Tuesday, September 3, 2013


(This blog contains course language...)

So the election looms this Saturday.
And try as I might to step to the side and let it all pass me by, I've found myself being pretty damn frustrated.
After all, what have I got to worry about?
I'm a white looking, middle class male. I've got a regular income and I work hard...
Basically I could vote for any fucking one and it probs wouldn't affect me too much.

But that's the thing.
I find myself, against my own selfish will of course, thinking about other people.

I give a shit about refugees. The whole "cue jumper" rationale has never sat well with me. I mean, it's a no-brainer that if you have to hire some shady motherfucker to ship you to Australia, spending all your life savings or some ridiculous amount in the process and risking drowning in the open seas, you're escaping something pretty heavy.

I also give a shit about gay marriage. I just figure that it's fucking ludicrous to not allow people to be officially married by law. Let people get a mortgage together and be broke and let people see each other in hospital when they're dying. Fuck. Let people have kids and whatever. I was raised by a single mum. If only a man and a woman are meant to raise a kid then fuck me in the ear hole with a steak knife I'm fucked. My dad was a cunt. I wish I had two mums. So fuck you.

Economy blah blah blah. Did you watch Q&A on Monday night? Pretty much every question was "how can I afford a mercedes I'm sick of driving this honda accord"...
Okay okay I'm being a bit unfair but it was a session filled with some interesting questions that were of the basic opinion that we, as Aussies are doing it tough...

And I'm sure there ARE Aussies "doing it tough"... (our homeless people, our people struggling with mental health conditions that aren't supported... you know, the ones who don't make the news unless it's to scapegoat them as "the other").

But overall I have this strange feeling that our Australian mentality to support the underdog has a real inability to recognise when
we're not the underdog.
Apart from the above mentioned mentally ill and homeless people, Indigenous people and immigrants, the rest of Australia is pretty well off.

White Australia is doing fine. As always.

Isn't it funny how these issues aren't in the news unless they're put in as a fear campaign against "Australian values" (which I have come to realise are: fuck you, I'm from Straya cunt and I want another drink).

So why do we feed this system of fear? Why do we need to believe we're fucked? Do we continually reference our forefathers who fought and died for us to reference our lame problems? I reckon our forefathers are sitting there going "pack of whining cunts, get a real problem."

And for me the real problem is the inherent racism and prejudice within Australia. The fact that a myth around refugees has been used for as long as I've been alive in order to get votes. A perpetuated white "overlording" of Indigenous issues has continually kept the complex issues involved in the first people of this nation in the shadows. Or pulled out every now and then as a convenient news story about how shit "they" are. And some sort of inbuilt christian or catholic fear means we're so fucking scared of gay people procreating because, y'know, they may not get divorced as much as we do and that would be HUMILIATING.

And let's please not even mention the environment or carbon tax. For fucks sake. Mining and CSG and mining and CSG. "Fuck the reef unless you're paying to see it." That's our next ad campaign didn't you know?

I'm not voting for Abbott. No fucking way.
There, I've said it.
The dude scares the fuck outta me. Australia can't take that step backwards.
And that's what voting for him means to me. An Australia that values only the selfish and doesn't value people. People. You, me, your friends and family. Your potential friends and family.

If you invited Abbott around for a beer and a bbq he would leer at your daughter and wouldn't help with the washing up.
Ruddy would probably at least play pool. He probably wouldn't help with the washing up either but he might stack the dishes.

It's frustrating watching the blatant media campaign for Abbott. Please don't fall for it.
Put Liberal last on your ballot box.
You don't have to vote Labor either.
I'm not.
There. That's my political rant which I didn't want to get involved in because it'll start fights.
But I'm sick of trying to rationalise with an irrational argument. Which is pretty much all Liberal voters have given me. The irrational, impenetrable arguments of the ill informed.

My next blog will be about abortion and religion.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Roar Poets - Tour Diary 5 - Canberra

Reflecting on Canberra is like reflecting on when you first met the love of your life.
This crew GOT IT. They understood.
After everything we'd been through. From misunderstandings about what exactly a night of spoken word would entail, to lack of contact from venues, and weeks where "there's just so much on, don't worry, people would have loved it if they had come..."
Canberra had our back from the beginning.
In most cases when organising a tour I would assume you would contact anyone you know and see what they can do and are willing to do to help. I mean, that makes sense to me.
And Canberra dived in headfirst. The arts community in Canberra is blood and bone deep with each other.
And I've heard people say, "Oh, they don't have much going on there anyway. So that's why they were so keen to help."
Well. First of all fuck you. Arrogant dicks.
And second of all fuck you, there is HEAPS going on in Canberra.

