Morrissey Autobiography

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A thought bubble appeared in the hours after finishing the Morrissey autobiography.  ‘Is Morrissey the world’s best salesman?’

It’s not an obvious reaction to the book, nor have many other people come to anything close to this conclusion about Morrissey, and yet I still have that feeling as if I have been hoodwinked.

Morrissey’s autobiography is like Morrissey himself -in no way typical, I felt cautious while reading it, in that being a fan that I was being lured into forgetting that he is a superstar, forgetting that the book is now a Penguin classic.

I have always seen myself as a Morrissey, Smiths fan, his music has been a huge part of my life. I never have gotten sick of his music, it never becomes dated and has an uncanny property to transpire trends, he is a musician and a writer on the level of intellectual that many other popular artists never even come close to.

There are certain things that as a fan I just take for granted (and love) about Morrissey, and I found those things in his Autobiography, his narrative setting starting in Manchester was so masterfully written that I had to put the book down for a week or so, it had that sort of hard emotional impact. It was so intense that I had to go back reassess Morrissey and his music, I felt for years that much of his lyrics were him being…well lyrical. But it turns out in a song like ‘The Headmaster Ritual” it seems to actually worse than the song permits.

There is something powerful underpinning this Autobiography that kept my mind ticking over while reading this, here is someone who everyone thought would fail, who record companies failed to sign up, who’s personality did not play into the business model of the recording industry, who’s talent was underestimated by the press, who’s demeanour did not fit comfortably to what people class as a successful artist, yet he was a success…he overcame all odds.

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His years with the Smiths which recordings people still listen to every single day, he admits where short, and I was surprised how little detail we have about Marr or his friendship with him. In many ways Morrissey is a closed book, forever an enigma, always a labyrinth to navigate, this struck me as being odd as we are invited to learn everything in his autobiography.Many things where missing from his his narrative, like how his family reacted to him becoming a superstar for example, or about  his battles with depression which we know with all respect that he has had, or how success had changed him from that innocent Manchester kid who showed up backstage at Roxy music concerts,  to multi mega-star whisked away to the sounds of adoring fans.

In his modest way he seems to be amused by his success befuddled, surprised by it.

Morrissey, spends a huge amount of time clearing the decks and attempting to set the record straight, he takes myriad swipes at people never forgetting anything, it is one of his many indulgences that as fans we forgive him for. Yet in this format it does become very tiresome, especially when we encounter his trial with Mike Joyce that goes into the intimate legal details for many pages.

Morrissey has a terrific turn of phrase, some of his passages are pure poetry, yet it is fragmented, a hotch potch recalling of his career, he lingers far from things we want access to, the last quarter of the book reads more like his touring diary with notes rather than a sophisticated wrap up of his whole working career.

The autobiography was intoxicating at times yet I was left with my face pressed against the glass window watching him walk by from afar.

 

If you don’t love it…breathe

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There has been much ink split about this t-shirt which was pulled from a Cairns Woolworths, both 2GB shock jock Ray Hadley and Clive Palmer party Jacqui Lambie came out in support of it staying on shelves.

Many times have I been in a traffic jam behind a Ute or 4WD with bumper bar covered in the bogan holy trinity:  ‘I fish and I vote’ or “Fuck off we’re full’ and ‘If you don’t love it LEAVE’

The slogan is an effective piece of propaganda, as good as ‘Loose lips sink ships’ or ‘Keep calm and carry on”. The slogan condenses larger complex issues into a smaller and easy to digest bundle. It is intentionally vague, the sort of people who wear it have a particular message they want to send to new immigrants to this country. It is intimidating, aggressive but in its vagueness a little bizarre.

It attempts to appeal to the reader’s raw emotional state, asking you to love your country or leave it, an all or nothing scenario. Australia takes out the position of someone you are in a relationship with and you have any doubts about that person, then its over.

