Friday, 25 April 2008

small flowers crack concrete

Small flowers crack concrete
Narcotic squads sweep thru poet dens
Spilling coffee grabbing 15 yr old runaway girls
By frazzled ponytailed hair + tossing them
Into backseats of cop cars
The narcs beat the bearded oracles
Replacing tantric love with
Complete violence

Lights + mirrors dot the city
Inkstained hippies w/ boxed lunch + marijuana
Mystery plays of shit and nothingness
Blessed by colors from a black hat

Blue lights search thru weeds
Searching for the heart of d.a. levy
And the mind he left behind

What didjoo expect? another mystic wreck?
Thats whatchoo got crawling inside yr panic net
Whatdidjoo bring me? not a goddam thing yeh
+ whatdidjoo leave me? another tombstone dream yeh
O salacious mansion, the boys held for ransom
Didja see where he1s gone? the blasted summers dawn
Fucked up in cleveland fucked up in cleveland
Short flight to nothing heavens up to something heavens up to something
Levys up to something levys up to something

Death poems for the living gods of america
Plastic saxophones bleat, bleed for nothing, nada
Cops crashing thru doors infuriated by silver charms
Of suburban smoke
At war with patches of red dirt glitter
And bluejean fucking + protest

by Sonic Youth.

Monday, 21 April 2008

when a book can break yr heart - To Live, by Yu Hua

I've been reading To Live by Chinese novelist Yu Hua on my Cybook. I read Chronicle of a Blood Merchant in 2003 after buying a copy in San Francisco and enjoyed it, although I often wonder how well these books translate. I wonder the same thing when reading Murakami, or anything translated from another language, but perhaps even more so with Chinese.

This evening I've been reduced to tears, although I have to admit I've often been accused of crying too easily. But putting that aside, this is a very sad and touching story - a simple story of simple, flawed and very real people. It is written (or at least translated) with such bare bones simplicity and honesty, that it cuts you to the core and reminds you what is really important.

An interesting interview with Yu Hua can be found here, in which he explains his change from a more avant-garde writing style to the plain style of To Live and Chronicles of a Blood Merchant. He also states that the central theme of his writing is how strong the Chinese character remains in the face of adversity. His motive is not to criticise or condemn the past, or to make overtly political statements. I'm only two-thirds of the way through the book, but can definitely say that it's worth checking out.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Bookeen Cybook and House of Meetings - Martin Amis

I'm reading the very first eBook on my new Booken Cybook reader. It's awesome! There's lots of reviews of the device out there on the net if you're interested, and I bought mine via the Naeb buyer's club, which allowed me to access the much cheaper USD price (as opposed to Euro).

The reason I'm posting is to share this passage:

Oral "relief," lasting half a minute, was the sex act of choice and necessity. And I offer this final observation (very vulgar, but not entirely gratuitous) in a pedagogic spirit, because it shows that even in their most intimate dealings the women, too, were worked on by socioeconomic reality. In the postwar years, there were no non-swallowers in the Soviet Union. None.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Bar Alto and Ajisen Ramen in Brisbane

Last night I had a celebration with my friend at Bar Alto at the Brisbane Powerhouse. Italian wine, quail entree, duck breast and a cheese platter! Yum yum yum. My friend had scallops and veal sweetbreads for entree, followed by Kingfish, which was probably the best choice of the night.

Then today I finally got to have lunch at Ajisen Ramen, which I've wanted to try all week. The location on George Street is not the best, so I think not many people in Brisbane have discovered it yet. Today was pretty quiet, although I imagine a weekday lunchtime might be a different story.

I had Takoyaki, one of my favourite things, as an entree. I've had better, but it's always nice to find another place in Brisbane for these tasty octopus balls. Then for my main I had the tender pork ribs ramen, which was lovely.

I'm feeling very full and fat now, and heading to the Front End Loader concert tonight.

w00t,
monuments.

PS: I didn't take any photos, so let me steal somebody else's....


Friday, 11 April 2008

NOFX - The Irrationality of Rationality

Frank, the new CEO, had to answer to the board.
The board was getting anxious, and the shareholders were
On a bed, legs in air, ass-cheeks open wide
They were about to get fucked like it was their first time.
When one makes 20 million, ten thousand people lose.
What keeps that one from swallowing a shotgun?

Dan, the company man, felt loyalty to the core.
After 16 years of service, and a family to support
He actually started to believe the weaponry and chemicals were for national defense.
'Cause danny had a mortgage, and a boss to answer to.
The guilty dont feel guilty, they learn not to.

