but you did not shine. You traded shelter for property and mistook bread for profit. Pilgrims continue their journey but they no longer knock at your door. Will you dare to ask them why?

You manufactured Contempt and now it's all that remains.

I am not a 'good man' I thought you could teach me, I was mistaken. I have sat with you in prayer and listened for your testimony, but sincerity cannot be contrived or pretended. I have lived in the dark and I know the false act. When I sought to be good I came your way but was warned the Devil is at home in the church. And sure enough I saw him, hidden in plain view. Do you still not know this?

Soon I'll leave your company and you'll be free of this agitation. I am not here to harangue or annoy you. Go back to your stories of goodness and peace and forget me. Secure and protect your financial investments. Talk yourself to blissful doped joyous sleep, while the offering basket sits idly in a corner of your empty shrine, songs fading out as the loyal few are called home and the pews and hearts remain empty.

If you wonder what went wrong remember what Dr King said.

"...the end is pre-existent in the means"

Thursday, February 11, 2016

what formed me?

(Warning this may be another of my introspective, naval gazing posts rescued from draft. 2010)

A while ago I happened across some old TV shows that I used to watch and it set me wondering about my principal values and beliefs which I've often felt are at odds with the values of our Contemporary, Popular, Consumer Society... I wondered what was the pervasive message I received from the various forms of media I'd ingested during my formative years?

TV. - As a child I remember watching programs like Catweasel and I had about 10 years of constant exposure to Sesame Street and Playschool as my younger siblings grew up. I'm sure Sesame Street alone left a pretty big impression on me... (I always got the Sesame Street questions right when playing Trivial Pursuit for Kids). I loved watching the Leyland Brothers and dreamed of travelling in the outback, Whenever I got to visit the bush I'd pretend I was Harry Buttler or Malcolm Douglas wanting to catch those creatures they always told us not to but they always did... Oh and I also watched Dr Who and The Thunderbirds. Oh yeh and Countdown during the 70s of course but I never felt the urge to dress like a woman, like most of the pop bands did back then.

Music. - As a kid I used to listen to my Dad's Bushwhackers Band albums, and by the time I was a teenager in the 80s I realized that my tastes differed from my friends. I was totally hooked on Redgum, and later the Warumpi Band but today I want to share some Redgum in case you don't know them! (With apologies to the band for embedded film... )

(One more boring night in Adelaide! You had to be there!)

Redgum was a very political Band with a very Australian sound and lyrics that honoured and occasionally sledged the spirit of what many of us would identify as Australian. Probably best known for the larrakin voice of songwriter John Schumann (See his web page here) and his legendary songs I Was Only 19 (A Walk in The Light Green) and I've Been to Bali Too. Redgum sung about battles and battlers, compromise and loss, beauty and destruction, often with humor but also with great seriousness. Importantly they challenged our changing attitudes and the direction Australia was taking toward corporatization, selling out to the U.S.A, plundering our environment and the way we treat each other. Their songs often included characters from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and questioned otherwise unchallenged the racist attitudes of many Australians. Redgum played the theme to my teen-aged rebellion. Their music validated the discontent and repulsion I felt for the way I saw contemporary Australian Culture changing for the worse... (changing from how I thought it would or should be... I was only a kid after all)
I was born in the final days of the 60s. As a kid in the 70s who was exposed to all kinds of socialistic improvements that people were making to their lives I expected that recycling would become a way of life, that food would cease to come wrapped in plastic, that people would move en mass to become more connected to the land, mudbrick houses, recycled timber, meditation and macrame would all be part of the enlightened future we were moving into... I was looking forward to a green future and felt secure in the belief that we would all take care of the world and each other.

By the time I entered Secondary School (Technical School actually... Tech) I was still listening to Ausie folk/Rock but everyone else was listening to Duran Duran and Madonna, I began to feel like the future was being hijacked (It was!). The possible future of living close to the earth and growing in tune with the land had been overtaken by a strange form of blow waved hedonism with a funky beat but I couldn't dance!
I continued to believe in the basic principals of ecology, the fragility of the natural world and the importance of social connectedness. I refused to eat at the Golden Arches and had never tasted KFC!

