Monday, January 31, 2011
It generally happens like this. I’m innocently faffing about doing whatever when I look down and notice that a hole has opened up somewhere almost exactly over my crotch. I must stress that this is not a story designed to tell you that my crotch is impressively large. Even though it is. Just that pants and I do not get along.
The most famous of these incidents (it has happened at least 9 times that I can count) was when I was working as a journalist on a late shift in a very busy newsroom. A small hole had opened up and I innocently tried to pull the loose thread to get rid of it and tore a gaping, yawning chasm in my pant leg that spanned the length of my inner thigh from my boxer line right to my knee. People have been called strumpets for less and it looked for all the world like I was inviting people into my pants through the creative use of decaying fabric.
It was approaching the end of my shift and I would have to walk past loads of late night sub-editors on the way to the door and I just couldn’t do it with most of my thigh screaming ‘helloooooo boys’ through the pants. So I grabbed a stapler and set about stapling a row of them in the fabric to keep it together. It was a temporary fix and I knew it, but it was enough to get me through the frenzied dash past the nigh editors who wouldn’t take kindly at all to the implicit invitation of my rudey area.
On another occasion my best friend stood on a fine thread at the base of my pants just as I was entering a club. I walked forward a few paces before I realised the entire pant leg had split open, from my waist to my ankle and I was but the seat of my pants away from wearing what looked like arseless chaps. It wasn’t a gay club either, although people might have been forgiven for thinking it was after my entrance. What is particularly embarrassing about this occasion is that I was drunk enough not to care and stayed for several hours, sashaying about like the stripper who had given up on getting dressed properly.
On another occasion I was attempting a particularly complex dance move which involved a cross between a limbo and shimmy. The sheer outlandishness of the dance move was a real test for the tensile strength of my pants and they exploded in an array of torn material in a manner that literally ate the arse out of them. I was in a gay club this time, which made it OK I suppose, but had to run across Brisbane’s busiest nightclub precinct with my boxers hanging out so I could catch the bus home and get changed. No amount of liquor can dull the dignity-smashing trauma of this experience. It still hasn’t.
Sure, there are other occasions, but I think the point has been made.
I hate pants.
Friday, January 28, 2011
"Oscar Berger wasn’t entirely sure whether it was the unfortunate accident involving the tram and icing sugar or whether it was the chimney that broke from his house and injured a neighbourhood cat that had finally steeled his resolve. Or maybe it was being retrenched from the newspaper during a period when there was more news about than ever before. They told him it was to consolidate their reporting interests but, to be honest, Oscar felt very much like he had been cast aside. This was, in fact, the exact opposite of consolidation and he knew as such because he had pilfered a tattered copy of his style guide which would be of approximately zero further use to him.
Everything had been ruined. Certainly the cat would never look at a chimney the same way. And so it was there, beneath the imperfections of a jacaranda tree that had mistakenly grown sideways, that Oscar decided to put all of his concerns into one stern letter, seal it and then hand deliver it to God himself. He would sit him down for a long, severe chat and respectfully inform him that there had been some mistakes.
Some oversights. Of course, they could all be redressed with some proactive mediation and possibly a new chimney. Writing the letter was the easy part (and very satisfying being able to vent about the state of roads even though it was a request more appropriately directed to his local government authority and not God) but finding the apparently Almighty was a whole other battle of wits and he hadn’t the faintest idea where to begin.
So he began on Albert Street, where shop owners once reported seeing the face of God (or a very convincing stunt double) in a particularly delicious pudding."
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Sometimes for up to hours at a time.
Every Christmas time my brother would receive some new type of sporting equipment which would inevitably lead to the point three minutes later where I would be required, out of the blackness of his own heart, to help him road test it.
One year it was a snorkel and flippers which were all well and good in my cousin’s pool but led to an incident of terrifying proportions when I went swimming in a dam on our property and accidentally wedged my flipper firmly into some thick mud, with my head under water and my foot trapped inside.
Consequently I could never bring myself to watch the Paul Hogan movie about a genial dolphin and blame sporting goods for my current ambivalence toward dolphins.*
Another year it was cricket stumps, hard red ball and cricket bats. I was pursued around the house for about an hour as my brother hounded me for a game. Having inadvertently taken part in my marathon of liberation, I gave up hope of escape and settled in for a spell of bowling underarm to my brother who proceeded to plonk the balls into lower orbit.
