Saturday, December 31, 2011

Previously on Den Done Did for 2011.

Life as a work of Art. Having resettled in Melbourne in 2010 I face 2011 with a new business, Fromelles novel and side projects in progress and bachelor again for the first time in years. Will 2011 be the game-changer I expect it to be? I aim to explore this question and others as they arise...perhaps we could explore them together.

Friday, December 23, 2011

No more be grieved at that which thou hast done...

"There is no one…however wise, who has not at some period of their youth said things, or lived in a way the consciousness of which is so unpleasant to them in later life that they would gladly, if they could, expunge it from their memory. And yet they ought not regret it entirely, because they cannot be certain that they have indeed become a wise person—so far as it is possible for any of us to be wise—unless they have passed through all the fatuous or unwholesome incarnations by which that ultimate stage must be preceded. I know that there are young people…whose teachers have instilled in them a nobility of mind and moral refinement from the very beginning of their schooldays. They have, perhaps, when they look back upon their past lives, nothing to retract; they can, if they choose, publish a signed account of everything they have ever said or done; but they are poor creatures, feeble descendants of doctrinaires, and their wisdom is negative and sterile. We cannot be taught wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, via a journey which no one can undertake for us, an effort which no one can spare us."

Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past: Volume I - Swann's Way & Within a Budding Grove

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Meredith Music Festival 2011

I went to my first Meredith music festival this weekend. It began with an arduous all-pack, a caravan of three cars, a midnight road trip, arrived around 3am all hepped up on caffeine and delirium...queued up some 30 cars back from the entrance and waited for the sun.

I saw great things, great people, highly charged music...the atmosphere and tumult...festival lives and crazy adventure -- the youths and the rest of us intermingled in a celebration of life, love and creativity... I don't know how else to say it.

I found a Meredith wife. We ran around like 18 year old kids. Blissing on the mania --
Pulled into the crowd on Friday night for Explosions In The sky. Somehow she moved us seamlessly through the throng into the perfect position in the middle of the Supernatural Amphitheatre. Lit by sunset, an o'erhanging firmament of thick clouds set against deep blue sky, Flanked by trees, grass and coloured lights -- an intense atmosphere that made you forget everything else.

My Meredith wife and I swooned by the music became elated. We watched for a while and then began a dialogue that heaved along with the brilliant music of EITS. We spoke in frenetic meter of many things, music, books, life and death. We danced through the throng heaved wistful and long, carnival passion long dip-diddy done-done --I lived a thousand lives before I met her..
before the conversation ended. To connect with another human being ushered by the high form of Meredith-- Dont sink me I thought. Dont let this moment end and it didnt really but dove and ducked and dived alive beyond all recognition -- the dance of humanity the romance of recognising yourself in someone else. Being understood, understand? We took the Ferris wheel twice, had an 80's dance off, searched for drugs in Top Camp whilst the lunar eclipse darkened, tripped on guy ropes, ran arm in arm laughed laughed laughed laughed

-- swaying trees with no need of us but vibrating to the music, feeding on the energy. Our symbiosis. It all connected and for once I felt totally alive. Totally free. Jubilant connection with the people, our people and all people for this is a festival of the mind in which the human condition is elevated to sparkling resonance --- and we can never be the same...

The rain came on Saturday night -- we met again, whirled around searching feverishly for life
As much to move through the heaving mass of bodies, chatter everywhere the song of the trees harmonic night...revelry...symposium...I just cant put the words in play to say--

I had a revelatory experience with my friends and my Meredith wife. Satorial. I learnt many things, not least of which to remember. Remember Den? To love my time and embrace the moment. My Meredith wife helped me with that the most. Finally we spent a cold wet night together. There was nothing tawdry or sexual between us beyond the intermingled connection of our souls, this is to say this was no one-night stand, for we lay close but had no fear of each
other...pure innocent companionship. It was one of the best nights of my life and sorely needed after a year of being out of sync in my head and with just about everything and everyone and wondering if my inner spark had finally puffed-out since Max died and my relationship died and friendships that came and went in the night like snatched up memory torn out in midnight operation that I didn't consent to and the stupidity of youth played out again in my life somewhere past youth and still re-learning lessons I thought I'd passed and passed through. To be brought back to such a reckoning...again and a groundhog day without Bill Murray to give you the courage to laugh at it and the surreal back hander that life can be when you charge with your heart and not your head...although I will always shield-up with my heart --hard wired romantic dreamer...I thought I had gamness and I do...I do...
but I forgot, not what to do but how to do it--

My Meredith wife reminded me of this, probably will never know how she helped me and I wish we could spend weightless years in that bush together, in the park, up in the sky on wheel overlooking the ravine and the Supernatural Ampitheatre melting into the foreground, in the tent hiding from the cold and rain, under the sheet warmth --- running, hugging arm-in-arm laughing like fresh teenagers, laughing about how much we were laughing.