At times when it seemed nobody I knew felt the way I did it was the music of Redgum that influenced my thinking and encouraged me to question and challenge the new age of Greed. 

What happened to us at the end of the 70s I have no idea! I was too young to know. Somehow just as we had begun to acknowledge the fragility of our world and many people were connecting to the sacredness of nature and humanity a tidal wave of greed and hedonism took over! I liked to listen to Redgum because they challenged and fought against this New World Order. Their songs were proof that something insidious is happening.

Although I owned most of their original albums, this year I happened across their compilation album 'Against the Grain' while in Geelong. I hadn't listened to them in about 15 years and I was floored by how appropriate their music is to the situation we are in today. A couple of decades have passed since they wrote some of these songs, and I see that their lyrics which may have been touted as pessimistic, cynical and negative were in fact profoundly prophetic. Of course they didn't need to have any supernatural powers to predict what our future would be... All you needed was to have your eyes open to the truth at the time! Now here we are in 2010 after 30 years of the 'Axeman's Reign' and I find Redgum just as relevant and even more necessary than I did back in 1984.

('Still Life' is a haunting premonition of how our world has actually become, but as the song suggests maybe "Slowly the Tide will turn")

(Fabulon for a bit of a cynical laugh at consumerism)

As the reality of Global Warming, Peak Oil (and peak just about everything else) persistently knocks at the door of our awareness there are signs that the consumer spell we are under is beginning to wear off. We in Western countries are awakening from our 30 year commodity induced slumber to find that we’d ignored the warnings that were so prevalent and obvious when I was a kid. Our affluence didn’t make the problems go away. It just hid us temporarily from the impacts that continued to occur despite the bubble in which we hid. As we began to consume more and more, our sedated consciences were able to cope with all manner of violence via the luxury of distance like watching the Gulf War unfold ‘From Bars three thousand miles away’.
Finally, thanks in part to the media revolution brought about by the Internet social networking, large numbers of people are beginning to ask the big questions again.
A plethora of environmental and social problems have slapped many of us out of our doze and we are just now beginning to look around to assess the damage.
What inspirational music will set the score for the new age of awareness? Which Troubadours will influence the youth of today?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The means to an End

On the whole asylum seeker, refugee, prison camp humanity, compassion, situation...

This will be brief, just wanting to lay it down somewhere.

Having read Saul Alinsky's book 'Rules for Radicals' I was struck by two significant ideas:

There is a statement at the beginning of the book before the contents devoted to Lucifer (the Devil)

 "Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins—or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer" 
Though the book discusses the topic of 'means and ends' the author does not attempt to moderate the reader's choices in method of achieving their goal.  (A scary thought if you consider what this could result in)

Some people say he must have been a satanist or evil or something. I took the statement as a warning that the methods he is suggesting must be tempered by a person who knows the nature of evil and their own capacity to commit it. He gives freedom to choose and leaves the responsibility for the course of action with the reader. (here it is and, you've been warned)

As I read this book I continually asked myself, what would I be prepared to do, what would I not do? What are the consequences? What would I gain?

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr supplied an answer.

Recently a friend gave me an old copy of 'The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr.' It was sitting on my shelf for a couple of months when my wife decided to read it. When she was done, she wanted to read some pages which had resonated with her, out loud so I could get a sense of just how profound a thinker Dr King was.

One line from that reading put into perfect unison a lot of the things I'd been feeling and thinking when confronted with the rationalizations put forward by politicians and armchair experts regarding Australia's bizarre and cruel treatment of asylum seekers. For me it cut to the core of the moral discussion about 'what must be done'.

Here it is:

"Constructive ends can never give absolute moral justification to destructive means, because in the final analysis the end is preexistent in the means" 

(Martin Luther King Jr. 'The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr' Edited by Clayborne Carson. p.20)

"... the end is preexistent in the means"

Saturday, February 06, 2016

A Dog's act!

Can't sleep!

Haunted by the image of an old woman I once met.

