Wednesday, May 30, 2007

planet of the (sh)apes

What is it that's so cool about 70's fashion wearing apes?
Dunno, but I took these snaps at the underpass beneath Royal Parade in Parkville.
Brunswick has some really great graff, particularly along the Upfield bike path. Really world standard some of it.
But this giant ape really works for me. And I like stencils.
So I don't always ranty rant rant. There are some good things out there.
Such as apes in clothing.
And Absolute Power, with Stephen Fry.
What a wonderful series about the corrupt world of Public Relations. And Mr Fry plays such a delightfully amoral bastard.
And now I'm going to go watch Terence Malick's Badlands. God! Been name dropping tonight.
And here's another to add to the list:

now playing: orbital - planet of the shapes

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007


So I read today that The Peel, a fairly average gay bar in Collingwood that I occasionally frequent (can't somebody please bring back The Builders Arms?), has been granted the ability to discriminate against heterosexual men and women. That's a little bit naf but more or less understandable - a gaydar is a figure of speech and not a reality, so I'd like to see him flawlessly detect straights. But anyway, it gets much worse because, if the patchy online news report is anything to go by, The Peel is now also legally allowed to discriminate against lesbians. Not that, according to reports of friends of mine, it hasn't been unofficially discriminating against lesbians for a long time before now.
The news report quotes the owner-manager of the bar, Tom McFeely, as saying that, "Those heterosexuals have other places to go, my homosexuals do not ... the only place they can feel
safe and comfortable is The Peel."
Uh, two problems Tom:
1) We're not your homosexuals.
2) I feel a lot more safe and comfortable at many more venues than your stinking little sexist fuck dive. I dare say I'm not the only queer who feels this way.
Tom's also quoted as saying, "We're the only one of 2,000 venues in Melbourne (for gay men) ... I want to protect that and recently the amount of heterosexuals and lesbians, some guys are saying to me over the last year of so ... we don't feel comfortable anymore."
Hey Tom, got some more problems with your logic for you to consider:
1) There are many queer bars and venues in Melbourne where gay men are obviously welcome and no doubt feel comfortable to express their sexuality so we don't really need yours to
survive the long winter's nights... Sorry. Actually, no I'm not.
There are better methods of ensuring your clientele feel comfortable than a carte blanche ban on straighty-one-eighties and women - surely employing bouncers is one such? Oh no, I forget: you employ them to keep the lesbians out. Silly me.
3) The Laird is already allowed to legally discriminate against women, so what makes your venue so fucking special or unique? Why do homos need two sexist gay bars - in Collingwood?
So I have some questions for you, Tom:
1) Which high up person do you know who'll let your non sequiturs pass muster in law so that you may be allowed to perpetuate sexism, specifically against lesbians?
2) What are you going to do when bi, trans and intersex people come visit for a little hippy hippy shake? How does a bi man fit into your worldview? And I really hope you'll acknowledge men who are transitioning, whatever stage they're at. When's a man a man, Tom? When he's discriminating against women, maybe?
3) How the Hell are you going to differentiate between a straight man and a gay man? I've had a couple of very straight looking men try to pick me up at your joint before. Hell, I'm pretty
straight looking, myself. But what a stupid statement to make. It's pretty clear you want a very particular clientele and now you have the legal support ensure it. Congratulations.
4) Do you really care about your clientele? Or is just that you're protecting your profits? I could think of better ways to ensure that the so-called disturbing behaviour that's been upsetting your dear valued customers ceased to be an issue. I can maybe see how having straight punters in attendance could be a problem for some because we live in such a heterocentric culture. But lesbians? Seriously! Why do you need the capacity to ban lesbians outright if you want? I'm still really not clear on this point. But that would be because your reasoning is a poor attempt to justify your real intention, which is to manage a bar that caters for a very narrow segment of the queer population - and it comes at the expense of a whole wide range of the diversity of queernesses that exist in Melbourne and the rest of the world for that matter.
Why don't you take a reality check, Tom? I've heard the argument (in relation to The Laird's sexism) that women have women's only spaces, so why can't men? And I can answer this quite readily: if you're a woman you live in a society that is made to privilege men at the expense of women, so mens' interests are put before womens': culturally, structurally, interpersonally and powerfully. We live in a society in which women are necessarily wary of the potential of violence from men, for example, in quite a similar way, I imagine, in which gay men fear the violence of straight men. It's called patriarchy. It's called sexism.
Tom! Show just a little empathy and stop contributing to the oppression of our lesbian and bi sisters! Where's the solidarity in the fight against sexism and heterosexism? You can't fight these by being sexist!
What we see here is the logical conclusion of The Peel's pre-existing, not-so-latent door policy: pretty boys preferred; men and lesbians and anybody on the queer spectrum who (obviously) don't fit this bill can be refused entry by law. I hope this little stunt backfires on you Tom and that you lose your customers. I'll surely never darken your doorstep ever again - not that you'd feel obliged to let me...
I feel like taking a reality check right now: there's a war on! Why is this shit happening and why do I see fit to engage with it when thousands of men, women and children in Iraq (to name just one conflict zone) are being slaughtered daily? Hell, we can't even get anything right in our own backyard: can't even accord our indigenous populations the respect they deserve, let alone discourage stupidity when it occurs in Collingwood - twice!
In the words of Kurt Vonnegut, 'So it goes, so it goes.'
Now Playing: Jello - Neph (Autechre Ultramatique 6 mix)