Every time I see the slogan I get a little angry: Why is this bumper sticker even threatening me anyways? Maybe I don’t love parts of Australia maybe I think parts of Australia are a total shithole, isn’t Australia a free place, why can’t I not love it sometimes?

Where does forcing someone to love something become what is to be Australian? I was under the impression the moment the convicts landed they were sitting around bitching about being sent to a hot, dry island full of insects and reptiles that bite and kill, forced to carve out some kind of meager existence from what was then a very harsh landscape.

When you love something you nurture and look after it, cherish it, wrap it up in cotton wool. How does cutting down thousands of hectares of native bush-land, wiping out flora and fauna, digging massive holes in the ground for mineral resources and killing aboriginal people, destroying thousands of years worth of culture fit in to loving your country.

Why do the very vocal spruikers of this slogan feel it is their personal responsibility to remind people how much everyone should love this country?

It should read “If you don’t love it, Breathe” just chill out a bit-nobody has to love every bit of their country! Have a beer, go for a surf; enjoy life!

 

Typical excuses for being dumb about politics

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I have just trudged through a state by-election, in Newcastle. I discovered that many people are totally apathetic about politics, many act like anyone who is holding a political pamphlet just came down with a case of ebola. After a while I began to hear all the same old tired excuses from voters, there wasn’t much behind how they felt just a thin veneer of an opinion.

The most common excuses I heard include:

1. They are all the same as each other, why bother

The crying call of the apathetic voter, they are right but in only a superficial way. Pry further and discover that these voters don’t know the difference between left and right politics, nor any of the major issues, party policies or why exactly they feel this way.

Often I feel as if they have overheard someone they know in a conversation who was exasperated with politics and felt like giving up, and just took on that opinion without ever actually having to form an opinion of their own.

2. This is a safe seat, my vote won’t count or make any difference so why bother

It’s just a monumentally stupid opinion, but many have it, the idea that their vote won’t count because the seat is held by the same party every year, they usually see minor parties as a ‘wasted vote’.

They seem to express it in a Marvin the robot type way, the world, democracy everything is a giant effort to take part in, and they can’t be bothered.

I am not sure how these people end up voting, maybe they pick the party opposite or put in a informal vote, either way the idea that their vote doesn’t count just astounds me:- if they have a problem with the party that keeps winning that seat, show it by voting for someone else, isn’t it obvious?

3. If I vote for party (a) then that will bring more money to our city, because we always vote in party (b)

So that’s all you care about, a bit of pork barreling for your area?

This is similar to 2, but held by a different sort of person; usually it’s a contrary conservative, who is bitter that the left always wins their seat.

These people have this odd idea that swinging seats bring in all the goods for that seat, they think by gaming it they can change their city or state.

However imagine if every voter thinks they live in a ‘safe‘ seat and starts voting like this, does every safe seat get extra funding?  The outcome is that instead of one or two screaming children asking for money there will be many and not enough to feed them all.

But come to think of it, when you vote like this you get exactly what you asked for: candidates that only care about money, so don’t be surprised when they have to resign for accepting bribes off developers.

Hell if Adolf Hitler was the candidate and threw a bit of money around I am pretty sure these people would of voted for him.

4. I am not qualified to vote, I don’t know enough

This is the domain of younger timid people, mostly quite intelligent they seem to have the Russell Brand disdain to voting, they have this opinion and don’t even vote at all.

Funnily their opinion is educated, they are being modest. However we are not living in the age of modesty just take a look around.

People who you don’t like and are way dumber and ignorant than you are having their voice heard…you are WAY smarter than them…so just vote, you don’t need a degree in politics to take part in the system.

5. I don’t know anything about politics, help!!!

This is similar to ‘I am not qualified to vote ‘ but just slightly different and is representative of a huge chunk of the population who seem to want to care but have literally no connection to politics in their life.

This opinion reminds me of people at university who should of studied the night before a big test, but couldn’t be arsed and start whinging just hours before the exam.