The Californian punk band Off inspired me to leap into the moshpit for the first time in years -- felt the love of my brothers & sisters --their sheer exuberance -- thrashing around with those marvelous kids, who smashed into each not to hurt but to emote and emote and wrote this sitting looking back trying to 10% my way back there. Force open a window in time so I could small way share this with you.
Future of the Left wrought tight power and nostalgia in me for Mclusky even though I had to assure H that we indeed were not "all going straight to hell" And I feel I should evoke more of the music but I cant move past my connection with Meredith wife who asked me if I could be part of her life after this. I said we'd try but who knows right? We have separate lives that run in parallel and as you get older it seems harder to force the streams together, to close the gap for long enough to forge bonds...but we have a bond now and I will try and I hope she will try and maybe with a dual try...we will defy the trend of single serving festival friends. The orgiastic future that F.Scott's its way year by year before us -- it eluded us then, but that's no matter, for tomorrow we will beat on -- I hope so because I love my Meredith wife and I'd love to be her friend.

Post Script: I took my SLR and had my phone camera but forgot to shoot. I took two photos on the Thursday night and attempted one photo in the festival which was of two butterflies mating in our camp. I reached up and back, trying not to disturb them and mashed the photo but the accidental art --the conjunction of objects...well there it is.

Listening to:
M83 - Midnight City

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

All that dies with us leaves it open to no regret.

I stare at the naked light, hold my eyes shut fast --
Your face burnt on my retina recedes into the night.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Delete These Novels

This is my first post from my phone. Whilst I should be working I thought I might reflect for a moment on my drive into a deleted scene from Apocalypse Now. Dark clouds hung low overhead. Mud sat high underfoot. Rain, constant rain dressed it all. Two tonnes of tires my load, my offering to the gods of rubbish...out here on the hard edge of consumption. Dirty workers in dirty clothes sloping the mud from their boots attend the dark scene with weary eyes and a dank forlorn resignation. I tip my load and jog the truck out onto the highway. A truck ahead spills styrofoam chunks in its wake. I am transfixed by this scene. The Styrofoam vibrates across the road exactly like snow doesn't. The advancing vehicles churn the Styrofoam into smaller beads that dance across the tarmac in celebratory glee. Someone says on the radio 'don't throw your teddy bear in the dust'. I press on. Eyes on the road, hands welded to wheel welded to whang (thanks Jack).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Neal Cassady

Roy was known to have a drink or two, and died sometime in the '70s, but not before repeating some of his favorite Neal Cassady stories to a young man who worked there starting in about '72. I ran into this guy by coincidence when I had some tire work done at the present location of the shop, and after seeing my last name on the work order, he was glad to share some of Roy's stories with me. Roy's favorite was how Neal would drive his car down from our house, which was two miles up a hill from the tire shop, without the benefit of brakes, an almost obsessive pastime of Dad's. I believe this would have been the '49 Pontiac. Anyway, he would time it perfectly every morning so the car would bump up into the driveway (after having slowed it by rubbing curbs when necessary), he would then hop out in front of the garage doors, and the car would continue along the flat driveway, the door flapping shut, and on out to the back dirt parking lot, where it would nudge over a small mound so the front wheels would rock back and forth to settle into the dirt trough beyond. It never failed to amaze and delight Roy.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Out Here on the Perimeter

"Wandering, wandering in hopeless night
Out here in the perimeter there are no stars"

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Ire That Binds

I remember a dream I had when I was small. I awoke in my bed, I mean really awoke, no dream state. I felt the immediate press of fear, the closing in of the walls. The delicate mangle of eternity. Unknowable, unquestionable unrequited there. The walls transformed to heaving sides of dark flesh. In the corners the darkness itself stepping over the strangled form of light laying crumpled and prostrate at its feet. Advancing on my single bed like rows of silent waves. Waterless and without fear. For I was just a little boy with not much to offer in way of defense, but I was fleet of foot and rolled out of the bed before the darkness enclosed it.