It was, of course, my job as the sole fielder to collect the balls which often required a motorbike ride across a gully and several paddocks at which point I would collect the ball and keep riding melodramatically into the setting sun, reasoning that whatever belting my brother would issue upon my evening return would be worth the several hours of saved cricket torture I would otherwise have endured.
I finally moved to town and was no longer involved in School of the Air which involved going to real school and managed to combine two of my then very real fears. Being around actual people and being in a classroom with enough kids to make up a sporting team.
The sport of choice in hometown was soccer. We called it soccer because we didn’t know any Europeans. I happened to be on the best team in the district which made my pick of fullback position exceedingly prescient and beneficial.
While the star players were up the other end belting the opposition school 17-0 I would be studiously scanning the dirt at the back of the field for any sign of a tiny race of ant people willing to whisk me away to another world where sport was watched on television but never forced on anybody.
I should make the important distinction that I was not that kid. That kid was another classmate upon whom we were able to impose goalie duties despite his predilection for falling asleep on the field. Thus a very real life lesson: the better your society is, the more flexibility you have in giving important jobs to people who won’t be awake very much. Like the stoners who used to have trouble processing my video rentals.
My mum tried very much to grow the love of soccer for me, which included buying me a pair of tags and some very cool shin guards. This was all well and good but the footy tags hurt when I kept stepping on my own toes and the shin guards, after a couple of wears, began to smell like the inside of the dingo corpse my brother and I had tried to self-taxidermy once.
Still, I was better off than my good friend whose parents, in a fit of frugality, issued him with shin guards which they had made themselves by cutting out two squares of carpet. Carpet. It wasn’t even shagpile.
This was only school level ‘just for fun’ soccer. The very term ‘just for fun soccer’ is an exercise in utter oxymoronism that I should not repeat. A good friend convinced me to go with him to the district trials on the proviso that I was indeed very shit at it and would never make the team, so it would be a bit of fun that would end in a very definite two hours time.
I have been wrong before. But never quite so spectacularly. It turns out enough people showed up to make the district team plus one extra. By some stroke of utter misfortune, I was not the plus one to miss out as apparently another kid turned up who wasn’t even sure which way to run during laps of the oval. So I made the team.
Read that again. I made the fucking team.
This led to one of the greatest failures of my entirely brief sporting career where I, a humble fullback forced into activity thanks to a sharpened opposition, was running the ball down the field to the halfway line. I would have gone beyond the line except somebody had told me fullbacks are to stay in their half and I wasn’t to know the rules of soccer anymore than I knew why time was apparently linear. So I stopped dead at the halfway line, teetered on it like it was a precipice, and let the ball trail off into enemy hands.
And let that be a lesson to anybody who tries to force a square peg into a round hole. Or a square on to the sporting field. Or whatever useful metaphor you may choose to use.
Like a bear forced into doing circus tricks for hollow applause, I have a long memory. A very long memory indeed.
* I don't dislike dolphins. In fact I think dolphins can be wonderful, contributing members of society.
Monday, January 24, 2011
Well I’m sorry, I can be proud of my country without being an unmitigated bint about it too.
Nor is this a critique of legitimate concerns by Aboriginals of celebrating the day we shipped in kind of took it from them. That’s for another day.
I just really like my country. And God damn it, I am going to have a burger and a few snags to celebrate it on Australia Day in my usual peace-loving, latte-sipping, pacifist, non-hating kind of way because I reckon that’s what made this country so bloody awesome in the first place.
And I sure as hell am not going to let some narrow-minded bigot with a vowel abuse problem tar the rest of us ordinary and good folk with that reputation. There seems to be some kind of artificial line being drawn in the sand of our beaches where you either celebrate Australia Day and are a branded a racist pig or you withdraw support because it is being taken over by the tomfoolery of the uninformed.
I don’t want to suddenly arrive at a day where looking at the Australian flag reminds me only of the eggheads who parade it like a symbol of their white ‘Utopia’. I would prefer to see it, and love it, as a symbol of a country that I do love, that is great today because of the diversity it has nourished over such a long period of time.
No country is perfect. No country is Marsha Brady. We are all doomed to be national Jans with big noses and blemishes we are not proud of. But occasionally I do like to talk about the things in my country that I like. Those things are numerous.
I like Australia because it is beautiful. I like the unrelenting blue of the oceans that surround us and the constant red of the deserts in the middle. I like our sunsets and sunrises. I like eating out at restaurants of a hundred cultures, all of them amazing. I like that an entire city pulled itself up by its bootstraps and helped the flood survivors to clean up. I like that every other state gave what they could to help the recovery. I like that we did the same thing for Black Saturday. And the disasters before it.
