rain window

Fuck Moodle Management System

How many times can you walk outside for the same cigarette break,
For the same consultation with your inner sensibilities
For the same decadent relaxation of the nerves, the same slip of good health permitted,
to keep at bay stressors drawn out by the same antagonist as last time,
The same antagonist as every time,
That feeling of rage like breath down your neck,
that feeling so common you take automatic steps to dodge it
like deliberate steps on creaky floorboards that you know to take
because you’ve lived there so long
and how many times can you have that breath  down your neck
how many times can you make that dodge to the left,
that looks like a cringe,
trying to avoid that same memory, that same deadline, that same presence,
that same acknowledgement, that same hour of day, that same empty page, that same empty baggie, that same tired eye, that same headache, that same rasp to your breath, that same look on their face when you get there

And how many times can you drown the uninspired parts inside you with litres of coffee,
how many times can you have that same blend,
how many times can you have that same milk ratio,
drunk at that same pace -
too quick and it makes you sick -
and how many times can you sit there with a sore stomach feeling sorry for yourself,
feeling sorry for yourself feeling sorry for yourself,
hating yourself for hating yourself,
hating the parts of you which are self aware,
hating civil obedience and dreaming of a beast inside,
wishes of domination and subservience,
rape and violence and suicidal glory

And how many times can you cower your head in shame and regret
cringing with embarrassment at the things you’ve done or said
how many times can you wish to go back and explain to those same bad memories
those same bullshit excuses you’ve cooked up
and those same bullshit little facts that the people just don’t understand,
that they would understand so well if they could just understand,
those same little facts you defend yourself with so many times over and over,
putting them over and over the same bullet holes in yourself,
your ego and your sense of worth,
and how many times can cigarettes, litres of coffee and excuses be spun up in smoke in a pipe,
from either a burning plant or melting rocks of manmade shit,
over and over again
like cats that lick their wounds
one thousand times a day
until they lick their skin away
and their raw back legs leave blood all over the house

DOOF TITLE IMG

A BUBBLING UNDERCULTURE

I was actually asked not to write about this topic so in order to stay in good books with certain peers but also write what I want to, I have used no real names. Things have been left deliberately vague where need be.

Carl had been talking about it for weeks. We were going to a doof.

You drive in on an old dirt road, wide enough for one and a half cars. On either side of the road, vehicles are parked bumper to bumper for the better part of 800 metres. As you go up the trail, amongst the eucalyptus trees that surround you; blue, green, purple and yellow lasers shoot through the fog and into the treetops as you roll past the epicentre. A large fire feasts on a large heap of firewood. Twenty something silhouettes sit around it.
Beyond them, a dancefloor where other dark shapes move their limbs in hypnosis with the heavy sounds. A smoke machine shrouds them from underneath the scaffolding construct that supports the sound deck and DJ. An old generator powers the stage and a projector, which throws psychedelic visuals upon a fabric screen erected between two trees. The bass rattles the car and fills you as you enter the party beneath the stars.

The adventure started late.
I had to attend dinner at a Chinese restaurant for my Mother’s birthday earlier in the evening. In retrospect, this episode of familial four star dining was starkly juxtaposed with the vaguely legal rave in the middle of the West Australian bush I attended only hours later.

For those unaware, a doof is a rave that is held in the bush. That is the easiest way to put it. They are held all over Australia, and it’s by no means a Perth thing. Due to their nature I can only give anecdotal evidence but it is my knowledge that the eastern states host a bigger scene. But what is incredibly interesting is the consistent prevalence of ‘underground’ communities on which these events survive. As luck would have it, a handful of my friends are part of said community.

We drove out of the city for $18 worth of fuel, down a narrow dirt track coming off a main road, and into the shrubs and darkness of some part of the State forests.

Often, these events have no Facebook pages. In our modern age, it’s impressive that gatherings of these sizes – easily 250 attended this particular doof I’m recalling – can still be thrown and attended entirely without social media presence. In fact, it seems to be unanimously accepted by all members of the doof community that social media presence is what most endangers it.

Instead, directions to almost impossible locations in the wilderness are sent by the organizers out to trusted close friends and regulars, whom only share those details via text with other close friends and regulars, and so on and so forth. In this way, a half-secret communications network is created.