Kicked my big toe on the corner of the wall as I peg-hopped around, feet spinning, ground barely moving...I flew into my parents room and hovered above their bed. Willed-on the reading light. Soft yellow light, wan glow of hearth, heart and home. Everything will be alright. No eternity, no night. --but they had fangs and reached for me with the arms of monsters.

I will never forget, more than fear, the sense of betrayal and I am reminded of this sensation a lot of late --when your omega lines to dust, your get-away plan has inked off the page in sight unseen spectral rain. Your best friend has died and the next and the next...more still are crippled, others yet the War, in the War. (What Fucking War Den?)

--and you note the pattern mote by dust hanging in the light invasive to the floor that my best friend's died, my best friends die -- disappearing are the starving hysterical naked (Thanks Allen). That my love is a gift and a curse, that to love me is to die. Know this as you lay beside me.

Monday, April 25, 2011

ANZAC Day. Melbourne Dawn Service

Went to the Dawn Service in Melbourne this morning and as the Last Post rang out a head-spin wave rolled toward me and I fainted. Woke up lying on the ground looking up at a medico and concerned faces. My good friend AB asking me if I was ok as he rolled me into the recovery position. I'm all good though. Who bloody knows why? Sympathetic rapture anyone? :-)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Zero Time. (Rough Extract)

"Do not stand at my grave and weep. I am not there, I do not sleep"

- Anon.

Fromelles, France. July 19th, 1916.

We were well nigh exhausted. All day yesterday and again today we had hunched our backs, kept our heads low. Trying not to be seen, trying to suppress the urge to have a dekko over the parapet and see what Fritz was doing. If a bloke stood up straight he ran the risk of having his head cracked. More than fear for your own head, mostly you were concerned with thoughts that it just wouldn’t do to put your mates through that sort of thing.


In the late afternoon we helped some lads from the 54th Battalion build an ammunition dump. It was a lot of heavy lifting and hard dragging through mud and over sodden duckboards. We didn’t mind lending them a hand. We knew that the 54th had been at it for two days, bringing up general equipment, trench mortars, bombs and tons of ammo…bit by bit, hand over hand. By the time we joined in they were already shattered. If the word came to jump the bags, I hoped that it wouldn’t be from here. The 54th would be protecting our left. I didn’t doubt their resolve but you couldn’t help but worry when your assaulting troops were already spent from laboring. Such thoughts made you feel guilty. There was a lot of that guilt to be had. Like when someone you knew got hit and your immediate thought was ‘it wasn’t me’. You just had to put it aside.


A massive volley of machine gun fire tore up the top of our position. Two explosions and a host of flares lit up the horizon near where I guessed the 54th would now be copping it. I slumped down against the parapet, my hand touched down on something hot. Pain shot up my arm, I caught sight of Driscoll watching me and I bit-down on the noise. Even above the roar of the fighting I could hear the shell fragment sizzling in the mud next to me. There it glowered, hissing and spitting like a small demon…fragmented from the whole and cursing the world of men. Driscoll crawled over and threw a sodden sand bag over it. He pushed in next to me and said “We’re going in a few minutes aren’t we?”


“Ripper. It couldn’t be any worse than it is down here.”

I noticed Simmo across the trench. He looked asleep. His left hand was crudely bandaged and he clutched it to his stomach. All the way down his sleeve and across his waist was darkened with blood. I nudged Driscoll “They’d probably let Simmo stay out of this you know. Someone should go tell em'...get him back to a dressing station. Driscoll smirked as he lipped a rollie, deftly sealed it, lit it and had it in his mouth seemingly in one motion.

“Ive already told him he was gonna bleed to death, but he reckons he’s not going anywhere till after we’ve knocked over Fritz tonight” We both laughed. Bits of hardened dirt spat down on us like rain. A big bloke I knew, Private Dorsey crouched down in front us. Everyone called him ‘Pub’. I had no idea why. He was breathing heavy and had a pretty good nick off the bottom of his right ear. It bled freely down his neck. He asked Driscoll if he could spare a smoke. Driscoll gave him his tobacco pouch. Paper Hanger and another bloke arrived and squatted in next to Dorsey. They all looked at Driscoll for a moment and he smirked and motioned that they too could help themselves to his tobacco. Another bloke came over and huddled into our smoking circle. He produced a grotty little tobacco pipe and puffed on it earnestly before offering it to me. Dorsey had obviously had his hearing rung. He spoke so loudly I feared he'd bring a barrage down on us.