I like Tasmania which is quaint and Sydney which is busy. I like the Outback where all the thoughts and troubles tumble out of your head and you feel like you can breathe easier because there is so much space. I like that we can tell a joke even when we feel like shit. I like that we can laugh at ourselves. I like that my neighbours have come from other countries and have stories to tell. I like that we can listen to those stories.
I like the idea of walking to a park with beer, wine and a picnic and meeting a thousand other people who had exactly the same idea. I like the lack of territorialism as we all set up our picnic spaces even though there is bugger all room. I like that in a country as God damned big as ours that we all end up rubbing shoulders when the sun is out and the weather perfect.
I like how we all love to tell stories about our deadliest creatures and require at least one friend to have been bitten/stung/punched by one of them as a form of national currency on which we can trade when travelling overseas. I like how, when we have no such friend, we tell the story anyway as if we knew them because hey, it’s Australia, we probably did.
I like that most of us eat Vegemite even though it looks like the abhorrent tar pits of hell itself. I like that those of us who don’t eat it can still sing the Vegemite song.
I like our terrible accent when you hear it overseas and how much it stands out. I like that we’re not as refined as we like to think we are and that we really don’t care anyway. I like barbecues. I like the mild contest that emerges to be master of the tongs.
I like these things and I do not believe they are things of which to be ashamed.
Be ashamed as much as you want of the boofhead mouth-breathers who think being patriotic means being a hateful minger, I know I will be, but now is not the time to stand-back and let them represent us as the only people who love Australia because they’re not.
There are things not to love about this country just as there are things not to love about any individual country. For example, I hope one day to be able to turn to all of the racists and tell them: ‘fuck off, we’re full of your shit’. But I bang on about those things on other days.
For the record, I’m not a huge fan of the term bogan as a catch-all for racists. I have a few bogan sensibilities myself having been raised in the country and it is possible to be a bogan without being an uncompromising white supremacist.
I just wanted to say, on the balance of it all, that I like Australia for her faults as much as for her successes. She is my home and I hope to make her a better place for everyone.
Now, let’s go have a sausage.
*Of course it would be highly convenient if I knew any endangered species that ate lichen but I don’t. It just sounded like a particularly environmental type of thing to do and maybe one day I will and give myself a warm pat on the back for my endeavours.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
There is a fine line between dancing appropriately and looking like you’ve wandered haphazardly into a swarm of bees.
Indeed, it’s a never-ending pursuit for some to discover and perfect dance moves that won’t have them laughed off the dance floor, but one at which many people fail.
Which is why I have laughed in the face of convention and developed my own style of severely ironic dancing, one that is so bad it cannot possibly be mistaken for a well-intentioned effort.
Mine is more of a hectic flailing than it is an actual dance style but it beats the pants off those proponents of the lacklustre ‘bob’ style, which is as the name suggests.
Those who do the bob in a club or dance floor, a gentle dip here and there, are normally quite boring people and probably grow horse radishes as an amiable pastime.
Then there are the bumpers and the grinders, people who believe resolutely in the power of their bootie to affect the course of current world events, self-determination in non-sovereign states and the general mood of any evening out.
Bumpers and grinders thrust their hips with reckless abandon and will one day suffer terrible osteoporosis for their sins.
Groovers are a whole new breed and seem apparently blissfully unaware of the music around them, moving independently to their own horrific beat.
Groovers use their arms a lot and like clicking intermittently, because this is somehow still acceptable 30 years after finger snaps hit their peak during a fit of absentmindedness across a whole decade.
Let it also be said, while we’re on the subject, that the ‘shimmy’ is never, ever appropriate and might have gone the way of the Dodo if it weren’t for a dedicated band of gobshites.
Look, no one is saying this is easy to get right, but there are a few tell-tale signs that let you know if your dancing hits the mark.
For example, take cues from those around you. If they are clutching their stomachs and howling in pain crying out ‘make it stop’ then try tweaking your style. Better still, try doing it in a dark room where no one will ever see you.
Or do what I do and satirise all of the ‘no-no’s I have just outlined here with your own caricature of unending horror.
Trust me, people will absolutely understand that what you are doing is actually a supremely clever, self-referencing critique of the dance culture of a generation.
They will certainly not mistake you for one of the atrocious rhythm abusers who normally populate the dance floor.