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

arch pretentiousness

Well! An expat Tassie friend of mine invited me to a free Karlheinz Stockhausen concert, established through SIAL Sound Studios, that she'd promoted. Having heard plenty about but never any of (at least, not wittingly) Stockhausen's work, I decided I should go. Fortunately, a friend of mine was also in attendance, otherwise I would have had no one to vent to.
So I knew I was up for a thoroughly pretentious time from the get go when the first piece, Der Kleine Harlekin (Little Harlequin), was performed. This was a solo piece for clarinet and involved a young woman, dressed in pseudo harlequin attire, playing a pleasant enough tune on her clarinet, absurdly strutting around the performance space and teasingly playing with the audience. I enjoyed the piece. It was fun and funny (for example, the spot light occasionally 'lost' the harlequin and randomly roamed around the venue looking for her while she played and strutted on in the dark). And the music was lovely. Plus, the performative element to it really enhanced the experience, showing, as it did, some extra ability on the performer, Karen Heath's, behalf.

All the other pieces were boring and annoying, with the exception of Karen Heath's later performance. I found the music to be mostly unengaging and the performances a tedious conceit that did nothing to enhance the music. The performers were all very good at their instruments. In particular, the trumpeter had nice shoes.
But the point isn't necessarily how brilliant the pieces are but the extent to which the ideas push the limits of art and thought and performance and culture, explode our received notions of how art is and should be and leave us at the end of the performance thinking and feeling differently about the whole shit.
Why should I expect any less? After all, this is from a composer who has penned a performance for string quartet with helicopters!

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

my one-hundredth post

I started writing this and then promptly forgot all about it.
This is my one-hundredth post and it's proudly brought to you by our good friend, Michael.
Yay! Thanks Michael.
"I'm not Michael, I'm Ronald McMichael."
Thanks to Jock for the rancid picture.
now playing: gescom - keynell (autechre remix 1)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

visual music

Ah, he's done it again. Brian Eno, the ambient music pioneer, is also a visual artist, if you didn't know. His latest project, entitled 77 Million Paintings, is a series of paintings he likes to think of as visual music.
This could be considered an example of synaesthetic art, in my humble. That is, art blurring its modes (in this case audio and visual) in much the same way that what are ordinarily considered discreet human perceptions are blurred, as when a person involuntarily attributes a colour to a word or a noise connotes movement for them.
So, Eno has furthered his 'generative' art model, whereby he creates a piece, or in this case a whole bunch of pieces, and feeds them into a randomising system that creates something wholly new out of the given elements. Meaning that the resulting work(s) of art are out of his control once set in motion. So in a sense, he is
more the author of the system than the resultant work(s). By his own admission, Eno has always been as much interested in effecting structures and strategies and processes as defining the elements within each of his art works.
The seventy-seven-million paintings are a series of paintings and pictures that he's produced over the years, randomly superimposed over each other on a television screen or a monitor, set to some of his own randomly played music. The number of potential new works created out of these pre-existing ones equals seventy-seven-million, hence the title. So the tv screen becomes a canvas that can accommodate a near infinite (as far as human viewing experience and memory will permit) number of works.
I think he calls this visual music because there is a performative aspect to the resulting works of art, much like, for example, his pieces Ambient #1 - Music for Airports, Discreet Music or Neroli (all of which he described as holographic because, as a hologram shows all of its aspects to the viewer simultaneously, so too does a holographic piece of music disclose its entirety to the listener in a single instance). His Thursday Afternoon (also holographic),
accompanied an exhibition of a video paintings Eno made in the 80's. A series of very slow motion films displayed on large television screens. 77-Million Paintings seems to be a contemporary extrapolation of that idea available for your loungeroom. Eno's released it as disc that allows you to turn your loungeroom into an art installation so you can screen his generative visual music/ video paintings on your giant plasma screen - assuming you have one (which I don't).
Evolving art in the comfort of your loungeroom. Nice.
Now Playing: Brian Eno - Ikebukuro