The papers are packed full of information for you before elections, you have the internet and there is basically no excuse why you don’t have any idea, just put in a little bit of time and read the paper watch television and pick a party that best represents how you feel about the world.

6. I don’t care, I don’t vote …go away

A surprising number of people are like this, and are proud of it, the question is can they afford to be.

These people are not Russel brand, they are not writing an anarchist manifesto, they are not planning to pull democracy apart and replace it with something better, nor have they had anything taken away from them to force them to rethink their position. They treat election day as a chore, and electioneers as spam and a giant pain in the arse.

They just, don’t care, that’s it, but here lies the existential question of democracy in your right NOT to care, you are extinguishing your right to care and potentially you will be told what to care about and you will have no say in it.

These people concern me the most, the  more of these the more chance we have of heading into an idiocracy or worse.

 

The standard doorbell

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Sometimes I have a sort of philosophical thought bubble, I spend weeks going over a certain subject that fascinates me, mostly the ideas thought of long before my time, covered by science or philosophy. However there is a joy in this process of personal discovery, Buckminster Fuller did this sort of thing in the 1960’s there is value in exploring old ideas, covering well trodden ground just for the sake of it from a modern perspective.

My journey starts with the humble doorbell, I was knocking doors for an upcoming by-election and I started to take note how many people have doorbells. There are a bewildering array of different doorbells, most had a simple functionality: – You pressed the button and the chime went off, that seemed to dictate the overall ‘look’ of a doorbell button. However the particulars of the doorbell seemed to wildly deviate; different colours, chimes, material and design.

The functional played a part for the position of the doorbell, it had to be available for the person at the door to simply press, it was common that people had their doorbell placed at exactly the same height and on the right hand side.  The electric doorbell was invented around 1831, before that people had all sorts of ornate and ingenious ways to tell the homeowner there was someone at the door, these are still around and used, the twisty ringer, the actual bell with a rope on it and the metal fixed knocker are some examples.

At first glance all this seems obvious, humans have a sort of standard for doorbells, I mean there isn’t a huge amount to think about there. But there also seemed a standard for where to ‘place’ the doorbell and a standard for the way the doorbell was actually presented. As I went to each house I started to realise there was a standard and functionality for everything on a house, for the letterbox, the gutters the driveway for the whole house even. Give a child a pen and paper and ask them to draw a house..they draw a roof to windows and a front garden our mental picture of a house is universally standardised from a very young age.

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In Bill Brysons book At Home, he covers briefly the history of many domestic objects, in the beginning of his book he discusses the salt and pepper shaker, Bryson asks an interesting question about the nature of the salt and pepper shaker: Why salt and pepper, why not say salt and cinnamon? What led to them being those particular spices becoming standardised? (He does in fact go into detail to explain the historical reasons why) but his original questioning fascinated me,  you could ask the same question for doorbells, why a door ‘bell’ and not a door ‘buzzer’, why a ‘button’ not a ‘switch’.

 

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Hand outlines found on a cave wall in Indonesia are at least 39,900 years old

I left my ideas about the doorbell for a few weeks until something in the media re-ignited my thinking on the door bell and the concept of standardisation. Some human cave paintings from the Indonesian Island of Sulawesi were dated to about 43, 000 years ago much earlier than any other human art, the striking thing about them is not just their age but their similarity in style and application to paintings from northern Australia from a much later date.

There seems to be a cultural and artistic standardisation going right back almost as far as we can find human artifacts, however the concept of standardisation itself, seems to be framed as a recent discovery mainly confined to the industrial revolution.

Historians and archaeologists sometimes point to a little earlier to weights, coins and measures as examples of standardisation. But here we have on this very ancient wall, painted so long ago signs people culturally had a very precise standard, a form that had to be taught and shared culturally through communication the look and feel of these hand paintings was to persist for thousands of years.