Helen is living in her car, trying to feed her kids.
She got laid off at work, and her house was repossessed.
Its hard to think clearly when its 38 degrees.
Desperate people have been known to render desperate deeds.
But when she shot that family and moved into their home,
The paper read she suffered from dementia.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Front End Loader - Laughing With Knives

To me, Front End Loader were one of the best Australian bands in the 90s. This was a glory period in Australia rock- Front End Loader, Tumbleweed, early Regurgitator, early Spiderbait, Mark of Cain, and so many more. I will always always remember seeing FEL live at Livid in 1995, the first time I ever came across them. This was around the time that Let's Ride! was released, with the classic track Travelscrabbledeath which was included on JJJ's "Eleven" compilation (along with the Dreamkillers' classic Sarah (STD STD STD!)).

Hahaha.

I sorta lost track of them after about 1997 when Last of the V8 Interceptors was released, until a couple of years ago when my friend's partner lent me the Ape Got Fire mini-album. Man, that album kept me company on the bus to work for a full 3 month period, it was the perfect length and I fucking loved it (and yes Bindleys, it was the 470 bus - I fucking love the 470!).

Yesterday I picked up Laughing With Knives, the 2xCD release with a live album recorded at the Annandale Hotel and a disc of B-Sides and rarities. Awesome! It's making me really want to go to see them at the Step Inn on Saturday night, it might be the last chance to see them live. But, I'm not sure I will.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Martin Amis, London Fields - Traffic

Now -- the streets, the traffic. We know that traffic reflects the temperaments of the great capitals (and here in a farewell flourish I invoke my world citizenship): the unsmiling triumphalism of Paris, the fury and despair of old New York, the cat-and-mouse audacity of Rome, the ragged murder of Cairo, the showboat longevity of Los Angeles, the industrial durance of Bombay or Delhi, where, four times a day, the cars lash the city in immovable chains. But here, in London -- I just don't get it.
They adore doubleparking. They do. This is true love -- a love whose month is ever May. They park in the middle of the goddamned street. I turned into the All Saints Road -- and it wasn't a road any longer. It was a lot, a doubleparking lot. The traffic lights are barely more than decoration, like Christmas lights. You hit a red at the crossroads but you inch forward anyway, in the lock, into the headlock. You may even decide the time is ripe to get out and run an errand. Why? Why not? Everybody else does it. It seems clear to me, after five seconds' thought,t hat if everybody does it then nobody gets around, nobody gets anywhere. But everybody does it because everybody does it. And here's the other thing: hardly anyone seems to mind. At the crossroads the drunken youth drops out of his van and waddles into GoodFicks or Potato Love or the Butchers Arms, and the cars don't mind. They just nudge and shove each other, the old heaps, and not angrily, in this intimacy of metal and rust and not getting anywhere.
That was more or less how it was ten years ago. That was more or less how it was ten days ago. Now, in the last little packet of time, it's all changed. We have moved from purgatory to full inferno. And suddenly everybody minds. Even the gentler sex. And if plump mums scream over the grizzle of their strapped kids, if old ladies in old Morrises parturate with venom and smack freckled fists on the horn, then how are the men taking it? Four times in the last few days I have sat tight in the car, gridlocked under the low sun, with no way out, while jagged figures discover what the hard machine can do to the soft: what the hood of the car can do to the human nose and mouth, what the tyre-iron can do to the back of the human head. Traffic is a contest of human desire, a waiting game of human desire. You want to go there. I want to go here. And, just recently, something has gone wrong with traffic. Something has gone wrong with human desire.
I don't get it. No -- I do! Suddenly I do, though there's no real reason (is there?) why anybody else should. In traffic, now, we are using up each other's time, each other's lives. We are using up each other's lives.

Friday, 4 April 2008

can you hear the helicopters?

If only I hadn't lost my best friend, she'd remember my previous obsession with a Smog lyric from the song Sleepy Joe, on the Wild Love album - "can you hear the bells?". I used to listen to that CD over and over, and the final track Prince Alone In The Studio with it's counting down of the hours used to wake me up at 2am, 3am, 4am.

Right now the shuffle gods inside my iPod have chosen PJ Harvey's Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea and Thom Yorke's vocals have triggered something in me. Can you hear the helicopters?