So when we had a full house at Smiths Alternative Bookshop. When they gave every being of themselves in listening. When Aus Poetry Slam Champ CJ Bowerbird not only performed the most stunning set, collaborated with me AND got us on radio twice...
I realised something.
There are excuses offered up daily, weekly, monthly by people in art. From Brisbane to Sydney and back we played some glorious gigs. But there were always excuses. Excuses for why and how and who and what. Excuses for not getting numbers because of such n such. Excuses for not getting back to me and such n such.

In Canberra, there were no excuses. The people who supported us gave no excuses or reasons, they just supported us from a deep love of art and people and the world. They communicated. They let us know what was good and what wouldn't work and gave it all to us from the sincere position of people wanting other people to succeed because when YOU succeed WE succeed and that is a beautiful thing. I've never experienced anything like it.

I will go back to Canberra at the drop of a hat. Because their reasons for supporting art are just... because...
I've never seen an Aus Poetry Slam champ bend over backwards to help me out like that. Or a community of artists put us up in a house to jam and eat and laugh like that. Or a crowd so willing to listen and laugh and heckle and cry like that. Canberra couldn't and didn't put a foot wrong. I don't think that crew know how to. There was something so pure and loving about that gig and that week that will stay with me for the rest of my life. We gave our all into those performances because there was no other option. Canberra gave their all in loving and supporting us.

Canberra, the love of my life.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Roar Poets - Tour Diary 4 - Sydney

Coming in to Sydney was like a gift from the gods.
Candy Royalle met me at the train station fresh from the airport. I looked like a hobo, and she said as much as we hugged and I lumped all my stuff in her car.
She drove me to her place where I was going to stay until I took the bus to Canberra in a few days time.
Rounding the bend, I glimpsed the ocean, a deep emerald contrasting the vibrant blue of the sky.
What the...?
Oh I had missed her.
Sometimes you forget where your heart really lays until you see it.
The ocean...

It gets better.
Candy took me to her place, a little shack overlooking Tamarama (right next to Bondi) that I swear was built specifically for poets. She showed me my room - yep, I had a real room and a bed and everything! (I was crashing on Randall's couch for my two week stint in Melbourne, which was great, but damnnnnnn a REAL bed!!!)
Putting all my stuff away (poet talk for exploding my clothes in my room), I looked over the balcony at the view which was to greet me every morning and was soon to give me views of joggers, lovers walking, tourists scoping the sites, surfers waiting for the next break and whales migrating.
I was in heaven.

And Candy was the mentor I never knew I needed. She could relate to my journey and my frustrations and my excitement. She helped me put this tour in perspective - that, as a first time actual "tour, I had done marvellously and should be proud of myself. Once people catch on, she said, there'll be no turning back. You'll get your big crowds, people just don't know yet.
There was no need to justify WHY I wanted a great big audience, a loving vibe and to be able to show my art to the world. She knew that it didn't matter.
Candy Royalle gave me the permission to be an artist, struggling or successful, delighted or upset... just an artist trying to push through and make something of myself.
She got it.
And without her I think my Sydney experience wouldn't have taught me half as much.

I got to perform at the Outspoken finale on Wednesday night and when Ray asked me to finsih the night off, I was anxious, because these events tend to go for a long time and I was worried people might filter out after Luka and Omar had their stage time. Didn't happen. What DID happen is one of the coolest things I'll ever have in my experience bank.
I slayed em.
A packed house.
Most of them unaware of who I was and why I would be the final artist for the night.
You should have heard the roars, the laughter, and the pin-drop silence...
It was nice to be given that kind of status and to not only own it, but smash it right out of the park.
Luka asked me to peform with him the next night at his show on Broadway which I obliged. A great show, one which introduced me personally to The Tongue - an artist whose career I've followed for a while and have always admired. For him to tell me he was really impressed and hint at a future collaboration was awesome.
If the collaboration never happens I won't mind. It was cool to just connect.

The Roar Poets gig was great, if somewhat smaller than anticipated due to the heavy week of words it had been. Outspoken + Luka's surprise gig meant people were worded out and probably pretty broke. So we had an intimate night of words at 107 Projects - the BEST and most supportive crew of people I think I've ever met. They made the night so amazing with their professionalism and understanding of what the night could be. The sound, the lights, the seating... everything was perfect.
What was amazing was Candy Royalle proving that this was a night to be celebrated. Her introductory performance was inspired and incredible. She lifted us to the point where I knew that we were going to have a fantastic evening.
And the attendees agreed.
Every single one of the people who came were blown away by the craft they had witnessed.
Some even suggesting it was the best gig of the week.
Hey, I'll claim it!

That Monday we took the bus to Woollongong where some of Angela's relatives live and got spoilt with food and beer for a few days before our Canberra trip.

