Archive for September, 2011

OLD STINKHORN:

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

I don’t even drink, but i’m not going to say no to a bottle of Paul McCartney’s very own home brew, cheers sweetie.

9/11:

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

I suppose my reflections on September 11 2001 will be just one tiny grain of sand in a sea of memories marking that date this year. For whatever reason, humans have a habit of marking events in blocks of time – nothing wrong with that – I guess they’re sign posts to stop and really give thought, to ponder and to take stock. In the ten years that have passed since that horrible day, many more people have lost their lives in dreadful ways than did on September 11th. Nature’s fury, nature’s growing pains – maybe even nature’s revenge – not to mention those lost in acts of warfare.

I can’t help but ponder what it was about that day that made it more shocking and horrible for me than all others.

The second week of Spring in Australia, it started out as a pretty average day. I worked late that Tuesday night, getting home at about 9.30pm. After having a late dinner, I switched on the telly and ‘Rove’ was on. Padding into the computer room which was right next to the lounge, I could still hear the television – Rove was interviewing Haley Joel Osment – but I paid little attention, mindlessly tapping away at the computer. About 10.40pm Rove ended, and the Channel Ten news came on with Sandra Sully hosting.

At 10.50pm, my ears pricked up when Sandra cut into the bulletin to announce that something had happened at the World Trade Centre. In the seconds it took me to peer around the door to the TV set, they had already crossed to live footage of the smoking tower and in a finger snap I knew this was really bad.

At the time my partner was Adam, and I was due to leave to pick him up from the performing arts centre where he was rehearsing. I grabbed my mobile to call him, and tell him I was on my way. To hurry up outside as I wanted (almost needed) to get home quick. I told him I was watching the news live, and that a passenger jet had crashed into The World Trade Centre, and it was bad, really bad. At first he didn’t believe me, but I think my non-joking voice told him I wasn’t pissing around.

Driving down to the theatre is a ten minute round trip, and when he hopped in the car Adam told me no one in the theatre would believe him when he relayed what I was watching. Before I left home I had put a video tape in the machine and pressed record.
I’d left the tv on and walking into the room the tv was now showing both towers alight. I was completely puzzled as when I’d left there was only one ablaze. I had no idea how this had happened. I vividly recall turning to Adam and saying ‘The fire must have leapt across from the other tower!’. We sat down and stared at the screen open mouthed – we were watching this in real time, or that should probably be (sur)real time. Within seconds, they replayed the footage of the plane hitting the second tower. I knew then the world had changed, and at that point I started shaking – full body trembles – I guess it was in a clinical sense ‘shock’.

I know others were feeling the same, as at times like this the phone was running hot ‘Are you watching this!?’ I’d be curious to see the spike in phone usage during those hours.
I grew up in the era of ‘Ron Raygun’s’ Star Wars, when America and Russia had enough bombs to Nuke the world into oblivion and back. I have a vivid memory of sitting in my second year class at school – I would have been seven – and Cathy Pepper leant over to me and said ‘Did you know there are bombs that can blow up the whole world?’. Even through a child’s mind and perception that sent a chill through me.

Sitting in front of the tv all these years later, I felt that old familiar chill. I was scared. I was scared the world was changing before my eyes. I was scared for the comfort I knew. I was scared for what was happening to the people on the screen in front of me. And mostly I was scared of war. I thought ‘This is going to unleash a shit storm, the likes of which we’ve never seen’. The images playing out before my eyes were surreal, you see Hollywood disaster flicks but you never think for a second they would come true.
It really was a nightmare to watch play out, to the point I felt numb. The two towers, the Pentagon, the first tower falling, the second tower falling. I guess I sat there till about 3.00am before going to bed.

I remember waking and thinking ‘Did that really just happen last night?’, and also the fear of what else may have happened in the few hours I slept.
So now, ten years later, do we know what really happened? How? Or why? Does it matter? I guess for me the one question that swirls in my mind is the ‘Why?’. What message or lesson were we supposed to take from that horror? Was I too arrogant to think ‘How dare someone attack us’? Were we (or was I) too complacent about the horrors of warfare? It’s so clinical now.

You don’t see nightly reports on the news about civilian tolls in far flung places. The soldiers are now all specialists – it’s not just the boy next door going to war – we’re quarantined from the reality of what is going on in the name of war. I’m not for a second saying this was the way we needed to learn, I’m just trying to make sense of the ‘why’. It was all too close to home. I have two best friends who were there, one a week or so before, and another who was there on the day, literally in the building opposite.

