Friday, July 31, 2009

pen to paper

Can't shake this heavy head

This peeling away of my skin

This insinuation into the nerve

embedded in my spine

This splicing of synapse with


This attempt at writing a line

the great divide: performance video

The Great Divide

Writer: Tony Reck
Director: Beng Oh
Performers: Christie Nieman,
Bruce Langdon, Tony Reck,
Kaori Hamamoto & Chris
Lighting: Matthew Barber
Music: Christie Nieman

Chapel Off Chapel
May 2 - 26, 2002, Melb.

impossible is nothing: you out sucker

This essay proposes that an innocuous advertisement for adidas sportswear contains a meta-narrative detailing the historical progression of the image within media art. In doing so, the same advertisement outlines an essential dilemma of contemporary aesthetics: that of a shift from representation, to simulation. In order to familiarise the reader with the advertisement, some description of Long Run is necessary. The ad is a remix of archival footage synthesised by the inclusion of elite sports people who came to international prominence in the late 1990’s. The footage consists of documentary material gathered from the coverage of Muhammad Ali’s “Rumble in the Jungle’ boxing match with George Foreman n Zaire, Africa, in 1974. Seamlessly juxtaposed, what the viewer sees is a pre Parkinson’s Muhammad Ali jogging alongside elite athletes such as swimmer Ian Thorpe, football superstar David Beckham, the now disgraced Olympic sprint champion Marion Jones, and several other high achieving athletes. A voice-off touts the difficulties faced by gifted athletes early in their careers, and the ad postulates that persistence, single mindedness, and the courage to defy your critics will guarantee eventual success. “Impossible is nothing” claims the voice, followed by Ali shadowboxing with the camera, delivering a telling uppercut, then stating “You out sucker”. (Long Run, Park Pictures, 2004) Implicit here is the achievement of the Black American civil rights movement, but only if you are prepared to pay for this privilege by wearing adidas sportswear. As a rhetorical tool for advertising Long Run is inspired. But the ad’s true power lies in what was probably an unintended meta-narrative.

If a meta-narrative can be defined as a story residing beyond that for which its content was originally intended, then Long Run tells a tale about images collapsing into the universal simulacrum. A meta-narrative differs from an allegory, in that an allegory uses one story to allude to a particular event, such as Camus’ novel The Plague and its indirect referencing of the Nazi occupation of France during World War 2. Meta-narratives on the other hand refer to theoretical dissertation. As case in point Long Run charts the progress of the image as it passes through 4 distinctive phases. In the historical figure of Muhammad Ali, the ad represents a basic reality. We know Ali was in Zaire in the early 70’s, and that he fought George Foreman for the WBC heavyweight championship, because history is a rhetorical record of an event that occurred in the actual world. This basic reality is then masked or perverted by the presence of prominent sports people from the recent past; notably, swimmer Ian Thorpe, who at age 22 wasn’t even born when Ali fought Foreman in 1974. This same perversion of reality is accentuated further when the filmmaker’s camera, now concentrating on Ali and his reality perverting co-conspirators as they jog together, captures an incidental and murky sun hovering on the horizon. Unspecified whether early morning or late evening, sunset or sunrise, combined with the inclusion of historical personas who cannot have accompanied one another on a jog through the outskirts of Zaire in the early 70’s, this marks the 3rd phase in the historical progression of the image: the absence of any basic reality. The murky sun we see is temporally and spatially dislocated. Is this Zaire in the 70’s, or Venus populated by clones in the year 3030 ? Finally, any sense of reality completely disappears when Ali, shadowboxing with the lens of a camera, lands a telling blow and announces: “You out sucker”. Exclusive, even nihilistic, Long Run no longer bares any relation to events that have occurred in the actual world. Reality collapses, and the ad becomes its own pure simulacrum. (Appignanesi & Garrat, 54-55, 1996) This meta-narrative, that of the progression of the image from representation to simulation, is also a concise history of 20th century aesthetics that elevates this humble advertisement to microcinema, making Long Run a work of media art.

If the simulacrum is a methodology for conceptualising of a space where images reside once their original and intended meaning collapses, then the phrase “Impossible is nothing” hints at characteristics of this space. Ambiguous, if not sumptuously awkward and imprecise, the term is shot through with opposing currents of optimism and pessimism. As a statement of transcendental intent, it could easily have been cropped from Marinetti’s futurist manifesto. ( Yet like the dark undercurrent of European fascism that permeates that exalting document, the phrase “Impossible is nothing” has a nihilistic connotation. Its opposing stream of everything and nothing combined, is an accurate reflection of the digitally manipulated image as it is presently understood: a simulation that promises everything, yet in aesthetic terms, is comprised of content that has never existed. Without an index to events in the actual world, the ad becomes ‘Impossible nothing’. As a negation of its own original and intended meaning, the ad continues to exist in spite of itself. Everything and nothing synthesised in a recombined form, that of functional advertisement to aesthetic artwork, the ad becomes its own pure simulacrum. Thus, the simulacrum is characterised by a benign nihilism, but this is only a transitional phase. Preceded by a transforming process of modification, multiplication and mutation, the image passes through this benign nihilism on its path toward actual simulation. Here, the simulacrum becomes a space characterised by infinite possibility. A matrix of diversity initiated by endless digital manipulations, its status is as transient as a collapsing house of cards.

As we have seen, the advertisement Long Run lays claim to being a work of media art. A digitally rendered entity that illuminates the path of an image as its meaning collapses, this path can be further dissected to reveal 5 essential characteristics. Modification, multiplication, mutation, benign nihilism, and actual simulation. Not simply an outline of an aesthetic tradition, that of a progression from representation to simulation, the presence of these 5 characteristics also illuminates the history of media art, and the conceptual transformations that have occurred during its inception. Broadly speaking, these conceptual transformations are in direct relation to ways of experiencing a work of art. What characterises this conceptual transformation is a shift from objective observation of an artwork, to mutual participation; otherwise known as immersion.