I could tell you about all the crazy gigs we went to in between Outspoken and our bus away.
But I feel like I've rambled long enough.
Let's just say that there was an art gallery opening with a packed crowd and we were the only slammers who entered.
Let's just say that jazz + poetry in a book shop isn't a new idea, but was a lot of awkward fun.
Let's just say that the Art Party crew, with their incessant hugging and weed and food have possibly restored my faith in what it means to be a beautiful person.
What a blast.

Canberra next...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Roar Poets - Tour Diary 3 - Melbourne

So we got to Melbourne with a blue sky waiting and bicycles dinging and the trams all a-bustle and I made my way to The Dan O'Connell for my first performance of the week.
It was great, fantastic, largely spectacular you know?
Well... It was The Dan, which means a casual open mic with a feature in a pub where the Guiness flows freely. Local poet John McKelvie shouted me a number of rounds so I had fun.
It was the first of a number of events I performed at in Melbourne where people were just... cool.
Those who know me know I was trepedatious about Melbourne.
I'd been burnt the year before by some toxic interactions and gig handling, only to be saved by the few people that attended my workshops.
So this year I was afraid to be honest.
See Melbourne is so big and so packed with events that there is no knowing what you should go to or not. It's too full. Too many chefs. Everyone screaming for attention.
And what is actually touted as a good event could just be people blowing their own horn.
And what is supposed to be just a chilled evening could be something amazing.
But that is true of art in general and not just limited to Melbourne of course. It's just very pronounced in Australia's art capital, especially when you're trying to organise and promote a gig yourself.

So I just tagged along to things that were happening and got invited to perform a lot and it was overall a great experience because the people were great. I met great people. I stayed with Randall Stephens and we talked geek, watched the new Superman (review below) and generally just hung out coz it was nice.
One night we went to an event called "The O.D.D.ie awards" - a celebration and gathering of those people and poets in the community who have "Oppositional Defiant Disorder".
I'd heard there would be poetry and wrestling.
I was even invited to read my piece "Bennalong's Ghost" and present an award.
What a trip.
Randall was painted green like the hulk.
Benjamin Solah was dressed in tight tight tight wreslemania tights and the rest of the poets and crowd were like extras from One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. It was a mad house.
And there was wrestling. After all the poetry, nearly three hours of it, they wrestled. Yep. Benjamin Solah and James Jackson got their WWE on in a club in Victoria.
It was fucking excellent.
It was something anyway.

Later that night we caught the train home and decided Randall should chase us on to the train and we would scream "AHHH HE'S COMING FOR US!!"

We thought it was funny anyway
The train passengers? Not so much...
The Roar Poets gig itself was great. We missed Angela's presence, but Jacky T more than made up for it with his beautiful words. And a kick ass zine that has since spread because I'm showing everyone how good it is... Bastard.
It was definitely the most confusing gig in organisational terms. The House Of Bricks crew were super supportive of The Roar Poets Tour, but it seemed a clash between whether it was a feature event or an open mic with guests. A natural hiccup on a first tour.
My favourite part of the night was Matt Hetherington, local poet and beautiful person grabbing me and giving me an inspirational speech courtesy of The Joker from Batman (the Jack Nicholson version)
(2:01 - And remember Bob, you... are my number one... guyyeeeee)

I'm really stoked that my Melbourne experience was a positive one.
People like Benjamin Solah from Melbourne Spoken Word, Matt Hetherington, John McKelvie, Steve Smart, Tim Train, Jacky T, Amy Bodossian, the HOB crew, Michael Reynolds and a great many more people showed me that the people you interact with effect your ideology around a space or place. By being involved with them and their adventures I was given a positive shot of beauty and art and love. So thanks.
But especially thanks to the man Randall Stephens. A great host and person I admire in poetry. He's a beast. He's a man who's always supported me and I cannot thank him enough for that. Every Melbourne experience has at least been blessed with his presence and DVD collection.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Superman - The BatMan of Steel

I saw Batm-I mean Superman yesterday.
Okay so, whatever, Christopher Nolan (of the new Batman movies) helped write it and stuff. It's NOT Batman. I'm just joking guys seriously.
It is very intense. And earnest though. Like a teenager wrote some fan fiction and sent it in and they were like "great! don't edit it!"
Obviously they're going for a darker, re-imagined Superman to keep up with these times of terrorism and excess and... bad writing.
The new Superman - Man Of Steel is not as awful as you imagine it though, it's fucking terrible, it's fucking awesome. Oh my god I'm so confused.
Because there are genuine bits of insight into Superman/Kal-el/Clark Kent that are pretty nice. From somewhere near the beginning of the film (about an hour in), you see young Clark struggling to NOT punch the bullies and having to deal with the oversensitivity of his errr... senses.
Superman is painted as a genuinely lost kid, a bit sad... :(
However the writing doesn't tell you that. It's all the acting of the new guy playing Superman, Henry Cavill. Who is fucking gorgeous. Jesus what a fucking specimen of a man. #peopleiwouldturngayfor.