“One of dressing stations caught a direct hit…I was knocked out I reckon. Just before I got belted I overheard Major Norrish’s adjutant telling another bloke that we were supposed to have already jumped. They’re bloody confused about something. They're trying to get word back from the last wave about what the situation is out there” More shells exploded nearby. This time the concussions were close enough to shake our bodies. Paper Hanger joined in sharply, “I can tell them what the bloody situation is out there…”

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Be Free

There are several of these superb paste-ups alive around Melbourne at the moment. I havent been able to find the name of the artist. Maybe it isn't important.

Be Free (Swing) Dummett Crescent, Clifton Hill underpass (Near Clifton Hill train station)

On the wall of the Tin Pot Cafe, corner Scotchmer st & St Georges rd, Nth Fitzroy.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Watching a travelling couple sitting in Mumtaz restaurant, Saigon. They sit opposite each other. She asks him quietly to come and sit next to her. He asks why. Her response is inaudible. “Its weird” he replies. She gets up slightly and moves into the chair she beckoned for him. I go back to my caphe-sua-da. I’m thinking he should’ve got up and gone and sat next to her. Its presumptuous I know but I feel like telling him he just lost a beautiful opportunity for intimacy.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Saigon, Jetstar and the meaning of success.

We’ve had nothing short of a bollocking from Jetstar since we left Melbourne. They left us sitting on the ground at Tullamarine for more than an hour, barely said a word about it to us neither, bit short on decency for a stoppage that was going to be “around 10 minutes”. In the air over Singapore they had us in a holding pattern for 30 minutes. On the 15th we went to Than Sohn Nhat airport in Saigon to fly to Hanoi, they informed us that our flight had been delayed by 10 hours; we got a lunch coupon though ;-) After standing around negotiating, translating, scratching on rocks and making clicking sounds with our mouths and lips we managed to communicate that flying out of Saigon at 1am wasn’t really going to work for us and that we’d like to be put on the next available flight that wasn’t going to put us in Hanoi at 4am. They switched us to a 5pm flight for the next day. I’m probably not capturing for you just how much too-and-fro and universal sign language it took to broker that little deal. So alls well that ends well right?, If it would but only end. The next day comes and we’re rocking some morning tea (that’s elevenses people) on Pham Ngu Lao and we get an email from Jetstar that tells us our 5pm flight has been delayed again, this time by 7 hours. Oh yay we’re back to having to arrive in Hanoi at 4am! So we get on Skype and try the travel insurance company, who initially remind us of just how bad off we really aren’t by pointing out that all non-medical emergencies will not be fielded today owing to Queensland having been submerged like Atlantis. Sheesh its hard to argue with that. So we attempt to get help from Jetstar Australia. We’ve heard that they speak English, but we have our street argot ready (Straight outta Blade Runner). The kindly folk at Jokestar Australia inform us that not only can they do nothing for us but that our midnight flight to Hanoi has been bumped once again and we will now be flying out of Saigon at 1:40am. We struggle, we resist, we prevaricate but that doesn’t achieve anything, largely due to the fact that nobody is sure what it means then finally we accept our fate and take the 1:40am black-eye (That’s the one after a red-eye flight). We lob into Hanoi’s Noi Bai airport at around 4am. The first thing I’m struck by is that it’s a freaking ghost town. Normally you have to elbow your way through a throng of touts trying to get you into their ‘Taxis’, (Den makes elaborate display of inverted commas with his fingers). There are two official taxis waiting outside and the other tourists have started in-fighting about whom is going to take those. So I pass up that malarkey and make my way up the road toward a less crowded part of the terminal. A likely looking Hanoi lad sidles up to me and starts his pitch: He’s got a taxi. He can take us into Hanoi for 300,000 dong. His taxi is better than other taxi’s in that whilst its doesn’t say ‘taxi’ anywhere on it, it is in fact an undercover taxi masquerading as a sports car…and he’s not kidding, it’s some sort of WRX knock-off and short of the neon blue under-chassis lights his car is pimping. Ok my eyes are bleeding right? I’m so tired I actually am asleep and all this happened in a dream last night whilst I yelped and twitched, puppy style, curled up on a Saigon street. So maybe I’m having a moment of weakness right? I nod wearily to the Hanoi lad and he leads us to the boot of his hottie and puts our backpacks in. He opens the back door and gestures that we should climb in. I peer into the darkened interior. There’s two dudes in there already and they aint smiling. Suddenly I wake up and I’m standing in Noi Bai airport at 4 in the morning with f-all people around and I remember the reams of official and anecdotal warnings about Hanoi airport scams and one of the most popular being the one where you get driven to a lonely spot in the city and then the price goes up and if you want to argue about it there’s a cabal of negotiators who have now appeared, out of nowhere, around the outside of the Taxi…and you know what, no offence to Eli, but if I had AB or AC with me I might’ve taken my chances --belligerent digger style, I mean f*#k it right? But I looked at my team and realised that us Vs three Hanoi chavs with possibly more lying in wait wasn’t our best move. So I spun on the bloke and told him what I thought of his ‘not-at-all dodgy’ undercover taxi and I demanded in English and then Vietnamese that he get our bags out of the boot because we weren’t riding with him. He freaks out a bit, starts coming on all tourist-bully with me, but I’m switched on now, channelling my very best impersonation of an “I don’t care mate” digger. “I don’t care mate… I don’t care what you say, you can find someone else…I don’t care mate” I drag our bags back toward the airport. He follows badgering and cursing in Vietnamese. He enlists other cronies and a little group of them get between Eli and I and start close-talking me. I show them my game face and thankfully they dissolve like so much pumped up suds. God bless front hey? An old bloke in Melbourne once said to me ‘I like you Den, you’ll be alright, you’ve got more front than a row of Woolies’. It’s an attitude and technique that have got me out of more than a few potentially sticky situations. The mob moved on to fresh arrivals and whilst they were distracted and distracting we grabbed a new taxi that arrived and skedaddled. When we got to our hotel in the Old Quarter we had to knock on the roller door to wake up the poor blighter whose turn it was to sleep in the foyer. There was no response initially so I peered through the glass and saw the man lying curled up on a couch. I tapped on the window and he seemed to open his eyes to narrow slits and nod, all without moving mind you, suddenly the roller door lurched to life and began to slowly open. We dragged ourselves up to the darkened reception desk and awaited his getting up to take our passports and check us in. He didn’t move. We chuckled quietly and began to look around to see if there was anyone in the dark corners whom we’d missed who might be going to help us. All I could think about was sleep at this point. After a while of standing around, slightly bewildered I told Eli to sidle behind the reception desk and grab a key off the wall (Well she’s smaller and tailor made for stealth ops!) She did so and we made our way up to an awesome two room hotel room that we knew from a previous visit, yes that’s right two rooms!) Sleep glorious sleep….oh except that I lay in bed for 20 minutes feeling guilty about possible scenarios in which the bad-denizens of Old Quarter Hanoi slithered into the now open hotel foyer and looted the place. It was too much for me so finally I got up, got dressed and dragged myself back downstairs with our passports to wake the guy up and remind him to shut the roller door that he had sleep-opened. Did I make that clear? Sleep-opened with his clicker! When I got downstairs everything was still dark and quiet and seemingly intact. The roller door was down. Sleep clicker.