I met her in a jail (they called it an alternative place of detention). The man I was there to see needed help, he was explaining to me that he thought he could manage his wheelchair with flat tyres but he desperately needed a new wheel, the broken spokes on this one were cutting into his hands and the wheel was warped and becoming impossible to turn.

I looked across the room and met the eyes of a frail elderly woman, she was nursing a doll, which another visitor had brought in to comfort her. She had suffered so much and was missing contact with children, maybe she'd lost a grandchild... maybe she just longed to hold a child, to feel it's youth and promise... to hope. Before my visit ended I watched the guard prise the doll from the old woman's hands and give it back to the visitor. "You can't leave that here! You'll have to take it to property or take it home". The old lady was crying... The doll was a gift, suggested by a psychologist to help her with her grief. In this place no good deed may go unpunished or kindness without ridicule. 

I stopped visiting soon after that, others keep going, maybe they're stronger than me? They manage to go week after week and sit with the forgotten souls who have been imprisoned by our protectors. The  Department who issues it's agents with black uniforms. The barest mention of it's name would guarantee a lifetime of metadata retention of any would be whistle-blowing blogger. The visitors and detainees wait their chance to sit in a tiny prison visitor room, in a mosquito pit 40 km out of town, surrounded by razor-wire, under the watchful eye of poorly trained keepers. Men, women, children, elderly and damaged, wounded by wars and conflict and hate in their own land. They survived many dangers to get here, where they thought they'd be safe and now they languish in a heartless country, tortured and tormented by bullies with uniforms and badges and chips on their shoulder! Managed for their own good.

I couldn't go any longer, yes I had family commitments which made visiting difficult, yes the changes to visiting hours and the lack of available space in the centre had an impact, but these were not the main reason. I stopped going because I couldn't bear to sit with people whose lives I had seen deteriorating to the point of psychological ruin and tell them I was doing all I could to help them, knowing there was absolutely nothing I could do to make anything right at all! I stopped visiting because I was ashamed.

Image from ABC Online (Link HERE)

I thought I'd nearly forgotten the experience of seeing the old woman, until I read this article on the ABC website... Then I knew, I'd never forget! I remember her face, I remember her tears, I remember her need to care and to hold something precious.... a child. She showed me her baby as she sung to it and she held it out for me to touch and to kiss, her eyes beamed. This was not a living child but it held the place of one she was missing, she clung to it, and she stroked it and she rocked and sung to it with such love that felt sure it had life! And they snatched it from her arms. And they broke her heart, again. 
That is what I know about Australia's immigration prisons! That was just one glimpse, one half hour visit, the brutality and indifference goes on night and day, indefinitely and without exception until they all go mad! This is the hell our country has created and our citizens endorse. 

As I sit with one or two others holding up a banner which reads 'Kids Don't Belong in Detention' I see the disgust in people's eyes and wonder if they have any idea who they are hating. Sometimes I feel angry and tempted to fight the tough guys who snarl vicious comments as they pass by... 
"Fuck-em... Send em all over there", I've heard that too many times. Sometimes I have to hold my tongue, sometimes I smile and pray silently to the God who knows this shit well... Sometimes I attempt to speak to them and fail. So many thoughts and fears pass through me. The ugliness.... The horror of who we are!

I remember that old lady. Maybe the lady in this article... maybe another. It's hard to know when people are moved about arbitrarily.
They may soon take this lady away, in the dead of night, along with 266 others. All human beings, all who ask only the most basic of rights and the dignity to conduct their lives as nature and God intended for any living thing. 

They do not want to go to a place that will harm them, I do not want my country to send them. Surely we would all obey the most fundamental commandment, the instinct for survival and self preservation? 'Life's longing for itself' brought them to our shores and we would stamp out that precious jewel! We deny and curse the very spirit that sustains them, we can't understand why our efforts don't break them. Can anybody see the crimes we've committed?

Who will be the ones to escort them to the bus? Who will put them on the plane? Who will drug and shackle these brave Men, women and children?

What award do we present to such individuals?