Tuesday, June 29, 2010


I'm such a snob. Given a choice of the two major newspapers available in my city I always choose the more upper to middle class vehicle. However, the little cafe where I often lunch tends to cater to the workmen coming in for their midday meal and the lower class organ is in plentiful supply.

Today their front page was dominated by the anguished cries of a footballers father. The footballer had been punished by a suspension from play of ten weeks for relentlessly bullying and torturing an opposition player with an injured hand. The father was outraged. Not filled with shame for the cowardly and constant attacks by his son but aggrieved that he had been punished. It was the father's cries and calls that the paper had made its headline.

The most disgusting short video snatch that I hope no-one outside my country ever sees is the footballer Barry Hall violently smashing an opponent in the face and then stepping back as if claiming an infant like innocence. Yours is not an infant like innocence Barry, yours is a nasty, animalistic and crude violence.

How much longer will the media, Television and Newspapers in this country go on giving credence to the outcries of these thugs when they are rightfully punished for their ongoing violence instead of rejecting the violent behaviour as unacceptable and disgusting in our society and century?


Friday, June 25, 2010

My limited understanding of the vision of Australian politics of the moment...

Extraordinary events. Sure Kevin Rudd had gone a touch rogue and far too self referential – he was essentially an egotist pushing socialist ideals but the whole community had not quite bought the package and when it came time to siphon off huge portions of cash from elements which are corpratised and dedicated to making and keeping huge portions of cash or shipping it off to overseas interests then these elements collided enormously in a war like way. Combine this with union interests who saw their high cash return jobs in the mining industry threatened by such legislation and you have an unholy alliance formed in hell. Exit Kevin. Used and naive to the end and perhaps uninsightful as to the ends for which he had been used.

Anyway, I don't envy Julia being handed this basket of poison apples and being told Kevin was already dead, the decision had been made, does she want the prize. Even if the greens were a bunch of crooks they would look cleaner to me than both the major sides of politics at the moment.

I think it is sad that this is how we have come by our first female Prime Minister.

I do think her negotiating and mediation skills are exemplary. My understanding of life is that we are always marked in our arrival at a final destination by the path we have followed to get there.

Just in case my reasoning was too complex and my politics unclear I do want to venture my vision of Tony Abbot and crew as little better than aggressive, regressive sexist apes with machetes. These guys couldn't come up with a positive or constructive idea to save themselves (or us). They know only how to slash burn, vilify and destroy. My state of Victoria is still suffering from the amount of public programs decimated when Jeff Kennett and the Liberals held power here decades ago.

No wonder my heart goes with singing these days. Let's go choir angels. Let us make more beautiful music.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Yusef / Cat, Shakespeare, Pneumonia, Soulsinging and bookshops in Greece and Paris....

Well, what a strange week! Wednesday night I went to see Yusef Islam / Cat Stevens, which was rather strange and contradictory – like the real world. Clearly a lovely, peaceful man now caught in the rhetoric of his conversion to Islam. In truth it would seem he would never agree to something as violent and stupid as a Fatwa (Death Threat) to Salman Rushdie ; in reality it must have seemed to him that he was a high profile Islamic convert who would look like he was betraying his new faith if he didn't go along with it (???). His songs remain beautiful roadmaps to the path through life and it seems sad for him to have been associated with the nuttier and most radical and murderous side of his religion.

The Shakespearian setting for this: warm car to cold windy night to warm restaurant to colder, rainy night walk to the concert, hot in the concert, freezing cold and wet outside after the concert. All this ignited a throat infection that had lain dormant with me for weeks. By three a.m. I was coughing my little heart out. By ten a.m. I was in hospital, prodded and poked and x-rayed and diagnosed with pneumonia. Why the x-ray I asked. "Oh, we couldn't hear your right lung they cheerfully replied". Damn I thought. By the afternoon, armed with strong and very suss antibiotics I was home in bed and suffering.

Saturday went to the choir angel combined Soulsong Concert. They did themselves proud. Very Beautiful. Drops from Sally, Scarf from Stella, comfort from all. Many thanks. Hope to be climbing out of bed by Tuesday.

Meanwhile my friend N sends me postcards from bookshops all around the world. !. The Atlantis on a little Greek Island. 2. The Shakespeare & Co. Bookshop in Paris (my favourite) where you can rest your elbow in the spot worn smooth by Hemingway as he stood in there reading the books without buying them (along with James Joyce and some other locals) it really is a wonderful and magic atmosphere. I am very jealous of my friend N.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Forgot to mention that I had entered the Bridport Prize for Writing in England : 1 Poem and 1 Short Story.