As a mode of perception contemporaneous with media art in the year 2008, immersion has been an implicit characteristic of aesthetic appreciation since the Renaissance. Mobility, or the capacity of the spectator to physically move within and through an environment while engaged in an appreciation of its aesthetic value, was a characteristic of Fresco painting. Rather than remaining still, subdued by the assumed power of an image captured within a gilt-edged frame, the spectator was at liberty to wander through the Sistine Chapel while gazing upward at Michelangelo’s visual ruminations upon the life of Christ. (Manovich, 111-114, 2001) And even though it can be argued that the same sense of mobility is also present in the spectator’s experience of an art gallery, this is refuted by the fact that the gallery experience is characterised by an appreciation of individual artworks in isolation, each work having its own index of meaning, rather than a coherence that binds every image into an all encompassing narrative. And yes, galleries that exhibit particular movements in art such as Symbolism or Surrealism, or that attempt to convey the key elements of an aesthetic tradition such as Modernism, while providing an overview of a particular movement or tradition, are still entities separated by formal distinction and differing content. Braque and Picasso both used Cubist perspectives in their painting, yet each artist is recognised for having developed a distinctive style. Similarly, Francis Bacon’s distortions of the human form painted late in his career hark back to the early adventures of the Surrealists, yet all 3 painters remain categorised under the collective banner of Modernism. Not so with the Fresco: as an apparent work of Modern art that liberated the spectator from the constraint of contemplation in isolation by initiating the actual physical participation of the spectator within an aesthetic experience, it has more in common with Jeffry Shaw’s Legible City, (with Dirk Groenveld) and Char Davies’ Osmose and Ephemre’. In this sense, mobility, or interactivity, no matter how rudimentary, for what’s important here is the impulse, means the Fresco is consistent with the view that Postmodernism has its foundations in the Renaissance. (Appignanesi & Garrat, 6-8, 1996)

Returning now to our consideration of the advertisement for adidas sportswear Long Run, and its claim to being a work of media art, we see at the beginning of that humble ad the historic personage of Muhammad Ali who, in Baudrillardian theory, represents a basic reality. Then up steps Ian Thorpe, Marion Jones and others; by doing so, their presence masks and perverts, or modifies, this basic reality. As we have seen, modification of a basic reality is 1 of 5 key transformations of an image as it transits along a path from representation to simulation. Similarly, the shift from objective appreciation of an artwork in isolation, to actual, physical appreciation as characterised by the spectator’s experience of Fresco painting, or immersion, is also a modification of the human capacity to perceive. Broadly speaking, this modification is a shift from a singular to a plural appreciation. The objective observation is replaced by the subjective experience; or an intellectual and often superficial experience confined to front brain activity is amplified to include what might be explained as a genuine ability to perceive. Experiencing Michelangelo’s Hand of God in the Sistine Chapel would have been an experience that engaged the 5 senses. Seeing the image from multiple points of view, hearing our own footsteps as we progressed through the environment and feeling the breath of air rush past us, perhaps even smelling the plaster surface on which the image had been painted and tasting its residue on the tongue, was a sensory experience that engaged sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. This same modification of perceptual awareness occurs when we perceive an image to be in transit between its capacity to represent a basic reality, and a simulation that has no index to an event in the actual world. Consequently, the advertisement Long Run resonates not just as an illumination of a shift in human perceptional awareness, but as a Postmodern historiography.

Once again returning to the ad Long Run, that moment when Ali and a yet to be conceived athlete such as Ian Thorpe somehow jog together beneath a temporally and spatially dislocated sun, we reach that point in Baudrillard where the ad marks the absence of a basic reality. This 3rd stage of a Postmodern historiography, a moment when reality begins to disappear, is a paradoxical consequence of the image as it multiplies. Previously modified by the inclusion of an athlete yet to be born, this transition between a perversion of reality, and the beginning of its disappearance, is marked by the inclusion of an image of a sun that theoretically, cannot exist. It follows then that the 3rd stage in the historical progression of the image, that of the disappearance of a basic reality, is a consequence of disjunctive images multiplying to the point where within the mind of the spectator, any connection with an event in the actual world disintegrates. One man jogging somewhere with another man who is yet to be born, beneath a sun that cannot be located in time and space. As disjunctive images recombine and multiply, reality disappears; Long Run’s meta-narrative further develops as Postmodern historiography, that of Baudrillardian theory, and as the 2nd of 5 key characteristics that illuminate critical moments in the historical development of Media art.

Of course, the hiatus between function and design, or the inability of an object such as a chair to be pleasing to the eye and comfortable to the backside simultaneously, was a dilemma faced by the Bauhaus. Attempts at resolving this hiatus between art and craft, artists and artisans, aesthetics and functionality, was a key dilemma instigated by the discovery of electricity and its precursor consequence as a prompt for the development of Media art. The fluorescent tube, as a synthesis of function and design, is a pertinent example of multiplication; or the 2nd key concept that characterises the historical progression of the image, and its development within media art. As an object designed for a specific function, that of allowing people to see in the dark, this same actual function of the fluorescent tube departed from its humble origins and entered the realm of the metaphorical. Because of a multiplication of 2 previously disconnected concepts, the fluorescent tube, by also becoming a functional tool for advertising, extended its reach into the aesthetic realm of representation by its illumination of a metaphysical darkness. (Popper, 10-28, 1993) As advertising became a key component of life in Western capitalist democracies, so too did artists begin to reflect upon its tools. Dan Flavin’s reconfiguration of the gallery space by using coloured fluorescent tubes invoked a contemplative, self-reflexive mood. The very idea of an illuminated darkness was multiplied to include reflections upon the mysteries of the self in relation to a world in exponential transformation. (Collings, 148, 2000) The ad Impossible is Nothing is a culmination of this same rapid mode of technological change. Like the fluorescent tube, its use as a functional tool for advertising is multiplied by the inadvertent inclusion of a meta-narrative that in turn, crosses over into a Postmodern historiography and key conceptual moments in the history of media art.

Poststructuralist formulations such as those advanced by Baudrillard and his theory of the universal simulacrum are attractive because of the paradoxes they propose. The image is shown to be a parasitical entity that by multiplying, initiates its own disappearance. Here, the image moves beyond the 2nd of 5 key conceptual transformations toward the 3rd, that of mutation. The final 2 conceptual transformations of the image as it reconfigures itself, those of benign nihilism and actual simulation, are implicit in mutation; while all 3 occur during a particular moment in the ad Long Run. Consequently, the first 2 conceptual transformations of the image, those of modification and multiplication, are clearly defined as separate entities existing in their own right, and within their own historical lineage. Not surprisingly, the inter-relatedness of mutation, benign nihilism, and actual simulation, requires a subtle analysis that is consistent with the exponential rate of technological change that has characterised pluralist thinking since the later half of the 20th century.