What we’re aiming for in our dance satire is unmitigated trash.
It needs to look like the dance equivalent of a thousand, colourful, throw cushions tossed into the air.
Friday, January 21, 2011
Just ask Twitter, a micro-blogging service on the Internet where mostly strangers interact and make lots of puns about movies on a day-to-day basis.
It’s one big, all-in conversation that came into its own during the Queensland floods when thousands of users who didn’t know each other from a bar of soap (and some who were trying to sell you bars of soap) banded together to provide information, advice and help to those who needed it most.
It was a thriving, writhing organism that organised itself to provide updates on who needed the help and match those to people who were offering help. It spawned, and nourished, services like ‘baked relief’ where ordinary folk baked tirelessly to feed volunteers.
And then Twitter told them where to go with all of those muffins. Not one person, though the thought did cross my mind, pretended they needed muffins just because they were hungry and didn’t want to make their own. The muffins went where they were needed. They were purposeful muffins and they were, by all accounts, incredibly delicious.
For those who have spent any time on the Internet, this is miraculous, because normally people are too busy making Nazi analogies while viewing adorable videos of kittens playing with string. If you don’t believe me, visit any YouTube video at all and watch for the conversation to descend into the pits of utter insanity.
But Twitter is different. Well, mostly.
I figured I could harness the power of this evolving medium when I became rather stuck for column ideas this week. I figured the collective wisdom of hundreds of my followers might point me, oracles as they all are, to that one column idea that would knock your socks off.
And if you believe all of that collective wisdom, you apparently want to hear about turnips. Or rabbits. Or ferrets. Or, according to one user, mastitis in cows.
Maybe you do want to hear about mastitis in cows but I can assure you I am not willing to write about it. I haven’t even bothered to Google it because I don’t want that showing up on my search history. ‘It was for research, I swear’ is the one excuse I have never been inclined to believe from those who have let their keyboards wander.
In fact, if I had to pick from a very long list of things I would never want to write about it, mastitis in cows would feature somewhere between ‘the mechanics of the two-stroke lawnmower’ and ‘groin surgery’.
But there you go, I’ve just written three paragraphs on it.
Twitter is a medium that, when the time was right, acted responsibly with the great power it holds. It rose to the challenge.
And when the immediate need for its perspicacity abates, it very easily shifts back into party mode where everybody’s chatting around the punchbowl.
And yes, that chatter may indeed involve references to the fact cows can, apparently, get mastitis.
What a wonderful world.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
One thing in life that never ceases to amaze me is the ability of pubes to travel against the will of gravity, the laws of physics or the eight common sense rules of fucking reason.
I stress that I am not talking about any of my pubes in this story, for mine are meek of character, exceedinly well behaved and share a genial (not genital) disposition with the likes of your common house parrot.
I make the point that the only time a pube should be at eye level is if you, for instance, are on your knees. All other occasions, such as when you see one clutching dramatically and so resolutely to a picture rail in the living room, are abominations. This was actually the 11th commandment, but all the Disciples giggled too much when they had to write 'pube' so many times and then everybody gave up hope.
I'm not willing to speculate too openly on how this particular, singular, very individual pube came to hang from the picture rail. I don't like to personify pubes to the point that I describe their travels as 'a journey' but I cannot imagine anything less befell this adventurous pube as it climbed aloft in a manner analoguous to a Disney story about triumph against adversity and some such. The major points of difference here are, of course, that the pube is still a pube and it's mother was not shot by a middling white man with a gun. The fuckers.
Perhaps it ended there after miscommunication and a slapdash approach to the central tenets of magic led a magician to pull a hare from a hat, ended up with a pube and stashed it in plain sight on my wall in an act of theatrical lethargy. Perhaps.
It's possible, even, that the pube was flown in on a summer pre-storm, post pubescent, effervescent breeze where it latched immediately on to the wall in a display of audacious tenancy.
I don't want to posit that my flatmate, a heterosexual specimen of such force that you can catch his testosterone through osmosis, actually had any kind of sex up against the wall because, frankly, it's disgusting and inherently impossible as it would require a complicated system of ropes and pulleys.It seems, at least to the naked eye, that the pube just is.
A sexualised anomaly, a potent metaphor of the loneliness of rampant sexual activity without emotional connection. A beacon of our sexual awakening.
