Sunday, September 29, 2013

Gothic Road Safety Billboard, Hanoi Vietnam WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES

Suburban gothic of the most explicit.

I took these photos in Hanoi Vietnam in January this year. I couldn't believe this billboard was just out on the street, though i guess after years ravaged by war..perhaps one comes to terms with violence and injury.

We deduced that they were part of a Health and Safety campaign to reduce the incidence of street fighting and road accidents. They clearly had the desired effect on me, as i was completely freaked out by the traffic and didn't touch a sword once. DIdnt seem to make much diffence to the local drivers though!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Kitsch heaven - Frank Ze's Young Me / Now Me

Nothing i like better than a kitsch participatory internet craze.
The internet phenomenon Young Me / Now Me or Retro Photocopiers is such a groovy little idea, and sweet way to while away a Sunday afternoon in suburban Brisbane. My mum took this pic of me licking the beaters of her Sunbeam mixmaster in the orange kitchen of her beachside house in Mackay sometime in the early seventies. The Now Me pic above was taken by my 10 year son in the lounge of my suburban house in Brisbane Australia. The mash-up is courtesy of Bill Gates and technology unheard of when i was a wee thing.

If i could work out how, i would upload these pics to Ze Franks Colorwar2008 site,
but i'm too slack to work it out this afternoon. The other shots are so worth a peek, though.

Looking at the pics reminds me of a guy Ozoni11 (waving on the couch) who brought Bowie home to his Mum's house in 71. How awesome is this shot? 

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Six Feet Under Last Episode

revisiting the end of the most perfect show ever to grace the set.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

never free nor ever chaste....

I've been reflecting on faith lately (which is hardly unusual for me) so was intrigued to see exerpts from Mother Theresa's personal letters today in which she admits to periods of intense personal struggle. Yet on reading her thoughts, and wrestlings with profound doubt, it only seems to make her work more remarkable, her faith more real and her life more authentically human.

"Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear," she wrote to the Reverend Michael van der Peet in September 1979.

"I spoke as if my very heart was in love with God - tender, personal love," she wrote to one adviser. "If you were (there), you would have said, 'What hypocrisy'."

"Please pray specially for me that I may not spoil His work and that Our Lord may show Himself -- for there is such terrible darkness within me, as if everything was dead," she wrote in 1953. "It has been like this more or less from the time I started 'the work'."

Then in 1956: "Such deep longing for God - and ... repulsed - empty - no faith - no love - no zeal. (Saving) souls holds no attraction - Heaven means nothing - pray for me please that I keep smiling at Him in spite of everything."

And then in 1959: "If there be no God - there can be no soul - if there is no Soul then Jesus - You also are not true."

"I utter words of community prayers - and try my utmost to get out of every word the sweetness it has to give - but my prayer of union is not there any longer - I no longer pray."

Something in the explicit honesty of Mother Theresa's writings brought to mind what is perhaps my favourite poem

Batter My Heart

Batter my heart, three-personed God; for you
as yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend.
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me and bend
your force to break, blow, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurped town, to another due,
labor to admit you, but, oh, to no end;
reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
but is captived and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you and would be loved fain,
but am betrothed unto your enemy:
divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
take me to you, imprison me, for I,
except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

For those of who have struggled through dark nights of the soul, there is something deeply reassuring that we, while ever restless and sometimes tormented, are not alone in experiencing times of screaming silence.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Prison inside