Returning to the ad Long Run for the final time, we reach a point where the recombined figure of Ali makes a proclamation to a camera now in close-up. “I’m here”, says Ali, while shadow boxing with the camera, then delivering an uppercut before announcing “You out Sucker”. From representation of a basic reality to the beginning of its disappearance, this prelude to the image collapsing is also a moment when reality mutates. Previously modified and multiplied, Ali’s proclamation of actual presence means space and time as previously understood have become unrecognisable. If Ali is indeed “Here”, then why is he not the wry, yet silent and somewhat dithering individual disabled by Parkinson's disease ? By announcing his arrival, the ad denounces the existence of representation as a mode of perception. In doing so, Long Run’s meta-narrative illuminates a critical moment in the history of aesthetics. It follows then that the history of aesthetics, that of representation to simulation, cannot be understood without reference to media art.

The moment of transition between the absence of a basic reality, and its collapse into the universal simulacrum, is also a mutation of time and space. Previously modified and multiplied by a digital editing suite that allows for the juxtaposition of historical personages who we know can never have interacted, the temporal-spatial zone within which this interaction now occurs no longer bears any relation to an event that has occurred in the actual world. Momentarily characterised by a benign nihilism, the image, and the temporal-spatial zone the image is comprised of, are annihilated. In a compelling negation of the elements essential for the existence of an environment. the meaning implicit in the image is also destroyed. But as Bataille has shown, the presence of Thanataos is always counter-balanced by the creation of life, and Baudrillard’s simulacrum is no exception. Muhammad Ali, or a figure purporting to be that person, but who no longer contains any trace, nor can be identified with the historical personage the sign ‘Muhammad Ali’ previously represented, announces its presence by claiming to be “Here”. But the “Here” this figure claims to reside within is a zone completely unto itself. By being so, it bears no relation to anything but itself. In transit, the mutating image has passed through a state of benign nihilism before reconfiguring itself as an actual simulation. Just why this moment of nothing is benign, is due to its temporary status. As a moment preceding the creation of an actual simulation, it becomes an historical trace reconstituted as a world created afresh. Long Run, as microcinema, and therefore a work of media art containing a meta-narrative illuminating a Postmodern historiography, also pinpoints a critical moment in aesthetics and the history of media art.


Long Run, produced by Park Pictures, for advertising agency IBO and adidas sportswear, 2004.

Appignanesi, R. & Garrat, C, Postmodernism for Beginners, Allen & Unwin, N.S.W. 1996.

Manovich, L. The Language of New Media, MIT Press, Massachusetts, 2001.

Popper, F. The Roots of Electronic Art, from Art of the Electronic Age, Thames & Hudson, London, 1993.

Collings, M. This is Modern Art, Seven Dials, London, 2000.

climate change: kosciuszko xmas

On day seven of our nine day journey through Kosciuszko National Park, we left our base camp at Tarn Bluff, followed the watershed of the Geehi river north and contoured around a large hill peppered with granite tors. Several kilometres to the northwest, the rugged southeasterly peak of Jagungal loomed. Having climbed Jagungal thirteen years earlier, I readily anticipated reaching its summit once again. Even so, environmental change is an essential characteristic of mountain life. Wind and rain, snow, ice, fire and drought; Kosciuszko's ecology is constantly evolving. But unique mountains such as Jagungal become permanent landmarks in a bushwalker's imagination. So as we approached Jagungal via the Geehi watershed, memories of the exhiliration I had experienced upon attaining its summit thirteen years earlier were only tempered by the prospect of climbing Jagungal once again. Once upon the summit, while looking south toward the Main Range and Mt Kosciuszko, our party would then be able to clearly see where our trip had begun seven days earlier. This capacity to reflect upon the origin of a momentous journey is a truly satisfying aspect of bushwalking.

Our leader Jerry was a former rock climber who for his own reasons, believed he had stopped climbing too early in life. He had previewed the Kosciuszko-Jagungal trip in the club program as suitable for those ‘Who like to spend Xmas on the track’. A huge bushfire in the Victorian Alps had obliterated my plans for several trips within the Wonnangatta-Moroka sector of the Alpine National Park. A second alternative proposed by another bushwalking colleague was a five day lilo trip down the Snowy River. But when it comes to spending prolonged periods on water, I can be a wet blanket. So, a two stage trip comprising a four day base camp on the Main Range, followed by a five day pack carry deep into the Jagungal Wilderness, was tantalising enough for me to call Jerry and ask if I could tag along.

On the day before Xmas eve, in thick mist accompanied by intermittent downpours of rain, Lesley and I arrived at the Kosciuszko National Park gatehouse at 5.00 p.m. to discover that the required annual car parking fee had risen by approximately $ 100.00. The attendant’s explanation about financing a second sewerage pipe at one of the privately owned ski-resorts was not convincing. Having no alternative, we paid the fee. Then quickly arrived at Charlottes Pass car park; at which, Jerry and Rod had also arrived ten minutes earlier. After a quick change into our wet weather gear, all four of us were soon attempting to cross the swollen Snowy river, before heading for our intended base camp four kilometres northwest tucked into an unnamed creek valley directly beneath Carruthers Peak. The Weather Bureau had forecast snow for both Xmas eve and Xmas day. Although not explicitly stated, it was clear there were expectations of a possible ‘White Xmas’ prevalent among the group.

The Weather Bureau had made inaccurate forecasts in the past, and this proved to be the case once again. Next morning, Xmas eve, up and out of our tents at 7.00 am, the previous night’s rain had been replaced by a blustery wind from the east. Under a clear sky, yet with a heavy pall of humidity in the air, we quickly prepared our daypacks for a 9.00 am start. Our walk would take in the prominent peaks of the Main Range, and culminate with a climb to Mt Kosciuszko; before contouring around the southeast flank of the robust Mt Clarke and ascending a shallow valley to Club lake.

High above the treeline, we marvelled at the rocky theatre of Mt Townsend, Mt Alice Rawson, and Abbot Peak. Scuttling along the crusty remnants of an old firetrack etched into the western edge of the ridge, we were captivated by the petite blue-green expanse of Lake Albina; before it dropped out of sight into a vortex of ice carved granite and punctuated shadow comprising Lady Northcotes Canyon. The primeval force of an ice-age 10,000 years earlier, and its sculpting of the Main Range, is unique upon the Australian mainland. So unlike the Victorian mountains, within which I had spent my formative bushwalking years. Thirteen years earlier, when my brother and I had traversed the Main Range during our journey along the 750 km Australian Alps Walking Track, the range had remained concealed by low cloud. But now that I was experiencing the remarkable precision of nature on a clear day, it was as if my memory of that first experience was itself in the process of being altered by this glacial landscape. Separating the experience, pushing memories to one side, then carving out a new appreciation of the landscape as it unfolded before me. Kosciuszko National Park is constantly evolving, but so too are our perceptions of what it has to offer, and I soon found myself vowing to one day return to its excruciating beauty as we left the Abbot Range behind and began our ascent toward Kosciuszko’s summit.