Back to the doorbell, the odd thing about the door bell is that in today’s world it is largely a mass manufactured item something that for 100 years or so people could purchase and place on their door, like in star wars with all the outdated robots hanging around to go to the incinerator there are just a stupid array of different makes and models of doorbells that exist however we can all identify them as standard doorbells.

Philosophy bubbles to the surface here, and I am reminded of the ‘idea’ we have of something, like a Platonic and objects we imagine a perfect doorbell in our minds and a perfect place to place or to think about the object or idea,  this is reinforced by seeing it in existence, in similar places on other houses making or forming a kind of standard of doorbells in our minds.

This standarisation, applies to literally everything we do and create, standardisation is only something we apply to the real world, the actual time and outcome of these material objects is not secured unless a similar idea is imposed on them for the whole duration of their existence, this is where the complexity of the longevity of the hand paintings comes into view.

Psychologically, we can apply standarisation to things like behavior, our behavior can be split up into ideas that require a certain level of standarisiation so it can be communicated, it is here that life itself is included, because like us many species communicate to survive.

Bee’s must standarise how they collect honey or a beaver must standardise how he builds a dam, life must also have the facitlity to create door bells.

I  am not sure how I got so far away from my original thinking about doorbells, but I feel we are linked to this mental formation of standarisiation and the more you look around, the more you start to see it, in objects we create, in our ideas we think about  and in people and their personalities,  even in animals and insects and their behavior.

Yet I can’t see a reason for it other than mere survival, there are objects on our planet like a volcano that are not crafted by standards, but by physical inhert interactions only, yet it is only our minds that form categories and standards for these things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pye Corner Audio:Black Mill Tapes

Some electronica is literally like a drug, you take one or two doses of it and get such a high off that one track you sort of overdose on it. I was like that especially with this one Pye Corner Audio track: Electronic Rhythm Number One, there was just something about the track that made me have it as my only song on repeat for weeks.

In a way when you spend lots of time with music it becomes embedded in your experience, in your life. when music can do this it becomes more than just a throw away track, very few artists are able to achieve this.

Pye Corner Audio, seems to be what I would adventurously call ‘Electronics roots’ I hear something in their sound that reminds me of the music right back at the beginning of electronic music, something pure, experimental, haunting, inspiring. Back then artists like Kraftwerk,Vangelis and Brian Eno were just learning to use all the new technology experimenting learning.

It must of been incredibly difficult to turn the clock back to this time, collecting vintage hardware learning how to do it all over again in today’s world where easily crafted electronic sounds have become prolific. You can tell that Pye Corner Audio have explored and discovered this hardware  again with amazing results, they have given us tracks that are like the lost albums of Brian Eno.

The music gives me shivers sometimes, some tracks are so uplifting: Electronica Rhyhm Number One, Electronic Rhythm Number Five and Into The Wave are three very strong tracks, other tracks are slow experimental and a little off-beat but grow on your over time like Theme Number Eight, has a very Vangelis feel to it.

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I can’t just walk away from Pye Corner Audio, I keep coming back for more and if you want to touch base with the soul of electronic music Pye Corner Audio is a good start.

 

 

 

 

Newcastle, lot’s of ideas but what do do with them all?

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For those of you that are new to my blog, I am from a town called  Newcastle on the east coast of Australia 180km north of Sydney. The town is has a population of about 300 000 people, currently the city is going through a period of rapid change, to the outside the changes are small and not noteworthy, but for us novocastrians these are giant leaps forward.

A couple of weeks ago the Newcastle Herald had an article asking for people with ideas for ‘How to spend a billion on Newcastle’ set by the Newcastle institute

It wasn’t a challenge, Newcastle needs so many things, so I quickly and roughly scrambled together three that had been on my mind for a long time. Fast forward to a few weeks later after being selected from 40 people, me nervously shoving together a power-point presentation of my half formulated wacky ideas.

I wasn’t nervous at the presentation until I looked up and saw about 150 patient grey haired individuals all waiting for what I had to say, something happened I can’t explain and I didn’t deliver it how I wanted.