I recently spent a couple of nights at Addington Prison in Christchurch. While some of you may not be surprised at this fact, (even having a brief glimmer of schadenfreude), i should really mention that i had to pay to get in, as it had just been converted into a boutique i guess i'm still a free woman.
Unlike many others.
Around 2am the night before i checked out, i saw a guest fumbling with the front door and went to let him in. Yet on opening the door, instead of smiling as he tipsily ambled past as i was expecting, the man immediately implored me to call an ambulance as he had been stabbed. Of course, i replied, but contrary to my usual compassionate self, shut the glass door on him as he attempted to come in from the cold.
As a woman alone in a deserted foyer, i'd instinctively read something about this guy that didn't add up, and erred on the side of caution. He was clutching his arm in pain, and he wasn't aggressive in any way, but something told me to keep my distance. I called the ambulance of course, but called the cops as well. I mean if he had been stabbed, it stood to reason someone out there had done the stabbing.
(THe irony of summonsing the cops to attend a prison to investigate a stabbed guy trying to get inside wasn't lost on anyone, least of all the investigating officer whose last visit was to deliver a man on remand into the holding cells.)
As it turned out, the man was experiencing a psychotic episode and had actually stabbed himself, so was taken to Christchurch hospital for assessment, leaving me thinking, as i lay in my cell, about the many others who appear free but are imprisoned by their minds with fear and paranoia, ritual and obsession, depression and anxiety.
Mental Illness is a tough one. I've struggled with depression in the past, as have many of my friends and collegues and i dont mean a period of sluggish flatness, but rather the hideous black cloud that drains you of all but despair, and beyond that, into meaningless nothingness. So i really felt for that guy and his crazy violent plea for help, trapped in a cloudy headspace. I even felt guilty for shutting the door on him, as prudent as it was as an isolated female in an empty room, as i dislike the association of mental illness with violence.
What is real however, is the lack of resources in our communitites for people to access the help they need, in ways that are constructive, timely and mindful of their dignity so I was pleased to hear the Feds announcement of a new Mental Health package, extending medicare rebates to social workers, occupational therapists and psychologists to provide community based support in Australia. Its a step in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Hot Goth Chicks

I'm back in the sunburnt country again, and will post another entry about my nz trip (including my short stay behind bars) in the next day or two. In the meantime, this post is dedicated to all you boys out there in cyberland who, according to my most recent site statistics, have been eagerly typing in the above search term and have found yourselves directed to Suburban Gothic instead.

While i hope there is a little more cerebral content in this site than you may have been expecting, i'd hate you to leave disappointed...

Friday, September 08, 2006

Get thee behind me, Santa I've been saved by Rev Billy

Or at least hold off for a bit. The ubiquitous Mr Claus, quite possibly the only celebrity more over-exposed than Paris Hilton atm, has already begun appearing at my local Coles supermarket. Holy baby Jesus, ...its barely September. Yesterday my partner and I couldn't resist the temptation to turn the rows of chocolate grinning santas inward so their little backs faced outwards; much to the delight of our 8 year old (and shame of our 10 y.o. who found our dodgy spot of culture jamming just 'like sooo embarressing').

If a crass commercial Christmas is your want, far be it from me to keep you from yourself, but surely its not too much to ask that we
wait until November at very least?

In the meantime the more sane amongst you might enjoy these subversive little culture jamming sites: Spelling mistakes cost lives, Get Saved from over consumption with Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping (make sure to listen to the audio!), and the Christmas cards I would send if i was the sort of person who sent Christmas cards, which i'm not, so just because you dont get one from me doesn't mean i dont love you. :) x the cowgirl

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Decontructing Irwin: culture wars on the homefront

Hold tight and watch as the death of Irwin morphs into a wider debate on patriotism, celebrity, national identity, and gender.
Germaine Greer has waded in this morning with an opinion piece on her disdain for Irwin's methods. Irrespective of the merit or otherwise of Greer's comments, the poor timing of her words ensures they will be interpreted by many as a slap in the face to men who relate to and respect Irwin's contribution to Australia, and the young mothers comforting their children on the loss of their hero.
The ironic tragedy of these comments is that they will only serve to further distance many reasonable working class young men and women from contemporary feminist dialogue, something, Greer, of all people should avoid.