We did not spend much time on the summit of Kosciuszko. Apart from acquiring the somewhat smug sense of achievement that accompanies climbing Australia’s highest mountain, the summit is now the domain of daytrippers from the several ski-resorts encircling the Main Range. Leaving 50 odd people to enjoy the view, we left the track and headed across open grassland, skirting northeast around the base of Mt Clarke, then ascending the valley of Club creek to its namesake, Club lake. A pocket of aqua coloured water hidden between Mt Clarke, Mt Lee, and Carruthers Peak, the lake's isolation was in stark contrast to the populated summit of Kosciuszko. As we strolled back to our base camp this was a curt reminder that the Main Range is a curious mix of the civilised and the remote; a somewhat uncomfortable balance of polarised interests maintained by the New South Wales parks and wildlife service. Nevertheless, camped beneath the tranquil shoulders of Twynam and Carruthers peak, it was easy to forget that the Main Range is surrounded by a handful of ski-resorts and is the origin of the monumental Snowy Mountains Hydro electric scheme.

That evening, Lesley put the rest of us to shame by being the one member of our party brave enough to swim in the paralysing water at 2000 metres altitude, directly beneath Carruthers Peak. Cold the water may have been, but it was nothing compared to the unexpected drop in temperature we would experience over the next two days. Seduced by the majesty of the Main Range, combined with the Weather Bureau’s (slightly) inaccurate forecast, I distinctly remember saying to others in the group:

“Something pretty strange will have to occur overnight if we’re going to have a White Xmas”.

Pretty strange indeed... When I woke at 5.00 am on Xmas day to the sound of hailstones pelting the side of my tent, I only became convinced of a White Xmas when at 8.45 am the rattle of hail was replaced by the familiar sound of powder spraying across the surface of my tent. The snow would continue for two days. The temperature would drop to somewhere approaching -10 degrees. My fifteen year old sleeping bag was definitely not the bag it had once been. By Wednesday morning, I would understand in my bones, toes, fingers, head and feet the painful implications of a White Xmas on the Main Range.

After countless cups of tea, and several hours lying on my back studying a speck of fly excrement, Jerry, himself experiencing ‘Cabin fever’, suggested a short walk two kilometres east to Blue lake. Still snowing, it was a revelation watching snow collect in the dark seams comprising the sheer face of Mt Twynam, overlooking the lake; thereby outlining the three glacial moraines that 10.000 years earlier had descended from the Great Dividing Range, scooping out the thirty metres of rock that was now Blue lake. But our visit would be brief. Driving wind and snow, along with ice accumulating on wet weather gear that gave us the appearance of walkers cast in statuesque bronze, soon saw us retreating to the relative comfort of our tents. As snow continued throughout the night, tents froze, and the temperature approached -10 degrees, I woke at 3.00 am feeling like an icicle. Remaining immersed within my tatty sleeping bag, I also shoved my feet and legs into my empty pack, covered the rest of my upper body in a goretex jacket, overpants and groundsheet, donned a heavy woolen balaclava, and after a short period shivering, felt my body temperature rise to an acceptable level. Although still cold, I managed three hours sleep. Upon waking at 6.00 am I was glad to replace my ‘Freezer bag’ with the rest of my clothes and a hot cup of coffee. Peering outside through the fly, there was six centimetres of snow covering the ground surrounding our tents.


Wednesday morning, 5 30.a.m., and a red sun rising in the east cast a palpable glow on one side of my tent. (Boxing Day, six centimetres of snow, and a daywalk to Watsons Crags, Little Twynam, and Blue Lake, this time in fine weather, had passed us by as if events occurring in a dream). Stage two of our trip, consisting of a five day pack carry following the Great Dividing Range fifty kilometres north to Mt Jagungal, was about to begin. But before we could start, Jerry, Rod, and Lesley returned to Charlottes Pass and picked up pre-prepared five day food parcels. Four hours later, once Jerry, Rod and Lesley returned with fresh supplies, (during which I had spent the morning cleaning my tent), we were away on the track over Mt Twynam.

Immediately, both the landscape and my appreciation of it transformed. The previous four days spent above the treeline were replaced by a windswept silence punctuated by intimidating formations of ancient rock. A sombre mood settled over the group as we scampered along a barely discernable firetrail. According to our navigator Jerry, the track we were walking along had developed a life of its own. Instead of following the obvious route between two landforms, the track bobbed and weaved around and beyond the exposed faces of Mt Anderson and Anton, somewhat indirectly winding its way toward Mann Bluff. Rock, confusions of it, malformed rocky ledges and outcrops of stone; the stuff loomed all around us, resembling a moonscape that emanated a strange sense of what life might have been like if stranded upon an alien world. Added to this mix of stone and incremental afternoon shadow, sunlight descended through a prism created by a sky emblazoned with monumental cumulonimbus cloud. Past experience had taught the amateur photographer within me that these anvils of gas and myth often forged fading light into luminous evenings. So, as we climbed toward a saddle separating Mann Bluff from Mt Tate East Ridge, I quickly erected my tent then submerged myself in experimental camera technique.

Sublime evening it proved to be as Jerry, Rod, Lesley and I were dumbstruck by that chameleon Mt Tate, as its sculpted peak refracted the sinking sun in a transcendental display of yellow, orange, and red, then purple and crimson; before once again reverting to inanimate rock as the last curve of the sun fell below Robertsons Ridge, hovering above the valley of the infant Geehi river. Does change in the landscape without, initiate change to the landscape within ? Maybe... But if so, then Tate’s performance on that sublime evening should remain Kosciuszko National Park’s best kept secret.