You see natural disasters on tv and think ‘That couldn’t happen to me, I live in a city’, but when you see buildings like the ones we all work in, planes we all fly in, streets we all walk on become the battle fields, then all bets are off. This truly can happen to any of us, and the levels of unimaginable pain – and more than anything, prolonged torturous terror – is what tips the scales for me. It puts Sept 11th in a whole other field of trauma and affront. The likes of which I simply cannot process, or make any sense of, beyond the crushing reality that many aspects and pockets of humanity, and mankind, have a very long way to go before they can be considered humane. I do not relate to the complexities, the passions, or the fervour that drive many people who inhabit this planet to act in such a violent, wicked and heartless way.

I know there are many beautiful people and souls that walk and live amongst us, but the fact that such man-made horror can be inflicted upon someone by his fellow man saddens me like nothing else. At these times I turn to music, and cling to the lyrics of The Beach Boys song ‘I Guess I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times’ because, when I see such horror as 9/11, I’m certain I’m living on the wrong planet.

A few weeks after the 2004 tsunami, I found myself standing on the headland overlooking Byron Bay. I was zoning out watching the surfers below me in the water – they were small little specs from this location. I was reminded that with just a little distance we’re all so incredibly tiny, and by pulling away not too much further we’re actually invisible. It was a moment where I was struck by the realisation of how vulnerable we are, how tiny we are in the big picture, no less important to it, but overall a grain of sand on this earth.

In 2005, I visited New York and ground zero. I went there with a heavy and mindful feeling about me. When I got to the end of the line, and saw the train tunnel boarded up, that was the first sign that I was in a place where something very amiss had occurred. As I walked the streets I noted that the true scale of what had happened here, and how I’d related to it from a great distance was not computing. I couldn’t truly fathom what had occurred on the streets where I was standing, even though I was staring at the end results.

Searching for a place to grab a bite to eat took me along the street bordering ground zero, and it was then seeing the façade of the shop fronts, pock marked with chunks of cement and stone gouged out of them, that I started to realised the magnitude of what had happened. The fire station next door to where I had lunch brought it all into much sharper focus. Peering into the front of the station, I could see the crushed front of a fire engine mounted on the wall in memoriam. The whole time I was there I determined I would not take any photos of the site, there was no need, it didn’t feel right. The one and only photo I did take was of a message written on a wall close by to ground zero, you can see it printed below.

One scene that did rattle me at The World Trade Centre site was the juxtaposition of photos pinned to the wall of those lost in the tragedy, and the souvenir photos and posters of the horror that hustlers and shysters had stuck up, and were selling to tourists. I’m all for freedom of speech and free enterprise, but I couldn’t help but wonder at what lay in the gap between myself (who wouldn’t take a photo of the site) to someone at the site using it as a marketing ploy. I guess it’s not my place to judge, but that was a hugely unsettling sight for me to see.

Soon after 9/11 my friend Beryl visited me at home. He pointed to the postcard pinned to my notice board that he’d mailed to me a couple of weeks before – from the top floor of the World Trade Centre. Here was the card intact, but most everyone and everything that had been associated with it had been destroyed, once more I was faced with the randomness of life. And now, ten years later I along with my loved ones are still all here, and relatively safe, or so I’d like to think, on 9/11 I didn’t think we would be. I’m grateful, and hopeful, but still dreadfully confused.

With love and respect to all those souls taken in acts of violence.

Greg.

ROLF:

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

When i was little, Rolf Harris always irritated me, i dunno what it was, he just seemed on an emotional edge, all that panting and shit. Even as a three year old, i could sense this man perhaps needed therapy.

There were a couple of things that held my interest in Rolfdom, one was his cute little character ‘Coogee bear’, another was the whole three legged thing that made me raise an eye brow, and to ponder the placement of Rolf’s wanger if he really did have three legs. The thing i really loved however was an instrument Rolf used to play called a ‘Stylophone’, sort of like a poor mans theramin.