Either that, or it's just a fucking pube on a wall.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Each veiled question, aimed at securing a little more whether I ‘was or wasn’t’ was rather like an eye peeping through the cracks of my humble little closet, swivelling and squinting for a look at what, I had thought, had been my best kept secret.
Of course my charade was the homosexual equivalent of a prison break in broad daylight where the thief in black and white clothing attempts a Looney Tunes-esque run for freedom behind a fake bush. Not fooling anybody.
At this point I should like to point out that there has never been a requirement for my older brother, who is straight, to sit my mother down and have ‘the talk’ with her explaining in no uncertain terms that he likes women and that, yes, boobs kind of do it for him. Had he, or anyone for that matter, done this society might have thought them weird.
Indeed, there is a new breed of gay who has dispensed entirely with the construct of the closet (they are so avant garde) and decided there really is no need for this whole coming out hullabaloo in the first place. And while this is an admirable march forward, I scarcely think most of society is ready for it, for better or for worse.
This lot just take their first boyfriends or girlfriends home as some kind of homo surprise.
Taking that path would be less a military-precision escape from the closet and more akin to bursting from it at high speed atop a gilded and bedazzled lion. I envy those who can take this road as my removal from the closet was traumatic and prolonged, on account of the fact I used a broom handle to try and brace myself against the door while people pulled at my ankle.
You see, for the longest while I thought it entirely possible that I could fake it until I make it. I’d never fallen in love with a boy, of any persuasion, so I thought the innate sense of my being gay might forever remain a dull realisation somewhere at the back of my mind where I stored useless information about dinosaurs and the rise and fall of Pop Tarts.
As I’ve previously written, I certainly found myself two unwitting girlfriends in high school who aided and abetted my stated goal of remaining straight forever. Growing up in the country was useful because nobody really knew any gay kids and therefore their gaydars were about as well tuned as a parsnip. And so my charade survived beyond high school.
When I was nearly 21, around the time of the November 2007 Federal Election (because even my sexuality issues must somehow invoke the political) I met and stupidly fell in love with a boy I could never have. This shattered my finely cultivated illusion that I would one day have a wife and three kids and that all would be well in the world. I was gay. This was Year 0 and I would have to bloody well admit to it.
And so began what might possibly be the longest path to coming out of the closet in the history of mankind, beaten only by Harry Potter whom I somewhat resemble.
It’s no coincidence that literally every friend and relative I told I did so while under the influence of significant amounts of alcohol. Perhaps it was my penchant for the melodramatic, but I was supremely terrified of their reaction. I felt like Quasihomo and wanted to yell from every rooftop ‘don’t look at meeee’ seemingly in accordance with the views of some in society who thought homosexuals had come to destroy their crops and terrify their women.
But I didn’t get that reaction at all. I wanted that reaction because I wanted justification for the anger I felt at my own situation. For having to do this whole stage-managed prance to existential freedom in the first place. I hated it. And, at the time, I hated myself for being something I could not control. Gay Hulk. I was Gay Hulk.
Perhaps it was my mother’s reaction that was the funniest. Some of my high school cohort had found out and I wanted to beat them to the punch so, liquored up on half a cask of wine on a hotel balcony, I phoned her and blurted out what secretly we had both known. She paused. “Oh darling, I don’t care. But I do have one question. Was it the Ken doll I gave you when you were six?”
My answer was that yes, of course, Ken and his man-lump had turned me gay just like all the Barbies in all the land had turned all the little girls into raging lesbians. But she tried to understand. I think mum’s sum knowledge of The Gay came from two gentlemen she worked with after she finished high school at David Jones which I suppose is a fairly good starting point. I, however, do not like teapots.
My other friends were distinctly unimpressed either way by the horrendous build-up to the spilling of the beans. A unified chorus for each one: ‘is that it, that’s your secret’? If I was gunning for impact it might have been more effective to tell them I was packing 1200 kg of plutonium in my pants.
I had another inform me that I would be going to hell if I didn’t repent because homosexuality is a sin. He was rather nice about it however because of the whole ‘hate the sin and not the sinner’ mentality, which I find bewildering given that mine is not a ‘sin’ of choice but nonetheless I will be a groomsman at his wedding next year because we’re cool like that even though I stopped talking to him for months. Now we just get drunk together and argue things that neither of us will change our minds about.
Another tried to give me a book that would help me be straight again. I assured her I would read it just as soon as I was done adjusting the length of my red leather pants. She’s also one of my best friends to this day because at some point you have to realise that people can disagree violently and still be friends. And let me tell you, we disagree violently.