Forgot to mention that I have been reading Twenty Thousand Roads : The Ballad of Gram Parsons and His Cosmic American Music : Bloomsbury, 2009, by David N. Meyer and I had given my friend the choir angel S a kind of brief summary when she asked me about it that went something like this:

"I'm going to take five minutes to speak a little about this monster of a book I am devouring at the moment (as it is devouring me and my time – time I should be devoting to my novel).
First of all : this book is not of your world S – stay away from this book. It is very depressing – as I have said in my headline it is a 500 page drug infused doomed roller coaster ride of 8 years in the life of a young American man, (Gram Parsons) from the age of 18 to 26 (when he died – sadly and very predictably) who essentially incorporated folk music, country and western music and R&B (Rhythm and Blues) into contemporary rock and roll in the 60's. He had an enormously influential role on the later work of people I like very much : Emmy-Lou Harris ( Wrecking Ball) Linda Ronstadt, Daniel Lanois etc and then of course major influences on huge groups –the remnants of his group The Flying Burrito Brothers went on to form The Eagles, he was best friends with Keith Richards (not a good influence) of The Rolling Stones who immediately changed the direction of their music with the song Wild Horses on Sticky Fingers and went on to record their superb country rock album Exile On Main Street (just re-released) etc, etc etc. So, essentially that is what I am doing with this book at the moment. Do stay away from it S – it is not of your world."

Now, I think I should be saying more to be fair, how can you condense these five hundred pages of exhaustive, encyclopaedic musical history and do it anything like justice. I was going to publish an excerpt from the period when the band Fallen Angels was being essentially fronted by Gram Parsons and Emmy Lou Harris singing together: However, I have lost track of the specific succinct paragraph (have briefly abandoned the habits of formal study) so will include some excerpts that offer a more positive flavour of this music:

"Gram showed me that you can bring all these influences together if you have a focal point....What he gave me was learning how to sing and how to phrase." (Emmylou Harris cited in Meyer, 2009, p. 373).
"Gram sings the opening lines over a picking guitar and a celestial pedal steel atmosphere. Emmylou joins on the aching choruses over Berline's fiddle. Gram's voice is weak, quavering, filled with sadness. He sounds determined to reach the end of each line before his strength fails him. Gram's gift for conversational phrasing never deserts him, even as his voice breaks in the middle of a held note. He sings the last hopeful line of each chorus alone. For the final rendition Emmylou joins him. Their harmony emerges as a prayer, a plea for something to believe in." (Meyer, 2009, p.374).

"Emmy has got to be one of the greatest singers I ever heard. Her and Gram together had a harmony that was absolutely incredible. It was quite an experience." (Neil Flanz –Fallen Angel – cited in Meyer, 2009, p. 387).

"Gram was taking a specific country storytelling tradition to the next level, a level of linguistic and narrative sophistication that no-one has matched since. As with Return of the Grievous Angel the most moving lyrics do not contain any overtly tragic lines. The emotion derives from Gram's vocal intensity, the building arrangement, and what each line means to those that come before and after. No single couplet or verse strikes harder than another. The power of the songwriting resides in the whole." (Meyer, 2009, p. 443).

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Singing, Directing, Paris, Contemporary Art Island

Well, an interesting week. Thursday night I had dinner with two choir angels and listened to them rehearse for an upcoming concert offering feedback and some direction. The next afternoon one of them did the same for me and my duet partner for the concert. It worked well and the direction given was excellent and made our duet work well and truly begin to come together.

My friend N is in Paris and I am nostalgic and wishful and wish that I was there too.

My daughter Jo is in Japan and sending me beautiful postcards of shrines and contemporary art islands.

Monday, June 07, 2010

We apologise for this break in transmission...

My apologies for this minor break in transmission. A minor low has swept in across the coast and caused a area of depression to settle on the author. It has also rained quite a lot. These factors appear to have been aggravated by a loss of faith in some of my species.

However I did go to a poetry reading in the mountains (near Melbourne) on Saturday afternoon, at the Word Tree - Burrinja Gallery & Cafe, Cnr Matson Drive & Glenfern Road Upwey, 3pm to 5pm,(Usually the first Saturday of every month I think). This week the readers were Andy Jackson from Melbourne and Aidan Coleman from South Australia. I was again surprised by the quality of this reading. I continue to be surprised by the quality of readings at The Word Tree. Andy was actually previewing a new small book to be launched very soon and it stands already now as a testament to hard work and dedication to craft as a writer. The images were sharp and striking and nothing but the cleanest lines remained. The knife of these images cut sharply and deeply. Congratulations Andy and may the little boat of your new book sail well for you into the world. There was an open section of a dozen readers either side of the featured poets – the open readers courteous to their audience, sparing of ego and large on quality of work and delivery. It meant that the organisers, MC's, Catherine Bateson and Lia Hills did not have to work hard to discipline this small mob of writers. This reading was soft and strong. Many thanks.


You must excuse me now while I retreat into my cave for another few years. My heart is sore and I need to rest. Hope the sun is out when I come out. I might even manage to get some writing done.