Next morning, Thursday the 28th, and fast approaching the end of one year and the beginning of another, a spiteful easterly wind cornered us on the summit of Mt Tate, then harassed us as we plodded through Alpine grass, (trying to avoid treading on delicate patches of sphagnum moss), while crossing the notorious Rolling Ground. A perplexing undulation of exposed granite oscillating at 2000 metres altitude, The Rolling Ground runs south to north and separates the Geehi and Munyang rivers. Even in fine weather, it can be a difficult beast to navigate, and seems to extract a sadistic pleasure in challenging the ability of walkers who fancy themselves with map and compass. But Jerry had a secret weapon: a G.P.S., which he quickly produced from his pack, before using its grid reference capacity to locate his exact position. The 2003 bushfires had also helped; clearing much waist high scrub and creating a vast procession of skeletal snowgums stretching across the Munyang river valley and beyond, toward the nordically inclined Gungartan. Immediately after lunch, we first descended a shallow creek valley, then picked up a faint firetrail, dropping 300 metres in altitude before ending at Whites River Hut. After a quick glance into the hut’s interior, Jerry suggested the ambitiously named ‘Schlink Hilton’ was a more sophisticated alternative: Rod, Lesley and I agreed. After a three kilometre road bash, we arrived at the Schlink to the possibility of sleeping in an actual bed for the first time in a week. Jerry and I jumped at the chance. But not before I conducted what soon became a strange, ritualistic search for bedbug infestation.

Without an electric microscope, it is impossible to ascertain the presence or otherwise of these blood-sucking parasites. When sleeping in a bush bed, a walker must take a calculated risk and become the subject of his own experiment. As with any scientific venture, precaution remains a top priority. Consequently, I slipped beneath my unzipped sleeping bag wearing woolen Long Johns. (A bushfire precaution to counter the possible ignition and subsequent melting next to my skin of the rest of my synthetic clothing). As the heat beneath my sleeping bag increased I removed the woolen undershirt and lay with my back upon the mattress. (Better to be bitten upon the upper torso first, as opposed to other, let me say, more delicate anatomical protuberances). After some time staring in the dark at the vague outline of a top bunk, I deemed it safe to remove my woolen leggings. This I did rather gingerly, then folded both garments by the light of a 3 phase moon saturating the interior of the Schlink Hilton. While listening to Jerry complain about the poor roomservice, I fell backwards into the first uninterrupted sleep I’d had for seven days. Waking early the next morning, my blood supply was fully intact. Over breakfast, I tried persuading Jerry that the Schlink Hilton deserved a five star rating. But, still muffed by the poor roomservice, Jerry refused to go past three. Eventually, four stars became the acceptable number for recapturing the common ground.

After a week of walking on faint traces of firetrails, open country, and foot tracks, we headed for the strawberry coloured Valentines Hut along a well defined firetrail. But not for long; straight after lunch, we left Valentine firetrail as it undulated west toward Grey Mare Hut, while we sauntered east at 1750 metres altitude across grasslands interspersed by granite outcrops, and into the Jagungal wilderness. Our destination was Bluff Tarn, and once again Jerry was forced to consult his G.P.S. when we became disorientated in country with few distinguishing landmarks. Stumbling around the watershed of Valentine creek, we knew that we were close to our intended campsite. So Jerry and Rod dropped packs and climbed to a shallow saddle on the ridge; before soon returning with the good news that not only had they found our campsite, but the actual tarn beneath the bluff - roughly the size of a large swimming pool - contained enough water within which to immerse a body in bad need of a bath. Inspired by the thought of my first decent wash in seven days, we climbed toward the ridge line. But as we rounded the base of Strawberry Hill, momentarily, their came into out northerly view, Mt Jagungal. At 2061 metres altitude and six or seven kilometres to the north, its south-east summit beckoned, before once again becoming obscured by rock and trees comprising the ascent to our sheltered campsite. I had been on that summit thirteen years ago, and here I was thirteen years later preparing to climb the same mountain once again. What had happened in the thirteen years since I had last reached the summit of Jagungal ? Kosciuszko National Park had been decimated by bushfire in 2003, and feral pigs now inhabited the Jagungal wilderness. Yes, the park itself had changed, but what of myself ? What type of person had I become between 1992 and 2006 ?

Ducking my head beneath the shallow, drought stricken water of Bluff Tarn, the cloudy water rising from my disturbance of its murky bottom obscured any sensibility I had of past experience. So I settled for trying to make my body clean, rinsed seven days of sweat from my shirt and clothes, returned to our campsite, watched the sunset, and prepared for our last day on the track before new years eve.

I woke early, a faint hue of blue light beneath a ridge to the east. I was hoping to photograph a crimson sunrise saturating a particular ancient snowgum discovered the previous night. A thunderclap at 2.30 am, followed by rain and a lightning strike, had sent the natural world undercover. Unzipping my tent inner, then peering out from under the fly at the pre-dawn, I saw in my peripheral vision a large Huntsman attached to the inner wall of my tent. Too close, and too bloody hairy for my liking, I slapped the tent wall with the back of my hand. Of course, the Huntsman fell to the ground and immediately disappeared somewhere beneath the tent floor. I then spent an unnerving thirty minutes preparing coffee and eating breakfast while concerned about the exact location of the big spider.

An excess of cirrus cloud saw my expectation of a crimson sunrise diluted into a cream coloured light, resulting in an uninspired photograph. At 9.00 am we left our tents pitched at Tarn Bluff and began our climb toward Mt Jagungal via the headwater of the Geehi river.


A jet airplane flew high overhead; perhaps we were directly beneath the Canberra-Melbourne flightpath. Either way, as we slogged through Alpine grass upon our afternoon return from Jagungal’s summit, the plane’s presence in the sky above snapped me out of an introspective mood.

After thirteen years, reaching the summit again amounted to the perplexing sensation of having expended much energy, for very little reward. Upon our arrival, Jerry, Rod and I had attempted to locate ourselves in the present, by articulating the past. Rod had climbed to the summit seven times, Jerry had been there in the last twelve months, while Lesley, who had never reached the summit at all, had declined the climb and remained in the saddle directly east of the summit, where we’d had lunch. In the thirteen years since first climbing Jagungal, the surrounding landscape was as I remembered it: the same view north to Namadgi National Park, the same view south beyond the Main Range toward the Victorian border. Exhilarated thirteen years earlier, I, like the burnt out, bushfire ravaged landscape before me, at forty six and well into middle age, was feeling the effects of climate change.

Later, on New Years Eve, and after leaving Bluff Tarn, we traipsed along the valley of the Valentine river beneath the threatening presence of a complex electrical storm. Upon our arrival at Schlink Pass, the end of our trip was foreshadowed by a sobering stretch of steel pillion and humming cable that was the powerline leading to Guthega power station. At Whites River Hut, on our last night within an increasingly civilised wilderness, Jerry, Rod, Lesley and I pretended to warm our hands around a non-existent campfire. Laughing and joking, we also felt the weight of expectation that arises from having spent nine days living among the natural world, while the power lines above reminded us of the civilised society from which we had come, and which would soon be our inevitable destination. New Years Day we followed the powerlines to their source.