Occasionally in the past few months, I've been woken up at about 4.30am, not long before my usual alarm. Woken by the helicopters. I think it might be the traffic report helicopters from Mt Coot-tha getting ready to go out and do their thing. And it doesn't bother me at all, because waking up before my alarm always leaves me feeling better. That's not the point.

The point is, that waking up to this sound fills me with a sense of apocalyptic dread. What is it about the sound of helicopters in the bleak pre-dawn light?

The News

I couldn't sleep last night. O, precious sleep, my only mortal escape, why do you elude me so?

So anyway, apart from devouring a whole box of BBQ Shapes left in my cupboard by Mister T, I read the news to pass some time, and was intrigued by this latest sign of post-modern desperation: re-possessed homes in the US are being burgled and stripped of their copper pipes, due to soaring world copper prices. What can I say?

Meanwhile, locally, it's being predicted that rents in Australian cities will rise by 50% in the next four years. The "advice" for renters is to try and lock in their current lease for as long as they can. Umm...how? You'd have to be very lucky, I could never get a landlord to agree to a lease greater than 6 months -- they enjoyed their 6-monthly rent-hikes too much. And that was a few years ago.

Now it's Friday morning and I'm facing 8 more hours of trying to make something of this non-project, before the weekend: emotional eating, emotional drinking, and the Mt Coot-tha Cycle Challenge.

yeah, cheers!
monuments.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

London Fields

The New York Times asks: "is the world in for a rosier future, or are we just kidding ourselves?". It says that "Martin Amis, unregenerate, is determined to send us plummeting into darkness. With evangelical ardor, he sets his sixth novel, 'London Fields', in the grimmest of times."

Well, I'm not kidding myself. I'm in the middle of reading London Fields, and sure, I have some sense of the dread, of the impending doom. I can see the characters and the plot spinning towards their dark climax. Two of the characters can also see it coming, in some sense. But as I read Amis' description of societal decay, I see more of an accurate reflection than a prediction. Perhaps in 1989 it was a prediction -- but now?

Am I being unfair, overly cynical? People accuse me of it frequently, and insist that I think positively. These are peaceful and prosperous times. Sure, maybe so, but at what cost? And isn't it possible that they are the deluded ones? Holding false hope to keep themselves going, or even worse -- they just *don't care* about anything outside of their own hedonistic lives? Well at some point they may well be forced to care, and to think about more than having fun in a world of trash tabloids, throwaway TV and modern consumerism.

Equally possible is that I'm deluded, and that this attitude is a reflection of my own state of mind. I'll admit to that - I'll cop it on the chin. It's true that I'm in quite a state. I'm in retreat, more so than ever. After 28 years, things just stack up, and I don't really understand how anybody can stay sane. Not without a great deal of denial. Maybe I've just read too much Martin Amis.

But I digress. The state of society, the "world situation", are just a backdrop in this book - they set the scene. The impact is more upon the mood of the story (and the reader) than the characters or the plot. I might write more about the story of London Fields later, or perhaps not, there's heaps of reviews already out there. And my motivation has rather sharp limits, these days.

I found somebody who agrees with me to some extent, at least. In his 2002 review, Jason Picone said that "First published in 1989, London Fields has aged extremely well; it's so relevant to current events that it's a bit disquieting.". Well I'm in 2008 finding it more than a bit disquieting.

More from Picone:
"The other thread of the novel is the crisis, or as Amis writes it, the Crisis, which is more or less the apocalypse, always lurking in the novel's margins. The most prevalent manifestation of the Crisis is the threat of nuclear warfare, though pollution and unchecked capitalism are also in the Amis world destruction derby. The numbered days of the Earth are counted down concurrently with those of Nicola Six, a seemingly odd comparison that ultimately resonates with meaning. Amis charges that both Nicola Six and the Earth's inhabitants are complicit in their own deaths, welcoming doom simply because they believe it is the most likely outcome.

Read in the light of current events, the book is a warning against hopelessness and pessimism. Amis's murderers' triangle is an example of three individuals who take life too lightly, limiting themselves to narrow, unhappy lives because an omnipresent Crisis has hammered them into a despair they aren't fully aware of."

A warning against hopelessness and pessimism? I don't quite see that. I feel hopeless and pessimistic because not many in today's world would heed this book's warning against a blinkered existence (ie: ignorance) and hedonism. But perhaps I'm an individual who takes life too seriously - a self-destructive trait for one who believes in nothing.

enough.
monuments.