I remember at about two thirty I was on the dancefloor, a wide clearing of dirt populated by about thirty others, moving their bodies to the deep kicks of bass projecting from the sound system. A guy in a woollen jumper approached me.
“Hey man,” he said with a perfectly relaxed demeanour.
“Do you want some acid?”
While everyone is feeling it, small micro-economies come into existence when a doof is on. A free market where everything is up for trade, from lantern oil and spare sleeping bags to high-quality psychedelics.
I started to explain that I’d love to but I have no money, and he hushed me instead.
“Put your tongue out,” he told me.

It was about an hour later I was gazing into one of two large communal bonfires. I was surrounded by just short of two dozen others trying to keep warm and I stared into the fire, fixated, for a good twenty five minutes.
Doofs run on two things: portable generators and close knit communities. Publicity is not wanted, and a good majority of doofers are regulars, most of whom will not be far separated from one another. Through certain spots around Fremantle, many backpackers become clued into the events, and you can usually spot a group of French or Dutch travellers in a van.

When I asked Carl if it would be cool to write something about the doof, he told me: “probably not.”

Earlier this year (read here) a man went missing at a doof after he wandered off into the bush and got lost for two days. There was a search party called and after that a brief media spotlight shone it’s eyes on the doofing scene once again (read here). There is a bigger threat to organizers than the police, however, and that is local councils and rangers. It goes without saying that legitimate land permits are uncommon. One event had to be shut down shortly after rangers caught on, which happened shortly after the aforementioned man went missing. Most ‘regulars’ blame media attention and uninformed newcomers to the scene for negative events.

A large part of their romantic allure are the often obscure locations selected, and the journeys to get there.
We got lost.

There’s a distinct memory I have of stopping the car on the way there in the middle of the wild bush. When the headlights went off, we were submerged in complete darkness. Inside the car, Carl and Pete both worked together to decipher the cryptic directions sent to them via SMS.
Sitting out there away from light pollution; under the mind-bending, cosmic beauty of the Milky Way in all its glory, we racked lines of speed off an old Thee Oh Sees CD.

It is these kind of strange and fringe experiences which make doofs so memorable and unique.

No matter how jaded you are, no matter your opinions on the EDM genre psytrance, no matter your opinion on drug use or environmental conservation or the law in general, one thing cannot be ignored or denied at a doof:
Community spirit is alive and well.
At least, until the sun comes up.

To attend a doof, you need to know someone, assuming you aren’t one of the people running it. For doofs, there are an entire plethora of local ‘non-mainstream’ DJ’s working all over Perth. They gain popularity over soundcloud and other file sharing websites, often picked up by other tech-savvy doofers.
On tech savviness, it’s interesting to note that the age demographic which doofs attract seems to have no definitions. Some doofs run for 72 hours. That’s why it’s surprising to see that, putting it bluntly:
There are heaps of old hippies still going strong.

It’s comforting to know that the rabbit hole can still be found.

clock

SLEEPLESSNESS POEM

I am here again tonight
in this bar I frequent so often

One bed one door one patron
the quietest venue in town
Live at 3-10:
One man neural degradation

The acts are always engaging
even when no energy is found.
Following the act before,

the same man’s lonely masturbation.
But the author lies, to tell the truth -
I am joined by one flea
and one mosquito

Shows before my insect guests
might actually be wasted.
Parasites have no manners,
they won’t even attempt a
fake-it-til-you-make-it,
half assed clapping sound.

The drinks are always cheap because tapwater is free.

Live at 4-30: the stomach gets sore.
More entertainment is needed.
This bar’s real dangerous, too-
recently there was a death.

Mosquito was found crushed against the bedhead.
Business went on.
Flea is in hiding, the shots keep on lining up.

The voice in my head reads my words back to me.
Lost in a haze at the bar, I try to remember
to write something down.

ben smoking

HARVEST TIME

YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE. HARVEST BEGINS AT SUNDOWN.
YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE. HARVEST BEGINS AT SUNDOWN.
YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE . . .

The microspeakers continue whispering their incantation throughout the city. The Harvest alerts play every day at routine intervals: six in the morning, twelve in the afternoon, three in the afternoon and then once more a half hour before sundown, whenever that is during the season. The message is repeated all across the steel continent; in every room, in every building. It is illegal to reside in a property not linked to VoiceComm.