And the movie is a loving mess of spectacular special effects and things falling and SO MANY PEOPLE DYING.
What happened to Superman saving shit?
It's 9/11 to the nth degree and nobody seems to give a fuck. Let alone the Man Of Steel, dealing with all his "issues", he's too busy to save anyone except maybe Lois Lane (and a couple of dudes on an oil rig at one point).
Yet it is so beautiful to watch. If this was a video game it would fucking amazing.
But it's not. It's a movie. And they explain and explain and explain all this stuff and I kind of just wanted them to stop explaining stuff.

What's troubling is that, I still kinda dug it. The new Lois Lane is really a nothing character, but to me easily the most stunning Lois Lane. So I guess for eye candy, this Superman is the equivalent of Friends With Benefits - there's nothing really there, just a chance to check out some really hot people. In Man Of Steel's case they're both secy and there's massive explosions.
At one point all of us in the cinema cracked up laughing because the characters punched each other into a satellite and then threw it at each other.
For real. Shit's crazy.

See Superman for the art design, the epic and ridiculous battles and the absolute excess. One review I watched last night said "Superman used to stand for the American dream, the American conscious".
I would argue that this movie, with it's violence, bad writing, underwhelming plot and Russel Crowe leaping on Avatar birds, might just be the American conscious, in this day and age, after all.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Self-Conscious Man

Oh no!

Gentle readers, Self-Conscious Man has hidden himself beneath The Bridge of Doubt!
His back and forth pacing is making the very ego shake!
What shall we do?

Ah ha!

Let us call upon Self-Deprecation Dude to save the day!

His ironic jokes and self-aware abilities will surely defeat Self-Conscious Man in his lair!

It is working!
Self-Conscious Man is laughing!
But is it enough?
Or is it too much!


He has laughed in on himself until he has disappeared up his own arse, creating a black-hole of self!
A black-hole of ego and neurosis!
This nexus of thought is working inside out to create a monster of terrible proportions!

Fruit cake! We must have fruit cake!

We must have sweets!

Temper the madman before he becomes a demonic offspring of depression and guilt!

Has it worked?
Did our cakes and chocolates, thrust with all our might into the black pool of woe... did they work?

Yes. Self-Conscious Man has emerged from beneath the bridge. With crumbs on his lap.

Quick. Give him some cookies.
And tell him he's doing just fine.

Gentle readers we have diverted disaster for another day.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Roar Poets - Tour Diary 2 - Nimbin

Depending on your experience with this small town in the hills of northern NSW, the very name has made your decision for you based on what I'm going to say next. You will either be disbeilieving and write it off entirely, or you will nod your head and go "yep". I doubt anyone will be somewhere in between.
Nimbin is the spiritual home of performance poets.
There I said it.
Now, like I said before, many of you will go "huh?" and shake your head, smiling at the thought of a bunch of stoners having a base of strong performance poetry.

This is the place that began the Nimbin Performance Poetry World Cup 11 years ago. Nimbin is the original stomping ground for David Hallet and Robin Archbold. 2 poets who still stand strong as premiere performers in Australian poetics. In fact, Archie founded the cup, David won it in its first year. So there ya go.
But you will still probably shake your head and go "no, bloody stoners trippin out to words I bet..."
And you're right. Kinda.
We arrived in Nimbin on a chilly Thursday's eve to find Gail M. Clarke, co-founder and current bad-arse boss lady of NPPWC scurrying about collecting raffle money, organising sound, and generally chatting to people lounging at The Oasis Cafe, Nimbin's home of poetry nights. What this lady does is phenomenal. And yes, the joints were rolling thick and fast and the murmuring locals and silent backpackers all drank their coffees and teas with red-eyed abundance.
But, unlike Armidale, which had no idea what it was in for, they were ALL there for poetry. It's what Nimbin loves. Cultivated over the past 11 or more years this small town thrives on words. Big, small, political, humorous, love, hate and everything in between and outside the box, Nimbin is an underrated poetry Mecca.
Martin, Angela and I knew that, respected it, and gave the best performances we've possibly ever done. It was hot, frothing, loving, aching, potent poetics.
And the crowd loved it.
If you wanna get into the stoner thing, fine. But you're ignoring what Nimbin Poetry's really all about. The superficiality of Nimbin is that it's a place to get high. But anyone who's been to the NPPWC knows that Nimbin is a place to perform to a beautiful crowd. Roaring, cheering, laughing, crying. We took them there on Thursday night. But only because they were so willing to go with us.