I used to turn my dad’s portable radio upside down, and run a metal strip over it in an effort to replicate Rolfs hand organ, tho i never quite got mine to work. Earlier this year whilst visiting my fab friend Karen, i was amazed to find she had a Rolf brand stylophone just casually laying around in her house, talk about a Kodak moment. As a treat please click .. Rolf Two Little Boys In German to hear not the Stylophone, but Rolf serenading us with a German language version of ‘Two little boys’, a song that made me cry when i was little, not this version, the English version, i have no idea what Rolf is singing here.

DISNEY ON PARADE:

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Wow, a blast from the past, i just found some photo’s from when ‘Disney on parade’ visited Australia in the early 1970’s, this is amazing, as it’s my first memory of an ‘Event’, this was probably the first live show i had been too.

My memory is sketchy, i do remember my mum, and sister Rhonda took myself, and my niece Michelle. I recall driving to the huge park opposite the Hordern Pavillion in Sydney, the big top stood before us, which i later found out came from the Bullens circus (another early memory I have are the Sunday drives, and frequent visits to ‘Bullens animal world’ in Arcacia, amazing times, driving, and walking around lions and tigers).

Like most kids i had a healthy love of Disney, i sat goggle eyed before the tv every afternoon watching the ‘Mouse factory’, i had the cassette from the show which featured ‘Minnies Yoo Hoo’, and i played it until it literally fell to pieces.

The photo above, inside the empty Big Top, is taken from the side we were sitting, tho our tickets were more to the middle, perhaps the beginnings of my lifelong passion, and demand, for nothing but the best seats in the house. The costumes were amazing, and most vividly I remember the Cinderella segment, where at the end the house lights dimmed, and all the dresses lit up with thousands of fairy lights.

Both Michelle and I were lucky enough to be treated with a souvenir program, as i moistened a finger and flipped through the pages, one image stood out amongst all others, and that was a photo of the costume room, and seamstresses doubled over their Pfaff sewing machines, with bobbin after bobbin of cotton thread, i honestly feel that day saw the first fermenting bubbles of the proud Queen i would grow up to be, how could anything other than that have happened, Disney, Fairy lights, Costumes, Pfaffs, my destiny was written in the glitter on the floor.

The morning after the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras party, you exit just across from where ‘Disney on parade’ was staged all those years ago. Leaving the Mardi Gras party, quite often walking like Goofy, and talking like Porky pig (I know Porky isn’t Disney, but in a world of genetic engineering, it’s not such a stretch of the imagination to consider Porky an honorary Disney character) it does strange things to ones mind, and memory, to be cast back so far, to a time and place far more innocent.

After this exposure to ‘Disney on parade’ I became Disney mad, I collected probably hundreds of Disney comics, and much to my regret, swapped them years later, probably for a porn magazine or something. As people do, I changed and kind of grew out of my Disney passion, only to have it reignited years later by my friend Adam.

I had changed an awful lot since I last sat down and squeaked out ‘Minnies Yoo Hoo’, but the basic element of what I loved about Disney, childlike innocence and wonder, was still in me, tho buried deep after a lifetime of experiences to jade one to the core, but it was there, in a little pocket that I found without too much trouble.

In 2005 I got to visit Disneyland, that was, and up to now, still is the happiest time of my life, it was a time of wonder, joy, happiness, achievement, reflection and clarity.

Walking down main street Disneyland I was transported back to being that little kid, in his jarmies, sitting in front of the Rank Arena colour TV watching ‘The Mouse Factory’, and ‘Sunday night Disney’, where the opening titles showed footage of the very place I was now walking as a grown, and fulfilled man. I really did feel innocent, and childlike, free and full of wonder, and I now realize it’s healthy for adults to retain a little childlike wonder.

As I travelled through the park all sorts of people, and nationalities crossed my path, I have a vivid memory of a big biker dude walking along wearing Micky Mouse ears, and he too had a big smile on his face.

With my eyes like saucers I came upon Tinkerbells castle, I walked in and gazed around in open mouthed awe, and then farted, which for me was the perfect marriage of the little Greg, and the Greg of now, someone who has the need to occasionally sully the pure waters, but with a sense of childlike wonder.

Later that evening as I watched Tinkerbell fly out of her castle (I’m sure I saw her give a little cough) fireworks filled the sky, the song ‘When you wish upon a star’ filled the air, and faux snow fell from above, and from my eyes fell tears. I believe at that very moment, the stars aligned as Tinkerbell danced around them, and I was the happiest man on earth.