Today I reflected on the effects of sleep deprivation and the tendency of our Vietnamese cousins to burn the candle at both ends. The average Vietnamese person works incredibly long hours. Up at 6am, working till midnight, you do the maths. When I went down stairs this morning to give them our passports and possibly, sheepishly, explain to them how we had come to self-serve our way into their hotel at 5am in the morning I found that they knew nothing, or rather just assumed that the night porter (Read exhausted sleeping man on the couch) had checked us in. They didn’t ask any questions at all so I didn’t tell them any lies. The whole nation is kind of like that and once you realise it you start to see them in a new light. The whole nation is a bit sleep deprived and the lack of sleep does curious things to your behaviour. Jovial, mercurial, erratic, prone to bouts of inspiration followed by scattered plummeting despair, (sounds like our author)…but jovial and mercurial and that’s something I really like about the Vietnamese, whilst we’re doling out generalities. They are a great people and this is a fascinating country to visit.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Descending from the stars...

I try to remember to savour the first few moments of anything good. Descending from the stars last night, through the haze over Ho Chi Minh City. Plane gently hovers in, twinkling lights wink through the gloom, surveying the darkened rooftops, catching occasional signs of life, a xe-om picking its way through some half deserted street, a truck unloading down a lane.
Anticipating my first definitive glimpse of HCMC’s intensity and then it comes as we crossed in front of a large building. Descending lower than the rooftops, surging down, opened up across a main arterial, the lights of a thousand motorbikes, street full to bursting, a pulsing heart… the blood of light. Curtain pulled back, I shield my eyes for a moment, glare adjustment then neon colour washes over my face-- slack-jawed, open-mouthed awe…