I learn’t a valuable lesson in putting forward an idea as a presentation, sometimes the way you address the audience your energy and your enthusiasm  rather than the actual nuts and bolts of the idea, can seriously sway people. The next day the article by the Newcastle Herald was poor, predictably listing the craziest ideas for Novocastrian’s to have a laugh at, and forgetting to list one of the most important ideas mentioned, that of making our city run totally on renewable energy, the idea (not my own) that really caught mine and the audiences imagination.

Someone asked at the end of the presentation about what will happen to these ideas, nobody seemed sure exactly and we left with an odd feeling of despondency.

Here was the idea I presented.

INSPIRATIONAL LIBRARY FOR NOVOCASTRIANS

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Surry Hills community centre

  • SUSTAINABLE DESIGN
  • INTERGATED WITH COMMUNITY
  • PLACES FOR ARTS ORGANISATIONS
  • PLACES FOR CLASSES
  • READING ROOMS
  • CHILDCARE FACILITIES
  • GENEALOGY CENTRE
  • NEW COMPUTERS AND TABLETS
  • CULTURAL COLLECTION DISPLAYS

Not long ago I was walking through Surry hills and I came upon the ‘Surry Hills public library and community centre’
 
I was totally blown away; the space is an inspirational temple to great architecture and design.

I just wanted to go in there and spend some time just reading, I urge people who haven’t seen it to pop in and have a look.

It was created by Architects: Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp

Why can’t Newcastle have something like this?

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Surry Hills community centre

The existing Newcastle library is not inspirational to visit, it has its charms but it really isn’t a functional modern space for learning.
  
A Library like Surry hills centre would be integrated with the community and provide resources for everyone not just students.

The library has facilities and areas that arts groups and festivals can utilise to organise events that make Newcastle an exciting place to live.

It’s a place for everyone.

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The Library site would be the existing site, and be built with plans to link into a new Art Gallery using the same architect

We should design the appearance of library to have some consistency in style with university and with a potential new Art Gallery.

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Morristown public library New Jersey

My idea also incorporates smaller but equally well designed modular libraries rolled out over all of Newcastle

With the billion dollars we can roll out gold plated Libraries for all of Newcastle, making us an intelligent and connected city

Smaller similar modular libraries for inner city and outer suburbs

Broadmeadows Farmers Markets Upgrade

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Findlay farmer’s Market, OHIO

  • PERMANENT FIXTURES – WELL DESIGNED SHELTERS
  • ENTERTAINMENT AREA OR AMPHITHEATRE
  • PLACES FOR EFTPOS MACHINES
  • DESIGNED AREAS FOR SELLING PERISHABLE GOODS
  • MODERN TOILETS AND SEATING
  • SUSTAINABLE DESIGN, SOLAR ENERGY
  • MORE BIKE RACKS AND BIKE PATHS
  • DRINK FOUNTAINS
  • SCULPTURES OR ARTWORKS

Broadmeadow farmers market is I believe the most popular markets in Newcastle, this has been the most successful place for markets in Newcastle.

If something is successful, support it!

However why does the infrastructure at the markets feel so run down and out-dated?

The markets are retrofitted to existing buildings that were constructed for the Newcastle Show years ago, something which is a once a year event.

The Markets is every weekend, rail hail and shine.

It’s time this place had a facelift.

The markets upgrade is not just a frivolous spend, this is an injection for the local economy.

These markets have already created multiple small business start-ups in Newcastle, people start with their idea at the markets and then expand.

This should be encouraged and even a special fund should be created to help these enterprising and creative marketeers

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Entertainment Quarter, Sydney

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Findlay farmer’s Market, OHIO

The markets upgrade is not just a frivolous spend, this is an injection for the local economy.

These markets have already created multiple small business start-ups in Newcastle, people start with their idea at the markets and then expand.

This should be encouraged and even a special fund should be created to help these enterprising and creative marketeers.