I laugh about this because I have to. Let me not understate how traumatic a period this was for me. There are some things it led to which I cannot write about here. Still, it isn’t the fact that I went through it that makes me sad. It’s the fact that thousands of young gays still do. Society demands of them a special circumstance when all they want is to be the same. And whether the reactions to a coming out story are good or bad, the torment that precedes the admission I can attest to being overwhelming and all-consuming. Some don’t make it out alive because they would rather a noose around their neck than to confront the gaze of society when they finally step, timid, from that closet.
I now view my own life as being pre-closet and post-closet, the latter being filled with more flicked wrists than I care to mention or count. There are those who scarcely believe, having met me, that anybody could ever have thought me straight.
But that is more a symptom of how delightfully comfortable in myself I am today, rather than how daft anybody was not to notice it yesterday. I’m out. I’m proud and the closet sits on the scrapheap of my frailer moments.
I’m not going back in there, not even if you bait it with shiny things.
And there it rests.
Monday, January 17, 2011
Thursday, January 13, 2011
I wrote my first update before the major peak which was published at Mamamia, you can read it here. This is the follow up.
Size, as it turns out, does matter. Of your flood peak, I mean.
I’m choosing to laugh about all of this because if I don’t I might just cry into my pillow for several days, pausing only for sustenance and the occasional soothing wine.
Here are the things I know: Brisbane is devastated, my little patch of the river is not. We were spared, perhaps by sometimes-weather-system and full-time trollop La Nina, perhaps by the Wivenhoe Dam holding on for just that little bit extra or perhaps by the tendencies of locals in my suburb to be so high on their own achievements and self successes that this proved to be a natural flood barrier, I am not entirely sure.
I should clarify. Spared from inundation to the building, yes – although water came within inches of bubbling up through the drains – but not spared from the associated trauma, sleepless nights, mental and physical exhaustion or, indeed, from having the power go out.
Our building manager was exhausted, you could hear it in his voice, when he popped on to the internal address system to let us all know that the power to Teneriffe had been cut and that we should all go, now. You know the tone of voice. So tired, so sombre. Shocked almost.
It sounded almost like we were the last remaining Capricans in Battlestar Gallactica and that the voice on the loudspeaker was informing us that our home planet had been over-run by Cylons. Well, it was a bit static-filled so it was an easy mistake to make.
The morning started with angst and strained shoulders as we relocated my friend’s entire apartment to mine, which made my apartment look rather like it had crashed at high speed into a house. All the while the river began to rise.
There is a highly enterprising businessman who runs a restaurant on the corner of my building, right on the river, who decided to remain open until the very last minute. And this, folks, afforded me one of the most surreal and batshit insane moments of my life.
It was mid-morning and we popped in for bacon and eggs and sat watching the puffy and swollen Brisbane River surge toward the bay, taking everything with it in its path. So there I was in one restaurant when I spotted another one splashing and twisting down the river. It was, ironically, called Drift restaurant and it had been sunk the previous day quite a few suburbs along.
There were boats, more boats, pontoons, trees, eskies, a fridge at one point and countless Styrofoam boxes (from where?) just swept along at a rate of 10 knots...the river normally flows at two.
Around mid-afternoon the river finally broke its banks for its first large peaks, spilling water over the footpaths and into the bus depot down the road. Minutes later they would cut the power to Teneriffe to stop us getting electrocuted in the event of a flood.
I could hear a car alarm that seemed to be 20 kilometres away pierce the air but otherwise a cold, eerie silence that suffocated. I have never felt so uneased in my life. Lies. I felt more uneased moments later when the deafening roar of two Blackhawk airforce helicopters flew low and loud overhead. I ducked to the window. My city was in crisis, here were the army to prove it, now it feels real. In that single moment the enormity of what is unfolding is made abundantly clear.
There is not much to do in a power-less building that may be enveloped by floodwater in the night so we took some uncooked sausages to a friend’s place, charged our phones, cooked the food and then returned. Because somehow this felt like an adventure we had to stick out.
The Blackhawks flew over again in the darkness of the night, a soundtrack to the misery of a city.
But here is the thing. Teneriffe didn’t flood. Well, the water came up the road in one spot and certainly over the banks but it didn’t flood our building or any others I could note. The river peaked at a metre less than forecast and it is very easy for me to sit here as I type this without any power or news to believe that Brisbane is all ok.