Irwin's approach may be a 'boys own' adventure, but to be fair, i've never seen David Attenborough's wife standing shoulder to shoulder with him as he traipsed the world, and Terri Irwin, as Greer seems to have conveniently overlooked, is a stunning example of a woman who is not afraid to get her hands dirty.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Steve Irwin, Death and Children

I was just driving to pick up my son from school and heard Richard Fidler on ABC Radio talking about Steve Irwin in past tense.

Past tense.

I turned up the dial and focused on the story that was unfolding - Steve Irwin Crocodile Hunter - has been killed just outside Cairns. By a stingray. A barb to the heart.
Can stingrays kill you? I had no idea.

Not quite sure why i felt saddened so much by the news. I think its like losing a lovable larrakin cousin.

As i picked up my 8 y.o. son Hunter, i told him of the news.

We tuned into the radio together and listened as the commentators gave updates, and callers rang in with their stories of Steve, who grew up here in Brisbane. Every one was shocked and caller after caller was making references to the death of Diana.

Then things got really sad. We got home and Fluffy, my son's five and a half year old guinea pig was dying. He was only two when we got her. He no longer only grieved Steve Irwin. A cruel double blow.

This is going to be a tough day for an young boy bearing Irwin's nickname.

Death of celebrities are curious cultural events; a strange synthesis of pop culture and national identity, resilience and fragility, transition and mortality. A salient reminder that despite it all, we all bleed red blood, and will inevitably die.

I guess for Australians, especially those of us here in Brisbane, or like me, who have swum off that coast in North Queensland, it is particularly poignant. Perhaps even, to stay on theme, it truly is a
suburban gothic event, just decked out in Khaki for maximum accessibility - the masses now face to face with the shadow that stalks us all; the beautiful and the yobbish, the poor and the successful, the good and the bad.

I have to go and be with my son now, but will continue this post later tonight, after the funeral when the boygroom is home and the guinea pig grief subsides a bit.

*Just a note: Hunter asked me not to put Fluffy's picture on the computer just now, so my terracotta spirals will have to suffice. Rest in Peace Fluffy and Steve.
4th Sept 2006.

Update : Well the Guinea Pig has now been buried and two Black Bean seeds have been laid in the earth, to sprout forth in simultaneous memory of Fluffy and Steve.

Just a couple of rambling thoughts this morning - I have been thinking, given the saturation media this is getting, perhaps some of the reason this man’s death is and will continue to resonate for a while, is that in so much as
Diana the person gave way to Diana the concept and object of the projection of the princess fantasy archetype, Steve Irwin the man exists in tandem with Steve Irwin the concept - a projection of the collective ‘everyman’, the working class yobbo made good.

This is somewhat similar to the narrative projected upon the miners in Beaconsfield; however i would argue that in his actual case, he, unlike Diana et al, actually was transparent enough for us to see that the overlap between what we thought, and what we knew, was great.

And while i have argued before that the stereotypical larrikin aussie bloke (an obsession that once was put forth as characterising much of our National Identity) is almost redundant in 2006, perhaps a small part of Steve’s actual death is a collective unconscious grief for the loss of that archetype?

You may have noticed that working class white aussie males, are showing an unpreceedented respect and sadness over Steves passing. I find this really significant, because, by all reports, he wasn’t some misogynist bastard, but a fully testostorone driven hetro bloke who made treating your wife and children with adoration (not abuse) and caring passionaltely for conservation and the environment (the antithesis of bush bashing, rootin', croc shooting red-neck-ery) a decent and admirable thing for this demographic of men.

Look i’m sure he was a tosser about some things, (who isn’t) but his legacy is worth remembering and i think its ok for the nation to grieve a bit.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

When i was a girl, the internet was called a library ..a Gen X Parent's Guide to Kids Today.