Upon arriving at the Guthega power station I was struck by the sudden contrast between the chaotic symmetry of the natural world, its windswept ridges, running water and granite peaks, and the dull, familiar angularity of the power station. Constructed with one purpose in mind, that of generating electricity, the signs warning visitors of video surveillance were also a reminder of the volatile state of world affairs at the beginning of the 21st century.

Before climbing into Jerry’s car in preparation for completing our car shuffle to Charlottes Pass, I impulsively snapped a photograph of three huge white hydro-electric pipes disappearing up and over a large hill. Shortly after doing so, I realised the eventual photograph would be meaningless. For it was as if I was once again trying to capture Jagungal’s image, some twenty kilometres to the north. As well as understand the implications of a visit to its summit while wondering what insights Jagungal would contain for myself, and the world in which I lived, when I would once again stand on its summit, revisiting my past with a clear eye and the benefit of high mountain insight. As much as Jagungal remains the same, each visit will always be altogether different. That’s climate change, and a Kosciuszko Xmas.


Ice age on the Main Range

Between an estimated 10,000 and 35,000 years ago, at the end of the Pleistocene era, a large percentage of the earth’s surface was covered in ice. Australia, particularly in its southeast corner, also experienced this extended period of glaciation. Periglaciation, a condition during which the surrounding landscape is subjected to freeze-thaw cycles, is said to have occurred across a 40,000 square kilometre area of the Australian Alps. But actual glaciation, where mountains are subjected to many thousands of years of permanent ice cover, only occurred within a 25-50 square kilometre area of Kosciuszcko National Park.

Today, incontrovertible evidence of glaciation can be seen throughout the Main Range. Cirques, moraines, grooved and ice polished pavements, roches moutonnees, boulder erratics and glacial lakes, are all clearly visible. Of the five glacial lakes surrounding Mt Kosciuszko, only Blue Lake is believed to have been gouged by a glacier. Disagreement exists around the formation of Club Lake, although there is some evidence to suggest it may have been glacially carved. Lakes Cootapatamba and Albina are moraine dammed: meaning each was a shallow volume of water blocked and prevented from draining by the debris pushed aside when a glacier carved out a cirque above each lake. (Hedley Tarn is not overshadowed by a cirque; still moraine damned, its formation is the result of a different geological event). Lake Cootapatamba may be the highest lake in Australia, but Blue Lake is unique in that during the last ice age, it gradually became a 30 metre deep bowl of ice: the result of three glaciers descending from different points on The Great Dividing Range. When standing on the southern shore of Blue Lake, the debris pushed aside by the overwhelming force created by these three descending glaciers, can be clearly seen today. This evidence of glacial activity across the Main Range is unique on the Australian mainland.

marie's story

A calm night, I cruise these city streets, this neon painting... Walking, hands in pockets, no purpose... I do not walk these streets for any particular purpose other than I like the way they feel... The clickety clack of my high heel shoes upon this cobblestone street... Discard these in favour of the bare sole... Comfortable again... Have heard this story before but shall tell it once more... Walk these city streets, this neon painting... And there at the foot of a stair at the rear of a dimly lit street I see Jimmy, suit pants, white shirt, a hand on each bannister... He climbs the stair, he enters the room, he is gone. For the first time the new moon has risen and I am alone again.

This present circumstance requires a past explanation... When Jimmy was a young man standing on the edge of a netball court all the girls wanted him. I watched Debbie, the way she never took her eyes off him... Eyes like telescopic sights that woman... And Nikki, a nice girl, but too easily hurt by the rumour that she had second stage gonorrhea and would be insane outside the end of the year. Yes, they all wanted Jimmy, so I had to act fast. Latched onto him one night in the Retreat Hotel... Said to him:

“You’re mine sweetie... You’re comin’ home with me”.

Bad move that... He treated me like a slag thereafter... Girls, I do decree, the age old maxim of not revealing your true intentions is still the best method for hauling in the Big Eyed Trevally.

I was smoking heaps of weed at the time. L., after screwing every guy she could get her hands on, (boy, did she show them what ‘mate’ really meant), fell in with Peter the Stripper who had just been released from jail on Supreme Court Appeal. He’d done three years for rape and came out a vicious bastard. (Jack’s brother, a screw, said they’d billysticked The Stripper in the shower cubicle when he’d dropped the soap, and this was probably true). So Peter the Stripper was with L. and he was moving some weed, which suited me because I liked a toke... And we had lots of laughs, stoned to the eyeballs on Saturday afternoons, drinking stubbies and smoking J’s before The Stripper and L. would retire to her bedroom, leaving me stoned and in deep space, forced to listen to L.’s bed squeak in between short intervals all afternoon and well into the evening.

Perhaps I was jealous or had nothing better to do but I rifled The Strippers jacket he’d left hanging over the back of a chair. There was a fat wad of cash in it; about six hundred in twenties... But I didn’t touch that. He’d have cut my throat. Heaps of grass I already had so I didn’t worry about the heads hidden in the jacket lining. But I very quickly snookered twelve strips of blotting paper in a glassine bag I found in a zip up pocket. Each strip was perforated into twenty four triangles, each with a different cartoon character. There was Donald Duck, Porky Pig and Sylvester... There was even one of Yosemite Sam. “You’re darn tootin’ rabbit”, I said to myself. I hadn’t had a decent hit of L.S.D. for years. If The Stripper and L. were going to screw the afternoon into evening then this was one trip I was not going to miss out on.

Along with the keys to Peter the Stripper’s Fairlane I pocketed the gear, had a glass of orange juice to pep up my vitamin C, then drove around to the Retreat to see my sister Jeannie, who always sat in the beer garden drinking pony’s on Saturday afternoons and who had access to the necessary apparatus for “self administration of drugs of addiction”, as the police had pointed out on a charge sheet I had acquired during an earlier drug spree resulting in a string of convictions.

I parked The Stripper’s Fairlane in a block of flats at rear of The Retreat, (the Jacks were on his tail for not reporting to the Collingwood Police Station twice a week), pushed the lounge door open and through the rear window saw my sister Jeannie holding court with a chorus of criminal felines. My eyes might have been drawn to Jeannie and thoughts of an impending date with L.S.D., but I can tell you the cobwebs parted when I saw Jimmy standing in the bar wearing a pair of white tennis shorts and drinking seven ounce glasses with Snaggles. Jimmy saw me and drunkenly raised his glass. I knew then that a heady afternoon of booze and beernuts had dismissed any and all past resistance. It was a classic case of the brain occupied drinking so the groin does all the thinking and the man in the boat might have up periscoped but I promptly dismissed Jimmy’s amorous advance and disappeared into the beer garden. His sweet face fell into his seven ounce glass before he quickly rearranged his features and rejoined the conversation.