I know this is not the case. Already, the day before the peak, this was a city in chaos and underwater and the clean-up will be astronomical, judging only by the expense of things I have seen float down the river and out to the bay. This morning we saw 150m of riverside boardwalk bob down in a twisted mess. The CityCat ferry services have been substantially destroyed, business are underwater, homes, roads, bridges.
Our Premier was not beating about the bush when she said this, for all of Queensland, would be a reconstruction effort similar to the one we had post-war.
As for me, well, we have to relocate my friend back into his apartment at some point. I think I just stubbed my toe on his wardrobe. That’ll have to be done. But not now. Right now all I want is a nice meal (I had one miniature, cold sausage and a slice of bread for breakfast), a sleep and a written guarantee from Mother Nature herself that she is through fucking with Queensland.
People died. People have been broken.
We’ve seen enough.
Update: I’ve walked just minutes up the road to New Farm and the damage is obscene. Water has come up through the main shopping district and the water has torn a 150m slice of the Riverwalk, weighing 300tonnes, and sent it rocketing down the river like a missile. How selective our river is indeed.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
1974, for those playing along at home, was the big one. There was no Wivenhoe Dam then, a cyclone and king tides. Well, this time around we've had the whorish La Nina from hell, the wettest on record, king tides approaching and the Wivenhoe Dam which was built to stop a 1974 flood groaning under the pressure of two Sydney Harbours full of water pouring into it each day.
It is currently sitting at 175% with a maximum hold of about 200% - which is all flood mitigation. But the rain hasn't stopped and at this rate it will fill in 1.5 days, which means water has to be released from it into an already swollen Brisbane River.
And so we wait.
I am not overstating it when I say the atmosphere in Brisbane and Queensland is surreal. It feels like we are walking around in the last 45 minutes of a disaster film. I'm currently waiting for some kind of space monster to guzzle us all, as I think that may be the only genuine surprise left in the bag of buggered up Mother Nature tricks. But I've spoken too soon in the past.
I'm typing this while looking at the Brisbane River as it breaks the banks and starts to swallow the shoreline.
Let's see how this one plays out.
Friday, January 7, 2011
The early Australian explorers might have had the technical detail entirely incorrect when they began searching for a vast inland sea.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
The doctor, though I scarcely believe he deserves his title after his fib, asked me to look away and count to 10, explaining that he would jab me then. This, of course, led me to falsely believe that I could expect my world to fall apart through the pain of the needle after ten seconds.
Instead, the dastardly bugger took advantage of my innocence and struck at me after just three seconds. And no, I barely felt a thing, but that one act of medical treason has left me scarred for life.
While some of what I write can be considered hyperbolic ranting or some such, believe me when I tell you I have a deeply held, pathological fear of needles. Not just an ‘oh I hate needles’ but a pathos so ingrained from childhood that I haven’t had a needle in a long, long time, nor done anything that might make me cross paths with one.
Interestingly, the only terrible experience in terms of pain I have had from a needle is when my brother punched me in the same spot where I had a tetanus jab as a child. He was nasty like that.
That was the same shot for which I pretended to be asleep, having to be dragged from the car by my mother while my little arms and legs flopped melodramatically all over the place. As it turns out, doctors are quite happy to vaccinate you even while you are asleep which I think is terrible, even though I was clearly pretending.
I can’t look at needles and even writing this is proving rather uncomfortable. Those who donate blood – bless their cotton socks – have tried and failed in the past to tell me about their experience as just hearing it makes me go faint in the head and go in search of a good lie down and a stiff drink.
My full-blown fear didn’t develop until after I was 12 when I received my last shot which was, I remember quite clearly, entirely pain free and not a big deal at all. I do remember seeing a friend of mine run from the doctor’s surgery, screaming an inhuman scream, like somehow she had been forced to sit through open heart surgery instead of a needle.
Now, this is not to say that I do not believe in vaccination. I do. I think those who do not vaccinate their children are frauds endangering the lives of others. I just don’t like needles myself.
I know the time is fast approaching where I will have to get vaccinated again. And I will heartily – heartily – insist that the doctor either administer some laughing gas through my face or knock me the fuck out using the back of a chair.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
I have made remarks previously that I think the collective achievements of hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution and endeavour break down fully and completely at the intersection of humanity and elevators.
Like the singularity at the centre of a black hole where the laws of physics cease to exist, the lift is the point at which our mastery of flying, fire, metal-work and civilisation building amounts to nine tenths of fuck-all because nobody can figure out who to let who in first and then everybody has a panic attack and presses the wrong button.