You don’t need to be surface-side too long to catch the gist of Harvest. Every night is the same.
Lock the doors.
Bolt the windows.
Use only one light at any time.
Put in earplugs.
Draw the curtains.
Don’t look outside.

Of course, you peek out the window the first night you’re left unattended. You hear all that commotion start up outside when the sun goes down. It’s like a bustling marketplace starts humming through the walls.
But it’s true what they say – not even once.
All it takes is that first glance. You catch something unfathomable. Something that your mind simply cannot comprehend. There is no way to explain it. You might gaze out through the glass unto the strange hues of light vibrating on impossible spectrums. You may see the reflection of the red moon across a hulk of pulsating black chitin. Large mandibles covered in sores from which monstrous pupils peer out. Which peer back at you through the glass.

The first night, you’ll look away in fear and disgust. But then the next night, there you’ll be, clenching your teeth while you try not to draw the curtain again. While you try to just not even think of what’s going on out there. While you fail.
While you peek again. Night after night.
And what you see during the Harvests from your human accommodation room will start to change you. Even though they warn you back home not to play voyeur, not to give in to curiosity, you’re still going to do it. Despite the threat of a revoked PlanetVisa and deportation back to Earth for trial, you still peer through panes of glass, through cracks in the wall. Just to catch a glimpse of something else.

But then you’re doing it every night you’re on the planet. You start forgoing sleep to spy on Harvest, soon you have to watch the Harvests just to feel normal. The alien nights lose their strange lustre. You become familiar with them.
However, you will almost never realise how familiar Harvest has become with you.
Before you know it, you’re not looking away until sunrise. The images of last night’s Harvest burn in your head, keeping you awake until the sun falls once more. Then, you have no choice but to watch the next Harvest lest you go insane – clinging onto the wild hope that somehow tonight’s Harvest will be different, that tonight will be the night you figure it out. You keep your face pressed up against the glass for another whole night until the scenes outside go dim and it hits six o clock and the Harvest alert of a new dawn breaks the silence.

YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE. HARVEST BEGINS AT SUNDOWN . . .
And then, Harvest comes for you.

That’s when it happens. That next night, when you’re too deep now to come back up for air. You haven’t slept in days, you’ve lost an unhealthy amount of weight. You are losing your mind trying to process what happens each night. Trying to figure out what the fuck it all means. And then you see your Mother in your head, heartbroken and disappointed. Her words of caution replaying ad infinitum directly to your conscience:
“Don’t experiment with other planets. It’s not natural.”
And then they knock at the door.
You hear that wet, rustling noise they make when they talk.
Your shaky hand clasps the faux stainless-steel door handle, sweat rolls from your tear ducts, your mouth is dry. Your tongue sandpaper. You open the door and the red moonlight spills in the room. You are no longer behind glass.

Not that I would know any of this, though.
I don’t peek during Harvest.

 

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FRITZSQUEAL

Sitting alone at a circular faux-marble table in the middle of some crowded cafe, Walter Fritz pulls a revolver deep from the pocket of his canvas jacket and points it at himself. Softly, he lifts the gun toward his head, rests the barrel just above his temple and pulls the trigger. People spit out, choke on and drop their cups of tea/coffee/soy chai.

Then the screaming starts.

The noise of the cafe falls away real quick and then it’s all just gutted pigs. When you stick one in the throat, man – it’s fucking awful. People use the phrase “squealing like a stuck pig” because that’s a nice word for kids who have to see it.

Squeal.
But it doesn’t do the actual noise justice.

The body of Walter Fritz slumps forward, his forehead thumps on the round table and he slides sideways out of the vintage wooden folding chair, his corpse thumping on the floorboards – homely, worn out jarrah.

On the table, a small square of paper. On it:

i would just like to fall forwards into the lake

and i wish i could make myself float still

while slowly i drift towards the bottom

until my nose kissed the mudbed

and i’d take a deep breath in

while it all goes through me

and while it all goes over me

and while i rest there for the rest of days,

until the water dries away.

dirty-windshield-2-www-artofmanliness-com

SUNDAY

im sitting in the car. i put my keys in the ignition but before i turn them i am overcome by weight. i am overcome by heavy feelings in my hand, that connect through my elbow and along my triceps. i drop my hands to my sides. the windscreen is dirty with fog and cloth wipe marks and hand prints and the rising sun breaking through the trees hits the glass rectangle.