My sister Jeannie was glad to see me and whispered that her bloke Alan had ripped off a sex toy warehouse.

“You want some freebies ?” Jeannie said.

“What’dya got ?”

“Dildos and ticklers. Duo Balls and nipple clamps. Whips, stirrups, and a variety of dirty lingerie... Not to mention erotic candlegrease for those who like a burning love”.

“Are you serious" ?

“Of course, but Alan’s going to hock the lot pretty quick. We’re having a sex party Friday afternoon. Male strippers and everything...”

“I’ll be there”, I said. “But listen, I’m after something else right this minute”.

Jeannie knocked back her pony and handed the empty glass to her friend Sheila.


“You remember when Alan burged that pharmacy in Kew and got all those fits ?”

“What’dya want a fit for ?”

“It’s only a one off”.

“Morphine ?”

“No. L.S.D.”

“L.S.D..? You saw what that shit did to me”.

Jeannie had ended up in Larundel. Certified; six weeks.

“Yeah, but you had heaps of it over two years”.

“True... How much you got ?”

“Twelve sheets”.

“You little bitch... I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll get you a glass fit. A nice smooth Blue Lady... And a dozen picks... But only if you’ll split the gear with me. Six sheets each”.

“Nine and three”.

“No way. Six and six... Or stick it under your tongue”.

“O.K. Six and six. But I want the twelve picks”.

Sheila returned with the drinks.

“Deal. Sheila, give that pony to Marie. I’ve gotta go do the business”.

Jeannie picked up her handbag and I drank the pony. Sheila, drunk as a skunk, pulled up her top and showed off her tits to some bloke on the way to the bar. The girls all laughed. It was Saturday afternoon.


I sat with the girls for a while, Joy and Sissy, Katie and Sheila, drinking pony’s and smoking joints. But it all got a bit too much, what with Joy talking about her other half George about to be released from Long Bay after a ten year stint. Joy wasn’t sure how she would cope with seeing him again. But there was never any question she wouldn’t get back with him. No, that was completely out of the question... We all became a tad quiet then so I had one last toke of a juicy joint Katie had rolled and said to the girls:

“I’ve got a friend in the bar to see...”

Katie clued right in.

“You little hussy, who is he ?”

Sheila threw in her two bobs worth.

“Get him out here. I wanna show him me tits”.

I almost said Sheila’s tits might be too wrinkled for Jimmy, but quickly bit my tongue. Sheila had stabbed her fella, Kind Kevin, after he had made a crack about the stretch marks across her belly. She probably wouldn’t have said anything to me... I was Jeannie’s sister... But have no doubt, these girls would turn on you at the drop of a hat.

I said goodbye, not before asking Joy to let Jeannie know I was in the bar when she returned. Then, on my way through to the lounge, dropped into the Ladies for a widdle. Some imbecile had pissed all over the seat and the other cubicle was occupied so I cleaned the seat up before I sat down. Once this was finished I lifted my dress and pulled down my knickers then sat on the seat and listened to the sound of pee whipping one side of the toilet bowl.

I was half drunk and pretty stoned; it occurred to me - my thoughts being in a place where I had time to think - that shooting up L.S.D. was crazy. When I asked myself why, there wasn’t any reason. Just a vague hum in my head; probably the result of the pot and booze... But there was something else in me that, I don’t know... Was just sad. There wasn’t any reason for this sadness, but the place I lived in, not having my kids, my job in the shoe factory, my daddy dying in prison, it was all just, well, sad... Everything was sad... But there wasn’t any use feeling sad about everything, or else I was in danger of disappearing down the brasco. It’s amazing the thoughts you have when you’re stoned. Disappearing down a toilet bowl, can you imagine that ? A fate worse than death Jeannie would say. So, after I’d pulled up my knickers I popped a ticket from the card. Unable to wait for the syringe I placed the trip under my tongue and sucked it dry. This was the way things always went... I got sad, felt I was disappearing, got on the drugs, and disappeared anyway - but at least I was having fun doing it.

I washed my hands in the sink and was about to leave when I heard the toilet flush in the next cubicle and out came Debbie’s half sister, Gordana, in a skimpy floral dress, saw me, flicked brown hair from her face and said:

“Hello Marie... Here, listen... Have a go at this”.

In her right hand, a small plastic bottle. In her left, a cigarette filter.

“What is it ?”


“But I just dropped a trip”.

“Can you spare one for me ?”

“Yeah... Gee, that’s a nice dress...”

“Sweet, isn’t it ? Knicked it from Myers last week. They’re goin’cheap...”

“Naah. Not for me. Too short, too fat, big hips, no tits. I’d look like a fucking wagon wheel... Nice dress though...”

I gave Gordana a trip and she slipped it under her tongue, then placed a drop of amyl on the cigarette filter.

“Suit yourself. Here, get this into ya”.

I jammed the filter up one nostril, sealed the other with my finger, shut my mouth, and snorted the mixture into my system. The effect was immediate. It felt as if my head had been split in two with a meat cleaver.

“Wow, that’s sick”.

“Isn’t it ?” Gordana said.

“Quick, hold me for a bit”.

Gordana laughed, then put her arms around me. I felt the soft graze of her olive skin against my left cheek. Then the effect of the amyl was gone and I started feeling queasy, which I suspected was the beginning of a twelve hour trip into the toilet bowl, but who gives a shit ?

So I went into the bar and sat down on a stool. Billy the Punter said hello and so did Nick the Greek. (He was having a quick beer or two before he had to front up at the twenty four hour take away food joint he ran in Johnston St.). Jimmy and Snaggles were still there, but I pretended not to notice. Instead, I ordered a Kailua and milk then wandered over to Old Lily, the ‘Mother of all the Lost Kids in the World’. We had a chat for ten minutes but it was hard following exactly what Lil’ said. Her sentences spun out in threads that made the bar of the Retreat look like a video game. The trip was strong; Lily’s yellow face began turning deep blue. I tried not to let on that I was tripping, and I don’t think she suspected anything; apart from me having had a joint or two. I’d had plenty of practice at covering up the effect of drugs and was working out a plan for somehow finding an excuse to speak to Jimmy - which wasn’t easy as I had to straighten out my thoughts while also listening to remnants of Lily’s life story - when I felt a gentle touch at my elbow.

“How’re ya goin’ Marie ?”