If that is true of lifts – and it is – then supermarkets must surely creep into second place as the locations where the thin veneer of civilisation buckles like malformed steel with incorrect load-bearing notifications. God, I just sounded like such a man writing that. I now have hair on my arms!
Place a trolley in front of anyone, I don’t care how refined or educated you may seem, and the cultivated air of grace and dignity will melt away in a moment of primal, instinctive madness which will shortly descend into chaos as 15 people attempt to simultaneously grope the peaches.
It doesn’t help, of course, that no trolley in the history of mankind has ever been made that steers true. We’ve put a farking man on the moon but if you want to avoid ploughing directly into the pyramidal stack of Fruche yoghurt selling for 99 cents then you had better damned well hope for another 50 years of technological advancements. Pronto.
I’m not pretending that I am immune to the sudden fever of bastardry that sets in upon entering a grocery store. I am not. In fact, I have been known to curl up into the foetal position somewhere between the toilet paper and the tea towels, having realised I am hopelessly lost and may never find the Berri juice ice blocks because they do not have their own dedicated aisle and oh my God I forgot to bring an EPERB beacon for rescue.
The very best of men and women have been known to erode their own dignity until it forms an embarrassing nub in the centre of a supermarket while arguing over which particular brand of milk to buy, all the while the cow is out the back screaming into a telephone: “It’s just fucking milk for fuck’s sake.”
And I might be a bit of a technophone at the best of times, but the self-service stations at the supermarket are not that difficult to work out. And still there are oodles of people in the line who resolutely refuse to service themselves (that came out wrong), like they’ve been asked to form a queue and slaughter themselves or buy tickets to a Shortstack concert.
This is why I find online grocery shopping so, so in parallel with Elysium itself. It costs $7 to have some unsuspecting grunt be sent into the bowels of supermarket and to hunt down every obscure purchase I wish to make (where the hell does one find marinated heart cockles which have been warmed?) and then ring up that purchase before then having two burly delivery guys walk it to my door which is up three flights of stairs.
All that inhumanity I can inflict upon someone else, for the meagre sum of seven dollars. Let my despotic shopping days continue unabated, sweet universe, for I have truly found inner peace.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Including my favourite line of 2011:
"You know there’s something wrong with the world when Santa Claus is being
portrayed as an emotionally-stunted misogynist to make Retravision seem more
appealing and people are prepared to put with it just so they can listen to
Read the full post here.
Monday, January 3, 2011
Having woken this morning with a blinding hangover the size of Mt Rushmore, it occurred to me that it would be almost entirely inconceivable that I would write any post today that was original or showed any semblance of effort whatsoever. This is how much I love you all.
Sunday, January 2, 2011
Basically, I've put my iPhone on shuffle and picked the first 15 songs that come up. You'll note, in advance, that my music collection has made people want to hurt themselves in the past and I am now on no less than seven specific 'no play' lists for friend's parties. My collection can really only be described as what happens when Lady GaGa and a Carebear make love.
You were warned.
Cmon and Ride it (the train)
The guiltiest of pleasures. Just like I will not apologise for rubbing Magnums up and down my naked chest, I will not apologise for this. Won't do it.
Bay City Rollers
I don't know how this got on there, truly. But I kind of like it. Especially when I play it on Friday night and then get to correct the band. Man I just love being right so often.
Yawn. I think this slipped in from a friend's music port.
I always sing this really loudly but then substitute the 'girls' part for 'boys'. Mature, that's me.
Love this. A good one to belt out to.
Cry for you (radio edit)
Fantastic club song. Rarely does something make me want to dance or do jazz hands more than this.
So shoot me. I also like Dr Jones and Barbie Girl.
One of my favourite songs of the milennium (tough choice) but made even better for the moment when I burst through the double doors on to the dance floor at friend's wedding, perfectly timed to the 'rah rah' crescendo.
Take your mamma out
You cannot go wrong with Annamatronic.
The Boy Does Nothing
Sounds like an upbeat jazz number and makes me want to move my feet.
When Love Takes Over
Kelly Rowland ft David Guetta
I. Sing. So. Loud. To. This.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Two more words: oh yeah.
Sneaky Sound System
A modern classic...to me and probably me alone.
All I Wanna Do
OK, so this one does make me slightly embarrassed but I will not apologise!
Don't Stop till you get enough
One King to rule them all. MJ.