and then I am overcome by a wave of numbness. like a small boy in class who puts his hand up to ask a question then thinks twice and puts his hand down, i feel a fragment of emotion. but only an instance. that first sliver of a moment. It is not a jolt of emotion, it is less than a jolt.

the windscreen is disgusting. my car floor is littered with grassy bits of foot traffic, shreds of rolling tobacco, various plastic wrappers that won’t degrade until my great grandchildren are dead, broken glass.

i want to cry.

i try to cry.

i  even well up real nice and my face goes sideways and my lips do that involuntary opening at the sides that they do right before you’re about to properly start wailing your shit.

but then it stops. coming, coming, coming, coming, it’s on it’s way, get ready, here it comes, here – here it is! get your stuff kids!

and then the train just fucking disappears. the kids are orphans. it’s an empty station.

why were you even here?

there is blood all over my passenger seat

no body is going to help me clean it

while the sun rises over perth

I ignore the things i know

pp

STREET 137

Street 137 smells like gasoline and compost and sewers smoked out in petroleum fumes. Decaying but maintained French colonial architecture lines the streets. If your eyes aren’t used to the scenes you get lost the moment you take your eyes off things. Every block looks the same for a while. It takes getting used to but you get there. Everything looks so different at night. 

One day after night in the morning, from the balcony his room is on Jack Nachelson peers down at the street below. He looks down and sees a young boy picking up a kitten by the tail and throwing it out onto the road. He tries to throw it into the path of an oncoming motorbike, but being a toddler he can not build up the strength in his arm to make it. Weak and presumably underfed the kitten only mews out for help. From the balcony Jack hears it’s cries only in his head, the actual noise of the creature drowned out in the hum of motorbikes and whistles and engines and hustle and birds in the sky and the distant trickling like static on loop from the river only blocks away. There is no salt in the water but it is not clean. The river is lined with trash and pockets of filth, where sewage congeals and goes yellow in the cold of night and softens in the sun.

Again, the boy picks up the kitten and tries to throw it onto the road. Jack Nachelson lights a cigarette and looks on. Maybe it was a joint. He doesn’t remember, this was a few years ago now.
The boy tries again and throws it onto the road, himself standing closer to the traffic zone. He has friends now who watch on. A little girl stands three feet behind watching him with no emotion on his face. Vendors selling cigarettes and foreign sodas in orange eskies sit on their plastic chairs selling wares either side. Nobody makes move to save the kitten.

“Hey!” Jack calls out.
Like the cries of the kitten he is drowned out by the humming beehive of bikes which criss cross and zig zag and zoom throughout the spiderweb city, putting and coughing, purring and rumbling. All of them together sing in a cacophopny that never ends. Mechanic cicadas.
The boy throws the cat again and it comes close to a man on a bike who makes no attempt to swerve.

But then a noise is shrill. It rises above the buzz of motors. It is the voice of anger. The voice of punishment. An angry woman. Jack Nachelson looks on. From a door leading into an anonymous room in one of the old French monuments, a woman in a floral dress emerges, walking quickly and with direct intent towards the boy, holding the kitten by the tail again for the fourth or fifth time. The little girl and another little boy both run away.
The sun hits Jack Nachelsons eyes and he squints while she shrieks at him. Something sharp. Something vicious.

The boy’s face emanates fear. While Nachelson cannot make it out from the third floor up across the street he knows what the shift in his body language means. The woman is holding a green umbrella. It looks old and worn, but maintained. Holding the umbrella by it’s handle she lifts it up above her head and brings it down on top of the toddler’s head. He cries out. The vendors selling cigarettes and foreign sodas do nothing. Ten feet away now, the little girl looks on at the little boy.

The woman shrieks again. Sharper and direct, blunter and deeper this time. An assertion of dominance. She raises her green umbrella, and strikes the boy again. Harder this time, at an angle that hits his forehead. The sound rings out into the alley and Jack Nachelson hears it. The sound makes him feel satisfied. The kitten, having recovered from the trauma, patters off into the building from where the woman came. She retreats, and the boy runs away. It had not been her son. She closes the green doors that she came from, green like her umbrella. They creak while they close. The boy runs up the block and turns left, only in his nappy. He runs close to a motorbike who makes no attempt to swerve, then off behind a noodle stand, and he disappears into the day.