Christ... Jimmy had caught me by surprise and I had to think quick.

“Lily’s just tellin’ me her life story. Three parts, one book. You know how it is....”

He placed his beer on the table and pulled up a stool. Lily leaned across and gave him a smoochie on the cheek.

“How are you sweetie ? I saw your mummy last week”.

“Oh yeah ?” Jimmy said: “We’re not that close really...”

“A good boy always goes and sees his mummy”.

I almost laughed as Lily trailed off into some ancient story that had nothing to do with everything. Out of respect Jimmy and I listened for five or ten minutes, nodding our heads, agreeing with everything Lily said, until her alcoholic face and paisley headscarf came together in my crazy trip and she became a sorceress spinning an evil spell around the both of us. I couldn’t take anymore and excused myself by drinking up my Kailua and milk and saying I had to get another, went to the toilet and checked my face in a mirror, thought my skin was peeling away, straightened myself out, went back into the bar, and saw Jimmy standing by the jukebox about to slip a coin into the slot.

“Lily’s a bit hard to take when she gets some steam up”.

“Yeah”. Jimmy said: “I had to tunnel out through the back door myself. Promised I’d put Dean Martin on for her...You wanna hear something ?”

“War Pigs”.

“Who sings that ?”

“Black Sabbath... I got the album. You wanna borrow it ?”

Without looking, I saw Jimmy look at me. On his face there was that hint of recognition all men experience once you let them know you’re available. I expected him to jump right in. Funny though, he quickly looked away and went back to studying the songs on the juke box. I had to set things straight; which wasn’t easy, for Jimmy’s face was becoming part of the neon display.

“I’ll bring the album in next week. But I want it back, O.K ?”

He let the coins drop, pushed the button, and with the onset of Dean Martin singing ‘That’s Amore’, selected ‘War Pigs’, then asked me what I was drinking.

“Beer”. I said: “With a shot of Green Ginger Wine”.

It was going to be a big night.


We sat down at a table by a window, looking out onto Johnston St. I didn’t tell him I was tripping because I was frightened he’d think I was a druggie, but soon had a strip of L.S.D. between my thumb and forefinger. He couldn’t get over the cartoon characters. Liked Porky Pig the best; before telling me to put the gear away. I should have known better and quickly did as he said.

I was tripping out; the walls screamed, slipped and skidded along the floor and fused with the ceiling. That cheshire grin of Jimmy’s I loved was up and across his face. I was Alice in Wonderland as the L.S.D. really took hold, and I slipped through a rabbit hole. The hair on Jimmy’s head stood up in a curlicue that made him look like a cartoon character. I wasn’t sure how much more of this I could take but while I was drinking with Jimmy everything was alright, and we looked like having the time of our lives well into the night.

I’d been waiting for him to ask, but he hadn’t; so I asked him if he wanted a trip. I swear, I almost had to beat him off with a big stick, and was just about to do so, when in through the front door of the bar walked Peter the Stripper, jacket in a bundle under his right arm and my friend L. behind him.

He looked straight at me and I knew I was gone. I wasn’t being paranoid either. I didn’t know what to do and just hoped everything would be alright; ask L. to calm The Stripper down if he got too upset, which was likely.

She came over and said hello while The Stripper went to the bar. By the tone of her voice she didn’t know that I’d stolen The Stripper’s gear, but she quickly worked out I was on something. Jimmy, on the way up on the L.S.D., started giggling at every little incident. A fly crawled up a wall - he laughed. L.’s red bra strap slipped from her shoulder - he thought this was ridiculous. L. was about to say something when The Stripper approached, sat down uninvited, stared straight at me, and mentioned that a certain item, being twelve strips of blotting paper, had gone missing from the zip up pocket in the sleeve of his jacket.

I looked at Jimmy, Jimmy looked at L., and L. looked at me. Peter the Stripper stared at all of us; fastidiously, if I could put it that way. But before anyone said a word my sister Jeannie strolled in through the rear door, sent her fella’ Alan to the bar to get a drink, while she squeezed in between The Stripper and I. Feigning sincerity Jeannie said:

“Marie sweetie... What are you drinking ?”

Peter the Stripper grabbed my arm.

“You went through my jacket didn’t you ?”

I pulled my arm away from him.

“I don’t know what you mean”.

Jeannie looked over her shoulder toward Alan at the bar while The Stripper continued.

“You know what I’m talkin’ about. My car, the tickets...”

Alan came over with the drinks.

“Hi Al.” I said.

He didn’t take an eye off Peter the Stripper.

“Marie... What’s doin’ sweetie... Are you havin’ a drink ?”

“Yeah. I’ll just go to the loo... Won’t be a tick”.

“Goodo”. Alan said.

Then extended a hand toward The Stripper.

“Alan’s the name. We haven’t met...”

Peter the Stripper might have been a bit of a crook but Alan was serious crime. He had done time in Jika Jika before it was burnt out and they only put you in The Zoo if you were a poorly behaved animal. Richmond was his stomping ground, so up in Collingwood he was a little out of his depth. But all the rough heads in the bar looked the other way. They knew he carried a piece and wasn’t afraid of using it; (someone had given it to that big mouth Costello and dumped him in Alexander Pde. Everyone knew who, but nobody was saying anything). Meanwhile, Alan had settled down, formed a crew and turned to more profitable ways of making a living; he was now doing major burgs, along with the infrequent armed heist, but only if the job was easy pickings.

Jeannie fronted me in the loo.

“You idiot”. She said.

“What do you mean ?”

“Give us the tickets... And his car keys”.

I’d forgotten about the car and told Jeannie where it was parked.

“Now get the fuck out of here before I fucking shoot you”.

This was the best advice I’d had all afternoon.

Hopefully Jeannie would fix it up with Peter the Stripper and he’d find it in his heart to forgive me... Fat chance; in this game everyone has to pay.

It’s always the same isn’t it ? As soon as things start looking sweet between Jimmy and me, I fuck up again. Everything unravels like twine off the spool on the sewing machine at work.

I spent the weekend tripping but I didn’t shoot the L.S.D.


That woman’s voice. This trashy piece of cheap suburban crime. Who is she ? Who are these people that populate my waking hours ? Walk these city streets, this neon painting... Hands embedded within the pockets of my herringbone coat. The snip of a suspender belt pinching the skin in the small of my back. Along with all these characters I am just a simple braid in an endless sequence of someone else’s dream. If only I could find words... But words are not forthcoming. Once again, all that is present is her voice. That sad simple girl, full of L.S.D., out onto the streets of Collingwood...