My partner bought an old dial telephone at a garage sale this weekend, and my 10 year daughter was puzzled to know how it worked. My daughter and I got talking about what it was like as a Gen X kid growing up and what shows we watched on TV and i kinda explained it like this:

Gen Z ............................Gen X Equivalent

Smallville ..............Greatest American Hero

Australian Idol .........Young Talent Time
CSI...................... Magnum P.I.
Ghost Whisperer ......The Ghost and Mrs Muir
Marilyn Manson.........Alice Cooper
X-box ...................Atari
The internet ...........Libraries
SMS texting ............Passing notes

Sudoku..................Rubik's Cube
Home IceCream.......The Milkman
The war on Terror....The Cold War
Aiden Ridgeway.......Neville Bonner
Cathy Freeman........Evonne Cawley
Dr Karl..................Prof Julius Sumner Miller

THe Footy Show......Benny Hill Show
Steve Irwin............Harry Butler
The Chaser.............Norman Gunston
Mythbusters ...........The Curiosity Show
Big Brother.............We just went outside and got a life.

...and some readers suggestions..(see comments below)

Jamie Oliver...............Peter Russell Clarke

Ronald Reagan............ George W Bush
John Howard ............. John Howard
Israel invades Lebanon ... Israel invades Lebanon

Monday, July 31, 2006

Capricornian gothic

Ahh Rockhampton, town of my youth.
Beef Cattle Capital of Australia, my suburban gothic obsession began with you. The town where the local serial killer mistakenly confessed to the murder of a teenager who had actually just been hiding out in her boyfriends bedroom for four years.
Where i actually felt safer with my friends brother who spent time in jail for attempted murder, than with one of his Prison guards who sexually assaulted me as 14 yo. dropping me home from youth group.

I spent a long time hating the place and left at 16 to go to Uni, but now, many years later, find myself strangley affectionate to this cattle mad town. I even collect, and paint, bulls. Maybe its cathartic.

I found this catalogue for Fairy Springs Semen Catalogue at the Brahman Breeders Association last month. I should send it in to Rove. The transcipt inside is just as me!

( the way Hi ya to the lovely Kirsten Livermore - Capricornia's Federal MP, big sister of my childhood best-friend, and former UQ Union Faculty Rep collegue circa 1991 ! Go girl.)
*note to trainspotters: Kirsten grew up in Mackay not Rockhampton. I actually spent my first 10 years in that beautiful town before the parents moved to Rock-vegas

Saturday, July 29, 2006

If i put sex and gothic in the title do i get more hits? (Update: Yes)

Hmmm, we'll all know soon enough.

I went out to a strictly invite only party last night, and i swear i'm getting too old for this scene. There were people falling all over the floor, vomiting, screaming, crying and throwing stuff. There was a cop brought in to make sure nothing got out of hand and even he didnt blink and eye at the chaos, just stood at the entrance making sure the place wasn't crashed by outsiders. I must say its always lovely when the younger girls come up and say how much they adore my clothes but that definately is the last primary school dance i'm going to for a long while. ;)

Seriously its always interesting chatting with the parents who inevitably ask "what do you do?".
I explore the dark shadows and undercurrents of suburbia through conceptual art can be a conversation killer, so i tend to say 'a bit of art, a bit of writing, and a bit of N.G.O. organisational development when i can't pay the bills'. Mmmm they tend to nod , thinking that at least explains the ecentric clothes and bright red hair, if nothing else.

And i smile and look at the gorgeous families before me and wonder what their secrets are, what do the mothers think about when they get those rare moments alone....when thoughts about the the mortgage and the soccer carpool subside....what are their dreams, their fears, and who do they think about when they are making love?

And part of me rails against the domesticity, and, yet i have profound respect for it at the same time. Because, at least for those of us who do think and struggle with the journey, its less of a cop out and more of a determined choice to hold a myriad of forces in tension.

And i think that can be, ironically, one of the most radical choices of all.

Monday, July 24, 2006

(Holy) Kissing and Making up...Everybody's doing it

Methodists and Catholics have (holy) kissed and made up 500 yrs after renegade Monk Martin Luther spat the dummy at the corrupt practices florishing in Catholicism and launched one of last milleniums more spectacular success stories - Protestantism (right up there with the WWW and sliced bread).