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Inspirational Green Spaces and Pocket parks

We have lots of parks in Newcastle but I think it is fair to say they are either in suburbs that don’t utilise them or are mainly for sports.

Our inner city could do with more inspirational green spaces or pocket parks.

Pocket parks are the solution to this common “lack-of-green-spaces” problem. Pocket parks, also known as vest-pocket parks or mini-parks, are just a smaller version of a regular park. All that is needed is a vacant lot.

London has over 100 pocket parks, Newcastle could do with just a few!

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My plan is to do an Audit of our parks in Newcastle and locate potential spaces and vacant lots in the inner city

When the best sites are located we will have a major a roll out of 20 or so well landscaped and designed pocket parks.

(WHAT I SHOULD OF ENDED WITH)

What my vision for Newcastle is of that of  well designed city, with more green spaces and for people to learn and meet.

The Pharaoh and her concubine – Dream sequence

 

 

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I just woke up, after having the most vivid dream which I wish to share with WordPress before it is gone forever. I am largely a rational scientific person when it comes to dreams, I take the psychology road in that the chaos of the many inputs into your experience outputs sometimes in dream sequences.

This particular one reminded me of a dream sequence from computer game Assassins creed, or from a scene from Game of Thrones. It was ancient Egypt, this was clear because of our dress, I was in the back of a large carriage that had the outsides covered in muslin shading us from the sun and any others.

I was accompanying a powerful female.

I was not sure of her title, or position but there was defiantly one of fear on my part in this situation. She had power and influence and I did not, I was nervous it seemed that I had to ‘do’ something here and was not sure how it would play out, I had pressure.

She was young about 23, very short tiny and slender her head faced forward without looking at me for a very long time as if I did not exist (yet I was right next to her). Her youth gave the impression of being naive but I seemed in confusion about this, I was scared of looking at her face with a sort of knowledge it was taboo going near the region of her eyes.

Many things rushed through my mind in the back of the carriage, mainly that ‘I just had to get through this trip’ and ‘Whatever you do don’t look her in the eyes’

My role was not clear, I was not a peasant, nor was I of the administrative class, I wasn’t nobility either I seemed to be some form of warrior with some political influence. Thoughts about large groups of people passed my mind, about change and how things could be changed here, did she know this too or not?

Her long slender hand seemed placed in an inviting position, facing towards me. I spent what seemed like forever deciding what to do here, as if knowing this could be the biggest mistake of my life and probably end in death. I placed my hand on top of hers and she retracted her hand in a slow but delicate manner, then seconds later as if she had thought it through she placed her hand back and kept looking forward.

At this point, great possibilities rushed through my mind, real change was possible but also of emotion, the dream came forth very powerfully here. A relationship was being formed, but it was not lurid no sex scenes or eroticism, it was a formation of a alliance and a knowing this was part of her role.

Even knowing this, I was excited full of hope, love and change it was my time to come forward.

The dream ended here in the back of this cart.

On introspection it seemed a very stereotypical historical dream, disappointing even, It seemed to me later when I was awake like she was a Cleopatra figure, and me like Marc Antony the great typical love story in history that’s where a modern brain like mine would go on the topic of ancient Egypt, all that stereotypical imagery from modern sources.

Yet the dream was largely ambiguous, it wasn’t even clear if she was a Pharaoh I was left with the huge emotion of the dream, like the leftover wreckage from tidal wave, also I had some historical insights that I might not normally arrive at. It occurred to me after the dream that a female Pharaoh or Queen like Hatshepsut was able in a way subdue and enamor potential enemies via relationships, rather than form enemies as a male pharaoh might do.

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Queen Hatshepsut (18th Dynasty c.1473-1458 BC)

The dream felt epic, much too epic for the normal fodder of dreams, when I woke I was convinced this needed to be shared.

But now I have actually put it down here in WordPress I am not so sure, other peoples dreams can be so boring.