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Friday, May 11, 2007

philomena ruth rush r.i.p.

I attended my second cousin's (my mother's cousin) funeral yesterday.
It was a strange experience. I didn't like it much for many reasons.
Fortunately, my brother also attended with his partner.
For some reason my Mum didn't want to come up from Tasmania to commemorate Mena or send her wishes to her family in person. I don't understand Mum sometimes...
A close friend of mine told me about her experience of a funeral last year where she sat up the back of the chapel and was faced with numerous mourners' indifferent
backs. She told me how alienating it was. I had a similar understanding of the process yesterday. I felt faintly excluded from the process and fair enough. I never knew Mena that well or spent much time with her, living in different states as we did. But I always enjoyed her company whenever I spent any time with her.
I never knew this but she had a clique with a name. They called themselves The Peasants and they used to have all kinds of low brow fun together, such as dressing in weirdo old lady drag. Sort of Queen Mother style. Dancing drunk from sherry on tables was another practice.
I found it hard keeping the others' grief out of my head. I suppose that's because it's a grief I shared with them. At least in part.
The low point of the proceedings would definitely have to have been the photo slideshow montage with a soundtrack from Hell: Celine Dion's cover of Power of Love.
I don't know how someone misconstrued Celine for affecting or appropriate. Perhaps there was a message in there for her husband, dear Jeff. He's devastated of course, after sixty years of marriage.
As her coffin was loaded into the hearse, four doves - one for each of their children - was released into the air. My brother and I looked at each other with a smile and the same unspoken question, "Are they homing doves?" It's much more cost effective to have homing doves. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Turns out they are homing doves. Mum's twin sister, Aunty Naomi, asked Jeff and he confirmed our thoughts. The doves are trained to circle twice before heading for home.

Aunty Naomi is a funny one. I had thought I might point out to her the fact that the ring I wear on my finger is her Dad's wedding ring (her Dad being a well-respected man in the family). But then I questioned my motives and realised I would only be drawing attention to that because I was feeling left out. Whatever you call that feeling. The feeling of leftoutness. Unacknowledged. Because Mum maried above her station (for station read class, a corollary of which is, somehow, against the odds, Dad married beneath his.) I felt quite different to the family and further out of place. I guess the Catholicism didn't help there.
Speaking of religion, I found a lovely little leaflet about how you can help any loved one in your life to overcome their SSA. Same-sex attraction, that is.
Oh yes! The pamplet (pictured) offers such pearls of wisdom as:
"Same-sex attraction is not the work of God ... There is no scientific proof that SSA is the result of genetic factors. SSA is an aspect of underdeveloped sexuality."
I wonder which scientific bases they used to make these assertions. Umm... Yes, let's empirically research the origins of queer sexualities... Yep, just as we suspected: definitely not the work of God. And as for not being genetic, well no shit.
And this one:
"The orientation of SSA, although disordered, is not in itself sinful. Homosexual acts, however, are sinful and do not lead a person to a deeper life in Jesus Christ."
You don't say? "I don't know about you, Hon, but I really am looking forward to a hetero marriage so our sex-life can lead us to a deeper life in Christ Jesus."
Oh now I get it! I'm underdeveloped and my heterosexual friends are fully developed. Yep, it's true. I probably hate my mother too. Nice one.
I've decided I hate it when people try to link sexuality to spirituality. In fact, I'm not spiritual these days. Sexuality and spirituality are about as compatible as me and Priests.
Anyway, that pamphlet sure brightened up my day, providing me, as it did, with comic relief.
Now Playing: Severed Heads - Guests

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