Concerned with what he saw as spiritual manipulation of the masses for political and material gain, his 95 theses was the penultimate theological 'whilstleblow' which is still hard top - even in this age of mass media and the tele-evangelist.

Hats off to the Wittenberg Door - to the real one made of wood and its online namesake still calling out shonky religious leaders today and bringing us gems such as the Gospel according to Napoleon Dynamite

Now, if we can just get the Jews and and the Palestinians together......

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Nick Cave & Gothic Christianity

I've always been interested in religion, and the gothic in society. Came across this article during a recent Google journey -A facinating article about a goth icon by Stewart Lee written in 2003. YOu can read the full article at his site here

Cave’s Christianity is perhaps the most shocking thing about his recent history. His lecture The Flesh Made Word enraged a vocal minority of the audience during its 1997 Edinburgh Fringe performance, but rationalist fans could then at least excuse Cave’s God as a metaphor for the creative process. “God is a product of the creative imagination,” he wrote, “and God is that imagination taken flight.” But today the author of the introduction to the Canongate edition of St Mark’s Gospel is unequivocal. “I do accept Christ’s divinity. More and more so actually. But I don’t think a person truly believes unless they doubt as well. My faith kind of swells up and subsides. It’s going through a swelling up at the moment

Get thee to a Nunnery

Bet the guys embroiled in Big Brothers 'sexual assault' scandal wish they had joined the ABC's proposed new Reality program the Abbey - a 33 day stint in a Nunnery - instead of the place they find themselves now.

To read what ABC online readers think of the fiasco visit:

While i'm sure the guys had no malicious intent with the groin incident, it was a serious and completely unacceptable lapse in judgement and the context in which it occured throws up a myriad of issues to do with personal, legal and commercial boundaries surrounding the program.

Should all this still not serve as a warning about the evils of reality tv, than perhaps you may like to apply to join The Abbey: ABC TV is looking for five women for a new 3 part series. Take up the challenge to live the life of a contemplative nun for 33 days and nights - one day for every year of Christ's life.
You will leave behind the hurly-burly of modern life to embark upon a search for meaning, spirituality and self behind the walls of an enclosed order.
Immerse yourself in the world of The Abbey and live by The Rule of Silence and Obedience. Learn what the spirit of community living is all about as you share the nuns daily routine of prayer, farm work, craft and domestic tasks. Throughout the challenge of living in this other world, you will have a Sister-mentor to listen, support and guide you. Will this life hold any relevance to you as a contemporary Australian woman? Will spiritual contemplation and prayer have the power to transform your life or will you find it too hard a cross to bear?
Interested? Find out how to apply

Applications close July 7th.

( had i not already sent myself off to a Nunery for a 3 day silent solitary retreat back in 2002, I'd be tempted to apply now...and yes , it was worth it.).

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Psychedelic Furs and the Far Northern Tropics

I am currently in Cairns. Though its winter, the sunlight is so all pervasive and warm its easy to assume everything is all sunshine and light. Scratch a little deeper though, and Cairns is one of those places where most people have a 'past' or an intriguing story at very least. Makes things more interesting than would otherwise appear.... people used to change and transition, running from, running to, seeking and hoping for new futures. Our 7 years here were some of the most turbulent but intoxicating years of our lives. I miss it so many ways but it was the right time to go in 2001.

Just a few hours before i drove up here...i caught the Psychedelic Furs at the Tivoli Brisbane with a gorgeous writer friend Shelley Kulperger. Shelley's good friend Stephen Carlton has written a play that explores concepts of north Queensland Gothic thats playing in brisbane on July 14 i think. I'll post more details later (read:when i can find them)

Oh, did i mention that Richard Butler looks a lot like Hugh Grant crossed with David Bowie these days? Delicious.